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One Planet: Why are California farmers irrigating crops with oil wastewater?

Kern County farmers use oil field wastewater to grow water-intensive crops like oranges in one of California's driest agricultural regions. Credit: Liza Gross

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we discuss an Inside Climate News Investigation about the use of wastewater from oil wells to irrigate food crops in California.

For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops during extended dry spells. The water irrigates 95,000 acres of cropland in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley, according to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. What are the environmental and health effects of this practice?


Liza Gross, reporter for Inside Climate News based in Northern California

Web Resources:

Inside Climate News : California Water Regulators Still Haven’t Considered the Growing Body of Research on the Risks of Oil Field Wastewater

Inside Climate News: Why Did California Regulators Choose a Firm with Ties to Chevron to Study Irrigating Crops with Oil Wastewater?

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.