It’s farmer versus oil companies in case of alleged water contamination
The problem began about eight years ago when the leaves of his newly planted cherry orchard started turning brown, Hopkins said.
Soon the almond trees followed.
His irrigation water contained the very same salty compounds found in the wastewater produced by dozens of nearby oil wells.
State regulators told Hopkins the wastewater injection well right across the street from his farm couldn’t be to blame, because it was abandoned years ago.
According to the lawsuit, abandoned injection wells reach into the same area deep underground where dozens of other active wells are injecting wastewater.
"Nobody is testing the water wells nearby, even though the Division of Oil and Gas knows there are multiple farmers complaining," Oliver said.
The Division of Oil and Gas that oversees the drilling, operation and abandonment of oil wells and injection wells in California also turned down an interview request, sending CBS San Francisco instead to the State Water Resources Control Board.
Jonathan Bishop, the department’s chief deputy director, is assisting the Division of Oil and Gas in a federally mandated review of hundreds of injection wells that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined could potentially be contaminating California’s drinking water supplies.
Back at the farm, attorney Patricia Oliver predicted things are just going to get worse.
Meanwhile Mike Hopkins has planted pistachios on the field where his cherry trees once blossomed.