Climate change is poised to result in a worldwide water crisis, and international institutions and governments have not done enough to prepare, according to a report released Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Until the first half of the 20th century, some areas in Los Angeles County had very high groundwater and springs that residents could use as a water source, said Madelyn Glickfeld, co-director of the UCLA Water Resources Group.
Francisco Diaz remembers when the water piped to his home in the Central Valley community of Monterey Park Tract made everything smell rotten, including himself.
“We had to take our clothes and go to the city and wash it over there because if you had washed it here and put it on, you’d stink,” said Diaz, who heads the Monterey Park Tract Community Service District, a form of specialized local government. “We couldn’t even take showers.”
Unsurprisingly, the water was undrinkable. Agricultural run-off, heavy in potentially toxic nitrates, had contaminated both wells that supplied water to Monterey Park Tract, nestled amid the crop fields and dairy farms of Stanislaus County.
For decades, scientists have warned that climate change would disrupt almost every natural life-sustaining system on our planet. What have we done about it? We’ve dithered. We refuse to believe the evidence, or rail against the cost and inconvenience of change, or hope the problem will just go away. But global warming is not going away. Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its most alarming report yet: Earth is on the edge of ecological bankruptcy.
The longer it takes for two new wells to be dug in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir in western Fresno County, the deeper in debt the towns are mired.
Now, with the drought, those well projects are in a race against dropping groundwater levels as farmers, cut off from surface water supplies, are leaning more heavily on the aquifer.
Last week, the State Water Board finally intervened in the unincorporated area of Tooleville’s 20-year struggle to obtain the basic human right to clean drinking water with a letter to the city of Exeter and the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association, giving the two parties six months to hash out terms for a voluntary consolidation of Tooleville to Exeter’s water system or face a mandatory order with much less cooperation.
Right now, Congress is debating needed investments in our water system decades in the making. While the Senate’s compromise bill passed earlier this month includes billions for lead pipe replacement and helping communities prepare for future drought and floods, the bill falls short of ensuring all families can turn their tap on and access safe, affordable water.
Infrastructure spending isn’t enough. We must pair new water spending with bill assistance to ensure the water flowing through our upgraded pipes serves all households in America. This is especially true as the country faces another rise in COVID-19 cases.
High levels of toxic, widely used “forever chemicals” contaminate groundwater around at least six military sites in the Great Lakes region, according to U.S. Department of Defense records that an environmental group released Tuesday.
The Environmental Working Group said PFAS, an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have oozed into the Great Lakes and pose a risk to people who eat fish tainted with the chemicals.
A federal judge Monday threw out a major Trump administration rule that scaled back federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States, reversing one of the previous administration’s most significant environmental rollbacks. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez wrote that Trump officials committed serious errors while writing the regulation, finalized last year, and that leaving it in place could lead to “serious environmental harm.”
As unprecedented drought conditions plague much of the West, reservoirs are running dry. Communities reliant on these sources for drinking water are tightening restrictions to preserve adequate supplies.
“This is the first time it’s been this severe,” said Tom Colbert of Healdsburg, California. “It’s disheartening. We’ve had friends move out of California because of the drought and the wildfires.”