Topic: 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 Yale E360

New study: Boiling, filtering water can get rid of microplastics

A new study finds that boiling and then filtering tap water can remove up to 90 percent of microplastics. Minute particles of plastic, no larger than a grain of sand, have been found in every corner of the globe, from the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the Mediterranean, to the clouds floating over Mount Fuji, in Japan. Shed from car tires, fleece sweaters, and myriad other plastic items, microplastics and even smaller nanoplastics are getting into our food and drinking water, and even the air we breathe. Scientists have found microplastics in blood and breast milk and in the lungs of people undergoing surgery — all troubling discoveries as microplastics have also been shown to damage human cells.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

How volunteer ‘streamkeepers’ influence water policy across the West

When residents of the Yuba River watershed northeast of Sacramento saw a stretch of the emerald-green river suddenly turn an alarming reddish-brown on a recent winter day, they knew immediately who to call. Though water quality concerns are the purview of federal, state and county environmental agencies, they alerted the local South Yuba River Citizens League, confident its volunteers could get to the scene quicker and investigate the discoloration faster than any regulator. … The league is among dozens of volunteer organizations that monitor the health of their local waterways and native fish populations across California and the West.

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Getting to bottom of Goleta’s million-gallon sewage spill

The cause of Santa Barbara County’s biggest offshore sewage spill in recent memory — north of one million gallons — remains the subject of an ongoing investigation, the county supervisors were told in an informational briefing this Tuesday morning.  The supervisors were most interested in figuring out why it took six days for its Department of Public Health to get the news of a leak that was first detected late Friday, February 16. 

Aquafornia news Law360

Enviro orgs sue EPA over factory farm water pollution regs

Green groups are pushing the Ninth Circuit to revive their petition asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to craft new, stronger Clean Water Act regulations for the large animal feeding facilities …

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Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

Ecological revival returning life to Laguna, removing contaminants, easing flood danger

In Northern California, before European settlement it’s been said that clouds of birds would block out the sun and one could cross a river by walking across the backs of fish. According to historic accounts, the Laguna de Santa Rosa was once such a place. That’s the 22-mile-long network of wetlands that drains the Santa Rosa plain. After a century of degradation, restoration  is underway. Once a thriving wetland, history hasn’t been kind to the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Historic dumping of untreated sewage, industrial and agricultural waste and cities growing up around it have all taken a toll. State health officials still recommend limitations on eating certain fish caught there, due to mercury and PCB contamination.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Lawmakers urge restraint on microplastics regulations

Senators agree more research is needed to understand how microplastics affect human health, but they’re split on what actions should be done in the meantime. During a joint hearing Tuesday of two Environment and Public Works subcommittees, Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) urged lawmakers to move “with caution.” “We have to be careful that we’re not getting ahead of, as we would say, the science and burden these municipalities that are trying to meet today’s regulations,” said Mullin, ranking member of the Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Microplastics found in every human placenta tested in study

Microplastics have been found in every human placenta tested in a study, leaving the researchers worried about the potential health impacts on developing foetuses. … [T]he most common plastic detected was polyethylene, which is used to make plastic bags and bottles. A second study revealed microplastics in all 17 human arteries tested and suggested the particles may be linked to clogging of the blood vessels. Microplastics have also recently been discovered in human blood and breast milk, indicating widespread contamination of people’s bodies. The impact on health is as yet unknown but microplastics have been shown to cause damage to human cells in the laboratory. 

Aquafornia news Berkeley Lab News Center

New study: Air pollution hides increases in rainfall

We know that greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide should increase rainfall. The emissions heat the atmosphere, causing a one-two punch: warmer oceans make it easier for water to evaporate, and warmer air can hold more water vapor, meaning more moisture is available to fall as rain. But for much of the 20th century, that increase in precipitation didn’t clearly show up in the data. A new study led by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) finds that the expected increase in rain has been largely offset by the drying effect of aerosols – emissions like sulfur dioxide that are produced by burning fossil fuels, and commonly thought of as air pollution or smog. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

California beaches close after 1 million gallon sewage spill

More problems arose on the Central Coast following a wild storm Monday that flooded the region and transformed the runways at the Santa Barbara Airport into a flooded plain. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Thursday that it was closing two beaches in the county indefinitely, after waterways were contaminated by thousands of gallons of sewage spilling from a sewer line and manhole that were damaged due to the storm. Goleta Beach is closed from 1 mile east to 0.5 mile west of the Goleta Slough outfall after “a release of approximately 500,000 gallons of sewage from a damaged force main sewer line near the Santa Barbara Airport to the Goleta Slough during the recent rain event,” the department wrote in a media release. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California’s polluted communities could miss out on billions under state’s flawed system

The system that California uses to screen neighborhoods at risk of environmental harm is highly subjective and flawed, resulting in communities potentially missing out on billions of dollars in funding, according to new research. The study, by researchers who began the project at Stanford University, investigated a tool that the California Environmental Protection Agency developed in 2013 as the nation’s “first comprehensive statewide environmental health screening tool” to identify communities disproportionately burdened by pollution. … CalEnviroScreen evaluates 21 environmental, public health and demographic factors to identify which neighborhoods are most susceptible to environmental harm. Among the factors considered: air pollution and drinking water contaminants, pesticide usage, toxic releases, low birth weight infants, poverty and unemployment rates.

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Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Nevada County rejects controversial gold mining project

After years of controversy, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously struck down a Grass Valley gold mining project. … Rise Gold first submitted an application to resume gold mining operations at the Idaho Maryland Mine, which is in Grass Valley, in 2019. The site had been inactive since its closure in the 1950s, but Rise Gold said it had untapped potential.  But the company was quickly met with mass opposition. Christy Hubbard, a Grass Valley resident and volunteer for a couple local groups opposing the project … said she was particularly concerned with the potential for mining operations to contaminate or otherwise negatively impact local groundwater supply. As a member of the Wells Coalition, a local group of well owners, and an owner of a well herself, she worried mining could reduce water flows or contaminate them. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

Radius Recycling pollutes California waterways, environmental group says

A California environmental group has sued Radius Recycling (RDUS.O), opens new tab, alleging the recycled steel company’s operations are polluting the San Francisco Bay and its tributaries with dirty stormwater runoff. San Francisco Baykeeper filed its lawsuit on Tuesday in Oakland federal court, alleging the company has violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to stop heavy metals and other pollutants from washing away during storms at four of its facilities in the San Francisco Bay area where cars are dismantled. Radius Recycling was formerly known as Schnitzer Steel, and was recognized last year by the research firm Corporate Knights as the world’s most sustainable company due to its reported improvements in things like energy, carbon, water and waste use.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: New analysis shows widespread PFAS contamination of tap water in CA

Toxic “forever” PFAS chemicals are a serious environmental health issue in California and across the globe, linked to numerous health harms. California has been a leader in addressing PFAS, including banning PFAS use in multiple products (such as fire-fighting foam and textiles). Yet PFAS continue to be used in hundreds of different consumer and industrial products and our new analysis, released today, shows drinking water sources serving up to 25 million Californians are or have been contaminated with PFAS.  A bill by Senator Nancy Skinner, also introduced today, proposes a much needed comprehensive, efficient, and health-protective approach to phasing out the use of these highly problematic chemicals. Such preventative legislation will be key to helping to address the PFAS crisis. We also need to tackle current contamination by setting drinking water standards for PFAS.

Aquafornia news High Country News

A cartography of loss in the Borderlands

 …Local artists and curators…have taken on the task of remembering the [Mexicali] region’s departed waters. Since 2020, [they] have overseen the Archivo Familiar del Río Colorado, or Colorado River Family Album, a project that brings together contemporary art, environmental education and historical research to document bodies of water that are disappearing or are already gone …  In 2024, an exhibition at Planta Libre will collect archival documents and artwork that engages with water and its loss. Local artists will lead a series of walks in the surrounding region so that visitors can develop their own relationship with it … the absence of the Colorado River and the waters it nourished forms a cartography of loss that is written on the landscape. Their mission is to make those absences visible — to keep their memories alive, and to imagine possibilities for the future.

Aquafornia news Pacific Sun

North Bay nonprofit removes deadly ghost nets from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

If anyone can accurately describe the massive scope of the plastics problem in the Pacific, it’s [Mary] Crowley, the founder and director of Ocean Voyages Institute, a nonprofit based in Sausalito. She didn’t, however, set out to become an expert on the topic. In fact, the seasoned mariner was happy operating her yacht chartering company and logging 125,000 miles sailing the world. Yet with each passing year, she noticed more and more plastic in the ocean. Finally, Crowley knew she had to act. Since 2009, she’s led eight cleanup expeditions, hauling more than 700,000 pounds of plastic out of our planet’s blue heart and transporting it to recyclers.

Aquafornia news NPR

New report unveils what plastic makers knew about recycling

The plastics industry has worked for decades to convince people and policymakers that recycling would keep waste out of landfills and the environment. Consumers sort their trash so plastic packaging can be repurposed, and local governments use taxpayer money to gather and process the material. Yet from the early days of recycling, plastic makers, including oil and gas companies, knew that it wasn’t a viable solution to deal with increasing amounts of waste, according to documents uncovered by the Center for Climate Integrity. … But the industry appears to have championed recycling mainly for its public relations value, rather than as a tool for avoiding environmental damage, the documents suggest.

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Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

SDSU report calls Tijuana River contamination a public health crisis. ‘We know people are getting sick.’

A new report released Tuesday and written by researchers at San Diego State University calls the Tijuana River a “public health crisis,” citing broad evidence of unhealthy conditions from untreated sewage to industrial waste.  Authors synthesize multiple studies that have documented pollution over the years, leading with a recent paper that documented that the threat also extends to ocean-going mammals. Bottle nose dolphins stranded in San Diego died from infection by a bacteria “generally transmitted through contact with feces or urine in contaminated water, food or soil.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Uinta Basin oil shale proposal ends, but Utah is still interested in developing

Another company has given up on trying to develop oil shale in the Uinta Basin, faced with legal battles, environmental concerns and money going down the drain. Estonia’s national energy company announced that it was wrapping up its fruitless oil shale venture in Utah at the end of last month. Estonia Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev said that the company’s project in Utah was “neither profitable nor promising” in a news release. … Oil shale is a hard sedimentary rock that can be heated to release synthetic crude oil. It’s a thirsty and expensive process that threatens air quality, water quality and endangered species, and exacerbates global warming, according to nonprofit Grand Canyon Trust staff attorney Michael Toll.

Aquafornia news KCLU - Thousand Oaks

Water bottle waste: Ventura County legislator proposes state law to chip away at problem

It’s a type of pollution we see everywhere. We see them by the side of the road, floating in creeks and on our beaches. They are plastic water bottles. A state assemblyman from the Tri-Counties wants California to set an example, and to use alternatives. “Single use plastics just have a very negative impact on pollution, on the environment over,” said Democratic State Assemblyman Steve Bennett of Ventura. He said they do everything from create pollution which harms ecosystems to creating greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, Bennett introduced a bill in Sacramento intended to make the state government a leader on this issue. It would ban state agencies from buying single use water bottles.

Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

California releases formal proposal to end fracking in the state

California oil and gas regulators have formally released their plan to phase out fracking three years after essentially halting new permits for the practice. The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) wrote that they would not approve (PDF) applications for permits for well stimulation treatments like fracking to “prevent damage to life, health, property, and natural resources (PDF)” in addition to protecting public health and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. … Hydraulic fracturing injects liquids, mostly water, underground at high pressure to extract oil or gas. Oil companies say fracking has been done safely for years under state regulation and that a ban should come from the Legislature, not a state agency.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Years after a Newsom order, California is finally set to ban oil and gas fracking

Nearly three years after Gov. Gavin Newsom directed it, California’s oil and gas industry regulator kickstarted a process to outright ban hydraulic fracturing, the fossil fuel extraction method known as ‘fracking.’ Fracking permits have not been issued in the state since 2021, but environmentalists celebrated the move as a win in the fight against climate change. Oil industry groups called it yet another example of regulatory overreach and argued it could lead to higher oil prices. … As the practice exploded in the mid-2000s, research gave fracking a reputation for pollution and public health dangers. Fracking not only is water intensive, it releases potent greenhouse gases such as methane and benzyne and can contaminate groundwater basins with chemical additives.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Train carrying over 100 tons of coal derails, spills into Northern California’s Feather River

A Union Pacific train carrying 118 tons of coal derailed Sunday due to a track defect and dumped its contents into and around Plumas County’s Feather River, according to railroad officials and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fifteen rail cars chugging west on tracks parallel to the Middle Fork Feather River in Blairsden derailed, spilling the coal into the river. At least 14 rail cars tipped over or sustained damage, Fish and Wildlife officials said. At least one rail car fell into the water. … The cost estimate to clean up the river is more than $150,000, according to the CalOES spill report. There could be potential “smothering effects” on organisms in the river, but its short-term impacts are not expected to affect the water, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response said in a Facebook post.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

New study: USGS supports effort to understand impacts on water quality caused by 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California

During November 2018, the Camp Fire burned more than 150,000 acres in Butte County, California, including the Town of Paradise. The fire was the deadliest and most destructive in California history, causing at least 85 fatalities and destroying more than 18,000 structures. In the fire’s aftermath, understanding of the impact on connected ecosystems, including the regional watershed, will inform how we may prepare for and respond to fire events in the future. This was prime focus of a multi-year research effort led by faculty at Chico State University and supported by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the USGS, and other research institutions. 

Aquafornia news Grist

Intensifying atmospheric rivers are leading to a surge in Valley fever cases in California

The flooding caused by intensifying winter rainstorms in California is helping to spread a deadly fungal disease called coccidioidomycosis, or Valley fever. “Hydro-climate whiplash is increasingly wide swings between extremely wet and extremely dry conditions,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at University of California, Los Angeles. Humans are finding it difficult to adapt to this new pattern. But fungi are thriving, Swain said. Valley fever, he added, “is going to become an increasingly big story.” Cases of Valley fever in California broke records last year after nine back-to-back atmospheric rivers slammed the state and caused widespread, record-breaking flooding. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s war on plastic bag use seems to have backfired

It was a decade ago when California became the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags, ushering in a wave of anti-plastic legislation from coast to coast. But in the years after California seemingly kicked its plastic grocery sack habit, material recovery facilities and environmental activists noticed a peculiar trend: Plastic bag waste by weight was increasing to unprecedented levels. … Plastic has been found everywhere scientists have looked: From the deepest oceanic trenches to the highest alpine peaks. Petroleum-based plastics do not biodegrade. Over time, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces — known as microplastics, microfibers and nanoplastics — and have been found in household dust, drinking water and human tissue and blood.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Brawley’s Wiest Lake algae issue gets some help 

In a move that Imperial County Public Works officials hope will set to rest an issue at Brawley’s Wiest Lake that has been ongoing since last summer and beyond, an algae-control system will now be installed as a preventative measure to halt the harmful algae blooms that intermittently closed the lake and threatened native ecosystems in the area.  The Imperial County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the purchase and installation of the system at the meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, by recommendation of Public Works Director John Gay. The proposed LG Sonic device is a “floating, solar-powered platform” that, according to the algae-control professionals, should “reduce algal blooms by up to 70-90%.” “It’s an ultrasonic system that is solar-powered, and it delivers sounds that we cannot hear,” Assistant Public Works Director David Dale summarized for the county board.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Paper or no plastic: New bill may eliminate plastic bags in California entirely

… A bill lawmakers introduced Thursday, Feb. 8, in Sacramento would apply the Trader Joe’s policy statewide, banning stores from offering customers any sort of plastic film bags at checkout. If you’re thinking “didn’t we already do that?” the answer is yes and no. … “If you have been paying attention – if you read the news at all in recent years – you know we are choking our planet with plastic waste,” state senator Catherine Blakespear said. “A plastic bag has an average lifespan of 12 minutes and then it is discarded, often clogging sewage drains, contaminating our drinking water and degenerating into toxic microplastics that fester in our oceans and landfills for up to 1,000 years.”

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: US EPA proposes rules to expand cleanup of PFAS at hazardous waste sites

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two new proposed rules, which further expand EPA’s regulatory oversight of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The first rule would modify the definition of hazardous waste as it applies to cleanups at permitted hazardous waste facilities and to clarify EPA’s authority to address emerging contaminants that are not included in the regulatory definition of hazardous waste. The second rule would add nine particular PFAS, their salts, and their structural isomers, to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (RCRA) list of hazardous constituents for potential assessments and corrective actions. Nicknamed “forever chemicals,” PFAS have been used in a wide range of consumer products and industrial processes due to their qualities to be waterproof, stain-resistant, and nonstick. 

Aquafornia news KUER - Salt Lake City

Lakebed dust is a worry in Utah. For California’s Salton Sea, it’s a full-blown problem

Rosa Mandujano … said her son’s [respiratory problems] problems get worse when the air quality is awful – another common issue for Coachella and Imperial Valley residents. Mecca, where the Mandujano family lives, is enveloped by agricultural fields and a short distance from the north shore of the declining Salton Sea, a saline lake facing similar turmoil as Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Dust storms have become the norm being so close to agricultural fields and the Salton Sea, she said. Winds reaching 75 miles per hour whip through predominantly low-income and immigrant communities. The dust gets so bad, Mandujano said, that “you can’t see what’s in front of you.” With the exposed Salton Sea lakebed and the loose dirt and pesticides from the surrounding fields, Mandujano said it’s rare to find a Coachella Valley resident who doesn’t suffer from allergies or asthma. But the impact of the bad air quality and dust storms is worse for some, like Ruben.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

US court bans three weedkillers and finds EPA broke law in approval process

Dealing a blow to three of the world’s biggest agrochemical companies, a US court this week banned three weedkillers widely used in American agriculture, finding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke the law in allowing them to be on the market. The ruling is specific to three dicamba-based weedkillers manufactured by Bayer, BASF and Syngenta, which have been blamed for millions of acres of crop damage and harm to endangered species and natural areas across the midwest and south. … Dicamba is also prone to drifting on the wind far from where it is applied. And it can move into drainage ditches and bodies of water as runoff during rain events. Monsanto, along with the chemical giant BASF, introduced new formulations of dicamba herbicides they said would not be as volatile, and they encouraged farmers to buy Monsanto’s newly created dicamba-tolerant crops. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

New study: Consumption of teas, takeout, hot dogs could come with a side of ‘forever chemicals’

Young adults whose diets are rich in unsweetened teas, processed meats and takeout foods could be increasing their exposure to “forever chemicals,” a new study has found. Altering these eating habits could bring notable declines in the levels of these compounds, known as PFAS, that are contaminating their blood, according to the study, published Monday in Environment International. … Known for their ability to linger in the environment and the human body, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been linked to kidney cancer, thyroid disease and other illnesses. While most notorious for their presence in certain types of firefighting foams and industrial discharge, PFAS are also present in many household and commercial products, such as nonstick pans and food packaging, as well as contaminated livestock and drinking water.

Aquafornia news KJZZ - Phoenix

Cattle are a part of Arizona’s history. Climate change, overgrazing concerns cloud their future

When you drive through parts of rural Arizona, it’s hard to imagine that cattle ranchers once came here for the grass. But Eduardo Pagan, a history professor at Arizona State University, says the state looked different a couple of centuries ago. … Cattle ranching helped shape rural Arizona into what it is today. It was one of the five C’s that once formed the backbone of the state’s economy, along with copper, citrus, cotton and climate.  But many ideas we have about the history of grazing are wrong, and researchers say that cattle have emerged as a major driver of climate change. Conservationists say it’s time to re-examine grazing on public lands. … Ranching has changed the way wildfire moves across the landscape. Ranching also helped introduce invasive plants, as new grasses were planted to offset overgrazing. Grasslands have been turned into deserts. Streambeds that once nourished shady cottonwoods and willows bake in the sun after cows eat the young trees. Wildfires burn bigger and hotter. 

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 constructs new monitoring wells at Ken Mercer Sports Park

The Zone 7 Water Agency completed the construction of two new monitoring wells at the Ken Mercer Sports Park in Pleasanton in early January that representatives said will help the agency detect PFAS contamination before it spreads any further. While there haven’t been any contaminants found in the area around the sports park along Hopyard Road, having these two wells will help warn the water agency before any contaminants seep into any wells with actual drinking water.

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Aquafornia news NPR

The EPA is proposing that ‘forever chemicals’ be considered hazardous substances

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that nine PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” be categorized as hazardous to human health. The EPA signed a proposal Wednesday that would deem the chemicals “hazardous constituents” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. For the agency to consider a substance a hazardous constituent, it has to be toxic or cause cancer, genetic mutation or the malformations of an embryo. … PFAS have been called “forever chemicals” because they break down very slowly and can accumulate in people, animals and the environment. Last summer, a study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that the man-made chemicals are present in nearly half the country’s tap water supply.

Aquafornia news Lake County Record-Bee

Cleaning up Clear Lake

Over the past 30 years there have been a number of groups that have wanted to change Clear Lake dramatically and they range from dredging the lake to a depth of more than 100 feet to spraying the lake with a herbicide to kill the weeds and algae.  Actually, in comparison to the surrounding lakes the fish have less mercury than Lake Berryessa and Lake Pillsbury. The mercury in the lake comes from the old mercury mine near Rattlesnake Island. It was on the Super Fund for cleanup and a lot has been done. Down through the years there have been a multitude of suggestions to change Clear Lake and they range from rerouting the Eel River through Clear Lake to flush it out, to treating the lake with thousands of gallons of aluminum sulfate to rid the lake of algae and even dredging the lake to a depth of more than 100 feet.

Aquafornia news Food and Environment Reporting Network

Want farmers to protect the environment?

Like a reveler who chases each of many tequila shots with a seltzer, U.S. farm policy consists of comically clashing impulses likely to result in a nasty hangover. The Department of Agriculture doles out substantial subsidies each year to entice farmers to maximize production of corn and soybeans. These commodities account for about 60 percent of U.S. farmland, are used to fatten animals on factory farms, and deliver many of the sugars and fats in our ultraprocessed diets. Unsavory side effects of their production include planet-warming emissions, soil erosion, and polluted waterways. Since 1985, the USDA has also offered farmers cash to adopt conservation practices meant to help counter those troublesome impacts. Growers can make extra money by adding soil-stabilizing crops such as rye and oats to their rotations or by establishing filter strips of grasses or legumes, which are designed to trap chemical runoff. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

USGS partners with Havasupai Tribe to identify potential contaminant exposure pathways from Grand Canyon uranium mining

A new USGS report, co-produced with the Havasupai Tribe, identifies exposure pathways posed by uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed that arise from traditional uses and cultural values placed on resources. Previous models did not take into account Tribal perspectives or traditional uses. … Newly identified exposure pathways for the Havasupai include inhalation, ingestion and absorption from traditional food and medicines as well as ceremonial practices. Incorporating these exposure pathways into future research and risk analyses will lead to results that are more inclusive of Tribal resources and culture. Presenting the expanded risk framework in English and Havasupai aids Tribal members in understanding how the findings relate to their community and helps to preserve the language and historical cultural practices for future generations.

Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

California moves forward with landmark plastic waste reduction law

Californians discard about 15,000 tons of plastic into landfills every day, enough to fill 290 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). Packaging alone accounts for more than a quarter of total landfill waste by weight and more than 50% by volume. [A]dvocates across California working to reduce plastic pollution are hopeful that a new law will change that. The act requires significant reductions in plastic packaging and foodware, and a dramatic increase in packaging recycling. … Over 10 years starting in 2027, the law requires PRO members to pay $5 billion ($500 million per year) into the California Plastic Pollution Mitigation Fund, according to CalRecycle. SB 54 directs 40% of the funds to address impacts on land, water and human health, while the other 60% will support mitigation in communities disproportionately affected by plastic pollution.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: New report highlights how climate change is worsening water and sanitation access for frontline communities in the united states

In a newly released report, the Pacific Institute and DigDeep, in partnership with the Center for Water Security and Cooperation, paint a sobering picture of how climate change is straining access to water and sanitation in communities throughout the United States. The new research details how frontline communities, those hit “first and worst” by climate change, face disproportionate impacts in the United States when trying to access basic water and sanitation systems. The report, entitled “Climate Change Impacts to Water and Sanitation for Frontline Communities in the United States,” is the first in the new multi-report series: “Water, Sanitation, and Climate Change in the United States.” For the millions of people in the United States who currently lack basic indoor plumbing or have unsafe water, climate change will continue to exacerbate their ability to access water and sanitation.

Aquafornia news Salon

New study: Our blood is teeming with “forever chemicals.” Can we remove them by donating blood?

In their daily job of protecting lives, firefighters are exposed to a lot of hazards — not just smoke and fire, but unsafe traffic, violence and vicious cats in trees. However, one of the most perilous risks in firefighting can be somewhat invisible: so-called “forever chemicals,” the substances that are used to suppress fires, such as in fire extinguishers and foams dumped on wildfires. … The parameters of the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Open in 2022, were straightforward: The firefighters were divided into three groups so that the amount of PFAS in their blood could be measured over the course of 12 months. During the 12 months of the experiment, one group of firefighters donated plasma every six weeks; a second group donated whole blood every 12 weeks; and the final group did not donate blood at all.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 News - San Diego

Gov. Newsom urges Congress to act on Tijuana River Valley pollution

Gov. Gavin Newsom Monday reiterated the need for Congress to approve $310 million that President Joe Biden included in his emergency supplemental appropriations bill to address contamination in the Tijuana River Valley. In a letter to Congressional leaders, Newsom said the funds are desperately needed to repair infrastructure at the South Bay International Wastewater Plant — a federal facility on federal land. … In October 2023, the funding was requested by Biden, but it has been held up in bureaucratic channels. Last week’s storm was a stark reminder of the failure of some of the region’s infrastructure, with state agencies estimating more than 14.5 billion gallons of raw sewage flowed from Mexico into California as a result of heavy rains.

Aquafornia news Oaklandside

Exploring Oakland’s urban creeks, from the hills to the Bay

It’s hard to tell now, but Oakland used to be flush with creeks. Glimmering streams running down rolling hills to meet the crisp waters of the San Francisco Bay flourished during the East Bay’s not-too-distant past … However, over 150 years of urban sprawl and industry have altered their natural flow, degraded their water quality, and reshaped the paths these creeks take … Community groups, environmentalists, and government officials are working together today to try and revitalize some of these streams, but they are up against years of degradation and barriers—both physical and bureaucratic. 

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: Did the 9th Circuit just let the EPA ‘fudge’ the numbers on water pollution?

Ever since the Clean Water Act of 1972 dramatically overhauled the way in which America, through the EPA, monitors and protects its waterways, there has been the struggle between the literal life-and-death need for clean water, and the cold, hard reality that people can, will, and sometimes-have-to release pollutants into the water as part of American life. The balancing mechanism, however, is built right into the act itself in the form of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. As the program dictates, you need a NPDES permit to release pollutants, e.g.: sand, dirt, rock, and industrial, municipal, or agricultural waste into the waters of the United States. While the program answers the question of “can I release pollutants,” the battle continues as to “how much pollution can I release?”

Aquafornia news Stocktonia News

Raised from the deep: Sunken WWII tugboat removed from the Delta, heads to scrapyard

A 1940s-era military tugboat is on the way to its final port of call after crews successfully removed it from the Delta near Stockton last week. The Mazapeta sank Sept. 4 in Little Potato Slough near the former Herman and Helen’s Marina at the end of Eight Mile Road. It had approximately 1,600 gallons of diesel and engine oil, which was leaking heavily at first, but the holes were soon plugged and the spill contained by rubberized floating boom. The city of Stockton coordinated with the Vallejo-based company Lind Marine, which barged the vessel to its drydock facility on Mare Island, where it will eventually be dismantled for salvage. On Jan. 9, a 200-foot crane barge arrived and hovered over the vessel for more than a week while scuba divers drew lines beneath its hull. According to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard, crews were able to seal, raise, dewater, and remove petroleum products from the vessel. Batteries and other household hazardous items were also removed.

Aquafornia news Fox 5 - San Diego

San Diego flash floods: Beach water closures remain in these areas

There are several beach water closures and advisories still in place along the San Diego County coast following the heavy rain and flooding earlier this week. … Nearly four inches of rain fell Monday in a time span of just a few hours in some areas of the county. It was the city’s rainiest day ever in January and the fourth wettest day on record. … In the Tijuana River Valley thick piles of sewage was strewn across South Bay neighborhoods and roads, leaving residents to wade through contaminated water.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

About a half a ton of trash is regularly pulled from Lake Tahoe; nonprofit asks for help sorting it

Are you free on Friday, Jan. 26? Clean up the Lake is looking for volunteers to help sort litter they’ve collected from dives around Lake Tahoe. The sort takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can sign up to volunteer by emailing Organizers will provide the sorting location after sign up. Clean up the Lake is an organization that regularly conducts dives to collect trash in Lake Tahoe and other Sierra lakes. Since 2018 the nonprofit has collected over 61,000 pounds of litter. Divers currently collect trash weekly in an ongoing effort as part of the organization’s Lake Tahoe Monitoring California project. They’ve been at it for about six months now. The dives targets 10 litter hot spots on the California side of the lake, identified during a 72 mile clean up in 2022. The project tracks how litters loads have changed at those sites. Divers also keep an eye out for aquatic invasive species. They’ve partnered with Boatworks Mall, Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, the Martis Fund, Tahoe Blue Vodka and others to provide this monitoring.

Aquafornia news California Water Boards

News release: Central Valley Water Board expands innovative safe drinking water program to eight more geographic zones

Three years after the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board launched a novel program that has brought replacement drinking water to more than 1,200 households with nitrate-impacted wells in designated areas of the Central Valley, the regional board is expanding the program to new areas in eight groundwater basins. The Central Valley Water Board recently mailed 938 Notices to Comply to permit holders in these areas, known as Priority 2 management zones within its Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) program. Collectively, these notices affect dischargers – growers, dairies, industrial facilities and wastewater plants – in the following basins: Delta-Mendota, Eastern San Joaquin, Madera, Merced, Kern County (Poso), Kern County (West-side South), Tulare Lake and Yolo. These entities are now required to begin testing potentially impacted domestic wells and to provide free replacement drinking water where nitrates are found to exceed health standards.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Raw sewage in creeks? Sunnyvale and Mountain View argue in court the Clean Water Act should not apply to them

When it comes to the environment, Sunnyvale and Mountain View have a pretty green image, spending millions on bike lanes, solar energy and electric vehicle charging stations. But their tactics in an ongoing court case — in which their lawyers claimed major Bay Area creeks should not be protected from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act — are raising eyebrows among environmentalists. … The Clean Water Act is one of America’s landmark environmental laws. Passed by Congress in 1972, it prohibits the discharge of pollutants like chemicals, sewage, garbage and toxic waste into creeks, rivers, lakes and bays without a federal permit. In 2020, Baykeeper sued Sunnyvale and Mountain View, saying they have been violating the Clean Water Act for years by discharging raw sewage and polluted stormwater into creeks, sending bacteria pollution to levels more than 50 times legal limits.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Why a Mexican sewage treatment plant is sparking hope in Southern California

California’s southernmost surfers are breathing a cautious sigh of relief because Mexico’s military begins the long-awaited reconstruction of a defunct wastewater treatment plant near Tijuana. The Mexican federal infrastructure project, which broke ground last week, aims to minimize the amounts of raw sewage that has for years been spilling into the Pacific Ocean and contaminating beaches on both sides of the border — sickening thousands of residents and forcing temporary closures at local businesses. … Imperial Beach, which sits just a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, has long been plagued by a perennial pollution problem: the flow of untreated effluent from Baja California towns onto the beaches of San Diego County. Facilitating the flow are both seasonal ocean currents and the Tijuana River Watershed, which originates in the U.S. before heading into Mexico and then returning to California. And climate-driven weather extremes have only made a chronic problem even worse.

Aquafornia news Undark

The cost of freeing drinking water from ‘forever chemicals’

Situated in a former sand and gravel pit just a few hundred feet from the Kennebec River in central Maine, the Riverside Station pumps half a million gallons of fresh groundwater every day. The well station processes water from two of five wells on either side of the river operated by the Greater Augusta Utility District, or GAUD, which supplies drinking water to nearly 6,000 local households. … But in March 2021, environmental sampling of Riverside well water revealed trace levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or “forever chemicals,” as they’re better known. … PFAS have been linked to a variety of health problems, and Maine lawmakers at the time were debating an even stricter limit for the chemicals. Tarbuck knew a lower standard was coming someday. The only question was when. As it turns out, a tougher standard is expected early this year. That’s when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to finalize an enforceable cap on PFAS in drinking water that will require GAUD and thousands of other utilities around the country to update their treatment methods. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Dairies in Tulare and Kings counties still struggling with damage in wake of last year’s flooding

When flood water swamped dairies in Tulare and Kings counties last spring, it destroyed equipment, drowned crops and left a trail of salt-laden muck that farmers are still grappling with.  The ongoing damage is so bad, some dairies may never recover. The biggest problem is the loss of crops and cropland. Farmers lost an entire year’s worth of wheat, used for feed, that was submerged as the Tule River and other creeks swelled and water gushed over thousands of acres. That lost crops and cropland, led to a chain of other problems, said Anja Raudabaugh, CEO of Western United Dairies. The price of wheat skyrocketed, but one of the bigger challenges was where to put all the cow manure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

A Study of Microplastics in San Francisco Bay Could Help Cleanup Strategies Elsewhere
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Debris from plastics and tires is showing up in Bay waters; state drafting microplastics plan for drinking water

Plastic trash and microplastics can get washed into stormwater systems that eventually empty into waterways. Blasted by sun and beaten by waves, plastic bottles and bags shed fibers and tiny flecks of microplastic debris that litter the San Francisco Bay where they can choke the marine life that inadvertently consumes it.

A collaborative effort of the San Francisco Estuary Institute, The 5 Gyre InstituteSan Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the regulated discharger community that aims to better understand the problem and assess how to manage it in the San Francisco Bay is nearing the end of a three-year study.

Western Water California Water Map

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

Dear Western Water reader, 

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

Women Leading in Water, Colorado River Drought and Promising Solutions — Western Water Year in Review

Dear Western Water readers:

Women named in the last year to water leadership roles (clockwise, from top left): Karla Nemeth, director, California Department of Water Resources; Gloria Gray,  chair, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner; Jayne Harkins,  commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico; Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission.The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.

These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.

We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:

Aquapedia background Solving Water Challenges in Disadvantaged Communities

Disadvantaged Communities

Installing a water line in East Porterville, Calif.

Disadvantaged communities are those carrying the greatest economic, health and environmental burdens. They include poverty, high unemployment, higher risk of asthma and heart disease, and often limited access to clean, affordable drinking water.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law Gary Pitzer

Amid ‘Green Rush’ of Legal Cannabis, California Strives to Control Adverse Effects on Water
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: State crafts water right and new rules unique to marijuana farms, but will growers accustomed to the shadows comply?

A marijuana plant from a growing operationFor decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.

In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.

Western Water Jenn Bowles Jennifer Bowles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Assessing California’s Response to Marijuana’s Impacts on Water

Jennifer BowlesAs we continue forging ahead in 2018 with our online version of Western Water after 40 years as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.

State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that marijuana was legal.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pesticide Contamination

Pesticides find their way into creeks, rivers and the oceans, threatening aquatic life and the safety of drinking water.

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Microplastics – plastic debris measuring less than 5 millimeters – are an increasing water quality concern.  Entering the water as industrial microbeads or as larger plastic litter that degrade into small pellets, microplastics come from a variety of consumer products.

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Contaminants exist in water supplies from both natural and manmade sources. Even those chemicals present without human intervention can be mobilized from introduction of certain pollutants from both point and nonpoint sources.  

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Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

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

Aquapedia background

Point Source vs. Nonpoint Source Pollution

Point Source Pollution

Point sources release pollutants from discrete conveyances, such as a discharge pipe, and are regulated by federal and state agencies. The main point source dischargers are factories and sewage treatment plants, which release treated wastewater.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource
Published 2007

Problems with polluted stormwater and steps that can be taken to prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as “nuisance” runoff into a water resource is the focus of this publication, Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource. The 16-page booklet, funded by a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board, includes color photos and graphics, text explaining common stormwater pollutants and efforts to prevent stormwater runoff through land use/ planning/development – as well as tips for homeowners to reduce their impacts on stormwater pollution.


The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (20 min. DVD)

20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.


The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (60 min. DVD)

For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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


Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley

Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential – but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.


Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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


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

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


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

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

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater
Published 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the history of wastewater treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and disposed of today. The guide also offers case studies of different treatment plants and their treatment processes.

Aquapedia background Colorado River Basin Map

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 237 feet below sea level.

Aquapedia background California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater

Groundwater Pollutants

barrel half-buried in the ground, posing a threat to groundwater.

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

Western Water Magazine

Two States, One Lake: Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue
September/October 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses some of the issues associated with the effort to preserve and restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Mercury Rising Tackling the Legacy of the Gold Rush
May/June 2004

This issue of Western Water examines the presence of mercury in the environment and the challenge of limiting the threat posed to human health and wildlife. In addition to outlining the extent of the problem and its resistance to conventional pollution remedies, the article presents a glimpse of some possible courses of action for what promises to be a long-term problem.

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

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

Western Water Magazine

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act:
November/December 2002

2002 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant environmental laws in American history, the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA has had remarkable success, reversing years of neglect and outright abuse of the nation’s waters. But challenges remain as attention turns to the thorny issue of cleaning up nonpoint sources of pollution.