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

U.S. citizen detained overnight by ICE – they thought he was undocumented

Victor Landa July 6, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1.5 minute read)  This is startling news. Up until last night at a dinner conversation I believed that the idea that an American citizen would be […]

Willie Velásquez documentary is a lesson for Latinos on the importance of voting

NewsTaco May 9, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because today is Willie Velasquez day and a quick search of his name turned up no news stories. This piece, by Mercedes Olivera, is from […]

DIECIOCHO Podcast: Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia – Trump, Gerrymandering and Money

NewsTaco June 8, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1 minute read, 34 minute listen)  It’s safe to say that the just-ended Texas legislative session was the most acrimonious in memory. We can talk for […]

Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4

Victor Landa July 5, 2017

*I’m posting this because it was mostly Latinos, organizing, protesting, making their voices heard. Everyone needs to know that Latinos in deep South Texas are standing up. VL By Patrick […]

Pence will host White House Cinco de Mayo party

NewsTaco May 4, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because there’ll be no Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House (I know, big deal – we’ll be spared the taco-bowl). VL By Hadas […]

Castro will not run for U.S. Senate

NewsTaco May 1, 2017

By Victor Laneda, NewsTaco (i.5 minute read)    Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) says he will not be running for the U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz. Castro had promised to make […]

Vietnam War veteran fears he could be deported

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*This Vietnam veteran, born in Mexico, was awarded two Purple Hearts and given U.S. citizenship after his service. He’s misplaced his documents and after paying $345 the government wants more […]

Henry Cisneros: Why Can’t Americans See Latinos Are Country’s ‘Saving Grace’?

Victor Landa

*Good question. I think it’s because we’re not the ones telling our story. We need to fight for our narrative. VL By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (1.5 minute read)  SAN […]