Topic: Pollution

Overview

Pollution

The natural quality of groundwater in California depends on the surrounding geology and on the source of water that recharges the aquifer.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Toxic soil went from San Francisco’s Hunters Point to state landfills, ex-workers say

The scandal involving cheating in the $1 billion cleanup at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has until now focused on allegations of what was left behind at the site: radioactive dirt dumped into trenches to save the time and expense of testing and disposing of it properly. But former shipyard employees and environmentalists say that toxic waste removed from the site is of just as great a concern.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

America before Earth Day: Smog and disasters spurred the laws Trump wants to undo

A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.

Amid ‘Green Rush’ of Legal Cannabis, California Strives to Control Adverse Effects on Water
State crafts water right and new rules unique to marijuana farms, but will growers accustomed to the shadows comply?

A marijuana plant from a growing operationFor decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.

In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.

Western Water Jennifer Bowles Jennifer Bowles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Assessing California’s Response to Marijuana’s Impacts on Water

Jennifer BowlesAs we continue forging ahead in 2018 with our online version of Western Water after 40 years as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.

State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that marijuana was legal.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Republicans, states alarmed about EPA action on groundwater

Battlefronts fell along party lines at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing yesterday about whether EPA should regulate pollutants that make it to surface water via groundwater. … The hearing was the first since EPA requested public comment on whether it should regulate such pollutants earlier this winter. The input is due by May 21.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Pact reached to make Newby Island stop dumping pollutants into San Francisco Bay

A local environmental watchdog group says it has reached a legal settlement with operators of the Newby Island Resource Recovery Park landfill to curb toxic runoff into local waterways.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Earth Day 2018: Here are 6 California bills that aim to reduce plastic litter and pollution

State lawmakers got the memo in advance. The theme of Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) is “End Plastic Pollution,” but California legislators are already on the case. Four years ago, they made California the first state to ban single-use plastic grocery sacks — and 52 percent of voters agreed with the law in a 2016 referendum.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Mine company says EPA is worsening Colorado water pollution

A mining company accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday of failing to operate a treatment plant at full capacity, allowing a huge volume of polluted mine wastewater to reach a southwestern Colorado river.

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Water board orders oilfield disposal pond operator to monitor pollutants

Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board members voted Thursday to require an oil wastewater dump site operator in McKittrick suspected of polluting nearby groundwater to install a network of wells monitoring contamination. That falls short of environmentalists’ demands for the board to shutter the operation.

One Year In, A New State Policymaker Assesses the Salton Sea, Federal Relations and California’s Thorny Water Issues
Western Water Q&A: State Water Board member Joaquin Esquivel

State Water Resources Control Board member E. Joaquin EsquivelJoaquin Esquivel learned that life is what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a year ago to fill the Board vacancy.

Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board, he shares with four other members the difficult task of ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: If Trump really wants to fix border problems, he should visit sewage pools, not walls

The problem with focusing on Trump’s pipe dream of a wall is that real border problems that can actually be solved are being ignored. The Tijuana River, for instance, which crosses the international border before reaching the ocean on the U.S. side, is said to be one of the most polluted waterways in the world.

Researchers Aim to Give Homeless a Voice in Southern California Watershed
NOTEBOOK: Assessment of homeless water challenges part of UC Irvine study of community water needs

Homeless encampment near Angel StadiumA new study could help water agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and sanitation.

The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) in Southern California has embarked on a comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at assessing strengths and needs as it relates to water services for people (including the homeless) within its 2,840 square-mile area that extends from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Orange County coast.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Border Patrol agents say Tijuana River pollution is making them sick, and officials want it fixed

With health complaints continuing from Border Patrol agents who work the polluted areas of the Tijuana River Valley, the federal Customs and Border Protection agency is quietly trying to solve some of the problems of toxic sewage flows from Mexico — on its own.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Short-term Tijuana upgrades respond to ‘crisis’ of cross-border sewage

In the wake of rising outcry in San Diego of cross-border flows of contaminated water, trash and sediment from Tijuana, Mexico is moving ahead with a series of short-term upgrades to Tijuana’s sewage collection and treatment system aimed at preventing such incidents, and responding with greater speed should they occur.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lead fishing weights targeted under California bill

A California lawmaker wants to ban most lead fishing weights, arguing they are harmful to wildlife. Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, introduced Assembly Bill 2787 on Feb. 16.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to EPA water regulation

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge led by states and environmental groups to an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that lets government agencies transfer water between different bodies, such as rivers and lakes, without needing to protect against pollution.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Malibu bans restaurants from giving out plastic straws, stirrers and utensils

The new law marks the beach town’s latest move to crack down on the distribution of single-use plastics. Malibu was early to adopt a plastic shopping bag ban, passing an ordinance in 2008 to keep bags from drifting into the ocean and killing marine life.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Five officials charged with misusing public funds, burying hazardous waste at Central Valley water district

It started a year ago when state investigators uncovered 86 drums holding thousands of gallons of hazardous waste illegally buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard. … Soon, authorities said, they discovered that officials running the Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche upgrades.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California AG launches environmental justice unit focused on poorer communities

Besides challenging federal deregulation, the Bureau of Environmental Justice will prioritize pollution cases that threaten public health, [California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra said. The attorneys will seek to compel businesses and government agencies to clean contaminated drinking water, reduce exposure to lead and other toxins and prevent illegal waste discharges in communities burdened disproportionately by pollution.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Floods are getting worse, and 2,500 chemical sites lie in the water’s path

Anchored in flood-prone areas in every American state are more than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About 1,400 are located in areas at highest risk of flooding.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Feinstein calls on Trump to help clean up Tijuana sewage impacting border patrol agents, beachgoers

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called on the Trump administration Wednesday to help plug Tijuana’s rampant spills of sewage and other polluted water, which routinely foul beaches in San Diego and cause border patrol agents to fall ill.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Rule: Supreme Court ruling complicates next steps on WOTUS

The text of the Clean Water Act trumped all of the government’s arguments in the long-running fight over which courts have jurisdiction over the Obama administration’s contentious water rule. … The Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule aimed to clarify which wetlands and streams receive automatic protection under the Clean Water Act after years of confusion caused by the infamously muddled 2006 Supreme Court Rapanos decision.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

EPA official speaks on risk of climate change to toxic sites

A top manager who supervises the Environmental Protection Agency program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated properties and waterways told Congress on Thursday that the government needs to plan for the ongoing threat posed to Superfund sites from climate change.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

One year in, Trump’s environmental agenda already taking measurable toll

One year into the Trump administration’s unrelenting push to dilute and disable clean air and water policies, the impact is being felt in communities across the country.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

EPA says Superfund Task Force left behind little paper trail

The Environmental Protection Agency says an internal task force appointed to revamp how the nation’s most polluted sites are cleaned up generated no record of its deliberations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

What it’s like inside Trump administration’s regulatory rollback at EPA

For months, staffers in the Office of Water had been in help-desk mode, fielding calls from states implementing a federal rule that set new limits on water-borne pollution released by coal-fired power plants. The rule on what is known as “effluent” had been hammered out over a decade of scientific study and intense negotiations involving utility companies, White House officials and environmental advocates.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Babies born to moms who lived near fracking wells faced host of health risks, study suggests

After combing through a decade’s worth of Pennsylvania birth records, researchers have found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were 25% more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during pregnancy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As Western governors gather, wildfires and disasters are big part of agenda

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke said nearly 80% of the country’s forest system resides in the West. Tooke, who became head of the agency in September, addressed the [Western Governors Association] conference Friday and said that in the years ahead his No. 1 goal is to increase efforts that prevent wildfires and reduce community risks — such as mudslides and contaminated water — from burn areas.

Aquafornia news Oceans Deeply

Rare outbreak of bipartisanship on need to fight ocean pollution

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the United States Senate has unanimously passed the Save Our Seas Act of 2017, which would reauthorize the NOAA Marine Debris Program for five years and encourage international cooperation to prevent and clean up plastic pollution.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Minority of farmers join anti-runoff effort as algae worsens

Pungent, sometimes toxic blobs are fouling waterways from the Great Lakes to Chesapeake Bay, from the Snake River in Idaho to New York’s Finger Lakes and reservoirs in California’s Central Valley. … California last year reported toxic blooms in more than 40 lakes and waterways, the most in state history.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Dog and cat flea treatments suspected of polluting San Francisco Bay

Next time you spray Rover or Fluffy for fleas, you may be harming San Francisco Bay. An insecticide found in commonly used over-the-counter flea treatments like Frontline Plus and Pet Armor appears to be washing down pet owners’ drains and flowing through sewage treatment plants into the bay, new research shows.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Imperial Beach officials say shoreline hit by Tijuana sewage without warning

Officials in Imperial Beach said Wednesday that sewage flowing up the coast from Tijuana fouled miles of shoreline over the weekend, severely sickening surfers and other beach goers. Mayor Serge Dedina, who also fell ill, said he received no advanced notice from officials in Mexico about the pollution.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why has the EPA shifted on toxic chemicals?

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Councilman seeks hepatitis testing in San Diego surface water

At least one San Diego leader wants water researchers to start testing city waterways for hepatitis A. Councilman David Alvarez on Thursday penned a letter to the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project requesting that the environmental research group start testing as many as a half-dozen area waterways for the deadly liver infection.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California mobile home park residents face barriers to clean water

Many of the more than one million Californians who live in mobile home parks drink water that is more polluted and more likely to be cut off than residents who get water from other municipal utilities, according to the most detailed research to date on water access in California trailer parks.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Effort to plug Tijuana sewage flows gets $2.1 million bump from state bill

The effort to prevent sewage from flowing from Tijuana into San Diego County got a small boost Monday when Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to provide about $2.1 million in funds for the effort.

Aquafornia news NPR

EPA vows to speed cleanup of toxic Superfund sites despite funding drop

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is vowing to speed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites, part of a shift away from climate change and toward what he calls the “basics” of clean air and water. The EPA’s Superfund program manages the cleanup of some of the most toxic waste sites — Pruitt says the EPA will soon name a top 10 list of sites to focus on.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water board reports highlighted health risk before hepatitis outbreak

San Diego officials were informed repeatedly of the dangers of disease-carrying runoff from homeless encampments into area waterways, as far as a decade before the current hepatitis A crisis spurred action.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Cleaning up human waste is cheapest way to improve health of region’s beaches, report finds

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.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Monte Rio Beach on Russian River reopened after closure due to bacteria levels

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.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Foam fight: As California balks at state ban, activists target local level

Foam burger boxes and ice cream cups could eventually go the way of the flimsy plastic shopping bag — banned throughout California. It’s not likely to happen this year.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Monte Rio Beach on Russian River closed over excessive bacteria levels

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump administration moves to withdraw clean-water rule

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. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why is the state withholding asbestos records at Oroville Dam?

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Environmental bills go down to defeat in California Senate

Despite all of the bills passed on to the Assembly from the Senate before last week’s deadline, the only three bills lawmakers rejected in the Senate were environmental ones.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Contaminated groundwater in San Gabriel Valley gets $250 million boost

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.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: EPA remains top target with Trump administration proposing 31 percent budget cut

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Environmental groups sue EPA over rollback of water pollution rules

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. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: EPA asks what rules to cut, gets earful about dirty 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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Trump budget would gut science, environment programs

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would gut programs for science and the environment, reflecting the Republican’s rejection of mainstream science.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

From arts to prisons, Trump budget means big cuts for California

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.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Federal officials announce investigation into huge Tijuana River sewage spill

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

New EPA chief delays mining rule after industry objects

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Where are all those plastic bags? California voters decided to get rid of them.

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.

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Pesticide Contamination

Pesticides find their way into creeks, rivers and the oceans, threatening aquatic life and the safety of drinking water.

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Contaminants

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.  

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Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

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.

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Point Source vs. Nonpoint Source Pollution

Point Source Pollution

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

San Francisco enacts broad ban on foam cups, coolers, toys

San Francisco, say goodbye to those squeaky, Styrofoam-like coffee cups that have long been a staple of picnic outings.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Dozens to clean Slaughterhouse Island after weekend trashing

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.

Aquafornia news Eugene, Ore., Register-Guard

Student mess at Shasta Lake too nasty for students to safely clean up

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California campsite trashed after fraternity, sorority trip

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Oregon fraternity suspended after ‘disgraceful’ trashing of Shasta Lake

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Oregon frat trashes Lake Shasta, leaves behind 90 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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

UC Davis students urged not to trash Shasta Lake this weekend

UC Davis students heading to Shasta Lake for Memorial Day weekend are being asked to clean up their mess after another group last weekend trashed an island long used for hard partying.

Aquafornia news Eugene Register-Guard

University of Oregon, U.S. Forest Service, national fraternity investigating student behavior at Lake Shasta last weekend

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.

Aquafornia news Eugene, Ore., Register-Guard

University of Oregon officials, others decry students’ trashy mess at Lake Shasta

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

With El Niño danger passed, focus shifts on homeless river dwellers

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Global trash problem reaches crisis level

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As Brazil mine spill reaches ocean, its catastrophic extent becomes clear

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Colorado disputes key part of EPA mine report

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Plastic microbeads and state coal investments banned as Gov. Jerry Brown signs new laws

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Plastic pollution: Billions of pieces of tiny plastic litter found in San Francisco Bay

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.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Clean Tahoe picks up 400 pounds of litter following holiday

Clean Tahoe, a South Tahoe nonprofit focused on litter abatement, removed more than 400 pounds of trash from the public roadway and sidewalks near the Stateline, Nev. area on July 5.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Feds recognize six local waterways as impaired by fecal bacteria

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. 

Aquafornia news Brookings Institution

What the new clean water rule means for metro areas

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 …

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Scientists find a way to reduce mercury in wetlands

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Groundwater contamination a growing problem in L.A. County wells (graphic)

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Cupertino-area cement plant fined $7 million for water pollution (with video)

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.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Industry fighting $5.8 million fine for damaging San Gabriel River

Workers with a company controlled by the City of Industry’s former mayor caused extensive environmental damage performing unauthorized work at Follows Camp on the San Gabriel River.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Cupertino cement quarry to pay $7.5 million to settle water pollution violations

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tiny plastics likely polluting Sacramento River, UC Davis researcher says

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Feds should take over protecting groundwater

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: With state ban on hold, locals must fight plastic bags

It was not surprising that out-of-state plastic-bag makers succeeded in temporarily scuttling a statewide ban on single-use grocery bags that would have begun in July.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plastic-bag ban put on hold by ballot referendum

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.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Study finds rising levels of plastics in oceans

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.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: Taking out the trash

When EPA representatives met with 4th graders in Maryland last year to observe their work as “stream stewards,” many of the students had the same comment – there’s too much trash in the water.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Hinkley water cleanup proposal issued by state regulators

State regulators have released a draft order for the partial cleanup of the world’s largest contamination site for cancer-causing chromium-6.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News Release: EPA proposal strengthens nation’s preparedness level and response to oil spills

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Westlands leader says drainage negotiations were no secret

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.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Plastic bag ban takes effect in Chico on Jan. 1

In nine days, plastic bags will not be as plentiful in some Chico stores. The city’s bag ban takes effect Jan. 1. It’s a similar law to California’s upcoming ban on July 1.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: A sea of plastic bags upon an ocean of trash

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Study: 270,000 tons of plastic floating in oceans

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.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California water at risk from abandoned Sierra Nevada mines

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Mayor Kevin Johnson to propose plastic bag ban in Sacramento

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Don’t get suckered into banning the plastic bag ban!

The bounty hunters are out again, and they’re gunning for … you. … The pro-baggers have already lost locally, as cities such as  Los Angeles have banned the bags.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Money flows in plastic bag fight

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Storm runoff: Stay out of the ocean, health officials warn

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Let California’s plastic bag ban stand

Some people just don’t know when to stop fighting.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California beach cleanup participation up after three-year slide

More than 66,000 people picked up cans, bottles and other trash along California’s beaches, rivers and lakes during this year’s annual Coastal Cleanup.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Plastic bag referendum is no-lose situation

Superficially, it would seem to make little sense for the plastic grocery bag industry to spend millions of dollars on a referendum to overturn the state’s new ban on their products.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Cal Water hit with $3 million penalty for fish-killing San Mateo pipe leak

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Let water flow in bathroom faucets

The California Energy Commission will make a crucial mistake if it ignores a potential threat to the health and safety of Californians in favor of a proposal from investor-owned utilities.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Commentary: Plastic bag ban under well-funded attack

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Japan’s nuclear cleanup stymied by water woes

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Just how bad is your dog for the environment?

Dog poop does contain nutrients — the kind that, when washed down storm drains into streams and the ocean, fuel toxic algae blooms that suck up oxygen and turn coastal habitats into dead zones.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: Prescriptions for cleaner waterways

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Another Ebola challenge: Disposing of medical waste

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.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

‘Avoid water contact’ warnings issued at three West Marin recreation sites

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.”

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Plastic bag ban, other good bills signed

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.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Referendum sought on plastic bag ban

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Brown criticized for veto of bill to reform toxic substances agency

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California becomes first state to ban plastic bags

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that makes California the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags.

Publication

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource
Published 2007

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.

Product

River Report Newsletter Subscription

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.

Video

The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (20 min. DVD)

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.

Video

The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (60 min. DVD)

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.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley

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.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

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.

Video

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

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. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

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.

Video

Groundwater Quality: Managing the Resource

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.

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guides to California Wastewater
Published 2013

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.

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Aquapedia background

Pollutants and Groundwater

Pollutants and Groundwater

The natural quality of groundwater in California depends on the surrounding geology and on the source of water that recharges the aquifer.

Western Water Magazine

Two States, One Lake: Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue
September/October 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses some of the issues associated with the effort to preserve and restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Western Water Magazine

Pervasive and Persistent: Constituents of Growing Concern
January/February 2011

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.

Western Water Magazine

From Source to Tap: Protecting California’s Drinking Water
November/December 2006

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.

Western Water Magazine

Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products: An Rx for Water Quality Problems?
July/August 2004

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.

Western Water Magazine

Mercury Rising Tackling the Legacy of the Gold Rush
May/June 2004

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.

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

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.

Western Water Magazine

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act:
November/December 2002

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.

Commands