California Water Commission Launches DPR Grants

The California Water Commission is now accepting applications for the Water Storage Investment Program. The application period will be open from March 14, 2017 to August 14, 2017.

The Commission recently launched an Application Resources page which contains a link to the Department of Water Resources submittal site GRanTS, a web-based tool for managing funding applications and related documents, as well as documents that will provide applicants with program requirements and important information.

The Application Instructions and “From Concept to Application – Considerations for Applicants” documents have been attached above.

To further assist potential applicants, the Commission has scheduled an application assistance workshop on March 30, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., in the Klamath hearing room on the second floor of the California Environmental Protection Agency located at 1001 I Street, Sacramento. The Commission will schedule additional webinars, targeting specific application elements, to further assist applicants.

For more information about the California Water Commission, please visit our website at:

Clean Water Act Protections

The Waters of the United States rule affects every tributary of every stream related to an external drainage system, including wetlands, in the whole US. 
I don’t see how EPA can roll it back — at least not without submitting the proposal to review it to public comment! 
The rule was created by EPA AND the Army Corpse after the Supreme Court Rapanos decision, which required a full definition of the “Waters of the United States” to include the doctrine of “significant nexus,” which means that a water body had to have some relationship to a navigable water system. The drafts of this rule were openly circulated and reviewed and commented on from 2013 to 2015, and it should not be re-reviewed or rewritten until it has a chance to be fully tested – 5 years at least. The rule does not apply to ditches, and it does not do away with the system of permits that farmers can apply for under a wide range of circumstances, for disposal of some runoff types. I listened to one of the online seminars, which fielded hostile questions from farmers, which were driven by the attitude that “nobody in government should be able to tell me what to do on my land”… even if it could damage other waters or downstream lands.  
We have to weigh in on this, because it is certainly needed to address the huge volume of pollution that drains from central-states farms into the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and create dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. It will certainly bear on water quality in California streams, lakes, and wetlands, and any coastal waters and lands that they drain into.
I wrote a comment letter on this for SCWC in 2014, and am happy that one of the issues we raised (see the 3rd bullet below) did get enough support to be included. I did not like the limitation of the significant nexus rule, which makes sumps out of internal drainages (of which the western states have many), but protects many important wetlands in areas that have nexus to external drainages. This includes the Laguna de Santa Rosa
Sonoma County groups need to quickly prepare a letter defending this rule (and Clean Water rules in general), to try to derail this attempt to muddy the waters once again. Literally.
From the EPA website:
What the Clean Water Rule Does

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule to clearly protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Protection for many of the nation’s streams and wetlands has been confusing, complex, and time-consuming as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. The Clean Water Rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand. Specifically, the Clean Water Rule:

  • Clearly defines and protects tributaries that impact the health of downstream waters. The Clean Water Act protects navigable waterways and their tributaries. The rule says that a tributary must show physical features of flowing water – a bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark – to warrant protection. The rule provides protection for headwaters that have these features and science shows can have a significant connection to downstream waters.
  • Provides certainty in how far safeguards extend to nearby waters. The rule protects waters that are next to rivers and lakes and their tributaries because science shows that they impact downstream waters. The rule sets boundaries on covering nearby waters for the first time that are physical and measurable.
  • Protects the nation’s regional water treasures. Science shows that specific water features can function like a system and impact the health of downstream waters. The rule protects prairie potholes, Carolina and Delmarva bays, pocosins, western vernal pools in California, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands when they impact downstream waters.
  • Focuses on streams, not ditches. The rule limits protection to ditches that are constructed out of streams or function like streams and can carry pollution downstream. So ditches that are not constructed in streams and that flow only when it rains are not covered.
  • Maintains the status of waters within Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. The rule does not change how those waters are treated and encourages the use of green infrastructure.
  • Reduces the use of case-specific analysis of waters. Previously, almost any water could be put through a lengthy  case-specific analysis, even if it would not be subject to the Clean Water Act. The rule significantly limits the use of case-specific analysis by creating clarity and certainty on protected waters and limiting the number of similarly situated water features.

California should take lead on wetlands protections

From SF Chonicle March 12, 2017

Botanist, Rhiannon Korhummel, (left) and Biologist Stephanie Freed, with WRA Environmental Consultants assess the quality of the wetlands habitat neat the Sears Point Restoration site on the edge of San Pablo Bay in Novato, California on Tues. April 19, 2016. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Botanist, Rhiannon Korhummel, (left) and Biologist Stephanie Freed, with WRA Environmental Consultants assess the quality of the wetlands habitat neat the Sears Point Restoration site on the edge of San Pablo Bay in Novato, California on Tues. April 19, 2016.

When the president made good on a key campaign promise Tuesday to roll back federal environmental rules on wetlands, cheers went up across farmlands. The acronym meant little to city dwellers, but the promise to “repeal WOTUS” — a staple at Trump rallies — had secured much of the rural vote for Trump. Fearing rollbacks would weaken environmental protections for a state that has led the nation in environmental protections, Democratic legislators in Sacramento preemptively introduced a suite of legislation to “preserve” California.

WOTUS, or “waters of the U.S.,” refers to a rule intended to clarify the scope of the 1972 federal Clean Water Act, which tries to keep pollutants out of drinking water and wetlands wet. The rule was developed after years of public comment and a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court. In 2015, the Obama administration finalized the rule, which defined the extent of federal jurisdiction over small streams and tributaries.

The rule is particularly tricky to interpret in California because many streams and wetlands are ephemeral — they flow or are wet only immediately after it rains. Think arroyos in Southern California and vernal pools — seasonal ponds in small depressions with distinct plant and animal life — that dot the Central Valley.

Farmers and ranchers, of course, are not against clean water. But they object to rules that they say are impossible to interpret and that interfere with agricultural practices. The California Farm Bureau stepped in and has led the charge to roll back the rule.

The rhetoric on both sides has been escalating since long before the final rule was issued, particularly on the opposed side, after San Joaquin Valley farmer John Duarte was accused in 2012 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of damaging vernal pools when he plowed to plant wheat.

To fight the promised Trump rollback, California Democrats borrowed a move straight from the playbook of Scott Pruitt, who had sued the U.S. EPA 13 times and called for its destruction before Trump named him EPA administrator. State Senate Democratic leader Kevin de León of Los Angeles has introduced Senate Bill 49, which would use existing federal environmental law as the baseline for state law “so we can preserve the state we know and love, regardless of what happens in Washington.”

The California Farm Bureau welcomed the president’s executive order Wednesday as a rollback of confusing federal rules.

The chest bumping is good political theater, but California has the power to exert its authority over wetlands. The state already uses federal environmental law as a template for state law. And federal law largely leaves authority to the state.

The state needs to invest in institutional muscle at the State Water Resources Control Board to enforce rules that protect the environment from those who would fill wetlands and dump pollutants into streams or seasonal streambeds.

Californians know the value of wetlands in flood control and wildlife habitat. We all want clean water. If these are the priority state leaders say they are, the state should step up.

Waters of the US Rule in Jeopardy

Trump to sign WOTUS order on Tuesday

By Annie Snider and Jenny Hopkinson, POLITICO Pro

02/27/2017 05:54 PM EDT

President Trump will sign an executive order tomorrow afternoon beginning the process of unwinding the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, according to an agricultural industry source.

Trump vowed during the campaign to eliminate “some of our most intrusive regulations, like the Waters of the U.S. rule,” as well as the climate rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

The water rule is aimed at ending the confusion sparked by two Supreme Court decisions about which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Obama administration estimated its rule would increase by 3 percent the number of marshes, bogs and creeks covered by the 1972 law, but farmers, homebuilders, oil and gas companies and other industry groups called it a massive land grab.

Trump’s newly installed EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, is slated to speak at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which was one of the rule’s most vocal opponents.

The executive order is unlikely to have an immediate effect, since a court put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Moreover, withdrawing the rule would require the agency to go through the formal rulemaking process, with a proposal, notice and comment period, and a final rule. Environmental groups and states that support the rule would almost certainly mount a fierce legal battle to defend it. The Supreme Court has also agreed to hear arguments over a related question.

To view online:

Your Input for the California Water Plan

To All,

This is a message from DPR on getting public input to help shape the California Water Plan.


Do you have opinions about sustainable water management in California?

Here is your opportunity to have your say and help shape the state’s overall water planning document.

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is working on Update 2018 of the California Water Plan (Update 2018). Central to this Update is an assessment of how effective current water actions (programs and projects) are in advancing sustainable water management in California. Your contributions to this assessment will help shape State government water policies and investment priorities in Update 2018. You are also welcome to share this survey with others.

For the purpose of this assessment, we ask that you respond to the survey questions from an overall statewide perspective – not at a regional, agency, or organizational level – based on your current knowledge and experience. There is an opportunity to elaborate your point of view in the comment dialogue boxes of the survey.

Before taking this survey, we ask that you first read two short online articles – the Water Management Effectiveness Framework Overview and the California Water Sustainability Brochure. The overview and the brochure will provide you context, definitions and the focus of the assessment, and they will assist you in responding to the survey questions.

It will take you about 15-20 minutes to complete the multiple-choice questions; and you may need more time to include written comments in the dialogue boxes. Your comments will be valuable for informing the findings of the California Water Management Effectiveness Assessment. The survey can be completed in multiple sessions and you can return to the survey where you left off provided that you use the same device and browser.

We thank you in advance for participating in the California Water Management Effectiveness Assessment survey.

Symposium: Contaminants in the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Please join us for an upcoming symposium at UC Davis, convened by the Delta Science Program and CMSI with additional support from the State Water Resources Control Board.

“Contaminants in the San Francisco Bay-Delta: Novel Tools and Approaches to Evaluate Effects of Multiple Stressors”

Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017

8:30 am – 5:00 pm

UC Davis Student Community Center – Multipurpose Room

Corner of Shields and California Avenues

Davis, CA 95616

To access the full roster of speakers, the event schedule and to RSVP, please click HERE. The symposium is free and open to the public but we request that you RSVP by 1/26.

For more information, please click HERE


Nir Oksenberg, Ph.D

Science Communication

Delta Science Program

Delta Stewardship Council


Clean River Alliance’s New Year’s Message

January 1, 2017

Dear friends,

Now that we are in a new year and we ready ourselves for the work of 2017 it only makes sense to peek back into the past twelve months and add up our totally grass-roots, all-volunteer accomplishments.

This year, over 550 volunteers have removed 155,510 pounds of garbage from the Russian River watershed between Hopland and Jenner.  Of that total, about 45,000 pounds was collected, bagged and staged for us by a subset of dedicated volunteers who are currently living without houses. None of that trash will land on our beaches this winter, nor will it end up in the Pacific Ocean – ever.

Clean River Alliance has spent the year expanding our efforts and adding more events to our calendar.  These include:

  • A weekly town cleanup in Guerneville every Monday afternoon;
  • An outreach effort to our house-less neighbors through the Vets Connect program every Thursday at the Guerneville Veterans Memorial Hall, followed by the pick-up of trash that has been bagged up and staged for us by those same neighbors in the lower Russian River;
  • The 29th annual Russian River Watershed Clean-up in September in collaboration with many other agencies and entities;
  • Other watershed projects to remove detritus left by beach-goers, tourists and campers;
  • And, continued outreach and education efforts to residents and visitors alike on the importance of clean waterways.

None of this would have been possible without the ongoing support of many agencies and entities that have provided us with access, encouragement, in-kind contributions and fiscal sponsorship.

Thanks to Don McEnhill and Russian Riverkeeper for their faith in us and undying support.  Thanks to the County of Sonoma, our Board of Supervisors and their staff-people, and the Sonoma County Water Agency for assistance when we ask, and for picking up the phone when we call.  Thanks to West County Health Center’s Homeless Outreach Team for its collaborative spirit and ongoing encouragement, and to West County Community Services for all it does and is trying to do.

Along with these collaborations, we have also been honored to partner with other local community groups and non-profit organizations.  Amongst these are the B-Rad Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, North County Community Services, our local schools and businesses and many more.

Mostly, thanks to our utterly dedicated volunteers, aka: The Garbage Patch Kids, who continue to show up even when it’s cold and wet and muddy.  Faced with the direst circumstances, they remain cheerful, understanding, passionate and compassionate.  They are our most valuable assets and with them we are a growing, thriving organization.

Please consider a contribution now so we can continue to grow and expand our efforts in the coming year.  To make a donation online, go to Make sure to include a comment noting that your donation is for Clean River Alliance.

You can also mail us a check to P.O. Box 536, Guerneville CA 95446.

And, if you would like to volunteer, or simply talk trash, call me at 707-322-8304. Visit our website and like us on Facebook!

With sincere appreciation and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Chris Brokate
And the crew of Clean River Alliance

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Comment

From Restore the Delta:

Today, the Delta Tunnels Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) was released online.

As we mentioned yesterday, this document is not a green light for the Delta Tunnels but rather should be understood as the submission of homework by sponsoring agencies (California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) to be evaluated by state and federal regulators who will determine if proposal can meet environmental and water quality standards under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A feat no previous version of the proposal has achieved.

Whenever Governor Brown wants to make a bold pronouncement on the Delta Tunnels proposal, he turns to his loyal stenographer Dan Morain, editorial page editor at the Sacramento Bee. As he does again today in this story, “Jerry Brown plunges ahead on twin tunnels.”

Here is the reaction to this story by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta:

“Governor Jerry Brown told the Sacramento Bee that Delta Tunnels proposal is based on the best scientific thinking. That is simply not true. He left out that fish do worse with the tunnels, and that millions of Delta residents will be left with degraded water that will not meet Clean Water Act standards.

“The Governor failed to remember the dangers for Delta residents associated with the project, from toxic algal blooms, to increased boron and selenium in drinking water, to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 600,000 new cars on the road each year from construction.

“This forgetting on Governor Brown’s part is reckless and dangerous as he makes his appeal to President-elect Trump to support the project. Governor Brown is supporting a project that will leave Stockton, California, a majority-minority city, and other Delta environmental justice communities with degraded water — all for the benefit of rich water exporters in the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, and Silicon Valley. Shame on Governor Brown. What dishonest pandering!”

Stormwater Improvement Project to Consider

To All,

Stormwater pollution is a serious problem in many of your watersheds, and many of you are using green stormwater infrastructure projects to address it.  I wanted to share information about a project one of your fellow members, the Charles River Watershed Association, has implemented in Chelsea, Massachusetts so that you can learn from their experiences too.


Blue Cities: Stormwater Improvement Project for Mace Apartments, Chelsea

Project Overview

The Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) installed bio-filters within the Mill Hill neighborhood in Chelsea, which sits on a small neck of land bounded by Chelsea Creek and Mill Creek. Like other Chelsea neighborhoods, the site consists mostly of residential buildings interspersed with industrial and commercial development. Given the high amounts of impervious pavement in the area, stormwater runoff is a major contributor to pollution levels in both creeks. After analyzing the impact of this site on the water quality in Mill Creek, CRWA selected this site as a pilot project for implementing green infrastructure retrofits and monitoring the results on both water quality improvement and run off reduction from the site.

Benefits to installing bio-filters
Installed three bio-filters in a parking lot at the Mace Apartment Complex at the intersection of Crescent Avenue and Clinton Street

  • Improved quality of water by filtering stormwater runoff prior to it discharging into Mill Creek
  • Provided comprehensive training on maintenance to Chelsea Department for Public Work and Chelsea Housing Authority maintenance staff
  • Provided opportunity for residents to be involved in project design and implementation

Challenges faced during construction and post construction monitoring

  • Bid process and construction contract award was challenging and very time consuming
  • The lowest bid contractors were inexperienced and required extra supervision
  • Post construction monitoring involved the use of automated sampling equipment that required a steep learning curve
  • Ongoing maintenance has been a challenge

Blue Cities

CRWA’s Blue Cities Initiative works to reengineer urban landscapes to incorporate the design of natural green corridors and infrastructure. By restoring urban greenscapes Blue Cities Initiative also reestablishes natural hydrology that replenishes groundwater, reduces the pollution of stormwater to the Charles River and reduces flood risk. For more information on Blue Cities visit

Bio filter in center vegetated island
Bio filter along Mill Creek and Clinton Street