March 13th, 2012

Nearly 10 percent of the 2.6 million people living in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley might be drinking nitrate-contaminated water, according to a new study out today from researchers at UC Davis. If nothing is done to stem the problem, the report warns, those at risk for health and financial problems may number nearly 80 percent by 2050. Read the full story.

Photo by Paolo Vescia/FERNnews

December 5th, 2011

Maywood residents facing pollution outline community goals

California Watch’s Public Engagement Manager Ashley Alvarado visited Maywood, Calif., to listen and learn from community members.  Read her full report here.

The invite was a pleasant surprise. Janet Wilson’s excellent report on the severe health struggles of one Maywood family and the polluted conditions that envelop them had run recently, and I was doing research for “A Field Guide to Maywood Pollution Issues,” a downloadable directory of key players. I reached out to Héctor Alvarado (no relation), an activist with Padres Unidos de Maywood. And he invited to me to one of the weekly Comité Cívico del Agua meetings. 

That I was the guest of honor came as a complete shock. One night this week, I walked into the Unión de Vecinos office space on East Slauson Avenue a few minutes before 6:30. I was early, and yet 20 people sat in a circle, waiting for me. Handwritten posters outlined goals for the community; two bookshelves stood crammed with bottles of polluted water. Héctor introduced me, and then, one by one, Maywood residents stood to introduce themselves.

Over the next hour and a half, I listened as people shared their Maywood stories. Some, like Cristóforo Castro, have lived in Maywood for more than four decades. All have been affected by its polluted water. They pay for water three times, they said: at the meter (with prices that rise and that residents are unable to monitor), large decanters for everyday water use and the bottles they drink. That does not include what they pay for all the health issues: “There is illness all over Maywood,” Cristóforo said in Spanish.

Photo: Bottles hold water samples taken from Maywood residents’ faucets.

October 10th, 2011
Clean drinking water is a basic human right. The bills I have signed today will help ensure that every Californian has access to clean and safe sources of water.
California Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement. Brown signed seven bills into law Friday seeking to improve access to clean drinking water in California, particularly for residents in rural and disadvantaged communities.
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California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.