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Water Deeply is designed to help you understand the complex web of environmental, social and economic issues related to water in California. Our editors and expert contributors are working around the clock to bring you greater clarity and comprehensive coverage of the state's water issues.

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Toxic Taps

Video: These California Residents Rely on Untreated Canal Water

In our last video in the ‘Toxic Taps’ series, we visit Southern California’s Imperial Valley, where thousands of rural residents rely on untreated water used to irrigate crops.

Written by Tara Lohan Published on Read time Approx. 0 minutes

In the Imperial Valley in Southern California, which shares a border with Mexico to the south and Arizona to the east, untreated water that travels hundreds of miles in canals is used to irrigate farms – as well as being pumped into rural residents’ homes.

The water is meant for household uses such as cooking, cleaning and bathing. While it’s not supposed to be used for drinking, some residents believe it still poses a health risk.

Residents have designed their own systems to store, pump and sometimes treat the water before it enters their homes. Some rely on pool-cleaning chemicals, ammonia or bleach.

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