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California Environmental Law & Policy Update
December 14, 2018
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Trump administration announces plan to roll back rules on stream, wetland protection

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Dec 11 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers laid out plans Tuesday to roll back the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The proposed regulations--the fulfillment of a promise by President Donald Trump to rescind President Barack Obama’s controversial attempt to clarify EPA water regulations--would exempt from the Clean Water Act permitting and other requirements many seasonal creek beds and ephemeral streams (dry creek beds that occasionally flow during rainy seasons), isolated wetlands, and marshlands that aren’t directly connected to navigable waterways. Flooded rice or cranberry fields, groundwater, farming ditches, quarries, gravel pits, previously converted cropland, storm control, and waste treatment systems also would be free of federal environmental regulations, according to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Tidal water, lakes, ponds, and wetlands adjacent to or connected to larger bodies of water would continue to be under EPA jurisdiction. The proposed rule will now go through a 60-day public comment period.


California shifts water from farms and cities to fish

THE MERCURY NEWS - Dec 12 The State Water Resources Control Board voted Wednesday to reallocate hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water from the San Joaquin watershed to salmon, steelhead, and other struggling species that ply the fragile Delta. Earlier in the day, Governor Brown’s administration offered a broad, $1.7 billion compromise agreement under which many cities and farms across the Central Valley would surrender water to the ailing fish and pay for various habitat improvements. Water board members said they hoped to put pressure on a group of holdout water agencies that had not agreed to a deal yet with Governor Brown. Those agencies draw water from two of the most important rivers in the San Joaquin Valley — the Merced and Stanislaus. A tentative deal has been made for the third main tributary of the San Joaquin, the Tuolumne River, which serves Valley farms as well as San Francisco and Modesto.

Lockheed agrees to expand groundwater cleanup in San Fernando Basin

LOS ANGELES TIMES - Dec 13 Lockheed Martin has agreed to expand its cleanup efforts of contaminated groundwater in the San Fernando Basin as part of a settlement agreement reached with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Under the agreement, Lockheed Martin will treat and transfer 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water to LADWP, saving ratepayers what officials estimate will be more than $170 million over the next 30 years. For decades dating from the 1920s, Lockheed Martin manufactured and tested aircraft and other industrial equipment in Burbank, contaminating the groundwater there and in the eastern area of North Hollywood.

California lawsuit seeks to extend water contracts

THE MERCURY NEWS - Dec 11 The State of California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court to validate contract extensions with its largest water suppliers for another 67 years. DWR says the extensions will enable the state to take out new revenue bonds in order to jump start badly needed infrastructure updates to the State Water Project, which is the country’s largest state-built water system and delivers water to more than 25 million California residents, businesses, and farmers. Critics claim the extensions don’t clearly outline where the revenue bonds will be spent or the potential environmental impact of maintenance repairs.

Ongoing spill in Mexico is flooding Tijuana River and U.S. beaches with millions of gallons of raw sewage

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE - Dec 11 The State of California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court to validate contract extensions with its largest water suppliers for another 67 years. DWR says the extensions will enable the state to take out new revenue bonds in order to jump start badly needed infrastructure updates to the State Water Project, which is the country’s largest state-built water system and delivers water to more than 25 million California residents, businesses, and farmers. Critics claim the extensions don’t clearly outline where the revenue bonds will be spent or the potential environmental impact of maintenance repairs.

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