Residents with contaminated wells in the Yakima Valley are getting state-funded purification systems, at least some of them are. Many families there have been drinking water polluted with nitrates and bacteria.
Nitrate is a chemical found in fertilizers, manure and septic tank liquids. You can’t taste it, smell it or see it – but it kills. It reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. And nitrate is in a lot of water throughout the rural Northwest. In Yakima Valley a $500,000 state grant is buying purification systems for 300 to 400 households. But 1,600 families need assistance there. That estimate comes from Vern Redifer with Yakima County Public Services:
“We’re not going to be able to help everybody. We don’t know if there is going to be any more money coming into this program or not. This is a onetime pilot program. What we are offering is a reduced cost. If we can’t buy them for them, we’re going to sell them to them at a reduced cost.”
Redifer says even if all the nitrate pollution in the Yakima Valley stopped today, it would still take decades to reach national drinking water standards.