The Latest Trouble in Paradise? Contaminated Water

Disasters are bad enough as it is. They cause evacuations, deaths and destruction. And they usually result in countless hours of cleanup before things return to normal.

But disasters become even worse when they lead to other significant problems. A perfect example is occurring right now in Paradise, California.

I’m sure you recall the tragedy this town experienced last November. Located north of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada foothills, it was devastated by a wildfire known as the Camp Fire.

The fire killed 85 people and burned 153,336 acres. That made it the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. It was also the world’s costliest natural disaster in 2018 ($16.5 billion).

20,000 People Displaced

Nearly 14,000 homes and more than 500 businesses were destroyed by the blaze. Plus thousands of barns, sheds, garages and other structures.

Over 20,000 people were displaced. Some of them were living in tents, trailers, parking lots and shelters for months.

One of the reasons the fire was so destructive was how dry the area had become due to drought.

Since then, northern California has seen plenty of rain. But now there’s another major problem regarding water.

Contamination Has Cancer Link

It is believed the blaze contaminated up to 173 miles of pipeline in the town’s water system.

A variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is being discovered in tap water. And they include benzene, which has been linked to significant health concerns.

Testing data is still coming in. But so far contamination has shown up in about one-third of the tested lines.

One family used $6,500 on a water tank they keep in the shade of a tree on their property. Every few weeks they have to use another $250 to fill it. But at least their water is safe to drink.

Trying to Find the Source

Officials at the Paradise Irrigation District are attempting to locate the source of the contamination.

It could be from the toxic waste that came from burnt structures and flushed into the town’s water pipes.

Or the contamination could be from the burnt plastic pipes carrying water to residences and businesses. Or both.

Apparently the heat of the fire created a “toxic cocktail” of gases in burning homes. This cocktail was sucked into water pipes when the water system depressurized as firefighters used it.

‘Unprecedented’ Recovery Effort Needed

Dan Newton is with California’s Water Resources Control Board. He calls the extent of the water contamination problem in Paradise “jaw dropping.”

“This is such a huge scale,” Newton said. “None of us were prepared for this.”

Kevin Phillips also said that with 10,500 service lines to examine, his staff is overwhelmed. He is the district manager for the water utility.

Phillips said they will prioritize their efforts in neighborhoods where there are still houses standing.

The testing alone will probably require at least two years. Repairs to the water system itself will take longer. One estimate is that $300 million will be used before residents can drink tap water safely again.

Residents Warned Not to Use Tap Water

Some Paradise residents are getting water filtration systems. But Whelton is concerned because he’s not sure if those systems are effective against VOCs.

Other residents are only drinking the free bottled water they’ve gotten.

Residents have reason for concern. Short-term exposure to certain contaminations have been connected to vomiting, plus skin and eye irritation. Long-term exposure has been linked to much worse.

Whelton says this contamination is both in the water and in the pores of some pipes. “You have to be a detective to figure out what is going on,” he said.

Paradise residents have been told not to drink, cook with, brush their teeth with or bathe in water coming from their taps.

Clean-up Has Just Begun

In addition to damage from the fire and water contamination, Paradise has another problem. The town isn’t being cleaned up properly.

A report from National Public Radio says that only 6 percent of the debris created by the fire has been hauled away.

Piles of toxic rubble are still visible. As are blackened pine trees and skeletons of cars and trucks.

Paradise used to boast a population of 26,000. Now it’s estimated at 1,500. But it looks like that number will rise despite the problems.

One Town After Another

Right now, Paradise, California is in the nation’s spotlight for its water contamination problem. Before that it was Newark, New Jersey, then Flint, Michigan, and many others.

It may be just a matter of time before water contamination hits your town. And that’s assuming it hasn’t happened already.

Tens of millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year, according to a recent article in USA Today.

It’s becoming more and more clear that the government is not able to protect your family when it comes to the water supply.

You must take matters into your own hands if you want to ensure your family always has clean, pure water to drink.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about a revolutionary new water pitcher our buddy Jeff over at Patriot Health Alliance introduced.

It gives you all the convenience of a water pitcher that fits directly in your fridge. Yet it can filter out truly scary stuff that other pitcher brands fall short on removing.

Take a look for yourself here

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