Community Water Center

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

Monson: Living with contaminated private wells


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,

Time without safe drinking water: At least 5 years (the first tests confirming suspected contamination were performed in 2008)

The struggle: Residents in Monson are served by individual private wells with some of the most contaminated water in Tulare County. Nitrate levels exceed the federal health standard by as much as three times in many wells. Several wells also contain levels of bacteria and 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), a pesticide that was banned in the 1970s but persists in the soil and groundwater. Without a central water provider, Monson residents face significant barriers to obtaining the information and resources they need to solve their drinking water challenges.

The people impacted: Monson is a small, unincorporated, 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 100 people, many of whom live below the poverty line. In 2013, CWC worked with a number of community members to install filters as an interim solution to have safe water in their homes. To read more about this work, see Logan's Story.

The solution: Monson, with the help of Tulare County and the neighboring community of Sultana, is currently seeking planning funds from California State Water Board and the USDA to evaluate possible solutions, including the establishment of an independent water system, drilling new wells, or consolidating with the neighboring community of Sultana.

The cost: Estimated planning costs = $495,000