Many Americans may not realize that in the prosperous state of California, over 1 million people are without a source of clean drinking water in their homes or communities. There are many causes for this dilemma, but agricultural practices are a major contributor. Groundwater overpumping for irrigation has depleted aquifers and led to higher concentrations of arsenic in the groundwater that surrounding communities use for drinking water. Excessive fertilizer application and poorly managed dairies have polluted aquifers with nitrates
As with many environmental impacts, marginalized and low income communities as well as people of color are disproportionately affected. Despite the 2012 passage of AB 685 by the California legislature, which states that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water”, very limited progress has been made in resolving the situation, which has been exacerbated by recent severe drought conditions.