Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world.
They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of
water, reduce flooding and erosion and recharge groundwater. They
also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large
percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered
As the state has grown into one of the world’s leading economies,
Californians have developed and transformed the state’s marshes,
swamps and tidal flats, losing as much as 90 percent of the
original wetlands acreage—a greater percentage of loss than any
other state in the nation.
While the conversion of wetlands has slowed, the loss in
California is significant and it affects a range of factors from
water quality to quality of life.
Wetlands still remain in every part of the state, with the
greatest concentration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and
its watershed, which includes the Central Valley. The Delta
wetlands are especially important because they are part of the
vast complex of waterways that provide two-thirds of California’s
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of
vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented
distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which
went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require
coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily
complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was
simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a
law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would
decide to repeal it?
After years marked by a historic statewide drought and
devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara
County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to
approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects,
from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs
of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.
Six former Environmental Protection Agency
chiefs [who served under Republican and Democratic
presidents] are calling for an agency reset after President
Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term,
backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from
renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting
climate-friendly electric vehicles.
A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among
the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in
public funds have been misused for what they claim is a
“deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the
guise of being a restoration effort.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable,
small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in
the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman,
ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought
against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.
Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be
required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay
require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads
longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or
wetlands or with impervious materials.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley,
examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s
conservation easements across the state to explore both the
environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s
When Brenda Goeden first started working on mud, silt, and sand
in the San Francisco Bay two decades ago, dredgers and
contractors couldn’t get rid of all the sediment they excavated
fast enough. … But today sediment is a hot commodity, as
restorationists and developers scramble to elevate salt marshes
and building sites before rising tides claim them. Now, a new
plan is in the works to optimize allocation of this critical
When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act
requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical
for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new
definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will
allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t
currently habitat but might be needed in the future,
particularly as the climate changes.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and
ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal
lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a
longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews
for road, industry and building projects.
On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The
update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first
comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original
publication in 1978.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
More than 50,000 ducklings and other newborn waterfowl and
shorebirds were saved from certain deaths this week after an
emergency delivery of water to the Klamath Basin National
Wildlife Refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The issue is new to the Environmental Protection Agency’s
Office of Inspector General’s periodic list of top management
challenges facing the agency, underscoring its emergence as a
leading national concern. The OIG called on the agency to
strengthen its federal leadership role, continue to build an
environmental justice strategic plan, and consider the impact
of “all activities on environmental justice communities in
actions revoked and taken by the agency as a whole.”
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior
environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study
of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she
got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a
kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and
interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the
creatures you work with, you will never regret working with
Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the
District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday,
alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to
protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They
say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental
Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30
years giving state governments the authority to review, block
or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.
Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy
shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new
preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on
hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that
time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with
dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.
Out of sight and out of mind to most
people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has
challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the
desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body
inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking
The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and
Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate
management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the
Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial
Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water
allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the
district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.
“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite
construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem
restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater
flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local
As more people enjoy local trails this summer, they may notice
many of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County
are empty and dry. There’s no reason to be alarmed. In fact,
the absence of water in many of the 100 percolation ponds owned
by Valley Water is a sign that our underground water basins are
mostly full and healthy.
California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the
Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last
month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil
Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea
Authority, to see how the new funds will be used.
The EPA is facing two separate challenges from environmental
groups over its water rule that narrows the ability of states
to veto energy infrastructure projects such as oil and gas
pipelines if they adversely affect water quality.
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took
another step in the conservation effort of the threatened
Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the
frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release
marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill
yellow-legged frogs into the wild.
Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to
suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save
costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional
wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead
to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet,
especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney
General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura
Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing
opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order
instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to
bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes
for infrastructure projects.
Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address
aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded
ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and
built water systems. These investments present a significant
opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic,
social, and environmental benefits.
Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a
“pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function.
This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry
season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond
and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and
wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial
to birds and other wildlife.
The Environmental Protection Agency has again been sued over
its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections. On Thursday,
the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of four other
environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new
rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards”
science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’
The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish
and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the
Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in
Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality,
providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the
ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.
The American Southwest provides a last stronghold for the
yellow-billed cuckoo, which was officially listed under the
Endangered Species Act as threatened in 2014. This February,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a list of proposed
protected areas that trace the curls and curves of rivers and
streams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and
Major California cities say they’ll use their share of a $650
million settlement to clean up the now-banned chemical PCB from
bays, lakes and other waterways polluted for decades. The giant
chemical company Monsanto announced a tentative agreement
Wednesday with government entities that had filed suit since
2015 over waterways and estuaries they say were polluted.
A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor
advocates has sued to stop implementation of a new federal rule
that weakens protections for streams and wetlands. The
Environmental Protection Agency’s new Navigable Waters
Protection Rule, which which took effect on Monday, rolls back
clean-water regulation of intermittent waterways, arroyos and
A federal Judge in California on Friday rejected a request for
a nationwide injunction of the rule. Hours later, a federal
Judge in Colorado agreed to freeze the federal rule within that
state. The California court’s decision is a major blow to
environmentalists and states that had hoped to block the
Navigable Waters Protection Rule across the country before it
takes effect Monday.
California officials have parried federal moves with actions of
their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory
birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that
expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways.
California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud
between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Encouraged by a recently vetted new method for creating carbon
offsets from wetlands, a flurry of new climate adaptation
projects on publicly owned islands strewn along the central
Delta corridor aim to defend against sea-level rise, restore
habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg presided over a
lengthy and combative hearing that featured attorneys from the
state of California making the case that the Trump-era EPA
acted contrary to its fundamental mission when it exempted
ephemeral streams and wetlands from protections afforded by the
Clean Water Act.
A smidge over 200 acres, the Wright Wetland Preserve is easily
the largest in the trust’s portfolio. Its terrain ranges from
lake to valley oak woodland with everything from native
wetland, freshwater marsh and upland pasture included. The
property is partially bordered by Manning Creek, an important
breeding ground for an endemic and threatened fish species, the
Clear Lake hitch.
Driving on Highway 101 from the South Bay, up the Peninsula,
commuters zoom by nearly invisible infrastructure keeping the
highway and nearby communities dry. Beyond the highway, at the
edge of the San Francisco Bay, are levees and tide gates
protecting roads and neighborhoods against high tides and storm
flooding. Unless you visit the bay lands to walk the levee
trails, you might never know these important structures exist.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way families, educators
and students can experience state parks — through expanded
online programs. … Education coordinator Anne Marie Tipton
says the Tijuana River National Estuarine Reserve’s
virtual field trips teach classrooms around the state about the
estuary’s role in the environment.
Although the Clean Water Act will still protect heavily used
waterways in Nevada, including the Colorado River and the
Truckee River, it excludes many wetlands and most seasonal
streams. As a result, the rule has set off a flurry of legal
challenges from environmental groups. And in recent months,
several Democrat-led Western states, including Colorado,
California and New Mexico, have sued the Trump administration
to challenge the final rule. Nevada has not joined those suits.
San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and
in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal
marsh habitat in the Bay. … FISHBIO was recently invited to
tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the
opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish
community in the restored area.
While the budget for next year has yet to be passed, the
Central Valley Water Quality Control Board is already taking
drastic steps to prepare for a significant reduction in
staffing. Farmers could face a potential fallout further down
the road. “All told, the board is looking at around a 30 to 35%
reduction in productivity,” said Patrick Pulupa, executive
officer for the regional board, during a meeting Thursday.
Hundreds of studies on nature-based solutions to extreme events
show that “green infrastructure” is often cheaper and more
effective than engineered projects like dams, levees and sea
walls, according to a new analysis. Experts say federal and
state governments should heed those findings and increase
funding for natural landscapes and systems to reduce climate
disaster risk. Solutions include floodplain restoration and
“living shorelines” along vulnerable coasts and rivers.
To assess the range of pandemic-related issues confronting the
sector, the PPIC Water Policy Center held a series of
conversations with representatives from state and federal
agencies, water utilities, environmental nonprofits, and
businesses that specialize in restoration. The pandemic’s
impact falls into three categories: disruption of monitoring
and research programs, delays to restoration projects, and the
threat posed by the economic downturn to funding for this work.
Here are some key takeaways.
A new EPA water rule to curtail state vetoes won’t necessarily
ease the path for new oil and gas interstate pipeline projects,
energy analysts and lawyers say. They say this is partly due to
the sharp decline in oil and gas linked to the coronavirus
pandemic. But the hurdles also come from a federal court’s
suspension of the Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12, or NWP
12, that would allow developers to dredge and fill wetlands and
stream crossings in order to lay pipelines.
The group aims to counter the narrative that the outdoors
aren’t for Black people, educate people about challenges people
of color face, and to encourage diversity. “I think Black
Birders Week shows that the Black experience is more than
trauma, that it is about pride, is about joy. It is about
resilience, strength and style,” says Tykee James, a Black
Birders Week organizer and the National Audubon Society’s
government affairs coordinator.
The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in this
litigation provides a road map for the legal and regulatory
challenges ahead for the regulated community and agencies
implementing Clean Water Act programs that rely on the
definition for “Waters of the United States” aka WOTUS. The
following provides insights as to how to support a strong Clean
Water Act with the new WOTUS definition.
Amid a public health crisis that has crashed the economy,
President Trump last week ordered his administration to
accelerate permitting for major projects — sparking blowback
from critics who say it will inflict damage on communities of
color he’s accused of ignoring as thousands protest across the
country against police brutality and injustice.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday
calling on federal agencies to use emergency powers to
“accelerate” infrastructure projects on federal lands as a
response to the coronavirus pandemic. The order urges the
Interior, Agriculture, and Defense departments to use emergency
powers under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and
National Environmental Policy Act to speed projects through the
Situated between Bethel Island and False River and accessible
only by boat, Franks Tract is primarily used by fishermen,
boaters and waterfowl hunters. But, over the past several
years, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been studying
ways to restore part of the 3,523-acre underwater state park to
its original marshland in the hopes of reducing saltwater
intrusion into the Delta and more.
EPA’s final rule that curtails states’ authority over Clean
Water Act permitting of pipelines, hydroelectric dams and other
energy projects could run afoul of a 1994 Supreme Court ruling
that originally granted states that oversight power.
Georgia, West Virginia, and 21 other states moved to intervene
in litigation in order to help defeat challenges to the
Navigable Waters Protection Rule—a joint regulation from the
Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers
that narrows the types of wetlands and waterways subject to
federal Clean Water Act restrictions.
A long-sought compromise has been approved that will open the
stagnant, reed-filled Buena Vista Lagoon to the sea and restore
its native coastal marine habitat, but years of work remain
before the transformation begins.
After only 6 months post-construction completion and levee
breach at the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project, longfin smelt
have returned. The 420-acre restoration site converted wetlands
managed primarily for waterfowl to tidal wetlands for the
benefit of dwindling native fish populations including Delta
smelt, longfin smelt, Chinook salmon and the food web that
To assist monitoring programs in staying informed and learn how
to adjust their programs, especially conducting field
activities during this time of COVID-19, the State Water
Board’s Clean Water Team has compiled this list of resources.
Few clear guidelines exist for water quality monitors, but we
can learn from other fields like wastewater management and keep
everyone safe & healthy.
Restoration of the 500-plus acres of wetlands has been a goal
for literally decades of both city officials and environmental
advocates. Since the discovery of oil there in 1926, combined
with the channelization of the San Gabriel River, the once
2,400-acre wetlands complex has been landfilled, graded and
activated as a working oil field. Much of the remaining
wetlands is controlled by Beach Oil Minerals Partners (BOMP).
At its May quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board
approved approximately $36.2 million in grants to help restore
and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California.
Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife
— including some endangered species — while others will provide
public access to important natural resources.
The Trump administration’s aggressive deregulatory agenda has
run full-speed into a blockade set by Democratic attorneys
general. Led by New York and California, the states have
challenged virtually every effort by EPA and other agencies to
walk back Obama-era rules like the Clean Power Plan and Clean
Thursday, the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy announced that it
has received three grants totaling over $2.1 million for the
Gualala River Mill Bend Conservation Project that they are
stewarding for the community.
A 17-state coalition on Monday asked the U.S. District Court
for the Northern District of California to block the Navigable
Waters Protection Rule while they spar with government lawyers
over its legality. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army
Corps of Engineers published the rule in April, and it
officially takes effect June 22, tightening the federal
definition for the types of wetlands and waterways the Clean
Water Act covers.
The agreement between property owners, nonprofits and multiple
governmental agencies outlines a plan to remove the weir, or
low wooden dam at the mouth of the lagoon, and excavate the
entire 220-acre preserve to restore tidal flushing. … Without
intervention, the lagoon would continue to fill with sediment
and vegetation until it eventually disappears.
The Trump administration’s long-anticipated water jurisdiction
rule has already drawn a half-dozen legal challenges since its
April release, with more on the way. The Navigable Waters
Protection Rule narrows which types of wetlands and waterways
trigger federal Clean Water Act oversight, replacing
interpretations by Obama-era officials and earlier
administrations. … Here’s a breakdown of key legal arguments:
Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs have begun to spawn, laying small
snow-globe sized egg masses in streams and rivers. They are one
of the few stream-breeding frogs endemic to California and
Oregon. This species is a good indicator of stream health
because they link aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and are
strongly tied to natural seasonal cues associated with local
Developed by The Economist based on research by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, analysts created a chart to
show the projected number of coronavirus cases with and without
protective measures. This single image effectively conveys
what’s at stake, and it inspired me to consider how we can
modify communications about scientific findings related to the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, especially as we adapt to limited
in-person interactions during these extraordinary times.
This year’s changes to the Clean Water Act have made the
already-challenging work of scientists and engineers in water
planning and management exponentially more difficult. Questions
abound, from jurisdictional issues to definitions and
classifications, as a result of the “Navigable Waters
Protection Rule,” which, among other things, removes federal
protections from ephemeral waterways.
Critics say EPA’s justification for using the rule is legally
flimsy, whether the housekeeping law applies to it or not. The
agency’s gambit highlights the lengths to which the Trump
administration will go, critics say, to cement the president’s
anti-regulatory agenda ahead of a possible second term, or to
try to tie the hands of subsequent administrations.
Calling the rules unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel
industry and other businesses, his administration has weakened
Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions
from power plants and from cars and trucks, and rolled back
many more rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals.
A strange thing happens during particularly wet winters in
California: farmers flood their fields. … Aquifers are the
last line of defense against drought conditions. By flooding
their fields in January, farmers hope to fill these underground
reservoirs with water they can use in August. If a trio of
recent studies prove accurate, one can expect to see this
method deployed more regularly.
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced
today the availability of up to $5 million for wetland
mitigation banks. This funding through the Wetland Mitigation
Banking Program is available to help conservation partners
develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural
producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.
Last week, environmental groups, states, and cities filed three
complaints in differing federal district court challenging The
Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of Waters of the
United States, which was published in the Federal Register on
April 21, 2020, and is currently scheduled to become effective
on June 22, 2020.
At the April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection
Board, Board members heard an informational briefing on the
Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage
Project being planned for the Fremont Weir. Referred to as the
Big Notch, this project will construct a gated notch at Fremont
Weir to create seasonal floodplain habitat for juvenile fish as
well as to improve migration for adult fish.
The U.S. Department of Interior started a water experiment
along the Colorado Friday, May 1, at the Glen Canyon Dam,
located near Page Arizona. The experiment is meant to improve
the egg-laying conditions for insects that live at least some
part of their lives in the water, which are the primary food
source for endangered Colorado River fish as well as native
The Truckee Town Council has approved a resolution to accept
$2.31 million in funds from the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife for the restoration of Trout Creek The money will
be used as part of the project extending Church Street, which
is part of the larger Truckee Railyard Master Plan.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco,
accuses President Trump and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency of illegally exposing waterways to pollution and
development by rolling back a key provision of the Clean Water
Solano County will receive $750,000 from the state Department
of Water Resources for the development of a Cache Slough
Habitat Conservation Plan. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday
approved the agreement with the state…
Two separate coalitions of environmental advocacy groups filed
litigation on Wednesday against the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers challenging
the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Clean Water Act.
The largest wetland restoration project in the history of the
Lake Tahoe Basin is now underway in the Upper Truckee River
Marsh. The major project to restore the marsh in South Lake
Tahoe has been years in the making to fix the environmental
damage done by the creation of the Tahoe Keys.
To prevent flooding and manage water levels in a Sonoma creek,
a pond leveler will be installed where a family of beavers is
living, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said. The pond
leveler will help water transfer through the beaver dam so that
the pond doesn’t cause flooding. It will also assist with
maintaining the habitat for the beavers…
Just days before Covid-19 spurred a vast quarantine-at-home in
California, a crew of workers in downtown Oakland was busily
planting dozens of potted grasses, shrubs and trees in a newly
sculpted garden bed in what had been a gutter and a row of
parking stalls a block from City Hall.
A fundraising campaign is underway for a salt marsh restoration
effort near Martinez that a local nonprofit preservation group
sees as both an educational opportunity and a small component
in improving the ecology of the Contra Costa County shoreline.
Publication of the 2020 WOTUS Rule in the Federal Register is
the final step in the Trump Administration’s repeal and
replacement of the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (“2015
WOTUS Rule”), issued under the Obama Administration.
Publication starts a 60-day clock before the rule goes into
effect and waves a green flag for an onslaught of lawsuits
likely to be filed around the country. The litigation will
undoubtedly run beyond Election Day, so the future of the rule
likely depends on whether Trump wins a second term.
Pulling the plug on the eve of Earth Day, the Environmental
Protection Agency eliminated critical pollution rules from the
Obama era that had safeguarded at-risk ecosystems and drinking
water across the country. The new Navigable Waters Protection
Rule, in the works since President Donald Trump’s inauguration,
was finalized Tuesday.
In the past decade, environmental groups have had success
bringing back patches of life in parts of the river delta. In
these green islands surrounded by the desert, water delivered
by canals and pumps is helping to nourish wetlands and forests.
Cottonwoods and willows have been growing rapidly. Birds have
been coming back and are singing in the trees.
Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week
that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new
executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017
as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown
and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200
volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement
in its programs.
California’s top environmental agency said it would “fill any
enforcement gaps” left by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s decision last month to relax oversight in the wake of
the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a water allocation
update Monday and it had disappointing news for some San
Joaquin Valley farmers, as well as wildlife refuges. The San
Joaquin River Exchange Contractors saw their allocation cut
from February’s announced 100% to 75%, which is their contract
minimum. Wildlife refuges likewise were reduced from 100% to
How critical are Sacramento Valley floodplains for a vibrant
fishery? A California Fish and Game Bulletin from 1930 gives us
a clue. The report documents the Sacramento River commercial
salmon catch declining from 6 million pounds in 1918 to less
than 1 million pounds by 1927.
Our guests discuss what the WOTUS rule is and how it was
developed, what was formerly protected under the Obama era rule
and what water bodies and ecosystem services have lost federal
protection under the new rule. They also discuss whether state
level protections are sufficient and whether science backs the
new rule (it doesn’t).
Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat
for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to
help the state’s salmon populations? Scientists at the
University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork
on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers
might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.
Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in
overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are
seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to
comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
“’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th
generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California. …
Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’
and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land.
As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became
their economic engine.
The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is the largest
tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast. When
complete, the Project will restore 15,100 acres of industrial
salt ponds to a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other
habitats. The Project is intended to restore and enhance
wetlands in South San Francisco Bay while providing for flood
management, wildlife-oriented public access, and recreation.
The preserve [inside the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility
near Chico]—which is overseen by California Open Lands, a local
nonprofit land trust—also has been a focus of the State Water
Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is
investigating the landfill for allegedly discharging last
winter about 24 million gallons of waste-contaminated
stormwater into the preserve and a neighboring watershed.
The Sacramento splittail is a lovely, silvery-white fish that
lives primarily in Suisun Marsh, the north Delta and other
parts of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE; Moyle et al. 2004).
The name comes from its unusual tail, in which the upper lobe
is larger than the lower lobe. It is a distinctive endemic
species that for decades has fascinated those of us who work in
One day after President Trump tweeted his support, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to take
steps today to bring to the floor legislation that would
permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and
address the national parks maintenance backlog, senators said.
… Trump’s tweet was an election-year about-face from his
latest budget proposal, which recommended virtually eliminating
the popular, bipartisan program.
Joining 12 other conservation groups from throughout the
country, the Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network
alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers did not attempt to weigh the potential impacts to
endangered species when it removed millions of acres of
waterways and habitat from Clean Water Act protections in
By this summer, the justices will have decided a case that
could more clearly establish the scope of the Clean Water Act
and a challenge that could more firmly define states’ role in
federal Superfund cleanups. The court has so far been slow to
issue opinions while Chief Justice John Roberts was spending
half of his days at impeachment trial proceedings across the
street on Capitol Hill.
A coalition of environmental groups informed the Trump
administration Tuesday that it would sue over a major rollback
of water protections designed to replace the Obama-era Waters
of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.
Luisa Valiela is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the
watershed division of US EPA Region 9. Xavier Fernandez is the
Chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board’s Planning
and TMDL division. At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference,
Ms. Valiela and Mr. Fernandez gave a joint presentation
covering the goals and objectives of the Wetlands Regional
Monitoring Program, the development process, and the Program
Plan that will be released in early 2020.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s top official in
California was abruptly removed from office Wednesday. No
reason has yet been given for Mike Stoker’s dismissal. …
Stoker’s tenure was mired in controversy. In 2018, a few months
after he was appointed regional administrator, a “hotline”
complaint was filed with the EPA’s inspector general regarding
his infrequent visits to the region’s main office, in San
Deep, throaty cadenced calls —
sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands,
farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each
year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the
Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
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.
Current research shows 11 of the remaining 21 anadromous
salmonids in California are at critical risk of extinction in
the next 50 years under present trends. Estuaries are
especially important to the survival of juvenile salmonids
given their important role, helping to increase the number of
adult salmonids that survive to adulthood and return to spawn.
A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the
Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary
conservation and other water-related initiatives under a
modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25
million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of
Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed,
too. … But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to
clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration
announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams,
wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration.
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.
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
It is doubtful that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule
will provide any benefits to California’s farmers and ranchers.
Because of rules that the State Water Board established last
year, California is unlikely to be affected by the recent
federal regulation that replaces the Waters of the U.S. rule.
Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule
to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying
the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a
common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the
Since the 19th century, close to 90 percent of the marshland
that historically ringed San Francisco Bay has been lost to
development. The effects include diminished wildlife habitat,
increased flood risk, degraded water quality, and far fewer
opportunities for nature-based recreation. In 2016, more than
two-thirds of voters across nine counties supported ballot
Measure AA, a $12 per year parcel tax over 20 years to provide
$500 million in restoration funding to reverse some of those
If the Trump administration’s own scientific advisory board, a
host of biological societies, and scores of former government
agency officials are disappointed, the rest of America should
be fearful and angry.
One of the things that we humans have struggled with for
centuries, and some countries continue to do so, is how to
dispose of sewage and wastewater. People whose sewage is
treated in Arcata have a big advantage that has been copied
many thousands of times across the world. The Arcata wastewater
treatment center and the marsh are the result of science and
engineering that is currently under review.
Democrats and environmental groups on Thursday admonished the
Trump administration for issuing a rule they say sets
protections for waterways back decades; however, it’s shaping
up to be a huge win in GOP-leaning rural America as the Trump
campaign eagerly courts farm country ahead of the 2020
Trump administration officials took a victory lap after they
unveiled their final revisions to Clean Water Act protections
for waterways and wetlands. But the Waters of the U.S., or
WOTUS, replacement rule that EPA and the Army Corps of
Engineers completed yesterday must now survive a possible
Democratic win in the 2020 presidential election and an
expected inundation of challenges in the courts.
Defying environmentalists and public health advocates, the
Trump administration on Thursday will announce the replacement
of Obama-era water protections with a significantly weaker set
of regulations that lifts limits on how much pollution can be
dumped into small streams and wetlands.
At a panel discussion hosted by California Natural Resources
Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the panelists discussed how by
spreading out and slowing down water across the landscape can
provide multiple benefits year-round by allowing farmers to
cultivate the land during the spring and summer, and provide
habitat for fish and wildlife in the fall and winter months.
The conservation district is a special governmental entity that
has been recharging the local groundwater aquifers for 100
years. The Wash Plan will implement water conservation, supply
infrastructure, transportation and aggregate production while
protecting threatened species.
President Trump yesterday touted his repeal of key Clean Water
Act regulations as more than three dozen current and former
government officials called for an investigation into the
scientific basis of his forthcoming replacement rule.
The committee voted to recommend a less stringent definition of
wetlands for the Town Center area. The committee also
recommended a policy that would allow the wetlands located on a
vacant lot behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center to be
reconfigured or even relocated. The recommendations have the
potential to open up the property to more development…
SDSU, with the help of its landscape architect Schmidt Design
Group, hopes to engineer ties to the oft-overlooked San Diego
River, which runs behind the Mission Valley property currently
home to SDCCU Stadium. Although park-goers won’t be able to
access the river — a landscaped buffer will be used to keep
people away from the natural habitat — they should get a
river-like feel from the park.
At the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
Caitlin Sweeney, Director of the San Francisco Estuary
Partnership, briefed the Council on the 2019 update to the
State of the Estuary report. She began with some background on
Slogging through thick mud may not be everybody’s idea of a
rewarding morning, but for a handful of dedicated volunteers,
it meant helping Mother Nature thrive. The Solano Land Trust’s
“Citizen Science Volunteer” program was at Rush Ranch Friday to
plant native plants around an area that has undergone major
tidal marsh restoration project…
The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the
latest conflict in the Delta over farming, wetlands and aging
levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of
life on the man-made islands. The suit, filed in 2018 by a
group called Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the
California Department of Water Resources and the Nature
Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ
sustainable agricultural practices on the property…The stakes
are high because the channels, islands and marshes that make up
the Delta are a catch basin for most of California’s drinking
Evaporation ponds, which are commonly used in many industries
to manage wastewater, can span acres, occupying a large
footprint and often posing risks to birds and other wildlife.
… Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a way to double
the rate of evaporation by using solar energy and taking
advantage of water’s inherent properties.
These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often
rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are
inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be
important for California to develop a scientific program that
can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and
decision-making through these challenges.
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.
The mission to restore the Aliso Creek estuary, spearheaded by
Laguna Ocean Foundation two years ago, received a second gift
from the California Coastal Conservancy this holiday season, a
$400,000 grant to implement the plan’s next phase.
Quick shifts in climate have prompted Los Angeles to consider
an unlikely place to bank some of its Sierra Nevada snowmelt:
beneath dry Owens Lake, which the city drained starting in 1913
to fill the L.A. Aqueduct and supply a thirsty metropolis.
Despite efforts over decades, the Delta’s delicate ecosystem
and species continue to decline. … At the 2019 ACWA Fall
Conference, Vice Chair of the State Water Board DeDe D’Adamo,
Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, and Delta
Stewardship Council Susan Tatayon gave their thoughts on moving
forward in the Delta in this panel discussion moderated by the
Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Director
Despite efforts over decades, the Delta’s delicate ecosystem
and species continue to decline. … At the 2019 ACWA Fall
Conference, Vice Chair of the State Water Board DeDe D’Adamo,
Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, and Delta
Stewardship Council Susan Tatayon gave their thoughts on moving
forward in the Delta in this panel discussion moderated by the
Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Director
Ducks Unlimited has received nearly $5.58 million to restore
603 acres of managed seasonal wetlands to tidal wetlands in the
Hill Slough Wildlife Area of the Suisun Marsh. The grant also
will fund research on greenhouse gasses in the wetlands.
We’ve heard this about earthquakes – it’s not a matter of if
but when the big one will hit. Well, some researchers also say
it’s a pretty similar situation for a major flood in the area.
A research project currently being undertaken at SoCal and
NorCal UC campuses is looking at how flooding could impact the
area, including socioeconomic issues.
Salmon are swimming back into the Lagunitas Creek watershed.
Not only is that a natural phenomena, but it is a sign that
hard work at restoring habitat and promoting greater public
awareness are paying off.
At 65, Lehrer has become Los Angeles’s doyenne of landscape
design and a leading advocate for green urbanism… But the
main project that Lehrer has been tenaciously, tirelessly
working on for most of her career is the Los Angeles River.
It came as a bittersweet surprise to biologists and government
agencies monitoring the steadily shrinking Salton Sea’s slide
toward death by choking dust storms and salt. Thousands of
acres of exposed lake bed have become, of all things, the
unintended beneficiaries of lush marshlands that are homes for
endangered birds and fish at the outlets of agricultural and
urban runoff that used to flow directly into the Salton Sea.
Dr. Rachel Johnson is a research biologist with the NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service and UC Davis with over 15
years’ experience working on various aspects of conservation
and fisheries biology. In this presentation from the 2019 State
of the Estuary conference, Dr. Johnson discussed the importance
of developing a holistic framework among aquatic ecosystems and
After a dry fall, the first storms of the winter kicked off the
annual migration of coho salmon from the Pacific Ocean to the
streams where they spawn. Over 10 inches of rain fell on Lake
Lagunitas last week… Streamflows are now high enough to allow
endangered central California coast coho to migrate.
The report by the Environmental Integrity Project released on
Thursday showed some 30 states have reduced funding for
pollution control programs, 16 of them by more than 20%. Forty
states, meanwhile, have cut staffing at environmental agencies,
half of them by at least 10%, the report showed.
The bitter drought validated scientists’ warnings that despite
longstanding endangered species protections, the state’s
outdated and overtaxed water management plans are failing in
the face of climate change. … A report released Thursday by
the Public Policy Institute of California recommends the state
stop prioritizing individual species recovery plans and adopt
holistic management methods that improve entire freshwater
Over the past three decades, a shoreline lagoon and a historic,
natural lake have been restored. Hundreds of thousands of
native plants — some of them endangered — have been planted.
Indigenous wildlife has returned, and an ancient creek
ecosystem was freed from underground pipes, exposing hidden
streams and ponds that once quenched the thirst of American
Called Bending the River Back Into the City, the project will
churn with water from the river, siphoning a fraction of it out
of the waterway, cleaning that water via “an artificial
treatment wetland” … and then piping it to Los Angeles State
Historic Park and the recently opened Albion Riverside Park and
Downey Recreation Center so it can water plants and other
For as far as I could see, east and west, the banks were
littered with plastic cups, fast-food containers, spray paint
cans and chip wrappers. It had rained a smidgen the day before,
the first wet weather of the season, and this was what had
washed downstream from the area west of downtown Los Angeles.
San Diego researchers will wade into a couple of local
estuaries to deliver biological sentinels — oysters equipped
with sensors that will monitor the bodies of water. The
scientists are looking for insight into a habitat that can
undergo dramatic changes in a matter of hours.
A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s
internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has
retaliated against their state for political reasons, including
by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple
The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly
allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer
and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other
California officials sent mixed signals Thursday when they said
they will sue to block a Trump administration rollback of
endangered species protections for imperiled fish — while also
proposing new water operations that mimic parts of the Trump
plan. The state moves reflect political pressure the Newsom
administration has been under as it confronts one of
California’s most intractable environmental conflicts — the
battle over the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta…
The start of work on the restoration of the Bel Marin Keys
wetlands is another example of efforts to bring back the miles
of wetlands that, over the past century, have been lost to
development, other encroachments and years of sedimentation
Lew Stringer is leading a tour of the massive renovation
of the entire watershed on the Presidio’s waterfront. The
next string of pearls to be unearthed is Quartermaster Reach, a
7-acre salt marsh on the south side of Mason Street. … The
$118 million park project, opening in late Spring of 2020, is
part of a wetlands restoration movement across the Bay Area
that will benefit all species – including us – facing the
uncertain future of climate change.
The treatment plant isn’t only at risk from rising sea levels
… but also from rising groundwater and tectonic forces
causing the land to sink, according to the 2018 assessment
compiled by local sea level rise expert Alderon Laird. Laird
has said to expect .9 feet of sea level rising by 2030, 1.9
feet by 2050 and 3.2 feet by 2070. … Arcata city officials
are discussing moving the treatment … but that’s too
expensive to do right now.
A living shoreline is an alternative to ‘hard’ shoreline
stabilization methods like rip rap or seawalls, and can provide
numerous benefits such as nutrient pollution remediation,
habitat, and buffering of shorelines from storm erosion and sea
level rise. … At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference,
Marilyn Latta from the Coastal Consevancy and Katharyn Boyer
from San Francisco State University gave a presentation on
living shoreline projects in the San Francisco Bay.
Today, the quality of river water has improved markedly since
the early 1970s, though critics say the red tape imposed
through the Clean Water Act has become burdensome. The Clean
Water Act has not been altered much over the past 50 years,
though how we interpret the act has recently changed
Even today, with all we know about the challenges posed by
climate change and sea-level rise, some cities seem determined
to continue to fill and develop their shorelines. One of the
most flagrant examples is taking place in the city of Newark…
On Thursday, the East Bay city of Newark will consider
approving 469 single family homes and 2,739 parking spaces at
the edge of the San Francisco Bay shoreline, on a 430-acre
parcel where conservation groups and state and federal agencies
have for decades hoped to restore wetlands. … The proposal
illustrates one way even straightforward and widely agreed-upon
regional climate solutions can fall apart at the local level…
Napa County and its partners have been presented with the 2019
Outstanding Environmental Project Award by the Friends of the
San Francisco Estuary for ongoing efforts to restore riparian
and floodplain habitat along an important segment of the Napa
An unlikely coalition in California — including
environmentalists, law enforcement agents, politicians,
wildlife ecologists and representatives of the legal cannabis
industry — have joined forces to try to reduce these illegal
operations and the environmental threat they pose.
Instead of pushing efforts to restore wetlands and wildlife
habitat to help our region become more climate resilient,
developers and city leaders are pushing to advance plans to
fill in Newark’s Bay shoreline. The proposed “Sanctuary West
Residential Project,” would build 469 luxury units along the
City of Newark’s shoreline on a 559-acre site…
The vast majority of Arizona waters now regulated by the state
under the federal Clean Water Act could be excluded from
protection under the Trump administration’s narrowed
definitions of federal waters, according to state environmental
Matt Dessert does not want to sue San Diego, nor does he want
to start a legal battle with the state of California. But the
growing threat to Imperial County’s air quality may leave
Dessert, an officer with the county Air Pollution Control
District, with little choice.
While breaking this levee would seem like a catastrophe, state
and federal agencies intend to do just that. The purpose is not
to unleash some biblical, punishing flood, but rather to allow
nature to reclaim nearly 1,600 acres of wetland habitat.
By looking at how to manage levels of salt, mercury and
nutrients heading into the San Joaquin River, researchers are
aiming to boost water quality and reduce impacts on fish and
other aquatic life in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
… The project will examine wetlands — about 40 miles
southwest of UC Merced’s campus — that drain into the San
Flood-MAR is recognized as an emerging water management
strategy that can provide broad benefits for Californians and
the ecosystems of the state, including water supply
reliability, flood risk reduction, drought preparedness,
aquifer replenishment, water quality improvement, and climate
On October 15th, an excavator trundled out onto the narrow
isthmus of land separating the freshwater Tule Red pond from
Suisun Bay and began digging. As the salty water from Grizzly
Bay began to pour through the breach, the 460-acre pond felt
the push and pull of the tides for the first time in a century,
beginning its transition back into marsh habitat.
The Groundwater Resources Association’s 2019 Western
Groundwater Congress featured David Sandino, Senior Staff
Counsel at the Department of Water Resources, who spoke about
the disconnect between legal groundwater systems and how the
system actually works; and Maurice Hall, Associate Vice
President of Ecosystems-Water at the Environmental Defense
Fund, who spoke of how more holistic and inclusive groundwater
management can increase the resilience of our water supply…
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 …
By next summer, the court will make a decision on a key
question: Are pollutants that flow through groundwater from a
single, identifiable source on their way to navigable waters
subject to federal permitting requirements?
Flood-managed aquifer recharge involves moving floodwater from
surface streams onto land where it could percolate into a
groundwater basin. Though the concept sounds simple, it brings
complications that include managing the floodwater, finding
appropriate land to accept it and establishing rights to the
Authorities seized more than $1.5 billion worth of illegally
grown marijuana plants in California this year — an amount an
industry expert said is roughly equal to the state’s entire
legal market — as part of an annual eradication program,
officials said Monday. … Law enforcement raids often find
illegal farms that have dammed or diverted public streams and
dumped dangerous pesticides including carbofuran, methyl
parathion and aluminum phosphate…
The executive director of the San Mateo Resource Conservation
District was admiring the restoration of 8,000 feet of the
Butano Creek stream channel, the largest and most ambitious of
a series of projects the district is spearheading to stop
chronic flooding, bring back endangered fish and restore 28
acres of degraded wetlands at Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.
When the Trump administration finalized its repeal of the
Obama-era Clean Water Rule last month, it also quietly updated
an economic analysis of the repeal’s costs and benefits. The
195-page final analysis is nearly 10 times longer … and
estimates different costs and benefits of repealing the
California regulations protecting wetlands and state waters
were approved by the State Water Resources Control Board and
will take effect on May 28, 2020. These new rules create a more
expansive and complex permitting scheme for developers, public
agencies and others with projects that may impact waters and
Prosecutions of environmental crimes dropped to historic lows
under the Trump administration last fiscal year and one legal
expert believes that could endanger public health. “There’s a
risk that unenforced violations could lead to fires, leaks,
spills, and contamination,” said Ethan Elkind, climate program
director at the University of California, Berkeley School of
A bill that will extend the life of water pollutant regulatory
permits from five years to 10 years for local wastewater
treatment and water recycling infrastructure projects has
passed a key House of Representatives committee.
Get ready for a surge of lawsuits over the Trump
administration’s decision to walk back Obama-era protections
for wetlands and streams. … The cases add a new dimension to
what could soon be a complicated legal quagmire over the Obama
administration’s WOTUS rule and the Trump administration’s
efforts to both erase and replace the regulation.
Santa Fe Dam is an element of the Los Angeles County Drainage
Area (LACDA) flood control system. Watersheds are more than
just drainage areas in and around our communities. They are
necessary to support habitat for plants and animals, and they
provide drinking water for people and wildlife.
The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense
Council, and nine other groups sued Oct. 23 in the U.S.
District Court for the District of South Carolina, accusing the
federal government of breaking the law in its rollback of the
2015 Clean Water Rule.
It was on the Colorado River that González, now 82, taught her
children, just like her parents and grandparents taught her, to
fish with canoes and traps made from willow trees which
flourished on the riverbanks. Now, the river stops at the
US-Mexico border and the lakes are dry and native vegetation is
confined to reforestation projects.
In a move that would boost water deliveries to San Joaquin
Valley agriculture and Southern California cities, federal
fishery agencies are weakening decade-old endangered species
protections for some of the state’s most imperiled native fish
The health of North America’s largest estuary, the San
Francisco Estuary, is showing some signs of improvement, but
much of the historic damage caused to the massive watershed has
either not improved or worsened, according to a new report.
The initiative to establish an ecosystem marketplace began in
2017 with the Noble Research Institute, which started working
on developing protocols to verify carbon sequestration and
improved water quality…