On the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Reservation, a federally recognized Indian tribe and sovereign nation, has a water problem. The 50,000 acre reservation spans unincorporated towns (Thermal and Mecca) and two counties (Riverside and Imperial). The tribe has 800 enrolled members, about half of which live on or near the Reservation. Half of the land on the reservation is underwater, after being flooded by polluted agricultural runoff water that was dumped into the Salton Sea.
The Environmental Protection Agency has found that the public water system has been out of compliance with federal water limits since 1989. The EPA further notes the following as possible ramifications of overexposure to arsenic: Non-cancer effects can include thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting; diarrhea; numbness in hands and feet; partial paralysis; and blindness. Arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.At times, according to the EPA, arsenic levels in the ground water reached 16 parts per billion - the United States' Safe Water Drinking Act limits arsenic levels to 10 parts per billion. There is also aluminum perchlorate in the water. Aluminum perchlorate inhibits iodine uptake which is needed for metabolism.
The Cathedral City Evening Rotary working with the Student Creative Recycle Art Program are working together to raise funds to contribute to water filtration system and/or in-home water filtration systems for residents and to provide water education programs for children throughout the Torres Martinez Reservation.
We are doing this in a unique way by telling a story through Rotary International photos and art created by local kids that evokes passion and the power to make a difference. The Water Is Life mural is a permanent piece of art for the community that raises funds. This 4' x 8' mural is made up of 280 eco-friendly art blocks. Each 4" block has a number that corresponds to the donation value (i.e. #25 is $25, #150 is $150). When all the blocks are sold, the mural will finally be revealed and installed at the Cathedral City Library.