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What happened in Yucca?

An overview of how Yucca Valley, CA got a sewer mandate from the state to clean up their nitrate problem.

Nitrates are a boogeyman they use to scare you

Nitrates: The word you constantly hear as the reason we need a sewer system. Because Yucca Valley got nitrates in their drinking water, so they got a mandate, and we don't want that to happen to us, right?

Except, that is NOT what happened to Yucca Valley, and we are no danger of getting nitrates in our aquifer.

Nitrates are a boogeyman the Council is using to scare you into rushing into this sewer project. They know that our aquifer is in not in danger of nitrates, but they know it sounds scary to you. But only if you don't know all the facts.

Why Yucca Got mandate (and we won't)

  1. 1. Yucca's wells were located in the zone of highest population density
  2. 2. Yucca had huge growth with no septic plan
  3. 3. Yucca raised their groundwater by 200ft which reached the nitrate level
  4. 4. 29 Palms has a better soil structure than Yucca

1. First off, a lot of Yucca's wells were located in the zone of highest population density, because that's the area the town grew around. So their wells and their septics were not separated. It's like putting a drinking fountain in your bathroom. 29 Palms does not have that problem.

2. Yucca experienced something of a population boom in the late 90s. Not just houses, but strip malls and box stores, and they all just ran septic because back then it was the wild west and you could do crazy stuff like that. 29 Palms does not have that problem because we make large developments like that use package plants.

3. Yucca experienced something of a population boom in the late 90s, Part 2. This dropped the water table, and their solution was to buy water from elsewhere in the state and have it piped in. This raised their water table by 200ft, up to the level the nitrates were at. 29 Palms does not have that problem, we only use water from our own aquifers so we can't accidentally put too much back in.

Get this though: They have since lowered their water table back down so it's not leaching nitrates. So now they have no nitrates in their water. But since they have a mandate to remove so much nitrate from the water, now they have to ADD NITRATE to their water so they can remove it.

4. Yucca has a different soil structure than 29 Palms. Our soil is much better suited—and in fact is perfectly suited—for septic tanks under residential houses. In fact our soil is more like an impenetrable barrier to nitrates, and everything elese.

All four of these had to be true for Yucca to get their mandate. 29 Palms has none. But even 1-4 weren't enough to get Yucca Valley their mandate from the state. They had to drag their feet on it until the state was forced to step in, over a decade later.

Nitrates are not coming for our drinking water, it is a boogeyman they're trying to scare you with so you and I will pay for a sewer that makes them money.