California Drought Conditions Resulting in Contaminated Water
Contaminants in well water become more concentrated as drought progresses
The state of California is currently in the grip of a severe drought, which health officials say could be putting rural communities at risk. Not only are these communities suffering economically as farmers sell cattle early and leave acres and acres of land unplanted, they may also be suffering physically as contamination levels in stressed groundwater reservoirs rise.
Contaminant Concentration Rises as Water Levels Drop
So far, the drought has put 10 California communities at serious risk of running out of water within the next 60 days. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January, as water levels in many important reservoirs dipped to all-time lows. Needed rain and snow still hasn’t come, and groundwater basins are also depleted.
According to the co-director of the Center of Climate Change and Health, the concentration of chemicals in wells and other sources of groundwater is growing due to the drought. With less water available to dilute them, new contaminants such as nitrates and industrial chemicals, as well as naturally-occurring contaminants such as arsenic, can build up to dangerous levels, making previously safe water sources questionable.
Many Communities Still Depend on Groundwater
Last year, state officials identified 183 communities who have been relying on contaminated groundwater. So far, only 22 of these communities have finished making necessary improvements to their systems. Ten communities were targeted for immediate relief as contamination in their water supply worsened and are now receiving trucked in water and assistance with efforts to connect homes and businesses to nearby public water supplies.
However, there are still many thousands of Californians in rural areas who may be relying on contaminated wells without even realizing it. In order to avoid potentially serious health complications from drinking water with unsafe levels of chemicals and heavy metals, anyone drinking well water is urged to get professional water quality testing immediately.
Environmental Site Assessments are Vital
An environmental site assessment from H2 Environmental is an excellent way of receiving a comprehensive report of any environmental hazards on your property. We test air, soil, building materials, and groundwater to reveal present contamination and future risks. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that water is all that needs to be tested right now! Because groundwater systems are linked to the larger environment, understanding soil conditions and identifying any man-made sources of contaminants like lead and asbestos will help give you a fuller picture of the potential dangers in your water supply.