Back in September, while wildfires raged and the pandemic wore
on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a virtual press
conference to announce a bold new climate goal. By 2035, he
said, all new cars and trucks sold in California would be
zero-emission, in order to seriously curtail climate
warming-emissions. … But while Newsom has grabbed
attention for his clean car policy … environmental
experts say he hasn’t moved boldly enough on ecological
issues… Last summer, the governor issued a water
resilience portfolio that outlines 142 state
actions to help the state deal with water as the climate
Californians have recently endured increasingly aggressive
wildfires, rolling power outages, and smoke-filled air for
days. Unless the state government changes course, we can
add water shortages to this list. … However, the dirty
little secret is that 50 percent of California’s water supply
is used for environmental purposes and is ultimately flushed
out into the Pacific Ocean, 40 percent goes to agriculture, and
only 10 percent goes for residential, industrial, commercial,
and governmental uses. -Written by Daniel Kolkey, a former judge and former
counsel to Governor Pete Wilson and board member of Pacific
More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development
with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce
health, safety and environmental impacts. …
Colorado approved new, nation-leading well integrity rules
designed to prevent oil and gas wells from leaking methane to
the atmosphere, befouling groundwater resources and causing
explosions that can harm workers and communities.
San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental
leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the
environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable
water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But
Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn
the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive,
visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values.
San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley
rivers that feed it are in steep decline… -Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State
Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
Former U.S. Rep. Sam Farr is calling for the Marina Coast Water
District to be investigated for fiscal mismanagement and merge
with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, even as
the district is involved in a lawsuit that has successfully
challenged its water rates and could have implications for the
entire Ord Community.
President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear: subduing the
pandemic, economic recovery, climate action, and racial equity.
… Climate has received top-billing within the president’s
environmental agenda, but water infrastructure and water
systems could also see their status lifted. Some observers are
hopeful that the new administration and the Democratic Congress
will uncork federal water spending that has been steady but
flat in recent years.
3M Co. and E.I. DuPont de Nemours Inc. shook off a California
water utility’s claims that they contaminated the state water
supply with PFAS after the Central District of California found
the utility failed to establish jurisdiction. Golden State
Water Co. alleges that the companies “directed and instructed”
intermediaries and end users of their products to dispose of
them in a way they should have known may cause
As the CZU Lightning Complex fire bore down on Gail Mahood’s
tree-shrouded Felton neighborhood last August, she gathered
what possessions she could and fled. … Thankfully, fire crews
saved the little community of 20 or so houses, stopping the
blaze within a half-mile of Mahood’s home in the Santa Cruz
Mountains, but the pipes that delivered drinking water from a
spring just up the hill were completely destroyed.
We talk about microplastics in the ocean and on land fairly
often, but they are present in drinking water as well. The
California Legislature passed a bill in 2018 requiring
monitoring of the tiny plastic particles in drinking water.
Standards are due to be set up by the state Water Resources
Control Board this year. Scott Coffin, a researcher with the
agency, visits with an overview of the issues with
microplastics, and how the monitoring effort is coming along.
Low income communities across the San Joaquin Valley and other
regions of the state are being hit hard by rising water and
utility debt according to a recent survey released by the
California Water Board. Michael Claiborne, an attorney
with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability,
says residents are having to decide which essential service to
pay for amid a global pandemic.
A month before she began campaigning for the second-highest
political position in the United States, now-Vice President
Kamala Harris briefly turned her attention to a small town with
a big drinking water problem. “Utterly unacceptable that in
2020, we still can’t guarantee clean water to communities
across America. It’s a fundamental human right,” Harris said in
a July 9 tweet about the town of Earlimart in California’s
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are
highly skilled at delivering essential services to their
customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented
times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to
impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on
vital issues affecting California water management, including
the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency
strategies to increase resiliency in dry years.
In a time of record-breaking unemployment as a result of the
COVID-19 pandemic, Californians owe an estimated $1 billion in
unpaid water utility bills. With reduced revenue, hundreds of
water utilities are at high risk of financial emergency. The
State Water Board estimates at least 1.6 million households
have an average of roughly $500 in water debt — a crisis that
could lead to a wave of families facing water shutoffs, liens
on their homes or other collection methods. … Data show
Black and Latino households are disproportionately
California is home to over 1,000 golf courses, so when there
was a lack of water and public officials had to decide where to
allocate the water, the choice should have been obvious.
California should have shut down the golf courses and made sure
that every resident had access to clean drinking water.
However, this was not the case. As many as two-thirds of
Californian golf courses stayed open and the average 18-hole
course continued to use 90 million gallons of water each day.
Written by Alex Noble, a columnist for the newspaper
Lorelei Cloud is a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, a
relatively small tribe of 1,500 members, 1,000 of which live on
the tribe’s reservation covering a little more than 1,000
square miles south of Durango abutting the border with New
Mexico. Cloud’s experience is not uncommon in tribal homes
across the country, as nearly 48% of them — representing more
than half a million people — do not have “access to reliable
water sources, clean drinking water or basic sanitation,”
according to a 2017 congressional report.
Tens of thousands of Bay Area residents financially impacted
during the COVID-19 crisis now face tens of millions of dollars
in unpaid water bills, prompting both long-term financial and
public health concerns. That’s the conclusion of a new a report
released Thursday by the non-profit public policy organization
SPUR, and that looming potential crisis has experts concerned
about vulnerable customers.
A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water
supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful
of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain
pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide
degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic)
transformation of pesticides into other compounds.
Arizona depends heavily on the Colorado River, and it is
over-allocated, meaning, we collectively take more water from
the system than nature puts in. To make matters worse, the
Colorado River basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought
of more than 20 years. When you take the longer term view,
a lot of communities in Arizona are heavily dependent on fossil
groundwater supplies. Once you pump them out, they’re gone
forever. There are real problems looming when it comes to
groundwater management and the Colorado River.
A broad coalition of organizations is urging Joe Biden and
Kamala Harris to mandate a national moratorium on water and
other utility shutoffs on day one in the White House, in order
to curtail the spread of Covid-19 and ease the financial burden
on struggling Americans. … Only eight states –
California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia,
Washington and Wisconsin – and the District of Columbia
currently have moratoriums in place, but even these don’t
include debt forgiveness programs.
The stage is finally set for years of talking to be translated
into actual clean drinking water for potentially thousands of
San Joaquin Valley residents. But activists fear the effort
will flop before the curtain rises if more isn’t done to engage
the people who are drinking that water. The issue is nitrate,
which is rife the valley’s groundwater and considered
dangerous for infants and pregnant women.
West Basin Municipal Water District announced its 2021 “Water
Is Life” art contest is now open for Redondo Beach student
submissions. The annual art contest from West Basin recognizes
student creativity and innovation throughout its service area.
Student artists help inspire their communities to support water
conservation as a way of life by creating thought-provoking
water-smart pieces of art. Submissions are due via regular mail
or email by March 19.
The U.S. Department of Energy will soon announce semifinalists
for its Solar Desalination Prize. The goal: a system that
produces 1,000 liters of usable water for $1.50… Such
systems could surmount a big downside of reverse osmosis: it
typically desalinates only half of the input saltwater, and the
solution left behind eventually builds up enough salt to clog
Last year was one for the record books, with the pandemic, a
statewide wildfire emergency, ongoing drought, and a lingering
recession roiling California’s water landscape. These crises
have exacerbated longstanding inequities in access to water
services, and made it that much harder to accomplish important
work to improve the resilience of the state’s water system and
vulnerable ecosystems. Yet despite all the setbacks, the
essential work of providing drinking water and wastewater
services proceeded without a hitch—to which we all owe water
workers a debt of gratitude.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as
they update the groundwater management plan for the greater
South Lake Tahoe area. Groundwater is the primary source of
drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private
water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from
beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s
Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater
conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an
appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community
has a sustainable source of clean water supply.
Vicky Espinoza is on a mission. Vicky is passionate about
making sure rural, low-income communities and small-scale
farmers have a say in land-use and water-management decisions
in the San Joaquin Valley.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday, as part
of a 12-state coalition, submitted comments to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that its new
draft guidance misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court’s
decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund… In
the comment letter, the coalition argues that the EPA’s draft
guidance tips the scales in favor of polluters by providing
them with additional arguments to avoid regulation under the
Clean Water Act, contravenes the purpose of the
Act, and conflicts with the Court’s decision
in County of Maui.
The newly formed Kaweah Water Foundation will be hosting a
series of Safe Drinking Water public workshops in January 2021
for residents within Tulare County. The workshops will
focus on nitrates in the Kaweah area and short-term drinking
water solutions for community water systems and domestic well
A small California town is dealing with a water system that’s
not working. Out of the three community wells in Hornbrook, two
stopped pumping water and a third quickly ran out. As of
Monday, the water is back on, but residents say there is still
a boil water notice.
Communities are only just beginning to understand how their
buried drinking water infrastructure can be damaged or
compromised during wildfires. A response team led an
investigation into the damage sustained to Paradise’s drinking
water infrastructure and came to some surprising conclusions.
As it enters its 20th year of planning and preparation, a
desalination plant proposed near Doheny State Beach continues
to be met with delays and uncertainty. In mid-2018, officials
were predicting that the operation could be turning ocean water
into drinking water as soon as 2021. Now, the project will be
doing well to simply win all required permits by the end of
Wildfires in California have been brutal in recent years, not
only torching millions of acres of forest but also blazing
through developed areas with vicious force… Because these
fires are now burning where people live — or, people are living
where the fires are — new hazards to health and infrastructure
have emerged in the ashes. Among them is the contamination of
A group of agriculture, timber and environmental organizations
is asking the state to commit to spending up to $1.5 billion on
wildfire prevention programs in the next year. Representatives
from those groups said Wednesday that bureaucratic red tape and
funding issues have held up needed fire prevention projects to
prevent the types of deadly wildfires California has endured
the past five years.
California has many small systems compared to other states.
However, California has about the same percentage of
underperforming small systems with problems delivering safe
water as most other states. Thus, the lessons learned from
characterizing and solving the problems in California may be
transferable to other regions, nationally and internationally.
The consequences of climate change do not impact all
Californians equally, and here in the San Joaquin Valley,
community members and agricultural workers are on the
frontlines of the air pollution, water scarcity and increased
heat that are inextricably tied to climate change. Our
health, well-being and future prosperity depend on enacting
meaningful solutions to accelerate the transition off of
polluting fuels. -Written by Blanca Escobedo, a policy advocate for
the Leadership Counsel for Justice and
The United States has some of the safest drinking water in the
world. But its water supply is facing a new challenge — a
slimy growth inside pipes that is encouraging outbreaks of
illness responsible for over 7 million illnesses and 6,000
deaths every year. That’s the disturbing finding of a new
analysis of waterborne disease from the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention that was 10 years in the
More than 200 million Americans may be drinking
PFAS-contaminated water, research suggests. As studies continue
to link exposures to a lengthening list of potential health
consequences — including links to Covid-19 susceptibility —
scientists and advocates are calling for urgent action from
both regulators and industry to curtail PFAS use and to take
steps to ensure the compounds already in the environment stay
out of drinking water.
The city of Folsom has experienced a significant decrease in
pinhole leaks in copper water pipes in local residences since
adding orthophosphate to the water system. This past summer,
Folsom experienced what residents dubbed “a pinhole leak
apocalypse.” Water leaks in homes developed nearly 1,400
times. On the recommendation of consultants, the city
started adding orthophosphate to the water treatment system in
October. Folsom’s environmental and water resources
director, Marcus Yasutake, says it’s had the desired effect.
Cástulo Estrada, vice president of the board of directors of
Coachella Valley Water District, has been reappointed to the
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Advisory Group, as
announced by the State Water Resources Control Board.
When wildfires swept through the hills near Santa Cruz,
California, in 2020, they released toxic chemicals into the
water supplies of at least two communities. One sample found
benzene, a carcinogen, at 40 times the state’s drinking water
standard. Our testing has now confirmed a source of these
chemicals, and it’s clear that wildfires aren’t the only blazes
that put drinking water systems at risk.
In this video, Elizabeth Martinez, of Lideres Campesinas—and a
resident of Kern County, California—talks about the fears and
challenges of living in a county with a long history of
violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Michele Roberts of
Environmental Justice Health Alliance and NRDC’s Kristi Pullen
Fedinick highlight their analysis of data from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency that confirms there is unequal
access to safe drinking water, based most strongly on race.
California has yet to comprehensively deal with pervasive
chromium-6 contamination, but that may soon change. The
State Water Resources Control Board held public workshops this
week as it moves into what might be one of the final phases of
the process of regulating the contaminant. They looked
specifically at the costs of cleaning up the problem after the
board published more data and analysis of the extent of
chromium-6 contamination last week.
In the San Joaquin Valley, agricultural runoff from fertilizer
and manure leaches into groundwater, contributing to some of
the highest levels of nitrate pollution in community water
systems in the country. A new report shows Latino
neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by elevated
levels of nitrate, which advocates say is a result of a
historic pattern of racist policies at every level of
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is planning to recommend a
$6 million grant award for the construction of the Pure Water
Oceanside project. Pure Water Oceanside will purify
recycled water to create a local source of potable drinking
water. Currently, the city imports about 85% of its water from
hundreds of miles away at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta and the Colorado River.
A new national study of public water systems found that arsenic
levels were not uniform across the U.S., even after
implementation of the latest national regulatory standard. In
the first study to assess differences in public drinking water
arsenic exposures by geographic subgroups, researchers at
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health confirmed
there are inequalities in drinking water arsenic
exposure…. Community water systems reliant on
groundwater, serving smaller populations located in the
Southwest, and Hispanic communities were more likely to
continue exceeding the national maximum containment level,
raising environmental justice concerns.
For many communities in the West, the water that flows out of
kitchen faucets and bathroom showerheads starts high up in the
mountains, as snowpack tucked under canopies of spruce and pine
trees. In high alpine ecosystems, climate change has
tipped the scales toward drier forests, lessened snowpack,
hotter summers and extended fire seasons. Wildfires don’t
just cause problems while they’re burning. For municipal
drinking water systems, fires are felt for years after they’re
Gitanjali Rao, a Colorado teenager who invented a mobile device
to test for lead in drinking water, is Time’s Kid of the Year
for 2020. The magazine announced the award Thursday, citing
Rao’s ability to apply scientific ideas to real-world problems
— and her desire to motivate other kids to take up their own
Work is proceeding on construction of a new well, booster pump
station and million-gallon storage tank on the western reaches
of Jensen Road north of the city [of Newman]. The $10 million
project to upgrade Newman’s municipal water system has been in
the works for about a decade.
The California water district PFAS lawsuit is significant not
only because it is one of the largest PFAS lawsuits filed to
date by a water district, but also because it is one of the
first times that a consumer product manufacturer is being
targeted for PFAS cleanup costs.
Eleven Orange County water agencies have joined in a lawsuit
seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from DuPont, 3M and
others whose carcinogenic chemicals have leached into
groundwater aquifers and forced the closure of more than three
dozen wells in the central and northern parts of the county.
Rusted iron pipes can react with residual disinfectants in
drinking water distribution systems to produce carcinogenic
hexavalent chromium in drinking water, reports a study by
engineers at UC Riverside. Chromium is a metal that
occurs naturally in the soil and groundwater. Trace amounts of
trivalent chromium eventually appear in the drinking water and
food supply and are thought to have neutral effects on health.
Chromium is often added to iron to make it more resistant to
In the midst of the pandemic and recession, the cost of
delivering safe drinking water continues to rise across
California, creating a crisis of affordability for water users
and a revenue problem for water suppliers. PPIC talked
to Robert Shaver—board chair for the California Urban
Water Agencies (CUWA) and general manager of the Alameda County
Water District—about how the state’s largest public water
agencies are thinking about this issue.
What are key California water priorities for the coming year,
in light of ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, the
recession, lingering drought, and a record-breaking fire
season? The PPIC Water Policy Center brought together three
panels of experts to discuss possibilities at our annual water
After decades of new and deeper wells, degraded water quality
and groundwater level declines, residents in the [Madera] area
have a chance to influence how local groundwater will be
managed and used for decades to come — and the deadline to
participate is quickly approaching.
Now based in California, 39-year-old engineer and entrepreneur
Meena Sankaran is working to make water cleaner and more
reliable — by making it smarter. Using sensors and analytic
tools, Sankaran’s startup KETOS provides real-time monitoring
of both water usage and quality, alerting, say, a farmer to a
leak, or a municipality to a contaminant.
Children and staff at Westside Elementary School in Thermal
have had to rely on bottled water due to issues from an aging
well. But change is here. Thanks to a $880,155 grant from
the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience
(SAFER) program, a consolidation project recently broke ground,
granting Westside Elementary access to the Coachella Valley
Water District and a reliable source of clean water.
The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to undo
President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of water
rules including stream and wetland protections, drinking water
contamination, and the permitting of controversial energy and
As chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board,
Felicia Marcus had to confront the issue directly. Marcus, who
is now the William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s
Water in the West program, headed the EPA’s Southwest Region
under President Bill Clinton. … Here are her answers about
what has been done and what still needs to be done to untangle
the physical, financial and political barriers blocking fair
access to clean drinking water in California.
A first-of-its kind law set up a new fund and program to
improve access to safe and affordable drinking water in
communities like East Orosi. … But according to a new report
from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, the road ahead
is long — and expensive.
“Probably water allocation and climate change would be the two
big pivots and increased opportunity for collaboration between
California and the federal government after 4 years of
conflicts and really outright warfare,” said Rick Frank, a
former California chief deputy attorney general. He is now a
professor at UC Davis law school.
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.
The EPA under a future Biden administration is expected to
quickly move to set regulations on “forever chemicals” in water
and other areas, but not to restrict the entire group of
thousands of the substances, attorneys said in recent
After fires marred the San Lorenzo Valley near Santa Cruz,
in August, the local water district issued a “Do Not Drink Do
Not Boil” notice to residents. Volatile organic compounds
including benzene, residents were warned, could be seeping into
the water system — just as the toxic chemicals did in Santa
Rosa and Paradise, California, in the wake of wildfires in 2017
Despite federal and state water quality standards, over one
million Californians currently lack access to safe drinking
water. This is primarily because these residents receive their
water from systems and domestic wells that do not consistently
meet those established standards….Our review finds that SWRCB
has shown positive progress in its initial year of
administering the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW)
Fund and implementing SB 200.
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
AWWA has released three new resources about per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to support water systems’
information needs and ability to educate the public and policy
makers about issues related to PFAS in drinking water.
There could be lead in your tap water. There could be PFAS in
your bottled water. Microplastics might be in both. Do you
choose neurotoxic heavy metals or carcinogenic “forever
chemicals”? That’s the predicament facing Americans every time
they take a drink of water. … There are no EPA or FDA
standards for microplastics in drinking water, though
California decided to start monitoring for microplastics by
Water monitoring data collected in 2010–15 show that more than
7 million people in the US across 27 states had
utility-supplied tap water that had detectable 1,4-dioxane,
according to the Environmental Working Group. The problem of
1,4-dioxane pollution isn’t unique to the US. However, the US
situation reveals a number of regulatory barriers. There is no
federal limit on 1,4-dioxane in drinking water. And getting it
out of water is challenging.
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
The Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. said its investigation of
benzene contamination in the water supply of fire damaged areas
such as Paradise, California has determined that the cause is
not from pipe made from high-density polyethylene, but was from
the burned-out environment.
Even in the wealthiest countries, basic water services are not
universal. At least 1.1 million people in the United States do
not have hot and cold water running water in their house and a
shower or tub for bathing, a new study finds. This “plumbing
poverty” is highest in cities and most acute in those like San
Francisco that have the greatest income inequality.
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
“As temperatures rise, climate change compounds the already
difficult circumstances of vulnerable communities, increasing
inequities related to access to clean water, clean air and
socioeconomic opportunities” said J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida,
climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the guide.
A brief review of the evidence comparing current trends in
drinking water intake in the U.S. to requirements across age
and racial/ethnic groups reveals that most people do not drink
enough plain water. While fluids can come from a variety of
sources, there are many benefits of choosing water over
If plastic pipes or tanks are melted, or even just heat up, or
loose pressure, drinking water can become contaminated. In the
case of Big Basin Water Co., the system lost water pressure and
much of its infrastructure was destroyed. That triggered the
State Water Resources Control Board and the Big Basin Water Co.
to put a Do Not Drink, Do Not Boil water advisory into effect.
Erin Brockovich, the longtime California water advocate, called
for people around the country to “show up” to their local
governments and demand cleaner water, speaking at a National
Press Club event Friday.
Launched in a post-World War II chemical boom, PFAS have slowly
made their way into water systems around the country. They flow
through reservoirs and faucets and bleed into aquifers and
irrigation systems that sustain crops and livestock that end up
on our plates.
California passed the Human Right to Water in 2012,
acknowledging that every resident has a right to safe, clean,
and affordable drinking water. Both large and small water
systems struggle to provide safe drinking water; however, small
systems face the greatest challenges.
Kristine Diekman is a professor of art, media and design at Cal
State San Marcos, where she teaches media theory and
production, and sound studies. She’s also a media artist
working in documentary and experimental film, new media and
community-based media. Since 2014, Diekman has been working on
a digital media project, “Run Dry,” which tells the story of
the water crisis in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
A clean water and flood protection measure that would extend an
existing Santa Clara Valley Water District program indefinitely
has nearly $340,000 in its campaign coffers. A bulk of
donations have come from unions, the construction and
engineering sectors and political action committees, according
to the latest financial statements filed with the state.
More than 8,300 blazes have scorched four million acres (and
counting) in California this wildfire season—doubling the
state’s previous record, set just two years ago. … This trend
not only presents immediate dangers to people but can
have toxic consequences for the local water supply that can
persist long after the smoke clears.
Run Dry is a story of small, rural California communities and
their struggle to remain connected to the most precious
resource—water. This digital media project combines short
documentary films, personal stories, photographs, and data
visualizations about water scarcity and contamination in the
San Joaquin Valley.
Oakland’s McClymonds High School is now safe for students and
staff to return to after a months-long closure because of a
toxic chemical found in groundwater on the campus. The school
first closed in February, just weeks before classroom
instruction was halted because of COVID-19.
At a trial over fluoride regulations this summer, EPA eschewed
its own experts, hiring an outside company often deployed by
corporations to deny and downplay chemicals’ health impacts.
… Testifying for EPA in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California, Exponent Inc. cast doubt on
studies that underpin federal regulation of lead and mercury,
even as the agency’s own scientists said new research does
indeed warrant a review of fluoride’s neurotoxic effects.
Some neighborhoods in California and Oregon are already
witnessing benzene levels that exceed state and federal
permissible limits as evacuees return to ‘do not drink/do not
boil’ warnings. “The number of water systems that we expect to
see impacted could be the highest yet,” says Daniel Newton,
assistant deputy director of California’s Water Resources
Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water. “It is a concern.”
The Coachella Valley Water District broke ground Tuesday on a
project that will connect the Westside Elementary School in
Thermal to the water system that services much of the valley.
Westside is the only school in its district relying solely on a
well and has a history of water contamination….construction
is advancing with money from the state water board’s Safe
and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience Program. [It
is the state's first recipient under the program.]
Water providers in California face myriad challenges in
sustainably providing high quality drinking water to their
customers while protecting the natural environment. In this
blog post, I explore the stresses
that surface and
groundwater quality challenges pose for California’s
retail water agencies.
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.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year
declined to regulate perchlorate, which has been linked to
thyroid conditions. The unanimous vote from the State Water
Resources Control Board is the first step toward tightening
California’s drinking water standard, currently set at 6 parts
per billion. The chemical has been found in 27 counties
Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California
selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship…
One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa
“Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who
spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne
Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work
Mo Mohsin has been trying to bring clean drinking water to the
residents of the Cobles Corner mobile home park ever since he
bought the property back in 2003. The struggle, however, has
been all uphill. The water system that serves the rural
Stanislaus County community of 20 or so homes has violated
state drinking water standards 25 times since 2012,
Among the largest wildfires in California history, the LNU
Lightning Complex fires killed five people and destroyed nearly
1,500 structures — including whole blocks of the Berryessa
Highlands neighborhood where Kody Petrini’s home stood. Camped
out in a trailer on his in-laws’ nearby lot, the 32-year-old
father of two, along with all of his neighbors, was warned not
to drink the water or boil it because it could be contaminated
with dangerous compounds like benzene…
Only a few minutes away from our beautiful Coachella Valley
golf courses and music festival locations, there are thousands
of people living in conditions without access to clean water or
reliable sanitation services. For these families, if something
breaks in the private water system serving their home, they go
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to overhaul
the way communities test their water for lead, a policy change
that will be pitched ahead of Election Day… But a draft of
the final rule obtained by The New York Times shows the E.P.A.
rejected top medical and scientific experts who urged the
agency to require the replacement of the country’s six million
to 10 million lead service lines…
After a wildfire ripped through central California last month,
residents in the Riverside Grove neighborhood in the Santa Cruz
Mountains discovered another danger: contaminated water
coursing through their pipes. Benzene, a chemical tied to
cancer, leukemia and anemia, was detected in the town’s
drinking water after 7 miles of plastic water piping was
torched in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire south of San
Communities like ours are called environmental justice
communities. That’s an elaborate way of saying that – among
other things – our children are suffering from asthma at
abnormally high rates because they literally don’t get clean
air to breathe. Our communities don’t all have safe drinking
water, they don’t have parks to play and exercise in and, worst
of all, they are surrounded by a high concentration of
industries that have been allowed to emit toxics for too long.
Drinking water advocates had fretted the Safe and Affordable
Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program, intended to
help struggling water systems in mostly poor, rural areas,
would fall victim to the pandemic-flattened economy. But a last
minute loan from the Underground Storage Tank Clean-Up Fund
will ensure SAFER receives its full $130 million — at least
this coming fiscal year.
The CZU Lightning Complex Fire badly damaged seven and a half
miles of water supply lines made of polyethylene, a plastic, in
northern Santa Cruz County. That triggered the San Lorenzo
Valley Water District, State Water Resources Control Board, and
Santa Cruz County Health Department to issue a Do Not Drink -
Do Not Boil water advisory for over 3,000 households in
Northern Santa Cruz County in late August.
We recommend issuing “Do Not Use” orders in the wake of major
fires to protect the public before water testing results are
available. We believe it is acceptable to use water for fire
fighting and toilet flushing, but not for purposes that involve
ingestion, skin exposure or inhalation, such as bathing or
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.
Emergency repairs are underway after a historic fire in the
Santa Cruz Mountains wreaked havoc on the San Lorenzo Valley’s
water infrastructure. The CZU August Lightning Complex fire
caused an estimated $11 million in damage to pipes, meters,
mains, tanks and other San Lorenzo Valley Water District
infrastructure and equipment, according to District Manager
A multimillion dollar water project in the heart of Northridge
is on the fast track to becoming a reality. The Aliso
Creek-Limekiln Creek Restoration Project at Vanalden Park is
aimed at reducing pollutants in city waters by treating
stormwater and urban runoff from Aliso and Limekiln creeks and
an open channel storm drain.
Drivers entering town these days pass a sign with an urgent
message: Do not drink or boil the tap water in your home. It
may not be safe. This town in the heart of the Santa Cruz
Mountains is the latest California community to grapple with
water problems because of a wildfire.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit in Washington, seeks to overturn the Trump EPA’s
decision to allow unlimited amounts of toxic perchlorate in our
tap water. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler reached this
decision even though his agency admits that toxic perchlorate
is found in millions of Americans’ tap water…
The Natural Resources Defense Council on Thursday sued the
Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to
regulate a chemical linked to fetal and infant brain damage.
The agency announced in June it would not regulate perchlorate
even though it estimated up to 620,000 people could be drinking
water with a concerning amount of the chemical.
Zone 7 Water Agency is now treating its water supply with
ozone, replacing chlorine as the main disinfecting treatment
and “enhancing quality of finished water” for customers,
officials announced on Tuesday.
California’s beleaguered Department of Toxic Substances
Control could at last get an overhaul under a bill heading to
the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom. … If approved, the bill would
impose a per ton waste generation fee, increase facility fees,
add an ombudsman position, and take other actions. Assembly
member Cristina Garcia (D), who authored the bill, said it
would also raise $22 million to help stabilize the department’s
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
Gov. Gavin Newsom, like governors before him, wants to overhaul
how water moves through the delta. He’s proposing a 30-mile
tunnel that would streamline the delivery of water from the
Sacramento River, a bid to halt the ongoing devastation of the
delta’s wetlands and wildlife while ensuring its flows continue
to provide for the rest of the state. The pressures of climate
change on water supplies have only increased the urgency to
act. And the coronavirus pandemic and months of
shelter-in-place orders haven’t slowed the planning. ….The
tunnel, as much as anything, is the very symbol of the state’s
never-ending water wars.
The San Joaquin Valley in California has the highest rates of
drinking water contamination and the highest amount of public
water systems with maximum contaminant level violations in the
state. … The most recent contamination occurred in the city
of Tulare, where local government buildings received a
boil-water notice after a test of county wells found coliform
North Marin Water District has struggled for decades with
periodic and seasonal salinity intrusion resulting from the
wells’ proximity to Tomales Bay, but the problem is especially
dire this summer as freshwater becomes scarce.
In a comment article published in Nature Sustainability, the
researchers are urging policy makers across the world to focus
on behavioural change, knowledge promotion and investment in
On Thursday, the California State Senate Appropriations
Committee defeated a bill that would reduce the amount of lead
leached from faucets and fixtures to no more than 1 microgram
of lead – five times less lead than faucets are designed to
Last year, California passed a law establishing a fund for safe
and affordable drinking water. Using money from the state’s
cap-and-trade program, it allocates up to $130 million to
solutions each year for a decade.
Twenty years ago, Erin Brockovich was released, and the brash,
unvarnished legal assistant turned activist at the heart of the
film … had the surreal experience of becoming a household
name almost overnight. “Let me be the first to tell you that
life takes an interesting turn when your name becomes a verb,”
the real Erin Brockovich writes in the introduction to her new
book, Superman’s Not Coming.
A pair of water associations are teaming up to urge the EPA to
use all its regulatory tools to safeguard drinking water as it
decides whether to allow new chemicals into U.S. commerce. The
Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA),
which represents state, tribal, and territorial water agency
officials, recently joined the Association of Metropolitan
Water Agencies, which represents publicly owned metropolitan
drinking water suppliers, to routinely flag their concerns
about new chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency.
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
Thousands of families who rent or own homes with private wells
are at risk of losing their drinking water in Madera, Fresno,
Tulare and Kings counties — and some already have. The Fresno
Bee is investigating the risks to private wells and proposed
solutions, and we need to hear your stories and your questions
to guide our reporting.
Last week at the Lindsay City Council’s July 28 meeting, city
services and planning director Michael Camarena presented a
feasibility study. He noted that the city’s water system has
been out of compliance with the Stage 2 disinfection byproduct
rule for total trihalomethanes and five haloacetic acid maximum
At the ACWA’s virtual conference held last week, the second
keynote speaker session featured Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the
State Water Resources Control Board, and Karla Nemeth, Director
of the Department of Water Resources. Here’s what they had to
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, guidance
around how to control the virus’s spread has become a steady
drumbeat: Wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, and stay home.
Implicit in these recommendations is the assumption that
households have safe and clean running water and indoor
The Trump Administration Monday announced that the United
States Department of Agriculture is investing $462 million to
modernize critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure
across rural America.
The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many
serving low-income communities without the resources to repair
them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for
Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule
to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water
systems, homes, schools and other facilities. This action marks
a significant milestone in implementing the Trump
Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead
Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.
Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water
pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were
common. … After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed
widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence
suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination
of burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials.
A compilation of studies conducted between 1946 and 2018 show
that areas with high concentrations of lithium in public
drinking water had “correspondingly lower suicide rates,”
according to a news release. … The study was published Monday
in The British Journal of Psychiatry.
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
At a meeting this month where the State Water Resources Control
Board adopted its first spending plan for what was supposed to
be a $130 million-a-year investment for the next decade,
Chairman Joaquin Esquivel acknowledged that the economic
downturn could set California back.
Black and Latino Americans are twice as likely as White
Americans to live without running water. Take East Orosi, a
mostly Latino community surrounded by the fertile orchards of
California’s Central Valley. To look around you’d think that
water is pretty plentiful … and it is, for big agriculture. But
in a neighborhood where most of those who work those fields
live, there’s no central water main.
Central Valley neighborhoods are a step closer to new money to
fix broken water systems and access clean, safe drinking water
— if the White House and Congress agree on an infrastructure
package currently moving through the U.S. House of
The California State Water Resources Control Board (Board) has
adopted a definition for “microplastics” that will be used in
testing of drinking water… While this development is
currently focused on the testing of drinking water in
California, the Board and others expect that it will form the
basis of future efforts to quantify and address microplastics
in the environment.
Water suppliers in California currently must test for
perchlorate in drinking water down to 4 parts per billion. The
State Water Resources Control Board said it plans to cut that
level to 2 parts per billion and then again down to 1 part per
billion in 2024.
California stands on the cusp of getting critical SB 200 funds
flowing through communities that have waited too long for water
justice and are also among those hit hardest by COVID-19 and
the resulting economic loss and strain. Last week, the State
Water Board adopted its implementation plan for the fund, also
called the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and
Resilience (SAFER) program.
Safe water is a human right. Yet, in 2020, the United States
remains divided between those with the privilege of having
clean, running tap water and those who don’t. As we reckon with
systemic racism, our fight for safe and affordable water cannot
be disentangled from the fight for justice.
Federal regulators have moved to delay assessment and action on
chemicals that could contaminate drinking water. Richard Luthy
explains how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
individual states approach waterborne threats.
Efforts to ensure safe drinking water for children need further
support to reach their intended audience, according to an
analysis of California’s mandate requiring child care
facilities to test their water for lead, known as AB 2370.
To begin, what is arsenic? It is one of the basic chemical
elements found in the periodic table that shows its
relationship to other elements. Arsenic is dissolved from rocks
by water in areas that have groundwater pools. If you have
significant levels of arsenic in your water, it can cause
cancer, heart disease, diarrhea and affect your skin.
The question of whether and how much to regulate these
persistent chemicals in drinking water has spanned the
administrations of US presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama,
and Donald J. Trump. “This is a multi-administration failure to
take action on PFOA and PFOS and on the broader class of PFAS
chemicals that may pose health effects,” says Melanie Benesh,
legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group…
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
American children whose homes rely on private wells for
drinking water are 25% more likely to have high lead levels in
their blood than those with access to regulated community water
services, according to new research.
An ambitious spending plan to shore up hundreds of failing and
“at risk” California water systems won approval Tuesday from a
key state regulatory agency. In a unanimous vote, the State
Water Resources Control Board authorized a plan to spend up to
$130 million in fiscal year 2020-2021 through the newly created
Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed massive health and economic
burdens on communities around the world, and no sector of
society is going untouched, including the vitally important
water sector. The full extent of impacts of the coronavirus
pandemic on the water sector are still emerging, but one area
that has come to the fore is the effect on municipal water
Signing off on a historic deal with its wealthiest — and
thirstiest — neighbor, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-0
to ship a supply of the city’s drinking water to Montecito
every year for the next 50 years, rain or shine.
A vote Monday was the final approval for a Tuolumne River
treatment plant serving Turlock and Ceres. The $202 million
project, discussed off and on since the 1980s, will reduce the
cities’ dependence on groundwater. Both have already approved
the sizable rate increases that will cover most of the cost.
The $202 billion budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Monday
evening includes the $7.3 million promised to the Paradise
Irrigation District to help sustain it following the
devastating Camp Fire. The funding is considered critical to
providing clean water to residents for rebuilding efforts. The
money was not included in the Governor’s May revise budget
proposal but was included in the final spending
Tri-Valley residents might be happy to know the quality of
their drinking water met, and often exceeded, all state and
federal standards last year, according to the 2019 Annual
Consumer Confidence Report for the Zone 7 Water Agency.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed into law key provisions of a
new state budget, a spending plan that seeks to erase a
historic deficit while preserving service levels for schools,
healthcare and social services. … Elsewhere, the budget adds
four more years of additional CalFresh benefits for those who
live in communities without reliable access to safe drinking
The California Strategic Growth Council selected Stockton
alongside the cities of Oakland and Riverside to be a part of
the Transformative Climate Communities Program… The grant
will provide these neighborhoods with access to clean water,
fresh fruits and vegetables and clean air to breathe, Mayor
Michael Tubbs said.
The City of Dos Palos is shutting down water for its residents
for at least three days to treat after its water treatment
plant became clogged with algae. The city says water is
currently being used faster than it can be treated and sent
out, so residents should prepare for water to stop flowing.
After years of planning, McCloud’s Lower Elk Spring house
replacement project will get underway soon as the Department of
Water Resources has selected this project for the draft
recommended funding list. The current wooden structure with
corrugated roof will be replaced with a concrete vault to
insure protection from erosion and habitat contamination.
The report, recently released by the city, shows minimal, or
“zero,” levels of cancer-causing chemicals and dissolved solids
that were present as little as four years ago when the city
relied on well water. Today the city obtains its water from the
Sacramento River after which it is treated and delivered to
homes and businesses.
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.
Thirty-four years ago, Ronnie Levin’s research on lead in
drinking water sounded the alarm for many Americans about risks
lurking in their tap water. As the Trump administration propels
forward a new rule, Levin is still fighting to make sure
communities, especially the most vulnerable, have safe drinking
water. … What’s at stake, she says, is the health of some of
the most vulnerable communities in the nation.
The park’s 1,900 residents have been without a permanent
drinking water source for months, after the EPA announced last
summer that the park’s well water contained nearly 10 times the
permissible level of arsenic, a toxic metal.
As the world continues to grapple with the most devastating
public health crises in modern history, the San Joaquin Valley
has been hit particularly hard, resulting in mass disarray.
Small rural regions and underserved communities are now
experiencing threefold the challenges that existed prior to the
For the first time in five years, Seville residents can safely
drink and cook with the water that flows from their taps. The
small agricultural community of about 500 nestled at the scenic
base of the Sierra Nevada has been ground zero for Tulare
County’s water crisis for more than a decade.
After nearly six years of work by Castulo Estrada, the rest of
the Coachella Valley Water District board and Assemblyman
Eduardo Garcia, the water district announced in early May that
the State Water Resources Control Board had approved two
construction grants, totaling about $3.3 million. The funds
will be used to complete three projects that will bring safe,
reliable water service and fire protection to two disadvantaged
communities and one elementary school in the eastern Coachella
If you have a small, drinking water system in the Central
Valley that’s full of nitrates, and there are plenty, a company
has some bugs to sell you. Specifically, a company called
Microvi is looking for a demonstration project in the valley to
show that its “biological denitrification” process is feasible
for small systems.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the next step to
implement an important per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA). The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals
required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory and
established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these
When the proposal for the Fallbrook Public Utility District and
the Rainbow Municipal Water District to detach from the San
Diego County Water Authority and annex to the Eastern Municipal
Water District is heard by San Diego County’s Local Agency
Formation Commission, a public vote will follow any LAFCO board
Rates will be reduced by 35 percent for sewer bills, 30 percent
for Hetch Hetchy public power utility bills, and 15 percent for
water bills for those who have a SFPUC residential account
under their name, have experienced income loss due to COVID-19
or the resulting shelter-in-place order, and a maximum income
under 200 percent of the area median income.
The decision by Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA,
appears to defy a court order that required the agency to
establish a safe drinking-water standard for perchlorate by the
end of June…[S]tates like California and Massachusetts
regulated the chemical in the absence of federal action.
Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of
Representatives released the HEROES Act, the latest
proposed relief package to address the COVID-19 pandemic… The
proposal includes $1.5 billion in funding for water ratepayer
assistance to help struggling households pay their water and
sewer service bills. Also included in the legislation is $375
billion to be distributed to municipalities to cover revenue
shortfalls as a result of the pandemic, which may help
alleviate the strain on some clean water agencies.
The guidelines, part of WQA’s coronavirus resources, suggest
actions water treatment professionals can take as part of an
overall recommissioning plan for commercial, industrial,
manufacturing or retail businesses shut down during the
COVID-19 pandemic. The document also can be used as a resource
by restaurant and coffee shop owners, small businesses and
retail establishments, and even homeowners.
A grant of up to $2 million will allow Lomita to install a
filtration system that removes a potentially carcinogenic
chemical from its drinking water, allowing the community to
resume using groundwater instead of more expensive imported
supplies. The small city had taken its sole well offline last
year and drained its 5 million gallon reservoir after the
levels of benzene discovered in its groundwater exceeded state
drinking water standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to address lead
in water isn’t as aggressive as it could be, the agency’s
independent Science Advisory Board, as well as outside groups,
said Monday. … In its latest report, the board came out
against the proposed trigger level, saying it “adds unnecessary
complexity resulting from having to make lead management
decisions” while not enacting stricter limits that recognize
there is no safe level of lead.
Cal Water Quality Manager, Loni Lind says water that has been
sitting in building pipes can damage the water and bring
bacteria. To properly flush start from running the faucet
closest to the water meter and move outward to the farthest
In a pandemic when hand-washing could be a matter of life or
death, everyone must have access to clean water as a public
health issue and a basic human right. But what if you can’t
afford your water bill?
According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Water Utility Residential
Customer Satisfaction Study released today, 25 percent of
Americans say they never drink their tap water, setting the
stage for a serious set of customer satisfaction challenges on
the part of regional water utilities.
Despite the incomplete data, based on the examples gathered
below from several states and cities, all signs point to
millions of people nationwide at immediate risk of shutoff or
already shutoff. The numbers are certain to grow as the
economic crisis triggered by COVID-19 continues.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works gathered
the last few comments on Friday on its plans to move two
mammoth water infrastructure packages this year. … At the
same time, the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee is gearing up to introduce its own big water bill,
which should come by month’s end and be marked up over the
summer, according to a committee aide.
The State Water Resources Control Board has executed an
agreement to provide approximately $5 million in grant funds
for testing and remediation of lead in drinking water at
licensed Child Care Centers in California.
In many areas of the Central Valley and Central Coast, decades
of intensive agriculture has resulted in groundwater too
polluted to drink, and wells that have gone dry from
over-pumping. More than one million people in these regions
lack a source of clean water in their homes. This is a hardship
even in the best of times, but it puts communities at extremely
high risk during this time of crisis.
Some 1 million residents of California farmworker communities
have relied for years on bottled water because their tap water
is tainted with nitrate and other agricultural pollutants. Now,
as stores ration water to prevent hoarding during the
coronavirus crisis, these residents are relying on friends and
family, or driving many miles to bigger towns in search of
Utilities are reporting in industry surveys that they are low
primarily on the specialized N95 masks that block viruses and
other tiny particles. If the virus rampages throughout a
utility’s work force the way it has in meat-processing
facilities in Colorado, Iowa, and South Dakota, it could
jeopardize the treatment and delivery of drinking water and the
proper handling of sewage and stormwater.
Two bipartisan draft water infrastructure bills unveiled this
week by the Senate environment committee are a good start but
will need even more funding in the wake of the coronavirus
pandemic, water agencies and other groups said Wednesday.
Following efforts to increase safety measures throughout all
City departments to stop the spread of COVID-19, San Diego
Mayor Kevin Faulconer toured the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant
on Friday to observe increased safety protocols. He also
thanked City employees as they continue to deliver safe,
reliable water to over 1.4 million San Diegans.
The number of supporters in Congress for utility assistance in
the next Covid-19 package continues to grow. One hundred ten
Democratic members of the House and Senate sent a letter today
to congressional leaders, requesting financial aid to utilities
and the people they serve during the coronavirus pandemic.
As federal, state, and local leaders look to provide economic
relief, they must pay special attention to the support and
protection of our current infrastructure workforce.
Additionally, this moment offers an opportunity that we may not
see again anytime soon: the chance to jumpstart long-term
infrastructure careers for millions of prospective workers
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders were urged
Tuesday to include at least $12.5 billion in stimulus funds to
help people struggling to pay their water and sewer bills.
Congress is preparing another stimulus package that will
include billions of dollars to improve the nation’s aging water
and sewer infrastructure.
Today’s declaration of a local emergency grants general
manager, Craig Miller, increased flexibility to make critical
operational decisions and acquire vital financial, material,
and human resources to support business continuity. This action
ensures the essential water and wastewater (sewer) services
that Western provides remain as reliable as ever.
Governments at all levels are beginning to review water access
policies and inequalities that inhibit public and personal
efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. Those policies
include restoring water service to homes where water had been
disconnected, suspending new water shutoffs, and installing
public handwashing stations to serve residents who are