Topic: Pollution



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

Aquafornia news Fox 5 San Diego

Padilla: $300 million allocated in U.S. budget to keep sewage from Mexico out of California

Democratic U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, of California, on Monday visited the Tijuana River Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant on the U.S. side of the border to announce that $300 million has been budgeted to stem the flow of raw sewage from Mexico into California. The money is part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which set aside money to clean up the environment along the southern border. During heavy storms or when facilities in Tijuana break down, millions of gallons of raw sewage flow downhill into the U.S. side of the border in the Tijuana River Valley and out to sea, contaminating miles of Southern California beaches.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California oilfield cleanup shouldn’t be taxpayers’ expense

There’s a huge problem looming as California moves beyond fossil fuels: How to get its declining oil industry to plug and remediate tens of thousands of oil and gas wells that already sit idle or won’t be producing for much longer. And unfortunately, it’s looking like the companies responsible for the wells, tanks and pipelines won’t end up paying anything close to what it will take to clean up the mess they leave behind. All told, it could cost as much as $21.5 billion to clean and decommission … Without swift and dramatic changes, much of the cleanup costs will fall to taxpayers. That would be a shameful abrogation of responsibility by an industry that has for more than a century profited mightily from extracting California’s underground deposits while fueling the climate crisis, fouling the air and contaminating soil and water.

Aquafornia news Fox 5 - San Diego

Lower Otay Reservoir: Algae bloom prompts water contact advisory in effect

An algae bloom prompted city officials to post caution signs at its Lower Otay Reservoir. The City of San Diego advises the public to not expose their skin to the water while the cautionary alert is in effect. However, the algae bloom does not impact the safety or quality of the City’s drinking water, officials said. The water is treated using several processes prior to being delivered to homes and businesses, according to the City. Local biologists found out the water at Lower Otay Reservoir tested positive for Cyanobacteria, also known as “blue-green algae.”

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Sierra Madre accepts $126,000 settlement from Monsanto stormwater lawsuit

The city of Sierra Madre has accepted a $126,000 settlement with chemical company Monsanto Inc. in a class-action lawsuit against the company, that alleged its products contaminated bodies of water and stormwater systems. In 2016, several cities and counties, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, sued Monsanto claiming industrial chemicals it manufactured up until 1977 called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) impaired the environment and continues to contaminate sites, including stormwater and wastewater systems, water bodies, sediment, natural resources, fish and other wildlife. The city’s City Council approved the settlement at its May 23 meeting. 

Aquafornia news Courier-Journal

California pot trade linked to cartels leaves chemicals, dead animals

Standing atop a ridge in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mourad Gabriel watches as the last of the morning’s fog burns off, revealing the snow-capped Trinity Alps in the distance and a rolling sea of evergreens below. In this slice of rural California, about five hours north of San Francisco, narrow two-lane roads snake between towering mountains and ancient trees. … In the mountainous expanse below, drug trafficking organizations have taken advantage of Northern California’s remote wilderness to grow cannabis in deep defiance of the state’s marijuana and environmental regulations. They’ve poisoned soil, streams and wildlife with banned pesticides, leveled countless acres of forest, ignited massive wildfires, poached billions of gallons of precious water and left nothing but death and debris in their wake.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Deep Debate: Poisons Tested at Lake Tahoe

Locals and environmental groups are split over a plan to respond to one of the most serious environmental problems in Lake Tahoe with a controversial solution: poison. Similar to using chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, authorities approved a test of chemical herbicides to kill underwater weeds threatening to ruin Tahoe’s shoreline if left unchecked. Herbicides triclopyr and endothall were applied last year to developed lagoons connected to the lake in a subdivision known as the Tahoe Keys. The test could lead to a larger-scale application of herbicides.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

More states pile on with ‘forever chemical’ lawsuits

Washington and Maryland are the latest states seeking to hold chemical manufacturers liable for soil and groundwater contamination caused by so-called “forever chemicals.” The suits, filed in the states’ respective court systems, accuse 3M, DuPont and other makers of concealing longstanding information about the dangers associated with toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of more than 9,000 laboratory-produced chemicals used for a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer product applications for more than 80 years. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Sturgeon arose during the Jurassic—can they survive the Anthropocene?

Sturgeon have been around far longer than humans—a jaw-dropping 200 million years to our comparatively short 6 million—and survived the cataclysm that terminated the age of dinosaurs. But can these ancient fish survive the age of people? New insights into the secret lives of these little-known fish, as well as into their increasing vulnerability, suggest ways of strengthening protections for sturgeon in California. All 27 remaining species of sturgeon live in the northern hemisphere and all are at risk. Threats include overfishing, poaching for their caviar, and dams that block access to their spawning grounds. Fish in the San Francisco Bay are also threatened by harmful algal blooms called red tides, which release toxins that can kill aquatic life.

Aquafornia news High Country News

In search of answers at the Salton Sea

As the temperature on an early April afternoon crept above 80 degrees, Cruz Marquez, a member of the Salton Sea Community Science Program, stood at a folding table under a blue tent, scrubbing a small glass vial with the cloth of his T-shirt. … Over the last 25 years, the Salton Sea has lost a third of its water due to an over-allocated Colorado River. As it shrinks, the sea’s salts plus pollutants from agricultural runoff reach higher concentrations. All those extra nutrients fuel algae blooms that then decay in the sulfate-rich sea, resulting in a rotten-egg smell that can extend for miles. As temperatures rise and the water retreats further, locals suspect that the contaminated sediments in the exposed lakebed are worsening air quality; the area’s childhood asthma rate is one of the highest in the state.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Microplastic shards plague every Colorado river. Here’s where, and how they get there

Lexi Kilbane knew, in a vague, nonscientific way, that plastic pollution was a growing problem, and that tiny shards of plastics were showing up everywhere a microscope might look.  But the magnitude of the contamination finally hit home after she dipped a water testing kit into a City Park lake, right near her house, and filtered the sample. Fibers from shredded tarps, jackets and carpet popped into view, in a dystopian kaleidoscope. … Using national protocols for detecting microplastics, Kilbane and the nonprofit advocacy group CoPIRG sampled 16 waterways in Colorado and found the plastics pollution in every one. They are sharing results of their study with national sampling networks, and urging Colorado policymakers to double down on recent efforts to slow use of plastics that deteriorate into dangerous particles but never biodegrade. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Advocates: Reparations are the answer for sea level threat in West Oakland, Calif.

Toxic waste lurking in the soil under the San Francisco Bay community of West Oakland, and places like it, is the next environmental threat in a neighborhood already burdened by pollution. Residents in these communities of color are calling for climate justice as a form of reparations. The stability of buried contamination from Oakland’s industrial past relies on it staying in the soil. But once the rising waters of San Francisco Bay press inland and get underneath these pockets of pollution, a certain amount of that waste will not stay in place. Instead, it will begin to move. More than 130 sites lie in wait. Human-caused climate change is already forcing this groundwater rise in West Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Judge says fire retardant drops are polluting streams but allows use to continue

The U.S. government can keep using chemical retardant dropped from aircraft to fight wildfires, despite finding that the practice pollutes streams in western states in violation of federal law, a judge ruled Friday. Halting the use of the red slurry material could have resulted in greater environmental damage from wildfires, said U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Montana. The judge agreed with U.S. Forest Service officials who said dropping retardant into areas with waterways was sometimes necessary to protect lives and property.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California becomes the first state to phase out toxic hexavalent chromium

[H]exavalent chromium—a highly hazardous substance emitted by chrome-plating businesses—is 500 times more carcinogenic than diesel exhaust, putting it in the cross hair of regulators for decades. The California Air Resources Board today approved a landmark ban on use of the substance by the chrome plating industry. The ban requires companies, who opposed the action, to use alternative materials. … The toxin has some presence in popular culture. The court battle over the presence of the chemical in drinking water in the San Bernardino County town of Hinkley was dramatized in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” But environmental advocates and residents of Los Angeles’ low-income, industrial neighborhoods and cities have long raised concerns.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

What is produced water?

“Produced water” is water that returns to the surface as wastewater during oil and gas production. The water typically contains hydrocarbons from the deposit as well as naturally occurring toxic substances like arsenic and radium, salts and chemical additives injected into the well to facilitate extraction. These additives include carcinogens and numerous other toxic substances that have the potential to harm human health and contaminate the environment. … In California, a local water board allows oil companies to sell their wastewater to farmers for irrigation, claiming the practice is safe. But an Inside Climate News investigation found that the board relied on scant evidence produced by an oil industry consultant and never reviewed long-term impacts on plants, soil, crops and wildlife.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

How recycling centers could be making our plastics problem worse

Instead of helping to tackle the world’s staggering plastic waste problem, recycling may be exacerbating a concerning environmental problem: microplastic pollution. A recent peer-reviewed study that focused on a recycling facility in the United Kingdom suggests that anywhere between 6 to 13 percent of the plastic processed could end up being released into water or the air as microplastics — ubiquitous tiny particles smaller than five millimeters that have been found everywhere from Antarctic snow to inside human bodies.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

PFAS in the crosshairs

In the world of water utility finance, it’s widely known that ratepayers like residents and businesses represent the primary source of revenue for local water and sewer systems. Therefore, when regulatory mandates come down from the federal government with the potential to increase costs for water systems, even with federal support, it’s generally the local ratepayer who is left to foot the bill. This is one of the main concerns the sector is figuring out how to navigate after a big regulatory announcement in the spring. In March, following much anticipation, the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its first-ever proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Will EPA’s PFAS rule spur other water regs?

EPA brandished its powers to regulate new drinking water contaminants earlier this year, but many question whether the agency will apply the same approach to other chemicals. While substances linked to health risks from kidney disease to cancer have cropped up in drinking water systems for decades, the agency has not issued a drinking water standard for a new contaminant on its own initiative since 1996. Other drinking water regulations since then have been mandated by Congress. But EPA in March took the dramatic step of escalating a crackdown on a handful of “forever chemicals,” with a proposal to regulate those notorious substances at very low levels.

Aquafornia news NPR

Risky arsenic levels hit dwindling water supply in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

When John Mestas’ ancestors moved to Colorado over 100 years ago to raise sheep in the San Luis Valley, they “hit paradise,” he says. “There was so much water, they thought it would never end,” Mestas says of the agricultural region at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Now decades of climate change-driven drought, combined with the overpumping of aquifers, is making the valley desperately dry — and appears to be intensifying the levels of heavy metals in drinking water. … During drought, the number of people in the contiguous U.S. exposed to elevated arsenic from domestic wells may rise from about 2.7 million to 4.1 million, Lombard estimates, using statistical models. Arsenic has been shown to affect health across the human life span, beginning with sperm and eggs, James says. 

Aquafornia news

Using microbial degradation to break down chlorinated PFAS in wastewater

A team of chemical and environmental engineers at the University of California, Riverside, has found a way to use microbial degradation to break down chlorinated PFAS in wastewater. In their paper published in the journal Nature Water, the group describes how they tested the ability of microbes in waste water to degrade some PFAS compounds and what they found by doing so. Chlorinated polyfluorocarboxylic acids (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in industrial processing for several decades. In recent times they have become known as “forever chemicals” because they break down so slowly in the environment—it has also been found that they can build up in the bodies of animals, including humans.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Facilities leaked toxic ‘forever chemicals’ into Bay Area groundwater

The Center for Environmental Health recently confirmed that three Bay Area facilities have been discharging toxicants known as “forever chemicals” into the region’s groundwater. Metal plating companies Electro-Coatings of California and Teikuro Corporation, along with a Recology center in Vacaville, were sent legal notices by CEH after they were discovered to use PFAS, a group of potentially harmful chemicals, in their day-to-day operations. These chemicals were directly released into designated sources of drinking water below three facilities and now exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits for PFAS by over a hundred times, according to a CEH press release.

Aquafornia news Science | AAAS

Cleaning up ocean ‘garbage patches’ could destroy delicate ecosystems

Removing trash from the ocean may not be as harmless as it seems. That’s the conclusion of new research, which finds that marine dumps known as “garbage patches” are home to countless delicate creatures that could perish when people scoop debris from the sea. The oceans are home to five major garbage patches. They form far from land where strong currents swirl together, ferrying trash of all sizes. Some of it has been eroded by the churn into tiny debris known as microplastics. The largest of these marine debris fields is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Spanning 1.6 million square kilometers midway between Hawaii and the coast of California, it was first observed in 1997 by Charles Moore, an oceanographer and founder of Algalita Marine Research and Education.

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Aquafornia news ProPublica

It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites. The Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay for It

For well over a century, the oil and gas industry has drilled holes across California in search of black gold and a lucrative payday. But with production falling steadily, the time has come to clean up many of the nearly quarter-million wells scattered from downtown Los Angeles to western Kern County and across the state. The bill for that work, however, will vastly exceed all the industry’s future profits in the state, according to a first-of-its-kind study published Thursday and shared with ProPublica. … Taxpayers will likely have to cover much of the difference to ensure wells are plugged and not left to leak brine, toxic chemicals and climate-warming methane.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Who said recycling was green? It makes microplastics by the ton

Research out of Scotland suggests that the chopping, shredding and washing of plastic in recycling facilities may turn as much as six to 13 percent of incoming waste into microplastics—tiny, toxic particles that are an emerging and ubiquitous environmental health concern for the planet and people. A team of four researchers measured and analyzed microplastics in wastewater before and after filters were installed at an anonymous recycling plant in the United Kingdom. The study, one of the first of its kind, was published in the May issue of in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hazardous Material Advances.

Aquafornia news Plumas News

Opinion: Asphalt plant threatens Feather River, communities

According to a public notice published May 10th, 2023, Hat Creek Construction Company, contractor for Caltrans, is planning to construct a “temporary” asphalt plant directly adjacent to the Feather River in Delleker, 2000 feet south (and upwind) of the Delleker residential area, and only 500 feet from homes in the Iron Horse community across the river. The operation would run from April to November, from 6am to 6pm, up to 24 hours/ day for 3 years (but probably longer) mainly to supply Caltrans with asphalt for its Highway 70 repaving project. The project would generate at least 150 round trip truck trips per day, all crossing the railroad at an uncontrolled crossing, risking accidents and derailments, including possible oil spills directly into to the river. 
-Written by Feather River Action.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Chevron prepares Kern County oil fields for flooding

Preparing for the threat of massive flooding during California’s “Big Melt,” federal engineers have been releasing more Kern River water from Lake Isabella than is flowing into the reservoir from the snowbound peaks of the southern Sierra Nevada. The action is needed, officials say, to prevent water from spilling over the reservoir dam and sending floodwaters rolling into low-lying areas that include the city of Bakersfield, farm towns, Highway 99, and portions of Kern County’s famed oil patch — an intrusion that would risk significant ecological harm. Now, with temperatures rising and river flows approaching an all-time record of 7,000 cubic feet per second, Chevron Corporation is taking steps to avoid an oil spill at its Kern River Oil Field in the event of catastrophic flooding.

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Aquafornia news Legal Reader

Farmlands are being impacted by toxic chemicals called PFAS

In 2014, Adam Nordell and his wife bought a 44-acre Songbird Farm in Maine to grow organic produce and raise a beautiful family. Seven years later, they found out that their farmlands were brimmed with toxic chemicals known as PFAS, or per-and polyfluorinated substances. PFAS are a group of chemicals used for making fluoropolymer coatings and other products that resist heat, stains, oil, water, and grease. Fluoropolymer coatings are found in a range of products, including adhesives, furniture, non-stick cooking surfaces, food packaging, and electrical wire insulation. These chemicals are toxic even at extremely low levels and are called ‘forever chemicals’ since they are virtually indestructible. Moreover, they are almost impossible to avoid as they are found practically everywhere, not just in farmlands. 

Aquafornia news 8 News - Las Vegas

Septic tank compromise struck as talk turns to AB220 effect on residential water use in Southern Nevada

An uproar over a bill requiring residents with septic systems to connect to municipal sewer systems is causing a major pivot in the effort to conserve water in Southern Nevada. An amendment is changing a requirement into an option. That’s the latest move to accommodate residents who repeatedly told lawmakers they just couldn’t afford to pay for the conversions themselves. Not 50%. Not 20%. Not 15%. Assembly Bill 220 (AB220) was heard Tuesday by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The current language in the bill gives residents the chance to take advantage of an offer to cover 100% of the costs of connecting to a municipal sewer system as long as funds are available. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin County wastewater tests detect ‘tranq’ drug

Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that is increasingly being mixed with fentanyl, heroin and other illicit drugs, has been detected in Marin County’s wastewater. Although xylazine, also known as “tranq,” use has been common on the East Coast for some time, this is the first positive evidence of its presence in Marin. Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer, made the announcement in a recent update on levels of COVID-19 infection in Marin. Since most people now rely on at-home antigen tests to determine if they’re infected, instead of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that must be processed through a lab, health officials have come to rely on wastewater testing to determine infection levels in their communities.

Aquafornia news Axios San Francisco

Flooding could threaten hazardous sites in San Francisco Bay Area

Hundreds of industrial sites along California’s coastline may face a heightened risk of coastal flooding by 2050 because of sea level rise from human-caused global warming, a recent study says. Why it matters: Flood and storm surge events amplified by sea level rise against such facilities could increase the chances of hazardous chemicals escaping from the sites and contaminating nearby communities. The potential release of contaminants from future extreme weather events may also have an increased effect on people of color and low-income communities.

Aquafornia news Grist

A lawsuit to protect streams could take away a prime firefighting tool

Every summer, wildland firefighters across the West gear up for a monumental task, aiming to stop fires that are burning hotter and moving faster with climate change. They accomplish this in two ways: on the ground and out of the sky. From above, helicopters sling buckets of water, while airplanes dump fire retardant — a thick red solution made mostly of fertilizer. The United States Forest Service uses millions of gallons of retardant each year.  But there have long been concerns about what happens when that mix of ammonium phosphate, emulsifiers, and colorants finds its way into water. Some environmentalists worry spraying the stuff on forests does more harm than good.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Conservation group sues California oil regulator for approving wells with inadequate environmental review

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing a California regulator of approving new oil and gas wells without conducting sufficient environmental review. The wells in question — approved by the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) — are located in Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties, in close proximity to homes, beaches and important habitats, according to the lawsuit. CalGEM’s approvals, the complainants argued, are based on out-of-date environmental reviews that fail to consider “climate change or the risks to human health that have become well understood since that time.” 

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Aquafornia news Beyond Pesticides

Blog: Persistence pesticides and other chemicals have made “legacy” a dirty word as “forever” chemicals

With the growth of chemical-intensive land management over the last century, the world has been held captive by pesticide companies. … During the so-called “Green Revolution” (circa 1945-1985), the world came to depend on vast amounts of fertilizers and herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. … In the U.S., EPA has proposed new limits to PFAS levels in drinking water, and not a minute too soon; PFAS have been found in water supplies in nearly 3,000 locations in all 50 states and two territories. PFAS chemicals have been found in human breast milk, umbilical cord blood, deer meat, fish, and beef. They are found in pesticides. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

77 tons less trash in ocean thanks to interceptor at Ballona Creek

After a historic winter hit California with dozens of atmospheric rivers, the last line of defense protecting the Pacific from much of L.A.’s trash held strong. In the first storm season of a two-year pilot project, Ballona Creek Trash Interceptor 007 stopped nearly 155,000 pounds of garbage from flowing out to the ocean. … The Dutch nonprofit partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to introduce the interceptor in October. The system floats a few hundred yards from the outlet of Ballona Creek into the Pacific Ocean, its twin booms extended to the shoreline to funnel trash to a solar-powered system that lifts objects from the water with a conveyor belt and drops them into six dumpsters. The trash collects in the dumpsters and awaits manual removal.

Aquafornia news 12 News - Arizona

California’s been dumping tons of contaminated soil in Arizona

The Colorado River can be a magical line. By crossing the river near Parker, Arizona, the waste California considers hazardous becomes regular trash in Arizona. “Since 2018, California has taken more than 660,000 tons of contaminated soil and dumped it at regular landfills in Arizona,” CalMatters reporter Robert Lewis said. The organization broke the story in January after a months-long investigation into how California disposed of its toxic waste. … California’s environmental standards are more stringent compared to the federal government. Under state law, these toxic materials are supposed to be disposed of in landfills specifically meant to handle hazardous materials.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

Long Beach may look for ways to hold upriver areas accountable when sewage spoils beaches

As temperatures reached the 80s and people flocked to the shore for beach cleanups on Earth Day last month, an order to stay out of the water dampened what could have been a very busy beach weekend after months of wet weather in Long Beach. The beach closure was prompted by the second sewage spill of 2023 that resulted in 250,000 gallons of raw sewage entering the Los Angeles River near Downey and making its way toward Long Beach where the river’s mouth dumps its contents into the ocean. The spill was attributed to a temporary blockage from maintenance crews from the Los Angeles County Sanitation District.

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

From peak to tap – should we worry about microplastics in our drinking water?

This winter was one for the books. With record-breaking low temperatures and a stream of atmospheric rivers, snow came to parts of California that rarely see it. That added up to a huge amount of snowfall for the Sierra Nevada mountains, where much of the Bay Area’s drinking water comes from. Now, as all that snow melts and makes its way downhill, flooding is a major concern. But another concern has to do with what that snowmelt is bringing with it. We sent KALW environment reporter Joshua Sirotiak up to the mountains to find out what researchers are looking for in our drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Hill

EPA must regulate rocket fuel chemical in drinking water after Trump, Biden declined: court

A federal court on Tuesday tossed out a decision from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to regulate a chemical used in rocket fuel in drinking water. The Trump administration decided in 2020 not to regulate a chemical called perchlorate that can interfere with thyroid function and may harm fetal brain development. The Biden administration upheld that decision last year. But, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., reversed the decision on Tuesday. The opinion of the three-judge panel, authored by David Sentelle — a Reagan administration appointee — argued that the Safe Drinking Water Act did not give the EPA the authority to reverse a 2011 decision in favor of issuing drinking water standards for perchlorate.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Fire retardant kills fish. Is it worth the risk?

On a hot, dry August day in 2002, air tankers swooped over a small wildfire south of Bend, Oregon. The Forest Service hoped to suppress the flames by dropping over a thousand pounds of fire retardant on and around the fire — but the pilots missed. Instead, the neon-red liquid cascaded into the nearby Fall River, a tributary of the Deschutes. Soon after, at least 22,000 trout died — virtually all the fish living in a six-mile stretch. … In a suit filed in Montana’s Federal District Court last October, FSEEE argued that fire retardant is a pollutant, so the Forest Service needs a Clean Water Act permit if it flows into waterways.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

US food pesticides contaminated with toxic ‘forever chemicals’ testing finds

Some of the United States’ most widely used food pesticides are contaminated with “potentially dangerous” levels of toxic PFAS “forever chemicals”, new testing of the products finds. The Environmental Protection Agency has previously been silent on PFAS in food pesticides, even as it found the chemicals in non-food crop products. The potential for millions of acres of contaminated food cropland demands swifter and stronger regulatory action, the paper’s authors say. … The groups last Monday submitted the test results to the EPA and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, asking them to remove these products from use until contamination can be addressed.

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Aquafornia news Wired

Yet another problem with recycling: it spews microplastics

The plastics industry has long hyped recycling, even though it is well aware that it’s been a failure. Worldwide, only 9 percent of plastic waste actually gets recycled. In the United States, the rate is now 5 percent. Most used plastic is landfilled, incinerated, or winds up drifting around the environment.  Now, an alarming new study has found that even when plastic makes it to a recycling center, it can still end up splintering into smaller bits that contaminate the air and water. This pilot study focused on a single new facility where plastics are sorted, shredded, and melted down into pellets. Along the way, the plastic is washed several times, sloughing off microplastic particles—fragments smaller than 5 millimeters—into the plant’s wastewater. 

Aquafornia news Food First Ingredients

Blog: Pesticides face fresh scrutiny as activists find Californian crops soaked in “forever chemicals”

Widely used insecticides and pesticides in California, US, contain high levels of chemicals that are contaminating millions of acres of farmland, according to the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used most abundantly in California’s Central Valley on crops such as almonds, grapes, peaches and pistachios. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they “do not break down in the environment” and are associated with immune system suppression, liver damage, thyroid disease, reduced fertility, high cholesterol, obesity and cancer, according to the study’s authors.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: California looks to expand regulation of microplastics and PPD derivatives

California has begun the public process for a potential regulatory proposal expanding the list of chemicals that may be regulated under its Safer Consumer Products Program (SCP). The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, has proposed adding microplastics and para-Phenylenediamine (PPD) derivatives to its Candidate Chemicals List (CCL) in an attempt to control their impact on human health and the environment. PPD derivatives are a family of chemicals used in a variety of industrial applications. The only PPD derivative currently on the CCL is 6PPD, a substance used to prevent deterioration of motor-vehicle tires but that has also been found to hurt certain species of salmon when it transforms into a toxicant known as 6PPD-quinone.

Aquafornia news American Bar Association

Blog: California tackles plastic pollution at the source

In 2022, California took a bold step to address plastic pollution by enacting the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (Senate Bill (SB) 54), which dramatically overhauls how single-use packaging and single-use plastic foodware will be offered for sale, sold, distributed, and imported in the state, and tackles plastic pollution at the source.  The problem with plastic An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment each year with devastating consequences for the ocean ecosystem. Everywhere we look, we find plastic; it is in our land, water, air, food, and even in our bodies. And the problem is expected to get worse as the production and use of single-use plastic has skyrocketed over the last decade. 

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Study: Central Valley’s private wells at risk of manganese contamination

A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology estimates that thousands of private well users in the Central Valley could be extracting contaminated water. The study estimates a 0.7 percent chance users of a domestic well in the Tulare Lake hydrologic region, which includes Hanford, would draw water above the Environmental Protection Agency’s secondary maximum contaminant level for manganese.  According to Samantha Ying, principal investigator of the study and assistant professor of Soil Biochemistry at the University of California Riverside, manganese, a mineral naturally found in groundwater, can have serious effects on health. This is particularly true for babies and children.

Aquafornia news Center for Biological Diversity

Blog: High levels of dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ found in california’s most-used insecticide

California’s most-used insecticide, along with two other pesticides, is contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of PFAS “forever chemicals,” according to test results released today by the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Intrepid 2F is the most widely applied insecticide product in the state of California and the second most widely used pesticide product in the state, behind only Roundup. In 2021, the most recent year data are available, more than 1.7 million pounds of it were applied to over 1.3 million cumulative acres of California land. Use is highest in the Central Valley on crops such as almonds, grapes, peaches and pistachios.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Toxic trail of pollution’: states step up to curb the use of ‘forever chemicals’

Few chemicals have attracted as intense public and regulatory scrutiny as PFAS, but even as the highly toxic and ubiquitous compounds’ dangers come into sharper focus, industry influence has crippled congressional attempts to pass meaningful consumer protections. Federal bills designed to address some of the most significant sources of exposure – food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, clothing, textiles, cookware and firefighting foam – have all failed in recent sessions. However, a patchwork of state laws enacted over the last three years is generating fresh hope by prohibiting the use of PFAS in those and other uses. 

Aquafornia news Spectrum News

Robots deployed to fight toxic algae

Scientists at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering (USC Viterbi) are using robotics to spot toxic algae blooms. Students programmed aquatic robots to track down prime locations for toxic algae. Their programming instructs the robots to detect harmful agal blooms (HAB) in lakes and other bodies of water from exploding and polluting our water supply. … According to the Centers for Disease Control in 2020, 13 states reported 227 harmful algal blooms (HAB). 95 people have gotten sick from them and one person died associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Ninth Circuit drains $48 million judgment over city’s polluted water supply

A unanimous Ninth Circuit panel ruled Friday there isn’t enough evidence to support a $48 million award for the city of Pomona, California, in its lawsuit against a Chilean fertilizer manufacturer that polluted the city’s drinking water system decades ago.   The lawsuit against brought against SQM North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile found that the company’s sodium nitrate fertilizer used in citrus orchards around Pomona between the 1930s and 50s polluted the city’s drinking water system, including with a contaminant called perchlorate. Perchlorate interferes with the production of thyroid hormones, an important part of the development and function of tissues in the body, and can cause serious health issues, especially in developing fetuses, kids, and pregnant women.  

Aquafornia news NPR

A water rights treaty between India and Pakistan is now in jeopardy

Ships once sailed the broad and wide Ravi. Hindu and Muslim saints lived by the banks and people still worship at shrines built in their honor. But the river flowing past Madhu is not the Ravi of history. It is now a stinking, dirty ribbon flowing between dusty banks, a dump for industry, agriculture and sewage, one of the world’s most polluted bodies of water. Environmentalists and activists alike say a treaty is partly to blame for killing the Ravi: the Indus Waters Treaty between Pakistan and India, signed in 1960….one water expert suggested that a new river water treaty could be negotiated “in line with emerging trends of sustainability and environmental protection and restoration of degraded ecosystems.”

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

City receives $1.26M for microplastic pollution research

The City of Santa Barbara has received a $1.26 million grant to research microplastic pollution prevention, with the goal of providing clean streets, clean air and clean seas. The city’s Sustainability & Resilience Department announced Friday that its Creeks Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Division, in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant Program, was awarded the grant. Microplastics are small plastic pieces or fibers smaller than 5mm in size (about the size of a pencil eraser). They are found on our streets, in our creeks and ocean, the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe.  Microplastics can absorb and carry pollutants, leach harmful chemicals into water and are often mistaken for food by wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Fox 5 - San Diego

Imperial Beach sewage: Mayor Paloma Aguirre wants state of emergency declared due to pollution from Mexico

The city of Imperial Beach is asking the U.S. Department of State to declare a state of emergency over ongoing pollution coming from south of the border, in particular raw sewage. Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre says the bacteria levels in the water along are at “astronomical” levels and have led to consistent beach closures since Dec. 2021.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: Ban on fire retardant to limit water pollution? Not so fast.

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. A federal court case with this concern at its center is now unfolding in Montana, one that fire officials warn has grim implications for California’s ability to fight the massive forest blazes that have become far more common…. At issue is the government’s use of aerial fire retardant … The group that filed suit, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, says this breaks federal clean water laws because the toxic red slurry that’s used can foul waterways. But instead of working with U.S. agencies to develop a plan to quickly clean up waterways after fire retardant is used, the group seeks an injunction blocking its use until authorities get a pollution permit — which could take years.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado leaders are rallying against a railway project that would carry crude oil along the Colorado River

A railway project in Eastern Utah is drawing significant pushback in Colorado as elected officials voice concerns about crude oil risks to the Colorado River, which is the West’s primary freshwater river.  The Uinta Basin Railway project would build around 80 miles of train tracks connecting oil production to America’s rail network. That would allow producers to ship crude oil on trains through Colorado to refineries elsewhere in the country. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the United States Department of Agriculture have given the project the go-ahead, prompting a letter from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse criticizing the federal review of the project. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

Blog: New science informs extent of hexavalent chromium groundwater plumes in Hinkley Valley

The USGS report, commissioned by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, showed how the valley’s geology affected background hexavalent chromium concentrations in groundwater. Hexavalent chromium occurs naturally in groundwater in the Mojave Desert. Concentrations increased in Hinkley Valley beginning in 1952 when the Pacific Gas and Electric Company discharged it into unlined ponds. From there, hexavalent chromium entered the aquifer. Once in the ground, a plume of hexavalent chromium traveled with groundwater away from the Hinkley compressor station into Hinkley Valley.  

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:

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

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

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

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

Western Water Jenn Bowles Jennifer Bowles

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pesticide Contamination

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

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

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

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Coliform Bacteria

Coliform Bacteria as Indices

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

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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.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource
Published 2007

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


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

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


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

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


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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


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

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


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

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


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

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


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

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


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

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

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

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


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater
Published 2013

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

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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.

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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.