Posted on Categories WaterTags , , , , , Leave a comment on California pledges changes in protecting underground water

California pledges changes in protecting underground water

Ellen Knickmeyer, ASSOCIATED PRESS
California is proposing broad changes in the way it protects underground water sources from oil and gas operations, after finding 2,500 instances in which the state authorized oil and gas operations in protected water aquifers.
State oil and gas regulators on Monday released a plan they sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week for bringing the state back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements.
An ongoing state and federal review has determined the state has repeatedly authorized oil-industry injection into aquifers that were supposed to be protected as current or potential sources of water for drinking and watering crops and livestock.
An Associated Press analysis found hundreds of the now-challenged state permits for oilfield injection into protected aquifers have been granted since 2011, despite growing EPA warnings about oilfield threats to the state’s underground water reserves.
"It’s a problem that needs our very close attention and an urgent path forward," Steve Bohlen, head of the state Department of Conservation’s oil and gas division, told reporters Monday.
Bohlen said 140 of those 2,553 injection wells were of primary concern to the state now, because they were actively injecting oil-field fluids into aquifers with especially designated good water quality.
State water officials currently are reviewing those 140 oil-field wells to see which are near water wells and to assess any contamination of water aquifers from the oil and gas operations, Bohlen said.
The U.S. EPA had given the state until Friday to detail how it would deal with current injection into protected water aquifers and stop future permitting of risky injection.
Read more via California pledges changes in protecting underground water | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Land UseTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Sonoma Clean Power inks deal for floating solar panel project

Sonoma Clean Power inks deal for floating solar panel project

Matt Brown, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County’s new public electricity supplier is turning to the sun and water — the airspace over treated sewage ponds, specifically — to generate power for local homes and businesses.
Under a deal signed Thursday with a San Francisco-based renewable energy developer, officials with Sonoma Clean Power, now the default electricity provider in Sonoma County, unveiled a plan to install a 12.5-megawatt solar farm on floating docks atop holding ponds operated by the county Water Agency.
When completed in 2016, the project, which will provide enough electricity to power 3,000 homes, will be the largest solar installation in the county.
It also will help fulfill one of Sonoma Clean Power’s central goals — to develop local sources of renewable energy for its expanding customer base, now taking in more than 160,000 residential and commercial accounts across five cities in the county.
Before its launch last May, and through its first nine months of operation, the public venture faced pointed questions as to how quickly it would be able to spearhead local energy projects given constraints on rural land use and the comparatively higher price of power from smaller systems versus large, far-flung industrial sources.
Sonoma Clean Power officials said the planned solar installation served as a key early benchmark of progress in the agency’s rollout.
Read more via Sonoma Clean Power inks deal for floating solar | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County Water Agency update on Occidental wastewater treatment

Sonoma County Water Agency update on Occidental wastewater treatment

Cordel Stillman, SONOMA COUNTY WATER AGENCY
On January 7, about 40 people gathered at the Union Hotel for a meeting to discuss the beginning of the design process and environmental analysis for the proposed Occidental County Sanitation District (District) Recycled Water Project (Project). The meeting to discuss the Notice of Preparation was the first step in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process.  Attendees asked more than two dozen questions. This was no surprise. For the past 18 months, ratepayers and people living in the outlying areas have regularly attended community meetings on the issue, asking hard questions and proposing a variety of ideas to help minimize rate increases while beneficially using the recycled water.
In a nutshell, here is the problem: The District’s current treatment plant on LuDan Road is an old, inadequate system that needs upgrading. The plant currently treats water to a secondary level. In addition, the District is under a cease-and-desist order to end the discharge of recycled water into Graham’s Pond by January 1, 2018 . The pond, which drains into Dutch Bill Creek, is currently used to store recycled water.

  • To solve the problem, the District is proposing to do the following:Upgrade treatment to a tertiary level, plus any changes that will allow for discharges into Dutch Bill Creek from October 1-May 15.  Discharges can only be equivalent to 1% of the flow of Dutch Bill Creek. This means that storage options will be needed.
  • The Project is currently contemplating two possible treatment sites:  The existing lift station (Occidental-Camp Meeker Road) or the existing treatment plant (LuDan Road). Disinfection and filtration would be included in the treatment process. Disinfection could be by either chlorine or ultra-violet light.
  • The recycled water would be used to irrigate agricultural operations in the Harrison Grade area to offset current well water use and the trucking of water from other watersheds.
  • A recycled water pipeline would be constructed to a property on Morelli Lane. Dutton Vineyards is building a pond on this property, and would like to store and use recycled water for irrigation. The District is also interested in other storage and irrigation options along the pipeline route to beneficially use the recycled water.
  • While a pipeline route is identified in the Notice of Preparation (NOP) that the District released, the actual route could vary after design work is conducted and a treatment location is determined.
  • The project also contemplates a truck-filling station at the CDF fire station on Acreage Lane.
  • Once a preferred project has been identified through the design process, the project will undergo CEQA review. A draft document that identifies the proposed project and any potential impacts and mitigation measures to avoid or minimize those impacts will be made available to the public for review and comment.
  • In order to meet the January 2018 deadline, the project is on a tight timeline. Comments on the Notice of Preparation (which was released in December) were due by January 22. The next step is the preparation of an environmental document. At the same time, the District is hiring a design consultant to further develop the project, including determining the best location for treatment and a specific pipeline route. By 2017, we hope to have a complete design and for construction to be underway.

Please email Ann.DuBay@scwa.ca.gov if you are interested in being added to the District’s email list. In the meantime, check our webpage, www.sonomacountywater.org/OCSD for environmental documents, project facts, and timeline and information about recycled water.
via Sonoma County Water Agency Update on Occidental Wastewater Treatment.

Posted on Categories Forests, Land Use, Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , , , Leave a comment on Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues

Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Occidental’s embattled wastewater treatment system needs a multimillion-dollar upgrade completed within three years, and nearby grape growers are likely part of the solution.
If that plan — expected to cost $5 million to $6 million and bump up rates for the sewer district’s roughly 100 customers — doesn’t work out, the small west county community’s wastewater might be trucked out of the area for treatment, officials said.
The proposed solution, including improvements to the existing treatment plant on Occidental Road and a pipeline carrying wastewater to a vineyard on Morelli Lane, will be reviewed at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Union Hotel in Occidental.
Residents will have a chance to comment on the potential impacts of the project as part of the determination of whether it will require a full environmental impact report.
Because the proposed project would be on property already used by the system and on county roads, the county hopes to issue a “negative declaration” and avoid the time and expense of a full report, said Cordel Stillman, Sonoma County Water Agency chief deputy engineer.
Occidental’s system, one of eight operated by the Water Agency, faces a Jan. 31, 2018 state deadline to stop holding treated wastewater in a pond next to the treatment plant, used as a storage reservoir since 1977.
Read more via Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on Stormwater floods wastewater system in Sonoma Valley and Penngrove

Stormwater floods wastewater system in Sonoma Valley and Penngrove

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Thursday’s deluge caused sewage spills in four areas of Sonoma Valley as well as one location in Penngrove, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said.
Large amounts of untreated wastewater was overflowing from manholes onto various byways, including along Highway 12, at the intersection of Valletti and Cassabella drives, and on Fourth Street East at East Spain Street in Sonoma near Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. In Penngrove, the sewage overflow was near the intersection of Ely Road and Old Redwood Highway.
“In Sonoma Valley, we have an older system with 50-plus-year-old pipes,” said Ann DuBay, a spokeswoman for the Water Agency. “So when a lot of water gets in there, it starts to overflow.”
DuBay said the problem was caused by Thursday’s heavy rains. Normally, about 4 million gallons of sewage and water is sent to the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District, where it is treated. Runoff from the storm increased the flow to 14 million gallons, DuBay said. The district serves 17,000 households and businesses in the area.
Sonoma County officials are advising area residents to stay out of the stormwater, because of potential health and safety hazards.
via Stormwater floods wastewater system in Sonoma Valley and | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Healdsburg gets OK to use treated wastewater for vineyards

Healdsburg gets OK to use treated wastewater for vineyards

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After months of delay, Healdsburg finally has approval to use reclaimed water from its sewer treatment plant to irrigate vineyards in a wide swath beyond the city.

The program, intended to offset the use of potable water during the drought, will allow for the irrigation of up to 25,000 acres in the Alexander, Dry Creek and upper Russian River valleys.

“There will be trucks ready to take the water beginning Tuesday, at 10 a.m.,” said Mayor Jim Wood.

The near-drinkable water can only be used for drip irrigation of vines and not frost control. Its use will be subject to monitoring to make sure there is no runoff, or potential infiltration of groundwater, something that has concerned some landowners in Dry Creek.

via Healdsburg gets OK to use treated wastewater for vineyards | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Environmental protections waived for emergency drought measures

Environmental protections waived for emergency drought measures

Matt Weiser, SACRAMENTO BEE

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a sweeping new emergency drought proclamation, cutting red tape for a variety of government functions to help water agencies find new supplies, and to press the public to use water carefully.

“I call on every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible,” Brown said in a statement.

The governor first proclaimed a drought emergency Jan. 17. This second proclamation goes further by waiving compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the state water code for a number of actions, including water transfers, wastewater treatment projects, habitat improvements for winter-run Chinook salmon imperiled by the drought and curtailment of water rights.

via Gov. Brown orders more emergency drought measures – Delta – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on Idaho firm acquiring Geysers site: wastewater pumping brings renewed potential to geothermal field

Idaho firm acquiring Geysers site: wastewater pumping brings renewed potential to geothermal field

Eric Gneckow, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

U.S. Geothermal Inc, a geothermal energy company with offices in Boise, Idaho, has announced plans to acquire a late stage development at the Geysers that has shown promise for enough steam production to power up to 26,000 homes.

Currently under ownership of Reno, Nev.-based Ram Power Corp., the project, encompassing 3,800 acres, includes permits and design plans for a proposed power plant and five production-ready geothermal steam wells. U.S. Geothermal announced an agreement to buy the project for $6.4 million in cash, acquiring assets and subsidiaries associated with its development and leasing of related lands.

via Idaho firm acquiring Geysers site – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Wastewater recycling controversy

Wastewater recycling controversy

Brenda Adelman, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

April is the month we celebrate the Earth, it’s bountiful resources, its diverse creatures and cultures and all its beauty.  It is also the time when we need to consider the interrelationship of all life forms.  Yet we tend to compartmentalize information and struggle to comprehend the vast web we all weave, seldom noting that every thing is connected to everything else, and every action reverberates through life’s web.

Small amounts can have huge consequences

Endocrinologists discovered awhile back that minute exposures to endocrine disrupting toxins (such as most pesticides, herbicides, etc.) can have cataclysmic effects on fetal development and adult organ systems; it can cause reproductive cancer; it can feminize male frogs;  it can masculinize female sea gulls; it is suspected of causing heart disease, autism, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and more.  The problems created by these chemicals may cause as much harm as global warming, since effects can be carried down through unborn generations.

We live in a chemical world that is significantly under regulated.  It is surmised that 80,000 or more chemicals exist with hundreds of new ones produced each year. We have little knowledge about how they interact with one another.  Many of these are found in our bodies, including fetal blood and mother’s milk. Earth’s species are apparently going through their sixth major extinction, and the first caused entirely by man, yet we go on about our business as though none of this is real.

Risk assessment needs an overhaul

We still rely on conventional risk assessment to determine harm; holding the common, antiquated assumption  that “…the dose makes the poison”.  BEFORE regulations are promulgated and enforced, suspected toxins are allowed full use.  In the case of tertiary wastewater reuse, many substances are assumed to be safe at low doses even while more and more scientific evidence indicates that is not always the case. (The Clean Water Act list of 125 priority pollutants has had no additions in over 25 years.)  On this basis, the State Water Board found that monitoring for endocrine disrupting chemicals was unnecessary before irrigating parks, playgrounds, and schools where children play.

Many scientists, especially those in the field of endocrinology, now call for application of the precautionary principle, defined as: “When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm.”, but regulators have largely turned a deaf ear to real reform.

via Wastewater Recycling Controversy.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WaterTags Leave a comment on Farmers question bill offering treated wastewater to cows

Farmers question bill offering treated wastewater to cows

Panel report on using tertiary treated wastewater for livestock consumption

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Organic dairy farmers greeted proposed legislation to use treated wastewater for livestock consumption with skepticism Thursday, saying it risks the health of their animals and could jeopardize their businesses.

“I’m not going to risk our animals or our customers to an idea that’s not tested,” said Albert Straus, president of Straus Family Creamery in Marshall.

Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, authored AB 2071 ostensibly to provide drought relief to California ranchers as supplies of potable water dwindle from lack of rain. But Levine mainly heard doubts about his proposal at a public hearing Thursday at Petaluma City Hall.

via Farmers question bill offering treated wastewater to cows | The Press Democrat.