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Addressing groundwater contamination in agricultural communities

Narrator:        This is Science Today. California farms grow more than half of the nation's fruits, vegetables and nuts, but there are health concerns for those living in the state's most productive agricultural areas. According to a report released by the University of California, Davis, one in 10 people living in these agricultural areas are at risk of exposure to harmful levels of nitrate contamination in their drinking water. UC Davis groundwater hydrologist Thomas Harter is leading a scientific investigation for the state.

Harter:           We're basically asking the question, "Where is nitrate coming from and what can we do to reduce that?" The nitrate that's already there, how can we fix it and how can we address this problem financially and from a policy perspective?

Narrator:        Fixes for drinking water systems could cost about $20 [million] to $35 million per year for decades. The UC Davis report outlined several potential funding solutions, including a fee on nitrogen fertilizer use to help fund drinking water costs. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.