A national environmental organization is preparing to sue Gov.
Gavin Newsom’s administration for issuing new fracking permits,
including six approved on Friday, Kassie Siegel, director of
the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute,
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
can list bisphenol A under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and
Toxic Enforcement Act despite challenges regarding the lack of
evidence of its harm to humans, a state appeals court said
Run Dry is a story of small, rural California communities and
their struggle to remain connected to the most precious
resource—water. This digital media project combines short
documentary films, personal stories, photographs, and data
visualizations about water scarcity and contamination in the
San Joaquin Valley.
The report from UC Santa Barbara found that in 2019 an
estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers – were
released into California’s natural environment. The plastic
fibers, which are less than 5mm in length, are primarily shed
when we wash our yoga pants, stretchy jeans and fleece jackets
and can easily enter oceans and waterways.
Wildfires leave behind more than scorched earth and destroyed
homes: Rising smoke plumes can contain chemicals that disperse
not only into the air but in soil, water, indoor dust, and even
wildlife. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of
more than 100 chemicals that can cause cancer and other
ailments, is one of those ingredients.
Oakland’s McClymonds High School is now safe for students and
staff to return to after a months-long closure because of a
toxic chemical found in groundwater on the campus. The school
first closed in February, just weeks before classroom
instruction was halted because of COVID-19.
For most of the past 48 years, the Clean Water Act produced
dramatic improvements in the quality of our nation’s rivers,
lakes and coastal waters. … Unfortunately, the Trump
administration’s unrelenting rollback of clean water
protections is stalling progress toward fixing these problems
and endangering a half-century’s worth of gains.
The [Butte] county’s Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Wolfy
Rougle said there is indeed reason to worry about preventing
toxic runoff quickly, particularly with the magnitude of the
North Complex fires’ destruction, and the county’s resources
are stretched thin…So small nonprofit organizations typically
have boots on the ground to do the work with concerned
residents, like the Camp Fire Restoration Project.
Evidence has slowly built that some commonly used PFAS are
toxic and may cause cancer. It took 50 years to understand that
the happy accident of Teflon’s discovery was, in fact, a train
wreck. … I am one of hundreds of scientists who are calling
for a comprehensive, effective plan to manage the entire class
of PFAS to protect public health while safer alternatives are
A subset of so-called forever chemicals, used to make thousands
of industrial and consumer products, can’t be deemed
“low-concern” despite chemical manufacturers’ arguments, a
group of international scientists said in a paper released
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a
$108 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act
(WIFIA) loan to the Stockton Public Financing Authority to help
modernize the city’s wastewater treatment facility and reduce
nitrogen discharges to the San Joaquin River.
The North Complex Fire has burned a large portion of Lake
Oroville’s watershed. This could lead to hazardous water
quality after winter rains run all of that sediment into the
lake and the effects could last decades. However, how water
quality could be affected by the fire is still largely unknown.
Some neighborhoods in California and Oregon are already
witnessing benzene levels that exceed state and federal
permissible limits as evacuees return to ‘do not drink/do not
boil’ warnings. “The number of water systems that we expect to
see impacted could be the highest yet,” says Daniel Newton,
assistant deputy director of California’s Water Resources
Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water. “It is a concern.”
After nearly 25 years of unprecedented stewardship of the upper
Sacramento River, including raising millions in grant money for
everything from educational programs to the annual removal of
countless tons of trash, the River Exchange is disbanding. The
Dunsmuir-based nonprofit made the announcement October 1,
citing funding issues and the successful completion of its
Imperial County Supervisor Ryan Kelley wants the board to work
with Congressman Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista, and the county’s
lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to draft a legislation to fully
fund a wastewater treatment project to clean the New River.
The Forest Service’s use of herbicides and pesticides has
raised occasional alarm from environmental groups, which point
to the chemical’s potential to harm wildlife or water supplies,
or to have long-term effects on people who apply them. In some
regions, they say, scarcely a tree-planting project occurs
without the use of chemical herbicides.
The Coachella Valley Water District broke ground Tuesday on a
project that will connect the Westside Elementary School in
Thermal to the water system that services much of the valley.
Westside is the only school in its district relying solely on a
well and has a history of water contamination….construction
is advancing with money from the state water board’s Safe
and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience Program. [It
is the state's first recipient under the program.]
Sixty percent of California’s public water supply wells that
were tested for so-called forever chemicals contain those
compounds, according to research that the State Water Resources
Control Board released Wednesday. The findings … shed new
light on the presence of PFAS contamination and areas that
could be vulnerable based on proximity to known sources like
airports and landfills.
The bill, which was written by state Sen. Ben Hueso, also aims
to address some of the binational challenges in managing the
watershed. The plan that the California EPA is putting together
will create a framework for how California can work with the
Mexican and U.S. governments.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year
declined to regulate perchlorate, which has been linked to
thyroid conditions. The unanimous vote from the State Water
Resources Control Board is the first step toward tightening
California’s drinking water standard, currently set at 6 parts
per billion. The chemical has been found in 27 counties
Water providers in California face myriad challenges in
sustainably providing high quality drinking water to their
customers while protecting the natural environment. In this
blog post, I explore the stresses
that surface and
groundwater quality challenges pose for California’s
retail water agencies.
EPA and California may recover $32 million in cleanup costs
from a massive hazardous waste spill in the Sierra Nevada
foothills that released toxic amounts of arsenic into local
groundwater supplies, a federal appeals court ruled
Monday. In a divided ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals said the United States and California were not
liable for the costs of cleaning up the Lava Cap Mine Superfund
site in Nevada City, Calif.
Mo Mohsin has been trying to bring clean drinking water to the
residents of the Cobles Corner mobile home park ever since he
bought the property back in 2003. The struggle, however, has
been all uphill. The water system that serves the rural
Stanislaus County community of 20 or so homes has violated
state drinking water standards 25 times since 2012,
NASA announced plans Friday to clean up a Cold War-era rocket
fuel testing site in Southern California — plans that have
upset residents who say the space agency and the Trump
administration have punted any responsibility for a full
cleanup and will leave most of the area contaminated.
Among the largest wildfires in California history, the LNU
Lightning Complex fires killed five people and destroyed nearly
1,500 structures — including whole blocks of the Berryessa
Highlands neighborhood where Kody Petrini’s home stood. Camped
out in a trailer on his in-laws’ nearby lot, the 32-year-old
father of two, along with all of his neighbors, was warned not
to drink the water or boil it because it could be contaminated
with dangerous compounds like benzene…
If you look closely in the waters of Deer Creek, near Nevada
City, Calif., something strange may catch your eye; lying in
globules amongst the gravel is quicksilver, or liquid elemental
mercury. Carrie Monohan, head scientist for the Sierra Fund,
lives next to Deer Creek, and became concerned about mercury
contamination in the waterways when she pulled liquid mercury
from the water in a turkey baster.
Wildfires, which turned skies a dim orange over cities from
Seattle to Santa Cruz this year, are increasingly engulfing
people’s homes, continuing to rage in California, Oregon,
Washington and Colorado in recent weeks. But even when homes
don’t burn, other dangers arise in the aftermath, and experts
are focusing more attention on what happens to municipal water
systems after a fire, when released toxins can get pulled into
plumbing systems, and other damage can linger in pipes for
Runoff and other discharges from agricultural lands affect
water quality by transporting pollutants including pesticides,
sediment, nutrients, salts, pathogens, and heavy metals from
cultivated fields into surface waters. … Sue McConnell is the
manager of the Central Valley Board’s Irrigated Lands
Regulatory Program. At the September 15 State Water Board
meeting, she gave an update on the implementation of Order
WQ-2018-0002, hereafter referred to as the ‘petition order’.
3M Co., E.I. DuPont de Nemours Inc., Chemours Co., and Corteva
Inc. are facing a suit by Golden State Water Co. over PFAS
contamination of the state water supply. The water supplier
seeks to recover from 3M as the only manufacturer of
perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in the U.S. PFOS and
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are both in a family of chemical
compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The mayor of Imperial Beach and governor of Baja California are
in a public spat over cross-border sewage spills. Gov. Jaime
Bonilla has held three separate press conferences this month
demanding Mayor Serge Dedina apologize for his public
criticisms of Mexico’s inability to stop sewage from flowing
into the United States.
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to overhaul
the way communities test their water for lead, a policy change
that will be pitched ahead of Election Day… But a draft of
the final rule obtained by The New York Times shows the E.P.A.
rejected top medical and scientific experts who urged the
agency to require the replacement of the country’s six million
to 10 million lead service lines…
The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates US
drinking water, has been investigating PFAS since the late
1990s. … But despite the agency’s 20-plus years of
information gathering, it still has not issued an enforceable
nationwide standard on PFAS. The agency has failed to act even
as more about the risks of the chemical group has become
Communities like ours are called environmental justice
communities. That’s an elaborate way of saying that – among
other things – our children are suffering from asthma at
abnormally high rates because they literally don’t get clean
air to breathe. Our communities don’t all have safe drinking
water, they don’t have parks to play and exercise in and, worst
of all, they are surrounded by a high concentration of
industries that have been allowed to emit toxics for too long.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed to work with
the state legislature to phase out new permits for hydraulic
fracking by 2024, but left untouched a more widely used oil
extraction technique in the state that has been linked to
hundreds of oil spills.
Newly published changes to NSF/ANSI/CAN 61, the drinking water
product standard required in the United States and Canada,
further restrict the amount of lead that can leach from
plumbing products, NSF International announced today.
All of Santa Barbara’s beaches and creeks are designated as
“impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act. … The council
voted 7-0 to send its proposed changes to stormwater runoff to
the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board… The
list of changes are extensive, and are proposed over four tiers
based on various types and levels of new construction
development. They involve landscape changes and stormwater
treatment for new impervious construction.
After a wildfire ripped through central California last month,
residents in the Riverside Grove neighborhood in the Santa Cruz
Mountains discovered another danger: contaminated water
coursing through their pipes. Benzene, a chemical tied to
cancer, leukemia and anemia, was detected in the town’s
drinking water after 7 miles of plastic water piping was
torched in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire south of San
Scientists have published a global water quality database
detailing the health of nearly 12,000 freshwater lakes, almost
half the world’s freshwater supply. Compiled by researchers at
York University, in Canada, the database offers water quality
information on lakes in 72 countries and all seven continents,
Drinking water advocates had fretted the Safe and Affordable
Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program, intended to
help struggling water systems in mostly poor, rural areas,
would fall victim to the pandemic-flattened economy. But a last
minute loan from the Underground Storage Tank Clean-Up Fund
will ensure SAFER receives its full $130 million — at least
this coming fiscal year.
Along with being a global leader on addressing climate change,
California is the seventh-largest producer of oil in the
nation. And across some of its largest oil fields, companies
have for decades turned spills into profits, garnering millions
of dollars from surface expressions that can foul sensitive
habitats and endanger workers, an investigation by The Desert
Sun and ProPublica has found….Under state laws, it’s illegal
to discharge any hazardous substance into a creek or streambed,
dry or not.
The CZU Lightning Complex Fire badly damaged seven and a half
miles of water supply lines made of polyethylene, a plastic, in
northern Santa Cruz County. That triggered the San Lorenzo
Valley Water District, State Water Resources Control Board, and
Santa Cruz County Health Department to issue a Do Not Drink -
Do Not Boil water advisory for over 3,000 households in
Northern Santa Cruz County in late August.
We recommend issuing “Do Not Use” orders in the wake of major
fires to protect the public before water testing results are
available. We believe it is acceptable to use water for fire
fighting and toilet flushing, but not for purposes that involve
ingestion, skin exposure or inhalation, such as bathing or
A top water regulator from New Mexico yesterday warned senators
that hardrock mines, wastewater facilities and other industrial
entities could face stricter environmental oversight as the
Trump administration’s Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule takes
Wildfires started burning in California early again this dry
season—more than two million acres have burned so far. Larger
and larger wildfires are occurring as new heat records are
being broken each year. Firefighting efforts have leaned
heavily on aerial spraying of fire retardants, but their
environmental and health effects [including on fish and
waterways] are little studied …
Surrounded by lush green fields, Pleasanton often makes the top
ten list of desirable places to live. But a new list just out
is nothing to boast about. “I was just floored,” said
Pleasanton resident Jill Buck when she found out her town made
the top ten for dangerous drinking water.
For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to
wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops
during extended dry spells. … But the use of the recycled
water, a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction that is
mixed with surface water for irrigation, has stirred
Every September for the last 22 years, the South Yuba River
Citizens League has hosted a Yuba River Cleanup with the help
of the California Coastal Commission. This year, the river’s
need for some tender, loving care has only grown as the region
reckons with more visitors, more single-use plastics and less
accountability amidst the pandemic.
Once a week, Florencia Ramos makes a special trip to the R–N
Market in Lindsay, California. “If you don’t have clean water,
you have to go get some,” says Ramos, a farmworker and mother
of four who lives in the neighboring Central Valley town of El
Rancho. She has been purchasing jugs of water at the small
store for more than a decade now.
The Pleasanton City Council made headway on plans to repair a
contaminated groundwater well and meet — if not exceed –
future water quality standards earlier this month. In a
unanimous vote Sept. 1, the council approved a $437,374
contract with Walnut Creek-based Carollo Engineers to prepare a
basis of design report for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) treatment and rehabilitating the city’s groundwater
One of the most severe examples is the San Lorenzo Valley Water
District, which serves parts of inland Santa Cruz County, in
central California. More than 7 miles of an HDPE plastic water
supply pipeline were destroyed in the CZU Lightning Complex
Fire, according to Rick Rogers, the district manager.
The beleaguered Oasis Mobile Home Park near Thermal, home to
about 1,900 largely Spanish-speaking residents living in poor
conditions, has once again found dangerously high levels of
arsenic in its drinking water. On Friday, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency served park management with an
emergency order compelling them to provide residents an
alternative source of water.
The Olivehurst Public Utility District, which provides drinking
water to Olivehurst, Calif., north of Sacramento, is seeking
unspecified damages from the companies after discovering
1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP, in its water supply wells,
according to the complaint, which was filed Sept. 9 and
docketed Thursday in California Superior Court.
Emergency repairs are underway after a historic fire in the
Santa Cruz Mountains wreaked havoc on the San Lorenzo Valley’s
water infrastructure. The CZU August Lightning Complex fire
caused an estimated $11 million in damage to pipes, meters,
mains, tanks and other San Lorenzo Valley Water District
infrastructure and equipment, according to District Manager
The Pleasanton City Council … unanimously approved a contract
with Carollo Engineers in the amount of $437,374 to prepare a
basis of design report for Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
(PFAS) treatment and the rehabilitation of city-owned and
-operated wells 5, 6 and 8.
The Utility of the Future Today recognition program celebrates
the achievements of water utilities that transform from a
traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery
center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience
of the communities they serve.
The test they want to use measures total organic fluorine
amounts in water and can provide a broader picture of all per-
and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in a sample instead of
testing for one or a few substances at a time. By removing the
need to test for individual PFAS, states may be able to speed
up the process for regulating groups of the chemicals, some of
which have been linked to cancer.
Irvine Ranch Water District and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water
Storage District had just begun environmental review for their
joint banking project this past April when TCP reared its head.
… TCP (trichloropropane) is a carcinogenic leftover from a
nematode pesticide made by Shell Oil and Dow Chemical that was
liberally applied to Central Valley farmland from the 1950s
through the 1980s.
Creek Week (starting the fourth week of September), and
California’s Coastal Cleanup Day all coincide in September to
encourage public participation in keeping our water free of
harmful pollutants, with a primary focus on removing trash from
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional
San) is currently completing major upgrades to its wastewater
treatment plant. In anticipation of these upgrades, USGS
scientists are gathering data to establish baselines for
current nutrient levels and dynamics in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta (Delta).
A federal judge took a no-nonsense approach Friday to a hearing
on the White House’s rewrite of the National Environmental
Policy Act, grilling conservation groups on how they’ll be
harmed and chiding the Justice Department for glossing over the
political motivations behind the rules.
Drivers entering town these days pass a sign with an urgent
message: Do not drink or boil the tap water in your home. It
may not be safe. This town in the heart of the Santa Cruz
Mountains is the latest California community to grapple with
water problems because of a wildfire.
A multimillion dollar water project in the heart of Northridge
is on the fast track to becoming a reality. The Aliso
Creek-Limekiln Creek Restoration Project at Vanalden Park is
aimed at reducing pollutants in city waters by treating
stormwater and urban runoff from Aliso and Limekiln creeks and
an open channel storm drain.
Climate change could deliver more silt, sand and pollution to
the San Francisco Bay-Delta, along with a mixed bag of other
potential consequences and benefits, according to a new study
in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, which publishes
research articles and commentaries providing a broad
understanding of the role of water in Earth’s natural systems.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit in Washington, seeks to overturn the Trump EPA’s
decision to allow unlimited amounts of toxic perchlorate in our
tap water. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler reached this
decision even though his agency admits that toxic perchlorate
is found in millions of Americans’ tap water…
The Natural Resources Defense Council on Thursday sued the
Environmental Protection Agency over its decision not to
regulate a chemical linked to fetal and infant brain damage.
The agency announced in June it would not regulate perchlorate
even though it estimated up to 620,000 people could be drinking
water with a concerning amount of the chemical.
Drivers entering town these days pass a sign with an urgent
message: Do not drink or boil the tap water in your home. It
may not be safe. This town in the heart of the Santa Cruz
Mountains is the latest California community to grapple with
water problems because of a wildfire.
In the Aug. 14 outage, multiple redundant power sources failed
at the plant in West Oakland, something that hasn’t happened
since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Major flooding at the
pump station led sewage to flow from an outlet into the estuary
more than nine hours later. The incident occurred amid hot
weather when people like to swim in the estuary running between
Oakland and Alameda,
The two projects — which will cost $25 million and are funded
by the EPA’s Border Water Infrastructure Program — will control
sewage and wastewater, sediment and trash that flows from the
Tijuana River across the U.S.-Mexico border into San Diego, EPA
Administrator Andrew Wheeler said during a press conference
Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard station in San Diego.
The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week
said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven
parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing
oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a
“breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to
expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by
climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air
California’s beleaguered Department of Toxic Substances
Control could at last get an overhaul under a bill heading to
the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom. … If approved, the bill would
impose a per ton waste generation fee, increase facility fees,
add an ombudsman position, and take other actions. Assembly
member Cristina Garcia (D), who authored the bill, said it
would also raise $22 million to help stabilize the department’s
The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies
from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is
heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive
in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program
has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could
have huge implications for water storage and movement in the
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a Superfund
site project to clean up groundwater in part of a basin in
Fullerton, Anaheim, and Placentia… According to the Orange
County Water District, groundwater was contaminated with
industrial degreasing chemicals in the early 1960s through the
mid-1980s. The long-lasting effects contaminated an area about
five miles long and two miles wide…
A Monday proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would severely
limit the agency’s ability to call off any oil drilling slated
for its lands by the Bureau of Land Management, which tees up
leasing in federal forests. … The proposed rule removes
specific references within Forest Service policy to review
environmental consequences of drilling and also eliminates the
requirement to provide public notice before new oil activity
The San Joaquin Valley in California has the highest rates of
drinking water contamination and the highest amount of public
water systems with maximum contaminant level violations in the
state. … The most recent contamination occurred in the city
of Tulare, where local government buildings received a
boil-water notice after a test of county wells found coliform
Microplastics arrive on farms through processed sewage sludge
used for fertilizer, plastic mulches, and are even
intentionally added as slow-release fertilizers and protective
seed coatings. In just the last few years, an uptick in
research has uncovered alarming potential impacts of this
contamination on all aspects of agricultural systems from soil
quality to human health.
Involving the military in lawsuits or enforcement actions,
though, often leads to a dead end due to the doctrine of
sovereign immunity. It is that same protection afforded to the
government, though, that will ultimately result in
significantly increased costs to property owners, manufacturer,
and water treatment facilities alike.
The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction
Act ..would significantly reduce waste from single-use plastics
and plastic packaging. Manufacturers would be required to make
their packaging and certain products increasingly reusable,
recyclable or compostable by 2032.
While the world was coping with the deadly COVID-19 crisis …
the Trump administration was quietly diluting environmental
laws regulating the toxic rocket fuel oxidizer perchlorate,
utilized extensively by scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL) beginning in the 1950s and since then polluting Pasadena
and Altadena drinking water wells.
A major release of raw and partially treated sewage into the
Oakland Estuary earlier this month was triggered by a
rapid-fire series of electrical failures at the East Bay
Municipal Utility District’s main wastewater treatment plant,
the agency says in a report filed with state regulators.
The measure, put forward by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa
Monica), requires municipal fire departments, chemical plants
and oil refineries to gradually stop using the foam, replacing
it with alternatives that don’t contain perfluoroalkyl and
polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of chemicals commonly known
as PFAS…. a significant amount of drinking-water
contamination comes from their use in firefighting foam…
The Clean Water Act previously allowed states to halt projects
that risk hurting their water quality, but that power was
scaled back by the EPA in June, a move Administrator Andrew
Wheeler said would “curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that
have held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.”
The latest suit argues the Trump administration is
inappropriately denying states veto power over major projects
that pose risks to their waterways.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to
extend the border wall and have it cut across the Tijuana River
where the river enters the U.S. in San Diego. … Usually, the
river has more debris and old tires in it than it has water.
But there is no barrier between the two countries here.
Brockovich’s new book … explores problems from
contaminated drinking water to water shortages due to climate
change. And as weighty as those issues may seem, she
also provides action steps for people concerned about
their own water and tells the empowering stories of many people
speaking up about water contamination in their communities.
On Thursday, the California State Senate Appropriations
Committee defeated a bill that would reduce the amount of lead
leached from faucets and fixtures to no more than 1 microgram
of lead – five times less lead than faucets are designed to
The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has released two
new educational resources for private well owners concerning
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). … Both resources
are available for a free download at NGWA.org/PFAS and
Last year, California passed a law establishing a fund for safe
and affordable drinking water. Using money from the state’s
cap-and-trade program, it allocates up to $130 million to
solutions each year for a decade.
According to the latest data, local government and State
transportation agencies have successfully surpassed 2019
pollution prevention targets established to reduce urban
stormwater pollution and restore Lake Tahoe’s famous,
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies
have reached a $56.6 million settlement to assist in cleanup at
the Dual Site Groundwater Operable Unit of the Montrose
Chemical Corp. and Del Amo superfund sites.
As California continues to draw enormous amount of water from
the Colorado River, water utilities in California must begin to
consider the implications that media-driven fear over PFAS will
have on their liability if they continue to utilize water from
the Colorado River as a reserve resource.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S.
government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and
radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory for official listing as a traditional cultural
Supporters of an initiative to reduce plastic waste today
submitted more than 870,000 voter signatures to qualify the
Plastics Free California initiative for the ballot –
significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required.
Twenty years ago, Erin Brockovich was released, and the brash,
unvarnished legal assistant turned activist at the heart of the
film … had the surreal experience of becoming a household
name almost overnight. “Let me be the first to tell you that
life takes an interesting turn when your name becomes a verb,”
the real Erin Brockovich writes in the introduction to her new
book, Superman’s Not Coming.
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be
required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay
require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads
longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or
wetlands or with impervious materials.
The order is one of the most far-reaching of its kind with
respect to PFAS, mainly because it requires testing and
reporting for 31 different types of PFAS – more than any state
has regulated in water sources for PFAS to date.
Thousands of families who rent or own homes with private wells
are at risk of losing their drinking water in Madera, Fresno,
Tulare and Kings counties — and some already have. The Fresno
Bee is investigating the risks to private wells and proposed
solutions, and we need to hear your stories and your questions
to guide our reporting.
Last week at the Lindsay City Council’s July 28 meeting, city
services and planning director Michael Camarena presented a
feasibility study. He noted that the city’s water system has
been out of compliance with the Stage 2 disinfection byproduct
rule for total trihalomethanes and five haloacetic acid maximum
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered
to pay $5 million in fines for illegally storing and
transporting hazardous waste, federal prosecutors said. The
waste was produced by filtering arsenic out of Sierra Nevada
spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility in the Owens Valley.
In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of
lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options.
Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil
drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to
drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with
young families and a park where children played soccer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule
to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water
systems, homes, schools and other facilities. This action marks
a significant milestone in implementing the Trump
Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead
Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.
Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water
pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were
common. … After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed
widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence
suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination
of burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials.
A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and
ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal
lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a
longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews
for road, industry and building projects.
The Environmental Justice for All Act would amend the Civil
Rights Act to … require federal agencies to consider health
effects that might compound over time when making permitting
decisions under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
In a place like California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Latinos
account for 70 percent of COVID-19 cases, even though they
represent 42 percent of the population. Improving access to
clean and affordable water even as the pandemic grows more
urgent, is critical to reducing the types of burdens worsened
by the COVID-19 crisis.
After fewer than two hours walking a section of the Lynch Creek
Trail Saturday morning, a group of eight river cleanup
volunteers had already hit the jackpot. Their winnings? Two
large black trash bags stuffed to the gills with discarded junk
and detritus, culled from brambly river banks along one of the
city’s most popular trail systems.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border
Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce
pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water
quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.
Each of the bills would provide funding for research and
development on PFAS remediation methods… But environmental
and public health advocates say the bills do not go far enough
to address PFAS contamination. They describe the measures as
lost opportunities to address PFAS pollution in a significant
The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study … found
that agrochemicals can increase transmission of the schistosome
worm in myriad ways: by directly affecting survival of the
waterborne parasite itself; by decimating aquatic predators
that feed on snails that carry the parasite; and by altering
the composition of algae in the water, which provides a major
food source for snails.
Providing a reliable source of drinking water is a challenge
for many small water systems in the San Joaquin Valley, where
dropping groundwater levels, aging systems, and water quality
problems are acute. … We talked to Laura Ramos and Sarge
Green of Fresno State’s California Water Institute about this
Plastic waste flowing into the oceans is expected to nearly
triple in volume in the next 20 years, while efforts to stem
the tide have so far made barely a dent in the tsunami of
waste, research shows.
Some outside lawyers lauded the move for protecting against
excessive enforcement, while others warned that the policy
could let some polluters off easy. It’s the latest example of
the Trump administration setting new rules for federal
Over the next 3 weeks a group of League to Save Lake Tahoe
citizen scientists will outfit their clothes driers with
special filters to capture particles from dryer vent emissions.
Dr. Monica Arienzo of the Desert Research Institute explained
that unexpected results from a remote snow sample led to a
curiosity in dryer emissions.
A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
may result in the listing of PFOA under California’s
Proposition 65 as a carcinogen. Here’s what that could mean for
the explosion of litigation related to the chemical substance
throughout the country.
Black and Latino Americans are twice as likely as White
Americans to live without running water. Take East Orosi, a
mostly Latino community surrounded by the fertile orchards of
California’s Central Valley. To look around you’d think that
water is pretty plentiful … and it is, for big agriculture. But
in a neighborhood where most of those who work those fields
live, there’s no central water main.
At a meeting this month where the State Water Resources Control
Board adopted its first spending plan for what was supposed to
be a $130 million-a-year investment for the next decade,
Chairman Joaquin Esquivel acknowledged that the economic
downturn could set California back.
The plan, which is currently in draft format and available for
public review, would implement and enforce waste discharge
requirements, administer grant programs and collaborate with
agencies on all levels (local, state and federal) to control
and reduce nonpoint source pollution.
Central Valley neighborhoods are a step closer to new money to
fix broken water systems and access clean, safe drinking water
— if the White House and Congress agree on an infrastructure
package currently moving through the U.S. House of
House Democrats added several amendments aiming to regulate a
class of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS to a defense
spending bill Monday. The additions followed the failure of the
chamber to add a broader amendment that would tackle the
A Sebastopol-based environmental group’s lawsuit against the
city of Vacaville in connection with hexavalent chromium found
in groundwater has failed in federal court, city officials
announced Tuesday. On Monday, Chief United States District
Judge Kimberly Mueller issued an order rejecting California
River Watch’s lawsuit regarding the safety of Vacaville’s water
San Diego homes and businesses have been improperly charged
tens of millions of dollars for a program that keeps toxic
sewer water from being discharged into the Pacific Ocean, the
City Auditor’s Office has found. A new report from Interim City
Auditor Kyle Elser said the city has failed to charge
Industrial Wastewater Control Program permit holders enough to
cover the costs of the program.
Between Jan.8, 2017 and April 19, 2017, the company discharged
4,634,245 gallons of process wastewater and/or polluted
stormwater from two mushroom growing facilities located in
Royal Oaks into the tributary. The wastewater contained
ammonia, excessive nutrients, and suspended and floating
material, which can harm water quality and aquatic habitat.
The California State Water Resources Control Board (Board) has
adopted a definition for “microplastics” that will be used in
testing of drinking water… While this development is
currently focused on the testing of drinking water in
California, the Board and others expect that it will form the
basis of future efforts to quantify and address microplastics
in the environment.
Water suppliers in California currently must test for
perchlorate in drinking water down to 4 parts per billion. The
State Water Resources Control Board said it plans to cut that
level to 2 parts per billion and then again down to 1 part per
billion in 2024.
A federal judge on Monday squashed environmentalists’ bid to
punish a Northern California city for delivering drinking water
tainted with the carcinogen that prompted the film “Erin
Brockovich.” The environmental group California River Watch
sued the city of Vacaville over its water supply in 2017,
claiming it was violating federal hazardous waste laws…
Imperial Beach Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre joined Good Morning
San Diego to discuss a new report claiming that an audit done
by Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water
theft and contributed to raw sewage and hazardous pollutants
ending up in the Tijuana River.
Heal the Bay today released the annual River Report Card, which
assigns water quality color-grades of Red, Yellow, or Green for
28 freshwater sites in Los Angeles County based on observed
bacteria levels in 2019.
Nearly half a century after a Gold Rush-era quicksilver mining
operation shut down in Northern California, mercury continues
to flow into a nearby creek, and federal officials blame the
mine’s state landmark status for cleanup delays. … By the
time the mine closed in 1972, it had produced more than 38
million pounds of mercury. Today, the site is a remote ghost
town 135 miles southeast of San Francisco
State water regulators have issued a $285,000 penalty against
the Phillips 66 refinery for releasing millions of gallons of
industrial wastewater into San Pablo Bay early last year. The
penalty is the 11th issued in the last 17 years against the
Houston-based oil company. Its refinery sits on the bay shore
in Rodeo, just south of the Carquinez Strait and Vallejo.
The owner of more than 2,000 idle oil wells in Southern
California declared bankruptcy this week, raising fears among
environmentalists that those wells might never be properly
sealed. … As those old wells sit idle and unsealed, they
present a potential pollution hazard to drinking water
underground and people living nearby.
Safe water is a human right. Yet, in 2020, the United States
remains divided between those with the privilege of having
clean, running tap water and those who don’t. As we reckon with
systemic racism, our fight for safe and affordable water cannot
be disentangled from the fight for justice.
The state’s Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously
Tuesday to enact a policy to put new limits on per-and
poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. The class of
chemicals is a common ingredient in everything from nonstick
pans to foam used to smother flames from jet fuel.
On July 3, 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board
released proposed requirements for winery process water
treatment along with the draft California Environmental Quality
Act Initial Study and Mitigated Declaration for public comment.
The proposed order will apply statewide, and includes
requirements to ensure winery operations will not adversely
impact water quality.
Federal regulators have moved to delay assessment and action on
chemicals that could contaminate drinking water. Richard Luthy
explains how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
individual states approach waterborne threats.
Two putative class actions recently filed in the Northern
District of California—Ambrose v. Kroger Co. and Nguyen v.
Amazon.com, Inc. —preview a new theory of consumer claims
relating to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
A wide range of public health and animal rights advocates
support the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to reduce
pesticide testing on animals. But an environmental group is
concerned the agency is overlooking a systemic failure to
control the chemicals in the environment.
The president’s plan to streamline the National Environmental
Policy Act … would make it easier to build highways,
pipelines, chemical plants and other projects that pose
environmental risks. … But the proposed changes also threaten
to rob the public, in particular marginalized communities most
affected by such projects, of their ability to impact decisions
that could affect their health, according to many activists.
The Consul General of Mexico in San Diego said there are things
happening in Tijuana that will help. In a written statement
responding to questions by KPBS, Carlos González Gutiérrez said
there are several projects underway.
Efforts to ensure safe drinking water for children need further
support to reach their intended audience, according to an
analysis of California’s mandate requiring child care
facilities to test their water for lead, known as AB 2370.
On a hot June evening, UC Merced Professor Josh Viers joined
farm advocate and small farmer Tom Willey on his front porch
near Fresno to talk about California’s water, disadvantaged
communities, agricultural production and the future as part of
the new “Down on the Farm” podcast that’s now available for all
The cost of buying cases of bottled water for cooking and
drinking is adding up for residents of Earlimart, where a
contaminated well became the main source of tap water for more
than 8,000 people there in late May. The State Water Resources
Control Board that is responsible for drinking water has a
program to provide financial assistance for bottled water to
help communities in crisis. It has not been available in
Earlimart — and it is unclear why.
Baja California’s new governor, Jaime Bonilla, says he is
battling to clean up widespread corruption that for years ate
away at the state’s water agency. Even Bonilla’s critics
acknowledge the corruption and the failing water system, which
results in frequent sewage spills that foul Tijuana and San
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
For most Californians, handwashing is a matter of turning on
their home faucet. And while it is no substitute for other
guidelines, handwashing is a surprisingly effective measure
against the coronavirus. Unfortunately, not everyone can
implement this public health guidance. The state’s homeless
population has difficulties, and so do residents with
To begin, what is arsenic? It is one of the basic chemical
elements found in the periodic table that shows its
relationship to other elements. Arsenic is dissolved from rocks
by water in areas that have groundwater pools. If you have
significant levels of arsenic in your water, it can cause
cancer, heart disease, diarrhea and affect your skin.
The question of whether and how much to regulate these
persistent chemicals in drinking water has spanned the
administrations of US presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama,
and Donald J. Trump. “This is a multi-administration failure to
take action on PFOA and PFOS and on the broader class of PFAS
chemicals that may pose health effects,” says Melanie Benesh,
legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group…
The city of Imperial Beach, environmental advocacy group
Surfrider Foundation and the San Diego Regional Water Quality
Control Board agreed to put down their proverbial legal swords
for a period of 12 months while the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency puts a stack of cash to work on the
decades-long sewage issue plaguing the Tijuana River watershed.
A California environmental advocacy group urged the state’s air
pollution regulator and agriculture department to do more for
minority communities in an annual report card it published last
week. That report card, compiled by the California
Environmental Justice Alliance, issued environmental justice
grades to eight agencies, with a statewide C average.
Residents in Earlimart, California, lost water service when a
50-year-old well on Mary Ann Avenue failed in late May. When it
came back on, the main source of drinking water for more than
8,000 residents became a well contaminated with a chemical from
banned pesticides. And most residents didn’t know. The Tulare
County town’s water system is failing, in a lot of ways.
American children whose homes rely on private wells for
drinking water are 25% more likely to have high lead levels in
their blood than those with access to regulated community water
services, according to new research.
The $202 billion budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Monday
evening includes the $7.3 million promised to the Paradise
Irrigation District to help sustain it following the
devastating Camp Fire. The funding is considered critical to
providing clean water to residents for rebuilding efforts. The
money was not included in the Governor’s May revise budget
proposal but was included in the final spending
The California Strategic Growth Council selected Stockton
alongside the cities of Oakland and Riverside to be a part of
the Transformative Climate Communities Program… The grant
will provide these neighborhoods with access to clean water,
fresh fruits and vegetables and clean air to breathe, Mayor
Michael Tubbs said.
The state of California, city of Imperial Beach, and the
Surfrider Foundation have agreed to a 12-month stay in
litigation over cross-border sewage flowing in from Mexico
while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency focuses work on
the Tijuana River Valley.
The Trump administration has decided a chemical with a
notorious legacy in Nevada will not be regulated in drinking
water, but state officials say the reversal of the Obama-era
policy shouldn’t result in any decline in drinking water
standards across the state.
The EPA’s decision not to regulate perchlorate in drinking
water will slow Superfund cleanups, especially in the majority
of states that lack their own restrictions on the chemical,
environmental attorneys said. The Environmental Protection
Agency last week announced that it wouldn’t set an enforceable
limit for perchlorate, a chemical commonly used in rocket fuel.
The Water Replenishment District has received a $844,240 grant
from the California State Water Resources Control Board to
remove inactive water wells from production. This grant was
made possible by California’s Proposition 1 which authorized
$7.545 billion in funds for water supply infrastructure
projects and was approved by voters in 2014.
Mostly, the people didn’t know their groundwater was polluted..
And they didn’t know the contaminated portions shut down by
federal authorities in many instances were finally being
restored. Kenneth “Ken” Manning, 69, a fixture in ground-water
restoration in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, a
pioneer in water recycling and a master at public-private
partnerships, knew. And on June 30, Manning will retire from
his most recent job, as executive director of the San Gabriel
Basin Water Quality Authority.
Fish exposed to very low levels of chemicals commonly found in
waterways can pass the impacts on to future generations that
were never directly exposed to the chemicals, according to
Oregon State University researchers. … The study focused on
synthetic (man-made) endocrine disrupting chemicals, which
mimic the body’s hormones.
Major California cities say they’ll use their share of a $650
million settlement to clean up the now-banned chemical PCB from
bays, lakes and other waterways polluted for decades. The giant
chemical company Monsanto announced a tentative agreement
Wednesday with government entities that had filed suit since
2015 over waterways and estuaries they say were polluted.
As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Per- and
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, EPA is issuing a
final rule giving the agency the authority to review an
expansive list of products containing PFAS before they could be
manufactured, sold, or imported in the United States.
On June 1, in the midst of the turmoil created by the
coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd in
Minneapolis, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration
quietly issued 12 fracking permits to Aera Energy, a joint
venture owned by ExxonMobil and Shell. … The fracking permits
are the latest example of California’s oil industry benefiting
from regulatory or deregulatory action during the COVID-19
Each year millions of liters of fire-retardant chemicals are
applied to wildfires across the nation. The use of these
retardants could have significant effects on downstream
nutrients. The aim of this study will be to determine which
nutrients are likely to increase in concentration in areas
affected by wildfire in the western U.S., and whether the use
of fire retardants may exacerbate the situation.
Agriculture is California’s predominant use of managed water.
Agriculture and water together are a foundation for
California’s rural economy. Although most agriculture is
economically-motivated and commercially-organized, the
sociology and anthropology of agriculture and agricultural
labor are basic for the well-being of millions of people, and
the success and failure of rural, agricultural, and water and
Effective Thursday, the national consensus standard for
plumbing devices, known as NSF/ANSI/CAN 61, was revised to
require, by January 1, 2024, that manufacturers of faucets and
fountains that dispense drinking water meet limits five times
more protective for lead leaching than the current standard.
… Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), the trade
association for the industry, tells us that its members are
already gearing up to get their products certified…
In support of California’s efforts to investigate and evaluate
the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in
the environment, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality
Control Board (Regional Board) has released interim final
Environmental Screening Levels (ESLs) for two key prevalent
EPA will not set drinking water limits on perchlorate, a rocket
fuel ingredient linked to fetal and developmental brain damage.
The agency in a final action today said it determined
perchlorate does not meet criteria for regulation as a drinking
water contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act…
California’s top water regulator on Tuesday approved a
definition of microplastics in drinking water, setting the
stage for the state to investigate the extent of contamination
from the tiny plastics that have been found in fish, waterways,
and other habitats. … The action makes California the first
government in the world to define microplastics in a drinking
Water pollution from Tijuana sewage runoff has once again
shuttered the Imperial Beach shoreline. The County of San Diego
Department of Environmental Health on Saturday extended north
the existing beach water-contact closure area at the Tijuana
Slough shoreline to now also include the Imperial Beach
Both United States and Mexican officials announced separate
plans Tuesday to upgrade Tijuana River wastewater facilities.
The international river has been a longtime problem for
residents of Imperial Beach and Tijuana, as sewage and trash
from the river have spilled into the Pacific Ocean for decades,
often closing beaches near the border and damaging natural
habitats along the river.
Once prized as a key ingredient in fire retardant foam,
non-stick pans and many everyday items, a synthetic chemical’s
appearance in public water supply wells raises questions of how
to protect the public from unknown health hazards.
Over the years, much attention has been given to California’s
drought, but less is known about the more than one million
Californians in more than 300 communities who don’t have access
to clean drinking water. To address this crisis, CSU faculty
and students are performing community assessments, conducting
research and assisting local engineering projects, often with
support from Water Resources & Policy Initiatives. Take a look
at some of the CSU’s ongoing work.
Water pollution in San Francisco Bay, California has reduced
significantly due to the reduction in traffic, according to a
recent study in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The toxic particles emitted by cars, in fact, fall into the
surrounding waters, inlets and on the coast for miles.
PFAS chemicals have invaded the nation’s water supply, thanks
mostly to discharges from manufacturers and the use of
firefighting foam by the military. Utilities are concerned
about being stuck with major expenses if the compounds are
declared “hazardous” under the federal Superfund law. They have
also resisted efforts in Congress to push what they see as
overly broad enforcement limits on PFAS in drinking water.
Mounting public concerns and new state regulations in the U.S.
are compelling water & wastewater utilities to address health
risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) – a class of pervasive chemicals found in drinking water
and wastewater biproducts.
The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in this
litigation provides a road map for the legal and regulatory
challenges ahead for the regulated community and agencies
implementing Clean Water Act programs that rely on the
definition for “Waters of the United States” aka WOTUS. The
following provides insights as to how to support a strong Clean
Water Act with the new WOTUS definition.
In a new study, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine,
Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Irvine,
report on the mechanism that perchlorate uses to impact and
damage normal functioning of the thyroid gland. The findings,
they say, suggest that an acceptable safe concentration of
perchlorate in drinking water is 10 times less than previously
Thirty-four years ago, Ronnie Levin’s research on lead in
drinking water sounded the alarm for many Americans about risks
lurking in their tap water. As the Trump administration propels
forward a new rule, Levin is still fighting to make sure
communities, especially the most vulnerable, have safe drinking
water. … What’s at stake, she says, is the health of some of
the most vulnerable communities in the nation.