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Water Defense Update: February 2018

Californians Boycott Produce Grown with Oil Wastewater

Over thirty five thousand people have signed onto a pledge in California to boycott several popular produce companies that use recycled oil wastewater to irrigate crops. After a Water Defense investigation uncovered toxic compounds such as acetone and methylene chloride in treated oil wastewater, Food & Water Watch used our results to find the district, names and addresses of companies that use this contaminated water. Then a Mother Jones article exposed Sunview, Halos mandarins, Trinchero Family Estates, and Bee Sweet Citrus as companies that use water from Kern County’s Cawelo Water District, where oil companies provide wastewater to farmers.

Water officials praise the practice of using oil wastewater on farms as a water conservation effort at a time when California needs every drop, but there remains unanswered questions about its safety. Furthermore, there is a lack of regulations around contaminants in irrigation water. Carcinogens like benzene have been found in Chevron’s own tests, but California has not set a standard for benzene in irrigation water.

For more information about this issue please visit our page on oil wastewater irrigation.

Trump Targets Water Cleanup Programs

Meanwhile, President Trump has proposed to drastically reduce or eliminate federal support for cleanups of our most important surface water resources.

Trump’s proposed 2019 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency released on Monday, February 12, would nearly eliminate federal funding for the cleanup of pervasive pollution of the Great Lakes, the world’s biggest surface freshwater system. Trump’s plan would cut funding by 90% for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an initiative that boosts the economy and environment in eight states extending from New York to Minnesota. The importance of protecting our Great Lakes can be seen in an upcoming film, The Worth of Water, about two young women’s ambitious Walk to Sustain Our Great Lakes.

Trump has a similar 90% cut in mind for the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary. Other programs will fare even worse. Trump plans to remove all funding for cleanup programs for the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sounds, San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and South Florida, including the Everglades and the Keys.

The Trump Administration is trying to slash funding for the world’s most important water resources at a time when they are showing real progress. You can act now by telling your senators to oppose any spending bill that contains anti-environment cuts.

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