Last year, our friends at Water Defense uncovered a California water district that was buying oilfield wastewater to include in the water it sells to farmers to irrigate crops in California’s Central Valley. But this year, Food & Water Watch has uncovered another water district in California, also buying this potentially toxic wastewater and selling it to farmers. What’s worse: we now can’t be sure how widespread this practice already is, or that it won’t spread.
Even though this wastewater is only being used to water crops in parts of one state, California is responsible for a huge portion of other fruits, nuts and vegetables produced in the US. As the nation’s produce basket, a threat to California’s agriculture is a threat to the entire country’s food supply. Some staples that California is the primary U.S. producer of include:
- 99% of almonds
- 83% of fresh carrots
- 91% of lemons
- 99% of olives
- 96% of broccoli
- 95% of celery
- 98% of garlic
- 91% of strawberries
No one—in California, or anywhere in the country—should have to wonder if the food they eat could be contaminated with oilfield wastewater. We know some crops are already being grown and sold across the country using this questionable practice, but we have no way of knowing which ones or how many. By allowing oil companies to sell their wastewater for use on our crops, the California government is forcing us to play Russian roulette with our food—we may not find out what’s safe until it’s too late.
That’s why we need to call on our politicians to fix this broken system and protect the food we depend on to feed the entire country. We need Governor Brown to ensure this filthy practice of selling oilfield wastewater to farmers stops right now.