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 Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California oilfield cleanup shouldn’t be taxpayers’ expense

There’s a huge problem looming as California moves beyond fossil fuels: How to get its declining oil industry to plug and remediate tens of thousands of oil and gas wells that already sit idle or won’t be producing for much longer. And unfortunately, it’s looking like the companies responsible for the wells, tanks and pipelines won’t end up paying anything close to what it will take to clean up the mess they leave behind. All told, it could cost as much as $21.5 billion to clean and decommission … Without swift and dramatic changes, much of the cleanup costs will fall to taxpayers. That would be a shameful abrogation of responsibility by an industry that has for more than a century profited mightily from extracting California’s underground deposits while fueling the climate crisis, fouling the air and contaminating soil and water.

Aquafornia news Fox 5 - San Diego

Lower Otay Reservoir: Algae bloom prompts water contact advisory in effect

An algae bloom prompted city officials to post caution signs at its Lower Otay Reservoir. The City of San Diego advises the public to not expose their skin to the water while the cautionary alert is in effect. However, the algae bloom does not impact the safety or quality of the City’s drinking water, officials said. The water is treated using several processes prior to being delivered to homes and businesses, according to the City. Local biologists found out the water at Lower Otay Reservoir tested positive for Cyanobacteria, also known as “blue-green algae.”

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

More states pile on with ‘forever chemical’ lawsuits

Washington and Maryland are the latest states seeking to hold chemical manufacturers liable for soil and groundwater contamination caused by so-called “forever chemicals.” The suits, filed in the states’ respective court systems, accuse 3M, DuPont and other makers of concealing longstanding information about the dangers associated with toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of more than 9,000 laboratory-produced chemicals used for a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer product applications for more than 80 years. 

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Sen. Alex Padilla focuses on water affordability in hearing

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., convened his first hearing as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, on Wednesday. Sen. Padilla appeared on the KCRA News morning show on My58 and said the hearing will focus on how rising water rates, aging infrastructure and extreme weather events have affected access and affordability of clean water across the country. … According to a state audit in 2022, California required an estimated $64.7 billion to upgrade its water infrastructure. In April, the EPA awarded a fraction of that, $391 million. To hear more about the subcommittee’s initiatives, watch the attached video.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Can retiring farmland make California’s Central Valley more equitable?

The people of Fairmead, California, in the Central Valley, have struggled to gain reliable access to drinking water for years. The unincorporated community of around 1,300 — “mostly people of color, people of low income, people struggling and trying to make it,” according to Fairmead resident Barbara Nelson — relies on shallow wells to meet its needs. But in recent years, the combination of drought and excessive agricultural pumping has caused some domestic wells to go dry, and one of the town wells is currently very low. Last year, Fairmead received a grant to help plan for farmland retirement in order to recharge groundwater under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

State asked to stop diverting iconic Mono Lake’s water to Los Angeles

As trickling snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada slowly raises Mono Lake —  famed for its bird life and outlandish shoreline mineral spires — advocates are pressuring state water officials to halt diversions from the lake’s tributaries to Los Angeles, which has used this clean mountain water source for decades.  Environmentalists and tribal representatives say such action is years overdue and would help the iconic lake’s ecosystem, long plagued by low levels, high salinity and dust that wafts off the exposed lakebed. The city of Los Angeles, they argue, should simply use less water, and expand investments in more sustainable sources – especially recycled wastewater and uncaptured stormwater. This, they say, could help wean the city off Mono basin’s water for good.

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Aquafornia news KPBS Public Media

High lead levels in drinking water found in 139 San Diego child care centers

In San Diego County, 139 child care centers have reported lead levels in drinking water above state safety standards, according to state data. Centers built before 2010 are required to test all faucets and drinking fountains, per Assembly Bill 2370. If levels are above five parts lead per billion particles, they have to be fixed. It’s part of the licensing requirements for child care centers.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California becomes the first state to phase out toxic hexavalent chromium

[H]exavalent chromium—a highly hazardous substance emitted by chrome-plating businesses—is 500 times more carcinogenic than diesel exhaust, putting it in the cross hair of regulators for decades. The California Air Resources Board today approved a landmark ban on use of the substance by the chrome plating industry. The ban requires companies, who opposed the action, to use alternative materials. … The toxin has some presence in popular culture. The court battle over the presence of the chemical in drinking water in the San Bernardino County town of Hinkley was dramatized in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” But environmental advocates and residents of Los Angeles’ low-income, industrial neighborhoods and cities have long raised concerns.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Toxic lead levels at CA child care facilities

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are more than 9 million lead pipes (which is a significant source of lead contamination) in drinking water across the United States.  It’s a problem that gained a national spotlight after the Flint, Michigan water crisis which began in 2014. Shortly after, California became the first state in the country to make a commitment to remove all of its lead service lines. But the lead pipe problem still persists. That problem is highlighted in a new report mandated by state law and focuses on potential lead contamination in the drinking water of state-licensed childcare facilities. The report revealed that drinking water at almost 1,700 childcare facilities across California (roughly 1 in 4) exceeded the amount of lead the state allows in drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

What is produced water?

“Produced water” is water that returns to the surface as wastewater during oil and gas production. The water typically contains hydrocarbons from the deposit as well as naturally occurring toxic substances like arsenic and radium, salts and chemical additives injected into the well to facilitate extraction. These additives include carcinogens and numerous other toxic substances that have the potential to harm human health and contaminate the environment. … In California, a local water board allows oil companies to sell their wastewater to farmers for irrigation, claiming the practice is safe. But an Inside Climate News investigation found that the board relied on scant evidence produced by an oil industry consultant and never reviewed long-term impacts on plants, soil, crops and wildlife.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

How recycling centers could be making our plastics problem worse

Instead of helping to tackle the world’s staggering plastic waste problem, recycling may be exacerbating a concerning environmental problem: microplastic pollution. A recent peer-reviewed study that focused on a recycling facility in the United Kingdom suggests that anywhere between 6 to 13 percent of the plastic processed could end up being released into water or the air as microplastics — ubiquitous tiny particles smaller than five millimeters that have been found everywhere from Antarctic snow to inside human bodies.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

PFAS in the crosshairs

In the world of water utility finance, it’s widely known that ratepayers like residents and businesses represent the primary source of revenue for local water and sewer systems. Therefore, when regulatory mandates come down from the federal government with the potential to increase costs for water systems, even with federal support, it’s generally the local ratepayer who is left to foot the bill. This is one of the main concerns the sector is figuring out how to navigate after a big regulatory announcement in the spring. In March, following much anticipation, the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its first-ever proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Will EPA’s PFAS rule spur other water regs?

EPA brandished its powers to regulate new drinking water contaminants earlier this year, but many question whether the agency will apply the same approach to other chemicals. While substances linked to health risks from kidney disease to cancer have cropped up in drinking water systems for decades, the agency has not issued a drinking water standard for a new contaminant on its own initiative since 1996. Other drinking water regulations since then have been mandated by Congress. But EPA in March took the dramatic step of escalating a crackdown on a handful of “forever chemicals,” with a proposal to regulate those notorious substances at very low levels.

Aquafornia news NPR

Risky arsenic levels hit dwindling water supply in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

When John Mestas’ ancestors moved to Colorado over 100 years ago to raise sheep in the San Luis Valley, they “hit paradise,” he says. “There was so much water, they thought it would never end,” Mestas says of the agricultural region at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Now decades of climate change-driven drought, combined with the overpumping of aquifers, is making the valley desperately dry — and appears to be intensifying the levels of heavy metals in drinking water. … During drought, the number of people in the contiguous U.S. exposed to elevated arsenic from domestic wells may rise from about 2.7 million to 4.1 million, Lombard estimates, using statistical models. Arsenic has been shown to affect health across the human life span, beginning with sperm and eggs, James says. 

Aquafornia news

Using microbial degradation to break down chlorinated PFAS in wastewater

A team of chemical and environmental engineers at the University of California, Riverside, has found a way to use microbial degradation to break down chlorinated PFAS in wastewater. In their paper published in the journal Nature Water, the group describes how they tested the ability of microbes in waste water to degrade some PFAS compounds and what they found by doing so. Chlorinated polyfluorocarboxylic acids (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in industrial processing for several decades. In recent times they have become known as “forever chemicals” because they break down so slowly in the environment—it has also been found that they can build up in the bodies of animals, including humans.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Facilities leaked toxic ‘forever chemicals’ into Bay Area groundwater

The Center for Environmental Health recently confirmed that three Bay Area facilities have been discharging toxicants known as “forever chemicals” into the region’s groundwater. Metal plating companies Electro-Coatings of California and Teikuro Corporation, along with a Recology center in Vacaville, were sent legal notices by CEH after they were discovered to use PFAS, a group of potentially harmful chemicals, in their day-to-day operations. These chemicals were directly released into designated sources of drinking water below three facilities and now exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits for PFAS by over a hundred times, according to a CEH press release.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites. The Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It

For well over a century, the oil and gas industry has drilled holes across California in search of black gold and a lucrative payday. But with production falling steadily, the time has come to clean up many of the nearly quarter-million wells scattered from downtown Los Angeles to western Kern County and across the state. The bill for that work, however, will vastly exceed all the industry’s future profits in the state, according to a first-of-its-kind study published Thursday and shared with ProPublica. … Taxpayers will likely have to cover much of the difference to ensure wells are plugged and not left to leak brine, toxic chemicals and climate-warming methane.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lead found in water at 1 in 4 California child care centers

In test results that suggest thousands of California infants, toddlers and children continue to be exposed to brain-damaging lead, data released by the state Department of Social Services has revealed that 1 in 4 of the state’s child-care centers has dangerously high levels of the metal in their drinking water. Lead, a potent neurotoxin that poses a particularly grave threat to children, was discovered in the water systems of nearly 1,700 child-care centers licensed by the state. The highest results came from a facility in San Diego that recorded 11,300 parts per billion at the time of testing — well above the state’s limit of 5 ppb in child-care centers. One ppb is the equivalent of one drop of contaminant in 500 barrels of water.

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Aquafornia news Stanford

Blog: The human right to water

If safe water is a human right, why does it remain out of reach for so many? A Stanford-led project, supported by the Sustainability Accelerator of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, is focused on the broad goal of achieving the human right to water (HR2W) in California. Cindy Weng, a PhD candidate in environmental engineering, is leading the project’s data analytics for assessing equity in urban water access during droughts. Recently, she discussed the project, water equity issues, and potential solutions for California and the rest of the country.

Aquafornia news Legal Reader

Farmlands are being impacted by toxic chemicals called PFAS

In 2014, Adam Nordell and his wife bought a 44-acre Songbird Farm in Maine to grow organic produce and raise a beautiful family. Seven years later, they found out that their farmlands were brimmed with toxic chemicals known as PFAS, or per-and polyfluorinated substances. PFAS are a group of chemicals used for making fluoropolymer coatings and other products that resist heat, stains, oil, water, and grease. Fluoropolymer coatings are found in a range of products, including adhesives, furniture, non-stick cooking surfaces, food packaging, and electrical wire insulation. These chemicals are toxic even at extremely low levels and are called ‘forever chemicals’ since they are virtually indestructible. Moreover, they are almost impossible to avoid as they are found practically everywhere, not just in farmlands. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

S.F.’s legendary Hetch Hetchy reservoir turns 100. What’s next?

On May 24, 1923, San Francisco officials sent water thundering into a valley that Sierra Club founder John Muir described as a “​​one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” Thus the controversial Hetch Hetchy reservoir was born – and 100 years later, some environmentalists still cherish the notion of restoring the temple by draining the valley, even as San Franciscans continue to rely, almost wholly, on its pure, high-quality water. … Yet at the same time, the opposite talk has even begun of raising the O’Shaughnessy Dam that encloses the reservoir, so the valley can hold even more water.

Aquafornia news US EPA

News release: EPA announces $128M loan to improve drinking water reliability in drought-prone Santa Cruz

Today, in conjunction with Infrastructure Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $128 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the City of Santa Cruz, California to upgrade their drinking water system to be more resilient to drought and climate change. With this WIFIA loan, EPA is helping the City of Santa Cruz protect its water supply and deliver safe, reliable drinking water to nearly 100,000 residents.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Unsafe levels of lead in water CA child care centers have

About 1,700 licensed child care centers in California — a quarter of the nearly 7,000 tested so far — have been serving drinking water with lead levels exceeding allowable limits, according to data that the nonprofit Environmental Working Group secured from the state. Susan Little, a senior advocate for the environmental group, said it’s “really alarming” that California infants and preschool-age children are being exposed to this risk in places where their parents think they are safe. Lead, of course, has been proven to permanently damage children’s brains and other parts of their nervous system.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin County wastewater tests detect ‘tranq’ drug

Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that is increasingly being mixed with fentanyl, heroin and other illicit drugs, has been detected in Marin County’s wastewater. Although xylazine, also known as “tranq,” use has been common on the East Coast for some time, this is the first positive evidence of its presence in Marin. Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer, made the announcement in a recent update on levels of COVID-19 infection in Marin. Since most people now rely on at-home antigen tests to determine if they’re infected, instead of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that must be processed through a lab, health officials have come to rely on wastewater testing to determine infection levels in their communities.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Opinion: The rural water crisis may soon be at an end

Everyone has heard about the water crises in cities like Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi, but America’s rural communities are facing equally dire problems with toxic taps and outdated infrastructure, and they typically have even less to spend on fixes. That may change soon. In addition to the historic water funding included in recent infrastructure bills, the farm bill that is currently being negotiated in Congress could support real progress in small towns across the country, thanks to the billions it includes for construction of rural water and sewer systems. We know firsthand what a huge impact those dollars can make on the ground. In California, people in an estimated 300 communities can’t drink from the tap.
-Written by Michael Prado, President of Sultana Community Services District; and Celina Mahabir, Federal Policy Advocate with Community Water Center. 

Aquafornia news Axios

Communities of color disproportionately exposed to PFAS in drinking water, study says

People living in Hispanic and Black communities in the U.S. are disproportionately exposed to toxic “forever chemicals” pollution in drinking water systems, according to a new public study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on Monday. Why it matters: The study contributes to previous research showing that people of color and low-income communities are excessively affected by other forms of pollution, too, including fine air particulate, lead and other drinking water contaminants. Driving the news: In March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed drinking water regulations on six compounds of a family of over 12,000 types of chemicals collectively called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Why Turlock will begin disinfecting city water next week, and what residents should know

Turlock will begin chlorination treatment of its drinking water next week. A city news release Wednesday said the chlorination program to improve water quality will begin May 17. Staff said the city is not treating the water for any contaminants but is raising the water quality to state-mandated levels. Chlorination of municipal drinking water is not unusual. It prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.  The announcement also included important information for kidney dialysis patients and some pet owners.

Aquafornia news Beyond Pesticides

Blog: Persistence pesticides and other chemicals have made “legacy” a dirty word as “forever” chemicals

With the growth of chemical-intensive land management over the last century, the world has been held captive by pesticide companies. … During the so-called “Green Revolution” (circa 1945-1985), the world came to depend on vast amounts of fertilizers and herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. … In the U.S., EPA has proposed new limits to PFAS levels in drinking water, and not a minute too soon; PFAS have been found in water supplies in nearly 3,000 locations in all 50 states and two territories. PFAS chemicals have been found in human breast milk, umbilical cord blood, deer meat, fish, and beef. They are found in pesticides. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore Sierra water issues firsthand on Headwaters Tour in June

Our Headwaters Tour on June 21-22 returns in person for the first time in four years and seats are filling up quickly! Don’t miss your chance to venture from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe to examine water issues happening upstream that can dramatically affect communities downstream and throughout the state. The quality and availability of drinking water for millions of Californians depend on the health of Sierra forests that have been ravaged by a series of historically destructive wildfires and a series of multi-year droughts despite an epic snowpack this year. In all, 30 percent of the state’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra.

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

From peak to tap – should we worry about microplastics in our drinking water?

This winter was one for the books. With record-breaking low temperatures and a stream of atmospheric rivers, snow came to parts of California that rarely see it. That added up to a huge amount of snowfall for the Sierra Nevada mountains, where much of the Bay Area’s drinking water comes from. Now, as all that snow melts and makes its way downhill, flooding is a major concern. But another concern has to do with what that snowmelt is bringing with it. We sent KALW environment reporter Joshua Sirotiak up to the mountains to find out what researchers are looking for in our drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Hill

EPA must regulate rocket fuel chemical in drinking water after Trump, Biden declined: court

A federal court on Tuesday tossed out a decision from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to regulate a chemical used in rocket fuel in drinking water. The Trump administration decided in 2020 not to regulate a chemical called perchlorate that can interfere with thyroid function and may harm fetal brain development. The Biden administration upheld that decision last year. But, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., reversed the decision on Tuesday. The opinion of the three-judge panel, authored by David Sentelle — a Reagan administration appointee — argued that the Safe Drinking Water Act did not give the EPA the authority to reverse a 2011 decision in favor of issuing drinking water standards for perchlorate.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Decades of effort have a Navajo community on the verge of clean water access

About 45 minutes west of Albuquerque, N.M., past miles of desert and a remote casino, is the turn off for To’Hajiilee, a non-contiguous part of the Navajo Nation. About 2,000 people live here and none of them have indoor access to good drinking water. … While To’Hajiilee’s isolation from the rest of the Navajo Nation makes it somewhat unique, its lack of access to clean drinking water is common across the sprawling reservation that stretches across parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Those living on the Navajo Nation are 67 times more likely to not have running water or a toilet than other Americans, according to the U.S. Water Alliance. It’s evident here that, as a 2021 national report by the alliance and DigDeep found, “race is the strongest predictor of water and sanitation access.”

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

US food pesticides contaminated with toxic ‘forever chemicals’ testing finds

Some of the United States’ most widely used food pesticides are contaminated with “potentially dangerous” levels of toxic PFAS “forever chemicals”, new testing of the products finds. The Environmental Protection Agency has previously been silent on PFAS in food pesticides, even as it found the chemicals in non-food crop products. The potential for millions of acres of contaminated food cropland demands swifter and stronger regulatory action, the paper’s authors say. … The groups last Monday submitted the test results to the EPA and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, asking them to remove these products from use until contamination can be addressed.

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Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: More federal funding can close the rural water gap. Will Congress and the USDA step up?

This week is Drinking Water Week, but not everyone in America has the same access to safe, reliable running water, or a system for removing and treating wastewater when flushing toilets. Rural communities and communities of color are more at risk of unsafe water and inadequate sanitation due to historical disinvestment, regulatory failures, and structural racism. This is the rural water gap, and while new federal funding is meant to address this gap, a study released today demonstrates that federal agencies need clearer metrics and milestones to ensure they reach the communities that need it most. Doing so would contribute to the Biden Administration’s commitment to Justice40 and environmental justice for all.

Aquafornia news Food First Ingredients

Blog: Pesticides face fresh scrutiny as activists find Californian crops soaked in “forever chemicals”

Widely used insecticides and pesticides in California, US, contain high levels of chemicals that are contaminating millions of acres of farmland, according to the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used most abundantly in California’s Central Valley on crops such as almonds, grapes, peaches and pistachios. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they “do not break down in the environment” and are associated with immune system suppression, liver damage, thyroid disease, reduced fertility, high cholesterol, obesity and cancer, according to the study’s authors.

Aquafornia news US Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA proposes to establish first-time clean water act protections for over 250 tribes

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed federal baseline water quality standards for waterbodies on Indian reservations that do not have Clean Water Act standards, ensuring protections for over half a million people living on Indian reservations as well as critical aquatic ecosystems. Fifty years ago, Congress established a goal in the Clean Water Act (CWA) that waters should support fishing and swimming wherever attainable. All states and 47 Tribes have established standards consistent with that goal. However, the majority of U.S. Tribes with Indian reservations lack such water quality standards. This proposal would extend the same framework of water quality protection that currently exists for most other waters of the United States to waters of over 250 Tribes and is the result of decades of coordination and partnership with Tribes.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

California Water Board releases Drinking Water Needs Assessment

The California State Water Resources Control board has released its third annual Drinking Water Needs Assessment, which describes the overall health of the state’s water systems and domestic wells and helps direct the funding and regulatory work of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program. The report for the first time examines the causes behind chronically failing water systems and incorporates community-level socioeconomic factors, including customers’ ability to pay, into its analysis of the risks systems face. The analysis and findings will guide where the State Water Board focuses its technical assistance and how it prioritizes funding in the 2023-2024 Fund Expenditure Plan, due to come before the board this fall.

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Aquafornia news American Bar Association

Blog: California tackles plastic pollution at the source

In 2022, California took a bold step to address plastic pollution by enacting the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (Senate Bill (SB) 54), which dramatically overhauls how single-use packaging and single-use plastic foodware will be offered for sale, sold, distributed, and imported in the state, and tackles plastic pollution at the source.  The problem with plastic An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment each year with devastating consequences for the ocean ecosystem. Everywhere we look, we find plastic; it is in our land, water, air, food, and even in our bodies. And the problem is expected to get worse as the production and use of single-use plastic has skyrocketed over the last decade. 

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Triangle T Water District and the absurdities of CA water

Bloomberg recently published a story (“Groundwater Gold Rush”) reporting on how Wall Street banks, pension funds, and insurers have been plowing money into buying land in California, reaping enormous corporate profits by converting rangeland into almonds and other permanent crops while draining California’s groundwater and drying up community drinking water wells.  I’d like to tell the rest of the story about how Wall Street interests formed the Triangle T Water District, because to my mind the Triangle T Water District highlights the absurdities and inequities of California water policy – including the fact that instead of paying to fix the damage they caused through unsustainable groundwater pumping, state and federal agencies have provided millions of dollars of taxpayers monies to subsidize corporate profits. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Ocean water to fresh: First-of-its-kind wave-powered pilot project in Fort Bragg set to test

Fort Bragg is embarking on an innovative pilot project to desalt ocean water for the Mendocino Coast community using carbon-free wave action to power an energy-intensive process that in other cases generates climate changing greenhouse gases. The design comes from a young Quebec-based company called Oneka Technologies that makes floating, raft-like units containing the equipment needed to draw in water, pressurize and force it through reverse-osmosis membranes, then send it back to shore in a flexible pipe on the ocean floor. Fort Bragg will start with a single, 16-foot by 26-foot unit, anchored about a mile off shore of the Noyo Headlands, Public Works Director John Smith said. It could be deployed in perhaps six or eight months, once a variety of tests are completed to determine the best location for it.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Celebration and concern – Hetch Hetchy reservoir turns 100, but climate change complicates its future

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and a gaggle of water officials gathered in the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park on Tuesday to celebrate the centennial of the creation of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and the O’Shaughnessy Dam. … The water system, San Francisco’s main water source, provided a stable supply of pristine Sierra Nevada snowmelt for city residents through most of the 20th century. But as human-caused climate change worsens, some water experts say the stability of San Francisco’s mountain tap is losing its surety for the 21st century and beyond. “I no longer think it will be a reliable water system,” said Samuel Sandoval Solis, an expert in water management at UC Davis. … The water passes over three faultlines and is used for about 85% of the water needs for 2.7 million people in San Francisco and parts of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda counties.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

Blog: An elite few are fueling the sustainable water crisis

Over the last four decades, global water use has increased by about 1 percent per year. This rise is driven by many factors, including population growth, changing consumption patterns, and socioeconomic development. By 2050, the United Nations Water estimates urban water demand to increase by 80 percent. As freshwater needs continue to rise in cities, the sustainable management of urban water supply becomes even more critical. … In general, Zuniga-Teran says the reasons for urban water crises are, to an extent, caused by “a consequence of uncontrolled urban growth and the unsustainable use of water resources.”

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Study: Central Valley’s private wells at risk of manganese contamination

A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology estimates that thousands of private well users in the Central Valley could be extracting contaminated water. The study estimates a 0.7 percent chance users of a domestic well in the Tulare Lake hydrologic region, which includes Hanford, would draw water above the Environmental Protection Agency’s secondary maximum contaminant level for manganese.  According to Samantha Ying, principal investigator of the study and assistant professor of Soil Biochemistry at the University of California Riverside, manganese, a mineral naturally found in groundwater, can have serious effects on health. This is particularly true for babies and children.

Aquafornia news Center for Biological Diversity

Blog: High levels of dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ found in california’s most-used insecticide

California’s most-used insecticide, along with two other pesticides, is contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of PFAS “forever chemicals,” according to test results released today by the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Intrepid 2F is the most widely applied insecticide product in the state of California and the second most widely used pesticide product in the state, behind only Roundup. In 2021, the most recent year data are available, more than 1.7 million pounds of it were applied to over 1.3 million cumulative acres of California land. Use is highest in the Central Valley on crops such as almonds, grapes, peaches and pistachios.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Toxic trail of pollution’: states step up to curb the use of ‘forever chemicals’

Few chemicals have attracted as intense public and regulatory scrutiny as PFAS, but even as the highly toxic and ubiquitous compounds’ dangers come into sharper focus, industry influence has crippled congressional attempts to pass meaningful consumer protections. Federal bills designed to address some of the most significant sources of exposure – food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, clothing, textiles, cookware and firefighting foam – have all failed in recent sessions. However, a patchwork of state laws enacted over the last three years is generating fresh hope by prohibiting the use of PFAS in those and other uses. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am refusal could set stage for condemnation proceeding

As expected, California American Water Co. is flatly refusing to consider the offer public water officials made to buy out the company’s Monterey Peninsula’s water system, saying the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has no legal authority to do so. The water district believes it does. … The district said their attempt is neither reckless nor infeasible, rather it is mandated by Measure J that directed the district to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a public takeover of Cal Am’s system.  Cal Am insists Measure J only required the district to conduct a study, not move forward with a takeover. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Ninth Circuit drains $48 million judgment over city’s polluted water supply

A unanimous Ninth Circuit panel ruled Friday there isn’t enough evidence to support a $48 million award for the city of Pomona, California, in its lawsuit against a Chilean fertilizer manufacturer that polluted the city’s drinking water system decades ago.   The lawsuit against brought against SQM North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile found that the company’s sodium nitrate fertilizer used in citrus orchards around Pomona between the 1930s and 50s polluted the city’s drinking water system, including with a contaminant called perchlorate. Perchlorate interferes with the production of thyroid hormones, an important part of the development and function of tissues in the body, and can cause serious health issues, especially in developing fetuses, kids, and pregnant women.  

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Board updates SAFER Needs Assessment Report to guide state’s drinking water support for communities

The State Water Resources Control Board released its third annual Drinking Water Needs Assessment, which describes the overall health of the state’s water systems and domestic wells and helps direct the funding and regulatory work of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program. The report for the first time examines the causes behind chronically failing water systems and incorporates community level socioeconomic factors, including customers’ ability to pay, into its analysis of the risks systems face.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Listen: “Deeper Pockets, Deeper Wells”

Despite the rain-soaked year California has had, the ongoing issues of drought and limited water remain. Bloomberg reporters Peter Waldman, Mark Chediak, and Sinduja Rangarajan join this episode to talk about how farms that grow lucrative cash crops like almonds and pistachios are digging deeper and deeper wells to tap the state’s dwindling groundwater supply–leaving people in some communities with less to drink.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado leaders are rallying against a railway project that would carry crude oil along the Colorado River

A railway project in Eastern Utah is drawing significant pushback in Colorado as elected officials voice concerns about crude oil risks to the Colorado River, which is the West’s primary freshwater river.  The Uinta Basin Railway project would build around 80 miles of train tracks connecting oil production to America’s rail network. That would allow producers to ship crude oil on trains through Colorado to refineries elsewhere in the country. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the United States Department of Agriculture have given the project the go-ahead, prompting a letter from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse criticizing the federal review of the project. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water users battle Cal Am rate increase

It’s a good thing for California American Water Co. that rate increases aren’t determined by a popularity contest, otherwise state regulators on Tuesday would have sent the Monterey Peninsula water purveyor packing. Members of the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, held a two-part hearing at Seaside City Hall Tuesday afternoon and evening to solicit public viewpoints on an application – called a rate case — filed by Cal Am to increase water rates over a three-year period beginning next year. The CPUC got an earful. All but two of the 17 speakers who testified to the CPUC representatives were highly critical of Cal Am. One of two who did not lodge complaints said there was plenty of water in the Carmel River aquifer, which wasn’t the focus of the hearing. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

Blog: New science informs extent of hexavalent chromium groundwater plumes in Hinkley Valley

The USGS report, commissioned by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, showed how the valley’s geology affected background hexavalent chromium concentrations in groundwater. Hexavalent chromium occurs naturally in groundwater in the Mojave Desert. Concentrations increased in Hinkley Valley beginning in 1952 when the Pacific Gas and Electric Company discharged it into unlined ponds. From there, hexavalent chromium entered the aquifer. Once in the ground, a plume of hexavalent chromium traveled with groundwater away from the Hinkley compressor station into Hinkley Valley.  

Aquafornia news KSBW - Monterey

Skepticism over Cal Am’s proposed water rate change

California American Water is once again getting public backlash—this time over a proposed plan to increase everyone’s water bill. Every three years, Cal Am has to submit a rate plan to the California Public Utilities Commission, who’s currently in the midst of reviewing the proposal and receiving public feedback. On Tuesday, the commission held a meeting in Seaside to hear from Monterey County customers as it considers Cal Am’s proposal to increase revenue by over $55 million statewide over the next three years, and thereby, increase the bill for ratepayers. In Monterey County, the proposed revenue increase is about $10 million. But starting January 2024, Cal Am says the average water bill could actually decrease.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Water Map

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

Dear Western Water reader, 

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

Aquapedia background

Potable Water

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

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

Aquapedia background

Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

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


Colorado River Facts Slide Card

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


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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


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

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


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

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


Protecting Drinking Water on Tribal Lands

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

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

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

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

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

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

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

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

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


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

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

Publication California Groundwater Map

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

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

Publication California Water Map

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

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

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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

Aquapedia background

Water Treatment

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

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

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

Aquapedia background

Surface Water Treatment

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

Aquapedia background

Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

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

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

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

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

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

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

Western Water Magazine

Managing the Colorado River
November/December 1999

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