In California’s Central Valley, some farmers are using wastewater from oil and gas extraction to irrigate food crops to augment water supplies reduced by the ongoing drought. But that recycled water is known to contain chemical contaminants—some occur naturally, but many others are used to operate and maintain oil and gas wells. It’s a contentious issue, and industry groups and clean water advocates are locked in an ongoing debate over whether this water is safe to use on crop fields. And yet, as is often the case, neither group has a complete picture of the water’s toxicity—or its potential to impact the health of farms and people nearby.
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