Topic: Drinking Water


Drinking Water

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

Aquafornia news Fronteras

Sonora accuses desalination company of lack of ethics; governor says it has made no commitments

The government of Sonora [Mexico] is criticizing a company proposing the construction of a desalination plant in Rocky Point that would send massive amounts of water to Arizona. IDE Technologies, an Israeli desalination firm, hopes to send fresh water north of the border. But it was criticized by the Sonoran governor, raising questions about its future relationship with the state. The government of Sonora took to Twitter on Tuesday to accuse the firm of a lack of ethics. It said the company tried to turn a courtesy meeting into a negotiation over the purchase of water, and described the whole proposal as a shared project of former governors Doug Ducey and Claudia Pavlovich. Later that day, Gov. Alfonso Durazo said he would “never meet with the company again.”

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Hundreds of Los Gatos residents lose water service for days

Hundreds of Los Gatos residents had their water service shut off on Saturday afternoon, and it’s not clear when their taps will be flowing again. The entire mountain community of Aldercroft Heights, off of Highway 17 in Los Gatos, is impacted by what the neighborhood’s water provider, Aldercroft Heights County Water District, called a “facility water leak.” As many as 400 residents were without water as of Monday afternoon, and Eric Lacy, who works for the state Water Resources Control Board, said looking for the leak is like finding a needle in a haystack. The water provider isolated its entire system to boost storage tank levels and save as much water as they could.

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Curtis Creek Elementary celebrates completion of $2.2 million water project

Curtis Creek Elementary School in Standard now has a safer, more reliable water supply following the completion of a $2.2 million project in collaboration with Tuolumne Utilities District and California State Water Resources Control Board. The project, completed in November and funded by a grant through the State Water Board, involved the construction of more than a mile-long water pipeline to connect the school with TUD’s public water system. Previously, the school relied on a single groundwater well built in 1958 that lacked a backup power source and struggled to meet state standards for capacity and pressure.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Porterville extends temporary water aid to outlying areas

After heavy rain storms hit Tulare County this month, a water well that serviced over 300 homes became inaccessible due to a destroyed road. This caused the county to reach out to Porterville for help.  After the recent deluge that caused a Visalia well to be blocked off, the county found that Porterville’s water system was closest in proximity to 389 affected homes. The homes sit in areas like Strathmore, Springville and other areas within the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). Shortly after, the Porterville City Council unanimously approved Tulare County’s request to provisionally use Porterville’s water. With the approval, the Porterville water system will fill temporary household tanks that were already in place as a part of the Self-Help Enterprise’s (SHE) Emergency Tank Program.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Porterville City Council supports the county of Tulare and Self-Help Enterprises to use city water for emergency response

At its meeting on January 17, 2023, the Porterville City Council unanimously approved to support the County of Tulare’s request to provisionally use City water to serve homes across Tulare County on temporary household tanks. Due to a road closure caused by flooding on Avenue 368 in Visalia, contract water haulers for Self-Help Enterprises were unable to access the Bob Wiley Detention Facility well, which provides source water for 389 homes each week. With no other available water resources and the inability to access the well, the City Council agreed to the support the access to its water on an emergency provisional basis until the road is repaired and the well can again be accessed. 

Aquafornia news CNBC

Why desalination won’t save states dependent on Colorado River water

States dependent on the drought-stricken Colorado River are increasingly looking toward desalination as a way to fix the river’s deficit and boost water supplies across the western U.S. The search for alternative ways to source water comes as federal officials continue to impose mandatory water cuts for states that draw from the Colorado River, which supplies water and power for more than 40 million people. Desalination (or desalinization) is a complicated process that involves filtering out salt and bacteria content from ocean water to produce safe drinking water to the tap. While there are more than a dozen desalination plants in the U.S., mostly in California, existing plants don’t have the capacity to replace the amount of water the Colorado River is losing.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: State Water Board issues new drought and conservation reporting order

The State Water Resources Control Board on Jan. 1 issued a “Drought & Conservation Technical Reporting Order” that requires all water systems, including those operated by urban water suppliers, to report monthly information on sources, supply and demand, supply augmentation and demand reduction actions on a quarterly frequency. The complete submittal of monthly reports in 2023 will now satisfy the Electronic Annual Report’s supply and demand reporting, which is collected in 2024. The report covering January, February and March will be due April 30 and must be submitted using the new web-based reporting tool, SAFER Clearinghouse. The order also notes that there may be a change in reporting frequency and public water agencies may be required to provide addition drought reporting on a weekly or monthly basis.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Their Arizona community was ideal. Then their neighbor cut off the water

In the warmth of Arizona’s winter sun, 50 residents gathered in front of neighborhood activist Cody Reim’s house last weekend, eager to discuss a solution to their problem. Despite living a few miles from a river, their community has no water supply services. … In Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated community with no municipal government, near Scottsdale, the fashionable, wealthy desert city adjoining the state capital of Phoenix, none of the homes are connected to a local water district. There is only one paved road, no street lights, storm gutters, or pipes in the ground. Instead residents have wells – or water tanks outside their homes, which they used to fill at a local pipe serviced by Scottsdale.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Exeter takes last step to start Tooleville water connection

The saga over connecting Exeter and Tooleville’s water systems entered its most important phase to date on Jan. 24., in which an agreement will now be sent to the state for review. City manager Adam Ennis said that the approval of the consolidation agreement between Exeter and Tooleville will be one of the last steps before they can execute the project. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of Tooleville Mutual Non-Profit Water Association (TMNPWA) and Exeter for making the water connection a reality. Exeter is now awaiting approval of this agreement from the State Water Board, and if it is approved, they will finally be allowed to break ground on the project. This was a long time coming, as the city has spent years working on a solution to Tooleville’s water woes. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CBS Colorado - Denver

New rules will expand how water can be reused in Colorado

Water is already a scarce commodity in the West, but if Colorado keeps growing we are going to need even more. One source could be treating reused drinking water. It’s a scenario water providers and the state are already planning for. … It’s not something that will likely happen soon. Direct potable reuse water will need to be treated with state-of-the-art technologies to make it safe to drink and that process is expensive, but providers and the state want to be prepared. That’s why just this month [Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] implemented new rules to regulate direct potable reuse water. So that way if water providers are going to practice direct potable reuse, they are doing it safely. 

Aquafornia news KSL

Judge to Arizona community: Water not required to flow from Scottsdale

A Maricopa County judge in Arizona denied residents emergency relief over their Scottsdale water source that has been cut off since Jan. 1 because of drought conditions and despite repeated city warnings to find an alternative water source. The action for an emergency stay was brought by some residents of the nearby unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills who saw their deliveries of water run dry at the beginning of the year due to action by the city of Scottsdale, whose leaders said they repeatedly warned the community that continued deliveries were unsustainable due to drought.

Aquafornia news Border Report

Tijuana running out of water, turns to California for help

As of Friday morning, more than 600 colonias were without running water in Tijuana and Rosarito, where residents say service has been spotty since last year. Facing the possibility of running out of water, Tijuana’s State Commission for Public Services, CESPT, turned to the San Diego County Water Authority for help. Agreements in place between Mexico and the United States allow for water deliveries in times of emergency or severe drought. So last week, the San Diego-based agency began sending water to Tijuana. Compounding the problem is the deterioration of Tijuana’s main aqueduct that delivers water from the Colorado River, the city’s main source of water. So far, repairs are taking longer than expected.

Aquafornia news AP News

EPA considers tougher regulation of livestock farm pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will study whether to toughen regulation of large livestock farms that release manure and other pollutants into waterways. EPA has not revised its rules dealing with the nation’s largest animal operations — which hold thousands of hogs, chickens and cattle — since 2008. The agency said in 2021 it planned no changes but announced Friday it had reconsidered in response to an environmental group’s lawsuit. While not committing to stronger requirements, EPA acknowledged needing more recent data about the extent of the problem — and affordable methods to limit it.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Arizona water shortage clashes with housing needs

Arizona needs tens of thousands of new housing units to meet demand, but first, developers will need to find enough water. The state’s water woes have been on full display this month as it lost 21% of its Colorado River supply to cuts, homes outside Scottsdale, Arizona, had their water cut off by the city, and a recently released model found planned housing units for more than 800,000 people west of Phoenix will have to find new water sources. Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states and short 100,000 housing units, a state Department of Housing report released last year found, but depending on where they’re located, some homes will be more easily built than others.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Oil wells guzzle precious California water. Next door, residents can’t use the tap

Towering refineries and rusty pumpjacks greet visitors driving along the highways of Kern county, California. Oil wells sit in the middle of fields of grapevines and almond trees. The air is heavy with dust and the scent of petroleum.  The energy fields here are some of the most productive in the US, generating billions of barrels of oil annually and more than two-thirds of the state’s natural gas. And in a drought-stricken state, they’re also some of the thirstiest, consuming vast quantities of fresh water to extract stubborn oil.  But in the industry’s shadow, nearby communities can’t drink from the tap. One of those communities is Fuller Acres, a largely Latino town in Kern county where residents must drive to the nearest town to buy safe water. 

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Camarillo’s desalter facility begins supplying drinking water

Camarillo’s North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter began producing drinking water earlier this month, diminishing the city’s reliance on imported water.  The reverse-osmosis desalter, located at 2727 Somis Road, converts unusable brackish groundwater into 1 million gallons of high-quality potable water per day, city staff said in a news release. The plant will be producing about 4 million gallons per day when it is operating at full capacity in two months.  By comparison, residents and businesses used about 6 million gallons of water per day on average last year, city spokesperson Michelle Glueckert D’Anna said in an email. … Diminishing groundwater has plagued the city since the 1990s, causing the city to rely more on imported water. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR launches interagency task force as part of advance planning for drought conditions

While California’s drought outlook is improving, the State is continuing to proactively prepare for a return to dry conditions amid climate-driven extremes in weather. Today, Department of Water Resources (DWR) is officially launching a standing Drought Resilience Interagency and Partners (DRIP) Collaborative, which will include members of the public. Community members and water users are encouraged to apply. Initiated by Senate Bill 552, the DRIP Collaborative will foster partnerships between local governments, experts, community representatives and state agencies to address drought planning, emergency response, and ongoing management. Members will help ensure support for community needs and anticipate and mitigate drought impacts, especially for small water supplier and rural communities who are often more vulnerable to droughts.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

News release: Droughts increase costs for low-income households

Access to safe, affordable water is a necessity for human health and well-being. But when droughts strike areas that are already water-stressed, water providers are forced to enact measures to curtail water usage or invest in supplies from more expensive sources, which can increase costs for consumers. According to a recent study from the Fletcher Lab at Stanford University, published in Nature Water, these measures can disproportionately affect water bills for low-income households, making water more costly for the most vulnerable people.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Tackling “forever chemicals” in the water supply

Much has been made of two drinking water pollutants recently: PFAS and microplastics. We spoke with Jason Dadakis, executive director of water quality and technical resources with the Orange County Water District, to find out how worried we should be. What are PFAS and microplastics, why are they in our water supply, and why should we care? “PFAS” is an acronym for a large family of manmade chemicals that all feature the carbon-fluorine bond, one of the strongest bonds in nature. They resist degradation in the environment, which is where they get their nickname “forever chemicals.”

Aquafornia news Treatment Plant Operator

New research: Researchers use egg whites to remove microplastics from water

Researchers at Princeton Engineering have found a way to turn your breakfast food into a new material that can cheaply remove salt and microplastics from seawater. The researchers used egg whites to create an aerogel, a lightweight and porous material that can be used in many types of applications, including water filtration, energy storage, and sound and thermal insulation. Craig Arnold, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and vice dean of innovation at Princeton, works with his lab to create new materials, including aerogels, for engineering applications.

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

News release: Water authority delivers emergency water supply to Tijuana

Emergency water deliveries started last week after a coordinated effort between the Water Authority, Otay Water District, and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The typical multi-month approval process was compressed into a few days to avoid additional water supply shortages in Tijuana. … Cross-border emergency deliveries started more than 50 years ago and are governed by an agreement between the United States and Mexico to provide Tijuana with a portion of Mexico’s Colorado River supply. The Water Authority provides emergency water deliveries to Mexico through a cross-border connection in Otay Mesa.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Scottsdale cuts off Rio Verde Foothills water supply amid drought

The survival — or at least the basic sustenance — of hundreds in a desert community amid the horse ranches and golf courses outside Phoenix now rests on a 54-year-old man with a plastic bucket of quarters. John Hornewer picked up a quarter and put it in the slot. The lone water hose at a remote public filling station sputtered to life and splashed 73 gallons into the steel tank of  … Some living here amid the cactus and creosote bushes see themselves as the first domino to fall as the Colorado River tips further into crisis. On Jan. 1, the city of Scottsdale, which gets the majority of its water from the Colorado River, cut off Rio Verde Foothills from the municipal water supply that it has relied on for decades. … [T]he federal government is now pressing seven states to cut 2 to 4 million acre-feet more, up to 30 percent of the river’s annual average flow.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Bills to regulate toxic ‘forever chemicals’ died in Congress – with Republican help

All legislation aimed at regulating toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” died in the Democratic-controlled US Congress last session as companies flexed their lobbying muscle and bills did not gain enough Republican support to overcome a Senate filibuster. … PFAS are a class of about 12,000 compounds used to make products resist water, stains and heat. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they have been linked to cancer, high cholesterol, liver disease, kidney disease, fetal complications and other serious health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency this year found that virtually no level of exposure to two types of PFAS compounds in drinking water is safe, and public health advocates say the entire chemical class is toxic and dangerous.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

New Mexico town, still reeling from historic fire, receives federal aid to repair drinking water system

A New Mexico town that is intimately aware of the water supply risks from a drying climate could receive up to $140 million to rebuild its water system after the largest wildfire in state history tore through its watershed last year. Besides being a lifeline, the funds also illustrate the financial and ecological vulnerability of small, high-poverty communities in the face of extreme weather. In the fiscal year 2023 budget that President Joe Biden signed just before the new year, Congress set aside $1.45 billion for post-fire recovery in New Mexico. That’s in addition to $2.5 billion that lawmakers had already directed to the state, bringing the total amount of federal aid after the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire to nearly $4 billion. 

Aquafornia news Scientific Reports

New research: Nitrate contamination in drinking water and adverse reproductive and birth outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Exposure to low levels of nitrate in drinking water may have adverse reproductive effects. We reviewed evidence about the association between nitrate in drinking water and adverse reproductive outcomes published to November 2022. … Nitrogen is very important for plant nutrition and growth, being incorporated by plants into amino acid synthesis, and is therefore commonly used in inorganic fertilizers. However, because nitrate is highly water soluble, it leaches through soils and into groundwater very easily, particularly after heavy rainfall. … The increasing use of artificial fertilizers, the disposal of wastes, particularly from animal farming, and changes in land use have become significant contributors to the progressive increase in nitrate levels in groundwater supplies.

Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: California institutes new microplastics regulations

On September 7, California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) approved initial requirements for testing microplastics in drinking water, becoming the first government in the world seeking to establish health-based guidelines for acceptable levels of microplastics in drinking water. … Microplastics are tiny plastic particles, less than five millimeters in length, that occur in the environment because of plastic production from a wide range of manufactured products. … The SWRCB’s implementation of Senate Bill 1422, will now require select public water systems to monitor for microplastics over a four year period—a daunting task as there is no EPA-approved method to identify the many types of microplastics in drinking water, and no standardized water treatment method for removing microplastics from the public water supply. 

Aquafornia news Legacy Remembers

Philip Williams Obituary (1960 – 2022)

Philip Robert Williams, 62, of Lake Elsinore passed away on November 20, 2022, in Temecula CA. Phil was born September 9, 1960, to Robert Golden and Marica Lynne (Strickland) Williams. Phil married Tammy Simon on December 18, 1982. Phil was a lifelong resident of the Lake Elsinore Valley. … Phil was a Special District Member of Riverside LAFCO, he served on the Lake Elsinore and San Jacinto Watersheds Authority JPA, Bedford-Coldwater Groundwater Sustainability Agency JPA, Countywide RDA Oversight Board, and the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority JPIA.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona prepares to test hundreds of drinking water systems for toxic ‘forever chemicals’

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has initiated a statewide effort to sample over 1,200 public water systems across the state for 29 different kinds of a hazardous chemical known as PFAS.  The goal is to produce a detailed map showing the presence of PFAS in drinking water supplies, the first step toward cleaning up contaminated water sources. PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of manufactured chemicals that have been used since the late 1940s in a wide variety of products and industries, and can now be found globally in water and soil. A growing body of evidence has shown that long-term exposure, even to low traces of these chemicals, can cause severe health issues.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: In praise of the monthly water bill

The cost of delivering safe, clean tap water to every household and business in a community is massive. In fact, it may be among the most expensive of all human undertakings. That is why only the wealthiest countries have achieved it at high rates and why 2 billion people on our planet still lack it.  Paying the monthly bill that comes with good tap water service is unpleasant, but it beats the alternatives. While it would be nice if some benevolent entity would bear the cost of delivering safe, clean tap water, the reality is that communities that rely on someone else to pay for their water systems often have inadequate or failing service.
-Written by Kathryn Sorensen, former director of Phoenix Water Services and current director of research at the Kyl Center for Water Policy, Arizona State University; Bidtah Becker, director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources; and Manny Teodoro, associate professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.​

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

Nancy Vogel, director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, highlights key points in the draft Water Resilience Portfolio last month for the Water Education Foundation's 2020 Water Leaders class. Shortly after taking office in 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges — unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing climate, severely depleted groundwater aquifers and native fish populations threatened with extinction.

Within days, he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and veteran water communicator, as director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program to help shepherd the monumental task of compiling all the information necessary for the portfolio. The three state agencies tasked with preparing the document delivered the draft Water Resilience Portfolio Jan. 3. The document, which Vogel said will help guide policy and investment decisions related to water resilience, is nearing the end of its comment period, which goes through Friday, Feb. 7.

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

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

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems and upend an agency’s finances.

Western Water California Water Map

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

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.Summer is a good time to take a break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting a chance to do plenty of that this July.

But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned for later this year, we want to help you catch up on Western Water stories from the first half of this year that you might have missed. 

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

A homeless camp set up along the Sacramento River near downtown Sacramento. Each day, people living on the streets and camping along waterways across California face the same struggle – finding clean drinking water and a place to wash and go to the bathroom.

Some find friendly businesses willing to help, or public restrooms and drinking water fountains. Yet for many homeless people, accessing the water and sanitation that most people take for granted remains a daily struggle.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

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

Corrosion is evident in this wastewater pipe from Los Angeles County.Californians have been doing an exceptional job reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive the most recent drought when water districts were required to meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable, Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water in the future.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

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

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

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad last December marked 40 billion gallons of drinking water delivered to San Diego County during its first three years of operation. The desalination plant provides the county with more than 50 million gallons of water each day.Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.

In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

Filling a glass with clean water from the kitchen tap.Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.

That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.

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

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

An evaporation pond in Kings County, in the central San Joaquin Valley, with salt encrusted on the soil. More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its authors are not who you might expect.

An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

A statewide program that began under a 2015 law to help low-income people with their water bills would cost about $600 million annually, a public policy expert told the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) at a meeting last week.

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Potable Water

Photo of drinking water filling a glass over the kitchen sink. Potable water, also known as drinking water, comes from surface and ground sources and is treated to levels that that meet state and federal standards for consumption.

Water from natural sources is treated for microorganisms, bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses and fecal matter. Drinking raw, untreated water can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, vomiting or fever.

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Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

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


Colorado River Facts Slide Card

This card includes information about the Colorado River, who uses the river, how the river’s water is divided and other pertinent facts about this vital resource for the Southwest. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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


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

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


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

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


Protecting Drinking Water on Tribal Lands

This 30-minute DVD explains the importance of developing a source water assessment program (SWAP) for tribal lands and by profiling three tribes that have created SWAPs. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the video complements the Foundation’s 109-page workbook, Protecting Drinking Water: A Workbook for Tribes, which includes a step-by-step work plan for Tribes interested in developing a protection plan for their drinking water.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.


Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 


Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

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Water Treatment

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

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

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

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Surface Water Treatment

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

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Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act sets standards for drinking water quality in the United States.

Launched in 1974 and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Safe Drinking Water Act oversees states, communities, and water suppliers who implement the drinking water standards at the local level.

The act’s regulations apply to every public water system in the United States but do not include private wells serving less than 25 people.

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

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

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the challenges facing small water systems, including drought preparedness, limited operating expenses and the hurdles of complying with costlier regulations. Much of the article is based on presentations at the November 2007 Small Systems Conference sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources.

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

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

Western Water Magazine

Managing the Colorado River
November/December 1999

Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999 in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional water development of the past has given way to a more collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment while stretching available water supplies.