Around 100,000 San Joaquin Valley Residents Live Without Clean Water; Study Suggests Access Is Close
This is according to a new UC Davis study, which suggests that permanent solutions aren’t that far away.
But 66 percent of these people live within one mile of a system that could supply them clean water.
A majority of those without safe drinking water in these small rural places are people of color — Hispanics make up 57 percent of all the people that get water from out-of-compliance water systems in the eight counties represented.
The authors hope the research alerts state decision-makers to take action by funding ways to connect communities to existing infrastructure and incentivizes water agencies to help.
For many of these communities, this would mean a pipeline extension or annexation.
“It’s really difficult to ask that population to bear the burden of fixing what is really a state created and statewide problem,” Pannu said.
“Because they’re small and remote they also don’t have a lot of political power when it comes to trying to sway the county for example.” Around 100 residents are bringing samples of dirty water from their towns to the state Capitol on Wednesday to show lawmakers at a hearing.
Last year, a group of legislators introduced Senate Bill 623, which would set up a fund for safe and affordable drinking water.
The bill is still active in the Assembly, but water justice leaders are approaching the topic in a new way this year: They want permanent funds allocated out of the state budget for connecting communities with water contamination issues to clean water sources.
“Within the next decade and with adequate funding, we could solve a problem that has plagued low-income, rural communities for over 50 years,” Pannu said.