California residents are gathering signatures for a petition calling for Governor Jerry Brown and the State Water Board to take action against the use of oilfield wastewater for food crop irrigation.
Concerned citizens gathered Saturday at grocery stores throughout the state, talking to fellow Californians about the issue and collecting more signatures for the petition, which has already been signed by more than 250,000 people.
The citizens are upset about the widespread use of minimally treated wastewater from oil drilling operations to irrigate food crops, the use of which they believe may pose serious health risks to consumers.
Oilfield wastewater contains hundreds of chemicals – many of which are extremely toxic – that are almost certainly being absorbed by the crops they are irrigated with, and in turn, ending up in the digestive systems of humans who consume such products.
There are several oil companies now providing wastewater to California water districts to be used for irrigation, replenishing underground water supplies and other uses.
From KQED Science:
"Chevron and the California offshoot of Occidental Petroleum are among the oil companies supplying oilfield wastewater for irrigating tens of thousands of acres in California. Almond, pistachio and citrus growers are the main farmers already using such water."
Oilfields produce huge amounts of wastewater – billions of gallons annually in some areas of the state – and in the face of California's four-year drought, someone had the bright idea of using the oilfield wastewater to help ease the ongoing water shortage.