The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.
Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems. Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.
The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws. A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has spent five years drafting a comprehensive update to 30 sections of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines. Several changes to the Guidelines address two hot button topics: global climate change and statewide affordable housing shortages. Many of the changes will significantly alter the application of CEQA to future projects.
At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. And it could also be a landmark year for water management in California, with several key issues coming to a head.
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, and as climate change and other factors increase the frequency of fires, there is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West — and a lesser known risk to the region’s already endangered water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.
At issue is the proper interpretation of the law’s central provision barring the discharge of “any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source” without a permit. The term navigable waters, broadly defined as “waters of the United States,” does not generally include groundwater.
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:
Calls for the federal government to regulate polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been unsuccessful. Last year the Trump administration tried to block a study urging a much lower threshold of exposure. Harvard University researchers say public drinking-water supplies serving more than 6 million Americans have tested for the chemicals at or above the EPA’s threshold — which many experts argue should be far lower to safeguard public health.
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a scoping report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development on approximately 400,000 acres of BLM-administered public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate lands on tribal and privately held lands in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.
D.C. banned plastic straws in restaurants and other businesses effective Jan. 1, 2019, becoming the second major U.S. city to do so. Seattle made the change six months ago. Worldwide, it’s estimated that straws account for about 4 percent of plastic pollution found in oceans by volume, but less than 1 percent by weight.
The tenth annual performance report evaluates what the state water boards do and how the environment is responding to its actions. The report presents numerous performance measures for specific outputs and outcomes.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River. The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes, water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.
Some drinking-water wells on the northeast side of Madera are being idled or abandoned because of fluctuating water levels and significant plumes of groundwater contamination by the agricultural chemical DBCP, a powerful pesticide suspected to cause sterility and cancer.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring water quality within California and throughout the Southwest and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold one hearing to provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views, or information concerning the proposed rule changes affecting wetlands and ephemeral waters.
A sewage spill that federal officials said started Monday night south of the border continues to flood the Tijuana River with millions of gallons of raw effluent. A ruptured collector pipe in southeast Tijuana is leaking roughly 7 million gallons a day of sewage into the river, according to the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States, passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city filled with factories that manufacture products from electronics to auto parts.
The plumes of smoke from the fire, which has burned 141,000 acres in Northern California, get the most attention, but the Camp Fire is leaving other environmental hazards in its wake: toxic ash from burning homes, polluted water, and burning Superfund sites. … “Anything that’s affecting the air quality will eventually affect water quality,” Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Reznik told Bloomberg Environment.
Upper Newport Bay will be the second spot in the nation to install a water wheel that collects trash and debris from upstream waterways. On Thursday, Oct. 25, Newport Beach Mayor Duffy Duffield went to Santa Cruz and received a $1.7 million grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to fund the Newport Bay Water Wheel Project.
The EPA is pushing back its timetable for repealing a landmark Obama-era waters jurisdiction rule by at least four months, a move that could prolong the confusion about how and where to implement it in the interim.
For the environmental advocacy group Surfrider, a plan to curb the littering of cigarette butts began with energetic optimism. It was 1992, and at the time, cigarette filters were the single most frequently occurring item found in most beach cleanups – a statistic the organization hoped to erase. … Mobilized by water, wind and gravity, many or most eventually wind up in streams and storm drains and, eventually, the ocean, where it’s probable they are having a variety of negative impacts that scientists are trying to understand.
San Diego joined 119 other California cities on Monday by banning polystyrene food and beverage containers, which have been blamed for poisoning fish and other marine life and damaging the health of people who eat seafood. … Nearly all national and regional restaurant chains long ago stopped using polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam, in response to lobbying by environmental groups and backlash from customers concerned that foam isn’t biodegradable.
Hemet has filed a federal lawsuit against Dow Chemical and Shell Oil seeking reimbursement for the cost of removing a cancer-causing chemical from the city’s water wells. According to its Sept. 21 suit, the contaminated wells have been tainted by TCP, a “highly toxic substance” used until the 1980s to fumigate soil where crops were grown.
Groundwater depletion is a big problem in parts of California. But it is not the only groundwater problem. The state also has many areas of polluted groundwater, and some places where groundwater overdraft has caused the land to subside, damaging roads, canals and other infrastructure. Near the coast, heavy groundwater pumping has caused contamination by pulling seawater underground from the ocean. But if you wanted to obtain a permit from the state to manage these problems by recharging groundwater, you could be out of luck.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has agreed to monitor and possibly clean up any harmful pollution found in the San Francisco Bay near the Marina and Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhoods to settle a lawsuit over discharges from power plants a century ago.
The Sativa Water District, which faced criticism for its handling of dirty water in Compton and Willowbrook, will be under new control. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that will require the California State Water Resources Control Board to appoint an administrator to take control of the district.
Despite pleas for immediate action from Michigan and New Hampshire residents who live in communities with PFAS-contaminated groundwater, officials from multiple federal agencies testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing that regulatory responses and health studies will take years to complete.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed the nation’s first state law barring dine-in restaurants from giving customers plastic straws unless they are requested, saying discarded plastic is “choking our planet.” Brown cited the damage that discarded plastic has done to marine life and its threat to human health.
As California begins handing out $2.5 billion in state funds for several new water management projects, a shift is taking place in the ways officials are considering storing water. To contend with the likelihood of future extreme droughts, some of these new strategies rely on underground aquifers — an approach far removed from traditional dam-based water storage.
The Environmental Protection Agency is assessing the vulnerability of at least 40 toxic waste sites that could be damaged by Hurricane Florence in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. But that review does not include dozens of inland Superfund sites that potentially could be flooded by the storm’s fluctuating path.
The defunct Copper Bluff Mine in the Hoopa Valley area could be added to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. “Though the Copper Bluff Mine closed decades ago, it is still affecting the Trinity River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the tribal fishery,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker in a statement.
During the first 18 months of the Trump administration, records show, nearly 1,600 workers left the EPA, while fewer than 400 were hired. The exodus has shrunk the agency’s workforce by 8 percent, to levels not seen since the Reagan administration.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s suit in Kern County Superior Court asserts the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board voted April 5 to allow the dumping to continue indefinitely despite a staff report concluding the practice contaminates local groundwater and makes it unsuitable for agricultural and municipal use.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday night against the Trump administration, alleging that the federal government violated the Clean Water Act by allowing, in recent years, millions of gallons of raw sewage, heavy metals and other contamination to routinely spill from Tijuana into San Diego.
Federal court judge Jeffrey T. Miller toured the Tijuana River Valley for several hours on Tuesday to observe pumps and canyon collectors along the border intended to prevent sewage from spilling into San Diego. The unusual move comes as the result of a contentious legal battle in which Miller must decide whether the Trump administration is doing enough to stop sewage that routinely pours into the United States from Mexico.
Nine of every 10 illegal marijuana farms raided in California this year contained traces of powerful and potentially lethal pesticides that are poisoning wildlife and could endanger water supplies, researchers and federal authorities said Tuesday. … California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who leads the nation’s largest marijuana eradication program, said state drug agents last week found gallons of carbofuran being added to irrigation water at an illegal site in northwestern California.
Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what’s out there. Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it’s thrown away, it doesn’t just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces.
Lauren Woeher wonders if her 16-month-old daughter has been harmed by tap water contaminated with toxic industrial compounds used in products like nonstick cookware, carpets and fast-food wrappers. … Tim Hagey, manager of a local water utility, recalls how he used to assure people that the local public water was safe. That was before testing showed it had some of the highest levels of the toxic compounds of any public water system in the U.S.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days. … As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in sources of drinking water.
After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush. The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water Resources Control Board.
The lawyer nominated to run the Superfund toxic cleanup program is steeped in the complexities of restoring polluted rivers and chemical dumps. He spent more than a decade on one of the nation’s most extensive cleanups, one involving Dow Chemical’s sprawling headquarters in Midland, Mich.
The California company that sells Crystal Geyser bottled water has been charged with illegally disposing of arsenic-tainted wastewater, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The charges don’t allege that CG Roxane LLC sold tainted water, but that it illegally shipped and disposed of the toxic waste filtered from well water.
The Trump administration on Wednesday eased rules for handling toxic coal ash from more than 400 U.S. coal-fired power plants after utilities pushed back against regulations adopted under former President Barack Obama. … U.S. coal plants produce about 100 million tons annually of ash and other waste, much of which ends up in unlined disposal ponds prone to leak.
Andrew Wheeler, the new acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, signaled a more inclusive approach at the agency, telling staffers roiled by months of ethics allegations against his predecessor, “You will find me and my team ready to listen.” … When President Donald Trump called him last week about the job change, the president told him to “clean up the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief,” Wheeler said.
Suction dredge mining, a practice in which individuals use vacuum-like devices to extract minerals from the bottom of waterways, has been restricted by a series of new laws passed in the California State Legislature. Earlier this year, miners’ rights groups were optimistic that a bill authored by Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, would narrow the scope of the restrictions and allow them to apply for permits to return to rivers and streams with their suction dredge equipment once again.
Coronado’s mayor flew to Oklahoma this week to talk with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency about possible solutions to the recurring Tijuana sewage spills that sully the San Diego County coastline. Mayor Richard Bailey and Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke one-on-one for about 20 minutes Tuesday during an annual meeting between leading environmental experts and regulators from Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is proposing surrendering some of his agency’s veto power over waste discharges near waterways by mining and development. In a memo released Wednesday by the EPA, Pruitt directs the agency to study renouncing part of its authority under the half-century-old Clean Water Act to veto permits that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or states grant to allow dumping waste into waterways.
The Trump administration has appointed Republican Mike Stoker for the position [Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 administrator]. … KQED Science recently spoke with him at his office in San Francisco. He said a top priority for him is to deal with sewage pollution at the US-Mexico border.
[Mike] Stoker, who is in charge of enforcing federal regulations in Region 9, covering California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and the Pacific islands, said his goals are in line with those of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who recently released a list of 21 Superfund sites targeted for immediate attention. The list included two of the 111 sites in Region 9.
Legislation that creates a fund to help remove derelict commercial vessels from the Delta passed the Assembly on Wednesday. It was one of two bills authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, to clear the Assembly and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Tuesday.
More than half a dozen bills aimed at plastic pollution were introduced in Sacramento this year alone — by both coastal legislators and more moderate inland colleagues who see the potential damage not just in oceans but also rivers, lakes and the state’s water supply. No one, they said, wants to drink a glass of water and wonder if they’re also downing a glass of plastic.
Last year, after more than 250 gallons of sewage spilled into the Pacific Ocean from the Tijuana River, water pollution in Imperial Beach became an international story. … Although the spills have come to the forefront in the last few years, water pollution has been part of Imperial Beach life for generations, particularly for the surf community.
Soaring numbers of water systems around the country are testing positive for a dangerous class of chemicals widely used in items that include non-stick pans and firefighting foam, regulators and scientists said Tuesday. The warnings, and promises by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt of official action to confront the related health risks, came in a summit with small-town and state officials increasingly confronting water systems contaminated by the toxic substances.
Journalists from CNN, the Associated Press and E&E News, a publication that covers energy and environment issues, were barred by the EPA from entering the event, which was focused on harmful chemicals in water. A handful of other reporters from other news organizations, however, were allowed inside the event for Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been previously invited by the agency the day before.
Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate ocean quality grants used by coastal communities to determine whether the water poses a hazard to beach goers. The EPA stopped requesting the $10 million in annual funds in 2013, saying that states, counties and cities were adequately equipped to continuing the monitoring on their own.
The state Attorney General has joined San Diego’s regional water regulators in pressuring the White House to do more to address sewage from Tijuana that routinely spills over the border fouling beaches as far north as Coronado. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, with the backing of Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, on Monday filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the federal government for violations of the Clean Water Act.
When a contaminated aquifer in Orange County made U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s list of top-priority sites for “immediate, intense action,” the local water district was quick to highlight the announcement. But questions of political favoritism are swirling over Pruitt’s decision in December to prioritize cleaning the Orange County North Basin groundwater pollution plume beneath Anaheim and Fullerton using the federal Superfund program.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied the North Coast Railroad Authority’s petition to take up a longstanding court battle regarding plans to restore nearly 150 miles of railroad to the North Coast. … In July 2011, two separate environmental organizations — Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and Friends of the Eel River — filed lawsuits in Marin County challenging the railroad authority’s environmental review of its restoration project.
The scandal involving cheating in the $1 billion cleanup at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has until now focused on allegations of what was left behind at the site: radioactive dirt dumped into trenches to save the time and expense of testing and disposing of it properly. But former shipyard employees and environmentalists say that toxic waste removed from the site is of just as great a concern.
A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.
For 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.
As 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.
Battlefronts fell along party lines at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing yesterday about whether EPA should regulate pollutants that make it to surface water via groundwater. … The hearing was the first since EPA requested public comment on whether it should regulate such pollutants earlier this winter. The input is due by May 21.
State lawmakers got the memo in advance. The theme of Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) is “End Plastic Pollution,” but California legislators are already on the case. Four years ago, they made California the first state to ban single-use plastic grocery sacks — and 52 percent of voters agreed with the law in a 2016 referendum.
A mining company accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday of failing to operate a treatment plant at full capacity, allowing a huge volume of polluted mine wastewater to reach a southwestern Colorado river.
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board members voted Thursday to require an oil wastewater dump site operator in McKittrick suspected of polluting nearby groundwater to install a network of wells monitoring contamination. That falls short of environmentalists’ demands for the board to shutter the operation.
Joaquin Esquivel learned that life is what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a year ago to fill the Board vacancy.
Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board, he shares with four other members the difficult task of ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water.
The problem with focusing on Trump’s pipe dream of a wall is that real border problems that can actually be solved are being ignored. The Tijuana River, for instance, which crosses the international border before reaching the ocean on the U.S. side, is said to be one of the most polluted waterways in the world.
A new study could help water agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and 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.
With health complaints continuing from Border Patrol agents who work the polluted areas of the Tijuana River Valley, the federal Customs and Border Protection agency is quietly trying to solve some of the problems of toxic sewage flows from Mexico — on its own.
In the wake of rising outcry in San Diego of cross-border flows of contaminated water, trash and sediment from Tijuana, Mexico is moving ahead with a series of short-term upgrades to Tijuana’s sewage collection and treatment system aimed at preventing such incidents, and responding with greater speed should they occur.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge led by states and environmental groups to an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that lets government agencies transfer water between different bodies, such as rivers and lakes, without needing to protect against pollution.
The new law marks the beach town’s latest move to crack down on the distribution of single-use plastics. Malibu was early to adopt a plastic shopping bag ban, passing an ordinance in 2008 to keep bags from drifting into the ocean and killing marine life.
It started a year ago when state investigators uncovered 86 drums holding thousands of gallons of hazardous waste illegally buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard. … Soon, authorities said, they discovered that officials running the Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche upgrades.
Besides challenging federal deregulation, the Bureau of Environmental Justice will prioritize pollution cases that threaten public health, [California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra said. The attorneys will seek to compel businesses and government agencies to clean contaminated drinking water, reduce exposure to lead and other toxins and prevent illegal waste discharges in communities burdened disproportionately by pollution.
Anchored in flood-prone areas in every American state are more than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About 1,400 are located in areas at highest risk of flooding.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called on the Trump administration Wednesday to help plug Tijuana’s rampant spills of sewage and other polluted water, which routinely foul beaches in San Diego and cause border patrol agents to fall ill.
The text of the Clean Water Act trumped all of the government’s arguments in the long-running fight over which courts have jurisdiction over the Obama administration’s contentious water rule. … The Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule aimed to clarify which wetlands and streams receive automatic protection under the Clean Water Act after years of confusion caused by the infamously muddled 2006 Supreme Court Rapanos decision.
A top manager who supervises the Environmental Protection Agency program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated properties and waterways told Congress on Thursday that the government needs to plan for the ongoing threat posed to Superfund sites from climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency says an internal task force appointed to revamp how the nation’s most polluted sites are cleaned up generated no record of its deliberations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites.
For months, staffers in the Office of Water had been in help-desk mode, fielding calls from states implementing a federal rule that set new limits on water-borne pollution released by coal-fired power plants. The rule on what is known as “effluent” had been hammered out over a decade of scientific study and intense negotiations involving utility companies, White House officials and environmental advocates.
After combing through a decade’s worth of Pennsylvania birth records, researchers have found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were 25% more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during pregnancy.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke said nearly 80% of the country’s forest system resides in the West. Tooke, who became head of the agency in September, addressed the [Western Governors Association] conference Friday and said that in the years ahead his No. 1 goal is to increase efforts that prevent wildfires and reduce community risks — such as mudslides and contaminated water — from burn areas.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the United States Senate has unanimously passed the Save Our Seas Act of 2017, which would reauthorize the NOAA Marine Debris Program for five years and encourage international cooperation to prevent and clean up plastic pollution.
Pungent, sometimes toxic blobs are fouling waterways from the Great Lakes to Chesapeake Bay, from the Snake River in Idaho to New York’s Finger Lakes and reservoirs in California’s Central Valley. … California last year reported toxic blooms in more than 40 lakes and waterways, the most in state history.
Next time you spray Rover or Fluffy for fleas, you may be harming San Francisco Bay. An insecticide found in commonly used over-the-counter flea treatments like Frontline Plus and Pet Armor appears to be washing down pet owners’ drains and flowing through sewage treatment plants into the bay, new research shows.
Officials in Imperial Beach said Wednesday that sewage flowing up the coast from Tijuana fouled miles of shoreline over the weekend, severely sickening surfers and other beach goers. Mayor Serge Dedina, who also fell ill, said he received no advanced notice from officials in Mexico about the pollution.
At least one San Diego leader wants water researchers to start testing city waterways for hepatitis A. Councilman David Alvarez on Thursday penned a letter to the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project requesting that the environmental research group start testing as many as a half-dozen area waterways for the deadly liver infection.
Many of the more than one million Californians who live in mobile home parks drink water that is more polluted and more likely to be cut off than residents who get water from other municipal utilities, according to the most detailed research to date on water access in California trailer parks.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is vowing to speed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites, part of a shift away from climate change and toward what he calls the “basics” of clean air and water. The EPA’s Superfund program manages the cleanup of some of the most toxic waste sites — Pruitt says the EPA will soon name a top 10 list of sites to focus on.
San Diego officials were informed repeatedly of the dangers of disease-carrying runoff from homeless encampments into area waterways, as far as a decade before the current hepatitis A crisis spurred action.
It’s been thought for decades that stormwater runoff is the major source of bacterial pollution in the county’s rivers, bays and beaches — triggering swimming advisories up and down the region’s shoreline for 72 hours after it rains. However, the greatest source of dangerous pathogens flowing from these urban waterways into the ocean may actually be coming from human waste.
Monte Rio Beach on the lower Russian River was declared safe for swimming and was reopened to the public Wednesday, just in time for a heat wave that’s expected to send temperatures back toward the century mark this weekend.
Sonoma County health officials have closed Monte Rio Beach on the Russian River to swimming, wading and other activities that would put visitors in direct contact with the water because of elevated bacterial levels in the wake of an extremely busy holiday weekend.
The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation’s streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.
In the latest skirmish over transparency at the troubled Oroville Dam, a Northern California activist group has sued state officials alleging they’re illegally withholding information about potentially toxic asbestos.
Five companies responsible for polluting the groundwater in the San Gabriel Valley have agreed to continue cleanup for another 10 years, sparing 400,000 residents higher water bills, a state agency announced Thursday.
Under the White House’s latest budget proposal, released Tuesday, the EPA would fare worse than any other federal agency. … The White House also proposes nearly halving categorical grants, which support state and local efforts to address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water quality, to $597 million.
Environmentalists and public health advocates are going to court to fight the Trump administration’s move to rewrite Obama-era rules limiting water pollution from coal-fired power plants. … The rule would have required utilities to cut the amounts of toxic heavy metals in the wastewater piped from their plants into rivers and lakes often used as sources of drinking water.
The Trump administration got an earful Tuesday from people who say federal rules limiting air and water pollution aren’t tough enough, even as it was seeking suggestions about what environmental regulations it should gut.
The conservative California farmers who have long sought to eliminate the Legal Services Corp. would get their wish fulfilled under the Trump administration’s bare-bones budget outline made public Thursday.
Federal officials in the United States and Mexico announced on Thursday a joint investigation into a sewage spill in the Tijuana River that has polluted South County beaches as far north as Coronado — and which now looks to have been intentional as some elected leaders in San Diego suspected.
The Trump administration has delayed consideration of a proposal to require companies to prove they have the financial wherewithal to clean up polluted mining sites after a pushback from industry groups and Western-state Republicans.
Customers will either have to bring their own bags or buy a recycled paper bag or sturdier reusable plastic bag at the store for at least 10 cents. Environmental groups say the ban will help stem pollution and prevent sea animals from eating or getting entangled in the flimsy plastic that drifts into waterways.
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.
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.
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.
Instead of working in her office at the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Swanson spent Tuesday cleaning up after more than 1,000 college students who trashed Slaughterhouse Island during a weekend boating trip.
University of Oregon students who said they wanted to clean up the mess that classmates left at Shasta Lake last weekend couldn’t do so because the site was too much of a biohazard with feces and used condoms, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said.
A campsite that offers a serene getaway by a California lake was wrecked after about a thousand fraternity and sorority members left a half-mile-wide swath of trash, empty bottles, tents and coolers after an annual trip.
A University of Oregon fraternity was suspended after its members allegedly trashed a campsite at Shasta Lake in Northern California over the weekend, leaving behind piles of litter, feces and beer bottles and abandoning scores of tents.
Park rangers on their usual Sunday patrol at Lake Shasta encountered a scene of carnage on Slaughterhouse Island — 90 tents, coolers still full of food and alcohol, sleeping bags and yards and yards of garbage.
Student revelers on houseboats tied to Shasta’s Slaughterhouse Island left big piles of trash in their wake — sparking online condemnation that continued Tuesday to ripple across Facebook, reddit and Instagram.
University of Oregon students got a viral black eye Monday when photographs on social media revealed huge piles of trash — with much “O”-branded paraphernalia included — strewn across Slaughterhouse Island on Lake Shasta in Northern California. … The university is investigating the situation and talking with the landowner, which is the federal government.
Hidden in the brush of the Santa Fe Dam basin on the San Gabriel River, the homeless camp was littered with heaps of broken furniture, disgorged computers, bicycle frames, televisions, disassembled motorcycles, pieces of exercise machines, rotting food, empty containers and half-buried clothes.
As nations around the globe observe Earth Day, one of the most daunting issues facing the world is the mounting waste problem, which impairs public health, pollutes the environment and threatens to drown some poor countries in toxicity. … Pollution runs into rivers and seeps into ground water.
Since millions of gallons of mining waste burst from an inland iron ore mine a month ago, 300 miles of the Rio Doce stretching to the Atlantic Ocean has turned a Martian shade of bright orange, and the deadly consequences for residents and wildlife are just beginning to emerge.
Colorado officials say they didn’t endorse an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup operation that caused a massive spill of toxic wastewater from an inactive mine, disputing a key claim by federal agencies that state experts signed off on the plan.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed 23 new environmental bills into law, banning tiny plastic beads in cosmetics that scientists say are polluting the ocean and San Francisco Bay, toughening oil pipeline laws and requiring the state’s massive pension funds to sell off their coal stocks.
San Francisco Bay is contaminated with widespread pollution from billions of tiny pieces of plastic in greater concentrations than the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and other major U.S. bodies of water, according to a groundbreaking new study.
Six local waterways have been officially recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being impaired by fecal bacteria, thus beginning what may be a lengthy assessment to identify and mitigate the sources of pollution.
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finalized a long-debated clean water rule to limit pollution in a variety of streams, tributaries, and wetlands. … Not surprisingly, the new rule has triggered a national political firestorm …
Scientists have found new ways to reduce mercury in wetlands, providing hope that Sacramento-area waterways can be decontaminated of the potentially toxic element that dates back to Gold Rush-era mining activities.
Decades ago, industrial pollution began fouling some groundwater wells throughout Los Angeles County. That prompted water officials to stop using the most polluted wells and rely more on water from Northern California and the Colorado River.
A large cement factory near Cupertino will have to pay more than $7 million in fines and remediation for polluting a local creek that pours into San Francisco Bay, state and federal regulators said Wednesday.
The Lehigh Hanson cement plant, a longtime producer of Silicon Valley building materials but also a significant polluter, will pay $7.5 million as part of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle charges it dumped millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into a nearby creek. … Established by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, its cement built Shasta Dam, Highway 101, Highway 85 and other major Northern California landmarks.
A UC Davis researcher is studying whether tiny bits of plastic used in face washes, toothpaste and other consumer products are accumulating in Sacramento-area rivers and flowing out to the Pacific Ocean. … Their small size also means they don’t get filtered out of the wastewater that flows from homes to sewage-treatment plants.
California has lost control of its quickly diminishing water. While state officials lose no opportunity to tout California’s environmental leadership to the world and to plead with residents to conserve water, regulators have allowed oil companies to dump billions of gallons of toxic wastewater each year into protected underground drinking water.
Opponents of a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores have qualified a referendum on the law, delaying its July 1 effective date until voters act on the measure in November 2016, the California secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.
Some eight million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, and the amount of the debris is likely to increase greatly over the next decade unless nations take strong measures to dispose of their trash responsibly, new research suggests.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend requirements under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) to improve the nation’s ability to plan for and respond to oil spills.
When I saw the headline “Westlands reaches secret deal” Monday in The Bee, I knew it was about the toxic irrigation drainage that caused a wildlife disaster in western Merced County more than three decades ago.
A new academic study out this week, and published in the journal PLOS ONE, for the first time gives a hard number to the amount of plastic garbage littering our oceans. It’s a sobering figure: 5.25 trillion particles of plastic.
A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world’s oceans. … The plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
Along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, runoff pollution from abandoned mines in “Gold Country” could threaten California’s primary water supply. A pilot project at one mine site is intended to prevent contaminated runoff from reaching the Yuba River.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will announce Monday a proposal to prohibit single-use plastic bags at stores in the city in the event that opponents of a newly adopted statewide ban are able to force a public vote on that legislation.
With California’s law banning plastic bags on hold, the plastic bag industry and its allies already are pouring money into California in hopes of overturning the law in a referendum two years down the road.
Public health officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties are asking surfers and swimmers to stay out of the ocean because of the bacteria, debris and trash that washed into the water from this week’s storms.
State water regulators have slapped California Water Service Co. with a proposed record-setting $3 million penalty for an October 2013 leak of chemically treated drinking water that killed more than 270 fish in San Mateo and Polhemus creeks.
These out-of-state interlopers are pouring millions of dollars into the effort to undo what the Governor and Legislature have just accomplished to reduce the plastic bags littering our neighborhoods, clogging our waterways and polluting our beaches and oceans and harm wildlife.
More than three years into the massive cleanup of Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the broken reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.
In a recently published study, Eco-directed sustainable prescribing: feasibility for reducing water contamination by drugs, EPA scientist Christian Daughton presents ways we can prevent the active ingredients of pharmaceuticals from getting into our waterways.
Because of restrictions on burning, California hospital representatives say their only option appears to be trucking the waste over public highways and incinerating it in another state — a prospect that makes some environmental advocates uneasy. … Dr. David Perrott, chief medical officer for the California Hospital Assn., said there was also confusion about whether infected human waste could be flushed down the toilet.
Recent tests of water quality give Chicken Ranch Beach and most other Marin County locales a clean bill of health, but raise red flags at White House Pool county park, Samuel P. Taylor State Park and Lawson’s Landing, where visitors are advised to “avoid contact with the water.”
Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to clean up California have been impressive in the past four years, but he outdid himself Tuesday when he signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores.
The ink was barely dry on the governor’s signature to ban plastic bags when foes of his decision filed paperwork with the state attorney general’s office for a referendum in 2016 to overturn the new law.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill to reform the California Department of Toxic Substances Control is drawing indignation from community groups and state legislators who had pressed for broad changes at the troubled agency.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick.
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.
This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and DVD.
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.
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.
The 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.
As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.
The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.
This printed issue of Western Water, based on presentations at the November 3-4, 2010 Water Quality Conference in Ontario, Calif., looks at constituents of emerging concerns (CECs) – what is known, what is yet to be determined and the potential regulatory impacts on drinking water quality.
This 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.