Uranium contaminating Central Valley drinking systems

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Uranium contaminating Central Valley drinking systems
Contaminated water is making it's way into the Central Valley drinking systems.

TULARE COUNTY. (KFSN) -- Contaminated water is making its way into the Central Valley drinking systems.

A new report said that as many as one-in-four homes could be impacted-- public water systems are also at risk.

Waekuna Joint Union School water system has tested positive for uranium in the water. They're bringing in bottled water for students to drink But other public water systems, and many private wells, could also be at risk for contamination.

Water fuels the growth and economy of the Central Valley. There's less of it because of the drought and now a report by the Associated Press says the drought is making the water we do have more dangerous. "It's not something that has a taste or an odor or anything so you can't see it, you can't smell it, touch it, feel it, or what not," said Chad Fischer.

Fischer, an engineer with the California Water Resources Control Board said uranium is in ten public water systems in Tulare County.

In Fresno County, a mobile home park near Kerman has also tested positive. Notices have been posted, but residents said they're confusing. "The water had high uranium but that it was ok to drink-- you didn't have to boil it but that if you drank it over long periods of time it could cause cancer," said Giselle Alvarez.

Uranium is found naturally in the soil in California. It's collected for nuclear power plants and used in atom bombs. And a new study by the US Geological Survey said one-in-four wells in the Central Valley could be contaminated by it. "If it's important to them I 100-percent implore people with private wells to go ahead and get their water tested," said Fischer.

Fischer said there are labs across the Valley that can check water for contaminants like uranium.

Public systems are required to go through routine testing and if a problem is found they have to notify their users and fix it.

At Waukena, the State Water Control Board said they're looking at drilling a new well or installing a system that would treat the water on site.

If you do have your water tested it can take several weeks to get the results back.