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.