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
All options are still on the table in developing a wastewater
treatment system in Los Olivos, but the community needs to pick
one quickly — before the state takes over the decision,
according to the Los Olivos Community Services District.
For almost half of California’s communities, the engineering
studies supporting flood insurance rate maps are over 20 years
old. Less than 30,000 miles of the State’s 180,000 stream miles
have been mapped by the National Flood Insurance Program, and
less than 23% of the flood-mapped river miles are designated as
The Bureau of Reclamation once again revised its allocation for
westside farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, announcing Friday
it would provide 75 percent of its contracted amount of water.
The announcement is an increase of five percent from late May.
While those in San Francisco worry about a large earthquake, in
Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, when residents think about
“the big one,” they should be thinking about a flood.
Fortunately, we know how to meet this challenge – starting with
these key steps.
The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency
unanimously approved a plan Thursday to assess a fee of $19.90
per acre-foot of groundwater use — about 326,000 gallons — from
the Santa Rosa Plain groundwater basin for three years. Through
2022, the agency’s major municipal groundwater member users —
namely the cities and towns that fall under the agency’s
jurisdiction, along with Sonoma Water — have agreed to pick up
the tab in place of individual groundwater users.
Through the BCK Program’s SWPPP internship, which stands for
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, students are working
with industry professionals to study the problem of runoff
pollution leaving their school sites and prevent some of the
negative impacts it can have on the surrounding environment.
After years of defending its proposed water grab from our
region’s rivers, the state Water Board chose to ignore all
science and impose orders to take the water anyway. Likewise,
until recently when Gov. Newsom wisely said “no” to the twin
tunnels, the state insisted on devastating the Delta by
stubbornly refusing to consider alternatives. And five years
after passage of the historic 2014 water bond, no new water
storage facilities have even started construction.
The proposed rule changes include an expansion of “categorical
exclusions.” These are often billed as tools that give land
managers the discretion to bypass full-blown environmental
studies in places where they can demonstrate there would be no
severe impacts or degradation to the land.
The City of Lathrop has taken another step towards achieving
the long-awaited goal of being able to discharge tertiary
treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River. With the
approval of the Lathrop City Council, the city is now in a
contract with Ascent Environmental to initiate the
environmental documentation necessary to acquire the permit to
discharge of water from the city’s water treatment plant into
the river – a move that could pay sweeping dividends to the
city in the future.
The agencies want ideas for actions needed now to help
California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, year-round wildfires, species declines, aging
infrastructure, contaminated water supplies and changing
demands for water. The input will help determine priorities and
identify complementary actions to ensure safe and dependable
water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the
state’s communities, economy and environment.
For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn’t
just strong—it’s imperative. And for the first time in more
than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from
California’s San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have
heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual
The states that share the river completed a drought plan
earlier this year that brings them closer to living within
currently available supplies, and a new round of negotiations
on long-term management of the river is due to begin next year.
However, a new report warns that planning for gradually
declining water supplies, as difficult as that is, may not be
enough to adequately prepare for the future.
Here’s a safe prediction: Generations to come will be thankful
for everything done today to protect the Russian River. Here’s
another: Restoring and preserving the river’s health will
become more challenging and expensive each time action is
Governor Newsom has stated that he supports a single
tunnel—building on the planning and analysis for modernized
conveyance in the Delta done to date with an increased focus on
how to make the project work for the Delta communities. …
Under this direction, the Department of Water Resources (DWR)
will launch a new environmental review and planning process
toward the end of this year.
Senate Republicans lambasted the previous administration’s
water regulations as a federal power grab Wednesday in a
hearing on the new policy rolled out by President Donald Trump.
The Environmental Protection Agency revised the rule known as
Waters of the United States in December, following Trump’s 2017
executive order aimed at minimizing regulations and promoting
The San Diego Water Board is asking 10 local agencies,
including the city and county of San Diego, to curtail the flow
of human fecal matter into the San Diego River. The problem has
gotten worse over the last few years to the point it’s being
compared with similar issues along the U.S.-Mexico border,
according to the state agency that monitors the region’s water
The Irvine Co. has followed through on plans to transfer 29
acres it owns on the south shore of Irvine Lake to the county
of Orange, but a dispute over what kinds of recreation to allow
and who should profit from it must be resolved before the lake
can reopen to the public.
A draft plan on how to remove abandoned commercial vessels from
the Delta waterways is available for public review and comment.
The California State Lands Commission completed the removal
plan as mandated by legislation authored by Assemblyman Jim
Frasier, D-Discovery Bay.
California water regulators received a federal rebuke this week
over an incomplete water quality plan submission. Feeling the
irony, Tri-Dam Project partners, the Oakdale (OID) and South
San Joaquin (SSJID) irrigation districts, which hold senior
water rights on the Stanislaus River and are among over two
dozen agencies suing the State Water Resources Control Board,
were quick to comment.
The Northern California summer steelhead is closer to being
listed under the state’s Endangered Species Act as the state
Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously 4-0 on Wednesday at
its June meeting in Redding to review the species’ status over
the next year.
San Mateo County officials are moving forward on a green
infrastructure plan that aims to transform the urban landscape
and storm drainage systems. The plan will help the county
transition from relying solely on traditional drain
infrastructure, which allows stormwater to flow directly into
drains and bodies of water, to a more environmentally friendly
model that disperses runoff to vegetated areas and collects it
for nonpotable uses.
If the decommissioning goes through as planned (the latest
timetable aims for a drawdown sometime in 2021) it will be the
largest dam removal project in U.S. history, with major
implications for environmental restoration, the salmon fishery,
agriculture and local tribes. But a recent Federal Appeals
Court decision is having repercussions that extend far beyond
the Klamath River Basin.
The agreement was likely spurred by recent struggles to provide
assistance following hurricane events, especially Hurricane
Maria in Puerto Rico, and other infrastructure failures such as
those experienced at the Oroville Dam in 2017.
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
The newly-adopted regulations create a new statewide wetland
definition that expands to features not previously covered
under federal law and creates a new permitting program for
activities that result in the discharge of dredge or fill
materials to any Waters of the State. … At the recent
Nossaman Land Use Seminar, attorney and partner Mary Lynn
Coffee gave an overview of the new regulations.
A new proposed rule from the U.S. Forest Service designed to
make environmental reviews more efficient would shortcut
important oversight of industry plans, environmentalists say.
The rule comes after months of complaints by President Trump
that the agency is mismanaging forests and not doing enough to
prevent fires in California and other states.
The rate hikes follow an increase of nearly 20 percent over the
past two years. EBMUD officials said the average single-family
residential customer using 200 gallons of water a day will see
their bill rise by $3.62 per month starting on July 1 and
another $3.73 per month on July 1, 2020. … The water district
says it needs to increase its water rates in order to upgrade
its pipes and infrastructure.
An attempt to restore the population of endangered Southern
California steelhead trout living in the Santa Ynez River is
being opposed by some jurisdictions that rely on the river and
Cachuma Lake for their water supply.
Earlier this week, environmental activists and people who lack
access to clean water rallied on the capitol steps to urge
state lawmakers to act. Among them were longtime labor activist
Dolores Huerta and Susana De Anda, executive director and
co-founder of Community Water Center. She joins Insight to
discuss the issue of unhealthy water and its impact on
communities. UC Davis associate professor and faculty lead of
the Center for Regional Change, Jonathan London, discusses his
research on the regions and people who lack access to clean
Like 90 percent of his neighbors, Doug Teeter lost his home in
last November’s Camp Fire. … Little has been done in
Teeter’s opinion to ensure the health of people living in the
Camp Fire burn zone, who are bathing in and in some cases
drinking potentially contaminated water.
The Klamath River has seen its native fish populations plunge
and its water quality decline, in part because of four
hydropower dams built in its middle reach a century ago. In the
coming years, these dams will be removed, creating the largest
dam removal and river restoration project in the country. We
talked to Lester Snow, board president of the Klamath River
Renewal Corporation, about this effort.
The Paradise Irrigation District is still working to restore
clean water to the ridge. So far, the district is making big
strides toward turning non-potable water into drinking water in
the town. The district put a call out for volunteers in the
Camp Fire burn scar that would be willing to let them test
their water for the first two weeks of June.
Nestlé, the world’s largest bottled water company, continues to
take millions of gallons of free water from the San Bernardino
National Forest two hours east of Los Angeles, 17 months after
California regulators told them they had no right to much of
what they’d taken in the past. And federal officials are
helping them do it, despite concluding Nestlé is drying up
springs and streams and damaging a watershed.
An on-again, off-again effort by state regulators to better
protect the Russian River and its tributaries against failing
septic systems, livestock waste and other potential sources of
bacterial contamination is in its final stages, with hopes that
an action plan for the entire watershed will be approved this
August and go into effect next year.
After seven years of drought in California that drained
aquifers and brought many farmers to the brink, legislators in
Sacramento crafted a bunch of rules governing water usage.
Those rules, many of which kick in next year, cap how much
water farmers and cities can use. The regulations have caused a
lot of anger and panic in the farming community. But also…a
lot of innovation.
Water officials struck with the task of hammering out a plan to
manage Santa Clarita Valley groundwater are looking for seven
people to serve as the agency’s advisory group. … “We need
their input to move ahead,” Tara Bravo, spokeswoman for SV
Strategies, told the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater
Sustainability Agency board.
Domestic well users in some areas were greatly impacted by
additional agricultural groundwater pumping during California’s
2012-2016 drought… Implementation of the 2014 Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) should improve long-term
groundwater availability during drought for all system users by
requiring groundwater management to avoid significant and
unreasonable impacts of decreased groundwater levels.
Clean water is a human right, essential to good health and to
the resiliency of California. Yet, more than one million people
from every region of our state have unsafe water at home.
California is the fifth largest economy in the world, but for
far too long, the state has neglected the basic right to safe
The Coachella Valley Water District board of directors voted
4-0 on Tuesday to increase domestic water rates by an average
of $1.82 per month, effective July 1. The final rate was lower
than the average $5.62 rate hike recommended by staff, who had
outlined the need for important upgrades to infrastructure,
including replacing miles of water mains and scores of
reservoirs requiring inspections and rehabilitation.
California is looking to scale up this strategy. The snowpack
that historically has supplied water into the dry spring and
summer is predicted to largely disappear with the climate
crisis. And its winter storms are predicted to grow more
intense. Water managers and scientists, led by the California
Department of Water Resources, are looking for the best places
to move water from winter storms underground for use during the
Ventura’s elected officials on Monday heard details about the
city’s current water situation, accepting a recommendation to
remain in a Stage 3 drought. … Monday’s action doesn’t mean
rates will go up — rates will remain the same through fiscal
year 2019-20, at least — but it means they won’t go down
either, as they would for some users were the city to leave the
While some people consider them a nuisance, beaver are called
“keystone species” or “grassroots conservationists” and are
considered vital to riparian habitats. … In areas where there
are beaver lodges vegetation and watersheds stabilize, and
downstream flooding and silt runoff is reduced.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday filed a
comment letter opposing a U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
plan to open up more CA CCD Kettleman hillsthan one million
acres of public lands in Central California to oil and gas
drilling, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
As the West faces more demand for water and less water
available to meet that demand, decision makers are working to
figure out how Colorado could implement recently signed
agreements to reduce water use in the Colorado River basin,
which includes the Yampa River.
Facing an $81 million shortfall, the Coachella Valley Water
District’s board will vote on a potential rate hike Tuesday
that their staff says is necessary to replace badly corroded —
and in some cases leaking — pipes and other infrastructure. The
increase would cost the average residential or business
customer about $5.62 per month, but would only cover two years
worth of the projected deficit.
Shorelines in South Bay San Diego will never be fully immune
from the sewage and chemical pollution that flows north from
Mexico over the border through canyons and the Tijuana River.
However, beach closures triggered by contaminated stormwater
and Tijuana’s leaky sewer system can be dramatically reduced…
That was the message last week from President Trump’s U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, which released the most
comprehensive blueprint to date…
The DA’s lawsuit alleges that Monterey Mushrooms’ growing
facility on Hale Avenue violated multiple Fish and Game and
Business and Professions laws from 2012 to 2017. Specifically,
the DA’s office states the facility allowed its farm production
waste and other wastewater to flow into Fisher Creek and its
tributaries, which border the north Morgan Hill facility.
This year, we are blessed with an abundant supply of snow
storage in the Sierra. But the inability to bank this bounty,
beyond our existing reservoirs, is a serious missed
opportunity. This wonderful wet winter will ironically elevate
political complacency around one of the state’s most vital
necessities – a reliable and sustainable water supply.
Lomita began using more expensive imported water last month,
officials said, after the city discovered water from a
municipal well had almost three times the amount of benzene — a
cancer-causing chemical — than the state allows.
Members of EPA’s Science Advisory Board grappled with whether
and how to weigh in on the Trump administration’s rollback of
clean water standards given the administration’s insistence
that the proposal is a question of policy, not science. “They
have the right to change the policy, but the science isn’t
right,” member Robert Merritt said.
The bankruptcy proceedings surrounding Pacific Gas and Electric
could pose a risk to the reliability of water supplies to
nearly 300,000 residents in parts of Placer and Nevada
counties, according to reports issued by the Placer County
Water Agency and the Nevada Irrigation District.
There is nothing new about political divisions in California.
Congested coastal cities skew from moderately liberal to
relentlessly progressive. Rural inland regions, with vast and
bountiful fields, range from independent to hardcore
conservative. But the state’s divided political tribes may have
found a unifying goal — safe, sustainable drinking water.
With temperatures soaring and strong winds blowing through
forests across Northern California over the weekend, rural
areas in the Sierra Nevada foothills plunged into darkness
after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shut off high-voltage
transmission lines to avoid sparking wildfires. The first
formal deployment of its new “public safety power shutoff”
rules left more than 20,500 PG&E customers in portions of
Butte and Yuba counties without power…
The people of Santa Clarita Valley are invited to weigh in on
water issues Monday afternoon, when members of the SCV
Groundwater Sustainability Agency is scheduled to meet.
Concerns about local water resources and, of course,
groundwater, are expected to dominate discussion.
County supervisors want to know why petroleum gases were
detected in samples drawn in 2017 from agricultural water wells
on the Oxnard Plain. With no answers available yet, they voted
unanimously to extend the moratorium to protect groundwater
Ventura Water officials are recommending the city stay in a
Stage 3 Water Shortage Event, a position it’s been in for
nearly five years. … Stage 3 was first set by city officials
in September 2014, as the state was in the midst of a
years-long drought. It means the city’s projected
water supply is between 20% and 29% below a normal year’s
In issuing the order, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality
Control Board found that the cumulative effect of disposing
produced water at the Facility over many decades has created a
highly saline wastewater plume that is migrating to the
northeast, where it threatens higher-quality groundwater
designated as supporting municipal and agricultural uses.
President Trump’s most recent Interior Department nominee is
garnering support from an unexpected group: environmentalists.
Robert Wallace, nominated to help oversee the Fish and Wildlife
Service and the National Park Service (NPS), is bucking the
trend of opposition from green groups, even though he ticks
several boxes that would otherwise draw a strong rebuke from
Local officials plan to huddle over the next few weeks to pick
a strategy to control the region’s cross-border pollution
problem. … Since April, more than 110 million gallons of
sewage-tainted water has flowed into the Tijuana Estuary in the
United States and out to the ocean.
In an effort to spur development of new residential
construction City Council approved a temporary reduction in
developer impact fees… The city will temporarily waive the
$1,649 water impact fee, $1,898 sewer impact fee and the $2,150
residential water connection fee.
At the spring conference of the Association of California Water
Agencies, a panel discussion brought together groundwater
managers in four critically overdrafted basins to discuss their
near-term goals and regional challenges in complying with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Local leaders and representatives of several federal agencies
met Wednesday to look for a solution to the ongoing sewage
spills contaminating the Tijuana River Valley and the shoreline
from Imperial Beach to Coronado.
Issues including agricultural trade, immigration reform and
water storage emerged as priorities as a delegation of Farm
Bureau leaders from California met with administration
officials and members of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The water district would reroute an average 2.32 million
gallons a day of the about 8 million gallons a day of treated
wastewater otherwise discharged into the Monterey Bay Marine
Sanctuary. … Pure Water Soquel’s final product would then be
pumped back into underground aquifers, depleted due to decades
of overpumping, to replenish the Mid-County region’s major
The Safe Drinking Water Act requires protection of current and
potential drinking water sources, but when analysis shows a
groundwater basin is naturally oily and briny, it can be
exempted from the act’s requirements, according to the
Department of Conservation. The exemption means water that
comes up during oil production can be returned to the basin,
but the burden of proof for the groundwater condition is placed
on the oil companies.
A coalition of California residents affected by unsafe drinking
water held a symbolic “water strike” at the Capitol on
Wednesday, pressing lawmakers to fund a plan that would clean
up their water sources.
The agency was incorporated in 1956 by Matthew P. Flynn and
eventually handed down to his son F. Patrick Flynn and later
grandsons Timothy and Thomas Flynn, who jointly negotiated this
week’s acquisition. … Four years ago, the brothers began
looking for a larger company to take over the business, citing
strict state water regulations and the rising costs of
infrastructure improvements as primary reasons for selling.
As the sun sets on California’s solar farms, a backup energy
source deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains springs to life. The
huge system of reservoirs and turbines can store energy during
the day and then crank out electricity for 900,000 homes, using
just water and gravity. As the state tries to make wind and
solar work around the clock, officials want to build more like
it. It won’t be easy: such projects take years to develop, are
expensive and face stiff opposition.
After decades of insisting otherwise and before the U.S.
Supreme Court has had a chance to rule on the issue, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took steps to limit its
interpretation of the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) jurisdiction over
The law – the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA –
is beginning to bite. A 2019 study from the Public Policy
Institute of California predicted that at least 500,000 acres
of farmland will eventually be idled. To ease the pain,
engineers are looking to harness an unconventional and unwieldy
source of water: The torrential storms that sometimes blast
across the Pacific Ocean and soak California.
The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is warning
water rights holders that failure to file their annual reports
will result in significant fines. Annual water use reports for
all appropriative water rights including permits, licenses,
registrations and certificates, were initially due on April 1.
According to the Board, only 57 percent of those with
appropriative water rights had filed the required reports for
2018 as of April 2.
California water users have been consistently frustrated over
the seemingly endless water curtailments imposed on them. …
Unfortunately, the messages from the regulators, political
leaders, and media are not always consistent and the public is
often left uncertain and confused. We wanted to show just how
much water can be “lost” by California’s current water system
State regulations, known as the Model Water Efficient Landscape
Ordinance (MWELO), include standards for landscape design and
irrigation efficiency that were last updated in 2015. While
hundreds of local jurisdictions have implemented the 2015
update (including Placerville, the county seat of El Dorado
County), the county government itself has not, although brisk
building activity has resulted in many new landscape
installations receiving county permits.
The county Board of Supervisors has voted to pour more
resources into Sativa Water District after the county Public
Works Department identified the extent of challenges facing
Sativa and the level of support required to stabilize the water
system and begin providing a more reliable source of clean and
clear water to its customers in Willowbrook and Compton until a
long-term service provider can take over.
Humboldt County could soon join a number of agencies around
California teaming up to license the Potter Valley Project, a
water development in the Eel and Russian river basins. The
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning
unanimously affirmed support for the coalition, which proposes
a “two-basin solution” to fix the various environmental
problems created by the enormous development.
California native Mayor Richard Bailey didn’t grow up in
Coronado. However, when elected to Coronado City Council in
2012 he became acutely aware of the decades long beach closures
in Coronado and Imperial Beach due to toxic waste flowing from
Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean.
I recently sat down with California water expert and Delta
Independent Science Board (ISB) member Jay Lund to talk about
some of the challenges and opportunities for scientists and
decision-makers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I am
pleased to share highlights from our conversation in this
month’s Delta Stewardship Council Chair’s blog.
The added water volume means crews contracted by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers are having to pull back from where they had
been working on the lake’s auxiliary dam, its service spillway
and the lake’s emergency spillway, said the corps’ project
manager, Anthony Burdock.
Since our great awakening in the 1960s, the Bay Area has become
a proud leader in protecting our local environment, from the
redwoods and ridgelines to San Francisco Bay. … But some
wealthy developers don’t care, despite decades of being told,
“no, we won’t build on the Bay anymore.” With Donald Trump’s
help, Cargill Salt and luxury home developer DMB Associates
keep putting their profit above the health of our Bay.
The Obama administration violated the law when it issued its
embattled definition of “waters of the United States,” a
federal court ruled yesterday. In a long-awaited decision, the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sided
with three states and a coalition of agriculture and industry
groups that have been trying to take down the joint EPA and
Army Corps of Engineers rule since 2015.
Each year, humans produce, prescribe, and ingest more
antibiotics than they did the year before. … But the drugs’
influence persists in the environment long after they’ve done
their duty in human bodies. In a new study that surveyed 91
rivers around the world, researchers found antibiotics in the
waters of nearly two-thirds of all the sites they sampled…
The city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority
are assessing pumped-water energy storage as a way to integrate
more renewable power, stabilize the power grid, reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and foster economic growth. Their
proposed San Vicente Energy Storage Facility would take water
from the existing San Vicente Reservoir and use electricity to
pump it to a smaller, higher elevation reservoir.
California regulators have approved allowing utilities to cut
off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers
to avoid catastrophic wildfires like the one sparked by power
lines last year that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the
city of Paradise.
Hermosa Beach, partnering with neighboring cities, was supposed
to receive the money from the State Water Resources Control
Board to help design and build the Greenbelt Infiltration
Project … meant to help clean the Herondo Drain Watershed,
which has consistently had elevated levels of bacteria. But the
city put the funding in jeopardy in March when the council
voted to dissolve a deal with neighboring cities and instead
find a new home for the project.
A Pleasanton company has an unusual idea to cool data storage
machines that they say uses a fraction of the energy and cuts
greenhouse gasses. But local environmentalists are against the
plan because of the possible impact it could have on San
This segment contains two interviews: In the first, KVPR
reporter Kerry Klein sheds light on what this document says and
does, and shares how San Joaquin Valley residents have
responded. In the second, Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback
explains some fracking basics, including what is and isn’t
known about the technique’s impact on the environment.
Before the threat of rising seas was widely understood,
California created an agency to protect its famous beaches from
overdevelopment. Now the state Coastal Commission is pouring
resources into a war against the effects of climate change, and
it could lead toward the removal of oceanfront homes.
First adopted in 2013 amid drying wells over the basin, the
county offset ordinance put a theoretical moratorium on
agricultural pumping. But the policy is set to expire later
this year when North County leaders adopt a basin-wide
sustainability plan—even though that plan could take another
several years to fully take effect.
Dan Efseaff, the parks and recreation director for the
devastated town of Paradise, Calif., looks out over Little
Feather River Canyon in Butte County. The Camp Fire raced up
this canyon like a blowtorch in a paper funnel on its way to
Paradise, incinerating most everything in its path, including
scores of homes. Efseaff is floating an idea that some may
think radical: paying people not to rebuild in this slice of
Because the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate
PFAS chemicals, states are left not only to research and track
them, but also to develop regulations to clean up already
dangerous levels of pollution. And, according to recent data
from the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group,
the West isn’t doing a great job.
Delta smelt are poor swimmers. When they have to swim against
voluminous outflows, they struggle. They also lack endurance
for distance and swimming against currents. This was the result
of the taxpayer-funded swim performance test conducted more
than 20 years ago. Why is this important?
Sentinel Peak Resources has cleared an environmental hurdle
that could allow it to move forward with years-old plans to
increase drilling in the Arroyo Grande Oil Field — but whether
it will or not is still up in the air. The Environmental
Protection Agency granted Sentinel Peak Resources an aquifer
exemption on April 30, exempting portions of the aquifer under
the oil field from protections guaranteed by the federal Safe
Drinking Water Act.
The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water
supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. For example …
many farm workers in California’s Central Valley have to buy
bottled water because their tap water contains unsafe levels of
arsenic and agricultural chemicals that have been linked to
elevated risks of infant death and cancer in adults. … So I
was distressed to hear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tout
the quality of drinking water in the U.S. in an interview on
March 20, 2019.
Mono and Inyo counties were handed a reprieve by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday. The Commission’s
Division of Hydropower Licensing found Premium Energy’s
application for a closed loop system from reservoirs in the
Owens Gorge to the White Mountains “patently deficient.” That’s
the good news. The FERC did not find the project patently
deficient because of environmental or common sense reasons…
Maintaining the cleanest water possible is one of the most
significant priorities of the Port of San Diego’s environmental
initiatives. This was the message of a nearly one-hour
presentation and discussion, held between port district staff
and the Board of Port Commissioners on May 14, on keeping
pollution out of San Diego Bay.
Del Puerto Water District and Central California Irrigation
District have developed the reservoir project without many
public concerns rising to the surface. That was until Patterson
city staff members showed up for Wednesday’s meeting. Maria
Encinas, a city management analyst, asked about a risk
assessment for adjacent communities like Patterson. A failure
in the dam on Del Puerto Creek, on the west side of Interstate
5, would appear to flood part of the city of 23,700, including
perhaps the downtown area in Patterson.
Once again, a big thirsty metropolis is looking at buying
Central Valley farmland with an eye toward boosting its water
supplies. And once again, neighboring farmers are nervous about
it. … And any proposal involving the movement of groundwater
from a rural area creates controversy, especially as farmers
begin to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management
A presentation by the U.S. Geological Survey to California
water boards has surfaced that reveals contamination in the
groundwater around the Orcutt oilfield, the Environmental
Defense Center in Santa Barbara claims. The advocacy group
released the information on Tuesday, stating that “federal
scientists found evidence of oil-field fluids in groundwater
underlying the nearby Orcutt oil field.”
The City of Oxnard struck back about reports of contaminated
drinking water within the city limits at it’s May 21, City
Council meeting City Manager Alex Nguyen said he wanted to set
the record straight about the issue.
Even though the Russian River watershed has received roughly
130 percent of the average rainfall this season, it is time to
discuss the impacts of overwatered landscapes as the dry
weather returns and irrigation controllers turn on.
Governor Newsom recently called for a state portfolio of
actions to manage water under rapidly changing climate and
other conditions. This post reviews the state of water
portfolio planning in California today.
It took two consulting groups, but a project charter for the
Sierra Valley Flood Hazard Restudy Project is finished and now
approved by members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors
on Tuesday, May 14.
It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t
have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset
crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset
crises, like droughts.
For years, nonprofits, politicians, state agencies and the U.S.
Forest Service have pointed to the East Fork of the upper San
Gabriel River as one of the more polluted fresh water rivers in
the state. This week, Heal the Bay … rated the upper East
Fork and the portion adjacent to the Cattle Canyon picnic area
— exactly where thousands would recreate on summer weekends —
100 percent Green, the highest rating in its 2018 River Report
A public meeting erupted into an impassioned rally in San Luis
Obispo Wednesday night as activists and local residents took
turns bashing a federal plan to resume leasing public land in
Central California to new oil and gas drilling, including
While there are all kinds of water safety issues to be aware
of, the State Water Resources Control Board wants the public to
know about one that may not be so obvious — freshwater harmful
algal blooms, or HABs. As California confronts the realities of
climate change, HABs have become increasingly common in rivers,
lakes and reservoirs, and they can be especially dangerous to
children and pets.
Cadiz is using Three Valleys Municipal Water District in
eastern Los Angeles County and the Jurupa Community Services
District in Riverside County to co-sponsor what they’re calling
a “peer review” of its groundwater plan, written by four
In retrospect, it’s clear: We’ve misunderstood how rivers work.
They don’t follow wishful parameters of the Army Corps of
Engineers’ 100-year flood guidelines, or the routes we’ve
penciled in between levees, or even the climatic expectations
of the past. A national program that presumes we can
choreograph today the floods of tomorrow is fundamentally
flawed. It’s time to recognize that the rivers will have their
way. Therefore we need to get out of the way.
After much speculation about whether Janet Nguyen might run for
one of Orange County’s hotly contested congressional seats in
2020, the Republican former state senator has thrown her hat in
a surprising ring. And she’s not alone. Nguyen is one of seven
people vying to fill a board of directors seat with the
Municipal Water District of Orange County.
The Santa Clara stretches 84 miles and through two counties
from the San Gabriel Mountains to the ocean just south of
Ventura Harbor. Over the past 20 years, millions of dollars
have been invested to protect and restore the river, work that
some say has reached a tipping point.
The Center for Biological Diversity and San Francisco Baykeeper
sued the Trump administration to force the addition of the
longfin smelt, the Sierra Nevada red fox and six other species
to the Endangered Species List… According to the lawsuit, the
agency had previously found the species worthy of endangered
species protections under the Obama administration but
the Trump administration had slow-walked the process…
An investigation into the Bay Conservation and Development
Commission found mismanagement and disorganization so rampant
that the once-celebrated watchdog agency allegedly neglected
its primary responsibility — to protect San Francisco Bay. A
state audit of the regulatory agency known as the BCDC
describes slow and inefficient enforcement, a huge backlog of
cases and an inability to perform key duties.
Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against
the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to
local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good
oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting
Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the
possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget
deliberations set for June 18.
The majority of the dozens of commenters at the meeting spoke
out against the analysis and the prospect of increased fracking
in the region, expressing concerns about air pollution,
drinking water quality, and climate change. … Tempers at the
meeting also flared for what many attendees viewed as a lack of
accountability from the BLM. The agency did not record the
meeting, instead inviting attendees to submit written comments
online, electronically, and only in English.
The proposal is to increase both base and usage rates by
approximately 40% in the first year, and by about 70% of the
current rate by July of 2023. … The last set of rate
increases ended in 2016, yet system costs have been increasing
each year due to inflation and maintenance expenses associated
with an aging system…
It appears Solano County and Vallejo have avoided a potentially
costly state shift in the groundwater sustainability priority
for the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands. While the final decision by the
Department of Water Resources has not been made, the state
agency has for now backed off its proposal to increase the
priority status from very low to medium for the lowlands.
Slow moving plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting
underneath homes, businesses and schools throughout Arizona.
… While some cities like Phoenix do not use groundwater for
drinking water, much of the state does.
A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported
water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered
at a Thursday board meeting. … Capitol Core Group, retained
in March, is looking at what water supply options are available
and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop
infrastructure to deliver into the valley.
The slower timeline for Huntington Beach resulted in it facing
new, stricter regulations and additional delays. The
controversial plant still needs two major permits, opponents
remain steadfast and a recent water-supply study raised
questions about the cost and need for the project.
On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County
Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved
a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on
groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan,
the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000
annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater
The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday voted to increase
local water rates for the next five years, despite receiving
691 protest letters from residents. Under the plan taking
effect July 1, most single-family households will pay $53.03 a
month — 70 cents more than now — in the first year of five
annual rate increases.
Barbara Vlamis is smiling. Often, the executive director of the
Chico-based advocacy group AquAlliance wears a steely
expression, as her work involves David-versus-Goliath battles
against powerful interests—namely, government agencies and
water brokers. Now, she’s satisfied, even a bit celebratory.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have
filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating
in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and
simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.
After 68 years of litigation and more than a half-century of
settlement talks, a dispute between the water district that
serves Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton has officially ended. The
agreement settles a lawsuit filed in 1951 and lays out how the
Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp
Pendleton will share water rights to the Santa Margarita River.
In 2016, California became the first state to pass legislation
regulating dairy methane, requiring the farms to cut their
manure emissions 40% by 2030. … Enter Neil Black. Black’s
company builds multimillion-dollar projects at the state’s
largest dairies to capture the gas.
As part of efforts by Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California (MWD) to assess its 2014-2016 turf replacement
program during the California drought, we evaluated how yards
changed after converting a lawn through a MWD rebate in LA
County. We also evaluated trends in participation across
While Belvedere officials consider a series of flood control
projects that could cost up to $27.1 million, the city has
appointed a new advisory committee that represents some of the
hillside homeowners who say that money shouldn’t come out of
their pockets. … An engineering consultant has designed
several iterations of the projects, which are meant to
safeguard the community from the forthcoming effects of
Kern’s oil industry took a pass Tuesday on a public hearing
focused on the environmental impacts of fracking, handing the
day to dozens of anti-oil activists who convened in downtown
Bakersfield to rail against the technique and the threat of
climate change. … The event was one of three hearings the BLM
is hosting as part of its plan to reopen federal land in
California to oil production.
The organization best known for backing a public takeover of
Cal Am’s local [Monterey Peninsula] water system filed an
appeal of the Planning Commission’s narrow approval of a permit
for the 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desal plant north of Marina
and associated infrastructure. The appeal argues the desal
project proposal fails to properly address several key details,
including groundwater rights, and calls for the county to
require a supplemental environmental review before considering
As the city considers changes to its wastewater rates, its
consultant, Nebraska-based HDR Engineering Inc., suggests users
that send “high strength” wastewater to the city’s treatment
system pay more because of the additional treatment costs.
Domestic septic tank/portable restroom discharges, industrial
laundry services and alcohol beverage manufacturers such as
breweries, wineries and distilleries could be affected…
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency
across nearly half the state. The drought declaration covers
the Olympic peninsula, the North Cascades, the eastern Cascades
and most of southwest Washington. It allows local governments
to tap into $2 million in state funding to respond to hardships
caused by the drought. … Snowpack is now at its fourth-lowest
level in the past 30 years.
City water will be flowing to yet another community living in
county jurisdiction with the state forcing the City Council’s
Monday action to supply water service to the privately owned
Ceres West Mobile Home Park. … The park, which was approved
by the county in 1969, had limited options to supply drinking
water to its residents because water from an on-site well
exceeds state limits for arsenic and nitrates.
Water is a currency in California, and the low-income
farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better
than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made
possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their
faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer
Cautiously, cautiously – that’s Napa County’s approach to
creating a watershed computer model that could someday
influence rural land use decisions in an effort to keep
contaminants out of city of Napa reservoirs. Given the stakes,
supervisors want stakeholders such as the wine industry and
environmentalists involved in various decisions.
Residents whose homes were flooded will not be eligible for
financial aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
because state officials determined the amount of damage was
insufficient to qualify.
The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield office is set to hold
a meeting Tuesday over a White House proposal that would expand
oil drilling and fracking on more than a million acres of
public land across the state. … The proposal includes 40 new
wells over the next 10 years on roughly 400,000 acres of public
land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate — land
where the surface is owned privately, but the mineral rights
beneath the ground are managed by the federal government.
Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has
rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary
Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. … Matt Cox is with the Klamath
River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement
the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter
has no legal effect.
Contaminated groundwater is an ongoing problem in some of the
state’s poorest rural communities, particularly in the San
Joaquin Valley. One big threat is nitrate, caused mainly by
many decades of crop fertilization with chemical fertilizers
and dairy manure. We talked to Anja Raudabaugh of Western
United Dairymen about what can be done to address these
The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest
tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people.
It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to
shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century.
We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and
beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But
it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have
to do better.
Mission Springs Water District alleged that Desert Water
Agency, which also provides water to more than 100,000 Palm
Springs and Cathedral City residents, made a board decision
that violated a previous settlement between the two agencies.
… Last month, the issue over groundwater management in Desert
Hot Springs picked up steam when a study group
formed by Mission Springs published a 16-page report that
lambasted Desert Water Agency’s actions…
Napa County’s latest watershed symposium came at a time when
tensions are high over how to protect trees and reservoirs in
the area’s mountains. Close to 200 people from various
backgrounds came to Copia on Thursday for an A-to-Z look at
what’s happening in the watersheds. Scientists, elected
officials, wine industry members and citizen activists all
The agency charged with monitoring water quality standards
throughout the Greater Los Angeles region found that local
cities have committed more than 2,000 water quality violations
within a five-year period, but the violators suffered little if
President Trump signed a disaster declaration Saturday for 17
Northern California counties that endured battering rains and
landslides this year, making them eligible for federal relief.
The move followed three emergency proclamations this year by
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who directed Caltrans to seek federal
assistance for a string of brutal February storms that doused
rural areas across the state, damaging roads and bridges.
On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive
Order to promote increased oil and gas development… Then, in
April 2019, in response to the President’s order, the US Bureau
of Land Management (BLM) proposed opening up more than 1
million acres of public land in California’s Central Valley and
southern Central Coast to oil and gas production.
Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters
around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain
in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to
fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction,
has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing,
similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the
act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.
The idea was to count the reductions in water consumption
thanks to new irrigation sources, and count that water toward
the city’s water yearly water allowance. After that, the city
would make those excess water credits available for sale to the
residents and businesses that had languished on the city’s
water waiting list, sometimes for years.
Poseidon Water, owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad
Desalination Plant, has received an updated permit from the San
Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB) governing
the desalination plant’s discharges into the Pacific Ocean.
Additionally, the permit includes structural and operational
changes to provide greater protection for marine life and water
Federal engineers are raising alarms that a “significant flood
event” could breach the spillway of Southern California’s aging
Prado Dam and potentially inundate dozens of Orange County
communities from Disneyland to Newport Beach. After conducting
an assessment of the 78-year-old structure earlier this month,
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was raising
the dam’s risk category from “moderate” to “high urgency.”
California agencies have appealed to air pollution control
officials to change the rules after backup generators failed
and water stopped pumping as wildfires burned last year. They
said they need more time to test and maintain diesel-operated
generators that power water facilities during a fire. Because
of air pollution concerns, the agencies are limited to testing
the diesel-powered generators as little as 20 hours per year in
A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday to block the
Federal Emergency Management Agency from moving forward with
its plans to offer flood insurance to developers and property
owners in 100-year flood zones in California, finding that the
agency failed to consider effects development might have on
endangered wildlife in those areas.
A nearly four-year investigation into how a chemical known to
cause cancer showed up in more than a dozen rural wells by the
San Luis Obispo County Airport has finally concluded with an
alleged culprit. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board investigators say that Noll Inc., a machine shop on
Thread Lane, is responsible for the trichloroethylene (TCE)
Halting plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River was the
theme of a well-attended fundraising event hosted May 4 by the
Siskiyou County Water Users Association. Guest speakers,
including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Siskiyou County Supervisor
Brandon Criss, former Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams
and Attorney James Buchal, author of “The Great Salmon Hoax”
discussed problems they foresee with dam removal which they
believe is far from a done deal.
A well for the Vineyard Avenue Acres Mutual Water Co. tested as
having water with more than 10 milligrams of nitrates per
liter, the limit set by the California State Water Resources
Control Board, according to a letter sent to customers by the
utility under state orders. The utility serves a discrete area
of El Rio, so the problem does not affect other parts of the
The Paradise Irrigation District said it plans on testing water
from lot-to-lot instead of in zoned areas. The process will
also give priority to people currently living in their homes or
in temporary housing on their properties in Paradise. Kevin
Phillips, the district’s director, said the majority of testing
they’ve done shows no contamination in the main lines, but
individual services lines are still showing volatile organic
compounds, like benzene.
When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would
allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim
Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered
unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a
safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few
colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia.
When it rains, it pours. And the Camp Fire just keeps on
pouring. The latest byproduct? Waterways testing positive for
heavy metals, from aluminum to selenium, as well as chemical
contaminants. And the most recent test results, released last
month, show unhealthy levels of both throughout the county,
primarily in Paradise and nearby creeks.
Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells,
farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8
percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to
receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased
charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District
board left intact for at least two years the current structure
that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount
residents and businesses pay.
The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be
reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the
next few years will write an entirely new chapter in
California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps
shifting water from agriculture to urban users and
Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of
validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including
the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders — the
Klamath Tribes — on April 18. … Water users that irrigate can
call the watermaster’s office if they believe someone with a
junior water right to theirs is irrigating with water that
should be coming to them.
When asked about his priorities, California’s recently
appointed Natural Resources Secretary quickly rattles off a
range of topics: climate change; strengthening water supply
resilience; and building water capacity for communities,
agriculture, and the environment, among them.
Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low
priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three
years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form
an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not.
At the 28th California Water Policy conference held in April of
2019, a panel discussed how tribal lands and tribal
representatives, as independent nations, can be integrated into
SGMA implementation, what some of the obstacles to doing so
are, and how those hurdles might be transcended.
The Yurok Tribal Council recently voted in favor of a
resolution to establish the Rights of the Klamath River.
According to the Yurok Tribe, the resolution “establishes the
Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally
evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from
pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused
climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by
genetically engineered organisms.”
Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater
services starting in just a few months. The last time
wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill
Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was
one of the most watched shows on television.
California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power
Commission, and Sonoma Water have officially put a foot forward
to explore a planning agreement for the project’s future. The
coalition is championing a “two-basin solution” that could
mitigate the effects of the Scott Dam on fish populations in
the Eel River while ensuring that the Russian River basin
doesn’t lose its water supply, which Potter Valley residents
have relied on for over 100 years.
The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
has “neglected its mission” to protect the bay and surrounding
wetlands, the California state auditor reported Tuesday. The
commission, which issues permits for activities like boating,
dredging and dumping, has a backlog of 230 open enforcement
cases, some decades old.
Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became
many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. …
When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the
area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural
economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged
water supplies could support such commercially valuable but
California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power
Commission and Sonoma Water announced that they have entered
into a planning agreement to explore pathways to relicense the
Potter Valley Project in the wake of Pacific Gas and Electric’s
decision to withdraw from the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission relicensing process for the project.
With the administration’s leadership, representatives of
farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive
negotiations on a complex package of actions that would
increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively
called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is
months away, but we are making progress.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially added the
Copper Bluff Mine in Hoopa to the Superfund National Priorities
list, one of seven sites added across the county and the only
one in California. … In the meantime, the mine continues to
leak acid drainage. Anywhere from 3 to 500 gallons of
contaminants are leaked into the Trinity River per minute…
Coastal Commission staff on Monday reiterated to The Herald
that Cal Am can appeal the city’s denial under the state’s
Coastal Act because the city charges an appeal fee. They called
the city’s own rules “internally inconsistent” and noted the
Coastal Act’s regulations supercede local ones.
People who live along the southern border all say the same
thing: When it rains, it stinks. The reason is a failing, aging
network of pipes that run from Mexico to wastewater treatment
plants in the U.S. When heavy rains fall, the pipes often break
and spill raw sewage on both sides of the border, causing not
only a putrid odor but public health and environmental
California struggles to deliver safe drinking water to millions
of residents. The challenges – often complex issues at the
interface of human, legislative, technical, and geological
dimensions – resist easy answers. Stanford experts explored
possible ways forward at a recent panel discussion in
More than 725,000 acres of Central Coast land could be opened
up for oil and gas extraction under a new plan led by the Trump
administration. But due to local regulations — and economic
realities — Santa Cruz County land appears unlikely to be
affected even if the plan is approved.
Counter-intuitively, the same environmental groups that have
championed the state’s climate goals want to kill all pumped
storage instead of evaluating each project on its own merits.
… Come hell or high water, there is no way that we can get to
100% renewable resources, which, by nature, are intermittent
and unreliable, without adequate storage.
State water regulators gave local sanitation officials three
more years to carry out their plan to reduce the amount of
chloride that ends up in the Santa Clara River. … The
sanitation district … was mandated to reduce the amount of
chloride, or salt, that discharges from wastewater treatment
plants into the Santa Clara River, largely due to concerns by
downstream farmers that chloride was damaging salt-sensitive
crops such as strawberries and avocados.
Armed with test tubes and trash bags, a team of environmental
advocates are looking at homeless camps in Riverside as part of
a broad effort to clean up the 2,840-square-mile Santa Ana
River Watershed. The long-term goal is to protect the water and
revive enjoyment of a 96-mile river that once was a center of
life in Southern California.
The West is still in the midst of a long-term water shortage in
Lake Powell and Lake Mead, primary reservoirs that serve 40
million people. For that reason, the Upper Basin states —
Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico — have to also come up
with their own drought contingency plans. That means Colorado
might be heading into choppy waters as one of the requirements
of a drought contingency plan — demand management — could pit
communities and regions against each other …
For rural communities in the central coast region of
California, the name “Harvard” does not connote excellence. For
these communities, where water is scarce and becoming scarcer,
it evokes greed and exploitation. As California takes its first
steps to regulate groundwater in the midst of a worsening water
crisis, Harvard’s endowment fund is investing millions into
vineyards that pump inordinate amounts of water from
California’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins.
State officials tasked with debris cleanup say they have been
directed not to enter an estimated 800 burned Butte County home
sites within 100 feet of a waterway. They’ve been told to wait
for representatives of several state and federal agencies to
reach an agreement on environmental assessment guidelines.
The plan by PG&E Corp. comes after the bankrupt utility
said a transmission line that snapped in windy weather probably
started last year’s Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history.
While the plan may end one problem, it creates another as
Californians seek ways to deal with what some fear could be
days and days of blackouts.
Various parties have recently claimed that the Klamath River
Compact Commission has authority over the proposal to remove
four dams in the Klamath Hydroelectric Project. … This
argument, while creative, is wrong. The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (or FERC) will decide whether the
proposed dam removal is in the public interest.
The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board will hold
workshops Thursday and Friday in Newport Beach about proposed
copper regulation in Newport Bay. … Copper enters the water
via “anti-fouling” paint on boat hulls. … But water experts
say the copper also harms the gills and nervous systems of fish
and kills invertebrates that other marine animals feed on.
A more than five-year moratorium on leasing land in California
for oil and gas development will be coming to an end with a May
9 Interior Department plan to open up about 725,000 acres
across the state’s Central Coast and the Bay Area for drilling.
The decision comes just two weeks after the Trump
administration released its plan to reopen more than 1 million
acres of public land and federal mineral estate in eight
counties in Central California to fracking.
Unlike tap water, there is no public repository of information
for consumers to look up the quality of their favorite bottled
water brand and see whether it is free of contaminants. The
Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies to
submit test reports each year for review… And while several
states receive test results each year as part of the permitting
process bottlers go through to sell their product, those are
often available only through public records requests.
In California, treated wastewater also is a critical source of
water for the environment, and, increasingly, a source for
recycled water. Climate change is worsening water scarcity and
flood risks. Advancements in engineering and technology can
help prepare wastewater agencies for a changing climate. But
significant shifts in policy and planning are needed to address
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water
deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a
multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could
provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of
rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will
be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the
overworked Colorado River is managed…
The nation’s most productive agricultural state will ban a
widely used toxic pesticide blamed for harming brain
development in babies, California officials said Wednesday. The
move would outlaw chlorpyrifos after scientists deemed it a
toxic air contaminant and discovered it to be more dangerous
than previously thought.
It’s true that a report published late last month in the
journal Environmental Health found a link between California
tap water and cancer. The study noted high levels of arsenic,
plus numerous other contaminants that may be more toxic in
combination than they are separately. … The problem is very
serious — but not necessarily statewide.