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 Los Angeles Times

Trying to cultivate respect for water regulations among pot growers

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is poised to adopt a program that would require all marijuana cultivators to register, pay a fee, follow strict environmental guidelines and seek appropriate permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Scientists find a way to reduce mercury in wetlands

Scientists have found new ways to reduce mercury in wetlands, providing hope that Sacramento-area waterways can be decontaminated of the potentially toxic element that dates back to Gold Rush-era mining activities.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

County can make manufacturers pay for discarded drugs

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the pharmaceutical industry Tuesday to an Alameda County law, the first of its kind in the nation, requiring drug manufacturers to pay the costs of disposing of consumers’ unused medications.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Supreme Court: Big Pharma must pay for prescription drug disposal in Alameda County

A groundbreaking law that forces the pharmaceutical industry to pay for collection and disposal of unused drugs passed its final court test Tuesday, and the Alameda County officials who originated the concept predicted it will now spread across the country.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Groundwater contamination a growing problem in L.A. County wells (graphic)

Decades ago, industrial pollution began fouling some groundwater wells throughout Los Angeles County. That prompted water officials to stop using the most polluted wells and rely more on water from Northern California and the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Oil waste doesn’t belong in California’s water supply

It’s time to stop temporizing about a bureaucratic foul-up that threatens underwater water supplies across a swath of California’s oil fields. … In a drought-damaged state, the situation is mind boggling.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California concerns grow over oilfield operations near water

California regulators on Monday expanded their list of thousands of state-permitted oil and gas wells where below-ground injections may be contaminating drinking-water reserves.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation to open Delta Cross Channel Gates

The Bureau of Reclamation will open the Delta Cross Channel Gates today, Thursday, May 14, at approximately 9 a.m. The opening is needed to meet interior water quality standards in the Bay-Delta. The gates are scheduled to close on Monday, May 18, at approximately 9 a.m.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Officials: Stockton water safe to drink despite water-quality violation

Chalk it up as yet another consequence of the drought. The Stockton East Water District, which sells drinking water to Stockton, experienced a rare water-quality violation at its treatment plant east of town.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Industry fighting $5.8 million fine for damaging San Gabriel River

Workers with a company controlled by the City of Industry’s former mayor caused extensive environmental damage performing unauthorized work at Follows Camp on the San Gabriel River.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Cupertino cement quarry to pay $7.5 million to settle water pollution violations

The Lehigh Hanson cement plant, a longtime producer of Silicon Valley building materials but also a significant polluter, will pay $7.5 million as part of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle charges it dumped millions of gallons of toxic wastewater into a nearby creek. … Established by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, its cement built Shasta Dam, Highway 101, Highway 85 and other major Northern California landmarks.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

US lowers fluoride in water; too much causing splotchy teeth

The government is lowering the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water because some kids are getting too much, causing white splotches on their teeth.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

15 years after ‘Erin Brockovich,’ town still fearful of polluted water

Fifteen years after the film ["Erin Brockovich"] showed triumphant residents winning a $333-million settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for contaminating its water — and nearly 20 years after the settlement itself — Hinkley is emptying out, and those who stay still struggle to find resolution.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

State water officials get permit to build drought barrier in Delta

While the project did not receive the same headlines as Jerry Brown’s mandatory water restriction announcement last week, the governor’s emergency order streamlined permitting and review of the emergency drought salinity barriers. 

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Emergency changes approved reducing river flows

State water officials have approved the latest plan to bypass Delta water-quality standards and “significantly reduce” river flows. The action will allow them to hold back more water in drought-ravished reservoirs.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

News Release: Multiple satellite eyes to track algal threat to U.S. freshwater

Four federal agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey have joined forces in an effort to transform satellite data into vital information to protect the American public from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms.  The $3.6 million research project is a collaborative effort among NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and USGS. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

State targets illegal water diversions by marijuana growers (with audio)

The drought legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month gives the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife new authority to crack down on illegal diversions of water by marijuana growers.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

State pilot program targets Shasta County marijuana grows for impacts on environment

Shasta County is ground zero for a new state program aimed at cracking down on illegal marijuana grows polluting streams and endangering wildlife in Northern California. Two state agencies have teamed up not to cut down marijuana plants but instead to go after growers, property owners and even contractors involved in work that threatens the environment, wildlife and water quality. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

What’s in the water that comes from Los Angeles taps?

Every city, suburb and rural community has specific contaminants of concern.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Blog: DWR & Reclamation request State Water Board to modify Delta water quality requirements

The Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation have submitted a request to the State Water Board, asking for modifications to the revised March 5 Temporary Urgency Change Petition order. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Feds should take over protecting groundwater

California has lost control of its quickly diminishing water. While state officials lose no opportunity to tout California’s environmental leadership to the world and to plead with residents to conserve water, regulators have allowed oil companies to dump billions of gallons of toxic wastewater each year into protected underground drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

While promoting climate policies in Washington, Jerry Brown weathers fire at home

In hearings at the Capitol last week, lawmakers excoriated Brown’s staff for letting oil drillers inject wastewater into wells in protected aquifers and for allowing a battery recycler in Southern California to operate under a temporary permit for decades while emitting hazardous waste.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Rep. Huffman: Legalize pot to regulate it and save environment

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman on Friday reiterated his desire to see marijuana legalized nationally, saying it would help bring rational management to pot cultivation and thus reduce damage to the environment.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

San Diego’s creeks and rivers have unhealthy levels of bacteria and other pollutants

The region’s creeks and rivers had unhealthy levels of pollutants last year, the environmental group San Diego Coastkeeper said in a report Wednesday. … To analyze water quality, the organization took 3,301 measurements from nine of the 11 watersheds in the county.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Agencies admit failing to protect water sources from fuel pollution

The agencies charged with overseeing oil production and protecting California’s ever-dwindling water sources from the industry’s pollution all fell down on the job, one state official told a panel of peeved lawmakers Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

U.S. Mine Corp ends bid to build processing plant in Humboldt Bay

A mining company’s plans to build an ore processing plant in Humboldt Bay were shelved on Friday.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: U.S. Clean Water Rule quandary begins on land

In March 2014, two United States agencies charged with stemming pollution in the nation’s waters proposed a 2-page rule change in federal clean water regulations, a change based on more than 1,000 scientific studies, that was meant to clear up years of legal muddiness in defining which small streams and wetlands fell under government regulation.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: USGS begins crucial study in Hinkley to determine how much chromium-6 was natural

By the side of a washboard-rough dirt road, in a garage piled high with rocks neatly stored in pizza-sized boxes, the long-awaited study has begun to determine how much of the world’s largest chromium-6 plume is the result of a San Francisco-based utility’s operations and how much was put there by nature.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Bill extends timetable for water quality mandate

Senate Bill 385, introduced by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, would extend the July 1 deadline for complying with the new chromium 6 standard until 2020 while requiring water suppliers to show progress toward implementation.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

California lowers health goal for perchlorate

A state agency has lowered the Public Health Goal for perchlorate, a dangerous pollutant found in many underground water basins across the Southland – including the Rialto-Colton area and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

State officials send warnings on eve of Fresno’s big water vote

Top officials with the State Water Resources Control Board and the state Department of Water Resources took different approaches to emphasize that public health and safety will be the key issue when the [Fresno] City Council on Thursday evening debates the mayor’s plan.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Delta’s health should take priority over pumping

California needs to get serious about protecting the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable water sources.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Chromium-6 water treatment will cost Indio millions

Hazardous heavy metal levels in Indio’s “stand-by” water supply should be under control in time for summer with City Council’s Wednesday 5-0 approval of the $2.95 million-purchase of water treatment equipment.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma council split on fluoride

A divided Sonoma City Council is going to continue its discussion in March on whether to publicly oppose adding fluoride to the county’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Blog: Fears of oil train explosions rekindled by W. Virginia derailment and fire

The West Virginia trail derailment Monday is exactly what California communities fear could happen here: a 100-plus-car train derailed, spilling oil into a creek and then exploding into a fireball that forced the evacuation of two small towns.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water from Desert Hot Springs bottled for competition

Desert Hot Springs has regularly been a top contender over the years, winning honors in the competition seven times since 1997, including two gold medals.

Aquafornia news NBC Southern California

Gardena residents demand answers about black, foul-smelling water (with video)

Carrying murky water in jars as samples, residents in Gardena on Thursday demanded answers from a water company about black, foul-smelling tap water that is pouring from their faucets, toilets and showers. … Golden State Water Company blames sediments from aging pipelines.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Study finds rising levels of plastics in oceans

Some eight million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, and the amount of the debris is likely to increase greatly over the next decade unless nations take strong measures to dispose of their trash responsibly, new research suggests.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

Blog: Drought Watch — Water not wasted to the sea

To many, the notion of water to the ocean is akin to water wasted. … But outside of improving habitat for native species, there are multiple indirect benefits derived from water currently running into the Delta. The most conspicuous is improved water quality.

Aquafornia news The Bellingham Herald, Washington

Officials say oil train leaked as it crossed Washington state

A train loaded with Bakken crude oil needed to have more than a dozen leaking tank cars removed at three separate stops as it traveled through Idaho and crossed Washington state in mid-January.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California pledges changes in protecting underground water

California has proposed closing by October up to 140 oil-field wells that state regulators had allowed to inject into federally protected drinking water aquifers, state officials said.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California strengthens oil drilling waste rules (with audio)

Drilling for oil can be messy. About 90 percent of the fluid that comes up is waste water and the oil companies have to dispose of it somewhere.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Overturned tanker closes Highway 1 near Jenner, spilling some fuel into ocean

A gasoline tanker that caught its wheels off the edge of narrow Highway 1 overturned near Jenner on Sunday morning, shutting down the highway and spilling more than 1,000 gallons of fuel, some of which reportedly reached the ocean.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Commentary: Local control is key to Orange County water reliability

After three years of drought, Orange County has enjoyed some long overdue rainfall – even snowfall – making for the re-greening of our landscapes and some spectacular photos of Saddleback in white. But don’t be fooled.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Commentary: Protecting Orange County’s water

Ensuring a bright future for Orange County requires many organizations and individuals working together at building and protecting a diverse portfolio of water resources.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Dogs die from East Bay lake toxic algae blooming caused by drought

Stemming from California’s drought, three pet dogs have died after lapping up water in a popular recreation lake fouled by toxic algae flourishing in scarce rain and runoff.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Toxic releases up in San Joaquin County

Businesses are releasing more toxic chemicals to land, air or water in San Joaquin County, mirroring a national trend as the economy improves and production picks up.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State let oil companies taint drinkable water in Central Valley

Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink. … The state faces a Feb. 6 deadline to tell the EPA how it plans to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

State seeks water rules for pot growers

State officials have begun rolling out a new environmental initiative designed to win the cooperation of marijuana growers in protecting Northern California waterways and fisheries from the kinds of degradation that commonly result from pot cultivation.

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Coalition brings clean drinking water to rural Kern County

Clean drinking water is something many Americans take for granted, but in areas such as south Kern County access to safe water is not guaranteed. A new program called Agua4All is attempting to address that.

Aquafornia news NBC Southern California

Families worry over foul-smelling tap water (with video)

Families in a Southern California neighborhood worried by black and foul-smelling water pouring from their faucets, toilets and showers say their water company is not doing enough to fix the problem.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Pioneering water study in Hinkley to determine contamination sources

Starting in March, scientists are expected to begin drawing the first groundwater samples that will help resolve a long-standing question here: how much of this community’s below-ground contamination is the result of nature and how much is the result of man-made actions? 

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: State revives plan for Delta barriers to fight seawater intrusion

The drought has spurred California to revive controversial plans to build rock dams across three Delta waterways in an effort to prevent seawater from degrading drinking water for 25 million people — including those in San Jose, Concord, and Livermore.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Report — Farming and urban growth are polluting America’s aquifers

Farming and urban growth, two forces that are reshaping the land surface, are also changing the chemistry and physical properties of the nation’s aquifers, leading to greater concentrations of natural and manmade pollutants that could persist for decades in essential underground water sources, according to a comprehensive U.S. Geological Survey report.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Commentary: Meetings to understand new water regulations

The San Joaquin County and Delta Water Quality Coalition has developed an extensive program for water quality in our region. … Last March the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the waste discharge requirements for the irrigated lands here in the San Joaquin and Delta area.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agency to invest in treating water for chromium-6

The Coachella Valley Water District is about to embark on its costliest infrastructure project ever, designing water treatment plants to remove a potentially hazardous heavy metal from the water supply in places from Rancho Mirage to Thermal. … The water district, like many others across the state, is taking steps to comply with a new safe drinking water limit for chromium-6 set by the California Department of Public Health.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: Taking out the trash

When EPA representatives met with 4th graders in Maryland last year to observe their work as “stream stewards,” many of the students had the same comment – there’s too much trash in the water.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Hinkley water cleanup proposal issued by state regulators

State regulators have released a draft order for the partial cleanup of the world’s largest contamination site for cancer-causing chromium-6.

Aquafornia news The Willits News

Caltrans: Past policy may contribute to groundwater contamination

Caltrans has drilled thousands of undocumented wells during the past 20 years that could be contributing to groundwater contamination throughout California.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press-Telegram

Long Beach, Los Angeles port officials tout air and water quality improvements at Aquarium of the Pacific presentation

Officials from the country’s two busiest ports gathered at the Aquarium of the Pacific Wednesday to highlight what they say are strides in emissions reductions and water quality improvements.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Commentary: Drugs in our water — Safe disposal of medications is critical

Waterways throughout the nation have tested positive for trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Water Board working to reduce impacts of pot grows

Water regulators in the region are beginning to take a closer look at illegal cannabis cultivation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to better determine the impacts on water quality.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: World Economic Forum ranks water crises as top global risk

For the first time, water crises took the top spot in the World Economic Forum’s tenth global risk report, an annual survey of nearly 900 leaders in politics, business, and civic life about the world’s most critical issues. Water ranked third a year ago.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News Release: EPA proposal strengthens nation’s preparedness level and response to oil spills

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend requirements under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) to improve the nation’s ability to plan for and respond to oil spills.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County seeks help dealing with oil train derailments

An ever-growing number of trains carrying a particularly volatile form of light crude oil through the Feather River Canyon has a worried Butte County asking for help and training to deal with a potential catastrophic derailment. … John Scott of Butte Valley claimed a derailment that spilled the light crude into the Feather River would end up polluting the water in Lake Oroville.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

$340 million in federal funds awarded to conservation projects

Projects designed to cut down on fertilizer runoff, expand bird nesting areas and restore native grasslands are among those selected for funding under a new initiative that encourages conservation partnerships between government and private organizations, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Malibu approves sewage treatment plant

Taking a long-anticipated step to reduce coastal pollution, the Malibu City Council has voted to approve construction of a wastewater treatment plant in the Civic Center area.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

San Diego beaches close to swimmers after polluted runoff from heavy rains

The Silver Strand State Beach and Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge is closed to water contact activities because of polluted runoff after heavy rains, authorities announced Sunday.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: San Joaquin Valley’s poor towns need public help to drink healthy water, breathe clean air, EPA leader says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sees a connection between cleaning up the air and water and helping the economy grow, says Gina McCarthy, who leads the federal government’s environmental guardian. … The EPA leader said federal and state officials are working together to provide money for drinking-water fixes in the Valley.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Fountains for schools lacking access to clean water

The private health foundation, California Endowment says 120 schools in California’s Central Valley will receive water-purification stations.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Blog: New challenge — Put technology to work to protect drinking water

Cleaning up drinking water after a harmful algal bloom can cost billions of dollars, and local economies can suffer.  … That’s why a group of federal agencies and private partners – including our Office of Research and Development and our Office of Water – are announcing the Nutrient Sensor Challenge.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Commentary: California drinking water plan can do more

This week we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act knowing more Americans enjoy safe drinking water than ever before. Nowhere can you find more protective drinking water regulations than in California.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: EPA official — Work remains to provide clean water

A top regional official of the Environmental Protection Agency visited a community center in Thermal on Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, saying much work still needs to be done to provide clean water for everyone in the country.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Bureau of Reclamation’s Desalination and Water Purification Research Program seeks proposals to improve water treatment technologies

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking proposals within two funding opportunity announcements to improve water treatment technologies aimed at increasing water management flexibility through new usable water supplies in the United States. The first is for research, laboratory studies and the second is for pilot projects. Reclamation will make a total of up to $1.4 million available for the funding opportunities.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: A sea of plastic bags upon an ocean of trash

A new academic study out this week, and published in the journal PLOS ONE, for the first time gives a hard number to the amount of plastic garbage littering our oceans. It’s a sobering figure: 5.25 trillion particles of plastic.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Study: 270,000 tons of plastic floating in oceans

A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world’s oceans. … The plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

State Water Board releases interactive tool to locate nitrate-impacted wells

The State Water Resources Control Board on Dec. 3 launched a new interactive online search tool, called “Is My Property Near a Nitrate-Impacted Water Well” that helps users determine if privately owned water wells are located within 2,000 feet of a “nitrate-impacted well.”

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California taking up ’safe’ drinking water plan

The draft Safe Drinking Water Plan for California acknowledges that contaminated water sources, the high costs of treatment, and the large numbers of small water systems “will continue to challenge progress in addressing the Human Right to Water.”

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: 40 Years of the Safe Drinking Water Act — The small systems challenge

When I meet operators and managers of water systems from small cities and towns, I’m always impressed by the tremendous pride they take in their local water services. … In 1996, the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended to create new programs with small systems in mind. Now we partner with states to help these small systems reliably provide safe drinking water to their customers.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Fish warnings for Lode reservoirs

For the first time, state regulators have announced that certain fish commonly caught in two local reservoirs — Camanche and New Melones — are not safe for some people to eat because of high mercury levels. … Mercury was unleashed into rivers and streams during the Gold Rush, since it was used to remove gold from other minerals.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Environmental group to sue San Jose for sewage spills and trash pollution

In a move that could force the city of San Jose to spend millions modernizing its sewage system, cleaning up trash and removing homeless encampments, an environmental group announced Monday it will file a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act charging the city with failing to stop pollution from washing into creeks and San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Novato deals with two days of rusty water

Novato faucets spouted some rust-colored water a couple times this week in incidents that affected up to 15,000 customers in the North Marin Water District.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: Kids deserve safe drinking water at school and at home

Nothing seems to beat the fascination my boys and most young kids seem to have with water fountains. … Most schools and child care facilities receive their drinking water from nearby public water systems. … Water pipes and plumbing fixtures in school buildings can affect the quality of the drinking water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Early tests don’t find tainted water from oil boom

Random testing of shallow groundwater in the Northern Plains oil patch found no early evidence of contamination from an energy boom that’s already seen more than 8,500 wells drilled, federal scientists said Monday.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Contaminated groundwater wells close in South Lake Tahoe

Because of the drought, three wells in South Lake Tahoe have higher levels of contamination. Some wells have been shut-downs and the state of California is investigating.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: Prescriptions for cleaner waterways

In a recently published study, Eco-directed sustainable prescribing: feasibility for reducing water contamination by drugs, EPA scientist Christian Daughton presents ways we can prevent the active ingredients of pharmaceuticals from getting into our waterways.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

Publication: Water-quality modeling of Klamath Straits Drain recirculation, a Klamath River wetland, and 2011 conditions for Link River to Keno Dam reach of Klamath River, OR

The upper Klamath River and adjacent Lost River are interconnected basins in south-central Oregon and northern California. Both basins have impaired water quality with Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) in progress or approved. In cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Watercourse Engineering, Inc., have conducted modeling and research to inform management of these basins for multiple purposes, including agriculture, endangered species protection, wildlife refuges, and adjacent and downstream water users.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Ground-breaking survey maps coastal saltwater intrusion

A team of researchers from Stanford and the University of Calgary say a ground-breaking geophysical survey of saltwater intrusion into groundwater tables along 25 miles of Monterey Bay coastline shows the wells are running a deficit.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

News Release: New Western Water available

The newest issue of Western Water magazine examines salinity in the San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta, a vital estuary and critical juncture of the state’s water delivery system. Written by the Foundation’s Gary Pitzer, the September/October issue discusses the how salinity during drought is affecting fish, wildlife and farms. In wet years, dry years and every type of water year in between, the daily intrusion and retreat of salinity in the Delta is a constant pattern.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5. “Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Gov. Jerry Brown touts water bond measure at Stanford summit

Gov. Jerry Brown pitched his plan Monday for a water bond and a rainy-day fund at a Stanford University water conference. … He called his water plan a “four-term effort.”

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

‘Avoid water contact’ warnings issued at three West Marin recreation sites

Recent tests of water quality give Chicken Ranch Beach and most other Marin County locales a clean bill of health, but raise red flags at White House Pool county park, Samuel P. Taylor State Park and Lawson’s Landing, where visitors are advised to “avoid contact with the water.”

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California council works to streamline water quality data

The California Water Quality Monitoring Council was established in 2007 and is part of the State Water Resources Department. The Council has worked to create strategies for monitoring and assessing the state’s water quality.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Oil companies’ fracking fines go to Visalia-based water center

State authorities have fined two oil companies a total of $476,784 for illegally sending salty fluids and drilling wastes into unlined pits, including fluids from controversial hydraulic fracturing.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Judge upholds ban on new mining claims on 1 million acres

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar did not abuse his discretion or violate any laws in prohibiting new hard-rock mining claims on one million acres near the Grand Canyon, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Publication

Looking to the Source: Watersheds of the Sierra Nevada
Published 2011

This 28-page report describes the watersheds of the Sierra Nevada region and details their importance to California’s overall water picture. It describes the region’s issues and challenges, including healthy forests, catastrophic fire, recreational impacts, climate change, development and land use.

The report also discusses the importance of protecting and restoring watersheds in order to retain water quality and enhance quantity. Examples and case studies are included.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource
Published 2007

Problems with polluted stormwater and steps that can be taken to prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as “nuisance” runoff into a water resource is the focus of this publication, Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource. The 16-page booklet, funded by a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board, includes color photos and graphics, text explaining common stormwater pollutants and efforts to prevent stormwater runoff through land use/ planning/development – as well as tips for homeowners to reduce their impacts on stormwater pollution.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.

Video

Two Sides of a River (60-minute DVD)

California’s little-known New River has been called one of North America’s most polluted. A closer look reveals the New River is full of ironic twists: its pollution has long defied cleanup, yet even in its degraded condition, the river is important to the border economies of Mexicali and the Imperial Valley and a lifeline that helps sustain the fragile Salton Sea ecosystem. Now, after decades of inertia on its pollution problems, the New River has emerged as an important test of binational cooperation on border water issues. These issues were profiled in the 2004 PBS documentary Two Sides of a River.

Video

Two Sides of a River (60-minute DVD Spanish)

$25.00

Spanish version of the 60-minute 2004 PBS documentary Two Sides of a River. DVD

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 237 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Aquapedia background

Lake Tahoe

World-renowned for its crystal clear, azure water, Lake Tahoe straddles the Nevada-California border, stretching 22 miles long and 12 miles wide and hemmed in by Sierra Nevada peaks.

At 1,645 feet deep, Tahoe is the second-deepest lake in the United States and the 10th deepest in the world. The iconic lake sits 6,225 feet above sea level.

Western Water Magazine

TMDLs: A Tool for Better Water Quality?
May/June 2001

The continued effort to improve water quality and reduce nonpoint source pollution will hinge largely on a little-known pollution control strategy known as total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), which describe the amount of a particular pollutant that a water body can absorb on a daily basis while remaining safe for wildlife and people. While by no means a comprehensive explanation of all the factors surrounding this complex subject, this issue of Western Water provides a snapshot of TMDLs and what they mean for water quality, supply and reliability.

Western Water Magazine

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act:
November/December 2002

2002 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant environmental laws in American history, the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA has had remarkable success, reversing years of neglect and outright abuse of the nation’s waters. But challenges remain as attention turns to the thorny issue of cleaning up nonpoint sources of pollution.

Western Water Magazine

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/June 2003

This issue of Western Water examines the problem of perchlorate contamination and its ramifications on all facets of water delivery, from the extensive cleanup costs to the search for alternative water supplies. In addition to discussing the threat posed by high levels of perchlorate in drinking water, the article presents examples of areas hard hit by contamination and analyzes the potential impacts of forthcoming drinking water standards for perchlorate.

Western Water Magazine

Mercury Rising Tackling the Legacy of the Gold Rush
May/June 2004

This issue of Western Water examines the presence of mercury in the environment and the challenge of limiting the threat posed to human health and wildlife. In addition to outlining the extent of the problem and its resistance to conventional pollution remedies, the article presents a glimpse of some possible courses of action for what promises to be a long-term problem.

Western Water Magazine

Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products: An Rx for Water Quality Problems?
July/August 2004

This issue of Western Water examines PPCPs – what they are, where they come from and whether the potential exists for them to become a water quality problem. With the continued emphasis on water quality and the fact that many water systems in the West are characterized by flows dominated by effluent contributions, PPCPs seem likely to capture interest for the foreseeable future.

Western Water Magazine

Remnants of the Past: Management Challenges of Terminal Lakes
January/February 2005

This issue of Western Water examines the challenges facing state, federal and tribal officials and other stakeholders as they work to manage terminal lakes. It includes background information on the formation of these lakes, and overviews of the water quality, habitat and political issues surrounding these distinctive bodies of water. Much of the information in this article originated at the September 2004 StateManagement Issues at Terminal Water Bodies/Closed Basins conference.

Western Water Magazine

Unlocking the Mysteries of Selenium
March/April 2006

This issue of Western Water examines that process. Much of the information is drawn from discussions that occurred at the November 2005 Selenium Summit sponsored by the Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources. At that summit, a variety of experts presented findings and the latest activities from areas where selenium is of primary interest.

Western Water Magazine

From Source to Tap: Protecting California’s Drinking Water
November/December 2006

This issue of Western Water looks at some of the issues facing drinking water providers, such as compliance with increasingly stringent treatment requirements, the need to improve source water quality and the mission of continually informing consumers about the quality of water they receive.

Western Water Magazine

Salt of the Earth: Can the Central Valley Solve its Salinity Problem?
July/August 2007

This Western Water looks at proposed new measures to deal with the century-old problem of salinity with a special focus on San Joaquin Valley farms and cities.

Western Water Magazine

A Drought-Proof Supply: The Promise of Recycled Water
July/August 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines recycled water – its use, the ongoing issues and the prospects it holds for extending water supplies.

Western Water Magazine

A Tale of Two Rivers: The Russian and the Santa Ana
May/June 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Russian and Santa Ana rivers – areas with ongoing issues not dissimilar to the rest of the state – managing supplies within a lingering drought, improving water quality and revitalizing and restoring the vestiges of the native past.

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines desalination – an issue that is marked by great optimism and controversy – and the expected role it might play as an alternative water supply strategy.

Western Water Magazine

Pervasive and Persistent: Constituents of Growing Concern
January/February 2011

This printed issue of Western Water, based on presentations at the November 3-4, 2010 Water Quality Conference in Ontario, Calif., looks at constituents of emerging concerns (CECs) – what is known, what is yet to be determined and the potential regulatory impacts on drinking water quality.

Western Water Magazine

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater management and the extent to which stakeholders believe more efforts are needed to preserve and restore the resource.

Western Water Magazine

Mimicking the Natural Landscape: Low Impact Development and Stormwater Capture
September/October 2011

This printed issue of Western Water discusses low impact development and stormwater capture – two areas of emerging interest that are viewed as important components of California’s future water supply and management scenario.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

Two States, One Lake: Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue
September/October 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses some of the issues associated with the effort to preserve and restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Western Water Magazine

Managing the Colorado River
November/December 1999

Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999 in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional water development of the past has given way to a more collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment while stretching available water supplies.

Video

Overcoming the Deluge: California’s Plan for Managing Floods (DVD)

This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past, present and future of flood management in California’s Central Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand. Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic flood management plan for the Central Valley.

Video

The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (20 min. DVD)

20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.

Video

The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (60 min. DVD)

For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.

Video

Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Video

Water on the Edge (30-minute VHS)

A 30-minute version of the 2005 PBS documentary Water on the Edge. This video is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the New River.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute VHS)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Product

Go With the Flow: A Storm Water Pollution Prevention Message

This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12 about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.

Video

California Water Recycling

In the West, it is not a matter of if a drought will occur, but when. In an effort to develop a drought-proof water supply, many communities are turning to water recycling. Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for irrigating golf courses, other urban landscapes, some crops, wetlands enhancement, industrial processes and even groundwater recharge. But many people do not understand how water is treated, recycled and reused, causing some to oppose new projects.

Video

Conjunctive Use: A Comprehensive Approach to Water Planning

This 11-minute video simplifies the often-misunderstood concept of conjunctive use – coordinating surface water and groundwater supplies, which are often managed as separate resources. It explains in an easy-to-understand manner the relationship between groundwater and surface water, outlines different forms of conjunctive use, and identifies issues of concern that must be resolved for each project. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these concepts.

Video

Groundwater Quality: Managing the Resource

This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and DVD.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Delta Sustainability Map
Published 2006

This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Maps & Posters

Unwelcome Visitors

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native animals. “Unwelcome Visitors” features photos and information on four such species – including the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic threats posed by these species.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater
Published 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the history of wastewater treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and disposed of today. The guide also offers case studies of different treatment plants and their treatment processes.

Aquapedia background

Water Treatment

Finding and maintaining a clean water supply for drinking and other uses has been a constant challenge throughout human history.

Today, significant technological developments in water treatment, including monitoring and assessment, help ensure a drinking water supply of high quality in California and the West.

The source of water and its initial condition prior to being treated usually determines the water treatment process. [See also Water Recycling.]

Aquapedia background

Water Quality

Water treatment plant

People, farmers, industry and the environment in California depend on clean water to survive.

Surface waters are threatened by a host of pollutants, such as bacteria, trash and agricultural runoff. Groundwater sources in California can be contaminated by nitrates and industrial chemicals.[See also How is Drinking Water Treated?]

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater

Wastewater Treatment Process in California

Wastewater management in California centers on the collection, conveyance, treatment, reuse and disposal of wastewater. This process is conducted largely by public agencies, though there are also private systems in places where a publicly owned treatment plant is not feasible.

In California, wastewater treatment takes place through 100,000 miles of sanitary sewer lines and at more than 900 wastewater treatment plants that manage the roughly 4 billion gallons of wastewater generated in the state each day.

Aquapedia background

Regional Water Quality Control Boards in California

There are nine regional water quality control boards statewide.

The nine Regional Boards are semi-autonomous and are comprised of seven part-time Board members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Regional boundaries are based on watersheds and water quality requirements are based on the unique differences in climate, topography, geology and hydrology for each watershed. Each Regional Board makes critical water quality decisions for its region, including setting standards, issuing waste discharge requirements, determining compliance with those requirements, and taking appropriate enforcement actions.

Aquapedia background

Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act sets standards for drinking water quality in the United States.

Launched in 1974 and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Safe Drinking Water Act oversees states, communities, and water suppliers who implement the drinking water standards at the local level.

The act’s regulations apply to every public water system in the United States but do not include private wells serving less than 25 people.

According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water systems in the United States.

Aquapedia background

California Gold Rush and Today’s Water

More than 100 years ago, California’s Gold Rush left a toxic legacy that continues to cause problems in Northern California watersheds.

The discovery of gold in John Sutter’s millrace at Coloma in the 1840s drew people from around the globe.

Over the course of decades, intense efforts were focused on washing and prying gold from the hills of the Sierra Nevada.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

California boasts some of the finest quality drinking water on the planet. Every day, people turn on their tap and receive clean, safe water with nary a thought. But the water people take for granted isn’t so reliable for residents of small water systems and many disadvantaged communities (DACs) in rural agricultural areas.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

It may surprise some people to know that California is the fourth largest producer of crude oil in the United States and has a long history of oil exploration. Since the 1860s, wells in Kern County and Southern California have been tapped for more than 500,000 barrels of oil each day.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

For something so largely hidden from view, groundwater is an important and controversial part of California’s water supply picture. How it should be managed and whether it becomes part of overarching state regulation is a topic of strong debate.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Pervasive and Persistent: Constituents of Growing Concern
January/February 2011

Is the water consumed by people everyday safe to drink or should there be concern about unregulated contaminants, many of which are the remnants of commonly used pharmaceutical and personal care products?

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt SudmanSue McClurg

From Source to Tap: Protecting California’s Drinking Water
Nov/Dec 2006

For most people in the United States, clean, safe drinking water is a given – a part of daily life that is assumed to be a constant, readily accessible commodity. Underpinning that fact are the vast, mostly unheralded efforts of the many people throughout the country who work everyday to take the raw source water from the environment and turn it into the safe drinking water that makes life possible.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Unlocking the Mysteries of Selenium
Mar/Apr 2006

There may be no other substance in nature as vexing as selenium. The naturally occurring trace element gained notoriety more than 20 years ago as it wreaked havoc among birds at the Kesterson Reservoir in California’s Central Valley. The discovery of dead and deformed birds sparked a widespread investigation that revealed the pervasiveness of selenium throughout much of the West; woven into the soil and rock of the landscape.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products
Jul/Aug 2004

Most people take for granted the quality of their drinking water and for good reason. Coinciding with America’s rapid urbanization last century was the development of an extensive infrastructure for the storage, treatment and delivery of water for generations to come. The improvement in the quality of water provided by water agencies has been so phenomenal that some of the best tasting water in the world comes not from a plastic bottle, but from the tap.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Confronting a Legacy of Contamination: Perchlorate
May/Jun 2003

There’s danger lurking underground. The threat cannot be seen, heard or felt immediately, but there it resides – in shallow pockets of groundwater and deep, cold subterranean aquifers situated hundreds of feet below the surface. The danger manifests itself through the most vital human activity next to breathing, the consumption of water. Experts know there is no such thing as pure water. Microscopic bits of a host of elements that surround us are present in the water we drink. They exist at levels that are harmless, and in fact some of the constituents found in tap water are beneficial to human health.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act
Nov/Dec 2002

This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant environmental laws in American history, the Clean Water Act (CWA). The law that emerged from the consensus and compromise that characterizes the legislative process has had remarkable success, reversing years of neglect and outright abuse of the nation’s waters.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

TMDLs: A Tool for Better Water Quality?
May/Jun 2001

The arrival of each storm brings more than rain and snow to thirsty California. From the coastal redwoods to the streets of Los Angeles, water flowing from hillsides and paved surfaces carries with it a host of pollutants that befoul tributaries, streams and rivers. The toll on the environment is measured in closed beaches, reduced fish populations and, in some cases, a lower quality of available water for human use. The sources of pollution are sometimes easy to control with existing technology. But in other cases, the ubiquitous nature of contaminants has left regulators in a quandary over how to solve the problem.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Drinking Water Challenges: A Roundtable Discussion
Jan/Feb 2001

Drinking water is the ultimate recycled resource. It is recycled over years, centuries and millenniums. The water we use today is the same supply with which civilization began. The water that once coursed down the Ganges River or splashed into Julius Caesar’s bathing pool may end up running from the tap in your home.

Western Water Excerpt

The Challenge of MTBE: Clean Air vs. Clean Water?
Jul/Aug 1998

Clean air vs. clean water sums up the controversy surrounding the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), an oxygenate designed to help fuel burn cleaner, reducing tailpipe emissions. Since 1996, the year it was first used statewide on a year-round basis, MTBE has reduced smog from motor vehicles by 15 percent, according to air quality officials. It’s as if 3.5 million cars have disappeared from the roads – no small feat in the automobile – dependent Golden State.

Commands