Clean Water Is Everyone’s Responsibility
There is no greater concern for most Americans than the water they drink. As the drought showed us, we can’t take our drinking water for granted.
With the recent news of water contamination in Flint, Michigan, chromium 6, arsenic and sewage spills, Americans are becoming more worried about the quality of our water. They fear loss of its availability and its contamination than at any point since 2001.
According to Gallup, nearly two-thirds of us are concerned “a great deal” that our drinking water may be polluted. Over half of us have grave concerns about the water quality of our rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
Not surprisingly, those who are disadvantaged or a minority are even more concerned about their drinking water than Americans as a whole.
Here in California, more than a million residents still drink water that is contaminated with one or more substances known to cause negative health effects. They are drinking water with contaminants at levels that exceed the federal drinking water standards.
Pollutants commonly found in California drinking water sources include salts, arsenic, lead, radon, selenium and hexavalent chromium-6 — all naturally occurring — as well as contaminants contributed by man from industrial activities, farming and livestock production such as gasoline, diesel, tetraethyl lead and MTBE (fuels and fuel additives); oil, grease and coolants (from cars and deteriorating roadways); salt (from winter ice removal); pesticides (crops and farming); nutrients (fertilizer); and sewage (human and animal waste and septic tanks).
Contamination affects all of California’s drinking water. This is a statewide problem, not something that only affects a limited area or one that is caused by a single industry or negligent individual failing to follow the rules. Everyone contributes, and each of us bears a responsibility to fix it.
Californians say fixing California’s water problems should be our state’s highest priority. It is time that Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature heard us by making safe water availability their most important legislative task and fund California’s water future.
Luis Alvarado is President of Familas Unidas de California a community based organization focused on providing awareness and seeks to improve wellness in our Latino community, by focusing on issues of poverty, immigration reform, health care, and quality education