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Survey finds East Palo Alto residents concerned about water quality

Henryk Niestrój

Nearly three-quarters of East Palo Alto residents – surveyed as part of a Bay-Area-wide water needs assessment – say they purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking. And when asked to name water issues in their community, 67 percent listed unsafe drinking water. More than 700 people responded to the survey.

Other top concerns? Bad-tasting water and old infrastructure and pipes.

Nuestra Casa is an East-Palo-Alto-based grassroots organization. It conducted the survey between 2019 and 2020 as part of a larger report,funded by the California Department of Water Resources, and published this monthby the San Francisco Estuary Partnership.

Nuestra Casa is now conducting water quality tests in the city and working to better understand the concerns expressed by some East Palo Alto residents over their tap water.

The Palo Alto newspaper, Daily Post, talked to one surveyed resident. She said she spends $80 each month on bottled water. Nuestra Casa’s water justice program coordinator, Rosa Nelson, told the paper that old cast iron pipes can harm water quality.

This month, East Palo Alto released a water system master plan that lists a number of cast iron pipeline replacement projects.

Originally from Chicago, I’ve lived in San Francisco for the past 20 years and am a veteran reporter and communicator. I was most recently editorial director for Activate, a nonprofit that empowers science entrepreneurs to bring their research to market. Prior to that I spent a dozen years as an independent reporter whose beats included climate, energy, microplastics, technology, and recreation. I’ve written for Outside, The Guardian, Al Jazeera America, and many other publications, and in 2014 co-founded a reader-supported experiment in journalism, called Climate Confidential. I had a brief stint in radio during college and can’t wait to learn the craft of audio storytelling.