It’s been thought for decades that stormwater runoff is the major source of bacterial pollution in the county’s rivers, bays and beaches — triggering swimming advisories up and down the region’s shoreline for 72 hours after it rains. However, the greatest source of dangerous pathogens flowing from these urban waterways into the ocean may actually be coming from human waste.
Monte Rio Beach on the lower Russian River was declared safe for swimming and was reopened to the public Wednesday, just in time for a heat wave that’s expected to send temperatures back toward the century mark this weekend.
Sonoma County health officials have closed Monte Rio Beach on the Russian River to swimming, wading and other activities that would put visitors in direct contact with the water because of elevated bacterial levels in the wake of an extremely busy holiday weekend.
The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation’s streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.
In the latest skirmish over transparency at the troubled Oroville Dam, a Northern California activist group has sued state officials alleging they’re illegally withholding information about potentially toxic asbestos.
Five companies responsible for polluting the groundwater in the San Gabriel Valley have agreed to continue cleanup for another 10 years, sparing 400,000 residents higher water bills, a state agency announced Thursday.
Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Concord) said his bill would address the health problems caused by smoking but also the harm done to the environment by discarded cigarette butts and the fire danger posed by the practice.
Under the White House’s latest budget proposal, released Tuesday, the EPA would fare worse than any other federal agency. … The White House also proposes nearly halving categorical grants, which support state and local efforts to address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water quality, to $597 million.
Environmentalists and public health advocates are going to court to fight the Trump administration’s move to rewrite Obama-era rules limiting water pollution from coal-fired power plants. … The rule would have required utilities to cut the amounts of toxic heavy metals in the wastewater piped from their plants into rivers and lakes often used as sources of drinking water.
The Trump administration got an earful Tuesday from people who say federal rules limiting air and water pollution aren’t tough enough, even as it was seeking suggestions about what environmental regulations it should gut.
The conservative California farmers who have long sought to eliminate the Legal Services Corp. would get their wish fulfilled under the Trump administration’s bare-bones budget outline made public Thursday.
Federal officials in the United States and Mexico announced on Thursday a joint investigation into a sewage spill in the Tijuana River that has polluted South County beaches as far north as Coronado — and which now looks to have been intentional as some elected leaders in San Diego suspected.
The Trump administration has delayed consideration of a proposal to require companies to prove they have the financial wherewithal to clean up polluted mining sites after a pushback from industry groups and Western-state Republicans.
Customers will either have to bring their own bags or buy a recycled paper bag or sturdier reusable plastic bag at the store for at least 10 cents. Environmental groups say the ban will help stem pollution and prevent sea animals from eating or getting entangled in the flimsy plastic that drifts into waterways.
Contaminants exist in water supplies from both natural and manmade sources. Even those chemicals present without human intervention can be mobilized from introduction of certain pollutants from both point and nonpoint sources.
Directly detecting harmful pathogens in water can be expensive, unreliable and incredibly complicated. Fortunately, certain organisms are known to consistently coexist with these harmful microbes which are substantially easier to detect and culture: coliform bacteria. These generally non-toxic organisms are frequently used as “indicator species,” or organisms whose presence demonstrates a particular feature of its surrounding environment.
Point sources release pollutants from discrete conveyances, such as a discharge pipe, and are regulated by federal and state agencies. The main point source dischargers are factories and sewage treatment plants, which release treated wastewater.
Instead of working in her office at the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Swanson spent Tuesday cleaning up after more than 1,000 college students who trashed Slaughterhouse Island during a weekend boating trip.
University of Oregon students who said they wanted to clean up the mess that classmates left at Shasta Lake last weekend couldn’t do so because the site was too much of a biohazard with feces and used condoms, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said.
A campsite that offers a serene getaway by a California lake was wrecked after about a thousand fraternity and sorority members left a half-mile-wide swath of trash, empty bottles, tents and coolers after an annual trip.
A University of Oregon fraternity was suspended after its members allegedly trashed a campsite at Shasta Lake in Northern California over the weekend, leaving behind piles of litter, feces and beer bottles and abandoning scores of tents.
Park rangers on their usual Sunday patrol at Lake Shasta encountered a scene of carnage on Slaughterhouse Island — 90 tents, coolers still full of food and alcohol, sleeping bags and yards and yards of garbage.
Student revelers on houseboats tied to Shasta’s Slaughterhouse Island left big piles of trash in their wake — sparking online condemnation that continued Tuesday to ripple across Facebook, reddit and Instagram.
University of Oregon students got a viral black eye Monday when photographs on social media revealed huge piles of trash — with much “O”-branded paraphernalia included — strewn across Slaughterhouse Island on Lake Shasta in Northern California. … The university is investigating the situation and talking with the landowner, which is the federal government.
Hidden in the brush of the Santa Fe Dam basin on the San Gabriel River, the homeless camp was littered with heaps of broken furniture, disgorged computers, bicycle frames, televisions, disassembled motorcycles, pieces of exercise machines, rotting food, empty containers and half-buried clothes.
As nations around the globe observe Earth Day, one of the most daunting issues facing the world is the mounting waste problem, which impairs public health, pollutes the environment and threatens to drown some poor countries in toxicity. … Pollution runs into rivers and seeps into ground water.
Since millions of gallons of mining waste burst from an inland iron ore mine a month ago, 300 miles of the Rio Doce stretching to the Atlantic Ocean has turned a Martian shade of bright orange, and the deadly consequences for residents and wildlife are just beginning to emerge.
Colorado officials say they didn’t endorse an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup operation that caused a massive spill of toxic wastewater from an inactive mine, disputing a key claim by federal agencies that state experts signed off on the plan.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed 23 new environmental bills into law, banning tiny plastic beads in cosmetics that scientists say are polluting the ocean and San Francisco Bay, toughening oil pipeline laws and requiring the state’s massive pension funds to sell off their coal stocks.
San Francisco Bay is contaminated with widespread pollution from billions of tiny pieces of plastic in greater concentrations than the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and other major U.S. bodies of water, according to a groundbreaking new study.
Six local waterways have been officially recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being impaired by fecal bacteria, thus beginning what may be a lengthy assessment to identify and mitigate the sources of pollution.
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finalized a long-debated clean water rule to limit pollution in a variety of streams, tributaries, and wetlands. … Not surprisingly, the new rule has triggered a national political firestorm …
Scientists have found new ways to reduce mercury in wetlands, providing hope that Sacramento-area waterways can be decontaminated of the potentially toxic element that dates back to Gold Rush-era mining activities.
Decades ago, industrial pollution began fouling some groundwater wells throughout Los Angeles County. That prompted water officials to stop using the most polluted wells and rely more on water from Northern California and the Colorado River.
A large cement factory near Cupertino will have to pay more than $7 million in fines and remediation for polluting a local creek that pours into San Francisco Bay, state and federal regulators said Wednesday.
The Lehigh Hanson cement plant, a longtime producer of Silicon Valley building materials but also a significant polluter, will pay $7.5 million as part of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle charges it dumped millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into a nearby creek. … Established by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, its cement built Shasta Dam, Highway 101, Highway 85 and other major Northern California landmarks.
A UC Davis researcher is studying whether tiny bits of plastic used in face washes, toothpaste and other consumer products are accumulating in Sacramento-area rivers and flowing out to the Pacific Ocean. … Their small size also means they don’t get filtered out of the wastewater that flows from homes to sewage-treatment plants.
California has lost control of its quickly diminishing water. While state officials lose no opportunity to tout California’s environmental leadership to the world and to plead with residents to conserve water, regulators have allowed oil companies to dump billions of gallons of toxic wastewater each year into protected underground drinking water.
Opponents of a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores have qualified a referendum on the law, delaying its July 1 effective date until voters act on the measure in November 2016, the California secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.
Some eight million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, and the amount of the debris is likely to increase greatly over the next decade unless nations take strong measures to dispose of their trash responsibly, new research suggests.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend requirements under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) to improve the nation’s ability to plan for and respond to oil spills.
When I saw the headline “Westlands reaches secret deal” Monday in The Bee, I knew it was about the toxic irrigation drainage that caused a wildlife disaster in western Merced County more than three decades ago.
A new academic study out this week, and published in the journal PLOS ONE, for the first time gives a hard number to the amount of plastic garbage littering our oceans. It’s a sobering figure: 5.25 trillion particles of plastic.
A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world’s oceans. … The plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
Along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, runoff pollution from abandoned mines in “Gold Country” could threaten California’s primary water supply. A pilot project at one mine site is intended to prevent contaminated runoff from reaching the Yuba River.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will announce Monday a proposal to prohibit single-use plastic bags at stores in the city in the event that opponents of a newly adopted statewide ban are able to force a public vote on that legislation.
With California’s law banning plastic bags on hold, the plastic bag industry and its allies already are pouring money into California in hopes of overturning the law in a referendum two years down the road.
Public health officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties are asking surfers and swimmers to stay out of the ocean because of the bacteria, debris and trash that washed into the water from this week’s storms.
State water regulators have slapped California Water Service Co. with a proposed record-setting $3 million penalty for an October 2013 leak of chemically treated drinking water that killed more than 270 fish in San Mateo and Polhemus creeks.
These out-of-state interlopers are pouring millions of dollars into the effort to undo what the Governor and Legislature have just accomplished to reduce the plastic bags littering our neighborhoods, clogging our waterways and polluting our beaches and oceans and harm wildlife.
More than three years into the massive cleanup of Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the broken reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.
In a recently published study, Eco-directed sustainable prescribing: feasibility for reducing water contamination by drugs, EPA scientist Christian Daughton presents ways we can prevent the active ingredients of pharmaceuticals from getting into our waterways.
Because of restrictions on burning, California hospital representatives say their only option appears to be trucking the waste over public highways and incinerating it in another state — a prospect that makes some environmental advocates uneasy. … Dr. David Perrott, chief medical officer for the California Hospital Assn., said there was also confusion about whether infected human waste could be flushed down the toilet.
Recent tests of water quality give Chicken Ranch Beach and most other Marin County locales a clean bill of health, but raise red flags at White House Pool county park, Samuel P. Taylor State Park and Lawson’s Landing, where visitors are advised to “avoid contact with the water.”
Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to clean up California have been impressive in the past four years, but he outdid himself Tuesday when he signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores.
The ink was barely dry on the governor’s signature to ban plastic bags when foes of his decision filed paperwork with the state attorney general’s office for a referendum in 2016 to overturn the new law.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill to reform the California Department of Toxic Substances Control is drawing indignation from community groups and state legislators who had pressed for broad changes at the troubled agency.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, following the lead of more than 100 California cities and counties. The fight between environmentalists and manufacturers is not over, as plastic bag makers vow to take their opposition to the ballot box.
Problems with polluted stormwater and steps that can be taken to prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as “nuisance” runoff into a water resource is the focus of this publication, Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource. The 16-page booklet, funded by a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board, includes color photos and graphics, text explaining common stormwater pollutants and efforts to prevent stormwater runoff through land use/ planning/development – as well as tips for homeowners to reduce their impacts on stormwater pollution.
To promote a broader understanding of the current issues involving the Colorado River, the Foundation, has developed River Report, a 12-page newsletter devoted entirely to topics surrounding this vital waterway. Each newsletter includes an in-depth news story on a timely subject essential to the Colorado River.
20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential – but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.
A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick.
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.
This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and DVD.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the history of wastewater treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and disposed of today. The guide also offers case studies of different treatment plants and their treatment processes.
This printed issue of Western Water, based on presentations at the November 3-4, 2010 Water Quality Conference in Ontario, Calif., looks at constituents of emerging concerns (CECs) – what is known, what is yet to be determined and the potential regulatory impacts on drinking water quality.
This issue of Western Water looks at some of the issues facing drinking water providers, such as compliance with increasingly stringent treatment requirements, the need to improve source water quality and the mission of continually informing consumers about the quality of water they receive.
This issue of Western Water examines PPCPs – what they are, where they come from and whether the potential exists for them to become a water quality problem. With the continued emphasis on water quality and the fact that many water systems in the West are characterized by flows dominated by effluent contributions, PPCPs seem likely to capture interest for the foreseeable future.
This issue of Western Water examines the presence of mercury in the environment and the challenge of limiting the threat posed to human health and wildlife. In addition to outlining the extent of the problem and its resistance to conventional pollution remedies, the article presents a glimpse of some possible courses of action for what promises to be a long-term problem.
This issue of Western Water examines the problem of perchlorate contamination and its ramifications on all facets of water delivery, from the extensive cleanup costs to the search for alternative water supplies. In addition to discussing the threat posed by high levels of perchlorate in drinking water, the article presents examples of areas hard hit by contamination and analyzes the potential impacts of forthcoming drinking water standards for perchlorate.
2002 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant environmental laws in American history, the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA has had remarkable success, reversing years of neglect and outright abuse of the nation’s waters. But challenges remain as attention turns to the thorny issue of cleaning up nonpoint sources of pollution.