This week’s short post is on groundwater law – from the viewpoint of physics. Water policy, management, and human law often misunderstand how groundwater and surface water work physically. Bredehoeft, et al. (1982) distill a longstanding lament of many groundwater experts, “Perhaps the most common misconception in groundwater hydrology is that a water budget of an area determines the magnitude of possible groundwater development. Several well-known hydrologists have addressed this misconception and attempted to dispel it. Somehow, though, it persists and continues to color decisions by the water-management community.”
Archive for date: August 5th, 2019
You are now in California and the U.S. Media Coverage category.
California could be moving toward the regulation and litigation of perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFAS) since government agencies have been testing water in many locations, including airports and landfills, with results due as early as this fall. “The state water board is doing a bunch of sampling in drinking or ground water,” said Leila Bruderer, an attorney with the Downey Brand firm in Sacramento. “Under Proposition 65, there is potential for that litigation.” California’s Proposition 65 – the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act – was passed in 1986 to guard against chemicals that cause health problems.
In the latest sign the Earth is undergoing unprecedented warming, European scientists said Monday that July was the hottest month ever recorded. “While July is usually the warmest month of the year for the globe, according to our data it also was the warmest month recorded globally, by a very small margin,” Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. Last week, citing the latest data, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres told reporters that the world is facing a “climate emergency.” He noted the July numbers were even more significant because the previous record-beating month, July 2016, occurred during one of the strongest El Nino’s on record.
The world is enduring a water crisis at the hands of rising demand, prevalent leaks, reduction in supply and an uptick in droughts, and businesses, municipalities and individuals are feeling the pressure to use water resources more responsibly. The New York Times reported the average water pipeline in the U.S. will be 45 years old by 2020, and some pipelines have been in the ground for up to 150 years. Beyond leaking, corrosion and lead contamination are just a few risks and challenges with which agencies and utilities must contend, or they will risk sacrificing significant time and money to rebuild, repair or renovate these aging infrastructure systems.
Fishing groups and tribes have filed a lawsuit challenging new endangered species protection guidelines for the Klamath River. The suit targets the biological opinion, which is an assessment of how the Bureau of Reclamation manages river flow, irrigation water and levels in Upper Klamath Lake to ensure protection of coho salmon and two species of sucker fish. The newest opinion was finalized earlier this year. The lawsuit filed by the Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resource says the biological opinion is too permissive, allowing irrigation withdrawals at the expense of fish.
Residential customers of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District can get free recycled water through a program to conserve water and lower costs for consumers. According to the San Diego County Water Authority, “water recycling is the treatment and disinfection of municipal wastewater to provide a water supply suitable for non-drinking purposes.” Olivenhain produces recycled water by collecting wastewater from the 4S Ranch and Rancho Cielo areas, and processing it at the 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility in San Diego, the district states. The facility produces over one million gallons of recycled water per day, which is highly treated to meet irrigation standards.
Bonita residents Efren and Ily Niervas won the Sweetwater Authority 2019 Landscape Contest after transforming their front yard from a traditional thirsty expanse of lawn to a watersmart landscaping approach. When the Niervas moved to their home in 2017, they realized the cost of watering their yard, with a large lawn and assorted shrubbery, was too high. They decided to change their landscape and attended home improvement events and expos as part of their research. They also did online research. The research paid off, as the Niervas thoughtfully designed their own xeriscape plan for their creative watersmart landscaping.
The deadly cliff collapse in Encinitas last week raised questions about the stability of large swaths of the state that are lined by bluffs, many of which support houses or offer enticing patches of shade for families relaxing on the beach. Friday’s collapse, which killed three people, was a tragic consequence of sea cliffs’ natural erosion process, experts say. Chunks of bluffs regularly fall off to create the beach below, so all beach bluffs should be considered unstable, said Brian Ketterer, coastal division chief for California State Parks.