By Miriam Raftery
July 8, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--As water supplies grow scarcer in California’s fourth year of drought, residents in impoverished rural towns are facing a new threat. Groundwater pumped to record low levels means higher concentrations of arsenic are being found in drinking water in many areas.
The Washington Post reports that some communities are having to truck in water or install filters to screen out toxic levels of arsenic. Arsenic is naturally occurring, but in high levels it can cause cancer, birth defects, and nervous system disorders.
In some places, the problem is even worse. Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley is a “land without water, a real-life example of a future many Californians fear as scientists warn of a possible decades-long mega-drought.
Arsenic has been turning up in drinking water in some East County communities, such as Descansco, though whether that’s due to drought or agricultural run-off is unclear.
Fear of running out of water is also sparking contention at some rural water meetings locally. At a shareholders meeting for the Pine Valley Mutual Water Company, shareholders pushed the board to agree to send out ballots and give all shareholders a vote on whether to rescind water sales to Rough Acres in Boulevard.
Rough Acres Ranch formed a water agency that could supply water for a massive solar project, among other things. Pine Valley’s board voted to sell up to 5 million gallons to Rough Acre in Boulevard, but some shareholders say they want Pine Valley’s water kept in Pine Valley to assure that residents will have ample water in these drought-stricken times.