Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , , , Leave a comment on Water Board developing a plan to clean up disease-causing bacteria in the Russian River

Water Board developing a plan to clean up disease-causing bacteria in the Russian River

Rebecca Fitzgerald & Charles Reed, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Each year, the Russian River plays host to tens of thousands of residents and visitors who swim and recreate along its length, which extends from Redwood Valley, North of Ukiah to Jenner, where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean.
At the same time, the Russian River area is home to hundreds of thousands of human inhabitants and domesticated animals, who produce waste. Most of this domestic waste is collected, treated, beneficially reused, or discharged at a time and in a manner that is protective of public health and water quality. Much of this domestic waste is also controlled at its source by individuals through responsible personal behavior and good sanitary practices.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Water monitoring samples from the river show widespread contamination with bacteria and indicators of human waste, which pose a threat to the health of the river ecosystem and the people who visit it.
Reliance on existing regulatory actions and individual behavior is sometimes not sufficient to prevent domestic waste from being released in an uncontrolled manner into the environment. Once released, this material, which may include disease-causing microorganisms, inevitably makes its way to creeks and finally to the Russian River where it adversely impacts water quality, impairs the beneficial uses of creeks and the River, and presents a public health risk to individuals who come in contact with contaminated waters.
Often, the uncontrolled sources of waste are the result of the systemic failure to address human societal challenges like homelessness. Other times, contamination is the result of legacy practices, such as obsolete, substandard wastewater treatment systems. The simple lack of public awareness about the impacts of individual actions can also affect water quality.
Regardless of the root cause of contamination, it is the obligation of public agencies responsible for the protection of water quality and public health, to take actions to correct the condition. For these actions to be truly successfully and long-lasting, there must be participation, cooperation, and commitment from supporting state and local agencies, parties to whom corrective actions are assigned, and the general public.
Read much more via Troubled Waters: Water Board Developing a Plan to Cleanup Disease-causing Bacteria in the Russian River.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on County stream protection rules back for debate

County stream protection rules back for debate

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

August 28 Planning Commission Agenda

For decades, property owners, environmentalists and policymakers in Sonoma County have been split over how to protect 3,200 miles of streams and creeks outside city boundaries.

The ongoing debate, which some landowners view as a direct threat to their property rights, took a turn in 1989, when the county drafted a new general plan that mandated protections for year-round and seasonal creeks and rivers.

The debate grew especially heated eight years ago, when the county began discussions that would ultimately lead to increased general plan restrictions on farming, grazing and building near streams. Two public hearings at the time drew hundreds of people and packed a theater at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa.

Now county planning commissioners are expected to take the next step in settling the standoff, weighing an ordinance that would align county zoning rules with the land-use restrictions spelled out in the general plan. The Planning Commission’s public hearing on the zoning changes is at 1 p.m. Thursday. Any final decision would be up to the Board of Supervisors.

County officials said the proposed zoning changes were designed to reinforce practices already underway.

“We’ve heard a lot of concerns raised by the public, so these new zoning rules would clear up any misunderstanding about what this ordinance would and would not do,” said Jennifer Barrett, a deputy director with the county’s Permit and Resource Management Department. “It might look like we’re adding a whole new code, but what we’re actually doing is changing the language to make it more clear.”

via County stream protection rules back for debate | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WaterTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Vineyard erosion rules effort restarts

Vineyard erosion rules effort restarts

Jeff Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

As state water-quality regulators prepare to try again this fall with a framework designed to control erosion into the Napa River and Sonoma Creek watersheds, winegrape growers in those areas are getting new tools to help prepare for the as-yet-undefined rules.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board staff plan to issue notice by the end of June about the preparation of draft environmental-impact documents connected to general wastewater discharge requirements (WDRs) for vineyard operations in those watersheds, according to Naomi Feger, chief of the regional board’s planning division.

“We will be looking at the regulations that exist in Napa and Sonoma (counties),” she said. “They will not be in conflict.”

The goal is to hold the first scoping meeting somewhere in Napa in mid-July then compile comments from that and those received during the crafting of a conditional waiver of WDRs for vineyards in the two watersheds, an effort that ended in March of last year amid opposition. The current timeline is to release a draft environmental document for the vineyard WDRs in late fall and convene the first public hearings in the first quarter of next year, Ms. Feger said.

via Vineyard erosion rules effort restarts – 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 WaterTags Leave a comment on Sonoma Valley Draft Salt and Nutrient Management Plan Release

Sonoma Valley Draft Salt and Nutrient Management Plan Release

Ann DuBay, SONOMA COUNTY WATER AGENCY

The Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District will hold a public workshop on the Draft Salt and Nutrient Management Plan (SNMP) at 3:30 pm on July 18th. The purpose of the SNMP is to promote local sustainable water sources and manage salts and nutrients to ensure water quality objectives are met and beneficial uses of groundwater are protected.

In 2009, the State Water Resources Control Board established the Recycled Water Policy, requiring local water and wastewater entities to collaborate with stakeholders to develop a SNMP for each groundwater basin in California.

via Press Releases | Sonoma County Water Agency.