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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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…
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
The National Ground Water Association and eight of the
country’s leading drinking water organizations are urging the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move expeditiously as
it evaluates drinking water standards for two per- and
polyfluorinated substances (PFAS).
Researchers analysed the records of nearly 3 million births in
California to women living within 6.2 miles (10km) of at least
one oil or gas well between 2006 and 2015. … Active and
inactive oil and gas sites create myriad environmental hazards
including air and water pollutants, noise and excessive
lighting, which have all been linked with poor health outcomes.
Georgia, West Virginia, and 21 other states moved to intervene
in litigation in order to help defeat challenges to the
Navigable Waters Protection Rule—a joint regulation from the
Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers
that narrows the types of wetlands and waterways subject to
federal Clean Water Act restrictions.
The proposed rule revision represents the first major overhaul
of the Lead and Copper Rule since 1991. The proposal includes
changes for lead tap sampling, corrosion control treatment,
lead service line replacement, consumer awareness and public
education, new requirements for community water systems to
conduct lead in drinking water testing, and public education in
schools and childcare facilities.
A plan to set new restrictions on the levels of bacteria in the
Petaluma River Watershed is nearing the next stage of approval.
At a virtual meeting on Tuesday, the California State Water
Resources Control Board … will consider a plan meant to cap
and reduce the amount of bacteria getting into the Petaluma
Fossil fuel companies going bankrupt in the wake of the
Covid-19 pandemic are expected to leave behind thousands of
abandoned oil and gas wells, and some congressional Democrats
are calling for a federal program to ensure they’re cleaned up.
There are 56,000 known abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S.,
leaking methane and other air and water pollutants, said Rep.
Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) …
U.S. policymakers understand quite well the impact of Mexico’s
wastewater management on American communities. What they fail
to comprehend is that the ongoing border sewage crisis is
rooted in a longer history of U.S. imperialism and private
enterprise in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
Staring down a $3 billion — and growing — tab to clean up water
sources at military installations across the country that are
contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals linked to
firefighting foam, the Defense Department is now in discussions
with private firms about potential cleanup solutions that might
reduce the cost.
The term “crisis on the border” typically refers to immigration
issues or drugs being smuggled into the country. But it has one
more meaning, as we discovered, when we went to the border in
early February: tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage that
spill every year into the Tijuana River on the Mexican side and
flow across the border right into Southern California,
polluting the land, air, and sea.
The park’s 1,900 residents have been without a permanent
drinking water source for months, after the EPA announced last
summer that the park’s well water contained nearly 10 times the
permissible level of arsenic, a toxic metal.
Restoration of the 500-plus acres of wetlands has been a goal
for literally decades of both city officials and environmental
advocates. Since the discovery of oil there in 1926, combined
with the channelization of the San Gabriel River, the once
2,400-acre wetlands complex has been landfilled, graded and
activated as a working oil field. Much of the remaining
wetlands is controlled by Beach Oil Minerals Partners (BOMP).
A major UK government-funded research study suggests particles
released from vehicle tyres could be a significant and
previously largely unrecorded source of microplastics in the
marine environment. The study is one of the first worldwide to
identify tyre particles as a major and additional source of
The report could revive past attempts to mine uranium in the
Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo and Ventura
counties, including a tract of land near Lake Casitas in the
Ojai Valley, a source of drinking water for Carpinteria Valley
Water District. Many of the report’s recommendations will
require additional action before taking effect, such as changes
to agency rules or regulations, or passage of legislation.
The extraction methods that these operations use today are not
drastically different from processes that miners employed in
the California gold rush in the mid-1800s. Today we see history
repeating itself in places like the Peruvian Amazon, where
small-scale gold mining threatens to leave behind long-lasting
social, economic and environmental consequences.
Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution
in the nation’s waterways. In recent years, scientific journals
and the media have been filled with reports of toxic algae
blooms and dead zones near and far… Unfortunately, in today’s
highly politicized federal climate, it is unlikely that an
effective solution to this problem will emerge from the U.S.
EPA – at least not at the moment. So efforts by state
regulators are particularly important.
As the world continues to grapple with the most devastating
public health crises in modern history, the San Joaquin Valley
has been hit particularly hard, resulting in mass disarray.
Small rural regions and underserved communities are now
experiencing threefold the challenges that existed prior to the
Nine Orange County water agencies have retained a legal team to
study whether to file suit to recoup the $1 billion or more it
could cost to purify drinking water in local wells contaminated
with PFAS chemicals and to pay for more expensive imported
water in the interim.
For the first time in five years, Seville residents can safely
drink and cook with the water that flows from their taps. The
small agricultural community of about 500 nestled at the scenic
base of the Sierra Nevada has been ground zero for Tulare
County’s water crisis for more than a decade.
Outbreaks of E. coli illness that sickened 188 people who ate
romaine lettuce grown in California probably came from cattle
grazing near the farms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
said in a report released Thursday. … Investigators concluded
that the illness was centered on ranches and fields owned by
the same grower and that were located downslope from public
land where cattle grazed.
Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution
in the nation’s waterways….In California alone, more than a
quarter million residents in largely agricultural areas are
served by water systems with degraded groundwater quality.
Nine states have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
for curtailing enforcement of rules on air and water pollution
during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the pullback puts the
public at even greater risk.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the next step to
implement an important per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA). The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals
required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory and
established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these
The nation’s environmental watchdog may investigate federal
enforcement of water policy in California after Democratic
lawmakers accused the Trump administration of “irregular”
interference targeting San Francisco, according to a letter
sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Recently, I participated in the Environmental Law Institute’s
Master Class, PFAS: From Common Use to Concern … which
included a discussion of the environmental and human health
impacts of PFAS contaminated waters, as well as the best
approaches to regulate, establish and enforce cleanups and safe
drinking water standards. … Some of the main take-aways from
our presentation included:
The lawsuits concern the alleged contamination via
manufacturing process materials stored by Ametek, which
manufactured aircraft engine parts for more than 20 years at
790 Greenfield Drive in El Cajon. Plaintiffs allege the
materials contaminated groundwater, soil vapor and indoor air
at nearby properties.
California, along with eight other states, sued the Trump
administration Wednesday over the Environmental Protection
Agency’s decision to stop requiring companies to monitor and
report air and water pollution during the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA,
appears to defy a court order that required the agency to
establish a safe drinking-water standard for perchlorate by the
end of June…[S]tates like California and Massachusetts
regulated the chemical in the absence of federal action.
A spring storm had retreated inland during the night, leaving a
canopy of unbroken clouds over San Diego’s Mission Bay. About
20 engineering students and others gathered in the morning
chill to launch a cockeyed-looking vessel, mechanical guts
fully visible, into the still water.
A grant of up to $2 million will allow Lomita to install a
filtration system that removes a potentially carcinogenic
chemical from its drinking water, allowing the community to
resume using groundwater instead of more expensive imported
supplies. The small city had taken its sole well offline last
year and drained its 5 million gallon reservoir after the
levels of benzene discovered in its groundwater exceeded state
drinking water standards.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to address lead
in water isn’t as aggressive as it could be, the agency’s
independent Science Advisory Board, as well as outside groups,
said Monday. … In its latest report, the board came out
against the proposed trigger level, saying it “adds unnecessary
complexity resulting from having to make lead management
decisions” while not enacting stricter limits that recognize
there is no safe level of lead.
In a pandemic when hand-washing could be a matter of life or
death, everyone must have access to clean water as a public
health issue and a basic human right. But what if you can’t
afford your water bill?
A California appellate court has revived a lawsuit Wednesday
from the city of Riverside who claim Black & Decker and several
other companies contaminated the local drinking water with
chemicals used to make explosive cartridges, flares and rocket
The Senate’s environment panel pushed through two major water
infrastructure bills Wednesday, rejecting a GOP member’s
attempt to give Western states more authority over water
supplies but agreeing to direct the EPA to set drinking water
limits for “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
The survey data indicated that shotgun wads, the plastic piece
inside a shotgun shell that separates the shot from the powder,
are one of the top ten most commonly found plastic items on all
surveyed beaches. These shotgun wads likely come from waterfowl
hunting, year-round shooting ranges, and target shooting fields
along the San Francisco Bay and Delta.
PFAS are ubiquitous and can be found in a variety of everyday
products, including stain- and water-resistant fabrics and
carpeting, cleaning products, cookware, paints, and
fire-fighting foams. The Environmental Protection Agency warns
that exposure to at least some PFAS “can lead to adverse health
outcomes in humans.”
The State Water Resources Control Board has executed an
agreement to provide approximately $5 million in grant funds
for testing and remediation of lead in drinking water at
licensed Child Care Centers in California.
A group of more than 80 members of Congress is pushing for the
inclusion of provisions to regulate a class of cancer-linked
chemicals in future stimulus legislation dealing with
infrastructure. The chemicals, known as PFAS, are also
sometimes called “forever chemicals” because of their
persistence in both the environment and the human body.
The EPA has been too busy responding to the deadly coronavirus
to work on its long-awaited proposal to manage huge volumes of
pathogen-infested sewage and stormwater during heavy rains, the
agency’s top wastewater official said Wednesday.
South Bay leaders are once again calling for action to fix
cross border pollution. … Tuesday, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge
Dedina told FOX 5 that the Tijuana sewage system has collapsed
and is spewing about 60 million gallons of untreated sewage
each day in the river.
One unintended side effect of the novel coronavirus crisis
could provide much-needed relief for the San Francisco Bay,
according to David Lewis, executive director of the
environmental group, Save the Bay. Lewis says that cars
contribute to pollution in the bay in ways that aren’t always
obvious, and the reduction in traffic from the COVID-19
shelter-in-place order could help.
In February 2020, the Water Board adopted new, lower Response
Levels for PFOA and PFOS of 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively.
Four of wells previously sampled under the Water Board’s order
now had had PFOA levels above this newly adopted Response Level
of 10 ppt. Atascadero Mutual Water Company immediately took
these wells out of service.
Just days before Covid-19 spurred a vast quarantine-at-home in
California, a crew of workers in downtown Oakland was busily
planting dozens of potted grasses, shrubs and trees in a newly
sculpted garden bed in what had been a gutter and a row of
parking stalls a block from City Hall.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of six justices who said
permits are required if the pollution at issue amounted to the
“functional equivalent” of a direct discharge (Greenwire, April
23). But instead of just signing onto the majority opinion
written by Justice Stephen Breyer, Kavanaugh penned his own
concurrence saying he agreed with the majority opinion “in
In many areas of the Central Valley and Central Coast, decades
of intensive agriculture has resulted in groundwater too
polluted to drink, and wells that have gone dry from
over-pumping. More than one million people in these regions
lack a source of clean water in their homes. This is a hardship
even in the best of times, but it puts communities at extremely
high risk during this time of crisis.
Although it is clear that river discharge is the major source
of plastic pollution entering the oceans, there remains
uncertainty around how plastic pollution is transported through
rivers and coastal marine waters. How important is stormflow
for delivering plastic pollution from rivers to the coastal
ocean? How are microplastics transported through coastal
environments? How much is eventually sinking and settling on
Some 1 million residents of California farmworker communities
have relied for years on bottled water because their tap water
is tainted with nitrate and other agricultural pollutants. Now,
as stores ration water to prevent hoarding during the
coronavirus crisis, these residents are relying on friends and
family, or driving many miles to bigger towns in search of
Ecologist Jonathan Young steered his rowboat alongside a
rectangular container that was floating between two bright
orange buoys. He reached under a plastic mesh covering and
pulled out a large black and brown object the size of his fist
that looked a lot like a clam. “These are the underdogs of
water quality,” he said. “And also, unfortunately, on their way
The Trump White House has intervened to weaken one of the few
public health protections pursued by its own administration, a
rule to limit the use of a toxic industrial compound in
consumer products… Documents show the White House Office of
Management and Budget formally notified the EPA last July that
it was stepping into the crafting of the rule on the compound,
perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, used in nonstick
and stain-resistant frying pans, rugs, and countless other
Given the recent impact of PFAS on other aspects of the water
and wastewater industry, it is important to determine the
consequences potential new regulation andnew public awareness
of PFAS will have for potable reuse projects.
Environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) over a March memo signaling that the agency would
not seek penalties against companies that do not monitor their
pollution during the coronavirus outbreak.
A federal judge in Montana ordered the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to suspend all filling and dredging activities until
it conducts formal consultations compliant with the Endangered
Species Act. The ruling revokes the water-crossing permit
needed to complete construction of the pipeline, and is
expected to cause major delays to the divisive project.
California’s top environmental agency said it would “fill any
enforcement gaps” left by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s decision last month to relax oversight in the wake of
the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the last 20 years, UC research has shown that dairies in
the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys are potentially major
contributors of nitrate and salts in groundwater. To maintain
the quality of this irreplaceable natural resource, the
California Water Resources Control Board has ramped up
regulations to ensure that diary manure and wastewater
application isn’t contaminating the aquifer.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance on Friday
specific to Superfund cleanup actions. The agency’s regional
offices have decided, and may continue to decide, to slow or
stop some work because of social distancing restrictions,
travel restrictions, and ill employees, the agency said in its
Now, as the nation reels from a fresh public health crisis
caused by the novel coronavirus, new research suggests that
more than 2,500 industrial facilities located in virtually
every congressional district could be discharging PFAS into the
air and water in the absence of federal regulations.
State oil and gas regulators have granted permits for hydraulic
fracturing, the controversial drilling technique known as
fracking, for the first time since last summer. The California
Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, last week
issued permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture of Shell and
ExxonMobil, for “well stimulation” work in two Kern County oil
Cancer-linked per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively
known as PFAS, have been confirmed at 328 sites, according to
Pentagon data analyzed by Environmental Working Group, and
are suspected on about 350 more Defense Department
installations and sites.
Three years ago, Dimitri Deheyn noticed intensely blue stringy
shapes as he examined jellyfish samples through a microscope in
his marine biology lab at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
We have a legacy of lead in our pipes, our paint, and our soil.
These are the most significant sources of human lead exposure
and, therefore, draw most of the attention and resources
because they are costly to fix. … For that reason, EDF has
sought, as part of our larger efforts, to reduce the amount of
lead that leaches from new plumbing devices such as faucets and
California regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the
first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given
clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well
stimulation in Kern County. … Last July, Gov. Gavin
Newsom fired the state’s oil and gas supervisor a day
after The Desert Sun reported that the number of fracking
permits issued during his first six months in office had
doubled compared to the same period under his
State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s
relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by
facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The
Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek
penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy. …
The California Environmental Protection Agency said its
enforcement authority “remains intact” in spite of the EPA
In an alert to state regulators, Southern California Edison,
which operates the power station, said an unexpected surge of
wastewater led to an “upset” at the treatment plant that
morning, triggering an alarm but allowing the sewage to flow
through a 6,000-foot pipe out into the ocean before workers
could turn off the pumps.
While many residents across the US may want a traditional patch
of green carpet, Jodie Cook, a landscape designer from San
Clemente, California, explained over email that West Coast
homeowners are growing increasingly aware of how innovative
models for lawns can benefit natural ecosystems, while
providing a new dimension to the family home.
California is moving closer to setting a drinking water limit
for the solvent 1,4-dioxane, which EPA has said is a likely
carcinogen. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment announced Friday it was working to set a public
health goal for the emerging contaminant.
We’ve all seen photos of clear-cut forests with swathes of
razed trees or deep scars in the ground from an open-pit mine.
The damage to the species that live in these habitats isn’t
hard to imagine. But the damage we’ve done to freshwater
ecosystems isn’t so visible. In rivers or lakes, trouble often
lurks out of view beneath the surface of the water …
States around the country say they won’t penalize water and
wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit
requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if
those delays are justified and documented. Delays, for example,
could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water
quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with
A sudden influx of water at the sewage treatment facility at
the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station early Wednesday
morning led to about 7,000 gallons of partially treated
wastewater being released about a mile into the Pacific.
Officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator,
said the sewage amounted to a “non-radiological release”…
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
Sealing a baffling fight over a ditch that involved dead cows,
helicopters and a criminal trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday
that a California county didn’t trample a rural cattle
rancher’s rights in its curious attempt to sabotage his water
Most of the 6,000 gallons of crude oil that was spilled into
the Cuyama River in Santa Maria has been contained. … A
tanker truck carrying more than 6,000 gallons of crude oil
overturned and crashed into the Cuyama River east of Santa
Maria on Saturday, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire
President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare
a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to
approve requests for that designation from the governors of
California, New York and Washington in their battles against
COVID-19. … Trump’s determinations could open the door for
FEMA to step into a wide range of future events including
droughts, extreme cold weather and the contamination of
Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements in the Earth’s crust.
It is widely distributed, and under certain geochemical
conditions, it dissolves into groundwater, which then gets
pumped out for human use. Arsenic presents the highest cancer
risk of any regulated carcinogens among drinking water
contaminants when the risk from each is ranked at its maximum
In an effort to reduce the amount of pollution entering surface
waters, the state of California requires industries with an
identified potential of discharging pollutants in storm water
runoff to obtain and implement an industrial storm water
permit. A new state law, effective Jan. 1, requires applicable
businesses to provide proof of coverage under the industrial
storm water permit in order to obtain or renew their business
license with a city or county.
In a sampling of fish from a creek that flows into San Diego
Bay, nearly a quarter contain microplastics, according to a new
study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study, which
examined plastics in coastal sediments and three species of
fish, showed that the frequency and types of plastic ingested
varied with fish species and, in some cases, size or age of
The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new
PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances
Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years
even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.
Wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper does
in water. They are stronger, and many wipes include plastics
and materials like nylon. That means bad news for sewer
systems, some of which already are experiencing problems during
the coronavirus crisis.
There is now plenty of evidence that as the atmosphere warms,
the planet is experiencing more wildfires. … Understandably,
much of the media surrounding these incidents focuses on the
immediate damage to forests, homes, people and wildlife, but
one potentially dangerous long-term impact has received less
attention – the effect of fires on water.
The park has hosted sport shooters since the mid-1960s, but the
business did little to stop lead, which is toxic to humans and
wildlife, from entering the ephemeral waterway until 2013. …
For much of its history, the site fell through the cracks
among various regulatory bodies tasked with
guarding the environment and public health. In their
absence, a small-scale mining economy has sprung up in the
legally protected river.
The military now has at least 651 sites that have been
contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more
than 50 percent jump from its last tally. The information was
released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense
(DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military
remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply
near numerous military bases.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced
that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells
in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said
Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated
response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information
officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.
Already a well-regarded landscape and portrait photographer,
Bay set out to bring more attention to the issue. The avid
surfer admits that he initially wasn’t sure how best to convey
what he saw as an environmental emergency. Then, one day, he
says he was visiting the Tijuana River mouth and stumbled upon
People flanked by handmade signs spill out of a charter bus
that just arrived from UC Santa Barbara. They join a growing
rally outside the Veterans Memorial Center in Santa Maria,
chanting, “Health, not oil,” and, “No new oil, keep it in the
soil!” A microphone passed around gave different folks and
organizations a chance to lead the rally cries.
A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed
by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of
illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil
facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and
threatening endangered species.
Beaches were closed on Tuesday from the Mexico border to
Coronado as rain flushed sewage-contaminated runoff from
Tijuana into the San Diego region. “Things have gotten worse
than ever,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
State and federal leaders came together to tour the Salton Sea
and understand the impending health issues the public continues
to face. NBC Palm Springs joined officials to get a glimpse of
what is being done to help restore an area that was once a
relaxing summer destination.
On Feb. 13 in Simi Valley, a group called the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory (SSFL) Work Group held a community meeting
regarding the failure of Boeing, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) to adequately clean up the radioactive and carcinogenic
chemicals left at the site…
People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in
Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil
drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that
the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy
Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.
An environmental watchdog group has filed lawsuits against the
cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale alleging that the cities’
aging sewer systems are leaking bacteria from human feces into
stormwater drainage systems, contaminating local creeks and
ultimately the Bay.
The preserve [inside the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility
near Chico]—which is overseen by California Open Lands, a local
nonprofit land trust—also has been a focus of the State Water
Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is
investigating the landfill for allegedly discharging last
winter about 24 million gallons of waste-contaminated
stormwater into the preserve and a neighboring watershed.
The State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted its
2020 priorities, which include setting a maximum contaminant
level of the heavy metal, also known as chromium-6. A proposed
rule setting the limit could come in early 2021.
The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an
investigative order in February that requires more monitoring
of sewage-tainted cross-border flows. The order requires the
International Boundary and Water Commission to monitor more
than a dozen locations over an 18-month period.
Paradise Irrigation District has completed sampling service
lines to all standing structures in the town for possible water
contamination and is expecting to finish repairs by the end of
spring. The completion of the testing marks a milestone in the
area’s recovery after the Camp Fire.