A Tale of Two Communities and Contaminated Water


By Jose Gonzalez, NewsTaco

This past week two stories stood out identifying two communities of color different in many ways but connected by a common challenge: contaminated water.

One storyfrom the New York Times, pointed out the issues with contaminated water faced in small predominately Latino communities in the Central Valley, California. “Don’t drink the water” is no joke here, but rather a sad reality and norm for low-income communities of color. It should be fair to ask HOW this happen as well as WHY. As the NY Times story points out:

“It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap.”

The irony is that many of these communities are farm-working communities that work the very fields and industries that poison their drinking water —and in that process these communities bear the cost of food production in more than one way. First, we rely on communities like these to serve as a labor force for the food we consume, the dairies and crops of California’s bountiful bread basket. But the political and economic forces that govern these areas keep many of these communities in poverty with low wages or uneven enforcement of the few regulations in place to protect them. Second, these communities struggle with limited access to the basic needs some of us take for granted, such as drinking water.

These communities are asked to pay twice for water. They pay first for the tap and second in the purchase of bottled drinking water. Furthermore this pushes habits we consider detrimental to sustainable living: In the larger conservation community we stress the detrimental environmental effects of bottled water and yet that is the safest and healthiest option for these communities absent state and regulatory action.

The other story exposed the loopholes benefiting oil and gas companies to dump contaminated water on the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming.  NPR broke the story, specifically pointing out  how what goes on there is illegal in most of the country— with the implication that a reservation is not seen as like most of the country.  The shocking part is that this is permitted, directly and indirectly, by the Environmental Protection Agency, the very agency that is supposed to regulate this type of practice to protect people and the environment. As this article from KERA News points out, quoting a Duke University environmental scientist:

“I was shocked when I heard this. I was very surprised this was allowed. It’s just something that we should know better by now. We should know that dumping our waste onto the surface of the ground is a bad solution…Are we doing something on tribal lands we wouldn’t allow somewhere else? I think that’s something we have to be asking ourselves.”

Those are good questions, but questions and issues that not all communities face— Yet common enough in communities of color.

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]