Topic: Pollution

Overview

Pollution

The natural quality of groundwater in California depends on the surrounding geology and on the source of water that recharges the aquifer.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

County’s fracking lawsuit also targets other oilfield regulatory actions

The lawsuit Kern County filed this week against Gov. Gavin Newsom is aimed at not only ending his de-facto ban on fracking but also at easing state regulatory constraints on at least two other oilfield techniques common locally. As part of its larger argument that the Newsom administration has overstepped its constitutional authority, Monday’s petition for a writ of mandate in Kern County Superior Court asserts Newsom had no right in 2019 to place a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steaming or require extensive “area of review” analyses prior to approval of underground injections.

Aquafornia news The Press

Annual Delta waterway cleanup scheduled for Saturday

Environmentally minded residents of East County have an opportunity to help make the Delta a little better. The annual Delta Waterway Cleanup will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Delta Protection Commission (DPC) sponsors this event, and has similar ones scheduled in each of the five counties that adjoin the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta. In Contra Costa County, volunteers will focus their efforts on Bethel Island. The Delta cleanup is part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event.

Aquafornia news CBS Local San Francisco

Owner of Sonoma County quarry faces $4.5m fine for endangering salmon

Water quality regulators let a Sonoma County-based quarry know last week it could face a $4.5 million-fine for multiple alleged violations of the Clean Water Act that threaten the survival of endangered salmon populations in tributaries of the Russian River. The proposed fine from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is part of a legal proceeding known as an administrative civil liability that alleges the operator of Mark West Quarry, Dean Soiland, doing business as BoDean Co. Inc., discharged highly turbid stormwater from its quarry operations into Porter Creek from September 2018 through May 2019.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

Blog: The Truckee River under assault – trash is just one insult as it flows through Reno and Sparks

The annual Truckee River Cleanup Day set for September 25, 2021 is a 17 year-old beautification tradition. Every year, the nonprofit organization Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) organizes hundreds of volunteers who, in a four-hour period, remove trash, erase graffiti, and stencil a warning on storm drains along a 20-mile stretch of the river, from Verdi to Lockwood.  Last year, in one day, some 500 volunteers removed over 35 tons of trash and green waste from the Truckee River Watershed. … But trash is only one environmental threat to the Truckee. 

Aquafornia news Daily Bulletin

Pomona wins $48 million in groundwater pollution case

A federal jury awarded the city of Pomona $48 million in damages to be paid by a foreign corporation for contaminating its groundwater with a toxic chemical mixed with fertilizer and sold to citrus farmers for decades. On Sept. 7, the city won its case against the American subsidiary of a multi-billion dollar Chilean company, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile, known as SQM. The case, which began in 2011, bounced between courts until the city won after presenting its full argument recently in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. 

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Study finds local oil field wastewater safe for use in irrigation

Central Valley water-quality regulators released a final report Friday concluding oil field wastewater from central Kern County, when blended with other water sources, can safely be used to irrigate a variety of locally grown crops. The report, based on five years’ work and incomplete in some respects, found no evidence of risks to human health from watering tree nuts, citrus, berries, tubers and other ag products with the saline water that comes up from the ground along with oil and which contains small concentrations of toxic chemicals.

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Aquafornia news Malibu Magazine

Malibu’s endless lagoon problems

“The Lagoon is getting worse and worse every year,” said Andy Lyon, former Malibu city council candidate, surfer, and community activist. His concerns were validated on August 12, when the Los Angeles County Health Department issued a water quality warning, cautioning citizens to refrain from swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters at Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Lagoon due to potentially hazardous conditions, including exceeding bacteria standards, and to exercise caution where Malibu Creek discharges into the ocean and near discharging storm drains. 

Aquafornia news

Commentary: Tainted water and the Tijuana River — a border tragedy

What had gone so wrong that we could not swim in the ocean in an American city? The problem of Mexican sewage-tainted water polluting southern San Diego County beaches has been going on for decades. What was once viewed as an environmental problem has become a public health issue.
–Written by Rita Schmidt Sudman, former longtime executive director of the Water Education Foundation and author of a book on California water issues, Water: More or Less.  

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: 30 years later – Upper Sac River and Cantara Loop spill

The Upper Sacramento River was again at risk of devastation after a Union Pacific train derailed recently at Cantara Loop, reminding many of the disastrous spill over 30 years ago in the same location. Luckily this time, no spills of any kind occurred, but this further strengthens the argument that this pristine stretch of river requires protection. Disastrous spill In July 1991, a 97-car Southern Pacific train derailed at the Cantara Loop near Mt. Shasta and dumped 19,000 gallons of herbicide metam sodium into the Sacramento River. 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California bill to reduce toxic PFAS exposures passed by legislature

The California Legislature took an important step to protect Californians from toxic, “forever” PFAS chemicals by passing Assembly Bill 1200 (Ting) today. Having previously passed on the Senate floor 36-0, the bill now goes to the Governor. AB 1200 would help make our food and our environment safer by banning the use of toxic, “forever” PFAS chemicals in paper-based food packaging.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Will Lake Tahoe no longer be blue due to Caldor Fire ash?

Jesse Patterson, of Keep Tahoe Blue, said the organization is funding research into the effects of the Caldor Fire on Lake Tahoe. “It’s going to look very different. Huge areas are burnt down, a burn scar — there can be runoff now from those areas that use to be protected by the trees. Now, those trees are gone and that runoff can come from the land and affect the lakes,” Patterson said. Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, professor of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis, said ash is a problem too. When ash bleeds into the lake, it turns into nutrients that cause algae blooms.

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Aquafornia news KTLA

Toxic algae bloom reaches danger level at Merced County’s San Luis Reservoir

A bloom of toxic blue-green algae in a Central California reservoir has reached the danger level, the state Department of Water Resource said Tuesday. Lab results from this week’s tests showed an increase in toxin levels at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County, the department said. Boating is allowed but people and pets should avoid physical contact with the water and algal scum. Fish and shellfish from the lake should also be avoided.

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Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

The surprising places PFAS are being found

In the last five years, the environmental problem known as PFAS has become mainstream public knowledge and a growing public concern.  Aided by popular movies, books, and environmental advocates, including dozens of recently-formed citizen action groups, many have now heard of PFAS — shorthand for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — and are familiar with one or more potential health consequences from prolonged exposure to these chemicals — e.g., cancer, immune system malfunctions, hypertension, thyroid and kidney disease.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

New research: Rare earth elements and old mines spell trouble for Western U.S. water supplies

Rare earth elements are finding their way into Colorado water supplies, driven by changes in climate, finds a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Rare earth elements are necessary components of many computing and other high-tech devices, like cell phones and hard drives. But there is growing recognition that they can be hazardous in the environment even at low levels of concentration.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Will Newsom honor pledge for $220M to help Salton Sea? Doubts arise

Concerned that tens of millions of dollars promised to help address woes at the Salton Sea could vanish from this year’s state budget, a chorus of Riverside and Imperial County officials this week wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot politely demanding that the funding stay on track. … Residents in rural communities ringing the rapidly shrinking water body suffer disproportionately high asthma rates and other risks from dust released into the air as the shoreline grows. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

How Biden’s team rushed to dump a Trump-era PFAS assessment

Trump-era EPA appointees engaged in “considerable political level interference” on an assessment for a controversial “forever chemical,” documents obtained by E&E News indicate. But the Biden administration wasted no time in yanking that document, moving to scrub the assessment of alterations made by political appointees and restore language advocated by EPA career scientists shortly after the president’s inauguration. At issue is a toxicity assessment for PFBS, part of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances family.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Feds close trails near mysterious Mariposa County family death for ‘unknown hazards’

Sierra National Forest officials closed a portion of trails in Mariposa County where a family and their dog were found dead under mysterious circumstances in mid-August, citing unspecified safety concerns. … Officials have not ruled out water toxicity as a contributing factor in the family’s death as they await the results of water tests taken from the area where the family was found.

Aquafornia news Daily News

Valley activists, residents head to Sacramento to demand cleanup of contaminated Santa Susana Field Lab

Environmental justice groups gathered Monday, Aug. 30, in front of the California EPA building in Sacramento, demanding cleanup of contaminated sites around the state … Organizers of the demonstration said the California Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Toxic Substances Control, the regulatory agency overseeing the investigation and cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at the SSFL, failed to hold polluters accountable, allowing them to walk away from cleaning contaminated sites often located in low-income and working-class communities.

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Aquafornia news KEYT - Santa Barbara

92 tree frogs rescued from Toro Canyon Creek oil spill released back into wild

More than 90 small frogs were released back into the wild this week after being recovered from an oil spill at Toro Canyon Creek near Summerland. The frogs were rescued in August by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) and Santa Barbara’s Wildlife Care Network (SBWCN). Crews said the frogs were found coated in oil. They were washed and rehabilitated back to prime health before being prepared for release.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Sierra National Forest closures – Hazards near CA death site

Sierra National Forest closed numerous hiking trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, citing “unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy Trail,” where a Mariposa family was mysteriously found dead two weeks ago. The closures went into effect Sunday and extend through Sept. 26. … The Sheriff’s Office previously said known harmful algal blooms along the south fork of the Merced River are among the many possible causes of death being considered in the case with “no smoking gun” clues. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Lithium fuels hopes for revival on California’s largest lake

Near Southern California’s dying Salton Sea, a canopy next to a geothermal power plant covers large containers of salty water left behind after super-hot liquid is drilled from deep underground to run steam turbines. The containers connect to tubes that spit out what looks like dishwater, but it’s lithium, a critical component of rechargeable batteries and the newest hope for economic revival in the depressed region.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Federal judge in Arizona throws out Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which affects wetlands

A federal judge Monday threw out a major Trump administration rule that scaled back federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States, reversing one of the previous administration’s most significant environmental rollbacks. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez wrote that Trump officials committed serious errors while writing the regulation, finalized last year, and that leaving it in place could lead to “serious environmental harm.”

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Devastating fires could damage Lake Tahoe’s iconic blue waters

Smoke and ash from wildfires near Lake Tahoe — one of the deepest lakes in the world — is already clouding the lake’s famously clear water, researchers say. While the long-term effects are unclear, ash and soot are now coating the surface of the High Sierra lake and veiling the sun, which can disrupt the lake’s ecosystem and its clarity. More debris and sediment are likely to wash into the lake from runoff and rain this fall and winter.

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Aquafornia news EcoWatch

Blog: EPA takes action to protect Pacific salmon from pesticides

Extreme heat waves have made this a devastating summer for the endangered salmon species of the U.S. West Coast. In mid July, California wildlife officials warned that almost all of the young Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River would likely die because of lower water levels and higher water temperatures. … But, amidst all the catastrophic headlines was a cool spring of good news. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally acting to protect more than two dozen endangered West Coast salmon and steelhead species from pesticides.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Pipe bursts in East Bay, spilling 12,500 gallons of raw sewage

A collapsed underground pipe leaked at least 12,500 gallons of raw sewage into Martinez storm drains and residents are being cautioned to avoid surface water in the area, authorities said. The leak, first noticed on Monday by oil refinery workers, was blamed on the deterioration of a municipal sewer line just south of the PBF oil refinery, formerly known as the Shell refinery.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Young American researcher wins Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2021

High schooler Eshani Jha from [Lynbrook High School in San José, California] received the prestigious 2021 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for research on how to remove contaminants from water. …. Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an international competition where students between the ages of 15 and 20 present solutions to major water challenges.

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Aquafornia news Imperial Beach News

Three options to deal with border pollution presented at USMCA meeting

In 2020 the U.S. government through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) committed $300 million in The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement to identify infrastructure solutions to mitigate the transboundary pollution. Infrastructure solutions for transboundary flows from the Tijuana River have been studied for the past year. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been tasked with creating solutions, originally proposed 10 possible projects. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: Sierra County mine agrees with U.S. EPA to install wastewater treatment, protecting local waterways

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Sixteen to One Mine, one of California’s oldest operational gold mines, has agreed to an Administrative Order on Consent requiring the mine to install a new treatment system that will remove pollutants from mine drainage before entering local waters. The mine was found to be in violation of its permit under the U.S. Clean Water Act after consistently discharging mine-influenced water that exceeded limits on pollutants. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California Water Board to order water consolidation for Tooleville

The state of California took the first step to order and potentially pay for the city of Exeter in Tulare County to extend water service to hundreds of homes in a nearby town without safe and stable drinking water. For decades, the 340 residents of Tooleville have relied on contaminated groundwater as their main source of tap water….

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Increase in eelgrass beneficial for birds, fish, bay

You can usually find Trish and me walking our dog CoBe around Los Osos in the evening. Our favorite walk is along the shoreline that stretches from Baywood Park Beach off Pasadena Drive to the Audubon overlook at the end of 4th Street. Over the past year, we’ve noticed a gradual increase in the amount of eelgrass washed up on the sand. In fact, on our last hike, there were areas that you couldn’t see any sand below the wrack of eelgrass that formed in different ribbons of colors by the tides. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

EPA chief gets tour of Tijuana River sewage and trash that foul San Diego beaches

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan got a first-hand look Friday at the Tijuana River Valley, where hundreds of millions of gallons of water laced with raw sewage, trash and industrial chemicals regularly foul San Diego shorelines, shuttering beaches as far north as Coronado. 

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Utility district prevents sewage spill into Lake Tahoe

A sewage spill into Lake Tahoe was prevented this past weekend.  South Tahoe Public Utility District received a call regarding a foul odor coming from the beach by Valhalla boat house.  Upon arriving on scene, crews discovered that the sewer main had backed up causing a manhole 35 feet from the edge of Lake Tahoe to fill with sewage, the district said in a press release.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Killer algae? California officials retesting river water after family found dead in Sierra

Toxic algae in Sierra National Forest, now being considered in the mysterious deaths of a family this week, was being retested on Thursday by the California State Water Resources Control Board and Mariposa County. … Mariposa residents John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their daughter, Miju, and family dog, Oski, were found dead in this area on Tuesday after not returning from a day hike in the Hites Cove area of Devil’s Gulch, between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park. The family may have been exposed to cyanobacterial toxins, the water board said, which can form in algal blooms.

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Aquafornia news The Press

Assemblymember Jim Frazier anchors effort to remove abandoned boats from the Delta

Efforts to rid the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of abandoned boats received a boost when Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-11, secured a $12 million allocation for that purpose in the state’s budget for fiscal year 2021 – 2022.  The allocation is specifically earmarked for the removal of abandoned and derelict commercial vessels that litter the Delta. These vessels have the potential to leak any number of dangerous pollutants into the Delta, which is also the heart of the water supply for two-thirds of all Californians. 

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Microplastics: State of the science and future perspective

Plastic pollution is one of the world’s most pressing and observable modern issues, possessing the potential to significantly impact human health, aquatic species health, and, undoubtedly, environmental health. This pollution is categorized by the size in which plastics occur due, in part, to varied fate and transport in soil, water, and even atmospheric compartments. Beyond the very visible nuisance of macro-and mesoplastics, researchers and regulators are now turning their attention to less visible microplastics, which, according to the California Water Resources Control Board (WRCB), includes nanoplastics.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Water seeking permit to discharge water with PFAS compounds into Santa Cruz River

Tucson Water plans to start discharging water containing low levels of PFAS compounds from its south-side water treatment plant into the Santa Cruz River in early October — if it gets a state permit for the discharge by then. The utility is building a pipeline to take the water from that treatment plant near Interstate 10 and Irvington Road to the river near Irvington. It also has submitted a permit application for the discharge to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. 

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Law firms target Hyperion over foul smells, sewage release

Several law firms are moving to sue Los Angeles and the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant over the foul smells and water pollution caused by the emergency release of 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean last month. The Bloom Law and Parris Law firms jointly filed a claim for damages — the first step toward a potential class-action lawsuit — in early August on behalf of at least a dozen residents. A second group of about 20 families, represented separately by attorney Abraham Sandoval, is expected to submit its claims within the next week.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

Report underscores continued need for research at Salton Sea

Efforts of the Salton Sea Management Program to achieve to goals of mitigation efforts “will be difficult, if not impossible” without investment in continuing scientific research, according to a new report. The report was prepared for policymakers and stakeholders by the University of California, Riverside Salton Sea Task Force. The task force consists of an interdisciplinary group of scientists, engineers, medical experts and economists gathered to identify critical scientific research necessary to guide policymakers in making decisions about the region’s future.

Aquafornia news Santa Monica Daily Press

The toxic truth of L.A.’s stormwater sewer system

In a region that lauds itself as a bastion of environmental progress, the 100 billion gallons of polluted runoff that flows out of storm drains annually is Los Angeles’ dirty secret. When rain water hits L.A.’s largely impervious landscape it drains into run-off channels that criss-cross through the county accumulating a toxic slew of chemicals, oil, fertilizer, trash, hard metals, and bacteria before entering a storm drain and spewing out into the ocean.

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

New research: Salton Sea restoration efforts could fail without science

There are finally efforts under way to improve the environmental health disaster that is the Salton Sea — California’s largest and most polluted lake. However, a group of UC Riverside scientists, engineers, medical experts, and economists has published a new report warning that these efforts may not succeed. The report warns that the scientific assumptions informing current mitigation efforts are outdated or lacking entirely. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Lake Tahoe-area towns at risk of future flooding, UC Davis scientists warn in annual report

Water in Lake Tahoe could rise to unprecedented levels, potentially placing communities downstream in jeopardy, according to a study from environmental scientists at UC Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center. In the past two years, California saw brutal heatwaves and droughts shrink Lake Tahoe’s water level to a point so low that some boats couldn’t be launched. However, that’s expected to change. While temperatures aren’t projected to cool off, Lake Tahoe could see a rapid depletion of its snowpack and an influx of water during the coming years.

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Aquafornia news Press Enterprise

Opinion: With climate imperiled, the Salton Sea needs us

California’s Coachella Valley is my home, made complete by the proximity and awe of the stunning Salton Sea. My community is proud of the traditions, unique desert landscape and vibrant culture that make our valley a special place. Yet as years pass and our leaders fail to act, the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake, is dying and people are getting sick. For decades, we have lived under a cloud of dangerous pollutants from the Salton Sea’s drying lakebed.
-Written by Conchita Pozar, a community advocate from the community of North Shore.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

State again exercises discretion to reject fracking permits in western Kern

For the second time, State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk has used his discretionary authority, as opposed to technical standards, to reject a series of permit applications to use the controversial oilfield technique known as fracking. Ntuk sent a letter Monday to Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC saying he has reviewed and denied applications filed by the company to hydraulically fracture 14 wells in the South Belridge oil field in western Kern County.

Aquafornia news Food Navigator

6PPD quinone: The environmental contaminant killing Coho salmon

6-PPD is a chemical widely used to protect car tires from ozone. However, when rainwater washes it into freshwater, 6PPD degrades into 6-PPD quinone, a contaminant that a recent study​ has linked to the mass deaths of Coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Washington found that even small doses of 6PPDq were lethal for the salmon. … According to the California Water Board, Coho populations today are probably less than 6% of what they were in the 1940s, and there has been ‘at least’ a 70% decline since the 1960s. 

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Pollutants released by Hyperion decline sharply as pumps come back online

The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant is expected to continue releasing millions of gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific until the plant is restored to normal operations later this month, but the amount of pollutants in the water flowing into the ocean is already dropping dramatically as more of the damaged facility is brought back online, according to new water quality data. 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Lady of the Lake: Figuring out fish kills

A “fish die-off” is generally a natural phenomena and occurs in summer when low oxygen and warm temperatures causes large mortality in a localized population of fish. Fish die-offs can also happen in winter months when temperature stress can kill a fish population. We have seen winter die-off happen during extreme winters here in Clear Lake and her tributaries, especially to the fragile, small bait fish populations like the threadfin shad and silversides.

Aquafornia news KPBS

EPA considers projects to fix cross-border pollution flows

Federal officials are getting closer to identifying how they plan to control persistent cross-border sewage flows which routinely foul the San Diego ocean. They talked publicly on Friday about ongoing efforts to fix a persistent problem, sewage coming from Tijuana which fouls a sensitive estuary in the United States and also contaminates the ocean.

Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

Researchers look for sinks of microplastics pollution in Lake Tahoe

Microplastic pollution is seemingly ubiquitous, and few know this as well as staff research associate with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Katie Senft. Senft, in collaboration with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, is looking for sinks of microplastics in Lake Tahoe. … Senft is looking at five different areas of the lake. The first is surface water.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Lake Tahoe is filled with trash. I went diving with the crew whose mission is to clean it up

The first pull of the day was a Corona bottle, its label scraped off by the coarse sand just off the shore of South Lake Tahoe. How long it had been there was anyone’s guess. A freediver in the floating cleanup crew unearthed it from the sand — only about 12 feet deep here — and surfaced to dump it in a green floating trash raft named Darlene. It was Day 15 of the first-ever effort to systematically scoop up submerged litter and junk that has accumulated on the bottom along Lake Tahoe’s 72-mile shoreline. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water samples at Dockweiler State Beach return to state standards

The water quality of several beaches near Dockweiler State Beach has returned to state standards after a sewage spill, according to the California Department of Public Health. Beachgoers had been warned against swimming along a stretch of coastline after an emergency discharge from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant sent 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the waters off Dockweiler and El Segundo beaches on July 11 and 12.

Aquafornia news Fox Rothschild

Blog: California requires PFAS investigation at refineries and terminals statewide
pfas and emerging contaminants

The California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) has issued an Order to approximately 160 bulk fuel storage terminals and refineries in California requiring implementation of a PFAS site investigation.  The State Water Board identified the recipients of the Order on the basis that they had stored and/or used materials that may contain PFAS such as AFFF for fire suppression, fire training, and flammable vapor suppression. 

Aquafornia news KGUN

University of Arizona studies how PFAS travels to groundwater

A $1.3 million study is underway at the University of Arizona to learn more about how PFAS enters the ground and contaminates water to effort remediation. “It’s a really big issue and we are starting to tackle this particular problem of PFAS being present in soils due to the many decades of the use of PFAS in almost every aspect of our life and also at the military sites,” said Bo Guo, principle investigator.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA and Army announce next steps for crafting enduring definition of Waters of the United States

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army announced plans for upcoming community engagements to inform their efforts to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) to better ensure clean and safe water for all. EPA and Army are committed to developing a reasonable, effective, and durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries. 

Aquafornia news Western Farmer-Stockman

Stricter controls sought against ag-based water pollution

Greater buffer zones around bodies of water and more consistent enforcement of water protection regulations are needed to reduce agriculture-based pollution in the Western U.S., a recent review from Oregon State University found. Prior research has shown that agricultural pollution, both from croplands and rangelands, is the cause of 48% of water-quality impairment in U.S. surface waters, which in turn disrupts habitat for fish and insects and reduces biodiversity in aquatic environments.

Aquafornia news NBC Southern California

Beach warning continues for areas near Dockweiler

Several Los Angeles County beaches near Dockweiler State Beach continue to exceed state standards for bacteria in water, according to the Department of Public Health. However, special water sampling conducted Friday determined water quality levels returned to state standards at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant outfall at Dockweiler State Beach and the Topsail Street extension at Venice Beach, lifting warnings there. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California toxics law: Few water cases, but millions for lawyers

Thirty-five years ago, California voters approved a landmark law meant to halt exposure to dangerous chemicals in drinking water and everyday products like food, flip-flops, and face shields. Decades later, the water cases are few and far between—while hundreds of product lawsuits bring in millions of dollars annually for plaintiffs’ attorneys, some of whom represent environmental groups focused only on this law. 

Aquafornia news UC Davis

New research: Plastic ‘pool’ toy pollution in the wild

A new trend of pool toys containing glitter and microbeads is complicating the already pervasive environmental problem of microplastic pollution. University of California, Davis, scientists studying plastics pollution encourage beach-goers to take care to leave natural waterways as clean or cleaner than they found them this summer by reducing their use of all forms of plastic at the beach and leaving pool toys full of microbeads and glitter at home. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Bacteria increase at beaches near Hyperion sewage discharge triggers a warning

High bacteria levels at beaches near the site of a massive sewage discharge in Playa del Rey have prompted Los Angeles County health officials to issue a warning about going in the water. The L.A. County Department of Public Health did not rule out a link between the 17-million-gallon sewage release from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant on July 11 and the rise in bacteria. But a connection was “unlikely,” given the currents and the more than two weeks that have elapsed since the incident, the department said.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Border report: Little action on border sewage crisis since $300M announcement

Rain fell on San Diego Monday. It wasn’t a lot of rain – an Accuweather forecast called for “a brief morning shower or two” with an anticipated rainfall of 0.01 inches. But it was enough to prompt a beach closure at the Tijuana Slough, just south of Imperial Beach. That section of the beach is closed whenever the Tijuana River is flowing. Cross-border sewage spills have been an issue in South County for decades.

Aquafornia news Air Quality Matters

Deep dig: Farther-down drilling into Valley aquifers brings more ‘up-top’ pollution

As drought conditions worsen in the western U.S., it is there that water is becoming more and more scarce. As for that which is at the surface and below, you know, the subsurface supply, is everything being done that can be done to get the most out of this extremely valuable resource? In California’s San Joaquin Valley, according to information imparted on the Jul. 20, 2021 edition of the PBS “News Hour,” agriculture drinks up half of the groundwater supply. In some Valley locations, water availability is extremely limited. 

Aquafornia news California Water Law Journal

Legal analysis on groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait

California’s courts routinely impose punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly release hazardous substances which contaminate groundwater. But California has been slow to follow the nationwide trend favoring punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly fail to remediate their past hazardous releases before those releases spread and cause greater harm.

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Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Activist wants polluted water to stop flowing by family home

For years, oily, odorous and — at times — thick runoff water flowed from the back end of the Knolls Lodge Mobile Home Park in Torrance into the storm drain of a neighboring cul-de-sac. Marc Evans’ family home happens to be in the runoff water’s path, and he has been trying to get it to stop for years. Evans shared that the area recently caught a break from the eyesore. … The flow came from the park’s resident car wash area that’s located along a brick wall sharing a property line with Evans’ family home.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As Hyperion sewage spill worsened, communications failed

Multiple failures in communication between Los Angeles city and county agencies delayed crucial public warnings and a full emergency response to a massive sewage discharge earlier this month at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, according to a report obtained by The Times that was discussed Tuesday by county officials. The report provides new details regarding plant flooding and the evacuation of staff just before an hours-long discharge of 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the waters off Dockweiler and El Segundo beaches July 11 and 12. 

Aquafornia news KPVI

Bay Area high school student wins prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize

The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) selected Eshani Jha from Lynbrook High School in San Jose as California’s first place winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, 2021. Jha’s project, Thiol Functionalized and Manganese Doped Biochar for the Removal of Toxic Organic and Inorganic Contaminants from the Water was selected as the first-place project for California out of 21 papers submitted. Jha, one of 43 state winners announced by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), represented California in the national finals in June where she was declared as the U.S. winner. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘The air is toxic’: how an idyllic California lake became a nightmare
Climate crisis in the American West

Here, in California’s far south-east, there’s no escaping the noxious air. The haze that hovers over Imperial [County] is a peculiar blend – incorporating pesticide plumes, exhaust fumes, factory emissions, and something curious: vaporized dust rising from the nearby Salton Sea. … It is California’s largest lake, an ecological oasis, a former mecca for famous vacationers, and a muddy sink for agricultural runoff. For decades, it has been shrinking, exposing a powdery arsenic-, selenium- and DDT-laced shoreline that wafts into the atmosphere.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As noxious fumes sicken residents, anger grows about Hyperion plant sewage discharge

On a jog in her El Segundo neighborhood, Corrie Zupo’s head hurt and her eyes watered. She blamed the symptoms on noxious fumes from the nearby Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which is undergoing at least a month of repairs after discharging 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean on July 11. Other residents have complained of rashes, nausea and burning eyes. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment Department, which runs the plant, announced that it would reimburse El Segundo residents for air conditioners if they stay in their homes, or hotel vouchers if they would rather leave.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Critics bid to overturn approval of Tahoe resort expansion

Environmental lawyers are urging a California appellate court to overturn a pair of district court rulings that handed significant victories to the Squaw Valley ski resort as it moves forward with expansion plans critics say will dramatically increase traffic in the area and harm Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality. Justice Vance W. Raye, chief of the Third District Court of Appeals, appeared sympathetic to their arguments this week that Placer County may have violated a public records law in approving part of an environmental analysis and mitigation plan at the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

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Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

LA Controller demands answers to sewage spill that closed down South Bay beaches

Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin sent a letter to LA Sanitation and Environment on Tuesday, July 20, demanding answers about the cause and impact of a 17 million gallon sewage spill early last week that temporarily closed beaches from El Segundo to the southern end of Playa del Rey. … The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, near El Segundo, discharged 17 million gallons of untreated sewage through a one-mile outfall beginning the evening of July 11 and into the morning of July 12, prompting the beach closures.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly mobilizing behind efforts to crack down on so-called forever chemicals as pressure to find a solution swells to a fever pitch. At an inaugural conference pegged to issues around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed to “follow the science” on the chemicals and offer a strong federal partner to local governments. 

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Court allows Trump Administration Waters of the U.S. rule to remain

A South Carolina federal judge issued an order late last week allowing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the Trump administration’s “waters of the United States” rule, to remain in place while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers work on rulemakings to revoke and replace it. The final rule was issued in April 2020, redefining “waters of the United States” and narrowing the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Pollution from old Avila Beach tank farm is seeping into tide pools. What should be done?

For years, petroleum hydrocarbons have been seeping from the groundwater beneath the old oil tank farm property in Avila Beach into tide pools below.  Much of the source of the pollution has been cleaned up, but an unknown amount remains. The question now is, what should be done with it and could over-aggressive remediation cause more harm than good?  The trickle of hydrocarbons — comprised of a mixture of diluted, broken-down gas from the tank farm — was discovered in May 2012 …

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Water redirected to refill Legacy Park pond

Residents, along with the local population of Mallard ducks, Canada geese and coots will soon get their Legacy Park nature preserve back. The pond, which is normally kept full most of the year with storm runoff water, totally dried up this spring in the middle of duckling season. The statewide drought took its toll. Meanwhile, the construction of a new office park and shopping center—the La Paz project—right across the street was running into difficulties with groundwater as workers excavated a future underground parking garage. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. beach sewage spill under growing scrutiny

There is growing scrutiny over a 17-million-gallon sewage spill into the Santa Monica Bay, with many asking how the spill occurred and why it took so long to alert the public. … Here is a breakdown of what we know — and what we don’t. The emergency discharge at Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey began Sunday evening and ended around 4:30 a.m. Monday, according to interviews. The 17 million gallons — about 6% of the facility’s daily load — amounted to the largest emergency discharge conducted at the Hyperion plant in a decade, officials said.

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Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Reno

News release: Researcher aims to get to the bottom of harmful, hidden riverbed algae

While algae growing in our lakes, ponds and reservoirs can be quite visible, the algae in many of our rivers and their tributaries is often not so obvious, lurking on the bottom of the rivers, and clinging to rocks. Yet, some of these riverbed blue-green algae, referred to as “cyanobacteria,” can create algal blooms that produce toxins harmful not only to aquatic life, but also to pets, livestock and humans. University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor Joanna Blaszczak is conducting research to identify the specific conditions conducive to producing these blooms and their toxins…

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

AP Interview: EPA water chief on clean water protections

To finally determine a lasting definition of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new water director says everyone with a stake in the issue will need to be engaged. Radhika Fox recently spoke to The Associated Press about the Biden administration’s plan to rewrite the regulation, also called Waters of the United States. The contentious rule was scaled back by the Trump administration after being expanded under President Barack Obama.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Delayed alert to massive beach sewage spill raises alarm

After 17 million gallons of raw sewage were discharged into the ocean off Los Angeles beaches early Monday, county officials waited hours before notifying the public to avoid swimming in areas potentially affected by high levels of bacteria. The delay occurred even though officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which is responsible for notifying the public, were at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey during the emergency discharge procedure that began Sunday evening and ended Monday around 4:30 a.m., according to interviews.

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Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California oil lobby seeks to strip environmental protections for groundwater amid drought

A prominent oil and gas lobbying group seeks to strip environmental protections from groundwater sources designated by the state for agricultural use and which may grow increasingly important to California’s water-scarce future, according to a memo obtained through a records request. The proposal, which hasn’t been publicly announced, suggests removing protections for groundwater reserves underneath 1,500 square surface miles in western Kern County, where  the upper groundwater zone alone can extend down thousands of feet.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A Delta in distress

Global warming has already left its mark on the backbone of California’s water supply, and represents a growing threat to its first developed agricultural region, state experts have warned in a new study. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fuels California’s $3 trillion economy, including its $50 billion agricultural industry, sustains more than 750 plant and animal species and supplies 27 million people with drinking water.  But global warming is likely to destabilize the landscape that made the delta a biodiversity and agricultural hotspot …

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Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Rep. Vargas: $3.2M for Salton Sea, New River in bill

Nearly $3.25 million in federal funding was preliminarily secured for separate project requests at the Salton Sea and the New River on Monday, July 12, according to the office of Congressman Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista. The funding was part of a 2022 House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee bill that included requests of $2.546 million for a major Salton Sea research project, $200,000 for a Salton Sea feasibility study, and $500,000 for planning and design phases for a potential New River restoration project, Vargas’ press release states. 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Eureka plans wastewater plant upgrades amid calls to not discharge sewage into Humboldt Bay

For years, the city of Eureka sent treated wastewater directly into Humboldt Bay from its Elk River processing plant.  But five years ago, the North Coast Regional Water Control Board ordered the city to “cease and desist” and to move to ocean discharge by 2030. The city is now seeking a resolution that would allow wastewater to continue to be discharged into the bay. The water board will meet in mid-August to decide.  Whether or not the city is granted the exemption to continue, there are plans in the works to make upgrades to the Elk River wastewater facility. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

It’s not just water supply: drought harms water quality, too

Extreme heat and wildfires are engulfing the [West] amid a historic drought that scientists think may be the region’s worst in at least 1,200 years. In response, some drinking water systems are beginning to grapple with maintaining both water supplies and water quality as they deal with potential legal and regulatory concerns. … California contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey to study the link between drought and water quality … Some systems saw increases in nitrates, arsenic, and uranium …

Aquafornia news USA Today

LA area beaches closed after 17-million-gallon sewage plant spill

Miles of beaches in Los Angeles were closed to swimmers Monday as 17 million gallons of sewage from the city’s largest treatment plant spilled into Santa Monica Bay the night before. A mechanical failure “at the Hyperion plant last night caused untreated sewage to be discharged into the ocean,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said on Twitter. … Closure signs were posted in the areas around El Segundo and Dockweiler State Beaches, as well as Grand Ave. Storm Drain, and officials urged visitors from going into the water. 

Aquafornia news Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal

Law Review: “A Clean Water Act, if you can keep it”

The Clean Water Act has traveled a successful but tortuous path. From combustible beginnings on the Cuyahoga River; through the Lake St. Clair wetlands; to reservoirs near the Miccosukee; and eventually discharged (or “functionally” discharged) off the Maui coast. With each bend, the nearly fifty-year-old Act has proven to be not just resilient, but among our most successful environmental laws. Much of that success stems from an effective enforcement structure that focuses more on treating pollutant sources rather than just impaired waters.
–Written by Sean G. Herman, an attorney with Hanson Bridgett LLP and an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Newsom’s oil regulators deny new fracking permits, but industry is pushing back

California denied 21 oil drilling permits this week in the latest move toward ending fracking in a state that makes millions from the petroleum industry but is seeing widespread drought and more dangerous fire seasons linked to climate change. … Fracking involves injecting high-pressure water deep underground to extract oil or gas from rock. Critics say it can pollute groundwater and contributes to climate change.

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Aquafornia news KTVU 2

Residents demand action to clear trash in East Bay reservoir

Community members in Alameda County are outraged by the huge amount of trash blown into the Bethany Reservoir in Alameda County. They believed it was coming from a nearby landfill and were demanding action. … Residents of nearby Mountain House came with cameras to document it. They believed high winds carried trash from the Altamont Landfill.

Aquafornia news Yale E360

Once a rich desert river, the Gila struggles to keep flowing

The confluence of the tiny San Pedro River and the much larger Gila was once one of the richest locales in one of the most productive river ecosystems in the American Southwest, an incomparable oasis of biodiversity. The rivers frequently flooded their banks, a life-giving pulse … The confluence now is a very different place, its richness long diminished. A massive mountain of orange- and dun-colored smelter tailings, left from the days of copper and lead processing and riddled with arsenic, towers where the two rivers meet. Water rarely flows there, with an occasional summer downpour delivering an ephemeral trickle.

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Aquafornia news KESQ

Changes happening at the Salton Sea on a state & federal level

The Salton Sea has been a health problem for decades with longtime inaction from agencies charged with actually doing something about it. But there is recent movement on a couple wetland projects around the lake.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Lake Tahoe’s famously clear water is murky – here’s what’s causing it

Lake Tahoe’s water continues to show some of the murkiest levels on record, according to a new report from UC Davis. Readings from 2020 put the average depth of Tahoe’s water clarity at 62.9 feet, on par with 2019’s average of 62.7 feet but down a substantial 8 feet from the year before. The 2019 and 2020 data show the lake near its lowest level of clarity since UC Davis researchers began keeping records 53 years ago. The worst year was 2017, when lake clarity measured 59.7 feet.

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Aquafornia news Legal Planet

The ongoing tension over stormwater discharges in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Board”) is in the process of issuing a new permit for water discharges through the municipal separate storm sewer systems (“MS4”) in Los Angeles County and Ventura County. The MS4 permit is an important document that regulates how municipalities can allow stormwater to flow through the MS4 system and out into natural (or modified) waterways. Stormwater typically contains high quantities of pollutants, including toxic metals, bacteria, and other materials picked up from buildings and streets during wet weather events, all of which harms both the ecosystem and human health. 

Aquafornia news Spectrum 1

Heal the Bay 2021 beach report card praises OC, Malibu

The beaches are back, and according to research taken from the coastal watchdogs at Heal the Bay, there are plenty of excellent Southland beaches for people to enjoy this summer. Even so, a handful of beaches across California, including a perennial “beach bummer” in Los Angeles County, leave something to be desired. Heal the Bay’s complete 2020-2021 Beach Report Card covers the entirety of the west coast, from the Pacific Northwest down to Tijuana, and includes brief water quality updates from along the coast. It also features grades on freshwater sources and swimming holes, such as those along the LA River.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Here are the dirtiest beaches in California

Here’s some good news (and then, some not-so-good news) for those seeking a summer respite by the sea: Beaches across California are much cleaner than in years past. In its annual survey of more than 500 beaches, Heal the Bay reported Tuesday that 93% of California’s beaches logged good water-quality marks between April and October 2020 — an encouraging assessment for a coastline that sees all manner of trash, pesticides and bacteria (not to mention microplastics, automotive fluids and tire particles) flushed into the ocean whenever it rains.

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Aquafornia news Truthout

Explosive growth of toxic algae threatens water supplies across US

With a vast portion of the United States coping with exceptional drought this summer, conditions are ripe in many places for harmful algal blooms, bringing additional threats to already-stressed water systems and increased health risks for communities. The blooms are in large part fueled by phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from industrial agricultural operations, which provide a feast of nutrients for cyanobacteria — a group of aquatic, photosynthetic bacteria that grow out of control and overwhelm their ecosystems in the presence of excess nutrients.

Aquafornia news World Economic Forum

Blog: 9 ways to clean up plastic waste from the world’s rivers

The Clean Currents Coalition – a global network of local projects – is on a mission to clean up the world’s rivers, using scientific solutions to address the problem of plastic waste … Pollution doesn’t respect international boundaries, making plastic waste in the Tijuana River Estuary, which forms the border between the US and Mexico, everyone’s problem. As the river is the sole source of clean drinking water for many people, California and Mexico-based environmental non-profit WILDCOAST, has erected a “Brute Boom” across the Los Laureles Canyon to collect debris. 

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water honored for PFAS water treatment project

SCV Water’s response to removing per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals in the local groundwater supply received top honors as the Best Environmental Project from the American Public Works Association (APWA) — High Desert Branch. … PFAS chemicals are manmade and can cause adverse health effects. Officials recognized the opening of the plant, which is adjacent to the William S. Hart Pony Baseball & Softball fields, in early October. The $6 million facility restores up to 6,250 gallons of water per minute. 

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Desert Hot Springs waste spill has MSWD facing up to $9.4 million fine

Mission Springs Water Districtis facing as much as $9.4 million in fines from state and regional water regulators after district officials failed to report a  nearly million-gallon spill from a breached wastewater percolation pond as required, and failed to notify state authorities that a temporary holding pond had been constructed. District officials waited two weeks to notify state authorities that last Oct. 3, large  amounts of treated wastewater gushed through Desert Hot Springs residential streets …

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: CalOES proposes rules to clarify California release reporting requirements

California’s existing release reporting requirements, which are in addition to federal requirements, are viewed by many as vague and often require companies to make difficult judgment calls to determine if small spills or threatened releases must be reported. In workshops held on June 22 and 24, 2021 the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) previewed amendments to its Hazardous Material Release Reporting regulations that aim to clarify when a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance must be reported.

Aquafornia news Coastal View

Opinion: We must work together to protect our water from agricultural waste

As science and policy director for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and a 14-year resident of Carpinteria, I appreciated Bob Franco’s June 16 letter to the editor, “Don’t drink the water,” for its effectiveness in raising awareness about an important pollution issue impacting Carpinteria’s local waterways.  Channelkeeper is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds. 
-Written by Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s interim executive director and science and policy director.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

PG&E, SLO County water board reach Diablo Canyon settlement

PG&E will pay the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board $5.9 million in a landmark settlement that recognizes the long-term impacts of dumping water used to cool Diablo Canyon Power Plant back into the Pacific Ocean — but also the realities of a plant that is expected to close in the next decade.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tulare County takes over East Orosi water system

Help may be on the horizon for the about 700 residents of East Orosi dependent on bottled water. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has directed county staff to begin negotiating the scope of work and a budget … to take control of the East Orosi Community Services District public water system. … East Orosi’s water has been plagued with nitrates from fertilizers and coliform bacteria since at least 2003, for which their water system has been cited for violating the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) both contaminants dozens of times.

Aquafornia news County of Sonoma

News release: Recreational water users urged to be cautious about toxic algal mats in local Rivers

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and Sonoma County Department of Environmental Health Services advise caution for anyone who boats, fishes or swims after harmful algal blooms (HABs) were discovered in multiple Sonoma County rivers. Because children and dogs are most susceptible to serious health impacts, it is recommended that they avoid touching any suspicious-looking algal material found in the water or along river banks.

Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

Planning group’s Schmidt says SDG&E violating state water board waiver

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) appears to be violating a water discharge waver by the California Water Quality Control Board issued earlier this month by the board, according to Larry Schmidt of the VC Planning Group, whom The Roadrunner contacted Saturday. Schmidt is the lead for the planning group on this issue after being appointed Monday night to head the group’s subcommittee investigating the utility’s work on Cole Grade Road that is near Cool Valley Road.

Aquafornia news Fox 40 (Sacramento)

High levels of E. coli found at Tiscornia Beach

Hot temperatures are drawing people to the cool water of Tiscornia Beach, but what many there may not know, there are high levels of E.coli found in the water. … Robert Metcalf is a retired professor who’s taught microbiology at Sacramento State University for 42 years. He said finding E. coli in the water means there is recent fecal contamination. Mary Beth Metcalf, a retired clinical professor of pediatrics from UC Davis, said E.coli leads to other infections.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA’s water office

The Senate voted 55-43 Wednesday to confirm Radhika Fox as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), in remarks on the Senate floor, praised Fox’s record and highlighted the organizations endorsing her for the position. These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Family Farm Alliance and the U.S. Water Alliance, where she previously served as CEO.

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Aquafornia news KCRW

Salton Sea: Why a nearby shrinking lake could be an answer to climate change

The first glimpse of the water driving down Highway 86 is breathtaking. From some angles, you can’t even see the other side of California’s biggest lake. It seems out of place in the vast desert expanse of the Imperial Valley, just north of the Mexican border, where it’s over 100 degrees for much of the year. But then the car door opens, and it hits: the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs.  At the shoreline is a sign saying not to touch the toxic water.

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Aquafornia news Sun Gazette

Tooleville water tainted with unregulated contaminant

 Instead of turning on the faucet to fill her pots to cook dinner, Maria Olivera turns to her drums of state issued water sitting next to the stove at her home in Tooleville. … Tooleville spans all of two dusty dirt roads at the edge of the Friant-Kern Canal, where the blue hue of flowing water is just out of sight over raised levees. Along with it, the basic human right of having clean drinking water. Nitrates from farming fertilizers have rendered the water undrinkable in Tooleville, and the community is dependent on biweekly water deliveries.

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Aquafornia news Food and Water Watch

Blog: Drilling California dry – An analysis of oil and gas water usage during the Newsom Administration

As California suffers from a major drought and enters a climate change fueled wildfire season, oil and gas operators continue to use hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater for drilling operations annually. It’s a vicious symbiotic cycle: fracking and drilling contribute to climate change and suck up finite water resources, then drought and wildfires worsen from climate change.

Aquafornia news Water Online

New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

With harmful algal blooms (HABs) being forecast to increase, in part due to the effects of climate change, more water systems can expect to face problematic cyanotoxin conditions more frequently and for more days per year. In its efforts to mitigate the negative effects of such increases, the U.S. EPA has enhanced its information resources for water utilities by issuing a new Cyanotoxins Preparedness and Response Toolkit.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California must use budget surplus to fix water problems

As California plunges into another “historic” drought, people across the state are worried about water shortages. But the last drought never really ended for some Californians, like residents of East Porterville that still have emergency water storage tanks in their front yards. With the state’s current financial surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund drought preparedness and water safety in communities that have lived for decades with shallow and contaminated drinking water wells, inadequate water treatment, and other infrastructure failures…
-Written by Carolina Garcia, a resident of Tombstone Territory, and Sandra Chavez, a member of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group. 

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Aquafornia news U.S. EPA

News release: EPA announces $6 million for tribes to support wetlands and healthy watersheds

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced selections under two Clean Water Act (CWA) grant programs to support leadership of Tribes in protecting and restoring water resources. The agency anticipates awarding approximately $3 million to 18 Tribal nations and one Intertribal organization under the Tribal Wetland Program Development Grant competition and an additional $3 million in CWA Section 319 Tribal Competitive Grants to 32 Tribal nations to support projects to manage nonpoint source pollution.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

PFAS, emerging contaminants & how polluters are paying municipalities for water remediation costs

Toxic manmade chemicals, like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,2,3-Tricholoropropane (TCP), are showing up in water systems across the US. It’s not new, but it has become more common, as municipalities are now increasing mandatory testing due to new state and federal regulations. … TCP was tagged as a carcinogen in 1999 by the state of California which lead to the strictest state MCL level in the country at 5 ppt. One ppt is the equivalent of one drop of impurity in 21 million gallons of water – in other words, TCP is very toxic.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Oilfield disposal site in western Kern set to close

A large oilfield wastewater disposal pond near Buttonwillow will likely close this summer, and its operator and last remaining customer will together pay $645,000 in penalties and fees, under a recent court settlement that further restricts a decades-old practice that has become a focus of regional water quality regulators. The accord concludes a 2019 lawsuit that accused facility owner Valley Water Management Co. and Colorado-based oil producer Sentinel Peak Resources of dumping fluid containing harmful chemicals above a reservoir that provides local drinking and irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Public sounds off on Samoa onshore fish farm plans

Humboldt County gave the public two chances to air concerns this week surrounding Nordic Aquafarms’ proposed onshore fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula. County planners held two public scoping meetings Thursday to gather input from the public and affected governmental agencies on areas that should be covered in the project’s environmental impact report (EIR). The Humboldt County Planning and Building Department had released a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for the project in April but a coalition of environmental groups argued that the assessment didn’t go far enough. 

Aquafornia news KPBS

Sen. Padilla proposes bill to clean up toxic chemical on military bases

Military bases across California, including some in San Diego, have tested positive for a toxic chemical. A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla attempts to find the money to finally clean up the legacy of PFAS. The Department of Defense has known for decades that a chemical found in aviation fire fighting foam contains potentially toxic polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which has been linked to cancer when found in groundwater, Padilla said.

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA and Army Corps to propose repealing and replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced their intent to revise the reach of the federal Clean Water Act by changing the definition of “waters of the United States.” This move, announced yesterday, would reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule adopted during the Trump administration, which itself replaced a 2015 revision by the Obama administration.

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Aquafornia news Central Valley Water Board

Pistachio processing facility in Tulare County will pay $221,440 fine for odor violations

A Central Valley pistachio processing plant whose wastewater ponds triggered numerous odor complaints from nearby residents will pay a $221,440 fine, a portion of which will fund improved ventilation at two public schools in the area. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) fined Setton Pistachio after determining the company had violated the terms of an August 2020 cease and desist order (CDO) directing it to immediately eliminate objectionable odors coming from ponds at its plant in Terra Bella in Tulare County.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Biden moves to restore clean-water safeguards ended by Trump

The Biden administration began legal action Wednesday to repeal a Trump-era rule that ended federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, leaving them more vulnerable to pollution from development, industry and farms. The rule — sometimes referred to as “waters of the United States” or WOTUS — narrowed the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act. It was one of hundreds of rollbacks of environmental and public health regulations under President Donald Trump, who said the rules imposed unnecessary burdens on business.

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Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: Facts matter — Don’t be a victim of mining fiction

The Union has printed several opinion pieces by Idaho-Maryland Mine Project opponents. The majority of these columns present “information” that’s either biased or misleading and based neither on science nor logic. Here are the facts. … Recent columns erroneously suggest that groundwater impacts cannot be accurately predicted. Numerous expert hydrogeologists and a century of mining at the Idaho-Maryland say otherwise. … The actual conclusion is that no wells would be drained…
-Written by Ben Mossman, president of Rise Grass Valley and CEO of Rise Gold Corp., U.S. corporations.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Last summer’s massive wildfires bring heavy metals to this year’s spring runoff

In unburned forests, the spring runoff is a glorious, annual event. But not this year. [U.S. Forest service ecologist Liz] Roberts and other forest experts know that the runoff will carry an array of frightening heavy metals and ash-laden sediment generated in the burned soils, posing danger to the people of Glenwood Springs, who rely on Grizzly Creek and its neighbor just to the west, No Name Creek, for drinking water. 

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Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Can California avoid another toxic waste disaster?

For decades, large red-hot furnaces cooked the lead from smashed batteries at the Exide plant, just seven miles from Downtown Los Angeles, spouting plumes of toxic air that settled on and contaminated thousands of homes. … In the years since, the facility has been cited repeatedly for serious compliance problems. According to a former DTSC senior scientist’s review of public records, at least four are responsible for soil and groundwater contamination that the department has or should have known about for years or even decades. 

Aquafornia news National Law Review

Blog: Clean Water Act updates and more hydro news

Citing numerous “concerns” with the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 water quality certification rule enacted by the Trump Administration in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Notice of Intention to reconsider and revise the rule.  EPA’s notice states that the new rule will be “better aligned with the cooperative federalism principles that have been central to the effective implementation of the Clean Water Act” and is “responsive to the national objectives outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order 13990.”

Aquafornia news Popular Science

Worsening droughts could increase arsenic in well water

Recent research from the US Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that droughts, particularly the prolonged kind happening in parts of the US, could increase the risk of harmful arsenic exposure for people that rely on well water. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the baseline quality of your drinking water may have been set in stone, literally. Arsenic is a common groundwater contaminant, largely because of local geology. In Maine, for instance, the formation of the Appalachian Mountains and volcanic activity came together to concentrate arsenic and other metals into cracks inside the bedrock…

Aquafornia news AB 10 News

Possible sewage contamination closes Tijuana Slough shoreline

The ocean shoreline at Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park was closed Saturday due to contaminated sewage water that may be moving north into the U.S., county water authorities said. The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and Quality issued the contact closure for the ocean shoreline Saturday. Ocean water samples exceeded state health standards, DEHQ officials said.

Aquafornia news Rensselaer News

New research: World’s lakes losing oxygen rapidly as planet warms

Oxygen levels in the world’s temperate freshwater lakes are declining rapidly — faster than in the oceans — a trend driven largely by climate change that threatens freshwater biodiversity and drinking water quality. Research published today in Nature found that oxygen levels in surveyed lakes across the temperate zone have declined 5.5% at the surface and 18.6% in deep waters since 1980. 

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Surfrider’s annual Clean Water Report highlights infrastructure needs and toxin-removing landscapes

Too often, ocean water is laced with sewage and pollutants, affecting how safe beaches are for swimming and surfing –  that’s the message of this year’s Clean Water Report released Tuesday, May 25, by the Surfrider Foundation. … [T]he report highlights inefficiencies in sewer infrastructure and a need to stop urban runoff before it reaches the coast, both main contributors to dirty water that plagues the country’s coastlines.

Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: The murky waters of mining

Hidden from view when driving by is the [Rise Gold] mine that is filled with water contaminated with byproducts of hard rock mining. The water now forms a murky lake several hundred yards wide. Rise Gold plans to pump out 3.6 million gallons of water every single day for six months and after that another 1.2 million gallons a day for up to 80 years from this site. Let that sink in. Get your mind fully around this. This is real. They will dump this water into the little creek alongside the site and send it on its way down Wolf Creek to the Feather River to the Sacramento River to San Francisco Bay …
-Written by Billy Packard.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Stanislaus homes with tainted wells start getting free bottled water. How to qualify

Free bottled water has begun to arrive at homes with nitrate-tainted wells in parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties.  The ambitious effort, funded by farmers and other parties, launched the week of May 10 with free testing of residential wells. Those that exceeded the nitrate threshold can start getting the 5-gallon jugs about 17 to 21 days later. 

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Stormwater could be a large source of microplastics and rubber fragments to waterways

[R]esearchers collected water during heavy rainstorms from 12 streams flowing into the San Francisco Bay. … Microscopic fibers and black rubbery fragments were the most common microparticles, while natural debris, glass, paint and wool were only minor components. Then, the team identified a subset of plastic- or rubbery-looking fragments as being made mostly of plastic polymers or other synthetic materials, and many of the black rubbery particles originated from tires.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Salton Sea: “Why is it so hard to get something built on the ground there?”

It was a question asked of panelists discussing the Salton Sea on Tuesday, May 25. State and local officials were asked a number of questions about the drying sea during a one-hour online forum. The Red Hill Bay project that stalled after breaking ground in 2015 was one of the topics panelists discussed. 

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Algae bloom in Malibu Lagoon troubles some locals, but not state parks

Malibu residents voiced concerns about a large algae bloom in Malibu Lagoon at the Monday, May 24, Malibu City Council meeting, with one requesting the city demand California State Parks to do something about the lagoon—which public speakers said could breach as soon as the early morning of Wednesday, May 26. Malibu Lagoon has previously been plagued by algal blooms; in 2018, one large bloom choked native plants and fish—which suffocated, died and floated to the surface in a massive, smelly die-off.  

Aquafornia news Kern Valley Sun

Kern River Conservancy receives grant to study fire’s impact on river water quality

The Kern River Conservancy received a $23,000 grant to study whether last year’s Sequoia Complex Fire harmed the water quality in the wild and scenic section of the Kern River. The Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation awarded the grant to the non-profit conservancy, Gary Ananian, the conservancy’s founder and executive director, told the Kern Valley Sun.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

In a surprise move, Nordic Aquafarms agrees to conduct full environmental impact report for its land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula

In terms of sheer size, Nordic Aquafarms’ land-based aquaculture facility, slated for construction on the Samoa Peninsula, would be the largest development project Humboldt County has seen for decades, maybe since the heyday of the timber industry. The facility’s five buildings — including two massive production modules where Atlantic salmon would be raised inside fully-contained recirculating tanks — would total 766,530 square feet, nearly an acre larger than the footprint of the Bayshore Mall. It’s been more than two years since the Norwegian company announced its ambitious plans, and the environmental review period was scheduled to wrap up this week. 

Aquafornia news KESQ

Troubled waters: The Salton Sea Project part 3 – A lake languished

Just who is in charge of revitalization of California’s largest lake, and why has it been so tough to solve the issues at the Salton Sea? … There has been a lot of blame passed around by those who own the land around and under the Salton Sea. The biggest land owner here is the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID. Then, the federal government. Next, the Torres-Martinez tribe.

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Aquafornia news Growing Produce

How California vegetable growers can adapt to new nitrogen rules

Growers in the Central Coast region of California produce most of the cool-season vegetables for the U.S. from March to mid-November. After several years of multi-cropping vegetables, the groundwater in many of the coastal valleys has become contaminated with nitrate. Some wells have concentrations of nitrate several times the federal drinking water standard of 10 ppm (parts per million) nitrate-N. Rural communities that rely on groundwater as their sole source of drinking water must purchase bottled water or install small reverse osmosis systems.

Aquafornia news Civil Engineering Source

Testing and treating microplastics in water face challenges

The deadline is looming: According to a state law adopted in 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board has until July 1 to adopt a standard methodology for testing drinking water for the presence of microplastics; adopt requirements for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of the results; and accredit qualified laboratories in California to analyze microplastics. The problem? Testing for microplastics … is not quite ready for prime time. It is not yet precisely clear what effects microplastics have on animals, including humans, and at what levels they may be harmful. 

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

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Aquafornia news Water & Wastes Digest

Senate confirms Radhika Fox to EPA Office of Water

The U.S. Senate confirmed Radhika Fox, former US Water Alliance CEO, as EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator during a confirmation hearing May 12. With the confirmation, Fox became the first woman of color and first individual of Asian heritage to be both nominated and confirmed to lead the EPA Office of Water. Fox had been appointed to the Office of Water after President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs. The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. 

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news UCLA

New research: Human wastewater is feeding harmful algae blooms off of Southern California’s coast

[I]n a new study, UCLA researchers found that nitrogen in treated sewage is driving a massive growth of oceanic algae and loss of oxygen, which will likely have lasting effects on the region’s ecosystem. From 1997 to 2000, for example, the growth of microscopic marine algae called phytoplankton was 79% higher than it would have been without nitrogen from human sewage in the waters along the coast from the Baja California Peninsula to Santa Barbara. The problem occurs in large part because freshwater from sewage is less dense than the seawater it’s injected into, which causes the wastewater to rises to the surface, where phytoplankton live. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Environmental testing urged at planned L.A. housing site

Nancy Smith remembered that children had called it “the sick land” — the wedge of property alongside the 110 Freeway where a dry cleaning facility had laundered aprons and uniforms for decades across from a Lincoln Heights elementary school. … Decades after the old Welch’s laundry was shuttered, California regulators worked to clean up the soil and check the groundwater for the chemicals used there — volatile organic compounds such as tetrachloroethylene that could damage the human liver and nervous system and have been tied to an increased risk of cancer. The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversaw a cleanup effort that lasted for years and has continued to monitor groundwater at the site.

Aquafornia news NBC Palm Springs

Advocates warn about toxic fumes that could be emerging from the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea continues to be a big talker when it comes to lithium, but a long problem remains in and around the sea when it comes to toxic air. During our extensive coverage of the Salton Sea, we learned that toxic air is not only coming from dried-up parts of the sea, but other parts of the sea are now contributing to the toxicity. “It is not just the toxic elements that have been trapped by the water and now exposed as the sea recedes,” explained Frank Ruiz, Salton Sea Director with Audubon California. Ruiz has been working with researchers who have been studying the toxic levels at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news NOAA Fisheries

Blog: Celebrating 50 years of internationally important wetlands

May is American Wetlands Month and this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. This intergovernmental treaty is focused on the conservation and wise use of important wetlands and their resources. … Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve … provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife species, including more than 100 species of fish, 500 species of invertebrates, and the region’s iconic southern sea otters. … Tomales Bay is a marine-coastal wetland consisting of estuaries, eelgrass beds, sand dune systems, and tidal marshes. 

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

How stakeholders in the Sierra Nevada are confronting the lasting legacy of the gold rush

Although Indigenous people had, since prehistoric times, modified the [Sierra Nevada] landscape and caused widespread ecological change, the arrival of Europeans and Americans for the gold rush brought a much more invasive level of alterations with the construction of dams, permanent manipulation of rivers, clear-cutting of old-growth trees and an ill-advised practice of fire suppression that makes these forests ripe for wildfires, especially when compounded by climate change, which means more heat waves, decreased snowpack and drier conditions among other impacts. 

Aquafornia news Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Bipartisan bill introduced to reauthorize Lake Tahoe restoration act

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today joined with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen (both D-Nev.) to introduce bipartisan legislation to extend authorization of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. The original Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was passed in 2000 and authorized $300 million for the restoration of the lake and surrounding basin. The current authorization, which was passed in 2016, will expire in 2024. Reauthorizing the bill will prevent an interruption in conservation and restoration planning.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a redo

When Sandra Chavez’ mother discovered she had stage four cancer last year, one of Sandra’s first thoughts was about their water. Her family’s private well is contaminated with nitrates and Chavez wondered if years of drinking the water could have caused her mother’s sickness. Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Opinion: Watch out, state assembly wants to help us

AB-377, is a proposed state Assembly bill titled Water Quality: Impaired Waters. The premise of this legislation seems to be that local authorities are responsible for all the dirty water in local waterways. While the goal of “cleaning up the water” is commendable the proposed solution is problematic. The Lompoc City Council discussed a staff request to oppose this legislation on May 4; the staff explains that “Assembly Bill (AB) 377 seeks to ensure California’s waterways are drinkable, fishable and swimmable by 2050.” 
-Written by Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident.

Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

Microplastics are everywhere. A Nevada researcher wants to know how they spread.

Tiny specks of degraded plastics have been documented in the snowpack around Lake Tahoe — and in the lake itself. They have been found in the Las Vegas Wash. The phenomenon is not unique to Nevada. Microplastics, the end product of our plastic consumption, have been found in ecosystems across the world, even in remote areas. Microplastics are small — less than 5 millimeters — but they are not uniform. They can have different shapes and vary in size. Microplastics from clothing can appear as synthetic fibers, whereas degraded plastic from bags or water bottles might take on a different composition.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

County officials applaud new Salton Sea funding

Newly announced state funding for the Salton Sea is expected to maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response and climate resilience proposal, which he announced Monday as part of his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan,” includes $220 million for the Salton Sea. At Tuesday’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, District 1 Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar wanted to know what is meant by providing immediate economic relief to the community and how this would occur. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Mining industry, builders sought changes in Arizona water bill

Newly released emails reveal that lawyers and lobbyists for mining companies, developers and the agriculture industry had a hand behind the scenes in shaping Arizona’s newly adopted law on clean-water rules for rivers and streams. The emails show the involvement of these influential groups went beyond their public endorsements of the legislation. Their lawyers and lobbyists were given access to offer input while the final legislation was being drafted, and the emails show they suggested specific language, offered “wordsmithing” tweaks and requested significant changes that state officials incorporated into the bill. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Newsom Proposes $220M for Salton Sea

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response, and climate resilience proposal includes $220 million for the Salton Sea, and Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, applauded the announcement. Garcia, chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, stated in a press release from his office that the funding would maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community.

Aquafornia news Law360

Calif. Appeals Court won’t halt desalination plant project

The California State Lands Commission properly reviewed a stalled desalination planned to be built on the coast south of Los Angeles, a state appeals court says. In a decision filed Saturday, the appeals court affirmed a lower court’s rejection of a challenge to the plant by the environmental group California Coastkeeper Alliance and others. It determined that a 2017 re-review of the planned desalination plant in Huntington Beach adequately complied with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

South Bay residents, officials call for faster action on Tijuana-San Diego sewage problem

Chula Vista resident and Imperial Beach lifeguard Lillian Burkhart still remembers the sting on her skin after surfing in Imperial Beach waters one day last summer. Within 24 hours, she fell ill with a gastrointestinal infection, she said. … Burkhart’s experience is commonplace and a reminder of the decades-long struggle to address the recurring sewage spills from Tijuana that pollute the South Bay shoreline.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Our latest Western Water article examines efforts to help consumers afford water as bills pile up amid pandemic

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. … Our latest article in Western Water explores the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.Western Water is just one of the publications produced by our journalism team…

Aquafornia news The Daily Californian

The Salton Sea: The worst lake you’ve never heard of

In 2020, the Salton Sea was described by Palm Springs Life Magazine as “the biggest environmental disaster in California history.” With the largest lake in California holding such a bleak title, it’s amazing how obscure its legacy is. Over spring break, we decided to go on a road trip to visit an eccentric settlement in the middle of the lower Colorado desert, known as a Slab City. This settlement is most well known for being a site of post-apocalyptic garbage art and a home for colorful nomads. Due to its libertarian ethos, it is billed as the “last free place in America.” 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops. Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways. The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Judge orders McKinleyville firm in water pollution suit to pay $2M in penalties

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered McKinleyville-based construction firm Kernen Construction Co. to pay over $2,087,750 in civil penalties after it was found to have violated the Clean Water Act by discharging contaminated storm water into a nearby tributary creek of the Mad River. The order was issued by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on May 2 after the company was found to have discharged storm water without engaging in pollution control measures mandated by the CWA. 

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Wildfires are contaminating drinking water systems, and it’s more widespread than people realize

More than 58,000 fires scorched the United States last year, and 2021 is on track to be even drier. What many people don’t realize is that these wildfires can do lasting damage beyond the reach of the flames – they can contaminate entire drinking water systems with carcinogens that last for months after the blaze. … Since 2017, multiple fires have impacted drinking water systems … including the CZU Lightning Complex, Camp and Tubbs fires in California. Thousands of private wells have been affected too.

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Aquafornia news KESQ

Troubled waters: The Salton Sea Project, part 1 – Paradise lost

Just a short drive south of Palm Springs, you’ll find California’s largest lake. The drive along the circumference of the Salton Sea reveals surprising, majestic views unlike anything you’d expect to find in the desert. But for its impressive sights and size, the Salton Sea is not a household name, least of all in the very state it’s found. These days, if you travel along the increasingly shrinking shorelines, you’ll see suffering communities dotted with abandoned homes and lined with silent streets.

Aquafornia news Stanford Medicine

New research: Higher levels of nitrate in drinking water linked to preterm birth, Stanford study finds

Pregnant women exposed to too much nitrate in their drinking water are at greater risk of giving birth prematurely, according to a Stanford University study of more than 1.4 million California births. Agricultural runoff containing fertilizer and animal waste can greatly increase the nitrate level in groundwater, which naturally contains a low level of the chemical. … The strongest effects of nitrate on prematurity risk were seen in California’s agricultural regions, including the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire, the study noted. A higher proportion of births in these areas are to Hispanic women than in other regions of the state …

Aquafornia news U.C. Santa Cruz

New research: Long-term monitoring shows successful restoration of mining-polluted streams

Many miles of streams and rivers in the United States and elsewhere are polluted by toxic metals in acidic runoff draining from abandoned mining sites, and major investments have been made to clean up acid mine drainage at some sites. A new study based on long-term monitoring data from four sites in the western United States shows that cleanup efforts can allow affected streams to recover to near natural conditions within 10 to 15 years after the start of abatement work. The four mining-impacted watersheds—located in mountain mining regions of California, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana—were all designated as Superfund sites …

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

When Ramona Hernandez turns on her kitchen faucet in El Adobe, an unincorporated town just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield, the water that splashes out looks clean and inviting. But she doesn’t dare drink it. … Drinking the tap water in this tiny community of dusty ranches and unpaved roads could expose Hernandez to arsenic. So, for years, she and her husband, Gerardo, have shuttled twice a week to the nearby town of Lamont to load up on bottled water. At a cost of about $80 a month, it’s enough for drinking and cooking. 

Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

Regenerating our soil

Regenerative farming practices integrate the entire ecosystem — building upon the relationships of the natural world — to simultaneously produce healthier, more abundant crops and restore the Earth’s natural resources. …  And restoring soil health and fertility produces more abundant, nutrient-dense crops that better resist pests and disease. It increases soil’s ability to filter and store water, reduce erosion and sequester carbon. And it builds a diversity and abundance of microbes that drive every function of soil.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California tribes call out degradation of Clear Lake

Seven years ago, after the fish died, Sarah Ryan decided she couldn’t wait any longer for help. California at the time was in the depths of its worst drought in the last millennium and its ecosystems were gasping. For Ryan, the fish kill in Clear Lake, the state’s second largest and the centerpiece of Lake County, was the last straw. Ryan is the environmental director for Big Valley Rancheria, a territory of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians that sits on the ancient lake’s western shore. She and others raised alarms for several years about increasingly dire blooms of toxic cyanobacteria. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why California is planning to ban fracking

A little more than a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that not only would California effectively ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by 2024, but the state also would work to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045. … It was — like the governor’s promise last year that the state would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — a sweeping pronouncement meant to show urgency in addressing climate change while the state he leads struggles with many of its most dire effects. But meeting those goals requires complex regulatory maneuvering.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Is Newsom making any difference on fracking?

British journalist James Bartholomew is widely credited with creating the phrase “virtue signaling” to describe positioning oneself on the popular side of an issue without actually doing anything about it. Politicians are particularly prone to uttering words or making token efforts on difficult issues to stave off criticism about their failure to act meaningfully. Gov. Gavin Newsom is California’s champion virtue-signaler as he faces a recall election later this year. … There’s no better example than Newsom’s ever-shifting attitude toward hydraulic fracturing to increase petroleum production.
-Written by Dan Walters

Aquafornia news The Sierra Fund

Report: New tools to remediate California’s abandoned mine lands

Gold Rush communities celebrate their mining past but are largely unaware of the lasting impacts of that era. For more than 100 years public and private investors have purchased and developed land for public uses seemingly unaware of the presence and implications of the physical and chemical hazards found on abandoned mine lands (AMLs). As a result, residents of the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Country – the state’s headwaters – are living on top of and surrounded by abandoned mines. The toxic metals discharged by legacy mines continue to flow down river and deposit into the San Francisco Bay Delta …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Poseidon wins key seawater desalination permit

Poseidon Water won a key approval Thursday in its long quest to build a seawater desalination plant on the Orange County coastline. But the permit from the Santa Ana Regional Quality Control Board does not ensure that the $1-billion ocean desalter will rise on the grounds of an old power plant in Huntington Beach. Poseidon still needs a construction permit from the California Coastal Commission and, most critically, a binding deal with a public agency to buy 50 million gallons a day of purified seawater.

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Aquafornia news The Argonaut Newsweekly

In the weeds of controversy

Disagreement over restoring the Ballona Wetlands still remains high. Walter Lamb, president of the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, recently held a webinar to discuss why the current restoration plans are inadequate. The Land Trust disagrees with the assertions of organizations such as Friends of Ballona Wetlands, as they aren’t supported by available facts. Lamb based his talking points around Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order made on October 7, 2020, of protecting biodiversity and an announcement phasing out fossil fuels from September 23, 2020. 

Aquafornia news Brown and Caldwell

Blog: Brown and Caldwell receives funding grant for PFAS incineration study

Brown and Caldwell has been granted funding from The Water Research Foundation (WRF) to study the fate of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through sewage sludge incineration. PFAS is a group of human-made chemicals found in a range of consumer and industrial products. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat and used in many applications, including stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams. The widespread use of PFAS and their ability to remain intact in the environment over time can result in environmental contamination.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Trout Clout – Protect Hot Creek, stop KORE mining

The US Forest Service is taking public comments on a proposed exploratory mining operation near the headwaters of Hot Creek in the Eastern Sierra that could lead to harmful open pit mining near this fishery. We need your help to stop it. This project is problematic and disastrous in many ways: KORE Mining wants to drill around Hot Creek for gold with no plan or guarantee that gold exists in that area. Dredging, excavation, and hydraulic mining will cause dramatic stream degradation. The proposal for the exploratory operation provides no information on how much water is needed, the depth of drilling, or the negative impact on the wildlife and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

State Water Board: Update on the oil and gas monitoring program

Hydraulic fracturing has occurred in California and nationwide for decades; however, recent advancements in horizontal drilling technologies and “well stimulation” techniques have been instrumental in triggering an oil and gas boom, making the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and gas reserves. California produces more oil than all but three other states (Texas, North Dakota and Alaska), and Kern County is responsible for more than 70 percent of the state’s oil production. Environmentalists and other members of the public became concerned that the hydraulic fracturing process may contaminate groundwater aquifers …

Aquafornia news The Hill

California pushes to ban fracking and oil extraction

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a new initiative to ban new and future permits for hydraulic fracking beginning in 2024. The ban is part of California’s effort to move away from oil extraction to source fuel, focusing on developing renewable sources such as wind and solar. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the sourcing of oil from deep subterranean rocks, using a high-pressured water mixture drilled into the earth that releases natural gas and oil. 

Aquafornia news NBC Palm Springs

Toxic algae outbreak prompts advisory at Salton Sea

The California State Water Resources Control Board Friday urged people and their pets to avoid the water in the Salton Sea due to a toxic algae outbreak. Officials said that patches of toxic cyanobacteria have been discovered at numerous sites in the sea, and a dog recently died after swimming in the water. “Cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms can affect the skin, liver and nervous system of people and of dogs and livestock,” the state water board said. As a precaution, visitors were urged not to swim in the water, or let their pets enter the water, or eat algal mats scattered about the shore line.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Solving the nitrogen puzzle: Measuring groundwater pollution from agriculture

For years it’s been relatively easy to measure pollution from, say, a factory. At a factory, there might be just one pipe of waste to measure. Easy enough. But what about a farm? We might not typically think of farms as sources of pollution. But they can have big impacts on the land over time. Unlike at a factory, the waste filters slowly through soil across the whole plot of land. This waste—excess nutrients from fertilizer—can eventually reach groundwater. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Poseidon water plant permit discussion continued to next week

Both proponents and opponents of the controversial Poseidon Water desalination plant in Huntington Beach made their voices heard Friday in an all-day virtual meeting that continued well into the night. In the end, however, a decision by the Santa Ana Regional Water Board on whether to permit Poseidon’s $1.4-billion project will have to wait until at least [this] week. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, with a third meeting on May 13, as necessary.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Newsom orders halt to new fracking in California starting in 2024 – and wants to end all drilling by 2045

Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the state Friday to stop issuing permits for the oil extraction method known as fracking by January 2024 and to draw up plans to end all fossil-fuel drilling in California by 2045 — the most sweeping declaration of its kind in the nation. … Eliminating all extraction would have far-reaching consequences in California, the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil… [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

Feds rev up push to fix widespread PFAS pollution

The Biden administration and Congress are stepping up efforts to control the release and cleanup of poly and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water sources and elsewhere, joining states that have expanded scrutiny of the chemicals, which are used widely in manufacturing and are extremely persistent in the environment. EPA’s current “advisory” limit on PFAS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion, but some states have set or proposed required levels from 6.5 to 20 ppt, including California … 

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Will desalination come to Huntington Beach? A water board hearing happens today

Questions have been raised over California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political maneuvers to push a controversial seawater desalination plant proposed for the Huntington Beach coastline. Critics say their concerns about the actual need for the project and its potential environmental effects remain. The company pushing it, Poseidon Water, remains steadfast in its intent to build a plant that would suck in 100 million gallons of seawater daily and make half of it drinkable….[The Regional Water Quality Control] board’s next hearing is scheduled for [Friday] April 23. If the board approves the permits, the project then goes for a final say from the state Coastal Commission. 

Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

Friends of the LA River plans huge summer cleanup; county seeks comment on master plan

The Los Angeles River spans nearly 51 miles — running from Canoga Park to Long Beach. [T]he river changed in the 1930s after a series of catastrophic floods hit the region and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers channelized the entire length of the river — encasing it in concrete — and turning it into a flood control channel. … [Marissa Christiansen, president of the Friends of the Los Angeles River, hopes] to bring the river back to its roots. And, for Earth Week, FOLAR is planning a huge cleanup. From June to July, the group is asking for help cleaning up 100 tons of trash from the waterway.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

State regulators reject water petition because of status of petitioner

A former member of a Marina water advocacy group filed a motion with state regulators requesting a change in a water decision under the pretense of still being a member of the group, officials with the group say. In a letter emailed to the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Liesbeth Visscher, the chairwoman of Citizens for Just Water, and Lisa Berkley, one of the early members of the advocacy group, informed the commission that a request to change a CPUC decision, called a Petition for Modification, filed by Margaret-Anne Coppernoll under the guise of being a current member of the group was never authorized by the organization. In fact, Coppernoll hasn’t been a member of the group since 2017 …

Aquafornia news Fullerton Observer

Opinion: Why California’s first-in-world plan to monitor microplastics in drinking water matters

Given a growing body of evidence that many chemicals in plastics pose human health risks, Californians should welcome recently-passed legislation putting the state on path to be the first to track microplastics in tap water. Because plastics are highly resistant to biodegradation, instead fragmenting into ever smaller bits, eventually reaching micron and nanometer dimensions (there are 25.4 million nanometers in one inch)—they travel unseen in wind and waterways so that even the most remote regions of the globe, like the Arctic seabed and summit of Mount Everest, are contaminated with microplastics. 
-Written by Sarah Mosko. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought brings threat of dry wells in San Joaquin Valley

Thousands of wells that bring water to San Joaquin Valley homes are at risk of drying up this summer, leaving families without running water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. While no one knows the extent of the threat from this second year of drought conditions, Jonathan Nelson with the Community Water Center says “the alarm bells are sounding.” Homes, farms and entire communities that rely on shallow wells as their only source of water are vulnerable to declining groundwater levels from dry conditions and agricultural pumping.

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Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Program will provide clean water to Turlockers impacted by nitrate-laden wells

Turlock residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water as the state seeks out more permanent solutions. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is leading the charge on a program which will provide bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks to six geographic zones deemed to have the most-serious groundwater contamination issues. The Turlock Subbasin has been identified as a Priority 1 zone by the board and is one of the two largest zones included in the program. 

Aquafornia news Science Times

Freshwater salt pollution: Is it threatening people and wildlife?

[A] study, titled “Freshwater Salinization Syndrome on a Continental Scale,” found at least a third of U.S. streams and rivers have become saltier over the last 25 years. On December 3, freshwater scientist John Olson of California State University, Monterey Bay, conducted a modeling study that validated these results, indicating that the future looks briny as well. The study is titled “Predicting Combined Effects of Land Use and Climate Change On River and Stream Salinity.” Salinization levels will likely increase by at least 50% in half of U.S. streams by 2100 if salt use persists at its current pace, according to Olson’s party. 

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Two sources of U.S.-Mexico sewage flows are fighting for one pot of money

If the San Diego-Tijuana region were a human body, it’d have the stomach flu: Bad stuff is coming out of both ends. But instead of tackling the complicated source of the infection, the border towns are fighting over where to put a Band-Aid. Six miles from the U.S.-Mexico border lie three giant ponds full of really old poo that regularly flush into the Pacific Ocean and flow north along the Southern California coast during summer tourist season. 

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma County calls for sewage pipeline study

In a potential solution to a two-decade-old problem, Sonoma County’s water agency has commissioned a $156,000 study of a potential pipeline carrying Occidental’s wastewater to a treatment plant in neighboring Graton.  A pipeline between the two west county hamlets would resolve the dilemma dating back to a 1997 state order banning Occidental from discharging effluent into a tributary of the Russian River.  Since 2018, the Occidental wastewater system — one of eight managed by Sonoma Water — has been trucking raw sewage 18 miles through Graton to a county treatment plant at the airport, an expensive program seen as a stopgap measure.

Aquafornia news The Record

Fifth annual H2O Hackathon returns as students solve algal bloom problem

After a year hiatus because of COVID-19, the H2O Hackathon returned to San Joaquin County on Saturday with middle school, high school and college students tackling a virtual challenge to help solve California’s water problems. … The challenge for this year’s event was to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary from harmful algal blooms, bacteria that live in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments that grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Imperial Beach shoreline closed again after being blasted for weeks by Tijuana sewage

San Diegans will undoubtedly head to the ocean this weekend as temperatures warm — but not in Imperial Beach. Sewage spilling over from Tijuana forced officials on Friday to completely close the city’s shoreline yet again. The move comes less than a week after Baja officials said repairs were completed to a broken water pump in the Tijuana River, which had allowed tens of millions of gallons of sewage-tainted water to escape capture starting in late March.

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Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Air district dings IID over Red Hill Bay

In what one board member called a hearing that isn’t going to be topped, the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board voted 4-0 to issue an order of abatement against the Imperial Irrigation District over the Red Hill Bay project site at the Salton Sea. … The Red Hill Bay project is aimed at creating hundreds of acres of shallow marine wetlands to provide aquatic bird habitat and reduce airborne dust from playa exposed due to a shrinking Salton Sea. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Central Coast Water Board approves Ag Order 4.0

General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands, simply known as Ag Order 4.0, will officially begin to be implemented. Just prior to the deadline, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the measure Thursday evening. There has been unease among farmers throughout the lengthy development process as to how the rule will affect production. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California gold fever still reigns. New prospectors seek to reopen giant mine

For the past four years, a Canadian mining company has been in Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, collecting samples of what it suspects is one of the world’s highest-grade underground gold deposits, potentially worth billions. … The legacy of gold, while widely celebrated, is not something that many in this area, now home to more retirees and Bay Area transplants than men in hard hats and overalls, want to revisit. … [T]he scars it left on the landscape remain visible, and unwanted. Creeks still get mucked up with iron and sulfuric acid from old mines. Soils contain arsenic left over from drilling. …

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems.