Battle for safe drinking water heated amid drought in California’s Central Valley

For people in the nation’s breadbasket, a historic drought’s impacts are visible in every moment of daily life — but the fight for water rights is just beginning. In agriculture country like Tulare County, California, farmers often place signs blaming Governor Gavin Newsom for water shortages.

(Natalie Hanson/Courthouse News) WEST GOSHEN, Calif. (CN) — Thousands of acres of crops, from corn to nectarines, surround Melynda Metheney’s community in West Goshen, California — one of the key battlegrounds where residents say irrigation and overpumping have depleted drinkable water. “You know what you’re up against when you live in these communities. You have to decide, are there enough of us?” said Metheney, standing in her parched yard. In 2012, Community Water Center (CWC) told the Goshen community of about 3,300 that its water was contaminated with nitrates. Residents spent two years fighting to connect to Cal Water — the third largest regulated utility in the nation — and only some did. Some of Metheney’s West Goshen neighbors still don’t have well water.

“It’s like saying, you’re not worth the money to finish it,” Metheney said. Metheney has been at the forefront of her neighborhood’s effort with CWC to negotiate another agreement […]

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