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  1. Water Quality Assessment/Section 303(d) List Update - Judith Unsicker

    Section 305(b) of the federal Clean Water Act requires states to report to Congress every two years on the quality of their surface waters. Section 303(d) of the Act requires states to identify surface waters which are not attaining water quality standards and are not expected to do so even with the use of technology based controls such as effluent limitations. Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) must be developed for Section 303(d) listed waters in order to ensure attainment of standards. In California, the Section 303(d) list of impaired waters has historically been updated at two-year intervals as part of the Section 305(b) water quality assessment and reporting process. Priorities and schedules for developing TMDLs have also been identified during the Section 303(d) list update. The next Section 303(d) list update is scheduled for early 2002. The Section 303(d) list update can include both additions and deletions of water bodies. Staff expects to recommend a number of water bodies for delisting. In January 2001, staff will formally request information for use in the assessment/update process from other agencies, university researchers, and the public. The data received will be used together with other information compiled by staff to develop recommendations to the State Board for changes in the Lahontan Region's assessment and Section 303(d) list.
  2. Revisions to Nevada Water Quality Standards for East and West Forks of the Walker River - Bud Amorfini

    Regional Board staff have been following actions by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) to revise beneficial use designations and water quality standards for Walker Lake and water quality standards for various reaches of the East and West Forks of the Walker River in Nevada. The proposed NDEP standards include control points on the East and West Walker Rivers at the state line. Staff is evaluating whether the proposed revisions conflict with Lahontan Region Basin Plan standards.

    The NDEP revisions are intended primarily to provide long-term protection of Walker Lake and further protect adult Lahontan cutthroat trout in the reach between Walker and Webber Lakes. It appears that the key issue for Nevada is providing sufficient flows to control increasing TDS concentrations in Walker Lake, and reducing water temperatures in the reach upstream of Walker Lake for the protection of Lahontan cutthroat trout spawning habitat by reducing the quantity of water diversions upstream of Walker Lake.

    Staff compared NDEP's proposed standards for the East and West Walker at the state line with those established in the Basin Plan. Although not all constituent standards are directly comparable, the proposed NDEP standards are generally equally or less stringent than those in the Basin Plan. However, water temperature standards are proposed for specific periods during the calendar year and the Basin Plan only addresses alterations in water temperature (i.e. as a result of waste discharges). Staff will investigate whether information on ambient temperatures at the identified control points is available.

  3. New Alpine County Watershed Group Will Consider Carson River Issues, Alpine County - Jason Churchill

    Regional Board staff attended community meetings organized by the Alpine County Resource Conservation District that have led to the formation of a new watershed group. The Carson River system, which has been identified as a "priority watershed" by the Regional Board, will also be an important concern of this watershed group. Initial meetings took place on November 14 and December 6, 2000, at Turtle Rock Park near Markleeville. The watershed group will involve a steering committee representing a broad spectrum of local stakeholders that will play an important role in watershed planning and assessment in Alpine County, by evaluating current watershed issues and identifying potential improvement projects.

    The first meeting included presentations on the role and function of watershed management groups and the need for watershed planning and assessment. A list of watershed issues that affect Alpine County and the Upper Carson River watershed was developed with input from the audience, which consisted of private, local, state, and federal entities. There was also a discussion regarding the availability of funding sources for watershed planning and improvement projects, including money funding potentially available under Proposition 13. At the second meeting, it was announced that grant proposals are being prepared to fund a Watershed Coordinator (through a special state program) and to fund the development of a Watershed Plan (through a Proposition 13 planning grant). A watershed group steering committee was formed by seven interested local volunteers, and the next meeting was set for January 4, 2001. Regional Board staff will continue to encourage and assist in the formation of this watershed group in one of the Regional Board's priority watersheds.

  4. Tahoe Tom's Gas Station, El Dorado County - Lisa Dernbach

    The responsible parties are over two months behind in complying with deadlines in a Cleanup and Abatement Order (CAO) to install and sample new monitoring wells and to submit a final design for expanded soil remediation at the site. The site owner's attorney recently submitted a letter stating that a review of the existing date by a new consultant indicates that more work is needed to determine the extent of migration of the contaminants and that the proposed corrective actions will not be effective. I have requested that justification for these claims be submitted immediately for our review of the responsible parties must implement the existing corrective action proposals.

    The responsible parties, in the meantime, are complying with other Orders in the CAO; they are operating the remediation systems, conducting ground water monitoring, and submitting monitoring reports.

  5. Work Started on the Haiwee Reservoir TMDL for Copper, Inyo County - Chuck Curtis

    The USEPA recently agreed to fund development of a Technical TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for Haiwee Reservoir by the Regional Board this Fiscal Year. Haiwee Reservoir is located in Inyo County, in the Lower Owens River watershed. The City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) owns and operates Haiwee Reservoir as part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. The reservoir was constructed in 1913.

    Haiwee Reservoir is listed pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act, Section 303(d), for impairment due to copper. Copper sulfate treatments at the reservoir have occurred for approximately 50 years to control algae, which imparts offensive taste and odor to the water, a drinking water supply to Los Angeles. Copper treatments have resulted in fish kills at the reservoir, either from direct toxicity or from reduced dissolved oxygen resulting from the dead algae's decomposition.

    The Technical TMDL will determine the maximum amount of copper allowed in the reservoir (from external and internal sources) such that water quality objectives are met and beneficial uses are maintained. This Technical TMDL will not include an Implementation Plan, as that will be developed next Fiscal Year. When the Implementation Plan is developed, a Basin Plan amendment will be needed for its incorporation into the Basin Plan. Staff from the Regional Board's Watershed Planning/TMDL Unit is developing the TMDL with assistance from staff from the Mono-Owens unit and the USEPA's TMDL contractor.

  6. Regional Board's Remediation Efforts at the Beacon Station in Meyers - Doug Smith

    On August 30, 2000 about 40 individuals attended the Regional Board staff's community meeting held in Meyers, in the South Lake Tahoe area, to hear about the Regional Boards investigation and cleanup activities at the Meyers Beacon Gas Station. Representatives from South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD), El Dorado County Environmental Management Department, and the Regional Board's consultant, SECOR International, joined the meeting and answered questions from the public.

    The Regional Board has been conducting activities at this leaking underground tank site since July 1998 due to recalcitrance by the owner and operator to conduct the needed work. The Regional Board's cleanup efforts are funded by the Emergency, Abandoned, and Recalcitrant (EAR) Account of the State Water Resources Control Board. Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) from the gas station impacted two municipal drinking water wells owned by STPUD. The wells were subsequently destroyed by STPUD.

    On August 31, 2000 SECOR commenced the additional groundwater investigation by installing five wells on site and 35 wells off site in the surrounding neighborhood to define the lateral and vertical extent of contamination. SECOR completed the investigation in October 2000 and delivered a final report to the Regional Board on December 5, 2000. From the investigation, it appears that low levels of MTBE, along with low levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX), have migrated at least 2,200 feet downgradient from the gas station site. Of the forty wells installed and sampled, only six samples showed results for MTBE and BTEX. Additional sampling is scheduled in the coming months to collect data on whether or not the seasonal groundwater level rise affects the contaminant concentrations.

    Regional Board staff continues to work closely with STPUD and is currently evaluating the success of the pump-and-treat remediation system. I anticipate the Regional Board will continue EAR account activities at the site for at least the next six to nine months.

  7. Conference Presentation on Truckee River TMDL - Cadie MacDonald

    Watershed Planning/TMDL Unit staff gave a presentation on the Truckee River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) project at the Watershed Management Council's 8th biennial conference on November 28th. The Watershed Management Council is a nonprofit professional organization that seeks to promote the application of science to improve water quality, aquatic habitat and stewardship of natural resources for sustainable multiple uses.

    As an invited speaker in a session entitled: "TMDLs: Moving Beyond the Courtroom," staff described the progress and strategy on the Truckee River TMDL. We hope to successfully develop and implement a sediment TMDL for the California portion of the Truckee below Lake Tahoe through a unique combination of a collaborative community-based process and science-based decision making. Together, the Regional Board and affected parties will develop a shared knowledge of the physical, ecological, social and political processes involving sediment pollution. Through this process, it is hoped that we can create a new watershed-specific, effective plan to reduce sediment pollution within the project area.

    The 30-minute slide presentation described the physical, geographic and political setting unique to the Truckee area. Staff explained the predisposing factors that improve the likelihood of success for a collaborative process. The Regional Board is working with contractors and partners to gather information on sediment sources, impacts of sediment pollution on beneficial uses, and methods to reduce sediment loading to the river system.

    To further explain the ongoing work in the Truckee area, two of the Regional Board's watershed-planning partners presented posters at the conference. The Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group gave a poster on Regional Board-funded restoration projects completed in October 2000 by 800 volunteers at the 5th annual Truckee River Day. Also, a Graduate Research Assistant with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) presented a poster on their work to develop a GIS-based sediment model. DRI's work will be used in the TMDL development process. The Town of Truckee sponsors DRI's work under a 205(j) grant from the Regional Board.

  8. Squaw Valley Public Services District, Water Supply Well #3 and the Opera House Diesel Contamination, Placer County - Douglas F. Smith

    Regional Board Staff met with Richard Lierman, General Manager of Squaw Valley Public Services District (SVPSD), on December 1, 2000 to discuss the status of contaminated groundwater plumes located near the SVPSD water supply wells. The discussions focused on the diesel contamination associated with the Opera House's former underground storage tank site. Squaw Valley Ski Corporation (Ski Corp), the Responsible Party, has reported diesel contamination in the groundwater less than 100 feet upgradient from the SVPSD Supply Well #3. Although the most recent sampling from the fourth quarter of 2000 did not detect any diesel contaminant, diesel concentrations have consistently been recorded above the secondary maximum contaminant level of 100 micrograms per liter in monitoring wells MW-1 and MW-3.

    In October 1998 when diesel contamination was first discovered, SVPSD took Supply Well #3 well out of service to prevent potential migration of the diesel contamination into the well. Fortunately, SVPSD has not detected diesel contamination in Supply Well #3 since it was installed in 1960. The diesel contamination may be located only within the uppermost portion of the aquifer, at the 15 to 30-foot depth, while the Supply Well #3 is screened below the 70-foot depth.

    However, Regional Board staff remains concerned about the potential for diesel contamination to migrate into the deeper zone and have discussed the situation with the Ski Corp. Plans are underway by the Ski Corp to install a mid-level groundwater monitoring well between the bottom of the historically-recorded diesel contamination and the top of Supply Well #3. Samples from the new monitoring well should indicate whether or not the diesel contamination has migrated into deeper groundwater toward Supply Well #3.

  9. Truckee River Aquatic Monitors (TRAM) - Jill Wilson

    There is a dedicated group of citizens performing bioassessment within the Truckee River watershed using stream insects as indicators of stream health. Bioassessment indicates how water quality affects the organisms that live there while water chemistry is more indicative of that moment in time. This group of volunteers follows the California State Bioassessment Procedures developed by the California Department of Fish and Game. This procedure includes standardized techniques for quality assurance, habitat, physical and biological assessment. Additionally, the TRAM group is actively involved in community outreach and ongoing training of its members. The goal of the group is to collect and analyze both baseline and long term monitoring trends to improve the understanding of water quality conditions within the Truckee River watershed.

    TRAM is currently in its second year of performing bioassessment within the Truckee River Watershed. The group has sampled seven streams to date including, Sagehen Creek (twice), Alder Creek, Independence Creek, Little Truckee River, Martis Creek, Trout Creek, Coldstream Creek. The streams have been selected based on local knowledge of activities within the watershed. For example, pre and post restoration project monitoring is being conducted on Trout and Cold Creek. Independence Creek was chosen to monitor planned harvest activities in that watershed. Other streams have been sampled to establish baseline data. Collected data is either analyzed to the Family level by TRAM citizens or sent out for professional identification to Genus. The data collected by this citizens group is helping fill water quality data gaps within the Truckee River watershed.

    The group also participates in community outreach activities to get the word out regarding their ongoing monitoring activities. TRAM educates the public on water quality issues at the Sierra Watershed Education Projects' Watershed Fair. Additionally, more than 800 people attended Truckee River Day this year where the public could get up close and personal with aquatic insects at the TRAM booth. Regional and State Board staff continue to support this successful citizens group in their efforts to better understand the health of local streams. This summer State Board staff conducted a workshop on scientific techniques for citizen monitors. Regional Board staff discuss watersheds, natural processes, and current stream research being conducted in the Truckee/Tahoe area. State and Regional Board staff are currently working on a region wide quality assurance plan for citizen monitors in the Tahoe/Truckee basin. Partnering with these local volunteers helps the Regional Board become aware of water quality issues that citizens' data may detect and to foster growing stewardship within the Truckee River watershed.

  10. Notice of Violation, Dependable Tow, Truckee, Nevada County - James Brathovde

    On August 8, 2000, the Executive Officer requested that the responsible parties submit a workplan, by September 15, 2000, to investigate the residual petroleum contamination in soil and groundwater at Dependable Tow. The Dependable Tow Facility was built over a former petroleum bulk plant that was destroyed by fire in 1978. The workplan was to include the proposed sampling locations and the proposed laboratory analysis and an implementation time schedule. Rather than submit the required workplan, Mr. Stratton's attorney furnished a historic chronology of site operations and ownership, concluding that an investigation plan was not necessary.

    Gasoline, diesel and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) has been detected in groundwater, approximately 24 feet below the ground surface. As part of a groundwater investigation for neighboring sites (the Chevron-Southern Pacific-Texaco commingled plume), one groundwater monitoring well was installed on the Dependable Tow property in May 1997. Diesel and gasoline contaminated soil encountered above the groundwater table document that a discharge of petroleum hydrocarbons to soil and possibly to groundwater has occurred on this site (probably spillage or leakage from the former bulk plant).

    On September 29, 2000, I issued a Notice of Violation to the responsible parties stating that they had failed to provide the required technical report for proposing a soil and groundwater investigation. In an October 4, 2000 letter, Mr. Stratton's attorney requested a public hearing to appeal the Notice of Violation. The attorney's letter stated that Mr. Stratton is not a discharger and does not intend to apply for a waste discharge permit, and that he is in full compliance.

    To date, neither responsible party has provided the requested workplan for soil and groundwater investigation beneath the Dependable Tow site. I will advise the responsible parties that a reply stating that the September 29, 2000 Notice of Violation cannot be appealed as it is not a formal enforcement action. No public hearing will be scheduled on the matter.

  11. Caltrans Meetings - Bud Amorfini, Robert Erlich

    Stormwater Characterization Monitoring
    Caltrans Headquarters staff and consultants met with State Board, Regional Board and Caltrans District 3 NPDES staff on November 15, 2000 to discuss regional issues concerning the Caltrans statewide stormwater characterization monitoring program. This year Caltrans installed automated samplers at three sites on Highway 50 between Echo Summit and Stateline. There is an additional site on Highway 395 approximately 15 miles north of Bishop. These sites appear to be the only monitoring sites statewide with heavy snowfall and regular Caltrans snow removal activities.

    Caltrans selected the three Tahoe sites which receive runoff only from Caltrans roadways and to be representative of: 1) high traffic volume, mid elevation, 2) low traffic volume, mid elevation, and 3) low traffic volume, high elevation highways. While the first year's sampling would allow Caltrans to gain experience operating sampling equipment and testing methods and protocols in snowy areas, Regional Board staff have determined that additional sites and more intensive sampling are needed to adequately characterize runoff for Tahoe and other snowy areas of the state. Unlike much of the state, the most significant runoff from roadways occurs during summer thunderstorms and snowmelt events which may or may not coincide with precipitation. State Board and Regional Board staff sought additional stormwater characteriziation sites that represent areas where the discharge includes both stormwater originating from the Caltrans roadway and upgradient sources. Regional Board staff plans to continue working with Caltrans on issues raised during this meeting, and will review the Tahoe sampling and analysis plan once it is submitted by Caltrans.

    District 3 Tahoe Basin Stormwater Management Feasibility Study:
    Caltrans District 3 recently hired consultants to develop a feasibility study analyzing alternatives for management of stormwater. On November 27, 2000, Caltrans NPDES staff and their consultants met with a large group of Caltrans District 3, municipal NPDES permitees, TRPA, and Regional Board staff to describe the study and discuss issues that affect the development of the initial scope of work for the consultants.

    As part of the feasibility study, Caltrans will complete a system inventory involving field work to identify drainage outlet location, tributary drainage area characteristics, existing upstream and downstream facilities, and potential BMP sites along the 67 miles of Caltrans roadway in the Tahoe Basin. Caltrans intends to add one more stormwater characterization monitoring site in the Tahoe Basin. Within six months, Caltrans expects to produce a draft study evaluating options, costs and feasibility for stormwater treatment in the Tahoe Basin. The feasibility study will look beyond the existing list of three Caltrans-approved treatment BMPs (infiltration basins, retention basins, and traction sand traps). Regional Board staff suggested Caltrans consider nutrient and fine sediment load reduction as well as complying with numerical effluent limits in assessing treatment BMPs. Regional Board staff also encouraged further coordination with other public agencies and interagency groups involved with monitoring.

    Caltrans District 3-LRWQCB: Lake Tahoe and Northern Watersheds
    Regional Board staff and Caltrans District 3 personnel met on December 15, 2000 to discuss issues covering the Environmental Improvement Program, water quality retrofit projects, and permitting requirements in the Lake Tahoe Basin and portions of the Truckee River drainage area. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify Caltrans and Regional Board staff expectations, identify unresolved issues, and develop a process to work cooperatively on projects to benefit water quality. Although the meeting was focused primarily on Tahoe Basin issues, many of the identified issues and actions items will facilitate better communication, efficiency, and consistency between Caltrans District 3 and Regional Board staff throughout the Lahontan Region.

    In general, the key issues and action items identified include: 1) improving the environmental review process to incorporate water quality benefits early in the planning/design process; 2) establishing a tracking and review system for Regional Board staff to provide timely comments on proposed projects; 3) exploring opportunities for Caltrans to partner with other state and federal agencies to acquire land for storm water management; 4) consolidating mutual efforts such as developing BMP guidance manuals, identifying mitigation opportunities, and evaluating storm water treatment technologies; 4) sharing results of water quality studies and other environmental information; and 5) working jointly to resolve administrative obstacles to water quality improvements. The meeting provided a constructive forum to help resolve key issues, and future meetings will be periodically conducted to encourage an open and cooperative working relationship.

  12. Tahoe Basin Interagency Road Operations and Maintenance Committee (TBIRMOC) - Lauri Kemper

    On November 30, 2000, the Tahoe Basin Interagency Road Operations and Maintenance Committee met to review the Committee's objectives and discuss goals for 2001. The Committee consists of the Nevada and California Departments of Transportation District Directors, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director, the City of South Lake Tahoe City Manager, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor, a representative from the Federal Highway Administration and the Regional Board. Since the Forest Supervisor, Maribeth Gustafson and TRPA Director, Juan Palma were recently appointed, we discussed the Committee's original purposes and goals. The Committee is still committed to completing a manual that compiles agency expectations and provides guidance for construction and maintenance of roads and highways. The manual will contain guidelines for operation and maintenance (including snow removal and sand and salt use), runoff collection and treatment, bikeways, mile markers, aesthetics (for signs, guard rails and signals). Subcommittees are working to complete individual sections of the manual. The Tahoe Interagency Road Runoff Subcommittee (TIRS), chaired by Regional Board staff, completed a draft guidance which will be circulated for public comment in January 2001. The Mile Marker Subcommittee developed consistent construction details for mile markers throughout the Basin. This subcommittee is no longer needed and has been disbanded. At the next meeting (March 29), the Committee will discuss forming an Operation/Traffic Management Advisory Subcommittee. This group will coordinate communication of environmental improvement projects and other road repair for both states and several local governments in the Tahoe Basin.

    The Committee members renewed their commitment to the subcommittees and appointed new staff to participate where needed. All subcommittees will meet prior to the March 29 Committee Meeting. The Committee members agreed to continue meeting quarterly to ensure the subcommittees complete tasks related to the manual as well as to resolve issues and improve coordination as it relates to roads and highways in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

  13. Elimination of George AFB RPM - Mike Plaziak

    The Air Force recently announced that it intends to phase out the Remedial Project Manager position at George Air Force Base (GAFB) beginning October, 2001 under a base "roll up" plan implemented by the Air Force Base Conversion Agency (AFBCA).

    George Air Force Base (now known as Southern California Logistics Airport) was recommended for realignment and closure among 145 other Department of Defense military installations in 1988 and subsequently closed in 1992. Since 1992 oversight of environmental remediation activities at the installation's three operable units has been conducted by the AFBCA which is physically located at March Air Base.

    Under the base roll up, the Air Force will reduce environmental staffing at March AFB with the plan to eventually fold up the environmental staff and transfer environmental oversight to McClellan AFB in Sacramento by fiscal year 2002. The Air Force expects to have all remediation systems at GAFB operating properly and successfully by this time.


  14. Southdown Cement Company, Victorville, San Bernardino County - Mike Plaziak

    Numerous underground storage tanks (USTs) were installed over the years at the River Plant of the Southdown California Cement Company facility in Victorville. A 12,000-gallon diesel UST and a 10,000-gallon gasoline UST were removed from the River Plant during December 1998. Contaminated soil was removed from the open excavations after the USTs were removed and eventually incorporated into the plant's cement kilns as a raw source of silica material feed in the cement manufacturing process.

    Between November 1993 and October 1999 ground water in downgradient monitoring wells was sampled and analyzed for TPH (gas) and (diesel), benzene toluene ethylbenzene xylene (BTEX), and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Recent monitoring results show no detectable petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations in ground water downgradient of the former USTs. Board staff recommended closure of the case because the site poses no threat to ground water quality, based on recent ground water quality trends and the low concentrations remaining in soil.