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
Working over the last year, construction crews expect to
complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It
will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres,
or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had
been diked and drained for agriculture and development during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Now in its second year, a long-term project intends to learn
whether rice farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can
succeed economically while helping to preserve the region’s
uniquely carbon-rich peat soils.
Local environmentalists won a key victory this week when the
regional water board approved a $1.25 million study focused on
transforming much of Mission Bay’s northeast corner into
marshland, which could help San Diego fight sea level rise.
In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created
equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be
recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers
has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer
those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire
For most of the past 48 years, the Clean Water Act produced
dramatic improvements in the quality of our nation’s rivers,
lakes and coastal waters. … Unfortunately, the Trump
administration’s unrelenting rollback of clean water
protections is stalling progress toward fixing these problems
and endangering a half-century’s worth of gains.
The solutions are not just about spending money, but changing
how we do coastal development — fewer expensive seawalls and
roads, and more “living shorelines” and coastal parks that can
The coastal wetlands of Orange and Los Angeles counties, once
scorned for the obstacles they posed to the construction of
roads and buildings, have been squeezed by development to less
than 10% of their 19th-century size. But recently approved
funding for improvements at two Huntington Beach preserves
offer evidence of a growing recognition of the beneficial role
they play for man, flora and fauna alike.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken a dramatic
step to encourage communities to use environmentally friendly
features such as wetlands for flood protection instead of
building sea walls and levees.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
Volunteer citizen scientists working with the League to Save
Lake Tahoe conducted surveys of Donner and Spooner lakes to
detect aquatic invasive species, and restored native wetland
habitat in Johnson Meadow in September. Both efforts are aimed
at preserving the Tahoe-Truckee region’s unique ecology.
As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento
Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now
a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River.
Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies
continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to
serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs
and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating
along the Pacific Flyway.
Naturally when I say, “cold water,” what comes to mind are
lakes, rivers, wetlands, delta, estuaries and even reservoirs.
These are the areas that I spend the most time fishing,
boating, swimming, rafting etc. However, our natural cold-water
resources include a few lesser-known components that are just
as important to the entire operating system.
A federal judge ruled Monday that a sprawling collage of salt
ponds in Redwood City is subject to protection under the Clean
Water Act — going against a previous decision by the
Environmental Protection Agency that would have eased
development along the bay.
Developing a lithium industry in California’s Salton Sea, an
area that experts think could supply more than a third of
lithium demand in the world today, could help set up a
multi-billion dollar domestic supply chain for electric vehicle
batteries, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.
In June, the Trump administration’s new version of which waters
are protected under the Clean Water Act took effect. The new
rule is an about-face from the Obama-era regulations, and
Arizona state regulators are trying to make sense of it.
Called the Three Creeks Parkway Restoration, the $9 million
project will yield two acres of floodplain and a canopy of
riparian trees set in nearly 4.5 acres of grassland and oak
woodland. Construction began in May and is scheduled for
completion at the end of the year…
Assessments of the worst-case scenario predict the Bay may rise
a damaging 1.9 feet by 2050 and as much as nearly 7 feet by
2100. Restoring even a fraction of the Bay’s lost wetlands
would provide long-lasting benefits.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday added his signature to a new law
that orders the formation of a commission to study the
feasibility of lithium extraction around the Salton Sea. Local
politicians hope the commission will lead to the creation of a
green economy around the state’s largest lake, which is a
geothermal hotspot. It was one of several bills focused on
California’s environment that Newsom dealt with this week.
Clean air, clean water and a functioning ecosystem are
considered priceless. Yet the economic value of nature remains
elusive in cost-benefit analysis of climate policy regulations
and greenhouse-gas-reduction efforts. A study published Monday
in the journal Nature Sustainability incorporates those
insights from sustainability science into a classic model of
climate change costs.
The collaborative design process for the Franks Tract Futures
project brought initially skeptical local stakeholders on board
and is being hailed as a model for future initiatives. Yet
major uncertainties remain as interested parties explore the
challenges of implementing a complex redesign of a big chunk of
The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as
DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality. On
Sept. 15, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to
moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a
master planning process.
Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton
Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological
crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to
shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.
Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute
extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their
multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in
California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46%
below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.
The absence of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the
Supreme Court this coming term is unlikely to change the
outcome of two looming battles over water rights and Endangered
Species Act records, but legal experts say her death will have
a lasting impact on environmental jurisprudence at the nation’s
A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds,
and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and
create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can
shelter. In some cases, the rodents’ engineering can even stop
fire in its tracks.
In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting
pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast
engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of
Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of
testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary
and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next
steps in managing floodplains for salmon.
Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the
Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development
Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year
300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada
and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the
pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.
Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile
salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an
important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and
attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down
with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources
environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and
her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo
For years, a stretch of Chorro Creek near Hollister Peak ran
through active farmland, where its flow was diverted for
irrigation and its banks were shored up by levees, blocking the
water’s natural access to its floodplain. … After nearly two
decades of planning and fundraising, the Estuary Program and
its partners recently completed a major restoration of the
Along a Huntington Beach coastline dotted with oil rigs and a
power plant, one of California’s largest remaining saltwater
marshes has been a source of pride for local environmentalists.
But the marsh, known as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, is endangered
despite a years-long struggle to pull together sufficient
public funding for its upkeep.
A top water regulator from New Mexico yesterday warned senators
that hardrock mines, wastewater facilities and other industrial
entities could face stricter environmental oversight as the
Trump administration’s Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule takes
Responding to the lack of progress in 2017, the State Water
Resources Control Board ordered the California Natural
Resources Agency to adopt a 10-year plan to implement projects
to suppress the harmful dust and restore habitat. … But in
the three years since the water board’s order, progress has
been dismal, even though there is more than $350 million
available to implement the plan.
As wildfires burn across California, temperatures hit record
highs, and communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis,
biologist Caroline Brady is helping respond to a different
disaster: the worst avian botulism outbreak that anyone can
remember at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear
Wednesday from an Iowa farmer, a Florida developer and a New
Mexico regulator, who are expected to discuss the Trump
administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule and weigh in on the
environmental and public health issues raised by rolling back
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all
sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to
sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself,
development and other land use changes have left only a tiny
fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by
scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical
streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the
Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.
The idea was to lower the flows while temperatures were still
warm enough to dry out the caddis larvae. That required buy-in
from local merchants and the Bureau of Reclamation, local
tribes and others. They were able to do it, and on Aug. 27, the
first of two flow reductions took place. When the river
dropped, people pitched in for a day of river cleanup.
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
Coal miners, stone quarrying companies, and other businesses
are rushing to lock down any exemptions to federal water
jurisdiction for at least five years, under changes the Trump
administration recently made to the nation’s water rule. … A
decision that might in some instances have taken multiple site
visits and nearly three years now can come as quickly as a day,
the data show.
The California Natural Resources Agency announced it will be
hosting a new round of public engagement sessions in September
to get input to assist in the development of wildlife habitat
restoration and dust suppression projects for the Salton Sea
Management Program’s 10-year plan.
If current predictions hold, the entire Palo Alto Baylands
could be submerged by the middle of the century because of sea
level rise, a destructive predicament that would threaten both
the sensitive habitat and the critical infrastructure in the
nature preserve. To prepare for rising tides, the city is
moving ahead with the creation of a new Sea Level Adaptation
A federal judge took a no-nonsense approach Friday to a hearing
on the White House’s rewrite of the National Environmental
Policy Act, grilling conservation groups on how they’ll be
harmed and chiding the Justice Department for glossing over the
political motivations behind the rules.
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
The owner of a Suisun Bay island violated the federal Clean
Water Act when he destroyed marshland by building a levee and
dumping dredged material while building duck-hunting ponds, a
federal judge ruled Wednesday. The ruling is the latest in a
years-long battle between regulators and John Sweeney, who owns
an island in Suisun Bay, a tidal channel and marsh area
northeast of San Francisco.
Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially
altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that
sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native
fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from
On Aug. 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a service
contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an
existing wetlands on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at
Alameda Point. The wetlands project is being implemented to
offset impacts to wetlands areas elsewhere on the VA property
where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will
The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental
reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects
during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick
review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in
Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast;
and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.
The California Natural Resources Agency has released a draft
project description for the Salton Sea Management Program Phase
I and announced a series of virtual public workshops for
community input. The project description identifies habitat
restoration and dust suppression projects to revitalize the
environment and protect public health.
Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If
California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the
western coast of the North American continent will be damaged.
Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water
relationship that has a personally significant impact to your
The Clean Water Act previously allowed states to halt projects
that risk hurting their water quality, but that power was
scaled back by the EPA in June, a move Administrator Andrew
Wheeler said would “curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that
have held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.”
The latest suit argues the Trump administration is
inappropriately denying states veto power over major projects
that pose risks to their waterways.
As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous
legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on
fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared
down their legislative packages to focus on a response to
COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on
environmental justice and natural resources stalled.
California rice growers wishing to participate in a
state-funded program to flood their fields for winter wildlife
habitat have until Sept. 14 to submit their requests to the
state. Growers who qualify this year will receive $15 per acre
to flood their rice fields.
While the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex deals
with one of its biggest botulism outbreaks in recent history,
emergency water deliveries from the Klamath Project have
prevented the situation from worsening. The waterborne
bacterial illness, which causes paralysis and often leads to
death, has impacted more than 15 percent of the molting birds
currently on Tule Lake’s main sump.
California’s rivers and aquatic species are in trouble, but
restoration projects often get bogged down by lengthy
permitting processes. Sustainable Conservation has been at the
forefront of finding ways to speed up badly needed restoration
projects with improved permitting. We talked to Erika
Lovejoy—director of Sustainable Conservation’s Accelerating
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s main open body of water,
Sump 1A, had been exceptionally low for weeks. The hot sun
baked the shallow water during the day, and warmer nighttime
temperatures ensured it stayed hot. Dormant bacteria awakened
on the lake’s fringe wetlands, carrying with them a paralyzing
and potentially fatal toxin. Beneath the cover of smoke began
the refuge’s worst botulism outbreak in years.
If Democrat Joe Biden wants to scrap the Trump administration’s
definition of which waters qualify for federal protection,
experts say he’ll face a heavy legal lift, lengthy rulemaking,
and an onslaught of opposition from industry, ranching and
Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain
stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on
Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to
study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.
With up to $4,058,220 available, the program provides economic
incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their
properties in accordance with a management plan developed
through a consultation with biologists from California
Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat
Program for a two-year period.
The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling
crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing
extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands
habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population
numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the
Last month, an international team of scientists, including
Berkeley Lab’s William Riley and Qing Zhu, published an update
on the global methane budget as part of the Global Carbon
Project. … They built one of the computer models that allows
scientists to quantify these methane emissions from wetlands at
The dredging is taking place in a vast sewage treatment pond.
And the material being removed is biosolids, which is another
way of saying sewage sludge. About 3,500 tons of biosolids will
be piped from the pond this summer to be dewatered. It is
ultimately trucked a short distance and spread over a NapaSan
field where a farmer grows sorghum.
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
A stretch of concrete and asphalt that was once an aircraft
taxiway will be removed so the site along San Francisco Bay can
be converted to a wetlands park, according to a proposal the
city is considering.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.