Supreme Court’s Murky Clean Water Act Ruling Created Legal Quagmire

Lawyers rarely agree on anything, but here’s an exception: They all say the Supreme Court bungled Rapanos v. United States, a major wetlands case, almost five years ago.

Attorneys representing all interested parties say lower court judges, regulators, the business community and individual landowners continue to suffer as a result of the confusion sown by the justices whose main job is to provide clarity in the law.

The case concerned the efforts of Michigan landowner John Rapanos to develop a property that, much to his dismay, was designated as a wetland. He hadn’t applied for a permit and was subsequently the target of U.S. EPA civil and criminal enforcement actions.

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Water: Upbeat first assessment of year’s supplies



The rainy season isn’t over yet, but California farmers already have reasons to be optimistic about the 2011 harvest.

A torrent of early winter storms and higher-than-expected water left from 2010 prompted federal regulators Tuesday to issue an upbeat first assessment of the year’s water supplies.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the sprawling network of pipes and pumps that bring water to Central Valley farmlands and some urban customers in the Bay Area, expects to deliver as much as 100 percent of the water supplies requested.

“The new year starts with an encouraging water supply forecast, thanks to the precipitation delivered by Mother Nature,” David Hayes, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/18/BARH1HARF6.DTL#ixzz1Bh1HaBxh

California seeks to slash chromium-6 in tap water

California, often an environmental trendsetter, is proposing a strict public health goal to reduce chromium-6, a probable carcinogen, in tap water following a recent report about its prevalence in 31 U.S. cities.

The state, which proposed an initial goal in late 2009, issued a draft version last week of a much stricter voluntary standard for the chemical that was made famous in the 2000 Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich. It’s now seeking public comment before finalizing its goal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to set a limit for chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, in tap water. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health reported strong evidence that the chemical caused cancer in laboratory animals when consumed in drinking water.

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Water Shortage Threatens Livelihood For Many In The Imperial Valley

Some experts say there is a fifty per cent chance that Lake Mead, the giant reservoir behind the Hoover dam, could dry up in the next few decades. That grim gamble is a sobering possibility for us here in San Diego since Lake Mead stores Colorado River water, a prime source of water for much of southern California.

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Oil and Water Don’t Mix with California Agriculture

KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

From the “Petroleum Highway” — a rutted, dusty stretch of California State Route 33 — you can see the jostling armies of two giant industries. To the east, relentless rows of almonds and pistachios march to the horizon. To the west, an armada of oil wells sweeps to the foothills of the Temblor Range.

Fred Starrh, who farms along this industrial front, has seen firsthand what can happen when agriculture collides with oil. On an overcast February day, he drives his mother-of-pearl Lincoln Town Car down a dirt road through his orchards. Starrh Farms has 6,000 acres of pistachios, cotton, almonds and alfalfa. Starrh proudly points out almond trees planted 155 to the acre with the aid of lasers and GPS. At the edge of his land, he pulls up beside 20-foot-high earthen berms, the ramparts of large “percolation” ponds that belong to a neighbor, Aera Energy.

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New reservoir to save water from escape to Mexico

Nearly a month after water filled the Warren H. Brock Reservoir near the Arizona-California border for the first time, the project’s builders got the news they wanted: It didn’t leak.

So, they pulled the plug and let all the water out.

Emptying the reservoir, dug out of the sand dunes about 25 miles west of Yuma, was as much a part of the final construction test as filling it and watching for leaks. This reservoir was built to be in motion: Get the water in, wait a few days, get the water out.

The $172 million project is an attempt to seal decades-old leaks in the Colorado River‘s water-delivery system by capturing the dribbles lost downstream to Mexico when farmers in Arizona and California don’t take water they ordered, usually because rain filled the need.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/11/28/state/n101810S80.DTL#ixzz16ipr6nxJ

California looks for a way to save the delta, quench residents’ thirst

Nearly three decades after a proposed delta bypass was killed by voters in a divisive initiative battle, the idea is back in vogue.

Pumping water from the delta’s southern edge has helped shove the West Coast’s largest estuary into ecological free fall, devastating its native fish populations and triggering endangered species protections that have tightened the spigot to San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities.

The mounting delta problems, along with the potential threats of a rise in sea level and a major earthquake, have turned the attention of state and federal agencies to an “alternative conveyance”: either a canal or, more likely, a 40-mile water tunnel system that would be the nation’s longest, some 150 feet beneath the delta.

Read more: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2010/11/29/1387624/california-looks-for-a-way-to.html#ixzz16h8ZZgEK

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