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
In an effort to end Thousand Oaks’ near total reliance on
imported water, public works staff is asking the City Council
to commit $16.6 million over the next two years to build a
groundwater treatment plant at the city’s publicly owned golf
course. The Los Robles Greens Golf Course Groundwater
Utilization Project—which will be offset with an estimated $6
million in State Water Project (Prop. 1) grants—is the single
most expensive item on the city’s proposed $97-million 2019-21
capital improvement program budget…
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled on Friday
that the EPA’s 2015 power plant wastewater pollution rule was
not stringent enough, siding with environmentalists. Circuit
Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan ruled in favor of various
environmental groups that portions of the wastewater rule
regulating legacy wastewater and liquid from impoundments were
Oakwood Lakes Water District that serves a gated community and
a mobile home park just outside of the southwest Manteca city
limits needs to expand and upgrade its wastewater treatment
plant. Manteca needs to find a way to send storm water from a
large swath of southwest Manteca to the San Joaquin River. The
two needs have led to a proposed agreement between the water
district and the city …
Currently, the city has two significant environmental impact
reports, which CEQA requires, making their way through the
development process. One is for a plan to build a 7-mile
pipeline to tap into Ventura’s long-held investment in state
water. … The other project would capture effluent from
Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, treat it and turn it into
Expected to temporarily hold excess sewer flows during storms,
a project to build an underground flow equalization system
underneath the San Mateo County Event Center parking lot is one
of several components of San Mateo’s Clean Water Program. …
But for many residents … pile driving and the installation of
dewatering wells included in the project’s construction plans
drew concerns about noise, the structural integrity of nearby
homes and the project’s impact on neighbors’ quality of life.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget
for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the
highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history. …
The budget includes an infrastructure investment of $715.8
million, an increase of nearly 300% over the $179.4 million
infrastructure allocation in the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget
… More than half of that is earmarked for the city’s Pure
Water program, which aims to recycle sewage into drinking
With recurring sewage spills, some San Diegans are still afraid
to go into the water at some of the county’s southern-most
beaches. Now, local leaders are fighting the U.S. and Mexican
governments to clean up the waste-filled waters near the
Statewide leaders in agriculture recently launched an
initiative to clean oilfield wastewater for use in arid Western
states, hoping to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and
improve the lives of ranchers and farmers.
On 177 acres situated between San Clemente’s Talega community
and Ortega Highway, mountainous earthworks are taking shape.
Santa Margarita Water District … is building a
1.6-billion-gallon reservoir. When completed in 2020, Trampas
Canyon Reservoir, less than a half-mile north of Talega, will
be able to store recycled wastewater collected from as many as
five South Orange County treatment plants.
City officials approved a plan for a new groundwater
sustainability project, hoping it will be a solution to
increase the supply of groundwater and find a place for excess
effluent water coming to the Tehachapi Waste Water Treatment
Plant. The benefits will not appear for decades, when the
project is complete.
Mexican and American officials met in Mexico City this week to
talk about fixing a costly set of problems that have sprung up
along the border: failing sewer systems that send raw sewage
spilling into rivers. … Roberto Salmón, Mexico’s commissioner
of the International Boundary and Water Commission, said border
cities from Tijuana to Matamoros need a total of about 10
billion pesos, or $520 million, “just to bring the sanitary
systems up to speed, to correct the problems.”
San Diego water customers will soon pay $6 to $13 more a month
to fund the first part of the city’s new recycled water
project, according to a newly released estimate. The city is
working on a multibillion-dollar plan to purify enough sewage
to provide a third of the city’s drinking water by 2035.
Armed with a recent court ruling that climate change must be
considered in decisions to open federal land to oil and gas
drilling, conservationists shot the opening volley Thursday in
what promises to be a protracted legal battle over the future
of fracking and oil drilling in Northern California.
Behind every toilet flush and faucet turn that draws on a
public water system, there’s an entire industry making sure the
water meets certain standards. … But McKeon and others in the
field worry about a looming shortage of water-treatment plant
operators, as a wave of older operators hits retirement age.
McKeon fears that in the next 10 years, there won’t be enough
operators to monitor and control every public water system
Rate increases are being proposed in part to help pay for
improvements to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility, which
is set to go through the first phase of a modification project
aimed at extending the life of existing amenities at the plant.
The modification project will also improve working conditions
for employees, and bring the site into compliance with national
pollutant discharge standards.
In places like Oakland, flooding will occur not just at the
shoreline, but inland in areas once considered safe from sea
level rise, including the Oakland Coliseum and Jones Avenue,
where [UC Berkeley professor Kristina] Hill and her students
now stood, more than a mile from San Leandro Bay. In fact, she
added, rising groundwater menaces nearly the entire band of
low-lying land around San Francisco Bay, as well as many other
coastal parts of the U.S.
City officials in Tehachapi are investigating ways to move
treated effluent water coming from Tehachapi’s Waste Water
Treatment Plant. More potable water could be available if a
groundwater reuse project becomes reality, opening more land at
Tehachapi Municipal Airport for potential growth.
The upgraded facility can now handle an average of 18 million
gallons per day, with a wet weather flow capacity of up to 36
million gallons. There’s also room for growth, with the
facility designed to accommodate up to an average of 22 million
gallons per day with the addition of added MBR cassettes.
Milpitas mayor Rich Tran is following up on a campaign promise
to do something about the bad odor that has drifted over the
city for decades. … The goal is to trace the source of the
stench, which residents have long suspected to come from the
Newby Island landfill, the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional
Wastewater Facility or the Zanker-owned recycling facility.
AquaCycl, a San Diego-based wastewater treatment startup, took
home the grand prize at the San Diego Angel Conference on March
15. … The company developed a technology that uses
electricity-generating bacteria to speed up wastewater
treatment rates, resulting in a more efficient, lower-cost
After years of planning, the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary
District is gearing up to break ground on a three-year,
multimillion-dollar renovation of its sewage treatment plant.
Workers were rained out the past couple of months but are now
preparing the work site at the district headquarters at 300
Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael to replace the wastewater
treatment facilities and expand its recycled water capacity.
Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would
expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680
toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery
and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The
21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial
zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater
Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast
to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained
district biologist Kelly Davidson.
The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract
that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath
McKinley Park. The goal of the project is to provide a place to
store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and
wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can
send it all into East Sacramento’s streets.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne
Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the
management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.
Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was
appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the
United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees
myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to
sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado
River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other
rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be
named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and
Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the
commission’s 129-year history.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los
Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the
Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant by 2035 signals an end to the
era of addressing water shortages by importing water from
far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of
reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A.
residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the
technology that will produce safe water.
Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s
wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250
million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the
nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility
that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed
more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff
into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest
inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.
A long-simmering, multi-million dollar dispute among coastal
Orange County water and sewage districts took a major step
toward resolution Wednesday, when a Superior Court judge issued
a tentative ruling that Moulton Niguel Water District is
obligated to pay outstanding bills to the South Orange County
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
Imported water from the Sierra
Nevada and the Colorado River built Southern California. Yet as
drought, climate change and environmental concerns render those
supplies increasingly at risk, the Southland’s cities have ramped
up their efforts to rely more on local sources and less on
Far and away the most ambitious goal has been set by the city of
Santa Monica, which in 2014 embarked on a course to be virtually
water independent through local sources by 2023. In the 1990s,
Santa Monica was completely dependent on imported water. Now, it
derives more than 70 percent of its water locally.
A comprehensive bill addressing ocean concerns will call for
improving the quality of ocean water and wetlands, better
salmon habitats, and rules that would protect whales from being
hit by ships. … Other potential legislation ranges from
a move to end the practice of pumping treated sewage into the
ocean to a law that would eliminate most paper shopping
receipts to a smoking ban on all California state beaches.
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.
A controversial oilfield wastewater disposal operation east of
Bakersfield has been shut down amid a years-long regulatory
crackdown and opposition by environmental activist
organizations. The Jan. 3 closure … puts an end to a
practice regional water quality regulators say threatened to
foul Bakersfield’s water supply through a slow process of
Redlands’ wastewater treatment facility needs $40 million in
upgrades soon thanks to years of deferred maintenance,
officials say. But it could be worse – building a new
facility would cost $100 million. The original plant was
built in the 1960s, and the last major changes were made in
San Diego County has agreed to pay nearly $700,000 for a
pipeline rupture that dumped raw sewage into a San Diego River
tributary. The spill sent about 760,000 gallons of sewage into
Los Coches Creek in February and March 2017, violating the
federal Clean Water Act, among other state and federal rules.
The sewer rate increases approved for Morro Bay will go into
effect in July, despite opposition from a group that earlier
claimed it got enough protest signatures to stop the rate hike.
Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins clarified in a recent
report that the protest was unsuccessful and the measure will
go into effect with customers seeing the additional charge on
their August bill.
The City of Chico has seen a population explosion,
and it’s not just the roads that are impacted. Post-Camp
Fire sewage production numbers are at an all-time
high. Before the fire, Chico’s wastewater treatment
facility processed about 6 million gallons of waste on average
per day. Since then that amount has gone up to 7 million.
Biosolid production has gone up 70%, while overall waste and
sewage flows are up 17%.
California’s Imperial Irrigation District will get the
last word on the seven-state Colorado River Drought Contingency
Plans. And IID could end up with $200 million to restore the
badly polluted and fast-drying Salton Sea. Thursday, as the
clock ticked toward a midnight deadline set by a top federal
official, all eyes had been on Arizona. But lawmakers there
approved the Colorado River drought deal with about seven hours
to spare. IID, an often-overlooked southeastern California
agricultural water district, appears to have thrown a
last-minute monkey wrench into the process.
Sonoma County water officials, under order from the state to
improve the capacity of their sewage system, say a valve
malfunction and leaky pipes resulted in a string of spills this
month that released 2.7 million gallons of waste and
stormwater, some of which flowed into local creeks and San
For decades, the New River has flowed north across the
U.S.-Mexico border carrying toxic pollution and the stench of
sewage. Now lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento are pursuing
legislation and funding to combat the problems. “I feel very
optimistic that we’re going to be able to get some things done
on the New River issue,” said Assemblymember Eduardo
Technology already exists to treat reused water to levels
meeting or exceeding health standards. But adequate technical
capacity is not sufficient. Water reuse can trigger revulsion,
especially when water is reused for drinking or other potable
purposes. This note explores outreach and engagement strategies
to overcome the “yuck factor” and achieve public support for
Arcadis has announced it will partner with Kiewit
Infrastructure West and PERC Water to serve as the progressive
design-build team for the Sustainable Water Infrastructure
Project (SWIP) in the City of Santa Monica, Calif. Currently,
the city partially relies on imported water to meet its
water needs. This project will allow the city to take a major
step toward water independence, supporting existing programs
designed to create a sustainable water supply
The new majority on the Escondido City Council
appears poised to rescind the former council’s 2017 decision to
locate a $44 million recycled water plant in the middle of a
residential area. “It’s the wrong location,” newly elected
Mayor Paul “Mac” McNamara said of the site in the center of the
city at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Ash Street.
”It might cost us a few more bucks, but in the long term, it’s
better to have it where it needs to be.”
You can now register for our full slate of water tours for
2019, including a new tour along California’s Central Coast to
view a river’s restoration following a major dam removal, check
out efforts to desalt ocean water, recycle wastewater and
manage groundwater and seawater intrusion.
This month’s second annual Cuyamaca College Center for Water
Studies “Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways” symposium
will provide a good opportunity for women and girls to learn
about a career in the field. Cuyamaca’s Center for Water
Studies opened in the fall of 2018. A renovated complex with
new classrooms, it also has a water quality analysis laboratory
and a workshop, and offers related skills-based courses. Last
year’s event drew nearly 200 participants. This year’s all-day
conference starts at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17.
There’s every reason to expect that 2019 will be far better,
largely because of Measure W, which was passed by voters in
November. The initiative imposes a Los Angeles County parcel
tax that will generate $300 million per year to reduce
pollution from runoff and capture storm water to add to the
The tenth annual performance report evaluates what the
state water boards do and how the environment is responding to
its actions. The report presents numerous performance
measures for specific outputs and outcomes.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships
among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring
water quality within California and throughout the Southwest
and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the
Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US
Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
A sewage spill that federal officials said started Monday night
south of the border continues to flood the Tijuana River with
millions of gallons of raw effluent. A ruptured collector pipe
in southeast Tijuana is leaking roughly 7 million gallons a day
of sewage into the river, according to the U.S. section of the
International Boundary and Water Commission.
The equivalent of more than six million gallons a day of raw
sewage has been spilling into the Tijuana River since Monday
night, according to federal officials. The U.S. section of the
International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, said
Tuesday that counterparts in Mexico informed the agency that
the cause of the sewage leak was a ruptured collector pipe.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States,
passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky
green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of
trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city
filled with factories that manufacture products from
electronics to auto parts.
Cross-border water pollution between Tijuana and South San
Diego is not new, but in recent years, the problem has grown
worse. The reasons are complicated: There is Tijuana’s
topography, with its steep hillsides and canyons that drain
towards the border; the factories that get away with illegal
dumping; the city’s rapid population growth, aging wastewater
infrastructure and inadequate garbage collection. In the U.S.,
funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency have
prevented improvements to the Borderlands’ sewage system.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States,
passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky
green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of
trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city
filled with factories that manufacture products from
electronics to auto parts.
The Hopi Tribe cannot claim special damage on land controlled
by the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, the Arizona Supreme Court
ruled Thursday, all but ending an eight-year legal battle
and ensuring the ski area can continue using machine-made snow
on the state’s most popular slopes. The Hopi Tribe’s
lawsuit was originally about the machine-made snow. Its
complaint alleged that Snowbowl’s use of treated
wastewater to make the snow damaged the San Francisco Peaks,
which the tribe considers sacred.
In the waning weeks of the two-year legislative session,
Michigan lawmakers and local health departments are negotiating
revisions to two bills that would alter the state’s sanitary
code for septic tanks and other household wastewater treatment
systems. Changes are expected to expand the number of septic
inspections in order to identify leaking or broken systems that
pollute waters and pose disease risks.
Poor countries around the world are facing a dangerous shortage
of toilets that puts millions of live at risk, according to
campaigners marking World Toilet Day by urging governments and
businesses to invest more in sanitation.
Wastewater flowing from Mexico into Arizona fills a stretch of
the lower Santa Cruz River through the state’s southern
desert—but keeping the water clean and sewer pipe repaired
rankles both sides of the border. The 8.5-mile sewer pipeline
has caused issues for at least a decade and leaked raw sewage
last year, prompting Gov. Doug Ducey ® to briefly declare a
state of emergency.
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday
night against the Trump administration, alleging that the
federal government violated the Clean Water Act by allowing, in
recent years, millions of gallons of raw sewage, heavy metals
and other contamination to routinely spill from Tijuana into
A lawsuit brought by South Bay cities alleging the federal
government is not doing enough to prevent and treat the flow of
Tijuana sewage into the U.S. can move forward, a San Diego
federal judge ordered this week. The ruling, filed Wednesday,
comes a day after U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller toured
pumps and water-capture basins in the Tijuana River Valley to
get a first-hand look at the issue.
Among the great variety of locations a couple might consider as
their wedding venue, a sewage treatment plant probably would
not rank highly. Yet weddings are happening at the Brightwater
Treatment Plant near Maltby, Washington. To be precise, couples
are booking the Brightwater Education and Community Center for
their nuptials. Two dozen couples have tied the knot within the
center’s striking contemporary architecture since 2014.
Horror tales from recent earthquakes overseas are moving people
in Seattle, Portland and along the Pacific Northwest coast to
give a crap about where to crap after a major earthquake. It’s
not something we typically discuss in polite company, but
disaster planners say that when water and sewage service fails,
finding a place to poop is a big deal.
Federal court judge Jeffrey T. Miller toured the Tijuana River
Valley for several hours on Tuesday to observe pumps and canyon
collectors along the border intended to prevent sewage from
spilling into San Diego. The unusual move comes as the result
of a contentious legal battle in which Miller must decide
whether the Trump administration is doing enough to stop sewage
that routinely pours into the United States from Mexico.
It might seem harmless at first: a thread of dental floss
tossed in the toilet, a contact lens swirling down the drain of
the bathroom sink. But even the tiniest of items can
contaminate waterways. … Pharmaceuticals, which are also
frequently flushed down the drain, have been found in our
drinking water, and the consequences are not fully known.
Bottled water giant Crystal Geyser has been charged by a grand
jury with 16 counts of violating environmental and hazardous
waste laws, after the jury viewed evidence that the company
improperly disposed of toxic waste, a Department of Justice
press release said.
Coronado’s mayor flew to Oklahoma this week to talk with the
head of the Environmental Protection Agency about possible
solutions to the recurring Tijuana sewage spills that sully the
San Diego County coastline. Mayor Richard Bailey and
Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke one-on-one for about 20
minutes Tuesday during an annual meeting between leading
environmental experts and regulators from Mexico, the United
States and Canada.
Wastewater recycling doesn’t have to be a fancy affair.
Sometimes it can be as simple as building a pipeline. That is
more or less the full description of the North Valley Regional
Recycled Water Project. Only a year after starting
construction, at a cost of around $90 million, the project is
already delivering recycled urban wastewater to farms and
wildlife refuges in California’s San Joaquin Valley, providing
a reliable new water supply to a drought-plagued region.
The state Attorney General has joined San Diego’s regional
water regulators in pressuring the White House to do more to
address sewage from Tijuana that routinely spills over the
border fouling beaches as far north as Coronado. The San Diego
Regional Water Quality Control Board, with the backing of
Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, on Monday filed a
60-day notice of intent to sue the federal government for
violations of the Clean Water Act.
The top United States official at the international agency
charged with overseeing efforts to stem ongoing water pollution
in the Tijuana River Valley stepped down on Friday. The
departure of Edward Drusina, former commissioner of the U.S.
section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or
IBWC, comes as the agency continues to face legal attacks from
South Bay cities that routinely shutter beaches due to
pollution from south of the border.
The city of Oakland and East Bay Municipal Utility District
must pay more than $360,000 for violating the Clean Water Act
by allowing untreated sewage into the San Francisco Bay,
officials said Tuesday. In 2014, EBMUD and seven East Bay
communities it serves, including Oakland and Berkeley, paid
$1.5 million in civil penalties for past sewage discharges.
[Rep. Susan] Davis, a San Diego Democrat on the House Armed
Services Committee, has grown concerned about untreated sewage
leaking from Tijuana’s aging and overworked wastewater
collection and treatment system, a problem exacerbated by
surges of fecal contamination when Mexican pipes break, pumps
fail and rain falls.
Disposal of sewage is something most people would rather not
think about, but that reluctance is costing Marin residents a
pretty penny, according to a new Marin County Civil Grand Jury
report. The report, released Friday, recommends immediate
consolidation of three sanitary districts in central Marin —
Sanitary District No. 1 (Ross Valley), Sanitary District No. 2
(Corte Madera) and the San Rafael Sanitary District.
A plan to pipe treated wastewater from Tijuana to the Guadalupe
Valley is being championed by authorities who say the project
not only would support the state’s wine-growing region, but
also solve another problem: reducing the flow to the
overburdened San Antonio de los Buenos coastal sewage treatment
Members of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board
gathered in a closed session on Monday afternoon, debating
whether to file a lawsuit against the federal government to
stem the cross-border flow of sewage, sediment and other
contaminants from Tijuana to San Diego.
South Bay elected officials said they are filing a lawsuit
Friday in the most dramatic attempt in decades to force the
federal government to plug up the millions of gallons of sewage
and polluted water that routinely stream over the border from
Tijuana into the San Diego region.
Becky Van and Kale Novalis knew exactly when and where they
were going to tell each other, “I love you,” for the first
time. … The couple had signed up for a Valentine’s Day tour
of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest of
14 wastewater treatment facilities in New York City.
The pipes carrying away the effluvia of very sick people are
bound to be nasty, dirty places. But just how unwholesome they
are is made clear in a new report showing that the pipes
beneath a hospital intensive care unit are a throbbing,
seething hookup zone for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
On Thursday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
special agent Don Tanner confirmed the investigation will be
conducted into the incident involving the spill of up to 4.9
million gallons of untreated wastewater into the bay from the
Monterey One Water treatment plant.
An investigation will be conducted into the failure of a
computer warning system at the Monterey One Water regional
treatment plant which allowed millions of gallons of untreated
sewage to flow into the Monterey Bay for more than eight hours
late Friday night and early Saturday morning. According to
Monterey One Water General Manager Paul Sciuto, the
investigation began Monday morning and will be conducted by the
consulting firm Pinnacle ART.
Precipitation carrying tainted water through the Tijuana River
into the Pacific Ocean triggered beach closures Tuesday evening
from the international border to Seacoast Drive in Imperial
Beach. … The pollution from stormwater runoff adds to
spills from aging pipes and potentially hazardous discharges
from the deteriorating San Antonio de Los Buenos sewage
treatment plant in Punta Bandera, located about six miles south
of the border.
The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water
Commission announced Thursday that it wants to hold a workshop
with San Diego-area cities and agencies in hopes of staving off
a lawsuit over the flow of sewage from Mexico.
Officials in Imperial Beach said Wednesday that sewage flowing
up the coast from Tijuana fouled miles of shoreline over the
weekend, severely sickening surfers and other beach goers.
Mayor Serge Dedina, who also fell ill, said he received no
advanced notice from officials in Mexico about the pollution.
At least one San Diego leader wants water researchers to start
testing city waterways for hepatitis A. Councilman David
Alvarez on Thursday penned a letter to the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project requesting that the
environmental research group start testing as many as a
half-dozen area waterways for the deadly liver infection.
The San Diego River saw a huge increase of pollution from human
feces last winter, according to documents obtained from
regional water quality regulators. The flood of human waste
came as storms drenched the region, washing pollution from the
urban environment into watersheds and potentially flushing
sewage from leaky pipes through groundwater into rivers and
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to join
the growing legal campaign to force the federal government to
do more to stop sewage from spilling over the border from
Tijuana that routinely fouls South Bay beaches. “Enough is
enough,” Supervisor Greg Cox, whose district includes border
region with Mexico, said in a statement.
Kern County has agreed to stop challenging the City of Los
Angeles over its practice of dumping treated human waste on
Kern County farmland, capping a bitter legal battle that has
spanned more than a decade.
North Coast water regulators are taking another run at a
comprehensive program to prevent bacterial contamination of the
Russian River, one that includes provisions likely to have
significant impacts for thousands of homeowners dependent on
aging septic systems.
Federal water-quality officials on Thursday released a list of
actions taken in recent years to stop wastewater from flowing
from Mexico into the San Diego region, a little more than a
week after the city of Imperial Beach threatened a lawsuit.
The National Park Service has plans to replace aging sewer and
water lines in the Muir Woods National Monument that could
cause “significant damage” to the environment if they rupture,
including to Redwood Creek, home to delicate fish populations.
A state agency has issued a notice of violation to Modesto for
discharging roughly 755 million gallons of partially treated
waste water in to the San Joaquin River in March because the
city’s sewer system had been overwhelmed by storms and rising
A much-anticipated report on a sewage spill in Tijuana that has
sparked tensions with San Diego County gave mixed findings
Monday. … The investigation was launched by the
International Boundary and Water Commission, which oversees
water treaties between Mexico and the United States, among
Baja California’s governor is preparing to declare a state of
emergency in the coming days, hoping to draw financial aid for
Tijuana’s strained and underfunded sewage system following a
massive spill that sent millions of gallons of untreated
wastewater from Tijuana across the border and into San Diego
About 143 million gallons of sewage spilled into the Tijuana
River during a period of more than two weeks, said a
report released Friday. No other sewage spill in the
greater San Diego-Tijuana region has approached this magnitude
in years, according to the environmental group Wildcoast.
Modesto appears to have bought itself some time before it may
have to release partially treated wastewater that poses a
public health risk into the San Joaquin River. The city’s sewer
system has been overwhelmed by the recent storms and rising
river water, and it is reaching its capacity to store the
For decades, California oil companies have disposed of
wastewater by pumping it into aquifers that were supposed to be
protected by federal law. California regulators mistakenly
granted permits to do it, through a combination of poor record
keeping, miscommunication and permitting errors.
Kern County has lost a key round in its decade-long battle with
Southern California waste districts over the land application
of treated human and industrial waste. Now the Board of
Supervisors will have to decide whether to appeal the loss and
continue the fight.
For more than 30 years, wastewater from oil and gas operations
has been used to irrigate food crops in California. Regulators
will re-examine the safety of that practice during a public
A company that has trained dogs to recognize the smell of human
fecal bacteria has been sniffing out sources of water pollution
nationwide, discovering broken sewer pipes, leaking septic
tanks and illegal sewage discharges, to the delight of
environmental groups and government agencies.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls nutrient
pollution the “single greatest challenge to our nation’s water
quality.” Rising concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in
waterways, the agency reports, are a significant threat to
human health, ecosystems, and local economies.
It is now possible to imagine a future in which highly treated
wastewater will be plumbed directly into California homes as a
new drinking water supply. On September 8, the State Water
Resources Control Board released a long-awaited report on the
feasibility of so-called “direct potable reuse.”
I [John Holland] drove out past Merced last year to see a dairy
farmer testing a new idea. He irrigated 40 acres of feed corn
with drip lines, which are much more common in orchards and
vineyards than annual crops.
In rural areas with widely dispersed houses, reliance upon a
sewer system is not practical compared to individual
wastewater treatment methods. These on-site management facilities
– or septic systems – are more commonplace given their simpler
structure, efficiency and easy maintenance.
Microplastics – plastic debris
measuring less than 5 millimeters – are an
increasing water quality concern. Entering the water as
industrial microbeads or as larger plastic litter that degrade
into small pellets, microplastics come from a variety of
Directly detecting harmful pathogens in water can be expensive,
unreliable and incredibly complicated. Fortunately, certain
organisms are known to consistently coexist with these harmful
microbes which are substantially easier to detect and culture:
coliform bacteria. These generally non-toxic organisms are
frequently used as “indicator
species,” or organisms whose presence demonstrates a
particular feature of its surrounding environment.
The biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of water determines the
impact of decaying matter on species in a specific ecosystem.
Sampling for BOD tests how much oxygen is needed by bacteria to
break down the organic matter.
Point sources release pollutants from discrete conveyances, such
as a discharge pipe, and are regulated by federal and state
agencies. The main point source dischargers are factories and
sewage treatment plants, which release treated
The first test of ocean water following a massive California
sewage spill came back clean Wednesday, suggesting stinky
sludge that drained into the Los Angeles River didn’t flow 20
miles to the coast, officials said.
A damaged sewage line spilled a total of
about 2.4 million gallons of untreated
waste into the Los Angeles River and has
forced the closure of all beaches in Long Beach and Seal
Beach, officials said Tuesday.
Organizers of a petition drive to ban the practice of
irrigating crops with recycled oil field wastewater will be
pitching their cause on Saturday morning to customers at
markets in nine cities across the state, including a
Ralph’s in Los Angeles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned the
disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste water at public sewage
plants, formalizing a voluntary practice that removed most
fracking waste from Pennsylvania plants starting in 2011. The
EPA on Monday finalized a rule that prevents operators from
disposing of waste from unconventional oil & gas operations at
publicly owned treatment works [POTW's].
Settling a major lawsuit from environmentalists, San Jose city
officials on Tuesday agreed to spend more than $100 million
over the next decade and beyond to reduce tons of trash that
flows into creeks and San Francisco Bay, repair miles of
leaking underground sewage pipes and clean stormwater
contaminated with harmful bacteria.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District hired
Dragados USA to build a biological nutrient removal station,
part of a larger $1.5 billion to $2 billion effort to meet
stricter state standards on wastewater pollutants discharged
into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing in its
mandate to protect underground drinking water reserves from
oilfield contamination, according to a federal review singling
out lax EPA oversight in California, where the state routinely
allowed oil companies to dump wastewater into some drinking
By a unanimous vote, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water
District, a water wholesaler for about 353 square miles of San
Bernardino County, certified the proposed Sterling Natural
Resources Center project, which would capture and treat East
Valley Water District’s wastewater and add the output to the
Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin, which is at a historic low
A 2005 spate of quakes in California’s Central Valley almost
certainly was triggered by oilfield injection underground, a
study published Thursday said in the first such link in
California between oil and gas operations and earthquakes.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials were in Carlsbad
on Wednesday to announce more than $182 million in federal
funding that will be funneled to drinking water and wastewater
infrastructure improvements throughout California.
A U.S. Interior Department investigation glossed over the
federal government’s negligence in a massive toxic wastewater
spill from an inactive gold mine that fouled rivers in three
states, Republicans in Congress said as they pushed for a more
detailed explanation of the accident.
In an attempt to prevent its oil industry from contaminating
groundwater sources that could be used for drinking water,
California regulators closed 33 wells last week that were
injecting oilfield waste into protected aquifers.
An Associated Press analysis of data from leading oil- and
gas-producing states found more than 180 million gallons of
wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014 in incidents involving
ruptured pipes, overflowing storage tanks and even deliberate
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board ignored
its own staff recommendation and voted to let Valley Water
Management Co. continue disposing of excess wastewater by
spraying it on hillsides for another 21/2 years.
Although treating wastewater generally ranks alongside police
and fire safety, schools, and transit as the top priorities of
any sensible city hall, new ideas about cleaning up sewage
almost never attract headlines or TV airtime. … It has taken
a four-year drought in California to change that.
In the fourth year of an unrelenting drought emergency, every
use of water in California is being put under the microscope.
Watering a lawn, filling a pool, washing a car, growing food —
all are familiar practices now viewed with a more critical eye.
The same is true of California’s oil industry, the nation’s
The farm is taking part in a research project using worms to
consume nitrogen in manure-tainted water that irrigates its
feed crops. The goal, in part, is to reduce the risk of
pollution. But the process also has a byproduct – an especially
rich fertilizer that can be sold to home gardeners and other
Seeking to accelerate San Diego’s efforts toward greater water
independence, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will lobby Gov. Jerry Brown
today for financial and regulatory help with the city’s $3.5
billion plan to recycle sewage into drinking water.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews
and other Silicon Valley leaders on Monday took big gulps of
recycled water — filtered, cleaned and disinfected sewage — to
show that it is safe and should be a growing part of Silicon
Valley’s drinking water future.
The question of how the state’s petroleum companies should
dispose of wastewater that comes from the ground mixed with
newly pumped crude oil attracted a gathering of anti-fracking
protesters in Long Beach on Tuesday.
In hearings at the Capitol last week, lawmakers excoriated
Brown’s staff for letting oil drillers inject wastewater into
wells in protected aquifers and for allowing a battery recycler
in Southern California to operate under a temporary permit for
decades while emitting hazardous waste.
The agencies charged with overseeing oil production and
protecting California’s ever-dwindling water sources from the
industry’s pollution all fell down on the job, one state
official told a panel of peeved lawmakers Tuesday.
California officials, responding to concerns about groundwater
contamination, are closing 12 wells in the Central Valley used
to dispose of chemical-laden water from oil and gas production,
regulators announced Tuesday.
Water officials in Kern County discovered that oil producers
have been dumping chemical-laden wastewater into hundreds of
unlined pits that are operating without proper permits.
… The pits — long, shallow troughs gouged out of dirt —
hold water that is produced from fracking and other oil
The city of Dixon is suing a taxpayers’ group, trying to block
an electoral challenge to a sewage rate increase in a growing
rift over how to pay for $23 million or more in state-mandated
improvements to the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Fresno is turning its sewer farm into a drought-buster. City
Hall has started building the first phase of an advanced
treatment plant that will deliver millions of gallons of water
every day for non-drinking uses, such as irrigation of green
The recent revelation that oil companies were allowed to inject
wastewater into federally protected aquifers has spurred alarm
from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and put state
regulators on the defensive.
The show floor at WWETT 2015 will be filled with the latest and
greatest products the water and wastewater industry has to
offer. But it’s also important to remember where the industry
came from. A historical display, sponsored by NASSCO, and
coming to the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment and
Transport (WWETT) Show in February, will do just that.
By next year work should be underway on National Park Service
property at Stinson Beach to gird against rising seas that are
predicted to swallow part of Marin’s coast sometime this
century. The threat of sea-level rise is the primary reason why
the park service is planning a $2.3 million revamp of a
wastewater treatment system …
DC Water dedicated its second Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) on
December 12, 2014. It has been named “Nannie”, in honor of
Nannie Helen Burroughs, a prominent 20th century
African-American educator, civil rights activist, and
Washington resident. This TBM will join another – called “Lady
Bird” – as part of Washington’s strategy to reduce combined
sewage overflows into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers when it
A broad coalition of 27 non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
including The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and The
Conservation Fund has pledged to support the Urban Waters
Federal Partnership as it works to restore waterways and
revitalize communities across the country. … Many urban
waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from
city streets, and contamination from abandoned industrial
A proposal to deliver wastewater from a Toro-area community
services district to the regional treatment plant for recycling
could be a key part of any Monterey County Board of Supervisors
approval of the Ferrini Ranch development.
As climate change exacerbates the most severe weather and
speeds sea-level rise, deficiencies in wastewater
infrastructure will become harder to ignore—and increasingly
costly to clean up after failures.
What comes to mind when you think of purple? Likely you conjure
images of grapes, flowers, or your favorite socks. How about a
purple pipe? Most states require pipes to be colored purple if
they carry reclaimed water. … Reclaimed, or recycled, water
is highly treated wastewater that’s used again for a variety of
purposes such as irrigation, industrial processes, and cooling
In a new report, the Center for American Progress takes a look
at the danger climate change poses to wastewater systems from
stronger storms, higher seas, and heavier downpours and offers
realistic and cost-effective recommendations to shore up this
aging infrastructure before the next massive storm. Chief among
those recommendations are that all new investments in
wastewater infrastructure take into account the projected
impacts of climate change and that affordable, green
infrastructure solutions be considered.
Step by step, sewage flows through the city’s Donald C. Tillman
Water Reclamation Plant in the San Fernando Valley. Ultimately,
the cleaned effluent flows into lakes and rivers.
… Mayor Eric Garcetti, who prefers the term “showers to
flowers” instead of “toilet to tap,” also lobbied for
groundwater cleanup funds.
Because of restrictions on burning, California hospital
representatives say their only option appears to be trucking
the waste over public highways and incinerating it in another
state — a prospect that makes some environmental advocates
uneasy. … Dr. David Perrott, chief medical officer for
the California Hospital Assn., said there was also confusion
about whether infected human waste could be flushed down the
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the
faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close
to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their
water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and
testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from,
how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality
are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water:
Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems
and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to
households throughout the state.
In the West, it is not a matter of if a drought will occur, but
when. In an effort to develop a drought-proof water supply, many
communities are turning to water recycling. Water recycling is
reusing treated wastewater for irrigating golf courses, other
urban landscapes, some crops, wetlands enhancement, industrial
processes and even groundwater recharge. But many people do not
understand how water is treated, recycled and reused, causing
some to oppose new projects.
This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the
importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes
sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps
communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes
extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater
concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for
presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and
This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster,
suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom,
focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.
The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land
subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and
wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action
that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development
of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water
supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing
treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including
irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge
and industrial uses.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to California
Wastewater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the history of wastewater
treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and
disposed of today. The guide also offers case studies of
different treatment plants and their treatment processes.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex and
competing issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity
and agricultural drainage, and water distribution.
Wastewater management in California centers on the collection,
treatment, reuse and disposal of wastewater. This process is
conducted largely by public agencies, though there are also
private systems in places where a publicly owned treatment plant
is not feasible.
In California, wastewater treatment takes place through 100,000
miles of sanitary sewer lines and at more than 900 wastewater
treatment plants that manage the roughly 4 billion gallons of
wastewater generated in the state each day.