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Executive Summary for June 22nd

In this weekly roundup, we analyze key water developments around the West, including funding for Southern California groundwater projects, data gaps in agricultural water reporting, and a new tool to see which schools are testing for lead in drinking water.

Published on June 22, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Groundwater Gets Boost in Southern California

Two upcoming projects in Southern California will help groundwater reserves: One will redirect stormwater to the aquifer and another will provide funds for groundwater cleanup.

A project to use underground collection systems to gather stormwater flowing from streets in Long Beach and Signal Hill received $7.5 million from Los Angeles County. The water will be treated and then returned to groundwater to augment drinking water supplies.

“Every time it rains, we lose millions of gallons of drinkable water by allowing it to run into the ocean,” L.A. county supervisor Janice Hahn told the Press-Telegram. “Innovative projects like this mean we can capture rainwater and use it to replenish our local water supply.”

In addition, to the tune of $21 million, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized orders with Lockheed Martin Corporation and Honeywell International to expand groundwater treatment cleanup at a Superfund site in the San Fernando Valley. The site was contaminated by former aerospace manufacturing facilities owned by the two companies.

“These important actions bring us ever closer to ensuring safe groundwater supplies for decades to come,” said EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator Mike Stoker. “We will continue to work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board to implement a full and thorough cleanup.”

Increased use of groundwater is a key part of the strategy for L.A. area municipalities to boost local water sources and decrease imported water that may become less reliable and more expensive in the future.

Report Finds Cracks in Ag Water Reporting

A report published this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that the vast majority of California’s irrigation districts are not abiding by regulations to submit their water delivery reports.

The report found that between 2012 and 2016 only 12 percent of large irrigation districts were reporting all of the information required about the amount of water delivered to farms and 28 percent never turned in any reporting.

There’s also troubling information about how the data is being collected and shared.

DWR [California’s Department of Water Resources] has not monitored or enforced compliance with this reporting requirement, and it has taken six years for the agency to beta-launch an online data portal that makes farm-gate reports publicly available and more easily accessible,” the NRDC’s report stated. “The online portal only includes reports from 2014 onwards, meaning that two years of farm-gate data is located on an internal agency database and not readily available to the public.”

Because of these failures, “there is effectively no accurate or complete documentation of drought response from the agricultural sector during California’s driest consecutive years in the historical record, stretching from 2012 to 2016,” the report found.

Tool Tracks Lead Testing

How many public schools in California are testing for lead in drinking water? A new tool from the State Water Resources Control Board can help you find out.

The passage of Assembly Bill 746 requires testing for lead in water supplied to public K-12 schools by July 2019 (with a few exceptions).

“With about 12 months to go before the deadline, approximately 30 percent of California’s 10,000 public schools have been sampled for lead,” Maven’s Notebook reported. “Water systems that do not complete this mandatory sampling could face enforcement action from the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water.”

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