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  1. Americorps Presentation - Lauri Kemper

    On June 7, 2000, Regional Board staff gave a presentation to Americorps volunteers. Over one hundred volunteers from Northern California were graduating from the Watershed project. Americorps held a two-day graduation/retreat at Camp Concord near Lake Tahoe. Several agencies gave presentations on their organizations and job opportunities. Regional Board staff spoke to over twenty volunteers who were interested in working for the Water Quality Control Boards. Many members of the program have college degrees in environmental sciences, geology, or engineering. Staff handed out job applications and information. This is the first year Americorps has held such an event, and plans to hold one annually. Americorps members in the watershed project have been working assisting agencies conducting environmental restoration projects and educating students and members of the public about environmental issues.

  2. Lake Tahoe Interagency Coordinating Committee - Lauri Kemper 

    Regional Board staff has been working on a progress report with other State Agencies involved with Lake Tahoe's Environmental Improvement Program (EIP). California Tahoe Conservancy Executive Director Dennis Machida is leading the effort particularly as it relates to progress and needs for the capitol improvement portion of the EIP. Regional Board staff is leading the research and monitoring efforts. On May 31, 2000, Dennis Machida presented a draft report to Michael Sweeney, Undersecretary of the Resource Agency, Bill Vance from Cal-EPA and representatives of the various state departments including the Regional Board, Caltrans, Department of Parks and Recreation, State Lands Commission, and the Air Resources Board. A strategy meeting to discuss the progress report and needs, was held June 16, 2000. Staff is preparing for a Lake Tahoe Interagency Council Meeting to be held at Lake Tahoe on August 2, 2000. The Secretaries of the California Environmental Protection Agency, The Resources Agency, and The Business, Transportation and Housing Agency will be making presentations. Agency and Department staff will give a tour of projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin and report on progress achieved. Regional Board members are invited to attend the August 2, 2000 event.

  3. EIP Implementation Workshop- Kara Russell

    TRPA, along with other agencies including the Regional Board, sponsored a workshop on June 2, 2000 to involve members of the business community, affected agencies and other stakeholder groups in the implementation of the Environmental Improvement Program (EIP). The goal of the workshop was to discuss issues of concern and identify strategies for effective implementation of the EIP. Participants in the workshop included representatives from EPA, Caltrans, NDOT, the local jurisdictions, public utility districts, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, TRPA, the Lahontan Regional Board, consultants and other members of the local business community.

    In breakout sessions, participants brainstormed for practical strategies to improve EIP implementation. Common ideas identified include: 1) secure funding and resources, 2) build public support, 3) use geographical approach and advanced planning, 4) streamline decision-making processes, 5) apply lessons learned, and 6) develop Implementation Management Team to oversee and coordinate efforts. Participant groups then developed an approach for continued efforts for each of the identified strategies. Harold Singer committed to being the contact person for future agency and process streamlining efforts.

  4. Status of the Tahoe Keys Marina (TKM) Master Plan EIR/EIS- Mary Fiore

    On June 8, 2000 the Regional Board provided TRPA with comments on the Tahoe Keys Marina Master Plan Draft EIR/EIS. Regional Board staff stressed that the marina expansion as proposed is inconsistent with Lake Tahoe's federal designation as an Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW) and the antidegradation policy. Under federal guidance, the antidegradation policy does allow for a temporary or short-term degradation such as repair or replacement of marina facilities. Impacts associated with construction of the TKM expansion can be considered a short-term degradation. However, impacts attributed to on-going use of the new facilities are not considered short term.

    Regional Board staff comments focused on potential impacts from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), by-products of combustion, including combustion from marine engines. PAHs have been found to be toxic to fish larvae and zooplankton. Regional Board staff determined that the existing data for PAHs in TKM and Lake Tahoe are too limited to sufficiently evaluate and quantify the potential impacts from PAHs that may result from the proposed project.

    The draft EIR/EIS for TKM proposed a mitigation measure to reduce the impacts associated with exhaust products (PAHs and hydrocarbons) from marine engines. The mitigation measure proposed is a "go-slow approach" in which marina expansion would proceed in phases only if on-going water quality monitoring indicates no potential adverse impacts. Expansion would proceed provided levels of PAHs were below those determined to be toxic to aquatic life. The draft EIR/EIS referenced a total PAH threshold which was calculated by Dr. James Oris, an expert in aquatic toxicity. Since the preparation of the draft EIR/EIS, however, the California Toxics Rule (CTR) has been adopted.

    The adoption of the CTR establishes statewide water quality criteria, including ambient water quality criteria, for priority toxic pollutants including PAHs. The levels established for PAHs are more conservative than those determined by Dr. Oris. New projects, including the TKM Master Plan, must achieve compliance with the CTR requirements immediately upon implementation of the project. Immediate compliance with the CTR criteria may hinder the execution of the proposed TKM expansion. Staff has requested TKM conduct monitoring this summer to evaluate if the existing marina is causing impacts on aquatic life. Regional Board staff intends to collect a limited set of samples to verify existing conditions.

  5. Disposal of Treated Ground Water, Construction De-Watering Fluids and Pump Test Waters in the Lake Tahoe Basin - Lauri Kemper

    Persons constructing projects, testing wells and treating contaminated water must find locations for disposal of ground water. Several disposal alternatives are available: sanitary sewers, underground infiltration facilities, injection wells, sprinklers on land, temporary or permanent stormwater basins and surface waters. In the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Water Quality Control Plan prohibits the discharge of waste or deleterious materials to surface waters in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Therefore, disposal options involving surface waters have generally been discouraged or prohibited. In some instances, the Regional Board has permitted discharge of construction de-watering fluids to surface waters in the Tahoe Basin. This has been allowed where the ground water is being pumped adjacent to the Lake or a stream and is of the same quality as the receiving surface water. The Regional Board previously permitted the discharge of pump test waters to the Trout Creek Meadow. Most of that water percolated into the meadow before reaching the stream and water that reached the stream was monitored. In these cases, Regional Board staff determined that no waste or deleterious material was being discharged to surface waters.

    T he Regional Board has adopted three general permits for disposal of ground water throughout the Lahontan Region: 1) General NPDES Permit for Surface Water Disposal of Treated Ground Water in the Lahontan Region 2) General NPDES Permit for Limited Threat Discharges to Surface Waters and 3) General Waste Discharge Requirements for Land Disposal of Treated Ground Water. In the Lake Tahoe Basin, Regional Board staff has not authorized use of the General NPDES Permit for Surface Water Disposal of Treated Ground Water because of concerns that discharges of treated ground water from a contaminated site may occasionally contain residual petroleum hydrocarbons violating the waste discharge prohibitions. Staff has authorized discharges under the other general permits where it can be shown that no adverse water quality impacts will result. Staff authorizes the disposal of de-watering fluids to land from construction sites under permits issued for construction.

    Recently, USA Petroleum Corporation (involved with cleanup of contaminated ground water) has requested to use stormwater basins for infiltrating treated ground water. Regional Board staff has agreed to consider this proposal for occasional disposal. Year round disposal to stormwater basins will result in discharges to surface waters and eliminate capacity for stormwater treatment.  Staff has suggested that USA consider phasing in a disposal plan to monitor percolation rates so that the long-term capacity can be established. USA is considering the use of a stormwater basin to reduce the costs of disposal to the sanitary sewer and re-injection wells. It would retain the ability to dispose of all treated waters through the sewer or re-injection wells and only use the stormwater basins during the dry season to reduce USA's overall cleanup costs.

  6. Upgrade of the Plan for California's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program - Cindy Wise

    The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCBs) are responsible for nonpoint source (NPS) pollution management in California. In February 1987, the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) was amended to include Section 319 which required each state to address NPS pollution. To meet this requirement, the SWRCB adopted California's Nonpoint Source Management Plan in November 1988. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) approved this Plan in January 1990.

    On November 1990, the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA) were enacted to address concerns with NPS pollution of coastal waters not adequately considered in the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. CZARA requires that coastal states develop Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Programs that must be approved by the USEPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In lieu of a separate NPS program for its coastal areas, the state decided to satisfy CZARA requirements on a statewide basis by upgrading it's 1988 California's Nonpoint Source Management Plan. The lead agencies designated for upgrading the state's NPS program to conform to the requirements of both CWA and CZARA are the SWRCB, the RWQCBs and the California Coastal Commission (CCC).

    The upgraded plan, titled Plan for California's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program (Program Plan), was adopted by the SWRCB on December 14, 1999 and by the CCC on January 11, 2000. On May 1, 2000, the NOAA and the USEPA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to fully approve California's upgraded nonpoint source program.

    The Program Plan is the first significant upgrade of California's NPS Program since its inception in 1988. It includes two volumes -- Volume I: Nonpoint Source Program Strategy and Implementation Plan for 1998-2013 (PROSIP), and Volume II: California Management Measures for Polluted Runoff (CAMMPR).

    Although the SWRCB and the CCC have lead roles in developing and coordinating implementation of the upgraded NPS Program, they are not solely responsible for solving NPS pollution. Over 20 other State agencies have authorities, programs, or responsibilities relating to the control of NPS pollution. Coordinating and focusing these agencies' efforts are key to the successful implementation of the upgraded NPS Program. To address NPS pollution statewide, California will need to rely on a wide range of tools, activities and authorities, and to coordinate with public and private partners in all aspects of the NPS Program.

    Goals of the Upgraded NPS Program - The overall goal is to reduce and prevent NPS pollution so that the surface and ground waters of California support a diversity of biological, educational, recreational and other beneficial uses. To accomplish this, the Program Plan proposes to 1) track, monitor, assess and report program activities; 2) target program activities to manage NPS pollution at the watershed level where local stewardship and site-specific management practices can be implemented through comprehensive watershed planning; 3) coordinate with public and private partners in all aspects of the Program; 4) provide financial and technical assistance and education; and 5) implement Management Measures (MMs) to prevent and control NPS pollution.

    Specific Elements of the Program Plan - The Program Plan adopts 61 MMs for six NPS categories (agriculture, forestry, urban areas, marinas/recreational boating, hydromodification, and wetlands/riparian areas/vegetated treatment systems). It provides a 15-year strategy for fully implementing the MMs, and includes the first of three five-year implementation plans. It continues use of the "Three-Tiered Approach" for addressing NPS pollution problems. These tiers are: Tier 1 Self-Determined Implementation of Management Practices (formerly referred to as "voluntary" implementation; this tier was re-named as addressing NPS pollution is not voluntary); Tier 2 Regulatory Based Encouragement of Management Practices; and Tier 3 Effluent Limitations and Enforcement Actions. It promotes long-term interagency coordination on NPS issues with local, other state and federal agencies. It identifies back-up authorities and enforceable policies and mechanisms for the 61 adopted MMs. It relies on the use of existing authorities and regulatory processes to achieve implementation, but allows for the adoption of the MMs as regulation after each five-year cycle if adequate progress in NPS pollution control has not been demonstrated.

    Interagency Coordination - The initial meeting of the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee (IACC) for the NPS Program was held in June 2000. The IACC includes representatives from many state agencies including CalEPA, the California Resources Agency, the Departments of Food and Agriculture, Health Services and Transportation. In addition, representatives of USEPA and NOAA participated. The IACC is intended to promote Program Plan implementation. It will establish key subcommittees on program assessment, education, technical assistance, and regulation. It will work to improve existing, or develop new, MOUs and MAAs between agencies for NPS pollution management. The IACC will help to plan the biennial California NPS Conference.

    Enforcement Guidance - California Water Code Section 13369 requires the SWRCB to develop by February 2001 guidance describing how the SWRCB and the RWQCBs will enforce the Program Plan. The enabling legislation stipulates that the SWRCB use components of the "Three-Tiered Approach" in the guidance. To develop this enforcement guidance, a "Three-Tiered Approach" work group (TTAWG) has been formed with representation from each RWQCB. The TTAWG will meet over the next six months to provide information on the RWQCB's existing and anticipated use of enforcement measures and the "Three-Tiered Approach," and to help develop the guidance.

    Interface with the Watershed Management Initiative (WMI) - The WMI, approved by the SWRCB in 1995, uses integrated planning on a watershed basis. Each RWQCB and the SWRCB revises its WMI Chapter annually to reflect changing priorities and conditions in the state's watersheds. Future revisions will ensure that the WMI chapters are consistent with the Program Plan goal of implementing all MMs by 2013.

    Interface with Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) - TMDLs are another implementation planning tool that will be used to foster implementation of MMs. By providing watershed-specific information, TMDLs will help target specific sources and corresponding corrective measures, and will provide a framework for using more stringent approaches that may be necessary to achieve water quality goals and maintain beneficial uses. As part of the 15 year NPS Program Plan strategy, the RWQCBs have committed to the development of 138 technical TMDLs and their associated implementation plans.

    More Information - For more information on the upgraded Plan for California's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program, please refer to the SWRCB's Nonpoint Source Unit's website which is located at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/nps/

  7. Municipal Storm Water NPDES Permit - Dale Payne

    The Municipal Storm Water NPDES Permit which covers the jurisdictions of the City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County and Placer County (Permittees), is being revised. This permit was presented to the Regional Board at the April 13 Board Meeting in South Lake Tahoe. At this meeting, the Regional Board continued this item for a 90-day period, after the Permittees requested additional time to present the permit to their respective boards, councils, and attorneys. The Regional Board agreed that there would be no changes in the permit language or stringency.

    Due to requirements and standards from the recently adopted California Toxics Rule (CTR), this item is now scheduled for the October 11 and 12, 2000 Board Meeting in South Lake Tahoe. Regional Board staff will be attending training on implementation of the CTR, and draft language incorporating the CTR will be added to the permit by early August. The proposed permit will be recirculated for public comment.

    Lauri Kemper met with the South Lake Tahoe City Council on June 20, 2000, to discuss its concerns with the permit. Of specific concern was how the Migden Bill (SB709) will affect them. The City Council did not provide Lauri with any specific comments, but they supported their staffs' general concerns regarding compliance with effluent limits.

    El Dorado County staff continues to argue that the effluent limits are above and beyond federal storm water regulations, and are therefore an unfunded mandate. They have voiced their preference of compliance through the Federal Maximum Extent Practicable (MEP) language, and said they would remove all objections to the permit if compliance was measured as it relates to MEP. Staff and counsel will respond to El Dorado County's legal concerns prior to presenting information to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. El Dorado County staff and Regional Board staff will discuss this permit with the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on August 22 or 29, 2000, in Placerville, California.

    Placer County staff and Regional Board staff will discuss this permit to the Placer County Board of Supervisors on August 2, 2000, in Tahoe City, California.

  8. State of Nevada Briefing on the Proposed Yucca Mountain Repository - Tim Post

    On June 2, 2000, representatives from the Nevada Governor's Nuclear Waste Office held a briefing at the California Energy Commission for the staff from State Water Resources Control Board, Lahontan Regional Board, Division of Mines and Geology, Department of Health Services, California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol and Inyo County.

    The briefing began with the statement that Nevada's governor, the entire congressional delegation, nearly every elected official, and numerous other organizations in the State have gone on record as opposing this repository. Nevada's official position is that:

    • the current proposed high-level nuclear waste repository is fatally flawed technically and the Department of Energy's (DoE) reliance on engineered structures violates the intent of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (which relies on natural barriers to waste migration);

    • much of the evidence developed thus far shows that Yucca Mountain is not safe for nuclear waste disposal, the site is hydrogeologically complex and tectonically active;

    • as proposed, radioactive substances will leak from the dump and create serious long-term health effects for the citizens of Nevada;

    • Yucca Mountain is DoE's only proposed disposal site; there are no back-up plans for storing or disposing of the proposed 77,000 metric tons of waste.

    One of the major concerns voiced by Nevada was that, every time DoE has discovered an insurmountable technical difficulty with a site, it goes to Congress and (successfully) lobbies for an amendment to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. This has happened numerous times since 1983.

    Another observation was that it's unreasonable to expect that after spending more than $6.5 billion characterizing Yucca Mountain, that DoE would simply walk away even after major technical difficulties have been identified. Rather, DoE's mindset is that they have a mandate from Congress to "make this site work because it's all we have" and it is doing everything to make it work no matter what technical deficiencies are identified during the characterization.

    DoE is scheduled to make a suitability recommendation to the President in July of 2001. This is months before the results of all current investigations are due for submission. The State of Nevada indicated that if DoE moves forward with the construction of the facility, it will file action in Federal Court to have it stopped.

    Lahontan Regional Board staff commented on the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed repository. The California Energy Commission compiled comments from various California State Agencies and submitted them to DoE in early February 2000. The final EIS is scheduled for issuance in November 2000.

    California and local agencies are concerned about this facility because it is thought that the ground water aquifer beneath the facility discharges to Amargosa Valley and springs along the eastern margin of Death Valley.

  9. Meeting with Rand Community Water District, June 8, 2000 - Stephen Niou

    During the March 2000 Lahontan Regional Board meeting at Victorville City Hall, two representatives from Rand Community Water District (RCWD) came and presented their concerns regarding biosolids application at the Arciero Ranch in Fremont Valley, Kern County. To provide a better response to their concerns, Board staff members Hisam Baqai and Stephen Niou attended the June 8, 2000 RCWD Board Meeting in Johannesburg, Kern County. Mr. Baqai briefly explained to the RCWD Board and the interested public how the Lahontan Regional Board regulates the application of biosolids and answered questions from the RCWD and the public.

    The RCWD Board expressed interest in reviewing soil-sampling data submitted by the discharger to the Regional Board. The RCWD Board staff was invited to review Regional Board files and receive copies of additional soil sampling results as needed. The discharger (Mr. Gardner) has previously given copies of soil sampling results to the RCWD Board.

  10. High Desert Power Plant Certification - Gene Rondash

    The High Desert Power Project (HDPP) will consist of a 700-megawatt natural-gas-fired, combined-cycle electrical generating plant. The proposed location for the Plant is on the eastern margin of the former George Air Force Base.

    A Report of Waste Discharge (RWD) was submitted for the HDPP on February 9, 1999, for the processing and injection of up to 4,000 acre-feet per year of water from the State Water Project (SWP). Water would be injected in an area known to be free of contamination from the Air Force Base. Injection and banking of the water in the subsurface is necessary because the SWP cannot guarantee water will be available 100 percent of the time. Because the California Energy Commission (CEC) had not provided a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) determination at that time, the Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) were not processed.

    On May 3, 2000, the CEC granted certification of the HDPP and a Negative Declaration, and a RWD was resubmitted to the Regional Board. As currently proposed, water from the SWP would be treated on site to primary/secondary drinking water standards which would also meet Lahontan's water quality objectives for that area of the Mojave River. Injection into the aquifer will be monitored at the six proposed injection wells. The treatment process is detailed in the RWD and is under review by Regional Board staff.

    On June 2, 2000, a petition was submitted to the CEC to reconsider approval of the Project. The Petitioner had previously opposed using SWP water for the HDPP and proposed instead a dry cooling operation based upon a similar-sized power plant in Nevada.

    The CEC will hear arguments on this matter as part of its regularly scheduled June 21, 2000 meeting. During this reconsideration period, the Regional Board and Department of Health Services staffs are coordinating on the preparation of WDRs for the water treatment/injection process.

  11. Avocet Tungsten Inc.-Status of Drum Removal and Clean-up - Michele Ochs

    During a site visit to the Avocet Tungsten Pine Creek Operations on April 19, 2000, Board staff noted several areas used for drum storage. The drums were corroded and spilling contents onto the unlined soil beneath. Avocet personnel onsite described the contents of the drums as products used in the mill process. Since cessation of milling activities in March 2000, these areas were scheduled to be addressed as part of the closure process.

    On April 21, 2000, Regional Board staff sent a letter to Avocet requesting Avocet prepare a separate work plan for Regional Board staff approval addressing sampling and clean up of the drum storage areas. Avocet and their consultants worked with staff to provide a work plan that fully described the scope of work. Staff approved the work plan for the drum removal on June 8, 2000. During a site visit on June 14, 2000, Board staff noted that approximately 50% of the drums had been shipped off site for disposal at appropriate disposal sites and clean up activities were underway. Soil is being stockpiled for offsite disposal. After contaminated soil is removed, Avocet will conduct verification sampling to document the clean-up activities. Regional Board staff will conduct follow-up inspections and may collect split sampling as the clean-up progresses.

  12. Citizen Monitoring Group Starts up in Mammoth Lakes - Cindi Mitton

    On June 13, 2000, Lahontan Regional Board staff and State Board staff met with a group of local residents of the Town of Mammoth Lakes to discuss citizen monitoring. Citizen monitoring is a program where local citizens in communities learn about ways they can collect water quality data by direct sampling and observations of water bodies in their area. State Board staff described types of field water quality monitoring equipment, monitoring techniques and quality assurance/quality control. Regional Board staff discussed water quality objectives, potential water quality problems and contaminant sources. Regional Board staff, State Board staff and the citizen monitoring group visited two sites located on Dry Creek and Mammoth Creek and collected water quality samples. Groups of these types can be very powerful in collecting ambient water quality data and providing an education and outreach link to the community. Regional Board staff will get copies of the data and will continue to meet periodically with the group.


  13. Old Arco Station, Susanville Lassen County - Anne Sutherland

    On May 23, 2000, a Cleanup and Abatement Order (CAO) was issued to Dilys Cutler, owner of the old Arco Station in Susanville. The CAO was issued, in part, because of numerous delays in compliance with previous Regional Board directives. The known extent of the contaminant plume extends over 750 feet and has the potential to impact the Susan River, which flows approximately 1000 feet downgradient of the site. During the March 23, 2000 groundwater-sampling event, four and one-half inches of free-phase petroleum product was detected in a downgradient monitoring well located approximately 500 feet from the Susan River.

    The CAO directs the Discharger to begin operating a previously approved off-site remediation system, to conduct an additional site investigation to fully define the extent of contamination, and to implement additional remediation to gain hydraulic control of the plume once it is defined. A more stringent schedule of groundwater and surface water sampling is also outlined. On June 1, 2000, Regional Board staff granted approval of a workplan for additional site investigation. On June 7, 2000, Regional Board staff received a letter from the Discharger's consultant, which confirmed the Discharger's intent to comply with the directives contained in the CAO.