Topic: Pollution

Overview

Pollution

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

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Research suggests agricultural waste could help to clean polluted water

To keep pace with a growing demand for water, there is now a pressing need for water recycling facilities that can remove pollutants from wastewater. Recently, many synthetic materials have emerged which can absorb pollutants very efficiently. However, their high costs place them out of reach for many developing nations. In research published in Applied Surface Science Advances, O P Pandey and colleagues at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, India, present an in-depth analysis of how natural biosorbents could provide an affordable alternative for treating wastewater. With the right approach, the team shows that these eco-friendly materials could be produced from agricultural waste, making them far more accessible in developing countries. … Pandey’s team hope their findings … could pave the way for new approaches to treating agricultural waste products for use as biosorbents for wastewater treatment. Through this, they could one day help millions of people in the developing world to gain easier, more affordable access to clean water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

San Jose approves sanctioned encampment plan for 500 homeless people near waterways

The San Jose City Council has agreed to an ambitious plan to move about 500 homeless people living along waterways to sanctioned encampment sites throughout the city by the middle of next year — but it’s already gotten pushback from community members about its choice of locations. … The state agency forcing the city to act is the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, which has recently increased pressure on cities across the region to move encampments away from sensitive waterways. After three rejections, the water board recently approved the city’s plan to drastically reduce the amount of trash and pollution flowing into its 140 miles of creeks and rivers. If local officials fail to meet their commitments to clean up the waterways by June 2025, the agency could fine the city tens of thousands of dollars per day. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Podcast: Microplastics are everywhere. What can we do about it?

For years, scientists on the hunt for microplastics have found them almost everywhere. First, they spotted tiny pieces of plastic in the ocean, in the bodies of fish and mussels. Then they found them in soft drinks, in tap water, in vegetables and fruits, in burgers. Now researchers are discovering that microplastics are floating around us, suspended in the air on city streets and inside homes. One study found that people inhale or ingest on average 74,000 to 121,000 microplastic particles per year through breathing, eating and drinking. Today on “Post Reports,” climate reporter Shannon Osaka answers host Elahe Izadi’s questions about these plastic particles that humans are taking in in much larger quantities than previously thought.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Sensational, ‘misleading’ NASA image of Clear Lake is hurting tourism

The calls to Clear Lake State Park come in steadily now from people saying they’ve heard the lake may no longer be safe for swimming…. It’s pretty clear why. A composite satellite image produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Earth Observatory depicting a nasty-looking, solid green lake has been circulated widely over the past two weeks, republished by news agencies around the nation and posted all over social media, to the chagrin of Lake County tourism interests.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Carlsbad desal plant gets $19.4 million for new seawater intakes

Carlsbad’s desalination plant, which provides 10 percent of San Diego County’s drinking water, will get $19.4 million for the construction of its new seawater intakes as part of $142 million in federal grants for water projects throughout the West. … The improvements are intended to better protect wildlife, the environment and the plant by rerouting trash from the water stream to a sorting area where it can be removed. The new intakes also have bars to prevent marine mammals from getting close to the screens and a floating boom to stop floating debris.

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Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: The nation’s filthiest beach is here. Blame Biden, Newsom.

By any objective standard, the southern coast of San Diego County is enduring a long-running environmental nightmare. Decades of billions of gallons of untreated human waste flowing north from broken sewage infrastructure in Tijuana have sickened a vast number of surfers and swimmers and many Navy SEALs training at Coronado. Especially because of ailments reported by border agents, some doctors worry that the health threat goes far beyond active ocean users to include those who spend extended time in coastal areas and breathe air that often smells like a filthy portable toilet. Now there is fresh confirmation of how uniquely awful this problem is. The Surfrider Foundation has released a report on 567 sites in which it tested water for unsafe bacteria levels and found Imperial Beach — which has been closed for more than two years — had far and away the dirtiest water in the United States. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

PFAS filtration plant shows costs, challenge of water treatment

The Yorba Linda Water District in Orange County, Calif., is so proud of its $28 million PFAS filtration plant, considered the largest in the US, that it hosts regular tours of Boy Scouts, school groups, and on Monday, a group from South Korea. The need for the filtration plant is representative of the widespread PFAS contamination in groundwater and stream water in Southern California, and it symbolizes the costs that the YLWD and 14 other drinking water utilities in the region are suing to recoup from manufacturers of PFAS-containing firefighting foam or its components. Unlike nearby Los Angeles, the Yorba …

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

PFAS in Tucson: EPA orders cleanup by US Air Force, Air National Guard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is demanding the U.S. Air Force and Arizona National Guard take action as concentrations of toxic “forever chemicals” are increasing in the groundwater in a historically contaminated area on Tucson’s south side. The EPA found the pollution came from the nearby military properties and ordered them to clean up the contamination. High concentrations of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, were detected in Tucson’s groundwater near the Tucson International Airport at the National Guard base and at a property owned by the U.S. Air Force. The contaminants threaten the groundwater extracted at a water treatment run by Tucson Water in the Tucson Airport Remediation Project area, known as TARP. That water was intended for drinking, the EPA said in its May 29 order.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Which California beaches have the most bacteria? Is water safe?

California is home to three of the most bacteria-ridden beaches in the country, according to the Surfrider Foundation. The nonprofit organization recently released its 2023 Clean Water Report to “build awareness of issues that affect water quality at the beach.” The report … highlights 10 beaches across the United States and Puerto Rico where high bacteria levels consistently exceed state health standards, putting public health at risk. … [The nonprofit said in the report], “Surfrider Foundation volunteers test beaches that are not covered by agencies, and also monitor potential sources of pollution, such as stormwater outlets, rivers and creeks that discharge onto the beach.”

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Requiring water users to pay for ecological damage: A conversation with environmental lawyer Karrigan Börk

Water diversions can harm aquatic ecosystems, riparian habitat, and beaches fed by river sediment. But the people who use water don’t bear the cost of this ecological damage. “The public pays for it,” says Karrigan Börk, a University of California, Davis law professor who has a PhD in ecology. He is also Co-Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center and an Associate Director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. Börk presents a new solution to this problem in a recent Harvard Environmental Law Review paper. His idea was sparked by the fact that developers are required to help pay for the burden that new housing imposes on municipal services. To likewise link water infrastructure and diversions with their costs to society, Börk proposes requiring water users to pay towards mitigating the environmental harm they cause. … …One example is in the upper basin of the Colorado River, where water users pay for their environmental impacts.   

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield, Cal Water lift 5-day-old water advisory

The city of Bakersfield and California Water Service Co. on Sunday lifted the do-not-drink, do-not-use advisory issued Tuesday to 42 commercial customers south of Lake Truxtun after an oil company reportedly allowed pressurized natural gas and crude oil into the municipal water system.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

‘Plasticulture’ in farming persists, potentially impacting food safety

Today, it’s common to see farms covered in plastic. It lines the sides of greenhouses, blankets fields as “plastic mulch,” covers hoop houses, and winds through farms as irrigation tubes, among other forms. In satellite images, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has observed the typically golden and green agricultural fields turned white, as though dusted in snow, from all of the plastic. Agriculture is responsible for 3.5 percent of global plastic production, a figure that may seem small until you consider the sheer volume of plastics produced: around 400 million metric tons per year. … Microplastics pervade every part of the Earth, from the bottom of the ocean floor to all forms of drinking water to the human placenta. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Napa Valley has lush vineyards and wineries – and a pollution problem

Famous for its lush vineyards and cherished local wineries, Napa Valley is where people go to escape their problems. … What the more than 3 million annual tourists don’t see, however, is that California’s wine country has a brewing problem – one that has spurred multiple ongoing government investigations and created deep divisions. Some residents and business owners fear it poses a risk to the region’s reputation and environment. At the heart of the fear is the decades-old Clover Flat Landfill (CFL), perched on the northern edge of the valley atop the edge of a rugged mountain range. Two streams run adjacent to the landfill as tributaries to the Napa River. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Meth-addict fish, aggro starlings, caffeinated minnows: animals radically changed by human drugs – study

From brown trout becoming “addicted” to methamphetamine to European perch losing their fear of predators due to depression medication, scientists warn that modern pharmaceutical and illegal drug pollution is becoming a growing threat to wildlife. Drug exposure is causing significant, unexpected changes to some animals’ behaviour and anatomy. Scientists have said that modern pharmaceutical waste is having significant consequences for wildlife exposed to discharges in their ecosystems, and warned it could have unintended consequences for humans.

Aquafornia news California State Senator Steve Padilla

News release: Senator Padilla introduces resolution urging CDC to investigate sewage crisis

Yesterday, Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 18, which urges the Center for Disease Control to conduct an investigation into the health impacts surrounding the ongoing pollution crisis in the Tijuana River. For decades, the Tijuana River has been contaminated with billions of gallons of trash, sediment, and wastewater as a result of sewage infrastructure inadequacies has created recurring and worsening pollution problems for the County of San Diego and the southern California coastline. Just this past January, a storm surge caused 14.5 billion gallons of raw sewage and pollution to wash up on the banks of the River as well as overflow into the nearby coastal wetlands, one of the few remaining such ecosystems left in Southern California.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 - San Francisco

Stanford study examines the lasting effects wildfires have on soil, posing new problems

The grey smoky skies can be seen for hundreds of miles. But now researchers are on the trail of wildfire threats that are invisible to the naked eye. The result of intense heat, from wildfires burning longer and hotter. “When we start getting really severe fires, we see a transformation where the really, really intense fires leave these lasting impacts on the soil,” says Professor Scott Fendorf, Ph.D., of Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability. Fendorf is leading a multi-year study. The team examined soils in forest areas that have been slow to recover from recent wildfires in the Sierra and elsewhere. Although early research has pointed to cycles of drought, Fendorf and his colleagues identified toxic concentrations of chemicals in the soil which could also be slowing regrowth. … Researchers say another key concern moving forward will be the safety of drinking water. And they’re hoping to learn more about the effects of runoff from contaminated soils.

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Aquafornia news Community Water Center

Blog: Water affordability possible through Senate Bill 1255

Today, Senator Durazo amended Senate Bill 1255, which will provide an avenue for universal water affordability rate assistance for public water systems with more than 3,300 connections. As water rates continue to rise three times faster than inflation, a water affordability program is necessary for low-income families statewide.  

Aquafornia news E&E News by POLITICO

Utah lithium project near Green River faces setback

Utah state officials reversed course this week on a key water permit for a major lithium extraction project in the state, agreeing with conservation advocates who asked for further review of the project. In a decision issued Tuesday, Utah State Engineer Teresa Wilhelmsen said her office would suspend its earlier approval of nearly 4.6 billion gallons of water to be used by a mining company as part of a “direct lithium extraction project” near the Green River. The office will continue consideration of the proposal. Wilhelmsen’s ruling came at the behest of conservation advocates who had raised concerns about the location of the proposed wells — which would draw water from an aquifer system 10,000 feet below the surface — including the proximity to waste left by a former uranium mining facility.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Lawsuits targeting plastic pollution pile up as frustrated citizens and states seek accountability

 … [I]n California, a two-year-old investigation by Attorney General Rob Bonta into the plastics industry and its claims about recycling shows signs of concluding, potentially resulting in a case pitting the largest state in the nation against one of the largest plastic makers in the world, ExxonMobil, and powerful industry trade associations such as the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Plastics Industry Association (PIA). 

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Oil in water system prompts advisory in west Bakersfield

An accidental release of crude oil into Bakersfield’s municipal water system has temporarily shut down businesses and prompted an advisory for about 40 commercial customers to avoid tap water in the area south of Lake Truxtun. Signs of a possible problem first appeared Monday afternoon, when pipes in the area started shaking and spurting water from faucets. 

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

County says it found no evidence of increased illness at South Bay Urgent Care tied to sewage spills

County public health officials say that a two-week investigation showed “no conclusive evidence” of increased gastrointestinal illness at a South Bay health clinic that claimed its patients suffered such symptoms since Tropical Storm Hilary inundated the heavily polluted Tijuana River in August 2023.  Public statements about a rising trend in the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting spurred the county to dispatch experts to South Bay Urgent Care from Feb. 5 to Feb. 18 during a period when several inches of rain fell across the region.  A close review of patient charts during that fortnight, said Dr. Mark Beatty, an assistant medical director in the county’s epidemiology and immunization department, did find incidences of gastrointestinal illness, but at rates no greater than were observed at other medical providers in the area. 

Aquafornia news Valley Ag Voice

Placing Central Valley’s dairy industry and wetlands in focus 

Wetlands are the Earth’s largest natural source of methane — a potent greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere — according to the Department of Energy’s Larence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Methane is a key point of controversy among dairy producers and the environmental justice community given that dairy and livestock are responsible for over half of California’s methane emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board.   However, a peer-reviewed paper recently published by CABI Biological Sciences argues that the state’s dairy sector can reach climate neutrality in the coming years through aggressive methane mitigation which almost no other sector can achieve.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley, Albany to test parks for evidence of radioactive waste

Officials in Berkeley and Albany are moving forward with plans to test two popular bayside parks — César Chávez and the Albany Bulb — for evidence of radioactive material possibly dumped decades ago by the former Stauffer Chemical Co. plant in Richmond.  Richmond has been dealing with radioactive material and other hazardous waste left by Stauffer for decades, but Berkeley and Albany officials were warned only this year that the company may have also discarded tons of industrial waste into landfills that have since been covered over and converted to the bayshore parks. The planned testing in both cities will include uranium, thorium and the banned pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), on the advice of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, according to reports from both cities. 

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

US high court to weigh San Francisco water pollutant limits challenge

The nation’s high court has agreed to hear a water quality case next year that will examine U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authority to impose new wastewater discharge requirements on utilities that are based on conditions without specific numeric limits.  San Francisco wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review a July 2023 opinion by judges from the federal appeals court in San Francisco that affirmed agency authority to include broad language prohibiting the pollution and placing conditions on the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Those conditions included requiring the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to update its long-term control plan for managing combined-sewer overflows. 

Aquafornia news Active NorCal

College students could face disciplinary action after trashing Shasta Lake

Forest Service officials reported that it took six hours and 17 trash bags to clear the mess left by approximately 3,000 students from both UC Davis and the University of Oregon. The students are accused of littering the beaches and surrounding areas of the popular lake with cups, drink cans, pool floats, and other items, despite being asked to clean up after themselves. Deborah Carlisi, a detailed recreation staff officer for Shasta-Trinity National Forest, stated that staff had provided trash bags and requested that the students pack out whatever they brought in. “Some students used them. Some students didn’t,” Carlisi said. She noted that the worst part is the trash that has sunk to the bottom of the lake, which cannot be cleaned up until water levels drop later in the summer. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Are farm fields a hidden source of microplastics?

…  the fields that grow our food are filthy with plastic waste — the direct result of modern farming’s increasing reliance on the signature material of the Anthropocene. Whether incidentally littered onsite or directly diffused into the soil via polymer-coated chemical pellets, plastic is now embedded both in agricultural practices and the tilled earth itself. It leaks into waterways, might be poisoning our food, and is virtually unregulated.  Nobody knows what to do about it. “Now we have it, and it’s the devil … it’s a global menace,” says Tom Willey, a retired certified organic farmer in the San Joaquin Valley who reluctantly used plastic sheet “mulch” for about 20 years ago on his farm near Madera. … From Modesto to Manteca, from Davis to Petaluma, and throughout the Delta and North Bay regions, plastic sheeting for hoop-style greenhouses and groundcovers are seen in fields beside public roads and waterways, sometimes strewn in windblown rags and tatters, waiting for disposal.

Related pollution articles: 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

U.S. EPA orders California water company to comply with safe drinking water law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to the Havasu Water Company [in Southern California by the Colorado River] to take a series of steps to prevent further violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA specifically cited the company’s failure to adhere to the Act’s drinking water regulations.This included violation of the maximum allowable level for total trihalomethanes. Trihalomethanes are the byproducts that may form during the disinfection process and may threaten human health through long-term exposure at levels above federal limits.

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Aquafornia news SF Gate

Troubled California lake turns so green it’s visible from space

California’s Clear Lake has been taken over by so much algae that its emerald waters are now visible from space, photos show. The satellite images, taken by NASA in mid-May, indicate that the eutrophic lake may be infested with blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria — single-celled organisms that can become potent enough to poison humans and animals, according to the United States Geological Survey. County officials wrote that, overall, algae is integral to the freshwater lake’s health and aquatic ecosystem. More than 130 different types of species have been identified thus far, but three problematic blue-green algal species have been known to bloom there in the spring and late summertime. These harmful species can cause skin irritation, along with gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms, officials said.

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Aquafornia news Surfrider

Blog: Plastic pellets spilled along Southern California coast

“Have you ever heard of nurdles?” I have posed this question countless times while tabling at events and giving talks across San Diego County.  “They are pre-production plastic pellets,” I explain while pouring a few out of a jar into the palm of my hand, adding, “Just about everything made out of plastic starts with nurdles. They are melted down and poured into molds to create plastic cutlery, beach toys, milk jugs…you name it!” I then reveal that I collected the nurdles on display from North County San Diego beaches, emphasizing that ”they easily escape during manufacturing and can also be lost when transported in trucks, shipping containers, and freight trains.” Despite sharing this information with people of all ages for years, it hadn’t occurred to me that the nurdles I find might originate from the rail corridor that transects the beach communities that I frequent in Northern San Diego. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SCOTUS to hear water pollution fight between San Francisco, EPA

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear San Francisco’s appeal of a ruling that tightened offshore water pollution standards and said the city was failing to adequately protect swimmers and bathers from discharges of sewage into the Pacific. The ruling, due next year, could limit the authority of federal and state environmental agencies. The issue is whether — as San Francisco and other local governments contend — environmental laws require them only to limit water pollution to amounts set in advance, such as specific discharges per million parts of water. Federal and state regulators argued that the city was still violating its legal duty to prevent dangerous pollution from bacteria and other contaminants from flowing through its Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant into the ocean. 

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Aquafornia news Oaklandside

How Bay Area scientists and environmentalists are prepping for future harmful algal blooms

Every two years, scientists, legislators, and community members meet to discuss the health and future of our beloved San Francisco Bay.  At this year’s State of the Estuary Conference, which is taking place this week at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center across from Lake Merritt, harmful algae blooms, wetland restoration, and emerging contaminants are a few of the items up for conversation.  According to event organizers, the conference will serve as a hub for in-depth, timely conversations about the concerns, interests, and hopes of those “who are impacted by and working to improve, conserve, and monitor the health of the estuary.” … One of the key topics discussed at Tuesday’s conference was the study and understanding of harmful algal blooms, often referred to as HABs within the scientific community.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

What are leaking underground storage tanks and how are they being cleaned up?

For more than a decade, some residents of the tiny Richmond, Rhode Island, neighborhood of Canob Park drank and bathed using tap water that had been tainted by gasoline that leaked from storage tanks buried under service stations a few hundred yards from their homes. They spent years battling oil companies, dealing with the daily misery of boiling most of their water and wondering about lasting damage to themselves and their children. The Canob Park disaster sparked a national outcry in the 1980s to clean up and regulate the thousands of underground tanks storing petroleum, heating oil and other hazardous chemicals across the United States. It’s a program that continues today, where the tanks are a leading cause of groundwater pollution even after more than a half-million sites have been cleaned up.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

California legislators advance bills aimed at toxic chemicals, pesticides, lead

Los Angeles area legislators are leading the charge to combat chemicals connected to leukemia, ADHD, hearing loss and breast cancer — and more — through a series of proposed environmental laws. … [L]egislators are also trying to do better by California’s kids, whose developing brains and immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals. … Assemblymember Holden wants to see a crackdown against the state’s longtime enemy of lead in drinking water — a potent neurotoxin that can cause irreversible damage to children’s intellectual development, hearing and ability to concentrate. In 2018, Holden authored a law requiring licensed child care centers in the state to test their tap water for lead contamination. The results came out last year and found that one in four centers had lead levels above the allowable threshold.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drying Salton Sea has caused dangerous pollution, health problems for nearby communities, study finds

Back in 2003, farmers in California’s Imperial Valley agreed to send some of their Colorado River water to cities on the coast. The deal was touted as a win for thirsty Californians and a boon for efforts to conserve water. But the deal also caused dangerous pollution for those living near the Salton Sea, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics on Wednesday. For the study, researchers looked at 20 years of daily air pollution data collected from around the inland and heavily saline Salton Sea between 1998 to 2018. As the water-transfer program reduced agricultural runoff that replenishes the sea, once-underwater lakebed was exposed to wind, leading to increased dust and air pollutants that can cause heart and respiratory issues, they found.

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Aquafornia news Fox 40 - Sacramento

Questions arise over ownership of Aurora ship in California Delta

The 1950s cruise ship Aurora has now sat partially submerged in the California Delta near Stockton for two days, but questions have risen concerning the ownership of the nearly 300-foot vessel. In a news release from the United States Coast Guard on Wednesday, the ownership of the ship was mentioned as having recently changed hands. The Aurora was purchased in 2008 by a man named Chris Willson, who had been working to restore the ship with the intention of using it as a wedding venue, event center or museum, according to previous interviews and articles about the ship. One of the reasons the USCG noted the recent change in ownership is due to there being no clear answer as to how much pollutants may be onboard the ship.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Damages from PFAS lawsuits could surpass asbestos, industry lawyers warn

The defense lawyer minced no words as he addressed a room full of plastic-industry executives. Prepare for a wave of lawsuits​ with​ potentially “astronomical” costs​. Speaking at a conference earlier this year, the lawyer, Brian Gross, said the coming litigation could “dwarf anything related to asbestos,” one of the most sprawling corporate-liability battles in United States history. Mr. Gross was referring to PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have emerged as one of the major pollution issues of our time. Used for decades in countless everyday objects — cosmetics, takeout containers, frying pans — PFAS have been linked to serious health risks including cancer. Last month the federal government said several types of PFAS must be removed from the drinking water of hundreds of millions of Americans.

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Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

California airports stand to benefit from lawmakers and scientists’ attempts to disrupt ‘forever chemicals’

UC Riverside professor Jinyong Liu embarked on a scientific challenge as an undergraduate chemistry student when he heard people dub per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “forever chemicals.” … Undetectable by sight, smell, or taste, PFAS is part of everyday American life. It’s found in personal care products like shampoo and dental floss, in grease-resistant food packaging, and nonstick cookware. … In 2019, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered 30 airports, including the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, to investigate their groundwater and soil for the chemical. State regulators pinpointed pollution to a PFAS-rich foam called aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), which has been discharged into the environment since the mid-1970s through firefighter trainings.

Aquafornia news Sacramento State University

News release: Sac State professor wins EPA grant to monitor trash and clean up San Francisco Bay

A Sacramento State professor will work with community volunteers and student interns to monitor trash and clean up San Francisco Bay, thanks to a $742,240 federal grant. The grant – one of eight Bipartisan Infrastructure Law awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – is part of a $43 million investment in protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay as well as local watersheds and wetlands. The funding will help reduce trash going into urban stormwater systems by utilizing the community-based monitoring system Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Julian Fulton developed with Sac State faculty and students as well as the nonprofit Keep California Beautiful. The grant will allow Fulton to expand the Trash Rapid Assessment Data Exchange (TRADE) to Contra Costa County.

Aquafornia news Western Fram Press

Commentary: A grower’s grower – Organic farms are all natural

Innovations and improvements are ongoing in the field of agriculture as immortalized by a poet centuries ago who wrote, “Nothing stays the same, save eternal change.” Fortunately for farmers, something creative is always on the horizon that will make things faster, easier, and sometimes even cheaper.  One such evolution involves organic growing and how it differs from conventional farming. Developed in the early 1900s, the concepts of organic agriculture included use of animal manures, cover crops, rotation of crops, and biologically based pest controls.  Encyclopaedia Britannica calls it, “A sustainable agriculture system that evolved as a response to the environmental harm caused by chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Compared with conventional agriculture, organic farming uses less pesticide, reduces soil erosion, decreases nitrate leaching into groundwater and surface water, and recycles animal wastes.”
-Written by contributing writer Lee Allen. 

Aquafornia news Washington Post

Sites with radioactive material more vulnerable as climate change increases wildfire, flood risks

As Texas wildfires burned toward the nation’s primary nuclear weapons facility, workers hurried to ensure nothing flammable was around buildings and storage areas. When the fires showed no sign of slowing, Pantex Plant officials urgently called on local contractors, who arrived within minutes with bulldozers to dig trenches and enlarge fire breaks for the sprawling complex where nuclear weapons are assembled and disassembled and dangerous plutonium pits — hollow spheres that trigger nuclear warheads and bombs — are stored. … There’s the 40-square-mile Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where a 2000 wildfire burned to within a half mile (0.8 kilometers) of a radioactive waste site. The heavily polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Southern California, where a 2018 wildfire burned 80% of the site, narrowly missing an area contaminated by a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown. 

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Building moratorium in Los Osos could be lifted after decades

Los Osos could end its building moratorium by the end of the year and see new construction for the first time in decades under a plan led by the California Coastal Commission and San Luis Obispo County. The proposal could eventually bring 1% residential growth to a community that has been under a building ban since 1988. The history of Los Osos’ moratorium began with the septic tank discharge prohibition issued by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in 1983. That agency found that the town’s 5,000 septic tanks were sending millions of gallons of effluent down the drain and into both the groundwater and the bay. The county then carried out a multi-decade struggle to site and fund a new water treatment plant, finally launched in 2012 and put into service in 2016. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Microplastics discovered in human and dog testes

Researchers have located one more anatomical organ where microplastics — of all shapes and constituents — are found: human testes. And although they can’t say for sure, they suspect the presence of these jagged bits and strands of polymers such as polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene could be — in part — behind a global trend in diminishing sperm quality and quantity. … Asked what the major route of exposure was for dogs and people, [Xiaozhong Yu, a professor of environmental health at the University of New Mexico] said “microplastics are everywhere — in the air, in the drinking water, in the food, in our clothes. We don’t exactly know what is the most probable route. But they are everywhere.”

Related microplastic and PFAS articles: 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

They’re getting sick because of the cross-border sewage crisis. This committee aims to prove it.

Cassandra Sutcliffe has been using her inhaler more often to treat her chronic bronchitis.  She lives on an oceanfront property in Imperial Beach, one of the southernmost communities impacted by sewage and toxic chemicals that spill over the U.S.-Mexico border.  “The smell makes your eyes water and your throat close up,” said Sutcliffe, one of many residents who have reported having similar symptoms and who say they find relief when they leave town. “I was told by (my doctor) that the environment could be the contributing factor (to) my failing health.” … A newly formed task force, spearheaded by Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre and comprised of San Diego researchers and physicians, aims to change that. The group has yet to decide on its formal name, but it does have an end game. 

Aquafornia news E&E News by POLITICO

Biden admin advances groundwater permitting policy

The Biden administration is moving forward with new permitting guidance to curb pollution that moves through groundwater in response to a landmark Supreme Court ruling. In a decision praised by environmental advocates, the high court ruled in 2020 that wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities must obtain federal permits for groundwater pollution that affects major bodies of water. Since then, however, questions have emerged over how to interpret and apply the ruling, which said that permits are necessary if groundwater pollution has the “functional equivalent” of directly contaminating a lake, river or other surface water. The Trump administration issued its own interpretation of the ruling in January 2021, which EPA under President Joe Biden scrapped months later.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Coastkeeper says no more extensions for addressing water quality issues at South Orange County riding park

All equestrian operations have been suspended at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park after its operators did not complete a project to address water quality issues by a settlement’s deadline. In 2017, the nonprofit Orange County Coastkeeper sued San Juan Capistrano and the Ridland Group, which operates the riding park, alleging Clean Water Act violations from horse-washing water discharge that contained feces, soap and urine. As part of a settlement agreement, the city took on nearly $8 million in necessary improvements to prevent contaminated water from running off into nearby San Juan Creek. But the Ridland Group, which runs equestrian events and operations at the riding park, did not put in a storm drain before the settlement’s April 15 deadline, according to San Juan Capistrano officials.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Law360

California city sues Dow, Shell over TCP-tainted water

Dow Chemical and Shell USA are facing a negligence suit in California federal court by the city of Pomona, alleging the companies are responsible for manufacturing commercial products containing the toxic 1,2,3-trichloropropane that has migrated into the city’s water supply and seeking to recoup costs over response efforts. …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is there bird flu in California’s wastewater?

An unusual surge in flu viruses detected at wastewater treatment plants in California and other parts of the country is raising concerns among some experts that H5N1 bird flu may be spreading farther and faster than health officers initially thought. In the last several weeks, wastewater surveillance at 59 of 190 U.S. municipal and regional sewage plants has revealed an out-of-season spike in influenza A flu viruses — a category that also includes H5N1. The testing — which is intended to monitor the prevalence of “normal” flu viruses that affect humans — has also shown a moderate to high upward trend at 40 sites across California, including San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. Almost every city tested in the Bay Area shows moderate to high increases of type A viruses.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Revelations of possible radioactive dumping around Bay Area trigger testing

Beyond a chain-link fence topped with spiraled barbed wire, swaying coastal grasses conceal a cache of buried radioactive waste and toxic pesticides from a bygone chemical plant. Warning signs along the Richmond, Calif., site’s perimeter attempt to discourage trespassers from breaching the locked gates, where soil testing has detected cancer-causing gamma radiation more than 60 times higher than background levels in some places. For most of the 20th century, the former Stauffer Chemical Co. disposed of thousands of tons of industrial waste near its factory grounds along Richmond’s southeast shoreline. … In a January letter to Albany and Berkeley city officials, [the State Water Board] wrote that the landfills “may have accepted industrial waste materials that could present a risk to water quality, human health, and the environment.”

Aquafornia news NBC News

San Francisco poised to ban ‘forever chemicals’ in firefighter gear

San Francisco is poised to become the first city in the country to issue a ban on firefighter clothing manufactured with so-called forever chemicals.  Local lawmakers are expected to pass an ordinance on Tuesday prohibiting the use of protective equipment made with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The long-lasting compounds do not break down, allowing them to linger almost permanently in the environment. PFAS can be ingested or absorbed into the skin and have been linked to harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, low-birth weight and developmental delays in children, a higher risk of certain cancers and increased cholesterol levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Research and monitoring increases understanding of harmful algal blooms

Despite the prevailing dry conditions in warmer months, the Sacramento Valley and the north Delta have remained free of harmful algal bloom (HAB) detections—a testament to our proactive monitoring and mitigation efforts. As we continue to closely watch over these waterways and utilize the latest technology, we’re committed to keeping our communities safe and our ecosystems thriving. With warmer temperatures and summer recreation at California freshwater lakes and rivers on the horizon, it is time for Californians to be vigilant about the dangers posed by freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). According to the California Department of Water Resources (DRW), algal blooms can release toxins into the water which have the potential to significantly harm both people and pets. It can also create hypoxia which impacts fish populations.

Aquafornia news NBC 7 - San Diego

East San Diego County planning group wants to tap brakes on Muslim cemetery in remote Pine Valley

It’s a tale as old as the American West: folks fighting over water. This time, however, the battle brewing in a remote California community is one you’ve likely never heard before. The clash is centered in the normally sleepy community of Pine Valley, which, according to most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, has a population of 1,645. Although you don’t have to live in town to sign, that figure is close to how many people signed a petition boasting 1,800 signatures that was circulated to Stop SD Crescentwood Cemetery. … Critics argue, though, that it sits above the Campo-Cottonwood Sole Source Aquifer, which serves the groundwater needs of thousands of East County residents. Depending upon whom you talk with, the facility could host as few as four burials a year or as many as 350. The problem … is that “effluvium” from decomposing human bodies could leach into the ground, eventually making its way down and contaminating the aquifer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map

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

Dear Western Water reader, 

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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

Dear Western Water readers:

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

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

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

Aquapedia background Solving Water Challenges in Disadvantaged Communities

Disadvantaged Communities

Installing a water line in East Porterville, Calif.

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Jenn Bowles Jennifer Bowles

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pesticide Contamination

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

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to California Water California Water Map

Microplastics

Microplastics

Microplastics – plastic debris measuring less than 5 millimeters – are an increasing water quality concern. They enter waterways and oceans as industrial microbeads from various consumer products or larger plastic litter that degrades into small bits.

Microbeads have been used in exfoliating agents, cosmetic washes and large-scale cleaning processes. Microplastics are used pharmaceutically for efficient drug delivery to affected sites in patients’ bodies and by textile companies to create artificial fibers. 

Part of their appeal to hygienic and medical interests is their tendency to absorb surrounding chemicals and later release them. This quality makes microplastics ideal as small commercial sponges, but poses a hazard as water contaminants, potentially carrying harmful chemicals through the food chain as they are ingested.

Challenges of Removing Microplastics 

Microplastics disperse easily and widely throughout surface waters and sediments. UV light, microbes and erosion degrade the tiny fragments, making them even smaller and more difficult for wastewater treatment plants to remove.

The particles, usually made of polyethylene or polypropylene plastic, take thousands of years to biodegrade naturally. It takes prohibitively high temperatures to break microplastics down fully. Consequently, most water treatment plants cannot remove them.  

The health effects of consumption are currently under investigation.  

Responses

Many advocacy groups have published lists of products containing microbeads to curb their purchase and pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates microbeads in industrial, but not domestic, wastewater. 

Federal law required microbeads to be phased out of rinse-off cosmetics beginning in July 2017. Dozens of states also regulate microbeads in products. California has the strictest limitation, prohibiting even the use of biodegradable microbeads.

Microplastics in California Water

In 2019, the San Francisco Estuary Institute published a study estimating that 7 trillion pieces of microplastic enter San Francisco Bay annually from stormwater runoff, about 300 times the amount in all wastewater treatment effluent entering the bay.

California lawmakers in 2018 passed a package of bills to raise awareness of the risks of microplastics and microfibers in the marine environment and drinking water. As directed by the legislation, the State Water Resources Control Board in 2020 adopted an official definition of microplastics in drinking water and in 2022 developed the world’s standardized methods for testing drinking water for microplastics.

The water board was expected by late 2023 to begin testing for microplastics in untreated drinking water sources tapped by 30 of the state’s largest water utilities. After two years, the testing was expected to extend to treated tap water served to consumers. A progress report and recommendations for policy changes or additional research are required by the end of 2025.

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Contaminants

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.  

Aquapedia background

Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

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

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Point Source vs. Nonpoint Source Pollution

Point Source Pollution

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

Publication

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource
Published 2007

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

Video

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

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

Video

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

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

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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

Video

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

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

Video

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

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

Video

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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

Video

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

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

Video

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

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

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

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

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater
Published 2013

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

Aquapedia background Colorado River Basin Map

Salton Sea

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

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

Aquapedia background California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater

Groundwater Pollutants

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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