Stormwater runoff has emerged as a primary water quality issue. In urban areas, after long dry periods rainwater runoff can contain accumulations of pollutants. Stormwater does not go into the sewer. Instead, pollutants can be flushed into waterways with detrimental effects on the environment and water quality.
In response, water quality regulators use a range of programs to reduce stormwater pollution including limiting the amount of excess runoff and in some cases recapturing freshwater as well.
Taxpayers may not realize it, but they foot the bill as their city or county complies with new state regulations to improve the health of local streams and waterways. Nicole Beck, 49, a UC Santa Cruz alum with a doctorate in aquatic chemistry, is marrying science and software to help city and county staff get information to make better decisions on where to focus their limited resources.
In a highly anticipated report, a panel chartered by Congress to advise public agencies on effective governance recommends that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revise how it appraises financial burdens when communities are required to upgrade water and sewer systems.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. Join us as we head into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
The thousands of miles of concrete channels diverting street water from the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers represent the last major water project in Los Angeles County, built almost 100 years ago. On Thursday, Dave Sorem, owner and vice president of Mike Bubalo Construction Co., showed off the first of a second wave of street-water projects that elevate what is essentially water pollution into a drinkable water source.
Precipitation carrying tainted water through the Tijuana River into the Pacific Ocean triggered beach closures Tuesday evening from the international border to Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach. … The pollution from stormwater runoff adds to spills from aging pipes and potentially hazardous discharges from the deteriorating San Antonio de Los Buenos sewage treatment plant in Punta Bandera, located about six miles south of the border.
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.
Bioswale projects on medians and other surfaces along a handful of the east San Fernando Valley’s major roadways could be pulling double-duty soon to help conserve rainwater, while adding more greenery, thanks in part to a $4 million grant from the state’s coastal and waterway conservancy.
Despite spending millions of dollars over the years on garbage cleanup, Oakland has the Bay Area’s worst record for limiting the rubbish that pollutes creeks, lakes and the bay, according to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. The flow of waste violates mandates set by the board to reduce storm drain litter this year by 70 percent compared with 2009, a goal that Oakland is far from meeting.
Looking to tap property owners, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved moving forward with a plan to consider a parcel tax to help fund an ambitious stormwater capturing system to bolster local drinking water supplies. … The county and its 85 cities are required to develop programs to build stormwater capture and clean-up projects as part of Federal Clean Water Act compliance.
During one of this winter’s frequent storms, sheets of rainwater spilled from roofs, washed across sidewalks and down gutters into a sprawling network of underground storm drains that empty into the Los Angeles River channel.
Water Education for Latino Leaders is convening a statewide educational water conference in Sacramento for California local elected officials.
Local elected officials can make a difference for all Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for our communities, protect our natural resources and our local economies. WELL’s hope is to facilitate understanding towards comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain California’s economy and quality of life.
The Water Education Foundation is an organizing partner.
California has nearly one quarter of the nation’s homeless people – the most of any state by far – and thousands of them live in the Bay Area. … Under a new resolution by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, trash from homeless encampments now falls under the stormwater permit that requires Bay Area cities and counties to get storm drains virtually trash-free by 2022.
Newly passed bills in California are helping turn attention to green infrastructure projects that can help cities take advantage of stormwater to replenish groundwater, increase water supply and decrease water pollution.
Under the $29-million expansion plan launched Monday, officials said the groundwater recharge facility will double in capacity by 2018, helping ween Angelenos off increasingly expensive and unreliable imported water.
Another Memorial Day came and went this year, but the marina at Meeks Bay Resort didn’t open for a third straight season — this time due to a high concentration of pollutants, an issue that apparently has been a concern for more than a decade.
Of the roughly 300,000 acres in the city of Los Angeles, more than 2,000 are alleyways that cut through city blocks. And because they’re mostly paved, they do little to capture one of the city’s most prized resources: water.
With this year’s storms helping to refill the Sacramento region’s lakes and reservoirs, local water district officials and state regulators are diverting and percolating stormwater from Cache Creek into the Yolo County canal system to recharge groundwater supplies used by local farmers, city residents and UC Davis.
Settling a major lawsuit from environmentalists, San Jose city officials on Tuesday agreed to spend more than $100 million over the next decade and beyond to reduce tons of trash that flows into creeks and San Francisco Bay, repair miles of leaking underground sewage pipes and clean stormwater contaminated with harmful bacteria.
For nearly four years, cities in Los Angeles County have voiced complaints that permits required to rid toxic chemicals and bacteria from storm water imposed staggering costs that could bankrupt smaller cities. On Tuesday, two state senators from Sacramento heard their cries.
Stormwater is starting to get some serious attention in California, as the state’s drought enters a fifth year. … In Walnut Creek, behind a ranch-style home, landscape designer Ryan Kelsey is helping people do that—at least in the short term, and on their own properties.
[Eric] Batman reveled in El Niño’s long-overdue rumbling. His job, as senior civil engineer for the [Los Angeles] county Department of Public Works, is to keep as much rain as possible from escaping to the ocean.
After a year in which Californians cut water use by 25 percent, storm water has become the next front in what amounts to a fundamental restructuring of Southern California’s relationship with its intricate water network.
A long arm across Rainbow Harbor prevented piles of detritus from landing on local shores and floating into the sea earlier this month, when heavy rains soaked the region and sent tons of trash and debris downstream from cities along the Los Angeles River and into Long Beach.
In an effort to restore California’s desperately depleted ancient aquifers, scientists are testing an approach that seizes surplus winter rain and delivers it to where it’s most useful: idle farms and fields.
The State Water Resources Control Board approved a broad plan Wednesday for capturing more rain. The regulator is launching a road show this month to explain how it will dole out $200 million for projects to collect rain, part of a $7.5-billion water bond voters approved in November 2014.
At a meeting that lasted all day, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a new program focused on incentivizing jurisdictions to create innovative plans for cleaning up local watersheds.
Among the devastating effects of the low pressure storm system that pummeled South Carolina over the weekend was the heavy damage the record-breaking rains caused to water transport and treatment infrastructure, and the release of a tide of contaminated stormwater.
By some estimates, hanging onto more stormwater—as opposed to just cleaning it so it doesn’t wash pollutants into rivers, aquifers and the ocean—could supply a city such as Los Angeles with a third to half of the water it needs annually – and reduce demand for water from up here.
You might have seen them around new buildings and roadways: little basins and ditches, planted with various small growing things. They’re designed to stop crud from washing into the gutters and down the storm drains.
It may not rain much in Los Angeles County, but when it does, a single storm can send up to 10 billion gallons of water surging into a vast network of storm channels with a single destination: the Pacific Ocean.
Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and concrete rivers into the sea.
California is at a critical moment in deciding how we’ll deal with stormwater in Los Angeles … and beyond. Next Tuesday, June 16, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) will consider whether or not it will uphold the current stormwater permit for Los Angeles County, which was last renewed in 2012.
Millions of gallons of polluted stormwater runoff from Los Angeles International Airport will be treated and cleaned before washing into the Pacific Ocean or working its way into L.A.’s groundwater basin, according to an agreement signed Thursday by city and airport officials.
The region’s creeks and rivers had unhealthy levels of pollutants last year, the environmental group San Diego Coastkeeper said in a report Wednesday. … To analyze water quality, the organization took 3,301 measurements from nine of the 11 watersheds in the county.
When water hits pavement and blacktop, the water is whisked away to storm drains and does not soak into the soil. Also, these quick flows contribute to pollution in rivers and streams, the State Water Board explains in a series of seven short videos …
Billions of gallons of water have fallen on Los Angeles County since last week. And much of that kept right on going — out into storm drains, lost to the sea. Couldn’t we actually use that water? Yes, and we do.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today [Dec. 16] joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Tom Vilsack, Mike Boots of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a private investor and an Appomattox, VA, farmer to recognize an innovative, market-based nutrient trading program run by Virginia to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay.
A day after heavy rains opened up a massive sinkhole in San Francisco’s Richmond District, the city on Thursday continued with efforts to repair the 20-by-20-foot crater, while revealing it was caused by water flowing from a broken storm drain line.
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.
A broad coalition of 27 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund has pledged to support the Urban Waters Federal Partnership as it works to restore waterways and revitalize communities across the country. … Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets, and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities.
Hours of downpours brought California some relief from a devastating drought and produced few of the problems such as flooding and mudslides that the long-awaited storm had threatened – at least so far.
When TreePeople’s Andy Lipkis returned from Australia last week, he couldn’t get out of his head the response people had when he told them most of the rain that falls in Los Angeles escapes to the sea.
Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from one of Seattle’s busiest highways. … The research being conducted by scientists with NOAA, Washington State University and U.S. Fish and Wildlife offers a promising solution to stormwater pollution, a major problem for Puget Sound and other streams and lakes in the nation.
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.
Construction is under way on a 26-home sustainable community in San Luis Obispo. … The site has been built with local water issues in mind as well: There will be an on-site storm water management and “rain-store” retention system …
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.
This card includes information about the Colorado River, who uses the river, how the river’s water is divided and other pertinent facts about this vital resource for the Southwest. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs.
This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past, present and future of flood management in California’s Central Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand. Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic flood management plan for the Central Valley.
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.
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.
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 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12 about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.
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 beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.
The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.
“[Lara] Meeker, who heads the environmental group’s DrainWatch program, is overseeing a special corps of volunteers called Storm Water Assessment Teams — or SWAT — who fan out across the region to collect water samples in an effort to force polluters to clean up.”
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“To preserve agriculture, flood protection and wildlife habitat, the Knaggs Ranch project completed this month will help determine if floodplains doing double duty growing rice and other crops can also be used as nurseries for salmon.”
“There’s no easy fix for the National Flood Insurance Program, now drowning in a $24 billion sea of red ink.
“But experts and advocates say Congress does have some options that could make the troubled program financially stable, more affordable and more effective at motivating change in communities built too close to the water.”
“Earlier this month, Congress sought to ease their fears of sky-high premiums by rolling back a 2012 reform ending the government’s costly practice of offering subsidized insurance for older homes and businesses in flood zones. The president signed the bill Friday.”
“As California’s historic drought worsens by the day, Silicon Valley’s main water provider faces a difficult choice: Risk catastrophic flooding if a major earthquake strikes its largest dam — or drain billions of gallons of water from the reservoir behind it to make repairs.”
“A $600,000 consultant will conduct geotechnical studies and preliminary design work for expansion of Phoenix Lake into both a reservoir and runoff retention basin as part of ambitious plans to control flooding in the Ross Valley.”
“President Barack Obama is set to sign into law a bipartisan bill relieving homeowners living in flood-prone neighborhoods from big increases in their insurance bills.
“The legislation, which cleared Congress on Thursday, reverses much of a 2012 overhaul of the government’s much-criticized flood insurance program after angry homeowners facing sharp premium hikes protested.”
“The Senate voted 72 to 22 Thursday to pass a flood insurance bill that will roll back sharp premium increases to homeowners that were implemented as part of a federal overhaul of the flood insurance program.”
From the Stockton Record’s Alex Breitler Environment blog:
“California is failing to provide adequate funding for small rural drinking-water systems, flood protection projects, and stormwater and wastewater services, the PPIC concludes in its latest study, released tonight [March 12].”
“An innovative project installed by the city to cleanse storm water naturally before it reaches San Francisco Bay is serving as an inspiration for a similar, but larger project planned for El Cerrito and six other East Bay cities.”
“Two things became clear halfway through a Regional Water Board meeting in Salinas Thursday morning: Everybody wants to cooperate but factions often have differing and passionate views on how to clear the Salinas River channel to prevent flooding.
“Presentations by the Regional Quality Control Board staff, The Nature Conservancy and a coalition of farmers and farming interests all complemented each other in seeking collaboratively to find ways to address flood protection along the 94-mile stretch of river while providing safe habitat for endangered
“Over a period of several decades, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encased the Los Angeles River in concrete to protect the region against the kind of flooding that had surprised and damaged the city in the 1930s — but also, crucially, to withstand the rare but even more torrential floods that were known to sweep across the basin every generation or so.”
“House Republican leaders have cleared the way for a floor vote on a bill that would roll back portions of a 2012 overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, offering hundreds of thousands of property owners relief from sharp premium hikes.”
For all the benefits of precipitation, stormwater also brings with it many challenges.
In urban areas, after long dry periods rainwater runoff can contain heavy accumulations of pollutants that have built up over time. For example, a rainbow like shine on a roadway puddle can indicate the presence of oil or gasoline. Stormwater does not go into the sewer. Instead, pollutants can be flushed into waterways with detrimental effects on the environment and water quality.
“The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to delay steep increases in homeowners’ federal flood insurance premiums, which were put in place less than two years ago to stabilize the federal flood insurance program.”
From Greenversations, An EPA Blog About Science Matters, in a post by Marguerite Huber:
“EPA researchers studying green infrastructure (using vegetation, soil, and other naturalistic techniques to reduce stormwater runoff) collaborated with colleagues in the Agency’s New England office (EPA Region 1) to develop a new public-domain software app called the Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST).
“The goal of the tool is to help water resource managers and planners identify cost effective, sustainable green infrastructure options for their local jurisdictions.
“About 3,500 south Sacramento area homes considered to be at high risk for flooding will shed that designation in May because of flood control projects on two creeks, federal and local officials announced Wednesday.”
“Garden patches at the Boronda Crossing Shopping Center have a big job. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, the plants and rock form a bioswale — in effect, a filter — intended to reduce pollutants in rainwater runoff from entering creeks, estuaries and the Monterey Bay.”
“[Veronica] Tril, who lives in the city’s Fruitvale neighborhood, is one of dozens of Oakland residents who have signed up for a new city program to ‘adopt’ their neighborhood storm drain and keep it spick-and-span, said Kristine Shaff, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works.”
“Thousands of people in the Bay Area and roughly 1 million Americans are experiencing the effects of a law Congress enacted in July 2012 to stabilize the cash-strapped federal agency that provides flood insurance for properties in high-risk areas.”
From The Salinas Californian, in a commentary by Steve Shimek:
“It is ironic that Friday’s press conference by Senator (Anthony) Canella, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, Supervisor (Simon) Salinas, and some area farmers was held on the bank of the Salinas River at Hilltown Road (near Highway 68).
From the Center for American Progress blog, in a post by Shiva Polefka:
“In June, the consulting firm AECOM published a report for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, comprehensively analyzing the change in America’s flood risks due to climate change. Its study found that sea-level rise is projected to increase the flood-hazard area in our nation’s coastal floodplain by 55 percent by 2100.
“Associations representing the nation’s mayors, counties, cities, stormwater agencies and major California water agencies filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting efforts by a coal mining company to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from having the power to retroactively revoke Clean Water Act permits.
“Amid intense political jockeying and behind-the-scenes finger pointing, it appears that Congress will adjourn for the year without agreeing on action to curb steep hikes in flood insurance premiums for thousands of homeowners now and many more beginning in October 2014.”
“With regulators having put the kibosh on allowing farmers to cut trees and brush and remove debris and sediment, the Salinas River channel is estimated to accommodate only half the water volume of recent years, a situation farmers underscore by recalling the disastrous flood of 1995.”
From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Blog:
“An award-winning watershed assessment tool, the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA), was deployed to assess potential Rim Fire threats in Yosemite National Park in California. …
“BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) is a multi-agency group that includes USDA’s Forest Service and others, and is responsible for identifying potential threats such as downstream flooding and developing plans to rehabilitate and restore burned areas.
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“To prepare for the winter season, DWR’s Division of Flood Management teamed up with the California Conservation Corps, the Sacramento Office of Emergency Services, and Local Maintaining Agency Reclamation District 1601 to practice response operations on Twitchell Island. New techniques were explored using Muscle Walls to better protect levees from overtopping damage.”
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has begun an innovative program in the San Joaquin Valley to help local levee-maintaining agencies implement flood control projects while preserving habitat for the endangered giant garter snake.
“The ‘advance conservation’ program identifies and sets aside habitat, in this case snake habitat, before agencies begin work that could result in the taking of threatened or endangered species or their habitat.
“The U.S. Department of Interior has just announced nearly $9 million in grants for conservation projects around Lake Tahoe and in Nevada. The money comes from federal land sales, but such funding is quickly disappearing. …
“The TRPA [Tahoe Regional Planning Agency] is highlighting business investment in the environment from plant restoration to storm water management.”
“The historic Colorado floods actually changed the course of some rivers and creeks. That has left many agricultural irrigation ditches and diversion dams useless. Farmers and irrigation companies now find themselves footing the bill to reroute these waterways before spring planting season.”
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“Private conservation group River Partners recently acquired 497-acre Hidden Valley Ranch near the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers using $6.3 million in DWR grants and another $3 million from the Wildlife Conservation Board.
“DWR’s Flood Corridor Program and FloodSAFE Environmental Stewardship and Statewide Resources Office targeted the funding to improve non-structural flood management and wildlife habitat protection in the region.”
“Former Vice President Al Gore gave a talk Tuesday at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. It was a spirited extension of his 2006 film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ the jeremiad about climate change. …
“Anyone who lives in Sacramento has the nagging knowledge that we are the second-most vulnerable to flooding city in the United States.
“State agencies this week paid $9.3 million to buy a 466-acre dairy and farm in Stanislaus County near the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers.
“The so-called Hidden Valley Ranch is about 10 miles southwest of Modesto. It will be taken out of agricultural production and used to provide floodplain habitat along with the adjacent 1,603-acre Dos Rios Ranch, which was acquired last year for the same purpose.”
The sputter of whirling blades was the soundtrack for the days following the 1986 flood for Chuck Smith, now spokesman for Sutter County, who was then a reporter at the Appeal-Democrat. Smith worked through the night on Feb. 20 after the flood waters burst through the levee into Linda. …
“The stories are part of the legacy of life in a floodplain, where the strength of structures — the levees, dams, bypasses and weirs — bends the natural flow of water to people’s unnatural whims. Every so often, that strength fails.
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“In 2012, a handful of federal, state and local agencies launched California Flood Preparedness Week. This year, more than 25 federal, state and local agencies and governments are participating in California Flood Preparedness Week (November 4-9, 2013).
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“California’s vulnerability to flooding creates significant risk to public safety, the environment and the economy. During California Flood Preparedness Week (CFPW), Nov. 4-9, the Department of Water Resources and state, federal and local partners aim to educate Californians about flood risk in their communities and ways to prepare for flooding.
To kick off this week-long educational effort, California was today inducted into the Silver Jackets program at a letter signing ceremony in Sacramento.
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“Two state agencies have collaborated on grants totaling $9.3 million to purchase 497-acre Hidden Valley Ranch on the San Joaquin River near its confluence with the Tuolumne River in Stanislaus County.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) contributed $6.3 million and $3 million respectively toward the purchase, which was finalized today [Nov.
“As autumn turns to winter and rain falls over the charred landscape left behind by the Rim fire, forest rangers and emergency planners have a new worry: water.
“Over 90% of the blaze burned in the Tuolumne River watershed, where more than 2,600 miles of streams cut through steep, now-burned slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Those mountains are primed for flooding and debris flows in a big storm.”
From the Los Angeles Times, in a commentary by Andy Lipkis:
“On Nov. 5, 1913, William Mulholland stood before a crowd of 40,000 people near San Fernando and unfurled an American flag, signaling the official opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. As water from the Owens Valley rushed through the spillway for the first time, Mulholland exulted to the assembled onlookers: ‘There it is. Take it.’”
From Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) staff blog:
“As pollution from stormwater runoff increasingly threatens our lakes, rivers, and oceans, it is becoming clear that distributed solutions like permeable pavement, rain gardens, and green roofs will play a key role in addressing the issue. These ‘green infrastructure’ technologies can be installed on and around buildings, from single-family homes to skyscrapers, and can significantly reduce the amount of stormwater that reaches our waterways.
From the California Farm Bureau Federation Ag Alert weekly newspaper:
“Threatened with huge fines and possible imprisonment, West Virginia poultry producer Lois Alt decided to stand up to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in court. In a case with implications for livestock producers in California and nationwide, Alt tried to sort out whether stormwater discharges from her farm actually require a federal permit.
“Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the Senate unveiled a bill Tuesday, the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, that would delay the flood insurance rate increases that are starting to go into effect under a law passed last year.”
“A bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday unveiled legislation that would delay for about four years several changes to the federal government’s flood insurance program that are threatening to sock thousands of people with unaffordable premium hikes.”
“Residents of the Smith Canal area, an area that’s been identified as a flood zone, can be forgiven if they feel they’ve been had. They voted to tax themselves to construct a floodgate at the head of the canal, but until it’s finished five to seven years from now, they will be required to purchase flood insurance. And pay the tax assessment to build the flood gate.
From the California WaterBlog, in a post by William Fleenor and Robyn Suddeth:
“The Yolo Bypass presents one of the most promising opportunities to restore floodplain habitat for native fish in the Central Valley. The 57,000-acre floodway protects Sacramento and the southern Sacramento Valley from floods in wet winters and is farmed each summer.
“Marsh Junior High School could be getting rid of a problem the Humboldt Road campus has suffered with since it opened, and get a facility it has needed for just as long. … The school is built on shallow soil over a lava cap. Water flowing over the surface drains into the soil about as effectively as water running over a paved parking lot would.
“The federal government’s revamped flood-insurance program is starting to take effect, but the first question for homeowners in Stockton and across the country is yet to be answered: Exactly how much will flood insurance rates go up?
“Congress passed legislation last year requiring the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program to phase out subsidized and discounted rates in favor of rates that reflect the actual risk for any one property, should a flood occur.”
“In the foothills of the Watchung Mountains, where tributaries from Green Brook and Middle Brook spill into the Raritan River, Bound Brook [NJ] lies in one of the state’s lowest floodplains. [Hurricane] Floyd left Main Street under 12 feet of water and sent about a third of its 10,400 residents to emergency shelters.
“Bound Brook has spent the ensuing years taking protective action. Its Green Brook Flood Control Project, a $130 million system of movable walls, was about 85 percent complete when Hurricane Irene put it to the test in 2011.
“The successful navigation of the sometimes impenetrable federal bureaucracy is one example cited by Roseville officials of their stepped-up efforts to influence state and federal issues and, if needed, assist local businesses entangled in red tape. …
“Last year, facing stiff new state regulations for handling stormwater, the city recruited other local governments to oppose the rules.”
“When it comes to upcoming changes to flood insurance rates, landowners in Yuba and Sutter counties are in the same boat.
“Both areas will be impacted by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, a controversial piece of legislation designed to close a $28 billion funding gap in the National Flood Insurance Policy through drastic insurance rate increases.”
“We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — and we wish that more public figures would say it and say it louder: It makes no sense to treat agricultural interests located in floodplains the way you’d treat residential, commercial and/or industrial areas located in floodplains.”
“The [Coachella] City Council approved 4-0, with no discussion, two emergency construction contracts to repair extensive flood damage at Shady Lane and Avenue 52 caused by thunderstorms that hit the Coachella Valley in August. …
“The storms brought chaos to the eastern part of the valley, where heavy rain flooded several streets, prompting road closures and even inundated some neighborhoods. At the city’s retention basins at Avenue 52 and the intersection of Shady Lane, underground pipes were exposed because of severe erosion during a storm on Aug.
“All lanes of the 5 Freeway in the Sun Valley area were opened Wednesday night after heavy debris flows spilled across the lanes and forced a shutdown that lasted for several hours, the California Highway Patrol said. … Water apparently overflowed from a nearby storm drain as the first storm of the season brought rain and high winds to the area.”
“Public agencies that handle water, sewer, and solid waste services in California are required to comply with certain mailed notice and majority protest public hearing procedures in order to impose a new service fee or to increase an existing fee.For the adoption of all other property-related fees, including stormwater and flood control service fees, a public agency must also comply with an additional voter approval process.This voter approval process is referred to as an ‘election’ in California Constitution article XIII D, section 6(c).
“It may look muddy and messy, but a gash torn right down the middle of a south Stockton levee should help some of the city’s most disadvantaged residents avoid the threat of mandatory flood insurance in the future.
“Construction workers are using an enormous mud-soaked excavator to dig a 38-foot-deep trench for more than a quarter-mile along the San Joaquin River, just south of the Highway 4 bridge.”
“The Delta Protection Commission recently declared November 4-9, 2013, as Delta Flood Preparedness Week, part of a statewide effort by federal, state, and local flood emergency response agencies to increase public awareness of flooding and improve public safety for all Californians. …
“As part of Delta Flood Preparedness Week, the Delta Protection Commission is preparing educational materials regarding flood preparedness that will be distributed to Delta residents.
“After years of study, legal turmoil, public debate and legislative uncertainty, county planners say it’s going to take another year of staff work, an ombudsman and a citizens committee to figure out how to regulate creekside lots in Marin.
“Development rules that have proven politically elusive are up for another round of review at the Civic Center Tuesday morning as the Board of Supervisors reconsiders a controversial ’stream conservation area’ zone program that affects what happens near creek banks.”
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“The Central Valley Flood Protection Board refreshed its mission earlier this year and created its first-ever strategic plan as a road map to achieve the Board’s goal of reducing the risk of catastrophic flooding in the Central Valley. On that map is the Folsom Dam Joint Federal Project, which the board visited on September 27 for a briefing on a new auxiliary 2,400-foot spillway, a control structure with submerged gates and a 1,100-foot approach channel. … Led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S.
“Our view: Butte County proved it’s no better than the state government at enforcing environmental rules. When Butte County railed at the state Department of Water Resources for not enforcing water runoff rules against industrial marijuana farmers carving up the foothills, the state agency responded in a way that cast itself in a poor light.
“But recent revelations about the county’s grading ordinance indicated the ineptitude in dealing with pot factories doesn’t just emanate from Sacramento.
From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):
“Reducing and preventing damage from California’s future floods are the goals of 10 new grants to local public agencies by the Department of Water Resources (DWR). Director Mark Cowin approved $91.8 million in Proposition 1E Stormwater Flood Management (SWFM) Grant Program funding awards on September 20, 2013.
“Like communities up and down the Front Range, Boulder has long been known to be at high risk for flooding because it sits at the mouth of a canyon and is threaded with creeks. And officials here prepared for the inevitable.
“The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Stormwater Management Program has announced the launch of a new Lake-Friendly Business Program designed to encourage Tahoe businesses to complete and maintain their Best Management Practices.”
“California communities spend close to half a billion dollars each year trying to prevent litter from mucking up the sensitive ecosystems of rivers, lakes and coastal waters, according to a report released recently by the Natural Resources Defense Council.”
“Officials in Grass Valley are looking to the state for help on costly water-handling mandates they say will impact customers and dampen development.
“In February, Grass Valley’s state-issued water standards were increased so that the city falls in line with the expectations and requirements of much larger, more dense urban areas, said Grass Valley’s Public Works Director and City Engineer Tim Kiser.”
“We’re not only concerned with improving our local system of levees to protect our cities and farmlands from flooding; we’re also worried about the cost of flood insurance, mandatory for many parts of our two counties. An act approved by Congress last year will phase out subsidies that have made flood insurance affordable for communities like ours. …
“During a ceremony last week to kick off construction work on the west Feather River levee, our reporter asked U.S. Rep.
“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday [August 8] that elevated pollutant levels in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers represent a violation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and are attributable to the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. The Court of Appeals’ decision in Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council follows a remand from the U.S.
“A federal appeals court dealt Los Angeles County a blow on Thursday in a long-running lawsuit over storm-water pollution when it issued an opinion that the county is liable for excessively high levels.”
“Wednesday’s court ruling upholding the validity of the Quantification Settlement Agreement is a setback to local government efforts to ensure that the Salton Sea does not become an environmental and public health disaster as a result of the water transfer.”
“U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. in Sacramento threw out the [California Sportfishing] alliance’s Clean Water Act lawsuit against Chico Scrap Metal Inc. … A three-judge appellate panel reversed Burrell on Monday, ruling that the alliance’s focus is different from any of the others, and therefore its suit can proceed. The panel sent the matter back to Burrell for further proceedings.”
“Before the first nail is pounded, before the first coat of paint goes on, many simple home improvement projects have already started helping protect Lake Tahoe. That’s because water quality Best Management Practices to minimize stormwater pollution and erosion are required with every significant remodel or house addition project.
“The [Natural Resources Defense Council] national report found California’s beach water quality ranked 20th among 30 states included in the report, with Santa Cruz’ famed shoreline ranking in the middle of the pack statewide.”
“California water quality officials have approved strategies designed to reduce the amount of fine sediments discharged into Lake Tahoe, and new rules also prepared to avoid pollution of the landmark alpine lake are now in place, officials said Thursday.”