The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

California’s Contaminated Water

Aug 5, 2019

As many as 1,000 district water systems in California are at a high risk of failure in delivering potable water, according to the California State Water Resources Control Board. That is, one out of every three California districts gets contaminated water. Already, more than 300 public water systems in the state are out of compliance with federal drinking water safety standards, and one million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water.

Mostly low-income working-class communities resting on thin budgets are served with such hazardous water by the State of California and its cities. One example is Willowbrook, located in South Los Angeles. For more than a year in this working-class community, discolored water has regularly gushed from faucets in hundreds of homes. L.A. County officials have admitted that the discoloration of the water comes from high levels of manganese in old pipes. But the officials say there is nothing to worry about; and they dismiss the discoloration as a secondary, aesthetic issue.

In the meantime Willowbrook’s contaminated water has been coating kitchen sinks and bathroom tubs with silt, clogging washing machines and boilers, causing costly replacements, and inflicting people with diseases like hives and stomach problems. No, this is obviously much more harmful than a mere “eye sore,” as the officials would want us to believe!

One in four residents of Willowbrook survive on poverty-level incomes. But they spend more money on drinking water than many families do in a wealthy community like Beverly Hills, only 20 miles away.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has allocated 130 million dollars annually in the budget he signed in June, to supposedly help distressed water systems in the state. But Willowbrook alone needs 14 million dollars just to carry out repairs, and upgrading the system will require much more. Since there are 1,000 more districts in need of upgrades in the state, the 130 million dollars is laughable.

California politicians brag about the state constituting the fifth-largest economy in the world. It’s not that they don’t have the money to make sure all residents of California get clean water – they are just not interested in delivering it, especially to working-class Californians.