Tony Torres, 71 stands near his well. He was the first Monson resident to receive a water filtration system in his home, making it safe to drink the water that comes out of his tap. (Credit: Blue Planet Network, storiesofwater.org)
Monson is a small unincorporated community that struggles with securing a safe supply of drinking water. It is a primarily Latino community in Tulare County, located just a few miles from other small communities such as Sultana and the larger city of Dinuba. Surrounded by agriculture fields and dairies, the community is home to approximately 200 people, many of whom live below the poverty line. It is not connected to a Community Services District (CSD), and instead residents are served by individual private wells with some of the most contaminated water in Tulare County.
Monson has been without clean water for at least 9 years, and possibly longer. The first tests confirming this suspected contamination discovered many wells with nitrate levels that exceeded the federal health standard by as much as 300%. Several wells also contain bacteria and 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), a pesticide that was banned in the 1970s but persists in the soil and groundwater. These contaminants cause serious health risks. For example, ingestion of nitrate-contaminated water is extremely harmful to human health and has been linked to methemoglobinemia, or “Baby Blue Syndrome,” and a range of serious gastrointestinal and endocrine system illnesses.
Without a central water provider, Monson residents face significant barriers to obtaining the information and resources they need to solve their drinking water challenges. In 2013, CWC worked with a number of community members to install filters as an interim solution to have safe water in their homes. For more information on this, see Logan’s Story.
With the help of Tulare County and the neighboring community of Sultana, Monson is currently seeking planning funds from California State Water Board and the USDA to evaluate possible solutions, including the consolidating with Sultana and drilling new wells that would serve both communities in a singular Sultana-Monson Community Services District (CSD).