There are 3,015 independent water systems serving communities in California. As of May, 269 of these suppliers were out of compliance with state drinking water standards.
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Of those 269 water systems, 141 are found in five counties of the San Joaquin Valley: Stanislaus, Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kern. However, 38 of California's 58 counties have at least one water supplier in violation of state water standards.
An estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems with unsafe drinking water, according to a McClatchy analysis of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board. In many communities, people drink, shower, cook and wash dishes with water containing excessive amounts of pollutants, including arsenic, nitrate and uranium.
The state’s water problem, however, is far more pervasive than that number indicates. At least 6 million Californians are served by water providers that have been in violation of state standards at some point since 2012, according to McClatchy’s analysis. In some areas, contaminated water is such a common occurrence, residents have almost come to expect it.