News Worth Noting: New urban water conservation standards available; Sacto County Supervisors support bill to require a vote on tunnels; U.S. EPA proposes to add Argonaut Mine site to Superfund list; Bill to improve water systems for poor communities moves forward; Weekly water and climate report

New urban water conservation standards available at State Water Board website

SWRCB logo water boardsFrom the State Water Board:

As allowed by the February 2016 Emergency Regulation for Statewide Urban Water Conservation, many urban water suppliers have new conservation standards effective March 1, 2016.

Today the State Water Board posted two documents to its website.  Both documents are available here (look under the heading: Emergency Regulations Supporting Documents).

Under the Emergency Regulation, suppliers have more flexibility in meeting conservation requirements through adjustments and credits that allow a supplier to modify its conservation standard by up to eight percentage points.  State Water Board staff reviewed supplier-submitted adjustments that it received by March 15, 2016 from 180 suppliers. If a supplier did not apply for the in-lieu climate adjustment or the in-lieu climate adjustment was denied, then the default climate adjustment has been applied.  Submittals that met regulatory requirements have adjustments.

Additionally, the State Water Board seeks input on potential modification of the current Emergency Regulation for Statewide Urban Water Conservation.  An informational workshop is scheduled for April 20, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.  The workshop will be webcast and the deadline to submit comments is April 14, 2016 by 12 noon.  The public notice for the workshop that was sent on March 22 may be downloaded here.

Below is a list of key web links:

Sacramento County Supervisors Support Bill to Require a Vote on Governor’s Tunnels

For a project of this magnitude, scope, and impact, the public ought to have a say.

From the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors:

sacramento-county-sealThe Sacramento County Board of Supervisors took action yesterday to support AB 1713 by Assembly Member Susan Eggman, a bill that would require a public vote of any proposed Delta tunnels project.

For years, Sacramento County expressed concerns and opposition to the Brown Administration’s plan to build two 40-foot diameter tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. For this reason, the Board of Supervisors appreciates Assemblymember Eggman’s leadership on this incredibly vital issue.

“Assemblymember Eggman’s legislation to require voter approval of the Governor’s intrusive twin tunnels proposal is an example of good and transparent public policy,” said Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, Chair of the Board.

“The new proposal is the same package wrapped differently,” said Supervisor Susan Peters. “It is disruptive to the environment and culture of the Delta and does not meet the water needs of the state. It does more harm than good.”

“The public deserves the opportunity to cast a vote on such an enormous and expensive project,” commented Supervisor Patrick Kennedy. “Assemblymember Eggman’s bill rightfully gives the people a voice.”

“Sacramento County continues to welcome ideas about how best to protect the Delta and responsibly convey water in our state, but what we cannot and will not do is agree to compromise our constituents’ way of life in the process,” added Supervisor Phil Serna.

“The Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta is a source of pride for our region.” said Supervisor Don Nottoli. “The Tunnels will forever change its majestic landscape and the natural environment while altering a generations’ old way of life for those who live and work in the Delta.”

Over the past year, the tunnels plan was rebranded and divided into two parts. Previously named the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the plan is now referred to as the “CA WaterFix” and “EcoRestore.” While rebranded, the plan to build the massive tunnels under the Delta remains largely unchanged, which is arguably one of the most egregious parts of the plan. Also of concern is that the bifurcation of the tunnels plan may simplify the state and federal permitting processes, allowing the Governor to move forward more quickly and with less administrative oversight on the project. A project of this magnitude, scope, and impact should have public input by way of a vote.

Sacramento County remains concerned about the negative impacts that the tunnels will have on the Delta’s thriving agriculture industry, infrastructure (road and utilities), water supply, flood protection and socioeconomics as the approval of the project could result in the destruction of the Delta as we know it today.

Sacramento County’s chief concerns are as follows:

  • It proposes to irreversibly change, and in many instances permanently destroy, the generations-old socioeconomic fabric and physical landscape of the Delta.
  • It will not produce a single drop of new water, but will leave a legacy of negative impacts on the Delta, its economy, and its people.
  • The tunnels have a 10-12 year construction period and will result in major negative impacts to the lives of Delta residents, the local and regional economy, and its irreplaceable natural resources.
  • It neither solves California’s water management problems nor helps to address the Delta’s degrading ecosystem.
  • Water modeling continues to show the Folsom Reservoir likely going to “dead pool” approximately once every 10 years, severely impacting access to surface water (the primary source of water) for significant urban populations in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado counties. This would severely impact the region’s larger economy, property values, and livability.

Visit www.delta.saccounty.net to get the latest Delta news, tell your Delta story, and get involved.

U.S. EPA Proposes to Add California Mine Site to Superfund’s National Priorities List

From the US EPA:

epa-logoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add eight hazardous waste sites to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL), including California’s Argonaut Mine. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country that pose risks to human health and the environment.

The Argonaut Mine Site, located west of downtown Jackson, Calif. in Amador County, is a historic hard rock gold mine that operated from the 1850s to 1942. The Argonaut Mining Company processed ore and disposed of tailings (i.e., waste left after the mining process) throughout what is now the northwest side of Jackson.

“Though the Argonaut Mine closed more than 70 years ago, its toxic legacy threatens the health of people and natural resources in Amador County,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Adding the site to the National Priorities List is a crucial step in developing a long term solution for this site.”

As a result of years of mining operations, the site’s soil contains high levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury. An additional estimated one million cubic yards of contaminated materials are currently being held back by the 100-year old Eastwood Multiple Arch Dam.

In 2015, EPA took action to keep people from being exposed to the highest levels of contamination. This work included the cleanup of eleven residential yards and a vacant lot in Jackson, and the installation of a protective cover on steep soil slopes at Jackson Junior High School.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is evaluating options to stabilize the dam, which is structurally unstable and deteriorating due to age; a potential dam failure poses a threat to the safety of the community. As part of this effort, DTSC built a stormwater diversion system to keep water from collecting in the tailings behind the dam and relieve some of the stress the dam is experiencing.

Click here for more information from the US EPA.

In wake of Flint, California moves to improve water systems for poor communities

Bill to help provide safe drinking water and wastewater service for all Californians moves forward

From the Office of Senator Lois Wolk:Wolk

“Legislation to prevent ongoing drinking water contamination like that seen in Flint, Michigan, from harming families in disadvantaged communities throughout California was approved today on a 5-1 vote by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

Senate Bill 1318, authored by State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), would help protect hundreds of thousands of California families living in communities that still have no access to safe and reliable drinking water or adequate sanitation services.

“All Californians have the right to safe drinking water,” Wolk said. “For too long, these disadvantaged communities have been left behind. SB 1318 will help provide families in these communities with long overdue access to clean, safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services and prevent another situation like the world saw in Flint, Michigan.”
Under Wolk’s SB 1318, cities and special districts would be required to offer wastewater and drinking water services to disadvantaged communities prior to extending services to other areas.

“It defies reason that there are communities in California that lack safe drinking water and sewer services,” said Phoebe Seaton, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, which is sponsoring SB 1318. “That many of these communities lie within a stone’s throw of cities with good water systems defies justification.”

Reinelda Palma, a resident from Matheny Tract in Tulare County, spoke at the hearing on her community’s lack of sewer service. She was one of several affected community members to testify in support of the bill.

“We’re not asking for much,” Palma said. “We’re just asking to be treated fairly. Why did they run a sewer pipe alongside our entire community, only to connect new businesses to the line but deny us the same opportunity?”

Also testifying in support of the bill was Deborah Ores, an attorney and legislative advocate with the Community Water Center.

“Hundreds of communities throughout California lack the infrastructure to provide safe, clean, and affordable drinking water to their residents. Yet all too often, counties overlook the drinking water and wastewater needs of low-income communities, especially when pitted against the demand for new development, depriving communities of the human right to water,” Ores said.

SB 1318, which will next be heard by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, is also supported by groups including California League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club California, NRDC, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Justice, Coalition for Water, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

The other measures in Wolk’s water package, SB 1317 and SB 1340, will be heard April 12th in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.

SB 1317, also known as the Aquifer Protection Act, would protect the state’s aquifers and groundwater resources from permanent damage by halting the proliferation of new wells in 21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins. SB 1340 promotes water efficiency by requiring a permit for the installation, expansion or replacement of irrigation systems for large landscape projects starting July 1, 2017.

Weekly Water and Climate Update: Unusually dry conditions across the West this week

From the USDA:

precip mapThe Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

The 7-day precipitation percent of average map shows a large contrast from last week with much of the West reporting little to no precipitation. The only above average precipitation was in a small area east of the northern Rockies and in the Black Hills of South Dakota.’

Click here to read the report.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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