Insight With Beth Ruyak

Hosted By Beth Ruyak

Insight creates conversation to build community, exploring issues and events that connect people in our region. Insight covers breaking news and big ideas, music, arts & culture with responsible journalism, civil discussion and diverse voices.


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California's Clean Drinking Water Problem

Community Water Center / Courtesy

Water in communities across the San Joaquin Valley is contaminated with things like arsenic and nitrates.

Community Water Center / Courtesy

In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first State of the State address, he urged every Californian to muster the political will to address a problem he called “a moral disgrace and … a medical emergency.” He was talking about California’s water.

An estimated 1 million people across the state have unhealthy water pouring from their taps. In the San Joaquin Valley, over 90,000 people may be served by unsafe drinking water. Of these, nearly two-thirds live within a mile of a public water system that could provide safe drinking water.

Governor Newsom’s so-called “water tax” would have taxed residential water customers and certain agricultural industries to fund solutions to this problem for low-income communities. That plan didn’t make it through budget negotiations. The same budget talks produced a different solution: to spend $130 million a year from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund on the water infrastructure problem.

Earlier this week, environmental activists and people who lack access to clean water rallied on the Capitol steps to urge state lawmakers to act. Among them were longtime labor activist Dolores Huerta and Susana De Anda, executive director and co-founder of Community Water Center. She joins Insight to discuss the issue of unhealthy water and its impact on communities. UC Davis associate professor and faculty lead of the Center for Regional Change, Jonathan London, discusses his research on the regions and people who lack access to clean water.

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