In California, the drilling operations of oil companies have been dumping waste into the state’s clean water aquifers, and California state officials are okay with it, reported Salon.
To add insult to injury, the state of California has long been under the oppression of a massive drought, the worst the state has seen in decades. Currently, there are 464 oil wells in California that have dumped their wastewater into aquifers that should be protected by the Safe Drinking Water Act. However, the people with any power, like California state officials, are letting it happen.
In 1983, the Environmental Protection Agency gave regulatory powers to the state’s oil field regulators, who stand behind their claim of there being no drinking water contamination. The San Francisco Chronicle explains the situation clearly:
To gauge water quality in a river, lake or aquifer, researchers often start with the water’s total dissolved solids — salts and other materials in the liquid. High counts don’t necessarily make water harmful to drink, but they can cloud it and give it a salty or bitter taste.
In general, anything below 500 parts per million requires no treatment and is considered high quality. Water from San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy system, piped straight from the Sierra, averages 71. State water officials want to prevent contamination of any aquifers that are below 3,000.
And yet, the oil industry drilled 171 injection wells into aquifers with counts of 3,000 parts per million or less, according to state data. Companies also received permits to drill five wells into aquifers of the same quality, but for those wells there is no record of injections.
Even though state officials say there is no water contamination, the EPA could seize the oversight once held by California regulators. If California state officials don’t come up with a plan by Feb. 6 to address this potentially dangerous problem, the EPA will step in.
“If there are wells having a direct impact on drinking water, we need to shut them down now,” said regional EPA administrator Jared Blumenfeld. “Safe drinking water is only going to become more in demand.”
This problem especially affects places in the southern San Joaquin Valley because of how little rain the area receives. Farmers in the area rely on irrigation, which means they’re using potentially contaminated groundwater to feed their plants.
How long are we going to let oil and gas companies get away with damaging our aquifers and damaging the environment? The companies have no consideration for either because all that matters is their profit margin.