U.S. EPA Proposes Greater Protection from Selenium in San Francisco Bay and Delta
Threatened and endangered species at risk from selenium
From the US Environmental Protection Agency:
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a federal Clean Water Act rule to tighten the current selenium water quality criteria for the waters of San Francisco Bay and Delta. The proposed change would better protect aquatic species, including salmon, smelt, and diving ducks, that are dependent on the Bay and Delta ecosystem, from harmful exposure to elevated levels of selenium.
“Reducing selenium in the San Francisco Bay and Delta will benefit the wildlife that are part of this critical ecosystem,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This proposal is based on years of scientific study, and will accelerate the restoration of the Bay and Delta.”
The Bay and Delta support a significant diversity of fish and wildlife species including federally listed threatened and endangered green sturgeon, Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, delta smelt and the California Ridgway’s rail, as well as many migratory bird species that use the estuary as a wintering ground.
Selenium levels from agricultural runoff and oil refinery discharges have been reduced due to previous state and federal regulatory requirements. EPA set selenium limits for the Bay and Delta in 1992, yet the latest research on bioaccumulation of selenium indicates that the existing federal criteria of 5 parts per billion are insufficient to protect aquatic and aquatic dependent species in these water bodies. Today’s proposal calls for more stringent selenium water quality criteria of 0.2 parts per billion, which would be the basis to limit selenium sources through the implementation of state regulations.
Ambient selenium conditions in the Bay and Delta must remain low to sustain healthy populations of fish and wildlife. The population explosion of an invasive clam species, commonly known as Corbula, has resulted in a rapid rate of acceleration of selenium accumulation in the food chain of fish and bird species in the Bay and Delta. EPA scientists considered this fact and the latest science on selenium toxicity and accumulation to determine the new and revised criteria for whole body and muscle fish tissue, clam tissue, and water column concentrations.
The proposed rule will be available to the public for a 60-day comment period following publication in the Federal Register. EPA will also host a virtual public hearing on August 22, and in-person public hearings in its San Francisco office on August 23. For more information, including a prepublication of the rule, please visit EPA’s website at: https://epa.gov/wqs-tech/water-quality-standards-establishment-revised-numeric-criteria-selenium-san-francisco-bay.
DWR Releases Draft of Approved Changes to California Groundwater Basin Boundaries
From the Department of Water Resources:
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released a draft of its approved changes to California’s groundwater basin boundaries, taking an essential step in implementing the historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and empowering local agencies to bring groundwater basins into sustainable patterns of pumping and recharge.
SGMA initially established the basin boundaries as defined in Bulletin 118, a comprehensive report on California groundwater resources that is periodically updated by DWR. A provision of SGMA, Water Code 10722.2, established a process for local agencies to request that DWR modify those boundaries to improve coordination and promote statewide sustainable groundwater management.
The draft Approved Basin Boundary Modifications was developed through DWR’s technical review of basin boundary modification requests and public comment made during the submission period, January 1, 2016 through March 31, 2016. Future basin boundary modification submission periods will likely be based on demand and coordinated with 5-year updates to Bulletin 118.
Following the adoption of DWR’s Basin Boundary Regulations in November 2015, DWR provided an online Basin Boundary Assessment Tool to inform local agencies and the public about the existing Bulletin 118 groundwater basins and other relevant geologic and geographic data. DWR’s Basin Boundary Modification Request System (BBMRS) enabled local agencies to submit their requests for basin boundary modifications online and the public to view those requests and provide comment.
DWR will hold a series of public meetings in mid-July to present the Draft Approved Basin Boundary Modifications, provide an overview of the BBMRS and technical review process, answer clarifying questions and receive further public comments on the Draft Approved Basin Boundary Modification submissions. The meeting schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, July 12, 2016 – Redding
Event Time: 6:00 PM
777 Cypress Avenue, Redding, CA 96001
Civic Center Community Room
Wednesday, July 13, 2016 – Clovis
Event Time: 2:00PM
808 4th Street, Clovis, CA 93612
Veteran’s Memorial Building, Freedom Room
Thursday, July 14, 2016 – Santa Ana
Event Time: 1:00 PM
505 E. Central Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92707
Delhi Community Center, Ballroom
Friday, July 15, 2016: West Sacramento
Event Time: 3:00 PM
3500 Industrial Boulevard, West Sacramento, CA 95691
NCRO Conference Room
After the July public meetings, the public comments will be summarized and presented to the California Water Commission, which will hear the modifications and provide the public an opportunity to comment. Following consideration and potential incorporation of comments heard, DWR will publish the final basin boundary modifications. In accordance with SGMA, these new basin definitions will be evaluated under the basin prioritization process and documented in the interim update of Bulletin 118, expected later this year.
For more information regarding California’s groundwater basins and subbasins please visit: For more information, please visit the Basin Boundary Modifications webpage.
This is the fifth year of California’s drought. To learn about the actions the state has taken to manage our water systems and cope with the drought’s impacts, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com.
Delta Conservancy’s Proposition 1 Draft Grant Guidelines Available for Public Comment
From the Delta Conservancy:
The Delta Conservancy has released for public comment its Draft Grant Guidelines for the 2016-2017 Proposition 1 Ecosystem Restoration and Water Quality Grant Program proposal solicitation. The Draft Grant Guidelines can be found here.
To be considered, public comments must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31, 2016. Comments should be explicit and constructive in order to facilitate the Conservancy’s ability to respond to them.
The Conservancy will host a public comment workshop on Wednesday, July 20th from 1-3pm at the Delta Conservancy’s office located at 1450 Halyard Drive, Suite 6 in West Sacramento.
More information about the Prop 1 grant program can be found here.
Reclamation Announces $2.9 Million in Water Use Efficiency Grants
From the Bureau of Reclamation:
The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of five projects across California to receive a total of $2.9 million in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants for fiscal year 2016. Combined with local cost-share contributions, approximately $10 million in water management improvement projects will be implemented during the next 24 months.
The selected projects will conserve an estimated 10,275 acre-feet per year of water, contributing to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program objectives of improving ecosystem health, water supply reliability, and water quality. California and federal agencies are partners in the 30-year Program (2000-2030).
Reclamation selected the projects through a competitive process, giving priority consideration to projects that address CALFED goals on a statewide basis. The following provides details on the selected districts’ projects and federal cost share:
Biggs-West Gridley Water District, $747,311 This project will conserve water by reducing operational spillage through a combination of infrastructure modernization improvements and implementation of a canal operations decision support system. Modernization improvements will be made at 130 customer delivery turnouts to provide accurate delivery measurement; improvements at nine canal headings to provide improved flow measurement; and flow measurement and real time monitoring at six primary operational spills. Real-time monitoring will be implemented through the District’s new Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. Annual water savings will be 3,320 acre-feet per year; lifetime water savings will be 116,200 acre-feet. Total project cost is $1,494,622 with a federal cost-share of $747,311.
Cawelo Water District, $375,000 The District will install a 1.8-mile long, 36-inch diameter, bi-directional, intertie pipeline. The intertie pipeline will allow for the efficient conveyance of surface water into the District from the Friant-Kern Canal and the efficient return of water stored in the District back to the Friant-Kern Canal. The project will conserve groundwater by allowing for the piped delivery of surface water to in-district irrigation distribution systems or spreading facilities. The project improves the efficiency of the District’s in-district water management by decreasing seepage loss through use of the intertie pipeline instead of relying on the 2.4 miles of unlined canals. Annual water savings will be 358 acre-feet per year; lifetime water savings will be 17,919 acre-feet. Total project cost is $2,772,345 with a federal cost-share of $375,000.
Firebaugh Canal Water District, $290,000 The project will replace approximately 1.8 miles of the District’s unlined 2nd Lift Canal with a concrete-lined canal. The project will encourage growers to utilize high-efficiency irrigation systems, reduce tail water production, and promote water conservation. Annual water savings will be 220 acre-feet per year; lifetime water savings will be 6,600 acre-feet. Total project cost is $1,198,100 with a federal cost-share of $290,000.
Richvale Irrigation District, $748,319 The project will conserve water through infrastructure modernization improvements that will result in reduced operational spillage and reduced farm deliveries through increased efficiency. Modernization improvements to the District’s infrastructure will include improvements at 14 check structures and lateral canal headings along the Main Canal and Main West Canal to provide improved water level control, flow control, flow measurement, SCADA system, and automation. The project will improve delivery flexibility and steadiness for 22 delivery turnouts along the Main Canal and Main West Canal and 110 delivery turnouts along lateral canals. These turnouts serve approximately 40 percent of the District’s irrigated area. Annual water savings will be 3,790 acre-feet per year; lifetime water savings will be 113,700 acre-feet. Total project cost will be $1,496,638 with a federal cost-share of $748,319.
Reclamation District 108, $750,000 The project will replace 26 manual control gates with automated control gates along with remote monitoring capability to provide system-wide management and monitoring and will replace over two miles of unlined earthen ditches with a pipeline to reduce seepage and provide the flexibility and infrastructure suitable for high-efficiency irrigation systems. The pipeline project will support abandoning a point of diversion without National Marine Fisheries Service approved fish screens. Annual water savings will be 2,587 acre-feet per year; lifetime water savings will be 61,600 acre-feet. Total project cost is $3,000,000 with a federal cost-share of $750,000.
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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.