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.
In the wake of rising outcry in San Diego of cross-border flows
of contaminated water, trash and sediment from Tijuana, Mexico
is moving ahead with a series of short-term upgrades to
Tijuana’s sewage collection and treatment system aimed at
preventing such incidents, and responding with greater speed
should they occur.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge led by
states and environmental groups to an Environmental Protection
Agency regulation that lets government agencies transfer water
between different bodies, such as rivers and lakes, without
needing to protect against pollution.
The new law marks the beach town’s latest move to crack down on
the distribution of single-use plastics. Malibu was early to
adopt a plastic shopping bag ban, passing an ordinance in 2008
to keep bags from drifting into the ocean and killing marine
It started a year ago when state investigators uncovered 86
drums holding thousands of gallons of hazardous waste illegally
buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard. … Soon,
authorities said, they discovered that officials running the
Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public
funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot
machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche
Besides challenging federal deregulation, the Bureau of
Environmental Justice will prioritize pollution cases that
threaten public health, [California Attorney General Xavier]
Becerra said. The attorneys will seek to compel businesses and
government agencies to clean contaminated drinking water,
reduce exposure to lead and other toxins and prevent illegal
waste discharges in communities burdened disproportionately by
Anchored in flood-prone areas in every American state are more
than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times
analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About
1,400 are located in areas at highest risk of flooding.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called on the Trump
administration Wednesday to help plug Tijuana’s rampant spills
of sewage and other polluted water, which routinely foul
beaches in San Diego and cause border patrol agents to fall
The text of the Clean Water Act trumped all of the government’s
arguments in the long-running fight over which courts have
jurisdiction over the Obama administration’s contentious water
rule. … The Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule aimed to
clarify which wetlands and streams receive automatic protection
under the Clean Water Act after years of confusion caused by
the infamously muddled 2006 Supreme Court Rapanos decision.
A top manager who supervises the Environmental Protection
Agency program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most
contaminated properties and waterways told Congress on Thursday
that the government needs to plan for the ongoing threat posed
to Superfund sites from climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency says an internal task force
appointed to revamp how the nation’s most polluted sites are
cleaned up generated no record of its deliberations. EPA
Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a
Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and
streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites.
For months, staffers in the Office of Water had been in
help-desk mode, fielding calls from states implementing a
federal rule that set new limits on water-borne pollution
released by coal-fired power plants. The rule on what is known
as “effluent” had been hammered out over a decade of scientific
study and intense negotiations involving utility companies,
White House officials and environmental advocates.
After combing through a decade’s worth of Pennsylvania birth
records, researchers have found that pregnant women living
within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were
25% more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than
were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke said nearly 80% of the
country’s forest system resides in the West. Tooke, who became
head of the agency in September, addressed the [Western
Governors Association] conference Friday and said that in the
years ahead his No. 1 goal is to increase efforts that prevent
wildfires and reduce community risks — such as mudslides and
contaminated water — from burn areas.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the United States Senate has
unanimously passed the Save Our Seas Act of 2017, which
would reauthorize the NOAA Marine Debris Program for five years
and encourage international cooperation to prevent and clean up
Pungent, sometimes toxic blobs are fouling waterways from the
Great Lakes to Chesapeake Bay, from the Snake River in Idaho to
New York’s Finger Lakes and reservoirs in California’s Central
Valley. … California last year reported toxic blooms in
more than 40 lakes and waterways, the most in state history.
Next time you spray Rover or Fluffy for fleas, you may be
harming San Francisco Bay. An insecticide found in commonly
used over-the-counter flea treatments like Frontline Plus and
Pet Armor appears to be washing down pet owners’ drains and
flowing through sewage treatment plants into the bay, new
Officials in Imperial Beach said Wednesday that sewage flowing
up the coast from Tijuana fouled miles of shoreline over the
weekend, severely sickening surfers and other beach goers.
Mayor Serge Dedina, who also fell ill, said he received no
advanced notice from officials in Mexico about the pollution.
At least one San Diego leader wants water researchers to start
testing city waterways for hepatitis A. Councilman David
Alvarez on Thursday penned a letter to the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project requesting that the
environmental research group start testing as many as a
half-dozen area waterways for the deadly liver infection.
Many of the more than one million Californians who live in
mobile home parks drink water that is more polluted and more
likely to be cut off than residents who get water from other
municipal utilities, according to the most detailed research to
date on water access in California trailer parks.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is
vowing to speed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites, part of a
shift away from climate change and toward what he calls the
“basics” of clean air and water. The EPA’s Superfund program
manages the cleanup of some of the most toxic waste sites —
Pruitt says the EPA will soon name a top 10 list of sites to
San Diego officials were informed repeatedly of the dangers of
disease-carrying runoff from homeless encampments into area
waterways, as far as a decade before the current hepatitis A
crisis spurred action.
It’s been thought for decades that stormwater runoff is the
major source of bacterial pollution in the county’s rivers,
bays and beaches — triggering swimming advisories up and down
the region’s shoreline for 72 hours after it rains. However,
the greatest source of dangerous pathogens flowing from these
urban waterways into the ocean may actually be coming from
Monte Rio Beach on the lower Russian River was declared safe
for swimming and was reopened to the public Wednesday, just in
time for a heat wave that’s expected to send temperatures back
toward the century mark this weekend.
Sonoma County health officials have closed Monte Rio Beach on
the Russian River to swimming, wading and other activities that
would put visitors in direct contact with the water because of
elevated bacterial levels in the wake of an extremely busy
The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama
administration policy that protected more than half the
nation’s streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers,
fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal
In the latest skirmish over transparency at the troubled
Oroville Dam, a Northern California activist group has sued
state officials alleging they’re illegally withholding
information about potentially toxic asbestos.
Five companies responsible for polluting the groundwater in the
San Gabriel Valley have agreed to continue cleanup for another
10 years, sparing 400,000 residents higher water bills, a state
agency announced Thursday.
Under the White House’s latest budget proposal, released
Tuesday, the EPA would fare worse than any other federal
agency. … The White House also proposes nearly halving
categorical grants, which support state and local efforts to
address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water
quality, to $597 million.
Environmentalists and public health advocates are going to
court to fight the Trump administration’s move to rewrite
Obama-era rules limiting water pollution from coal-fired power
plants. … The rule would have required utilities to cut
the amounts of toxic heavy metals in the wastewater piped from
their plants into rivers and lakes often used as sources of
The Trump administration got an earful Tuesday from people who
say federal rules limiting air and water pollution aren’t tough
enough, even as it was seeking suggestions about what
environmental regulations it should gut.
The conservative California farmers who have long sought to
eliminate the Legal Services Corp. would get their wish
fulfilled under the Trump administration’s bare-bones budget
outline made public Thursday.
Federal officials in the United States and Mexico announced on
Thursday a joint investigation into a sewage spill in the
Tijuana River that has polluted South County beaches as far
north as Coronado — and which now looks to have been
intentional as some elected leaders in San Diego suspected.
The Trump administration has delayed consideration of a
proposal to require companies to prove they have the financial
wherewithal to clean up polluted mining sites after a pushback
from industry groups and Western-state Republicans.
Customers will either have to bring their own bags or
buy a recycled paper bag or sturdier reusable plastic bag at
the store for at least 10 cents. Environmental groups say the
ban will help stem pollution and prevent sea animals from
eating or getting entangled in the flimsy plastic that drifts
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
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.
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.
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
Instead of working in her office at the Shasta-Trinity National
Forest, Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Swanson spent
Tuesday cleaning up after more than 1,000 college students who
trashed Slaughterhouse Island during a weekend boating trip.
University of Oregon students who said they wanted to clean up
the mess that classmates left at Shasta Lake last weekend
couldn’t do so because the site was too much of a biohazard
with feces and used condoms, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman
A campsite that offers a serene getaway by a California lake
was wrecked after about a thousand fraternity and sorority
members left a half-mile-wide swath of trash, empty bottles,
tents and coolers after an annual trip.
A University of Oregon fraternity was suspended after its
members allegedly trashed a campsite at Shasta Lake in
Northern California over the weekend, leaving behind piles of
litter, feces and beer bottles and abandoning
scores of tents.
Park rangers on their usual Sunday patrol at Lake Shasta
encountered a scene of carnage on Slaughterhouse Island — 90
tents, coolers still full of food and alcohol, sleeping bags
and yards and yards of garbage.
Student revelers on houseboats tied to Shasta’s Slaughterhouse
Island left big piles of trash in their wake — sparking online
condemnation that continued Tuesday to ripple across Facebook,
reddit and Instagram.
University of Oregon students got a viral black eye Monday when
photographs on social media revealed huge piles of trash — with
much “O”-branded paraphernalia included — strewn across
Slaughterhouse Island on Lake Shasta in Northern California.
… The university is investigating the situation and talking
with the landowner, which is the federal government.
Hidden in the brush of the Santa Fe Dam basin on the San
Gabriel River, the homeless camp was littered with heaps of
broken furniture, disgorged computers, bicycle frames,
televisions, disassembled motorcycles, pieces of exercise
machines, rotting food, empty containers and half-buried
As nations around the globe observe Earth Day, one of the most
daunting issues facing the world is the mounting waste problem,
which impairs public health, pollutes the environment and
threatens to drown some poor countries in toxicity.
… Pollution runs into rivers and seeps into ground
Since millions of gallons of mining waste burst from an inland
iron ore mine a month ago, 300 miles of the Rio Doce stretching
to the Atlantic Ocean has turned a Martian shade of bright
orange, and the deadly consequences for residents and wildlife
are just beginning to emerge.
Colorado officials say they didn’t endorse an Environmental
Protection Agency cleanup operation that caused a massive spill
of toxic wastewater from an inactive mine, disputing a key
claim by federal agencies that state experts signed off on the
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed 23 new environmental bills
into law, banning tiny plastic beads in cosmetics that
scientists say are polluting the ocean and San Francisco Bay,
toughening oil pipeline laws and requiring the state’s massive
pension funds to sell off their coal stocks.
San Francisco Bay is contaminated with widespread pollution
from billions of tiny pieces of plastic in greater
concentrations than the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and other
major U.S. bodies of water, according to a groundbreaking new
Six local waterways have been officially recognized by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency as being impaired by fecal
bacteria, thus beginning what may be a lengthy assessment to
identify and mitigate the sources of pollution.
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finalized a long-debated clean
water rule to limit pollution in a variety of streams,
tributaries, and wetlands. … Not surprisingly, the new rule
has triggered a national political firestorm …
Scientists have found new ways to reduce mercury in wetlands,
providing hope that Sacramento-area waterways can be
decontaminated of the potentially toxic element that dates back
to Gold Rush-era mining activities.
Decades ago, industrial pollution began fouling some
groundwater wells throughout Los Angeles County. That prompted
water officials to stop using the most polluted wells and rely
more on water from Northern California and the Colorado River.
A large cement factory near Cupertino will have to pay more
than $7 million in fines and remediation for polluting a local
creek that pours into San Francisco Bay, state and federal
regulators said Wednesday.
The Lehigh Hanson cement plant, a longtime producer of Silicon
Valley building materials but also a significant polluter, will
pay $7.5 million as part of an agreement with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to settle charges it dumped
millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into a nearby creek.
… Established by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, its
cement built Shasta Dam, Highway 101, Highway 85 and other
major Northern California landmarks.
A UC Davis researcher is studying whether tiny bits of plastic
used in face washes, toothpaste and other consumer products are
accumulating in Sacramento-area rivers and flowing out to the
Pacific Ocean. … Their small size also means they don’t get
filtered out of the wastewater that flows from homes to
California has lost control of its quickly diminishing water.
While state officials lose no opportunity to tout California’s
environmental leadership to the world and to plead with
residents to conserve water, regulators have allowed oil
companies to dump billions of gallons of toxic wastewater each
year into protected underground drinking water.
Opponents of a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores
have qualified a referendum on the law, delaying its July 1
effective date until voters act on the measure in November
2016, the California secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.
Some eight million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way
into the world’s oceans each year, and the amount of the debris
is likely to increase greatly over the next decade unless
nations take strong measures to dispose of their trash
responsibly, new research suggests.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to
amend requirements under the National Oil and Hazardous
Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) to improve the
nation’s ability to plan for and respond to oil spills.
When I saw the headline “Westlands reaches secret deal” Monday
in The Bee, I knew it was about the toxic irrigation drainage
that caused a wildlife disaster in western Merced County more
than three decades ago.
A new academic study out this week, and published in the
journal PLOS ONE, for the first time gives a hard number to the
amount of plastic garbage littering our oceans. It’s a sobering
figure: 5.25 trillion particles of plastic.
A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is
floating in the world’s oceans. … The plastic is broken up
into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published
Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
Along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, runoff pollution
from abandoned mines in “Gold Country” could threaten
California’s primary water supply. A pilot project at
one mine site is intended to
prevent contaminated runoff from reaching the Yuba River.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will announce Monday a proposal
to prohibit single-use plastic bags at stores in the city in
the event that opponents of a newly adopted statewide ban are
able to force a public vote on that legislation.
With California’s law banning plastic bags on hold, the plastic
bag industry and its allies already are pouring money into
California in hopes of overturning the law in a referendum two
years down the road.
Public health officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties are
asking surfers and swimmers to stay out of the ocean because of
the bacteria, debris and trash that washed into the water from
this week’s storms.
State water regulators have slapped California Water Service
Co. with a proposed record-setting $3 million penalty for an
October 2013 leak of chemically treated drinking water that
killed more than 270 fish in San Mateo and Polhemus creeks.
These out-of-state interlopers are pouring millions of dollars
into the effort to undo what the Governor and Legislature have
just accomplished to reduce the plastic bags littering our
neighborhoods, clogging our waterways and polluting our beaches
and oceans and harm wildlife.
More than three years into the massive cleanup of Japan’s
tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant, only a tiny fraction of
the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the
dismantling of the broken reactors and removing radioactive
In a recently published study, Eco-directed sustainable
prescribing: feasibility for reducing water contamination by
drugs, EPA scientist Christian Daughton presents ways we can
prevent the active ingredients of pharmaceuticals from getting
into our waterways.
Because of restrictions on burning, California hospital
representatives say their only option appears to be trucking
the waste over public highways and incinerating it in another
state — a prospect that makes some environmental advocates
uneasy. … Dr. David Perrott, chief medical officer for
the California Hospital Assn., said there was also confusion
about whether infected human waste could be flushed down the
Recent tests of water quality give Chicken Ranch Beach and most
other Marin County locales a clean bill of health, but raise
red flags at White House Pool county park, Samuel P. Taylor
State Park and Lawson’s Landing, where visitors are advised to
“avoid contact with the water.”
Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to clean up California have been
impressive in the past four years, but he outdid himself
Tuesday when he signed the nation’s first statewide ban on
single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores.
The ink was barely dry on the governor’s signature to ban
plastic bags when foes of his decision filed paperwork with the
state attorney general’s office for a referendum in 2016 to
overturn the new law.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill to reform the California
Department of Toxic Substances Control is drawing indignation
from community groups and state legislators who had pressed for
broad changes at the troubled agency.
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.
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
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
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. 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.
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
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.
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
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.
This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the
importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes
sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps
communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes
extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater
concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for
presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and
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
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.
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.
As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea
regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its
elevation of 237 feet below sea level.
The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when
the Colorado River broke
through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years,
creating California’s largest inland body of water. The
Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130
miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.