California’s rich agricultural productivity comes with a price.
The dry climate that provides the almost year-round growing
season also can require heavily irrigated soils. But such
irrigation can also degrade the local water quality.
Two of the state’s most productive farming areas in particular,
the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and parts of the Imperial
Valley in southern California, have poorly drained and naturally
California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access
to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But
substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water
that meets those criteria. A new study published by the
California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research
identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of
the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems.
A final decision on the pending Irrigated Lands Regulatory
Program known as Ag Order 4.0 is expected by Friday, April 16.
Producers have anxiously been monitoring the development of the
program from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board. Stakeholders have repeatedly provided feedback on the
proposal, detailing the challenges it would create within
agriculture. As the adoption deadline quickly approaches,
industry members still have concerns about multiple provisions
of the measure.
The Yuba Water Agency manages water storage and deliveries to
downstream customers while having a hand in preserving fish
habitats and recreational areas. Currently, the agency has
already begun doubling its reservoir releases at a time when
visitors to the river are also expected to go up. Due to
the time of year, those releases from upstream reservoirs are
dictated by irrigation needs of downstream growers.
The state plans to inspect three dairy ranches in the Point
Reyes National Seashore after independent water quality tests
conducted in nearby creeks and lagoons earlier this year found
E. coli bacteria concentrations up to 40 times higher than
state health standards. The San Francisco Regional Water
Quality Control Board plans to inspect Kehoe Dairy, McClure
Dairy and R&J McClelland Dairy, which are located near
Kehoe Creek and waterways that flow into Abbotts Lagoon in the
northern region of the national seashore.
Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project
that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they
will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst
drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance
the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and
endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of
several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in
the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is
working with congressional delegates, the White House and
federal agencies to find relief for those affected.
Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae,
under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce
toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine
mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state
experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports
of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241
in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful
algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread
into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the
summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that
increase harmful algal blooms …
The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability
will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands
being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands
could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple
benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at
The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about
Imperial Irrigation District apparently has decided not to
sweat Michael Abatti’s decision to appeal his case against the
district to the nation’s highest court. IID announced Monday it
will not file a response to Abatti’s petition to the U.S.
Supreme Court over his ongoing legal dispute with the district
over water rights. The exception would be if the court requests
a response. IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said in a press
release that a response is unnecessary.
California’s shrinking Salton Sea is getting a closer look
scientifically with the state, local air districts, and
community groups examining air, water, and even dust from the
parched shoreline where water was once plentiful. The increased
scrutiny comes as the state has continuously failed to meet
dust suppression and habitat goals set in a 2017 management
plan to restore nearly 30,000 acres of the state’s largest body
of water by 2028. The sea spans Imperial and Riverside counties
near the Mexican border, where disadvantaged communities
breathe some of the nation’s worst air and suffer from high
asthma rates. Chronic nosebleeds are also common.
Salinity has often become a major limit for irrigated
agriculture in semi-arid regions, from ancient Mesopotamia to
parts of California today. A previous blog post showed that
conjunctive use with more saline groundwater can differ
fundamentally from freshwater aquifers. Higher salinity limits
groundwater use for irrigation during dry years, when less
surface water is available to dilute groundwater salinity, and
increases aquifer pumping in wetter years to avoid
water-logging. Brackish groundwater can no longer serves as
drought storage, but becomes a supplemental water supply in all
years, limited by availability of fresh surface water for
diluting salts. This greatly reduces groundwater’s ability to
support permanent crops and increases variability in annual
crop acreage across different water years, thus reducing
With a salmonella outbreak in eight states already under
investigation by the Centers for Disease Control, officials are
watching in California for another disease that impacts
waterfowl. Botulism killed thousands of waterfowl and other
birds last year on two national wildlife refuges near the
border of California and Oregon. Some estimates were as high as
60,000 dead birds. The Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake
national wildlife refuges were among the first created more
than 100 years ago. Millions of waterfowl and shore birds,
along with songbirds, migrated along the Pacific Flyway into
the two refuges and beyond. Today, between severe
restrictions on water flowing into and out of the refuges
and a crippling drought that shows no sign of letting up,
the refuge marshes are going dry.
Groundwater is a key resource for water users in California’s
Central Valley, a major agricultural hub with an economic
output of tens of billions of dollars annually. Surface
deformation in the Central Valley has long been linked to
changes in groundwater storage, but the timing and movement of
water flow beneath the surface has been poorly understood due
to a lack of reliable data. Now, for the first time,
scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps
Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and
Strategy, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey are using
advanced satellite data to map the “pulse” of groundwater flow
through the San Joaquin Valley, the southern portion of the
In June 2017, the California Regional Water Quality Control
Board and the Central Valley Region adopted a Basin Plan
Amendment for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins
for the control of pyrethroid pesticide discharges. The
amendment establishes controls for pyrethroid discharges,
including prohibition of discharges of pyrethroid pesticides
above certain concentrations, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs)
for pyrethroid pesticides, recommendations for agency
regulation of pyrethroids and potential monitoring
requirements. Synthetic pyrethroids are the most common forms
of commercially available urban pesticides for ants, termites
and flying insects…
California remains far behind its targets for addressing
exposed playa around the Salton Sea, according to data released
in the 2021 Salton Sea Management Program annual report.
But state officials expressed optimism in a public
workshop that they are finally beginning to catch up to those
goals. The state was supposed to implement dust suppression
projects or build wetlands habitat across 3,500 acres of
exposed playa by the end of 2020 to tamp down dust that’s
imbued with a century’s worth of salts, pesticides and other
Chuang Cheng-deng’s modest rice farm is a stone’s throw from
the nerve center of Taiwan’s computer chip industry, whose
products power a huge share of the world’s iPhones and other
gadgets. This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his
high-tech neighbors’ economic importance. Gripped by drought
and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan
has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of
farmland. … Officials are calling the drought Taiwan’s worst
in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous
challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor
industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the
global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones
of modern life. Chip makers use lots of water to clean
their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that
form the basis of the chips.
Tractors are working ground in the Sacramento Valley, as the
2021 rice season is underway. Whether it’s farmers, those in
cities or for the environment, this year will pose challenges
due to less than ideal rain and snowfall during the fall and
winter. Jon Munger At Montna Farms near Yuba City, Vice
President of Operations Jon Munger said they expect to plant
about one-third less rice this year, based on water cutbacks.
As water is always a precious resource in this state, rice
growers work hard to be as efficient as they can. Fields are
precisely leveled and will be flooded with just five-inches of
water during the growing season. Rice is grown in heavy clay
soils, which act like a bathtub to hold water in place.
High-tech planting and harvest equipment also help California
rice farms and mills operate at peak efficiency.
The fight between Imperial Valley farmer Michael Abatti and the
Imperial Irrigation District over control of the
district’s massive allotment of Colorado River water could
be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court if Abatti gets his way. He
and his lawyers have announced that they have petitioned the
nation’s highest court to take up the litigation that has
dragged on since 2013….Abatti is seeking to have the
country’s apex court hand control of IID’s water over to
landowners, a move that would leave most of the valley’s water
with a few larger agricultural operations.
Eelgrass, a plant that grows in “underwater meadows” along the
California coast and emerges like a floating carpet at low
tide, is already known to be an important habitat for fish,
birds and baby Dungeness crabs. It turns out it can also reduce
seawater’s acidity back to preindustrial levels, creating
refuges for animals who can’t tolerate that byproduct of
climate change. … [S]eagrass meadows, which have shrunk in
number and size globally because of pollution and
development … may support wildlife as well as the
production of farmed oysters, mussels and
abalone. … The state already has efforts in place
to protect its eelgrass habitat. The California Ocean
Protection Council has a goal of preserving the state’s
existing 15,000 acres of seagrass beds and adding another 1,000
acres by 2025.
A groundwater market, which caps total pumping within one or
more basins, allocates portions of the total to individual
users and allows users to buy and sell groundwater under the
total cap, is a promising tool for basins implementing
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA). … [G]roundwater markets can be a useful tool for
achieving basin sustainability, but they are not a good fit for
every basin or groundwater sustainability agency (GSA). … The
Fox Canyon groundwater market benefitted from the four enabling
conditions (water scarcity, fixed allocations, agricultural
stakeholder support, and capacity and funding) described below.
San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling
quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable
water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet,
with another drought looming, federal and state water managers
still plan to divert large amounts of water to their
contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer.
Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are
preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water
diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the
law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov.
Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that
jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future
precarious. -Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF
Restoration projects, like species, evolve. The Sonoma Creek
Enhancement Project, originally about mosquito control, has
shown itself to be a boon to special-status tidal marsh
wildlife as well. More than a decade of adaptive management
actions made that happen. The existing marsh, formed
rapidly beginning in the 1960s by deposited sediment, lacked
the dendritic channels of a mature marsh. High tides brought in
water that pooled in a central basin and didn’t drain out,
providing breeding habitat for mosquitos. The disadvantages of
chemical treatment prompted land managers to look for
Arsenic naturally occurs in the region’s groundwater and
Allensworth is served by two groundwater wells that have
contained arsenic levels up to 60 percent higher than state
defined safety levels for drinking water. … To tackle
those challenges in Allensworth, the community is collaborating
with SOURCE to outfit their local community center with two
Hydropanels to sustainably generate drinking water. The
Hydropanels use the warmth of the sun to draw clean,
pollutant-free water vapor out of the air through a patented,
water-absorbing material and into a reservoir inside the
On March 24, 2021, deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s
Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served one search
warrant to investigate illegal cannabis cultivation in the
Salmon Creek area. … Assisting agencies found one water
diversion violation (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation).
Additional violations with civil fines are expected to be filed
by the assisting agencies.
When the first European explorers arrived in California’s
Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and
permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian
forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone
of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields,
they support millions of migrating waterbirds each
year. According to a just-released study from Audubon,
tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as
well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of
wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California –
have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers.
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program
Director at Audubon California and a member of the
California Water Commission.
Many of the wetlands in the western United States have
disappeared since the 1700s. California has lost an astonishing
90 percent of its wetlands, which includes streamsides, wet
meadows and ponds. In Nevada, Idaho and Colorado, more than 50
percent of wetlands have vanished. Precious wet habitats now
make up just 2 percent of the arid West — and those remaining
wet places are struggling. Nearly half of U.S. streams are in
poor condition, unable to fully sustain wildlife and people,
says Jeremy Maestas, a sagebrush ecosystem specialist with the
NRCS who organized that workshop on Wilde’s ranch in 2016. As
communities in the American West face increasing water
shortages, more frequent and larger wildfires and unpredictable
floods, restoring ailing waterways is becoming a necessity.
The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was
long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where
water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water
futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has
been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the
region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and
the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been
prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory
birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and
water sources have seen steep declines in the past
Water quality testing commissioned by two groups lobbying for
the end of ranching in the Point Reyes National Seashore shows
fecal contamination exceeding federal recreational standards in
several waterways feeding the Pacific Ocean. In response,
seashore personnel point to their nearly finalized general
management amendment, which requires water quality
improvements. The tests from two rainy January days included
samples from and near Kehoe Lagoon, Abbotts Lagoon and Schooner
Creek, and showed exceedances in levels of E. coli and
Enterococcus—bacteria that serve as common indicators for fecal
Nitrogen pollution is one of agriculture’s biggest and most
intractable problems. Crops can’t grow without the critical
nutrient, and because sources of nitrogen are easy to come
by—synthetic fertilizer is cheap and manure from large animal
agriculture operations is plentiful—farmers often apply too
much, to try to ensure the highest yields. Because plants can’t
use it all, the excess makes its way into groundwater and
washes into waterways where it contaminates drinking water and
creates vast dead zones in oceans and lakes.
… California’s largest hotspot unsurprisingly includes
21 counties that cover the Central Valley, America’s produce
The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, California’s state clean
water law, passed in 1969 and became the model for the 1972
federal Clean Water Act. Nearly half a century after passage of
the landmark federal law, it is time for both the state and the
nation to assess progress and chart a new course. Once again,
California is leading the way with Assembly Bill 377, a new
bill introduced by Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D-Hollister).
Although new legislation is needed, the existing federal and
California clean water acts have produced successes that should
be celebrated. -Written by Terry Tamminen, president of 7th
Generation Advisors and founder of Santa Monica
Through collaborative projects, birds and endangered fish are
returning to areas they once reared in more than 100 years ago.
Partnerships among farmers, conservationists, universities, and
state and federal agencies are proving that by reactivating our
historic floodplains and using our bypasses during key times of
the year, we can create high-quality habitat that produces safe
haven and up to 149 times more food for salmon than the river.
These key projects demonstrate some of the work being done on
the wet-side of the levee.
Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and
Wildlife’s (CDFW) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) conducted a
raid of a clandestine cannabis grow on the North Grasslands
Wildlife Area, Gadwall Unit in Los Banos. The property is home
to dozens of species of nesting waterfowl, migratory birds,
rabbits, pheasants, birds of prey, small rodents and native
plants. … Several dead birds, including one Western
Meadowlark were discovered within the grow site. Thousands of
feet of black polyethylene pipe were stretched across the
property and was siphoning water from the permanent wetlands in
the closed zone. Officers also discovered dozens of dangerous
pesticides and chemicals.
Longtime family farmer Laura Cattani was appointed to the board
of the powerful Kern County Water Agency during a special
meeting on Monday. She is the second woman to serve on the
board of directors in the 60-year history of the agency.
Cattani will bring much needed diversity to the board, several
directors said during Monday’s meeting, not only because she’s
a woman, but also for her age. Cattani is 39.
A unique deal between ranchers and wildlife advocates may at
long last bring a reliable water supply to Lower Klamath
National Wildlife Refuge — and the wetlands and birds that
depend on it. Since it was largely drained in the early 20th
Century, the mosaic of wetlands formerly known as Lower Klamath
Lake has relied on water from the Klamath Irrigation Project to
grow food and provide suitable habitat for millions of
migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway each year. Wetlands in
the Klamath Basin support nearly 80% of the Pacific Flyway’s
migratory waterfowl during the spring and fall.
A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation
water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite
the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water
resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly
In the Capital Region, water determines destinies. The
10-county area is both plagued by drought and one of the
country’s most at-risk regions for catastrophic flooding. The
physical existence of Sacramento and surrounding cities and the
viability of the region’s heavily irrigated agriculture depend
on water resources engineers like Mary Paasch.
In a January test of the water in Abbotts Lagoon [at Point
Reyes National Seashore] …, the number of E. Coli cells found
in water samples was twenty times the safe amount. At Kehoe
Lagoon, the safety margin was exceeded by a factor of 40. It
gets worse for E. Coli’s nasty bacterial cousin known as
Enterococcus. It can devour your heart, stomach, brain, and
spinal cord. This monster thrives in raw sewage and intestines.
Kehoe Lagoon seethes with 300 times the acceptable amount of
this voracious creature. … Gee, you’d think the Park
Service would put up a few warning signs. But, no, there are
zero signs cautioning those who touch these waters that a drop
can wound and kill.
There’s one type of oyster that’s indigenous to the San
Francisco Bay, and that’s the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida).
It’s named after Olympia, Washington, though these small, tangy
oysters can be found up and down the west coast from Alaska all
the way down into central Mexico. Olympias — or Olys for short
— can still be found in the San Francisco Bay today. But
scientists say pollution from agricultural runoff is too high
for commercial fishing.
California’s Governor broke new ground this year when he
committed to “transition away from harmful pesticides.” His
budget proposal to update fees charged on pesticide sales would
generate new funding that could be used to offer better
protections for farm workers, agricultural communities, and
vulnerable ecosystems, as well as help farmers adopt more
sustainable practices. … Pesticides remain a
widespread drinking water contaminant, particularly in
rural areas, and exposure to these pesticides has
been linked to increased vulnerability to COVID-19.
Salinity is an eventual threat to agriculture and groundwater
sustainability in parts of California, and other irrigated
parts of the world. Irrigation, lower groundwater levels, and
natural conditions have dramatically increased groundwater
salinity in parts of California over the last 150 years. Nearly
two million tons of salt accumulates per year in the San
Joaquin Valley (CV-SALTS), where 250,000 acres of irrigated
land have been fallowed, 1.5 million acres are potentially
salt-impaired (Great Valley Center 2005), with $1.2 – $2.2
billion/year losses by 2030 without management.
A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another
severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing
for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area,
water users are already being asked to cut back. The
state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60%
of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest
indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of
the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much
more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply
that provides up to a third of California’s water.
An invisible line splits the rural road of Avenue 416 in
California’s Tulare county, at the point where the nut trees
stretch east toward the towering Sierra Nevada mountains in the
distance. On one side of the line, residents have clean water.
On the other side, they do not. On the other side lies East
Orosi, an unincorporated community of about 700 where children
grow up learning to never open their eyes or mouths while they
shower. They know that what comes out of their faucets may harm
them, and parents warn they must not swallow when they brush
their teeth. They spend their lives sustaining themselves on
bottled water while just one mile down Avenue 416, the same
children they go to school with in the community of Orosi can
drink from their taps freely and bathe without a second
For centuries, farmers have found ingenious ways of making the
best of the water available, but access to fresh water is
becoming more and more unpredictable. Extreme weather events
and drought is as much of a threat, as flash flooding in farms
and food producers. … In California’s Central
Valley, a region that produces a quarter of the USA’s food and
relies mostly on water pumped from underground, to irrigate the
crops, is fast running out of its water supply.
Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone
extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on
freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through
angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to
pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the
damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said
populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in
the last 50 years. Over the same time period, populations of
larger species, known as “megafish”, have crashed by 94%.
Lower groundwater levels can prevent drainage of water and
salts from a basin and increase aquifer salinity that
eventually renders the groundwater unsuitable for use as
drinking water or irrigation without expensive desalination.
Pauloo et al. (2021) demonstrate this process for the
Tulare Lake Basin (TLB) of California’s Central Valley. Even if
groundwater pumping does not cause overdraft, it can cause
hydrologic basin closure leading to progressive salinization
that will not cease until the basin is opened by allowing
natural or engineered exits for groundwater and dissolved salt.
The process, “Anthropogenic Basin Closure and Groundwater
Salinization (ABCSAL)”, is driven by human water
California’s $86 million date industry produces more than half
of the nation’s dates. Most of the fruit is grown in the arid
Coachella Valley. Despite efforts by growers to conserve water,
data was lacking on date palms’ actual water use to refine the
best irrigation management for the crop until a recent research
project led by Ali Montazar, UC Cooperative Extension
irrigation and water management advisor for Imperial and
A western water conference that draws national speakers each
year — and normally draws Basin irrigators to Reno for the
weekend — is being held virtually this Thursday and Friday due
to COVID precautions. The Family Farm Alliance conference,
organized in part by Klamath Falls-based executive director Dan
Keppen, is themed “A Bridge over Troubled Water” this year. The
alliance advocates for irrigated agriculture in 17 western
states, including in Oregon.
Growers all over the U.S. are concerned about labor, and those
in the Golden State are no exception. The California Fresh
Fruit Association (CFFA) announced the results of their “Top
Issues Survey” for 2021, and labor- and water-related issues
were prominently featured. CFFA members were recently surveyed
to rank the top issues for the association to focus its efforts
on this year.
The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” this week
asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of
upcoming meetings that will influence the role California’s
agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to
play, in fighting climate change.
On January 20, 2021, the California State Water Resources
Control Board (State Water Board) adopted a new statewide
general Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) order for winery
process waste discharge facilities (New Winery Order). This
action will affect thousands of wineries and wine processing
facilities throughout the state.
California Water Service (Cal Water) has announced temporary
leadership changes for its Oroville District. Evan Markey has
been named Interim District Manager, while previous District
Manager George Barber is serving as Interim Director of Field
Operations for the utility’s northern California region. Tavis
Beynon will continue to serve as the Interim District Manager
for the Chico District.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday released the
final rule for its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program,
or ACEP, which enables agricultural producers and private
landowners to protect farmlands, grasslands, and wetlands with
conservation easements. The rule updates ACEP as directed by
the 2018 Farm Bill and incorporates public comments made on an
Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water
distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs
and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage
reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and
can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse
vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize
competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the
costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance
of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range
of climatic conditions.
Moving from competition to cooperation can help solve water
problems facing farms in the San Joaquin Valley and cities in
Southern California, and better prepare both for a changing
climate. At a virtual event last week, PPIC research fellow
Alvar Escriva-Bou summarized a new PPIC report showing how
cooperative investments in new supplies and water-sharing
agreements can help address both regions’ needs.
A new set of winery wastewater guidelines will be imposed on a
statewide basis. The State Water Resources Control Board
recently adopted a general order regulating how wastewater will
be processed and discharged. … While the wine industry
is concerned with water quality issues, there is some concern
that a statewide mandate may not be the best approach to the
U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the
Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure
Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of
operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (P.L.
Farm groups say a proposed regulatory permit known as the
Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program for Central Coast
agriculture, which regulates waste discharge from irrigated
lands throughout the Central Coast, would make it more
difficult for farmers to achieve the desired results, while
harming the region’s agricultural economy.
According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment
of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual
global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable
water supplies” by 40%, highlighting the importance of building
a water resilient future.
Dry conditions are the worst they’ve been in almost 20 years
across the Colorado River watershed, which acts as the drinking
and irrigation water supply for 40 million people in the
American Southwest. As the latest round of federal
forecasts for the river’s flow shows, it’s plausible, maybe
even likely, that the situation could get much worse this year.
Understanding and explaining the depth of the dryness is up to
climate scientists throughout the basin. We called several of
them and asked for discrete numbers that capture the current
state of the Colorado River basin.
Water suppliers along the drought-stricken Colorado River hope
to tackle another tricky issue after the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation installs a new leader: salty water. The river
provides water for 40 million people from Colorado to
California, and helps irrigate 5.5 million acres of farm and
ranchland in the U.S. But all that water also comes with 9
million tons of salt that flow through the system as it heads
to Mexico, both due to natural occurrence and runoff, mostly
from agriculture. Salt can hurt crop production, corrode
drinking water pipes, and cause other damage.
Since the early 1920s, the Long Valley plains east of Yosemite
have inspired comparison to a rustic Western paradise
… Much of this great, green expansiveness, however, owes
to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which
aggressively purchased land and water rights here more than a
century ago. The department’s routine annual deliveries of free
surplus water to its tenants have helped sustain ranching
operations and habitat for many decades. But that relationship
is now at risk of ending, and could carry dire consequences for
one of California’s most striking and violently formed
U.S. Reps. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, and Juan Vargas,
D-San Diego reintroduced a bill this week that is aimed at
cleaning up the New River, a highly polluted waterway
originating near Mexicali, Mexico that flows
north, emptying into the Salton Sea. The bill, HR491,
would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create
an organization to be called the California New River
Restoration Program, which would coordinate funding and cleanup
A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil
penalty, preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and
be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged
violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the
Sacramento River located in Tehama County, California, the
Justice Department announced today. Roger J. LaPant Jr.
purchased the property in this case in 2011 and sold it in
Almond trees shed leaves, grow woody tissue, and undergo other
processes similar to trees in a real forest. These all have
effects on carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrient cycles. These
characteristics can often mean that nutrients flow off of the
field. They can get into areas like groundwater aquifers, where
they can impact drinking water supplies for rural communities.
Clear Lake continues to struggle with long-lasting impacts of
nutrient pollution. High concentrations of nutrients such as
nitrogen and phosphorus fuel large algal blooms and contribute
to poor water quality in the lake.
How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the
United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule
Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the
making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale
of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.
The Tulare County Farm Bureau presented a check for $65,000 to
Ben Curti and Tessa Hall of Curtimade Dairy to assist in their
legal fees as they defend against accusations of groundwater
pollution from the city of Corcoran…
Dow Chemical Company and Shell Oil Company have been hit with a
lawsuit by the central California county of Madera alleging
they knowingly polluted Madera’s drinking water wells by
manufacturing and selling fumigants, used in agricultural
fields, laced with a toxic chemical.
On the Oregon border lies Lower Klamath National Wildlife
Refuge. For over a century, visitors have flocked to Klamath’s
wild tule marshes and open waters to canoe, fish, bird watch
and hunt. … But this year, something sinister lies beneath
the Klamath Basin’s immense beauty.
Private wells in the central San Joaquin Valley are at risk of
water quality issues, failing equipment and declining
groundwater supplies. To help residents address these concerns,
The Fresno Bee contacted public officials, water advocates and
other experts to answer frequently asked questions about common
After more than a decade of East Orosi residents struggling
without clean drinking water, the State Water Board on Tuesday
took a huge and critically necessary step by issuing a
mandatory consolidation order for a neighboring district to
connect East Orosi to safe water, ushering in the long-overdue
promise of safe drinking water for the marginalized Tulare
Dairy producers will need to be mindful of enforcement actions
from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Paul Sousa of Western United Dairies said enforcement typically
occurs during the rainy season. Enforcement actions have been
taken on six California dairies.
Local leaders, farmers and others in the Central Valley report
additional progress in addressing salinity in surface water,
and salt and nitrates in groundwater, in compliance with a
program adopted last fall by the State Water Resources Control
Environmental groups’ challenges to agricultural waste
discharge requirements for the eastern San Joaquin River
watershed have been denied by a judge in Sacramento, which a
California Farm Bureau Federation attorney described as a legal
victory for affected farmers and for farmers statewide.
Environmental Working Group analyzed California State Water
Resources Control Board data on the San Joaquin Valley
communities with nitrate levels in drinking water meeting or
exceeding the federal legal limit. We found that almost six in
10 are majority-Latino. Latinos are also a majority in Valley
communities with nitrate at or above half the legal limit,
which is linked to increased risk of cancer and other diseases.
Runoff and other discharges from agricultural lands affect
water quality by transporting pollutants including pesticides,
sediment, nutrients, salts, pathogens, and heavy metals from
cultivated fields into surface waters. … Sue McConnell is the
manager of the Central Valley Board’s Irrigated Lands
Regulatory Program. At the September 15 State Water Board
meeting, she gave an update on the implementation of Order
WQ-2018-0002, hereafter referred to as the ‘petition order’.
Bright-green blotches of algae have been popping up all over
the Delta since early summer, from Discovery Bay to the
Stockton waterfront, befouling the air and poisoning the water
with toxins that can sicken or even kill humans and animals.
Veteran Delta watchers believe that this year’s harmful algal
blooms may be the worst ever, and worry that some features of
Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released Water Resilience
Portfolio for California will aggravate the problem.
Once a week, Florencia Ramos makes a special trip to the R–N
Market in Lindsay, California. “If you don’t have clean water,
you have to go get some,” says Ramos, a farmworker and mother
of four who lives in the neighboring Central Valley town of El
Rancho. She has been purchasing jugs of water at the small
store for more than a decade now.
The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies
from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is
heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive
in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program
has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could
have huge implications for water storage and movement in the
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
Toxic algal blooms have resulted in a “danger” advisory not to
go in the water at Prado Regional Park Lake and not to eat fish
from the lake. A similar advisory at part of Big Bear Lake has
been posted since last month.
The California state water board is working on an update to a
permitting process with water discharge requirements that make
sure wineries are in compliance with water quality regulation
and allows them a pathway to compliance. The new order will
affect over 2,000 wineries that discharge winery waste to land
for the purpose of disposal or reuse for irrigation and soil
To be clear, not all algae are dangerous. In fact the vast
majority are beneficial to ecosystems. They’re the base of the
marine and aquatic food webs, providing nutrients for fish and
shellfish, which in turn feed other animals — including people.
They also produce half of our oxygen. “But a small handful of
these organisms are harmful,” says phytoplankton ecologist Pat
Glibert of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental
Providing a reliable source of drinking water is a challenge
for many small water systems in the San Joaquin Valley, where
dropping groundwater levels, aging systems, and water quality
problems are acute. … We talked to Laura Ramos and Sarge
Green of Fresno State’s California Water Institute about this
The California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control
Board said lab results from July 14 revealed high levels of a
toxin called microcystins in scum samples from Mormon Slough,
the downtown marina and Morelli Park Boat Launch that ranged
from four to more than 20 times the state’s Tier 3 danger
The state of California, long derided for its failure to act in
the past, says it is now moving full-bore to address the Salton
Sea’s problems, with ambitious plans for wildlife habitat
expansion and dust suppression.
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which naturally occur in
waterbodies, can grow very rapidly into an algal bloom due to
factors such as warm water temperature, calm conditions, and
certain nutrients in the water. While some algae are harmless,
certain types can produce toxins that can make people and
The recovery from the COVID shutdown gives us a rare
opportunity to rethink our relationship with the global
ecosystems on which we depend. Like so many others, I long for
a return to normalcy. But that’s not what we need. We must come
out of this pandemic looking to address other looming crises.
Our unsustainable agricultural system, along with climate
change, are at the top of the list.
Health officials are urging residents and visitors to stay out
of the water in Discovery Bay after dangerous levels of harmful
algae were detected. Marisa Van Dyke of the State Water
Resources Control Board reported that recent lab results from
water testing showed “significant” harmful algal blooms
occurring in Discovery Bay. Multiple locations recorded a
“danger” level, the highest threshold, she said.
Over the years, much attention has been given to California’s
drought, but less is known about the more than one million
Californians in more than 300 communities who don’t have access
to clean drinking water. To address this crisis, CSU faculty
and students are performing community assessments, conducting
research and assisting local engineering projects, often with
support from Water Resources & Policy Initiatives. Take a look
at some of the CSU’s ongoing work.
Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution
in the nation’s waterways. In recent years, scientific journals
and the media have been filled with reports of toxic algae
blooms and dead zones near and far… Unfortunately, in today’s
highly politicized federal climate, it is unlikely that an
effective solution to this problem will emerge from the U.S.
EPA – at least not at the moment. So efforts by state
regulators are particularly important.
Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution
in the nation’s waterways….In California alone, more than a
quarter million residents in largely agricultural areas are
served by water systems with degraded groundwater quality.
In the past decade, environmental groups have had success
bringing back patches of life in parts of the river delta. In
these green islands surrounded by the desert, water delivered
by canals and pumps is helping to nourish wetlands and forests.
Cottonwoods and willows have been growing rapidly. Birds have
been coming back and are singing in the trees.
Over the last 20 years, UC research has shown that dairies in
the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys are potentially major
contributors of nitrate and salts in groundwater. To maintain
the quality of this irreplaceable natural resource, the
California Water Resources Control Board has ramped up
regulations to ensure that diary manure and wastewater
application isn’t contaminating the aquifer.
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
Dozens of dead fish are floating to the surface along a Fresno
County waterway and people living nearby are worried about
their water. Fancher Creek flows from Pine Flat all the way
into Fresno, mostly to let farmers get irrigation water. But
fish also use the water, except right now, for about 200 yards,
all of them are dead.
The Atwater City Council this week unanimously declared its
highest priority public improvement project to be restoring the
city’s clean water. The urgent resolution came after a
carcinogenic chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), was found
in several Atwater wells — and in quantities exceeding
state-approved maximum contaminant levels.
A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns
including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable
drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics,
including GOP representatives from California. In December
2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal
to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated
More than dust-filled air could be plaguing residents around
the quickly evaporating Salton Sea in Imperial Valley.
University of California, Riverside research shows toxic
aerosols could also be filling the air. The problem has to do
with agricultural fertilizer in the Salton Sea wetland area.
The Central Valley Regional Water Board has issued a 25-year
permit for toxic discharges of agricultural wastewater into the
San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta… Fishermen and environmental
groups have appealed the water board’s decision to the state of
California, leaving the future of this permit uncertain.
Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state
approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled
water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day
inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s
advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on
Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both
verbally and by email.
At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern
County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel
discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional
Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the
Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant
Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an
attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a
water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.
Tests are still finding such deadly pesticides as DDT, despite
the ban of its use in farming during the 1970s. There are also
untold amounts of ammunition from military testing as well as
uranium left over from the Atomic Energy Commission for
WWII-era testing. Proponents don’t claim sea water import is a
perfect answer; just the most feasible means of containing
these toxins as they are heavier than water.
The city of Corcoran and Curtimade Dairy have been neighbors
for more than 100 years. But about four years ago, their
relationship turned contentious. The city said it planned to
sue the dairy for contaminating its drinking water wells with
nitrates, a contaminant that if consumed, can interfere with
the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues.
Many of the people and businesses that once relied on the lake
have left, driven away by the smell of dying fish or the fear
of health problems. Those who remain — farmworkers, families,
the elderly — are generally too poor to afford the rising cost
of property elsewhere in the valley.
The increasing spills that have polluted the Tijuana River Valley
and ocean off Imperial Beach have resulted in frustration and
anger in recent years, but also triggered broad political
collaboration at the local, state and federal level that has put
the region on the brink of real action.
When lawmakers in the House of Representatives approved the
Trump administration’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada
last month, they authorized $300 million to help fix failing
sewer systems that send raw sewage and toxic pollution flowing
into rivers along the U.S.-Mexico border. … But environmental
groups are condemning the new United States-Mexico-Canada
Agreement, or USMCA, saying it fails to establish binding
standards to curb pollution in Mexico’s industrial zones.
In 2018, there were more than 300 reported incidents of toxic
or harmful algae blooms around the world. This year about 130
have been listed on an international database, but that number
is expected to increase. … The causes of the blooms vary, and
in some cases are never known, but in many parts of the world
they are being increasingly linked to climate change and
The river is a powerful example of Mexico’s failure to protect
its environment: A New York Times analysis of 15 years of
efforts to clean up the Santiago found that attempts floundered
in the face of legal loopholes, deficient funding and a lack of
The supervisors authorized the disbursal from the Coachella
Valley Air Quality Enhancement Fund to help pay for the planned
north end restoration of the 360-square mile lake, which will
include the establishment of a lagoon to overlay exposed playa
and mitigate the resulting atmospheric impacts.
The company, Watsonville-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc., was
accused of polluting a South Bay creek with manure for years,
despite orders and warnings dating back to the 1980s. The
judgment, the largest for a water pollution lawsuit in county
history, will be used in part to restore the damaged Fisher
Environmentalists who had high hopes Gavin Newsom would lead
the way to sustainable water use in the San Joaquin Valley are
waking up to the knowledge that the new governor isn’t going to
be any more effective than the old governor. Sustainability is
just too big a lift.
It came as a bittersweet surprise to biologists and government
agencies monitoring the steadily shrinking Salton Sea’s slide
toward death by choking dust storms and salt. Thousands of
acres of exposed lake bed have become, of all things, the
unintended beneficiaries of lush marshlands that are homes for
endangered birds and fish at the outlets of agricultural and
urban runoff that used to flow directly into the Salton Sea.
Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for
many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to
develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is
accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big
farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign
agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped
up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.
Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County
farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the
north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time
around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening
their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water
Through a variety of panel discussions, presentations and a
showcase of student research, the Re:Border conference is
exploring how San Diego State University and its regional
partners can contribute to innovative solutions for
water-related challenges in the transborder region.
A bi-national conference at San Diego State University was
aimed at analyzing water resources in the Baja California and
San Diego border region where challenges include cross-border
pollution and water scarcity… Experts at the Reborder 2019
conference discussed ways to improve regional access to “a
secure and reliable water supply” through wastewater treatment
Initially, federal scientists wrote a draft report that found
increasing water exports would harm California’s native salmon
population, a species already imperiled. Those scientists were
reassigned. Now, the Trump administration and David Bernhardt
have released a new proposal, and guess what? Westlands can
grab even more water from the Bay-Delta.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spent months working with the
National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to mitigate potential harm to endangered sucker fish in
Upper Klamath Lake, as well as threatened coho salmon in the
lower Klamath River. … However, the bureau now says it
received “erroneous data” from an outside source during
consultation, meaning it must scrap the plans and start over
A new study that looked back at 3 decades of satellite data
finds that these summertime algal blooms are indeed worsening
in large freshwater lakes around the world—and that climate
change may be undercutting efforts to combat the problem.
Today, the quality of river water has improved markedly since
the early 1970s, though critics say the red tape imposed
through the Clean Water Act has become burdensome. The Clean
Water Act has not been altered much over the past 50 years,
though how we interpret the act has recently changed
The board charged with overseeing the water quality in much of
the San Francisco Bay Area unanimously approved a plan
requiring local businesses, residents and government agencies
to reduce the amount of fecal bacteria they put into the
Petaluma River watershed, including San Antonio Creek.
The city’s fate is linked inextricably with the San Joaquin
River… Much of the water upstream is diverted for
agriculture, although a legal settlement ensures that the river
no longer runs dry. Additional diversions at the downriver end
… greatly reduce the amount of water that actually makes it
through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the San
Francisco Bay and then the Pacific. It is as if one of the
state’s two great arteries … is detached from its heart.
By looking at how to manage levels of salt, mercury and
nutrients heading into the San Joaquin River, researchers are
aiming to boost water quality and reduce impacts on fish and
other aquatic life in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
… The project will examine wetlands — about 40 miles
southwest of UC Merced’s campus — that drain into the San
In recent years the idea of nutrient management has been become
even more important with increasing regulations related to
nitrate levels in groundwater. Cooperation between water
agencies and CDFA has helped to provide better education and
outreach for the development of balance sheets for nutrient
The initial selling point of Prop. 65 — that it would eliminate
toxins in the water supply by holding big business liable for
its leaks — has largely been forgotten in 2019. These days, the
law is better known for requiring eyebrow-raising warning
labels on everything from bread to steering wheel covers to —
briefly — Starbucks coffee, and it has turned into a national
As the state focuses on providing clean and affordable drinking
water for millions of residents, those on private wells
typically face an uphill battle. Private well owners confront
significant financial challenges digging new wells, and
connecting to a public water system involves a daunting local
and state bureaucratic process…
A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger,
Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues… Most of the
community’s 40 or so homes get their drinking water from
shallow domestic wells, which can be vulnerable to both aquifer
contaminants and falling groundwater levels.
Action by the state water board sets in motion a 35-year
program of activity and research to address nitrate and salt
content in Central Valley groundwater, in order to achieve
The Delta smelt is such a small and translucent fish that it
often disappears from view when it swims in the turbid waters
of its home in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, it’s
also been disappearing from the Delta entirely.
A decade in the making, regulators on Wednesday approved new
rules that will require the agricultural industry and others to
shield nitrates and salt from seeping into groundwater
supplies. “This is huge,” said Patrick Pulupa, executive
officer of the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board.
When nitrogen-based fertiliser runs into water systems it can
result in toxic algae blooms, leading to oxygen depletion and
vast oceanic ‘dead zones’. Evidence suggests their use also
contributes to air pollution, increased rates of cancer and
reduced biodiversity, as well as emitting nitrous oxide – an
extremely potent greenhouse gas. … A team of scientists, led
by the University of California, Davis, has come up with a
five-step plan to tackle this two-sided problem.
Later this week, the State Water Resources Control Board will
vote on a long-anticipated plan to reduce some of the
pollutants flowing into Central Valley water. However, not
everyone agrees on the details.
Access to safe and affordable water is a basic human right.
Many of our communities have been without safe water for years
or even decades because of contamination of our drinking water
sources. Living in communities without safe water is a public
health crisis. It is also a crisis of basic justice and equity.
California’s largest inland lake, the Salton Sea, lies in the
Imperial and Coachella valleys. The lake, which is more than 50
percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean, is becoming more salt
than water because it’s essentially evaporating. The lake and
the area that surrounds it — once hotspots for tourism and
wildlife — have essentially become ghost towns.
Pulling weeds is not usually a great way to start a party. But
filling a dumpster with invasive species was just the right
activity to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Tijuana River
Action Month on Saturday.
Senate Bill No. 690 seeks to reduce exposure to dangerous
pathogens, limit beach closures and address water quality
issues in the Tijuana River Valley. The bill will also allow a
$15 million budget allocation for cleanup efforts as well as
prioritizing projects that will address water quality, flood
control, trash and sediment.
A Native American tribe has granted personhood to a river in
northern California making it the first known River in North
America to have the same legal rights as a human, at least
under tribal law. The Yurok Tribe based near the southern
border of Oregon confirmed the new status on the Klamath River.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued a new
plan to reduce water temperatures for endangered fish in the
Upper Klamath and Lost River watersheds, though it could come
at a price for farmers and ranchers.
There are numerous agencies involved in water quality issues
that are focused on the San Francisco Bay and the Delta. In
this brown bag seminar, Stephanie Fong, Interagency Ecological
Program Coordinator Chair, California Department of Fish and
Wildlife, discussed the technical, geographical, and political
boundaries that separate water quality monitoring in the Bay
and the Delta.
Elected leaders from around the San Diego region met with the
Trump administration on Tuesday to ask for help stopping the
sewage-tainted water that regularly flows in the Tijuana River
across the border with Mexico. Specifically, regional leaders
tried to persuade federal authorities to fund a more than
$400-million plan to capture and treat the pollution…
NRDC just released two analyses that look at how state water
pollution control and public health officials deal with one of
the most significant causes of nitrogen and phosphorus
pollution and one of the most important effects of nitrogen and
Because harmful algae blooms have increased significantly over
the past 40 years and are now found in every state in the
country, NRDC set out to find out how states are tracking this
growing menace and how (and whether) states are educating and
warning the public of the threats posed by toxic algae. … To
our dismay, 16 states reported no data at all.
The mayor of this beach town, which abuts Tijuana, Mexico at a
point that is visible by a border wall marking the two
countries, is fed up with sewage and toxic chemicals flowing
into the United States, and he is heading to Washington, D.C.,
to ask the Trump administration to do something about it.
In 2019, at long last, justice was finally achieved; it was
secured through the combined power of the people and allies who
said it was finally time to bring safe water to all
Californians. On July 24, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation
that will make sure all Californians have access to safe,
affordable drinking water.
Tijuana’s sewage system appears to be incapable of handling the
sewage generated in the Mexican city, and Imperial Beach Mayor
Serge Dedina called the situation unacceptable. Dedina hoped to
get the attention of President Donald Trump, who is in San
Diego on Wednesday for a fundraiser.
From New York City to coastal California, a poison-producing
living slime is overtaking waterways and shorelines, killing
pets, ravaging tourism markets and making its way into local
drinking water. So far this year, algae has been implicated in
dog deaths and illness in California, Georgia, North Carolina
Through a $3 million contract with the California State Water
Resources Board, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will
conduct a statewide drinking water needs analysis to identify
risks and solutions for water systems and private wells
throughout the state.
Salmon and steelhead that were once abundant in this great
watershed are now at risk of extinction, a preventable disaster
that can be averted by moving forward with the planned removal
of four aging hydroelectric dams. While the Klamath River was
once the third-largest salmon producer on the west coast, its
fish runs have been declining for decades.
The state’s moves open up more opportunities for extension of
drinking water service, operations and maintenance for domestic
wells, and even demands action for Salton Sea conservation. The
myriad issues east valley residents face are exacerbated by the
public health impacts of the receding Salton Sea.
Heather Hansman’s new book Downriver: Into the Future of Water
in the West explores the water emergency with remarkable calm
and even-handedness. She focuses on a single river, the Green
River, where ranchers, frackers, rafters, fishermen, and
urbanites all fight for their share of the water, while
contending with Byzantine state policies.
Removing the four aging hydroelectric dams from the river would
significantly improve ecological and geomorphic conditions
throughout the Klamath watershed and play a key role in
returning salmon to stable population levels.
Farmers clearly appreciate the yields that fertilizers
facilitate, but many acknowledge that these chemicals are
tainting the land and water. Enter the Central Coast Wetlands
Group and the Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc. and their
new bioreactor designed to process agricultural runoff, turning
algae-bloom-triggering waste into benign nitrogen gas.
Senate Bill 513, authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado
(D-Sanger), is headed towards Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for
approval. The bill, which received bi-partisan support, will
provide relief for families without reliable access to water by
delivering a temporary alternative source of water supply.
In 2012, California became the first state in the country to
declare that “Every human being has the right to safe, clean,
affordable and accessible water” when the state legislature
inserted that statement into its state water code. Now, a new
UCLA study finds, the state may be making progress on turning
that goal into a reality.
The Exeter City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to scrap
plans to connect Exeter’s water system with Tooleville, a rural
community of about 80 households that has struggled for years
with dirty water.
Using dairy lagoon water to irrigate silage corn is standard
practice. Running the thick, nutrient-rich water through
subsurface drip systems could someday be just that as two
California dairy farms, an irrigation company, and an
environmental organization are working together to solve the
challenges involved in the water thrifty practice.
However, this is brackish water. For a few months we will see
it in the Colorado below Morelos Dam, reminding us of the river
that once flowed there. It is agricultural drainage that comes
from farms in southwestern Arizona that use the Colorado River
to irrigate in the desert.
Keyes’ problems with unacceptable high levels of arsenic arose
in late 2006 when the district was issued a Notice of
Non-Compliance from the California Department of Public Health.
… The quality of Keyes’ drinking water had not deteriorated
but the Environmental Protection Agency had lowered the maximum
allowable contaminant level for arsenic from 50 parts per
billion to 10 parts per billion. Three of four Keyes wells were
testing at 12 to 14 parts per billion.
A high-profile series of dog deaths has awakened the public to
the growing problem of toxic algal blooms, spurred by rising
temperatures and pollution. The blooms are emerging as a
national, not just regional, concern, according to preliminary
data reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The only bi-national financial institution dedicated to funding
environmental infrastructure projects along the border unveiled
six possible solutions to slowing down the cross-border sewage
spills that routinely shut down southern San Diego’s beaches.
A new method to measure pore structure and water flow is
described in a study published in the journal Water Resources
Research. With it, scientists should be able to more accurately
determine how fast water, contaminants, nutrients and other
liquids move through the soil — and where they go.
Michelle Newcomer is a research scientist in Berkeley Lab’s
Earth & Environmental Sciences Area with expertise in
hydrological and biogeochemical aspects of environmental
issues, especially in watersheds and river environments. Now
she is turning her expertise to algal blooms…
The intent of the Salton Sea restoration is to mitigate losses
of habitat for wildlife as the Salton Sea shrinks. However,
mitigating lost habitat by replacing it with something harmful
does not result in any benefits to wildlife; in fact, it makes
things worse by creating a new exposure pathway that subjects
wildlife to contaminants.
The Colorado is the most significant water supply source in the
West, but it carries an annual salt load of nine to 10 million
tons, said Don Barnett, executive director of the Colorado
River Basin Salinity Control Forum. … For the past 40 years,
the the forum has been “silently working away” at improving
water quality and lowering salt content on the Colorado, which
supplies water to 40 million people in seven states and Mexico.
A lot of money will soon be flowing into California communities
with contaminated drinking water thanks to the new Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Today at its meeting, the State
Water Board will talk about how to implement that $1.4-billion
program. One community that could use the help is north of Moss
The proposed rule would re-write EPA’s existing Section 401
implementing regulations and significantly narrow the authority
of states and Indian tribes when acting on Section 401
Although more fundamental ESA reform is needed, last week’s
action yielded modest and common-sense improvements to
implementation of an imperfect law. New efficiencies, clarity,
and transparency will serve the purposes of the ESA and the
Hydrogen sulfide is associated with the natural processes
occurring in the Salton Sea, a non-draining body of water with
no ability to cleanse itself. Trapped in its waters are salt
and selenium-laden agricultural runoff from surrounding farms,
as well as heavy metals and bacterial pollution that flow in
from Mexico’s New River, authorities said.
Not every bloom is toxic, but the toxins produced by the
blue-green algae can be harmful and even deadly for pets when
they eat the algae or drink the water, even in small amounts,
water experts warn. Summer heat, stagnant or slow-moving water
and nutrients from agricultural or septic runoff are an ideal
recipe for the toxic stew.
In recent years, algae blooms – actually microscopic bacteria
called cyanobacteria – have erupted in hundreds of lakes
nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose drinking water
comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish in them. If
ingested, microcystins can cause adverse health effects in
people and animals, ranging from skin rashes to serious illness
and even death.
Microcystins are poisonous toxins that can form in blooms of
blue-green algae. In recent years, algae blooms – actually
microscopic bacteria called cyanobacteria – have erupted in
hundreds of lakes nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose
drinking water comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish
Klamath River Renewal Corporation announced last week the
selection of Resource Environmental Solutions, LLC to perform
restoration work after the proposed removal of four Klamath
dams, and on Monday, KRRC announced it had filed with Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission the answers to a plethora of
questions brought forward by a Board of Consultants in December
The 110-mile Russian River and all its tributaries move through
many active communities and working lands which can affect
water quality. Some of the main categories of water quality
impacts can include chemicals, bacteria, sediment, and
Where Napa’s water quality is concerned, no news may be good
news. A three-year analysis of the city’s water sources showed
reservoirs meeting all federal and state limits on a variety of
contaminants, a recently released report states.
A new federal management plan for the Klamath River is proving
to be a disaster for salmon, a lawsuit alleges. The Yurok Tribe
and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and the
National Marine Fisheries Service on Wednesday because the new
plan has led to drought-level flows in the lower Klamath River
and an increase in salmon with a potentially lethal parasite…
The city of Stockton is working to fix a broken bubbling system
that has caused an overgrowth of harmful algae along the
Stockton waterfront. People who work near the deepwater channel
believe the green sludge is preventing others from playing on
I’m here with Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president
emeritus of the Pacific Institute. Peter serves on the Circle
of Blue Board of Trustees from his base in California, where
Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a bill directing some $130
million to improve access to clean drinking water for many