Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Water contamination plagues California farm regions

Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images

A sobering new UC Davis study reports that nitrate contamination is prevalent in California’s Central Valley and neighboring areas like Salinas, with the problem likely to get worse in the years and even decades to come.

According to Epoch Times, as much as 10 percent of the people living in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valleys are drinking water contaminated with nitrates, with the potential of four out of five area residents dealing with the physical and financial fallout over the next 40 years. The contamination is primarily a result of fertilizers and animal waste from the bustling agricultural activity throughout the region.

As reported by MSNBC, increased nitrate levels have been connected to a series of health issues including cancer, skin rashes and “blue baby syndrome,” a blood disease that can lead to infant death.

"This is a very serious matter," said Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau to the San Francisco Chronicle. "As a representative of farmers and ranchers, we acknowledge that we have some responsibility to address it and we have already begun doing that."

For local residents, the financial impact comes in how much they will have to pay for clean drinking water and supplies, which researchers estimate somewhere in the area of $20 to $36 million annually for the next 20 years.