Community Water Center

Community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy

Emely Jimenez

For Some People in the U.S., Every Day is a Day without Water

By Nancy Stoner
September 14, 2016

Water is something that we easily take for granted. We wake up in the morning, stumble into the shower, brush our teeth, and brew our coffee without a second thought of how the abundance of clean water arrived at our tap. By the end of that routine, nearly 30 gallons of water has been used. Yet, as of 2015 more than 660 million people throughout the world still did not have access to clean water, spending large portions of the day walking miles to fetch water.


Most people within the United States do not often consider what life would be like without water for a day, let alone for most of the time.  Imagine a Day without Water, September 15, 2016, is a day to help raise awareness and educate the American population on water, our most precious resource and one that is facing serious constraints.  This campaign is sponsored by Pisces Foundation’s grantee, US Water Alliance, and is implemented by the Value of Water Coalition. Raising awareness is possible in many ways, such as issuing a press release, sharing success stories, or participating on social media with the hashtag #valuewater. A full list of ways to participate can be found here.

It is easy to assume that most water related concerns are in other countries.  But that is not always true. Within California, according to Community Water Center(CWC), a well-respected grassroots organization working to address water and equity issues in California’s Central Valley, thousands of people in the San Joaquin River Basin in the southern Central Valley have no clean drinking water due to drought or contamination of ground water supplies with arsenic, nitrates, or pesticides. In 2014, within the San Joaquin Basin, 432 public water systems did not consistently meet safe drinking standards. These poor water conditions have been exacerbated by the five-year drought-year drought that California currently faces. Many domestic wells that are the primary source of water for poor, disadvantaged communities have gone dry. Water levels at more than 2,300 wells state-wide have been deemed critically low or dry.

At the Pisces Foundation, we are working to highlight and address drinking water quality issues throughout the US, including through an important meeting this week we helped design and co-funded where the focus is on how remote sensing technology can help. At a national level, we’re supporting efforts like NRDC’srecent report examining the scope of lead in drinking water.  To address the complexity of the problems in parts of California, our grantee, the Water Foundation, is working with the Community Water Center and other partners to advance statewide and local solutions in the San Joaquin Valley to build resiliency for vulnerable communities and support all human needs. CWC is helping create new water sources, such as hooking up homes to community water systems, building wells, and helping to ensure that broken and contaminated water distribution systems are repaired.

I had the good fortune to visit the San Joaquin Valley with Laurel Firestone of the Community Water Center several years ago. We toured through the Valley in a van, meeting up with local residents at schools, which is where most people have to go to pick up water for their homes and families.  Turnout was high throughout our tour as residents came out to explain their many years of efforts to obtain access to the safe tap water that the rest of us take for granted.  It left a deep impression on me.

Rebecca Quintana and her family are among those the Community Water Center is assisting. The Quintana family did not have normal, reliable deliveries of clean drinking when CWC helped install a new well for them in the fall of 2014. The Quintana family, like other residents of Seville, CA, had access only to ground water contaminated with nitrate at levels that were much higher than federal health standards deem safe.  But for the Quintanas and others, a new well is not the complete solution. The entire water distribution system must be replaced and be connected to an outside water source to ensure safe water for the residents of Seville.

The Pisces Foundation is proud to partner with the Water Foundation and the Community Water Center, and many other grantees committed to clean and safe drinking water.  Together, our goal is to make a day without water an imaginary world.  No one should have to live even one day without clean water.


Public meeting to be held on carncinogen found in Kern water

By Claudia Rodriguez

July 20, 2016

Official story:


A local meeting is planned following a Cal Water report that states a colorless, odorless, cancer-causing chemical has been lurking in Kern's water systems for years.

State officials are taking action to set limits on just how much of it can be allowed in our groundwater.

It's called trichloropropane or 1,2,3 TCP.

It's classified as a safe pesticide by Central Valley farmers.

But in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency established a limit after fi


nding it can cause cancer in humans.

The State Water Board says some public water systems are delivering water that is contaminated with levels that exceed the public health goal.


The poisonous compound TCP was manufactured in the 1980's by two companies, Shell Global and the Dow Chemical company.

It's been found in four counties Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Merced and Los Angeles.


About seven years ago, the EPA established a public health goal for the chemical of .7 parts per trillion.

The State Water Board is now proposing to lower that number to .5 parts per trillion.

Officials say long-term exposure or drinking can lead to cancer.

However, it does say people should not be concerned.

“At this point, it's our belief that water systems are ensuring that water that goes to their customers should be at levels lower that could have a health impact but they are asking us for specifics on what that safe line would be. That's why we are holding these public meetings and we are certainly encouraging public participation. But there is no immediate health risk,” said George Kostyrko with the State Water Board.

One of three workshops to inform the public about TCP will be held in Bakersfield.

It will include a staff presentation with information as well as the potential health concerns associated with it.

The meeting is next Tuesday, July 26 at the Kern County Public Health Department from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Mojave/Sierra room.

The State Water Board says it will use public input to establish its final maximum contaminant level recommendation.

Officials hope to have that number set by the end of the year.


Contaminants in 117 public wells across Kern County

By Kahtia Hall

July 26, 2016

Original Story:

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The State Water Resources Board met with the public Tuesday to discuss plans to monitor the high levels of 1,2,3-TCP that have been found in public wells across Kern County. 

The cleaning solvent 1,2,3-TCP is also associated with pesticide products.

Back in the 1940s, Dow and Shell started to use this product as a fumigant. Even though, they had evidence it was harmful to humans, they continued to use it anyways. By the '90s, 1,2,3- TCP was banned, but by that time the toxin had found it's way into the groundwater.

Anything over 5 ppt is considered toxic, and currently there are 117 public wells across Kern County that have are over this limit of 1,2,3-TCPs.

Even though, high toxins have been found, water providers do not have to do anything about it. This carcinogen is can be absorbed through the drinking water or by breathing it in the home.

The State Water Resources Board met Tuesday to discuss plans to come up with a MCL, or maximum contaminant level, making an effort to regulate these toxins.

"When that is in place, water systems will have to test for that along with all the other chemicals that they test for. That will be part of their weekly, monthly or daily, in some instances, part of their reporting," said Andrew DiLuccia, spokesperson for the State Water Resources Board. 

If water providers exceed this level, they will be forced to put in treatment. One of the main kinds of treatment officials are looking at is called granulated active carbon. Diluccia said this kind of treatment has been used for decades and is cost-effective.

Residents living in the Arvin community say they have seen a high number of cancer-related deaths, and everyone Eyewitness News talked to links those deaths to the toxic water.

"I went back to Arvin five years ago, and ever since I moved back, just around my block, five ladies have passed away from cancer, and then there is three cancer survivors, and I always thought something is not right here ... something is not right," said Elizabeth Martinez, an Arvin resident.

No current cases have been linked to the contaminant. But, according to the State Water Resources Board, drinking high levels of 1,2,3-TCP over 70 years can increase risks of developing cancer.


California State Water Board holds meeting in Bakersfield about high levels of 1,2,3 TCP in the water

By Jessica Harrington

July 26, 2016

Original Story:

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The State Water Board held a public workshop in Bakersfield Tuesday on the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP). 

The workshop was the second of of three meetings the State Water Board is holding in regards to 1,2,3 TCP.

"My concern is that the water has different kinds of things that, that we -- a lot of people don't know about," said James Guzman who attended the meeting Tuesday.

On July 21, 2016 the State Water Board held the first of three meetings. In the first meeting, the State Water Board staff shared a preliminary proposal to set the TCP drinking water standard at 5 parts per trillion, which experts say is the most health-protective standard. 

"You don't get sick right away or anything like that, but over a long period of time, there could be a chance," said Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesperson for the State Water Board. However, he said that's why the water board wants to implement regulations -- to prevent it from happening altogether. 

Currently, Kern County's water is about 200 times that amount, something experts say is extremely dangerous and can cause cancer. 

The carcinogen is not regulated in water, companies are simply required to tell their customers that the water is higher than 5 parts per trillion.

State Water Officials said resident increase the likelihood of developing cancer if they drink two liters of the water per day for 70 or more years. 

"You know if we can eliminate any possible exposure, why not do it?" said Jerry Tinoco, a coordinator for the south Kern community for the Community Water Center.

The proposed regulation would give the State Water Board the option to take action if a water company exceeds more than 5 parts per trillion of 1,2,3 TCP in the water. 

"Setting the standard at this level would help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians who currently drink water contaminated with TCP," Asha Kreiling posted on the CWC website.

Kreiling said CWC expects the standard will be presented later this year and hopes it will be formally adopted by next spring, around April.

For more information about 1,2,3 TCP visit the State Water Board website here.



Emely Jimenez

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