California is moving closer to setting a drinking water limit
for the solvent 1,4-dioxane, which EPA has said is a likely
carcinogen. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment announced Friday it was working to set a public
health goal for the emerging contaminant.
Here on the largest Native American reservation, one that spans
portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, politicians and
health officials are mounting a frantic effort to curb the
spread of the coronavirus. The impact could be especially
devastating, officials fear, in an extremely rural area larger
than West Virginia, with roughly 175,000 residents and only
four inpatient hospitals.
The advice is simple and universal: Washing your hands with
soap and water is one of the most effective ways to stop the
spread of the coronavirus. But for millions of people across
the country, that’s not simple at all: They lack running water
in their houses due to service shutoffs prompted by overdue
Water agencies throughout the West are changing their
operations during the coronavirus outbreak to make sure cities
and farms don’t run dry. Their responses range from extreme
measures to modest adjustments to ensure their most critical
workers don’t succumb to the virus.
President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare
a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to
approve requests for that designation from the governors of
California, New York and Washington in their battles against
COVID-19. … Trump’s determinations could open the door for
FEMA to step into a wide range of future events including
droughts, extreme cold weather and the contamination of
Under a plea agreement with the Butte County district
attorney’s office, PG&E will pay the maximum fine of
approximately $4 million. It has agreed to fund efforts to
restore access to water for the next five years for residents
impacted by the loss of the Miocene Canal, which was destroyed
by the fire.
Bottled water has been disappearing from store shelves as fast
as toilet paper. And, like toilet paper, there’s no practical
reason to stockpile bottled water. “People need to stop
hoarding water,” said Damon Micalizzi of the Municipal Water
District of Orange County. “Your tap water is regulated more
strictly than any bottled water you buy.”
California residents who are not able to pay their water,
sewer, energy or communications bills during the state’s novel
coronavirus state of emergency will not be at risk of having
their services shut off, the California Public Utilities
Commission said Tuesday.
An employee at Silicon Valley’s largest water district has
tested positive for coronavirus, and at least eight other
employees, including CEO Norma Camacho, were in self-quarantine
as a result. … The employee is not involved with the
treatment or delivery of drinking water, and that service
continues uninterrupted, officials at the district, also known
as Valley Water, said Monday.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced
that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells
in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said
Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated
response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information
officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.
Those who live in the city of Los Angeles don’t need to
stockpile bottled water in the midst of growing fears about the
spread of COVID-19, city officials urged Thursday. The L.A.
Department of Water and Power reminded residents that their tap
water is safe to drink, even as the coronavirus spreads.
At the February meeting of the California Water Commission,
Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot addressed the
Commission, tasking them with assessing and prioritizing the
infrastructure needs around the state and helping to determine
the state role in rehabilitating that infrastructure.
The new career prep program was created out of a partnership
between the school district and water district that is linked
to the development of East Valley Water District’s
Sterling Natural Resource Center water recycling plant now
under construction across Sixth Street from the high school.
The State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted its
2020 priorities, which include setting a maximum contaminant
level of the heavy metal, also known as chromium-6. A proposed
rule setting the limit could come in early 2021.
Paradise Irrigation District has completed sampling service
lines to all standing structures in the town for possible water
contamination and is expecting to finish repairs by the end of
spring. The completion of the testing marks a milestone in the
area’s recovery after the Camp Fire.
The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental
pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals”
that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the
U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was
pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing
over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam
containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.
The EPA is involved in multiple PFAS-related criminal
investigations, the agency said Wednesday, adding another knot
to an already complex legal landscape for “forever chemicals.”
The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged the probes in
a new progress report on its 2019 PFAS Action Plan.
EPA proposed its revamp of the Lead and Copper Rule last fall.
That revision addresses many elements of the regulation
then-acting Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan critiqued. But
it does not follow one key recommendation: that the agency
establish health-based limits on lead in drinking water.
California finds itself once again taking the lead by setting
regulatory standards stricter than the rest of the nation. At
issue is the nearly ubiquitous presence of certain PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, a problem being addressed to
varying degrees by many states and federal regulators.
There was recently a discussion in the Arcata City Council
about the proposed elimination of fluoride from water delivered
to homes. … There is a lot of scientific research about this
subject which is summarized below.
Oceanside celebrated the start of construction Wednesday on a
project that could make it the first city in San Diego County
to be drinking recycled water by 2022. At least two other
cities or water districts are close behind on similar projects,
and several more agencies are considering plans to make potable
recycled water a significant portion of their supply.
The EPA has made an initial determination that it will
eventually set legal limits for levels of two key PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, the agency announced Thursday. …
That announcement could still be months away.
California is doing more to preserve its groundwater levels
than ever before, but a new, interactive tool by a local water
advocacy group suggests it may not be enough. Last Wednesday,
Visalia-based Community Water Center … argued that California
will experience longer, more severe droughts due to climate
Marking a historic moment for the city of Oceanside and the
region, city officials and water industry leaders will break
ground on Pure Water Oceanside on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m.
at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility. Scheduled to be
completed before the end of 2021, Pure Water Oceanside will be
on the map as the first operating recycled water project in San
11,000 households in San Jose’s Willow Glen and Williams Road
neighborhoods received letters in the mail beginning in late
January from the San Jose Water Company warning that the wells
that provide them with drinking water tested positive for
elevated levels of per-flouro-octane sulfonic acid, known as
Though sampling indicated levels of PFOS and PFOA in a couple
of local sources of water, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water
District is currently not producing drinking water from
impacted sources. EVMWD is evaluating options to meet these new
regulations including importing water to offset local supplies
and in the long term, considering construction of treatment
systems if water sources exceed state mandated response levels.
In response to concerns about lead in the water at schools in
Cabrillo Unified School District, the district is moving
forward with a plan to get 25 filtered water bottle filling
stations installed across Cabrillo campuses.
The Atwater City Council this week unanimously declared its
highest priority public improvement project to be restoring the
city’s clean water. The urgent resolution came after a
carcinogenic chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), was found
in several Atwater wells — and in quantities exceeding
state-approved maximum contaminant levels.
Experts and advocates on Tuesday criticized the Environmental
Protection Agency’s proposed rule to combat lead in the water
supply, calling for the agency to require that service lines
containing lead be replaced.
A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns
including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable
drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics,
including GOP representatives from California. In December
2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal
to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated
The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in
drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells
throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County,
which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever
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.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta is proposing a far-reaching California
Green New Deal to address climate change while prioritizing
historically marginalized groups… The bill would extend the
rights of Californians to include things like access to clean
air and water; justice for institutional – including
environmental – racism; debt-free public education through
college, and affordable health care.
The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on
efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the
energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the
Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned
in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.
The plan, put together with the help of Carollo Engineers,
Inc., lays out a 20-year road map of projects needed to
maintain and improve the city’s reservoirs, water tanks, wells,
underground pipes and pump stations.
Congress began the process of providing relief to the San
Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean
drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a
hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.
In preparation for the inevitable, Self-Help Enterprises …
has launched a new and innovative Emergency Services Division
that will reach and engage diverse and vulnerable populations
around natural disasters, such as drought, fire, flood and
earthquake. The program will also help families receive urgent
access to clean water, help with water well replacement and
water filtration services as needed.
The findings by the Environmental Working Group show the
group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency data, that 110 million
Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.
Fresno County contains eight of the top 50 census districts in
California with the highest numbers of kids with lead
poisoning, according to a recent article in The Fresno Bee.
This is completely unacceptable.
A $30,000 grant will bring together 20 high school students
from Allensworth and Alpaugh to learn about safe drinking
water, conduct hands-on testing of arsenic treatment, and
present findings… The students will work with a UC Berkeley
lab to test the technology, Electrochemical Arsenic
The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, located just south of
LAX, purifies water and injects it into the ground to act as a
barrier between seawater and fresh groundwater. … But the
idea is to one day recycle wastewater into drinking water and
put it right back into the system. The industry is moving
cautiously, though, given what you might call a considerable
“ick” factor for the public.
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
The Trump administration is preparing to further dismantle
environmental regulations by vastly reducing the reach of
federal protections for streams and wetlands — delivering a
major win for farmers, developers, miners and oil and gas
South Coast Water District will gear up to undertake its next
milestone for desalination: financing the project. On Thursday,
Jan. 9, after press time, General Manager Rick Shintaku
requested authorization from SCWD’s Board of Directors to enter
into an agreement with Clean Energy Capital to conduct a cost
analysis for the proposed desalination project.
House lawmakers passed a bill Friday for U.S. regulators to
designate chemicals found in cooking spray, cosmetics and other
grease-resistant products as health hazards. Known as
polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanoic substances (PFAS and
PFOS), the chemicals have been found in groundwater sites
across the nation.
San Francisco city officials and employees will no longer be
sipping bottled water, but instead tap water provided by the
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission under a new pilot
program announced Thursday. The program aims to install new
reusable five-gallon containers at nine departments with
offices within City Hall, filled with tap water from the city’s
Who can deny the value of potable water to every living thing
in this city, this county, this state? Four million residential
and industrial customers in 43 cities in the Los Angeles, San
Gabriel and San Fernando Basins are dependent on multiple water
sources – groundwater pumped from below them, by aqueduct from
the Colorado River, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Mono Lake, the
Owens Valley and recycled from wastewater treatment plants.
The majority of groundwater wells drawing water for Santa
Clarita Valley Water contain enough of a non-stick chemical,
which is a suspected carcinogen, that water officials are now
required by the state to notify the county about the find. Of
the agency’s 45 operational wells, 29 of them were found to
contain tiny amounts of of perfluorooctanoic acid and
Nobody seems to know why a rope that caused a nearly weeklong
boil-water advisory in Poway was there in the first place. The
rope had been hanging on a wall in a vault adjacent to the
clearwell drinking water reservoir and a stormwater drain. When
heavy rains on Nov. 28 and 29 caused the stormwater to surge
and back up into the vault, somehow the rope became lodged in a
swing gate allowing muddy water to leak into the reservoir…
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally storing and transporting
hazardous waste and agreed to a $5 million fine, federal
prosecutors said. The waste was produced by filtering arsenic
out of Sierra Nevada spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility
in Owens Valley, authorities said.
More than 1.4 million children covered by California’s Medicaid
health care program have not received the required testing for
lead poisoning, state auditors reported Tuesday, and the two
agencies charged with administering tests and preventing future
exposure have fallen short on their responsibilities.
A piece of rope “inexplicably” became lodged in a valve
separating a 10-million gallon reservoir from a storm drain in
late November, causing a nearly week-long, costly boil-water
advisory in Poway, a report prepared by the city for the state
Climate change is already affecting water management across the
state. Small rural communities with ongoing drinking water
challenges are especially vulnerable to greater extremes
brought on by a warming climate. We talked to Jan Coppinger, a
special district administrator from Lake County, about how the
county’s small water systems have dealt with an especially
devastating string of natural disasters.
New data shows that rainwater in some parts of the US contains
high enough levels of potentially toxic per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to possibly affect human
health and may, if found in drinking water, in some cases be
high enough to trigger regulatory action.
Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump
administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and
gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The
final supplemental environmental report released recently said
the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that
could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials,
however, disagree and have called the
As an appointee to the San Francisco Regional Water Quality
Control Board, Newsha Ajami has worked with local, state and
federal agencies to monitor and ensure water quality in areas
affected by wildfires. Ajami is director of urban water policy
at Stanford’s Water in the West program, and co-leads the Urban
Water Systems & Institutions Thrust at Re-Inventing the
Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), a National
Science Foundation engineering research center based at
Stanford. She discussed wildfire’s threat to water quality with
The Rosamond Community Services District will replace the last
large areas of asbestos concrete water pipes in a project
slated to start early next year. On Wednesday, the Board of
Directors awarded a contract to California Compaction for $2.3
million to complete the pipe replacement project.
A provision tucked within the EPA’s proposal to overhaul the
way it regulates lead in drinking water—initially derided as
toothless—could have far-reaching consequences for public
health, municipal policies, and even real estate transactions,
water industry insiders now say. The proposal would require all
water utilities across the country to inventory the location of
all of their lead pipes and then make that information public.
The Board plans to make the compiled responses publicly
available and encourage the 14,000 licensed child care centers
in the state to buy new fixtures from those on the list when
water testing indicates the fixture should be replaced.
A state inspection found 12 flaws in Poway’s drinking water
delivery system less than three months before the city’s
precautionary boil water advisory. City officials remain
adamant that the issues raised by the inspection had nothing to
do with the nearly week-long advisory that ended Dec. 6.
UC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that
can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water.
Along with its ability to destroy organic pollutants like
bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into
stormwater, an abundant but underused water source.
Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would
require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing
toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to
place stronger regulations on the chemicals.
The report by the Environmental Integrity Project released on
Thursday showed some 30 states have reduced funding for
pollution control programs, 16 of them by more than 20%. Forty
states, meanwhile, have cut staffing at environmental agencies,
half of them by at least 10%, the report showed.
Water suppliers across the nation could be required to sample
for manmade “forever chemicals” in an attempt to gauge just how
prevalent the contaminants are in drinking supplies. … Every
five years the Environmental Protection Agency can order large
water suppliers and a sampling of smaller districts to test for
up 30 chemicals that aren’t currently regulated by the Safe
Drinking Water Act.
A state official said Wednesday he intends to notify the city
of Poway that its water storage reservoir is out of compliance,
a situation he said directly contributed to last week’s storm
water overflow that has left the entire community under a
boil-water advisory and temporarily shuttered nearly 200
California authorities are addressing the problem of lead in
drinking water at public schools through a statewide program to
test pipes and upgrade plumbing, but experts warn the threat
goes well beyond schools – and nearby homes and businesses may
unknowingly be affected.
California authorities are addressing the problem of lead in
drinking water at public schools through a statewide program to
test pipes and upgrade plumbing, but experts warn the threat
goes well beyond schools – and nearby homes and businesses may
unknowingly be affected.
Napa city leaders have advocated for detailed water monitoring
in order to safeguard a watershed area that lies largely
outside its direct control. Some 34,000 acres in rural Napa
County, as far north as Angwin, drain into Lake Hennessey, but
the city owns only 2,822 acres.
Cities like Huron, with a population of 6,926 and a $22,802
median household income, are often too small to expand water
access projects that could lower utility rates. While cities
like Delano are too big to qualify for rural development
projects from the federal government. But a new proposal could
soon alleviate those pains.
Rains caused storm drains to back up into Poway’s water
treatment facility, officials said. Crews are working around
the clock to clean and flush the system, which may take two to
five days before the water is declared safe. The county health
department ordered the closing of all restaurants in the city
and residents are being advised to boil their tap water before
drinking it or using it for cooking, city officials said.
For three years, residents of the unincorporated San Bernardino
County desert town have used twice-a-month shipments of bottled
water because local wells were no longer meeting state
standards for drinking water. … That changed in September,
when work finished on a new pipeline that pulls clean water
from a well 4 miles away in Yucca Valley.
The kiosks take city tap water – which must be clean enough to
meet state and federal quality standards – run it through a
filtration system that removes chemicals such as chlorine to
improve taste, then dispense it to customers at an 8,000% to
10,000% mark-up. Vended water is cheaper than individually
sealed, store-bought bottles, but many times more expensive
than tap water.
A multimillion-dollar federal study on toxic chemicals in
drinking water is facing delays because of a dispute within the
Trump administration, according to several people involved in
the study… The dispute has implications for more than half a
dozen communities where drinking water has been heavily
contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Environmental advocates say the law has compelled companies to
quietly make their products and emissions less toxic. But some
economists who are critical of government regulation argue the
law has gone too far, plastering the state with warnings so
ubiquitous that they’ve become meaningless to most consumers.
Back in 2016, California Water Service Co. took two of its
groundwater wells in Chico out of service after tests showed
they were contaminated with toxic flourinated chemicals known
as PFAS—or per- and polyfluoralkyl substances—that have been
linked to cancer and other adverse health effects. The move was
EPA’s announcement Monday asked the public to weigh in on a
proposal to add PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI),
which would push municipalities to alert people right away if
the substance has been found in tap water. It would also
require manufacturers who use PFAS to report annually how much
of each chemical is released to the environment.
It will be two years in December that the city of Chino Hills
shut down its wells because of a new contamination level set by
the state for the chemical 1,2,3-TCP (TCP) and it could take
another three years before a filtration system can be built to
treat the chemical and put the wells back in service, according
to public works officials.
City officials gathered Thursday afternoon in Lemoore to break
ground on construction of a new groundwater treatment plant
project. … The City obtains all of its drinking water from
local groundwater resources that are challenged by
naturally-occurring water quality issues. These issues include
elevated levels of arsenic, iron, ammonia, total organic carbon
Water experts are still finding traces of harmful chemicals in
parts of the water systems burned by the Camp Fire and in
interior plumbing more than a year after the disaster, but the
cases are rare. … An outside team of researchers … has
found only a few cases where volatile organic compounds that
are harmful to human health seeped into home plumbing from the
water system. Most of those cases tested largely below unsafe
California took a historic step forward this summer with the
passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. This
fund seeks to provide new targeted investments to end the
state’s drinking water crisis, where one million Californians
are impacted by unsafe water each year. Unfortunately,
successful implementation of the fund is on a potential
collision course with another California law, the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act…
A proposed desalination plant in El Segundo could soon be one
step closer to reality. The West Basin Municipal Water District
will hold a special meeting in Carson on Monday, Nov. 18, where
the board will weigh whether to certify an Environmental Impact
Report for the proposal. … The board has not yet selected a
company to build the proposed plant, which could cost more than
Sasha Gershunov, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at
UC San Diego, is one of the nation’s experts on atmospheric
rivers. ARs are one of the planet’s most extreme weather
events, he said, and their impact on the state is both good and
bad. They’re a critical source of water for the Golden State’s
bountiful agriculture, thick forests and ecosystems, snowpack
and drinking supplies, dropping 50% to 60% of the entire
state’s annual precipitation.
An ongoing study on the quality of the country’s drinking water
conducted by a national environmental group shows that several
contaminants found in San Clemente’s tap water exceeded the
nonprofit’s recommended safety standards.
It will cost Monterey Peninsula ratepayers about $574.5
million, all in, to acquire California American Water’s local
water system, but that cost can be covered in rate savings
under public ownership with some leftover to lower local
customers’ water bills.
A federal agency’s preliminary finding that high concentrations
of fluoride may decrease children’s IQ will, if finalized, be
hard to explain to the public, scientists said Nov. 6. … Few
people will read the report’s other finding: It’s unclear
whether the mineral would harm children drinking typical
concentrations of fluoride added to drinking water to help
How do we mitigate the “yuck factor” that many people have
about reclaimed water use, when it’s been proven safe and
effective elsewhere? These concerns were discussed at
GreenerBuilder 2019, USGBC’s conference in the Pacific region,
hosted in San Francisco, where industry experts from across the
state led a panel discussion on tactics to improve onsite water
California might have the fifth largest economy in the world,
but many people in the state’s disadvantaged communities feel
like they are living in a third world country because they
don’t have safe, clean and affordable drinking water.
Starting Monday, authorities in Tijuana and Rosarito will
ration water for the next two months because of a limited
supply, according to the Baja California Public Service
Commission. Roughly 140,000 households and business in the
border cities will go without water service for up to 36 hours
every four days.
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.
A newly released study finds a public takeover of California
American Water’s local system is feasible. Voters ordered this
study with the approval of a local ballot measure, Measure J,
one year ago. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
released the study Wednesday.
As the state focuses on providing clean and affordable drinking
water for millions of residents, those on private wells
typically face an uphill battle. Private well owners confront
significant financial challenges digging new wells, and
connecting to a public water system involves a daunting local
and state bureaucratic process…
The initial selling point of Prop. 65 — that it would eliminate
toxins in the water supply by holding big business liable for
its leaks — has largely been forgotten in 2019. These days, the
law is better known for requiring eyebrow-raising warning
labels on everything from bread to steering wheel covers to —
briefly — Starbucks coffee, and it has turned into a national
Drinking water wells in two areas of San Luis Obispo County are
contaminated with potentially toxic “forever chemicals,”
according to recently released results of state water testing.
The local testing found that 15 wells in San Luis Obispo and
Atascadero had levels high enough to require notification to
water system governing boards.
Prosecutions of environmental crimes dropped to historic lows
under the Trump administration last fiscal year and one legal
expert believes that could endanger public health. “There’s a
risk that unenforced violations could lead to fires, leaks,
spills, and contamination,” said Ethan Elkind, climate program
director at the University of California, Berkeley School of
Late last month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $100
million research grant to the National Alliance for Water
Innovation (NAWI) to lead an Energy-Water Desalination Hub.
Meagan Mauter explains how this very large and potentially
transformative project will work, and Stanford’s role in the
The State Water Board is central to addressing many of
California’s major water challenges, including protecting water
quality for drinking and for the environment, addressing
drought and water conservation, and managing the allocation of
surface water. We talked to Sean Maguire, a civil engineer who
was appointed to the board by former governor Brown in December
2018, about priority issues.
A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger,
Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues… Most of the
community’s 40 or so homes get their drinking water from
shallow domestic wells, which can be vulnerable to both aquifer
contaminants and falling groundwater levels.
After The Times reported last week that nearly 300 drinking
water wells and other water sources in California had been
contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer, readers
wanted to know what they could do. … We talked to industry
experts, and the following are their best answers to some of
the most often-asked questions we received.
We spoke with Environmental Working Group senior scientist
Tasha Stoiber about what we know and don’t know about the
safety of our drinking water — and what steps communities can
take protect themselves.
A newly updated database from the nonprofit Environmental
Working Group (EWG) documents nearly 280 contaminants lurking
in US drinking water. Two of the most prevalent and concerning
chemicals, arsenic and hexavalent chromium, were found in
drinking water in all 50 states. Both chemicals are known
carcinogens commonly found in California taps.
Dismal grades for polluted groundwater and water bodies like
the Los Angeles River brought down the overall average grade in
the 2019 Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Environmental Report
Card for Los Angeles County on Water.
Aging water treatment systems, failing pipes and a slew of
unregulated contaminants threaten to undermine water quality in
U.S. cities of all sizes. … Still, with only a handful of
exceptions, “water systems aren’t designed to focus on health,
they’re focused on cost-containment,” says Seth Siegel, whose
book “Troubled Water,” released this month, examines the
precarious state of water infrastructure in the U.S.
Deadly fires across California over the past several years have
shown how wildfire has become a serious public health and
safety issue. Health effects from fires close to or in
populated areas range from smoke exposure to drinking water
contaminated by chemicals like benzene to limited options for
the medically vulnerable. These kinds of threats are becoming
major, statewide concerns.
Later this week, the State Water Resources Control Board will
vote on a long-anticipated plan to reduce some of the
pollutants flowing into Central Valley water. However, not
everyone agrees on the details.
Access to safe and affordable water is a basic human right.
Many of our communities have been without safe water for years
or even decades because of contamination of our drinking water
sources. Living in communities without safe water is a public
health crisis. It is also a crisis of basic justice and equity.
Nearly 300 drinking water wells and other water sources in
California have traces of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, new
state testing has found. … State officials released the water
quality results on Monday, the first step in what’s likely to
be a years-long effort to track the scale of the contamination
and pinpoint its sources.
Almost a year after wildfire ravaged the small wooded town,
residents are still advised not to drink or bathe with tap
water. Crews have hauled away more debris than workers took
from the World Trade Center after 9/11. They’re nearly done.
Conditions tipped from bleak into officially alarming in
late August when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
announced that the water residents drink, cook with and bathe
in had been contaminated with arsenic at 10 times the allowable
The draft plan … includes some provisions designed to
strengthen oversight of lead in drinking water. But it skips a
pricey safety proposal advocated by public health groups and
water utilities: the immediate replacement of six million lead
pipes that connect homes to main water pipes. The proposed new
rule would also more than double the amount of time allotted to
replace lead pipes …
Partially inspired by the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, the
Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule to reduce
exposure to lead from drinking water around the country on
Thursday. … Wheeler said the new rule will help remove the
most corrosive pipes with the highest risk of releasing lead
After morning services, Florin Ciuriuc joined the line of
worshipers waiting to fill their jugs with gallons of free
drinking water from a well on the property, a practice church
leaders had encouraged. Church leaders boasted it was the
cleanest water in Sacramento, according to Ciuriuc. In fact,
test results showed the water contained toxic chemicals from
firefighting foam used for decades on a now-shuttered Air Force
base a mile away.
Whenever I visit my hometown of Orange County, California, I
get to sip some of the purest drinking water in the US. The
quality is sometimes hard to spot, since many drinking-water
contaminants are odorless, tasteless, and invisible to the
human eye. Even in cities where the water is contaminated with
lead, residents have reported that their taps are crystal
clear. But in Orange County, the water is actually as clean as
There should be no “acceptable” amount of risk we’re willing to
take when it comes to water quality or the health of our
children and families. From Los Angeles to Sacramento to
Washington, D.C. — in all the places I’ve worked — this belief
has fueled my desire to fight for clean and safe water in our
California has embarked on a statewide assessment to identify
the scope of PFAS contamination in the state, focusing
primarily on PFOA and PFAS. … Most recently, on August 23,
2019 the State Water Board lowered notification levels for PFOA
and PFOS to 5.1 ppt and 6.5 ppt, respectively. The announcement
also stated that response levels for these contaminants will be
updated this fall.
On Tuesday night, members of the agency’s board received
official word from staffers that trace amounts of a chemical
called PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, were found in 17 of
its wells, requiring them to now notify key agencies about the
Water vending machine companies compete aggressively to sell
water outside of supermarkets and pharmacies at an incredible
markup. The industry is only lightly regulated – last year the
California Department of Public Health inspected just two
machines in San Diego County.
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Friday that would have
allowed California to preserve Obama-era endangered species
protections and water-pumping restrictions for the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should they be dismantled by the
Trump administration, a move scorned by environmental groups
that have been among the governor’s most important political
There are numerous agencies involved in water quality issues
that are focused on the San Francisco Bay and the Delta. In
this brown bag seminar, Stephanie Fong, Interagency Ecological
Program Coordinator Chair, California Department of Fish and
Wildlife, discussed the technical, geographical, and political
boundaries that separate water quality monitoring in the Bay
and the Delta.
A report released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group
found variants of the chemicals known as PFAS in 74 community
water systems between 2013 and 2019, according to data from
state and federal regulators. More than 40 percent of the
systems had at least one sample that exceeded the health
advisory level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
At least 85 different federal laws and regulations affecting
California have been weakened or undermined by the Trump
administration since January 2017. … That’s why I, along with
many proponents, believe that Senate Bill 1 would safeguard our
The law said schools had to test by July, but many schools
still hadn’t submitted the results by the deadline. As of
September 9, about a quarter of California schools now report
detectable levels of lead in school drinking water but it
appears many schools in our area still haven’t submitted the
Ten months after the Camp Fire, the region’s major drinking
water systems — Paradise Irrigation District and Del Oro Water
Company — still contained unsafe levels of cancer-causing
chemicals. … Even today, there is still a general state of
confusion about the safety of residential drinking water.
A new article on UC Davis’s California Water Blog shines a
light on just how complicated water governance can be and why
it matters… For more, listen to this interview with Kristin
Dobbin, one of the article’s co-authors and a UC Davis Ph.D.
student studying regional water management and drinking water
disparities in California.
A report that the homeless living along the San Gabriel
Riverbed may have contaminated the water supply has city and
water officials scrambling to spread the message that the water
in the east San Gabriel Valley is safe to drink, officials
In 2019, at long last, justice was finally achieved; it was
secured through the combined power of the people and allies who
said it was finally time to bring safe water to all
Californians. On July 24, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation
that will make sure all Californians have access to safe,
affordable drinking water.
In a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Heliyon
Thursday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 22
carcinogens commonly found in tap water — including arsenic,
byproducts of water disinfectants and radionuclides such as
uranium and radium — could cumulatively result in over 100,000
cancer cases over the span of a lifetime.
Through a $3 million contract with the California State Water
Resources Board, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will
conduct a statewide drinking water needs analysis to identify
risks and solutions for water systems and private wells
throughout the state.
Most of the county-run wells in Pioneertown were taken out of
service due to high concentrations of uranium and arsenic. The
new pipeline connects the existing Pioneertown water
distribution system to a Hi-Desert Water District well through
the installation of approximately 4 miles of transmission
pipeline and two booster stations.
Our research group studies long-term trends in drinking-water
quality and what factors cause unsafe water. Our studies have
shown that this public health crisis can be corrected through
better enforcement, stricter sampling protocols, revised
federal regulations and more funding for state agencies.
The state’s moves open up more opportunities for extension of
drinking water service, operations and maintenance for domestic
wells, and even demands action for Salton Sea conservation. The
myriad issues east valley residents face are exacerbated by the
public health impacts of the receding Salton Sea.
Senate Bill 513, authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado
(D-Sanger), is headed towards Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for
approval. The bill, which received bi-partisan support, will
provide relief for families without reliable access to water by
delivering a temporary alternative source of water supply.
In 2012, California became the first state in the country to
declare that “Every human being has the right to safe, clean,
affordable and accessible water” when the state legislature
inserted that statement into its state water code. Now, a new
UCLA study finds, the state may be making progress on turning
that goal into a reality.
The Exeter City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to scrap
plans to connect Exeter’s water system with Tooleville, a rural
community of about 80 households that has struggled for years
with dirty water.
Lomita has stopped using a 5 million-gallon emergency reservoir
that blends local groundwater and more expensive imported
water, another fallout from the discovery of cancer-causing
chemicals in the water supply…
Keyes’ problems with unacceptable high levels of arsenic arose
in late 2006 when the district was issued a Notice of
Non-Compliance from the California Department of Public Health.
… The quality of Keyes’ drinking water had not deteriorated
but the Environmental Protection Agency had lowered the maximum
allowable contaminant level for arsenic from 50 parts per
billion to 10 parts per billion. Three of four Keyes wells were
testing at 12 to 14 parts per billion.
Wells of nearly two dozen Southern California water agencies
have reportable levels of PFAS, a chemical family increasingly
linked to cancer, liver and kidney damage, thyroid disease,
high cholesterol, low fertility, low birth weight and
ulcerative colitis. Six of those agencies have shut down wells
in the past year because of those chemicals and two more plan
Wednesday, the EPA issued an emergency order saying the water
for nearly 2,000 residents was contaminated with dangerously
high levels of arsenic, a cancer-causing compound occurring
naturally in groundwater. The contamination is causing concern
of children in the community getting sick with symptoms that
match those of arsenic poisoning.
A mobile home park on the Torres Martinez Indian Reservation in
Thermal had elevated levels of arsenic in the water system,
prompting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to direct
the park’s owner to make fresh water available to residents and
find ways to mitigate the contaminants, the federal agency said
The state passed a law a few years ago that required public
schools built before 2010 to test for lead in their drinking
fountains before July 2019. Nearly 80% of schools have reported
some testing. Of those, one in five school sites found lead
levels of more than five parts per billion.
The California State Water Resources Control Board has
strengthened notification requirements for a potential
carcinogen found in wells across the state, including Santa
Clarita, officials said Monday. The state water board updated
guidelines for local water agencies … to follow in detecting
and reporting perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and
perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water.
Moderator Kathleen Schock spoke with advocates on both sides of
the issue, John Harris of Harris Farms and Kim Delfino with
Defenders of Wildlife. Dr. Lisa Bryant, Assistant Professor of
Political Science at Fresno State also joined the conversation.
A lot of money will soon be flowing into California communities
with contaminated drinking water thanks to the new Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Today at its meeting, the State
Water Board will talk about how to implement that $1.4-billion
program. One community that could use the help is north of Moss
California’s water regulator voted Tuesday to spend $1.3
billion over the next 10 years to provide safe drinking water
to communities throughout California. The money allocated by
the State Water Resources Control Board comes from the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund, created last month when Gov.
Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 200.
The more than 1 million Californians without access to safe,
affordable drinking water may soon see money flowing for water
districts to regionalize, consolidate, install treatment, or
take other actions to improve water quality.
Waverly Elementary School has levels of a chemical called TCP
in its drinking water that are above state standards. The
Linden Unified School District, which the school is part of,
tests for water contaminants throughout the year and found that
between April of 2018 and March of 2019 the water violated the
Cal Water needs power in order to meet state and federal water
quality standards. But meeting those standards got more
difficult for Cal Water. The California Public Utilities
Commission gave power companies the ability to turn off the
power to prevent wildfires after last year’s deadly wildfires
in Paradise, California.
The State Water Project helped make Kern County the number one
agricultural county in the nation and ensures Bakersfield
always has a clean, high quality supply of drinking water while
protecting our region against drought. The State Water Project
reflects our past generation’s drive to make California the
great state it is today.
The proposed changes to Clean Water Act permitting rules,
announced Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
would limit the amount of time states and tribes can take to
review new project proposals… It also would limit states to
considering only water quality and allow the federal government
to override states’ decisions to deny permits for projects in
There are nearly 5,000 of these chemicals in a class called
PFAS, for perfluoralkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. We’re
just beginning to understand the risk they pose. What chemists
know is that the tough carbon-fluorine bonds in these “forever
chemicals” make them break down very slowly in the environment
— posing a persistent risk to water supplies.
There’s no law of nature nor of economics that says water must
be delivered by a government agency. Yet in California, nearly
every drop of flowing water is under the boot of a public
authority — local boards, state authorities and federal
Last December, the board voted not to adopt a proposal to raise
rates by an average of 3 percent over the three years, sending
the district back to work with its consultants to come up with
a different plan that would be best for ratepayers.
Across the United States, more than 460,000 households, or
nearly 1.5 million people, lack a plumbed connection to
drinking water or sewers. … A new study in the Annals of the
American Association of Geographers takes a detailed look at
the persistence of “plumbing poverty” in the U.S. …
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed long-overdue legislation to
dedicate up to $130 million a year to provide clean, affordable
drinking water to more than 1 million Californians who still
lack access to this vital resource. … The Seeley County Water
District, located in Imperial County approximately 20 miles
from Mexican border, is one of these communities.
A forthcoming EPA overhaul of standards for lead in drinking
water will essentially ban partial lead pipe replacement, in
which part of a lead pipe is removed but another part is
allowed to remain, Bloomberg Environment has learned.
For years, bottled water has served as one of the only
dependable options for consumption and sanitary needs, serving
as a simple way for communities to access affordable and
available water. Yet, a proposed bill in the California state
legislature, Assembly Bill 792, has the potential to impose a
de facto tax on bottled water, leading to significant jump in
cost, and making it unaffordable for many disadvantaged
Where Napa’s water quality is concerned, no news may be good
news. A three-year analysis of the city’s water sources showed
reservoirs meeting all federal and state limits on a variety of
contaminants, a recently released report states.
Sutter County has been ordered to reduce arsenic levels in its
drinking water or face some steep penalties from the
Environmental Protection Agency. … If the county doesn’t
comply, it could be fined more than $32,000 for each violation.
I’m here with Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president
emeritus of the Pacific Institute. Peter serves on the Circle
of Blue Board of Trustees from his base in California, where
Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a bill directing some $130
million to improve access to clean drinking water for many
Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Wednesday to decide on a bill that
would make California the first state in the nation to require
water suppliers who monitor a broad class of toxic “forever
chemicals” to notify customers if they’re present in drinking
California Water Service announced a precautionary boil
advisory for residents in northeast Bakersfield. Around 5 p.m.
Saturday, the utility service received reports of low-water
pressure, or none at all. Crews confirmed the issue was caused
by malfunction in the computerized system that tracks tank
levels and regulates the pressurized water system.
The Pentagon is launching a task force to look at the potential
impact and dangers that chemical compounds used in military
firefighting foam have had on military bases and the families
who live there, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on his
first day in office.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District now has a back-up plan
that includes filling water tanks to capacity during Red Flag
Warnings… Portable generators would go in cities like
Berkeley, Castro Valley, and San Ramon starting on Aug. 1.
Other Bay Area water agencies also have plans in place.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed into law the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund bill in the tiny Fresno County
community of Tombstone Territory — where residents rely on
bottled water because their private wells are contaminated.
Starting next year, Senate Bill 200 will provide $130 million
annually to clean up drinking water in California communities
like Tombstone that lack access to safe water.
As many as 1,000 community water systems in California may be
at high risk of failing to deliver potable water — one out of
every three — according to a previously undisclosed estimate by
senior officials at the California State Water Resources
Control Board… With little oversight, they face problems
ranging from bankruptcy to sudden interruptions in water
capacity, to harmful toxins being delivered through taps.
Pollution from a source of contaminated groundwater near
Torrance Airport — which exceeds state drinking-water standards
and generates potentially harmful chemical vapors — has spread
beneath Lomita, officials with the tiny city recently learned,
though state officials have long known about it. The
contaminants have spread both through the groundwater and the
Compton’s equestrian community had riders on horseback going
around the neighborhood, handing out flyers with information to
residents who live in the old Sativa Water District… “We’ve
really tried to hit the outreach hard to make sure the folks
understand what we’re doing…” Russ Bryden, administrator of
L.A. County Public Works, said.
In Paradise, which was nearly leveled by the fire, many water
lines were declared unsafe to drink from… The local
irrigation district has worked to replace the pipes. When it
asked for more help across the state, Rancho California Water
District answered from more than 500 miles away, sending a
caravan of trucks, tools and equipment — along with five
employees — to the charred Sierra Nevada foothills.
San Diego is suing the state for refusing to cover the costs of
lead tests in water at hundreds of local schools. The city says
it’s an unfunded state mandate that could set a troubling
precedent for city taxpayers.
The Soquel Creek Water District board met … voted unanimously
to approve an agreement with the city of Santa Cruz to build a
tertiary treatment plant for its Pure Water Soquel project
onsite at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Facility, which also
will supply the water supply for the project.
The “Water Justice Act” would invest nearly $220 billion in
clean and safe drinking water programs, with priority given to
high-risk communities and schools. As part of that, Harris’
plan would declare a drinking water infrastructure emergency,
devoting $50 billion toward communities and schools where water
Nearly 7,000 customers who live in the old Sativa Water
District complained for months about murky brown water with a
foul odor coming from their pipes. … Los Angeles County,
which now has control of the water district, is taking old
wells offline and connecting them to a neighboring water
California Influencers this week answered one or both of the
following the questions: What are your thoughts regarding Gov.
Gavin Newsom and the Legislature’s decision to use money from
the state’s cap-and-trade funding to improve drinking water for
at-risk Californians? How can California best provide safe and
clean water for all of us?
When Gov. Gavin Newsom called for constructing and maintaining
delivery systems to get water to at-risk communities in his
State of the State address, he received widespread support. But
the fight over funding for the project got divisive – and fast.
Moving forward, we have an opportunity and an obligation to
build on this agreement by addressing the barriers that
confront small water systems that often have the most
difficulty delivering safe, clean water. As advocates and
organizers work to ensure that investments go to the
communities with greatest needs, the public health community
has the responsibility to step forward and align itself with
the struggle for water as a human right.
The Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition by
environmental and public health groups Thursday to ban a widely
used pesticide that has been linked to neurological damage in
children, even though a federal court said last year there was
“no justification” for such a decision.
Residents of a small Southern California desert community hit
hard by this month’s big earthquakes no longer need to boil tap
water. San Bernardino County authorities announced Wednesday
the boil-water notice for Trona and neighboring areas has been
lifted and citizens do not need to rely on bottled water.
Brokered in large part by rookie state senator for California’s
14 Senate District, Melissa Hurtado, the southern portion of
the Valley has gained tens of millions of dollars of investment
in drinking water, asthma mitigation, aging and disability
resource centers and Valley Fever research.
State and local officials believe benzene contamination in the
water systems in areas burned by the Camp Fire is limited to
isolated pockets after ongoing testing, they said at a
community meeting on Monday. … A no-drink advisory in the
Paradise Irrigation District will be lifted at each location as
testing confirms no unsafe levels of the chemicals in the
When drinking water gets contaminated, there’s usually a
polluter to blame. Most likely it’s the fault of big industry
spewing out toxic fertilizers or synthetic chemicals. But in
nearly 100 communities in California, this isn’t the case. They
have water that is contaminated with a naturally occurring
chemical: Arsenic. Allensworth, California is one of those