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13 Mar 2012: Nitrates Pose Threat to
California Farming Region, Study Says

Nearly 10 percent of the people living in California’s most productive agricultural areas may be drinking water contaminated with nitrates, according to a new study. In an analysis of water quality in the Tulare Lake Basin and the Salinas Valley — a rural region of about 2.6 million people — researchers at the University of California, Davis found that one in ten people rely on drinking water containing levels of nitrates that exceed the 45 milligrams-per-liter state health standard. According to the study, the number of people affected could exceed 80 percent of the region’s population by 2050 without proper actions, which would include improving fertilizer management and water treatment. According to researchers, more than 95 percent of the nitrate contamination is related to agricultural activities, including organic and synthetic fertilizers. A separate report released by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that farming-caused water pollution costs taxpayers worldwide billions of dollars annually.

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