When Erin Brockovich went after PG&E for poisoning groundwater in the desert town of Hinkley, California — a campaign that later became a film starring Julia Roberts — the toxic chemical was a heavy metal called hexavalent chromium. Also known as chromium 6, the chemical is listed under California’s Prop 65 as causing cancer, developmental harm and reproductive harmin both men and women. A new report out today finds Hinkley isn’t the only California city with chromium 6 contamination. The report found 11 water districts serving some 400,000 Californians had hexavalent chromium in their tap water at levels above the state’s legal limit.
Archive for date: September 20th, 2016
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What if it were your job to make sure there’s enough water for everyone in your city to drink – in the middle of the worst drought in 500 years? That’s the job description for hundreds of water managers in California. While balancing supply and demand is always difficult in drought, the past year and half have been especially challenging as the state of California has whiplashed back and forth on mandatory water conservation.
Ever wonder how much recycled water is being created in Orange County? As of September, 2016, the answer is, more than anywhere else. The Orange County Water and Sanitation department announced that they have been able to produce 200 billion gallons of recycled water. That statement, made by officials, is reportedly a “drop in the bucket” for the ground-breaking ability that made this venture the largest project of its kind. The Groundwater Replenishment System is a joint venture between the OC Water District and the OC Sanitation District.
We may someday have to stop calling our drought a temporary phenomenon and just label it the new normal. Climate change could lock the state into a dry pattern lasting centuries or even a millennia if history repeats itself, according to a new study out of UCLA. Researchers correlated findings from Sierra Nevada soil samples and found that energy changes from natural occurrences like a shift in the Earth’s orbit or sun spots may have triggered prolonged dry weather in California.
Sunday’s front-page story about how in 1999 the California Public Employees’ Retirement System orchestrated the approval of a 50 percent retroactive pension increase for state employees amounts to an autopsy of a public-policy crime. It is literally incredible that CalPERS told the Legislature that such a huge gift of money would have little or no long-term cost to state taxpayers because the dot-com boom then driving the stock market sky-high would never end. It is also stunning that a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and Gov. Gray Davis accepted this fairy tale in approving SB 400.
A tropical storm system brought heavy rain into San Diego’s South Bay early Tuesday. The most active area before 6 a.m. was south of Interstate 8 where pop-up storms dumped a lot of rain in a short period. The South Bay was getting pummeled, according to NBC 7’s Whitney Southwick. “It’s all coming from what was Hurricane Paine, now Tropical Storm Paine,” Southwick said. “As it continues north, it will continue to weaken.”
For public agencies, one of the easiest things to do is to keep doing the same things the same way and keep your head down to avoid attention.That’s not what the San Diego County Water Authority does. It leans into the complexities inherent in natural resource issues, continually seeking opportunities and innovations that will serve the region’s ratepayers for decades to come. The Water Authority’s highest good is delivering a safe and reliable water supply at a reasonable cost, and it works toward that goal every day. That’s exactly what the public should expect – consistent day-in-and-day-out performance.
It is now possible to imagine a future in which highly treated wastewater will be plumbed directly into California homes as a new drinking water supply. On September 8, the State Water Resources Control Board released a long-awaited report on the feasibility of so-called “direct potable reuse.” This means recycling urban sewage flows in a process akin to seawater desalination, then plumbing it directly into a city’s freshwater distribution lines without first storing it in a groundwater aquifer or reservoir (known as indirect potable reuse).