Who is responsible for the water that comes out of your tap? In California, thousands of people in dozens of communities have contaminated water with the potential to cause cancer, birth defects, and multiple health problems. The water is known to be unsafe to drink, yet families still pay for it—and often the cost is a significant portion of their income. These families then must drive miles to purchase bottled water to drink, and still must use the contaminated water for household purposes like bathing and washing dishes.
Last year, California signed legislation making access to water a human right—one of the only states in the nation to do so. Federal and state sources have dedicated billions of dollars to study the problems, build water treatment plants (although in small towns like Lanare, treatment plants close if they cost too much to operate), and explore the feasibility of local and regional solutions. Yet despite this funding, widespread problems of contaminated water continue in these communities. In Lanare, contamination is caused by naturally-occurring arsenic which leaches into well water. Lanare is a small, unincorporated town with a tiny population, and although its residents organized to address this problem, clean water is still out of their reach—despite potentially successful solutions.
Lanare is not alone-many small towns and communities have similar situations with contaminated water. It is often caused by California’s thriving agricultural industry. The Central Valley is the nation’s most productive farm belt and agriculture is the regional economic driver. This problem does not only affect homes, but community centers, public buildings, and schools – every time a young student takes a sip at the drinking fountain, there is the potential for exposure. So how can California towns solve this problem? Can better technology like water filtration systems solve problems of contamination? Or is it something that is only fixable by the government? Current legislation in the California Senate is designed to address this deeply entrenched problem by switching the administration of water from one government body to another—but, will this be effective? As a large number of the affected families are low-income and Latino, does the solution lie in community empowerment and development? Who is responsible to protect these families and provide them with safe, clean water? How will California realize the promises inherent in its promising 2012 Water Rights Act?
Join us for a public town hall on water and development, hosted by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, who has reported extensively on issues affecting Latino communities. Lanare and Beyond: A Town Hall on Water will shed light on the human impact of widespread water contamination, explore the short-term and permanent solutions, and engage residents, legislators, and other stakeholders in the Central Valley in a conversation about the right to clean water.
Event will be streamed live on Radio Bilingüe.
When & Where
The Futuro Media Group
The Futuro Media Group is an independent non-profit media organization dedicated to producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. It was founded in 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa. Based in Harlem, The Futuro is committed to sharing stories often overlooked by mainstream news media.