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
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S.
government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and
radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory for official listing as a traditional cultural
The Department of Energy published a proposed rule this week
that would create a product class to allow for speedier washing
machines and dryers. Environmental and consumer groups charged
that the move would lead to washers and dryers that waste water
and energy and increase utility bills and carbon emissions.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of
vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented
distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which
went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require
coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource
The short answer is, the replenishment fee is a per-acre-foot
extraction fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority to pay for mitigation of registered shallow wells
damaged by continuing overdraft, as well as to begin importing
water necessary to balance the groundwater basin. A public
hearing regarding the fee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at
If passed, the new program would promote water conservation and
make water bills more affordable and transparent for millions
of residents, benefitting both low-income customers and those
who use less water.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to release
projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will
dip slightly in 2021. … Despite the dip, Lake Mead’s levels
are expected to stay above the threshold that triggers
mandatory water cuts to Arizona and Nevada, giving officials
throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for a future when
the flow will slow.
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout
was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to
public concern about declining populations of salmon and
steelhead. … At the July meeting, committee members received
an update on the Klamath dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter
Valley Project dam removal projects.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday a 30-day public
comment period for a 35-year contract renewal of the transfer
of operation, maintenance and replacement activities related to
Friant-Kern Canal and other associated works to the Friant
A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit has
been granted to the city by the San Diego Regional Water
Quality Control Board to add purified water to Miramar
Reservoir for Phase 1 of the program.
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
The California Energy Commission is about to launch a
process to update the state’s building energy code, known as
Title 24. It will set the rules for energy efficiency levels
and whether heating and hot water are powered by fossil or
clean energy in new construction beginning in 2023…
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Reclamation submitted the B.F. Sisk
Dam Safety of Dams Modification Report to Congress. This is
Reclamation’s largest project under the 1978 Safety of Dams
Act, and when complete, will modernize the structure to reduce
risk to water supply and downstream communities in an
Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily
complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was
simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a
law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would
decide to repeal it?
A new proposal from the Department of Energy would change the
definition of a showerhead, essentially allowing different
components within the device to count as individual fixtures,
sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons
to flow through per minute.
A win for state water rights came earlier this month after the
Marion County Circuit Court ruled that the Bureau of
Reclamation cannot release water from Upper Klamath Lake for
flows down the Klamath River.
A new statewide order affecting how wineries dispose of water
could undermine existing regional solutions, winery owners and
their advocates say, and would impose new costs as the wine
business struggles with tasting room closures and other
measures intended to assure employee safety.
As vehicular travel of any kind is prohibited, the wilderness
in Imperial County is visited by only a few hikers and an
occasional Border Patrol officer. However, the construction of
the border wall has brought a flurry of activity that could
lead to profound and irreversible environmental changes to the
area. …this border wall construction could exacerbate
the problem of limited access to water.
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in
favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State Water
Resources Control Board to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and
“unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater
uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used
productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water
Six former Environmental Protection Agency
chiefs [who served under Republican and Democratic
presidents] are calling for an agency reset after President
Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term,
backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from
renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting
climate-friendly electric vehicles.
A Lompoc religious nonprofit is accusing a Wyoming-based
organic farm and cannabis company of stealing water it uses to
grow food and blocking access to a well on a neighboring
parcel, despite a decades-old legal agreement allowing them to
do so, according to a lawsuit filed in Santa Barbara County
The U.S. EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act
Loan Program (WIFIA) … has now completed three solicitation
rounds over the period 2017-2019, generating 90 competitively
selected applications totaling $13.6 billion of loan volume.
This indicates WIFIA has had an excellent start. But beneath
the surface, what’s actually happening? How is the program
working as intended to improve U.S. water infrastructure?
Completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s
most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins
into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the
first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources, and
now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the
Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.
Twenty years ago, Erin Brockovich was released, and the brash,
unvarnished legal assistant turned activist at the heart of the
film … had the surreal experience of becoming a household
name almost overnight. “Let me be the first to tell you that
life takes an interesting turn when your name becomes a verb,”
the real Erin Brockovich writes in the introduction to her new
book, Superman’s Not Coming.
Two board directors for the West Basin Municipal Water
District, who together have served a combined 44 years on the
board, face challengers in November elections from multiple
candidates. … West Basin is a wholesale water agency that
provides imported drinking water to 17 cities and
unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
Although only five of 41 groundwater sustainability plans
submitted to the Department of Water Resources for review in
January mention the human right to water, and only one of those
affirmed it as a consideration in their plan, these two
policies are closely related.
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board concluded three days
of hearings on the project’s next permit by telling Poseidon it
must return with a more robust, more detailed mitigation plan
to offset the environmental damage the project will cause.
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost
data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the
need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies
by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington
County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do
not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.
The suit, spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council
on behalf of eight other groups, is the third to contest the
July rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),
which for 50 years has required thorough environmental reviews
before major projects like pipelines and highways could be
In the 2020–2021 session, the Court likely will issue rulings
that could alter the landscape of interstate water disputes and
impact millions of people and thousands of businesses who rely
on interstate water resources. A preview of the four cases
slated for the 2020–2021 session and potential implications
Thousands of families who rent or own homes with private wells
are at risk of losing their drinking water in Madera, Fresno,
Tulare and Kings counties — and some already have. The Fresno
Bee is investigating the risks to private wells and proposed
solutions, and we need to hear your stories and your questions
to guide our reporting.
Most Americans give little thought to water bills, paying them
on time and in full. But for a subset of homeowners and
renters, water debt is constant and menacing. The burden is an
extension of two notable national trends: the rising cost of
water service and the general precarity of those at the bottom
of the economic pecking order. A missed bill or faulty plumbing
can spell financial doom… Sophia Skoda, the chief
financial officer for East Bay Municipal Utility District, in
California, said that Congress needs “to step up to its
responsibility” to ensure that water and sewer service is
affordable for all people.
Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be
required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay
require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads
longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or
wetlands or with impervious materials.
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
The order is one of the most far-reaching of its kind with
respect to PFAS, mainly because it requires testing and
reporting for 31 different types of PFAS – more than any state
has regulated in water sources for PFAS to date.
As Poseidon Water pursues the final government approvals needed
to build one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination
plants, the company still cannot definitively say who will buy
the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to
produce on the Orange County coast. That’s one of several
questions that continue to dog the $1-billion Huntington Beach
As early as Aug. 6, the California Public Utilities Commission
could vote to adopt a proposal that would eliminate a
best-practice regulatory tool – known as decoupling – that
currently removes the incentive of water suppliers to sell more
water. This significant change has the potential to hamper
water conservation efforts in California and raise rates for
millions of customers without providing them any corresponding
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered
to pay $5 million in fines for illegally storing and
transporting hazardous waste, federal prosecutors said. The
waste was produced by filtering arsenic out of Sierra Nevada
spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility in the Owens Valley.
Last week at the Lindsay City Council’s July 28 meeting, city
services and planning director Michael Camarena presented a
feasibility study. He noted that the city’s water system has
been out of compliance with the Stage 2 disinfection byproduct
rule for total trihalomethanes and five haloacetic acid maximum
Following reports of large parties that violate health orders
aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, Los
Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday that he will
authorize the city to shut off water and power services to
residents who hold such gatherings.
The city of Bellflower wants to sell its aging water system to
a big for-profit water company that is better able to manage
it. But the deal could fall through. That’s because state
regulators say the price is so high, it could hurt water
customers across Southern California.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, guidance
around how to control the virus’s spread has become a steady
drumbeat: Wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, and stay home.
Implicit in these recommendations is the assumption that
households have safe and clean running water and indoor
Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper
Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls
— to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the
bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water
Resources Department to use the stored water.
As it is our most vital resource, we each have a moral
responsibility to see that everyone has access to it. But, what
occurs when access to clean water is sold off and exploited?
The result is lower quality and a threat to public health in
the name of easy profit.
The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many
serving low-income communities without the resources to repair
them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for
Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.
In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of
lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options.
Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil
drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to
drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with
young families and a park where children played soccer.
The California state water board is working on an update to a
permitting process with water discharge requirements that make
sure wineries are in compliance with water quality regulation
and allows them a pathway to compliance. The new order will
affect over 2,000 wineries that discharge winery waste to land
for the purpose of disposal or reuse for irrigation and soil
The Program on Water in the West at Stanford University is
pleased to announce that Felicia Marcus, a preeminent water
policy expert and the previous chair of the California State
Water Resources Control Board, is joining the program as this
year’s William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow.
Regional water board member Kris Murray is on track later this
week to vote on a controversial desalination plant sponsored by
a company and interest groups she took money from during past
The district’s spring groundwater monitoring program, using 55
public and private wells, found that the levels rose 3-to-18
feet in each storage area of the basin since last year. That’s
progress, but still far below historic wet weather levels,
groundwater specialist Nick Kunstek said.
Poseidon Resources wants to build a $1.4 billion desalination
plant near a power plant that is about to be shut down. They
say it could produce 50 million gallons of water per day,
enough for about 100,000 Orange County homes. Friday marked the
second day of hearings before the Santa Ana Regional Water
Quality Control Board. Its approval is needed for the plant to
discharge salty brine left over from the treated water.
Groundwater recharge projects already play an important role in
California. That role is about to expand rapidly, as local
groundwater managers begin to take more concrete actions to
meet their responsibilities under California’s landmark
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies
and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District board has asked the state water board not
to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable
violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…
Some Bakersfield residents’ water bills will be fundamentally
restructured, with big cost implications, if the California
Public Utilities Commission votes Thursday to end an experiment
that 12 years ago erased a financial incentive to sell people
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule
to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water
systems, homes, schools and other facilities. This action marks
a significant milestone in implementing the Trump
Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead
Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.
The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional
conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet
year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on
other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river
still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical
year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.
When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act
requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical
for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new
definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will
allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t
currently habitat but might be needed in the future,
particularly as the climate changes.
The effort is part of an overall plan to develop a Lower Cache
Creek flood study through the US Army Corps of Engineers, the
Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the California
Department of Water Resources. And despite any objections to
the project, it may be more than five years before the first
spadeful of earth is turned to build the barrier.
Saving our planet will require unprecedented focus and
investment from every sector of our society and all levels of
government — especially the federal government. Yet when it
comes to the San Francisco Bay — a national treasure and the
lifeblood of our region, producing over $370 billion in goods
and services annually and supporting more than 4 million jobs —
the federal government has been complicit in its deterioration.
After hearings this week for one of two remaining major permits
needed for the project, several members of the Regional Water
Quality Control Board indicated they were dissatisfied with the
proposed mitigation for the larvae and other small marine life
that would die as a result of the plant’s ocean intake pipes.
A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and
ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal
lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a
longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews
for road, industry and building projects.
A 1997 guidance document from the White House Council on
Environmental Quality lays out best practices for FERC and
other agencies to address environmental justice as part of
reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency
isn’t legally required to act on its findings.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an
upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has
attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley,
but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren
Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a
river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon
populations that have dwindled to almost nothing.
Studies by reliable independent organizations prove the
pipeline is unnecessary, risky and cost prohibitive. To counter
these fact-based findings, pipeline proponents rely on
misleading arguments, skewed data and fear in an attempt to
“sell” the pipeline to taxpayers and water users who are
unaware of the facts and place undue trust in government
In many respects, the Arizona Water Blueprint – a data-rich,
interactive map of Arizona’s water resources and infrastructure
created by the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State
University – could not have been rolled out at a better time.
Research into Arizona’s varied sources of water is approaching
an all-time high.
Long Beach’s financial future has been thrust into uncertainty
by the COVID-19 pandemic, but existing litigation over its
practice of charging city-run utilities to access rights of
ways could blow a nearly $20 million hole in future budgets if
the city loses a court appeal.
The California Fish Passage Forum brings together public and
private groups and agencies working to remove barriers to fish
passage. We get a quick lesson in the projects and progress of
the Forum in an interview with Chair Bob Pagliuco and
Coordinator Alicia Marrs.
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
District Superintendent Ryan Rhoades reported that conditions
have not changed and that the district remains in a Stage 4
drought. He commended the community for their cooperation by
reducing their water use. Customers should strive for 50
gallons per person per day and cut overall use by at least 40
percent, he said.
Following the Imperial Irrigation District’s recent win on a
monumental water case in California’s appellate court against
Michael Abatti, the water district is back in court filing the
opening brief against the other large water district is
Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District.
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government
vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government
office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the
Water is a big deal in California, and climate change is
threatening the precious resource. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom
finalized a broad plan this week to help prevent future water
challenges … The Water Resilience Portfolio outlines 142
actions the state could take to build resilience as the effects
of warming temperatures grow.
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
The city of Beaumont and the owner of two previously approved
industrial buildings with a combined 2.89 million square feet
of space … have agreed to cap sewer capacity so as to not
overwhelm the city’s sewer capacity. … Tuesday’s amendment to
the development agreement establishes a maximum daily sewer
flow of 139,679 gallons . For perspective, a residential home
typically produces 330 gallons a day.
Each of the bills would provide funding for research and
development on PFAS remediation methods… But environmental
and public health advocates say the bills do not go far enough
to address PFAS contamination. They describe the measures as
lost opportunities to address PFAS pollution in a significant
Visalia’s groundwater has sunk by 7 feet since April, just one
month into the summer season, and it’s not because people are
home washing their hands more frequently and doing their dishes
more often. … At its July 20 meeting, the City Council
approved moving the city from Stage 1, its least stringent
level of its water conservation ordinance, to Stage 3, just one
level short of declaring a water emergency.
While the city has suspended shutting off water accounts for
non-payment and has been working with its customers to set up
payment plans, more relief was needed. To help offset some of
the burdens of COVID-19, the Millbrae City Council voted
unanimously this month to defer the July 1, 2020, water rate
increase until January 1, 2021.
The funding gap has increased by $197 million since the
previous analysis in 2011 due to increasing demands on state
programs to address unregulated contaminants such as per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances and harmful algal blooms, and to
respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal share of program
funding has decreased by 8% since the previous analysis in
On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The
update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first
comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original
publication in 1978.
As schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning around the
country, the Water Quality Association offers general guidance
on bringing water treatment systems back online in buildings
that have been vacant or have seen little or no water use. The
guidelines are available on WQA’s website and were discussed in
detail during a May webinar.
Poseidon Water’s seawater desalination plant in Huntington
Beach, first proposed in 1998, could be getting closer to
beginning construction after more than two decades. The Santa
Ana Regional Water Board will hold online hearings this week
and decide whether to issue Poseidon a permit.
The coronavirus economic crash is tightening the financial vise
on utilities that supply water and sanitation across the
country, potentially putting water companies on the verge of
financial insolvency while millions of Americans struggle to
pay their utility bills.
Recharge is playing a growing role in maintaining groundwater
as an effective drought reserve and in slowing or reversing the
effects of years of unsustainable groundwater pumping. But
implementing recharge projects is not easy. Water managers face
a range of hurdles.
NEWS RELEASE: Governor Gavin Newsom today released a final
version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the
Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope
with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on
groundwater and other challenges.
Providing a reliable source of drinking water is a challenge
for many small water systems in the San Joaquin Valley, where
dropping groundwater levels, aging systems, and water quality
problems are acute. … We talked to Laura Ramos and Sarge
Green of Fresno State’s California Water Institute about this
On July 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District a 30-year permit
to manage plans for the Upper Santa Ana River Wash, the final
step in the process. The plans cover an area of Redlands and
Highland generally west and south of Greenspot Road, east of
Alabama Street and north of the waterway’s bluffs.
President Trump made two nominations to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission Monday, bowing to pressure from
Democratic lawmakers who have pushed to maintain the bipartisan
split in the commission.
This is part of an ongoing series of articles by the Angeles
Chapter Communications Committee to help readers understand how
important decisions are made in California – how agencies and
boards function, why they exist and how to interact with them.
Here is an introduction to regional water boards and the
California Coastal Commission and interview with Commissioner
After more than 20 years of developing plans for a Huntington
Beach desalination plant and winding its way through a
seemingly endless bureaucratic approval process, Poseidon Water
comes to a key juncture as the Regional Water Quality Control
Board votes on whether to grant a permit after hearings this
Believe it or not, much of the modern wastewater management
technology we consider standard in any 21st century home,
things like toilets and sewer pipes, are actually relatively
new in the grand scheme of history.
The Senate has confirmed Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon as the
Army’s 55th Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the
Corps of Engineers, elevating him to one of the most crucial
infrastructure-related positions in the federal government.
Some outside lawyers lauded the move for protecting against
excessive enforcement, while others warned that the policy
could let some polluters off easy. It’s the latest example of
the Trump administration setting new rules for federal
A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
may result in the listing of PFOA under California’s
Proposition 65 as a carcinogen. Here’s what that could mean for
the explosion of litigation related to the chemical substance
throughout the country.
Trump’s deregulatory victories have been shrinking in number as
courts uphold many of the lawsuits filed by states,
environmental groups and others in response to his
administration’s sometimes hastily engineered rollbacks.
There are just 12 parking spots near Yankee Jim’s, a sliver of
crystal clear water on the North Fork American River, about 35
miles west of Lake Tahoe, but last weekend California State
Parks and Placer County authorities counted more than 300
vehicles parked near the rugged roads surrounding a one-way
bridge overhead. … Authorities said the scenic area has
exploded in popularity thanks to social media postings.
The Third Appellate District has ruled that the State Water
Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary
emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish
minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water,
and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions.
At a meeting this month where the State Water Resources Control
Board adopted its first spending plan for what was supposed to
be a $130 million-a-year investment for the next decade,
Chairman Joaquin Esquivel acknowledged that the economic
downturn could set California back.
Black and Latino Americans are twice as likely as White
Americans to live without running water. Take East Orosi, a
mostly Latino community surrounded by the fertile orchards of
California’s Central Valley. To look around you’d think that
water is pretty plentiful … and it is, for big agriculture. But
in a neighborhood where most of those who work those fields
live, there’s no central water main.
There must be something seriously wrong with the plumbing in
the White House or at Mar-a-Lago. For the past few months,
Donald Trump has complained about having to flush “toilets 10
times, 15 times, as opposed to once” and showers, faucets, and
dishwashers that didn’t work, to the amusement of his audiences
and the evening talk shows.
WaterWorks Park in Redding opened on June 5 in violation of
California’s coronavirus rules and “repeated direction” not to
do so, according to the Shasta County Health and Human Services
Agency. It has continued to operate since then — sparking a
nearly two-months long battle with health officials.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
U.S. dam safety frameworks have helped to prevent major
calamities, but the May collapse of the 95-year-old Edenville
Dam in Michigan illustrates that key failure risks remain—often
involving many causes, according to a study of dam safety risk
assessments by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
An algal bloom at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County has the
Department of Water Resources (DWR) warning the public not to
swim or participate in any other water-contact recreation or
sporting activities due to potential adverse health effects.
However, DWR said boating at the lake is still allowed.
Westlands, an agricultural powerhouse in the San Joaquin Valley
… is seeking ownership of 1,034 miles of buried pipeline,
multiple pumping plants and canals, and two field offices. The
Bureau of Reclamation confirmed it is moving forward with the
Almost exactly 25 years after being ordered to stop illegally
pumping water from the Carmel River, the Monterey Peninsula
will have to beg state officials for another extension. On July
20, the board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District voted unanimously to send a letter to the State Water
Resources Control Board acknowledging the failure to make
progress on developing a new water supply.
The nearly $2-billion EchoWater project aims to meet a 2010
requirement issued by California and local authorities. They
have called for cleaner discharge into the Sacramento River by
2023 from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in
Elk Grove. With 21 projects, the EchoWater program’s largest
components are now under construction and, despite
complexities, remains on track to complete major work in 2022.
The grim report by the Water Foundation, a charitable
organization based in California that is focused on clean,
reliable water for people and nature, predicts the groundwater
sustainability plans written by the various districts in the
San Joaquin Valley will not achieve what SGMA purports to do –
that is, sustainably manage groundwater resources.
Editors Note: The Water Foundation is not affiliated
with the Water Education Foundation.
On Wednesday, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control
Board issued a staff report recommending approval of a
tentative order making amendments to and renewing its operating
permit first issued in 2006 for the proposed Huntington Beach
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s 3rd annual GSA
Summit, a panel reviewed how the process went for the
groundwater sustainability plans that were submitted to the
Department of Water Resources earlier this year, focusing on
four of the six sustainable management criteria: water levels,
water quality, land subsidence, and interconnected surface
On appeal, the court held that the District’s water allocation
methodology in the “equitable distribution plan” was reasonable
and not an abuse of discretion, and that Abatti and the other
farmers in IID only hold an interest in, or right to, water
Between Jan.8, 2017 and April 19, 2017, the company discharged
4,634,245 gallons of process wastewater and/or polluted
stormwater from two mushroom growing facilities located in
Royal Oaks into the tributary. The wastewater contained
ammonia, excessive nutrients, and suspended and floating
material, which can harm water quality and aquatic habitat.
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
At the June 18, 2020 and July 16, 2020 Commissioner meetings,
FERC issued a combined five orders continuing its trend of
finding that a state has waived its Clean Water Act section 401
authority for failing to issue a water quality certification
within one year from receiving the request for certification.
Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the
District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday,
alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to
protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They
say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental
Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30
years giving state governments the authority to review, block
or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.
Water suppliers in California currently must test for
perchlorate in drinking water down to 4 parts per billion. The
State Water Resources Control Board said it plans to cut that
level to 2 parts per billion and then again down to 1 part per
billion in 2024.
The California State Water Resources Control Board (Board) has
adopted a definition for “microplastics” that will be used in
testing of drinking water… While this development is
currently focused on the testing of drinking water in
California, the Board and others expect that it will form the
basis of future efforts to quantify and address microplastics
in the environment.
Imperial Beach Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre joined Good Morning
San Diego to discuss a new report claiming that an audit done
by Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water
theft and contributed to raw sewage and hazardous pollutants
ending up in the Tijuana River.
A federal judge on Monday squashed environmentalists’ bid to
punish a Northern California city for delivering drinking water
tainted with the carcinogen that prompted the film “Erin
Brockovich.” The environmental group California River Watch
sued the city of Vacaville over its water supply in 2017,
claiming it was violating federal hazardous waste laws…
Legal scholars believe that the Lake Powell pipeline would
likely violate the 1922 Colorado River Compact as a
transfer of upper basin water (WY, UT, CO, NM) for lower basin
use (CA, NV, AZ). The lower basin has priority, and the compact
arguably prohibits transfers from the upper to lower basin
absent explicit congressional authorization
Out of sight and out of mind to most people, the Salton Sea in
California’s far southeast corner has challenged policymakers
and local agencies alike to save the desert lake from becoming
a fetid, hyper-saline water body inhospitable to wildlife and
surrounded by clouds of choking dust.
Farmers once again clashed with Mexican military forces Sunday
to protest releases of water from a dam to repay a water debt
owed to the United States. … Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico owes
the United States about 415,000 acre-feet yearly that must be
paid by Oct. 24. Mexico has fallen badly behind in payments
from previous years and now has to quickly catch up on water
State water regulators have issued a $285,000 penalty against
the Phillips 66 refinery for releasing millions of gallons of
industrial wastewater into San Pablo Bay early last year. The
penalty is the 11th issued in the last 17 years against the
Houston-based oil company. Its refinery sits on the bay shore
in Rodeo, just south of the Carquinez Strait and Vallejo.
“The people of Bakersfield need a flowing river — with water in
a thriving river parkway, quality of life in Bakersfield will
be significantly improved,” says the petition, posted recently
by local resident Jonathan Yates on Change.org.
Local water users will pay higher groundwater extraction fees
to close the gap between estimated and actual costs associated
with the Groundwater Sustainability Plan required by
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The fee
increase was approved on Thursday by the Indian Wells Valley
On Wednesday, President Trump achieved a longstanding goal in
weakening environmental protection: The administration
significantly narrowed the 50-year-old National Environmental
Policy Act… But the rest of this year will be unlike anything
we’ve seen yet as the president pushes to deliver on his 2016
campaign pledge to essentially “get rid of” the Environmental
The City of Lathrop wants to secure a permit that will allow
for the discharge of treated wastewater into the San Joaquin
River. And last week they agreed to spend more than $400,000 to
take steps towards achieving that longstanding goal.
The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into
question last week when federal regulators refused to let the
current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to
carry out the demolition.
Nearly half a century after a Gold Rush-era quicksilver mining
operation shut down in Northern California, mercury continues
to flow into a nearby creek, and federal officials blame the
mine’s state landmark status for cleanup delays. … By the
time the mine closed in 1972, it had produced more than 38
million pounds of mercury. Today, the site is a remote ghost
town 135 miles southeast of San Francisco
Heal the Bay today released the annual River Report Card, which
assigns water quality color-grades of Red, Yellow, or Green for
28 freshwater sites in Los Angeles County based on observed
bacteria levels in 2019.
Media coverage portrayed stakeholders as limited to major
economic interests, such as agriculture, the study found. And
while SGMA legislation requires disadvantaged communities to be
a stakeholder in all planning documents, such communities were
largely absent from newspaper reports.
Safe water is a human right. Yet, in 2020, the United States
remains divided between those with the privilege of having
clean, running tap water and those who don’t. As we reckon with
systemic racism, our fight for safe and affordable water cannot
be disentangled from the fight for justice.
The owner of more than 2,000 idle oil wells in Southern
California declared bankruptcy this week, raising fears among
environmentalists that those wells might never be properly
sealed. … As those old wells sit idle and unsealed, they
present a potential pollution hazard to drinking water
underground and people living nearby.
The state’s Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously
Tuesday to enact a policy to put new limits on per-and
poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. The class of
chemicals is a common ingredient in everything from nonstick
pans to foam used to smother flames from jet fuel.
On July 3, 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board
released proposed requirements for winery process water
treatment along with the draft California Environmental Quality
Act Initial Study and Mitigated Declaration for public comment.
The proposed order will apply statewide, and includes
requirements to ensure winery operations will not adversely
impact water quality.
California stands on the cusp of getting critical SB 200 funds
flowing through communities that have waited too long for water
justice and are also among those hit hardest by COVID-19 and
the resulting economic loss and strain. Last week, the State
Water Board adopted its implementation plan for the fund, also
called the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and
Resilience (SAFER) program.
There are significant health risks associated with falling
behind on bills and getting disconnected from utilities, said
Diana Hernández, an assistant professor of sociomedical
sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public
Health, and these risks are amplified by the extreme
temperatures caused by climate change.
After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the
license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron
Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would
carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the
utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the
Federal regulators have moved to delay assessment and action on
chemicals that could contaminate drinking water. Richard Luthy
explains how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
individual states approach waterborne threats.
A wide range of public health and animal rights advocates
support the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to reduce
pesticide testing on animals. But an environmental group is
concerned the agency is overlooking a systemic failure to
control the chemicals in the environment.
A five-year battle over plans to log in the remote Gualala
River flood plain has taken a big step up with a powerhouse
environmental group’s declaration to take the case to federal
court, alleging the commercial tree harvest would harm
protected fish, frogs and birds.
States and environmental coalitions are set to wage multiple
challenges to President Donald Trump’s overhaul of federal
requirements for environmental permitting, setting up long-term
regulatory uncertainty and the potential for a checkerboard of
rules across the country. Trump unveiled the plan Wednesday,
replacing Nixon-era rules for how federal agencies conduct
reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Two putative class actions recently filed in the Northern
District of California—Ambrose v. Kroger Co. and Nguyen v.
Amazon.com, Inc. —preview a new theory of consumer claims
relating to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in
Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late
September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions,
outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or
launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest
Service has announced in a press release.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
The president’s plan to streamline the National Environmental
Policy Act … would make it easier to build highways,
pipelines, chemical plants and other projects that pose
environmental risks. … But the proposed changes also threaten
to rob the public, in particular marginalized communities most
affected by such projects, of their ability to impact decisions
that could affect their health, according to many activists.
A vision first formed in the early 1990s finally came to
fruition when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District authority to
manage a long-awaited project that will benefit water,
environmental, economic and community interests in the Upper
Santa Ana River Wash.
Sustainability plans developed by groundwater sustainability
agencies outline how water users can restore depleted water
sources. But fights have arisen and disputes about the
reliability of those water sources have come to light.
Ecosystem restoration projects in California require permits,
just as development projects that can harm the environment do.
… We talked to Letitia Grenier — an adjunct fellow at the
PPIC Water Policy Center research network and a senior
scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute — about how to
improve the permitting process.
Efforts to ensure safe drinking water for children need further
support to reach their intended audience, according to an
analysis of California’s mandate requiring child care
facilities to test their water for lead, known as AB 2370.
The EPA is facing two separate challenges from environmental
groups over its water rule that narrows the ability of states
to veto energy infrastructure projects such as oil and gas
pipelines if they adversely affect water quality.
Less than a week before Christmas in 2016, the State Water
Resources Control Board held a single public hearing in our
community. The topic? Draining our community’s water supply and
sending it to the Bay Delta.
The cost of buying cases of bottled water for cooking and
drinking is adding up for residents of Earlimart, where a
contaminated well became the main source of tap water for more
than 8,000 people there in late May. The State Water Resources
Control Board that is responsible for drinking water has a
program to provide financial assistance for bottled water to
help communities in crisis. It has not been available in
Earlimart — and it is unclear why.
The new “owner-only” system means that new utility accounts in
the city using city services can only be opened in the name of
the property owner—this includes homeowners and owners of
apartment properties. … The Stockton City Council opted for
the new ordinance after a Jan. 2018 council meeting addressing
unpaid bills. Delinquent payments were prompted by billing
issues with Stockton’s dual water service providers–the city
of Stockton and Cal Water.
Napa County’s water world is a blur of agencies serving busy
cities and remote, rural subdivisions, prompting a new study to
recommend a degree of unity… Among the big ideas is forming a
countywide water district. There are smaller ideas too, with
opportunities for collaboration in different ways.
To begin, what is arsenic? It is one of the basic chemical
elements found in the periodic table that shows its
relationship to other elements. Arsenic is dissolved from rocks
by water in areas that have groundwater pools. If you have
significant levels of arsenic in your water, it can cause
cancer, heart disease, diarrhea and affect your skin.
The question of whether and how much to regulate these
persistent chemicals in drinking water has spanned the
administrations of US presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama,
and Donald J. Trump. “This is a multi-administration failure to
take action on PFOA and PFOS and on the broader class of PFAS
chemicals that may pose health effects,” says Melanie Benesh,
legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group…
While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic
joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes
expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had
not been adequately heard.
With support from EDF, four UC Santa Barbara graduate students
have developed a new mapping tool for California’s Central
Valley to identify the best locations for groundwater recharge
to secure these bonus benefits. The tool, called Recharge for
Resilience, is available online and also can be downloaded by
users with more technical expertise.
Baja California’s new governor, Jaime Bonilla, says he is
battling to clean up widespread corruption that for years ate
away at the state’s water agency. Even Bonilla’s critics
acknowledge the corruption and the failing water system, which
results in frequent sewage spills that foul Tijuana and San
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
The West Valley Water District published a response to the
findings of the California State Auditor in mid-June to help
neutralize public criticism over its findings; and to share
efforts under the stewardship of the Board’s new President
A California environmental advocacy group urged the state’s air
pollution regulator and agriculture department to do more for
minority communities in an annual report card it published last
week. That report card, compiled by the California
Environmental Justice Alliance, issued environmental justice
grades to eight agencies, with a statewide C average.
The city of Imperial Beach, environmental advocacy group
Surfrider Foundation and the San Diego Regional Water Quality
Control Board agreed to put down their proverbial legal swords
for a period of 12 months while the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency puts a stack of cash to work on the
decades-long sewage issue plaguing the Tijuana River watershed.
Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time,
several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has
become central to an ecosystem science program with
implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado
Decades of environmental protection is threatened to be undone
by the recent Trump Administration Executive Order to roll back
regulations from the Clean Water Act to speed up energy
projects. The proceeding EPA rule-making procedures make it
easier for owners of hydroelectric dam projects to bypass state
oversight and environmental accountability. Without legislative
protection, our waterways are under threat.
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
An independent audit of Baja California’s water agency alleges
that former employees of the utility colluded with
international corporations to defraud the state out of at least
$49.4 million… Local and international corporations —
including such well-known U.S. names as Coca-Cola, FedEx and
Walmart — for years took water for their Mexican factories,
retail stores and distribution centers without fully paying for
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a
resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin
after meeting with growers, local water officials and other
Pasadena conservationist groups secured a major victory on
Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
approved a settlement agreement, ending a protracted legal
battle centered on the removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of
sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam and its potential
California has just adopted an energy code specification for
grid-friendly and super-efficient water heaters that will help
decarbonize buildings and the electric grid while saving
Californians money on their utility bills.
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
At the Groundwater Resources Association Third Annual
Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit held online in June, a
panel of managers from four of the critically overdrafted
basins reflected on the hard work of developing and adopting a
groundwater sustainability plan.