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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
Denver Water will propose the removal of lead service pipes
from homes across the metro area — an action rarely seen in the
United States and one that could cost roughly $500 million and
take 15 years. “Cost is not an issue. Public health is the
issue,” Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead said in an interview…
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
House Democrats are at odds with the White House, Senate
Republicans and each other over provisions in defense policy
legislation that aim to address toxic chemicals found in
drinking water. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as
PFAS … have been linked to thyroid issues, birth defects and
other health problems.
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.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the chance of a quake larger
than Friday’s 7.1 temblor is less than 1% and the chance of a
magnitude 6 or higher is down to 6%. … Trona, which has about
1,800 residents, lost power until Monday and remained without
water on Wednesday.
There’s a new twist in the California-Trump brawl in the state
Legislature. It’s aimed at overriding the president’s power to
weaken environmental protections. Put simply, any federal
protections President Trump tried to gut would immediately
become state regulations in their original, strong form.
The EPA ordered the Grindstone Indian Rancheria in Elk Creek to
provide alternative drinking water, disinfect the system’s
water and monitor the water for contamination. … The EPA said
Stony Creek has numerous potential contaminants from
agricultural, municipal and industrial operations.
Bob Wieckowski was the only state senator to vote against Gov.
Gavin Newsom’s plan to clean up dirty drinking water in the
California’s poorest communities… To be clear, Wieckowski
thinks clean water is an important priority. His quibble is
that California will pay for it with revenue generated from the
state’s cap-and-trade auction.
Water systems, especially in rural areas, can report much
higher levels of lead than the EPA cutoff. In 2017, for
example, an elementary school in Tulare County, California,
home to agricultural laborers, reported lead levels of 4,600
ppb. The school distributed bottled water to its students and
replaced its well.
Residents in the Cañada Cove neighborhood started their
Independence Day holiday with some unexpected news: Water would
be turned off for about 12 hours. Five days later, the water is
flowing again, but they still cannot drink it.
Regulators have issued dozens of water-quality citations to
over 100 different San Diego water providers in the past five
years, according to state and county records. Most violations
were issued to small districts, which can have a harder time
maintaining and upgrading equipment.
For the better part of a day this April, San Diego’s main
drinking water treatment plant wasn’t doing everything it was
supposed to do to kill viruses and a nasty parasite known as
Giardia… The April risk, however small, is an extraordinary
one for a water supplier as large as the Water Authority.
The California Senate on Monday sent legislation to Gov. Gavin
Newsom that will spend $130 million a year over the next decade
to improve drinking water for about a million people. …
Newsom had proposed a tax on most residential water bills to
address the problem. Instead, the Senate approved a bill that
would authorize spending up to $130 million each year on the
state’s distressed water districts, with most of it coming from
a fund aimed at fighting climate change.
Almost two years of tests have revealed excessive levels of
lead in drinking fountains and faucets in California’s schools.
But state officials and an environmental organization can’t
agree on how pervasive the problem is.
Legislative leaders reached a compromise with Newsom to take
some money out of a fund used to improve air quality and use it
for drinking water. … The state Assembly approved the
proposal on Friday by a vote of 67-0. It now heads to the state
Wildfire and drought dominate the climate change debates in the
state. Yet this less-talked-about reality has California
cornered. The coastline is eroding with every tide and storm,
but everything built before we knew better — Pacific Coast
Highway, multimillion-dollar homes in Malibu, the rail line to
San Diego — is fixed in place with nowhere to go.
The unincorporated Fresno County community of Lanare has long
been a poster child for California’s widespread contaminated
drinking water. For the past 13 years, Lanare’s water had
tested higher than the state limit for arsenic, but that
changed in February, when the water received a passing grade
after a $3.8 million state grant paid for two new drinking
California’s political leaders have made the long-overdue
decision to clean up the Central Valley’s contaminated drinking
water, and help cash-strapped rural water districts. The catch:
rather than assess a fee on water users or tapping into the
state’s budget surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature
relied on cap-and-trade money to pay for a portion of the
An Oakland-based environmental health group is threatening to
sue the manufacturers and retailers behind two bottled water
brands for failing to warn consumers about allegedly high
levels of arsenic in their products.
Nearly one in five California schools found detectable
levels of lead in the drinking water, according to recent data
from the State Water Board. … Monday was the deadline, under
a 2017 law, for local water districts to test school drinking
water for lead. CBS13 found there is still no testing data for
at least 100 schools in our area, but many local schools tested
well above the limit.
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.
The State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking
Water published guidance for testing the plumbing in buildings
that survived the fire. But that document is drawing criticism
from academic researchers who say that the recommendations,
published on June 14, are not thorough enough to detect all
potential instances of water contamination from plumbing within
Over 10 years, it would funnel $1.4 billion to the fund for
clean water solutions. The budget has been approved by the
California Legislature, but still needs Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
signature to pass. It also still needs trailer bills that
authorize some of the spending – including the drinking water
Orange County sheriff’s investigators Wednesday asked for the
public’s help identifying a person seen opening water bottles
in a store that authorities are concerned may have been
tampered with. … It is not clear if the person poisoned the
water or put something else in the liquid, Braun said.
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) announced Monday she
has secured a $15 million one-time investment of General Funds
for the southern Central Valley. The funds will address failing
water systems that deliver safe clean drinking water to
California’s most vulnerable communities.
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
The Paradise Irrigation District is still working to restore
clean water to the ridge. So far, the district is making big
strides toward turning non-potable water into drinking water in
the town. The district put a call out for volunteers in the
Camp Fire burn scar that would be willing to let them test
their water for the first two weeks of June.
By the State Water Resources Control Board’s estimates, more
than a million Californians don’t have safe drinking water
flowing through the pipes into their homes. … As Gov. Gavin
Newsom prepares to send his revised $213 billion budget to the
legislature for approval, a trailer bill proposes that the
legislature appropriate $150 million a year to a Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund.
Because the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate
PFAS chemicals, states are left not only to research and track
them, but also to develop regulations to clean up already
dangerous levels of pollution. And, according to recent data
from the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group,
the West isn’t doing a great job.
After several failed attempts, there is momentum this
legislative session to establish a fund for small water
agencies unable to provide customers with clean drinking water
because of the high treatment costs. But several hurdles remain
before the June 15 deadline for the Legislature to pass a
budget — most precariously, a resistance among lawmakers to tax
millions of residential water users and others while California
enjoys a surplus of more than $21 billion.
The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water
supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. For example …
many farm workers in California’s Central Valley have to buy
bottled water because their tap water contains unsafe levels of
arsenic and agricultural chemicals that have been linked to
elevated risks of infant death and cancer in adults. … So I
was distressed to hear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tout
the quality of drinking water in the U.S. in an interview on
March 20, 2019.
The Del Mar Mesa community in San Diego, Calif., has clean
running water. Given this fact, the sight of nearly 20 girls in
an affluent neighborhood carrying buckets of water up a ravine
was out of the ordinary, to say the least. “What we’re trying
to do is represent what African women do on a day-to-day basis:
the fact that they have to travel several miles — several hours
— to just get water,” said Emma Reeves, an 18-year-old
Community activist Dolores Huerta joined local leaders in East
Bakersfield to urge elected leaders Tuesday to vote in favor of
legislation they say will ensure safe drinking water for
communities in the valley. Specifically, Huerta urged the
legislature to support what’s being termed the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. It would be financed by the tax
payers, estimated to be a one dollar per month tax increase on
every water bill in California.
The City of Oxnard struck back about reports of contaminated
drinking water within the city limits at it’s May 21, City
Council meeting City Manager Alex Nguyen said he wanted to set
the record straight about the issue.
It is hard to fathom how the fifth-largest economy in the world
can settle for letting public water systems serve up
contaminated water. How will our economy continue to grow and
how will we attract new businesses and new workers if the state
can’t provide a basic human need?
The chemicals, commonly abbreviated as PFAS, are used in items
ranging from food wrappers and Teflon pans to raincoats and
firefighting foam. … Members of Congress have introduced at
least 20 bills this session to address PFAS in some form, a
record number and a sign of the growing concern.
Acting on “an abundance of caution,” SCV Water officials shut
down one of their wells last week, after routine testing
detected the presence of perchlorate, a suspected carcinogen
and long-standing concern in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against
the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to
local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good
oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting
Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the
possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget
deliberations set for June 18.
Slow moving plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting
underneath homes, businesses and schools throughout Arizona.
… While some cities like Phoenix do not use groundwater for
drinking water, much of the state does.
The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would
create a fund dedicated to improving the state’s drinking
water. But the bill is clear the money could not come from a
new tax on water bills. Instead, Senate leaders have signaled
their intention to use $150 million of existing taxpayer money
Monterey Peninsula voters last year passed Measure J, which
requires that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
conduct a feasibility study to determine whether a public
buyout of California American Water is doable… Not only is
the MPWMD trying to keep the process behind the feasibility
study hidden, they’re doing it in such a Machiavellian way I’m
having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s
efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that
have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group
of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental
Studies is helping in these efforts.
City water will be flowing to yet another community living in
county jurisdiction with the state forcing the City Council’s
Monday action to supply water service to the privately owned
Ceres West Mobile Home Park. … The park, which was approved
by the county in 1969, had limited options to supply drinking
water to its residents because water from an on-site well
exceeds state limits for arsenic and nitrates.
Water is a currency in California, and the low-income
farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better
than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made
possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their
faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer
Clean water is important, and there are a million people in the
Central Valley without access to it. But do we need a new tax
to pay for it? Maybe we don’t. Just last week, a state Senate
budget subcommittee eliminated Gov. Newsom’s recommendation for
a water tax and replaced it with a $150 million continuous
appropriation from the General Fund.
The Paradise Irrigation District said it plans on testing water
from lot-to-lot instead of in zoned areas. The process will
also give priority to people currently living in their homes or
in temporary housing on their properties in Paradise. Kevin
Phillips, the district’s director, said the majority of testing
they’ve done shows no contamination in the main lines, but
individual services lines are still showing volatile organic
compounds, like benzene.
A nearly four-year investigation into how a chemical known to
cause cancer showed up in more than a dozen rural wells by the
San Luis Obispo County Airport has finally concluded with an
alleged culprit. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board investigators say that Noll Inc., a machine shop on
Thread Lane, is responsible for the trichloroethylene (TCE)
A well for the Vineyard Avenue Acres Mutual Water Co. tested as
having water with more than 10 milligrams of nitrates per
liter, the limit set by the California State Water Resources
Control Board, according to a letter sent to customers by the
utility under state orders. The utility serves a discrete area
of El Rio, so the problem does not affect other parts of the
When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would
allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim
Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered
unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a
safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few
colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia.
California struggles to deliver safe drinking water to millions
of residents. The challenges – often complex issues at the
interface of human, legislative, technical, and geological
dimensions – resist easy answers. Stanford experts explored
possible ways forward at a recent panel discussion in
In his February State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom
called the safe drinking water crisis — which is centered in
lower-income communities ranging from the coasts to the Central
Valley — “a moral disgrace and a medical emergency.” He’s
The new funding includes about $250 million for climate-related
programs, thanks to the state’s cap-and-trade program, and $75
million to fund an assessment of wildfire protection plans. …
Newsom also defended a controversial tax on water bills that
would fund programs to rebuild broken or degraded drinking
water infrastructure in some of the state’s poorest
Unlike tap water, there is no public repository of information
for consumers to look up the quality of their favorite bottled
water brand and see whether it is free of contaminants. The
Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies to
submit test reports each year for review… And while several
states receive test results each year as part of the permitting
process bottlers go through to sell their product, those are
often available only through public records requests.
No family should have to live in a community in which the water
that comes from their taps puts their children’s health at
risk. Over the last several years, the state has authorized
millions of dollars for emergency actions and one-time patches,
but has shied from doing what’s necessary to sustainably solve
Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained
public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that
more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated
with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. …
Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California reports one
of the highest levels across the military, at 8 million parts
After years of public outcry and the discovery of dozens of
lead-tainted drinking water taps throughout the city’s public
schools, Oakland Unified has tested every single drinking water
tap at its schools, and is fixing or replacing those with
dangerous lead levels.
An inmate’s death in Stockton from Legionnaires’ disease marks
the third time in four years the rare form of pneumonia has
struck California’s state prisons – and has laid bare a history
of contamination and other problems plaguing water supplies in
the corrections system.
Santa Maria residents are being asked by the city to cut down
on the amount of water softeners used through the end of the
year. City officials say the city will begin delivering
better-quality municipal water with a lower mineral content.
… Using water softeners in addition to this new municipal
water could be damaging to pipes and fixtures.
Starting Wednesday, May 1, survivors of the Camp Fire can
participate in an online survey about their drinking water. …
The online survey will compile the drinking water experiences
and needs of people across Butte County who have a standing
home in the Camp Fire area. These researchers are working to
understand how the community has responded to a disaster and
what their needs are.
We have a drinking water crisis in California—a crisis that has
disproportionately impacted disadvantaged neighborhoods and
communities of color for years. There is however hope as many
voices, from many different people, with various political
views, have now joined the fight to address this crisis.
Cal Am announced it had been told by city officials its request
for the mayor and two council members to recuse themselves due
to alleged bias against the desal project would not be honored.
The company will now appeal the commission’s denial directly to
the Coastal Commission.
Researchers from the environmental
advocacy group Environmental Working Group estimated
that the contaminants found in public water systems in
California could contribute to about 15,500 cancer cases there
over the course of a lifetime. These contaminants include
chemicals such as arsenic, hexavalent chromium and radioactive
elements such as uranium and radium. The study was published
Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health.
The district is proposing to raise rates by about 4 percent
annually over the next four years and to impose a new annual
capital maintenance fee. The fee, which would be based on
customers’ meter size, would switch the district from borrowing
money to a cash-based system for funding repairs and
replacement of pipes, pumps, water tanks and treatment plants.
After pressure from the Defense Department, the Environmental
Protection Agency significantly weakened a proposed standard
for cleaning up groundwater pollution caused by toxic chemicals
that contaminate drinking water consumed by millions of
Americans and that have been commonly used at military bases.
On an average day, 20% of U.S. kids drink no
water at all, a new study finds – and they use soda and other
sugary drinks to make up the difference. Those kids end up
consuming nearly 100 extra calories a day, according to the
survey, published Monday in the Journal of American
Medical Association Pediatrics. Researchers called those
The South Pasadena multi-million-dollar Graves Reservoir
reconstruction project that will bring the last of the city’s
five non-operational reservoirs online is on track and expected
to be ready to accept the 1 million gallons of water it’s
capable of holding next year, according to city officials.
The presence of groundwater contamination in Silicon Valley in
the 1980s destroyed the narrative that high-tech was a clean
alternative to the industrialization of the Northeast and
Midwest. But the central concern of residents now dealing with
the effects of contaminated drinking water was what to do next.
Local activism offered a path forward.
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.
The last thing California needs is another tax. But that’s what
Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed – a regressive water tax that
will hit financially challenged Californians hardest. … Yet
California’s taxpayers have been working so hard they have
showered the state with a $22 billion surplus. Spending a
fraction of that would take care of the clean water problem.
Legionnaires’ disease bacteria that killed one inmate and
sickened another is more widespread than expected in a
California state prison, officials said Wednesday, citing new
test results. Preliminary results found the bacteria in the
water supply at a prison medical facility in Stockton and at
two neighboring youth correctional facilities… The bacteria
weren’t detected in the Stockton city water supply, though the
city supplies water to the state facilities.
Tri-Valley residents can expect better tasting and smelling
water from the tap when the expansion and upgrades at the Zone
7 Water Agency Patterson Pass Water Treatment Plant are
completed. The decade-plus plan to increase capacity and
improve water conditions at the plant in eastern Livermore
finally broke ground at a ceremony last week…
The extent of the latest crisis unfolding in Paradise is yet
unknown: The deadly fire may also have contaminated up to 173
miles of pipeline in the town’s water system with
cancer-causing benzene and other volatile organic compounds, or
VOCs. Preliminary results have shown contamination in about a
third of the lines tested, though only about 2 percent of the
entire system has been sampled.
The campus of Sonoma State University has been cleared to lift
a preventative water safety measure, a Boil Notice, that was
implemented on Monday. … Ultimately, the water was deemed
safe, though officials note that the water may be slightly
cloudier in appearance, as the pressure drop may have kicked up
The State Water Board was given the power to force a larger,
better run utility to absorb a smaller neighbor that
consistently fails to deliver clean water. They would like
South Kern to connect to Bakersfield’s system, which serves
high-quality water to 144,000 people. … The three sides have
been in negotiations for two and a half years, a struggle
between one of the largest cities in California’s Central
Valley, state officials, and two tiny water suppliers that is
the first significant test of the four-year-old statute.
The water system at the Rohnert Park campus lost pressure over
the weekend, increasing the possibility that sediment
contaminated the water. No one has been sickened, but for two
days, the school community has been advised to use
anti-bacterial sanitizer after bathing or washing their hands
with tap water.
Only some parts of the world have safe drinking water almost
ubiquitously, and only in the last century. (We lucky few!) In
these countries, drinking water safety relies on a complex
portfolio of actions and accountability by individuals,
industries, and diverse layered units of government. The
provision of safe drinking water is another example of
portfolio approaches to water management.
As the Marin Municipal Water District gears up to consider
another rate and fee hike this year, some of the public debate
has turned to whether the district is paying too much in
salaries and benefits to its employees.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants to create a tax
on water customers to fund a safe drinking water program in
disadvantaged communities. But a rival proposal by a lawmaker
from his own party seeks to tap into the state’s record budget
The city is suiting up for construction of a new facility later
this year that will purify recycled water to create a new,
local source of drinking water for residents by 2022. Pure
Water Oceanside is a water purification system that aims to
reduce the city’s reliance on imported water, improve
groundwater resources, increase local water supply and
strengthen the city’s resiliency to drought and climate change
in an environmentally sound process.
Brown and former first lady Anne Gust Brown, in their first
public appearance since he left office in January, spoke to
about 100 attendees about the daunting challenges they face
living on a self-sustaining farm: installing solar panels for
power, collecting water from a well, and tending to an olive
Antioch’s plan to build a long-awaited brackish desalination
plant got a major boost this week when the City Council
officially accepted a $10 million state grant that will pay
toward design and construction. The city’s grant was one of
three statewide to be awarded in March 2018 from the Department
of Water Resources for desalination projects under Proposition
Too often considered a problem confined to the Central Valley
and agricultural communities, the fact is that lack of access
to safe, clean drinking water in school water fountains and
home faucets affects every region of our state. This is a
situation Gov. Gavin Newsom has rightly called a “disgrace” and
has made it a priority to fix the crisis. In this life-saving
endeavor, he has the support of Silicon Valley’s most
Five years ago, the Sweetwater Authority paid one of its
engineers $175,000 to drop a lawsuit against the water district
if he agreed to never work there again. Now, the engineer,
Hector Martinez, is one of seven board members in charge of
running the district.
Working under a less-than-four-year deadline, Soquel Creek
Water District is fine-tuning the ‘where’ of its planned water
recycling plant construction. On Tuesday, district officials
will recommend the board split the Pure Water Soquel project
between two sites, with tertiary treatment at the city of Santa
Cruz’s Wastewater Treatment Facility and advanced purification
at the controversial new site in Live Oak.
The problem started on Feb. 17, when Paonia’s water operators
noted a loss of water in a 2 million gallon storage tank. A
team went out looking for a leak, but could not locate it. As
the leak continued, the town’s water system lost enough
pressure that the state of Colorado imposed a boil order. In
response, town officials declared a state of emergency.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los
Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the
Hyperion plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing
water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and
initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available
supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand
both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will
produce safe water.
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.)
The cheering is for a governor who has brought attention to a
problem that’s almost unfathomable in wealthy urban regions. No
Californian in 2019 should have to endure third-world
drinking-water conditions. But there’s ample reason to give the
governor the raspberries, too. That’s because Newsom’s solution
comes right out of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “you
never want a serious crisis go to waste” playbook.
Earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency released
its enforcement data for fiscal year 2018, and in many key
areas data continued to show a downward trend in the civil and
criminal punitive measures meted out to large polluters. And on
Tuesday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it
will hold a hearing next week to investigate the Trump EPA’s
“troubling enforcement record.”
Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain
traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140
million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of
it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for
low-income communities without the means to finance operations
and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money
to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state
Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday unveiled what
officials called a historic effort to rein in a class of
long-lasting chemicals that scientists say pose serious health
risks. But environmental and public health groups, some
lawmakers and residents of contaminated communities said the
agency’s “action plan” isn’t aggressive enough and that the EPA
should move more quickly to regulate the chemicals in the
nation’s drinking water.
Three new directors representing the cities of Fullerton and
Santa Ana, and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency were seated
today on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California.
Back in 2015, the city of San Diego expected it would get about
a third of its drinking water from recycled sewage within 20
years and could do so for about $3 billion in construction
costs. Now, the city is looking to spend no less than $4.8
billion and perhaps as much as $9 billion on the project,
according to city financial documents, including previously
undisclosed internal estimates from the Public Utilities
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.
In September of 2018, the Public Policy Institute of California
(PPIC) released the report, “Managing Drought in a Changing
Climate: Four Essential Reforms”, which asserted there are five
climate pressures affecting California’s water… The report
recommends four policy reforms: Plan ahead, upgrade the water
grid, update water allocation rules, and find the money.
San Diego is in the midst of spending roughly $3 billion on a
massive new water treatment system, but city officials can’t or
won’t tell customers how that will affect their water bills.
New water recycling plants will eventually purify enough sewage
to provide a third of the city’s drinking water. In
December, Voice of San Diego asked the city to estimate how
much customers’ bills will increase because of the Pure Water
project. The city, after weeks of delay, finally declined
last week to offer any estimate because “there is no simple
calculation” they could perform.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District made a grave
miscalculation in suing the State Water Board over
the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan. By alienating the
remnants of the environmental community who have supported them
in recent years, they are jeopardizing future projects and
funding measures that will require voter approval.
Governor Newsom’s first proposed state budget, released earlier
this month, addresses several critical water and natural
resource management challenges. Here are highlights from his
plans to mitigate problems with safe drinking water, improve
forest health and reduce the risk of wildfires, and encourage
healthy soils to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase
Water customers in Chico and Oroville could soon be paying
more. California Water Service is asking the Public
Utilities Commission to approve a rate hike. … Cal
Water says the extra revenue is needed to improve
infrastructure, including replacing water main piping.
The Alameda County Water District is proposing to raise
customers’ bills 8 percent over the next two years to cover
infrastructure costs as well as salary increases, benefits and
pensions for its employees. The district also wants to
create an emergency pricing schedule that kicks in during water
shortages, such as in droughts.
One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to
the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose
significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested
groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior
years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable
private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny,
director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects
of Environmental Contamination.