SOUTH COUNTY — State Water Board bilingual staff, along with Monterey County Public Health, will have a booth to sign up any qualified residents this Sunday for free bottled drinking water if they have domestic wells with high nitrate levels.
Staff will be at Patriot Park, 40108 Oak Ave. in Greenfield, from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27.
Monterey County residents — from Castroville to San Ardo — may qualify for bottled replacement water if:
• Drinking water comes from a domestic well;
• Home/well is in the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin (see shaded blue area on map above);
• Income is less than $51,600 per year per individual family unit;
• Landlord/owner does not provide replacement drinking water; and
• Nitrate level in well is higher than the standard (a free water sample will be collected and tested as part of this program).
• Has no color or odor;
• Boiling the nitrate contaminated water does not make it safe to drink;
• Can cause serious health effects, especially in pregnant women and children;
• Can cause certain types of cancer and birth defects; and is a
• Common groundwater contaminant.
Working in cooperation with the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement and the Central Coast Water Board, the Salinas Basin Agricultural Stewardship Group has agreed to supply replacement drinking water at no cost to communities in the Salinas Valley whose drinking water is contaminated with nitrate.
The pilot program will be organized and funded by the members of the Stewardship Group, a coalition of local agricultural owners and operators. It will run for one year with an option for a second year based on meeting performance targets. While the pilot program delivers safe drinking water to communities, the parties will work toward permanent solutions to fund replacement water in the Salinas groundwater basin.
The initial phase of the pilot program covers small drinking water systems and domestic wells serving about 850 residents in rural Monterey County that depend on groundwater for household uses. The Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship (CURES), which is implementing the program, is contacting residents whose water sources have nitrate levels above the safe drinking water standard.