Water containing wastes – aka wastewater – from residential,
commercial and industrial processes requires treatment to remove
pollutants prior to discharge. After treatment, the water is
suitable for nonconsumption (nonpotable) and even potable use.
In California, water recycling is a critical component of the
state’s efforts to use water supplies more efficiently. The state
presently recycling about 669,000 acre-feet of water per year and
has the potential to reuse an additional two million acre-feet
Non-potable uses include:
landscape and crop irrigation
stream and wetlands enhancement
recreational lakes, fountains and decorative ponds
toilet flushing and gray water applications
as a barrier to protect groundwater supplies
from seawater intrusion
wetland habitat creation, restoration, and maintenance
The effluent is hauled ashore on barges, hit with a dose of
disinfectant, then deposited into a huge East Bay Municipal
Utility District sewer main called the Alameda Interceptor.
From there, the material joins the underground river of
everything else that’s been flushed down local toilets and
flows to the agency’s wastewater treatment plant at the foot of
the Bay Bridge.
In an alert to state regulators, Southern California Edison,
which operates the power station, said an unexpected surge of
wastewater led to an “upset” at the treatment plant that
morning, triggering an alarm but allowing the sewage to flow
through a 6,000-foot pipe out into the ocean before workers
could turn off the pumps.
Thanks to people hoarding toilet paper during the coronavirus
pandemic, some Californians have completely run out of bathroom
tissue. So what do they do when nature calls? They improvise.
And that, communities are discovering, can cause problems. Big,
stinky, overflowing problems.
States around the country say they won’t penalize water and
wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit
requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if
those delays are justified and documented. Delays, for example,
could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water
quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with
A sudden influx of water at the sewage treatment facility at
the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station early Wednesday
morning led to about 7,000 gallons of partially treated
wastewater being released about a mile into the Pacific.
Officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator,
said the sewage amounted to a “non-radiological release”…
Water agencies throughout the West are changing their
operations during the coronavirus outbreak to make sure cities
and farms don’t run dry. Their responses range from extreme
measures to modest adjustments to ensure their most critical
workers don’t succumb to the virus.
Highlighting the threat that coronavirus poses to basic public
health systems around California and the nation, a worker at
San Jose’s wastewater treatment plant — a facility that treats
the sewage from 1.5 million people in San Jose and seven other
cities — has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is a
janitor working as part of a contract company.
Many are then tossing the disinfectant wipes, paper towels and
other paper products they used into the toilet. The result has
been a coast-to-coast surge in backed-up sewer lines and
overflowing toilets, according to plumbers and public
officials, who have pleaded with Americans to spare the
nation’s pipes from further strain.
As the state grapples with the ripple effects of the
coronavirus outbreak, California’s Water Board says residents
should not flush disinfecting wipes or paper towels, or risk
dealing with backed-up plumbing and sewers.
The Water and Wastewater Pathway at Indian Springs High School
is strategically located near East Valley Water District’s new
state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. The Sterling
Natural Resource Center (SNRC) will provide a sustainable new
water supply to boost the region’s water independence.
Wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper does
in water. They are stronger, and many wipes include plastics
and materials like nylon. That means bad news for sewer
systems, some of which already are experiencing problems during
the coronavirus crisis.
California residents who are not able to pay their water,
sewer, energy or communications bills during the state’s novel
coronavirus state of emergency will not be at risk of having
their services shut off, the California Public Utilities
Commission said Tuesday.
Innocent consumer substitutions due to shortages caused by
fears about the spread of coronovirus could create serious
consequences which are critical to society and life, according
to leading supply chain academic Prof Richard Wilding. The
warning comes amid panic buying sweeping UK supermarkets…
The City of Morro Bay is getting a $62 million loan from the
Environmental Protection Agency to replace its aging wastewater
treatment plant. The new facility will be located near the
intersection of South Bay Blvd. and Highway 1.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
recently released guidance for wastewater workers, reporting
that coronaviruses are vulnerable to the same disinfection
techniques used currently in the health care sector.
In a part of the country where freshwater supplies are often
scarce, the Olivenhain (California) Municipal Water District is
doing its part. The 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility
recycles some 1 million gallons of high-quality effluent each
day for irrigation and shares even more with neighboring
Beaches were closed on Tuesday from the Mexico border to
Coronado as rain flushed sewage-contaminated runoff from
Tijuana into the San Diego region. “Things have gotten worse
than ever,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
The new career prep program was created out of a partnership
between the school district and water district that is linked
to the development of East Valley Water District’s
Sterling Natural Resource Center water recycling plant now
under construction across Sixth Street from the high school.
An environmental watchdog group has filed lawsuits against the
cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale alleging that the cities’
aging sewer systems are leaking bacteria from human feces into
stormwater drainage systems, contaminating local creeks and
ultimately the Bay.
The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an
investigative order in February that requires more monitoring
of sewage-tainted cross-border flows. The order requires the
International Boundary and Water Commission to monitor more
than a dozen locations over an 18-month period.
A handful of protesters marched outside the Mexican Consulate
in Little Italy, protesting cross border sewage flows. They
want Mexico to do more to fix the problem. Polluted water has
routinely flowed from Mexico into the United States since
December. “We feel like we’re not getting heard,” said Mitch
McKay, president of Citizens for Coastal Conservancy.
A sewage spill that occurred a day before Thanksgiving last
year prompted the Laguna Beach City Council to move forward
with a one-time sewer rate increase Tuesday that will account
for the financial fallout. Pending the result of a protest vote
by ratepayers, the 10% increase ups bills for single-family
homes to $800 annually, or $66.67 per month. The hike could
take effect as early as July 1.
Officials in the city of Tehachapi approved new water and sewer
fees — in case new housing developments start moving in — to
support the construction of infrastructure that can’t quite
support projected growth in the next 10 years.
The town of Fairfield is moving forward with a project to
better protect its wastewater treatment plant from large storms
and sea level rise. According to a press release from First
Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick, the project will cost a total of
$7.4 million but $3.33 million will be funded through a grant
from the United States Department of Housing and Urban
Developments’ (US HUD) Community Development Block Grant -
Reportedly a number of Mariposa County residents don’t believe
the Mariposa Public Utility District’s (MPUD) decades-old
sewage management system could provide service to potential new
motels or hotels and multi-family housing units. … In fact,
upon completion of the current retrofit and upgrade, MPUD
officials say the wastewater treatment facility could easily
handle three times as much capacity as it now processes.
City staff recommends Pleasanton sign on to a potentially $1
million task order with three other Tri-Valley public water
agencies for preliminary studies and community outreach … to
explore the possibility of supplementing the local water supply
with recycled water treated for drinking purposes, better known
as potable reuse water.
A Bay Area environmental group has sued the cities of Sunnyvale
and Mountain View, saying they are in violation of the federal
Clean Water Act for discharging raw sewage and polluted storm
water into creeks, sending bacteria pollution to levels more
than 50 times legal limits.
With the backing of an unusual mix of local Democrats,
Republicans, Border Patrol agents and environmental groups,
House Democrats leveraged their support for the trade bill —
one of Trump’s highest priorities — to secure the
administration’s rare backing for an environmental project.
Each group played a part.
This week the California Regional Water Quality Control Board
and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District agreed to the
financial settlement over one of the district’s largest sewage
spills in recent memory.
Vast amounts of valuable energy, agricultural nutrients, and
water could potentially be recovered from the world’s
fast-rising volume of municipal wastewater, according to a new
study by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water,
Environment and Health.
Borrego Solar is under contract to build … a 5 megawatt solar
facility at Manteca’s municipal wastewater treatment plant.
Interim City Manager Miranda Ludlow has indicated Manteca is in
talks with a number of firms to hammer out a solar power
A new law in California took effect Jan. 1 and requires
industrial business owners applying to a city or county for a
new or renewed business license to demonstrate enrollment in a
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater
permit, if it’s required. … Failure to comply will result in
delay or denial of a business license, effectively prohibiting
the business from starting its operations.
Two Italian-style restaurants have drawn generations of diners
to Occidental while serving pasta, pizza and soup — in recent
years under the burden of the steepest sewage treatment rates
in Sonoma County and among the highest in California. … There
could be some help coming from Graton, about 6 miles to the
east with an underutilized wastewater plant… But there’s a
Water-related projects topped the list of infrastructure
priorities for mayors, according to the 2019 Menino Survey of
Mayors released this month. Why it matters: The survey revealed
urgency around investments in water, wastewater and stormwater
facilities, with mayors 10 percentage points more likely to
focus on that issue than four years ago.
Fracta combines artificial intelligence with machine learning
and measures everything from soil quality to population density
of an area, along with historical information on when pipes
were installed and what they are made of. The startup says it
has already won contracts in 23 states, including cities such
as San Francisco and Oakland, which have faced water shortages.
One of the things that we humans have struggled with for
centuries, and some countries continue to do so, is how to
dispose of sewage and wastewater. People whose sewage is
treated in Arcata have a big advantage that has been copied
many thousands of times across the world. The Arcata wastewater
treatment center and the marsh are the result of science and
engineering that is currently under review.
For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by
invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But
the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more
aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions
of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep
The Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for
cities to keep dumping raw sewage into rivers by letting them
delay or otherwise change federally imposed fixes to their
sewer systems, according to interviews with local officials,
water utilities and their lobbyists.
An explosion rocked a portion of a Corona wastewater treatment
facility Friday but no injuries or chemical releases were
reported, city officials said in a news release. The cause of
the explosion is under investigation by the Corona Fire
Department and the Department of Water and Power.
The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, located just south of
LAX, purifies water and injects it into the ground to act as a
barrier between seawater and fresh groundwater. … But the
idea is to one day recycle wastewater into drinking water and
put it right back into the system. The industry is moving
cautiously, though, given what you might call a considerable
“ick” factor for the public.
On Jan. 11 homeowners, administrators and local officials broke
ground on the sewer project for the Larkfield neighborhoods,
which had been leveled by the 2017 fires. The project has been
a source of conversation and negotiation, as the homes had
previously been on individual septic systems.
Innovative efforts to accelerate
restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the
benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water
agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires.
Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of
California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address
persistent challenges facing the Colorado River.
These were among the issues Western Water explored in
2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed
Nobody seems to know why a rope that caused a nearly weeklong
boil-water advisory in Poway was there in the first place. The
rope had been hanging on a wall in a vault adjacent to the
clearwell drinking water reservoir and a stormwater drain. When
heavy rains on Nov. 28 and 29 caused the stormwater to surge
and back up into the vault, somehow the rope became lodged in a
swing gate allowing muddy water to leak into the reservoir…
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally storing and transporting
hazardous waste and agreed to a $5 million fine, federal
prosecutors said. The waste was produced by filtering arsenic
out of Sierra Nevada spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility
in Owens Valley, authorities said.
The increasing spills that have polluted the Tijuana River Valley
and ocean off Imperial Beach have resulted in frustration and
anger in recent years, but also triggered broad political
collaboration at the local, state and federal level that has put
the region on the brink of real action.
Evaporation ponds, which are commonly used in many industries
to manage wastewater, can span acres, occupying a large
footprint and often posing risks to birds and other wildlife.
… Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a way to double
the rate of evaporation by using solar energy and taking
advantage of water’s inherent properties.
A piece of rope “inexplicably” became lodged in a valve
separating a 10-million gallon reservoir from a storm drain in
late November, causing a nearly week-long, costly boil-water
advisory in Poway, a report prepared by the city for the state
Nearly two months after the Kincade fire was fully contained in
northeastern Sonoma County, Santa Rosa is struggling with an
after-effect of the massive blaze: its wastewater disposal
pipeline at The Geysers was disabled for six weeks, backing up
the Sebastopol-area plant with about 400 million gallons of
San Francisco officials were quick to dispute Trump’s claims.
But some of California’s most prized rivers, beaches and
streams are indeed contaminated with levels of fecal bacteria
that exceed state limits, threatening kayakers, swimmers — and
the state’s reputation as a bastion of environmental
The company, Watsonville-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc., was
accused of polluting a South Bay creek with manure for years,
despite orders and warnings dating back to the 1980s. The
judgment, the largest for a water pollution lawsuit in county
history, will be used in part to restore the damaged Fisher
Passing the new North American free trade agreement would mean
millions of dollars to help upgrade sewage infrastructure on
the border, say the agreement’s backers. But an environmental
group and a local organization on the U.S.-Mexico border say
it’s not enough.
During its 10 years, the Ellis Wastewater Treatment Facility
has reshaped itself to take in waste produced by a rapidly
changing city, factoring in an increased population and new
industries like large-scale beer production. Recently-completed
projects costing roughly $9 million have changed the face of
the wastewater facility by expanding treatment capacity,
tackling hard-to-process industry waste and building a system
that will provide biofuel to city vehicles.
The new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement reached
Tuesday commits the federal government to provide $300 million
for the Border Water Infrastructure Program to address
pollution on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the Tijuana
River Valley region, where millions of gallons of raw sewage,
heavy metals and other contaminants regularly flow from Tijuana
to San Diego.
The city mailed notices to Simi Valley property owners (not
renters) proposing raising sewer rates about 40% over the next
five years to pay for much-needed upgrades to the city’s sewer
system. The sewer treatment plant and many of the underground
pipes are nearly 50 years old. The plant must be upgraded and
many sections of pipe replaced.
Elected leaders from across South Bay San Diego announced
Tuesday a joint effort aimed at pressuring the federal
government to support a long-term fix to the sewage pollution
that routinely flows over the border from Tijuana, fouling
beaches as far north as Coronado.
Frogs are delaying another wastewater treatment facility
project, this time at the South San Luis Obispo County
Sanitation District in Oceano. The South SLO County Sanitation
District members are working to upgrade the nearly 50 year old
facility, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is
concerned construction could impact the California red-legged
frog, a species on the verge of being endangered.
Authorities have reopened about six miles of Orange County
ocean and bay water areas closed by a 1.4-million-gallon sewage
spill. … The estimated amount of the spill was revised down
from 4 million gallons. The city of Laguna Beach said
wastewater began leaking Wednesday afternoon from a broken
valve on a 24-inch city sewage pipe near Aliso and Wood Canyons
Through a variety of panel discussions, presentations and a
showcase of student research, the Re:Border conference is
exploring how San Diego State University and its regional
partners can contribute to innovative solutions for
water-related challenges in the transborder region.
A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s
internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has
retaliated against their state for political reasons, including
by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple
A bi-national conference at San Diego State University was
aimed at analyzing water resources in the Baja California and
San Diego border region where challenges include cross-border
pollution and water scarcity… Experts at the Reborder 2019
conference discussed ways to improve regional access to “a
secure and reliable water supply” through wastewater treatment
The Environmental Protection Agency fanned the flames of an
ongoing dispute with San Francisco on Thursday, reaffirming its
stance that the city’s water agency improperly discharges
wastewater into the ocean. In a letter to the San Francisco
Public Utilities Commission, EPA officials reiterated their
assessment that the city was out of step with its wastewater
discharge permit, which regulates water quality standards.
Thousands of gallons of partially treated wastewater was
released from California Men’s Colony into Chorro Creek
Thursday morning, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health
department said… Approximately 33,000 gallons of wastewater
were released from the prison north of San Luis Obispo…
A $32.6 million addition to a water treatment facility rising
out of the ground under giant cranes will turn waste into
electricity, and provide education, jobs and more to an
underserved community, according to the East Valley Water
District. A co-digester added to the Sterling Natural Resource
Center project will turn sewage and food waste into three
megawatts of power per year, enough to power about 1,950
The treatment plant isn’t only at risk from rising sea levels
… but also from rising groundwater and tectonic forces
causing the land to sink, according to the 2018 assessment
compiled by local sea level rise expert Alderon Laird. Laird
has said to expect .9 feet of sea level rising by 2030, 1.9
feet by 2050 and 3.2 feet by 2070. … Arcata city officials
are discussing moving the treatment … but that’s too
expensive to do right now.
The board charged with overseeing the water quality in much of
the San Francisco Bay Area unanimously approved a plan
requiring local businesses, residents and government agencies
to reduce the amount of fecal bacteria they put into the
Petaluma River watershed, including San Antonio Creek.
Ponds at wastewater treatment plants are like magnets for birds
and bird-watchers, especially those along the migration flyway
in California’s Central Valley area. Among them is the Clear
Creek plant in Redding, along the Sacramento River, which
serves as its receiving stream.
On September 10, 2019, at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium
in San Diego, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a
draft National Water Reuse Action Plan for public
comment—containing 46 proposed actions, to be accomplished by a
mix of federal, state, private, local and private stakeholders,
in order to promote 10 strategic objectives.
Orange County’s wastewater recycling program, a pioneering idea
that’s already touted as the largest of its type in the world,
is about to get bigger. Big enough, in fact, to serve the tap
water needs of about 1 million residents, according to the
Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation
Although still relegated largely to populated areas in such
water-challenged states as California, Arizona, Texas, and
Florida, water reuse is gaining ground in other areas. At the
same time, the focus of water reuse increasingly is shifting to
How do we mitigate the “yuck factor” that many people have
about reclaimed water use, when it’s been proven safe and
effective elsewhere? These concerns were discussed at
GreenerBuilder 2019, USGBC’s conference in the Pacific region,
hosted in San Francisco, where industry experts from across the
state led a panel discussion on tactics to improve onsite water
The revamped and expanded plant is expected to be operational
in spring 2021 and will do so with a new name — The Rosamond
CSD Water Reclamation Plant — to better describe its ultimate
purpose. In addition to handling the community’s wastewater
disposal, the plant will recharge the underlying groundwater
basin, providing additional groundwater for the District to
Winding westward along Marin County’s northern border, San
Antonio Creek encompasses about 20 percent of the Petaluma
River watershed. While the state has continuously designated
the main stem of the Petaluma River a contaminated water body
due to excessive levels of bacteria tied to fecal matter since
1975, San Antonio Creek, a tributary to the river, has gone
unaffected by the river’s bacteria problem. Until now.
A species of frog made famous by a Mark Twain short story has
delayed construction on Morro Bay’s new sewer plant, even
though the protected amphibian hasn’t been spotted anywhere on
the site in years.
Supreme Court justices, both conservative and liberal, appeared
skeptical Wednesday of a Trump administration argument that the
federal Clean Water Act should not apply to sewage plant
wastewater that flows into the ground and eventually seeps into
federally protected waters, such as rivers or oceans. The case
from Hawaii has emerged as a major test of the federal
anti-pollution law’s scope …
A supplemental environmental impact report on hydraulic
fracturing released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Land
Management found no significant impacts, and plans for leasing
1.2 million acres for oil and gas development in eight
counties, including Santa Barbara County, will not change.
Jaime Bonilla was sworn into office Friday as governor of
California’s neighboring Mexican state. … In his first major
speech since taking office, Governor Bonilla promised to
address poverty, public safety issues and end cross-border
sewage flows within six months. Bonilla, a dual U.S.-Mexico
citizen, formerly served as an elected member of the Otay Water
District in Chula Vista.
The City of Paso Robles recently celebrated the completion of
one of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in
the city’s history, new Tertiary Treatment Facilities at the
City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
A team led by USC Viterbi’s Adam Smith has found that purified
water returned to Southern California aquifers often becomes
contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a realization
that could have major implications on the global water supply.
Solano County has filed requests for water and sewer hookups at
the Brown Street location of the proposed Tiny Shelter homeless
pilot project – services that will cost the county thousands of
dollars to reconnect the property to Vacaville’s main lines.
Nationwide, more than a dozen utilities have started developing
renewable natural gas production through partnerships with
farmers, wastewater treatment plants and landfill operators,
while nine have proposed price premiums for customers who
choose it as a fuel, according to the American Gas Association.
The California Coastal Commission last week approved a project
proposed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation
to replace and reline about 6,500 feet of sewer line within
Doheny State Beach.
The Trump Administration’s EPA takeover, with its race to the
bottom rollbacks of the environmental and public health
protections that Americans have relied upon for decades, is
low; so low that even some of the industries the Administration
seeks to support are pushing back. But what the Trump
Administration has been up to lately in California–
weaponizing the Clean Water Act to serve a political
vendetta…well, can it get any lower than that?
Aging water treatment systems, failing pipes and a slew of
unregulated contaminants threaten to undermine water quality in
U.S. cities of all sizes. … Still, with only a handful of
exceptions, “water systems aren’t designed to focus on health,
they’re focused on cost-containment,” says Seth Siegel, whose
book “Troubled Water,” released this month, examines the
precarious state of water infrastructure in the U.S.
Morro Bay pushed through discussions about 17 possible
locations before it finally pinned down the South Bay Boulevard
and Highway 1 site for its water reclamation facility. But the
location is unacceptable to a group of residents who are
petitioning the city’s decision to purchase the site of the
The Ventura City Council approved a $200 million-plus plan
Monday that will give the city more drinking water and greatly
reduce the treated wastewater its sewer plant releases into the
Santa Clara River estuary. The big-ticket item in the city’s
plan is a new plant that will take wastewater that once went
into the estuary and treat it to drinking water standards…
Working to “Make Every Source a Resource” and striving toward a
more sustainable future, East Valley Water District Board of
Directors approved the addition of state-of-the-art co-digester
technology at the Sterling Natural Resource Center during the
Sept. 11 board meeting.
On Tuesday, city officials broke ground on a project to
modernize Stockton’s wastewater treatment facility in order to
meet stricter federal and statewide regulations and potentially
foster business and residential growth.
As CO2 levels rise more rapidly than predicted, we need to
re-assess infrastructure needs, from sewage plants and roads
located along the coasts as the sea level rises, to our water
supply and delivery system. “Infrastructure” might sound like a
boring word, but it won’t be so boring to any of us if water
doesn’t come out of the tap or untreated sewage is spilled into
The Senate approved almost $20 million in funding to address
sewage flows along the border. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who
secured language in three different appropriations bills for
the 2020 fiscal year, called the spills that send millions of
gallons of raw sewage from Tijuana to San Diego,
California’s senators have asked the Environmental Protection
Agency’s watchdog to investigate whether the agency abused its
enforcement powers when it accused San Francisco of improperly
dumping waste into the ocean.
The United States-Mexico border region is enduring the latest
in a series of massive cross-border sewage tainted spills.
Federal officials in charge of monitoring the trans-border
sewage situation on the U.S. side of the border said nearly 8
million gallons of tainted water flowed across the border in
the Tijuana River channel.
Water board members voiced concern at the last meeting over
what to do if state officials lower the threshold for PFAS
contamination to such a level that the wells would have to be
shut down. The board decided not to wait for such an
announcement and agreed to get the necessary water treatment
equipment up and running as soon as possible.
The project, called the Upper Salinas River Basin Conjunctive
Use Project, captures existing wastewater flows generated
within the eastside of the District and will return these flows
back to the Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. The
wastewater undergoes treatment and is then discharged into the
river alluvium that contains the Salinas River underflow
providing subsequent conveyance to district wells…
Bright pink “whiskers” have popped up in Riverside Park
recently, likely left by people performing a topography survey
in the beginning stages of a grant-funded project to restore
habitat in the largely undeveloped park that used to be home to
the city’s sewage treatment plant.
The cluster of streets, home to 166 single-family residences
before the subdivision was leveled by the Tubbs fire … was
built originally like a rural development: with homes relying
on septic systems instead of sewers. That’s set to change
starting next year, when work begins on a municipal-style sewer
system proponents say will provide peace of mind for
homeowners, ease environmental concerns, open up parcels to
further development and potentially increase property values.
There are numerous agencies involved in water quality issues
that are focused on the San Francisco Bay and the Delta. In
this brown bag seminar, Stephanie Fong, Interagency Ecological
Program Coordinator Chair, California Department of Fish and
Wildlife, discussed the technical, geographical, and political
boundaries that separate water quality monitoring in the Bay
and the Delta.
The California Water Boards sent at least 270 letters to
farmers in the Emerald Triangle, warning them to come into
compliance with regulations or face possible fines and even the
loss of their cultivation licenses.
Laguna Beach residents who described the beige water treatment
tower on Laguna Canyon Road as part of the city’s folklore and
identity called on the City Council on Tuesday night to restore
and renovate the building, possibly for use by small
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.
Elected leaders from around the San Diego region met with the
Trump administration on Tuesday to ask for help stopping the
sewage-tainted water that regularly flows in the Tijuana River
across the border with Mexico. Specifically, regional leaders
tried to persuade federal authorities to fund a more than
$400-million plan to capture and treat the pollution…
An influx of Bay Area visitors to Sonoma County’s bucolic
riverlands has spiked in recent years, bringing with it a
problem typically reserved for the privacy of one’s own home.
People are pooping in public.
Claims by President Donald Trump on Wednesday that discarded
drug needles in San Francisco are making their way through the
city’s sewage system and into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific
Ocean were widely blasted the following day by experts who say
he has no idea what he’s talking about.
From New York City to coastal California, a poison-producing
living slime is overtaking waterways and shorelines, killing
pets, ravaging tourism markets and making its way into local
drinking water. So far this year, algae has been implicated in
dog deaths and illness in California, Georgia, North Carolina
A new article on UC Davis’s California Water Blog shines a
light on just how complicated water governance can be and why
it matters… For more, listen to this interview with Kristin
Dobbin, one of the article’s co-authors and a UC Davis Ph.D.
student studying regional water management and drinking water
disparities in California.
“There’s tremendous pollution being put into the ocean because
they’re going through what’s called the storm sewer that’s for
rainwater,” Trump said. “And we have tremendous things that we
don’t have to discuss pouring into the ocean. You know there
are needles, there are other things.”
The administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a de-facto
moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while it studies permitting
procedures for the politically controversial oil
well-completion technique better known as fracking.
Efforts to increase recycled water use in California got a
significant boost this week with the State Water Board’s
issuance of an order authorizing the Sacramento Regional County
Sanitation District’s program to deliver an average of 45
million gallons per day of recycled water from the Sacramento
Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant …
Tiscornia Beach, an area on the lower American River frequented
by summer visitors, tested 7.5 times higher than the safety
threshold on Tuesday, according to data from the county and the
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Samples of
river water taken two weeks earlier at nearby Discovery Park
tested almost 5.5 times higher than the safety threshold.
A Sacramento Bee investigation found high levels of E. coli
bacteria — a sign of fecal contamination — along the lower
stretch of the American, where homeless camps line the banks,
residents walk their dogs, and where thousands of swimmers dip
into the water to escape Sacramento’s summer heat.
Residential graywater offers up a huge potential for our city
to offset potable water use. When the next drought rolls
around, and it will, we could be sitting pretty with healthy
trees and landscapes using less water from the Sierra than we
The blue ocean has turned a rusty red in Manhattan Beach — but
what is causing this change in color? The red tide, as it’s
called, is from an algal bloom, according to Valerie Hill,
administrative and development director at the Roundhouse
Aquarium off the Manhattan Beach Pier.
When the next drought rolls around, and it will, we could be
sitting pretty with healthy trees and landscapes using less
water from the Sierra than we do now. How could we accomplish
this? The answer is graywater, defined in California as the
discharge from laundry wash water, showers, and bathroom sinks.
The city of Ukiah made its first delivery of recycled water
through its extensive Purple Pipe system this week, putting
about 2 million gallons of water reclaimed from local sinks,
showers and toilets into an irrigation pond just south of the
Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.
To end a labor dispute that’s halted work on one of the largest
and most important water projects in San Diego history,
Assemblyman Todd Gloria rolled out a bill Friday to require
union-friendly terms for work on the project.
There’s a lot of confusion and concern about what will happen
once the city of Ventura no longer discharges millions of
gallons of water into the Santa Clara River Estuary. … To
help residents get a better understanding of how Ventura’s
wastewater operations work, and to help answer those questions,
city officials opened up its facility to the public last week.
The only bi-national financial institution dedicated to funding
environmental infrastructure projects along the border unveiled
six possible solutions to slowing down the cross-border sewage
spills that routinely shut down southern San Diego’s beaches.
A high-profile series of dog deaths has awakened the public to
the growing problem of toxic algal blooms, spurred by rising
temperatures and pollution. The blooms are emerging as a
national, not just regional, concern, according to preliminary
data reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
What Public Works Director Mark Houghton touts as “Manteca’s
own refinery” is now converting methane gas generated at the
wastewater treatment plant along with food waste to produce
compressed liquefied gas. And in doing so, Manteca is well on
its way to effectively wiping out all CO2 impacts the
wastewater treatment process creates and then some.
Residents of the Larkfield Estates neighborhood north of Santa
Rosa who lost their homes in the October 2017 Tubbs Fire are
asking a builder to help them build a new sewer system this
year that is as affordable as possible.
Escondido is moving forward on a reverse osmosis treatment
facility that will reduce the city’s wastewater and also
provide more recycled water for agricultural use. The project
will divert millions of gallons of water from the discharge
pipeline, and turn it into highly treated irrigation water.
It’s expected to begin construction in early 2020…
Oxnard Assistant Public Works Director Tien Ng presented the
item and said the city wants to integrate the water, wastewater
recycled water and stormwater while looking for opportunities
to align projects on the same street. They want to do them at
the same time. Doing this enhances the schedule and cost for
The ban passed last week means that about 8,000 Russian River
property owners are now looking at how to repair or replace
substandard or failing residential sewage disposal systems when
the new law goes into effect next year.
Finding a way to deal with the wastewater produced by a town
full of people is a challenge, one that’s forced the
McKinleyville Community Services District to find some creative
solutions. Officials are touting the emerging solution as a
win-win, a cutting-edge project that will serve the district’s
needs at minimal cost to ratepayers while also helping the
Newly released documents shed light on why a sewage processing
agency, Silicon Valley Clean Water, paid its general manager
$875,000 as part of a severance agreement, and it appears a big
part of that was equity the agency gave him in a $4.5 million,
six-bedroom home in the hills overlooking Redwood City.
The City Council is split on how much to raise water rates over
the next five years to fund projects that will wean Santa
Monica off of imported water. … Bi-monthly water and
wastewater bills for single-family homes would increase by $23
on average under the lower rate structure and $36 under the
higher rate structure.
Sonoma County has hired a new ombudsman, Alisha O’Laughlin, to
help river residents deal with the new maze of regulations
targeting older sewage disposal systems along the Russian River
and its tributaries. … O’Loughlin’s hiring coincides with
county efforts to implement its onsite wastewater treatment
system (OWTS) regulations and comply with state law…
Across the United States, more than 460,000 households, or
nearly 1.5 million people, lack a plumbed connection to
drinking water or sewers. … A new study in the Annals of the
American Association of Geographers takes a detailed look at
the persistence of “plumbing poverty” in the U.S. …
In Jamestown work has begun on a new $13.73-million wastewater
treatment facility that should be operational by September of
2021. The facility is being built on property along Karlee Lane
that was purchased by the Jamestown Sanitary District in 1993
for the sole purpose of constructing a future plant.
Like many communities throughout California, Carpinteria faces
sustained and historic drought conditions. … In response to
the shortfall, CVWD proposes a $25 million project to take
wastewater that has been cleaned, purify it and then inject it
into the groundwater basin to be used for various needs,
including potable drinking water.
Native seaweed has the potential to be cultivated in California
coastal waters and used to alleviate the effects of local ocean
acidification, according to a new study funded by NOAA’s
California Sea Grant.
A team of scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Colorado
School of Mines (Mines) is developing a microbe-based system
that could remove toxic compounds from oilfield produced water
so it can be reused in other water-intensive sectors such as
agriculture and energy production.
Customs and Border Protection commissioned a six-month study,
published earlier this year, of 42 samples from the river and
two culverts during dry, wet, post-rain, and standing water
conditions. … Justin Castrejon, a Border Patrol agent and
regional spokesman, said the report validated the claims of
agents who have complained of physical health ailments after
patrolling the affected areas.
Researchers from Stanford University have developed an
affordable, durable technology that could harness energy
generated from mixing freshwater from seawater. Outlined in a
new paper … they suggest that this “blue energy” could make
coastal wastewater treatment plants energy-independent.
State water officials ordered an investigation this week into
the elusive source of contamination in Richardson Bay, where
water samples collected near Tiburon beaches have shown high
bacteria levels for more than two months.
Contractors are busy digging, stockpiling and hauling off an
average of 40 truckloads of contaminated soil a day from the
site of a former wastewater treatment plant at Larkspur
Landing. About 64,000 tons of the mixed soil and demolition
debris, which contains trace amounts of polychlorinated
biphenyls, or PCBs, will be sent to a municipal landfill, while
another 2,600 tons, will be shipped to a hazardous waste
The sewage processing agency that serves Menlo Park, San
Carlos, Belmont and Redwood City paid its former general
manager $875,000 as part of a severance agreement, according to
documents obtained by the Post. However, the circumstances
behind the departure of Daniel Child are about as murky as the
effluent that flows into the agency’s plant…
The East Bay Municipal Utility District now has a back-up plan
that includes filling water tanks to capacity during Red Flag
Warnings… Portable generators would go in cities like
Berkeley, Castro Valley, and San Ramon starting on Aug. 1.
Other Bay Area water agencies also have plans in place.
By 2030, the Carpinteria Valley Water District estimates that
on a dry year, the deficit could be as high as 1,550 acre
feet—enough to fill 775 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or serve
the average yearly use of 6,200 local households. In response
to the shortfall, CVWD proposes a $25 million project to take
wastewater that has been cleaned, purify it and then inject it
into the groundwater basin…
Blasted by sun and beaten by waves,
plastic bottles and bags shed fibers and tiny flecks of
microplastic debris that litter the San Francisco Bay where they
can choke the marine life that inadvertently consumes it.
Just how much Manteca’s treated wastewater is worth to
agricultural users served by the Delta Mendota Canal that are
often at the mercy of fish flows diversions and drought that
reduces their Central Valley Project allocations may be
determined in the coming year.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved an exclusive
negotiating rights agreement with Cal Am for the Chualar,
Boronda and Pajaro sanitary sewer systems, and authorized
county Resource Management Agency director Carl Holm to
negotiate, execute, and implement the sale and transfer of the
systems. … The county has been seeking to sell the sewer
systems for years…
Today, Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51) along with Reps. Susan Davis
(CA-53), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Mike Levin (CA-49), hosted a
press conference to announce the introduction of their Tijuana
River Valley Pollution Solution bill package. The combined
legislation would further support mitigation efforts in the
Fifty feet below the platform of the Powell Street BART Station
sits the starting point for one of the largest water recycling
projects in San Francisco — one that’s transforming dirty
groundwater into clean steam heat for hundreds of downtown
buildings. In the process, it’s saving tens of millions of
gallons of drinking water annually.
Visitors are being encouraged to stay out of the water at
Mission Bay due to high bacteria levels. On July 17, the San
Diego County Department of Environmental Health issued an alert
for the Bonita Cove part of the Bay that stated: “Bacteria
levels may exceed health standards. Avoid water contact in the
advisory area.” In addition to Bonita Cove, visitors are being
told to not enter the water at Leisure Lagoon.
For around 20 years, Los Angeles has shipped a large portion of
“biosolids” from its toilets to fertilize a farm it owns just
west of Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in return, has been providing
an annual load of 18,000 acre-feet of free water to the farm.
However, after passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, the value of treated wastewater increased.
While the San Simeon decision appeared quick and easy to make,
it had taken decades to get the issue to that point.
Commissioners and San Simeon representatives seemed equally
relieved to have finally come to an agreement that involves
getting within 10 years enough grant funds to move the plant
further from the coast.
On June 28, the city of Lompoc received an inspection report
from the Environmental Protection Agency concerning an April
inspection of its wastewater discharge permit. … Seven
violations were noted. While some were technical, there were
also some violations aimed at the current political attitude of
three councilmen toward regulatory compliance.
In a letter recently distributed to a number of residents in
the unincorporated areas of the Los Angeles County Department
of Public Health announced a new fee on septic tank users,
leaving some confused and others surprised.
American Biodiesel also admitted to tampering with monitoring
devices and methods that are designed to detect clean water
standards. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, employees’
tampering was done with the purpose of underreporting acid and
pollutant levels and volumes that otherwise would have exceeded
figures allowed by the city’s regulations.
The commission voted unanimously Thursday to proceed with the
new infrastructure plans. Project advocates said the site,
located more than 3 miles inland, was the type of plan the
commission wanted to see because it will keep the plant away
from the sea where it’s vulnerable to flooding, tsunamis and
While the local sewerage agencies followed state and federal
law in reporting spills to governmental agencies, the public
wouldn’t necessarily know much about them. In this case, it has
taken Heal the Bay, a statewide environmental organization, to
dig them out of bureaucracies’ files.
Climate-conscious local and state officials are increasingly
embracing electricity sources that float on water, as they seek
ways to convert their least-coveted spaces into hubs of
electricity. This summer alone, developers broke ground on
California’s largest floating solar project, located on a
wastewater treatment pond in Sonoma County.
People who fish for carp have a love for them, as I learned
when I joined my guides at the middle of the river in Long
Beach. Lauren Mollica, a former pro skateboarder who now works
primarily as a carpenter, has been fishing the L.A. River for
about a year, and she waxes rhapsodic about the scent freshly
caught carp leaves on one’s hands.
Summer is a good time to take a
break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and
watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting
a chance to do plenty of that this July.
But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss
some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re
taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned
for later this year, we want to help you catch up on
Western Water stories from the first half of this year
that you might have missed.
There’s a new twist in the California-Trump brawl in the state
Legislature. It’s aimed at overriding the president’s power to
weaken environmental protections. Put simply, any federal
protections President Trump tried to gut would immediately
become state regulations in their original, strong form.
A decade-long debate over how and where to build the new Morro
Bay sewage treatment plant will come to head at a California
Coastal Commission meeting in San Luis Obispo on Thursday. …
The preferred site is located on about 15 acres of a 396-acre
property at the corner of Highway 1 and South Bay Boulevard.
A legal case brought by the Associated General Contractors has
delayed the Pure Water project, one of the city’s most
ambitious undertakings ever. Hundreds of jobs are on the line,
but the stakes may be even higher regionally.
The 2018-19 Solano County grand jury concluded that if treated
wastewater could be used to irrigate crops that saved water
would help meet the water needs of a growing population. …
The grand jury also had recommendations on plant efficiency and
taking advantage of other renewable energies and plant output,
such as using wind and solar power for plant operations…
Each day, people living on the streets and camping along waterways across California face the same struggle – finding clean drinking water and a place to wash and go to the bathroom.
Some find friendly businesses willing to help, or public restrooms and drinking water fountains. Yet for many homeless people, accessing the water and sanitation that most people take for granted remains a daily struggle.
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.
Steve Frattini, mayor of Herrin, Ill., went to a water
conference a few years ago in California amid a severe drought.
So he started working on a plan to send water to the area. The
water is from the city’s wastewater treatment plant … The
Wastewater Treatment Plant has a rail line nearby that would be
used to transport the water… Initially, Frattini said the
water would go to the area near the Salton Sea in southern
California, a sea that’s been drying up for years.
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.
Billions of gallons of treated wastewater is dumped into our
California coast each day, and with it, billions of resident
dollars are quite literally going to waste. Why aren’t we
utilizing available solutions to stop this sewage discharge and
capitalize on our people’s investment in clean drinking water?
The Moulton Niguel Water District has agreed to pay $4.8
million to settle a 3-year dispute with South Orange County
Wastewater Authority, which processes a portion of the
district’s wastewater, according to a settlement agreement
released Monday. … Moulton Niguel stopped paying capital
improvement invoices for the plant in 2016, saying it would
sign past-due checks only as part of a process to terminate its
contract to use the plant.
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…
A new bill introduced by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson …
would effectively ban traditional cigarettes through its
prohibition on the sale of tobacco products that have
single-use filters. … Cigarette butts constitute about a
third of all the trash found on California’s beaches
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
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.
The district is considering a five-year series of rates
increases — up to 5% per year for sewer and up to 6% per year
for water. … As district staff have explained during public
meetings, much of STPUD’s infrastructure is outdated and in
need of repair or replacement. Additionally, more than 10% of
the STPUD’s water system lacks adequate water capacity to fight
a major fire.
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
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.
There are actions we can take today that will reduce the
pressure on struggling sea life and protect the industries and
communities that rely on a healthy ocean. … The Ocean
Resiliency Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 69) tackles a range of
threats facing our fisheries, from fertilizer runoff that feeds
harmful algae to sediment flowing downstream from logging
operations that violate clean water rules, which can silt up
the spaces between rocks where baby salmon shelter and feed.
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
County supervisors backed an ordinance that would regulate
alternative water treatment options for contaminated small
water systems on a trial basis amid public concerns regarding
the potential cost and complexity of the proposed rules.
A group of Democratic senators and San Diego County-based
congressional representatives sent a letter to multiple federal
agencies Tuesday urging them to address sewage runoff in the
Tijuana River … Local and state officials as well as
environmental activists have decried the condition of the
Tijuana River for years, which regularly causes beach closures
along the county’s coastline, particularly after heavy rain.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday after a
meeting at the White House, that President Trump has agreed to
invest $2 trillion to revitalize the nation’s infrastructure.
Congressional leaders said they will return to the White House
in three weeks to determine how to pay for it.
Despite cost increases and weather-related delays, construction
of the 1.6 billion-gallon Trampas Canyon Reservoir in south
Orange County is well underway and officials continue pointing
to long-term savings to be gleaned by reducing the need for
imported water. … Construction costs have soared from the
2016 estimate of $56 million to $83 million today…
Tracy Hall says she’s lucky to have friendly neighbors who
allow her to live in an RV on their property while water laps
at a temporary barrier on the edge of her property. But Hall
and others are tired of the disruption to their lives that
started more than two years ago when the formerly dry lake in
Lemmon Valley filled with stormwater runoff and urban effluent.
The development of the Arcata Marsh as an integral part of
wastewater treatment in Arcata was the primary focus of two
professors at Humboldt State University, George Allen and
Robert Gearheart, who developed a process that uses what was a
former salt marsh as a means to treat sewage that is then
discharged into Humboldt Bay. On May 7, Gearheart … will be
honored by the Environmental Law Institute at its annual awards
dinner in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday unveiled a Green New Deal for Los
Angeles, setting aggressive new environmental goals in a range
of areas, including electric autos, air quality, trees and
public transit. … The plan includes a reiteration of some
previous commitments, but also sets some new benchmarks,
including sourcing 70% of L.A.’s water locally and
recycling 100% of all wastewater for beneficial reuse by 2035.
Gena Jacob figures she may come out ahead, in at least one
respect, in the wake of the Tubbs fire that leveled her
Larkfield home. … Through a program created by Sonoma Water
and offered to 143 homeowners in Larkfield Estates, they plan
to connect to a new sewer line — freeing them from the
constraints of their aging septic system — with a financing
package that takes some of the sting out of the cost.
Santa Barbara’s wastewater treatment facility has officially
rebranded as El Estero Water Resources Center in a move to
change public perceptions about the reuse of wastewater. The
facility, previously known as El Estero Wastewater Treatment
Plant, celebrated the name change on Monday with a host of
speakers and a tour of the facility.
Introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) and backed by a
diverse array of environmental and business interests, SB 69,
“The Ocean Resiliency Act,” tackles questions as big as the
ocean itself. How much waste does California put in the ocean?
How much more can our oceans take? And how will climate change
amplify our mistreatment of our natural resources?
The current five members of the Montecito Water Board ran as
slate candidates in 2016 and 2108, and they won election
largely on the promise of recycling treated wastewater for
irrigation. A group of wealthy donors poured $200,000 into
their campaigns. Yet the new board seems in no hurry to get the