NEWS WORTH NOTING: Harmful algal bloom season beginning; CDFW now accepting proposals for Prop 1 grants; Metropolitan responds to San Diego County Water Authority’s allegations water rates; Santa Monica announces first in stormwater harvesting

Harmful Algal Bloom Season Beginning in California’s Waterways

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

With the summer season nearing and recreational activities on the state’s waterways set to increase, the State Water Resources Control Board is asking the public to be mindful of harmful algal blooms (HAB) in lakes and reservoirs, and to keep children and pets away from these HABs if they see one.

Increased water temperatures, slow moving water and excessive nutrients or organic matter cause cyanobacteria and some algae to rapidly multiply and form HABs. These HABs are blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and are capable of producing toxins, which have the potential to negatively impact the environment, people, pets, wildlife, or livestock. Cyanobacteria are small microbes that live in nearly every habitat on land and in the water.

While visiting your local lake or river, be aware that cyanobacteria toxins can be present even though a bloom is not visible. HABs vary in color and may range from vibrant to dark green, blue-green, yellow, brown, black, or red. Not all HABs will appear on the water’s surface as some are at the bottom of a waterbody, and others float at various depths. Dogs, wildlife and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods of time.

Recreational exposure to cyanobacteria and associated toxins can cause eye irritation, skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and cold and flu-like symptoms. Pets can be especially susceptible because they tend to drink while in the water and lick their fur after, increasing their risk of exposure and illness. Symptoms of animal illness include: vomiting and/or diarrhea, lethargy, abnormal liver function test results, difficulty breathing, foaming at the mouth, muscle twitching and sometimes death.

The State Water Board and the nine Regional Water Boards (known as the Water Boards), in partnership with other programs and agencies, are actively supporting and coordinating a statewide HAB incident response, and have many publicly available resources. Recently the Water Boards, in conjunction with the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the California Department of Public Health, prepared a fact sheet to assist veterinarians to respond to incidents of suspected HAB exposure among domestic animals.

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The fact sheet provides veterinarians with technical information on assessing exposure history, evaluating clinical signs, pursuing diagnosis and confirmatory testing, patient management, and reporting to proper authorities. The fact sheet is available on the California HABs Portal.

The California HABs Portal is a one-stop shop for HABs statewide and functions as a central website to share information, report a bloom, and track multiple blooms statewide. For more information, visit: http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/

California HABs Have Met Their App

The Water Boards have collaborated with the BloomWatch App, which allows anyone observing a potential HAB to document it and send info to water managers. By using the app each user will be able to answer a few basic questions and take a few pictures of the potential HAB.

The app geotags and time stamps the data before sending all that information to the Water Boards, which alerts water managers and environmental health agencies about the potential bloom. Local agencies can then investigate the report, and post informative warning signs of the HAB if it is needed.

Enhance your recreation by adding some citizen science into the mix. Your use of BloomWatch may help prevent your neighbors from exposing themselves to a HAB and could even save a dog from dying. The BloomWatch App is available as a free download (Android, IOS).

What You Can Do to Prevent HABs

You can help prevent algal blooms in our waters by taking the following measures:

  • Be conservative with your use of water, fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn, garden or agricultural operation.
  • Avoid nutrient runoff by recycling any “spent” soil that has been used for intensive growing by tilling it back into gardens, or protect it from rainfall.
  • Create shade and filter out nutrients by planting or maintaining native plants around river banks.
  • Inspect and pump out septic systems every three to four years.
  • Prevent surface water runoff from agricultural and livestock areas.
  • Prevent erosion around construction and logging operations.

The Statewide Guidance on Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Blooms recommends the following for waters impacted harmful cyanobacteria:

  • Keep pets and other animals out of the water. Do not allow them to drink the water or eat algal material (scum) on shore. If they do get in the water, do not let them drink the water, swim through algal material, scums or mats, or lick their fur after going in. Rinse pets in clean water to remove algal material and potential toxins from fur.
  • Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances; common water purification techniques such as camping filters, tablets and boiling do not remove toxins.
  • People should not eat mussels or other bivalves collected from these areas. Limit or avoid eating fish from these areas; if fish are consumed, remove the guts and liver, and rinse filets in clean drinking water.
  • Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock has gotten sick after going in the water. Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with blue-green algae. Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department.

For more information, please visit:

California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal:
http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/

BloomWatch!
http://cyanos.org/bloomwatch/

California Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Bloom (CCHAB) Network:
http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/monitoring_council/cyanohab_network/index.html

California Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program Freshwater HAB webpage:
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/swamp/freshwater_cyanobacteria.shtml

California Department of Public Health:
http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/environhealth/water/Pages/Bluegreenalgae.aspx

CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Information on Microcystin
http://oehha.ca.gov/ecotoxicology/general-info/information-microcystins

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: CyanoHAB website
https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-policy-data/cyanohabs

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Anatoxin-a report
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/anatoxin-a-report-2015.pdf

CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for ecosystem restoration and protection projects that fulfill the objectives of Proposition 1.

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-2018, $31 million in Proposition 1 funds will be made available through CDFW’s two Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $24 million in projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, while the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $7 million in projects that specifically benefit the Delta.

“We’re encouraged by the quality and scope of projects funded through Proposition 1 to date, and we look forward to another opportunity to fund new solutions to the greatest challenges facing California’s ecosystems,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This latest grant cycle expands our focus to more watersheds in critical need, in line with the objectives of Proposition 1 and a suite of strategic plans.”

The FY 2017-2018 Proposal Solicitation Notice, application instructions and other information about the Restoration Grant Programs are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/watersheds/restoration-grants.

Proposals must be submitted online at https://soar.resources.ca.gov/. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 14, 2017 at 4 p.m.

Approved projects will contribute to the objectives of California Water Action Plan and State Wildlife Action Plan, the Delta Plan, California EcoRestore and the fulfillment of CDFW’s mission.

Approved by California voters in November 2014, Proposition 1 provides funds to implement the three broad objectives of the California Water Action Plan: establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat and creating a more resilient, sustainably managed water resources system (water supply, water quality, flood protection and environment) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades.

Metropolitan Water District responds to San Diego County Water Authority’s allegations over water rates

From the Metropolitan Water District:

The San Diego County Water Authority is engaged in a major outreach campaign that mischaracterizes Metropolitan’s financial practices.  This is occurring as the Water Authority is pursuing a series of lawsuits against the District and spending millions of dollars of ratepayer money to attack Metropolitan’s solid track record on:

  • Water conservation and sustainability accomplishments
  • Successful water management during the historic five-year drought
  • Strategic investments and comprehensive planning to meet future water needs for Southern California
  • Solid financial management, low debt load and high credit rating

Earlier this year, the Water Authority began writing letters to local officials outside of its own service area and making presentations to organizations that contain incorrect information and misrepresentations about Metropolitan’s investments and financial practices.  These letters also omit how the Water Authority lawsuits could shift significant costs to other ratepayers in our service area and limit Metropolitan’s ability to advance conservation programs and develop local water supplies to meet future needs in the region.

The following materials respond to those inaccurate allegations about Metropolitan’s financial practices.  Click here to view the documents.

Santa Monica Announces Another First in Stormwater Harvesting and Water Self-Sufficiency

From the City of Santa Monica:

The City of Santa Monica continues to be a leader in moving toward water self-sufficiency, promoting water conservation, and reducing potable water use.  During National Public Works Week, the City officially opened the Los Amigos Park Stormwater Harvesting and Direct Use Demonstration Project, a collaboration with the Santa Monica-Malibu School District and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).  This project marks another first in infrastructure advancement.  Los Amigos is the first retrofit project to harvest offsite wet and dry weather runoff from an adjacent, existing storm drain for multiple beneficial uses, such as restroom toilet flushing and the irrigation of athletic fields.  The project was financed by a grant from MWD and the Clean Beaches & Ocean Parcel Tax (Measure V).

This project taps into an existing storm drain line running under the street adjacent to the park and diverts stormwater (and dry weather flows between storm events) from the storm drain into a cistern.  The water is stored, treated and used for the park irrigation system and indoor flushing.

Visit www.smgov.net/losamigos for more details on the project.

This “new water” demonstration project brings a new water source into the system, water that would normally be sent to Santa Monica Bay either treated or untreated.  The project offers another step towards the City’s plan for water self-sufficiency, another step tying into its long-term 2020 Sustainable Water Master Plan.  The project is expected to save over 550,000 gallons of drinking water annually and protect the water quality of the Bay.  It will provide results on design, installation, and operation, which will be relevant and transferable to other projects and help break down barriers to local water resource development.

More specifically, data on water volumes harvested, treated and used, and on water quality of influent and end-use water, will be collected and shared with watershed and water management professionals in government, academia, and business.  The goal: demonstrate the multiple benefits of this local water resource harvesting strategy to meet local water needs; to reduce the use of unreliable, unsustainable, and more expensive imported water; and to reduce water pollution to a local water body and help meet Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).

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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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