People from outside the San Joaquín Valley are often surprised to learn that many residents in this region can’t drink their tap water.
So imagine how people around the world will react when they learn there are communities in California with unsafe drinking water and dilapidated water infrastructure.
The Valley’s drinking water problems could gain international attention this year, when the United Nation’s Independent Expert on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation releases her report on the United States’ compliance with the human right to drinking water.
The Independent Expert, Catarina de Albuquerque, was in California for three days this week, and spent one afternoon in the tiny Tulare County community of Seville. While there, she viewed the community’s water infrastructure – an old pipe that runs through an irrigation ditch – and heard from residents of other lower-income, majority Latino communities.
“The power that I have is to draw attention to issues, and to point my finger at problems that I see in the countries that I visit,” de Albuquerque told Valley residents who gathered in the cafeteria of Seville’s Stone Corral Elementary School, where elementary students drink bottled water, since the taps and water fountains, along with the rest of the community’s water, is contaminated with nitrates and bacteria.
“Sometimes there needs to be someone from the outside pointing the finger at the country to make the country move, do something, and change things,” de Albuquerque said.
In the video below, Seville resident and Environmental Justice Champion Becky Quintana describes her community’s drinking water issues to de Albuquerque.
Read the complete story in next week’s edition of Vida en el Valle.