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Health Experts Warn Drought May Bring Contaminated Well Water

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SMARTSVILLE (CBS13) — Health experts have issued a dire warning, saying drought conditions in California could lead to contaminated water in rural areas where people get water from wells.

Lee Brakebill in Smartsville learned the small town he calls home is on a list identified by the California Department of Public Health as being at risk of running out of drinking water in 60 days because of the drought.

“If we run out of water, we’re in big trouble,” he said.

Public health is watching 10 water systems closely, including a small community of 45 people in Placer County.

Now there’s a warning for rural communities that rely on wells and other sources of groundwater. The drought is causing contaminants already in the groundwater to become concentrated.

Those contaminants would be less concentrated with more water in a normal rainfall year, but the dry weather has created the risk of higher levels of arsenic and chemicals from industrial operations.

The state couldn’t name specific areas at risk, but Brakebill is asking everyone to save water before the warning becomes reality.

“I would think everybody’s trying to conserve water,” he said. “Even a little bit helps.”

The state is currently working with cities identified as at risk of running out of water. Public health says it’s trucking in water when necessary to the 10 communities listed.

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