LOS ANGELES—California uses more groundwater than any other state, and many areas are 100 percent reliant on groundwater for basic uses such as drinking water and agricultural irrigation.
The most recent report by the State Water Resources Control Board says 22 percent of California’s 3,037 community water systems rely on a contaminated groundwater source. This means that one fifth of water being used to produce almost half of US-grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts, is contaminated.
California lawmakers are trying to change that. On Wednesday, a historic agreement on a water bond was passed in California’s state legislature. If approved by voters, the bond would allocate $7.5 billion to help with various state water issues, with $2.7 billion earmarked for water storage infrastructure and $900 million to groundwater cleanup.
The money would also go towards water recycling and treatment ($725 million), ecosystem and watershed restoration ($1.5 billion), while another is available for flood management ($395 million), water conservation and storm capture(810 million), and safe drinking water and wastewater management ($520 million).
State Assembly member Adrin Nazarian met with representatives of water-related groups and local residents of San Fernando Valley at LA Valley College on Friday.
Groundwater in the San Fernando Basin is becoming increasingly contaminated, threatening the local water supply. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power estimates the cost to cleanup the basin would be $600 to $900 million alone.
At the meeting, Nazarian addressed “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, which is a technique used to extract natural gas. The technique uses water mixed with chemicals to create fissures in underground rock where the gas is trapped.
California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian hosts a water issues informational breakfast for the community with representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District at LA Valley College in Valley Glen, Calif. on Aug. 15. (Robin Kemker/Epoch Times)
Nazarian has attempted to introduce two separate bills that would put limitations on fracking in the state. He says California water should not go to fracking while it is in a drought.
“Not only are we utilizing existing clean water [with fracking],” he said, “But then the depositing of the contaminated water is also an issue. Even though the industry is taking measures in trying to reuse the contaminated water, at the end of the day, I think this is a practice that we’re going to be paying the consequences for years to come.”
Other sources of groundwater contamination include decades of unregulated dumping of industrial waste, agricultural runoff, and leaking petroleum from underground storage tanks.
The Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement bond will be on the ballot in November as Proposition 1..