In general, regulations are rules or laws designed to control or
govern conduct. Specifically, water quality regulations under the
federal and state Clean Water Act “protect the public health or
welfare, enhance the quality of water and serve the purposes of
Californians won’t have their water turned off due to unpaid
bills during the coronavirus crisis, and those who already had
it turned off will have their service restored, under action
taken Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor’s directive
comes in response to calls from environmental justice
organizations for assistance to low-income residents facing
mounting financial pressures.
Arizona is sinking. The combination of groundwater pumping and
warmer temperatures is shrinking aquifers and lowering water
tables. … Today, where subsidence is worst, groundwater
pumping isn’t even monitored, and big agricultural and
anti-regulatory ideologues try to stymie any efforts to keep
tabs on how much water is being pumped.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has issued a new three-year
operating plan for the Klamath River, dedicating more water for
endangered salmon while avoiding a “worst case scenario” for
farmers and ranchers. In exchange, a local tribe and fishing
groups agreed to suspend a lawsuit filed against the agency in
If you had a magic wand that could give you unlimited funding,
could change any law, write any new law, and/or modify any
regulation, what would you do to improve California’s water?
That was the question posed to panelists at the 2020 Kern
County Water Summit.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that he’s
authorized the Department of Water and Power to shut off
service to nonessential businesses that continue to operate
despite the strict Safer at Home restrictions designed to slow
the spread of the coronavirus. It’s the latest move in an
effort to impose social distancing as coronavirus cases and
deaths surge across Los Angeles County and California.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s
refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water
District and the Bureau of Reclamation. … The contract would
have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually to
Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity
River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time
On March 19, 2020, California issued Executive Order N-25-20, a
statewide shelter in place order in response to the COVID-19
pandemic, significantly altering operations of both state
agencies and private businesses. … Importantly, the Division
of Water Rights continues to require all surface water users to
submit annual reports to meet the April 1, 2020 deadline for
reporting 2019 water use.
California is moving closer to setting a drinking water limit
for the solvent 1,4-dioxane, which EPA has said is a likely
carcinogen. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment announced Friday it was working to set a public
health goal for the emerging contaminant.
We’ve all seen photos of clear-cut forests with swathes of
razed trees or deep scars in the ground from an open-pit mine.
The damage to the species that live in these habitats isn’t
hard to imagine. But the damage we’ve done to freshwater
ecosystems isn’t so visible. In rivers or lakes, trouble often
lurks out of view beneath the surface of the water …
State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s
relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by
facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The
Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek
penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy. …
The California Environmental Protection Agency said its
enforcement authority “remains intact” in spite of the EPA
The advice is simple and universal: Washing your hands with
soap and water is one of the most effective ways to stop the
spread of the coronavirus. But for millions of people across
the country, that’s not simple at all: They lack running water
in their houses due to service shutoffs prompted by overdue
Bottled water is disappearing from grocery shelves almost as
fast as toilet paper, but there’s no shortage of water in
California. There’s plenty flowing right out of your tap. And
it’s germ-free and perfectly safe to drink. You can’t get
COVID-19 from tap water.
Sierra Ryan is a water resources planner with the County of
Santa Cruz. In this presentation from the Groundwater Resources
Association‘s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Ryan tells
the story of how the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency
balanced the various perspectives, authorities, and
interpretations of the DWR regulations in writing the portion
of their Groundwater Sustainability Plan that pertained to the
depletion of interconnected surface water.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority signed off on an
ordinance and related resolution officially requiring all major
pumpers needing metering on all groundwater extraction
facilities and pumps during a board meeting on Thursday.
States around the country say they won’t penalize water and
wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit
requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if
those delays are justified and documented. Delays, for example,
could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water
quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with
The COVID-19 virus outbreak is affecting us all, whether we
live in a big city or rural Siskiyou County. The economy is
grinding to a halt and governments are planning a massive
response to keep money flowing to small businesses and
employees – the lifeblood of the entire economy. It is through
this lens that I encourage Klamath Basin residents to
view Klamath River Renewal Corp.’s dam removal and river
restoration project as an economic bright spot.
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
The nation’s largest treated water supply district is isolating
workers, reducing the number of on-site employees, and giving
its executive director broad powers, in the wake of
stay-at-home orders and health concerns over the coronavirus
pandemic. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California is also recasting technology upgrades to focus more
on laptop than desktop computers so that staff can work at home
during this outbreak and future emergencies.
The report by David Sunding and David Roland-Holst, professors
at University of California, Berkeley, estimates that one-fifth
of cultivated farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will be
permanently lost as groundwater plans take hold and water
supplies are severely restricted.
President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare
a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to
approve requests for that designation from the governors of
California, New York and Washington in their battles against
COVID-19. … Trump’s determinations could open the door for
FEMA to step into a wide range of future events including
droughts, extreme cold weather and the contamination of
In an effort to reduce the amount of pollution entering surface
waters, the state of California requires industries with an
identified potential of discharging pollutants in storm water
runoff to obtain and implement an industrial storm water
permit. A new state law, effective Jan. 1, requires applicable
businesses to provide proof of coverage under the industrial
storm water permit in order to obtain or renew their business
license with a city or county.
The water agencies that serve the Fallbrook and Rainbow areas
of North County have officially filed applications to detach
from the San Diego County Water Authority, an unprecedented
move with potential financial implications for almost all water
customers in the county.
Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements in the Earth’s crust.
It is widely distributed, and under certain geochemical
conditions, it dissolves into groundwater, which then gets
pumped out for human use. Arsenic presents the highest cancer
risk of any regulated carcinogens among drinking water
contaminants when the risk from each is ranked at its maximum
David Orth is the principal of New Current Water and Land,
which offers strategic planning, program implementation, and
water resource development services. At the California
Irrigation Institute’s 2020 Annual Conference, he gave his
observations having watched Groundwater Sustainability Agencies
(GSAs) form and develop their Groundwater Sustainability Plans
(GSPs) since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) in 2014.
The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new
PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances
Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years
even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.
California’s comprehensive and safe drinking water standards
require a multistep treatment process that includes filtration
and disinfection. This process removes and kills viruses,
including coronaviruses such as COVID-19, as well as bacteria
and other pathogens.
At the 2020 Kern County Water Summit, California Water
Commission Chair Armando Quintero spoke about the role of the
commission, gave an update on the Water Storage Investment
Program and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and
spoke of their new role defined in the water resiliency
Central Valley farmers may soon have another crop to sell along
with almonds, tomatoes and peppers — the groundwater beneath
their land. Proposed groundwater markets have popped up in just
about every groundwater sustainability plan filed with the
state Jan. 31.
I remember being surprised when attending a local Groundwater
Sustainability Agency meeting and I first saw a schematic that
visually depicted the various levels of groundwater underneath
one of the Central Valley’s numerous subbasins.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its
National Water Reuse Action Plan to promote more water reuse in
the U.S. William M. Alley, director of science and technology
for the National Ground Water Association, says the plan
focuses on low-hanging fruit and states and associations will
likely remain the leaders and innovators in water reuse.
California residents who are not able to pay their water,
sewer, energy or communications bills during the state’s novel
coronavirus state of emergency will not be at risk of having
their services shut off, the California Public Utilities
Commission said Tuesday.
Bottled water has been disappearing from store shelves as fast
as toilet paper. And, like toilet paper, there’s no practical
reason to stockpile bottled water. “People need to stop
hoarding water,” said Damon Micalizzi of the Municipal Water
District of Orange County. “Your tap water is regulated more
strictly than any bottled water you buy.”
The military now has at least 651 sites that have been
contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more
than 50 percent jump from its last tally. The information was
released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense
(DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military
remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply
near numerous military bases.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced
that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells
in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said
Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated
response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information
officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.
As a new Fallbrook resident, I attended the recent Fallbrook
Community Forum. I was impressed with the openness,
friendliness, dedication and commitment of the participants.
The experience led me to join the Fallbrook Chamber of
Commerce. I wish my enthusiasm extended to the proposal for our
community to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority.
Former Gov. Bruce Babbitt is speaking out about widespread
problems of excessive groundwater pumping in rural areas of
Arizona, saying the state Legislature should give counties and
communities the power to protect their rapidly declining
aquifers. Babbitt appealed for action during a visit this week
to the Willcox area, where heavy pumping for farms has led to
falling water tables and left a growing number of families with
Groundwater is the sole source of water supply for the valley;
there isn’t any surface water or imported water available.
After decades of excessive pumping, the Borrego Groundwater
Basin is considered critically overdrafted and dramatic
reductions in pumping – up to 70% by the latest estimate – will
be needed to reach sustainability.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is soliciting public
comment on the scope of environmental review for a revised
Delta tunnel project despite prior findings of independent
technical experts that a key project proposal is “impractical,”
stating that it “does not recommend” further study.
Both water companies that serve Salinas will halt all water
shutoffs during the state of emergency brought on by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Salinas has a large population of
hospitality workers that commute to the Monterey Peninsula
daily; the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit
by the coronavirus as health officials urge “social distancing”
and the closure of large gatherings. As such, many residents
may find themselves short on funds as the pandemic wears on.
As discussed below, in the case of west coast salmon, the
scientific evidence is clear that the replacement assumption
has proven faulty as the total abundance of salmon declined at
the same time the propagation and release of hatchery salmon
If corporations can have the rights of people under the law,
why not rivers? The question made sense to Will Falk, and he
answered it yes. Falk is a lawyer, and he got to represent the
Colorado River in a lawsuit. So he spent time along the river,
in something of a conversation with it. Falk tells the story in
his book How Dams Fall.
Arizona does not currently have a comprehensive program to
protect its surface water quality. The state is now faced with
the task of creating one following a change to federal law. The
Trump administration unveiled its final rule in January
redefining which waterways are regulated under the Clean Water
Act, known as “Waters of the U.S.” Under this rule change, the
vast majority of Arizona’s creeks and streams will not be
This year marks a new phase in California’s landmark
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). At the end of
January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins
delivered their first groundwater sustainability plans to the
state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine
the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in
the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. …
This post addresses key questions about groundwater budgets.
The new rules allow the federal Central Valley Project to kill
100 percent of baby winter run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam
for three years running. Chinook salmon live for three
years, so authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to kill every
endangered winter run for three years amounts to an extinction
plan for this species.
Beaches were closed on Tuesday from the Mexico border to
Coronado as rain flushed sewage-contaminated runoff from
Tijuana into the San Diego region. “Things have gotten worse
than ever,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
The federal government is giving local officials nationwide a
painful choice: Agree to use eminent domain to force people out
of flood-prone homes, or forfeit a shot at federal money they
need to combat climate change.
While the bulk of the $175 million goes toward addressing
seepage issues along San Joaquin River levees, a dry levee in
southwest Manteca plays a key role in making sure potential
breaks along the San Joaquin south of RD-17 or levee failures
on the Stanislaus River don’t flood portions of either city.
A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern
Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural
groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one
Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to
look in a different direction.”
San Joaquin Valley farmers say they hope a newly released
report will capture the attention of Californians about the
potential impact of water shortages in the region. The report,
released last week, said water shortages could cause 1 million
acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland to be fallowed and cost as
many as 85,000 jobs.
A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed
by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of
illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil
facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and
threatening endangered species.
Because the State and Federal water managers coordinate
operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley
Project, the State Water Contractors argue that dumping the
biological opinions governing those operations and restarting
the process would create “uncertainty in water supply
availability, potentially affecting the [State Water
Contractor] members’ water supplies from the SWP.”
A proposal to pump water out of Nevada’s fragile Walker Lake to
generate hydropower to sell in California won preliminary
approval from federal regulators. On Friday, the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit and granting
priority to file for the proposed Walker Lake Pumped Storage
While the current federal administration has prioritized
ensuring food security in the long run, state leadership,
current and in the recent past, has continually attacked
farmers. An attack on our farmers is an attack on our food
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding
international food giant Nestlé answer for its water-bottling
practices, including in California where it pumps from the San
Bernardino National Forest for its Arrowhead brand.
The Cuyama Valley is the driest agricultural region in the
county; the valley floor gets just a little more rain than the
Sahara. Yet for the past 75 years, this high desert region has
been a mecca for water-intensive farming on an industrial scale
— first alfalfa, and now carrots, a $69 million annual crop.
… Now, to the rescue — belatedly — comes the state
Groundwater Sustainability Act of 2014…
It was a busy time for California water issues last month when
Trump visited the San Joaquin Valley, signed the Record of the
Decision on the biological opinions which govern the operations
of the state and federal water projects (along with another
Presidential memo), which was promptly followed by the state
filing of a lawsuit the next day. … So not surprisingly, the
voluntary agreement was top of the agenda the following week at
the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Bay Delta Committee.
People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in
Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil
drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that
the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy
Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.
If you live in Southern California or Silicon Valley, you might
be surprised to learn that your local water district (a member
agency of the State Water Contractors) is siding with the Trump
Administration, and defending Trump’s plan to increase water
diversions, despite the widespread acknowledgement that this
plan is likely to drive salmon and Delta smelt extinct.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is
now “the law of the land (state)” and as such there will be
restricted agricultural groundwater pumping throughout the San
In a Feb. 28 filing, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation,
formed to shepherd the removal of four hydroelectric dams from
the Klamath River in Northeern California and Southern Oregon,
submitted key budget information to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission. … This filing is another concrete step
toward implementing the amended Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement (KHSA), removing the dams and restoring a
free-flowing Klamath River, KRRC officials said.
The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an
investigative order in February that requires more monitoring
of sewage-tainted cross-border flows. The order requires the
International Boundary and Water Commission to monitor more
than a dozen locations over an 18-month period.
I have long argued that a robust governance network, both
formal and informal, around the management of the Colorado
River provides the necessary conditions for managing the
problems of the river’s overallocation and the increasingly
apparent impacts of climate change. … But as we approach the
negotiation of the next set of Colorado River management rules
– a process already bubbling in the background – it is not hard
to see how my thesis could break down.
The State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted its
2020 priorities, which include setting a maximum contaminant
level of the heavy metal, also known as chromium-6. A proposed
rule setting the limit could come in early 2021.
The study by economists David Sunding and David Roland-Holst at
UC Berkeley examined the economic impact of two types of
restrictions to water supplies for ag: on groundwater pumping
as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and
future reductions in surface water due to regulatory processes
by the state and federal government.
The Trump administration on Friday awarded a permanent water
delivery contract to the country’s largest agricultural
district, brushing aside environmentalists’ concerns about
California’s uncertain water future in the face of climate
change. At issue is irrigation water that flows through the
Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project to the Westlands
Water District, a Rhode Island-sized agricultural powerhouse
and former client of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
Valley Water in Santa Clara, Calif., doesn’t fully agree with a
Feb. 20 directive from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC) to drain its Anderson Dam as the water district waits to
begin upgrades to the structure near the Calaveras Fault.
In criticizing California for how it has managed its water
supplies, President Donald Trump falsely said that residents
“very shortly” will “get 50 gallons” of water to use a day.
That’s a distortion of two state water laws, which set
efficiency targets for water agencies, not individuals.
The Interior Department on Friday awarded the nation’s largest
farm water district a permanent entitlement to annual
irrigation deliveries that amount to roughly twice as much
water as the nearly 4 million residents of Los Angeles use in a
year. … The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the
federal project, also signed permanent contracts on Friday with
a handful of municipal districts that it supplies.
The California Natural Resources Agency this week released its
Salton Sea Management Program annual report, which trumpeted
the first completed dust suppression project and set ambitious
goals for upcoming mitigation efforts. The report lays out an
aggressive target of 3,800 acres on which the agency hopes to
complete efforts to tamp down dust by the end of 2020 to catch
up with its long-term benchmarks.
Some environmental groups eye the effort suspiciously, fearing
the Trump administration will use the project to allow
businesses to offload hazardous wastewater in ways that
threaten drinking water sources and otherwise risk public
health. Businesses including oil and gas developers have urged
the Trump administration to allow them more ways to get rid of
their increasing volumes of wastewater.
California’s complaint challenges the biological opinions
issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s EIS and record of
decision completed pursuant to the National Environmental
When the top official overseeing the Environmental Protection
Agency’s WaterSense program first heard President Donald
Trump’s rant about toilets that must be flushed a dozen times
and modern faucets that provide only drips of water, she was at
a loss for words.
The Central Valley is America’s fruit bowl, and the heart of
California’s $50bn agriculture industry. But the 2011-2017
drought raised serious questions about the future of that
industry and forced the state to grapple with regulating the
one thing fueling much of it: groundwater.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew
Wheeler appeared before lawmakers Thursday to defend a budget
that would bring the agency to its lowest funding level in
years. As with previous Trump administration budgets, lawmakers
are expected to ignore the proposed 26 percent cut to the
agency, one of the steepest in the budget.
The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental
pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals”
that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the
U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was
pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing
over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam
containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.
A sewage spill that occurred a day before Thanksgiving last
year prompted the Laguna Beach City Council to move forward
with a one-time sewer rate increase Tuesday that will account
for the financial fallout. Pending the result of a protest vote
by ratepayers, the 10% increase ups bills for single-family
homes to $800 annually, or $66.67 per month. The hike could
take effect as early as July 1.
This year marks the first big deadline for the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), as dozens of agencies
complete initial plans to protect overdrafted water resources.
Here’s what you need to know:
Plumas supervisors reminded the state that the best way to
protect natural resources is by not depleting them, especially
when other natural resources are available, such as the Pacific
Ocean. Supervisors encourage the state’s Natural Resources
Agency to support developing technology to promote practical
ways to use ocean water.
The EPA is involved in multiple PFAS-related criminal
investigations, the agency said Wednesday, adding another knot
to an already complex legal landscape for “forever chemicals.”
The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged the probes in
a new progress report on its 2019 PFAS Action Plan.
Scientists say climate change will bring more unpredictable
weather, warmer winters and less snowpack in the mountains.
These challenges and some ideas for remedies are outlined in a
new plan, called the California Water Resilience Portfolio,
released by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January to a mix of praise and
disappointment. Below, an explanation of the state’s water
development — as well as the challenges, today and tomorrow, of
providing water for California’s people, places and things.
Joining 12 other conservation groups from throughout the
country, the Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network
alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers did not attempt to weigh the potential impacts to
endangered species when it removed millions of acres of
waterways and habitat from Clean Water Act protections in
A federal order to drain Silicon Valley’s largest drinking
water reservoir has thrown the region into disarray, with
multiple agencies pointing fingers at each other and some local
leaders fearful their cities could run out of water, not this
summer but the following one.
EPA proposed its revamp of the Lead and Copper Rule last fall.
That revision addresses many elements of the regulation
then-acting Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan critiqued. But
it does not follow one key recommendation: that the agency
establish health-based limits on lead in drinking water.
The future of the complicated network of waterways and canals
that supplies millions of Californians with water daily could
be murky at best, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt
warned Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom in a letter Monday.
Recently, Governor Newsom announced his framework and support
for Voluntary Settlement Agreements (VSAs) — a monumental
effort that could bring to an end the conflict and litigation
over water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
With great hope and guarded optimism, I applaud the governor’s
In a dramatic decision that could significantly impact Silicon
Valley’s water supply, federal dam regulators have ordered
Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Santa Clara
County, to be completely drained starting Oct. 1. The 240-foot
earthen dam, built in 1950 and located east of Highway 101
between Morgan Hill and San Jose, poses too great of a risk of
collapse during a major earthquake, the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, has concluded.
Officials in the city of Tehachapi approved new water and sewer
fees — in case new housing developments start moving in — to
support the construction of infrastructure that can’t quite
support projected growth in the next 10 years.
California finds itself once again taking the lead by setting
regulatory standards stricter than the rest of the nation. At
issue is the nearly ubiquitous presence of certain PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, a problem being addressed to
varying degrees by many states and federal regulators.
A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would
absolve the nation’s manufacturers of cancer-linked “forever
chemicals” from broad financial responsibility for cleaning up
their product as it leaches into the water supply across the
country. The class of chemicals known as PFAS, which are noted
for their persistence in both the environment and the human
body, are used in a variety of nonstick products.
Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm
deadlines for closure, across the country. In the Western
states that make up the overallocated and drought-plagued
Colorado River, these facilities use a significant amount of
the region’s scarce water supplies. With closure dates looming,
communities are starting the contentious debate about how this
newly freed up water should be put to use.
The decision ends a 1996 policy that committed the state to
sustaining a population of about 1 million striped bass in the
Delta and other California waterways. They’re voracious,
nonnative predators that can weigh as much as 60 pounds.
They’re especially popular among anglers. It’s unclear exactly
how many striped bass are in the state, but the number is
believed to be fewer than 300,000.
President Trump believes he “got it done” in fixing
California’s troubled and contentious water system. What he
actually produced is another wrecking-ball delay and a lawsuit
to try to halt his lopsided solution.
By this summer, the justices will have decided a case that
could more clearly establish the scope of the Clean Water Act
and a challenge that could more firmly define states’ role in
federal Superfund cleanups. The court has so far been slow to
issue opinions while Chief Justice John Roberts was spending
half of his days at impeachment trial proceedings across the
street on Capitol Hill.
There was recently a discussion in the Arcata City Council
about the proposed elimination of fluoride from water delivered
to homes. … There is a lot of scientific research about this
subject which is summarized below.
Farm groups are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to work with the
federal government on water deliveries even as California
followed through Thursday on its threat to sue to nullify
biological opinions that could bring increases in surface water
for San Joaquin Valley growers.
The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund
sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest
since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. The Superfund
program was born out of the 1970′s disaster at Love Canal in
New York, where industrial contaminants poisoned groundwater,
spurred complaints of health problems and prompted presidential
The state Department of Water Resources said Thursday the
Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover
approximately $300 million in repair costs the agency had
previously denied. … All told, the state now expects to be
reimbursed for approximately $750 million of the $1.1 billion
cost of the crisis…
A day after President Trump visited the Central Valley to
celebrate a boost in water for California farms, state
officials sued to block the additional water deliveries.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit filed Thursday,
maintains that new federal rules designed to increase pumping
from the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta fail to protect
salmon and other endangered fish in the delta estuary.
This is an approximate 24% reduction in residential water use,
and a 7% reduction for non-residential water use from today’s
levels. This will be implemented through the existing permit
review process and any project that requires a building,
grading, or discretionary permit and would result in more than
500 sq/ft new irrigated landscaping (ex. permitting for new
addition, new garage) would be subject to this water allowance.
The EPA has made an initial determination that it will
eventually set legal limits for levels of two key PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, the agency announced Thursday. …
That announcement could still be months away.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a pre-emptive strike against President
Donald Trump, said Wednesday he plans to sue Trump’s
administration to block a controversial plan to increase water
deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley. Newsom’s office said he
“will file legal action in the coming days … to protect
highly imperiled fish species close to extinction.”
In the latest update, the cost of implementing the voluntary
agreements has soared by over $4 billion to a whopping $5.3
billion. Governor Newsom failed to mention the enormous and
growing costs in his oped praising the voluntary agreement
More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking
water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of
federal enforcement. Twenty-three states are writing their own
guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address
drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances, also known as PFAS.
During President Trump’s visit to California this week, the
commander in chief who campaigned on a pledge of shipping more
water to Central Valley farms plans to stop in Bakersfield to
boast about a promise kept. … But what confounds some who are
worried that Trump’s water plan could undermine the environment
is how little the state has done to stop Washington.
While all presidential candidates, including President Trump
were invited to participate in the event, only Joe Biden, Tom
Steyer, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Pete Buttigieg took
the stage to discuss their outlook on infrastructure issues.
A coalition of environmental groups informed the Trump
administration Tuesday that it would sue over a major rollback
of water protections designed to replace the Obama-era Waters
of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.
Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought
water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the
state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture
interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley
11,000 households in San Jose’s Willow Glen and Williams Road
neighborhoods received letters in the mail beginning in late
January from the San Jose Water Company warning that the wells
that provide them with drinking water tested positive for
elevated levels of per-flouro-octane sulfonic acid, known as
Cal Am’s request calls for raising water rates to increase
revenue by about $8.4 million in the Monterey district to cover
new capital investment, increased labor costs, and higher
administrative and operations expenses, driving the “average”
local customer’s bill from about $89.40 to about $105.78 over
the three-year period from 2021-2023.
While Trump will be in town Wednesday to discuss agriculture
issues with local farmers, as of Friday the Kern County Farm
Bureau remained in the dark about the president’s visit, and
the Kern County Republican Party similarly had not been
informed of Trump’s plans. … A White House statement released
to the media said Trump’s Bakersfield visit would focus on
efforts to dramatically improve the supply and delivery of
water in California and other Western states.
The changes, mandated by Senate Bill 998, mean customers will
have at least 60 days to settle their bill before becoming
delinquent. The changes also require water utilities to provide
written notice at least seven days before service
discontinuation, which must contain information on how to avoid
an interruption of service as well as procedures for contesting
or appealing a bill.
It’s time for Gov. Gavin Newsom to own up on water policy. He
can either play nice with a roughshod plan from President Trump
to divert crucial water flows or craft his own blueprint that
balances both wildlife and California’s economy.
Though sampling indicated levels of PFOS and PFOA in a couple
of local sources of water, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water
District is currently not producing drinking water from
impacted sources. EVMWD is evaluating options to meet these new
regulations including importing water to offset local supplies
and in the long term, considering construction of treatment
systems if water sources exceed state mandated response levels.
Though the process leading to removal of the Klamath Dams
continues to march forward, numerous citizens in Siskiyou
County have continued fighting to keep the dams in place. Many
of those dam advocates are members of the Siskiyou County Water
Users Association, which in January hosted a presentation about
an alternative fish passage technology the association believes
could “make it possible” for the dams to remain.
Recently, the Department of Water Resources launched a new
safety initiative called Headwaters to Floodplains, which
applies an integrated regional watershed management approach to
the realm of flood management. … At the January meeting of
the California Water Commission, Mike Mierzwa from DWR’s Office
of Floodplain Management briefed the Commission members on the
Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and TJ Cox (D–Fresno) joined fellow
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee to grant
wide-ranging subpoena power to the committee’s chair, Raul
Grijalva (D–Ariz.)… A key inquiry likely to be explored by
Grijalva … is to dig into the Trump administration’s issuance
of new biological opinions governing the Central Valley
President Trump will splash into California’s perpetually
roiled water world next week when he drops by the southern San
Joaquin Valley city that’s home to his biggest House booster
and proximate to some of the state’s biggest dilemmas. With his
expected visit to Bakersfield, Trump can affirm support for
increased irrigation water deliveries, troll Democratic Gov.
Gavin Newsom and reward House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(R-Calif.) in his hometown.
Celtor Chemical Works and the Cooper Bluff Mine are part of a
priorities list for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s
Superfund program. The mine was formally added to the list last
year, while the processing facility is scheduled for
re-assessment after officials discovered more toxic waste
linking back to it. But the Trump administration this week
proposed reducing the EPA’s budget by 26%, cuts that would
include $113 million slashed from the Superfund program’s
By the most conservative estimate, 500,000 acres of agriculture
land are expected to go fallow in the San Joaquin Valley as
SGMA is implemented over the next 20 years, [David] Orth said,
while some studies say it could be as much as 1 million acres.
Since this process is just starting in the Sacramento Valley,
it’s unclear how the area might be impacted, but in general,
north of the Delta is in better shape.
The California Water Law Symposium is on my short list of
not-to-be-missed events on my yearly calendar. … The keynote
speaker was Clifford Lee, who recently retired from the
California Attorney General’s office where for the past three
decades, he has played a lead role in litigation on behalf of
the state of California and has been directly involved in most
of the cases that have shaped the relationship between federal
government and the state of California as it relates to water
Do you have something to say about the state-mandated
sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural
groundwater consumption in Merced County? The Jan. 31 deadline
for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable
groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day
public comment period before the Department of Water Resources
In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration,
water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a
framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to
benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Experts and advocates on Tuesday criticized the Environmental
Protection Agency’s proposed rule to combat lead in the water
supply, calling for the agency to require that service lines
containing lead be replaced.
A Bay Area environmental group has sued the cities of Sunnyvale
and Mountain View, saying they are in violation of the federal
Clean Water Act for discharging raw sewage and polluted storm
water into creeks, sending bacteria pollution to levels more
than 50 times legal limits.
Days after the Environmental Protection Agency’s top official
in California was abruptly removed, the agency announced
Tuesday that it would replace him with John W. Busterud, a
former lawyer for Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the state’s
largest electric power provider.
The EPA announced Monday it has reached a settlement with
Airtech International… For about four years, the EPA said,
Airtech violated the federal Clean Water Act by allowing
industrial stormwater runoff to flow into the Bolsa Chica
channel without a stormwater discharge permit from the
California State Water Resources Control Board.
Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation
can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators
working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to
worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s
why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.
Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico and the United States are supposed
to allow cross-border flows of water to each other, but Mexico
has fallen badly behind and now has to quickly catch up on
payments. … Mexico’s federal government dispatched National
Guard officers to protect the La Boquilla dam Tuesday, but
hundreds of farmers pushed and shoved them back hundreds of
yards in a failed bid to take over the dam’s control room.
The Coachella Valley Water District and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on Friday signed an agreement for a $59.1
million loan to finance improvements to the district’s 134-mile
stormwater system that drains into the Salton Sea.
The Central Valley Regional Water Board has issued a 25-year
permit for toxic discharges of agricultural wastewater into the
San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta… Fishermen and environmental
groups have appealed the water board’s decision to the state of
California, leaving the future of this permit uncertain.
A regional water regulator could impose a $9.1 million fine
against developer Baldwin & Sons for letting more than 6
million gallons of storm water runoff trickle from the
company’s construction project in Lake Forest into Aliso Creek
in 2015 and 2016.
Last week, Newsom unveiled a compromise framework that would
enhance flows through the Delta by up to 900,000 acre-feet a
year and restore 60,000 acres of habitat for wildlife,
particularly salmon, facing decline or even extinction due to
This week the California Regional Water Quality Control Board
and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District agreed to the
financial settlement over one of the district’s largest sewage
spills in recent memory.
One of the top priorities outlined in the Newsom
Administration’s recently released draft Water Resilience
Portfolio is reducing reliance on any one water source and
diversifying supplies – key strategies for making our water
supply systems more flexible, adaptable, and resilient to the
impacts of climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s top official in
California was abruptly removed from office Wednesday. No
reason has yet been given for Mike Stoker’s dismissal. …
Stoker’s tenure was mired in controversy. In 2018, a few months
after he was appointed regional administrator, a “hotline”
complaint was filed with the EPA’s inspector general regarding
his infrequent visits to the region’s main office, in San
Luisa Valiela is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the
watershed division of US EPA Region 9. Xavier Fernandez is the
Chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board’s Planning
and TMDL division. At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference,
Ms. Valiela and Mr. Fernandez gave a joint presentation
covering the goals and objectives of the Wetlands Regional
Monitoring Program, the development process, and the Program
Plan that will be released in early 2020.
Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater
sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex
and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major
planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in
drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells
throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County,
which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever
Shortly after taking office in 2019,
Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water
Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges —
unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing
climate, severely depleted groundwater aquifers and native fish
populations threatened with extinction.
Within days, he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and
veteran water communicator, as director of the Governor’s Water
Portfolio Program to help shepherd the monumental task of
compiling all the information necessary for the portfolio. The
three state agencies tasked with preparing the document delivered
the draft Water Resilience Portfolio Jan. 3. The document, which
Vogel said will help guide policy and investment decisions
related to water resilience, is nearing the end of its comment
period, which goes through Friday, Feb. 7.
At the January meeting of the California Water Commission,
staff updated the commissioners on the status of the projects
in the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). Amy Young, the
Commission’s WSIP Program Manager, updated the Commission on
the program schedule going forward, recent activity by the
applicants, and how the projects will be coming before the
Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving
thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially
threatening the health of people living nearby and handing
taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental
Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state
approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled
water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day
inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s
advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on
Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both
verbally and by email.
The governor’s newest proposal signals Newsom may be softening
his fight against Trump, but opening another battle. Newsom may
have traded a court fight with Trump for a legal battle with
the very environmentalists the Democratic administration has
seen as allies.
The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its
long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands
would affect the environment, according to a document shared
with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use
planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the
planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers finalized a long-awaited new rule redefining the term
“Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
(CWA). The Agencies state that their so-called Navigable Waters
Protection Rule will improve and streamline the regulatory
definition of WOTUS.
From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species
population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired
flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across
seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions
in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can
take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve
adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want
native species to survive.
California’s Attorney General is part of a multi state
coalition – urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
protect communities from what they say are dangerous chemicals.
Attorneys General from 19 states, including California’s Xavier
Becerra are urging the EPA to proceed with rulemaking to cover
the entire family of PFAS chemicals.
Overpumping of groundwater has led to a variety of negative
effects including reduced groundwater levels, seawater
intrusion, and degraded water quality. It has also led to
subsidence, which causes damage to critical water
infrastructure. In some cases, years of overpumping have left
entire California communities and farms without safe and
reliable local water supplies.
The valley’s massive dairy industry routinely mixes
manure-tainted wastewater into the irrigation supplies for corn
and other feed crops. The state requires that the volume not
exceed what the crops can take up as nutrients.
On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed
surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers
complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers
face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more
than doubled in the past 10 years…
The 2016-2026 UCLA Student Housing Master Plan is ambitious, to
say the least: four years of guaranteed housing for all
undergraduate freshmen and two years of guaranteed housing for
transfer students. … But the grandiose scale of this housing
expansion is not being met with equal expansion of UCLA’s
stormwater management facilities.
The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on
efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the
energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the
Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned
in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is
“how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists
from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature
Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership
from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question
When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of
Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed,
too. … But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to
clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration
announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams,
wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration.
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
Water issues are gaining new prominence in the Democratic
presidential race as candidates react to rising public concerns
about drinking water pollution, failing infrastructure, and the
perceived inability of state and federal governments to fix the
Coastal Commission staff has recommended California American
Water withdraw and resubmit a coastal development permit
application involving the company’s proposed Monterey Peninsula
desalination project, which would likely postpone a hearing on
the desal permit and a pending appeal until September at the
The multi-year, multi-agency effort to transform the lower
landscape of the Carmel River into a natural floodplain took a
massive step forward Jan. 28 when the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the project’s final
environmental impact report.
Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new
homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of
single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed
that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.
January 31 is a big day for California water. It’s the day when
21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins must submit plans
to the state for how they will bring their groundwater demand
in line with available supplies over the next 20 years.
When Wendy Rash was diagnosed in 2005 with a thyroid disorder,
chronic fatigue and other ailments, her doctor couldn’t explain
her suddenly failing health. … It wasn’t until 2016 that
scientists tested the tap water they had been drinking and
found it was contaminated with man-made chemicals known as
per-fluorinated compounds, part of a family of chemicals called
At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern
County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel
discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional
Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the
Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant
Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an
attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a
water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.
A new law in California took effect Jan. 1 and requires
industrial business owners applying to a city or county for a
new or renewed business license to demonstrate enrollment in a
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater
permit, if it’s required. … Failure to comply will result in
delay or denial of a business license, effectively prohibiting
the business from starting its operations.
Trump’s frequent allusions to a bygone era filled with superior
appliances misses what is largely a story of American ingenuity
and continued progress. Several manufacturers and trade groups
said these items work better than ever today — while also using
less water and power, the result of years of corporate
investment and testing. Industries that might normally cheer
reduced regulation say they don’t want government efficiency
The public will get an opportunity to hear from the city of
Ventura on Thursday about why it has sent out thousands of
notices and summonses to those who use, pump or own property in
the Ventura River watershed. The process started years ago
after Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the
city was taking too much water from the watershed, officials
It is doubtful that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule
will provide any benefits to California’s farmers and ranchers.
Because of rules that the State Water Board established last
year, California is unlikely to be affected by the recent
federal regulation that replaces the Waters of the U.S. rule.
Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and
repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management
solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019
witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary
Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts,
or reports could do – unite water management and develop
The concept of unimpaired flows has endured (much longer than
reasonable in my opinion). While it was argued that unimpaired
flows would allow resource assessments to be founded on the
“natural” hydrology of the stream network, this had fundamental
Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule
to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying
the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a
common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the
If President Trump wants to understand the risk of rolling back
water efficiency standards that have been in place for almost
30 years, he can turn to a member of his own Cabinet.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has signed off on
regulations that treat water-efficient toilets and shower heads
as effective tools to save Americans from droughts and other
If the Trump administration’s own scientific advisory board, a
host of biological societies, and scores of former government
agency officials are disappointed, the rest of America should
be fearful and angry.
Despite growing concerns of a below-average rainfall season,
the city of Ontario revoked mandatory conservation measures
this week, setting a 0% water conservation target with state
regulators. … The City Council approved the change from
mandatory Stage 2 water conservation to voluntary conservation
on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
In an effort to aggressively combat the impacts of climate
change on low-lying areas of the Bay Area, the San Francisco
Regional Water Quality Control Board today proposed changes to
the region’s Water Quality Control Plan to better protect
shorelines from sea level rise, storm surges and flooding.
Trump administration officials took a victory lap after they
unveiled their final revisions to Clean Water Act protections
for waterways and wetlands. But the Waters of the U.S., or
WOTUS, replacement rule that EPA and the Army Corps of
Engineers completed yesterday must now survive a possible
Democratic win in the 2020 presidential election and an
expected inundation of challenges in the courts.
Democrats and environmental groups on Thursday admonished the
Trump administration for issuing a rule they say sets
protections for waterways back decades; however, it’s shaping
up to be a huge win in GOP-leaning rural America as the Trump
campaign eagerly courts farm country ahead of the 2020
Major water bodies will still be protected, but smaller ones
that don’t flow year-round, especially in California and
western states, will be open to pollution dumps. This change is
good news for farmers and real estate developers. But
environmental activists, and even the agency’s science
A water management district created by a 1993 state law that
allowed massive subdivisions to spread into the outer suburbs
of Tucson and Phoenix is now heading for a “train wreck,” warns
former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
The Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for
cities to keep dumping raw sewage into rivers by letting them
delay or otherwise change federally imposed fixes to their
sewer systems, according to interviews with local officials,
water utilities and their lobbyists.
While the stated purpose of the changes is to facilitate more
effective and timely environmental review of federal agency
actions, the practical impact of the proposed changes is far
from clear. Below, we focus on some of the more significant
substantive provisions of the Proposed Rule.
These networks of habitat and water that run under and across
our desert are essential to stop the loss of bird species
diversity. These linkages, flowing through our communities,
under our highways, bubbling up in the livestock allotments of
our public lands or pulsing within renewable energy development
zones, are not easily replaced. The loss and degradation of
these connected lands and waters are contributing to the
We are on the brink of a historic accomplishment in California
water to resolve longstanding conflicts through comprehensive
voluntary agreements that substitute collaboration and creative
solutions for perpetual litigation. For anyone to abandon this
transformative effort in favor of litigation would be a tragic
An annexation agreement between the Santa Margarita Water
District and City of San Juan Capistrano was approved by the
San Juan Capistrano City Council during a regular council
meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The agreement means the city’s
water and sewer utility systems will be transferred to the
The City Council passed a resolution to make a formal request
of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District that it
allocate additional water to develop affordable housing. …
Most of the Peninsula is under a moratorium for additional
water hook-ups following the cease-and-desist order instituted
in 1995 when the State Water Resources Control Board ordered
California American Water to stop over-pumping the Carmel