California Water Agency Investigating Contamination

State and local agencies have systematically failed to protect California water resources from agricultural contamination, a recent UC Davis study suggests.

Over the past several months, water fights in California have gotten heated, with state agencies pushing for tougher regulation and protection from agricultural contamination. Environmental groups say these protections are necessary to protect the health of local citizens and the local ecosystem, but farmers argue that strict control could damage their businesses.

A recent study by a hydrologist at the University of California at Davis is only intensifying these debates. A study of California’s Central Valley and the San Joaquin Valley region revealed a link between nitrate contamination in the Valley’s water supplies and the booming farm sector in the region.

Nitrate contamination in drinking water can cause serious health problems, particularly in children and infants. In particular, it has been linked to fatal birth defects and serious blood diseases in newborns.

In an annual conference hosted by Fresno State University’s International Center for Water Technology, the study’s findings were discussed, with some attendees suggesting fertilizer fees to help cleanup groundwater.

Responding to the study and the conference, the head of the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board acknowledged that the agency had dropped the ball and promised Californians that she and her colleagues were devoting their energy to protecting the state’s water resources.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer