The extraction methods that these operations use today are not
drastically different from processes that miners employed in
the California gold rush in the mid-1800s. Today we see history
repeating itself in places like the Peruvian Amazon, where
small-scale gold mining threatens to leave behind long-lasting
social, economic and environmental consequences.
Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution
in the nation’s waterways. In recent years, scientific journals
and the media have been filled with reports of toxic algae
blooms and dead zones near and far… Unfortunately, in today’s
highly politicized federal climate, it is unlikely that an
effective solution to this problem will emerge from the U.S.
EPA – at least not at the moment. So efforts by state
regulators are particularly important.
As the world continues to grapple with the most devastating
public health crises in modern history, the San Joaquin Valley
has been hit particularly hard, resulting in mass disarray.
Small rural regions and underserved communities are now
experiencing threefold the challenges that existed prior to the
Nine Orange County water agencies have retained a legal team to
study whether to file suit to recoup the $1 billion or more it
could cost to purify drinking water in local wells contaminated
with PFAS chemicals and to pay for more expensive imported
water in the interim.
For the first time in five years, Seville residents can safely
drink and cook with the water that flows from their taps. The
small agricultural community of about 500 nestled at the scenic
base of the Sierra Nevada has been ground zero for Tulare
County’s water crisis for more than a decade.
Outbreaks of E. coli illness that sickened 188 people who ate
romaine lettuce grown in California probably came from cattle
grazing near the farms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
said in a report released Thursday. … Investigators concluded
that the illness was centered on ranches and fields owned by
the same grower and that were located downslope from public
land where cattle grazed.
Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution
in the nation’s waterways….In California alone, more than a
quarter million residents in largely agricultural areas are
served by water systems with degraded groundwater quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the next step to
implement an important per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA). The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals
required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory and
established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these
The nation’s environmental watchdog may investigate federal
enforcement of water policy in California after Democratic
lawmakers accused the Trump administration of “irregular”
interference targeting San Francisco, according to a letter
sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Nine states have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
for curtailing enforcement of rules on air and water pollution
during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the pullback puts the
public at even greater risk.
Recently, I participated in the Environmental Law Institute’s
Master Class, PFAS: From Common Use to Concern … which
included a discussion of the environmental and human health
impacts of PFAS contaminated waters, as well as the best
approaches to regulate, establish and enforce cleanups and safe
drinking water standards. … Some of the main take-aways from
our presentation included:
The lawsuits concern the alleged contamination via
manufacturing process materials stored by Ametek, which
manufactured aircraft engine parts for more than 20 years at
790 Greenfield Drive in El Cajon. Plaintiffs allege the
materials contaminated groundwater, soil vapor and indoor air
at nearby properties.
California, along with eight other states, sued the Trump
administration Wednesday over the Environmental Protection
Agency’s decision to stop requiring companies to monitor and
report air and water pollution during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA,
appears to defy a court order that required the agency to
establish a safe drinking-water standard for perchlorate by the
end of June…[S]tates like California and Massachusetts
regulated the chemical in the absence of federal action.
A spring storm had retreated inland during the night, leaving a
canopy of unbroken clouds over San Diego’s Mission Bay. About
20 engineering students and others gathered in the morning
chill to launch a cockeyed-looking vessel, mechanical guts
fully visible, into the still water.
A grant of up to $2 million will allow Lomita to install a
filtration system that removes a potentially carcinogenic
chemical from its drinking water, allowing the community to
resume using groundwater instead of more expensive imported
supplies. The small city had taken its sole well offline last
year and drained its 5 million gallon reservoir after the
levels of benzene discovered in its groundwater exceeded state
drinking water standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to address lead
in water isn’t as aggressive as it could be, the agency’s
independent Science Advisory Board, as well as outside groups,
said Monday. … In its latest report, the board came out
against the proposed trigger level, saying it “adds unnecessary
complexity resulting from having to make lead management
decisions” while not enacting stricter limits that recognize
there is no safe level of lead.
In a pandemic when hand-washing could be a matter of life or
death, everyone must have access to clean water as a public
health issue and a basic human right. But what if you can’t
afford your water bill?
A California appellate court has revived a lawsuit Wednesday
from the city of Riverside who claim Black & Decker and several
other companies contaminated the local drinking water with
chemicals used to make explosive cartridges, flares and rocket
The Senate’s environment panel pushed through two major water
infrastructure bills Wednesday, rejecting a GOP member’s
attempt to give Western states more authority over water
supplies but agreeing to direct the EPA to set drinking water
limits for “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
The survey data indicated that shotgun wads, the plastic piece
inside a shotgun shell that separates the shot from the powder,
are one of the top ten most commonly found plastic items on all
surveyed beaches. These shotgun wads likely come from waterfowl
hunting, year-round shooting ranges, and target shooting fields
along the San Francisco Bay and Delta.
PFAS are ubiquitous and can be found in a variety of everyday
products, including stain- and water-resistant fabrics and
carpeting, cleaning products, cookware, paints, and
fire-fighting foams. The Environmental Protection Agency warns
that exposure to at least some PFAS “can lead to adverse health
outcomes in humans.”
The State Water Resources Control Board has executed an
agreement to provide approximately $5 million in grant funds
for testing and remediation of lead in drinking water at
licensed Child Care Centers in California.
A group of more than 80 members of Congress is pushing for the
inclusion of provisions to regulate a class of cancer-linked
chemicals in future stimulus legislation dealing with
infrastructure. The chemicals, known as PFAS, are also
sometimes called “forever chemicals” because of their
persistence in both the environment and the human body.
The EPA has been too busy responding to the deadly coronavirus
to work on its long-awaited proposal to manage huge volumes of
pathogen-infested sewage and stormwater during heavy rains, the
agency’s top wastewater official said Wednesday.
South Bay leaders are once again calling for action to fix
cross border pollution. … Tuesday, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge
Dedina told FOX 5 that the Tijuana sewage system has collapsed
and is spewing about 60 million gallons of untreated sewage
each day in the river.
One unintended side effect of the novel coronavirus crisis
could provide much-needed relief for the San Francisco Bay,
according to David Lewis, executive director of the
environmental group, Save the Bay. Lewis says that cars
contribute to pollution in the bay in ways that aren’t always
obvious, and the reduction in traffic from the COVID-19
shelter-in-place order could help.
In February 2020, the Water Board adopted new, lower Response
Levels for PFOA and PFOS of 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively.
Four of wells previously sampled under the Water Board’s order
now had had PFOA levels above this newly adopted Response Level
of 10 ppt. Atascadero Mutual Water Company immediately took
these wells out of service.
Just days before Covid-19 spurred a vast quarantine-at-home in
California, a crew of workers in downtown Oakland was busily
planting dozens of potted grasses, shrubs and trees in a newly
sculpted garden bed in what had been a gutter and a row of
parking stalls a block from City Hall.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of six justices who said
permits are required if the pollution at issue amounted to the
“functional equivalent” of a direct discharge (Greenwire, April
23). But instead of just signing onto the majority opinion
written by Justice Stephen Breyer, Kavanaugh penned his own
concurrence saying he agreed with the majority opinion “in
In many areas of the Central Valley and Central Coast, decades
of intensive agriculture has resulted in groundwater too
polluted to drink, and wells that have gone dry from
over-pumping. More than one million people in these regions
lack a source of clean water in their homes. This is a hardship
even in the best of times, but it puts communities at extremely
high risk during this time of crisis.
Although it is clear that river discharge is the major source
of plastic pollution entering the oceans, there remains
uncertainty around how plastic pollution is transported through
rivers and coastal marine waters. How important is stormflow
for delivering plastic pollution from rivers to the coastal
ocean? How are microplastics transported through coastal
environments? How much is eventually sinking and settling on
Some 1 million residents of California farmworker communities
have relied for years on bottled water because their tap water
is tainted with nitrate and other agricultural pollutants. Now,
as stores ration water to prevent hoarding during the
coronavirus crisis, these residents are relying on friends and
family, or driving many miles to bigger towns in search of
Ecologist Jonathan Young steered his rowboat alongside a
rectangular container that was floating between two bright
orange buoys. He reached under a plastic mesh covering and
pulled out a large black and brown object the size of his fist
that looked a lot like a clam. “These are the underdogs of
water quality,” he said. “And also, unfortunately, on their way
The Trump White House has intervened to weaken one of the few
public health protections pursued by its own administration, a
rule to limit the use of a toxic industrial compound in
consumer products… Documents show the White House Office of
Management and Budget formally notified the EPA last July that
it was stepping into the crafting of the rule on the compound,
perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, used in nonstick
and stain-resistant frying pans, rugs, and countless other
Given the recent impact of PFAS on other aspects of the water
and wastewater industry, it is important to determine the
consequences potential new regulation andnew public awareness
of PFAS will have for potable reuse projects.
Environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) over a March memo signaling that the agency would
not seek penalties against companies that do not monitor their
pollution during the coronavirus outbreak.
California’s top environmental agency said it would “fill any
enforcement gaps” left by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s decision last month to relax oversight in the wake of
the coronavirus pandemic.
A federal judge in Montana ordered the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to suspend all filling and dredging activities until
it conducts formal consultations compliant with the Endangered
Species Act. The ruling revokes the water-crossing permit
needed to complete construction of the pipeline, and is
expected to cause major delays to the divisive project.
Over the last 20 years, UC research has shown that dairies in
the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys are potentially major
contributors of nitrate and salts in groundwater. To maintain
the quality of this irreplaceable natural resource, the
California Water Resources Control Board has ramped up
regulations to ensure that diary manure and wastewater
application isn’t contaminating the aquifer.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance on Friday
specific to Superfund cleanup actions. The agency’s regional
offices have decided, and may continue to decide, to slow or
stop some work because of social distancing restrictions,
travel restrictions, and ill employees, the agency said in its
Now, as the nation reels from a fresh public health crisis
caused by the novel coronavirus, new research suggests that
more than 2,500 industrial facilities located in virtually
every congressional district could be discharging PFAS into the
air and water in the absence of federal regulations.
State oil and gas regulators have granted permits for hydraulic
fracturing, the controversial drilling technique known as
fracking, for the first time since last summer. The California
Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, last week
issued permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture of Shell and
ExxonMobil, for “well stimulation” work in two Kern County oil
Cancer-linked per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively
known as PFAS, have been confirmed at 328 sites, according to
Pentagon data analyzed by Environmental Working Group, and
are suspected on about 350 more Defense Department
installations and sites.
Three years ago, Dimitri Deheyn noticed intensely blue stringy
shapes as he examined jellyfish samples through a microscope in
his marine biology lab at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
We have a legacy of lead in our pipes, our paint, and our soil.
These are the most significant sources of human lead exposure
and, therefore, draw most of the attention and resources
because they are costly to fix. … For that reason, EDF has
sought, as part of our larger efforts, to reduce the amount of
lead that leaches from new plumbing devices such as faucets and
California regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the
first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given
clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well
stimulation in Kern County. … Last July, Gov. Gavin
Newsom fired the state’s oil and gas supervisor a day
after The Desert Sun reported that the number of fracking
permits issued during his first six months in office had
doubled compared to the same period under his
State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s
relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by
facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The
Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek
penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy. …
The California Environmental Protection Agency said its
enforcement authority “remains intact” in spite of the EPA
In an alert to state regulators, Southern California Edison,
which operates the power station, said an unexpected surge of
wastewater led to an “upset” at the treatment plant that
morning, triggering an alarm but allowing the sewage to flow
through a 6,000-foot pipe out into the ocean before workers
could turn off the pumps.
While many residents across the US may want a traditional patch
of green carpet, Jodie Cook, a landscape designer from San
Clemente, California, explained over email that West Coast
homeowners are growing increasingly aware of how innovative
models for lawns can benefit natural ecosystems, while
providing a new dimension to the family home.
California is moving closer to setting a drinking water limit
for the solvent 1,4-dioxane, which EPA has said is a likely
carcinogen. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment announced Friday it was working to set a public
health goal for the emerging contaminant.
We’ve all seen photos of clear-cut forests with swathes of
razed trees or deep scars in the ground from an open-pit mine.
The damage to the species that live in these habitats isn’t
hard to imagine. But the damage we’ve done to freshwater
ecosystems isn’t so visible. In rivers or lakes, trouble often
lurks out of view beneath the surface of the water …
States around the country say they won’t penalize water and
wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit
requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if
those delays are justified and documented. Delays, for example,
could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water
quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with
A sudden influx of water at the sewage treatment facility at
the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station early Wednesday
morning led to about 7,000 gallons of partially treated
wastewater being released about a mile into the Pacific.
Officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator,
said the sewage amounted to a “non-radiological release”…
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
Sealing a baffling fight over a ditch that involved dead cows,
helicopters and a criminal trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday
that a California county didn’t trample a rural cattle
rancher’s rights in its curious attempt to sabotage his water
Most of the 6,000 gallons of crude oil that was spilled into
the Cuyama River in Santa Maria has been contained. … A
tanker truck carrying more than 6,000 gallons of crude oil
overturned and crashed into the Cuyama River east of Santa
Maria on Saturday, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire
President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare
a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to
approve requests for that designation from the governors of
California, New York and Washington in their battles against
COVID-19. … Trump’s determinations could open the door for
FEMA to step into a wide range of future events including
droughts, extreme cold weather and the contamination of
Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements in the Earth’s crust.
It is widely distributed, and under certain geochemical
conditions, it dissolves into groundwater, which then gets
pumped out for human use. Arsenic presents the highest cancer
risk of any regulated carcinogens among drinking water
contaminants when the risk from each is ranked at its maximum
In an effort to reduce the amount of pollution entering surface
waters, the state of California requires industries with an
identified potential of discharging pollutants in storm water
runoff to obtain and implement an industrial storm water
permit. A new state law, effective Jan. 1, requires applicable
businesses to provide proof of coverage under the industrial
storm water permit in order to obtain or renew their business
license with a city or county.
In a sampling of fish from a creek that flows into San Diego
Bay, nearly a quarter contain microplastics, according to a new
study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study, which
examined plastics in coastal sediments and three species of
fish, showed that the frequency and types of plastic ingested
varied with fish species and, in some cases, size or age of
The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new
PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances
Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years
even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.
Wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper does
in water. They are stronger, and many wipes include plastics
and materials like nylon. That means bad news for sewer
systems, some of which already are experiencing problems during
the coronavirus crisis.
There is now plenty of evidence that as the atmosphere warms,
the planet is experiencing more wildfires. … Understandably,
much of the media surrounding these incidents focuses on the
immediate damage to forests, homes, people and wildlife, but
one potentially dangerous long-term impact has received less
attention – the effect of fires on water.
The park has hosted sport shooters since the mid-1960s, but the
business did little to stop lead, which is toxic to humans and
wildlife, from entering the ephemeral waterway until 2013. …
For much of its history, the site fell through the cracks
among various regulatory bodies tasked with
guarding the environment and public health. In their
absence, a small-scale mining economy has sprung up in the
legally protected river.
The military now has at least 651 sites that have been
contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more
than 50 percent jump from its last tally. The information was
released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense
(DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military
remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply
near numerous military bases.
Already a well-regarded landscape and portrait photographer,
Bay set out to bring more attention to the issue. The avid
surfer admits that he initially wasn’t sure how best to convey
what he saw as an environmental emergency. Then, one day, he
says he was visiting the Tijuana River mouth and stumbled upon
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced
that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells
in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said
Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated
response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information
officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.
People flanked by handmade signs spill out of a charter bus
that just arrived from UC Santa Barbara. They join a growing
rally outside the Veterans Memorial Center in Santa Maria,
chanting, “Health, not oil,” and, “No new oil, keep it in the
soil!” A microphone passed around gave different folks and
organizations a chance to lead the rally cries.
A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed
by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of
illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil
facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and
threatening endangered species.
Beaches were closed on Tuesday from the Mexico border to
Coronado as rain flushed sewage-contaminated runoff from
Tijuana into the San Diego region. “Things have gotten worse
than ever,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
State and federal leaders came together to tour the Salton Sea
and understand the impending health issues the public continues
to face. NBC Palm Springs joined officials to get a glimpse of
what is being done to help restore an area that was once a
relaxing summer destination.
On Feb. 13 in Simi Valley, a group called the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory (SSFL) Work Group held a community meeting
regarding the failure of Boeing, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) to adequately clean up the radioactive and carcinogenic
chemicals left at the site…
People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in
Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil
drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that
the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy
Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.
An environmental watchdog group has filed lawsuits against the
cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale alleging that the cities’
aging sewer systems are leaking bacteria from human feces into
stormwater drainage systems, contaminating local creeks and
ultimately the Bay.
The preserve [inside the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility
near Chico]—which is overseen by California Open Lands, a local
nonprofit land trust—also has been a focus of the State Water
Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is
investigating the landfill for allegedly discharging last
winter about 24 million gallons of waste-contaminated
stormwater into the preserve and a neighboring watershed.
The State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted its
2020 priorities, which include setting a maximum contaminant
level of the heavy metal, also known as chromium-6. A proposed
rule setting the limit could come in early 2021.
The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an
investigative order in February that requires more monitoring
of sewage-tainted cross-border flows. The order requires the
International Boundary and Water Commission to monitor more
than a dozen locations over an 18-month period.
Paradise Irrigation District has completed sampling service
lines to all standing structures in the town for possible water
contamination and is expecting to finish repairs by the end of
spring. The completion of the testing marks a milestone in the
area’s recovery after the Camp Fire.
A handful of protesters marched outside the Mexican Consulate
in Little Italy, protesting cross border sewage flows. They
want Mexico to do more to fix the problem. Polluted water has
routinely flowed from Mexico into the United States since
December. “We feel like we’re not getting heard,” said Mitch
McKay, president of Citizens for Coastal Conservancy.
The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental
pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals”
that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the
U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was
pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing
over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam
containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.
Some environmental groups eye the effort suspiciously, fearing
the Trump administration will use the project to allow
businesses to offload hazardous wastewater in ways that
threaten drinking water sources and otherwise risk public
health. Businesses including oil and gas developers have urged
the Trump administration to allow them more ways to get rid of
their increasing volumes of wastewater.
The EPA is involved in multiple PFAS-related criminal
investigations, the agency said Wednesday, adding another knot
to an already complex legal landscape for “forever chemicals.”
The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged the probes in
a new progress report on its 2019 PFAS Action Plan.
Joining 12 other conservation groups from throughout the
country, the Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network
alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers did not attempt to weigh the potential impacts to
endangered species when it removed millions of acres of
waterways and habitat from Clean Water Act protections in
A sewage spill that occurred a day before Thanksgiving last
year prompted the Laguna Beach City Council to move forward
with a one-time sewer rate increase Tuesday that will account
for the financial fallout. Pending the result of a protest vote
by ratepayers, the 10% increase ups bills for single-family
homes to $800 annually, or $66.67 per month. The hike could
take effect as early as July 1.
A California appellate court on Tuesday threw out a Kern County
law that allowed major oil producers to rely on a single,
blanket environmental approval for 72,000 new oil wells,
instead of facing scrutiny of each new project’s potential
impact on air quality, drinking water, wildlife and other
EPA proposed its revamp of the Lead and Copper Rule last fall.
That revision addresses many elements of the regulation
then-acting Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan critiqued. But
it does not follow one key recommendation: that the agency
establish health-based limits on lead in drinking water.
California finds itself once again taking the lead by setting
regulatory standards stricter than the rest of the nation. At
issue is the nearly ubiquitous presence of certain PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, a problem being addressed to
varying degrees by many states and federal regulators.
For years, city auditors warned elected leaders that San
Diego’s stormwater needs were being dramatically underfunded,
leaving the city vulnerable to lawsuits and hefty fines from
state regulators. Still, the mayor’s office has yet to take on
the political challenge of securing enough new funding to fix
the situation, something that would likely require a
voter-approved tax hike.
This week, a group of five-dozen microplastics researchers from
major universities, government agencies, tribes, aquariums,
environmental groups and even water sanitation districts across
the U.S. West is gathering in Bremerton, Washington, to tackle
the issue. The goal is to create a mathematical risk assessment
for microplastic pollution in the region similar to predictions
used to game out responses to major natural disasters such as
The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund
sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest
since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. The Superfund
program was born out of the 1970′s disaster at Love Canal in
New York, where industrial contaminants poisoned groundwater,
spurred complaints of health problems and prompted presidential
By this summer, the justices will have decided a case that
could more clearly establish the scope of the Clean Water Act
and a challenge that could more firmly define states’ role in
federal Superfund cleanups. The court has so far been slow to
issue opinions while Chief Justice John Roberts was spending
half of his days at impeachment trial proceedings across the
street on Capitol Hill.
A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would
absolve the nation’s manufacturers of cancer-linked “forever
chemicals” from broad financial responsibility for cleaning up
their product as it leaches into the water supply across the
country. The class of chemicals known as PFAS, which are noted
for their persistence in both the environment and the human
body, are used in a variety of nonstick products.
The EPA has made an initial determination that it will
eventually set legal limits for levels of two key PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, the agency announced Thursday. …
That announcement could still be months away.
Dozens of dead fish are floating to the surface along a Fresno
County waterway and people living nearby are worried about
their water. Fancher Creek flows from Pine Flat all the way
into Fresno, mostly to let farmers get irrigation water. But
fish also use the water, except right now, for about 200 yards,
all of them are dead.
More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking
water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of
federal enforcement. Twenty-three states are writing their own
guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address
drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances, also known as PFAS.
11,000 households in San Jose’s Willow Glen and Williams Road
neighborhoods received letters in the mail beginning in late
January from the San Jose Water Company warning that the wells
that provide them with drinking water tested positive for
elevated levels of per-flouro-octane sulfonic acid, known as
Though sampling indicated levels of PFOS and PFOA in a couple
of local sources of water, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water
District is currently not producing drinking water from
impacted sources. EVMWD is evaluating options to meet these new
regulations including importing water to offset local supplies
and in the long term, considering construction of treatment
systems if water sources exceed state mandated response levels.
Access to reliable, clean drinking water should be a
fundamental human right for all Californians. Unfortunately,
many disadvantaged communities throughout the state lack access
to clean drinking water, and our aging water delivery
infrastructure threatens water reliability for millions of
A potential lawsuit in North Carolina and legislation in
Congress have together surfaced an under-the-radar debate about
who shoulders the burden of preventing contamination of
waterways with toxic PFAS chemicals.
In response to concerns about lead in the water at schools in
Cabrillo Unified School District, the district is moving
forward with a plan to get 25 filtered water bottle filling
stations installed across Cabrillo campuses.
Celtor Chemical Works and the Cooper Bluff Mine are part of a
priorities list for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s
Superfund program. The mine was formally added to the list last
year, while the processing facility is scheduled for
re-assessment after officials discovered more toxic waste
linking back to it. But the Trump administration this week
proposed reducing the EPA’s budget by 26%, cuts that would
include $113 million slashed from the Superfund program’s
The Atwater City Council this week unanimously declared its
highest priority public improvement project to be restoring the
city’s clean water. The urgent resolution came after a
carcinogenic chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), was found
in several Atwater wells — and in quantities exceeding
state-approved maximum contaminant levels.
A Bay Area environmental group has sued the cities of Sunnyvale
and Mountain View, saying they are in violation of the federal
Clean Water Act for discharging raw sewage and polluted storm
water into creeks, sending bacteria pollution to levels more
than 50 times legal limits.
Experts and advocates on Tuesday criticized the Environmental
Protection Agency’s proposed rule to combat lead in the water
supply, calling for the agency to require that service lines
containing lead be replaced.
A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns
including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable
drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics,
including GOP representatives from California. In December
2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal
to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated
A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater
has garnered much attention in the last few years. The reported
levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the
chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil,
according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor
of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.
Wildfire poses layers of risk to drinking water that unspool
over time and geography, with some effects emerging years
later, sometimes outside the burn zone… Water utility
managers, engineers and scientists have only recently begun to
grapple with the aftereffects of fires that consume entire
neighborhoods and towns—as they did in California—and that in
the process, release dozens of manmade pollutants into water
The EPA announced Monday it has reached a settlement with
Airtech International… For about four years, the EPA said,
Airtech violated the federal Clean Water Act by allowing
industrial stormwater runoff to flow into the Bolsa Chica
channel without a stormwater discharge permit from the
California State Water Resources Control Board.
The Central Valley Regional Water Board has issued a 25-year
permit for toxic discharges of agricultural wastewater into the
San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta… Fishermen and environmental
groups have appealed the water board’s decision to the state of
California, leaving the future of this permit uncertain.
The State Lands Commission and State Controller pleaded with
the Environmental Protection Agency in a letter Friday asking
for immediate action to stop the flow of 50 million gallons per
day of polluted water into the Tijuana River Valley. That
polluted water flow has created significant and ongoing beach
closures in Imperial Beach and Coronado.
Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation
can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators
working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to
worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s
why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.
With the backing of an unusual mix of local Democrats,
Republicans, Border Patrol agents and environmental groups,
House Democrats leveraged their support for the trade bill —
one of Trump’s highest priorities — to secure the
administration’s rare backing for an environmental project.
Each group played a part.
The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in
drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells
throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County,
which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever
In fall of 2018, Desert Research Institute scientists Monica
Arienzo, Zoe Harrold, and Meghan Collins were formulating a
project to search for microplastic pollution in the surface
waters of Lake Tahoe and in stormwater runoff into the lake.
But the team was not satisfied in seeking to identify the
presence of microplastic alone—they also wanted to make
connections with community members at Tahoe.
Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving
thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially
threatening the health of people living nearby and handing
taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental
California’s Attorney General is part of a multi state
coalition – urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
protect communities from what they say are dangerous chemicals.
Attorneys General from 19 states, including California’s Xavier
Becerra are urging the EPA to proceed with rulemaking to cover
the entire family of PFAS chemicals.
The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its
long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands
would affect the environment, according to a document shared
with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use
planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the
planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental
As Southern California Edison begins its eight-year process of
decommissioning and dismantling the San Onofre Nuclear
Generating Station, a local watchdog group has filed a petition
to put a halt to actions at the seaside plant. Public
Watchdogs, a nonprofit advocacy group, claims that if the
facility is flooded with rain or ocean water, the proposed
method of disposing nuclear waste could lead to explosive
radioactive steam geysers.
A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban
fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled
text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal
agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking,
new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export
terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.
In November 2018, more than two-thirds of voters passed Measure
W, a comprehensive plan to address how we capture water and how
to reduce our reliance on imported water. Now called the Safe
Clean Water Program, this annual 2.5 cent per impervious square
foot tax for all non-exempt property owners will fund over $250
million dollars annually to build and maintain projects that
capture rainfall and storm water…
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on
efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the
energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the
Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned
in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
The valley’s massive dairy industry routinely mixes
manure-tainted wastewater into the irrigation supplies for corn
and other feed crops. The state requires that the volume not
exceed what the crops can take up as nutrients.
Congress began the process of providing relief to the San
Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean
drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a
hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.
A new law in California took effect Jan. 1 and requires
industrial business owners applying to a city or county for a
new or renewed business license to demonstrate enrollment in a
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater
permit, if it’s required. … Failure to comply will result in
delay or denial of a business license, effectively prohibiting
the business from starting its operations.
It was standing room only as supporters of Curtimade Dairy
lined the walls of Corcoran City Council chambers during last
night’s city council meeting. Corcoran is currently suing the
Curti family for $65 million dollars for damages incurred when
their dairy allegedly contaminated the city’s water supply at
the height of the drought in 2015.
The Newport Beach Harbor Commission got an update on the
proposed water wheel project at their Jan. 8 meeting… The
water wheel would be a floating stationary solar and
hydro-powered trash interceptor in San Diego Creek…
When Wendy Rash was diagnosed in 2005 with a thyroid disorder,
chronic fatigue and other ailments, her doctor couldn’t explain
her suddenly failing health. … It wasn’t until 2016 that
scientists tested the tap water they had been drinking and
found it was contaminated with man-made chemicals known as
per-fluorinated compounds, part of a family of chemicals called
Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule
to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying
the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a
common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the
The city of Corcoran and Curtimade Dairy have been neighbors
for more than 100 years. But about four years ago, their
relationship turned contentious. The city said it planned to
sue the dairy for contaminating its drinking water wells with
nitrates, a contaminant that if consumed, can interfere with
the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues.
A senior Chevron official told California lawmakers on Monday a
2019 incident that spilled over a million gallons of water and
oil into a creek bed was likely caused by its attempts to patch
up a shuttered well.
The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58
permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells,
according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of
Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the
California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A
Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into
the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far
Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells
scattered across California — which includes plugging them,
removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could
eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state
to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators
Yolanda Cuevas saw herself on the big screen for the first time
during the Saturday premiere of “The Great Water Divide:
California’s Water Crisis” in Exeter. The short documentary
focuses on Tooleville, a hamlet in eastern Tulare County where
children can’t wash their hands, dishes or vegetables without
supervision because the water is tainted with multiple
Rivers are vital. Like life-giving arteries, they deliver water
for drinking and irrigation and fertile soil for vineyards and
farms. They support watersheds teeming with life. But humans
are hard on rivers. We crowd their banks, dump waste in them
and take out water, fish and other resources. … When that
happens, who speaks for the river?
Nearly a year after construction was halted a second time at a
large resort project at the north end of Healdsburg when
water-quality regulators allegedly found millions of gallons of
sediment-filled stormwater running off into Russian River
tributaries, the agency announced it is pursuing a $4.9 million
fine against the developer.
The Russian River flowed with a cherry red tint Wednesday after
tens of thousands of gallons of fresh cabernet sauvignon wine
poured into the largest tributary in Sonoma County. The wine —
enough to fill more than 500,000 bottles — spilled from a
Rodney Strong Vineyards’ storage tank at the Healdsburg
The findings by the Environmental Working Group show the
group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency data, that 110 million
Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.
The California-American Water Company accuses the Air Force of
having acted negligently by contaminating a water well in
Sacramento County with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is found in firefighting
foam it used at a base.
Last month, high tides in San Francisco Bay washed up onto the
shoreline of a large former pharmaceutical company in Richmond.
A few hours later, the outgoing tide pulled
contamination—including pesticides, toxic chemicals and
radioactive waste—off the industrial land and into the Bay.
Fresno County contains eight of the top 50 census districts in
California with the highest numbers of kids with lead
poisoning, according to a recent article in The Fresno Bee.
This is completely unacceptable.
Siskiyou County supervisors last week supported Sheriff Jon
Lopey’s assessment that illegal marijuana grows are detrimental
to the health and well being of local residents and approved
the extension of a local state of emergency through 2020.
In the early days, these pot farms were small and scattered.
But in recent years the industry has intensified. A wave of
newcomers planted larger farms, using greenhouses and
artificial lights to extend the growing season and yield up to
three marijuana crops in a single year. The cannabis boom has
polluted waters with fertilizers, fuels and pesticides,
triggered erosion that buries the rocky habitats where salmon
and trout spawn and grow, and drained streams of water in the
A $30,000 grant will bring together 20 high school students
from Allensworth and Alpaugh to learn about safe drinking
water, conduct hands-on testing of arsenic treatment, and
present findings… The students will work with a UC Berkeley
lab to test the technology, Electrochemical Arsenic
California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal
government from allowing oil and gas drilling on more than 1
million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump
administration from issuing new permits in the central part of
The Central Valley fall-run population is a fraction of its
historic size and continues to face challenges as a result of
factors that range from loss of habitat and changing ocean
conditions to pressures from predation and harvest in
freshwater and the ocean. Even under good environmental
conditions, fall-run Chinook face a slew of challenges over the
course of their lives.
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
West Marin ranchers and a local conservation group are teaming
up to plan habitat restoration projects along Walker Creek to
restore the once bountiful, but now diminished, runs of coho
salmon and steelhead trout. The California Department of Fish
and Wildlife awarded the Point Reyes Station-based Marin
Resource Conservation District a nearly $350,000 grant this
The Trump administration is preparing to further dismantle
environmental regulations by vastly reducing the reach of
federal protections for streams and wetlands — delivering a
major win for farmers, developers, miners and oil and gas
A move by the Trump administration to roll back landmark
environmental policy intended to ensure vigorous scrutiny of
federal infrastructure projects has struck alarm in the hearts
of California conservationists, particularly those striving to
safeguard North Coast waters from offshore energy exploration
How pervasive is that plastic exposure, and is it bad for your
health? Scientists don’t yet know, but they have some working
theories. Here’s what we know so far about these tiny,
prevalent plastic particles.
The factors causing the decline of many fish and fisheries in
the upper San Francisco Estuary have made their management
controversial, usually because of the correlation of declines
with increased water exports from the Delta and upstream of the
Delta… To address this problem better, the California Fish
and Game Commission is developing new policies for managing
Delta fish and fisheries, with a special focus on striped bass.
House lawmakers passed a bill Friday for U.S. regulators to
designate chemicals found in cooking spray, cosmetics and other
grease-resistant products as health hazards. Known as
polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanoic substances (PFAS and
PFOS), the chemicals have been found in groundwater sites
across the nation.
Yes, aggregate mining on the San Joaquin has been going on for
more than a century. But with production tapering off and newer
operations opening on the nearby Kings River, it was generally
assumed the poor San Joaquin would finally be given a break…
Unfortunately, a proposal by Cemex threatens to dash those
hopes while ensuring another century of heavy industry on
California’s second-longest river…
Court dockets are ballooning with litigation over PFAS, a
vexing family of chemicals used in many consumer and industrial
products. … Lawyers have compared the legal onslaught to
litigation over asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint. Here’s a
rundown of key cases.
Who can deny the value of potable water to every living thing
in this city, this county, this state? Four million residential
and industrial customers in 43 cities in the Los Angeles, San
Gabriel and San Fernando Basins are dependent on multiple water
sources – groundwater pumped from below them, by aqueduct from
the Colorado River, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Mono Lake, the
Owens Valley and recycled from wastewater treatment plants.
The increasing spills that have polluted the Tijuana River Valley
and ocean off Imperial Beach have resulted in frustration and
anger in recent years, but also triggered broad political
collaboration at the local, state and federal level that has put
the region on the brink of real action.
Newport Beach has the preliminary engineering, environmental
review and startup funding for its long-planned
trash-collection vessel for Upper Newport Bay. Now it’s looking
forward to the final design, construction and giving the water
wheel a personality.
The Trump administration’s sweeping plan to ease environmental
review of highways, power plants and other big projects may be
less consequential in California, where state law puts checks
on new development. By no means, however, would California go
Recently, property owner United Technologies Corp. has asked
the state to change cleanup requirements of the property from
residential to commercial standards, according to the documents
filed with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control
Board, which oversees the remediation efforts.
The majority of groundwater wells drawing water for Santa
Clarita Valley Water contain enough of a non-stick chemical,
which is a suspected carcinogen, that water officials are now
required by the state to notify the county about the find. Of
the agency’s 45 operational wells, 29 of them were found to
contain tiny amounts of of perfluorooctanoic acid and
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally storing and transporting
hazardous waste and agreed to a $5 million fine, federal
prosecutors said. The waste was produced by filtering arsenic
out of Sierra Nevada spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility
in Owens Valley, authorities said.
When lawmakers in the House of Representatives approved the
Trump administration’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada
last month, they authorized $300 million to help fix failing
sewer systems that send raw sewage and toxic pollution flowing
into rivers along the U.S.-Mexico border. … But environmental
groups are condemning the new United States-Mexico-Canada
Agreement, or USMCA, saying it fails to establish binding
standards to curb pollution in Mexico’s industrial zones.
More than 1.4 million children covered by California’s Medicaid
health care program have not received the required testing for
lead poisoning, state auditors reported Tuesday, and the two
agencies charged with administering tests and preventing future
exposure have fallen short on their responsibilities.
Since 2015, the state’s commercial fishermen have reported
nearly record-low catches. Fish hatcheries produce most of the
salmon caught in California today, and with much of their
inland habitat badly degraded, truly wild salmon are scarce.
But a small circle of biologists and fishermen believe they can
revive California’s legendary Chinook to something resembling
its historic glory.
The state this year could require rug and carpet makers to come
up with safer alternatives for their stain- and water-resistant
products. After-market treatments with per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances (PFAS) that help consumers protect their boots,
clothes, and other textiles from rain, snow, and grease could
also face the same fate. So, too, could food packaging items,
even as bans on PFAS in single-use bowls, plates, and utensils
take effect Jan. 1 in San Francisco and other cities in the
The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump would
likely veto legislation designed to manage a class of
cancer-linked chemicals leaching into the water supply. The
chemicals, known by the abbreviation PFAS, are used in a
variety of nonstick products such as raincoats, cookware and
packaging and have been found in nearly every state in the
The river is a powerful example of Mexico’s failure to protect
its environment: A New York Times analysis of 15 years of
efforts to clean up the Santiago found that attempts floundered
in the face of legal loopholes, deficient funding and a lack of
San Francisco officials were quick to dispute Trump’s claims.
But some of California’s most prized rivers, beaches and
streams are indeed contaminated with levels of fecal bacteria
that exceed state limits, threatening kayakers, swimmers — and
the state’s reputation as a bastion of environmental
It started with last month’s heavy rains that brought an
unprecedented volume of debris tumbling down Tijuana’s Matadero
Canyon: old mattresses, used furniture, discarded construction
material. That led to a clogged storm drain by the border
fence, authorities said, and the flooding of a nearby sewage
pump station. The resulting pool of trash and
sewage-contaminated water has now been raising fears in San
Federal agency representatives on Friday night kept the
conversation going with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley about continued
efforts to save two Klamath Basin sucker species from
extinction. … Merkley has delivered $23.5 million to the
Basin since 2013 to find a way toward a solution. He recently
secured $11 million for sucker recovery efforts, including $5.1
million for the Klamath River.
A bill that would require the EPA to regulate PFAS, an emerging
family of chemicals contaminating U.S. municipal and private
water supplies, is slated to be the first major legislation
that the House will take up in 2020.
Climate change is already affecting water management across the
state. Small rural communities with ongoing drinking water
challenges are especially vulnerable to greater extremes
brought on by a warming climate. We talked to Jan Coppinger, a
special district administrator from Lake County, about how the
county’s small water systems have dealt with an especially
devastating string of natural disasters.
The Trump administration has stripped away its regulatory
authority, threatened to cut its highway funding and called its
dirty waterways a “significant public health concern.” But it
isn’t picking a fight with California. That’s what Andrew
Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, claimed
about actions his office has taken recently when it comes to
air and water pollution in the big blue state.
Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump
administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and
gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The
final supplemental environmental report released recently said
the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that
could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials,
however, disagree and have called the
New data shows that rainwater in some parts of the US contains
high enough levels of potentially toxic per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to possibly affect human
health and may, if found in drinking water, in some cases be
high enough to trigger regulatory action.
The company, Watsonville-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc., was
accused of polluting a South Bay creek with manure for years,
despite orders and warnings dating back to the 1980s. The
judgment, the largest for a water pollution lawsuit in county
history, will be used in part to restore the damaged Fisher
The Rosamond Community Services District will replace the last
large areas of asbestos concrete water pipes in a project
slated to start early next year. On Wednesday, the Board of
Directors awarded a contract to California Compaction for $2.3
million to complete the pipe replacement project.