water

The Central California Town That Keeps Sinking

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the farming town of Corcoran has a multimillion-dollar problem. It is almost impossible to see, yet so vast it takes NASA scientists using satellite technology to fully grasp. Corcoran is sinking.

Over the past 14 years, the town has sunk as much as 11.5 feet in some places — enough to swallow the entire first floor of a two-story house and to at times make Corcoran one of the fastest-sinking areas in the country, according to experts with the United States Geological Survey.

Toxic Blooms Are a Public Health Risk and Increase Water Treatment Costs

The waters in Clear Lake, the second largest in California, shelter a treacherous occupant — potentially toxic blooms of cyanobacteria. The harmful algal blooms are a threat to public health, recreation, and the local economy.

For the 18 public water systems that draw from the lake the noxious blooms are something else: an operating hazard that is complicating their treatment processes and increasing the cost of providing clean water in one of the state’s poorest counties.

California Tribes Call Out Degradation of Clear Lake

Seven years ago, after the fish died, Sarah Ryan decided she couldn’t wait any longer for help. California was in the depths of its worst drought in the last millennium and its ecosystems were gasping. For Ryan, the fish kill in Clear Lake, the state’s second largest and the centerpiece of Lake County, was the last straw.

Ryan is the environmental director for Big Valley Rancheria. She and others raised alarms for several years about increasingly dire blooms of toxic cyanobacteria.

A street in the Kern County community of El Adobe, California.

‘I’m Scared of Getting Sick From the Water’

Like more than 300 communities across California, the tiny town of El Adobe in Kern County lacks safe drinking water. Since 2008, the arsenic levels in one of its two wells have regularly exceeded the safety standards set by federal and state authorities, often by more than double.

A 2013 report recommended the community consolidate with the larger water system in nearby Lamont. Residents are still waiting for that to happen. Some are losing hope.

X Close

Subscribe to Our Mailing List