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Toto, We’re Not in Beverly Hills Anymore

Occasionally, I go on a rant. This is one of them.

Palm Springs (736 gallons daily per capita) does not have a water problem. Nor do – I’m guessing here – the corporate farm owners in the Central Valley. My bucolic county of Marin has cut back usage, but we do not have a water problem.

The residents of Seville in California’s Central Valley, along with the rest of the 1.36 million valley residents, have water problems. Even if you are lucky enough to have water in your home, it’s probably contaminated with nitrates, arsenic, coliform bacteria, pesticides – just to name a few of the items in the daily water cocktail.

That is if you’re lucky enough to have water at all. The 7,000 folks who live in East Porterville have no running water in their homes.

The state has responded with help – deliveries of bottled water, above ground water tanks – all much needed, but no long term solutions for supply or quality.

EPA’s call for California to spend $450 million on water cleanup in the Central Valley has not been acted on. The proposed surface water delivery from the Kings River to 7 towns in Tulare County, remains that – a proposal.

California’s $39 billion agriculture economy is based in the Central Valley, and agriculture overall uses about 80% of the state’s available water. Somewhere in all that largesse, there must be the water and money to meet basic human needs.

Fortunately, I can end this rant on a high note – the Community Water Center in the Central Valley is a dynamic and effective player, bringing equity issues to California’s water agenda. We’re featuring their work in our next Confluence newsletter.

Seize that day.

Kimery Wiltshire

Kimery Wiltshire
September 11, 2015

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