The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has committed $8
million toward the restoration of Baldwin Lake, a severely
polluted body of water that is the centerpiece of the county
Arboretum visited by 400,000 people annually, officials said.
Fires like the one that razed Paradise in November burn
thousands of pounds of wiring, plastic pipes and building
materials, leaving dangerous chemicals in the air, soil and
water. Lead paint, burned asbestos and even melted
refrigerators from tens of thousands of households only add to
the danger, public health experts say.
An increasing number of solutions to California and Arizona’s
long-term water problems now involve Mexico. Some of the ideas
are seemingly far-fetched, like a pipeline to bring water from
the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea in Imperial County.
Some are already happening, like Mexico agreeing to reduce its
water use in the event of a Colorado River shortage. … That
stands in contrast not only to recent threats by President
Donald Trump to shut down the border, but some existing water
How can state and federal agencies help California’s largest
agricultural region address its difficult water management
problems? This was the theme of an event last week that brought
together PPIC experts with top officials working on issues
related to water, agriculture, and natural resources.
California has until recently lagged behind other states when
it comes to tackling the myriad problems posed by one group of
chemicals found with increasing frequency in drinking water
systems nationwide. A sweeping new bill requiring testing for
the whole group of chemicals, rather than a few, would help
Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday
that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and,
essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get
worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel
joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy
groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva,
D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help
the government meet its obligations under legal settlements
over water-rights issues.
Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage
pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines —
shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was
billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will
include a host of other binational issues, including climate
change and commerce.
His departments and agencies have moved to weaken or eliminate
dozens of protections, and the rollbacks are coming so fast
it’s not always possible for the state to keep up. It’s not for
lack of trying. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control
Board approved new standards to protect California’s wetlands
and seasonal streams and ponds that are slated to lose their
current federal protection under the Clean Water Act as part of
the Trump administration’s rollbacks.
A fierce battle by Berkeley firefighters to prevent a gas-tank
explosion succeeded in averting a potential disaster this week
— but an apparently deadly aftereffect is that hundreds of fish
were killed when water and retardant foam from the firefight
flowed into a nearby stream.
A Geyserville property owner who launched a medical cannabis
farm has agreed to pay $245,000 in fines and penalties for what
Sonoma County prosecutors said was improper water diversion,
unpermitted grading and site work that harmed streams in the
Russian River watershed.
In an era of high population growth and sprawling urban and
wildland development, fire and flood disaster officials have to
plan in advance for post-fire problems… One strategy
California and Colorado are working on is to build political
alliances that combine forestry, water and land issues so that
lawmakers at the state and even the federal level are provided
with a more powerful, holistic view of the problems.
As Secretary, Jared Blumenfeld oversees the state’s efforts to
fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate
pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling
and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice.
… Blumenfeld joined TPR for an exclusive interview to discuss
the administration’s priorities…
The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house.
Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor
will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win
passage of any tax increase.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party
donor, took a break from trying to impeach President Donald
Trump on Friday to visit the eastern Coachella Valley and learn
about the water quality issues plaguing the region’s residents.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants to create a tax
on water customers to fund a safe drinking water program in
disadvantaged communities. But a rival proposal by a lawmaker
from his own party seeks to tap into the state’s record budget
Several San Diego political and business leaders headed to
Mexico City Sunday to advocate for free trade and increased
infrastructure spending in Tijuana to stop sewage spills from
polluting local beaches.
Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a
former lobbyist and frequent foe of California
environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next
secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power
to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far
more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last
two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of
Kevin Phillips looked out at a crowd of some 700 people, most
of them his customers, and delivered a painful message that
many had heard before from varying sources. But to get
confirmation from the Paradise Irrigation District manager that
it may take two to three years to get the town’s water
infrastructure back up and running at full capacity still sent
shock waves through the large auditorium.
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission is one step closer
to a decision on whether to approve ERG’s oil drilling and
production plan. It would include developing and operating more
than 200 new oil production wells in the Cat Canyon area. At
recent planning commission meetings, dozens of people have
shown up both in support and opposition to the project.
Supporters say it will increase jobs in the area, while
opponents express concern for the environment.
Too often considered a problem confined to the Central Valley
and agricultural communities, the fact is that lack of access
to safe, clean drinking water in school water fountains and
home faucets affects every region of our state. This is a
situation Gov. Gavin Newsom has rightly called a “disgrace” and
has made it a priority to fix the crisis. In this life-saving
endeavor, he has the support of Silicon Valley’s most
Bay Area anglers say they are pleased California State Parks is
drastically reducing the number of sites treated with
pesticides on the grass and weed-choked Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta. … The move to reduce spraying and pelleting on
parts of the Delta this year comes in the wake of last year’s
increased use of pesticides that anglers’s claim wiped out the
weeds, but also killed dozens of beavers, fish, turtles and
Russian River environmental watchdog Brenda Adelman accepted a
water stewardship award from California’s North Coast Regional
Water Quality Control Board last month in a ceremony at NCRWQCB
headquarters in Santa Rosa.
For the second time in two months, officials had to stop
diverting river water into Lake Casitas this week when several
feet of sandy muck got in the way. … Officials blamed the
Thomas Fire, which burned much of the area upstream in December
2017. When rain slammed into scorched hillsides, debris
and sediment came down the river.
This is a very worthy cause. But needed improvements can easily
be paid for with the state’s multibillion-dollar budget surplus
or with the billions in approved state water bonds. Imposing a
first-ever tax on something as basic as water is a horrible
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will
introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in
order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of
those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To
learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy
director at the Community Water Center.
This may be the bleakest shoreline in the Bay Area, and it
isn’t just the industrial infrastructure that gives character
to this place. Floating trash has collected along the docks,
and the waters are contaminated by the loading and unloading of
vast amounts of fossil fuels. A sign posted to a piling warns
fishers not to eat anything they catch here.
“The community is miserably divided,” said Napa County
Supervisor Diane Dillon during a meeting on Tuesday. Dillon and
her four fellow board members were tasked with crafting and
approving the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance, a
controversial new law that seeks to conserve trees and forested
areas while improving water quality for the many creeks that
feed the Napa River.
The California Department of Conservation (DOC) announced late
last week that eight organizations have received a total of
$1.85 million in grants to hire watershed coordinators to help
in building local capacity to improve forest health. … Areas
identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection as being most at risk of catastrophic wildfires were
given priority for the grants.
The Paradise Irrigation District outlined plans to flush
volatile and toxic compounds from the city’s water system after
the Camp Fire… Paradise Irrigation District Manager Kevin
Phillips … said more than 90 percent of the pipeline
depressurized and created a vacuum, which sucked in toxic
particulates and heat. He said the initial, immediate response
was to re-pressurize the system — which ultimately took more
than two months to accomplish…
An interview with Don Hankins, professor of geography and
planning at Chico State and a Plains Miwok traditional cultural
practitioner. He has spent his academic career working on water
and fire issues in California, with a focus on applied
traditional Indigenous stewardship.
Paradise Irrigation District general manager Kevin Philips
reiterated to the board of directors on Wednesday night that
the water is clean as is the water coming from the water
treatment plant. … “What we are doing is pulling meters
because we feel meters could have been one of the leading
criteria to the contamination. Plastic meters that got heated
Chinook spawned here historically, but in 1957 Putah Creek was
dammed near Winters to divert water for Solano County. After
that, hardly any salmon made their way up the creek. Then a
lawsuit in the 1990s — and resulting restoration project —
finally gave the fish what they needed to return after all
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed
all departments to stop using a popular weed killer until more
is known about its potential health and environmental effects.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended the moratorium on
glyphosate — a main ingredient in the herbicide brand Roundup.
He announced Wednesday his plans to charge water customers an
extra amount ranging from 95 cents to $10 a month — money that,
combined with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer
sellers, he projects would raise $140 million a year that could
be put toward testing wells, aiding public water systems and
treating contaminated water. The amount paid would depend on
the size of one’s water meter.
SDSU researchers examine the effects of shrinking water
supplies in the Imperial-Mexicali Valley: The problems there
are as old as the urbanization of Southern California:
insufficient water to meet community demands and ecosystem
needs. The solutions, which could figure into future
policy-making, are both increasingly high-tech and surprisingly
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler
says that unsafe drinking water — not climate change — poses
the greatest and most immediate global threat to the
environment. In his first network interview since his
confirmation last month, Wheeler told CBS News chief Washington
correspondent Major Garrett that while the administration is
addressing climate change, thousands are dying everyday from
unclean drinking water.
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to charge California water customers up
to $10 per month to help clean up contaminated water in
low-income and rural areas, but he will face resistance from
some legislative Democrats hesitant to impose new taxes. …
Newsom wants to combine it with fees on animal farmers, dairies
and fertilizer sellers to raise about $140 million per year.
Another group of top state officials visited the Salton Sea
this week to promise that this time, things will be different
and progress will be made to restore the fast-drying water
body. … Newly appointed water board chairman E. Joaquin
Esquivel, who grew up in nearby La Quinta and fished in the
lake as a boy, said he shares residents’ and longtime
experts’ frustrations, and feels personally accountable to
family members who still live in the area, as well as the
communities around the lake.
Butte County Health Officer, Dr. Andy Miller, issued a water
quality advisory on Tuesday for people living in the Camp Fire
affected areas. Miller urges people not to drink or boil tap
water. According to a press release, the health department says
that “Information from water authorities indicates the
possibility that contamination may be present in home plumbing
systems, and therefore, residents should not rely on home water
filtration systems as they may not be adequate to provide
Here in California, the San Joaquin Valley is a hot spot for
unsafe drinking water. The region has more than half of all
public water systems that are out of water-quality compliance
in California, but just 10% of the state’s population. … We
talked to Veronica Garibay—co-founder and co-director of the
Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability—about ways to
ensure community involvement in water management
The California State Water Resources Control Board will soon
issue orders to owners and operators of more than a thousand
facilities in California requiring investigation and sampling
for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known by the acronym
PFAS. … PFAS are a class of chemicals widely used in consumer
products for their grease- and stain-resistant properties,
including nonstick products, carpeting, furniture, and makeup.
Environmental groups and local residents are sounding alarms
that proposed drilling projects would triple onshore oil
production in Santa Barbara County — to which the oil industry
says, “What’s wrong with that?”
Manteca is preparing to spend $14.3 million to make sure ground
water from five wells meet higher standards implemented by the
state of California when it comes to acceptable levels of
1,2,3-Trichloroprane — a Shell Oil and Dow Chemical product
used in certain soil fumigants area farmers used between 1950
and 1980 — that is found in drinking water.
Mercury mines were once a critical player in San Luis Obispo
County’s economy. They helped keep America’s economy running —
playing a part in everything from the California Gold Rush to
World War II. One SLO County mine even helped establish Cambria
as a city, back in the 19th century. Now that mine, as well as
many others, are hiding in plain sight.
As an uncontrollable wildfire turned the California town of
Paradise to ash, air pollution researcher Keith Bein knew he
had to act fast: Little is known about toxic chemicals released
when a whole town burns and the wind would soon blow away
evidence. He drove the roughly 100 miles to Paradise … only
to be refused entrance under rules that allow first responders
and journalists – but not public health researchers – to cross
One way or another, $53 million of Utahns’ money soon may get
sunk into a deep-water export terminal on the West Coast in an
effort to shore up the state’s fading coal industry. On Monday,
a Senate panel advanced a bill that would transfer a special
fund to the Utah Office of Energy Development… That fund was
set up to legitimize a $53 million CIB loan that four
coal-producing counties hoped to invest in a controversial
export terminal under development in Oakland, Calif.
The water within the Paradise Irrigation District is clean. The
trouble is, the infrastructure within the district may not be,
according to Paradise Irrigation District’s Kevin Phillips.
“The water is clean but some of the pipes are contaminated,
that’s why (contamination) is so random,” he said. “One service
line can be contaminated, but the one next door isn’t. If the
water were contaminated, then it would be everywhere.”
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders
came together March 7 to examine the challenges and
opportunities associated with providing California residents
and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water.
Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of
the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields
urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly
complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying
A project offering to triple Santa Barbara County’s oil
production continues stirring debate. Environmentalists believe
a proposal to add dozens of oil wells in Cat Canyon could
trigger the next oil spill and contaminate the Santa Maria
Groundwater Basin, while supporters insist it would boost the
local economy by adding jobs and tax revenue.
Environmental groups Monday asked a federal appeals court to
reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile
removal plan for four dams on the Klamath River in California
and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens
of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.
A central tension for Paradise in the coming months is the
health of the water system. … The fire, however, unleashed
benzene and other volatile chemicals into the water system. The
chemicals are not in the water coming from the treatment plant.
They’re in the pipes beneath the town. The Paradise Irrigation
District is the utility that serves Paradise. It’s trying to
isolate the contamination in the system, but turning water on
to returning residents makes that process even harder.
A proposal to add 187 new steam-injected oil wells and a new
natural gas pipeline in West Cat Canyon will be considered by
the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it meets
Wednesday in Santa Maria. Project opponents have said they
intend to stage a demonstration outside and speak against the
project that would have significant impacts on biological,
surface water and groundwater resources and would increase
noise, according to the environmental impact report.
The federal government issued the final permit Friday allowing
the Rosemont Mine to be built despite written EPA warnings that
the mine will pollute surface water and shrink, if not dry up,
two nationally important streams. … The EPA’s regional office
also warned that the mine’s cutoff of stormwater flows into
neighboring streams and its groundwater pumping will
significantly degrade federally regulated water bodies.
The Trump administration released its 2020 budget request on
Monday, proposing major cuts to federal government spending.
While the cuts are unlikely to become reality — Congress has
rejected many of Trump’s previous requests — the budget is an
important signal of the administration’s priorities and
suggests a major funding fight in October.
It’s a growing problem many say cannot be solved by
firefighters alone. Enter the Cal Poly W.U.I. F.I.R.E
Institute. It stands for the Wildland Urban Interface Fire
Information Research and Education Institute. Turner is working
with Cal Poly staff like forest management professor Chris
Dicus to create a collaborative space for research, training,
On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire
Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to
reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The
proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will
impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and
operate pipelines within California near environmentally and
ecologically sensitive areas
Between 2016 and 2018, Alexandra Weber, a freediver and student
at Cabrillo College, and her friends removed nearly 30,000 golf
balls from the Stillwater Cove region. She estimates 1 to
5 million golf balls have been lost to the environment since
1919, when Pebble Beach Golf Links began operation. …
Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, the Pebble Beach
Co. has made a five-year commitment to undertake a series of
organized golf ball cleanups.
Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled
for this time of year in Orange County, according to the
Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st
pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for
the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown,
Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by
an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all
of this winter’s rains.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the
controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection
Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few
recommended changes, but no sea change in direction.
Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some
warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will
hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect
drinking water and combat climate change.
A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in
Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site
exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by
environmentalists and the city’s mayor. The Environmental
Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month,
effectively removing one of several barriers to development of
the 1,400-acre Bayside property.
There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about the yin-yang
interaction between fire and water. Of particular interest is
better understanding how the heat intensity of wildfires
changes the the water content of burned soil. The science
behind such work is known as hydrology, which studies the
properties, distribution and circulation of water on or below
the earth’s surface.
When congress passed the CWA in 1972, they made it clear in
documents accompanying the legislation that they supported “the
broadest possible constitutional interpretation” of protected
waters of the United States.
California is battling federal authorities over how to clean up
a contaminated former nuclear research site near Simi Valley
that was also caught up in the flames of November’s Woolsey
Fire. The fire complicated cleanup efforts after burning large
portions of the site, scorching nearly 100,000 acres of land,
and destroying 1,643 buildings. The Santa Susana Field
Laboratory operated as a nuclear research and rocket test
facility on 2,850 acres from 1948 to 2006.
In November, a wall of flames fueled by dry forests and wooden
structures tore through this Sierra foothill town like the dogs
of Hell. … Beneath the blast furnace heat that incinerated
buildings and vehicles above ground, an intricate network of
drinking water pipes below the surface became so contaminated
with toxic chemicals that many are unusable. The extent of the
damage and exactly how the poisons accumulated in the pipes of
Paradise and in the smaller, neighboring districts served by
Del Oro Water Company is not known.
More than 300 communities across the state and one out of every
four schools in the Central Valley lack access to safe drinking
water, according to the state Water Board. … Responding to
the crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for a new water tax.
If the proposal passes, the levy will generate $110 million in
annual revenue. But some Californians – many working directly
with the state’s water authorities – oppose the plan. They say
there are better ways to raise the money needed than taxing tap
We love our Russian River for its eternal beauty, its nurturing
forces, its quenching properties, its recreation and play and
its renewing spirits. We love our river — except when we don’t.
And right now we are distraught over the destruction its
breached muddy torrents visited upon us yet again.
Cleaning up and protecting U.S. drinking water from a class of
toxic chemicals used in many household items could cost in the
tens of billions of dollars nationally, witnesses testified
Wednesday before a House panel urging the federal government to
move more quickly on the cleanup. … The compounds, called
perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have
been used for decades. Water sampling shows the contaminant …
has seeped into many public water systems in the United States
and globally, including around military bases and industries.
Residents of Allensworth, a historic town established by a
former slave, have struggled with clean water access for
decades. … The community’s water system comes from two
blended wells, serving 521 residents with 156 connections. A
chlorination process removes most harmful bacteria, but the
water still tests high for arsenic, a known carcinogen that
damages the kidneys.
One of the key challenges facing newly formed local government
agencies responsible for groundwater management is to establish
and implement quantitative metrics for sustainability. To help
local agencies do this, a new report from Water in the West
examines how four special districts in California have
used quantitative thresholds to adaptively manage groundwater.
These case studies provide valuable insights on the development
and implementation of performance metrics and will be important
in guiding local agencies.
EPA’s action plan on toxic chemicals found in drinking water
did not satisfy several states that plan to push forward with
their own policies. … So far, only New Jersey has a maximum
contaminant level, or MCL, for a chemical in the PFAS family.
Citing federal inaction, however, several states have stepped
up with their own plans to regulate types of PFAS, including
PFOA and PFOS. They include Alaska, California, Minnesota, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes
cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental
degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project
in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will
cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project
stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s
newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating
For years, firefighters and airfield crews trained to ward off
flames by spraying thousands of gallons of foam fire
suppressants, which eventually seeped into groundwater and
could threaten to contaminate the Columbia River and a well
field that supplies drinking water to the city of Portland.
Recent testing uncovered high levels of an unregulated class of
harmful chemicals at two different sites in Northeast
The results of testing 173 water samples were released at last
week’s board meeting of the Paradise Irrigation District and
revealed widespread contamination. Benzene, a known carcinogen,
was found in 32 percent of those samples, with an average level
of 27 parts per billion (the California drinking water standard
is 1 ppb). In the 35 samples that tested for additional
contaminants, over a dozen additional “volatile organic
chemicals” were found.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Andrew R. Wheeler to be the
administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, giving
oversight of the nation’s air and water to a former coal
lobbyist and seasoned Washington insider. … The vote, 52-47,
went mostly along party lines and underscored partisan
divisions over the Trump administration’s continued commitment
to repealing environmental regulations under Mr. Wheeler.
A Northern California river flooded 2,000 homes, businesses and
other buildings and left two communities virtual islands after
days of stormy weather, officials said Wednesday. The towns of
Guerneville and Monte Rio were hardest hit by water pouring
from the Russian River, which topped 46 feet (13 meters) late
Wednesday night. It hadn’t reached that level for 25 years and
wasn’t expected to recede again until late Thursday night.
A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation
program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands
several national parks and creates five new national monuments
has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently
reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which
supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across
the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could
not agree on language to extend it.
Follow along on our water tour of the Lower Colorado
River – and keep up with any of our
tours and events –
through our social media channels. We’ll post updates on our
Twitter account @WaterEdFdn about
people, issues and places as we travel along the Lower Colorado
River from Hoover Dam to the Coachella Valley Feb. 27 through
The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region
and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is in
a time of great change. The valley produces more than half of
the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated farming is the
region’s main economic driver and predominant water user.
Stress on the valley’s water system is growing. Local water
supplies are limited, particularly in the southern half of the
A judge sentenced a self-described “dirt broker” convicted last
week of illegal dumping in federally protected San Francisco
Bay wetlands to thirty months in prison, a U.S. Justice
Department spokesman said Monday. On Thursday, a jury convicted
Carmel resident James Lucero on three counts of unpermitted
filling of wetlands and tributaries, violating the Federal
Clean Water Act.
On their to-do list is determining how to spread costs from
wildfires in “an equitable manner” and considering whether the
state should create a special find to cover wildfire costs.
They face a tricky task with an array of competing interests,
chief among them how to balance wildfire costs between
utilities, their shareholders and their customers.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is researching how
cannabis cultivators who divert water from Mattole River
streams might be impacting the river’s fish and insect
populations… By fall 2019, the researchers will publish
findings on the full environmental effects of cannabis grows.
While the research is intended to “support efforts to
establish” sustainable cultivation levels, the study’s main
focus is analysis, said department representative Janice
Bill Smallman, an elected director of the San Lorenzo Valley
Water District board, apologized Monday for calling users of an
herbicide “probably gay.” Responding to a post about glyphosate
herbicides on online platform Nextdoor, Smallman wrote Saturday
that a recent water district ban on that class of product is
“leading by example, showing that anyone who uses this crap is
both really stupid and lazy, and probably gay.”
The new House of Representatives is rolling out its game plan
and strategies for the next two years, and it’s clear which
state holds the most clout: California. … California now has
more Democrats in the lower chamber than the entire
congressional delegations of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Washington combined. The state’s
power to shape the agenda goes beyond leadership. In the
environment and energy fields, 12 Californians are subcommittee
chairs and vice chairs.
Most of the active volcanoes lie in Northern California. The
report warns a future eruption would have far-reaching adverse
impacts on natural resources and infrastructure vital to the
state’s water, power, natural gas, ground and air
transportation and telecommunication systems.
A comprehensive bill addressing ocean concerns will call for
improving the quality of ocean water and wetlands, better
salmon habitats, and rules that would protect whales from being
hit by ships. … Other potential legislation ranges from
a move to end the practice of pumping treated sewage into the
ocean to a law that would eliminate most paper shopping
receipts to a smoking ban on all California state beaches.
Every day, millions of gallons of water loaded with
arsenic, lead and other toxic metals flow from some of the most
contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding
streams and ponds without being treated, The Associated Press
has found. That torrent is poisoning aquatic life and tainting
drinking water sources in Colorado, Montana, California,
Oklahoma and at least five other states.
Hoping to prevent another California utility from being driven
into bankruptcy by wildfires, state officials may create a new
kind of insurance fund to help cover costs from the
increasingly devastating disasters. … How it would work and
who would fund it remain unclear, but the bill envisions
electric utilities paying into the fund, while a leading
consumer group has suggested shifting the financial burden to
the property insurance market.
Three property owners in Shasta County face thousands of
dollars in fines due to violations involving cannabis grows.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued
the fines over water quality violations at two properties one
in Ono, the other near Cottonwood Creek.
After concluding Greka Energy improperly stored hazardous waste
at its facility near Santa Maria, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on Thursday ordered the company to conduct
sampling to determine whether its operations resulted in
contaminated local soil and groundwater.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s references to water in his first State of
the State address were brief and a bit patchy, but they were
enough to make fiercely competing factions each believe the new
governor had their backs. But water policy in California is
never that easy.
During the past two decades, the federal government’s spending
on sewer projects along the U.S.-Mexico border has declined
dramatically. The decrease in funding has left a long list of
needed sewer fixes unbuilt, while raw sewage and industrial
pollution have continued to pour into the New River, the
Tijuana River and other rivers that flow across the border.
Now, Congress has started to put more money toward combating
water pollution on the border.
Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry
from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s
increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of
a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is
often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water
law that will have major effects on water suppliers and
farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck”
approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.
The cheering is for a governor who has brought attention to a
problem that’s almost unfathomable in wealthy urban regions. No
Californian in 2019 should have to endure third-world
drinking-water conditions. But there’s ample reason to give the
governor the raspberries, too. That’s because Newsom’s solution
comes right out of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “you
never want a serious crisis go to waste” playbook.
Last July, career EPA officials were set to unveil their plan
to complete a long-awaited health review of the toxic metal
hexavalent chromium, but more than half a year later, the plan
is still under wraps … The setback — revealed in emails
obtained by E&E News — was part of a broader slowdown of
chemical reviews ordered by EPA leadership, according to an
Earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency released
its enforcement data for fiscal year 2018, and in many key
areas data continued to show a downward trend in the civil and
criminal punitive measures meted out to large polluters. And on
Tuesday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it
will hold a hearing next week to investigate the Trump EPA’s
“troubling enforcement record.”
In Paradise, California, thousands of residents are trying to
cope with disruption and displacement resulting from November’s
devastating Camp Fire. Children attend school in a repurposed
hardware store, where counselors try to help them manage their
trauma. Meanwhile, amidst millions of tons of toxic debris,
finding safe and stable housing is a challenge. Special
correspondent Cat Wise reports.
Environmental groups, states, industry and conservatives are
watching the case closely, as its outcome could clarify or
narrow EPA’s historical interpretation of the types of
pollution discharges covered by the Clean Water Act. “This is
the most significant environmental law case in the last few
years,” said Beveridge & Diamond PC attorney John Cruden,
former head of the Justice Department’s environment division.
The majority of L.A. County water systems serve fewer than
10,000 customers. Taken together, small water systems reach
more than 250,000 L.A. County residents. As my co-authors and I
detail in a new UCLA Law report, the two greatest challenges
these systems face are contaminated groundwater sources and
underfunding. Across L.A. County, more than 900,000
people depend on groundwater that has been contaminated by
industrial pollutants, agricultural products, or naturally
occurring elements before it is treated.
As awful as the constant spills from Tijuana’s broken sewage
infrastructure have been for the Tijuana River and the San
Diego County-Baja California coast, new information suggests
they’re an even scarier health threat than previously thought.
A controversial oilfield wastewater disposal operation east of
Bakersfield has been shut down amid a years-long regulatory
crackdown and opposition by environmental activist
organizations. The Jan. 3 closure … puts an end to a
practice regional water quality regulators say threatened to
foul Bakersfield’s water supply through a slow process of
Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain
traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140
million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of
it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for
low-income communities without the means to finance operations
and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money
to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state
Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.
There may be more in the sewage-tainted water that regularly
spills over the border from Tijuana than many San Diegans
realize. The cross-border pollution also contains potentially
dangerous industrial and agricultural chemicals, according to a
draft report compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection
that was circulated to officials throughout the region on
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday unveiled what
officials called a historic effort to rein in a class of
long-lasting chemicals that scientists say pose serious health
risks. But environmental and public health groups, some
lawmakers and residents of contaminated communities said the
agency’s “action plan” isn’t aggressive enough and that the EPA
should move more quickly to regulate the chemicals in the
nation’s drinking water.
Valley Water Management Company, a non-profit company that
disposes of wastewater for dozens of oil operators in
California, has halted discharges at two facilities where
environmentalists say wastewater contaminated groundwater
resources. The closure stems from a lawsuit filed by Clean
Water Action, the Center for Environmental Health, and the
grassroots group Association of Irritated Residents in 2015
Felicia Marcus, whose push for larger river flows angered
farmers and community leaders in the Northern San Joaquin
Valley, won’t continue as chairwoman of the State Water
Resources Control Board. Gov. Gavin Newsom named Joaquin
Esquivel as chairman of the powerful water regulatory board.
… Laurel Firestone, co-founder of the Community Water
Center, was appointed as the replacement for Marcus.
… Firestone has been an advocate for addressing wells
contaminated with nitrates.
Cove, which is launching later this month, is packaged in a
bottle made from a biopolymer called PHA. If the bottle
ends up in a compost bin or landfill–or even the ocean–it will
fully biodegrade. … The company, which is a public
benefit corporation, has guidelines that say it won’t source
from areas that are currently in a drought.
Connie Bakken opened her bedroom window Sunday morning and
didn’t quite believe her eyes. Bakken lives in a Rancho
Bernardo home that overlooks a creek just west of Matinal
Circle. What she saw – the creek where she loves to watch
turtles and crabs live naturally turn into a deep, unnatural
For generations, residents of the Southern California border
town of Calexico watched with trepidation as their river turned
into a cesspool, contaminated by the booming human and
industrial development on the other side of the border in
Mexico. As Washington debates spending billions to shore
up barriers along the 2,000-mile southwest border, many
residents in California’s Imperial Valley feel at least some of
that money could be spent to address the region’s public health
About 1 million Californians can’t safely drink their tap
water. Approximately 300 water systems in California
currently have contamination issues ranging from arsenic to lead
to uranium at levels that create severe health issues. It’s a
disgrace that demands immediate state action.
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.
San Diego County has agreed to pay nearly $700,000 for a
pipeline rupture that dumped raw sewage into a San Diego River
tributary. The spill sent about 760,000 gallons of sewage into
Los Coches Creek in February and March 2017, violating the
federal Clean Water Act, among other state and federal rules.
State water quality officials cautioned the public not to drink
or cook with untreated surface water from streams throughout
the Camp Fire burn area after bacteria and other contaminants
were detected in water samples. … Laboratory analyses of
surface water samples found concentrations of bacteria
(E.Coli), aluminum, antimony and some polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs) that exceeded water quality standards for
A diver in California has stumbled on an unexpected source of
plastic waste in the ocean: golf balls. As the balls degrade,
they can emit toxic chemicals. And there appear to be lots of
them in certain places underwater — right next to coastal golf
courses. … Thus began a Sisyphean task that went on for
months: She and her father would haul hundreds of pounds of
them up, and then of course more golfers would hit more into
For decades, the New River has flowed north across the
U.S.-Mexico border carrying toxic pollution and the stench of
sewage. Now lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento are pursuing
legislation and funding to combat the problems. “I feel very
optimistic that we’re going to be able to get some things done
on the New River issue,” said Assemblymember Eduardo
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a
stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance
of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating
that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital
Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin
Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help
disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems.
Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,”
included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts
to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.
The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by
three environmental groups who allege its plans for the
200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
along the Oregon-California border violates several federal
laws. A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural
groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority
by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has spent
five years drafting a comprehensive update to 30 sections of
the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
guidelines. Several changes to the Guidelines address two
hot button topics: global climate change and statewide
affordable housing shortages. Many of the changes will
significantly alter the application of CEQA to future projects.
At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are
protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to
be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies
water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland.
And it could also be a landmark year for water management in
California, with several key issues coming to a head.
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, and as climate
change and other factors increase the frequency of fires, there
is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West —
and a lesser known risk to the region’s already endangered
water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in
the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.
At issue is the proper interpretation of the law’s central
provision barring the discharge of “any pollutant to navigable
waters from any point source” without a permit. The term
navigable waters, broadly defined as “waters of the United
States,” does not generally include groundwater.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a
scoping report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas
development on approximately 400,000 acres of BLM-administered
public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate
lands on tribal and privately held lands in Fresno, Kern,
Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and
Calls for the federal government to regulate polyfluoroalkyl
and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been unsuccessful.
Last year the Trump administration tried to block a study
urging a much lower threshold of exposure. Harvard
University researchers say public drinking-water supplies
serving more than 6 million Americans have tested for the
chemicals at or above the EPA’s threshold — which many experts
argue should be far lower to safeguard public health.
D.C. banned plastic straws in restaurants and other businesses
effective Jan. 1, 2019, becoming the second major U.S. city to
do so. Seattle made the change six months
ago. Worldwide, it’s estimated that straws
account for about 4 percent of plastic pollution found in
oceans by volume, but less than 1 percent by weight.
Some drinking-water wells on the northeast side of Madera
are being idled or abandoned because of fluctuating water
levels and significant plumes of groundwater contamination by
the agricultural chemical DBCP, a powerful pesticide suspected
to cause sterility and cancer.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships
among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring
water quality within California and throughout the Southwest
and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the
Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US
Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
The tenth annual performance report evaluates what the
state water boards do and how the environment is responding to
its actions. The report presents numerous performance
measures for specific outputs and outcomes.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control
Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four
hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River.
The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by
California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes,
water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the
basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust
responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s
farming and ranching heritage.
CANCELED: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold one hearing to
provide interested parties the opportunity to present data,
views, or information concerning the proposed rule changes
affecting wetlands and ephemeral waters.
A sewage spill that federal officials said started Monday night
south of the border continues to flood the Tijuana River with
millions of gallons of raw effluent. A ruptured collector pipe
in southeast Tijuana is leaking roughly 7 million gallons a day
of sewage into the river, according to the U.S. section of the
International Boundary and Water Commission.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States,
passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky
green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of
trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city
filled with factories that manufacture products from
electronics to auto parts.
The plumes of smoke from the fire, which has burned 141,000
acres in Northern California, get the most attention, but the
Camp Fire is leaving other environmental hazards in its wake:
toxic ash from burning homes, polluted water, and burning
Superfund sites. … “Anything that’s affecting the air
quality will eventually affect water quality,” Los Angeles
Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Reznik told Bloomberg
Upper Newport Bay will be the second spot in the nation to
install a water wheel that collects trash and debris from
upstream waterways. On Thursday, Oct. 25, Newport Beach Mayor
Duffy Duffield went to Santa Cruz and received a $1.7 million
grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to fund
the Newport Bay Water Wheel Project.
The EPA is pushing back its timetable for repealing a landmark
Obama-era waters jurisdiction rule by at least four months, a
move that could prolong the confusion about how and where to
implement it in the interim.
For the environmental advocacy group Surfrider, a plan to curb
the littering of cigarette butts began with energetic optimism.
It was 1992, and at the time, cigarette filters were the single
most frequently occurring item found in most beach cleanups – a
statistic the organization hoped to erase. … Mobilized
by water, wind and gravity, many or most eventually wind up in
streams and storm drains and, eventually, the ocean, where it’s
probable they are having a variety of negative impacts that
scientists are trying to understand.
San Diego joined 119 other California cities on Monday by
banning polystyrene food and beverage containers, which have
been blamed for poisoning fish and other marine life and
damaging the health of people who eat seafood. … Nearly
all national and regional restaurant chains long ago stopped
using polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam, in response to
lobbying by environmental groups and backlash from customers
concerned that foam isn’t biodegradable.
Hemet has filed a federal lawsuit against Dow Chemical and
Shell Oil seeking reimbursement for the cost of removing a
cancer-causing chemical from the city’s water wells. According
to its Sept. 21 suit, the contaminated wells have been tainted
by TCP, a “highly toxic substance” used until the 1980s to
fumigate soil where crops were grown.
Groundwater depletion is a big problem in parts of California.
But it is not the only groundwater problem. The state also has
many areas of polluted groundwater, and some places where
groundwater overdraft has caused the land to subside, damaging
roads, canals and other infrastructure. Near the coast, heavy
groundwater pumping has caused contamination by pulling
seawater underground from the ocean. But if you wanted to
obtain a permit from the state to manage these problems by
recharging groundwater, you could be out of luck.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has agreed to monitor and possibly
clean up any harmful pollution found in the San Francisco Bay
near the Marina and Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhoods to settle a
lawsuit over discharges from power plants a century ago.
The Sativa Water District, which faced criticism for its
handling of dirty water in Compton and Willowbrook, will be
under new control. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that
will require the California State Water Resources Control Board
to appoint an administrator to take control of the district.
Despite pleas for immediate action from Michigan and New
Hampshire residents who live in communities with
PFAS-contaminated groundwater, officials from multiple federal
agencies testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing that
regulatory responses and health studies will take years to
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed the nation’s
first state law barring dine-in restaurants from giving
customers plastic straws unless they are requested, saying
discarded plastic is “choking our planet.” Brown cited the
damage that discarded plastic has done to marine life and its
threat to human health.
As California begins handing out $2.5 billion in state funds
for several new water management projects, a shift is taking
place in the ways officials are considering storing water. To
contend with the likelihood of future extreme droughts, some of
these new strategies rely on underground aquifers — an approach
far removed from traditional dam-based water storage.
The Environmental Protection Agency is assessing the
vulnerability of at least 40 toxic waste sites that could be
damaged by Hurricane Florence in Virginia, North Carolina and
South Carolina. But that review does not include dozens of
inland Superfund sites that potentially could be flooded by the
storm’s fluctuating path.
The defunct Copper Bluff Mine in the Hoopa Valley area could be
added to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. “Though
the Copper Bluff Mine closed decades ago, it is still affecting
the Trinity River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the tribal
fishery,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional
Administrator Mike Stoker in a statement.
During the first 18 months of the Trump administration, records
show, nearly 1,600 workers left the EPA, while fewer than 400
were hired. The exodus has shrunk the agency’s workforce by
8 percent, to levels not seen since the Reagan
The Center for Biological Diversity’s suit in Kern County
Superior Court asserts the Central Valley Regional Water
Quality Control Board voted April 5 to allow the dumping to
continue indefinitely despite a staff report concluding the
practice contaminates local groundwater and makes it unsuitable
for agricultural and municipal use.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday
night against the Trump administration, alleging that the
federal government violated the Clean Water Act by allowing, in
recent years, millions of gallons of raw sewage, heavy metals
and other contamination to routinely spill from Tijuana into
Federal court judge Jeffrey T. Miller toured the Tijuana River
Valley for several hours on Tuesday to observe pumps and canyon
collectors along the border intended to prevent sewage from
spilling into San Diego. The unusual move comes as the result
of a contentious legal battle in which Miller must decide
whether the Trump administration is doing enough to stop sewage
that routinely pours into the United States from Mexico.
Nine of every 10 illegal marijuana farms raided in California
this year contained traces of powerful and potentially lethal
pesticides that are poisoning wildlife and could endanger water
supplies, researchers and federal authorities said Tuesday.
… California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who leads
the nation’s largest marijuana eradication program, said state
drug agents last week found gallons of carbofuran being added
to irrigation water at an illegal site in northwestern
Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and
oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what’s
out there. Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8
billion tons have been manufactured. And when it’s thrown away,
it doesn’t just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small
Lauren Woeher wonders if her 16-month-old daughter has been
harmed by tap water contaminated with toxic industrial
compounds used in products like nonstick cookware, carpets and
fast-food wrappers. … Tim Hagey, manager of a local
water utility, recalls how he used to assure people that the
local public water was safe. That was before testing showed it
had some of the highest levels of the toxic compounds of any
public water system in the U.S.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on
Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove
chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.
… As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the
past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in
sources of drinking water.
After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis
farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they
found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush.
The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit
farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the
Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water
Resources Control Board.
The lawyer nominated to run the Superfund toxic cleanup program
is steeped in the complexities of restoring polluted rivers and
chemical dumps. He spent more than a decade on one of the
nation’s most extensive cleanups, one involving Dow Chemical’s
sprawling headquarters in Midland, Mich.
The California company that sells Crystal Geyser bottled water
has been charged with illegally disposing of arsenic-tainted
wastewater, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The charges
don’t allege that CG Roxane LLC sold tainted water, but that it
illegally shipped and disposed of the toxic waste filtered from
The Trump administration on Wednesday eased rules for handling
toxic coal ash from more than 400 U.S. coal-fired power plants
after utilities pushed back against regulations adopted under
former President Barack Obama. … U.S. coal plants
produce about 100 million tons annually of ash and other waste,
much of which ends up in unlined disposal ponds prone to leak.
Andrew Wheeler, the new acting chief of the Environmental
Protection Agency, signaled a more inclusive approach at the
agency, telling staffers roiled by months of ethics allegations
against his predecessor, “You will find me and my team ready to
listen.” … When President Donald Trump called him last
week about the job change, the president told him to “clean up
the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief,”
Suction dredge mining, a practice in which individuals use
vacuum-like devices to extract minerals from the bottom of
waterways, has been restricted by a series of new laws passed
in the California State Legislature. Earlier this year, miners’
rights groups were optimistic that a bill authored by Sen. Jeff
Stone, R-Temecula, would narrow the scope of the
restrictions and allow them to apply for permits to return to
rivers and streams with their suction dredge equipment once
Coronado’s mayor flew to Oklahoma this week to talk with the
head of the Environmental Protection Agency about possible
solutions to the recurring Tijuana sewage spills that sully the
San Diego County coastline. Mayor Richard Bailey and
Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke one-on-one for about 20
minutes Tuesday during an annual meeting between leading
environmental experts and regulators from Mexico, the United
States and Canada.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is proposing
surrendering some of his agency’s veto power over waste
discharges near waterways by mining and development. In a memo
released Wednesday by the EPA, Pruitt directs the agency to
study renouncing part of its authority under the
half-century-old Clean Water Act to veto permits that the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers or states grant to allow dumping waste
The Trump administration has appointed Republican Mike Stoker
for the position [Environmental Protection Agency Region 9
administrator]. … KQED Science recently spoke with him
at his office in San Francisco. He said a top priority for him
is to deal with sewage pollution at the US-Mexico border.
[Mike] Stoker, who is in charge of enforcing federal
regulations in Region 9, covering California, Nevada, Arizona,
Hawaii and the Pacific islands, said his goals are in line with
those of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who recently released
a list of 21 Superfund sites targeted for immediate attention.
The list included two of the 111 sites in Region 9.
Legislation that creates a fund to help remove derelict
commercial vessels from the Delta passed the Assembly on
Wednesday. It was one of two bills authored by Assemblyman Jim
Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, to clear the Assembly and now heads
to the Senate for consideration.
The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost
nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug
cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest
in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water
out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said
More than half a dozen bills aimed at plastic pollution were
introduced in Sacramento this year alone — by both coastal
legislators and more moderate inland colleagues who see the
potential damage not just in oceans but also rivers, lakes and
the state’s water supply. No one, they said, wants to drink a
glass of water and wonder if they’re also downing a glass of
Last year, after more than 250 gallons of sewage spilled into
the Pacific Ocean from the Tijuana River, water pollution in
Imperial Beach became an international story. … Although the
spills have come to the forefront in the last few years, water
pollution has been part of Imperial Beach life for generations,
particularly for the surf community.
Soaring numbers of water systems around the country are testing
positive for a dangerous class of chemicals widely used in
items that include non-stick pans and firefighting foam,
regulators and scientists said Tuesday. The warnings, and
promises by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt
of official action to confront the related health risks, came
in a summit with small-town and state officials increasingly
confronting water systems contaminated by the toxic substances.
Journalists from CNN, the Associated Press and E&E News, a
publication that covers energy and environment issues, were
barred by the EPA from entering the event, which was focused on
harmful chemicals in water. A handful of other reporters from
other news organizations, however, were allowed inside the
event for Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been previously
invited by the agency the day before.
Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s plans to
eliminate ocean quality grants used by coastal communities to
determine whether the water poses a hazard to beach goers. The
EPA stopped requesting the $10 million in annual funds in 2013,
saying that states, counties and cities were adequately
equipped to continuing the monitoring on their own.
The state Attorney General has joined San Diego’s regional
water regulators in pressuring the White House to do more to
address sewage from Tijuana that routinely spills over the
border fouling beaches as far north as Coronado. The San Diego
Regional Water Quality Control Board, with the backing of
Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, on Monday filed a
60-day notice of intent to sue the federal government for
violations of the Clean Water Act.
When a contaminated aquifer in Orange County made U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s
list of top-priority sites for “immediate, intense action,” the
local water district was quick to highlight the announcement.
But questions of political favoritism are swirling over
Pruitt’s decision in December to prioritize cleaning the Orange
County North Basin groundwater pollution plume beneath Anaheim
and Fullerton using the federal Superfund program.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied the North Coast
Railroad Authority’s petition to take up a longstanding court
battle regarding plans to restore nearly 150 miles of railroad
to the North Coast. … In July 2011, two separate
environmental organizations — Californians for Alternatives to
Toxics and Friends of the Eel River — filed lawsuits in Marin
County challenging the railroad authority’s environmental
review of its restoration project.
The scandal involving cheating in the $1 billion cleanup at the
former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard has until now focused on
allegations of what was left behind at the site: radioactive
dirt dumped into trenches to save the time and expense of
testing and disposing of it properly. But former shipyard
employees and environmentalists say that toxic waste removed
from the site is of just as great a concern.
A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they
were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with
smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the
environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.
For decades, cannabis has been grown
in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously
harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in
suburban tract homes.
In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as
marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to
gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the
state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized
for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.
As we continue forging ahead in 2018
with our online version of Western Water after 40 years
as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also
got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.
State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing
up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and
combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish
and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps
unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved
Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if
anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that
marijuana was legal.
Battlefronts fell along party lines at a Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee hearing yesterday about whether EPA
should regulate pollutants that make it to surface water via
groundwater. … The hearing was the first since EPA requested
public comment on whether it should regulate such pollutants
earlier this winter. The input is due by May 21.
State lawmakers got the memo in advance. The theme of Earth Day
(Sunday, April 22) is “End Plastic Pollution,” but California
legislators are already on the case. Four years ago, they made
California the first state to ban single-use plastic grocery
sacks — and 52 percent of voters agreed with the law in a
A mining company accused the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency on Wednesday of failing to operate a treatment plant at
full capacity, allowing a huge volume of polluted mine
wastewater to reach a southwestern Colorado river.
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board members
voted Thursday to require an oil wastewater dump site operator
in McKittrick suspected of polluting nearby groundwater to
install a network of wells monitoring contamination. That falls
short of environmentalists’ demands for the board to shutter
Joaquin Esquivel learned that life is
what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public
member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in
Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington
D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a
year ago to fill the Board vacancy.
Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several
capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as
assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California
Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board,
he shares with four other members the difficult task of
ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water.
The problem with focusing on Trump’s pipe dream of a wall is
that real border problems that can actually be solved are being
ignored. The Tijuana River, for instance, which crosses the
international border before reaching the ocean on the U.S.
side, is said to be one of the most polluted waterways in the
A new study could help water
agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless
face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and
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
With health complaints continuing from Border Patrol agents who
work the polluted areas of the Tijuana River Valley, the
federal Customs and Border Protection agency is quietly trying
to solve some of the problems of toxic sewage flows from Mexico
— on its own.