California Has Been Letting Oil Companies Dump Waste In Their Drinking Water For Decades

Contaminated California water

California has had some bad luck lately when it comes to water. There’s still a severe drought going on, and a few California residents discovered rancid black water coming from their tap. Now, another shocking news story about tainted California water could explain what caused the filthy liquid to come from the faucets.

According to SF Gate, oil companies have been allowed to dump their wastewater into California’s water supply for many years, pumping the toxic remains of their drilling operations into local aquifers. The aquifers had, at one point, been clean enough for local California residents to drink, but the supply has since been tainted. As horrifying as it is to learn that oil companies have been knowingly polluting California water, they did so legally with expressed permission from the state.

State regulators were solely responsible from keeping groundwater pure, but instead allowed more than 170 aquifers to be contaminated. Two hundred and fifty-three other lower-quality aquifers were also tainted with hydrocarbons and chemicals, which require special filtration to be drinkable again. The Chronicle discovered that the state of California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has been permitting oil companies to drill in aquifers as far back as 1983.

“Put simply, California regulators are not up to the task of managing safe wastewater disposal and cede residents’ safety and health to oil and gas production,” said Dan Jacobson, the state director for Environment California.

“Preserving and protecting California’s water and farms is not something to take lightly.”

According to the Huffington Post, environmentalists and conservations in California have asked the state to shut down the oil injection wells and stop the companies from drilling in protected aquifers. It’s hard to know what damage has been caused by the pollution, or whether or not the recent black tap water was a result of oil dumping, fracking, or something else. But the drought alone is enough of a reason to keep waste from tainting precious pure water aquifers.

“It is an unfolding catastrophe,” said Kassie Siegel, the director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, “and it’s essential that all oil and gas wastewater injection into underground drinking water stop immediately.”

In addition to tainted water in California households, others have complained that oil company waste injections have already done severe damage to local crops. The situation can only get worse until the wells are shut down and the state regulators are held accountable.