Water quality in California is regulated by several state agencies, including the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and its nine regional boards, which enforce clean water laws and the Department of Public Health.
Water quality concerns are also often involved in disputes over water rights, particularly in situations involving endangered species or habitat.
The State Water Board administers the Clean Water Grant Program that funds construction of wastewater treatment facilities. The State Water Board also issues general permits for municipalities and construction sites that try to prevent contaminants from those sources from entering municipal storm sewers.
Drinking water standards and regulations are developed by federal and state agencies to protect public health. In California, the Department of Public Health administers the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates drinking water quality in the United States.
The interrelated nature of water issues has given rise to a management approach that integrates flood control, environmental water, and water supply. The Yuba Water Agency manages its watershed in this kind of coordinated manner. We talked to Curt Aikens, the agency’s general manager, about the lessons they’ve learned from this “integrated management” approach.
Politicians and environmentalists are ratcheting up the pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to take the first step in regulating drinking water contaminated with a toxic, long-lasting family of chemicals called PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.
That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.
On our Lower Colorado River Tour, Feb. 27-March 1, we will visit this fragile ecosystem that harbors 400 bird species and hear from several stakeholders working to address challenges facing the sea, including managers of the Imperial Irrigation District, the Salton Sea Authority and California’s appointed “Sea Czar,” assistant secretary on Salton Sea policy Bruce Wilcox.
One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny, director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination.
Technology already exists to treat reused water to levels meeting or exceeding health standards. But adequate technical capacity is not sufficient. Water reuse can trigger revulsion, especially when water is reused for drinking or other potable purposes. This note explores outreach and engagement strategies to overcome the “yuck factor” and achieve public support for water reuse.
State water quality officials cautioned the public not to drink or cook with untreated surface water from streams throughout the Camp Fire burn area after bacteria and other contaminants were detected in water samples. … Laboratory analyses of surface water samples found concentrations of bacteria (E.Coli), aluminum, antimony and some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that exceeded water quality standards for drinking water.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.
Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture. Groundwater supplies around the world are being threatened by excessive pumping, but drilling deeper wells is not a long-term solution. A better solution is to manage water use and avoid excessive declines in groundwater levels.
Every winter, forest managers in places like California take a step back, analyze their budgets and plan on how to deal with the next fire season. But the government shutdown has shuttered a lot of those efforts, because federal lands like the U.S. Forest Service— which has been furloughed since December 22 — plays a huge role. For example, crews in Redwood National Park are “just sitting on their hands,” according to University of California fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson in Humboldt County, because they can’t work on federal land during the shutdown.
Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems. Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.
Saying it will continue to protect environmentally sensitive waterways such as wetlands in California, even if federal protections on waters of the U.S. are limited, the State Water Resources Control Board has unveiled a final draft on how it plans to regulate dredge-and-fill activities in the state.
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has spent five years drafting a comprehensive update to 30 sections of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines. Several changes to the Guidelines address two hot button topics: global climate change and statewide affordable housing shortages. Many of the changes will significantly alter the application of CEQA to future projects.
At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. And it could also be a landmark year for water management in California, with several key issues coming to a head.
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, and as climate change and other factors increase the frequency of fires, there is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West — and a lesser known risk to the region’s already endangered water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a scoping report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development on approximately 400,000 acres of BLM-administered public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate lands on tribal and privately held lands in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.
Calls for the federal government to regulate polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been unsuccessful. Last year the Trump administration tried to block a study urging a much lower threshold of exposure. Harvard University researchers say public drinking-water supplies serving more than 6 million Americans have tested for the chemicals at or above the EPA’s threshold — which many experts argue should be far lower to safeguard public health.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’ lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring water quality within California and throughout the Southwest and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River. The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes, water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.
The tenth annual performance report evaluates what the state water boards do and how the environment is responding to its actions. The report presents numerous performance measures for specific outputs and outcomes.
CANCELED: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold one hearing to provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views, or information concerning the proposed rule changes affecting wetlands and ephemeral waters.
A crew was out this week spreading grass seed and straw on hillsides in west Redding to prevent erosion where the Carr Fire burned last summer. So far the California Conservation Corps crew has finished spreading erosion control on about 20 acres out of a planned 1,640 acres where work is planned.
Officials said a water reservoir at Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County tested positive for the bacterial strain and the owners are cooperating with U.S. officials. Officials from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not determined how the water reservoir — which is used to irrigate lettuce — became contaminated.
The equivalent of more than six million gallons a day of raw sewage has been spilling into the Tijuana River since Monday night, according to federal officials. The U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, said Tuesday that counterparts in Mexico informed the agency that the cause of the sewage leak was a ruptured collector pipe.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States, passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city filled with factories that manufacture products from electronics to auto parts.
More than three months after the Carr Fire was contained, the burned out hillsides the deadly blaze left behind continue to pose a threat to water quality in western Shasta County. The barren fire-scarred hillsides could cause drinking water quality problems for communities that rely on water from Whiskeytown Lake, according to a report written for the Shasta County Public Works Department.
The Trump administration is poised to roll back Clean Water Act protections on millions of acres of waterways and wetlands, including up to two-thirds of California’s inland streams, following through on a promise to agriculture interests and real estate developers to rewrite an Obama-era rule limiting pollution.
The Trump administration is expected to put forth a proposal on Tuesday that would significantly weaken a major Obama-era regulation on clean water, according to a talking points memo from the Environmental Protection Agency that was distributed to White House allies this week.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States, passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city filled with factories that manufacture products from electronics to auto parts.
North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire hosted a hearing of the joint committee on fisheries and aquaculture this afternoon, discussing the Dungeness crab season and the issue of whale entanglements. “Domoic acid levels in the Pacific this year have been trending upwards, especially in Northern California,” McGuire said at the start of the hearing, held at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco.
In the waning weeks of the two-year legislative session, Michigan lawmakers and local health departments are negotiating revisions to two bills that would alter the state’s sanitary code for septic tanks and other household wastewater treatment systems. Changes are expected to expand the number of septic inspections in order to identify leaking or broken systems that pollute waters and pose disease risks.
The plumes of smoke from the fire, which has burned 141,000 acres in Northern California, get the most attention, but the Camp Fire is leaving other environmental hazards in its wake: toxic ash from burning homes, polluted water, and burning Superfund sites. … “Anything that’s affecting the air quality will eventually affect water quality,” Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Reznik told Bloomberg Environment.
Losses by green groups in Alaska, Colorado, and Montana contributed to a 2018 election in which water-related policies and funding were on the ballot in at least a dozen local and state initiatives. In two other high-profile decisions, voters in Baltimore backed a first-ever municipal ban on privatization of a city water utility while Californians uncharacteristically rejected an $8.9 billion bond for water projects.
State officials on Wednesday removed the elected board and general manager of a water district that for years has been accused of serving brown, smelly water to its customers in Compton. With a 22-page decree, the State Water Resources Control Board abolished Sativa Los Angeles County Water District’s five-member board of directors and ousted its manager.
Upper Newport Bay will be the second spot in the nation to install a water wheel that collects trash and debris from upstream waterways. On Thursday, Oct. 25, Newport Beach Mayor Duffy Duffield went to Santa Cruz and received a $1.7 million grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to fund the Newport Bay Water Wheel Project.
California officials unveiled a plan Thursday that calls for the state to begin taking concrete steps to deal with an ocean that’s getting more acidic. Ocean acidification is a growing problem that researchers say is only expected to get worse as climate changes impact local ocean waters.
With the state’s recreational Dungeness crab season scheduled to start Nov. 3 and the commercial season Nov. 15, the California Department of Public Health has released preliminary test results on Dungeness crab for domoic acid, the neurotoxin that caused delays in two of the past three crab seasons in the Bay Area.
Independent lab tests ordered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission found no evidence of pesticides in San Francisco’s drinking water, the agency announced Thursday. The SFPUC collected and analyzed 21 water samples following a minor panic last week after several residents in the Sunset District complained that their store-bought water-testing kits yielded positive results for the herbicides Atrazine and Simazine. Their concerns were amplified over social media.
A San Francisco woman who tested her tap water with a store-bought kit and got a positive reading for pesticides, then posted the results to social media, has prompted the city to step up water testing not just near her home in the Sunset District but across the city. Officials at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission insisted Tuesday, for the second day in a row, that municipal supplies are safe to drink.
From the air, Iron Gate Reservoir stretches for miles like a long green banner behind Irongate Dam. … State water quality officials posted signs around the lake in June warning people that coming in contact with the cyanobacteria in the algae can cause sickness in people, pets and wildlife.
A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will expand California’s requirement to test water in schools for lead to day care centers and pre-schools that serve nearly 600,000 children. The law marks the first time California’s day care centers have been required to test for lead in water. Only two other states require both K-12 schools and day care centers to do such testing.
Americans across the country, from [BarbiAnn] Maynard’s home in rural Appalachia to urban areas like Flint, Mich., or Compton, Calif., are facing a lack of clean, reliable drinking water. At the heart of the problems is a water system in crisis: aging, crumbling infrastructure and a lack of funds to pay for upgrading it.
Despite decades of research, the trigger that causes algal blooms to begin poisoning their environment has long confounded scientists. Now, researchers from Scripps and UC San Diego have found the genetic underpinning of domoic acid, a harmful neurotoxin. … In California, closures due to toxic blooms have become increasingly common.
Despite pleas for immediate action from Michigan and New Hampshire residents who live in communities with PFAS-contaminated groundwater, officials from multiple federal agencies testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing that regulatory responses and health studies will take years to complete.
A Compton water district that could be abolished for delivering brown water is waging an eleventh-hour campaign for its survival. The push comes after legislation sailed through the state Assembly and Senate last month that would dismantle the Sativa Los Angeles County Water District’s five-member elected board of directors and install a new general manager by year’s end.
Five years ago, California became the first state in the nation to recognize the human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water. Today, we look at how the state is working to ensure that right and where the biggest concerns for Californians are.
Nine of every 10 illegal marijuana farms raided in California this year contained traces of powerful and potentially lethal pesticides that are poisoning wildlife and could endanger water supplies, researchers and federal authorities said Tuesday. … California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who leads the nation’s largest marijuana eradication program, said state drug agents last week found gallons of carbofuran being added to irrigation water at an illegal site in northwestern California.
Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are rebooting an effort to pass a new tax to attack unsafe drinking water in California. But there’s a twist: The proposed tax on water bills would be voluntary, increasing its chances of success among skittish lawmakers in an election year.
The State Water Board is making it clear that it won’t vote next week on a much-disputed proposal to require higher river flows for improving water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta. Felicia Marcus, who chairs the water board, said in a letter Wednesday to the California Natural Resources Agency that final action will be taken at a board meeting later.
As students head back to class across California this month, many will sip water from school fountains or faucets that could contain high levels of lead. That’s because two-thirds of the state’s 1,026 school districts have not taken advantage of a free state testing program to determine whether the toxic metal is coming out of the taps and, if so, whether it exceeds federal standards.
The Department of Water Resources issued a warning on Friday for those visiting San Luis Reservoir in Merced County: Don’t go in the water. This is based on the potential health risks associated with cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, blooms that accumulate into mats of scum and foam floating on the surface and along the shoreline.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days. … As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in sources of drinking water.
After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush. The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water Resources Control Board.
The U.S. Navy knew as far back as 1993 that the tap water at its former shipyard in San Francisco contained dangerous amounts of lead, but didn’t tell local officials, visitors or people who worked there, including hundreds of police employees stationed at the site since 1997.
This summer has witnessed an explosion of algae problems in Western water bodies. Usually marked by a bright green mat of floating scum, the blooms are unsightly and unpleasant for water lovers. More concerning are potentially toxic cyanobacteria often produced by the algae, which can be deadly to pets and livestock and cause illnesses in people.
Boating, fishing and hiking will be allowed again at Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet starting Friday, July 27 — more than a month after it closed because of an algal bloom outbreak. Water quality tests confirmed the potential health effects of a large bloom of blue-green algae had diminished, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said in a Wednesday, July 25, news release.
Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot for a range of water projects, has support from 58 percent of California’s likely voters, with 25 percent opposed and 17 percent undecided, the poll indicates.
The Lake County Department of Public Health is urging boaters and recreational users to avoid contact with water in Lake County due to a recent bloom of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. The algae, which is seasonal, is currently active in all three sections of the Lake — Lower, Oaks, and Upper.
A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems nationally and respond more quickly to public health emergencies such as the lead-in-the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Andrew Wheeler, the new acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, signaled a more inclusive approach at the agency, telling staffers roiled by months of ethics allegations against his predecessor, “You will find me and my team ready to listen.” … When President Donald Trump called him last week about the job change, the president told him to “clean up the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief,” Wheeler said.
Residents of working-class neighborhoods in Compton and Willowbrook have long fought an uphill battle against their local water district, which over the years has been accused of mismanagement, nepotism, bad service and, most recently, sending brown, smelly water through their taps. Still, Sativa Los Angeles County Water District managed to stay in business.
Authorities in Salem, Oregon, lifted a drinking water advisory on July 3 that had been in place for children and the elderly since Memorial Day weekend, when algal toxins were discovered in the city’s water system. How many other water systems are at risk from the toxin-producing scum that grows in rivers and lakes, particularly in the warmer months?
Frustrated by discolored drinking water pouring from their taps, four Compton residents filed a class-action lawsuit late Monday against their water provider, Sativa Los Angeles County Water District. … It comes days before a crucial decision by county oversight officials on whether to dissolve the small public water district.
Bowing out after months of scandals, Scott Pruitt is turning the Environmental Protection Agency over to a far less flashy deputy who is expected to continue Pruitt’s rule-cutting, business-friendly ways as steward of the country’s environment. … EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, will take the helm as acting administrator starting Monday.
California’s corrections department is spending $46,000 a month to buy bottled water for inmates and staff at a prison in Tracy where it opened a state-of-the-art water treatment plant eight years ago.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
The retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy next month is likely to reshape the high court to the detriment of the environment, legal experts say, potentially limiting progress on such issues as climate change and clean water, even in California, where leaders have long pursued an environmental agenda independent of Washington.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is proposing surrendering some of his agency’s veto power over waste discharges near waterways by mining and development. In a memo released Wednesday by the EPA, Pruitt directs the agency to study renouncing part of its authority under the half-century-old Clean Water Act to veto permits that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or states grant to allow dumping waste into waterways.
The general manager of a small public agency under fire for delivering brown, smelly water to parts of Compton and Willowbrook has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately, the water district board’s attorney announced Thursday night.
A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by the Trump administration because of the “public relations nightmare” it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has been quietly released online. … PFAS [perfluoroalkyl substances] compounds are proving to be pervasive in public water systems and around military bases across the country.
At a town hall Monday, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán alleged that people were paid to pose as residents to speak out in support of an embattled water district, marking a strange twist in the ongoing controversy over discolored water pouring out of taps in Compton and Willowbrook.
In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley, excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence, damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water conveyance.
In California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive farming regions in the nation, an estimated 150,000 people are stuck living with contaminated drinking water. … The good news: Help is available to many of these small community water systems, provided they can merge with a neighboring utility that has clean water.
The Trump administration, after heavy lobbying by the chemical industry, is scaling back the way the federal government determines health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals on the market, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency show.
California voters have approved a ballot measure allowing the state borrow $4 billion for parks and conservation projects that proponents say will help ensure access to clean drinking water. Proposition 68 — one of five statewide measures on the ballot — passed Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote.
With the help of emergency funding requested by Assembly member Joaquin Arambula (D-Kingsburg), whose largely rural district is in the [San Joaquin] valley, the emergency water supply program will likely continue another year at a cost of $3.5 million. Also included in the emergency relief efforts is $10 million to address failing domestic wells and septic tanks, and $10 million for the Drinking Water for Schools Program that funds treatment solutions for schools that struggle with contamination.
In October 2002, the cruise ship Crystal Harmony anchored outside Monterey Harbor, ferrying more than 900 passengers ashore for the day before continuing on its way to Acapulco, Mexico. Later that night, 14 miles off the pristine coastline of Big Sur, the 790-foot-long ship dumped 36,400 gallons of sewage, gray water and oily waste into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Illegal marijuana grows hidden within public lands can be detrimental to the environment and families living close by. Now, local and state leaders are taking a stand. Law enforcement agencies have joined with experts to highlight the damage that marijuana grows have on national forests, the wildlife that inhabit them, and the streams and waterways that flow through them.
An estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems with unsafe drinking water, according to a McClatchy analysis of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board. … Now, after years of half solutions, the state is considering its most comprehensive actions to date. Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Legislature to enact a statewide tax on drinking water to fix wells and treatment systems in distressed communities.
The legalization of cannabis in California has done almost nothing to halt illegal marijuana growing by Mexican drug cartels, which are laying bare large swaths of national forest in California, poisoning wildlife, and siphoning precious water out of creeks and rivers, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Tuesday.
More than half a dozen bills aimed at plastic pollution were introduced in Sacramento this year alone — by both coastal legislators and more moderate inland colleagues who see the potential damage not just in oceans but also rivers, lakes and the state’s water supply. No one, they said, wants to drink a glass of water and wonder if they’re also downing a glass of plastic.
Conservationists in the Lake Tahoe region are celebrating the acquisition by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District of a 206-acre property, Johnson Meadow, in South Lake Tahoe. The property is a key piece of the puzzle for conservation groups who are working to restore the Upper Truckee River watershed and help improve Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity, which has been on the decline in recent decades.
Soaring numbers of water systems around the country are testing positive for a dangerous class of chemicals widely used in items that include non-stick pans and firefighting foam, regulators and scientists said Tuesday. The warnings, and promises by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt of official action to confront the related health risks, came in a summit with small-town and state officials increasingly confronting water systems contaminated by the toxic substances.
Journalists from CNN, the Associated Press and E&E News, a publication that covers energy and environment issues, were barred by the EPA from entering the event, which was focused on harmful chemicals in water. A handful of other reporters from other news organizations, however, were allowed inside the event for Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been previously invited by the agency the day before.
The Trump administration on Friday named Mike Stoker, a Santa Barbara County attorney and former oil company spokesman who some credit with coining the “lock her up!” chants against Hillary Clinton at the Republican Convention in 2016, as the new West Coast head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Stoker will lead the U.S. EPA Region 9 office, which is based in San Francisco.
Concerns are growing over the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate ocean quality grants used by coastal communities to determine whether the water poses a hazard to beach goers. The EPA stopped requesting the $10 million in annual funds in 2013, saying that states, counties and cities were adequately equipped to continuing the monitoring on their own.
Supporters argue that Prop. 68 is good for parks and good for improving water quality statewide. … Critics like state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, believe the debt payments on the bond will be anything but small.
The top United States official at the international agency charged with overseeing efforts to stem ongoing water pollution in the Tijuana River Valley stepped down on Friday. The departure of Edward Drusina, former commissioner of the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, comes as the agency continues to face legal attacks from South Bay cities that routinely shutter beaches due to pollution from south of the border.
Advocates gathered in Merced, and similar demonstrations were held around the state, according to advocates, to get elected officials to support Senate Bill 623, which aims to provide a stable source of funding to implement California’s Human Rights to Water, Assembly Bill 685 from 2012.
San Diego is the only city in California seeking state reimbursement for testing the toxic lead levels in water at local schools, which has cost the city’s water agency more than $400,000. … The requirement, which came in response to a national outcry over lead in drinking water at schools in Michigan, immediately prompted complaints from water agencies that it was an unfunded mandate by the state.
Gaps in funding for water treatment are a major problem in California. Water providers operate independently, relying virtually entirely on customer fees to cover costs. For agencies with scale, money and access to quality water sources, this model works well. But absent those resources, contamination persists for years without resolution.
Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest unresolved water problems in the state.
Western Water writer Gary Pitzer explored how California water regulators are trying to address the impacts on water quality and supply from this newly regulated industry, how federal officials are approaching it and what other states that have legalized marijuana have done. And he addressed the question that remains on many minds: Will growers that have operated in the shadows for years accept the new regulations or shrug them off as too burdensome.
Two different water bonds are set to appear on the California ballot this election season, after a $9 billion measure gathered enough signatures to qualify in November, according to the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday.
The city of Oakland and East Bay Municipal Utility District must pay more than $360,000 for violating the Clean Water Act by allowing untreated sewage into the San Francisco Bay, officials said Tuesday. In 2014, EBMUD and seven East Bay communities it serves, including Oakland and Berkeley, paid $1.5 million in civil penalties for past sewage discharges.
A proposal to borrow $8.9 billion for improvements to California’s water quality systems and watersheds and protection of natural habitats is eligible for the statewide ballot in November, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced in a press release Wednesday.
The Trump administration launched an attack on the science behind many of the nation’s clean air and clean water rules, announcing a proposal Tuesday that would in effect prevent regulators from considering a wide range of health studies when they look at new regulations.
[Arcelia] Duarte is the owner of the Duarte Mobile Home Park near Thermal as well as one of its residents. As normal as her family’s home may appear to visitors, the park’s residents are faced with an issue most of California’s urban dwellers would struggle to fathom: Their water, which comes from a local well, is contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic and bacteria.
A huge oil spill. A river catching fire. Lakes so polluted they were too dangerous for fishing or swimming. Air so thick with smog it was impossible to see the horizon. That was the environmental state of the nation 50 years ago.
For decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.
In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.
As we continue forging ahead in 2018 with our online version of Western Water after 40 years as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.
State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that marijuana was legal.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
A mining company accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday of failing to operate a treatment plant at full capacity, allowing a huge volume of polluted mine wastewater to reach a southwestern Colorado river.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has been methodically weakening air pollution rules over the past year, is now taking control of key decision-making on the protection of streams and wetlands from the agency’s regional administrators, an internal memo shows. At issue is something known as “geographic jurisdiction,” agency speak for which bodies of water do, or do not, fall under the Clean Water Act.
First put forward as Senate Bill 623, then later slipped into the governor’s 2018-19 budget as a trailer bill, the [Safe and Affordable Drinking Water] fund’s purpose is to cover an estimated $140 million each year in improvements and ongoing maintenance in water systems that are out of compliance with water quality standards. The proposed Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund is fueling increased debate in California’s water community and in the Capitol.
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.
When a wildfire leveled a whole neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California, in October, it was just the first disaster for this Wine Country city. A second disaster is now unfolding after chemical contamination was detected in the city’s drinking water following the fire.
Testing is in progress at schools throughout Marin for lead in drinking water, and one fountain has been shut down because of contamination. The testing is being conducted in accordance with Assembly Bill 746. It requires campuses built before Jan. 1, 2010, to receive the testing for lead contamination by July 2019.
A $1.3 trillion spending package approved Thursday by the House and early Friday by the Senate includes nearly $448 million for Environmental Protection Agency programs benefiting regional waters degraded by pollution, overdevelopment and exotic species invasions. … Aside from the Great Lakes, those staying at their current levels include Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay …
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says eradicating lead from drinking water is one of his top priorities three years after the Flint water crisis, and he’s worried Americans aren’t “sufficiently aware” of the threat.
Members of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board gathered in a closed session on Monday afternoon, debating whether to file a lawsuit against the federal government to stem the cross-border flow of sewage, sediment and other contaminants from Tijuana to San Diego.
As part of his final budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown wants new fees on water to provide clean and affordable drinking water to the approximately 1 million Californians who are exposed to contaminated water in their homes and communities each year. … About 100 state residents who lack access to clean drinking water will head to the Capitol today and join with several lawmakers to support Brown’s proposal …
There are almost 100,000 San Joaquin Valley residents living without access to clean drinking water. This is according to a new UC Davis study, which suggests that permanent solutions aren’t that far away.
U.S. scientists studying the effects of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon say they are lacking information on whether the radioactive element is hurting plants, animals and a water source for more than 30 million people. And they would not get to fully gather it if President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget proposal is approved.
A new study could help water agencies find solutions to the vexing challenges the homeless face in gaining access to clean water for drinking and sanitation.
The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) in Southern California has embarked on a comprehensive and collaborative effort aimed at assessing strengths and needs as it relates to water services for people (including the homeless) within its 2,840 square-mile area that extends from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Orange County coast.
The cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego said the International Boundary and Water Commission’s U.S. section has failed to meet obligations under the federal Clean Water Act to treat the runoff from Tijuana, allowing toxins and bacteria to spread in the Tijuana River Valley and out to the Pacific Ocean.
Sand replenishment began last week at Cardiff State Beach, one of the first milestones in a $120 million, four-year effort to restore the San Elijo Lagoon. Improved water quality, greater wildlife diversity, more public recreational trails and a greater resilience to environmental change are among the long-term goals of the restoration, which has been planned for decades.
As Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt jetted around the country last year, regularly flying first or business class at hefty taxpayer expense, his stated mission was often a noble one: to hear from Americans about how Washington could most effectively and fairly enforce the Clean Water Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge led by states and environmental groups to an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that lets government agencies transfer water between different bodies, such as rivers and lakes, without needing to protect against pollution.
Besides challenging federal deregulation, the Bureau of Environmental Justice will prioritize pollution cases that threaten public health, [California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra said. The attorneys will seek to compel businesses and government agencies to clean contaminated drinking water, reduce exposure to lead and other toxins and prevent illegal waste discharges in communities burdened disproportionately by pollution.
To ensure that tap water in the United States is safe to drink, the federal government has been steadily tightening the health standards for the nation’s water supplies for decades. But over and over again, local water systems around the country have failed to meet these requirements.
It [proposed 2019 budget] would remove all EPA funding of cleanup programs for the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and South Florida, including the Everglades and Keys.
Commissions that oversee coastal lands and water pushed the Trump administration to leave California out of plans to expand offshore drilling, saying the state will throw up any barriers possible to prevent pumping and transportation of oil. The warning came weeks after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he wants to open nearly all U.S. coastlines to offshore oil and gas drilling.
The Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, pumps 3 million to 5 million gallons of treated sewage a day down four wells on its property. Once underground, the water does not stay put. It seeps through porous lava rock and then flows into the Pacific Ocean, a half-mile to the southwest.
In its first act to shield California from the Trump administration’s repeal of regulations, the state’s water board has prepared its own rules protecting wetlands and other waters. The proposed new rules, scheduled for a vote by the board this summer, could insulate the state from President Donald Trump’s executive order to roll back the reach of the Clean Water Act.
Hold your canteen under a natural spring and you’ll come away with crystal clear water, potentially brimming with beneficial bacteria as well as minerals from the earth. … But by shunning recommended water safety practices, experts warn, raw water purveyors may also be selling things you don’t want to drink — dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make you sick.
The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pledged that lead regulations will be a prominent feature of the agency’s work in 2018 — but that work will take longer than anticipated. The agency expects that a revision to federal rules that are designed to reduce the risk of lead in drinking water will be published in draft form in August 2018, a seven-month delay from a timetable announced this summer.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt on Thursday defended his frequent taxpayer-funded travel and his purchase of a custom soundproof communications booth for his office, saying both were justified. Pruitt made his first appearance before a House oversight subcommittee responsible for environmental issues since his confirmation to lead EPA in February.
It can be very expensive, for instance, to build a new water treatment plant or connect with one in the next closest town. … Now a team of engineers and students at the University of California, Los Angeles, has developed a water treatment system that fits in a 40ft shipping container.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced Friday that it won’t require mining companies to prove they have the financial wherewithal to clean up their pollution, despite an industry legacy of abandoned mines that have fouled waterways across the U.S.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke said nearly 80% of the country’s forest system resides in the West. Tooke, who became head of the agency in September, addressed the [Western Governors Association] conference Friday and said that in the years ahead his No. 1 goal is to increase efforts that prevent wildfires and reduce community risks — such as mudslides and contaminated water — from burn areas.
The city of San Diego recently cleared a major legal hurdle in its effort to force chemical giant Monsanto to pay tens of millions to clean up local waterways polluted with a class of cancer-linked chemicals, known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Federal and state regulators have in recent years tightened standards for cleaning up PCBs in bays, rivers and creeks.
State officials are under fire for not keeping up with legal requirements to track waterways that are polluted or have other problems that affect using those waterways for activities including fishing and swimming. San Diego Coastkeeper is one of three clean water groups suing the state in an effort to get better water quality.
Chemical fire retardants are considered a vital wildland firefighting tool, helping to slow the spread of flames while ground crews move into position. But as their use increases, the harmful side effects of these chemicals are coming under increasing scrutiny. The chemicals, usually dropped from low-flying aircraft, largely consist of ammonia compounds, which are known toxins to fish and other aquatic life.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
Explore the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Not only does Nevada’s naturally hard water cloud the taste of coffee, experts say — it also requires steady monitoring, even if lawmakers approve cuts to a federal agency that monitors quality. An Oct. 9 coffee tasting at UNLV served as a platform to discuss potential budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency while illustrating how Nevada’s hard water can affect flavor.
In the weeks after Labor Day, one dozen people who live in or visited Anaheim, California fell ill with a common set of symptoms: fever, chills, and coughing. Ten of the 12, all between the ages of 52 and 94, required treatment at a hospital and were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a pneumonia-like illness that attacks the lungs. One person died.
Attorneys on all sides began presenting their cases on the first day of the Measure Z trial on Monday, arguing over whether the voter-approved initiative establishing some of the nation’s toughest oil and gas restrictions is preempted by federal and state authority. … They [oil industry attorneys] argued the Measure Z campaign had misled voters into believing the central issue was fracking and water protection without fully addressing other aspects of the initiative.
Water tests at school drinking fountains across Northern California found dangerous levels of lead and other metals, prompting school officials to shut down the fountains. However, thousands of schools across California have not participated in a state-funded program to test their drinking water, according to an investigation by KCRA 3.
Bursting pipes. Leaks. Public health scares. America is facing a crisis over its crumbling water infrastructure, and fixing it will be a monumental and expensive task. Two powerful industries, plastic and iron, are locked in a lobbying war over the estimated $300 billion that local governments will spend on water and sewer pipes over the next decade.
On October 17, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted new environmental policies to regulate how marijuana growing operations will impact California’s already limited water resources. … Cannabis cultivation can impact local water by reducing flows in streams and creeks or polluting waterways with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.
A growing list of schools across the state are posting high levels of lead flowing out of faucets after the water crisis in Flint, Mich. — in which corrosion of pipes led to leaching of lead into the city water supply — led California officials to push for testing, especially in schools.
The specter of rain washing potentially toxic ash from thousands of burned homes into sensitive Sonoma County watersheds has injected a new sense of urgency to local fire cleanup efforts, with the immediate focus shifting to erosion control needed to safeguard water quality.
Children at an Oakland elementary school have been exposed to water with lead levels four times higher than allowed under federal guidelines, test results obtained Thursday by The Chronicle show. … The district began testing school taps in August in advance of new state requirements, but the results have not been well-publicized.
For many homeowners in Sonoma and Napa counties, nothing could have been more welcome than the splashing of rain that fell on Northern California last Thursday – the first significant precipitation in about five months.
In response to a hepatitis A outbreak that was incubated in unsanitary conditions among the homeless, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a public health emergency last week to contain an epidemic that has killed 19 people this year in California. … Access to adequate sanitation is presumably a component of the state’s human right to water law, which was passed in 2012.
Many of the more than one million Californians who live in mobile home parks drink water that is more polluted and more likely to be cut off than residents who get water from other municipal utilities, according to the most detailed research to date on water access in California trailer parks.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to join the growing legal campaign to force the federal government to do more to stop sewage from spilling over the border from Tijuana that routinely fouls South Bay beaches. “Enough is enough,” Supervisor Greg Cox, whose district includes border region with Mexico, said in a statement.
Environmental advocates are calling on state officials to notify the public about past tests showing high levels of E. coli in Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma, two of the region’s most popular areas for open water swimming and boating. But officials responsible for recreational use on the lakes say the test results cited are too old, while the agency that conducted the tests says it has no responsibility for public notices.
San Diego officials were informed repeatedly of the dangers of disease-carrying runoff from homeless encampments into area waterways, as far as a decade before the current hepatitis A crisis spurred action.
The federal government has strict rules about water that can be bottled and sold as “spring water,” and regulators recently changed their position on whether the water that Nestlé pipes out of the San Bernardino National Forest meets those requirements.
Planned hiring into 2018 covers a range of state agencies: Fifty people are bound for the Public Health Department, 65 are slated to join the Water Resources Control Board … Environmental scientists will be responsible for developing standards for pot grows near streams, to make sure fertilizer or pesticides do not taint the water or harm fish.
Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego took the first step toward suing the federal government to stop wastewater and raw sewage from continually pouring over the border from Tijuana into San Diego County. … On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, as the chair of the State Lands Commission, announced his support for the efforts by local officials in San Diego to address the situation.
Camp Pendleton officials swear that the water consumed by 55,000 Marines and their families is safe, despite a pair of scathing state and federal investigations indicating chronic problems in the treatment systems at the sprawling military base.
As the Cadiz project seems increasingly likely to go forward, Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a statement contending the underground desert water could ultimately contaminate much of Southern California’s water supply.
Signs at Russian River beaches warning of the potential for harmful blue-green algae in the water were being taken down Thursday, after tests failed to detect the presence of algae-related toxins in recent weeks. Only highly diluted concentrations of an algae-produced toxin were found in the river this summer even when tests sporadically came back positive, health officials said.
[Santa Clara] County supervisors have approved a 45-day moratorium on marijuana growing operations that can be extended for two years while they consider next steps in what officials called a changing landscape, as the state drafts its own regulations on recreational pot cultivation. … “The environmental damage we’ve seen is very disturbing,” [Deputy County Executive Sylvia] Gallegos said.
San Diego’s Rose Canyon fault is capable of producing a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that could kill 2,000 people and inflict $40 billion in property damage, according to a preliminary study sponsored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. … The shaking would break scores of water and sewer lines, possibly causing wastewater to spill into San Diego and Mission Bays.
Toxic chemicals from illegal marijuana farms hidden deep in California’s forests are showing up in rivers and streams that feed the state’s water supply, prompting fears that humans and animals may be at risk, data reviewed by Reuters show.
If you drink tap water, you’re probably also ingesting potentially dangerous microscopic plastic fibers. And you’re not alone: That’s likely the case for billions of people across the world, according to a new study from Orb Media.
Levels of E. coli bacteria found in the lower American River exceed the federal threshold for safe recreational use, in part due to human waste from homeless camps, state regulators say. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has proposed adding the bacteria to a list of pollutants that make the lower American River a federally designated impaired water body.
The city [Antioch] has challenged the state Department of Water Resources’ approval of the Twin Tunnels project, alleging that the city itself will still see more salt in the water it uses as a drinking supply.
The [McClellan] Air Force has consistently denied that toxins have escaped the base boundaries and contaminated drinking water supplies, but a series of new lawsuits by two area water districts seeking $1.4 billion in damages has renewed concerns among some who spent years drinking water from area pipes and wells.
Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are considering five proposals that would finance new homes for low-income residents, build parks in neighborhoods without them and restore rivers, streams and creeks among dozens of other projects.
When a therapy dog refused to drink at a San Diego grade school, it was the first clue that something was wrong with the water. Tests revealed why the pup turned up its nose—the presence of polyvinyl chloride, the polymer in PVC pipes that degrade over time. But further analysis found something else that had gone undetected by the dog, the teachers and students of the San Diego Cooperative Charter School, and the school district: elevated levels of lead.
Two popular swim spots — Lake Temescal in Oakland and Quarry Lakes in Fremont — will reopen Saturday after blooms of toxic blue-green algae finally cleared up, the East Bay Regional Park District announced Friday.
An annual analysis of the planet’s climate reaffirms what researchers knew was the case: that 2016 was the hottest year since at least 1880, when reliable global measurements were first kept. … The atmosphere is not only the place with incremental warming: the world’s freshwater lakes are also heating up.
The Russian River tested clean this week for a toxin related to blue-green algae that prompted cautionary signs at 10 popular beaches last month and in each of the past two summers. The river remains open to swimming and other recreation.
In a sweeping legal fight that could affect drinking water supplies for thousands of Sacramento-area residents, two water districts near the old McClellan Air Force Base are suing the federal government for $1.4 billion to clean up the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium from the area’s groundwater supplies.
Marin’s utilities were among nearly 50,000 public water systems examined in the nationwide study by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group. The group acknowledged that Marin and other water suppliers meet government standards, but it says the water frequently contains contaminants in concentrations that exceed levels scientists say pose potential health risks over the course of a lifetime.
California survived its historic drought, in large part by using groundwater. It was a lifeline in the Central Valley, where it was the only source of water for many farmers. California regulators are charged with protecting that groundwater, but for years they failed to do so.
California’s water agency Tuesday agreed to eliminate the cap on hexavalent chromium in drinking water, the toxic chemical made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” The State Water Resources Control Board said it removed the cap after a Sacramento judge ruled in May that its regulation was invalid.
Sonoma County officials posted caution signs at beaches up and down the Russian River on Wednesday alerting visitors to positive test results for a potentially dangerous, naturally occurring neurotoxin linked to harmful algae, a problem surfacing around Northern California this summer.
More than one million people across 16 California counties have excessive levels of a potent carcinogen in their drinking water, and customers are now facing huge rate increases to help pay for water agencies’ compliance with newly-adopted standards. … Beginning January 2018, all drinking water in the state will be required to have TCP levels of no more that 5 parts per trillion (ppt).