NEWS WORTH NOTING: State Water Board staff proposal for urban water conservation emergency regulation; California Water Systems to Provide Lead Testing For Schools; New paper: Sharing groundwater: A robust framework and implementation roadmap for SGMA

State Water Board staff proposal for urban water conservation emergency regulation

This morning, the State Water Resources Control Board will hold a workshop to receive input on the extension and potential modification of the current Emergency Regulation for Statewide Urban Water Conservation.

In advance of the workshop, water board staff released their proposal, which basically calls for continuing the existing stress test approach for urban water suppliers, and to continue all other aspects of the existing emergency regulation, including monthly reporting on water production and local enforcement action, prohibited water uses, and ability to issue Informational and Conservation Orders.  Staff also proposes to add Water Board enforcement authority against municipalities that issue fines or citations for brown lawns in violation of statute.

Read the staff proposal by clicking here.  You can watch the urban conservation workshop beginning at 10am by clicking here.

California Water Systems to Provide Lead Testing For Schools

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

In an effort to further safeguard California’s water quality, K-12 schools in the state can receive free testing for lead under a new initiative announced today by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Board is requiring all community water systems to test school drinking water upon request by the school’s officials.

There are approximately 9,000 K-12 schools in California, most of which are served by more than 3,000 community water systems in the state. While these community water systems extensively and regularly test their drinking water for lead, lead could get into clean water at a school campus if there were corroded pipes or old fixtures at the school.

Because California has newer infrastructure and less corrosive water than other parts of the country, lead problems at the tap are uncommon. However, national events have highlighted the importance of ongoing water quality monitoring and in 2015 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed the State Water Board to incorporate schools into the regular water quality testing that community water systems conduct at customer’s taps.
“While the presence of lead in California’s water infrastructure is minimal compared to other parts of the country, additional testing can help ensure we are continuing to protect our most vulnerable populations,” said Darrin Polhemus, deputy director of the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water.

Under the new requirement, testing is voluntary for schools, but if the schools make a written request, the community water systems must collect the samples within three months and report the results back to the school within two business days. Sampling locations can include drinking fountains, cafeteria and food preparation areas, and reusable water bottle filling stations. The one-time program extends until Nov. 1, 2019.

The community water systems are responsible for the costs associated with collecting drinking water samples, analyzing them and reporting results through this new program. In addition, the State Water Board’s Division of Financial Assistance will have some funding available to assist with addressing lead found in tests, with a particular focus on schools in disadvantaged communities.

Under the federal Lead and Copper Rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already requires public water systems to test for lead at customers’ taps, targeting the highest risk homes based on the age of their plumbing. California’s compliance rate with the Lead and Copper Rule is among the highest in the country, but the rule does not require testing for schools and businesses. The Board’s new requirement ensures schools that want lead testing can receive it for free. The Board consulted with water systems and schools in developing the requirement.

Existing federal and state programs provide guidance to help schools determine if a lead problem exists and how to remedy the contamination. And many school districts have already implemented testing programs.

Protecting children from lead exposure is important for their development and lifelong good health.

For more information on the lead sampling for schools program, see our frequently asked questions section of the lead sampling website.

New paper: Sharing Groundwater: A Robust Framework and Implementation Roadmap for Sustainable Groundwater Management in California

From the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions:

This working paper offers a framework and roadmap for development of a robust groundwater-sharing system consistent with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires communities in priority areas to prepare groundwater sustainability plans.

The proposed system draws on global experience.  Robustness is its signature feature. Opportunities are maximized by a suite of robust local governance, allocation, and administrative arrangements.

Additionally, the proposed system incentivizes innovation, stimulates investment, and facilitates low cost adjustment to changes in groundwater demand.  Among the dynamic components underlying this sharing system is a share register that records ownership and transfers of ownership in a basin’s available shares. These unit shares are fungible; each represents a proportional stake in access to the basin’s groundwater resources. Volumetric allocations are made in proportion to the number of shares held during determined periods throughout the water year.  These allocations are recorded in bank-like water accounts, affording account holders an efficient means to manage their resource but also ensuring that they cannot use more than is available. Unused water can be saved for later use. At the start of the transition to the new system, users are given an allocation buffer so that they have flexibility and time to adjust. Those who want to can make quick non-contestable trades at low cost.

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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