The Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a complaint in the Central
District of California against Senior Operations LLC for
violating the Clean Water Act and California’s Storm Water
Permit. Senior Operations LLC is a Delaware corporation doing
business as Senior Aerospace SSP in Burbank, California,
reported Law Street Media.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday
that California will receive more than $600 million in water
infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure
Law. The EPA says the money provided through its State
Revolving Fund (SRF) programs will help create jobs while
upgrading infrastructure to address lead and and
poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in drinking
As more extreme weather causes water to become scarcer in
regions due to drought, scientists are exploring ways to
recycle wastewater for irrigation and other non-potable uses.
But before it can be released back into the environment, it
must be free of any pathogens. The Environmental Protection
Agency has awarded a $1.24 million grant to Tulane
University and a multi-university research team to come up with
standards for measuring viruses and other pathogens in treated
wastewater for water re-use projects.
Homeowners in the Rio Verde Foothills, located north of
Scottsdale, are losing their water access. Soon, residents
there will no longer be able to tap into Scottsdale’s water, as
a result of the city’s new drought management plan. Many
residents have no plan on how they can get water, and some say
they will be forced to move if they cannot get access to water.
The City of San José has declared a 15 percent water shortage
and limited the use of sprinkler systems using potable water to
two days per week. The restriction applies to all residents and
businesses regardless of which water retailer serves them. The
City Council approved the drought rules on Tuesday in response
to extreme drought conditions in Santa Clara County. The rules
take effect immediately.
The rural communities surrounding Orland are in a water crisis
in dealing with the drought and drying wells. Over the course
of the past year, the California Department of Water Resources,
the North Valley Community Foundation and Glenn County have
been working together with $8 million in funding to come up
with solutions for the residents facing the crisis. Meetings
were held in October and November for residents in the problem
area who were dealing with water insecurity and dry
Water reclamation is vital to Stan State’s mission of
sustainability. Essentially, the way the campus is heated,
cooled, irrigated and powered depends almost entirely on water.
Situated behind Bizzini Hall and next to Village Lake is the
Central Plant, the heart of the water reclamation system on
campus. Nestled within the plant lies an essential piece of the
university’s water puzzle, a computer panel that tracks every
move the reclamation system makes in real time.
Camarillo’s long-awaited desalter plant will soon begin
treating previously unusable groundwater to convert into
drinkable water for residents and businesses. The city unveiled
the $66.3 million North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter,
located at 2727 Somis Road, at a ribbon cutting before a crowd
of about 100 people on Tuesday.
48 organizations have signed on to a letter demanding Governor
Newsom address California’s water crisis with specific actions
targeted at the corporate abuse of public water resources.
While drought ravages the state and freshwater supplies
dwindle, more than 1 million Californians lack access to clean
drinking water. Wells in dry and under-resourced areas like the
Central Valley are predicted to go dry at astonishing rates.
Yet unsustainable amounts of California’s water are being
allocated to multibillion dollar industries like fossil fuel
production, industrial dairy operation and almond crop
When Lucas Zucker talks about sea level rise in California, his
first thoughts aren’t about waves crashing onto fancy homes in
Orange County, nor the state’s most iconic beaches shrinking
year after year. What worries him most are the three power
plants looming over the Oxnard coast, and the toxic waste site
that has languished there for decades. There are also two naval
bases, unknown military dumps and a smog-spewing port. Just one
flood could unleash a flow of industrial chemicals and
overwhelm his working-class, mostly Latino community.
Running water and indoor plumbing are so central to modern life
that most Americans take them from granted. But these services
aren’t free, and millions struggle to afford them. A 2019
survey found that U.S. households in the bottom fifth of the
economy spent 12.4% of their disposable income on water and
sewer services. News reports suggest that for low-income
households, this burden has increased during the pandemic.
As Marin County water managers consider building a permanent
$100 million water pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael
Bridge, a debate has arisen on how often it should actually be
used. The Marin Municipal Water District is leaning toward only
using the 8-mile pipeline if it faces a water shortage
emergency and only using the water for indoor health and safety
purposes, such as cooking and sanitation.
Community leader and Vista Irrigation District board member
Marty Miller has been seated as one of four delegates
representing the San Diego County Water Authority on the board
of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California. Miller took his seat during a special board meeting
last Tuesday (Nov. 23). He replaced outgoing director Michael
Hogan, who served on Metropolitan’s 38-member board since 2013.
The new surface water plant under construction to supply
drinking water to Ceres and Turlock is benefitting from a
30-year low interest loan of $184.9 million. The plant is being
constructed through a joint powers authority of the Stanislaus
Regional Water Authority (SRWA) which the cities of Ceres and
Turlock formed. The state Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
loan program is furnishing more than $212.7 million in funding,
which consists of $27.75 million generated by Proposition 68,
which was passed by California voters in 2018.
If you’re truly interested in making a dent in the amount of
water our civilization consumes, sad showers are not really the
way. Flushing the toilet twice doesn’t make much of a
difference in the context of global water consumption, either.
(If there’s an acute drought in your local area, the calculus
is different.) It’s a side dish in a king’s feast when it comes
to confronting our aqua problems. -Written by Jack Holmes, Politics Editor at
Delegates and activists from nearly 200 countries returned from
the COP26 global environmental forum in Glasgow, Scotland, with
a long list of climate-related promises and targets to discuss
and implement. While many countries made a renewed commitment
to climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural systems, some
groups accused leaders at COP26 of not doing enough to improve
water security globally …. California’s persistent
droughts, for instance, give water conservation methods new
urgency — as the state’s massive agricultural industry accounts
for 80 percent of California’s water usage.
As the application window for a near billion-dollar state
program designed to help cash-strapped Californians with
pandemic-related drinking water debt nears its close date,
almost 50% of eligible water systems have fully completed the
application, but nearly one quarter haven’t yet started the
process — a scenario that could see many struggling households
lose the chance to have their financial burdens
CalEnviroScreen — short for California Communities
Environmental Health Screening — was developed by the state
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to help
identify communities that are most burdened by environmental
issues. … The methodology behind some measures is
straightforward, like air quality. For air quality, the tool
pulls the annual mean concentration of particulate matter (PM)
2.5 of each census tract from California Air Resources Board
data. Others, such as drinking water contaminants, are more
complicated and involve combining data points from a variety of
An agreement with the California Water Replenishment District
(WRD) to cover the construction costs of new treatment
facilities will result in improved water quality and millions
of dollars in savings for Pico Water District customers. Under
the terms of the agreement, WRD will provide nearly $4.3
million in reimbursements for equipment to remove per- and
poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) detected in the groundwater
supply. Scientific studies indicate that exposure to PFAS over
certain levels may result in adverse health effects.
The recent rainfall has offered Mendocino County some respite
from the drought, bringing many communities out of a crisis
situation. But it’s still not clear for how long. Now
communities throughout the county are using this breathing room
to make their water systems more resilient to drought before
next summer. That includes re-establishing a standalone county
A private water company in the Santa Cruz Mountains that
residents are concerned has exposed them to unsafe drinking
water in the last year has been fined $21,000 by the California
State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water.
… For the last year, nearly 500 of Big Basin Water Company’s
customers have dealt with repeated water outages and boil
advisories. During an outage, outside contaminants can make
their way into a water system and boil advisories are typically
issued until the utility company’s tests show the water is safe
to drink again.
Crescent City’s water and sewer customers who didn’t pay for
their water over a 15-month period during the pandemic will
likely have those delinquent notices waived. From March 4, 2020
to June of this year, there were 334 accounts past due, for a
total of $71,984.60. … On November 15, the city council
authorized City Manager Eric Wier to apply for funding to pay
off those bills. The funding will come from $985 million that
the State of California received under the American
Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March.
The Placer County Water Agency entertained dozens of guests
Nov. 4 for tours of its Ophir Pump Station and, a short drive
away, the Foothill Water Treatment Plant in Newcastle. There
were pastries and beverages at the Ophir Station and gift bags
at Foothill. Presentations were made, pictures taken, questions
asked and speeches given – all with beaming smiles, and reason
Eight miles of abandoned telephone cable laid off the West
Shore of Lake Tahoe were ordered removed under a settlement,
according to a federal court decree. Pac Bell stopped using the
cables in the 1980s. In a suit filed by California Sportfishing
Protection Alliance, the cables are leaching lead into the
lake. Besides concerns over the lead in fish, the lake is a
source of drinking water for residents living along its shores.
Colusa County will receive $718,750 in funding from the
Department of Water Resources for a bottled and hauled water
project through a fourth round of funding from DWR’s Small
Community Drought Relief program as part of its continuing
effort to address drought impacts across the state.
In Boulder Creek, a small community nestled deep in the Santa
Cruz Mountains, frustration over an unreliable water supply is
growing. … For the past year, nearly 500 residents in Boulder
Creek under the privately-owned Big Basin Water Company have
dealt with repeated water outages because of an aging and
deteriorating water system. The residents said they also
deal with delays in being notified they must boil their water
when service resumes, according to the Parks and Apostol.
Sometimes, they say, they don’t get a “no boil advisory”
notification for more than 24 hours.
The global water desalination equipment market size is
expected to reach USD 22.79 billion by 2028, according to a new
report by Grand View Research, Inc. It is expected to expand at
a CAGR of 7.1% from 2020 to 2028. Increasing water scarcity,
depletion in freshwater reserves, and fast-paced advancements
in desalination technologies are anticipated to have a positive
impact on the market growth.
Water systems in many small communities across Central
California are due for improvements to meet new standards and
deal with the drought, including Pixley in Tulare County.
… The agency announced its 4th round of funding support
through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. It’s
an opportunity leaders in Pixley took advantage of immediately.
Pasadena City officials are suing Caltech over allegations that
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which the university runs,
contaminated the local groundwater supply through its rocket
research, Pasadena Now reported. A test of the city’s
groundwater found it contained toxic chemicals, including
perchlorate and carbon tetrachloride, according to the
magazine. High levels of perchlorate could lead to both thyroid
and lung issues, while carbon tetrachloride is considered a
possible carcinogenic to humans.
Benton Harbor, Mich., recently became the latest community
where persistent lead contamination in drinking water drew
national attention. Media attention to this problem is good,
but when it’s in another community or neighborhood, too many of
us simply shrug. The truth, however, is that such contamination
is much more widespread than the few pockets the public hears
about. It’s a serious problem here in California.
-Written by Jenn Engstrom, director of California
Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG); and Susan
Little, senior advocate for the California Government
Affairs Environmental Working Group.
An ultraporous compound can extract water molecules from dry
desert air, store them as tiny “icicles” and then release them
as clean drinking water. A new study has shown this novel
humidity sponge’s developers how it works in detail, taking it
a step closer to practical applications. Along with government,
industry and university partners, the researchers are working
to turn their project into portable hydration systems capable
of conjuring fresh water almost anywhere in an increasingly
Evaluating the cost and energy tradeoffs of new water supply
sources in water-stressed regions, whether seawater
desalination plants, long-distance water transfer, or
wastewater reuse facilities, requires a robust understanding of
the full lifecycle costs of water supply from source
acquisition through treatment and distribution for a specific
location. The reliability of the urban wastewater stream has
made recycling and reusing wastewater an attractive strategy
for enhancing water supply resiliency, offering suppliers the
ability to quickly recover from disruptions and withstand
persistent or severe drought while also reducing costs in
Man-made water sources critical to the survival of Siskiyou
County wildlife are being repaired by volunteers and state
agencies. … The guzzlers are needed to help wildlife affected
by drought and wildfires over the last two years … With
severe drought occurring in the state and lakes dying up, these
water guzzlers provide a needed water source and gathering
place for a wide variety of wildlife, from deer to
bears and eagles. Drought is becoming a life and death
situation for animals and maintaining these water sources is of
the utmost importance.
For the past decade, water officials in San Diego have been
testing technology that would provide the city with a new
source of drinking water. In a pilot facility loaded with tubes
and tanks, a five-step process filters and disinfects
wastewater, turning it into potable water cleaner than what
comes out of most people’s faucets.
As the state of California seeks to fix its crumbling water
infrastructure, the State Water Board has embarked on an
ambitious program to encourage struggling small water systems
to join forces with larger, neighboring water systems. We spoke
with the State Water Board’s Michelle Frederick and clean-water
advocacy group Community Water Center’s Ryan Jensen about why
consolidation is important, how efforts are going, and what
could be improved.
California and much of the Western United States is in the
midst of an unprecedented drought intensified by climate
change. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is taking
immediate action to support California’s small and rural
communities now, while also preparing for the potential of a
third dry year.
Washington has become known as the town where nothing gets
done. But Congress on Nov. 5 approved a bipartisan
$1.2-trillion infrastructure bill … California is
expected to get $3.5 billion over the next five years to
eliminate lead pipes and take other steps to improve the
quality of drinking water. The effort would help clean up PFAS,
the “forever chemicals” that reside indefinitely and accumulate
in the human body, according to the White
House…. Biden is scheduled to sign the bill Monday
during a ceremony at the White House.
An obscure north Sacramento water district has been accused by
a grand jury of neglecting millions of dollars in overdue
repairs, failing to inform customers quickly about chemical
contamination, operating largely in secret and even ignoring a
directive by the county’s top prosecutor on the proper
procedures for awarding an engineering contract. Del Paso Manor
Water District is the subject of a blistering report this week
by the Sacramento County Grand Jury, which said the tiny agency
is “flooded with public safety dangers.”
The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California, the only one
still operating in the state, is set to close in 2025. A team
of researchers … found that this nuclear
plant could simultaneously help to stabilize the state’s
electric grid, provide desalinated water to supplement the
state’s chronic water shortages, and provide carbon-free
hydrogen fuel for transportation.
As California’s drought wears on, Mesa Water District is taking
steps to ensure customers can enjoy fresh, reliable drinking
water on demand — and two new wells being built will increase
that local supply significantly in the coming months. Funded by
a $1.6-million grant from the state’s Department of Water
Resources, two potable water wells under construction in Santa
Ana should be completed by next summer, officials say.
California’s largest groundwater agency has sued 3M Co, Corteva
Inc, the Chemours Co and other manufacturers and sellers of
industrial and consumer products over claims they contain a
toxic chemical that polluted drinking water in Los Angeles. The
Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD),
which oversees drinking water supplied to 43 cities in Los
Angeles County, alleges in a complaint made public Tuesday that
the companies knew products ranging from firefighting foam to
textiles and non-stick cookware would pollute groundwater …
The Del Paso Manor Water District is under fire by the
Sacramento County Grand Jury due to a wave of concerns ranging
from water contamination to aging infrastructure and even not
complying with California’s monitoring requirements. According
to a Sacramento County’s news release, the formal complaint
comes after a seven-month investigation into the water
district. County officials say that the water district failed
to complete $35 million in repairs and upgrades that could lead
to potential failure for the entire water complex.
As I finished up my night shift on Sept. 30, there was one
thing that remained in the back of my mind throughout that day:
“WELL No. 28 DRILLING PROJECT” (June – October 2021). Earlier
that day, I … came across the infamous (or rather, unknown to
residents) drilling project, located near my university’s film
school. It didn’t really stand out — I only ever heard about it
from my professors, and with some searching, a Facebook post
announcing its construction from Aug. 12, 2021. -Written by Owen Lucas Agbayani, part of the
Wilkinson College Student Advisory and Leadership Council, a
volunteer for Solar Rights Alliance, as well as an editor for
Chapman University’s Undergraduate Law Review.
Cyberattacks on organizations worldwide surged 40% in 2021.
September 2021 broke records for the number of weekly
cyberattacks, topping all other months since January 2020.
Currently, one out of every 61 organizations worldwide is
impacted by ransomware attacks every week. Given this
ever-increasing threat level, a national law requiring critical
infrastructure organizations to report cybersecurity incidents
to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
is on the horizon.
You turn on the tap and expect clean water. But what exactly is
in that water? Analysts at EWG, a nonprofit environmental
group, found a number of chemicals that are known to cause
cancer. … EWG has a new tap-water database. Analysis of Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power water found the level of
arsenic 430 times its own EWG recommendation. It also found
chromium at 29 times recommended levels, and acids from
disinfectants at 184 times.
Gov. Gavin Newsom praised Congress for passing President Joe
Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Friday night, calling
it a “once-in-a-generation investment” which will help to
create jobs and modernize California’s transportation systems.
Newsom expect billions of dollars in additional federal funding
under the bill, including … significant investments in
infrastructure for electric vehicles, broadband, wildfire
protection, drinking water and airports.
For more than two decades the small Tulare County community of
Tooleville has been without a secure supply of safe drinking
water. The simplest solution would be to connect the town’s
water system to that of its neighbor, the City of Exeter. It
would take less than a mile of pipe to get it done. But years
of red tape and failed negotiations have kept the consolidation
from taking place.
Pleasanton will officially learn Friday whether it will succeed
in its efforts to lower the number of housing units it must
plan for in the years to come. The odds do not appear to be in
the city’s favor. Pleasanton was one of 27 local governments to
appeal their Regional Housing Needs Allocation to the
Association of Bay Area Governments, a planning agency that
focuses on finding regional solutions to issues such as
housing, water or environmental matters.
Water rising beneath the ground, pushed up by intruding salt
water as sea levels rise, now impacts thousands of toxic waste
sites throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. A six-month
investigation by NBC Bay Area found that the threat from rising
groundwater isn’t decades in the future but, in some cases, may
be imminent. In many hot spots from the North Bay to the South
Bay, UC Berkeley scientists told the Investigative Unit they’ve
recorded groundwater already at or near the surface.
The statewide drought has put small communities in a bind when
it comes to water. Kettleman City may easily be the poster
child. Benzine and arsenic in the water wells in this I-5 town
led to state and federal help to build an $11 million water
treatment plant in 2020 so the town could finally get clean
water from the California Aqueduct that runs right through
Water is central to how California adapts to a changing
climate. To those of us steeped in the complexities of managing
the state’s water resources, the current fast-moving
drought—coming on the heels of the record-breaking 2012–16
drought—is a stark reminder that we must accelerate preparation
for the disruptive changes underway.
State voters broadly approved a constitutional amendment
guaranteeing New Yorkers the right to “clean air and water and
a healthful environment” …. While it mirrors
legislation adopted by Pennsylvania and a handful of other
states, its New York roots are in the Capital
Region: Following the crisis over toxic contamination in
Hoosick Falls, residents and advocacy groups statewide demanded
a constitutional right to clean water.
The number of San Jose homes and businesses with overdue water
bills spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many could see
their taps run dry when the state ban on water shutoffs ends in
December. At least 1,160 customers have unpaid bills totaling a
combined $1.1 million with the San Jose Municipal Water System
as of June, according to a city audit published earlier this
More than a year after the historic fire was put out — and some
residents were able to return home – much of the Boulder Creek
region is still without reliable drinking water. The CZU
Complex destroyed most of the Big Basin Water Company’s
pipelines and tanks, along with its only surface water
treatment plant. The fire also burned down the water purveyor’s
office, and with it all of its records. It meant residents had
to boil water months after the blaze. And more recently that’s
become routine once again.
The Atascadero Mutual Water Company is suing three prominent
companies after chemicals linked to cancer and other health
conditions were found in wells that supply drinking water to
the city. The water utility’s product liability lawsuit, filed
Oct. 15 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, aims to recover
damages from 3M Co., DuPont and Chemours Co., which use the
chemicals. Known as “forever chemicals,” perfluoroalkyl and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in manufacturing and
have appeared in products such as Teflon cookware, firefighting
foam, cosmetics and water- and stain-resistant products since
the 1940s …
Even with the recent storm drenching Northern California, it’s
important that residents conserve water, experts said. The
storm — which included a ‘bomb cyclone’ — dropped more than
five inches of rain on the capital city in 24 hours. But it
won’t end the state’s drought. And next year could be dry, too.
… The California Department of Water Resources
recommends that residents calculate how much water they are
using at home using the U.S. Geological Survey calculator. They
said this serves as a starting point to indicate where you can
Anchor Brewing, San Francisco’s oldest brewery, just added an
on-site water treatment plant to their operations that has the
capacity to recycle up to 20 million gallons annually —
equivalent to water usage for more than 1,300 residents. It
takes an average of seven gallons of water to produce one
gallon of beer. While beer is 95% water, the majority of the
water entailed in the production of beer involves equipment
cleaning and bottle rinsing.
A proposed statewide ballot measure could save a highly
controversial desalination plant proposed in Huntington Beach,
if it gets shot down next year by the California Coastal
Commission — what’s viewed as the project’s tallest regulatory
hurdle. The measure is being pushed by at least two prominent,
Orange County water officials with either past ties to Poseidon
or a history of advocating for desalination in
The San Joaquin Valley farm town of Teviston has two wells. One
went dry and the other is contaminated. The one functioning
well failed just at the start of summer, depriving the hot and
dusty hamlet of running water for weeks. … But for
years, probably decades, the water coming from Teviston taps
has been laced with the carcinogen 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, or
1,2,3-TCP, the legacy of pesticides.
San Diego County has been planning ways to increase its
sustainable water supply and one of the planned methods is
through turning wastewater into potable water. There are three
sites planned in the county and the first one, Pure Water
Oceanside, is set to open before the end of 2021.
If you want to see the future of California fill up your tank
with $4.80 per gallon gasoline and take the Golden State
autobahn better known as Interstate 5 and head 160
miles south to Kettleman City. It’s slightly bigger than
the proverbial wide spot on the road. It is home to around
1,200 souls of which most are in households where often both
parents toil in fields sometimes along with their teen-age
children who join them during summers, weekends, and even after
school. -Written by Dennis Wyatt, managing editor of the Manteca
Exeter, less than a mile away … has refused to connect
Tooleville to its water system. The engineering is simple:
0.7 miles of pipe. The human risk of not doing it is high.
Tooleville water is contaminated with the carcinogen hexavalent
chromium (chrom-6), and sometimes nitrates linked to
agriculture and bacteria….Among a slew of water bills signed
in September was one inspired largely by Tooleville’s struggle.
Called the “proactive water solutions bill,” SB 403 gives the
state the power to mandate and fund consolidation when there is
an at-risk water system.
Whenever California is pummeled by drought — as is still very
much the case despite recent rain — a lot of people find
themselves asking, “What if we got water from the ocean?” In
San Diego County, it’s already happening at a $1 billion
facility by the beach. Recently, as I reported on San Diego’s
decades-long quest for water stability, I visited the Carlsbad
Desalination Plant, the largest such facility in the country,
to see how it works.
Despite the rain that drenched central and northern California
recently, drought still casts a long shadow over the state. The
consequences of a multi-year water shortage are dire:
reservoirs that serve millions of people and massive swaths of
farmland are disappearing, hydroelectric dams are in danger of
losing power and wild salmon are facing mass die
outs….Stanford water experts Newsha Ajami, Rosemary
Knight, Felicia Marcus and Barton “Buzz”
Thompson discuss lessons learned from previous droughts,
imperatives for infrastructure investment and reasons for hope
in this arid era.
[A] suite of federal, state, and local laws ostensibly
protect California’s watersheds from pollution, and volumes of
codes are dedicated specifically to safeguarding streams and
rivers from cattle. Yet through a variety of loopholes and
exemptions, and possibly agency languor, roaming cows have
access to many of the state’s waterways. Here, the animals
denude riverbanks, eliminate riparian habitat, and degrade
water quality. High concentrations of manure-born bacteria are
known to flow from Marin County cattle ranches into the waters
surrounding Point Reyes.
The Marin Municipal Water District is moving away from plans to
acquire temporary desalination plants and instead is exploring
purchasing more water from Sonoma County during the winter
months. … The district, which serves 191,000 residents in
central and southern Marin, faces the potential of depleting
local reservoir supplies as soon as next summer if this winter
is as dry as the last. The recent storms have put the district
in a better starting position, but district staff said
reservoir levels are still well below average.
On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’re
discussing a four-part series by Capital & Main on the
disproportionate impact of California’s worsening drought on
communities of color and low-income people living in rural and
farming areas in California. Nearly 10 years ago, California
enacted the Human Right to Water Act to help beleaguered
communities in the state. This landmark legislation obligates
the state to work towards safe, clean, affordable and
accessible drinking water to the one million residents without
it. What is being done to provide rural communities with
affordable and clean water?
Wherever you get your drinking water, there’s a good chance it
contains some amount of tiny plastic pieces. There aren’t a lot
of rules or regulations around this particular pollutant
because it is considered an emerging contaminant, but that is
changing. Scott Coffin, a research scientist who works for
the State Water Resources Control Board, is proud of a recent
accomplishment: an official, streamlined process to monitor
microplastics in drinking water.
Beginning in 2019, multiple retail water providers in Orange
County, California, elected to shut down several dozen
groundwater wells because they were found to contain low levels
of a class of contaminants known as perfluoroalkyl and
polyfluoroalkyl substances. In a region that depends heavily on
groundwater for its water supplies, the closures have proved
expensive… Following an extensive study of various methods of
removing PFAS from drinking water, the Orange County Water
District recently began operations at the first of more than 30
planned PFAS treatment facilities.
Between the late 1950s and 2008, Chevron disposed [fracking
wastewater] produced in Lost Hills in eight cavernous
impoundments at its Section 29 facility. Euphemistically called
“ponds,” the impoundments have a combined surface area of 26
acres and do not have synthetic liners to prevent leaking. That
meant that over time, salts and chemicals in the wastewater
could leak into the ground and nearby water sources like the
California Aqueduct, a network of canals that delivers water to
farms in the Central Valley and cities like Los Angeles. And
that’s exactly what happened, according to new research
California has a reputation as a leader on climate and
environmental policy. So it doesn’t advertise the fact that it
allows the oil and gas industry to store wastewater produced
during drilling and extraction in unlined pits in the ground, a
practice that began in the early 1900s. Now, though,
researchers have revealed the environmental costs of
California’s failure to regulate how its $111 billion oil and
gas industry manages the wastewater, known as produced
Hoping to step up the federal government’s response to
long-standing water issues facing Native American communities,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an “action
plan” earlier this month that will seek solutions to the many
barriers tribes have to running water and wastewater services.
The plan will guide the EPA Office of Water as it works with
federally recognized tribes to implement the plan, which was
prepared with input from the National Tribal Water Council, an
EPA-funded advisory group.
State politicians have done something laudable, and it has gone
unheralded. They haven’t even bragged about it themselves. So,
here’s some heralding. They’ve authorized spending about $5
billion on drought-related water projects without charging it
on the credit card. They’re going to pay cash. That will save
taxpayers roughly twice the projects’ cost for tacked-on
interest. -Written by George Skelton, Los Angeles Times
Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.
Shortly after taking office in 2019,
Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water
Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges —
unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing
climate, severely depleted groundwater aquifers and native fish
populations threatened with extinction.
Within days, he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and
veteran water communicator, as director of the Governor’s Water
Portfolio Program to help shepherd the monumental task of
compiling all the information necessary for the portfolio. The
three state agencies tasked with preparing the document delivered
the draft Water Resilience Portfolio Jan. 3. The document, which
Vogel said will help guide policy and investment decisions
related to water resilience, is nearing the end of its comment
period, which goes through Friday, Feb. 7.
Innovative efforts to accelerate
restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the
benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water
agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires.
Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of
California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address
persistent challenges facing the Colorado River.
These were among the issues Western Water explored in
2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed
It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends
of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water
districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the
state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it
can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems
and upend an agency’s finances.
Summer is a good time to take a
break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and
watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting
a chance to do plenty of that this July.
But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss
some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re
taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned
for later this year, we want to help you catch up on
Western Water stories from the first half of this year
that you might have missed.
Each day, people living on the streets and camping along waterways across California face the same struggle – finding clean drinking water and a place to wash and go to the bathroom.
Some find friendly businesses willing to help, or public restrooms and drinking water fountains. Yet for many homeless people, accessing the water and sanitation that most people take for granted remains a daily struggle.
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
One of California Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade
Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within
weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that
Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach”
on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded
floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.
That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.
More than a decade in the making, an
ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and
nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of
the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its
authors are not who you might expect.
An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water
agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for
years to find common ground to address a set of problems that
have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually
unusable for farming.
Joaquin Esquivel learned that life is
what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public
member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in
Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington
D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a
year ago to fill the Board vacancy.
Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several
capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as
assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California
Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board,
he shares with four other members the difficult task of
ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water.
A new study could help water
agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless
face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and
The Santa Ana Watershed Project
Authority (SAWPA) in Southern California has embarked on a
comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at assessing
strengths and needs as it relates to water services for people
(including the homeless) within its 2,840 square-mile area that
extends from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Orange County
A statewide program that began under a 2015 law to help
low-income people with their water bills would cost about $600
million annually, a public policy expert told the California
State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) at a
meeting last week.
Potable water, also known as
drinking water, comes from surface and ground sources and is
treated to levels that that meet state and federal standards for
Water from natural sources is treated for microorganisms,
bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses and fecal matter. Drinking
raw, untreated water can cause gastrointestinal problems such as
diarrhea, vomiting or fever.
Directly detecting harmful pathogens in water can be expensive,
unreliable and incredibly complicated. Fortunately, certain
organisms are known to consistently coexist with these harmful
microbes which are substantially easier to detect and culture:
coliform bacteria. These generally non-toxic organisms are
frequently used as “indicator
species,” or organisms whose presence demonstrates a
particular feature of its surrounding environment.
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 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
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 30-minute DVD explains the importance of developing a source
water assessment program (SWAP) for tribal lands and by profiling
three tribes that have created SWAPs. Funded by a grant from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the video complements the
Foundation’s 109-page workbook, Protecting Drinking Water: A
Workbook for Tribes, which includes a step-by-step work plan for
Tribes interested in developing a protection plan for their
A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36
inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and
its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and
Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin.
Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the
Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and
wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including
the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text
explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson
rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery
restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many
of these issues.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the
water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the
environment. It features natural and manmade water resources
throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers,
Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River
that forms the state’s eastern boundary.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water
supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing
treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including
irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge
and industrial uses.
The 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
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth,
easy-to-understand publication that provides background and
perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater
is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the
history of its use in California.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to
California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of
water development and use in California. It includes sections on
flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery
systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water
quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as
water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of
the guide is a section on the human need for water.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
The federal Safe Drinking Water Act sets standards for drinking
water quality in the United States.
Launched in 1974 and administered by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, the Safe Drinking Water Act oversees states,
communities, and water suppliers who implement the drinking water
standards at the local level.
The act’s regulations apply to every public water system in the
United States but do not include private wells serving less than
According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water
systems in the United States.
This printed issue of Western Water, based on presentations
at the November 3-4, 2010 Water Quality Conference in Ontario,
Calif., looks at constituents of emerging concerns (CECs) – what
is known, what is yet to be determined and the potential
regulatory impacts on drinking water quality.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the challenges facing
small water systems, including drought preparedness, limited
operating expenses and the hurdles of complying with costlier
regulations. Much of the article is based on presentations at the
November 2007 Small Systems Conference sponsored by the Water
Education Foundation and the California Department of Water
This issue of Western Water looks at some of the issues
facing drinking water providers, such as compliance with
increasingly stringent treatment requirements, the need to
improve source water quality and the mission of continually
informing consumers about the quality of water they receive.
This issue of Western Water examines PPCPs – what they are, where
they come from and whether the potential exists for them to
become a water quality problem. With the continued emphasis on
water quality and the fact that many water systems in the West
are characterized by flows dominated by effluent contributions,
PPCPs seem likely to capture interest for the foreseeable future.
This issue of Western Water examines the problem of perchlorate
contamination and its ramifications on all facets of water
delivery, from the extensive cleanup costs to the search for
alternative water supplies. In addition to discussing the threat
posed by high levels of perchlorate in drinking water, the
article presents examples of areas hard hit by contamination and
analyzes the potential impacts of forthcoming drinking water
standards for perchlorate.
Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999
in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we
are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional
water development of the past has given way to a more
collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment
while stretching available water supplies.