On November 21, 2023, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center vs. Edwards addressing various Clean Water Act issues. Its two key holdings were that (1) the district court did not err when it rejected plaintiff’s direct discharge theory and (2) the district court did err when it held that plaintiff did not provide sufficient notice.
Direct vs. Indirect Discharge
Defendant Big Sky Water and Sewer District (Big Sky) operates three lined holding ponds to store treated effluent outside of the irrigation season. It also installed an ...
Deadlines are upcoming related to the multi-district per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) litigation. The relevant settlements are with DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva (collectively, DuPont) and 3M, parties who allegedly manufactured various PFAS chemicals. The currently-pending settlements cover $1.185 billion for DuPont and $10.5-$12.5 billion for 3M.
The litigation is focused on alleged contamination of drinking water caused by DuPont’s and 3M’s alleged manufacture of PFAS chemicals. PFAS are a family of manmade chemicals that are used due to beneficial ...
On September 28, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rule requiring reporting of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). According to EPA’s press release, the rule is intended to “provide EPA, its partners, and the public with the largest-ever dataset of [PFAS] manufactured and used in the United States.”
EPA’s new rule is part of its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the Biden Administration’s plan to address PFAS, a family of man-made chemicals that are becoming well-known and well-studied based on their ubiquity and resistance to breaking down naturally....
On January 10, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom announced his $297 billion budget proposal for 2023-2024, which includes a $22.5 billion budget deficit. Despite environmental/climate change programs facing $6 billion in cuts, Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes relatively few negative impacts to water projects. In fact, the drought response and water resilience section, which includes the vast majority of water-related funding, only faces a cut of two percent, from $8.7 billion to $8.6 billion. That two percent reduction is the lowest of any environmental category. ...
A key priority of the Newsom administration – the Delta Conveyance Project – has officially entered its next chapter. On July 22, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its draft environmental impact report (Draft EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project.
The Delta Conveyance Project is DWR’s and Governor Newsom’s plan to build an underground tunnel to bring water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the State Water Project pumps near Tracy in order to reduce the risk from earthquakes and climate change to the State’s water supplies. It is intended to protect ...
On July 1, 2022 a panel of the Ninth Circuit issued a superseding opinion in California River Watch v. City of Vacaville, Appeal No. 20-16605, withdrawing its previous opinion in the same case and reaching the opposite result. The case is a rare example of a court reversing itself, and has important implications for water suppliers in California and nationwide.
In California River Watch, the plaintiff sought to impose RCRA liability on a water supplier based on the presence of hexavalent chromium in the water it supplied to customers, despite the fact that the water complied with the ...
On May 24, 2022, the California State Water Resources Control Board announced emergency drought restrictions resulting from Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-7-22. The regulations are the latest in a series of attempts by the state to deal with the ongoing severe drought. The regulations cover two areas: a ban on irrigating non-functional turf and a requirement that urban water suppliers implement the Level 2 demand reduction actions in their water shortage contingency plan. …
The past few weeks have been active ones for California in assessing the severity of its current drought and how it plans to manage its water during the third year of that drought. On top of other, more localized action, California released its report on 2021 groundwater conditions, evaluated current snowpack conditions and Governor Newsom issued an executive order directing action affecting 2022 water usage.
2021 Groundwater Conditions Report
On April 4, 2022, the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) issued its Groundwater Conditions Report for Water Year 2021 ...
Join us on March 29, 2022, when we will participate in the 2022 Annual AGWT-AGWA California Groundwater Issues Conference in Lakewood, CA, hosted by American Ground Water Trust and Association of Ground Water Agencies.
We will be providing a presentation entitled “The New Endangered Species ‘Protection’ Requirements for Steelhead Trout Will Impact Water Managers’ Options and Groundwater Sustainability Plans.” During this session, we will discuss how the new California endangered species listing will affect operations from Santa Maria, in the central ...
On October 18, 2021, the Biden-Harris administration announced an updated government-wide “comprehensive approach” to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a set of man-made chemicals that are widely used in a variety of consumer and industrial products, and which persist in the environment once released and may be linked to health impacts. The announcement identified several activities to address PFAS by eight federal agencies, as well as proposed funding in the forthcoming infrastructure bill for monitoring for PFAS compounds in drinking water through ...
On June 23rd, California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA) filed the lawsuit California Coastkeeper Alliance v. County of Sonoma (Case No. SCV-268718) in Sonoma County Superior Court. According to CCKA’s website, the suit was filed “to compel the County of Sonoma to consider and mitigate impacts to public trust resources caused by unregulated and wasteful groundwater pumping in the Russian River watershed.” The organization went on to state, “This is an important move during this historic drought to protect salmon populations that are already at risk of extinction, and to ...
As the clock slowly ticks forward on California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) deadlines, earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). Two groundwater sustainability agencies’ (GSAs) plans were approved: Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. GSPs from the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin were deemed to “lack specific details” and were not approved.
According to the DWR’s ...
Earlier this month, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020. According to DWR’s website:
“This version of California’s Groundwater provides a comprehensive look at statewide groundwater activities, compiling technical information and data from 2003 to 2020. This bulletin recognizes the historic passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014 and builds a statewide framework to share new information and progress made by locals who are managing groundwater basins across the state. It ...
Governor Gavin Newsom recently released the final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, which identifies 142 specific state actions to be taken in order to help build a climate-resilient water system for California in the face of climate change. The Water Resilience Portfolio is meant to serve as the Newsom Administration’s blueprint for helping the State adapt to impacts of climate change on its water, including more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.
In April 2019, Governor ...
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund et al., 590 U.S. __ (2020), in which it determined that the Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for point source discharges of pollutants do apply in certain circumstances to effluent that reaches waters of the United States via groundwater. But under what circumstances? Plaintiff environmental groups argued for the Ninth Circuit’s decision that CWA permitting requirements apply when effluent in a ...
California Water Views provides timely and insightful updates on the water sector in the state. We relay information on how water legislation and policy from the nation’s capital, Sacramento, and around the U.S. affect California’s water utilities, agencies, practitioners, and consumers. We also write about important events, conferences, legal cases, and other key happenings involving all things water in and around California.
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