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Tecopa, California, Finally Gets Clean Drinking Water


Stan Shebs, via Wikimedia Commons

Tecopa, California

Tecopa, California, is known for its water.

The small town, about 80 miles west of Las Vegas, is home to hot springs that some say have healing powers.

But that’s not the case if you drink the water. Wells in the area are tainted with naturally occurring arsenic, fluoride and minerals that can cause kidney stones and tooth discoloration.

After years of waiting, the town finally got its own clean water source — a vending machine that filters well water through reverse osmosis and dispenses it for 25 cents per gallon.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Henry Brean has been following the story. Brean said the solution to Tecopa's water problem comes after years of knowing the water was tainted. In fact, he said pioneers were told not to let their horses drink from water sources in the area.

“There was an understanding that the water wasn’t great," Brean said. "Then as standards got more and more strict, they began to sound alarm bells about the water not simply being not safe to drink.”

A grant from the state of California allowed the vending machine to be built.

For years, residents drove 40 miles to the nearest grocery store to buy water, but for the past few years the local fire chief and a volunteer has delivered water to their doors. 

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It's a happy ending to a surprising story.

"It's just not something you hear about in the United States very often, for an entire town, albeit a small one, to not have their own source of drinking water," Brean said.


Henry Brean, reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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