Episode 2: Water & Oil

Kiran visits the Central Valley's Cawelo Water District where the drought is causing farmers to use water produced in the oil drilling process to irrigate their crops. She takes in the smells so you don't have to.

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“Until we have a list of the chemicals that are going into oil and gas wells and in what volumes and what are their toxicities, we’re flying blind.” —Seth Shonkoff, PSE Healthy Energy

Tom Frantz is a Central Valley farmer bringing attention to an alarming agricultural production trend in the Cawelo Water District. The drought has left farmers in the area desperate. To irrigate threatened crops, many have resorted to buying water produced in the oil drilling process. 

You read that correctly.

But what happens in Cawelo doesn’t stay in Cawelo. Produce grown here is shipped across the state and the country.

“An orange is 90 percent water when it gets to the consumer,” according to Frantz. "Where did that water come from? It’s the irrigation water. If the irrigation water is toxic even at very tiny amounts, is there a tiny amount of toxicity now in the fruit? Nobody has tested that yet.”

Scott Smith, a scientist from Opflex Technologies, takes Kiran on a covert sampling adventure in the Cawelo Water District. Since there’s a lack of transparency from oil companies in their testing process, Scott’s taking it into his own hands.  

Using this water to grow food raises some questions. So when Kiran discovers that wine grapes could be grown with this water, she takes action to a whole new level. Confused? Just watch the episode.

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Bonus Content


Tom Frantz, Almond Farmer

Tom Frantz highlights how air pollution associated with oil drilling plagues local schoolchildren.

Hidden Camera

Wine Tasting

Kiran hosts a wine tasting using oil company terminology for wastewater to see how people feel about it.

More Episodes

Episode 1 01.26.2016

Heart of the Drought

Kiran meets Tom Steyer, who sends her to the Central Valley to meet Californians who are facing a major injustice – they've run out of water.

Episode 3 02.09.2016

In Our Air

Kiran returns home to Los Angeles to investigate the hidden costs of pollution. Spoiler alert: we pay for it! 3.3 million Californians have asthma, and nowhere is pollution more rampant than in low-income communities.

Episode 4 02.16.2016

At the Pump

​Kiran tries to uncover ​where her gas money went. In 2015, Californians paid billions more for gasoline than the rest of the country. At the same time, oil companies reported record profits. ​ Slick.

Episode 5 02.23.2016

In the Future

Kiran discovers what's working in California today, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in resistance ​from the oil and gas industry.