Annual Progress Report, 2012
California’s Impaired Waters
California has expanded water monitoring to more rivers, streams and lakes than ever before, more than doubling its list of polluted waters. EPA is working with the state's Water Boards to complete and implement hundreds of pollution control plans for these waters.
Of California’s 3 million acres of lakes, bays, wetlands and estuaries, more than half have been assessed, with 1.6 million acres failing to meet water quality goals. Of these, 1.4 million acres still need pollution control plans known as TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads).
Of the state’s 215,000 miles of shoreline, streams and rivers, about 45,000 have been assessed, with 30,000 miles not meeting water quality goals. The most common contaminants are pesticides, bacteria, dissolved metals, and oxygen-depleting nutrients.
Waterways added to the impaired list in 2011 include portions of the San Joaquin River, where high temperatures threaten salmon and trout.
The listings lead to development of TMDLs or other actions for these water bodies to restore them to swimmable, fishable conditions. Work is already underway to address waters currently listed.
The data show:
- More beaches, both inland and coastal, are on the list because bacteria reached unsafe levels for swimming.
- Trash impairment listings have increased by 76% due to better reporting. California’s Trash Policy, now under development, will address impacts to wildlife and the Pacific Ocean.
- California’s statewide sport fish monitoring has increased by 24% the number of waterways with fish that are unsafe to eat, often due to mercury levels.
- Waters impaired by pesticides increased 36%. California's Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program has achieved reduced pesticide levels in surface waters.
Restoring Napa River Watershed
In the Napa Valley, which has some of the nation’s most valuable agricultural land, 40 vineyard owners are transforming 135 acres of riverbank to wildlife habitat to prevent floods and erosion and to restore salmon runs.
EPA and Napa County pooled nearly $3.3 million in federal, state and local funding to restore water quality as well as riparian and aquatic habitats in the Napa River watershed.
Steelhead trout and Chinook salmon populations in the Napa River have suffered steep declines as a result of sediment clogging the river and covering spawning gravel. Erosion has also degraded the river channel, severely reducing habitat for young fish. The 55-mile-long river is also prone to winter flooding.
"The Napa River represents one of the most important watersheds within the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary for the recovery of regional steelhead and salmon populations," says EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld. "This $1.5 million EPA grant will help manage erosion, improve spawning gravel, and create habitat."
The grant builds on more than two decades of local stewardship involving landowners, Napa County, elected officials and partner agencies.
The project will help restore water quality by:
- restoring river function to improve fish habitat
- eradicating invasive Giant Reed and planting native riparian trees
- assisting ranchers in reducing erosion, and implementing practices to reduce sediment runoff from rural roads and stream crossings
The project is one of dozens funded by EPA in the San Francisco Bay Area to implement TMDLs and watershed plans (see map, next page).
Building Tribal Water Infrastructure
Many areas on tribal lands still lack basic drinking water and wastewater services. With federal funding, construction is underway or completed on 12 drinking water projects and 42 wastewater treatment projects.
With funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, EPA issued grants to more than a dozen tribes totaling $30.7 million to build drinking water and wastewater facilities in areas lacking adequate infrastructure. EPA is working with the Indian Health Service and the tribes to oversee construction.
The drinking water projects are providing potable water in areas where local springs and groundwater supplies are insufficient or have unsafe levels of arsenic, uranium, fluoride or bacteria. Some homes at Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe are receiving piped water for the first time.
By January 2012, the completed facilities had brought safe drinking water to more than 3,000 tribal homes, and improved wastewater treatment facilities to serve over 2,400 homes. More than 11,000 homes will be served when all projects are finished.
On the Navajo Nation, EPA funded 26 septic tank and drainfield replacement projects in 25 communities. The new septic tanks are made from 85%-100% recycled plastic and the drainfields are made from 100% recycled materials.
At the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s reservation in Arizona, the White River Surface Water Treatment Plant allows 1,667 homes to supplement a declining well field with river water. The system's innovative design features will save the tribe $54,000 annually in energy costs compared to a traditional treatment plant.
- California's Impaired Waters
- Restoring Napa River Wateshed
- Building Tribal Water Infrastructure
- San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund Projects
San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund Projects
For more information on EPA-funded water projects in the San Francisco Bay watershed, visit EPA's San Francisco Bay Watershed website.