Many communities in rural, unincorporated San Joaquin Valley are served by water systems high in nitrates and arsenic, or private wells not subject to inspection. But according to a new UC Davis study, about 99,000 valley residents live near public systems with clean water and could access it if service extensions, piping and other infrastructure improvements were implemented. Pending state legislation would create a fund for such projects through fees imposed on water districts. While the bill faces opposition from water agencies, it is supported by groups typically at odds, including environmental advocates and farmers. “This is a problem generations in the making, and we need long-term solutions,” says Jonathan London of UC Davis’ Center for Regional Change and lead author of the report. “There is no quick fix.” A sustainable solution could end a century-long story of unsafe water in California’s rural heartland.

Infrastructure improvements could provide safe drinking water to tens of thousands of Californians currently living without it, but funding such improvements remains a challenge.

Many communities in rural, unincorporated San Joaquin Valley are served by water systems high in nitrates and arsenic, or private wells not subject to inspection. But according to a new UC Davis study, about 99,000 valley residents live near public systems with clean water and could access it if service extensions, piping and other infrastructure improvements were implemented. Pending state legislation would create a fund for such projects through fees imposed on water districts. While the bill faces opposition from water agencies, it is supported by groups typically at odds, including environmental advocates and farmers. “This is a problem generations in the making, and we need long-term solutions,” says Jonathan London of UC Davis’ Center for Regional Change and lead author of the report. “There is no quick fix.” A sustainable solution could end a century-long story of unsafe water in California’s rural heartland.

About the author

Michael Hunter Adamson was born and partly raised in the Bay Area and spent his childhood balancing adventure with mischief. As an equally irresponsible adult he has worked for The Nature Conservancy, the arts and education nonprofit NaNoWriMo, taught English in Madrid-based High School equivalent, and volunteers with The Marine Mammal Center. As a writer for Estuary and AcclimateWest, Michael employs his love for nature and his interest in people to help tell the unfolding story of the living Earth.