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
Back in September, while wildfires raged and the pandemic wore
on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a virtual press
conference to announce a bold new climate goal. By 2035, he
said, all new cars and trucks sold in California would be
zero-emission, in order to seriously curtail climate
warming-emissions. … But while Newsom has grabbed
attention for his clean car policy … environmental
experts say he hasn’t moved boldly enough on ecological
issues… Last summer, the governor issued a water
resilience portfolio that outlines 142 state
actions to help the state deal with water as the climate
Two out-of-state men were ordered by a judge to pay $117,373 in
restitution for water pollution violations stemming from an
overturned fuel tank that released an estimated 760 gallons of
diesel into Rock Tree Creek, a tributary of the Eel River.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced
the selection of US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox as the
Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of
Water. Fox was a Day One Presidential Appointee in the
Biden-Harris Administration. She will serve as the Acting
Assistant Administrator for Water.
Hundreds of California wineries will for the first time be
governed by statewide wastewater processing rules, a change
from the long-held, regional approach that could increase
production costs for wineries and protections for waterways
while providing consistency for vintners across the state. The
move toward a statewide regulatory framework, a five-year
effort championed by industry leaders, was finalized this week
by the State Water Resources Control Board, which approved an
order setting up guidelines for wastewater processing at most
of the more than 3,600 bonded wineries in the state.
3M Co. and E.I. DuPont de Nemours Inc. shook off a California
water utility’s claims that they contaminated the state water
supply with PFAS after the Central District of California found
the utility failed to establish jurisdiction. Golden State
Water Co. alleges that the companies “directed and instructed”
intermediaries and end users of their products to dispose of
them in a way they should have known may cause
Rivers may seem like immutable features of the landscape but
they are in fact changing color over time …The overall
significance of the changes are unclear and could reflect
various ways in which humans are impacting the environment,
said lead author John Gardner, an assistant professor of
geology and environmental science at the University of
Pittsburgh. One stark example from the study of rapid color
change is Lake Mead along the Colorado River.
As the CZU Lightning Complex fire bore down on Gail Mahood’s
tree-shrouded Felton neighborhood last August, she gathered
what possessions she could and fled. … Thankfully, fire crews
saved the little community of 20 or so houses, stopping the
blaze within a half-mile of Mahood’s home in the Santa Cruz
Mountains, but the pipes that delivered drinking water from a
spring just up the hill were completely destroyed.
We talk about microplastics in the ocean and on land fairly
often, but they are present in drinking water as well. The
California Legislature passed a bill in 2018 requiring
monitoring of the tiny plastic particles in drinking water.
Standards are due to be set up by the state Water Resources
Control Board this year. Scott Coffin, a researcher with the
agency, visits with an overview of the issues with
microplastics, and how the monitoring effort is coming along.
Low income communities across the San Joaquin Valley and other
regions of the state are being hit hard by rising water and
utility debt according to a recent survey released by the
California Water Board. Michael Claiborne, an attorney
with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability,
says residents are having to decide which essential service to
pay for amid a global pandemic.
A month before she began campaigning for the second-highest
political position in the United States, now-Vice President
Kamala Harris briefly turned her attention to a small town with
a big drinking water problem. “Utterly unacceptable that in
2020, we still can’t guarantee clean water to communities
across America. It’s a fundamental human right,” Harris said in
a July 9 tweet about the town of Earlimart in California’s
The Colorado River District’s Board of Directors finalized a
new program that will fund Western Slope water projects and
approved funding for the program’s first-ever project. The
Partnership Project Funding Program will fund multi-purpose
water projects on the Western Slope in five project categories:
productive agriculture, infrastructure, healthy rivers,
watershed health and water quality, and conservation and
A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil
penalty, preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and
be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged
violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the
Sacramento River located in Tehama County, California, the
Justice Department announced today. Roger J. LaPant Jr.
purchased the property in this case in 2011 and sold it in
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are
highly skilled at delivering essential services to their
customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented
times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to
impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on
vital issues affecting California water management, including
the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency
strategies to increase resiliency in dry years.
In a time of record-breaking unemployment as a result of the
COVID-19 pandemic, Californians owe an estimated $1 billion in
unpaid water utility bills. With reduced revenue, hundreds of
water utilities are at high risk of financial emergency. The
State Water Board estimates at least 1.6 million households
have an average of roughly $500 in water debt — a crisis that
could lead to a wave of families facing water shutoffs, liens
on their homes or other collection methods. … Data show
Black and Latino households are disproportionately
California is home to over 1,000 golf courses, so when there
was a lack of water and public officials had to decide where to
allocate the water, the choice should have been obvious.
California should have shut down the golf courses and made sure
that every resident had access to clean drinking water.
However, this was not the case. As many as two-thirds of
Californian golf courses stayed open and the average 18-hole
course continued to use 90 million gallons of water each day.
Written by Alex Noble, a columnist for the newspaper
A study of groundwater that feeds public drinking water
supply finds pesticides in 41% of supply wells (and a handful
of freshwater springs). Two-thirds of that 41% contain
pesticide compounds per se, and one-third contain pesticide
degradates — compounds resulting from biotic (or abiotic)
transformation of pesticides into other compounds.
The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final
decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California
State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State
Water Resources Control Board (State Board) is not authorized
to adopt a state-level water quality control plan for waters
that are not classified as waters of the United States. As
a result, the State Board is prohibited from applying the Water
Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed
Bays and Estuaries of California (Inland Surface Waters WQCP)
to wetlands that do not meet the federal definition of waters
of the United States.
Arizona depends heavily on the Colorado River, and it is
over-allocated, meaning, we collectively take more water from
the system than nature puts in. To make matters worse, the
Colorado River basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought
of more than 20 years. When you take the longer term view,
a lot of communities in Arizona are heavily dependent on fossil
groundwater supplies. Once you pump them out, they’re gone
forever. There are real problems looming when it comes to
groundwater management and the Colorado River.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County officials released their
preliminary master plan for the river “reimagined” to
support both ecosystems and people who live along [the LA
River's] 51-mile corridor. … The long-awaited plan
— the result of five years of input from community residents,
organizations and people like renowned architect Frank Gehry —
will provide a foundation as the region balances its duty to
protect properties from flooding with the need for more access
to natural environments.
A national coalition of over 200 agricultural organizations and
urban and rural water districts urged President-elect Joe Biden
and congressional leadership to address aging Western water
infrastructure in any potential infrastructure or economic
recovery package. Kings River Conservation District was among
the organizations to sign on to the letter.
Eco-friendly projects designed to improve water quality and
increase access to parks while addressing social issues in
surrounding communities are among the goals of an updated
master plan to revitalize the Los Angeles River, released
After years of negotiations and agreements, roadblocks,
renegotiations, and new agreements, dam removal on the Klamath
river is closer than ever to becoming a reality. With almost
all of the bureaucratic hurdles overcome, four of the six dams
on the Klamath are slated to be removed by 2024, restoring fish
access to the entire river. If carried out as planned, it will
be the largest dam removal project in the history of the United
States, opening up 400 river-miles of habitat to
salmon, trout, and eels, for the first time in decades. The
Yurok Tribe and Klamath River Renewal Corporation hope it will
also mean a return to a healthy river…
The building of dams on the Colorado River has forever changed
the ebb and flow, flooding, drying and renewal cycle of what
was once Lake Cahuilla, changing its character and changing its
name to the Salton Sea. Entrepreneurs once thought that the
Salton Sea would become a sportsman’s mecca, providing fishing,
boating, and waterskiing experiences like no other. There were
a few decades where that dream seemed to be true. Then it
Construction began this week on a 4,110-acre wetlands project
on the Salton Sea’s playa near the mouth of the highly polluted
New River, the California Department of Natural Resources
announced Wednesday. Called the Species Conservation Habitat
Project, the $206.5 million plan will build ponds and wetlands
along the small delta to provide wildlife habitat and suppress
dust. The final design includes 340 additional acres of
coverage as compared to older projections, and work led by
Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. is expected to be finished by
The stage is finally set for years of talking to be translated
into actual clean drinking water for potentially thousands of
San Joaquin Valley residents. But activists fear the effort
will flop before the curtain rises if more isn’t done to engage
the people who are drinking that water. The issue is nitrate,
which is rife the valley’s groundwater and considered
dangerous for infants and pregnant women.
The regulatory pendulum is expected to swing toward stricter
Clean Water Act enforcement, though experts say the Biden
administration’s changes probably won’t be immediate. Farmers
and environmentalists have been in a political tug-of-war over
the law’s scope for years, largely due to ambiguous legal
interpretations of the statute. While Democrats will now have
power over Congress, their majority is too slim to make changes
to the law, said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau
Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations.
West Basin Municipal Water District announced its 2021 “Water
Is Life” art contest is now open for Redondo Beach student
submissions. The annual art contest from West Basin recognizes
student creativity and innovation throughout its service area.
Student artists help inspire their communities to support water
conservation as a way of life by creating thought-provoking
water-smart pieces of art. Submissions are due via regular mail
or email by March 19.
I came to the Salton Sea as part of the research for a new book
about the ecology and psychology of abandoned places, an
investigation into how nature can adapt and recover in the long
shadow cast by human activities. It had taken me to some
of the world’s most eerie, ravaged and polluted sites — from
the disaster zones of Chernobyl and Montserrat, to former
frontlines in Cyprus and Verdun, Detroit’s blighted
neighbourhoods and a Scottish island whose last residents left
in 1974. The Salton Sea — its seaside resorts left
landlocked by shrinking waters, its boats rotting in the bowls
of dry marinas — felt a fitting final destination.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday, as part
of a 12-state coalition, submitted comments to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that its new
draft guidance misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court’s
decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund… In
the comment letter, the coalition argues that the EPA’s draft
guidance tips the scales in favor of polluters by providing
them with additional arguments to avoid regulation under the
Clean Water Act, contravenes the purpose of the
Act, and conflicts with the Court’s decision
in County of Maui.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection announced that
$1 million in Clean Water Act grant funds provided by the U.S
Environmental Protection Agency will be used to complete 11
projects, including two in Lake Tahoe, to reduce “nonpoint
source pollution” and improve water quality across the state.
Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the assumption has
been that all waterways are protected from pollution… But the
Trump administration has managed to successfully chip away at
environmental protections in the US, including actions like
2020’s implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
The rule redefined which waterways are under the jurisdiction
of and protected by the Clean Water Act, omitting many wetlands
and non-perennial water sources, which means some areas of the
country are impacted more than others.
The EPA did issue a draft guidance memorandum relating to the
County of Maui decision, notice of which was published in the
Federal Register on December 10, 2020. However, instead of
clarifying the seven criteria stated by the Court in County of
Maui or the application of those criteria, the EPA took seven
and half pages to state three truisms and added an additional
criteria not stated in the Court’s decision bringing the total
number of factors to consider in determining whether a
discharge to ground water is the functional equivalent of a
discharge to navigable waters to eight.
PG&E has agreed to pay $5.9 million to a local nonprofit as
part of a tentative settlement between the company and water
regulators that resolves a long-running investigation into
Diablo Canyon Power Plant and its cooling system’s impact on
the marine environment. The draft settlement is the result of
more than 20 years of investigation and monitoring at the
nuclear power plant site.
Rising seas can evoke images of waves crashing into beachfront
property or a torrent of water rolling through downtown
streets. But there’s a lesser-known hazard of climate change
for those who live along shorelines the world over: freshwater
in the ground beneath them creeping slowly upward. For many Bay
Area residents who live near the water’s edge,
little-publicized research indicates the problem could start to
manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities
like those in Oakland, Alameda and Marin City.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking
public feedback on its draft legislation to establish a set of
regulations to protect surface water statewide. The changes
implemented by the Trump administration earlier this year
dramatically curtailed the list of waters that fall under the
Clean Water Act, excluding a vast number of streams, washes and
creeks from federal pollution protection. Importantly for arid
Arizona, ephemeral waters – those that only flow after rain or
snow – are no longer protected.
EPA’s recent draft guidance memorandum on applying the Supreme
Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund
provides little clarity for determining when a release to
groundwater is the “functional equivalent” of a direct
discharge such that it requires an NPDES permit. Instead, the
guidance largely stresses how the Maui decision did not
fundamentally change permitting under the Clean Water
Act, while explaining how permit writers might consider
system design and performance in assessing functional
When wildfires swept through the hills near Santa Cruz,
California, in 2020, they released toxic chemicals into the
water supplies of at least two communities. One sample found
benzene, a carcinogen, at 40 times the state’s drinking water
standard. Our testing has now confirmed a source of these
chemicals, and it’s clear that wildfires aren’t the only blazes
that put drinking water systems at risk.
Representatives from the Yuba Water Agency plan to meet with
members of the State Water Resources Control Board to discuss
certain requirements imposed by a recent water quality
certification that is expected to cost the agency anywhere from
$500 million to $1 billion to implement in order to continue
operations along the Yuba River, which resulted in Yuba Water
filing a lawsuit in both state and federal court in November.
The company behind a luxury resort and residential project near
Healdsburg is facing a $6.4 million fine over dozens of alleged
water quality violations involving streams that feed into the
Russian River, according to state water officials.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, said he was removed from the
chairmanship of the Governmental Organization Committee over
the No. 1 issue in his district — water. The Merced Democrat
lost a previous committee assignment because of his opposition
to State Water Board proposals to take flows away from
agriculture and other water users on the Tuolumne, Stanislaus
and Merced rivers.
A highly effective but problematic Colorado River desalination
project in western Montrose County’s Paradox Valley could come
to an end due to the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s difficulty
finding an acceptable means of continuing it.
State water quality regulators have fined the developer of
Montage Healdsburg, the ultra-luxury resort set to open
Saturday, more than $6.4 million for environmental violations
tied to hotel construction during the stormy winter months of
late 2018 and early 2019.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published guidance on
how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of
Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund. The guidance provides some
clarity as to when a discharge to groundwater is the
“functional equivalent of a direct discharge from a point
source into navigable waters.”
The Lake Elsinore & San Jacinto Watersheds Authority recently
wrapped up a one-year study that evaluated the Lake Elsinore
fishery and identified potential solutions to improve the
lake’s ecosystem and overall water quality in Lake Elsinore.
While much of Washington remains mired in partisan gridlock,
there is new cooperation in two areas critical to managing
climate change: reducing carbon emissions from agriculture and
shifting to electric vehicles. This is obviously good
news for the climate, and it will help protect the quality of
rivers, streams and coastal waters across the United States. It
turns out that what’s good for the climate pays dividends in
clean water. -Written by Jeff Peterson, a retired senior policy advisor
at the Environmental Protection Agency.
A new national study of public water systems found that arsenic
levels were not uniform across the U.S., even after
implementation of the latest national regulatory standard. In
the first study to assess differences in public drinking water
arsenic exposures by geographic subgroups, researchers at
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health confirmed
there are inequalities in drinking water arsenic
exposure…. Community water systems reliant on
groundwater, serving smaller populations located in the
Southwest, and Hispanic communities were more likely to
continue exceeding the national maximum containment level,
raising environmental justice concerns.
Southern California Edison has pleaded no contest to a criminal
violation of the California Water Code and will pay $3.5
million in civil penalties after dumping massive amounts of
dirt and rock into Mission Creek during an unpermitted grading
project along Spyglass Ridge Road [in Santa Barbara
Lake Elsinore is being restocked with fish — the latest in
continuing efforts to help improve the lake’s water quality and
ecosystem. Early Friday, Dec. 4, the lake was stocked with
bluegill, black crappie, striped bass and redear sunfish. The
species were chosen after a year-long population study found
that some types of fish — including channel catfish, largemouth
bass, silverside minnows and mosquitofish — were overpopulating
Gitanjali Rao, a Colorado teenager who invented a mobile device
to test for lead in drinking water, is Time’s Kid of the Year
for 2020. The magazine announced the award Thursday, citing
Rao’s ability to apply scientific ideas to real-world problems
— and her desire to motivate other kids to take up their own
The State Water Resources Control Board approved a
comprehensive plan to ensure lab testing and analysis for
toxicity in waterways are completed using the same protocols
and standards statewide. This will help address toxicity in
California’s waterways and significantly improve protections
for fish and other aquatic life.
The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to undo
President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of water
rules including stream and wetland protections, drinking water
contamination, and the permitting of controversial energy and
Meadows in the Sierra Nevada are critical components of
watersheds. In addition to supplying water to over 25 million
people in California and Nevada, meadows contain large
quantities of carbon belowground. … A new study led by
researchers at the University of Nevada Reno demonstrates for
the first time that meadows throughout the region are both
gaining and losing carbon at high rates.
Just weeks after the Bobcat fire ravaged the San Gabriel
Mountains, state and federal biologists are racing to salvage
as many federally endangered species as possible before storms
could inundate the animals’ last outposts with mud and debris.
… “This may be the last time in my life that I see wild
mountain yellow-legged frogs in the last best place for them,”
said biologist Robert Fisher…
The desire for crystal clean water is one that the president
repeats frequently, even dating to his 2016 presidential
campaign. Immaculate water, he has also said. Clear water.
Beautiful water. But the focus on appearances is superficial,
according to a number of water advocates and analysts.
Revisions to environmental rules that the administration has
pursued during the first term of the Trump presidency will be
detrimental to the nation’s waters, they said.
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.
Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
can list bisphenol A under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and
Toxic Enforcement Act despite challenges regarding the lack of
evidence of its harm to humans, a state appeals court said
The report from UC Santa Barbara found that in 2019 an
estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers – were
released into California’s natural environment. The plastic
fibers, which are less than 5mm in length, are primarily shed
when we wash our yoga pants, stretchy jeans and fleece jackets
and can easily enter oceans and waterways.
The North Complex Fire has burned a large portion of Lake
Oroville’s watershed. This could lead to hazardous water
quality after winter rains run all of that sediment into the
lake and the effects could last decades. However, how water
quality could be affected by the fire is still largely unknown.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency received $10.5 million in
grants from the California Department of Water Resources to
fund five local projects related to recycling and water-quality
At a trial over fluoride regulations this summer, EPA eschewed
its own experts, hiring an outside company often deployed by
corporations to deny and downplay chemicals’ health impacts.
… Testifying for EPA in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California, Exponent Inc. cast doubt on
studies that underpin federal regulation of lead and mercury,
even as the agency’s own scientists said new research does
indeed warrant a review of fluoride’s neurotoxic effects.
All of Santa Barbara’s beaches and creeks are designated as
“impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act. … The council
voted 7-0 to send its proposed changes to stormwater runoff to
the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board… The
list of changes are extensive, and are proposed over four tiers
based on various types and levels of new construction
development. They involve landscape changes and stormwater
treatment for new impervious construction.
Climate change could deliver more silt, sand and pollution to
the San Francisco Bay-Delta, along with a mixed bag of other
potential consequences and benefits, according to a new study
in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, which publishes
research articles and commentaries providing a broad
understanding of the role of water in Earth’s natural systems.
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many
serving low-income communities without the resources to repair
them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for
Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border
Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce
pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water
quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.
Some outside lawyers lauded the move for protecting against
excessive enforcement, while others warned that the policy
could let some polluters off easy. It’s the latest example of
the Trump administration setting new rules for federal
Central Valley neighborhoods are a step closer to new money to
fix broken water systems and access clean, safe drinking water
— if the White House and Congress agree on an infrastructure
package currently moving through the U.S. House of
Out of sight and out of mind to most
people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has
challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the
desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body
inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking
The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and
Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate
management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the
Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial
Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water
allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the
district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.
California stands on the cusp of getting critical SB 200 funds
flowing through communities that have waited too long for water
justice and are also among those hit hardest by COVID-19 and
the resulting economic loss and strain. Last week, the State
Water Board adopted its implementation plan for the fund, also
called the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and
Resilience (SAFER) program.
Safe water is a human right. Yet, in 2020, the United States
remains divided between those with the privilege of having
clean, running tap water and those who don’t. As we reckon with
systemic racism, our fight for safe and affordable water cannot
be disentangled from the fight for justice.
To begin, what is arsenic? It is one of the basic chemical
elements found in the periodic table that shows its
relationship to other elements. Arsenic is dissolved from rocks
by water in areas that have groundwater pools. If you have
significant levels of arsenic in your water, it can cause
cancer, heart disease, diarrhea and affect your skin.
The question of whether and how much to regulate these
persistent chemicals in drinking water has spanned the
administrations of US presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama,
and Donald J. Trump. “This is a multi-administration failure to
take action on PFOA and PFOS and on the broader class of PFAS
chemicals that may pose health effects,” says Melanie Benesh,
legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group…
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
A new study describes how food web dynamics influence the
movement of mercury throughout the Colorado River in the Grand
Canyon. This new research from the U.S. Geological Survey and
partners represents one of the first times that the movement
and fate of mercury has been traced through an entire food web.
With Southern California beaches largely open again — and Los
Angeles beaches expected to reopen after a timeout for the
three-day holiday weekend — you might find latest Heal the
Bay’s Beach Report Card on water quality reassuring when you
head back to the ocean.
A vote Monday was the final approval for a Tuolumne River
treatment plant serving Turlock and Ceres. The $202 million
project, discussed off and on since the 1980s, will reduce the
cities’ dependence on groundwater. Both have already approved
the sizable rate increases that will cover most of the cost.
Tri-Valley residents might be happy to know the quality of
their drinking water met, and often exceeded, all state and
federal standards last year, according to the 2019 Annual
Consumer Confidence Report for the Zone 7 Water Agency.
he Northern Sierra Partnership, a coalition of land trusts
based in Palo Alto and funded in large part with donations from
Silicon Valley technology leaders, purchased the 2,914 acres
located about two miles north of Truckee. The purchase is part
of a multi-year effort to protect 100,000 acres or more between
Lake Tahoe and Mount Lassen for wildlife, public recreation and
After years of planning, McCloud’s Lower Elk Spring house
replacement project will get underway soon as the Department of
Water Resources has selected this project for the draft
recommended funding list. The current wooden structure with
corrugated roof will be replaced with a concrete vault to
insure protection from erosion and habitat contamination.
The report, recently released by the city, shows minimal, or
“zero,” levels of cancer-causing chemicals and dissolved solids
that were present as little as four years ago when the city
relied on well water. Today the city obtains its water from the
Sacramento River after which it is treated and delivered to
homes and businesses.
After nearly six years of work by Castulo Estrada, the rest of
the Coachella Valley Water District board and Assemblyman
Eduardo Garcia, the water district announced in early May that
the State Water Resources Control Board had approved two
construction grants, totaling about $3.3 million. The funds
will be used to complete three projects that will bring safe,
reliable water service and fire protection to two disadvantaged
communities and one elementary school in the eastern Coachella
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the next step to
implement an important per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA). The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals
required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory and
established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these
As forests in California and the Western U.S. are hit by rising
numbers of fires and disease outbreaks related to climate
change, some experts argue that using dead and diseased trees
to produce biomass energy will help to restore forests and
reduce CO2 emissions.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of six justices who said
permits are required if the pollution at issue amounted to the
“functional equivalent” of a direct discharge (Greenwire, April
23). But instead of just signing onto the majority opinion
written by Justice Stephen Breyer, Kavanaugh penned his own
concurrence saying he agreed with the majority opinion “in
Following efforts to increase safety measures throughout all
City departments to stop the spread of COVID-19, San Diego
Mayor Kevin Faulconer toured the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant
on Friday to observe increased safety protocols. He also
thanked City employees as they continue to deliver safe,
reliable water to over 1.4 million San Diegans.
Voluntary agreements in California
have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve
environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows
and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be
diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state
States around the country say they won’t penalize water and
wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit
requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if
those delays are justified and documented. Delays, for example,
could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water
quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with
The return of rainbow trout to Calaveras Creek marks a
milestone in an ongoing, multi-agency restora-tion of Alameda
Creek, which drains more than 600 square miles of the East Bay.
Much of the watershed is heavily developed and modified,
especially the northern reaches in and around Pleasanton and
An employee at Silicon Valley’s largest water district has
tested positive for coronavirus, and at least eight other
employees, including CEO Norma Camacho, were in self-quarantine
as a result. … The employee is not involved with the
treatment or delivery of drinking water, and that service
continues uninterrupted, officials at the district, also known
as Valley Water, said Monday.
Those who live in the city of Los Angeles don’t need to
stockpile bottled water in the midst of growing fears about the
spread of COVID-19, city officials urged Thursday. The L.A.
Department of Water and Power reminded residents that their tap
water is safe to drink, even as the coronavirus spreads.
The new career prep program was created out of a partnership
between the school district and water district that is linked
to the development of East Valley Water District’s
Sterling Natural Resource Center water recycling plant now
under construction across Sixth Street from the high school.
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers finalized a long-awaited new rule redefining the term
“Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
(CWA). The Agencies state that their so-called Navigable Waters
Protection Rule will improve and streamline the regulatory
definition of WOTUS.
The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on
efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the
energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the
Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned
in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.
At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern
County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel
discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional
Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the
Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant
Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an
attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a
water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.
The city of Santa Maria is set to begin a native-plant
restoration project on about 150 acres of city-owned land in
the Santa Maria Riverbed, a spokesman announced Wednesday. The
work is slated to begin this week, east of the Highway 101
Innovative efforts to accelerate
restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the
benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water
agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires.
Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of
California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address
persistent challenges facing the Colorado River.
These were among the issues Western Water explored in
2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for the upcoming
fiscal year will include an additional $220 million for the
Salton Sea Management Program, a 10-year plan to reduce the
environmental and public health hazards plaguing the
communities that surround the fast-drying body of water.
In the shadow of Mount Shasta lies the Butte Creek Ranch, its
alpine meadows carpeted in grass sprinkled with wildflowers and
bordered by forest. … For over 160 years, this summer scene
has played out for six generations of the Hart family. …
Recently, the Harts guaranteed the continuation of this legacy
by working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a
plan that balances their land use with conserving the rich
natural resources of Butte Creek.
Climate change is already affecting water management across the
state. Small rural communities with ongoing drinking water
challenges are especially vulnerable to greater extremes
brought on by a warming climate. We talked to Jan Coppinger, a
special district administrator from Lake County, about how the
county’s small water systems have dealt with an especially
devastating string of natural disasters.
As an appointee to the San Francisco Regional Water Quality
Control Board, Newsha Ajami has worked with local, state and
federal agencies to monitor and ensure water quality in areas
affected by wildfires. Ajami is director of urban water policy
at Stanford’s Water in the West program, and co-leads the Urban
Water Systems & Institutions Thrust at Re-Inventing the
Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), a National
Science Foundation engineering research center based at
Stanford. She discussed wildfire’s threat to water quality with
Nitrogen pollution, largely from burning fossil fuels,
industrial agriculture and wildfire can reduce drinking water
quality and make air difficult to breathe. Thanks to a $1.1
million grant from the National Science Foundation, we will
soon have a better understanding of how much nitrogen arid
ecosystems can absorb before they produce negative effects.
A provision tucked within the EPA’s proposal to overhaul the
way it regulates lead in drinking water—initially derided as
toothless—could have far-reaching consequences for public
health, municipal policies, and even real estate transactions,
water industry insiders now say. The proposal would require all
water utilities across the country to inventory the location of
all of their lead pipes and then make that information public.
Environmental advocates say the law has compelled companies to
quietly make their products and emissions less toxic. But some
economists who are critical of government regulation argue the
law has gone too far, plastering the state with warnings so
ubiquitous that they’ve become meaningless to most consumers.
And as in other parts of the United States, black migrants were
met with Jim Crow-style racism: “Whites Only” signs, curfews
and discriminatory practices by banks. Often, the only places
black families could settle were on arid acres on the outskirts
of cultivated farmland — places like Teviston… Today, the
legacy of segregation in the Central Valley reverberates
underground, through old pipes, dry wells and soil tainted by
shoddy septic systems.
As Donald Trump’s administration pushes to expand oil
extraction in California, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom,
has signed bill after bill limiting the practice. … But since
taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy
management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas
drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor
Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018
According to a 111-page analysis by a group of financial
consultants and bankers released on Nov. 6, not only is a
buyout of the behemoth Cal Am feasible, it would also cause the
cost of water to drop significantly if the water utility was
replaced by a public agency.
How do we mitigate the “yuck factor” that many people have
about reclaimed water use, when it’s been proven safe and
effective elsewhere? These concerns were discussed at
GreenerBuilder 2019, USGBC’s conference in the Pacific region,
hosted in San Francisco, where industry experts from across the
state led a panel discussion on tactics to improve onsite water
California might have the fifth largest economy in the world,
but many people in the state’s disadvantaged communities feel
like they are living in a third world country because they
don’t have safe, clean and affordable drinking water.
It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends
of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water
districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the
state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it
can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems
and upend an agency’s finances.
On a secluded corner of Marywood Drive in Paradise sit two
vacant lots, side by side. The empty space used to hold
single-family residences surrounded by Ponderosa pines. That
was until the November 2018 Camp Fire — California’s deadliest
and most destructive wildfire — leveled the Butte County town
and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. Now, one year later,
these lots are being rebuilt by two Paradise natives, Christine
and Dave Williams, who bought the properties after the fire.
Supreme Court justices, both conservative and liberal, appeared
skeptical Wednesday of a Trump administration argument that the
federal Clean Water Act should not apply to sewage plant
wastewater that flows into the ground and eventually seeps into
federally protected waters, such as rivers or oceans. The case
from Hawaii has emerged as a major test of the federal
anti-pollution law’s scope …
When the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Andrew
Wheeler, accused California of allowing “piles of human feces”
on city streets to contaminate sewer systems … the
accusations, contained in a Sept. 26 oversight letter, had been
developed without the knowledge of the California-based staff,
which would normally issue such notices. Instead, it was put
together by a small group of political appointees in Washington
assigned specifically to target California, according to three
current E.P.A. officials.
Water vending machine companies compete aggressively to sell
water outside of supermarkets and pharmacies at an incredible
markup. The industry is only lightly regulated – last year the
California Department of Public Health inspected just two
machines in San Diego County.
The lawsuit … argues that the changes undertaken by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries
Service are unlawful. Endangered species protections are
bedrock environmental law, and California leaders warned that
less protection will leave threatened species at risk of
extinction. California is leading the suit along with
Massachusetts and Maryland. Altogether, 17 states have signed
on, along with New York City and the District of Columbia.
At least 85 different federal laws and regulations affecting
California have been weakened or undermined by the Trump
administration since January 2017. … That’s why I, along with
many proponents, believe that Senate Bill 1 would safeguard our
The western pond turtle in Butte County is currently shaking in
its shell, due to habitat alteration and introduced species
that are killing off the local reptile. … The turtle is being
evaluated for listing as threatened or endangered, according to
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.
Senate Bill 1 is seen as a pre-emptive strike by California
lawmakers before the Trump administration ushers in new
biological opinions to alter water deliveries through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The majestic beauty of the Sierra
Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue
sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and
logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of
trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation.
Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris,
it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.
Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of
Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a
battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous,
Cal Water needs power in order to meet state and federal water
quality standards. But meeting those standards got more
difficult for Cal Water. The California Public Utilities
Commission gave power companies the ability to turn off the
power to prevent wildfires after last year’s deadly wildfires
in Paradise, California.
Waters covered by the Act, called “jurisdictional waters,” are
determined by the language of the Act and by court decisions
and administrative rulemakings interpreting that language.
Ongoing rulemaking efforts by the Trump administration, coupled
with several recent court decisions, make defining
jurisdictional waters very difficult.
Microcystins are poisonous toxins that can form in blooms of
blue-green algae. In recent years, algae blooms – actually
microscopic bacteria called cyanobacteria – have erupted in
hundreds of lakes nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose
drinking water comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed long-overdue legislation to
dedicate up to $130 million a year to provide clean, affordable
drinking water to more than 1 million Californians who still
lack access to this vital resource. … The Seeley County Water
District, located in Imperial County approximately 20 miles
from Mexican border, is one of these communities.
A forthcoming EPA overhaul of standards for lead in drinking
water will essentially ban partial lead pipe replacement, in
which part of a lead pipe is removed but another part is
allowed to remain, Bloomberg Environment has learned.
Where Napa’s water quality is concerned, no news may be good
news. A three-year analysis of the city’s water sources showed
reservoirs meeting all federal and state limits on a variety of
contaminants, a recently released report states.
As many as 1,000 community water systems in California may be
at high risk of failing to deliver potable water — one out of
every three — according to a previously undisclosed estimate by
senior officials at the California State Water Resources
Control Board… With little oversight, they face problems
ranging from bankruptcy to sudden interruptions in water
capacity, to harmful toxins being delivered through taps.
Compton’s equestrian community had riders on horseback going
around the neighborhood, handing out flyers with information to
residents who live in the old Sativa Water District… “We’ve
really tried to hit the outreach hard to make sure the folks
understand what we’re doing…” Russ Bryden, administrator of
L.A. County Public Works, said.
California Influencers this week answered one or both of the
following the questions: What are your thoughts regarding Gov.
Gavin Newsom and the Legislature’s decision to use money from
the state’s cap-and-trade funding to improve drinking water for
at-risk Californians? How can California best provide safe and
clean water for all of us?
The initial objectives of the restoration project were to:
improve habitat for the Delta smelt, reduce saltwater
intrusion, reduce submerged aquatic weeds and reduce invasive
non-native fish species that feed on native fish. Carl Wilcox,
a CDFW policy advisor explained the objectives are now more
broad and include accommodations for recreational and economic
activities that are key to the region’s residents.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) urged people to avoid
physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced
County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the lake
due to the presence of blue-green algae. DWR increased the
advisory from warning to danger after detecting an increased
amount of microcystins.
Moving forward, we have an opportunity and an obligation to
build on this agreement by addressing the barriers that
confront small water systems that often have the most
difficulty delivering safe, clean water. As advocates and
organizers work to ensure that investments go to the
communities with greatest needs, the public health community
has the responsibility to step forward and align itself with
the struggle for water as a human right.
Visitors are being encouraged to stay out of the water at
Mission Bay due to high bacteria levels. On July 17, the San
Diego County Department of Environmental Health issued an alert
for the Bonita Cove part of the Bay that stated: “Bacteria
levels may exceed health standards. Avoid water contact in the
advisory area.” In addition to Bonita Cove, visitors are being
told to not enter the water at Leisure Lagoon.
House Democrats are at odds with the White House, Senate
Republicans and each other over provisions in defense policy
legislation that aim to address toxic chemicals found in
drinking water. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as
PFAS … have been linked to thyroid issues, birth defects and
other health problems.
Summer is a good time to take a
break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and
watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting
a chance to do plenty of that this July.
But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss
some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re
taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned
for later this year, we want to help you catch up on
Western Water stories from the first half of this year
that you might have missed.
Residents in the Cañada Cove neighborhood started their
Independence Day holiday with some unexpected news: Water would
be turned off for about 12 hours. Five days later, the water is
flowing again, but they still cannot drink it.
Regulators have issued dozens of water-quality citations to
over 100 different San Diego water providers in the past five
years, according to state and county records. Most violations
were issued to small districts, which can have a harder time
maintaining and upgrading equipment.
Each of the selected projects strike at the heart of the Sierra
Nevada watershed improvement program, SNC’s large-scale
restoration initiative designed to improve ecosystem and
community resilience in the region.
The unincorporated Fresno County community of Lanare has long
been a poster child for California’s widespread contaminated
drinking water. For the past 13 years, Lanare’s water had
tested higher than the state limit for arsenic, but that
changed in February, when the water received a passing grade
after a $3.8 million state grant paid for two new drinking
To find out what’s in Southern California’s oceans, Spectrum
News 1 went below the streets of Los Angeles into a storm drain
to track the flow of water. We’re diving into a question
scientists are facing: what is in L.A.’s water?
An Oakland-based environmental health group is threatening to
sue the manufacturers and retailers behind two bottled water
brands for failing to warn consumers about allegedly high
levels of arsenic in their products.
Nearly one in five California schools found detectable
levels of lead in the drinking water, according to recent data
from the State Water Board. … Monday was the deadline, under
a 2017 law, for local water districts to test school drinking
water for lead. CBS13 found there is still no testing data for
at least 100 schools in our area, but many local schools tested
well above the limit.
Federal public health officials are urging people to take
precautions to protect themselves against a microscopic
parasite that can live for days in swimming pools and water
playgrounds and cause severe intestinal problems. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention published a report last week
about the increased number of outbreaks caused by the fecal
From sea to shining sea may take on a new meaning in
California, as state officials are reviewing billion dollar
plans to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to help raise
water levels at the Salton Sea.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
Participants joined us as we guided them 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.
The 2018-19 Solano County grand jury concluded that if treated
wastewater could be used to irrigate crops that saved water
would help meet the water needs of a growing population. …
The grand jury also had recommendations on plant efficiency and
taking advantage of other renewable energies and plant output,
such as using wind and solar power for plant operations…
Each day, people living on the streets and camping along waterways across California face the same struggle – finding clean drinking water and a place to wash and go to the bathroom.
Some find friendly businesses willing to help, or public restrooms and drinking water fountains. Yet for many homeless people, accessing the water and sanitation that most people take for granted remains a daily struggle.
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water
supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. For example …
many farm workers in California’s Central Valley have to buy
bottled water because their tap water contains unsafe levels of
arsenic and agricultural chemicals that have been linked to
elevated risks of infant death and cancer in adults. … So I
was distressed to hear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tout
the quality of drinking water in the U.S. in an interview on
March 20, 2019.
The Del Mar Mesa community in San Diego, Calif., has clean
running water. Given this fact, the sight of nearly 20 girls in
an affluent neighborhood carrying buckets of water up a ravine
was out of the ordinary, to say the least. “What we’re trying
to do is represent what African women do on a day-to-day basis:
the fact that they have to travel several miles — several hours
— to just get water,” said Emma Reeves, an 18-year-old
Because the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate
PFAS chemicals, states are left not only to research and track
them, but also to develop regulations to clean up already
dangerous levels of pollution. And, according to recent data
from the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute
at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group,
the West isn’t doing a great job.
After several failed attempts, there is momentum this
legislative session to establish a fund for small water
agencies unable to provide customers with clean drinking water
because of the high treatment costs. But several hurdles remain
before the June 15 deadline for the Legislature to pass a
budget — most precariously, a resistance among lawmakers to tax
millions of residential water users and others while California
enjoys a surplus of more than $21 billion.
A beach closure that has been in place for months for the
southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to
include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County
Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the
coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff
in the Tijuana River.
It is hard to fathom how the fifth-largest economy in the world
can settle for letting public water systems serve up
contaminated water. How will our economy continue to grow and
how will we attract new businesses and new workers if the state
can’t provide a basic human need?
The chemicals, commonly abbreviated as PFAS, are used in items
ranging from food wrappers and Teflon pans to raincoats and
firefighting foam. … Members of Congress have introduced at
least 20 bills this session to address PFAS in some form, a
record number and a sign of the growing concern.
Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against
the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to
local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good
oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting
Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the
possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget
deliberations set for June 18.
CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s
efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that
have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group
of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental
Studies is helping in these efforts.
The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would
create a fund dedicated to improving the state’s drinking
water. But the bill is clear the money could not come from a
new tax on water bills. Instead, Senate leaders have signaled
their intention to use $150 million of existing taxpayer money
City water will be flowing to yet another community living in
county jurisdiction with the state forcing the City Council’s
Monday action to supply water service to the privately owned
Ceres West Mobile Home Park. … The park, which was approved
by the county in 1969, had limited options to supply drinking
water to its residents because water from an on-site well
exceeds state limits for arsenic and nitrates.
Water is a currency in California, and the low-income
farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better
than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made
possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their
faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer
Clean water is important, and there are a million people in the
Central Valley without access to it. But do we need a new tax
to pay for it? Maybe we don’t. Just last week, a state Senate
budget subcommittee eliminated Gov. Newsom’s recommendation for
a water tax and replaced it with a $150 million continuous
appropriation from the General Fund.
Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters
around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain
in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to
fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction,
has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing,
similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the
act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.
A nearly four-year investigation into how a chemical known to
cause cancer showed up in more than a dozen rural wells by the
San Luis Obispo County Airport has finally concluded with an
alleged culprit. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board investigators say that Noll Inc., a machine shop on
Thread Lane, is responsible for the trichloroethylene (TCE)
Halting plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River was the
theme of a well-attended fundraising event hosted May 4 by the
Siskiyou County Water Users Association. Guest speakers,
including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Siskiyou County Supervisor
Brandon Criss, former Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams
and Attorney James Buchal, author of “The Great Salmon Hoax”
discussed problems they foresee with dam removal which they
believe is far from a done deal.
When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would
allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim
Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered
unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a
safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few
colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia.
The commission, created in 1965 and comprised of 27 members
appointed primarily by state and local officials, is supposed
to protect the environmental health of the bay. If they won’t
take their job seriously, Gov. Gavin Newsom, legislative
leaders and local officials should replace them with people up
to the task.
On a former tidal marsh in Corte Madera that’s blanketed with
bay mud and overgrown with invasive grasses, Golden Gate Bridge
officials are planning a $2 million restoration project that
would bolster habitat for an endangered bird species displaced
by the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The district has released the
results of an environmental study of the proposed project and
is accepting comments on the report until May 26.
California struggles to deliver safe drinking water to millions
of residents. The challenges – often complex issues at the
interface of human, legislative, technical, and geological
dimensions – resist easy answers. Stanford experts explored
possible ways forward at a recent panel discussion in
In his February State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom
called the safe drinking water crisis — which is centered in
lower-income communities ranging from the coasts to the Central
Valley — “a moral disgrace and a medical emergency.” He’s
Gov. Gavin Newsom has made repairing hundreds of failing
drinking-water systems in California a big priority since
taking office, giving fresh momentum to an entrenched problem
the state’s leaders have long struggled to resolve. But his
proposed solution — a $140 million yearly tax raised in part
through fees on urban water districts — has raised eyebrows in
a state where residents already feel overtaxed.
Reforestation will improve watershed conditions by restoring
severely burned areas to forested conditions, reducing
sedimentation and turbidity, and improving water quality for
downstream users. It will also improve habitat by providing
stabilization that reduces erosion of stream banks and meadows.
The new funding includes about $250 million for climate-related
programs, thanks to the state’s cap-and-trade program, and $75
million to fund an assessment of wildfire protection plans. …
Newsom also defended a controversial tax on water bills that
would fund programs to rebuild broken or degraded drinking
water infrastructure in some of the state’s poorest
Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water
District board will enter an initial five-month “option to
purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak.
The purchase option period … is designed to give district
officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land,
assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure
Water Soquel plant.
A more than five-year moratorium on leasing land in California
for oil and gas development will be coming to an end with a May
9 Interior Department plan to open up about 725,000 acres
across the state’s Central Coast and the Bay Area for drilling.
The decision comes just two weeks after the Trump
administration released its plan to reopen more than 1 million
acres of public land and federal mineral estate in eight
counties in Central California to fracking.
Unlike tap water, there is no public repository of information
for consumers to look up the quality of their favorite bottled
water brand and see whether it is free of contaminants. The
Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies to
submit test reports each year for review… And while several
states receive test results each year as part of the permitting
process bottlers go through to sell their product, those are
often available only through public records requests.
There are actions we can take today that will reduce the
pressure on struggling sea life and protect the industries and
communities that rely on a healthy ocean. … The Ocean
Resiliency Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 69) tackles a range of
threats facing our fisheries, from fertilizer runoff that feeds
harmful algae to sediment flowing downstream from logging
operations that violate clean water rules, which can silt up
the spaces between rocks where baby salmon shelter and feed.
No family should have to live in a community in which the water
that comes from their taps puts their children’s health at
risk. Over the last several years, the state has authorized
millions of dollars for emergency actions and one-time patches,
but has shied from doing what’s necessary to sustainably solve
California’s lawsuits have targeted the administration’s
policies on immigration, healthcare and education. But nowhere
has the legal battle had a greater impact than on Trump’s
agenda of dismantling Obama-era environmental and public health
regulations. In its rush to delay, repeal and rewrite rules it
considers unduly burdensome to industry, the administration has
experienced significant setbacks in court.
Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained
public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that
more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated
with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. …
Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California reports one
of the highest levels across the military, at 8 million parts
After years of public outcry and the discovery of dozens of
lead-tainted drinking water taps throughout the city’s public
schools, Oakland Unified has tested every single drinking water
tap at its schools, and is fixing or replacing those with
dangerous lead levels.
County supervisors backed an ordinance that would regulate
alternative water treatment options for contaminated small
water systems on a trial basis amid public concerns regarding
the potential cost and complexity of the proposed rules.
An inmate’s death in Stockton from Legionnaires’ disease marks
the third time in four years the rare form of pneumonia has
struck California’s state prisons – and has laid bare a history
of contamination and other problems plaguing water supplies in
the corrections system.
Researchers from the environmental
advocacy group Environmental Working Group estimated
that the contaminants found in public water systems in
California could contribute to about 15,500 cancer cases there
over the course of a lifetime. These contaminants include
chemicals such as arsenic, hexavalent chromium and radioactive
elements such as uranium and radium. The study was published
Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health.
Senate Bill 1 … would encourage state agencies, such as
regional water quality control boards, Fish & Wildlife, the Air
Resources Board, and CalOSHA, to resist Trump administration
rollbacks by allowing them to consider applying federal
standards for protection in effect as of January 19, 2017, the
day before Donald Trump took office, and maintain them in case
he is re-elected next year.
After pressure from the Defense Department, the Environmental
Protection Agency significantly weakened a proposed standard
for cleaning up groundwater pollution caused by toxic chemicals
that contaminate drinking water consumed by millions of
Americans and that have been commonly used at military bases.