California officials identify agriculture, including cows, as a major source of nitrate pollution in more than 100,000 square miles of polluted groundwater. Giant livestock farms and the pollution from animal waste and fertilizers that run off into groundwater sources seriously threatens humans through drinking water or well water contamination. And, as residents in rural California have learned, some of this is still a present-day issue even though it is the result from several years ago. Also scary is that according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “in this country, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics — about 80% of the nation’s antibiotics use in total — are added to animal feed every year, mainly to speed livestock growth. This widespread use of antibiotics on animals contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat human illnesses.”

According to a recent article from KPBS, hundreds of California communities are relying on contaminated drinking water due to some of these same issues. The disadvantaged, low-economic communities statewide are suffering from high levels of nitrates which are very dangerous when consumed. The EPA says the state is in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Lawmakers are hoping legislation will fix the problem. Many residents have turned to bottled water which is not eco-friendly or as effective as a drinking water system which could filter out nitrates. These nitrates are said to be the result of decades of fertilizers and animal wastes seeping into the groundwater. The water is tested regularly and shown to have harmful contaminants. But without financial or political backing, the well and water sources won’t see improvements any time soon. Bottled water is expensive for these residents and something else needs to be done.

According to this news article, the nitrate level is often six times higher than what the EPA considers safe to drink. Nitrate levels that high can cause a potentially fatal blood disorder in infants called “blue baby syndrome.” The EPA describes nitrates as a colorless, odorless, and tasteless compound that is present in some groundwater around the country. Proper management of fertilizers, manures, and other nitrogen sources can minimize contamination of drinking water supplies. Unfortunately, poor farming habits that occurred a decade ago still have effects today. The best protection against nitrates in drinking water as well as other harmful contaminants is one of our affordable drinking water systems. These water filters remove contaminants efficiently turning your tap water in safe, clean drinking water. Drinking water contamination is not something you should ignore, nor should you try to live with it. If your water is unfit for consumption, consider one of our drinking water systems so that you can live better and live healthier.