Topic: Water Quality


Water Quality

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 United States.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Record-high levels of cyanotoxin found in Clear Lake prompt Public Health officer’s warning

New testing results that have found record-high levels of cyanotoxin at sampling sites on Clear Lake prompted the Public Health officer on Wednesday night to issue a warning to those who source their water from private intakes on the lake. 

Aquafornia news CBS Local San Francisco

Owner of Sonoma County quarry faces $4.5m fine for endangering salmon

Water quality regulators let a Sonoma County-based quarry know last week it could face a $4.5 million-fine for multiple alleged violations of the Clean Water Act that threaten the survival of endangered salmon populations in tributaries of the Russian River. The proposed fine from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is part of a legal proceeding known as an administrative civil liability that alleges the operator of Mark West Quarry, Dean Soiland, doing business as BoDean Co. Inc., discharged highly turbid stormwater from its quarry operations into Porter Creek from September 2018 through May 2019.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Water District

News release: Orange County Water District receives award for pilot testing program removing PFAS chemicals from water

The Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) has been named an American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) 2021 award winner in its annual Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science competition, for launching the nation’s largest per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pilot testing program. OCWD received an Honors Award in the research category for advancing state of the art environmental engineering or science practices. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Toxic algae now prevalent in Klamath Basin

From the lake to the ocean, the waters of the Klamath are once again teeming with toxic blue-green algae at the end of a hot, dry summer. Microcystis aeruginosa, a species of photosynthetic cyanobacteria that produces the neurotoxin microcystin, has been detected in nearly all reaches of the Klamath Basin at or below Upper Klamath Lake. The harmful algal blooms have plagued the basin and its residents for decades, fueled by nutrient runoff, stagnant water and summer sunshine.

Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

Blog: The Truckee River under assault – trash is just one insult as it flows through Reno and Sparks

The annual Truckee River Cleanup Day set for September 25, 2021 is a 17 year-old beautification tradition. Every year, the nonprofit organization Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) organizes hundreds of volunteers who, in a four-hour period, remove trash, erase graffiti, and stencil a warning on storm drains along a 20-mile stretch of the river, from Verdi to Lockwood.  Last year, in one day, some 500 volunteers removed over 35 tons of trash and green waste from the Truckee River Watershed. … But trash is only one environmental threat to the Truckee. 

Aquafornia news Daily Bulletin

Pomona wins $48 million in groundwater pollution case

A federal jury awarded the city of Pomona $48 million in damages to be paid by a foreign corporation for contaminating its groundwater with a toxic chemical mixed with fertilizer and sold to citrus farmers for decades. On Sept. 7, the city won its case against the American subsidiary of a multi-billion dollar Chilean company, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile, known as SQM. The case, which began in 2011, bounced between courts until the city won after presenting its full argument recently in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. 

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County CA towns unable to solve drinking water crisis

The longer it takes for two new wells to be dug in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir in western Fresno County, the deeper in debt the towns are mired. Now, with the drought, those well projects are in a race against dropping groundwater levels as farmers, cut off from surface water supplies, are leaning more heavily on the aquifer. The well projects started in 2018 and aren’t scheduled to be completed until sometime next year.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Study finds local oil field wastewater safe for use in irrigation

Central Valley water-quality regulators released a final report Friday concluding oil field wastewater from central Kern County, when blended with other water sources, can safely be used to irrigate a variety of locally grown crops. The report, based on five years’ work and incomplete in some respects, found no evidence of risks to human health from watering tree nuts, citrus, berries, tubers and other ag products with the saline water that comes up from the ground along with oil and which contains small concentrations of toxic chemicals.

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Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton council approves water rate hikes for PFAS treatment funding plan

Pleasanton water ratepayers can expect a bigger water bill in the future after the Pleasanton City Council unanimously approved a funding plan for final design of the city’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and wells rehabilitation project on Tuesday. … City officials are currently proceeding with the estimated $46 million project’s final design to address the detection of PFAS — synthetic chemicals found in common household items like paint and known to be harmful to humans — in the city’s wells. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Toxic algae test results are in after mysterious deaths of California family while hiking

Few clues have been shared by investigators working to determine how a family and their dog died a little over three weeks ago while hiking in Sierra National Forest, in a remote section of Mariposa County southwest of Yosemite National Park. Known harmful algae blooms in the south fork of the Merced River, near where the family was mysteriously found dead along the Savage-Lundy Trail in Devil’s Gulch, are among the hazards being considered. … [But] investigators are “not saying” that’s what killed Mariposa residents John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their daughter, Miju, and family dog, Oski.

Aquafornia news Malibu Magazine

Malibu’s endless lagoon problems

“The Lagoon is getting worse and worse every year,” said Andy Lyon, former Malibu city council candidate, surfer, and community activist. His concerns were validated on August 12, when the Los Angeles County Health Department issued a water quality warning, cautioning citizens to refrain from swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters at Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Lagoon due to potentially hazardous conditions, including exceeding bacteria standards, and to exercise caution where Malibu Creek discharges into the ocean and near discharging storm drains. 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California bill to reduce toxic PFAS exposures passed by legislature

The California Legislature took an important step to protect Californians from toxic, “forever” PFAS chemicals by passing Assembly Bill 1200 (Ting) today. Having previously passed on the Senate floor 36-0, the bill now goes to the Governor. AB 1200 would help make our food and our environment safer by banning the use of toxic, “forever” PFAS chemicals in paper-based food packaging.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Will Lake Tahoe no longer be blue due to Caldor Fire ash?

Jesse Patterson, of Keep Tahoe Blue, said the organization is funding research into the effects of the Caldor Fire on Lake Tahoe. “It’s going to look very different. Huge areas are burnt down, a burn scar — there can be runoff now from those areas that use to be protected by the trees. Now, those trees are gone and that runoff can come from the land and affect the lakes,” Patterson said. Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, professor of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis, said ash is a problem too. When ash bleeds into the lake, it turns into nutrients that cause algae blooms.

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Aquafornia news KTLA

Toxic algae bloom reaches danger level at Merced County’s San Luis Reservoir

A bloom of toxic blue-green algae in a Central California reservoir has reached the danger level, the state Department of Water Resource said Tuesday. Lab results from this week’s tests showed an increase in toxin levels at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County, the department said. Boating is allowed but people and pets should avoid physical contact with the water and algal scum. Fish and shellfish from the lake should also be avoided.

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Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

The surprising places PFAS are being found

In the last five years, the environmental problem known as PFAS has become mainstream public knowledge and a growing public concern.  Aided by popular movies, books, and environmental advocates, including dozens of recently-formed citizen action groups, many have now heard of PFAS — shorthand for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — and are familiar with one or more potential health consequences from prolonged exposure to these chemicals — e.g., cancer, immune system malfunctions, hypertension, thyroid and kidney disease.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Family’s death in Sierra National Forest, near Yosemite, still a mystery

[A] day of hiking in the Sierra National Forest, even with the demanding switchbacks and triple-digit heat, would not have been unusual for Jonathan Gerrish and Ellen Chung, husband-and-wife transplants from San Francisco who had recently become parents to a little girl, Miju, during the coronavirus pandemic. But the trek would be the family’s last: Search teams found all three of their bodies on Aug. 17 … The Forest Service had previously posted warning signs about potentially toxic algae blooms in the area.

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Aquafornia news

New research: Rare earth elements and old mines spell trouble for Western U.S. water supplies

Rare earth elements are finding their way into Colorado water supplies, driven by changes in climate, finds a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Rare earth elements are necessary components of many computing and other high-tech devices, like cell phones and hard drives. But there is growing recognition that they can be hazardous in the environment even at low levels of concentration.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study shows California groundwater quality threatened by drought

Researchers have suspected for years that drought conditions worsen groundwater quality, but a study published this week provides strong evidence proving the long-held assumption. While previous studies have focused on the risk of wells being overdrawn and run dry during drought, the study from the United States Geological Survey and the California State Water Resources Control Board is the first to directly link drought to deteriorating water quality on a regional scale. The study looked at 30 years of data from California’s Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Will Newsom honor pledge for $220M to help Salton Sea? Doubts arise

Concerned that tens of millions of dollars promised to help address woes at the Salton Sea could vanish from this year’s state budget, a chorus of Riverside and Imperial County officials this week wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot politely demanding that the funding stay on track. … Residents in rural communities ringing the rapidly shrinking water body suffer disproportionately high asthma rates and other risks from dust released into the air as the shoreline grows. 

Aquafornia news CNBC

Companies investing in forest protection to secure water supplies

As wildfires tear across America’s West, the immediate risk is to life and property, but they will eventually affect water supplies. That’s one reason large corporations are beginning to help fund forest restoration in order to mitigate their water risk.  The water supply for many communities, including large cities, starts in mountains and national forests. In California, about 70% of the water either starts or flows through national forests, according to Forest Service estimates.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Feds close trails near mysterious Mariposa County family death for ‘unknown hazards’

Sierra National Forest officials closed a portion of trails in Mariposa County where a family and their dog were found dead under mysterious circumstances in mid-August, citing unspecified safety concerns. … Officials have not ruled out water toxicity as a contributing factor in the family’s death as they await the results of water tests taken from the area where the family was found.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Toxic algae spreads on Upper Klamath Lake

Upper Klamath Lake is once again turning toxic for the summer. On July 30, the Oregon Health Authority issued a recreational use advisory for Eagle Ridge County Park and Shoalwater Bay due to a cyanobacteria bloom present on the lake’s western shore. OHA expanded the advisory to Howard’s Bay, south of Spence Mountain, on August 30. The bloom, comprised of Microcystis aeruginosa, produces the liver toxin microcystin, which can cause skin rashes, stomach issues, diarrhea and vomiting if ingested. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Sierra National Forest closures – Hazards near CA death site

Sierra National Forest closed numerous hiking trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, citing “unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy Trail,” where a Mariposa family was mysteriously found dead two weeks ago. The closures went into effect Sunday and extend through Sept. 26. … The Sheriff’s Office previously said known harmful algal blooms along the south fork of the Merced River are among the many possible causes of death being considered in the case with “no smoking gun” clues. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Devastating fires could damage Lake Tahoe’s iconic blue waters

Smoke and ash from wildfires near Lake Tahoe — one of the deepest lakes in the world — is already clouding the lake’s famously clear water, researchers say. While the long-term effects are unclear, ash and soot are now coating the surface of the High Sierra lake and veiling the sun, which can disrupt the lake’s ecosystem and its clarity. More debris and sediment are likely to wash into the lake from runoff and rain this fall and winter.

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Aquafornia news KRON 4

What is toxic algae, and could it have been the cause of a California family’s death?

The Madera County Department of Public Health issued an advisory Monday after large amounts of harmful algae blooms were found in Hensley Lake near Yosemite Lakes. … There has been renewed interest in the phenomenon after a Mariposa family was found dead in the Sierra National Forest. Mariposa County Sheriff’s deputies say they are looking at all possible causes for their death including signs of toxic algae.

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Aquafornia news EcoWatch

Blog: EPA takes action to protect Pacific salmon from pesticides

Extreme heat waves have made this a devastating summer for the endangered salmon species of the U.S. West Coast. In mid July, California wildlife officials warned that almost all of the young Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River would likely die because of lower water levels and higher water temperatures. … But, amidst all the catastrophic headlines was a cool spring of good news. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally acting to protect more than two dozen endangered West Coast salmon and steelhead species from pesticides.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Young American researcher wins Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2021

High schooler Eshani Jha from [Lynbrook High School in San José, California] received the prestigious 2021 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for research on how to remove contaminants from water. …. Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an international competition where students between the ages of 15 and 20 present solutions to major water challenges.

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Aquafornia news USA Today

Toxic algae blooms in California can be deadly, health officials warn

Madera County health officials in northern California on Monday issued warnings to the public after high amounts of harmful algae were reported in a lake.  Staff from the Central Valley Water Board have put out signs around Hensley Lake warning people about harmful bright green algae in the water, urging pets and children to stay away from the algae, which contains toxins that are dangerous to humans and animals if ingested. There are different types of toxic algae, but they all still are a threat to human and animal health. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California Water Board to order water consolidation for Tooleville

The state of California took the first step to order and potentially pay for the city of Exeter in Tulare County to extend water service to hundreds of homes in a nearby town without safe and stable drinking water. For decades, the 340 residents of Tooleville have relied on contaminated groundwater as their main source of tap water….

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Increase in eelgrass beneficial for birds, fish, bay

You can usually find Trish and me walking our dog CoBe around Los Osos in the evening. Our favorite walk is along the shoreline that stretches from Baywood Park Beach off Pasadena Drive to the Audubon overlook at the end of 4th Street. Over the past year, we’ve noticed a gradual increase in the amount of eelgrass washed up on the sand. In fact, on our last hike, there were areas that you couldn’t see any sand below the wrack of eelgrass that formed in different ribbons of colors by the tides. 

Aquafornia news Planning and Conservation League

Blog: Introducing modernizing California water law

Summers are getting hotter. Rain and snowpack are disappearing, and water reserves are shrinking. This reduction of readily available, adequate water resources is creating a crisis that directly harms Californians and their environment. Studies have found that one million Californians do not have safe drinking water. In addition, during the last drought, about 3,500 domestic wells went dry and about 2,600 households were negatively affected by the lack of available water.

Aquafornia news California Water Boards

News release: Harmful algal blooms reported at Mono County’s Crowley Lake; Caution urged for all water users

The recent discovery of harmful algal blooms at multiple locations in Crowley Lake in Mono County has prompted the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) and Mono County Environmental Health to urge recreational water users to exercise caution when in the lake. Testing in localized areas of the lake, a popular destination for trout fishing located 45 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park, confirmed the presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs). 

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Utility district prevents sewage spill into Lake Tahoe

A sewage spill into Lake Tahoe was prevented this past weekend.  South Tahoe Public Utility District received a call regarding a foul odor coming from the beach by Valhalla boat house.  Upon arriving on scene, crews discovered that the sewer main had backed up causing a manhole 35 feet from the edge of Lake Tahoe to fill with sewage, the district said in a press release.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Killer algae? California officials retesting river water after family found dead in Sierra

Toxic algae in Sierra National Forest, now being considered in the mysterious deaths of a family this week, was being retested on Thursday by the California State Water Resources Control Board and Mariposa County. … Mariposa residents John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their daughter, Miju, and family dog, Oski, were found dead in this area on Tuesday after not returning from a day hike in the Hites Cove area of Devil’s Gulch, between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park. The family may have been exposed to cyanobacterial toxins, the water board said, which can form in algal blooms.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Dirty water – toxic “forever” PFAS chemicals are prevalent in the drinking water of environmental justice communities

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are toxic chemicals that have been linked to multiple serious health harms, such as cancer and developmental and reproductive harm. Unfortunately, PFAS are widely used in everyday products such as nonstick cookware, water-resistant clothing, and food packaging. Even worse, PFAS are very resistant to break down—and can accumulate to dangerously high levels in the human body. Monitoring shows that virtually all people residing in the United States have some level of PFAS in their bodies.

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Tour Nick Gray

Headwaters Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 9

Thirty 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. 

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Water seeking permit to discharge water with PFAS compounds into Santa Cruz River

Tucson Water plans to start discharging water containing low levels of PFAS compounds from its south-side water treatment plant into the Santa Cruz River in early October — if it gets a state permit for the discharge by then. The utility is building a pipeline to take the water from that treatment plant near Interstate 10 and Irvington Road to the river near Irvington. It also has submitted a permit application for the discharge to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Algal bloom increases to warning level at Pyramid Lake

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is urging the public to avoid contact with water at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County until further notice due to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Boating is allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and sporting activities are not considered safe due to potential adverse health effects. All swim beaches are closed. For more information on warning level advisory, go to Harmful Algal Bloom website under Advisory Signs.

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Chlorine suppliers may be prioritizing pools over drinking water

Oceanside Water Utilities in California was days away from running out of bleach for its waste- and drinking-water treatment plants last month, Bloomberg Law reported on Monday. If chemical shipments didn’t return in time, the water supply for 170,000 people would be at risk. The Oceanside plant was one of 10 local systems from California, Utah, New Mexico, and New York that requested help from the US Environmental Protection Agency this week, according to Bloomberg.  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Boy, 7, dies after being infected with brain-eating amoeba

A 7-year-old Tehama County boy has died after contracting a rare but severe brain-eating amoeba after swimming in a lake in Northern California, his family said. … There have been only 10 cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, reported in California since 1971, according to the Tehama County Health Services Agency. Health officials recommend if anyone has had nasal exposure to warm freshwater in the last 10 days and develops symptoms to consult a doctor immediately.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Will Klamath salmon outlast the dam removal process?

Green algae blobs choke handmade gill nets that should be filled with salmon. The Klamath River is warming, heated by drought and dams, and that allows the algae to thrive, making it harder and harder to catch fish. Some days, Yurok tribal members capture nothing but green goop. … Warming conditions have also encouraged the spread of Ceratonova shasta, which infected 97% of juvenile salmon in the Klamath last spring, killing 70%. 

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

Report underscores continued need for research at Salton Sea

Efforts of the Salton Sea Management Program to achieve to goals of mitigation efforts “will be difficult, if not impossible” without investment in continuing scientific research, according to a new report. The report was prepared for policymakers and stakeholders by the University of California, Riverside Salton Sea Task Force. The task force consists of an interdisciplinary group of scientists, engineers, medical experts and economists gathered to identify critical scientific research necessary to guide policymakers in making decisions about the region’s future.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Deep pockets vie for Kern pistachio orchards

Pistachios have recently become perhaps the top choice for institutional investors in Kern County agriculture, apparently surpassing almonds. Farmland brokers say prices and demand for local pistachio orchards — the few properties listed for sale, anyway — have increased since about 2019 because of the trees’ longevity, crop price stability and higher tolerance for limited and lower-quality water supplies.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: San Luis Reservoir algal bloom increases to warning level

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is urging the public to avoid contact with water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice due to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Boating is allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and sporting activities are not considered safe due to potential adverse health effects. O’Neill Forebay remains at caution advisory. For more information on caution and warning level advisories, go to Harmful Algal Bloom website under Advisory Signs.

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

New research: Salton Sea restoration efforts could fail without science

There are finally efforts under way to improve the environmental health disaster that is the Salton Sea — California’s largest and most polluted lake. However, a group of UC Riverside scientists, engineers, medical experts, and economists has published a new report warning that these efforts may not succeed. The report warns that the scientific assumptions informing current mitigation efforts are outdated or lacking entirely. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Lake Tahoe-area towns at risk of future flooding, UC Davis scientists warn in annual report

Water in Lake Tahoe could rise to unprecedented levels, potentially placing communities downstream in jeopardy, according to a study from environmental scientists at UC Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center. In the past two years, California saw brutal heatwaves and droughts shrink Lake Tahoe’s water level to a point so low that some boats couldn’t be launched. However, that’s expected to change. While temperatures aren’t projected to cool off, Lake Tahoe could see a rapid depletion of its snowpack and an influx of water during the coming years.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County supervisors told drought now ‘harmful’ to humans, environment

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors received an update on local drought conditions from the drought task force Tuesday and authorized the group to expand its membership to local tribes, community services districts and state agencies “as needed.”  The task force, which meets weekly, was created to explore and develop both short- and long-term actions to address local impacts from drought. Ryan Derby, the county’s emergency services manager, said local conditions have only worsened since the task force’s last update to the board on July 21. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Brain-eating amoeba infects California child, officials say

An extremely rare brain-eating amoeba infected a child who was swimming in a California lake, health officials said. A child under the age of 10 was diagnosed with primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare infection caused from brain-eating amoeba and known as PAM, the Tehama County Health Services Agency said. … Health officials did not say what lake or identify the child. The infection is extremely rare, and there have only been 10 cases reported in California since 1971, according to the health agency.

Aquafornia news Food Navigator

6PPD quinone: The environmental contaminant killing Coho salmon

6-PPD is a chemical widely used to protect car tires from ozone. However, when rainwater washes it into freshwater, 6PPD degrades into 6-PPD quinone, a contaminant that a recent study​ has linked to the mass deaths of Coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Washington found that even small doses of 6PPDq were lethal for the salmon. … According to the California Water Board, Coho populations today are probably less than 6% of what they were in the 1940s, and there has been ‘at least’ a 70% decline since the 1960s. 

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Pollutants released by Hyperion decline sharply as pumps come back online

The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant is expected to continue releasing millions of gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific until the plant is restored to normal operations later this month, but the amount of pollutants in the water flowing into the ocean is already dropping dramatically as more of the damaged facility is brought back online, according to new water quality data. 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Lady of the Lake: Figuring out fish kills

A “fish die-off” is generally a natural phenomena and occurs in summer when low oxygen and warm temperatures causes large mortality in a localized population of fish. Fish die-offs can also happen in winter months when temperature stress can kill a fish population. We have seen winter die-off happen during extreme winters here in Clear Lake and her tributaries, especially to the fragile, small bait fish populations like the threadfin shad and silversides.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How did drinking water in northeast Fresno CA homes go bad?

In early January 2016, Fresno city officials began picking up on social media chatter among northeast Fresno residents who were concerned about rusty, discolored water coming out of their pipes. Starting Jan. 25, the city began testing the water in five homes around an area bounded by Chestnut Avenue on the west, Gettysburg Avenue on the south, Willow Avenue on the east and Copper Avenue to the north. Test results showed everything checked out fine, including pipes between the water main and the homes. However, the tests did find iron, zinc, copper and in a few of the homes, lead.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

West Nile virus: another alarming side effect of US drought

The West Nile virus was once associated with higher humidity and moisture, conditions that help mosquitoes thrive. But a growing body of research has found that drought conditions – such as those being felt across the American west – could amplify its effects. States are already on alert. California reported its first death of the year in July. By the end of that month, the state’s department of public health (CDPH) had documented the virus in 4 people, 94 dead birds, 563 mosquito samples, 10 chickens and 1 horse.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Waste-to-energy tech could slash U.S. water sector carbon emissions, but its potential remains underdeveloped

Wastewater treatment plants in the United States are in a race against time. Like all other industries, the clock is ticking for the sector to cut its carbon pollution, given President Joe Biden’s goal to halve the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. To make their contribution, utilities will have to pull against strong currents. The energy needs of the wastewater sector are projected to climb during this period, due to population growth and tightening water-quality standards.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water samples at Dockweiler State Beach return to state standards

The water quality of several beaches near Dockweiler State Beach has returned to state standards after a sewage spill, according to the California Department of Public Health. Beachgoers had been warned against swimming along a stretch of coastline after an emergency discharge from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant sent 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the waters off Dockweiler and El Segundo beaches on July 11 and 12.

Aquafornia news Fox Rothschild

Blog: California requires PFAS investigation at refineries and terminals statewide
pfas and emerging contaminants

The California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) has issued an Order to approximately 160 bulk fuel storage terminals and refineries in California requiring implementation of a PFAS site investigation.  The State Water Board identified the recipients of the Order on the basis that they had stored and/or used materials that may contain PFAS such as AFFF for fire suppression, fire training, and flammable vapor suppression. 

Aquafornia news Western Farmer-Stockman

Stricter controls sought against ag-based water pollution

Greater buffer zones around bodies of water and more consistent enforcement of water protection regulations are needed to reduce agriculture-based pollution in the Western U.S., a recent review from Oregon State University found. Prior research has shown that agricultural pollution, both from croplands and rangelands, is the cause of 48% of water-quality impairment in U.S. surface waters, which in turn disrupts habitat for fish and insects and reduces biodiversity in aquatic environments.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ suspected at oil sites across California

At least 162 oil refineries and other petroleum-holding facilities in California have likely stored or used materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of synthetic chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment and are linked to severe illnesses, according to state water regulators. The California State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to facility operators in March ordering them to submit work plans evaluating the presence of the toxic compounds at their facilities, including areas where PFAS are stored or disposed of and the potential ways the chemicals could have contaminated soil, surface water, storm water and groundwater …

Aquafornia news NBC Southern California

Beach warning continues for areas near Dockweiler

Several Los Angeles County beaches near Dockweiler State Beach continue to exceed state standards for bacteria in water, according to the Department of Public Health. However, special water sampling conducted Friday determined water quality levels returned to state standards at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant outfall at Dockweiler State Beach and the Topsail Street extension at Venice Beach, lifting warnings there. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California toxics law: Few water cases, but millions for lawyers

Thirty-five years ago, California voters approved a landmark law meant to halt exposure to dangerous chemicals in drinking water and everyday products like food, flip-flops, and face shields. Decades later, the water cases are few and far between—while hundreds of product lawsuits bring in millions of dollars annually for plaintiffs’ attorneys, some of whom represent environmental groups focused only on this law. 

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: OEHHA issues highly anticipated draft public health goals for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

Last week, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) released draft public health goals (PHGs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water. OEHHA’s announcement is several years in the making and is relevant for water purveyors and municipalities providing other related services such as wastewater treatment because PHGs are used to create enforceable drinking water standards and remediation goals for groundwater contamination. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought is pushing more saltwater into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. California built a wall to keep it out

Drought conditions have prompted the building of a 750-foot wide rock barrier to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The California Department of Water Resources constructed the temporary barrier with 110,000 cubic yards of rock off West False River in Contra Costa County. Principal engineer Jacob McQuirk said that without the barrier, saltwater would endanger freshwater supplies in the Delta and water exports to the south. … McQuirk said 27 million people are dependent upon those water supplies and that the barrier will be taken down by November. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR completes installation of emergency salinity drought barrier

After three weeks of round-the-clock work, the emergency drought salinity barrier (EDSB) was completed in late June. The barrier will help prevent saltwater contamination of water supplies used by millions of Californians who rely on Delta-based federal and state water projects for at least some of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District

News release: New Regional San upgrade virtually eliminates ammonia in Sacramento region’s wastewater

The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) has completed a significant upgrade to its wastewater treatment facility that serves the Sacramento region. The new Biological Nutrient Removal project (BNR) is now operational, virtually eliminating ammonia from the region’s treated wastewater. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Long troubled Salton Sea may finally be getting what it most needs: action — and money

State work to improve wildlife habitat and tamp down dust at California’s ailing Salton Sea is finally moving forward. Now the sea may be on the verge of getting the vital ingredient needed to supercharge those restoration efforts – money. The shrinking desert lake has long been a trouble spot beset by rising salinity and unhealthy, lung-irritating dust blowing from its increasingly exposed bed. It shadows discussions of how to address the Colorado River’s two-decade-long drought because of its connection to the system.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Border report: Little action on border sewage crisis since $300M announcement

Rain fell on San Diego Monday. It wasn’t a lot of rain – an Accuweather forecast called for “a brief morning shower or two” with an anticipated rainfall of 0.01 inches. But it was enough to prompt a beach closure at the Tijuana Slough, just south of Imperial Beach. That section of the beach is closed whenever the Tijuana River is flowing. Cross-border sewage spills have been an issue in South County for decades.

Aquafornia news California Water Law Journal

Legal analysis on groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait

California’s courts routinely impose punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly release hazardous substances which contaminate groundwater. But California has been slow to follow the nationwide trend favoring punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly fail to remediate their past hazardous releases before those releases spread and cause greater harm.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Newly introduced bill aims to increase access to clean water in tribal lands

A bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to provide billions of dollars to improve access to clean water in tribal lands. One of the senators who introduced the bill, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., wrote in the foreword of a report about tribal water access within the Colorado River Basin that one estimate states 48% of households within tribal lands lack clean water or sufficient sanitation.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

House passes PFAS Action Act, but there’s one problem

Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national drinking water standards for regulating harmful forever chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), that are linked to kidney, liver and other health problems. … The bill now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate. There’s just one problem, however, as the collective water sector opposes the bill.

Aquafornia news KPVI

Bay Area high school student wins prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize

The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) selected Eshani Jha from Lynbrook High School in San Jose as California’s first place winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, 2021. Jha’s project, Thiol Functionalized and Manganese Doped Biochar for the Removal of Toxic Organic and Inorganic Contaminants from the Water was selected as the first-place project for California out of 21 papers submitted. Jha, one of 43 state winners announced by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), represented California in the national finals in June where she was declared as the U.S. winner. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thousands of fish are dying in West Coast rivers, imperiling industry

Baby salmon are dying by the thousands in one California river, and an entire run of endangered salmon could be wiped out in another. Fishermen who make their living off adult salmon, once they enter the Pacific Ocean, are sounding the alarm as blistering heat waves and extended drought in the U.S. West raise water temperatures and imperil fish from Idaho to California. Hundreds of thousands of young salmon are dying in Northern California’s Klamath River as low water levels brought about by drought allow a parasite to thrive, devastating a Native American tribe whose diet and traditions are tied to the fish. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘The air is toxic’: how an idyllic California lake became a nightmare
Climate crisis in the American West

Here, in California’s far south-east, there’s no escaping the noxious air. The haze that hovers over Imperial [County] is a peculiar blend – incorporating pesticide plumes, exhaust fumes, factory emissions, and something curious: vaporized dust rising from the nearby Salton Sea. … It is California’s largest lake, an ecological oasis, a former mecca for famous vacationers, and a muddy sink for agricultural runoff. For decades, it has been shrinking, exposing a powdery arsenic-, selenium- and DDT-laced shoreline that wafts into the atmosphere.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As noxious fumes sicken residents, anger grows about Hyperion plant sewage discharge

On a jog in her El Segundo neighborhood, Corrie Zupo’s head hurt and her eyes watered. She blamed the symptoms on noxious fumes from the nearby Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which is undergoing at least a month of repairs after discharging 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean on July 11. Other residents have complained of rashes, nausea and burning eyes. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment Department, which runs the plant, announced that it would reimburse El Segundo residents for air conditioners if they stay in their homes, or hotel vouchers if they would rather leave.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Critics bid to overturn approval of Tahoe resort expansion

Environmental lawyers are urging a California appellate court to overturn a pair of district court rulings that handed significant victories to the Squaw Valley ski resort as it moves forward with expansion plans critics say will dramatically increase traffic in the area and harm Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality. Justice Vance W. Raye, chief of the Third District Court of Appeals, appeared sympathetic to their arguments this week that Placer County may have violated a public records law in approving part of an environmental analysis and mitigation plan at the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

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Aquafornia news Chemical and Engineering News

California drafts safe limits for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

In a draft report, California says only extremely low levels of two toxic “forever chemicals” are safe for humans to drink in water. A July 22 draft report from the California Environmental Protection Agency would set a science-based safe level­—called a public health goal—of 0.007 part per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 1 ppt for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water. The two compounds are the two most common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of environmentally persistent synthetic molecules—found as contaminants in drinking water.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Forever chemicals – California unveils health goals for contaminated drinking water

California took a major step towards regulating dangerous “forever chemicals” in drinking water by proposing new health limits for two of the most pervasive contaminants. State environmental health officials recommended goals of one part per trillion and less — a minuscule amount 70 times smaller than the federal government’s non-binding guideline for drinking water nationwide.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: House votes to order EPA to limit chemicals in water

The House on Wednesday approved a bill setting deadlines for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement drinking water regulations for so-called forever chemicals. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly called PFAS, are widely used, man-made compounds that are found in manufacturing and consumer products like Scotchguard, flame-resistant materials, nonstick cooking surfaces and firefighting foam used on military bases since the 1940s.

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Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Questions remain after apartment tenants tap into fire line during water main break

The water is back on at a South Bay apartment complex, but a big question remains: what was in the pipes from which tenants obtained gallons and gallons of water to use in their bathrooms and kitchens and possibly to drink? Tenants at the Foxdale Apartments were without water from Saturday until Monday after a buried water main broke. During that time, some tenants tapped into an emergency fire sprinkler supply line to get water.

Aquafornia news KUNR

UNR researcher looks at harmful algae blooms

The EPA has reported several dog and livestock deaths due to toxic algae blooms found in riverbeds. A researcher from UNR is examining what conditions cause these blooms. … [Joanna Blaszczak, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno,] has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Her research will be focused on three rivers in Northern California and will be conducted through 2023.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly mobilizing behind efforts to crack down on so-called forever chemicals as pressure to find a solution swells to a fever pitch. At an inaugural conference pegged to issues around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed to “follow the science” on the chemicals and offer a strong federal partner to local governments. 

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Court allows Trump Administration Waters of the U.S. rule to remain

A South Carolina federal judge issued an order late last week allowing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the Trump administration’s “waters of the United States” rule, to remain in place while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers work on rulemakings to revoke and replace it. The final rule was issued in April 2020, redefining “waters of the United States” and narrowing the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Pollution from old Avila Beach tank farm is seeping into tide pools. What should be done?

For years, petroleum hydrocarbons have been seeping from the groundwater beneath the old oil tank farm property in Avila Beach into tide pools below.  Much of the source of the pollution has been cleaned up, but an unknown amount remains. The question now is, what should be done with it and could over-aggressive remediation cause more harm than good?  The trickle of hydrocarbons — comprised of a mixture of diluted, broken-down gas from the tank farm — was discovered in May 2012 …

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Water redirected to refill Legacy Park pond

Residents, along with the local population of Mallard ducks, Canada geese and coots will soon get their Legacy Park nature preserve back. The pond, which is normally kept full most of the year with storm runoff water, totally dried up this spring in the middle of duckling season. The statewide drought took its toll. Meanwhile, the construction of a new office park and shopping center—the La Paz project—right across the street was running into difficulties with groundwater as workers excavated a future underground parking garage. 

Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Reno

News release: Researcher aims to get to the bottom of harmful, hidden riverbed algae

While algae growing in our lakes, ponds and reservoirs can be quite visible, the algae in many of our rivers and their tributaries is often not so obvious, lurking on the bottom of the rivers, and clinging to rocks. Yet, some of these riverbed blue-green algae, referred to as “cyanobacteria,” can create algal blooms that produce toxins harmful not only to aquatic life, but also to pets, livestock and humans. University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor Joanna Blaszczak is conducting research to identify the specific conditions conducive to producing these blooms and their toxins…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Potentially dangerous algae discovered in water basins in North Natomas parks

California water inspectors have discovered evidence of algae that could pose a risk to humans and pets at North Natomas parks, prompting city workers to plant signs warning locals to steer clear of the water. … The algae bloom coated the city’s water and flood control basins, which collect and store water run-off. The presence of algae itself isn’t unusual, especially during a season of unprecedented droughts and red-hot temperatures, officials said. But exposure to the harmful algae toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and eye irritation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Delayed alert to massive beach sewage spill raises alarm

After 17 million gallons of raw sewage were discharged into the ocean off Los Angeles beaches early Monday, county officials waited hours before notifying the public to avoid swimming in areas potentially affected by high levels of bacteria. The delay occurred even though officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which is responsible for notifying the public, were at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey during the emergency discharge procedure that began Sunday evening and ended Monday around 4:30 a.m., according to interviews.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A Delta in distress

Global warming has already left its mark on the backbone of California’s water supply, and represents a growing threat to its first developed agricultural region, state experts have warned in a new study. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fuels California’s $3 trillion economy, including its $50 billion agricultural industry, sustains more than 750 plant and animal species and supplies 27 million people with drinking water.  But global warming is likely to destabilize the landscape that made the delta a biodiversity and agricultural hotspot …

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Aquafornia news Fox 5 Vegas

Scientists welcome caddisfly swarms along Colorado River in Laughlin

Caddisfly swarms along the Colorado River in Laughlin are annoying most residents, but scientists see them as an opportunity. Dr. Michael Cavallaro, entomologist and pest abatement manager for Bullhead City, is working on a project to find a permanent solution to the swarms, which have become a nuisance for residents and businesses. He thinks the residents should feel honored, since caddisflies swarm only in healthy ecosystems with high-quality, clean water. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Rep. Vargas: $3.2M for Salton Sea, New River in bill

Nearly $3.25 million in federal funding was preliminarily secured for separate project requests at the Salton Sea and the New River on Monday, July 12, according to the office of Congressman Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista. The funding was part of a 2022 House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee bill that included requests of $2.546 million for a major Salton Sea research project, $200,000 for a Salton Sea feasibility study, and $500,000 for planning and design phases for a potential New River restoration project, Vargas’ press release states. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

It’s not just water supply: drought harms water quality, too

Extreme heat and wildfires are engulfing the [West] amid a historic drought that scientists think may be the region’s worst in at least 1,200 years. In response, some drinking water systems are beginning to grapple with maintaining both water supplies and water quality as they deal with potential legal and regulatory concerns. … California contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey to study the link between drought and water quality … Some systems saw increases in nitrates, arsenic, and uranium …

Aquafornia news Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal

Law Review: “A Clean Water Act, if you can keep it”

The Clean Water Act has traveled a successful but tortuous path. From combustible beginnings on the Cuyahoga River; through the Lake St. Clair wetlands; to reservoirs near the Miccosukee; and eventually discharged (or “functionally” discharged) off the Maui coast. With each bend, the nearly fifty-year-old Act has proven to be not just resilient, but among our most successful environmental laws. Much of that success stems from an effective enforcement structure that focuses more on treating pollutant sources rather than just impaired waters.
–Written by Sean G. Herman, an attorney with Hanson Bridgett LLP and an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Newsom’s oil regulators deny new fracking permits, but industry is pushing back

California denied 21 oil drilling permits this week in the latest move toward ending fracking in a state that makes millions from the petroleum industry but is seeing widespread drought and more dangerous fire seasons linked to climate change. … Fracking involves injecting high-pressure water deep underground to extract oil or gas from rock. Critics say it can pollute groundwater and contributes to climate change.

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Aquafornia news KTVU 2

Residents demand action to clear trash in East Bay reservoir

Community members in Alameda County are outraged by the huge amount of trash blown into the Bethany Reservoir in Alameda County. They believed it was coming from a nearby landfill and were demanding action. … Residents of nearby Mountain House came with cameras to document it. They believed high winds carried trash from the Altamont Landfill.

Aquafornia news KESQ

Changes happening at the Salton Sea on a state & federal level

The Salton Sea has been a health problem for decades with longtime inaction from agencies charged with actually doing something about it. But there is recent movement on a couple wetland projects around the lake.

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Aquafornia news Fox 40

Water conservation efforts lead to larger toxic algae blooms in Natomas

City officials have placed warning signs at four North Natomas parks where California water inspectors have found signs of algae blooms that can be harmful to people and pets.  Algae blooms are not uncommon during warm spells when there is stagnant water around, but the toxins in the bacteria they produce can be harmful.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water Act would keep water clean and affordable

California has a long history of treating public water as a commodity instead of a human right and entrusting it to industries that fail to manage it responsibly. Water is a public trust resource that needs protection. The federal Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act would put water systems back in the hands of the people who depend on it for life and livelihood. This bill [S. 11] would set aside $35 billion annually to shore up drinking and wastewater systems. It would ensure no one lacks access to water because they can’t afford it. 
-Written by Alexandra Nagy, California director for Food & Water Watch.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Orange County launches first water plant to remove PFAS toxins

A year-and-a-half after Orange County began shutting down groundwater wells because of PFAS contamination, the first treatment plant to remove the carcinogens is up and operating in Fullerton, with two dozen more to be built throughout the north and central parts of the county. Miniscule quantities of PFAS, a family of chemicals used for waterproofing and stain-proofing among other uses, have been found to be toxic…

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Aquafornia news Legal Planet

The ongoing tension over stormwater discharges in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Board”) is in the process of issuing a new permit for water discharges through the municipal separate storm sewer systems (“MS4”) in Los Angeles County and Ventura County. The MS4 permit is an important document that regulates how municipalities can allow stormwater to flow through the MS4 system and out into natural (or modified) waterways. Stormwater typically contains high quantities of pollutants, including toxic metals, bacteria, and other materials picked up from buildings and streets during wet weather events, all of which harms both the ecosystem and human health. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Heat, drought conditions could bring more harmful algae to Sacramento waterways

Hot temperatures have many headed straight to local waterways to cool off, but experts say high heat and a bad drought this year can be ideal conditions for harmful algae. It’s an issue that’s not always top of mind. … According to state data, popular waterways in the immediate Sacramento area are safe. People headed to the American River or Folsom Lake for the Fourth of July are in the clear. But the state labels part of Discovery Bay near San Francisco as a danger area, with a warning not to swim or touch the scum on the water. 

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Long Beach City Council to weigh $19 million contract to build stormwater treatment site

The Long Beach City Council is set to weigh in on the next phase of the planned Long Beach Municipal Urban Stormwater Treatment Facility … The project will include both construction of the facility and a new wetland habitat area, though the contract with Shimmick will just be for the stormwater treatment site; a contract to build the wetlands will come to the panel at a later date.

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Aquafornia news Spectrum 1

Heal the Bay 2021 beach report card praises OC, Malibu

The beaches are back, and according to research taken from the coastal watchdogs at Heal the Bay, there are plenty of excellent Southland beaches for people to enjoy this summer. Even so, a handful of beaches across California, including a perennial “beach bummer” in Los Angeles County, leave something to be desired. Heal the Bay’s complete 2020-2021 Beach Report Card covers the entirety of the west coast, from the Pacific Northwest down to Tijuana, and includes brief water quality updates from along the coast. It also features grades on freshwater sources and swimming holes, such as those along the LA River.

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Aquafornia news Truthout

Explosive growth of toxic algae threatens water supplies across US

With a vast portion of the United States coping with exceptional drought this summer, conditions are ripe in many places for harmful algal blooms, bringing additional threats to already-stressed water systems and increased health risks for communities. The blooms are in large part fueled by phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from industrial agricultural operations, which provide a feast of nutrients for cyanobacteria — a group of aquatic, photosynthetic bacteria that grow out of control and overwhelm their ecosystems in the presence of excess nutrients.

Aquafornia news World Economic Forum

Blog: 9 ways to clean up plastic waste from the world’s rivers

The Clean Currents Coalition – a global network of local projects – is on a mission to clean up the world’s rivers, using scientific solutions to address the problem of plastic waste … Pollution doesn’t respect international boundaries, making plastic waste in the Tijuana River Estuary, which forms the border between the US and Mexico, everyone’s problem. As the river is the sole source of clean drinking water for many people, California and Mexico-based environmental non-profit WILDCOAST, has erected a “Brute Boom” across the Los Laureles Canyon to collect debris. 

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water honored for PFAS water treatment project

SCV Water’s response to removing per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals in the local groundwater supply received top honors as the Best Environmental Project from the American Public Works Association (APWA) — High Desert Branch. … PFAS chemicals are manmade and can cause adverse health effects. Officials recognized the opening of the plant, which is adjacent to the William S. Hart Pony Baseball & Softball fields, in early October. The $6 million facility restores up to 6,250 gallons of water per minute. 

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Desert Hot Springs waste spill has MSWD facing up to $9.4 million fine

Mission Springs Water Districtis facing as much as $9.4 million in fines from state and regional water regulators after district officials failed to report a  nearly million-gallon spill from a breached wastewater percolation pond as required, and failed to notify state authorities that a temporary holding pond had been constructed. District officials waited two weeks to notify state authorities that last Oct. 3, large  amounts of treated wastewater gushed through Desert Hot Springs residential streets …

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: CalOES proposes rules to clarify California release reporting requirements

California’s existing release reporting requirements, which are in addition to federal requirements, are viewed by many as vague and often require companies to make difficult judgment calls to determine if small spills or threatened releases must be reported. In workshops held on June 22 and 24, 2021 the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) previewed amendments to its Hazardous Material Release Reporting regulations that aim to clarify when a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance must be reported.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA publishes instructions for water utilities to obtain chemicals in short supply

Many water utilities face challenges from a nation-wide shortage of chlorine and other chemicals for water and wastewater treatment and are struggling to locate necessary supplies or alternative sources. The Environmental Protection Agency administers a program under Safe Drinking Water Act section 1441 that allows water agencies to obtain priority access to these chemicals.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Giant rock wall built across Delta river to protect California’s water supply

For the past three weeks, construction crews working 24 hours a day have been stacking boulders across a river in eastern Contra Costa County, building what may be California’s biggest defense yet against the drought: a nearly 800-foot-long rock wall. The state’s emergency project, which was wrapping up Thursday, is designed to prevent San Francisco Bay’s salty flows from pushing into the coveted freshwater supplies of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Water levels in the delta’s rivers and sloughs have dropped after two dry years, putting water for almost 30 million Californians at risk of saltwater intrusion. The plan is to keep the wall up until November…

Aquafornia news Daily Mail Online

Stunning photos by Julian Lennon capture the eeriness of California’s landlocked Salton Sea

Competition for the title of most surreal location in America is hot, but the Salton Sea in California is undoubtedly a contender. And the eerie, post-apocalyptic feel of this bizarre body of water and the ghost-town settlements on its shoreline has been captured in a stunning newly released photo series by Julian Lennon, the son of Beatles legend John. The landlocked body of water is one of the world’s biggest inland seas and at 226ft (69m) below sea level one of the lowest places on earth.

Aquafornia news Coastal View

Opinion: We must work together to protect our water from agricultural waste

As science and policy director for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and a 14-year resident of Carpinteria, I appreciated Bob Franco’s June 16 letter to the editor, “Don’t drink the water,” for its effectiveness in raising awareness about an important pollution issue impacting Carpinteria’s local waterways.  Channelkeeper is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds. 
-Written by Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s interim executive director and science and policy director.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times-Delta

East Orosi one step closer to clean water as Tulare County moves to become administrator

East Orosi is one step closer to achieving clean drinking water, a basic human right that is denied to many of California’s disadvantaged communities, particularly in the rural San Joaquin Valley. Last Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take steps to become the manager of the small agricultural community’s water board. That means the town of about 500 will soon have the financial resources and technical know-how to gain clean water.

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Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

U.S. Department of Homeland Security reporting chlorine shortage in California

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported a chlorine shortage in California that may affect some ACWA member agencies’ operations. An electrical failure at Westlake Chemical in mid-June caused the chlorine supply disruption to water and wastewater facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of California. Today, state and local utilities attended a meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Security Division and Region 9 to express their concerns relating to the chlorine shortage and shipments.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wildfires threaten urban water supplies, long after the flames are out

When wildfires blaze across the West, as they have with increasing ferocity as the region has warmed, the focus is often on the immediate devastation — forests destroyed, infrastructure damaged, homes burned, lives lost. But about two-thirds of drinking water in the United States originates in forests. And when wildfires affect watersheds, cities can face a different kind of impact, long after the flames are out.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

California drought is causing some tap water to taste like dirt

A muddy flavor in your tap water lately may not be the product of your imagination.  An algae bloom is causing water sourced from the Sacramento and American rivers to impart a “musty” taste to tap water. The bacterial bloom generates something called geosmin, which is harmless for consumption but is easily detectable due to its earthy smell and taste. 

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tulare County takes over East Orosi water system

Help may be on the horizon for the about 700 residents of East Orosi dependent on bottled water. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has directed county staff to begin negotiating the scope of work and a budget … to take control of the East Orosi Community Services District public water system. … East Orosi’s water has been plagued with nitrates from fertilizers and coliform bacteria since at least 2003, for which their water system has been cited for violating the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) both contaminants dozens of times.

Aquafornia news CNN

Sacramento drinking water tastes ‘earthy’ because of California drought

Something is off about Sacramento’s water. It smells and tastes a little “earthy,” residents are saying — an effect of compounding climate change crises: extreme heat, little to no precipitation and a historic drought that has gripped the region for the better part of a decade. Up and down the state of California, rivers, streams and reservoirs are drying up. In Sacramento, that has led to an increase in the concentration of geosmin in its drinking water, one of two organic compounds that give soil its characteristic smell.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Ensuring safe drinking water for California’s Native American communities

California is home to 109 federally recognized tribes—more than any other state—and several more are petitioning for federal recognition. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is responsible for regulating water quality on tribal lands, while the State Water Board regulates water quality for other water systems. According to USEPA’s ECHO database, 88 tribal water systems in California serve more than 160,000 people. Unfortunately, some Native American communities lack access to safe drinking water. 

Aquafornia news County of Sonoma

News release: Recreational water users urged to be cautious about toxic algal mats in local Rivers

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and Sonoma County Department of Environmental Health Services advise caution for anyone who boats, fishes or swims after harmful algal blooms (HABs) were discovered in multiple Sonoma County rivers. Because children and dogs are most susceptible to serious health impacts, it is recommended that they avoid touching any suspicious-looking algal material found in the water or along river banks.

Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

San Elijo’s water reclamation facility named ‘Plant of the Year’

The San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility near San Elijo Lagoon on Manchester Avenue in Encinitas was named “Plant of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association, the agency announced today. The award recognizes accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, cost-effectiveness and superior plant performance amongst wastewater agencies across California.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought: Emergency project being built to protect California water supplies

In a new symbol of California’s worsening drought, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $10 million emergency project to build a massive rock barrier through part of the Delta in Contra Costa County to preserve water supplies for millions of people across the state. The 800-foot long barrier — the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid laid on its side — is essentially a rock wall, 120 feet wide, built in water 35 feet deep. Its purpose: To block salt water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from flowing too far east and contaminating the huge state and federal pumps near Tracy …

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Water Audit California sues St. Helena over water management

Water Audit California sued the City of St. Helena this week over its management of water. The watchdog group says the city is violating its “public trust” responsibilities relating to the Napa River and its aquatic habitat. It cites the city’s policies on groundwater pumping, well permitting, and water consumption by vineyards and wineries.

Aquafornia news The Independent

Zone 7 commits $2 million for PFAs water treatment facility

Zone 7 directors have approved spending $2 million to design a facility to treat potential human health threats in Cope Lake’s water should chemicals accumulate above legally acceptable levels. Those chemicals are called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs and PFOAs), which are found in consumer products, such as cookware, food packaging and stain repellents. They make their way into drinking water sources.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

River along north Sacramento showing above average amounts of E. coli

Several locations along the American River north of Sacramento are showing above-average levels of E. coli, according to the Central Valley Water Board. KCRA 3 spoke with health officials in Sacramento County on Friday about the concerning levels of E. coli.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

With fish on the brink of extinction, tribes say government must act

[T]he problem goes way beyond grazing. Dozens of tributaries and hundreds of springs feed Upper Klamath Lake, supplying plenty of good, clean water. A century of mismanagement has caused erosion of high phosphorus soils that accumulate in the bottom of Upper Klamath Lake. Now, annual algae blooms kill entire generations of young endangered fish every year. … All the problems in the Upper Klamath Lake flow downstream, affecting endangered salmon in the Klamath River as it runs to the Pacific Ocean. The Karuk, a Klamath River tribe, are worried that this could be another year marked by a historic fish kill. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Cyberattack on Bay Area water supply: ‘No specific threat to public safety’

A hacker accessed the computer system of a Bay Area water treatment plant in January and deleted programs the plant used to treat drinking water, a senior intelligence official confirmed Thursday. NBC News first reported Thursday that the unidentified hacker used a former plant employee’s username and password to gain entry to the unidentified Bay Area water treatment facility on Jan. 15.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Low river levels to blame for ‘earthy’ taste to Sacramento tap water, city says

Does your tap water taste a little off right now? Sacramento city leaders say the drought is probably to blame. The city says they have been recently getting some calls with people reporting an “earthy” taste to their tap water. Some people have also been reporting an off smell as well.

Aquafornia news Fox 40 (Sacramento)

High levels of E. coli found at Tiscornia Beach

Hot temperatures are drawing people to the cool water of Tiscornia Beach, but what many there may not know, there are high levels of E.coli found in the water. … Robert Metcalf is a retired professor who’s taught microbiology at Sacramento State University for 42 years. He said finding E. coli in the water means there is recent fecal contamination. Mary Beth Metcalf, a retired clinical professor of pediatrics from UC Davis, said E.coli leads to other infections.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA’s water office

The Senate voted 55-43 Wednesday to confirm Radhika Fox as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), in remarks on the Senate floor, praised Fox’s record and highlighted the organizations endorsing her for the position. These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Family Farm Alliance and the U.S. Water Alliance, where she previously served as CEO.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Salinity management: Putting Southern California’s water supply on a low sodium diet

While the saying, “too much of a good thing,” sounds pleasant at its core, water managers take that very seriously when it comes to managing salt, or salinity, in the water supply. Water managers across California are responsible for providing a clean and safe drinking water supply, and salinity management plays a critical role in the quality of water that is provided to communities. While salt is composed of natural elements commonly found in soil and water, how is salinity managed to support a diversified water resource portfolio? 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Water quality legislation attracts bipartisan support

President Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative proposes to invest $111 billion in rebuilding and modernizing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as funding other water quality-related priorities, including addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water supplies.  Legislation proposed in both the Senate and House of Representatives in the 117th Congress (2021-2022) reflects a bipartisan effort to translate the President’s goals into national policy.

Aquafornia news KCRW

Salton Sea: Why a nearby shrinking lake could be an answer to climate change

The first glimpse of the water driving down Highway 86 is breathtaking. From some angles, you can’t even see the other side of California’s biggest lake. It seems out of place in the vast desert expanse of the Imperial Valley, just north of the Mexican border, where it’s over 100 degrees for much of the year. But then the car door opens, and it hits: the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs.  At the shoreline is a sign saying not to touch the toxic water.

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Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news Water Online

New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

With harmful algal blooms (HABs) being forecast to increase, in part due to the effects of climate change, more water systems can expect to face problematic cyanotoxin conditions more frequently and for more days per year. In its efforts to mitigate the negative effects of such increases, the U.S. EPA has enhanced its information resources for water utilities by issuing a new Cyanotoxins Preparedness and Response Toolkit.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California must use budget surplus to fix water problems

As California plunges into another “historic” drought, people across the state are worried about water shortages. But the last drought never really ended for some Californians, like residents of East Porterville that still have emergency water storage tanks in their front yards. With the state’s current financial surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund drought preparedness and water safety in communities that have lived for decades with shallow and contaminated drinking water wells, inadequate water treatment, and other infrastructure failures…
-Written by Carolina Garcia, a resident of Tombstone Territory, and Sandra Chavez, a member of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group. 

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA and Army Corps to propose repealing and replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced their intent to revise the reach of the federal Clean Water Act by changing the definition of “waters of the United States.” This move, announced yesterday, would reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule adopted during the Trump administration, which itself replaced a 2015 revision by the Obama administration.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Biden moves to restore clean-water safeguards ended by Trump

The Biden administration began legal action Wednesday to repeal a Trump-era rule that ended federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, leaving them more vulnerable to pollution from development, industry and farms. The rule — sometimes referred to as “waters of the United States” or WOTUS — narrowed the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act. It was one of hundreds of rollbacks of environmental and public health regulations under President Donald Trump, who said the rules imposed unnecessary burdens on business.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: Facts matter — Don’t be a victim of mining fiction

The Union has printed several opinion pieces by Idaho-Maryland Mine Project opponents. The majority of these columns present “information” that’s either biased or misleading and based neither on science nor logic. Here are the facts. … Recent columns erroneously suggest that groundwater impacts cannot be accurately predicted. Numerous expert hydrogeologists and a century of mining at the Idaho-Maryland say otherwise. … The actual conclusion is that no wells would be drained…
-Written by Ben Mossman, president of Rise Grass Valley and CEO of Rise Gold Corp., U.S. corporations.

Aquafornia news KCBX

San Luis Obispo reports safe water quality, no health standard violations; here’s what it means

San Luis Obispo’s 2020 Water Quality Report shows zero violations of health regulations. Jason Meeks is the supervisor of the city’s water treatment plant. He has been working in water and wastewater for nearly 22 years. Meeks said one of the most important things for city residents to know about the 2020 Water Quality Report is that it only shows substances that were detected in the water.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Last summer’s massive wildfires bring heavy metals to this year’s spring runoff

In unburned forests, the spring runoff is a glorious, annual event. But not this year. [U.S. Forest service ecologist Liz] Roberts and other forest experts know that the runoff will carry an array of frightening heavy metals and ash-laden sediment generated in the burned soils, posing danger to the people of Glenwood Springs, who rely on Grizzly Creek and its neighbor just to the west, No Name Creek, for drinking water. 

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Aquafornia news SF Gate

Two California districts have America’s best tasting tap water, but they’re not in the Bay Area

San Franciscans are pretty proud of their tap water.  Sourced from the Hetch Hetchy watershed in Yosemite National Park, the complex supply system of reservoirs, tunnels, pipelines, and treatment systems stretching from the Sierra to San Francisco is uniquely almost entirely gravity fed. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission even boasts on its site that their water is “among the purest water in the world.” So the 2.7 million residents who benefit from the supposed crème de la crème of tap water may be surprised to learn that the water coming out of the faucets in SoCal has been named the best tasting tap water in America, on qualities including odor and “mouth feel.”

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s MWD wins best U.S. tap water at global tasting contest

In victories that make the state’s drought even crueler, two Southern California water districts have won the top prizes for best tap water in the U.S. at an international tasting contest. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California finished first and Santa Ana took second place for the nation’s Best Municipal Water on Saturday at the 31st annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia. Those two competitors finished first in the category in 2008 and 2018, respectively. Third place went to the Southwest Water Authority of Dickinson, in North Dakota.

Aquafornia news USC Viterbi School of Engineering

New research: What we know about water may have just changed dramatically

Water is weird – and yet so important. In fact, it is one of the most unusual molecules on Earth. It boils at a temperature it shouldn’t. It expands and floats when it is in the solid-state. Its surface tension is higher than it should be. Now, new research published in the journal Nature has added one other equally strange property to water’s list of oddities. The implications of this new revelation could have a remarkable impact on all water-related processes from water purification to drug manufacturing.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

Blog: Clean Water Act updates and more hydro news

Citing numerous “concerns” with the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 water quality certification rule enacted by the Trump Administration in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Notice of Intention to reconsider and revise the rule.  EPA’s notice states that the new rule will be “better aligned with the cooperative federalism principles that have been central to the effective implementation of the Clean Water Act” and is “responsive to the national objectives outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order 13990.”

Aquafornia news Popular Science

Worsening droughts could increase arsenic in well water

Recent research from the US Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that droughts, particularly the prolonged kind happening in parts of the US, could increase the risk of harmful arsenic exposure for people that rely on well water. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the baseline quality of your drinking water may have been set in stone, literally. Arsenic is a common groundwater contaminant, largely because of local geology. In Maine, for instance, the formation of the Appalachian Mountains and volcanic activity came together to concentrate arsenic and other metals into cracks inside the bedrock…

Aquafornia news AB 10 News

Possible sewage contamination closes Tijuana Slough shoreline

The ocean shoreline at Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Park was closed Saturday due to contaminated sewage water that may be moving north into the U.S., county water authorities said. The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health and Quality issued the contact closure for the ocean shoreline Saturday. Ocean water samples exceeded state health standards, DEHQ officials said.

Aquafornia news The Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: State takes action on water exports from the Delta

Construction of a temporary salinity barrier on the False River is underway after an emergency request by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The barrier, necessitated by worsening drought conditions, is intended to help preserve water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by reducing saltwater intrusion. The declaration of a drought emergency made by Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 10 suspended the requirement that a project of this nature complete a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) assessment.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Stewardship Council: Non-native species in the Delta, contemplating the future of the DISB, and Regional San treatment plant upgrade

At the May meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Steve Brandt, Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, provided a brief background on the Delta Independent Science Board, reported on the Board’s recently completed review on non-native species in the Delta, and discussed the Board’s approach going forward in light of the recent compensation issues.  Also, Dr. Laurel Larsen spotlighted a recent study looking at the effects of the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District plant upgrade on phytoplankton.

Aquafornia news Rensselaer News

New research: World’s lakes losing oxygen rapidly as planet warms

Oxygen levels in the world’s temperate freshwater lakes are declining rapidly — faster than in the oceans — a trend driven largely by climate change that threatens freshwater biodiversity and drinking water quality. Research published today in Nature found that oxygen levels in surveyed lakes across the temperate zone have declined 5.5% at the surface and 18.6% in deep waters since 1980. 

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Surfrider’s annual Clean Water Report highlights infrastructure needs and toxin-removing landscapes

Too often, ocean water is laced with sewage and pollutants, affecting how safe beaches are for swimming and surfing –  that’s the message of this year’s Clean Water Report released Tuesday, May 25, by the Surfrider Foundation. … [T]he report highlights inefficiencies in sewer infrastructure and a need to stop urban runoff before it reaches the coast, both main contributors to dirty water that plagues the country’s coastlines.

Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: The murky waters of mining

Hidden from view when driving by is the [Rise Gold] mine that is filled with water contaminated with byproducts of hard rock mining. The water now forms a murky lake several hundred yards wide. Rise Gold plans to pump out 3.6 million gallons of water every single day for six months and after that another 1.2 million gallons a day for up to 80 years from this site. Let that sink in. Get your mind fully around this. This is real. They will dump this water into the little creek alongside the site and send it on its way down Wolf Creek to the Feather River to the Sacramento River to San Francisco Bay …
-Written by Billy Packard.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California’s drought response will worsen harmful algae

Climate change has created new “seasons” that challenge communities across the nation. California now has a “fire season,” and sadly, we are embarking on harmful algal bloom (HAB) season again. NRDC has updated its national map of state-reported freshwater HABs, which tracks the HABs reported by states from 2008-2020 and shows that these toxic outbreaks are increasing across the country, making our rivers, lakes, and beaches unsafe for swimming, boating, and drinking. Between 2008 and 2020, over 44,000 HAB events were recorded across 38 states. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lead tainted water adds more delays for CA train project

In September 2012, California’s transportation agency announced it was leading a multi-state partnership to buy more than 100 new passenger railcars, each one assembled on American soil. Funded in part by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan, the cars would start arriving in late 2015. Instead, the project has gone badly off the rails. … Excessive levels of lead have been found in some of the cars’ restroom water supplies, discovered during routine testing last November, said Caltrans spokesman Christopher Clark.

Aquafornia news

Stormwater could be a large source of microplastics and rubber fragments to waterways

[R]esearchers collected water during heavy rainstorms from 12 streams flowing into the San Francisco Bay. … Microscopic fibers and black rubbery fragments were the most common microparticles, while natural debris, glass, paint and wool were only minor components. Then, the team identified a subset of plastic- or rubbery-looking fragments as being made mostly of plastic polymers or other synthetic materials, and many of the black rubbery particles originated from tires.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Salton Sea: “Why is it so hard to get something built on the ground there?”

It was a question asked of panelists discussing the Salton Sea on Tuesday, May 25. State and local officials were asked a number of questions about the drying sea during a one-hour online forum. The Red Hill Bay project that stalled after breaking ground in 2015 was one of the topics panelists discussed. 

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Algae bloom in Malibu Lagoon troubles some locals, but not state parks

Malibu residents voiced concerns about a large algae bloom in Malibu Lagoon at the Monday, May 24, Malibu City Council meeting, with one requesting the city demand California State Parks to do something about the lagoon—which public speakers said could breach as soon as the early morning of Wednesday, May 26. Malibu Lagoon has previously been plagued by algal blooms; in 2018, one large bloom choked native plants and fish—which suffocated, died and floated to the surface in a massive, smelly die-off.  

Aquafornia news Kern Valley Sun

Kern River Conservancy receives grant to study fire’s impact on river water quality

The Kern River Conservancy received a $23,000 grant to study whether last year’s Sequoia Complex Fire harmed the water quality in the wild and scenic section of the Kern River. The Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation awarded the grant to the non-profit conservancy, Gary Ananian, the conservancy’s founder and executive director, told the Kern Valley Sun.

Aquafornia news The Union

In the water: Rise Gold Corp. CEO speaks to water quality concerns

[P]rivate and public stakeholders must hold Rise Gold Corp. accountable when it promises to deliver drinkable water — a promise it’s made — and in particular, investigate what primary and secondary drinking water standards mean. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, national primary drinking water regulations are legally enforceable standards applied to public water systems. In contrast, secondary drinking water standards are “non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic or aesthetic effects.” Cosmetic effects are detailed as affecting skin or teeth color, and aesthetic effects refer to water’s taste, odor, or color.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A look at California’s safe and affordable drinking water gaps

The State Water Board recently completed a multi-year needs assessment of the state’s safe drinking water challenges. One big takeaway: more money is needed. The study identified a funding gap of $4.6 billion to resolve safe drinking water problems over the next five years. We talked to Greg Pierce—the study’s lead researcher and associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation—about the findings.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Cybersecurity: Colonial hack reveals major threats to water sector

When hackers penetrated a small water utility in North Carolina three years ago that debilitated its IT systems, operators there refused to “bow” to hackers and fork over ransom money to make the assault stop. That 2018 cyberattack was part of what experts say is a fast-growing and evolving threat in the water sector and a glaring example of the type of attack — ransomware — that earlier this month shut down the East Coast’s largest fuel supplier, the Colonial pipeline… EPA is in the process of collecting data from water utilities on their cyberdefenses to assess hacking risks.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Delta Cross Channel gates remain closed until further notice

The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that ongoing drought conditions require the Delta Cross Channel gates to remain closed until further notice to help maintain water quality standards. Typically, the gates are opened on weekends for recreational purposes from May 21 through June, as well as holiday weekends. The gates control the diversion channel near Walnut Grove, about 30 miles south of Sacramento. Keeping the gates closed under current drought conditions targets improving water quality in the Sacramento River channel. 

Aquafornia news KESQ

Troubled waters: The Salton Sea Project part 3 – A lake languished

Just who is in charge of revitalization of California’s largest lake, and why has it been so tough to solve the issues at the Salton Sea? … There has been a lot of blame passed around by those who own the land around and under the Salton Sea. The biggest land owner here is the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID. Then, the federal government. Next, the Torres-Martinez tribe.

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Aquafornia news Growing Produce

How California vegetable growers can adapt to new nitrogen rules

Growers in the Central Coast region of California produce most of the cool-season vegetables for the U.S. from March to mid-November. After several years of multi-cropping vegetables, the groundwater in many of the coastal valleys has become contaminated with nitrate. Some wells have concentrations of nitrate several times the federal drinking water standard of 10 ppm (parts per million) nitrate-N. Rural communities that rely on groundwater as their sole source of drinking water must purchase bottled water or install small reverse osmosis systems.

Aquafornia news Civil Engineering Source

Testing and treating microplastics in water face challenges

The deadline is looming: According to a state law adopted in 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board has until July 1 to adopt a standard methodology for testing drinking water for the presence of microplastics; adopt requirements for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of the results; and accredit qualified laboratories in California to analyze microplastics. The problem? Testing for microplastics … is not quite ready for prime time. It is not yet precisely clear what effects microplastics have on animals, including humans, and at what levels they may be harmful. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs. The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Silent no more: Klamath Tribes gather to protect fish, homelands

A group of protesters gathered at Sugarman’s Corner in downtown Klamath Falls on Saturday, preparing to welcome a 25-car caravan of mostly Klamath Tribal members calling for solutions to the Klamath Basin’s water crisis. A man walked by the demonstrators, eyeing their signs with statements like “Peace and Healing in the Klamath Basin,” “Water Justice is Social Justice” and “Undam the Klamath.” 

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Construction of eight miles of Pure Water Soquel pipeline to begin May

Construction on 8 miles of water pipeline that will be serve as life-blood for the Pure Water Soquel Project, is set to begin on May 24 in Santa Cruz. Three distinct components of building are set to take place during the next several months. From late May until June 15 crews will work around California Street, from the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility to Laurel Street. After that, and until around July 6, construction will take place on Laurel Street to Chestnut Street. The third scheduled construction phase will run from July 6 through Aug. 12 on Chestnut to the west end of the Laurel Street Bridge.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Environmental testing urged at planned L.A. housing site

Nancy Smith remembered that children had called it “the sick land” — the wedge of property alongside the 110 Freeway where a dry cleaning facility had laundered aprons and uniforms for decades across from a Lincoln Heights elementary school. … Decades after the old Welch’s laundry was shuttered, California regulators worked to clean up the soil and check the groundwater for the chemicals used there — volatile organic compounds such as tetrachloroethylene that could damage the human liver and nervous system and have been tied to an increased risk of cancer. The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversaw a cleanup effort that lasted for years and has continued to monitor groundwater at the site.

Aquafornia news NBC Palm Springs

Advocates warn about toxic fumes that could be emerging from the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea continues to be a big talker when it comes to lithium, but a long problem remains in and around the sea when it comes to toxic air. During our extensive coverage of the Salton Sea, we learned that toxic air is not only coming from dried-up parts of the sea, but other parts of the sea are now contributing to the toxicity. “It is not just the toxic elements that have been trapped by the water and now exposed as the sea recedes,” explained Frank Ruiz, Salton Sea Director with Audubon California. Ruiz has been working with researchers who have been studying the toxic levels at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news NOAA Fisheries

Blog: Celebrating 50 years of internationally important wetlands

May is American Wetlands Month and this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. This intergovernmental treaty is focused on the conservation and wise use of important wetlands and their resources. … Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve … provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife species, including more than 100 species of fish, 500 species of invertebrates, and the region’s iconic southern sea otters. … Tomales Bay is a marine-coastal wetland consisting of estuaries, eelgrass beds, sand dune systems, and tidal marshes. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a redo

When Sandra Chavez’ mother discovered she had stage four cancer last year, one of Sandra’s first thoughts was about their water. Her family’s private well is contaminated with nitrates and Chavez wondered if years of drinking the water could have caused her mother’s sickness. Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Opinion: Watch out, state assembly wants to help us

AB-377, is a proposed state Assembly bill titled Water Quality: Impaired Waters. The premise of this legislation seems to be that local authorities are responsible for all the dirty water in local waterways. While the goal of “cleaning up the water” is commendable the proposed solution is problematic. The Lompoc City Council discussed a staff request to oppose this legislation on May 4; the staff explains that “Assembly Bill (AB) 377 seeks to ensure California’s waterways are drinkable, fishable and swimmable by 2050.” 
-Written by Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Newsom Proposes $220M for Salton Sea

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response, and climate resilience proposal includes $220 million for the Salton Sea, and Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, applauded the announcement. Garcia, chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, stated in a press release from his office that the funding would maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

South Bay residents, officials call for faster action on Tijuana-San Diego sewage problem

Chula Vista resident and Imperial Beach lifeguard Lillian Burkhart still remembers the sting on her skin after surfing in Imperial Beach waters one day last summer. Within 24 hours, she fell ill with a gastrointestinal infection, she said. … Burkhart’s experience is commonplace and a reminder of the decades-long struggle to address the recurring sewage spills from Tijuana that pollute the South Bay shoreline.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Our latest Western Water article examines efforts to help consumers afford water as bills pile up amid pandemic

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. … Our latest article in Western Water explores the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.Western Water is just one of the publications produced by our journalism team…

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water well project challenged by environmentalists

The North Marin Water District failed to adequately study whether there will be enough water for endangered fish in Lagunitas Creek if it builds a new well in West Marin, an environmental group alleges. The well is intended to address worsening saltwater contamination in the water supply. Save Our Seashore, a nonprofit in Inverness, filed an appeal against the project with the Marin County Planning Commission. … The commission is expected to hold a hearing on the issue on May 24. 

Aquafornia news The Daily Californian

The Salton Sea: The worst lake you’ve never heard of

In 2020, the Salton Sea was described by Palm Springs Life Magazine as “the biggest environmental disaster in California history.” With the largest lake in California holding such a bleak title, it’s amazing how obscure its legacy is. Over spring break, we decided to go on a road trip to visit an eccentric settlement in the middle of the lower Colorado desert, known as a Slab City. This settlement is most well known for being a site of post-apocalyptic garbage art and a home for colorful nomads. Due to its libertarian ethos, it is billed as the “last free place in America.” 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops. Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways. The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Aquafornia news

Kern farmers make do under drought conditions

Kern County ag producers are making changes big and small — from redeveloping entire orchards to fine-tuning their irrigation systems — as they try to adjust to worsening drought conditions across the Central Valley. Strategies vary depending on access to water and ability to shift irrigation to different fields. Some landowners are trying to hold onto as much water as they can in case prices rise later in the year.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Wildfires are contaminating drinking water systems, and it’s more widespread than people realize

More than 58,000 fires scorched the United States last year, and 2021 is on track to be even drier. What many people don’t realize is that these wildfires can do lasting damage beyond the reach of the flames – they can contaminate entire drinking water systems with carcinogens that last for months after the blaze. … Since 2017, multiple fires have impacted drinking water systems … including the CZU Lightning Complex, Camp and Tubbs fires in California. Thousands of private wells have been affected too.

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Aquafornia news KESQ

Troubled waters: The Salton Sea Project, part 1 – Paradise lost

Just a short drive south of Palm Springs, you’ll find California’s largest lake. The drive along the circumference of the Salton Sea reveals surprising, majestic views unlike anything you’d expect to find in the desert. But for its impressive sights and size, the Salton Sea is not a household name, least of all in the very state it’s found. These days, if you travel along the increasingly shrinking shorelines, you’ll see suffering communities dotted with abandoned homes and lined with silent streets.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

City of Ukiah may spend $175,720 on algae control for recycled water system

At its next meeting Wednesday, the Ukiah City Council will consider a recommendation to spend more than $175,000 on a system to help control algae in its recycled water system, also called the Purple Pipe. According to the staff report prepared for the May 5 meeting, “due to high nutrient content and local climate, the water quality of recycled water within the storage reservoirs can become negatively impacted by algal blooms. Algae can become problematic once it is in the distribution system and lead to clogging of filters or irrigation equipment.” 

Aquafornia news Stanford Medicine

New research: Higher levels of nitrate in drinking water linked to preterm birth, Stanford study finds

Pregnant women exposed to too much nitrate in their drinking water are at greater risk of giving birth prematurely, according to a Stanford University study of more than 1.4 million California births. Agricultural runoff containing fertilizer and animal waste can greatly increase the nitrate level in groundwater, which naturally contains a low level of the chemical. … The strongest effects of nitrate on prematurity risk were seen in California’s agricultural regions, including the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire, the study noted. A higher proportion of births in these areas are to Hispanic women than in other regions of the state …

Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

Arizona’s Gov. Ducey calls on Department Of Defense to address groundwater contamination

Gov. Doug Ducey has asked the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to address groundwater contamination near military installations in Arizona. In an Apr. 27 letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Gov. Ducey requested DOD to identify and treat water in Arizona contaminated in the areas surrounding four DOD installations and to prevent additional human exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from other DOD facilities in Arizona, which impact the groundwater. … These bases are located in the two most populous metropolitan areas in Arizona and each is surrounded by thousands of Arizonans who rely on clean groundwater for drinking water purposes.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

When Ramona Hernandez turns on her kitchen faucet in El Adobe, an unincorporated town just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield, the water that splashes out looks clean and inviting. But she doesn’t dare drink it. … Drinking the tap water in this tiny community of dusty ranches and unpaved roads could expose Hernandez to arsenic. So, for years, she and her husband, Gerardo, have shuttled twice a week to the nearby town of Lamont to load up on bottled water. At a cost of about $80 a month, it’s enough for drinking and cooking. 

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Public health crisis looms as California identifies 600 communities at risk of water-system failures

A familiar scene has returned to California: drought. Two counties are currently under emergency declarations, and the rest of the state could follow. It was only four years ago when a winter of torrential rain finally wrestled the state out of its last major drought, which had dragged on for five years and left thousands of domestic wells coughing up dust. That drinking-water crisis made national headlines and helped shine a light on another long-simmering water crisis in California: More than 300 communities have chronically unsafe drinking water containing contaminants that can come with serious health consequences, including cancer.

Aquafornia news Grist

Western tribes already lacked water access. Now there’s a megadrought.

In 2021, access to running water and clean drinking water is a given for most Americans. The Census Bureau has even considered dropping a question on plumbing access from the U.S. census questionnaire. But many of the nation’s tribes still lack running water, access to clean water, and even flushing toilets. Native American households are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing, according to the U.S. Water Alliance, and more likely to lack piped water services than any other racial group. That problem is at an inflection point for the Navajo Nation and 29 other tribes in the Colorado River Basin, which stretches from the Rocky Mountains to Mexico.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Congress, water sector signal optimism for major investment

On Thursday the U.S. Senate voted to pass S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA). It is the first infrastructure bill approved by the Senate this Congress. The bipartisan, comprehensive clean water and drinking water infrastructure legislation will authorize strong annual water infrastructure investment to help boost total federal investment. In full, the legislation authorizes more than $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater resource development projects across the country …

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California tribes call out degradation of Clear Lake

Seven years ago, after the fish died, Sarah Ryan decided she couldn’t wait any longer for help. California at the time was in the depths of its worst drought in the last millennium and its ecosystems were gasping. For Ryan, the fish kill in Clear Lake, the state’s second largest and the centerpiece of Lake County, was the last straw. Ryan is the environmental director for Big Valley Rancheria, a territory of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians that sits on the ancient lake’s western shore. She and others raised alarms for several years about increasingly dire blooms of toxic cyanobacteria. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why California is planning to ban fracking

A little more than a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that not only would California effectively ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by 2024, but the state also would work to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045. … It was — like the governor’s promise last year that the state would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — a sweeping pronouncement meant to show urgency in addressing climate change while the state he leads struggles with many of its most dire effects. But meeting those goals requires complex regulatory maneuvering.