State investigation finds the Bay Conservation and Development Commission is failing to protect SF Bay
San Francisco Chronicle – May 27
A state investigation into the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) found that serious mismanagement and disorganization has resulted in the agency allegedly neglecting its primary responsibility—protecting San Francisco Bay. The 94-page state audit describes slow and inefficient enforcement, including a backlog of 230 enforcement cases, and an inability to perform its duties, including a failure to address some 200 dilapidated boats anchored illegally off Sausalito and polluting Richardson Bay. The audit attributes the BCDC’s inadequate performance to leadership failures, staffing shortages and inadequate funding. BCDC officials deny most of the audit’s allegations, but agree that greater resources would allow them to improve the agency’s performance.
EPA moves to set limit for rocket fuel chemical in water at rate scientists say is unsafe
U.S. News & World Report - May 24
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last Thursday for the first time proposed an enforceable drinking water standard for perchlorate, a chemical commonly used in rocket fuel and fireworks, but at 56 parts per billion (ppb), more than three times higher than the 15 ppb level EPA had determined in 2009 to be safe. Perchlorate has been linked to thyroid problems by a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The EPA is taking public comments on three other possible regulatory options – a higher limit, a lower limit, or no regulation at all. Several states already have advisory levels or health-based goals for perchlorate, including California, which set the standard at 6 ppb.
Silicon Valley water district eyes Central Valley farmland for groundwater bank
The Mercury News - May 28
The largest water agency in Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), has been privately negotiating a potential purchase of the 4-S Ranch, a 5,257-acre cattle ranch in Merced County that sits atop billions of gallons of groundwater. Linda LeZotte, chair of the board for the SCVWD, confirmed Tuesday that the agency is looking to buy the property as a possible location for a new groundwater bank—an underground water reserve—to help to provide water supply, particularly during drought years. The plan is likely to stir controversy from Central Valley farmers, who for generations in California have been wary of selling or transferring water out of their local areas to more populated urban areas, fearing it will mean the decline of farming. There will be a public hearing and opportunity for comment before any purchase is finalized.
Sewage flows from Tijuana close Imperial Beach shoreline
San Diego Union-Tribune – May 26
The San Diego County Department of Environmental Health last Sunday extended a beach closure that has been in place for months for the southern part of Imperial Beach to include the city’s entire shoreline as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff in the Tijuana River. More than 110 million gallons of toxic storm water has flowed over the border from Mexico since April 2019. The state of California, as well as the cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, have sued the federal government for allowing the situation to persist, but the U.S. denies any liability for runoff that escapes its collection systems when it rains. Experts and government officials agree that hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure funding is needed to keep water pollution from spilling over the border.
Los Angeles County sues Bayer's Monsanto over PCB contamination
Reuters – May 30
Los Angeles County sued Bayer's Monsanto Co. in federal court on Thursday, alleging that the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in products sold by Monsanto decades ago has caused widespread water contamination in the county. The county argues that Monsanto concealed its knowledge that PCBs were harmful, and created a public nuisance because the chemicals interfere with commerce, fishing, navigation, swimming, and other water-based activities. PCBs, which the U.S. government outlawed in 1979, have been linked to cancer, immune system difficulties, and other health problems.