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California Drought Could Worsen Water Contamination

Posted by feww on February 19, 2014



“Water is, after all, essential for life” —Dr Linda Rudolph

California’s drought could worsen water contamination and cause more health problems, health experts have warned.

Millions of Californians who rely on groundwater are facing increasing levels of contaminants due to dry conditions, said Dr. Linda Rudolph, co-director for the Center for Climate Change and Health in Oakland, California.

The state Department of Public Health has identified 17 communities—mostly in the Central Valley—with severely affected water systems.

“Many groundwater basins in California are contaminated, for example with nitrates from over application of nitrogen fertilizer or concentrated animal feeding operations, with industrial chemicals, with chemicals from oil extraction or due to natural contaminants with chemicals such as arsenic,” she said.

little water creek calif
“Little-Water Creek,” California.

Drought worsening health and safety problems

California’s drought is also worsening numerous other health and safety problems.

The lack of rain is drying out soils and increasing dust levels, and dust carries pathogens, said Rudolph.

“[This] increases allergy and asthma. And dust can also carry pathogens. Over the last decade we’ve seen an increase in Valley Fever, a fungal disease in the Central Valley. That can be increased when dust levels increase and the spores of this disease are carried in the dust.”

Other Health Problems

The drought could also spark other health problems, said Rudolph,  including an increase in diabetes in some rural communities because people turn to sugary fluids when drinking water becomes scarce .

“And when those other alternatives are things like soda, it just exacerbates health problems such as obesity,” she said.

Droughts , which are already causing crop disaster declarations across the Golden  State, are reducing agricultural crop yields, and could soon lead to significant food price increases.

“And we see the same thing when people have to pay more for food. Low income people often turn to calorie dense food that is associated with more calories, obesity and diabetes,” said Rudolph.

Running Out Of Water in 60 DAYS

Meanwhile, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced they are prioritizing assistance to the following public drinking water systems because they are running out of drinking water in 60 days:

System Name City County Population
City of Willits Willits Mendocino 8,062
Redwood Valley County Water District Redwood Valley Mendocino 3,969
Brooktrail Township Community Services District Willits Mendocino 3,800
Lake of the Woods MWC Frazier Park Kern 953
West Goshen Goshen Tulare 300
River Highlands Community Services District Smartsville Yuba 200
Washington Ridge Conservation Camp Nevada City Nevada 100
Camp Condor Taft Kern 75
Whispering Pines Apartments Mid-Pines Mariposa 55
Ophir Gardens Auburn Placer 45

California Drought

Drought persists across California. US  Drought Monitor has downgraded Humboldt and Trinity Counties drought conditions from degradation severe to extreme drought (D2 to D3). Areas near Monterey to Bakersfield have been downgraded from extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4).  Some 8 inches of snow reported on the ground at the Central Sierra Snow Lab near the Donner Summit reports, the lowest for this since at least 1946. Source: NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC.

State of Emergency

Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 27  amid the worsening statewide drought.  He called the “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

57 California Counties Declared Crop Disaster Areas

All but one of the 58 counties in the state of California have been declared Crop Disaster Areas due to Extreme Drought conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 57 counties in the state of California as crop disaster areas due to the worsening drought, since the beginning of the year.

California State Resources

Related Links

FIRE-EARTH 2009 Forecast: Desertification of California in the Near Future Is Almost a Certainty

[NOTE: The above forecast and most of the links posted below have previously been filtered by Google, WordPress and others. Editor ]

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