The Biden administration’s ambitions to crack down on “forever
chemicals” — touted as an administration priority — are facing
headwinds from key industries that say they could be unfairly
punished and held liable for contamination they did not create.
Members of the water and waste sectors are ramping up pressure
on Congress and EPA to shield them from an upcoming proposal as
the agency makes progress on addressing PFAS
California water regulators strengthened the state’s drought
rules this week, ordering local suppliers to take steps to
reduce water usage to stretch limited supplies this summer.
Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that more stringent statewide water
restrictions could come if the state doesn’t make more progress
on conservation soon. … As part of the new rules, the state
also banned the use of drinking water for irrigating grass that
is purely decorative at businesses and in common areas of
subdivisions and homeowners associations. Here is a
breakdown of what is going on:
The Orange County Water District and the City of Garden Grove
began operating one of four treatment plants being constructed
in Garden Grove to remove per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) from local well water. PFAS are a group of thousands of
manmade, heat-resistant chemicals that are prevalent in the
environment and are commonly used in consumer products to repel
water, grease and oil. Due to their prolonged use, PFAS are
being detected in water sources throughout the United States,
including the Orange County Groundwater Basin, which supplies
77% of the water supply to 2.5 million people in north and
central Orange County.
Veterinarians and researchers at the University of California,
Davis have developed a new way to detect leptospirosis, a
life-threatening bacterial disease, in dogs using artificial
intelligence. Leptospirosis is caused by the Leptospira
bacteria, according to American Veterinary Medical Association,
and it is typically found in soil and water.
… Infections stem from urine-contaminated soil, food,
bedding or from an animal bite. Dogs can be exposed to the
bacteria from drinking water in rivers, lakes and streams, or
being in contact with infected wildlife, farm animals, rodents
and other dogs.
Maria Herrera had about a quarter left in her last five-gallon
water jug. On that April afternoon, though, spotty water
service returned to the 67-year-old woman’s apartment, before
the jug emptied. If it hadn’t, that was all she had left to
bathe, do housework or drink. Herrera lives in Villas de Santa
Fe, a neighborhood of cookie-cutter apartment blocks on the
rapidly growing outskirts of Tijuana. Baja’s state water
agency, called CESPT, shuts off her water at least once a week,
she said. Last summer, Herrera said she went six days with dry
Bits of your pants, shirts, socks and fleece jackets are
polluting local waters. Cal Lutheran biology students have
discovered this disturbing fashion dilemma as part of a
scientific research project. For the past four years, CLU
biology professor Andrea Huvard, PhD, has guided dozens of
students in a long-term research project: They are studying the
presence of microfibers in the ocean, sediments and marine
animals around Southern California.
Engineers at UC Riverside are the first to report selective
breakdown of a particularly stubborn class of PFAS called
fluorinated carboxylic acids (FCAs) by common
microorganisms. Under anaerobic conditions, a
carbon-carbon double bond is crucial for the shattering the
ultra-strong carbon-fluorine bond by microbial communities.
While breaking the carbon-carbon bond does not completely
degrade the molecule, the resulting products could be relayed
to other microorganisms for defluorination under in aerobic
Homes and businesses across central Sonoma County generated
more than 5 billion gallons of wastewater last year, enough to
fill more than 7,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. That sewage
flowed into Santa Rosa’s regional treatment plant south of
Sebastopol, where it was cleaned up and nearly all of it put to
a second use. About 4 billion gallons of recycled water was
pumped north from the Llano Road treatment plant in a 41-mile
pipeline and up a steep slope into The Geysers geothermal
fields southeast of Cloverdale.
For years, plaintiffs’ lawyers suing over health and
environmental damage from so called forever chemicals, known
collectively as PFAS, focused on one set of deep pockets—E. I.
du Pont de Nemours and Co. But over the past two years, there’s
been a seismic shift in the legal landscape as awareness of
PFAS has expanded. Corporations including 3M Co., Chemguard
Inc., Kidde-Fenwal Inc., National Foam Inc., and Dynax Corp.
are now being sued at roughly the same rate as DuPont,
according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of more than 6,400
PFAS-related lawsuits filed in federal courts between July 2005
and March 2022.
In the current legislative session, lawmakers are working on a
bill designed to reduce plastic waste. If they are unable to
draft legislation by June 30, the issue will go straight to
voters as a ballot measure. The initiative, the California
Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, would require
all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in
California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or
compostable by 2030. … Over the last year, research has
shown the presence of these particles in human
blood, healthy lung tissue and meconium — the
first bowel movement of a newborn. They are also found in
marine organisms, ocean water, air and soil.
Last week, an official and dire-sounding warning about high
nitrate levels in the city of Exeter’s water supply began
appearing on social media sites, and with them came comments
rife with speculation, fearful reactions and visions of
impending doom. The water situation in the midsize foothill
town, however, is not as dangerous or widespread as some of
those who stumble across the notice without context imagine it
is. … The reality, says Exeter’s Director of Public Works
Daymon Qualls, is Exeter’s water remains safe for most
consumers. It should not be consumed by infants and pregnant
women until the nitrate levels drop, probably in the autumn
when the dry season ends.
Tuesday, a study published in the journal The Lancet expanded
on pollution concerns globally, revealing that air and water
pollution causes 1 in 6 deaths worldwide. At more than 9
million deaths per year, such pollution kills more people than
malnutrition, roadway injuries and drug and alcohol use
combined, the study found. … Though the changing climate
is often viewed as the most pressing global environmental
threat, researchers warned that on-the-ground pollution
poses ecological and humanitarian catastrophes of its
When it comes to finding innovative solutions to drinking water
problems, the tiny community of Allensworth in Tulare county
has long been on the front lines. This spring, community began
testing a new technology that would “jolt” arsenic out of its
groundwater. And since 2021, Allensworth has also been home to
another new technology that “makes” water out of thin air. Both
technologies are currently being field-tested in Allensworth.
If successful, they could become viable paths to clean water
for residents of Allensworth and other small, rural San Joaquin
Valley communities …
Lemoore is speaking out against the efforts of an out of town
water entity to export water from the Kings River. The Lemoore
City Council approved a letter in opposition to a petition to
revoke the Fully Appropriated Stream (FAS) status of the Kings
River on Tuesday. The letter is directed to the State Water
Resources Control Board, which is hearing a petition from Kern
County water agency Semitropic Water Storage District to revoke
the FAS status.
Even if you’ve never heard of imidacloprid, there’s a good
chance the world’s most-used neonicotinoid pesticide is lurking
somewhere in your home. Or on your dog. Or maybe even in your
groundwater or drinking-water supplies. This insecticide,
widely used for decades on fruits, vegetables and many other
crops, has triggered growing concerns over its well-documented
role in the dramatic declines of birds, bees, butterflies and
other insects across the globe. … With imidacloprid being
discovered in groundwater and drinking-water supplies across
the state, state regulators — and legislators — finally are
paying closer attention … -Written by Jonathan Evans, legal director of the
Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health
The process of connecting Tooleville’s water system to
Exeter’s, which would relieve the small community of longtime
water supply and contamination issues, is expected to take
eight years. Information from the feasibility study
needed to start planning the project has been unfolding bit by
bit, mainly through biweekly meetings held between Exeter city
officials, representatives from Tooleville, staff from Self
Help Enterprises and Provost and Pritchard, the consultants in
charge of the study.
As a young person growing up in Ventura County for the past 19
years, I am no stranger to droughts. Not watering the lawn and
taking shorter showers is simply a part of life in Southern
California. Although water is scarce in Ventura County, there
is currently a direct threat to our drinking water.
Unfortunately, the oil industry wants to profit at the expense
of our precious groundwater that supplies drinking water to
over 400,000 Ventura County residents and irrigation water to
our $2 billion agriculture economy. -Written by Alex Masci, an undergraduate in
environmental studies at UC Berkeley, a coordinator with CA
Youth Vs Big Oil, and a supporter of VC-SAFE.
A federal judge struck down a second attempt by a Northern
California county to dismiss a case against them for water
sanctions that would leave the local Asian community without
water. … In the original complaint, plaintiff Der
Lee compared living in Shasta Vista to his days hiding out in
the Laos jungles — just now without water. Others explained
that they only bathe once a week, are dehydrated and have had
their food sources — crops and livestock — die from the lack of
water access. As a result, many resorted to filling jugs with
water in streams and local parks.
After hearing hours of heated debate, the California Coastal
Commission voted against a controversial plan by the company
Poseidon Water to build a huge desalination plant in Huntington
Beach. Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov.
Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking
water, commissioners voted unanimously against the plan
Thursday night. The decision, which was recommended by
commission staff, may end the company’s plans for the
As California battles a historic drought and a water crisis
looms, the state’s coastline protection agency is poised to
vote Thursday on whether it will allow a $1.4 billion
desalinization plant in Huntington Beach that would convert
ocean water into municipal water for Orange County residents.
Poseidon Water, which has been trying to build the plant for
decades, says it would be capable of producing up to 50 million
gallons of drinking water a day, helping to make the region
more drought resilient. But desalination opponents argue less
expensive and less harmful conservation tactics should be the
A significant percentage of the world’s population does not
have adequate access to water, food, and energy resources
(WFE). Although efforts to achieve the UN Millennium
Development Goals and later the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) have increased access to scarce resources, still, 25.9%
of the population is affected by moderate or severe food
insecurity in 2019, 2.2 billion people lacked access to potable
water in 2017, and 789 million people lacked electricity
service in 2018. The pressure on WFE resources will increase as
the world’s population grows from 7.4 billion in 2016 to 9.7
billion in 2050.
A plan has been put in place to help replenish
groundwater supplies in Allensworth, a community historically
affected by water supply issues. Led by the Tri-County
Water Authority, the Allensworth Project is a multi-component
plan aimed at replenishing groundwater supplies and mitigating
emergency flood water damage by constructing two gravity-fed
basins to catch flood runoff from the White River. The basins
will divert water from the river for direct use and recharge,
and will be used as a recreational park during dry seasons.
State regulators have fined a Havasu Lake water company that
has failed to provide potable water to its customers for more
than a month and been accused of allowing its equipment to fall
into a state of disrepair. The California State Water Resources
Control Board issued the $1,500 fine on Friday, May 6, after
the Havasu Water Co. failed to meet state-imposed directives
and deadlines. The state has given a new list of directives and
deadlines for the water company to meet by May 20 or it could
face additional penalties. The Havasu Water Co.’s system has
fallen into a state of disrepair over the years …
The rural hillside community of Devore has erupted in a dispute
pitting a tiny local water company against a group of residents
opposed to construction of a potential $7 million reservoir on
a board member’s property. At issue with some residents is a
99-year land lease agreement, ratified in July 2021, between
the Devore Water Co. and Doug Claflin, a member of the
company’s board of directors. It would allow the water company
to build a 610,000-gallon water tank on Claflin’s property
to treat nitrate-contaminated water by blending it with clean
water to reduce nitrate levels.
Anza-Borrego park has recently come under fire by Jorgensen,
longtime volunteers and others for allegedly neglecting its
guzzler systems, which for decades helped the federally
endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep rebound from the brink of
extinction. It’s the latest salvo in a fight over
whether, and to what extent, the park should prop up one
species threatened by climate change. New management has raised
concerns about the cost and possible futility of such
In farming areas across the Central Valley, a well-drilling
frenzy has accelerated over the last year as growers turn to
pumping more groundwater during the drought, even as falling
water levels leave hundreds of nearby homes with dry wells.
Counties have continued freely issuing well-drilling permits in
the years since California passed a landmark law, the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 … Some state
legislators are now supporting a bill that they say would
strengthen oversight and limit the well-drilling frenzy by
requiring a review of permits for new wells by the same local
agencies that are charged with managing groundwater.
Southern Californians will face new water restrictions starting
June 1 due to extreme drought. But the circumstances are
particularly worse for unincorporated communities along the
banks of the San Joaquin Valley, known as colonias where mostly
Black and Latino families have lived for decades. These
problems are rooted in racial inequity and environmental
injustice, according to David Bacon, who recently wrote about
their lack of access to water.
Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing
research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely
that the Napa River and its watershed are filled with it, too.
… The most recent of [activist Chris] Malan and ICARE’s
missions is the Napa Watershed Microplastic Project, although
the group has historically conducted steelhead studies, helped
restore Suscol Creek and the like. An educational endeavor with
the hopes of teaching the public about microplastics, this new
project came about when ICARE members started to notice an
uptick in the amount of plastic in and around the Napa River.
The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first
ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior
sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe
to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.
Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin
Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and
improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water
Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes
a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be
addressed before they become large and costly problems.
State wildlife officials are urging the public to be aware of
increased bear activity as dry conditions and hot temperatures
persist in the region. The Arizona Game and Fish Department
says dry vegetation has reduced bears’ food supply which can
force them into urban areas. Residents are advised to make sure
pet food and bird seed are inaccessible to bears or other
animals and to bring trash cans inside until collection day.
The city of San Diego has won an appeal in its suit challenging
a state mandate that required local water districts to pay for
mandatory lead testing at schools, the San Diego City
Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. The ruling issued Friday
finds that either the state’s Commission on State Mandates must
reimburse San Diego for water testing or the city can impose
fees, charges or assessments to cover testing costs.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman John Lee visited the
newly-completed Los Angeles Reservoir Ultraviolet Disinfection
Plant in Granada Hills on Monday, May 2, which the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power said will treat up to 650 million
gallons of water each day, more than enough to fill the Los
Angeles Memorial Coliseum twice. The new plant will be the last
stop in a complex water treatment processes. It is the second
ultraviolet facility in the network…
A new estimated cost for the Advanced Water Purification
project, a system of recapturing sewage and transforming it to
drinkable water for about 500,000 East County residents,
escalated to about $850 million, an increase of more than $300
million above the estimate three years ago. Allen Carlisle,
general manager of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District,
revealed the number at a public forum held April 24 in Santee,
saying the project should begin construction this summer.
In a first-of-its-kind legal action, California is
interrogating the role of fossil fuel and chemical giants in
driving the plastics pollution crisis and deceiving consumers
about recycling. California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said
yesterday that the state is investigating Exxon Mobil Corp. and
other companies for “their role in causing and exacerbating”
plastics contamination. … “In California and across the
globe, we are seeing the catastrophic results of the fossil
fuel industry’s decades-long campaign of deception. Plastic
pollution is seeping into our waterways, poisoning our
environment, and blighting our landscapes,” said Bonta, a
Democrat, in a statement.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday announced a
major investigation into companies that manufacture plastics,
the first of its kind in the nation, saying that for 50 years
they have been engaged in potentially illegal business
practices by misleadingly claiming that plastics products are
recyclable, when most are not. Bonta said he issued subpoenas
to ExxonMobil, with other companies likely to follow, and said
society’s growing plastics pollution problem — particularly in
oceans, which are littered by trillions of tiny pieces of
plastic — is something they are legally liable for and should
be ordered to address.
Citing California’s worsening drought conditions, Gov. Gavin
Newsom on Friday made a powerful new push for a controversial
$1.4 billion desalination plant on the state’s coastline. The
proposed oceanfront facility in Huntington Beach has been under
debate for more than 20 years, and its fate could set a course
for other desalination plants on the state’s coast. The
California Coastal Commission is scheduled to take a final vote
on the project in two weeks. … Newsom said a no
vote by the full commission to kill the project would be
“a big mistake, a big setback.”
Drought can increase the concentration of pathogens and other
contaminants in well water. And fires can damage the well
equipment and piping, leaching toxic chemicals into drinking
water and forcing property owners to consider costly repairs,
upgrades and filtering systems even as they rebuild their homes
and businesses. Beyond the West, heavier rains and floods
threaten well water quality, too.
Following the driest three-month stretch in the state’s
recorded history and with warmer months ahead, the Department
of Water Resources (DWR) announced its seventh round of grant
awards for local assistance through the Small Community Drought
Relief program. In coordination with the State Water Resources
Control Board, DWR has selected 17 projects … 14 will
directly support disadvantaged communities, including three
Tribes, and will replace aging infrastructure, increase water
storage, and improve drinking water quality and supply.
Germs are hitching rides around the world’s waterways on the
tiniest of rafts — microscopic plastic fibers from human
clothing and fishing nets — and contaminate the shellfish that
consume them, according to research published Tuesday by
scientists at the University of California, Davis. These
researchers hope to see further study on how the pathogens in
these contaminated fish affect the humans and other animals
California is home to thousands of oil and gas wells abandoned
years ago and never properly sealed — many of them
sitting near homes, schools and businesses from the coast to
the Inland Empire. With no legally responsible party to clean
them up, environmental leaders say that 5,356 abandoned and
deserted wells now sprawl across Southern California and the
state, polluting drinking water and leaking methane, a powerful
greenhouse gas. That is about to change as the state gets
millions of dollars in state and federal funding to safely seal
National City resident Ramel Wallace wanted to know what was in
the apple juice-colored water that poured from his tap earlier
this month, so he tested it and sent me the results. While a
water quality test purchased from Walmart is not as detailed as
one taken by a hydrologic specialist at a lab, Wallace’s tests
didn’t seem to show anything out of the ordinary, said Justin
Brazil, Sweetwater’s director of water quality, after hearing
the results read to him by a reporter.
Would it surprise you to know that California could have all
the water anybody could want, but various government officials
refuse to take the actions that would provide it? Consider, for
example, the recent report by the staff of the California
Coastal Commission about the long-suffering proposal for a
desalination plant in Huntington Beach. The staff recommended
that the commissioners vote to kill the project. Poseidon
Water’s project was first proposed in 1998. -Written by Susan Shelley.
You can’t see it, but how we live impacts it and plays a vital
role in almost everything that happens in Arizona. Groundwater
is located deep beneath the surface and stored in aquifers,
which are porous rock that contain or transport
water. About 40% of the state’s water supply is
underground, with that number likely to increase due to
reductions in available water from the Colorado River. An
ongoing concern is what would happen if the valuable resource
Solvang will invest another $10 million into its wastewater
treatment plant, including tooling that could support future
wastewater recycling, after the council voted unanimously
Monday to support the least expensive of four potential
options. … During its goal planning sessions, the council
directed staff to explore the feasibility of producing and
delivering recycled water.
Pixley residents have had questionable water to drink for the
last four years but will soon have access to free water from a
vending machine. The Pixley Public Utility District
recently published a public notice that says they will offer
free drinking water at water fill stations in town. The notice
says the plan “will consist of the installation of two water
vending machines and shade cover for the machines, which will
be attached to the Pixley Public Utility District building.
This will provide the community of Pixley with clean drinking
water at no cost due to the community’s issue with contaminated
Microplastics are a pathway for pathogens on land to reach the
ocean, with likely consequences for human and wildlife health,
according to a study from the University of California, Davis.
The study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports,
is the first to connect microplastics in the ocean with
land-based pathogens. It found that microplastics can make it
easier for disease-causing pathogens to concentrate in
plastic-contaminated areas of the ocean.
A proposed California desalination plant that would produce 50
million gallons of drinking water per day failed a crucial
regulatory hurdle on Monday, possibly dooming a project that
had been promoted as a partial solution for sustained drought.
The staff of the California Coastal Commission recommended
denying approval of the Huntington Beach plant proposed by
Poseidon Water … [and] said the project was more
susceptible to sea-level rise than was understood when it was
first proposed more than two decades ago.
The city council, Tuesday, April 19, approved amendment
agreement A-8332 with SPI (Separation Processes Inc) for the
Groundwater Desalter Improvement Project. THE approval executes
a first amendment to the agreement in the amount of $263,702
for a new contract not to exceed $1.064 million for additional
design work required for the groundwater desalter improvement
project. The deal also approves a $263,703 budget appropriation
transfer from the Water Appropriations to the Capital Water
The group “We Advocate Through Environmental Review” and the
Winnemem Wintu Tribe challenged the environmental impact report
prepared by the city [of Mt. Shasta] and Siskiyou County. They
argued county officials offered a misleading report and failed
to properly look at the impacts of the bottling plant on the
environment. The groups filed two lawsuits, one against the
city and one against the county.
Unsafe uranium levels have been detected in more than 14,000
community water systems across the United States, and 63% of
water records reported at least a trace amount of the
contaminant, according to a new nationwide analysis.
Concentrations of uranium, along with arsenic, barium,
chromium, and selenium, were the highest in community water
systems that serve semiurban Latinx communities.
New guidelines were released in early April for a federally
funded program meant to help low income families pay their
outstanding water bills. The Low Income Household Water
Assistance Program is part of an emergency effort to respond to
the economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In
California, the Department of Community Services and
Development is the designated agency responsible for overseeing
the program. The finalized state plan defines the scope of the
program and how it will be implemented.
Among the many complex arguments over water in California, one
particularly heated debate centers on whether the state should
seek more drinking water from a plentiful but expensive source:
the Pacific Ocean. The debate has reached a critical stage in
Huntington Beach, where Poseidon Water has been trying for more
than two decades to build one of the country’s largest
desalination plants. The California Coastal Commission is
scheduled to vote next month on whether to grant a permit to
build the plant.
A group of business interests that have been historic
cheerleaders for a Monterey Peninsula desalination project has
written a letter to officials at Pure Water Monterey, the
provider of potable recycled water along the Monterey
Peninsula, questioning the adequacy of source water for it and
a planned expansion of the project, questions Pure Water
Monterey says it has already answered. The Pure Water Monterey
project is key to helping solve the Peninsula’s chronic water
shortages as state regulators have significantly scaled back
the amount of water that can be pumped from the Carmel River.
Scattered across California’s San Joaquin Valley are colonias,
the unincorporated communities home to some of the Valley’s
poorest residents in one of the richest agricultural areas in
the world. … Water access is a critical question in
California. Former Governor Jerry Brown declared an official
drought in 2014. The state today is even drier, and the
declaration is still in force. Teviston, a tiny community
established by African Americans in the 1940s, went completely
without water for a month last summer when its only well
[P]iles of single-use plastics that can’t easily be recycled,
pollute roadsides and waterways and add to the garbage that
clogs landfills. In November, Californians may get a chance to
shrink that waste. An initiative designed to reduce single-use
plastics and polystyrene food containers will be on the ballot,
a move by environmentalists to bypass the Legislature, where
such measures have repeatedly failed in the face of industry
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board)
recently updated the regulated community and the public on the
Board’s statewide investigation to study and sample potential
sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The State Water Board’s investigation is aimed at public
agencies involved in drinking water and wastewater treatment,
as well as private entities involved in manufacturing or other
industries where PFAS may have been used in various products
Entities seeking federal authorization for infrastructure
projects that may impact waters of the United States must
obtain a Section 401 certification under the Trump
administration’s narrowed Section 401 certification rule—for
now. On April 6, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the
Trump administration’s Section 401 certification rule will stay
in place while further litigation proceeds, potentially
signaling how the court may view the underlying merits of the
case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Arizona’s top water official says he never thought this day
would come so soon. Federal officials are warning that the
West’s escalating water crisis could put some Arizona
communities’ ”health and safety” at risk, by cutting off
their supply of drinking water.
Arellano Mobile Home Park … is one of seven east Coachella
Valley trailer parks where since November EPA inspectors have
found water containing arsenic levels above federal legal
limits — even from a faucet equipped with a filter
— and thousands of times above state public health
guidelines. Low-income residents at the small park and
others like it told The Desert Sun they’ve long endured
foul-smelling water and have had to buy
gallons of clean water for years to try to stay
SL Environmental Law Group recently announced that its client,
Ballico-Cressey School District in Ballico, California, has
filed a lawsuit against Dow Chemical and Shell Oil, sellers of
pesticides that contained the chemical 1,2,3 trichloropropane,
known as “TCP.” The lawsuit claims that these products have
contaminated a well that the district uses to supply drinking
water at Cressey School, where special drinking fountains have
been installed to remove TCP from the water so it is safe to
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Joaquin 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.
A new study could help water
agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless
face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water
systems in the United States.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.