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
Five years ago, California became the first state in the nation
to recognize the human right to safe, clean, affordable and
accessible water. Today, we look at how the state is working to
ensure that right and where the biggest concerns for
Nine of every 10 illegal marijuana farms raided in California
this year contained traces of powerful and potentially lethal
pesticides that are poisoning wildlife and could endanger water
supplies, researchers and federal authorities said Tuesday.
… California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who leads
the nation’s largest marijuana eradication program, said state
drug agents last week found gallons of carbofuran being added
to irrigation water at an illegal site in northwestern
Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are rebooting an effort to
pass a new tax to attack unsafe drinking water in California.
But there’s a twist: The proposed tax on water bills would be
voluntary, increasing its chances of success among skittish
lawmakers in an election year.
The State Water Board is making it clear that it won’t vote
next week on a much-disputed proposal to require higher river
flows for improving water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
river delta. Felicia Marcus, who chairs the water board, said
in a letter Wednesday to the California Natural Resources
Agency that final action will be taken at a board meeting
As students head back to class across California this month,
many will sip water from school fountains or faucets that could
contain high levels of lead. That’s because two-thirds of the
state’s 1,026 school districts have not taken advantage of a
free state testing program to determine whether the toxic metal
is coming out of the taps and, if so, whether it exceeds
The Department of Water Resources issued a warning on Friday
for those visiting San Luis Reservoir in Merced County: Don’t
go in the water. This is based on the potential health risks
associated with cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, blooms that
accumulate into mats of scum and foam floating on the surface
and along the shoreline.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on
Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove
chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.
… As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the
past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in
sources of drinking water.
After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis
farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they
found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush.
The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit
farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the
Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water
Resources Control Board.
The U.S. Navy knew as far back as 1993 that the tap water at
its former shipyard in San Francisco contained dangerous
amounts of lead, but didn’t tell local officials, visitors or
people who worked there, including hundreds of police employees
stationed at the site since 1997.
This summer has witnessed an explosion of algae problems in
Western water bodies. Usually marked by a bright green mat of
floating scum, the blooms are unsightly and unpleasant for
water lovers. More concerning are potentially toxic
cyanobacteria often produced by the algae, which can be deadly
to pets and livestock and cause illnesses in people.
Boating, fishing and hiking will be allowed again at Diamond
Valley Lake near Hemet starting Friday, July 27 —
more than a month after it closed because of an algal
bloom outbreak. Water quality tests confirmed the
potential health effects of a large bloom
of blue-green algae had diminished,
the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
said in a Wednesday, July 25, news release.
Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot for
a range of water projects, has support from 58 percent of
California’s likely voters, with 25 percent opposed and 17
percent undecided, the poll indicates.
The Lake County Department of Public Health is urging boaters
and recreational users to avoid contact with water in Lake
County due to a recent bloom of cyanobacteria, or blue-green
algae. The algae, which is seasonal, is currently active in all
three sections of the Lake — Lower, Oaks, and Upper.
A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection
Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water
systems nationally and respond more quickly to public health
emergencies such as the lead-in-the water crisis in Flint,
Andrew Wheeler, the new acting chief of the Environmental
Protection Agency, signaled a more inclusive approach at the
agency, telling staffers roiled by months of ethics allegations
against his predecessor, “You will find me and my team ready to
listen.” … When President Donald Trump called him last
week about the job change, the president told him to “clean up
the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief,”
Residents of working-class neighborhoods in Compton and
Willowbrook have long fought an uphill battle against their
local water district, which over the years has been accused of
mismanagement, nepotism, bad service and, most recently,
sending brown, smelly water through their taps. Still, Sativa
Los Angeles County Water District managed to stay in business.
Authorities in Salem, Oregon, lifted a drinking water advisory
on July 3 that had been in place for children and the elderly
since Memorial Day weekend, when algal toxins were discovered
in the city’s water system. How many other water systems are at
risk from the toxin-producing scum that grows in rivers and
lakes, particularly in the warmer months?
Frustrated by discolored drinking water pouring from their
taps, four Compton residents filed a class-action lawsuit late
Monday against their water provider, Sativa Los Angeles County
Water District. … It comes days before a crucial decision by
county oversight officials on whether to dissolve the small
public water district.
Bowing out after months of scandals, Scott Pruitt is turning
the Environmental Protection Agency over to a far less flashy
deputy who is expected to continue Pruitt’s rule-cutting,
business-friendly ways as steward of the country’s environment.
… EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal
industry lobbyist, will take the helm as acting administrator
California’s corrections department is spending $46,000 a month
to buy bottled water for inmates and staff at a prison in Tracy
where it opened a state-of-the-art water treatment plant eight
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply
originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water
supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests,
which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought,
wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine
water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts
downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
The retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
next month is likely to reshape the high court to the detriment
of the environment, legal experts say, potentially limiting
progress on such issues as climate change and clean water, even
in California, where leaders have long pursued an environmental
agenda independent of Washington.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is proposing
surrendering some of his agency’s veto power over waste
discharges near waterways by mining and development. In a memo
released Wednesday by the EPA, Pruitt directs the agency to
study renouncing part of its authority under the
half-century-old Clean Water Act to veto permits that the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers or states grant to allow dumping waste
The general manager of a small public agency under fire for
delivering brown, smelly water to parts of Compton and
Willowbrook has been placed on administrative leave effective
immediately, the water district board’s attorney announced
A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by
the Trump administration because of the “public relations
nightmare” it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has
been quietly released online. … PFAS [perfluoroalkyl
substances] compounds are proving to be pervasive in public
water systems and around military bases across the country.
At a town hall Monday, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán
alleged that people were paid to pose as residents to speak out
in support of an embattled water district, marking a strange
twist in the ongoing controversy over discolored water pouring
out of taps in Compton and Willowbrook.
In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley,
excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence,
damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and
In California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive
farming regions in the nation, an estimated 150,000 people are
stuck living with contaminated drinking water. … The good
news: Help is available to many of these small community water
systems, provided they can merge with a neighboring utility
that has clean water.
The Trump administration, after heavy lobbying by the chemical
industry, is scaling back the way the federal government
determines health and safety risks associated with the most
dangerous chemicals on the market, documents from the
Environmental Protection Agency show.
California voters have approved a ballot measure allowing the
state borrow $4 billion for parks and conservation projects
that proponents say will help ensure access to clean drinking
water. Proposition 68 — one of five statewide measures on the
ballot — passed Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote.
With the help of emergency funding requested by Assembly member
Joaquin Arambula (D-Kingsburg), whose largely rural district is
in the [San Joaquin] valley, the emergency water supply program
will likely continue another year at a cost of $3.5 million.
Also included in the emergency relief efforts is $10 million to
address failing domestic wells and septic tanks, and $10
million for the Drinking Water for Schools Program that funds
treatment solutions for schools that struggle with
In October 2002, the cruise ship Crystal Harmony anchored
outside Monterey Harbor, ferrying more than 900 passengers
ashore for the day before continuing on its way to Acapulco,
Mexico. Later that night, 14 miles off the pristine coastline
of Big Sur, the 790-foot-long ship dumped 36,400 gallons of
sewage, gray water and oily waste into the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary.
Illegal marijuana grows hidden within public lands can be
detrimental to the environment and families living close
by. Now, local and state leaders are taking a
stand. Law enforcement agencies have joined with experts
to highlight the damage that marijuana grows have on national
forests, the wildlife that inhabit them, and the streams and
waterways that flow through them.
An estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems
with unsafe drinking water, according to a McClatchy analysis
of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board.
… Now, after years of half solutions, the state is
considering its most comprehensive actions to date. Gov. Jerry
Brown has asked the Legislature to enact a statewide tax
on drinking water to fix wells and treatment systems in
The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost
nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug
cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest
in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water
out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said
More than half a dozen bills aimed at plastic pollution were
introduced in Sacramento this year alone — by both coastal
legislators and more moderate inland colleagues who see the
potential damage not just in oceans but also rivers, lakes and
the state’s water supply. No one, they said, wants to drink a
glass of water and wonder if they’re also downing a glass of
Conservationists in the Lake Tahoe region are celebrating the
acquisition by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District of a
206-acre property, Johnson Meadow, in South Lake Tahoe. The
property is a key piece of the puzzle for conservation groups
who are working to restore the Upper Truckee River watershed
and help improve Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity, which has been on
the decline in recent decades.
Soaring numbers of water systems around the country are testing
positive for a dangerous class of chemicals widely used in
items that include non-stick pans and firefighting foam,
regulators and scientists said Tuesday. The warnings, and
promises by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt
of official action to confront the related health risks, came
in a summit with small-town and state officials increasingly
confronting water systems contaminated by the toxic substances.
Journalists from CNN, the Associated Press and E&E News, a
publication that covers energy and environment issues, were
barred by the EPA from entering the event, which was focused on
harmful chemicals in water. A handful of other reporters from
other news organizations, however, were allowed inside the
event for Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been previously
invited by the agency the day before.
The Trump administration on Friday named Mike Stoker, a Santa
Barbara County attorney and former oil company spokesman who
some credit with coining the “lock her up!” chants against
Hillary Clinton at the Republican Convention in 2016, as the
new West Coast head of the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. Stoker will lead the U.S. EPA Region 9 office, which is
based in San Francisco.
Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s plans to
eliminate ocean quality grants used by coastal communities to
determine whether the water poses a hazard to beach goers. The
EPA stopped requesting the $10 million in annual funds in 2013,
saying that states, counties and cities were adequately
equipped to continuing the monitoring on their own.
Supporters argue that Prop. 68 is good for parks and good for
improving water quality statewide. … Critics like state
Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, believe the debt payments on
the bond will be anything but small.
The top United States official at the international agency
charged with overseeing efforts to stem ongoing water pollution
in the Tijuana River Valley stepped down on Friday. The
departure of Edward Drusina, former commissioner of the U.S.
section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or
IBWC, comes as the agency continues to face legal attacks from
South Bay cities that routinely shutter beaches due to
pollution from south of the border.
Advocates gathered in Merced, and similar demonstrations were
held around the state, according to advocates, to get elected
officials to support Senate Bill 623, which aims to provide a
stable source of funding to implement California’s Human Rights
to Water, Assembly Bill 685 from 2012.
San Diego is the only city in California seeking state
reimbursement for testing the toxic lead levels in water at
local schools, which has cost the city’s water agency more than
$400,000. … The requirement, which came in response to a
national outcry over lead in drinking water at schools in
Michigan, immediately prompted complaints from water agencies
that it was an unfunded mandate by the state.
Gaps in funding for water treatment are a major problem in
California. Water providers operate independently, relying
virtually entirely on customer fees to cover costs. For
agencies with scale, money and access to quality water sources,
this model works well. But absent those resources,
contamination persists for years without resolution.
Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site
where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome
deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned
farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest
unresolved water problems in the state.
Western Water writer Gary Pitzer explored how California water
regulators are trying to address the impacts on water quality
and supply from this newly regulated industry, how federal
officials are approaching it and what other states that have
legalized marijuana have done. And he addressed the question
that remains on many minds: Will growers that have
operated in the shadows for years accept the new regulations or
shrug them off as too burdensome.
Two different water bonds are set to appear on the California
ballot this election season, after a $9 billion measure
gathered enough signatures to qualify in November, according to
the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday.
The city of Oakland and East Bay Municipal Utility District
must pay more than $360,000 for violating the Clean Water Act
by allowing untreated sewage into the San Francisco Bay,
officials said Tuesday. In 2014, EBMUD and seven East Bay
communities it serves, including Oakland and Berkeley, paid
$1.5 million in civil penalties for past sewage discharges.
A proposal to borrow $8.9 billion for improvements to
California’s water quality systems and watersheds and
protection of natural habitats is eligible for the
statewide ballot in November, Secretary of State Alex Padilla
announced in a press release Wednesday.
The Trump administration launched an attack on the science
behind many of the nation’s clean air and clean water rules,
announcing a proposal Tuesday that would in effect prevent
regulators from considering a wide range of health studies when
they look at new regulations.
[Arcelia] Duarte is the owner of the Duarte Mobile Home Park
near Thermal as well as one of its residents. As normal as
her family’s home may appear to visitors, the park’s
residents are faced with an issue most of California’s urban
dwellers would struggle to fathom: Their water, which comes
from a local well, is contaminated by naturally occurring
arsenic and bacteria.
A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they
were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with
smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the
environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.
For decades, cannabis has been grown
in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously
harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in
suburban tract homes.
In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as
marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to
gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the
state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized
for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.
As we continue forging ahead in 2018
with our online version of Western Water after 40 years
as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also
got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.
State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing
up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and
combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish
and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps
unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved
Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if
anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that
marijuana was legal.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop
of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad
sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
A mining company accused the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency on Wednesday of failing to operate a treatment plant at
full capacity, allowing a huge volume of polluted mine
wastewater to reach a southwestern Colorado river.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who
has been methodically weakening air pollution rules over the
past year, is now taking control of key decision-making on the
protection of streams and wetlands from the agency’s regional
administrators, an internal memo shows. At issue is something
known as “geographic jurisdiction,” agency speak for which
bodies of water do, or do not, fall under the Clean Water Act.
First put forward as Senate Bill 623, then later slipped into
the governor’s 2018-19 budget as a trailer bill, the [Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water] fund’s purpose is to cover an
estimated $140 million each year in improvements and ongoing
maintenance in water systems that are out of compliance with
water quality standards. The proposed Safe and Affordable
Drinking Water Fund is fueling increased debate in California’s
water community and in the Capitol.
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.
When a wildfire leveled a whole neighborhood in Santa Rosa,
California, in October, it was just the first disaster for this
Wine Country city. A second disaster is now unfolding after
chemical contamination was detected in the city’s drinking
water following the fire.
Testing is in progress at schools throughout Marin for lead in
drinking water, and one fountain has been shut down because of
contamination. The testing is being conducted in accordance
with Assembly Bill 746. It requires campuses built before Jan.
1, 2010, to receive the testing for lead contamination by July
A $1.3 trillion spending package approved Thursday by the House
and early Friday by the Senate includes nearly $448 million for
Environmental Protection Agency programs benefiting regional
waters degraded by pollution, overdevelopment and exotic
species invasions. … Aside from the Great Lakes, those
staying at their current levels include Chesapeake Bay, San
Francisco Bay …
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says
eradicating lead from drinking water is one of his top
priorities three years after the Flint water crisis, and he’s
worried Americans aren’t “sufficiently aware” of the threat.
Members of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board
gathered in a closed session on Monday afternoon, debating
whether to file a lawsuit against the federal government to
stem the cross-border flow of sewage, sediment and other
contaminants from Tijuana to San Diego.
As part of his final budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown wants
new fees on water to provide clean and affordable drinking
water to the approximately 1 million Californians who are
exposed to contaminated water in their homes and communities
each year. … About 100 state residents who lack access to
clean drinking water will head to the Capitol today and join
with several lawmakers to support Brown’s proposal …
There are almost 100,000 San Joaquin Valley residents living
without access to clean drinking water. This is according to a
new UC Davis study, which suggests that permanent solutions
aren’t that far away.
U.S. scientists studying the effects of uranium mining around
the Grand Canyon say they are lacking information on whether
the radioactive element is hurting plants, animals and a water
source for more than 30 million people. And they would not get
to fully gather it if President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget
proposal is approved.
A new study could help water
agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless
face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and
The Santa Ana Watershed Project
Authority (SAWPA) in Southern California has embarked on a
comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at assessing
strengths and needs as it relates to water services for people
(including the homeless) within its 2,840 square-mile area that
extends from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Orange County
The cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and the Port of
San Diego said the International Boundary and Water
Commission’s U.S. section has failed to meet obligations under
the federal Clean Water Act to treat the runoff from Tijuana,
allowing toxins and bacteria to spread in the Tijuana River
Valley and out to the Pacific Ocean.
Sand replenishment began last week at Cardiff State Beach, one
of the first milestones in a $120 million, four-year effort to
restore the San Elijo Lagoon. Improved water quality, greater
wildlife diversity, more public recreational trails and a
greater resilience to environmental change are among the
long-term goals of the restoration, which has been planned for
As Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt jetted
around the country last year, regularly flying first or
business class at hefty taxpayer expense, his stated mission
was often a noble one: to hear from Americans about how
Washington could most effectively and fairly enforce the Clean
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge led by
states and environmental groups to an Environmental Protection
Agency regulation that lets government agencies transfer water
between different bodies, such as rivers and lakes, without
needing to protect against pollution.
Besides challenging federal deregulation, the Bureau of
Environmental Justice will prioritize pollution cases that
threaten public health, [California Attorney General Xavier]
Becerra said. The attorneys will seek to compel businesses and
government agencies to clean contaminated drinking water,
reduce exposure to lead and other toxins and prevent illegal
waste discharges in communities burdened disproportionately by
To ensure that tap water in the United States is safe to drink,
the federal government has been steadily tightening the health
standards for the nation’s water supplies for decades. But over
and over again, local water systems around the country have
failed to meet these requirements.
It [proposed 2019 budget] would remove all EPA funding of
cleanup programs for the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long
Island Sound, San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and South Florida,
including the Everglades and Keys.
Commissions that oversee coastal lands and water pushed the
Trump administration to leave California out of plans to expand
offshore drilling, saying the state will throw up any barriers
possible to prevent pumping and transportation of oil. The
warning came weeks after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he
wants to open nearly all U.S. coastlines to offshore oil and
The Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, on the Hawaiian
island of Maui, pumps 3 million to 5 million gallons of treated
sewage a day down four wells on its property. Once underground,
the water does not stay put. It seeps through porous lava rock
and then flows into the Pacific Ocean, a half-mile to the
In its first act to shield California from the Trump
administration’s repeal of regulations, the state’s water board
has prepared its own rules protecting wetlands and other
waters. The proposed new rules, scheduled for a vote by the
board this summer, could insulate the state from President
Donald Trump’s executive order to roll back the reach of the
Clean Water Act.
Hold your canteen under a natural spring and you’ll
come away with crystal clear water, potentially brimming
with beneficial bacteria as well
as minerals from the earth. … But by shunning
recommended water safety practices, experts warn, raw water
purveyors may also be selling things you don’t want to
drink — dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites that can
make you sick.
The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pledged
that lead regulations will be a prominent feature of the
agency’s work in 2018 — but that work will take longer than
anticipated. The agency expects that a revision to federal
rules that are designed to reduce the risk of lead in drinking
water will be published in draft form in August 2018, a
seven-month delay from a timetable announced this summer.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt on Thursday
defended his frequent taxpayer-funded travel and his purchase
of a custom soundproof communications booth for his office,
saying both were justified. Pruitt made his first appearance
before a House oversight subcommittee responsible for
environmental issues since his confirmation to lead EPA in
It can be very expensive, for instance, to build a new water
treatment plant or connect with one in the next closest town.
… Now a team of engineers and students at the University
of California, Los Angeles, has developed a water
treatment system that fits in a 40ft shipping container.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced Friday that
it won’t require mining companies to prove they have the
financial wherewithal to clean up their pollution, despite an
industry legacy of abandoned mines that have fouled waterways
across the U.S.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke said nearly 80% of the
country’s forest system resides in the West. Tooke, who became
head of the agency in September, addressed the [Western
Governors Association] conference Friday and said that in the
years ahead his No. 1 goal is to increase efforts that prevent
wildfires and reduce community risks — such as mudslides and
contaminated water — from burn areas.
The city of San Diego recently cleared a major legal hurdle in
its effort to force chemical giant Monsanto to pay tens of
millions to clean up local waterways polluted with a class of
cancer-linked chemicals, known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or
PCBs. Federal and state regulators have in recent years
tightened standards for cleaning up PCBs in bays, rivers and
State officials are under fire for not keeping up with legal
requirements to track waterways that are polluted or have other
problems that affect using those waterways for activities
including fishing and swimming. San Diego Coastkeeper is one of
three clean water groups suing the state in an effort to get
better water quality.
Chemical fire retardants are considered a vital wildland
firefighting tool, helping to slow the spread of flames while
ground crews move into position. But as their use increases,
the harmful side effects of these chemicals are coming under
increasing scrutiny. The chemicals, usually dropped from
low-flying aircraft, largely consist of ammonia compounds,
which are known toxins to fish and other aquatic life.
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.
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River
where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand
is growing from myriad sources — increasing population,
declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Not only does Nevada’s naturally hard water cloud the taste of
coffee, experts say — it also requires steady monitoring, even
if lawmakers approve cuts to a federal agency that monitors
quality. An Oct. 9 coffee tasting at UNLV served as a platform
to discuss potential budget cuts to the Environmental
Protection Agency while illustrating how Nevada’s hard water
can affect flavor.
In the weeks after Labor Day, one dozen people who live in or
visited Anaheim, California fell ill with a common set of
symptoms: fever, chills, and coughing. Ten of the 12, all
between the ages of 52 and 94, required treatment at a hospital
and were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a pneumonia-like
illness that attacks the lungs. One person died.
Attorneys on all sides began presenting their cases on the
first day of the Measure Z trial on Monday, arguing over
whether the voter-approved initiative establishing some of the
nation’s toughest oil and gas restrictions is preempted by
federal and state authority. … They [oil industry
attorneys] argued the Measure Z campaign had misled voters into
believing the central issue was fracking and water protection
without fully addressing other aspects of the initiative.
Water tests at school drinking fountains across Northern
California found dangerous levels of lead and other metals,
prompting school officials to shut down the fountains. However,
thousands of schools across California have not participated in
a state-funded program to test their drinking water, according
to an investigation by KCRA 3.
Bursting pipes. Leaks. Public health scares. America is facing
a crisis over its crumbling water infrastructure, and fixing it
will be a monumental and expensive task. Two powerful
industries, plastic and iron, are locked in a lobbying war over
the estimated $300 billion that local governments will spend on
water and sewer pipes over the next decade.
On October 17, the California State Water Resources
Control Board adopted new environmental policies to regulate
how marijuana growing operations will impact California’s
already limited water resources. … Cannabis cultivation can
impact local water by reducing flows in streams and creeks or
polluting waterways with pesticides and other agricultural
A growing list of schools across the state are posting high
levels of lead flowing out of faucets after the water crisis in
Flint, Mich. — in which corrosion of pipes led to leaching of
lead into the city water supply — led California officials to
push for testing, especially in schools.
The specter of rain washing potentially toxic ash from
thousands of burned homes into sensitive Sonoma County
watersheds has injected a new sense of urgency to local fire
cleanup efforts, with the immediate focus shifting to erosion
control needed to safeguard water quality.
Children at an Oakland elementary school have been exposed to
water with lead levels four times higher than allowed under
federal guidelines, test results obtained Thursday by The
Chronicle show. … The district began testing school taps
in August in advance of new state requirements, but the results
have not been well-publicized.
For many homeowners in Sonoma and Napa counties, nothing
could have been more welcome than the splashing of rain that
fell on Northern California last Thursday – the first
significant precipitation in about five months.
In response to a hepatitis A outbreak that was incubated in
unsanitary conditions among the homeless, Gov. Jerry Brown
declared a public health emergency last week to contain an
epidemic that has killed 19 people this year in California.
… Access to adequate sanitation is presumably a
component of the state’s human right to water law, which was
passed in 2012.
Many of the more than one million Californians who live in
mobile home parks drink water that is more polluted and more
likely to be cut off than residents who get water from other
municipal utilities, according to the most detailed research to
date on water access in California trailer parks.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to join
the growing legal campaign to force the federal government to
do more to stop sewage from spilling over the border from
Tijuana that routinely fouls South Bay beaches. “Enough is
enough,” Supervisor Greg Cox, whose district includes border
region with Mexico, said in a statement.
Environmental advocates are calling on state officials to
notify the public about past tests showing high levels of E.
coli in Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma, two of the region’s most
popular areas for open water swimming and boating. But
officials responsible for recreational use on the lakes say the
test results cited are too old, while the agency that conducted
the tests says it has no responsibility for public notices.
San Diego officials were informed repeatedly of the dangers of
disease-carrying runoff from homeless encampments into area
waterways, as far as a decade before the current hepatitis A
crisis spurred action.
The federal government has strict rules about water that can be
bottled and sold as “spring water,” and regulators recently
changed their position on whether the water that Nestlé pipes
out of the San Bernardino National Forest meets those
Planned hiring into 2018 covers a range of state agencies:
Fifty people are bound for the Public Health Department, 65 are
slated to join the Water Resources Control Board …
Environmental scientists will be responsible for developing
standards for pot grows near streams, to make sure fertilizer
or pesticides do not taint the water or harm fish.
Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego took the
first step toward suing the federal government to stop
wastewater and raw sewage from continually pouring over the
border from Tijuana into San Diego County. … On Thursday, Lt.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, as the chair of the State Lands
Commission, announced his support for the efforts by local
officials in San Diego to address the situation.
Camp Pendleton officials swear that the water consumed by
55,000 Marines and their families is safe, despite a pair of
scathing state and federal investigations indicating chronic
problems in the treatment systems at the sprawling military
As the Cadiz project seems increasingly likely to go forward,
Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a statement contending the
underground desert water could ultimately contaminate much of
Southern California’s water supply.
Signs at Russian River beaches warning of the potential for
harmful blue-green algae in the water were being taken down
Thursday, after tests failed to detect the presence of
algae-related toxins in recent weeks. Only highly diluted
concentrations of an algae-produced toxin were found in the
river this summer even when tests sporadically came back
positive, health officials said.
[Santa Clara] County supervisors have approved a 45-day
moratorium on marijuana growing operations that can be extended
for two years while they consider next steps in what officials
called a changing landscape, as the state drafts its own
regulations on recreational pot cultivation.
… “The environmental damage we’ve seen is very
disturbing,” [Deputy County Executive Sylvia] Gallegos said.
San Diego’s Rose Canyon fault is capable of producing a
magnitude 6.9 earthquake that could kill 2,000 people and
inflict $40 billion in property damage, according to a
preliminary study sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering
Research Institute. … The shaking would break scores of
water and sewer lines, possibly causing wastewater to spill
into San Diego and Mission Bays.
Toxic chemicals from illegal marijuana farms hidden deep in
California’s forests are showing up in rivers and streams that
feed the state’s water supply, prompting fears that humans and
animals may be at risk, data reviewed by Reuters show.
If you drink tap water, you’re probably also ingesting
potentially dangerous microscopic plastic fibers. And you’re
not alone: That’s likely the case for billions of people across
the world, according to a new study from Orb Media.
Levels of E. coli bacteria found in the lower American River
exceed the federal threshold for safe recreational use, in part
due to human waste from homeless camps, state regulators say.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has
proposed adding the bacteria to a list of pollutants that make
the lower American River a federally designated impaired water
The city [Antioch] has challenged the state Department of Water
Resources’ approval of the Twin Tunnels project, alleging that
the city itself will still see more salt in the water it uses
as a drinking supply.
The [McClellan] Air Force has consistently denied that toxins
have escaped the base boundaries and contaminated drinking
water supplies, but a series of new lawsuits by two area water
districts seeking $1.4 billion in damages has renewed concerns
among some who spent years drinking water from area pipes and
Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are considering five proposals
that would finance new homes for low-income residents, build
parks in neighborhoods without them and restore rivers, streams
and creeks among dozens of other projects.
When a therapy dog refused to drink at a San Diego grade
school, it was the first clue that something was wrong with the
water. Tests revealed why the pup turned up its nose—the
presence of polyvinyl chloride, the polymer in PVC pipes that
degrade over time. But further analysis found something else
that had gone undetected by the dog, the teachers and students
of the San Diego Cooperative Charter School, and the school
district: elevated levels of lead.
Two popular swim spots — Lake Temescal in Oakland and Quarry
Lakes in Fremont — will reopen Saturday after blooms of
toxic blue-green algae finally cleared up, the East Bay
Regional Park District announced Friday.
An annual analysis of the planet’s climate reaffirms what
researchers knew was the case: that 2016 was the hottest year
since at least 1880, when reliable global measurements were
first kept. … The atmosphere is not only the place with
incremental warming: the world’s freshwater lakes are also
The Russian River tested clean this week for a toxin related to
blue-green algae that prompted cautionary signs at 10 popular
beaches last month and in each of the past two summers. The
river remains open to swimming and other recreation.
In a sweeping legal fight that could affect drinking water
supplies for thousands of Sacramento-area residents, two water
districts near the old McClellan Air Force Base are suing the
federal government for $1.4 billion to clean up the
cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium from the area’s
Marin’s utilities were among nearly 50,000 public water systems
examined in the nationwide study by the Washington, D.C.-based
Environmental Working Group. The group acknowledged that Marin
and other water suppliers meet government standards, but it
says the water frequently contains contaminants in
concentrations that exceed levels scientists say pose potential
health risks over the course of a lifetime.
California survived its historic drought, in large part by
using groundwater. It was a lifeline in the Central Valley,
where it was the only source of water for many farmers.
California regulators are charged with protecting that
groundwater, but for years they failed to do so.
California’s water agency Tuesday agreed to eliminate the cap
on hexavalent chromium in drinking water, the toxic chemical
made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” The State Water
Resources Control Board said it removed the cap after a
Sacramento judge ruled in May that its regulation was invalid.
Sonoma County officials posted caution signs at beaches up and
down the Russian River on Wednesday alerting visitors to
positive test results for a potentially dangerous, naturally
occurring neurotoxin linked to harmful algae, a problem
surfacing around Northern California this summer.
More than one million people across 16 California counties have
excessive levels of a potent carcinogen in their drinking
water, and customers are now facing huge rate increases to help
pay for water agencies’ compliance with newly-adopted
standards. … Beginning January 2018, all drinking water in
the state will be required to have TCP levels of no more
that 5 parts per trillion (ppt).
California took its first step Tuesday toward addressing a
dangerous, cancer-causing chemical that 1 million residents
across the state could be drinking in harmful amounts. The
State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to
implement a maximum contaminant level in drinking water for a
chemical known as 1,2,3-TCP, used primarily as a degreasing
solvent and pesticide ingredient.
A settlement in a lawsuit that targeted dairy and beef cattle
operations in the Point Reyes National Seashore now threatens
the future of ranching in West Marin. … The suit, filed
in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, also asserted that
cattle were causing erosion, polluting waterways with manure
and harming endangered salmon and other species, while blocking
Since [President] Trump took office, environmental groups and
Democratic state attorneys general have filed more than four
dozen lawsuits challenging his executive orders and decisions
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Interior
Department and other agencies.
If you ask Californians who live in communities with unsafe
drinking water how bad things are, they will tell you in no
uncertain terms that the situation is a crisis. But unlike the
nation’s most visible water crisis in Flint, Michigan – where
98,000 people were drinking water tainted with high lead levels
for two years before the full story came to light –
California’s drinking water problems do not exist in one
central location or involve one culprit contaminant.
Nearly five years ago, the California Legislature declared that
the state’s residents have a right to “safe, clean, affordable,
and accessible water.” Passage of the landmark law provoked a
practical question that has always dogged the noble ideals of
the right-to-water movement: how does a state government or
municipal utility ensure clean and affordable water for all?
… Staff members at the California Water Resources Control
Board are now taking a full swing at the affordability
component of the right-to-water legislation.
Looking to tap property owners, the Los Angeles County Board of
Supervisors Tuesday approved moving forward with a plan to
consider a parcel tax to help fund an ambitious stormwater
capturing system to bolster local drinking water supplies.
… The county and its 85 cities are required to develop
programs to build stormwater capture and clean-up projects as
part of Federal Clean Water Act compliance.
Under the White House’s latest budget proposal, released
Tuesday, the EPA would fare worse than any other federal
agency. … The White House also proposes nearly halving
categorical grants, which support state and local efforts to
address everything from pesticide exposure to air and water
quality, to $597 million.
The Trump administration’s talk of slashing environmental
programs in fiscal year 2018 did not translate into big cuts in
a 2017 spending agreement negotiated by Congress. President
Trump signed a budget deal on May 5 that keeps the government
operating through September 30. Notably, the agreement does not
include huge cuts to water and environment programs —
elimination of rural water grants, for instance, or a one-third
cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — that the
president targeted in his 2018 budget proposal.
The Trump administration got an earful Tuesday from people who
say federal rules limiting air and water pollution aren’t tough
enough, even as it was seeking suggestions about what
environmental regulations it should gut.
President Trump, with help from his administration and
Republicans in Congress, has reversed course on more than a
dozen environmental rules, regulations and other Obama-era
policies during his first 100 days in office.
California regulators are proposing a strict limit on a toxic
man-made chemical that has contaminated water supplies
throughout the state, particularly in its vast agricultural
heartland. California would be the second state, after Hawaii,
to establish a threshold for the former pesticide ingredient
and industrial solvent known as TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) in
Water has been turning red in Modesto Irrigation District
canals, thanks to a dye that tracks aquatic herbicides. The
sight might be jarring — a crimson tint to this life-sustaining
resource — but MID said it’s a safe way of dealing with algae
and weeds that could clog the system.
In a Trump administration beset by lost opportunities, muddled
strategies and frequent missteps in its first 100 days, one
area stands out for its disciplined approach and early
successes: the multi-front assault on environmental
regulations. … Planned action on climate change has been
shelved, national monuments are imperiled, clean air and water
rules have been eroded.
Modesto and Turlock farmers are thankful that record storms
have boosted to capacity Don Pedro Reservoir, which holds water
needed for crops. But excessive rain and snowmelt also have
washed huge amounts of debris into the Tuolumne River upstream
from the reservoir.
The conservative California farmers who have long sought to
eliminate the Legal Services Corp. would get their wish
fulfilled under the Trump administration’s bare-bones budget
outline made public Thursday.
Standing next to the [Tijuana] river valley for a news
conference Monday, Rep. Scott Peters said the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency now suspects that discharges
may have totaled 230 million gallons, up from an initial figure
of 143 million gallons.
When he ordered two federal agencies to review an Obama
administration rule that defined which water bodies are
regulated by the Clean Water Act, President Trump inserted
himself into a debate that has churned for more than three
decades. If the president hopes for a quick resolution through
an executive order, he is mistaken, according to law experts.
Carlos Arias is asked by many residents in the small town of
Del Rey, California, if the water is safe to drink. He is the
district manager of Del Rey’s community services district,
which is tasked with providing drinking water and other
services to its 2,000 residents. … Del Rey, in Fresno
County, is one of dozens of communities in the San Joaquin
Valley with wells that contain 1,2,3-trichloropropane.
The Trump administration would slash programs aimed at slowing
climate change and improving water safety and air quality,
while eliminating thousands of jobs, according to a draft of
the Environmental Protection Agency budget proposal obtained by
The Associated Press.
To hear John Duarte tell it, farmers knew the cavalry was
coming to their rescue on election night. … On Tuesday, Trump
ordered his new head of the Environmental Protection Agency,
Scott Pruitt, to scale back the agency’s interpretation of the
Clean Water Act.
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order mandating
a review of an Obama-era rule aimed at protecting small streams
and wetlands from development and pollution, fulfilling a
campaign promise while earning the ire of environmental groups.
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on
Tuesday aimed at rolling back one of former President Barack
Obama’s major environmental regulations to protect American
waterways, but it will have almost no immediate legal effect,
according to two people familiar with the White House plans.
The Trump administration has delayed consideration of a
proposal to require companies to prove they have the financial
wherewithal to clean up polluted mining sites after a pushback
from industry groups and Western-state Republicans.
Fearing a federal rollback of longstanding protections for air
quality, clean water, endangered species and workers’ rights,
California Democrats are pursuing legislation that would cement
those environmental and labor regulations in state law.
The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed President Donald Trump’s
pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma
Attorney General Scott Pruitt, giving Trump a lieutenant poised
to make deep cuts to the EPA and transfer some if its
enforcement responsibilities to states and localities.
In the end, the much-maligned chloramines did their job. One
year after the city of Stockton began treating the north side’s
drinking water with the new chemical, levels of a
cancer-causing byproduct have plummeted nearly 70 percent, on
average, and are now well within federal standards.
For years, Rebecca Quintana had been a highly visible activist
in the fight for safe drinking water, speaking regularly with
reporters, rallying residents and helping to spark an
unprecedented United Nations inspection in northern Tulare
County. … Across a wide, rural swath of the San Joaquin
Valley, people have long been unnerved about drinking the
sporadically contaminated tap water.
Today [January 25], the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
granted a request to hold the pending challenge to EPA’s Waters
of the United States rule in temporary suspension. The case
will be on hold while the Supreme Court decides whether
challenges to the WOTUS rule should be brought first in the
federal District Courts or whether the Sixth Circuit has
jurisdiction to hear the case.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of
Agriculture and the Department of Interior are among the
agencies reportedly facing at least temporary gag orders, as
the new administration takes over and begins what is expected
to be a dramatic remaking of policy and an easing of
A Trump administration freeze on new Environmental Protection
Agency contracts and grant awards raised fears that states and
other recipients could lose essential funding for drinking
water protection, hazardous waste oversight and a host of other
programs — while a communications blackout left them dangling
California schools can receive free lead testing for their
drinking water under a new short-term initiative meant to
address safety concerns. … The initiative
announced by the State Water Resources Control Board keeps lead
testing at schools voluntary.
Amid greater scrutiny of oilfield contamination threats to
California’s groundwater, state officials will hold a hearing
Wednesday on a proposal to expand the aquifer area where a
Livermore driller is permitted to dispose of oily wastewater.
Nearly 540 tons of metals – mostly iron and aluminum -
contaminated the Animas River over nine hours during a massive
wastewater spill from an abandoned Colorado gold mine, the
Environmental Protection Agency said Friday in a new report on
the 2015 blowout that turned rivers in three states a sickly
No patterns, lots of blooms and more to learn. … For the
first time, the state tracked outbreaks of cyanobacteria,
commonly known as blue-green algae, confirming reports of
blooms in approximately 40 different lakes, rivers, streams and
other water bodies across the state, including Lake Elsinore,
Pyramid and Silverwood lakes and lakes at the El Dorado East
Regional Park in Long Beach.
Federal inspections of cattle and hog feedlots, turkey houses,
and other animal feeding operations dropped for a fourth
consecutive year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency data. The number of fines and orders to change
management practices for those same facilities fell for a fifth
The city of Clovis won its more than three-month-long civil
trial against chemical manufacturing giant Shell Oil Co. over
the cleanup of a toxic chemical found in drinking-water wells
around the city of 108,000 people. The chemical is
1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP, which is a waste product from
Orange County health officials have ordered the closure of a
children’s dental office in Anaheim after lab tests found
bacteria in its new internal water system, which had replaced a
system blamed for an earlier outbreak of bacterial