The Fresno Bee/Fresnoland Drinking Water Guide

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Good morning, and welcome to the Fresnoland Lab newsletter. Today is Saturday, Oct. 24.

This week in Fresnoland, Monica wrote a story on the increasing eviction movement in many of the central San Joaquin Valley communities and how renters can fight back.

It’s Danielle Bergstrom, policy editor of Fresnoland here.

Contaminated and unreliable drinking water is not isolated to a few rural communities in our region. It’s a huge problem facing both large and small communities. It’s partially the legacy of agriculture and development, which has for decades left contaminants to sit in underground aquifers that many of us rely on. It’s also because our water agencies are so fragmented, leaving dozens of tiny agencies on their own to solve really expensive, technical problems. And — because we continue to pump groundwater at unsustainable rates — the level of contaminants in the water concentrates at levels that are unsafe to drink.

Nearly 180,000 residents in Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties live in water districts that are out of compliance with state health standards. That doesn’t include people who rely on private domestic wells that are not regulated by the State Water Board and may be contaminated.

Let’s be clear: there’s actually a ton of information about drinking water. But it’s not always easy for most people to understand. I spend a lot of my time learning about water, and it still takes me a while to understand how to read the annual drinking water report that the EPA requires water agencies to send to their customers.

And drinking water regulations are confusing!

That’s why we created the Fresno Bee/Fresnoland Drinking Water Guide to make it as easy as possible for you to find answers to a few basic questions:

  • Is my water safe to drink?

  • Where does my water come from?

  • Whom should I contact if I am concerned about my water?

But, importantly — if your water system does have contaminants detected at unsafe levels, what should you do about it? What are the health effects? Can you treat it with a typical Brita filter, or do you need to boil the water prior to consumption?

The guide includes:

The guide is also available en Español.

The interactive map includes contact information for every water system, so it’s easy to call or email your water representatives and share your questions and concerns directly with them.

Do you have ideas about how we should continue to cover water in the future? Provide feedback on our drinking water guide? Fill out our brief survey here or email mvaughan@fresnobee.com or dbergstrom@mcclatchyservices.com.

And now, the week’s top reads:

(For the most recent local coronavirus updates, visit www.fresnobee.com/coronavirus.)

Housing and Land Use

Threatened with eviction in Fresno, Visalia, or Merced? Renters have the right to fight. Fresno Bee

Five million dollars more for the parks department. Cleanup funds for a west Fresno community center. More firefighter positions. Here are the highlights from Fresno City Council’s budget hearings this week. Fresno Bee

Californians who sold their homes in the last few months made more money than sellers in other parts of the country, despite the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Even more modestly expensive California communities sit near the top of the national list. Fresno Bee

Chaos and confusion as judge pushes forward plan to clear homeless camps from near freeways. Los Angeles Times

Is Clovis getting too big? Residents gear up to fight new housing development. Fresno Bee

Clovis City Council passes ordinance for regional housing needs. Clovis Roundup

Undisclosed: Most homeowners and renters aren’t warned about wildfire or flood risk. NPR

Want to stop climate change? Look to farms, forests, and wetlands. Los Angeles Times

How liberal politics, COVID-19, and a high cost of living are fueling a California exodus. Sacramento Bee

Why do we keep voting on this? Exploring Prop 13’s tax-revolt family tree. CalMatters

Water and Air Quality

San Joaquin Valley family says company’s toxic pesticide caused child’s disabilities. Fresno Bee

Friant-Kern Canal fix approved over concerns the proposal isn’t totally baked. SJV Water

Valley Air District lands $30 million boost to tractor replacement program. Fresno Business Journal

New law lowers cost of clean water projects. Foothill Sun-Gazette

Black employees call out systemic racism at the California Air Resources Board. Politico

Neighborhoods

‘You can resign.’ Tempers flare as Fresno council members clash over a private vendor’s contract to clean up Chinatown. Fresno Bee

Fresno homicides and shootings are growing. Here’s what law enforcement is doing about it. Fresno Bee

City Council approves development at Clovis and Dakota intersection. Clovis Roundup

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