Topic: Water Quality

Overview

Water Quality

Water quality in California is regulated by several state agencies, including the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and its nine regional boards, which enforce clean water laws and the Department of Public Health.

Water quality concerns are also often involved in disputes over water rights, particularly in situations involving endangered species or habitat.

The State Water Board administers the Clean Water Grant Program that funds construction of wastewater treatment facilities. The State Water Board also issues general permits for municipalities and construction sites that try to prevent contaminants from those sources from entering municipal storm sewers.

Drinking water standards and regulations are developed by federal and state agencies to protect public health. In California, the Department of Public Health administers the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates drinking water quality in the United States.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Mexico says it fixed the Tijuana River sewage problem. It’s partly true

Like a giant garbage disposal, three huge new green pipes sit on Mexico’s side of the border, shredding trash in the Tijuana River that would otherwise jam this critical piece of th­­e city’s wastewater system that caused spills on the United States side.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Eureka council to consider letter addressing water quality concerns

The Eureka City Council is set to consider a letter from the mayor to the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, a subdivision of the California Environmental Protection Agency, regarding a potential water contamination hazard. The letter is on the agenda for the March 2 meeting as a consent calendar item. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California must face water quality challenge in federal court

The Department of Justice can proceed with its claims that California violated state law when it changed its water quality control plan for the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system in federal court, the Ninth Circuit ruled. Granting a partial stay of the state law claims in federal court is allowed in limited circumstances, but the federal government’s actions here don’t amount to the type of forum shopping that justifies a stay, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Climate change creating enormous challenges

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) is the largest groundwater agency in the State of California, managing and protecting local groundwater resources for over four million residents. WRD’s service area covers a 420-square-mile region of southern Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the United States. The 43 cities in the service area, including a portion of the City of Los Angeles, use about 215,000 acre-feet (70 billion gallons) of groundwater annually which accounts for about half of the region’s potable water supply.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Biden urged to back water bill amid worst US crisis in decades

Democratic lawmakers and advocates are urging Joe Biden to back legislation proposing unprecedented investment in America’s ailing water infrastructure amid the country’s worst crisis in decades that has left millions of people without access to clean, safe, affordable water. Boil advisories, leaky lead pipes, poisonous forever chemicals, bill arrears and raw sewage are among the urgent issues facing ordinary Americans and municipal utilities after decades of federal government neglect, which has brought the country’s ageing water systems hurtling towards disaster. … Water supplies and sanitation have been disrupted over and over in recent decades – in Louisiana, Puerto Rico, California, Ohio and elsewhere …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Will California’s desert be transformed into Lithium Valley?

California’s desert is littered with remnants of broken dreams — hidden ghost towns, abandoned mines and rusty remains of someone’s Big Idea. But nothing looms larger on an abandoned landscape than the Salton Sea, which languishes in an overlooked corner of the state. The water shimmers and broils in the desert like a rebuke: born of human error, made worse by 100 years of neglect and pollution. California’s largest lake is also one of its worst environmental blights, presenting a problem so inverted that its toxic legacy intensifies as its foul water disappears…. The blue-ribbon commission members, appointed by state agencies, legislators and the governor, hold their first meeting today… 

Aquafornia news Colorado Boulevard

Blog: Many in San Gabriel valley drink “forever chemicals” in tap water

Fluorinated compounds, commonly known as PFAS, have been found in water samples in Monterey Park, Duarte, El Monte, Glendora, Rosemead, and LaVerne, according to the Environmental Working Group. One PFAS compound, known as PFHxA, also has been found routinely in imported water the Metropolitan Water District supplies to Southern California cities, acknowledges Rebecca Kimitch, MWD spokesperson. 

Aquafornia news East County Today

City of Antioch breaks ground on water project in Delta

On Friday,  the City of Antioch, along with local and State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million, the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diegans, how much would you tax yourself to prevent floods, boost water quality?

San Diego officials plan to spend the next five months analyzing what size tax increase city voters would likely support in November 2022 to pay for projects that boost flood prevention and water quality. The ballot measure would be the first opportunity for San Diegans to vote to raise taxes on themselves to tackle an estimated $6 billion infrastructure backlog that city officials began calling San Diego’s No. 1 challenge eight years ago.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz, Soquel Creek water propose extending supply sharing pilot program

The Santa Cruz City Council is poised to approve a 5-year extension between the City and Soquel Creek Water Districts on a pilot program that would funnel excess surface water to Soquel Creek during winter months, in hopes of bolstering overdrawn groundwater supply there. That surface water, on average, is projected to be around 115 million gallons delivered by Santa Cruz Water to Soquel Creek during the wet season, which would take strain off pumping the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. 

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water announces extension to comment period, second public meeting

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency has extended its public comment period for the Saugus Formation Aquifer to March 19, with the addition of a second virtual public meeting. The meeting is expected to provide community members with an additional opportunity to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking water consumption through minimizing and reducing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the aquifer, as well as treatments that could allow several wells to return to service.

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Rivas co-introduces statewide Clean Water Act

Nearing the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, Assemblyman Robert Rivas held a press conference on Feb. 2 to discuss the proposed California Clean Water Act, AB 377. The legislation, co-introduced by Rivas and state Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg, would work to ensure all rivers, lakes, oceans and other bodies of water in California are clean enough for drinking, swimming and fishing purposes by 2050. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Groundwater salinization in California’s Tulare Lake basin, the ABCSAL model

Lower groundwater levels can prevent drainage of water and salts from a basin and increase aquifer salinity that eventually renders the groundwater unsuitable for use as drinking water or irrigation without expensive desalination. Pauloo et al. (2021)  demonstrate this process for the Tulare Lake Basin (TLB) of California’s Central Valley. Even if groundwater pumping does not cause overdraft, it can cause hydrologic basin closure leading to progressive salinization that will not cease until the basin is opened by allowing natural or engineered exits for groundwater and dissolved salt. The process, “Anthropogenic Basin Closure and Groundwater Salinization (ABCSAL)”, is driven by human water management. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Mexico’s effort will be key in reducing sewage spills; U.S. can’t do it alone

Big projects aimed at stemming the toxic sewage flowing from Tijuana into Imperial Beach and the surrounding region are on the horizon and that’s a welcome development. But any such improvements come with a nagging question based on historical experience: How long will this fix last? Cross-border pollution has been a problem for the better part of a century and has defied past efforts to solve it. It’s not that previous actions didn’t help. Some did, and they greatly diminished the health and environmental threat — and reduced beach closures. 
-Written by Michael Smolens, a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Sentinel

Jasmin Hall becomes first Black President of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency  

Two elections held in the last three months have placed San Bernardino County resident Jasmin Hall in a position where she wields the most influence among a handful of African Americans serving in California water industry leadership roles. Late last year, Hall’s colleagues elected her the first African American president of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA). Earlier this year, she was sworn in to serve in that role.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

High schooler takes on contaminated water in Thermal

“I was inspired by Erin Brockovich to help communities with contaminated tap water,” says Ryan Sinderbrand, a junior at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, “so I took some environmental and sustainability classes to learn more. I’d watched the news, and I’d heard stories about how serious the problem was.” Wanting to help, he researched communities in California with contaminated water and came across the Coachella Valley.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Expert panel – food grown with produced water safe for human consumption

An expert panel has concluded that the decades-old practice of irrigating agricultural food crops with “produced water” from oil fields shows no evidence of increased risk to human health. The panel’s 35-page Food Safety Project White Paper is the result of five years of extensive crop sampling and a thorough evaluation of data, along with a review of existing literature…. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is inviting members of the pubic to comment on the white paper at its next meeting on Feb. 18-19, along with an option to submit written comments until March 5.

Aquafornia news The Texas Tribune

Texans warned to boil and conserve water as power outages persist

First Texans lost their power. Now, they’re losing their potable water. After enduring multiple days of freezing temperatures and Texans dripping faucets to prevent frozen pipes from bursting, cities across the state warned residents on Wednesday that water levels are dangerously low and may be unsafe to drink. They’re telling Texans to boil tap water for drinking, cooking, brushing their teeth and for making ice — as residents have been struggling to maintain power and heat while an unprecedented winter storm whips across the state. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers propose ban on fracking by 2027

New legislation would ban all fracking in California by 2027, taking aim at the powerful oil and gas industry in a state already planning to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. … Environmental groups say [fracking] can cause significant harm to air quality and water supplies.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Ag Council president reflects on drinking water collaboration

Emily Rooney, president of the Agricultural Council of California, is a member of the advisory group for California’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program. She spoke with Agri-Pulse about an unexpected coalition that helped bring about the 2019 law and why the issue is important to agriculture.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The National Law Review

PFAS water utility lawsuit shows an increasing trend

In the latest PFAS water utility lawsuit (PAWC Complaint – PFAS), the Pennsylvania-American Water Co. (“PAWC”) sued numerous PFAS manufacturers over allegations that the companies knowingly or negligently allowed the contamination of the drinking water in the state of Pennsylvania. … The Pennsylvania lawsuit is not the first lawsuit brought by a water district seeking to recoup the costs of cleanup and decontamination of PFAS. For example, on October 27, 2020, another California water district (the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency) brought a similar, albeit much less extensive, lawsuit for PFAS cleanup costs. 

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Palmdale Water District to host informative meeting on fire

A local water utility company is set to share information about how the Littlerock Creek watershed was adversely affected by the Bobcat fire. Palmdale Water District will host a free, virtual event at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 and provide information to the public about what steps are being taken to mitigate the damage. Much of the watershed has been burned and there is concern that potential heavy debris flow will create excessive sediment in the Littlerock Reservoir and affect water quality.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Herring fishermen sue Chevron over California oil leak

A pipeline rupture that gushed hundreds of gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay spurred a class action filed Tuesday that accuses a Chevron refinery of prioritizing profits over safety and threatening the survival of herring in the area for years to come. … On Feb. 9, a Chevron refinery in the East Bay city of Richmond, California, discovered a pipeline leak that oozed about 700 gallons of a substance described interchangeably by Chevron as “a mixture of recovered oil and gasoline”, “petroleum and water mixture” and “hydrocarbons.”

Aquafornia news Axios

Biden presidency could bring regulations on toxic “forever chemicals”

Industrial “forever chemicals” found in hundreds of consumer goods and linked to adverse health effects may face new regulations under the Biden administration. Why it matters: Environmental groups and members of Congress are calling on President Biden to follow through with his promise to designate the long-ignored and largely unregulated synthetic chemicals, which can last for hundreds of years without breaking down, as hazardous substances. They’re also calling for him to set enforceable limits for the chemicals in the Safe Drinking Water Act and to fund toxicity research on them.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wildfires can pollute drinking water. That worries some in the hills above Santa Cruz

As the first heavy rains of the season poured across the Santa Cruz Mountains last month, emergency responders and residents braced for debris flows, road closures and power outages. Others also feared for their drinking water…. Across the West, water districts are grappling with new and increasingly common challenges as fire seasons grow longer and blazes consume more suburbs and smaller communities. These fires are not only destroying people’s homes and treasured possessions, they are leaving behind an array of incinerated plastics, lead, pesticides and other toxic particles that have the potential to contaminate water supplies.  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

EPA says help is on the way for San Diego beaches fouled by sewage from Tijuana

When a storm pummeled the San Diego-Tijuana region two weeks ago, hundreds of millions of gallons of water laced with raw sewage, trash and industrial chemicals flowed over the border, shuttering beaches as far north as Coronado. The shoreline stink and closures came as no surprise to residents of Imperial Beach, a city where swimming was prohibited at its main oceanfront for nearly half of 2020. The beach along Border Field State Park was closed for 295 days last year. The South Bay shoreline was partially opened after the recent rains, only to be abruptly closed again on Wednesday as polluted water continued to leak out of Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

News release: Vallecitos Water District recognized for algae control

The Vallecitos Water District won an Excellence in Innovation and Resilience Award with environmentally-friendly algae control technology. Known for its sustainable approach to water treatment, the award-winning utility chose to control algal blooms with LG Sonic technology. The award recognizes efforts in the innovative application of technology to the wastewater field and was handed by California Association of Sanitation Agencies.

Aquafornia news Down to Earth

Blog: Safe drinking water in America: Not everyone has it

When the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak swept across the United States, toilet paper, hand sanitiser and Clorox wipes flew off store shelves. But shopping carts have also been full of something that most Americans get supplied straight to their home: Water.

Aquafornia news Curbed

Could the Florida water-supply hacking happen in New York?

Last week, a hacker took control of an employee’s computer at a small water-treatment plant in Florida. Within a few hours, the level of sodium hydroxide, the chemical compound known as lye that’s added to dissolve heavy metals, had increased to 100 times the usual amount. … Attacks on water systems are certainly not new — in 1924, California farmers blew up part of the aqueduct that was siphoning a local lake 200 miles south to the growing metropolis of Los Angeles — but as more infrastructural operations are carried out using remote and automated systems, there’s growing concern that the security of such systems, particularly smaller water systems with fewer resources, could be breached.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘A clear danger’: oil spill in California city revives calls to cut ties with Chevron

Emergency crews in Richmond, California, are rushing to clean up an estimated 600 gallons of oil that spilled from a Chevron refinery into the San Francisco Bay. Details on the spill are still scant, but the emergency has reinvigorated calls from residents and environmentalists for the city to change its relationship with the refinery.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Trump’s environment policies killed thousands, scientists say

The Trump administration deliberately harnessed racism and class animosity to push policies that caused hundreds of thousands of U.S. deaths, according to a scathing new report in the British medical journal The Lancet. After undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the health and environment impacts of Donald Trump’s presidency, the 33 scientists who co-authored the article estimated that rollbacks of environmental and workplace protections led to 22,000 excess deaths in 2019 alone. … On environmental policy, the report noted that Trump rolled back 84 vital regulations covering everything from toxins in water to the way scientific research gets used by the federal government…

Aquafornia news Grist

What would a just transition look like for the Navajo Nation?

Two decades ago, Nicole Horseherder, a member of the Navajo Nation, coordinated a community meeting. Beneath the shade of Juniper trees at her late grandmother’s house, several dozen people gathered to find a way to protect their pristine water. The springs and wells along Black Mesa, a semi-arid, rocky mesa that overlies the Navajo Aquifer, were increasingly drying up, as tens of billions of gallons of potable water were used to extract, clean, and transport coal mined in the region. This meeting was the start of a long struggle to safeguard the community from coal projects, which threatened the drinking water supply of both the Navajo and Hopi people.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Hack exposes vulnerability of cash-strapped US water plants

A hacker’s botched attempt to poison the water supply of a small Florida city is raising alarms about just how vulnerable the nation’s water systems may be to attacks by more sophisticated intruders. Treatment plants are typically cash-strapped, and lack the cybersecurity depth of the power grid and nuclear plants.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Chevron oil spill: Neighbors ‘really scared’ after 600-gallon spill near Richmond refinery

The Chevron refinery in Richmond is investigating an oil spill Tuesday afternoon, according to city and county officials. The spill happened in what’s called the “Long Wharf” off Point Richmond, where a sheen can be seen on the top of the water at Bear Point.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: California American Water invested more than $68 million in infrastructure improvements in 2020

California American Water recently announced its end-of-year investment total and system improvements for 2020. More than $68 million total was invested on system upgrades and various improvement projects in the communities we serve throughout the year. These improvements come despite the complications and challenges posed by COVID-19 public health emergency.

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeking volunteers to help keep waterways clean

California’s Boating Clean and Green Program is looking for individuals to become Dockwalkers to help keep the ocean, lakes and reservoirs clean. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, recreational boaters continue to recreate in California’s waterways. The need to share clean boating practices with the recreational community, while abiding to COVID-19 guidelines, remains important.

Aquafornia news 23 ABC News

City officials to discuss revisions to oil zoning for local gas, oil permitting

Oil and gas remain an important topic in Kern county and come Thursday, county officials are expected to discuss revisions to a zoning ordinance focused on oil and gas local permitting. This is an ordinance that’s years in the making and its faced challenges along the way. The initial review was approved by the board of supervisors back in 2015, but last year after a court ruling it was challenged, so now the county’s planning commission is revisiting this topic once more. … However, advocates against the proposed ordinance say they are concerned with environmental impacts of the air, water, and noise concerns that may follow if the ordinance is approved.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Study shows no major oil contamination found in Oxnard Plain water

A new study shows petroleum-related and other gases present in groundwater overlying an oil field on the Oxnard Plain, as well as unanswered questions about gases in five water wells, but no widespread contamination of the water supply. State and county officials said they are reviewing the 66-page report by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey before determining what, if any, future actions should be taken. The study confirmed what scientists suspected two years ago after finding petroleum-related gases in water wells but adds new details. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Accounting for a decade of headwater forest management

Forests in the Sierra‒Cascade headwater region have dramatically changed over the past 150 years. The prohibition of Indigenous burning, aggressive wildfire suppression, and early timber harvest practices made these forests denser over time, increasing their vulnerability to catastrophic wildfires and widespread tree-die off. These forests are a dominant feature on the landscape, occupying nearly 40% of the 15 million acre headwater region overall and well over half of some northern watersheds. Changing the way we manage these forests can improve their health and make them more resilient to wildfire, drought, and disease.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

States clash with Pentagon on PFAS water limits, polluted sites

Six states with drinking water standards for so-called “forever chemicals” are now wrestling with what those limits mean when water contamination from Department of Defense sites seep into their communities. Members of Congress from both parties are starting to vent their frustration at military foot-dragging even as the states take different paths to address the contamination. 

Aquafornia news UCLA

Study: The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County

Disadvantaged communities concentrated in southern Los Angeles County lack fair options when it comes to water supply. When served by public utilities, aging infrastructure, water quality problems, and other complications can translate into sacrifices in quality or reliability. When supplied by investor-owned utilities, they receive reliable water supply but pay more than affluent communities. This report examines the case study of Sativa County Water District, a cautionary tale of a failed water system in southern LA County. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Near coasts, rising seas could also push up long-buried toxic contamination

For many Bay Area residents who live near the water’s edge, little-publicized research indicates groundwater rising beneath their feet could start to manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities like Oakland. And that could resurface toxic substances that have lingered for years underground.

Aquafornia news The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water to host meeting on hazardous materials in Saugus Aquifer

Santa Clarita Valley Water has scheduled a virtual public meeting for the community to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking by addressing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the Saugus Formation Aquifer. Set for Feb. 11, the agency will provide an overview of project objectives and alternatives for removal of the hazardous substances.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton city council drops pursuit for potable water

Pleasanton is no longer pursuing potable reuse as a water supply alternative after the City Council voted 3-2 to stop studying the matter with other regional agencies on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news VC Reporter

Covid mutations emerge in Ventura County

Last week the city of Oxnard reported that a Colorado lab found two mutations of the coronavirus in samples of sewage wastewater from Oxnard and that levels of the virus in the wastewater are decreasing. 

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Bay Area sewage systems at risk as seas rise

An NBC Bay Area investigation found 30 out of 39 sewage treatment plants located around San Francisco Bay Area are at risk of flooding as sea levels rise due to climate change. Four of those plants could flood with as little as 9.84 inches of sea level rise. That’s an amount that state analysts say is a possibility by 2030. If and when that happens, toilets won’t flush, and in some cases, sewage could back up into homes, whether residents live in the hills or along the coast.  

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water infrastructure — the unmet needs of low-income communities

To meet the promise of its day one executive order on Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, the Biden administration needs to provide low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous people the same access to clean and safe water that the rest of our nation takes for granted. 
-Written by David F. Coursen, a former EPA attorney and a member of the Environmental Protection Network, a nonprofit organization of EPA alumni.

Aquafornia news East County Today

Blog: Clean Water Act bill introduced to clean up all waterways by 2050

Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and California Coastkeeper Alliance introduced the California Clean Water Act, Assembly Bill 377, legislation that will put California back on track to eliminate impaired waterways and make all waters statewide suitable for conversion to drinking water, swimming, and fishing by 2050.

Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: EPCOR receives grant to build reclaimed water pipeline

The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) has awarded EPCOR USA a $250,000 grant to help build a new reclaimed water pipeline for the benefit of San Tan (formerly Johnson Utilities) customers, agricultural water users, and the San Tan Valley region. This supports water management goals in the Phoenix Active Management Area by reducing demand for groundwater pumping. Under the terms of the Lower Colorado Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), Arizona stakeholders agreed to offset Central Arizona Project water reductions to agricultural users by making alternate sources available. 

Aquafornia news Water & Wastes Digest

Agricultural developer agrees to pay Clean Water Act fines

A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the Sacramento River in Tehama County, California. The developer must also preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and be subject to a prohibitive injunction, according to the Department of Justice. Roger J. LaPant Jr. originally purchased the property in 2011 and sold it in 2012 to Duarte Nursery Inc. which sold it that same year to Goose Pond Ag Inc. 

Aquafornia news KALW

One Planet: California’s ecological crisis and our relationship with its wild places

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we are speaking with Sacramento Bee environment reporter Ryan Sabalow about his five part investigation, Nothing Wild: California’s relationship with the animal kingdom is broken. Can it be fixed? Invasive grasses are causing fires to explode, thousands of water birds are dying miserable deaths, and the sage grouse is at risk of disappearing forever. Sabalow explores California’s ecological crisis and our relationship with its wild places.

Aquafornia news DW

How wetlands are linked to our climate

Why should we care about wetlands?  Although wetlands cover less than 4% of the Earth’s surface, 40% of all animal species live or reproduce in them. One-third of all organic matter on our planet is stored in places like the gigantic Pantanal wetland in western Brazil, the Sudd floodplain in southern Sudan or the Wasjugan Marsh in western Siberia.  Wetlands filter, store and supply the planet with water and food — more than a billion people worldwide depend on them for sustenance. They also play a key role in regulating the planet’s climate…

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton City Council to revisit potable water project

The Pleasanton City Council will revisit the subject of potable water and the city’s regional efforts to study water supply alternatives at its Tuesday night online meeting, starting 7 p.m. In November, the council asked city staff to make recommendations on continuing “to participate with regional agencies on studies of water supply alternatives including potable reuse and $300,000 in funding from the city’s Capital Improvement program.”

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Colorado River getting saltier sparks calls for federal help

Water suppliers along the drought-stricken Colorado River hope to tackle another tricky issue after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation installs a new leader: salty water. The river provides water for 40 million people from Colorado to California, and helps irrigate 5.5 million acres of farm and ranchland in the U.S. But all that water also comes with 9 million tons of salt that flow through the system as it heads to Mexico, both due to natural occurrence and runoff, mostly from agriculture. Salt can hurt crop production, corrode drinking water pipes, and cause other damage.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news ABC7 KRCR

State releases new information on water contamination after North Complex Fire

The California State Water Board released new information about water contamination testing after the North Complex fire devastated parts of Butte County and Plumas County during the summer of 2020. Testing of surface waters throughout the burn scar has revealed contaminant levels are elevated, but lower than anticipated. The State Water Board said the good news is they are not impacting drinking water treatment facilities or the quality of drinking water they deliver to their customers. The contaminants include E.Coli, aluminum, iron, manganese and other metals, most of which are naturally occurring and often found in runoff sediments.

Aquafornia news California Office of Enviornmental Health Hazard Assessment

News Release: The Human Right to Water in California data tool

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announces the release of its final Human Right to Water Framework and Data Tool (CalHRTW 1.0)—comprised of an interactive web tool and report, Achieving the Human Right to Water in California: An Assessment of the State’s Community Water Systems. In developing the Human Right to Water Framework and Data Tool, California becomes the first state in the country to develop a tool for measuring the progressive realization of the human right to water.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Feds ’shortchange’ San Francisco Bay – local Congress members want money for restoration

San Francisco Bay is dwarfed by the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and other treasured estuaries when it comes to federal funding, and California lawmakers want that changed. On Thursday, a contingent of Bay Area members of Congress introduced legislation that would boost federal money tenfold for restoration of the region’s signature waters. Under the proposal, $50 million a year for five years would flow to bay projects that reduce water pollution, support wildlife, revive wetlands and protect shoreline communities from sea level rise.

Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

California imposes first statewide rules for winery wastewater

Hundreds of California wineries will be governed by statewide wastewater processing rules for the first time. The move toward a statewide regulatory framework is a five-year effort and was finalized this week by the State Water Resources Control Board. The board approved an order setting up guidelines for wastewater processing at most of the more than 3,600 bonded wineries in the state, reported the North Bay Business Journal. The new order promises to bring at least 1,500 of those wineries into a regulatory framework for wastewater disposal for the first time.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Research: Acid rain is yesterday’s news? Sulfate in freshwaters remains a problem

Acid rain seems to be a thing of the past, yet sulfate continues to rise in many inland waters worldwide. Researchers led by the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and the Danish University of Aarhus provide an overview of the sources of sulfate and its effects on freshwater ecosystems. They point out that the negative consequences for ecosystems and drinking water production have so far only been perceived regionally and recommend that sulfate be given greater consideration in legal environmental standards.

Aquafornia news KSRO

California congressman appointed to Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee

California Congressman John Garamendi is being appointed by his congressional colleagues to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly. Garamendi will now oversee matters related to water resources development, conservation, infrastructure and hazardous waste cleanup. He says water conservation is “critical,” and wants storage and recycling of the state’s water supply to be key elements for his new policies.

Aquafornia news Patch

City to trace mystery water at Concord Naval Weapons Station

In order to get a wetlands permit needed for development of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station to move ahead, the City of Concord will investigate the source of water unexpectedly found near the one-time airfield north of Willow Pass Road. The Concord City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move $12,000 of previously approved loan money to aid in the study of where water is coming from on that land, located east of Olivera Road near the Pixieland Amusement Park.

Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

With Klamath dam removal at an impasse, Huffman calls forum

[T]he decades-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams that clog the upper Klamath River should be seen not simply through an environmental and economic lens but also a social justice one, according to Craig Tucker, a natural resources consultant for the Karuk Tribe.

Aquafornia news World Economic Forum

Opinion: To make progress on global challenges, start with water

Whether used for potable (drinking) or non-potable purposes, clean water is our most valuable and fundamental resource, and ultimately underpins the success or failure of every other challenge that we face. Yet we are perilously close to 2025, when it is predicted that half of the world’s population will not have reliable access to clean water…

Aquafornia news KHTS

SCV water seeks public input on removal of hazardous material in water wells

The Santa Clarita Water Agency (SCV Water) is asking for the public’s input on the Engineering Evaluation Cost Analysis (EE/CA) of removing perchlorate and volatile substances from the Saugus Formation Aquifer, officials said Tuesday. As part of this effort, SCV Water is seeking input on the removal of these substances during a 30-day public comment period from Jan. 26 to Feb. 24, 2021, according to officials. The public is invited to review and comment …

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Environment experts to Newsom: Now’s your moment

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 crisis worsens….

Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

Blog: Overturned fuel tank at cannabis grow leads to over $100,000 fine and more

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.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Radhika Fox appointed to lead EPA’s Office of Water

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.

Aquafornia news Sonoma Index-Tribune

California to impose first statewide rules for winery wastewater, marking new era

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. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Dupont, 3M win dismissal of California water utility’s PFAS suit

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 contamination. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

One-third of US rivers have changed color in recent decades, research finds

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.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Lightning Complex Fires also seriously damaged drinking water systems

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.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

California moves to monitor microplastics in drinking water

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.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Low income communities drowning in water debt, new California Water Board survey finds

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. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Will Kamala Harris champion water justice for California?

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 Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news Western Slope Now

Colorado River District funds first Western Slope water project after passage of 7A

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 efficiency. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Justice

News release: Agricultural developer agrees to pay clean water act fines, mitigate impacts to sensitive streams and wetlands

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 2012…

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Gearing up for long-term water use efficiency

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. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California residents owe $1 billion in water debt. Shutoffs coming?

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 affected. 

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Aquafornia news The Michigan Daily

Opinion: It’s time to say goodbye to golf

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

Aquafornia news Beyond Pesticides

Blog: Millions of people drinking groundwater with pesticides or pesticide degradates

 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.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Sacramento Superior Court rejects State Water Board’s attempt to apply Water Quality Control Plan to waters not covered by the Clean Water Act

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.

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

Blog: New research director for Kyl Center focused on equity in water access

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.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

LA has plan for network of waterways in the land of cars

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.

Aquafornia news Kings River Conservation District

News Release: KRCD joins over 200 organizations urging President-elect Joe Biden to address aging water infrastructure

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.

Aquafornia news Patch

LA River master plan focuses on water quality, parks access

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 Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Another hurdle cleared, Klamath dams closer to coming down

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…

Aquafornia news UC California Naturalist

Blog: Have you heard the story of Lake Cahuilla?

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 wasn’t.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Salton Sea habitat project breaks ground near New River

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 2024.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Clean water plans need more public involvement, activists say

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.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Pendulum swings in Clean Water Act regulation

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.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

‘Water is Life’ student art contest opens for Redondo Beach kids

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.

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Aquafornia news Financial Times

In California, a journey to the end of the road

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.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California Attorney General Becerra joins multistate effort to hold polluters accountable under the clean water act

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.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Nevada environmental agency funds water projects in Tahoe

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.

Aquafornia news Vox

Why the American West is fighting for water protections

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. 

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA muddies the water on permitting discharges to groundwater ‎and what the Biden administration will likely do about it

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.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

What lurks beneath: PG&E and water board reach draft settlement over water flushed back into ocean from Diablo Canyon power plant

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. 

Aquafornia news KQED

Groundwater beneath your feet is rising with the sea. It could bring long-buried toxins with it

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.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Arizona unveils draft legislation to create surface water protections

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.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA’s Clean Water Act groundwater guidance says little, will likely be rescinded

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 equivalence.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Plastic pipes are polluting drinking water systems after wildfires – it’s a risk in urban fires, too

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.

Aquafornia news The Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water to meet with State Water Board regarding issues in lawsuit

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.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

State water officials levy $6.4m fine against luxury resort

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. 

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Assemblyman Adam Gray is stripped of committee chairmanship

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.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Bureau of Reclamation looks to possible end of Paradox desalination project

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.

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Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Montage Healdsburg resort developer fined record $6.4 million for water violations

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.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA issues guidance on groundwater releases in wake of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund

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.”

Aquafornia news Valley News

Study shows promising solutions for water quality improvements in Lake Elsinore

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.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Steps to cool the climate will improve water quality, too

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.

Aquafornia news SciTech Daily

Columbia researchers warn: several U.S. populations and regions exposed to high arsenic concentrations in drinking water

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.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Edison pleads to water code crime, will pay $3.5 million

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 County]. 

Aquafornia news The Press Enterprise

Fish restocked in Lake Elsinore to improve water quality

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 the lake.

Aquafornia news KPBS

‘Time’ names its Kid of the Year: Water-testing scientist Gitanjali Rao

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 causes.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Aquatic toxicity plan will upgrade protections for fish, other aquatic life

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.

Aquafornia news Nevada Today

Blog: Researchers quantify carbon changes in Sierra Nevada meadow soils

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.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How Biden could undo Trump’s water regulations

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 flood projects.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Rescues underway for rare species marooned by wildfire

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…

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

What has the Trump administration meant for water?

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.

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Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.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.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

BPA added to California toxic chemical list despite challenge

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 Monday.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Groundbreaking study finds 13.3 quadrillion plastic fibers in California’s environment

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.

Aquafornia news Action News Now

Here’s how wildfires could affect the water in Lake Oroville

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.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

SCV Water awarded $10 mil in grants

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 improvements.

Aquafornia news E&E News

EPA hired consultants to counter staff experts on fluoride in water

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.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

With its beaches and creeks deemed ‘impaired,’ Santa Barbara takes steps to improve water quality

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.

Aquafornia news YubaNet.com

Study: Climate change could deliver more sediment and pollution to the San Francisco Bay-Delta

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.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Wheeler, Calif. Gov. Newsom clash over coal plant rule change

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and California Gov. Gavin Newsom clashed Thursday over the Trump administration easing restrictions on wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump ‘anarchist’ order would hit cities’ enviro programs

President Trump’s memo that would stop the flow of federal dollars to “anarchist jurisdictions” could hamstring cash-strapped cities’ Superfund cleanups and other environmental programs.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

California childcare centers get $6.1 million to test for lead in drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued $6,137,000 in grants to assist the California Department of Social Services with identifying sources of lead in drinking water in childcare centers.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Sen. Hurtado hopes to freshen farmworkers’ water

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 CEQA provisions.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Clean water advocates hoping to safeguard SAFER funding

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.

Aquafornia news Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein bill would reduce border pollution, improve water quality

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.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

DOJ limits Clean Water Act enforcement overlap with states

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 environmental enforcement.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Central Valley could get federal aid for drinking water crisis. Will Trump support it?

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 Representatives.

Long Criticized For Inaction At Salton Sea, California Says It’s All-In On Effort To Preserve State’s Largest Lake
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Dust suppression, habitat are key elements in long-term plan to aid sea, whose ills have been a sore point in Colorado River management

The Salton Sea is a major nesting, wintering and stopover site for about 400 bird species. 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 dust.

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.  

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Racism is fueling disparities in access to safe water

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.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: It’s time to deliver on the human right to water

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.

Aquafornia news The Hill

350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule

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 policy.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Opinion: When the ground sinks, arsenic levels in drinking water may rise

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.

Aquafornia news Chemical & Engineering News

Why limiting PFAS in drinking water is a challenge in the US

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…

Aquafornia news USGS

News Release: Food web dynamics influence mercury movement in Colorado River, Grand Canyon

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.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Southern California beaches get good water quality marks — at least in the summer

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.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

River treatment plant for Turlock and Ceres gets final OK

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.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Report finds Zone 7 drinking water exceeded standards in 2019

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Lake Tahoe-area forests, wildlife preserved in $14 million deal

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 water conservation.

Aquafornia news Mt. Shasta Herald

McCloud’s Lower Elk Spring to be protected in vault

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.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Woodland report shows water quality remains high

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.

Aquafornia news CV Independent

Infrastructure on the way: State funds projects to bring safe water and fire protection to two east valley communities and a Thermal elementary school

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 Valley.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA takes next step to implement PFAS legislation

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 substances.

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

In California, a push grows to turn dead trees into biomass energy

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.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Supreme Court: Kavanaugh takes cues from Scalia in groundwater ruling

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 full.”

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Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

Blog: San Diego mayor thanks water treatment plant employees

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.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Framework for Agreements to Aid Health of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a Starting Point With An Uncertain End
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Voluntary agreement discussions continue despite court fights, state-federal conflicts and skepticism among some water users and environmental groups

Aerial image of the Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaVoluntary 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 regulators.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Friday Top of the Scroll: Virus-related delays cause states to rethink water permit compliance

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 Covid-19.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Anticipating coronavirus spread, groups seek to scale up handwashing and hygiene efforts

Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, handwashing and hygiene are swelling in urgency and support, even though the message being delivered is not new.

Aquafornia news Estuary Magazine

Dam tweaks yield results

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 Livermore.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Silicon Valley water district employee tests positive, CEO and other leaders self-quarantine

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.

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Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

Monday Top of the Scroll: L.A. city officials: Tap water still safe to drink, even as coronavirus spreads

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.

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Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event 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 was the focus of this tour. 

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

San Bernardino schools and East Valley Water District open career pathway

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.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

WOTUS litigation may follow clarified clean water jurisdiction

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.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump administration eyes changes to environmental enforcement

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.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The nuts and bolts of the Central Valley Salts program

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.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Times

Santa Maria to begin large-scale restoration project in riverbed

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 bridge.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. 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 them.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Newsom wants $220 million more for Salton Sea action plan in new budget

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.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Opinion: Creating a safe harbor on the ranch

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.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Providing safe drinking water in the face of disasters: Lessons from Lake County

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.

Aquafornia news Nevada Today

California and Nevada scientists study nitrogen pollution in dryland watersheds

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.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

EPA lead proposal, derided as weak, may be sneakily strong

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.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Q&A: Wildfire’s impact on water quality

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 Stanford Report.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

How racism ripples through California’s pipes

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.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Do too many CA products have Proposition 65 warning labels?

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.

Aquafornia news CityLab

Under Newsom, oil well approvals are going up

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

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Opinion: Now that a public buyout of Cal Am has been declared feasible, is it doable?

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.

Aquafornia news U.S. Green Building Council

Blog: Deploying on-site water reuse in California and nationwide

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 reuse.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Broken pipes. Complex funding applications. The water challenges facing California’s disadvantaged communities.

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.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary PitzerDouglas E. Beeman

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Agencies share lessons learned as they recover from fires that destroyed facilities, contaminated supplies and devastated their customers

Debris from the Camp Fire that swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise  in November 2018.

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Lessons From the Flames: Advice From Water Managers Who Have Lived Through Disaster

California water managers who have lived through a devastating wildfire and its aftermath have shared key lessons from their experiences.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court leans toward expanding Clean Water Act to protect oceans from wastewater

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 …

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Aquafornia news KQED

A year after the Camp Fire, locals are rebuilding Paradise

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.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

EPA bypassed its West Coast team as feud with California escalated

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.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water vending businesses tap into customer fears over water quality

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.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

California leads lawsuit against rollback of endangered species protections

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.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom should sign SB 1 into law. Without its environmental protections, Californians will suffer

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 state …

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County’s western pond turtle: A reptile in trouble

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.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Controversial water legislation heads to California Assembly floor

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.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

How Private Capital is Speeding up Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration in a Way that Benefits Water
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A bond fund that fronts the money is expediting a headwaters restoration project to improve forest health, water quality and supply

District Ranger Lon Henderson with Tahoe National Forest points toward an overgrown section of forest within the Blue Forest project area. 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, stream-choking mudflows. 

Aquafornia news ABC23 Bakersfield

Cal Water working on new regulation to keep water flowing when power goes off

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.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: What water is covered by the Clean Water Act?

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.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: A diverse Delta: Integrating social and natural sciences

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been extensively studied in terms of its biology, chemistry, and physics, but this wealth of data leaves out a crucial piece of the puzzle: people.

Aquafornia news Environmental Working Group

Blog: Across U.S., eruptions of toxic algae plague lakes, threatening drinking water and recreation

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 in them.