The United Nations has released a sweeping report that outlines gross inequities across the globe, whereby more than two billion people do not have clean drinking water, and more than four billion lack reliable sanitation infrastructure.
Although the U.S. federal government has monitored the country’s groundwater for the last 30 years, scientists say that only now can they begin to understand long-term pollution in the largest aquifers. The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment says concentrations of chloride and sodium are on the increase, and in California, nitrate levels are climbing, according to Circle of Blue.
Allensworth in California’s San Joaquin Valley, now Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, was founded in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth, a former slave and American Civil War Union officer. At the time, artesian wells produced clear water and crops flourished; Allensworth dreamed of creating a black utopia.
A lack of regulation, political will and funding have all led to contaminated drinking water for many schools around the country, and researchers note that children are particularly vulnerable to the chemical.
The U.S. Clean Water Act, which Congress passed nearly a half-century ago, prohibits pollution in navigable bodies of water, but now the Supreme Court justices will examine whether indirect contamination—specifically in groundwater—is in violation of the landmark legislation.