Many communities in rural, unincorporated San Joaquin Valley are served by water systems high in nitrates and arsenic, or private wells not subject to inspection. But according to a new UC Davis study, about 99,000 valley residents live near public systems with clean water and could access it if service extensions, piping and other infrastructure improvements were implemented. Pending state legislation would create a fund for such projects through fees imposed on water districts. While the bill faces opposition from water agencies, it is supported by groups typically at odds, including environmental advocates and farmers. “This is a problem generations in the making, and we need long-term solutions,” says Jonathan London of UC Davis’ Center for Regional Change and lead author of the report. “There is no quick fix.” A sustainable solution could end a century-long story of unsafe water in California’s rural heartland.

Infrastructure improvements could provide safe drinking water to tens of thousands of Californians currently living without it, but funding such improvements remains a challenge.

Many communities in rural, unincorporated San Joaquin Valley are served by water systems high in nitrates and arsenic, or private wells not subject to inspection. But according to a new UC Davis study, about 99,000 valley residents live near public systems with clean water and could access it if service extensions, piping and other infrastructure improvements were implemented. Pending state legislation would create a fund for such projects through fees imposed on water districts. While the bill faces opposition from water agencies, it is supported by groups typically at odds, including environmental advocates and farmers. “This is a problem generations in the making, and we need long-term solutions,” says Jonathan London of UC Davis’ Center for Regional Change and lead author of the report. “There is no quick fix.” A sustainable solution could end a century-long story of unsafe water in California’s rural heartland.

About the author

Michael Hunter Adamson was born and partly raised in the Bay Area and spent his childhood balancing adventure with mischief. As an equally irresponsible adult he has worked for The Nature Conservancy, the arts and education nonprofit NaNoWriMo, taught English in Madrid-based High School equivalent, and volunteers with The Marine Mammal Center. As a writer for Estuary and the editor of the Bay Area Monitor, Michael employs his love for nature and his interest in people to help tell the unfolding story of the living Earth.

Related Posts

Of Mice and Marshes: Surveying Salties to Save Them

It’s five in the morning, and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge remains in the tight velvet grip of night. All is peaceful and quiet, despite the fact that the toll plaza of the Dumbarton Bridge is less than a quarter-mile away. By 5:15, car dome lights and...

California will spend big bucks on beavers to try to boost their numbers and reap some of the benefits—including slowing wildfire—these ecosystem engineers can provide.

After years of advocacy by beaver “believers,” the state has allocated funding for a beaver restoration program. The $1.67 million in license plate funds for fiscal year 2022-23 and $1.44 million the following year represents a new way of thinking about beaver management in California, says Kate Lundquist, of the...

Climate change is heating, salinizing, and expanding the San Francisco Estuary, a review of nearly 200 scientific studies concludes.

Sea level rise, changing snow and rainfall patterns, and warmer waters are some of the changes already observed in the Estuary and expected to continue through the rest of the century as greenhouse gas concentrations rise. Changes to water are at the heart of the documented and further expected impacts;...