Lawsuit alleges lax groundwater oversight in Sonoma County threatens Russian River
The Press Democrat – July 7
An environmental group, California Coastkeeper, is suing Sonoma County over permitting policies it says too liberally permit drilling of groundwater wells, potentially endangering Russian River stream flows and endangered coho salmon and their habitat. The lawsuit, filed late last month in Sonoma County Superior Court, seeks an order preventing Sonoma County from issuing groundwater drilling permits until officials enact new requirements for site-specific and watershed-wide assessments of the effects of well water extraction on the Russian River and its tributaries. The lawsuit alleges that failure to take appropriate measures is a violation of the county’s “public trust duty” to safeguard certain shared natural resources against adverse impacts.
Orange County launches first water plant to remove PFAS
The Orange County Register – July 6
A year-and-a-half after Orange County began shutting down groundwater wells due its discovery of PFAS—a family of chemicals that have been linked to a variety of health problems—the county’s first treatment plant to remove PFAS from groundwater is up and operating in Fullerton, with more to be built. Since February, when regulatory levels for PFAS in drinking water were updated, California has required well closure, treatment or customer notification if the water contains very low concentrations of two types of PFAS - 10 parts per trillion of PFOA or 40 parts per trillion for PFOS. The Fullerton plant and 24 others to be built in Orange County over the next two years will allow 11 affected water districts to cut back on imported water that has replaced flows from shut-down wells.
California says ‘nearly all’ salmon could die in Sacramento River
The Sacramento Bee – July 8
The drought is making the Sacramento River so hot that “nearly all” of the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon species’ juveniles could be cooked to death this fall, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officials warned in a brief update issued this week on the perilous state of the warming river. Although, in May, the National Marine Fisheries Service said 88% of the young Chinook salmon could perish in the Sacramento River this year due to the rising water temperatures, CDFW now says the fatality rate could approach 100%. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Shasta Lake, is obligated to preserve cool water in the reservoir through spring and summer so that water released later in the year won’t cook the fish. Environmentalists, however, say the Bureau has already released so much water from the lake for farmers that the supply of cool water has been depleted.
California is spending $61 million for new highway crossings that aim to keep wildlife safe
The Desert Sun – July 6
A project to build a massive overpass above the ten-lane 101 freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, known as the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, is one step closer to becoming a reality. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a budget that includes $7 million to help fund it — along with another $54.5 million for similar projects in other parts of the state, including $2 million to build a tunnel for deer and mountain lions to pass under Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The move is part of a larger nationwide push to build special bridges and tunnels to facilitate safe passage for animals across busy roads and freeways and avoid vehicular collisions.