Water quality in California is regulated by several state
agencies, including the State Water Resources Control Board
(State Water Board) and its nine regional boards, which
enforce clean water laws and the Department of Public Health.
Water quality concerns are also often involved in disputes
over water rights, particularly in situations involving
endangered species or habitat.
The State Water Board administers the Clean Water Grant Program
that funds construction of wastewater treatment facilities. The
State Water Board also issues general permits for municipalities
and construction sites that try to prevent contaminants from
those sources from entering municipal storm sewers.
Drinking water standards and regulations are developed by federal
and state agencies to protect public health. In California, the
Department of Public Health administers the federal Safe
Drinking Water Act, which regulates drinking water quality in the
When the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Andrew
Wheeler, accused California of allowing “piles of human feces”
on city streets to contaminate sewer systems … the
accusations, contained in a Sept. 26 oversight letter, had been
developed without the knowledge of the California-based staff,
which would normally issue such notices. Instead, it was put
together by a small group of political appointees in Washington
assigned specifically to target California, according to three
current E.P.A. officials.
Water vending machine companies compete aggressively to sell
water outside of supermarkets and pharmacies at an incredible
markup. The industry is only lightly regulated – last year the
California Department of Public Health inspected just two
machines in San Diego County.
The lawsuit … argues that the changes undertaken by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries
Service are unlawful. Endangered species protections are
bedrock environmental law, and California leaders warned that
less protection will leave threatened species at risk of
extinction. California is leading the suit along with
Massachusetts and Maryland. Altogether, 17 states have signed
on, along with New York City and the District of Columbia.
At least 85 different federal laws and regulations affecting
California have been weakened or undermined by the Trump
administration since January 2017. … That’s why I, along with
many proponents, believe that Senate Bill 1 would safeguard our
The western pond turtle in Butte County is currently shaking in
its shell, due to habitat alteration and introduced species
that are killing off the local reptile. … The turtle is being
evaluated for listing as threatened or endangered, according to
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.
Senate Bill 1 is seen as a pre-emptive strike by California
lawmakers before the Trump administration ushers in new
biological opinions to alter water deliveries through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The majestic beauty of the Sierra
Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue
sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and
logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of
trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation.
Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris,
it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.
Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of
Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a
battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous,
Cal Water needs power in order to meet state and federal water
quality standards. But meeting those standards got more
difficult for Cal Water. The California Public Utilities
Commission gave power companies the ability to turn off the
power to prevent wildfires after last year’s deadly wildfires
in Paradise, California.
Waters covered by the Act, called “jurisdictional waters,” are
determined by the language of the Act and by court decisions
and administrative rulemakings interpreting that language.
Ongoing rulemaking efforts by the Trump administration, coupled
with several recent court decisions, make defining
jurisdictional waters very difficult.
Microcystins are poisonous toxins that can form in blooms of
blue-green algae. In recent years, algae blooms – actually
microscopic bacteria called cyanobacteria – have erupted in
hundreds of lakes nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose
drinking water comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed long-overdue legislation to
dedicate up to $130 million a year to provide clean, affordable
drinking water to more than 1 million Californians who still
lack access to this vital resource. … The Seeley County Water
District, located in Imperial County approximately 20 miles
from Mexican border, is one of these communities.
A forthcoming EPA overhaul of standards for lead in drinking
water will essentially ban partial lead pipe replacement, in
which part of a lead pipe is removed but another part is
allowed to remain, Bloomberg Environment has learned.
Where Napa’s water quality is concerned, no news may be good
news. A three-year analysis of the city’s water sources showed
reservoirs meeting all federal and state limits on a variety of
contaminants, a recently released report states.
As many as 1,000 community water systems in California may be
at high risk of failing to deliver potable water — one out of
every three — according to a previously undisclosed estimate by
senior officials at the California State Water Resources
Control Board… With little oversight, they face problems
ranging from bankruptcy to sudden interruptions in water
capacity, to harmful toxins being delivered through taps.
Compton’s equestrian community had riders on horseback going
around the neighborhood, handing out flyers with information to
residents who live in the old Sativa Water District… “We’ve
really tried to hit the outreach hard to make sure the folks
understand what we’re doing…” Russ Bryden, administrator of
L.A. County Public Works, said.
The initial objectives of the restoration project were to:
improve habitat for the Delta smelt, reduce saltwater
intrusion, reduce submerged aquatic weeds and reduce invasive
non-native fish species that feed on native fish. Carl Wilcox,
a CDFW policy advisor explained the objectives are now more
broad and include accommodations for recreational and economic
activities that are key to the region’s residents.
California Influencers this week answered one or both of the
following the questions: What are your thoughts regarding Gov.
Gavin Newsom and the Legislature’s decision to use money from
the state’s cap-and-trade funding to improve drinking water for
at-risk Californians? How can California best provide safe and
clean water for all of us?
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) urged people to avoid
physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced
County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the lake
due to the presence of blue-green algae. DWR increased the
advisory from warning to danger after detecting an increased
amount of microcystins.
Moving forward, we have an opportunity and an obligation to
build on this agreement by addressing the barriers that
confront small water systems that often have the most
difficulty delivering safe, clean water. As advocates and
organizers work to ensure that investments go to the
communities with greatest needs, the public health community
has the responsibility to step forward and align itself with
the struggle for water as a human right.
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.
House Democrats are at odds with the White House, Senate
Republicans and each other over provisions in defense policy
legislation that aim to address toxic chemicals found in
drinking water. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as
PFAS … have been linked to thyroid issues, birth defects and
other health problems.
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.
Residents in the Cañada Cove neighborhood started their
Independence Day holiday with some unexpected news: Water would
be turned off for about 12 hours. Five days later, the water is
flowing again, but they still cannot drink it.
Regulators have issued dozens of water-quality citations to
over 100 different San Diego water providers in the past five
years, according to state and county records. Most violations
were issued to small districts, which can have a harder time
maintaining and upgrading equipment.
Each of the selected projects strike at the heart of the Sierra
Nevada watershed improvement program, SNC’s large-scale
restoration initiative designed to improve ecosystem and
community resilience in the region.
To find out what’s in Southern California’s oceans, Spectrum
News 1 went below the streets of Los Angeles into a storm drain
to track the flow of water. We’re diving into a question
scientists are facing: what is in L.A.’s water?
The unincorporated Fresno County community of Lanare has long
been a poster child for California’s widespread contaminated
drinking water. For the past 13 years, Lanare’s water had
tested higher than the state limit for arsenic, but that
changed in February, when the water received a passing grade
after a $3.8 million state grant paid for two new drinking
Federal public health officials are urging people to take
precautions to protect themselves against a microscopic
parasite that can live for days in swimming pools and water
playgrounds and cause severe intestinal problems. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention published a report last week
about the increased number of outbreaks caused by the fecal
From sea to shining sea may take on a new meaning in
California, as state officials are reviewing billion dollar
plans to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to help raise
water levels at the Salton Sea.
An Oakland-based environmental health group is threatening to
sue the manufacturers and retailers behind two bottled water
brands for failing to warn consumers about allegedly high
levels of arsenic in their products.
Nearly one in five California schools found detectable
levels of lead in the drinking water, according to recent data
from the State Water Board. … Monday was the deadline, under
a 2017 law, for local water districts to test school drinking
water for lead. CBS13 found there is still no testing data for
at least 100 schools in our area, but many local schools tested
well above the limit.
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.
Because the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate
PFAS chemicals, states are left not only to research and track
them, but also to develop regulations to clean up already
dangerous levels of pollution. And, according to recent data
from the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group,
the West isn’t doing a great job.
After several failed attempts, there is momentum this
legislative session to establish a fund for small water
agencies unable to provide customers with clean drinking water
because of the high treatment costs. But several hurdles remain
before the June 15 deadline for the Legislature to pass a
budget — most precariously, a resistance among lawmakers to tax
millions of residential water users and others while California
enjoys a surplus of more than $21 billion.
The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water
supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. For example …
many farm workers in California’s Central Valley have to buy
bottled water because their tap water contains unsafe levels of
arsenic and agricultural chemicals that have been linked to
elevated risks of infant death and cancer in adults. … So I
was distressed to hear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tout
the quality of drinking water in the U.S. in an interview on
March 20, 2019.
The Del Mar Mesa community in San Diego, Calif., has clean
running water. Given this fact, the sight of nearly 20 girls in
an affluent neighborhood carrying buckets of water up a ravine
was out of the ordinary, to say the least. “What we’re trying
to do is represent what African women do on a day-to-day basis:
the fact that they have to travel several miles — several hours
— to just get water,” said Emma Reeves, an 18-year-old
It is hard to fathom how the fifth-largest economy in the world
can settle for letting public water systems serve up
contaminated water. How will our economy continue to grow and
how will we attract new businesses and new workers if the state
can’t provide a basic human need?
The chemicals, commonly abbreviated as PFAS, are used in items
ranging from food wrappers and Teflon pans to raincoats and
firefighting foam. … Members of Congress have introduced at
least 20 bills this session to address PFAS in some form, a
record number and a sign of the growing concern.
A beach closure that has been in place for months for the
southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to
include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County
Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the
coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff
in the Tijuana River.
Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against
the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to
local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good
oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting
Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the
possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget
deliberations set for June 18.
The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would
create a fund dedicated to improving the state’s drinking
water. But the bill is clear the money could not come from a
new tax on water bills. Instead, Senate leaders have signaled
their intention to use $150 million of existing taxpayer money
CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s
efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that
have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group
of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental
Studies is helping in these efforts.
City water will be flowing to yet another community living in
county jurisdiction with the state forcing the City Council’s
Monday action to supply water service to the privately owned
Ceres West Mobile Home Park. … The park, which was approved
by the county in 1969, had limited options to supply drinking
water to its residents because water from an on-site well
exceeds state limits for arsenic and nitrates.
Water is a currency in California, and the low-income
farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better
than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made
possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their
faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer
Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters
around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain
in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to
fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction,
has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing,
similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the
act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.
Clean water is important, and there are a million people in the
Central Valley without access to it. But do we need a new tax
to pay for it? Maybe we don’t. Just last week, a state Senate
budget subcommittee eliminated Gov. Newsom’s recommendation for
a water tax and replaced it with a $150 million continuous
appropriation from the General Fund.
A nearly four-year investigation into how a chemical known to
cause cancer showed up in more than a dozen rural wells by the
San Luis Obispo County Airport has finally concluded with an
alleged culprit. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board investigators say that Noll Inc., a machine shop on
Thread Lane, is responsible for the trichloroethylene (TCE)
Halting plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River was the
theme of a well-attended fundraising event hosted May 4 by the
Siskiyou County Water Users Association. Guest speakers,
including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Siskiyou County Supervisor
Brandon Criss, former Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams
and Attorney James Buchal, author of “The Great Salmon Hoax”
discussed problems they foresee with dam removal which they
believe is far from a done deal.
When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would
allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim
Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered
unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a
safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few
colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia.
The commission, created in 1965 and comprised of 27 members
appointed primarily by state and local officials, is supposed
to protect the environmental health of the bay. If they won’t
take their job seriously, Gov. Gavin Newsom, legislative
leaders and local officials should replace them with people up
to the task.
On a former tidal marsh in Corte Madera that’s blanketed with
bay mud and overgrown with invasive grasses, Golden Gate Bridge
officials are planning a $2 million restoration project that
would bolster habitat for an endangered bird species displaced
by the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The district has released the
results of an environmental study of the proposed project and
is accepting comments on the report until May 26.
California struggles to deliver safe drinking water to millions
of residents. The challenges – often complex issues at the
interface of human, legislative, technical, and geological
dimensions – resist easy answers. Stanford experts explored
possible ways forward at a recent panel discussion in
In his February State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom
called the safe drinking water crisis — which is centered in
lower-income communities ranging from the coasts to the Central
Valley — “a moral disgrace and a medical emergency.” He’s
Gov. Gavin Newsom has made repairing hundreds of failing
drinking-water systems in California a big priority since
taking office, giving fresh momentum to an entrenched problem
the state’s leaders have long struggled to resolve. But his
proposed solution — a $140 million yearly tax raised in part
through fees on urban water districts — has raised eyebrows in
a state where residents already feel overtaxed.
Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water
District board will enter an initial five-month “option to
purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak.
The purchase option period … is designed to give district
officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land,
assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure
Water Soquel plant.
A more than five-year moratorium on leasing land in California
for oil and gas development will be coming to an end with a May
9 Interior Department plan to open up about 725,000 acres
across the state’s Central Coast and the Bay Area for drilling.
The decision comes just two weeks after the Trump
administration released its plan to reopen more than 1 million
acres of public land and federal mineral estate in eight
counties in Central California to fracking.
Unlike tap water, there is no public repository of information
for consumers to look up the quality of their favorite bottled
water brand and see whether it is free of contaminants. The
Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies to
submit test reports each year for review… And while several
states receive test results each year as part of the permitting
process bottlers go through to sell their product, those are
often available only through public records requests.
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.
Reforestation will improve watershed conditions by restoring
severely burned areas to forested conditions, reducing
sedimentation and turbidity, and improving water quality for
downstream users. It will also improve habitat by providing
stabilization that reduces erosion of stream banks and meadows.
The new funding includes about $250 million for climate-related
programs, thanks to the state’s cap-and-trade program, and $75
million to fund an assessment of wildfire protection plans. …
Newsom also defended a controversial tax on water bills that
would fund programs to rebuild broken or degraded drinking
water infrastructure in some of the state’s poorest
No family should have to live in a community in which the water
that comes from their taps puts their children’s health at
risk. Over the last several years, the state has authorized
millions of dollars for emergency actions and one-time patches,
but has shied from doing what’s necessary to sustainably solve
California’s lawsuits have targeted the administration’s
policies on immigration, healthcare and education. But nowhere
has the legal battle had a greater impact than on Trump’s
agenda of dismantling Obama-era environmental and public health
regulations. In its rush to delay, repeal and rewrite rules it
considers unduly burdensome to industry, the administration has
experienced significant setbacks in court.
Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained
public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that
more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated
with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. …
Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California reports one
of the highest levels across the military, at 8 million parts
After years of public outcry and the discovery of dozens of
lead-tainted drinking water taps throughout the city’s public
schools, Oakland Unified has tested every single drinking water
tap at its schools, and is fixing or replacing those with
dangerous lead levels.
An inmate’s death in Stockton from Legionnaires’ disease marks
the third time in four years the rare form of pneumonia has
struck California’s state prisons – and has laid bare a history
of contamination and other problems plaguing water supplies in
the corrections system.
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.
Researchers from the environmental
advocacy group Environmental Working Group estimated
that the contaminants found in public water systems in
California could contribute to about 15,500 cancer cases there
over the course of a lifetime. These contaminants include
chemicals such as arsenic, hexavalent chromium and radioactive
elements such as uranium and radium. The study was published
Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health.
Senate Bill 1 … would encourage state agencies, such as
regional water quality control boards, Fish & Wildlife, the Air
Resources Board, and CalOSHA, to resist Trump administration
rollbacks by allowing them to consider applying federal
standards for protection in effect as of January 19, 2017, the
day before Donald Trump took office, and maintain them in case
he is re-elected next year.
After pressure from the Defense Department, the Environmental
Protection Agency significantly weakened a proposed standard
for cleaning up groundwater pollution caused by toxic chemicals
that contaminate drinking water consumed by millions of
Americans and that have been commonly used at military bases.
The presence of groundwater contamination in Silicon Valley in
the 1980s destroyed the narrative that high-tech was a clean
alternative to the industrialization of the Northeast and
Midwest. But the central concern of residents now dealing with
the effects of contaminated drinking water was what to do next.
Local activism offered a path forward.
One of California Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade
Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within
weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that
Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach”
on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded
floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
As temperatures soared to summertime levels across the Bay
Area, Gov. Gavin Newsom was at Tilden Regional Park in the East
Bay hills Tuesday to warn that wildfires don’t only threaten
California’s rural regions.
The 80 homes that make up Tooleville nestle against the mighty
Friant-Kern Canal, thousands of gallons of fresh water flowing
each day past the two-street town. But none of that water can
help Tooleville’s decades-old problem of contaminated water,
chronicled at the start of this decade in a three-part series
by The Bee on the San Joaquin Valley water crisis. Nearby
Exeter might, though, giving a rise of newfound hope.
In Orange and Los Angeles counties, more than 90 percent of the
estuaries, lagoons and other coastal waters that existed in the
19th century have been lost to roads, buildings and other
development. But what remains provides a crucial habitat for
resident animals and migrating birds, including several
Legionnaires’ disease bacteria that killed one inmate and
sickened another is more widespread than expected in a
California state prison, officials said Wednesday, citing new
test results. Preliminary results found the bacteria in the
water supply at a prison medical facility in Stockton and at
two neighboring youth correctional facilities… The bacteria
weren’t detected in the Stockton city water supply, though the
city supplies water to the state facilities.
Tri-Valley residents can expect better tasting and smelling
water from the tap when the expansion and upgrades at the Zone
7 Water Agency Patterson Pass Water Treatment Plant are
completed. The decade-plus plan to increase capacity and
improve water conditions at the plant in eastern Livermore
finally broke ground at a ceremony last week…
Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of
the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades.
… But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling
(relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end
with the ascension of the Trump Administration.
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
The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more
than 20 members of the California congressional delegation,
with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018.
They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days
before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s
newest member. For the first time in several years, they
conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to
describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.
Fed up neighbors in Imperial Beach are taking action over the
pollution problem. The coastline in South County has been
plagued by sewage spills coming from Mexico for years. …
After spending the morning cleaning the sand, neighbors took to
the streets to demand clean water. Holding signs, and repeating
protest chants, demonstrators marched on the Imperial Beach
Pier and then held a rally.
Alongside auto wrecking yards and shipping centers off state
Route 905, a pop-up world has emerged with some of the
strangest creatures to swim in six inches of water. Here
aquatic plants grow next to cacti, and animals that have waited
for decades in the dust come to life. In this Otay Mesa
preserve are some of San Diego’s vernal pools, fleeting water
bodies that appear and vanish over the course of a season.
This is among the hottest of Napa County’s hot potatoes. That’s
because it strikes such nerves as possible, further constraints
on new vineyard development in local hills and a perceived need
in some quarters to do more to protect water quality in local
The interrelated nature of water issues has given rise to a
management approach that integrates flood control,
environmental water, and water supply. The Yuba Water Agency
manages its watershed in this kind of coordinated manner. We
talked to Curt Aikens, the agency’s general manager, about the
lessons they’ve learned from this “integrated management”
Politicians and environmentalists are ratcheting up
the pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to
take the first step in regulating drinking water contaminated
with a toxic, long-lasting family of chemicals called PFAS or
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.
That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.
On our Lower Colorado River Tour, Feb. 27-March 1, we will
visit this fragile ecosystem that harbors 400 bird species and
hear from several stakeholders working to address challenges
facing the sea, including managers of the Imperial Irrigation
District, the Salton Sea Authority and California’s appointed
“Sea Czar,” assistant secretary on Salton Sea policy Bruce
State water quality officials cautioned the public not to drink
or cook with untreated surface water from streams throughout
the Camp Fire burn area after bacteria and other contaminants
were detected in water samples. … Laboratory analyses of
surface water samples found concentrations of bacteria
(E.Coli), aluminum, antimony and some polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs) that exceeded water quality standards for
One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to
the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose
significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested
groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior
years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable
private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny,
director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects
of Environmental Contamination.
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
Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions
available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells.
This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley.
The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper
water wells to support irrigated agriculture. Groundwater
supplies around the world are being threatened by excessive
pumping, but drilling deeper wells is not a long-term solution.
A better solution is to manage water use and avoid excessive
declines in groundwater levels.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a
stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance
of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating
that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital
Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin
Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help
disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems.
Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,”
included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts
to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.
Every winter, forest managers in places like California take a
step back, analyze their budgets and plan on how to deal with
the next fire season. But the government shutdown has shuttered
a lot of those efforts, because federal lands like the U.S.
Forest Service— which has been furloughed since December 22 —
plays a huge role. For example, crews in Redwood National Park
are “just sitting on their hands,” according to University of
California fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson in Humboldt
County, because they can’t work on federal land during the
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has spent
five years drafting a comprehensive update to 30 sections of
the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
guidelines. Several changes to the Guidelines address two
hot button topics: global climate change and statewide
affordable housing shortages. Many of the changes will
significantly alter the application of CEQA to future projects.
Saying it will continue to protect environmentally sensitive
waterways such as wetlands in California, even if federal
protections on waters of the U.S. are limited, the State Water
Resources Control Board has unveiled a final draft on how it
plans to regulate dredge-and-fill activities in the state.
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, and as climate
change and other factors increase the frequency of fires, there
is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West —
and a lesser known risk to the region’s already endangered
water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in
the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.
At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are
protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to
be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies
water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland.
And it could also be a landmark year for water management in
California, with several key issues coming to a head.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
Calls for the federal government to regulate polyfluoroalkyl
and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been unsuccessful.
Last year the Trump administration tried to block a study
urging a much lower threshold of exposure. Harvard
University researchers say public drinking-water supplies
serving more than 6 million Americans have tested for the
chemicals at or above the EPA’s threshold — which many experts
argue should be far lower to safeguard public health.
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a
scoping report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas
development on approximately 400,000 acres of BLM-administered
public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate
lands on tribal and privately held lands in Fresno, Kern,
Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control
Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four
hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River.
The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by
California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes,
water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the
basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust
responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s
farming and ranching heritage.
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.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water
Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from
totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’
lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of
water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
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).
CANCELED: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold one hearing to
provide interested parties the opportunity to present data,
views, or information concerning the proposed rule changes
affecting wetlands and ephemeral waters.
A crew was out this week spreading grass seed and straw on
hillsides in west Redding to prevent erosion where the Carr
Fire burned last summer. So far the California Conservation
Corps crew has finished spreading erosion control on about 20
acres out of a planned 1,640 acres where work is planned.
Officials said a water reservoir at Adam Bros. Farms in Santa
Barbara County tested positive for the bacterial strain and the
owners are cooperating with U.S. officials. Officials from the
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not
determined how the water reservoir — which is used to irrigate
lettuce — became contaminated.
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.
More than three months after the Carr Fire was contained, the
burned out hillsides the deadly blaze left behind continue to
pose a threat to water quality in western Shasta County. The
barren fire-scarred hillsides could cause drinking water
quality problems for communities that rely on water from
Whiskeytown Lake, according to a report written for the Shasta
County Public Works Department.
The Trump administration is poised to roll back Clean Water Act
protections on millions of acres of waterways and wetlands,
including up to two-thirds of California’s inland streams,
following through on a promise to agriculture interests and
real estate developers to rewrite an Obama-era rule limiting
The Trump administration is expected to put forth a proposal on
Tuesday that would significantly weaken a major Obama-era
regulation on clean water, according to a talking points memo
from the Environmental Protection Agency that was distributed
to White House allies this week.
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.
North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire hosted a hearing of the
joint committee on fisheries and aquaculture this afternoon,
discussing the Dungeness crab season and the issue of whale
entanglements. “Domoic acid levels in the Pacific this year
have been trending upwards, especially in Northern California,”
McGuire said at the start of the hearing, held at Aquarium of
the Bay in San Francisco.
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.
The plumes of smoke from the fire, which has burned 141,000
acres in Northern California, get the most attention, but the
Camp Fire is leaving other environmental hazards in its wake:
toxic ash from burning homes, polluted water, and burning
Superfund sites. … “Anything that’s affecting the air
quality will eventually affect water quality,” Los Angeles
Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Reznik told Bloomberg
Losses by green groups in Alaska, Colorado, and Montana
contributed to a 2018 election in which water-related policies
and funding were on the ballot in at least a dozen local and
state initiatives. In two other high-profile decisions, voters
in Baltimore backed a first-ever municipal ban on privatization
of a city water utility while Californians uncharacteristically
rejected an $8.9 billion bond for water projects.
State officials on Wednesday removed the elected board and
general manager of a water district that for years has been
accused of serving brown, smelly water to its customers in
Compton. With a 22-page decree, the State Water Resources
Control Board abolished Sativa Los Angeles County Water
District’s five-member board of directors and ousted its
Upper Newport Bay will be the second spot in the nation to
install a water wheel that collects trash and debris from
upstream waterways. On Thursday, Oct. 25, Newport Beach Mayor
Duffy Duffield went to Santa Cruz and received a $1.7 million
grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to fund
the Newport Bay Water Wheel Project.
California officials unveiled a plan Thursday that calls for
the state to begin taking concrete steps to deal with an ocean
that’s getting more acidic. Ocean acidification is a growing
problem that researchers say is only expected to get worse as
climate changes impact local ocean waters.
With the state’s recreational Dungeness crab season scheduled
to start Nov. 3 and the commercial season Nov. 15, the
California Department of Public Health has released preliminary
test results on Dungeness crab for domoic acid, the neurotoxin
that caused delays in two of the past three crab seasons in the
Independent lab tests ordered by the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission found no evidence of pesticides in San
Francisco’s drinking water, the agency announced Thursday. The
SFPUC collected and analyzed 21 water samples following a minor
panic last week after several residents in the Sunset District
complained that their store-bought water-testing kits yielded
positive results for the herbicides Atrazine and Simazine.
Their concerns were amplified over social media.
A San Francisco woman who tested her tap water with a
store-bought kit and got a positive reading for pesticides,
then posted the results to social media, has prompted the city
to step up water testing not just near her home in the Sunset
District but across the city. Officials at the San Francisco
Public Utilities Commission insisted Tuesday, for the second
day in a row, that municipal supplies are safe to drink.
From the air, Iron Gate Reservoir stretches for miles like a
long green banner behind Irongate Dam. … State water
quality officials posted signs around the lake in June warning
people that coming in contact with the cyanobacteria in the
algae can cause sickness in people, pets and wildlife.
A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will expand
California’s requirement to test water in schools for
lead to day care centers and pre-schools that serve nearly
600,000 children. The law marks the first time California’s day
care centers have been required to test for lead in water. Only
two other states require both K-12 schools and day care centers
to do such testing.
Americans across the country, from [BarbiAnn] Maynard’s home in
rural Appalachia to urban areas like Flint, Mich., or Compton,
Calif., are facing a lack of clean, reliable drinking water. At
the heart of the problems is a water system in crisis: aging,
crumbling infrastructure and a lack of funds to pay for
Despite decades of research, the trigger that causes algal
blooms to begin poisoning their environment has long confounded
scientists. Now, researchers from Scripps and UC San Diego
have found the genetic underpinning of domoic acid, a harmful
neurotoxin. … In California, closures due to toxic
blooms have become increasingly common.
Despite pleas for immediate action from Michigan and New
Hampshire residents who live in communities with
PFAS-contaminated groundwater, officials from multiple federal
agencies testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing that
regulatory responses and health studies will take years to
A Compton water district that could be abolished for delivering
brown water is waging an eleventh-hour campaign for its
survival. The push comes after legislation sailed through the
state Assembly and Senate last month that would dismantle the
Sativa Los Angeles County Water District’s five-member elected
board of directors and install a new general manager by year’s
Five years ago, California became the first state in the nation
to recognize the human right to safe, clean, affordable and
accessible water. Today, we look at how the state is working to
ensure that right and where the biggest concerns for
Nine of every 10 illegal marijuana farms raided in California
this year contained traces of powerful and potentially lethal
pesticides that are poisoning wildlife and could endanger water
supplies, researchers and federal authorities said Tuesday.
… California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who leads
the nation’s largest marijuana eradication program, said state
drug agents last week found gallons of carbofuran being added
to irrigation water at an illegal site in northwestern
Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are rebooting an effort to
pass a new tax to attack unsafe drinking water in California.
But there’s a twist: The proposed tax on water bills would be
voluntary, increasing its chances of success among skittish
lawmakers in an election year.
The State Water Board is making it clear that it won’t vote
next week on a much-disputed proposal to require higher river
flows for improving water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
river delta. Felicia Marcus, who chairs the water board, said
in a letter Wednesday to the California Natural Resources
Agency that final action will be taken at a board meeting
As students head back to class across California this month,
many will sip water from school fountains or faucets that could
contain high levels of lead. That’s because two-thirds of the
state’s 1,026 school districts have not taken advantage of a
free state testing program to determine whether the toxic metal
is coming out of the taps and, if so, whether it exceeds
The Department of Water Resources issued a warning on Friday
for those visiting San Luis Reservoir in Merced County: Don’t
go in the water. This is based on the potential health risks
associated with cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, blooms that
accumulate into mats of scum and foam floating on the surface
and along the shoreline.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on
Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove
chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.
… As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the
past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in
sources of drinking water.
After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis
farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they
found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush.
The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit
farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the
Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water
Resources Control Board.
The U.S. Navy knew as far back as 1993 that the tap water at
its former shipyard in San Francisco contained dangerous
amounts of lead, but didn’t tell local officials, visitors or
people who worked there, including hundreds of police employees
stationed at the site since 1997.
This summer has witnessed an explosion of algae problems in
Western water bodies. Usually marked by a bright green mat of
floating scum, the blooms are unsightly and unpleasant for
water lovers. More concerning are potentially toxic
cyanobacteria often produced by the algae, which can be deadly
to pets and livestock and cause illnesses in people.
Boating, fishing and hiking will be allowed again at Diamond
Valley Lake near Hemet starting Friday, July 27 —
more than a month after it closed because of an algal
bloom outbreak. Water quality tests confirmed the
potential health effects of a large bloom
of blue-green algae had diminished,
the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
said in a Wednesday, July 25, news release.
Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot for
a range of water projects, has support from 58 percent of
California’s likely voters, with 25 percent opposed and 17
percent undecided, the poll indicates.
The Lake County Department of Public Health is urging boaters
and recreational users to avoid contact with water in Lake
County due to a recent bloom of cyanobacteria, or blue-green
algae. The algae, which is seasonal, is currently active in all
three sections of the Lake — Lower, Oaks, and Upper.
A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection
Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water
systems nationally and respond more quickly to public health
emergencies such as the lead-in-the water crisis in Flint,
Andrew Wheeler, the new acting chief of the Environmental
Protection Agency, signaled a more inclusive approach at the
agency, telling staffers roiled by months of ethics allegations
against his predecessor, “You will find me and my team ready to
listen.” … When President Donald Trump called him last
week about the job change, the president told him to “clean up
the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief,”
Residents of working-class neighborhoods in Compton and
Willowbrook have long fought an uphill battle against their
local water district, which over the years has been accused of
mismanagement, nepotism, bad service and, most recently,
sending brown, smelly water through their taps. Still, Sativa
Los Angeles County Water District managed to stay in business.
Authorities in Salem, Oregon, lifted a drinking water advisory
on July 3 that had been in place for children and the elderly
since Memorial Day weekend, when algal toxins were discovered
in the city’s water system. How many other water systems are at
risk from the toxin-producing scum that grows in rivers and
lakes, particularly in the warmer months?
Frustrated by discolored drinking water pouring from their
taps, four Compton residents filed a class-action lawsuit late
Monday against their water provider, Sativa Los Angeles County
Water District. … It comes days before a crucial decision by
county oversight officials on whether to dissolve the small
public water district.
Bowing out after months of scandals, Scott Pruitt is turning
the Environmental Protection Agency over to a far less flashy
deputy who is expected to continue Pruitt’s rule-cutting,
business-friendly ways as steward of the country’s environment.
… EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal
industry lobbyist, will take the helm as acting administrator
California’s corrections department is spending $46,000 a month
to buy bottled water for inmates and staff at a prison in Tracy
where it opened a state-of-the-art water treatment plant eight
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply
originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water
supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests,
which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought,
wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine
water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts
downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
The retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
next month is likely to reshape the high court to the detriment
of the environment, legal experts say, potentially limiting
progress on such issues as climate change and clean water, even
in California, where leaders have long pursued an environmental
agenda independent of Washington.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is proposing
surrendering some of his agency’s veto power over waste
discharges near waterways by mining and development. In a memo
released Wednesday by the EPA, Pruitt directs the agency to
study renouncing part of its authority under the
half-century-old Clean Water Act to veto permits that the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers or states grant to allow dumping waste
The general manager of a small public agency under fire for
delivering brown, smelly water to parts of Compton and
Willowbrook has been placed on administrative leave effective
immediately, the water district board’s attorney announced
A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by
the Trump administration because of the “public relations
nightmare” it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has
been quietly released online. … PFAS [perfluoroalkyl
substances] compounds are proving to be pervasive in public
water systems and around military bases across the country.
At a town hall Monday, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán
alleged that people were paid to pose as residents to speak out
in support of an embattled water district, marking a strange
twist in the ongoing controversy over discolored water pouring
out of taps in Compton and Willowbrook.
In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley,
excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence,
damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and
In California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive
farming regions in the nation, an estimated 150,000 people are
stuck living with contaminated drinking water. … The good
news: Help is available to many of these small community water
systems, provided they can merge with a neighboring utility
that has clean water.
The Trump administration, after heavy lobbying by the chemical
industry, is scaling back the way the federal government
determines health and safety risks associated with the most
dangerous chemicals on the market, documents from the
Environmental Protection Agency show.
California voters have approved a ballot measure allowing the
state borrow $4 billion for parks and conservation projects
that proponents say will help ensure access to clean drinking
water. Proposition 68 — one of five statewide measures on the
ballot — passed Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote.
With the help of emergency funding requested by Assembly member
Joaquin Arambula (D-Kingsburg), whose largely rural district is
in the [San Joaquin] valley, the emergency water supply program
will likely continue another year at a cost of $3.5 million.
Also included in the emergency relief efforts is $10 million to
address failing domestic wells and septic tanks, and $10
million for the Drinking Water for Schools Program that funds
treatment solutions for schools that struggle with
In October 2002, the cruise ship Crystal Harmony anchored
outside Monterey Harbor, ferrying more than 900 passengers
ashore for the day before continuing on its way to Acapulco,
Mexico. Later that night, 14 miles off the pristine coastline
of Big Sur, the 790-foot-long ship dumped 36,400 gallons of
sewage, gray water and oily waste into the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary.
Illegal marijuana grows hidden within public lands can be
detrimental to the environment and families living close
by. Now, local and state leaders are taking a
stand. Law enforcement agencies have joined with experts
to highlight the damage that marijuana grows have on national
forests, the wildlife that inhabit them, and the streams and
waterways that flow through them.
An estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems
with unsafe drinking water, according to a McClatchy analysis
of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board.
… Now, after years of half solutions, the state is
considering its most comprehensive actions to date. Gov. Jerry
Brown has asked the Legislature to enact a statewide tax
on drinking water to fix wells and treatment systems in
The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost
nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug
cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest
in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water
out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said
More than half a dozen bills aimed at plastic pollution were
introduced in Sacramento this year alone — by both coastal
legislators and more moderate inland colleagues who see the
potential damage not just in oceans but also rivers, lakes and
the state’s water supply. No one, they said, wants to drink a
glass of water and wonder if they’re also downing a glass of
Conservationists in the Lake Tahoe region are celebrating the
acquisition by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District of a
206-acre property, Johnson Meadow, in South Lake Tahoe. The
property is a key piece of the puzzle for conservation groups
who are working to restore the Upper Truckee River watershed
and help improve Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity, which has been on
the decline in recent decades.
Soaring numbers of water systems around the country are testing
positive for a dangerous class of chemicals widely used in
items that include non-stick pans and firefighting foam,
regulators and scientists said Tuesday. The warnings, and
promises by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt
of official action to confront the related health risks, came
in a summit with small-town and state officials increasingly
confronting water systems contaminated by the toxic substances.
Journalists from CNN, the Associated Press and E&E News, a
publication that covers energy and environment issues, were
barred by the EPA from entering the event, which was focused on
harmful chemicals in water. A handful of other reporters from
other news organizations, however, were allowed inside the
event for Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been previously
invited by the agency the day before.
The Trump administration on Friday named Mike Stoker, a Santa
Barbara County attorney and former oil company spokesman who
some credit with coining the “lock her up!” chants against
Hillary Clinton at the Republican Convention in 2016, as the
new West Coast head of the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. Stoker will lead the U.S. EPA Region 9 office, which is
based in San Francisco.
Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s plans to
eliminate ocean quality grants used by coastal communities to
determine whether the water poses a hazard to beach goers. The
EPA stopped requesting the $10 million in annual funds in 2013,
saying that states, counties and cities were adequately
equipped to continuing the monitoring on their own.
Supporters argue that Prop. 68 is good for parks and good for
improving water quality statewide. … Critics like state
Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, believe the debt payments on
the bond will be anything but small.
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.
Advocates gathered in Merced, and similar demonstrations were
held around the state, according to advocates, to get elected
officials to support Senate Bill 623, which aims to provide a
stable source of funding to implement California’s Human Rights
to Water, Assembly Bill 685 from 2012.
San Diego is the only city in California seeking state
reimbursement for testing the toxic lead levels in water at
local schools, which has cost the city’s water agency more than
$400,000. … The requirement, which came in response to a
national outcry over lead in drinking water at schools in
Michigan, immediately prompted complaints from water agencies
that it was an unfunded mandate by the state.
Gaps in funding for water treatment are a major problem in
California. Water providers operate independently, relying
virtually entirely on customer fees to cover costs. For
agencies with scale, money and access to quality water sources,
this model works well. But absent those resources,
contamination persists for years without resolution.
Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site
where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome
deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned
farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest
unresolved water problems in the state.
Western Water writer Gary Pitzer explored how California water
regulators are trying to address the impacts on water quality
and supply from this newly regulated industry, how federal
officials are approaching it and what other states that have
legalized marijuana have done. And he addressed the question
that remains on many minds: Will growers that have
operated in the shadows for years accept the new regulations or
shrug them off as too burdensome.
Two different water bonds are set to appear on the California
ballot this election season, after a $9 billion measure
gathered enough signatures to qualify in November, according to
the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday.
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.
A proposal to borrow $8.9 billion for improvements to
California’s water quality systems and watersheds and
protection of natural habitats is eligible for the
statewide ballot in November, Secretary of State Alex Padilla
announced in a press release Wednesday.