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California County Shuts Down Fifth of Water Wells Over PFAS

California wants to slash the allowable levels in drinking water for two “forever chemical” compounds, immediately prompting agencies supplying water to 2.5 million residents in Orange County to remove a fifth of their wells from service.

The State Water Resources Control board Thursday said it planned to dramatically lower its response levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), though actual drinking water standards are still years away.

The response levels require water suppliers to install treatment, and remove wells from service if they exceed the thresholds. Notifying customers is required if districts plan to keep wells in service without treatment for an extended period.

Orange County oversees the area’s groundwater basin and provides water to 19 agencies, which rely on underground supplies for 77% of deliveries. The remainder comes from the Colorado River and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to 19 million people in the region.

Blog: Imperial Valley Conservation Efforts Benefit San Diego, Southwest

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors visited the Imperial Valley January 30 for a day-long tour that highlighted areas critical to the agency’s Regional Conveyance System Study.

Meet the Veteran Insider Who’s Shepherding Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Bring Climate Resilience to California Water

Shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges — from unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing climate to severely depleted groundwater aquifers and declining native fish populations — he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and veteran water communicator, to get it done. In an interview with Western Water, Vogel explains how the draft portfolio released Jan. 3 came together and why it should matter to average Californians.

Pure Water Monterey Gets Final State OK

Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled water to the Seaside basin by mid-February.

After an all-day inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both verbally and by email.

2020 Snow Report

A new Climate Central report analyzes snowfall trends over the past fifty years, finding that snowfall has been decreasing in the spring and fall seasons across much of the U.S. but with clear regional differences.

The impact of climate change on snow can be a tricky story to tell. While warming winters would suggest that more precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow, a warming climate is also associated with increased precipitation which, in cold regions, can lead to an increase in snowfall. A new report from Climate Central aims to make sense of this challenging subject—analyzing snowfall data collected between 1970 and 2019 from 145 stations across the country.

Sweetwater Authority Eyes Recycled Water That Otay Water District Doesn’t Use

Sweetwater Authority’s governing board has its eyes on recycled water — specifically, an excess of recycled water that a neighboring water agency, the Otay Water District, buys from the city of San Diego.

The governing boards of the two water agencies, which combined serve southern and eastern San Diego County, recently created a joint committee to explore a potential arrangement that would allow
Sweetwater to purchase recycled water from Otay.

The board presidents of both water agencies said the idea could benefit customers on both ends.

The Toxic Legacy of Old Oil Wells: California’s Multibillion-Dollar Problem

Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.

From Kern County to Los Angeles, companies haven’t set aside anywhere near enough money to ensure these drilling sites are cleaned up and made safe for future generations, according to a months-long data analysis and investigation by the Los Angeles Times and the Center for Public Integrity.

Opinion: Why Desalination Can Help Quench State’s Water Needs

If you’ve ever created a personal budget, you know that assigning your money to different investment strategies is a crucial component to meet your financial goals. When you stop dipping into your savings account each month, savings can begin to build.

Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we need to include desalination in the water supply equation to help make up an imported water deficit.

(Originally published in CalMatters:



Sediment Loading Key to Predicting Post-Wildfire Debris Flows

The mudslides that follow wildfires in Southern California can be deadly and difficult to predict. New research can help officials identify areas prone to these mudslides and respond before disaster occurs, according to scientists.

Mudslides, or debris flows, can occur when rainfall washes away the buildup of sediment in mountain channels. Roughly equal parts water and sediment, debris flows are strong enough to carry large boulders downhill and threaten communities on or near the mountains.

District Helps Make Desert Bloom

The Coachella Valley Water District faces hefty challenges each day: providing water for more than 1,200 ag customers on 65,000 acres in a desert environment.

The water district serves San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties and nine cities.

“I would say managing our water on a long-term basis, optimizing our Colorado River water and groundwater and using them as efficiently as possible are major priorities for us,” said Katie Evans, director of communications for the district.

The Coachella Valley’s farmland is one of the largest contributors to the local economy, known for its dates, citrus fruit, grapes and bell peppers. More than two-thirds of local farmland is irrigated in part with Colorado River water delivered via the Coachella Canal.