Why It’s Legal to Pump Untreated Canal Water Into Californians’ Homes
BRAWLEY, CALIFORNIA – It takes Humberto Lugo several minutes to explain how the home he is standing in front of actually gets its water. It’s a small, stucco house dwarfed by an expanse of dusty farm fields that sit mostly fallow in September, awaiting the next planting of winter vegetables.
An irrigation canal runs by the front of the property, and brings water not just to the surrounding farms but also to homes. Lugo demonstrates how a rubber hose is dropped into the canal and the water, gravity-fed, then pours into an open concrete pool in the house’s front yard that is teeming with algae, fish and debris. The home’s resident, a renter and farmhand, occasionally dumps some ammonia in the pool before pumping the water to the house to use for showering and other needs.
The home sits about 25 miles from the United States-Mexico border – on the U.S. side.
This kind of do-it-yourself water treatment is common here in California’s Imperial Valley in the southeast corner of the state. At last count, 2,757 rural homes here – referred to locally as “countryside homes” – do not have a source of treated, municipal water and instead rely on untreated irrigation water for washing dishes, showering and cleaning. READ MORE AT WATER DEEPLY