Topic: Drinking Water


Drinking Water

Finding and maintaining a clean water supply for drinking and other uses has been a constant challenge throughout human history.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Breaking down new rules about ‘forever chemicals’

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, can be found in those items and hundreds of other household products. the chemicals have made their way into our showers, sinks and drinking glasses — a 2023 study detected PFAS in nearly half of the nation’s tap water. … For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency is regulating PFAS. This month, the E.P.A. announced that it would require municipal water systems to remove six forever chemicals from tap water. Lisa Friedman, a reporter on the Climate desk at The New York Times, wrote about the new rules.

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

Listen: Clean air and water could become a fundamental right in CA

CA Assemblymember Isaac Bryan’s Green Amendment would ensure Californians have the right to clean air and water. Would it bring real changes?

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Sacramento organization makes global water impact

El Porvenir works on projects in Nicaragua, focusing on how access to clean water can be life changing for communities. See how this group is making an impact.

Aquafornia news Grist

The EPA is cracking down on PFAS — but not in fertilizer

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency designated two types of “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law. The move will make it easier for the government to force the manufacturers of these chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, to shoulder the costs of cleaning them out of the environment. … Although the EPA’s new restrictions are groundbreaking, they only apply to a portion of the nation’s extensive PFAS contamination problem. That’s because drinking water isn’t the only way Americans are exposed to PFAS … In Texas, a group of farmers whose properties were contaminated with PFAS from fertilizer are claiming the manufacturer should have done more to warn buyers about the dangers of its products.

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Aquafornia news Grist

California communities are fighting the last battery recycling plant in the West — and its toxic legacy

… California has some of the tightest toxic regulations and strictest air pollution rules for smelters in the country. But some residents of the suburban neighborhoods around Ecobat don’t trust the system to protect them. … Uncertainty, both about the safety of Ecobat’s operation going forward and the legacy of lead it has left behind, weighs heavily on them. … Early on, environmental officials flagged reasons for concern about the lead smelter. State and federal regulators issued an order and a consent decree in 1987 because of the facility’s releases of hazardous waste into soil and water. An assessment from that time found “high potential for air releases of particulates concerning lead.” 

Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Local senator’s bill mandating microplastic study in drinking water advances in California Senate committee

State Sen. Anthony J. Portantino, who represents Pasadena, has authored a bill mandating the study of microplastics’ health impacts in drinking water. The Senate Environmental Quality Committee approved the bill this week. By filing SB 1147, Portantino seeks to emphasize the need for further research and action in addressing the pervasive presence of microplastics in various environmental elements. … The bill’s provisions include a requirement for all water-bottling plants producing bottled water for sale to provide an annual report to the State Department of Public Health’s Food and Drug branch on microplastic levels found in their source water. This data, as mandated by the bill, aims to enhance transparency and consumer awareness regarding the presence of microplastics in bottled water, a product consumed widely across California.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

New Mexico town has endured toxic arsenic in drinking water for years

Rosana Monge clutched her husband’s death certificate and an envelope of his medical records as she approached the microphone and faced members of the water utility board on a recent Monday in this city in southeast New Mexico. “I have proof here of arsenic tests — positive on him, that were done by the Veterans Administration,” she testified about her husband, whose 2023 records show he had been diagnosed with “exposure to arsenic” before his death in February at age 79. “What I’m asking is for a health assessment of the community.” … Naturally occurring in the soil in New Mexico, arsenic seeps into the groundwater used for drinking. In water, arsenic has no taste, odor or color — but can be removed with treatment. Over time, it can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, endangering the lives of people in this low-income and overwhelmingly Latino community.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

New study: Nutrient chemistry in the Elizabeth Lake subwatershed—Effects of onsite wastewater treatment systems on groundwater and lake water quality

Nutrient (nitrogen [N] and phosphorus [P] chemistry) downgradient from onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS) was evaluated with a groundwater study in the area surrounding Elizabeth Lake, the largest of three sag lakes within the Santa Clara River watershed of Los Angeles County, California. Elizabeth Lake is listed on the “303 (d) Impaired Waters List” for excess nutrients and is downgradient from more than 600 OWTS. The primary objective of this study was to develop a conceptual hydrogeological model to determine if discharge from OWTS is transported into shallow groundwater within the Elizabeth Lake subwatershed and contributes nutrients to Elizabeth Lake in excess of the total maximum daily load limit. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California sets nation’s first standard for cancer-causing chemical

In an effort to protect more than 5 million Californians from a cancer-causing contaminant, state regulators today set a new standard that is expected to increase the cost of water for many people throughout the state. The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved the nation’s first drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium, which is found naturally in some California groundwater as well as water contaminated by industries. Now water suppliers will be forced to install costly treatment to limit the chemical in water to no more than 10 parts per billion — equivalent to about 10 drops in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Ecuador rations electricity as drought persists in the northern Andes

Ecuador on Tuesday began to ration electricity in the country’s main cities as a drought linked to the El Niño weather pattern depletes reservoirs and limits output at hydroelectric plants that produce about 75% of the nation’s power. The power cuts were announced on Monday night by the ministry of energy, which said in a statement that it would review its decision on Wednesday night. … The power cuts in Ecuador come days after dry weather forced Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá to ration water as its reservoirs reached record lows, threatening local supplies of tap water. In the town of La Calera, on the outskirts of Bogotá, water trucks visited neighborhoods where water has been scarce recently because a local stream that supplies the town with water is drying up.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California acts to halt Kings County’s groundwater overpumping

Kings County growers will face millions of dollars in fees and a mandate to report groundwater pumping after California officials voted unanimously today to put local agencies on probation for failing to protect the region’s underground water supply. The unprecedented decision is a first step that could eventually lead to the state wresting control of a groundwater basin in a severely depleted part of the San Joaquin Valley.  Before issuing the probation order, the State Water Resources Control Board had repeatedly warned five groundwater agencies in Kings County that their management plan for the Tulare Lake basin is seriously deficient, failing to rein in the dried-up wells, contaminated water and sinking earth worsened by overpumping.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

New PFAS lawsuit cites EPA’s ‘forever chemicals’ drinking water rules

A new lawsuit filed by public drinking water systems in California against manufacturers of toxic “forever chemicals” is among the first to cite new Biden administration regulations that set strict limits for the chemicals in drinking water. The Orange County Water District and more than a dozen other California water utilities filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court on Friday against seven manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, including Dynax America Corp. and Arkema Inc. The lawsuit accuses the manufacturers of negligence and of creating a nuisance by contaminating water with PFAS, and seeks money to remediate that contamination.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Monday Top of the Scroll: California farmers depleted groundwater in this county. Now a state crackdown could rein them in

For the first time in California history, state officials are poised to crack down on overpumping of groundwater in the agricultural heartland.  The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday will weigh whether to put Kings County groundwater agencies on probation for failing to rein in growers’ overdrafting of the underground water supply. Probation — which would levy state fees that could total millions of dollars — is the first step that could allow California regulators to eventually take over management of the region’s groundwater. 

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Aquafornia news KPBS - Public Media

‘Forever chemicals’: Water supplies throughout California will exceed new national limits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [last week] unveiled the first nationwide limits on dangerous “forever chemicals” in drinking water, setting standards that will have sweeping, costly effects throughout California. … In California alone, traces of the compounds have been detected in water systems serving more than 25 million people, nearly a third in disadvantaged communities, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

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Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: EPA requires monitoring and treatment to limit and reduce PFAS in drinking water

… the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [on Wednesday] announced the final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation establishing the first national legally enforceable drinking water standards … for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” …. actions required for public water systems under the final rule are likely going to require significant investment of money, time, and human effort. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

How safe is Bay Area drinking water from chemicals?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the first federal limits on PFAS — manmade “forever chemicals” linked to cancer, organ damage and other health issues — in the nation’s drinking water. The regulation, which was initially proposed in 2023, requires water systems to reduce levels of six of the most studied types of PFAS to the lowest levels that can be reliably measured with testing. … The Bay Area’s drinking water generally has low levels of PFAS because large water systems in the region get most of their drinking water from pristine sources in the Sierra or local reservoirs in regional parks, according to researchers who study toxic chemicals in drinking water. The city of San Francisco, for instance, gets most of its water from Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir north of Yosemite Valley.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Clean air, water, environment amendment passes first hurdle in California Assembly

California lawmakers want to establish the state’s position on environmental health, taking a first step Monday in their proactive approach to ensure processes for the state’s environmental management remains secure, regardless of any federal changes. … The Los Angeles Democrat is propositioning a constitutional amendment that would enshrine into law the Californian’s right to clean air, water and the environment. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 16, authored by Bryan, passed Monday out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and into his chamber’s Appropriations Committee. It must pass both houses by at least two-thirds and then secure a majority vote at the polls.

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Aquafornia news Fortune

Water-guzzling chipmaker TSMC and drought-plagued Arizona are an unlikely pair

The Commerce Department announced Monday it pledged up to $6.6 billion to Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer TSMC, which will add a third chip manufacturing facility in Arizona to the two in the works. The grant will go down in Washington as one of the crown jewels of the Biden administration’s initiative to bring the supply chain for ubiquitous—and strategically vital—computer chips back to the United States. But in Phoenix, where the factories are going to be built, TSMC faces a lingering question: where’s the water going to come from in one of the driest cities in the country?

Aquafornia news The New York Times

PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ are pervasive in water worldwide, study finds

They’re in makeup, dental floss and menstrual products. They’re in nonstick pans and takeout food wrappers. Same with rain jackets and firefighting equipment, as well as pesticides and artificial turf on sports fields. They’re PFAS: a class of man-made chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They are also called “forever chemicals” because the bonds in their chemical compounds are so strong they don’t break down for hundreds to thousands of years, if at all. They’re also in our water. A new study of more than 45,000 water samples around the world found that about 31 percent of groundwater samples tested that weren’t near any obvious source of contamination had PFAS levels considered harmful to human health by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California moves to ban use of the weedkiller paraquat

New California legislation seeks to permanently ban paraquat, a powerful and widely used weedkiller that has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and other serious health issues. Assembly Bill 1963, introduced recently by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), would sunset the use of paraquat beginning in January 2026. The herbicide, which is described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as highly toxic, is regularly sprayed on almonds, grapes, cotton and other crops in the state. … California is the nation’s top user of paraquat … 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

New study: Nearly half of US prisons draw water likely contaminated with toxic PFAS

Nearly half of US prisons draw water from sources likely contaminated with toxic PFAS “forever chemicals”, new research finds. At least around 1m people incarcerated in the US, including 13,000 juveniles, are estimated to be housed in the prisons, and they are especially vulnerable to the dangerous chemicals because there is little they can do to protect themselves, said Nicholas Shapiro, a study co-author at the University of California in Los Angeles. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Here Arizona nurtures the Navajo Nation, but lacks water

The Navajos live in the same 1,400-mile-long Colorado River Basin that brings fresh water to millions in Southern California, yet about 30% of homes on the reservation were built without indoor plumbing. With the absence of pipes connecting homes in this isolated corner of the reservation to a water source, many Navajos must spend hours each week driving to a community center in the tribal settlement of Dennehotso to refill portable tanks. … Some see hope in a proposed landmark agreement that would settle all outstanding water rights disputes between the Navajo, Hopi and San Juan Southern Paiute tribes and the state of Arizona. If the final terms of the agreement are approved by the tribal government, the Navajos will ask Congress for $5 billion in federal funding to expand the reservation’s water delivery infrastructure.

Aquafornia news AP News

Court approves 3M settlement over ‘forever chemicals’ in public drinking water systems

Chemical manufacturer 3M will begin payments starting in the third quarter to many U.S. public drinking water systems as part of a multi-billion-dollar settlement over contamination with potentially harmful compounds used in firefighting foam and several consumer products, the company said. St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M announced Monday that last year’s lawsuit settlement received final approval from the U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. The agreement called for payouts through 2036. Depending on what additional contamination is found, the amount paid out will range from $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion.

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Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

SLO grant to clean PCE groundwater pollution

The San Luis Valley Groundwater Basin stretches from San Luis Obispo to Edna Valley — but a toxic chemical swirling in the water prevents the city from using the resource for drinking water. That will soon change, however. San Luis Obispo won a $6.6-million grant to install wells that remove tetrachloroethylene, a chemical also known as PCE, from the groundwater, according to city water resources program manager Nick Teague. The wells should be operational by 2026 and will allow the city to fulfill about 12% of its drinking water needs, he said.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona Republicans want to weaken the state’s water laws

Groundwater in Arizona belongs to all of us. It is a public resource and sensible management of it is vital to our shared future.  But instead of fulfilling their obligation to protect this finite and diminishing water supply, Arizona’s Republican legislators have introduced dozens of bills at the statehouse aimed at enriching residential developers and corporate farmers who want to expand their groundwater use. Many of these bills are advancing and will end up on the governor’s desk. One intent of these bills is to weaken the state’s assured water supply requirement for development in urban areas. This crucial consumer protection prevents the sale of subdivision lots that lack a 100-year water supply, thereby assuring our desert state’s longevity.
-Written by Kathleen Ferris, a Phoenix water attorney and sits on the Governor’s Water Policy Council. 

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: White House issues dire warning regarding drinking water supply and wastewater system cyberattacks

The Biden-Harris administration is redoubling its efforts to improve cybersecurity for the nation’s water systems. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House issued a dire warning to state governors alerting them of the need to protect water and wastewater systems from ongoing cybersecurity threats and requested that the states provide plans to decrease the risk of attacks on water and wastewater systems in their state. … While the letter focused on the national need for investment in water infrastructure, California’s water systems are in particularly dire need for upgrades. The EPA has previously estimated that California needs about $51 billion in improvements to its water infrastructure.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘We are the guinea pigs’: Arizona mining project sparks concerns for air and water

[Denise] Moreno Ramírez wasn’t surprised when she heard an Australian mining company, South32, planned to open a manganese, zinc, lead and silver operation in the same area where her family had worked. … But this latest proposed mine was alarming, she said, because Biden is fast-tracking it in the name of the energy transition – potentially compromising the mountain’s delicate ecosystems, many of which have begun to be restored as mines have shut down. … A growing network of Arizona residents say that allowing the mine to proceed as planned could introduce a grave new layer of environmental injustices. …Conservationists say they worry that South32 is seeking to use water irresponsibly amid long-term drought. 

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

High concentration of ‘forever chemical’ found in Red Bluff residents’ water

Residents at Friendly Acres Mobile Home Park were given bottled water and warned about possible contamination in their well during a March meeting organized by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and California’s Division of Drinking Water. First reported by the Red Bluff Daily News, the concern stems from alarming levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Those man-made chemicals, called PFAS, are used to make a huge number of modern products like stain-resistant material, nonstick cookware, food packaging and waterproof clothing. They’ve also been linked to health impacts including cancer, liver and thyroid damage.

Aquafornia news KSBW 8 - Central Coast

After decades without safe drinking water, a California community will receive aid to build a pipeline

A generational issue for the families living in San Lucas continues as they’ve gone decades without drinking water. Soon federal, state, and local leaders will secure nearly a million dollars to build a pipeline to King City. … Plants not growing, animals dying, young children unable to bathe, this is the reality for those living in the unincorporated South Monterey County town of San Lucas.

Aquafornia news PIRG

Blog: We’re campaigning for microplastic free waters

Plastic fragments have been found at the top of the Alps, in the deepest parts of our oceans and likely, in your local waterways. Some of this microplastic is in the form of nurdles. You may not be familiar with them, but these lentil-sized plastics pose a huge threat to our waters and wildlife. Nurdles, also called plastic pellets, are the building blocks of plastic manufacturing. At plastic factories, pellets that fall on the floor or get contaminated with dirt are sometimes washed down drains. Because they’re small and lightweight, nurdles are often spilled during transport too. … Plastic pellets are extremely difficult to clean up once they reach our waterways, and often polluters are not held accountable.

Aquafornia news Fresno State News

New study: Study explores groundwater recharge areas near local communities

To address the concern of historic groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley, the California Water Institute at Fresno State, with assistance from students and faculty, conducted a feasibility study to explore the potential for groundwater recharge within disadvantaged communities. … The analysis identified four potential locations for the design and construction of recharge basins near or in the cities of Kerman, Raisin City, Caruthers and Laton. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

South Lake Tahoe and Truckee ban common grocery store item

Two Tahoe towns are saying no to plastic water bottles. South Lake Tahoe’s ban on single-use plastic water bottles and paper cartons is slated to go into full effect next month, soon after neighboring Truckee passed an ordinance to implement a similar ban. … The League to Save Lake Tahoe found that single-use plastic bottles are one of the top five types of litter in the Tahoe Basin, Truckee’s news release states. 

Aquafornia news HortiDaily

New study: US scholars highlight the environmental health implications of plastic use in agriculture

Plastics are also … used in agriculture. Macroplastics are used as protective wraps around mulch and fodder; they cover greenhouses, shield crops from the elements, and are used to make irrigation tubes, sacks, and bottles. … While there are significant benefits to using plastics in agriculture, there are emerging concerns regarding the risks associated with agricultural plastics. Over time, macroplastics slowly break down, fragmented by wind and sunlight into ever-smaller pieces to generate microplastics and nanoplastics. These tiny plastic particles seep into the soil, changing its physical structure and limiting its capacity to hold water. 

Aquafornia news AP News

South Africa water crisis: Taps dry in Johannesburg

For two weeks, Tsholofelo Moloi has been among thousands of South Africans lining up for water as the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, confronts an unprecedented collapse of its water system affecting millions of people. Residents rich and poor have never seen a shortage of this severity. While hot weather has shrunk reservoirs, crumbling infrastructure after decades of neglect is also largely to blame. The public’s frustration is a danger sign for the ruling African National Congress, whose comfortable hold on power since the end of apartheid in the 1990s faces its most serious challenge in an election this year.

Aquafornia news CBS 8 - San Diego

More San Diego customers dealing with water bill problems

CBS 8 is Working for You to get to the bottom of water billing problems in the City of San Diego. It’s been four months since Mission Hills homeowner Ken Perilli received a notice in the mail that his water bills were being withheld, pending an investigation by the city of San Diego into “abnormal water use.” “The first reaction is to panic that you have a leak under a slab, and that you’re going to be facing an expensive plumbing repair bill,” said Perilli. He called a plumber and checked for water leaks, but nothing seemed abnormal. “I investigated the abnormal reading. And you can see that there is dirt in front of the meter. So, the abnormal reading is that there was no reading taken, I believe,” said Perilli. On the social media site Next Door, Perilli said he found dozens of similar complaints by neighbors.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: Arizona utilities deplete our water resources

“Water is Life,” was the Lakota rallying cry at Standing Rock as thousands weathered severe freezing conditions to stop an oil pipeline threat to their water. In Arizona water is life too but here we’re way beyond having our water resources threatened. They’re right now being needlessly and excessively plundered for corporate profit as the Arizona Corporation Commission rolls out the red carpet for fossil fuel energy, depletes our precious water resources and ends up maximizing utility shareholders’ dividends. Now most of us can wrap our heads around this — burning fossil fuels to make electricity causes and worsens climate change, but it’s harder to wrap your head around just how much water is consumed in the process. Here’s how much water is used by different energy sources to produce 1 megawatt hour of electricity.
-Written by Rick Rappaport, a member of Tucson Climate Coalition, Tucson Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby and Arizonans for Community Choice Energy

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Independent

Water District moves towards consolidating water company

At the Indian Wells Valley Water District board meeting on March 11, the Water District board moved forward in learning about the process of consolidating the Dune 3 water mutual company into their service area. Some negotiation and planning still needs to happen before any decision is finalized, but for the moment the board is willing to cautiously move forward in the process. The IWV Water District serves water to IWV residents by pumping water out of the IWV groundwater basin. However, they are not the only ones doing so. Dotted all across IWV are domestic well owners and even a few other public or private organizations resembling a water district. If one of those organizations fails, an obligation still exists to serve water to the people in that region. 

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

The industrialization of water made it safe but also made it taste like nothing

Imagine putting billions of dollars into creating something that tastes like nothing. When it comes to municipal water systems the world over, that’s what water companies strive to provide — no bad or off flavors, no assertive minerals, just bland safety. It’s a miracle, and one we shouldn’t take for granted. In The Taste of Water, author Christy Spackman looks beyond the glass to ask how our water should and shouldn’t taste. Spackman, a professor at Arizona State University, is also the director of the Sensory Labor(atory), an experimental research collective dedicated to disrupting longstanding sensory hierarchies. Through her work, she became interested in why people eat what they do and how the management of taste and smell done by food scientists and engineers, shapes the experiences we often take for granted.

Aquafornia news Reuters

US warns that hackers are carrying out disruptive attacks on water systems

The U.S. government is warning state governors that foreign hackers are carrying out disruptive cyberattacks against water and sewage systems throughout the country. In a letter released Tuesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan warned that “disabling cyberattacks are striking water and wastewater systems throughout the United States.” The letter singled out alleged Iranian and Chinese cyber saboteurs. Sullivan and Regan cited a recent case in which hackers accused of acting in concert with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had disabled a controller at a water facility in Pennsylvania. They also called out a Chinese hacking group dubbed “Volt Typhoon” which they said had “compromised information technology of multiple critical infrastructure systems, including drinking water, in the United States and its territories.”

Aquafornia news UC San Diego

New study: Say hello to biodegradable microplastics

Microplastics are tiny, nearly indestructible fragments shed from everyday plastic products. As we learn more about microplastics, the news keeps getting worse. Already well-documented in our oceans and soil, we’re now discovering them in the unlikeliest of places: our arteries, lungs and even placentas. Microplastics can take anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years to break down and, in the meantime, our planet and bodies are becoming more polluted with these materials every day. Finding viable alternatives to traditional petroleum-based plastics and microplastics has never been more important. New research from scientists at the University of California San Diego and materials-science company Algenesis shows that their plant-based polymers biodegrade — even at the microplastic level — in under seven months. The paper, whose authors are all UC San Diego professors, alumni or former research scientists, appears in Nature Scientific Reports.

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Aquafornia news USA Today

EPA: PFAS forever chemicals found in drinking water systems for 70M

At least 70 million Americans get their water from a system where toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” were found at levels that require reporting to the Environmental Protection Agency.  That’s according to new data the EPA released in its ongoing 5-year review of water systems across the nation. The number will almost certainly grow as new reports are released every three months. … Found in drinking water, food, firefighting foam, and nonstick and water-repellent items, PFAS resist degradation, building up in both the environment and our bodies. Salt Lake City; Sacramento, California; Madison, Wisconsin; and Louisville, Kentucky, were among the major systems reporting PFAS contamination to the EPA in the latest data release.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Ours is the most wasteful civilization in history. Here’s how to stop that

What if the looming calamities of climate change, plastic pollution, the energy crisis and our whole environmental doom-scroll are symptoms of just one malady and it’s something we actually can fix? That’s right, the planet is fighting a single archvillain: Waste. Americans live in the most wasteful civilization in history. … Waste is so deeply embedded in our economy, products and daily lives that it’s hard to see clearly, or to see at all. … How is it “normal” that 40% of what our industrial farm and food system produces ends up as garbage? … The average American throws out three times more trash today than in 1960. Pin much of that garbage growth on plastic waste, so pervasive now that tiny bits of it are in food, water, beer and even human hearts, lungs and newborn babies’ poop.
-Written by Edward Humes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His latest book, “Total Garbage: How We Can Fix Our Waste and Heal Our World,” will be published in April.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Regulation of PFAS chemicals in water supply strains city budgets

Hastings, Minnesota, is staring down a $69 million price tag for three new treatment plants to remove PFAS chemicals from its water supply, ahead of new US federal regulations limiting the amount of so-called forever chemicals in public drinking water — which could come as early as this month. … [T]he project amounts to a “budget buster,” says city administrator Dan Wietecha. Operation and maintenance costs for the new plants could add as much as $1 million to the tab each year … Cities across the US are bracing for costly upgrades to their water systems as the Environmental Protection Agency moves to finalize the first-ever enforceable national drinking water standards for PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — a large group of man-made chemicals used for decades in manufacturing and in consumer products.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

New study: How the Flint water crisis set schoolchildren back

School-age children affected by the water crisis in Flint, Mich., nearly a decade ago suffered significant and lasting academic setbacks, according to a new study released Wednesday, showing the disaster’s profound impact on a generation of children. The study, published in Science Advances, found that after the crisis, students faced a substantial decline in math scores, losing the equivalent of five months of learning progress that hadn’t recovered by 2019, according to Brian Jacob, one of the study’s authors. The learning gap was especially prevalent among younger students in third through fifth grades and those of lower socioeconomic status. There was also an 8 percent increase in the number of students with special needs, especially among school-age boys. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Allensworth residents feel abandoned by company that makes water out of thin air

Allensworth is one of the testing grounds for a hydropanel that creates drinking water out of thin air. But two years into the program, community members say the hydropanel company has left them high and dry while many of the hydropanels have broken down. Allensworth has struggled with arsenic-laced groundwater for decades. In 2021, Source Global, the company behind the hydropanels, installed two in Allensworth to test out the technology. Each panel generates about a gallon of drinking water per day by condensing water vapor in the air into liquid form.  In 2022, a philanthropic organization bought 1,000 hydropanels to be installed throughout the Central Valley. Allensworth now has about 42 panels, according to Source Global.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Trillions of gallons leak from aging drinking water systems, further stressing shrinking US cities

Water bubbles up in streets, pooling in neighborhoods for weeks or months. Homes burn to the ground if firefighters can’t draw enough water from hydrants. Utility crews struggle to fix broken pipes while water flows through shut-off valves that don’t work. … Across the U.S., trillions of gallons of drinking water are lost every year, especially from decrepit systems in communities struggling with significant population loss and industrial decline that leave behind poorer residents, vacant neighborhoods and too-large water systems that are difficult to maintain.

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Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Commentary: Water regulation in Arizona has now devolved into a game of chicken

Water regulation in Arizona has devolved into a game of chicken. The governor and farmers are rivals revving their engines, hoping their opponent will flinch first. Caught in the middle is Gila Bend, a groundwater basin south of Buckeye, where the state could decide to impose its most stringent form of regulation, whether folks like it or not. Both sides are using Gila Bend as a bargaining chip to win support for competing legislative proposals. But to what end?
- Written by Joanna Allhands, Arizona Republic digital opinions editor 

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Aquafornia news JFleck at Inkstain

Blog: Senate hearing Thursday on tribal access to clean water: it takes more than just a pile of money

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee is holding an important hearing Thursday on S. 2385, a bill to refine the tools needed to help Tribal communities gain access to something that most non-Indian communities in the western United States have long taken for granted: federally subsidized systems to deliver safe, clean drinking water to our homes. … This is the sort of bill (there’s a companion on the House side) that makes a huge amount of sense, but could easily get sidetracked in the chaos of Congress. The ideal path is for the crucial vetting to happen in a process such as Thursday’s hearing, and then to attach it to one of those omnibus things that Congress uses these days to get non-controversial stuff done. Clean water for Native communities should pretty clearly be non-controversial.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As climate hazards converge, health risks rise in California

State health officials know that extreme heat can cost lives and send people to the hospital, just like wildfire smoke. Now, new research finds that when people are exposed to both hazards simultaneously — as is increasingly the case in California — heart and respiratory crises outpace the expected sum of hospitalizations compared to when the conditions occur separately. … The study joins a growing body of research about the intersection of different climate risks. Last month, California-based think-tank the Pacific Institute published a report about how converging hazards — including wildfires, drought, flooding, sea level rise and intensifying storms — are harming access to drinking water and sanitation in California and other parts of the world. The deadly 2018 Camp fire in Butte County impacted an estimated 2,438 private wells, the report said.

Colorado River Shortages Drive Major Advances in Recycled Sewage Water Use
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Phoenix, Southern California betting on purified sewage to fill drinking water needs

After more than two decades of drought, water utilities serving the largest urban regions in the arid Southwest are embracing a drought-proof source of drinking water long considered a supply of last resort: purified sewage.

Water supplies have tightened to the point that Phoenix and the water supplier for 19 million Southern California residents are racing to adopt an expensive technology called “direct potable reuse” or “advanced purification” to reduce their reliance on imported water from the dwindling Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Fresnoland

Most of state’s unsafe water systems in California’s Central Valley

… A state audit from the California Water Resources Control Board released last year found that over 920,000 residents faced an increased risk of illness–including cancer, liver and kidney problems–due to consuming unsafe drinking water. A majority of these unsafe water systems are in the Central Valley. The matter has prompted community leaders to mobilize residents around water quality as politicians confront imperfect solutions for the region’s supply. Advocates point out that impacted areas, including those in Tulare County, tend to be majority Latino with low median incomes. … This year’s extreme weather has only worsened the valley’s problems. The storms that hit California at the start of this year caused stormwater tainted with farm industry fertilizer, manure and nitrates to flow into valley aquifers. 

Testing at the Source: California Readies a Groundbreaking Hunt to Check for Microplastics in Drinking Water
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Regulators and water systems are finalizing a first-of-its-kind pilot that will determine whether microplastics are contaminating water destined for the tap

Image shows a test jar filled with microplastic debrisTiny pieces of plastic waste shed from food wrappers, grocery bags, clothing, cigarette butts, tires and paint are invading the environment and every facet of daily life. Researchers know the plastic particles have even made it into municipal water supplies, but very little data exists about the scope of microplastic contamination in drinking water. 

After years of planning, California this year is embarking on a first-of-its-kind data-gathering mission to illuminate how prevalent microplastics are in the state’s largest drinking water sources and help regulators determine whether they are a public health threat.

Could Virtual Networks Solve Drinking Water Woes for California’s Isolated, Disadvantaged Communities?
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: UCLA pilot project uses high-tech gear in LA to remotely run clean-water systems for small communities in Central California's Salinas Valley

UCLA’s remote water treatment systems are providing safe tap water to three disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. A pilot program in the Salinas Valley run remotely out of Los Angeles is offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system.

New EPA Regional Administrator Tackles Water Needs with a Wealth of Experience and $1 Billion in Federal Funding
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Martha Guzman says surge of federal dollars offers 'greatest opportunity' to address longstanding water needs, including for tribes & disadvantaged communities in EPA Region 9

EPA Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman.Martha Guzman recalls those awful days working on water and other issues as a deputy legislative secretary for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. California was mired in a recession and the state’s finances were deep in the red. Parks were cut, schools were cut, programs were cut to try to balance a troubled state budget in what she remembers as “that terrible time.”

She now finds herself in a strikingly different position: As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, she has a mandate to address water challenges across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and $1 billion to help pay for it. It is the kind of funding, she said, that is usually spread out over a decade. Guzman called it the “absolutely greatest opportunity.”

In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance
WESTERN WATER SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies in Fresno, Tulare counties pursue different approaches to address overdraft and meet requirements of California’s groundwater law

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.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.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Meet the Veteran Insider Who’s Shepherding Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Bring Climate Resilience to California Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Former journalist Nancy Vogel explains how the draft California Water Resilience Portfolio came together and why it’s expected to guide future state decisions

Nancy Vogel, director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, highlights key points in the draft Water Resilience Portfolio last month for the Water Education Foundation's 2020 Water Leaders class. 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.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. 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 them.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary PitzerDouglas E. Beeman

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Agencies share lessons learned as they recover from fires that destroyed facilities, contaminated supplies and devastated their customers

Debris from the Camp Fire that swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise  in November 2018.

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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.

Western Water California Water Map

Your Don’t-Miss Roundup of Summer Reading From Western Water

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.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. 

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Can Providing Bathrooms to Homeless Protect California’s Water Quality?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: The connection between homelessness and water is gaining attention under California human right to water law and water quality concerns

A homeless camp set up along the Sacramento River near downtown Sacramento. 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.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

As Californians Save More Water, Their Sewers Get Less and That’s a Problem
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Lower flows damage equipment, concentrate waste and stink up neighborhoods; should water conservation focus shift outdoors?

Corrosion is evident in this wastewater pipe from Los Angeles County.Californians have been doing an exceptional job 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.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.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.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Flood Management Gary Pitzer

Southern California Water Providers Think Local in Seeking to Expand Supplies
WESTERN WATER SIDEBAR: Los Angeles and San Diego among agencies pursuing more diverse water portfolio beyond imports

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad last December marked 40 billion gallons of drinking water delivered to San Diego County during its first three years of operation. The desalination plant provides the county with more than 50 million gallons of water each day.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.)

Western Water Gary Pitzer

California Officials Draft a $600M Plan To Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report proposes new taxes on personal and business income or fees on bottled water and booze to fund rate relief program

Filling a glass with clean water from the kitchen tap.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.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Left unaddressed, salts and nitrates could render farmland unsuitable for crops and family well water undrinkable

An evaporation pond in Kings County, in the central San Joaquin Valley, with salt encrusted on the soil. 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.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Millions of Dollars Needed to Help Low-Income Ratepayers with Water Bills, State Water Board Told
Five million Californians have affordability issues

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.

Aquapedia background

Potable Water

Photo of drinking water filling a glass over the kitchen sink. 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 consumption.

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.

Aquapedia background

Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

Directly detecting harmful pathogens in water can be expensive, unreliable and incredibly complicated. Fortunately, certain organisms are known to consistently coexist with these harmful microbes which are substantially easier to detect and culture: coliform bacteria. These generally non-toxic organisms are frequently used as “indicator species,” or organisms whose presence demonstrates a particular feature of its surrounding environment.


Colorado River Facts Slide Card

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.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.


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

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 


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

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.


Protecting Drinking Water on Tribal Lands

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 drinking water.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

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 Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

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. 

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

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.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

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.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication California Groundwater Map

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

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.

Publication California Water Map

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

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. 

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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.

Aquapedia background

Water Treatment

Finding and maintaining a clean water supply for drinking and other uses has been a constant challenge throughout human history.

Today, significant technological developments in water treatment, including monitoring and assessment, help ensure a drinking water supply of high quality in California and the West.

The source of water and its initial condition prior to being treated usually determines the water treatment process. [See also Water Recycling.]

Aquapedia background

Surface Water Treatment

A tremendous amount of time and technology is expended to make surface water safe to drink. Surface water undergoes many processes before it reaches a consumer’s tap.

Aquapedia background

Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

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 25 people.

According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water systems in the United States.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater management and the extent to which stakeholders believe more efforts are needed to preserve and restore the resource.

Western Water Magazine

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

This printed issue of Western Water, based on presentations at the November 3-4, 2010 Water Quality Conference in Ontario, Calif., looks at constituents of emerging concerns (CECs) – what is known, what is yet to be determined and the potential regulatory impacts on drinking water quality.

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines desalination – an issue that is marked by great optimism and controversy – and the expected role it might play as an alternative water supply strategy.

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

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 Resources.

Western Water Magazine

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

This issue of Western Water looks at some of the issues facing drinking water providers, such as compliance with increasingly stringent treatment requirements, the need to improve source water quality and the mission of continually informing consumers about the quality of water they receive.

Western Water Magazine

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

This issue of Western Water examines PPCPs – what they are, where they come from and whether the potential exists for them to become a water quality problem. With the continued emphasis on water quality and the fact that many water systems in the West are characterized by flows dominated by effluent contributions, PPCPs seem likely to capture interest for the foreseeable future.

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

This issue of Western Water examines the problem of perchlorate contamination and its ramifications on all facets of water delivery, from the extensive cleanup costs to the search for alternative water supplies. In addition to discussing the threat posed by high levels of perchlorate in drinking water, the article presents examples of areas hard hit by contamination and analyzes the potential impacts of forthcoming drinking water standards for perchlorate.

Western Water Magazine

Managing the Colorado River
November/December 1999

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.