California farmers using oil field wastewater on crops

Americas Now

Oil field in Central Valley, California.

A devastating drought has been plaguing the state of California for years. Governor Jerry Brown has called it “an unprecedented, very serious situation.” The circumstances are so dire, farmers in the Central Valley have resorted to using wastewater from oil fields to irrigate their crops. Ingenious solution? Or dangerous health risk?

Correspondent Mike Kirsch travels to the center of the state to investigate just what’s in the water. He visits farmers and community members and shows us the oil fields from where treated oil wastewater is being sent to farms and used to grow crops.

The region feeds a quarter of the entire U.S. population and is the largest exporter of almonds to China and other countries around the world.

Growing numbers of citizens and environmentalists are accusing Governor Jerry Brown and the oil industry of being less than transparent about the health hazards from toxic chemicals in the water. 

Mike interviews Scott Smith, the chief scientist for an organization called “Water Defense” that has tested the water. Smith tells Mike Kirsch “The chemicals we found cause cancer and negatively impact your health.” 

Scott Smith is asking the oil companies to conduct joint testing with him on the wastewater to ensure accurate and transparent results.  So far, he says, oil companies have declined his invitation.

Check out Mike Kirsch’s piece for “Americas Now” and learn more about his investigation.

California farmers using oil field wastewater on crops

Farmers in drought-plagued Central Valley, California are using wastewater from oil fields to grow their crops. Is it an ingenious solution to the problems posed by the drought? Or a serious health risk? As Correspondent Mike Kirsch tells us, a quarter of the U.S. population is fed by these farms. Take a look at Mike's investigation for "Americas Now."