Among the stories that appeared in the LA Times during Thanksgiving week, Diana Marcum reported on a family in East Orosi, Tulare County, who couldn’t use their tap water to wash their Thanksgiving turkey because they live in “one of the many Central Valley farm communities where the supply is tainted – by nitrates, arsenic or bacteria traced to decades of agricultural runoff.”
Bertha Diaz makes $7.50 an hour picking different seasonal fruits – grapefruit, lemons, grapes, blackberries. Tap water for bathing and gardening plus bottled water for drinking and cooking costs about 30% of her income.
Marcum notes that forty years ago, the county decided not to invest in water and sewer services in East Orosi and 15 other communities because they were made up of farmworkers who would soon be replaced by mechanical harvesters.
Marcum doesn’t mention, but we will, that mechanical harvesters can’t pick the crops that Bertha Diaz picks. Apparently the wealth generated by those permanent crops hasn’t yet been invested in decent water supplies for the people who pick or help process them.