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  1. Abandoned Mines Within the Colorado Hill Mining District, Alpine County-Robert Tucker

    Monitor Creek is an impaired water body that is adversely impacted by historic abandoned mine workings within the Colorado Mining District. There are a number of historic mines within the Monitor Creek watershed on lands administered by the U.S Forest Service, Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest (USFS). There are also privately held mining claims. The inactive Zaca Mine site discharges acid mine drainage (AMD) into Monitor Creek, and there are other suspected point and non-point sources of AMD present.

    In March of 1999, the USFS initiated a Removal Action (RA) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) for the Zaca Mine site. The USFS completed a preliminary assessment report that recommended further investigations and an analysis of various actions.

    Separate from the CERCLA action, the Regional Board and the USFS have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to coordinate efforts to address water quality problems from these historic mines. This MOU makes the USFS eligible for funds under the Interdepartmental Abandoned Mine Lands Watershed Cleanup Initiative Program, and enhances USFS ability to obtain resources to cleanup mining sites within the Lahontan region.

    Since signing the MOU, the USFS has received funding to work on issues in the Colorado Mining District, and has requested additional funding to work on other abandoned mine lands within the Lahontan Region.

    Regional Board Staff will work closely with the USFS to ensure the work undertaken protects and improves water quality.

  2. Watershed Presentation at the State Board's March Program Management Briefing Meeting-Cindy Wise

    Three times each fiscal year, the State Board hosts a meeting to brief its Executive Director and Deputy Director on the status, accomplishments, and current or emerging matters of statewide concern in selected ongoing program areas. At the past several meetings, staff from one of the nine Regional Boards has presented a summary of watershed management issues in its Region. As part of March 29 meeting, staff from the Lahontan Region will present a review and analysis of watershed management and related issues in the Region. The presentation will include a brief description of the Region, its water quality issues, a summary of its recent reorganization on a geographic basis, and an analysis of the effectiveness of its efforts to address water quality issues on a watershed basis.

  3. Blackwood Creek Sediment TMDL- Dale Payne

    Blackwood Creek is one of the largest of 63 streams tributary to Lake Tahoe, and is impaired (Clean Water Act, Section 303d listed) due to sediment and nutrients. Historic sediment loading has included gravel quarry operations and stream bank destabilization from various causes. The Regional Board is developing a contract ($20,000) to conduct initial work for the sediment Total Maximum Daily Load Analysis (TMDL) for Blackwood Creek. Products under this contract will include the review of existing information and preliminary recommendations for numeric water quality indicators (targets), source analysis, linkage analysis, load allocations, and implementation. The final report will include identification of remaining needs to complete a TMDL. This work should be completed by December 31, 2000. Once this work is complete, it is likely that the Regional Board will propose a new contract to gather additional data and complete the TMDL and implementation plan. To complete this effort, a Basin Plan will be drafted for Blackwood Creek by Regional Board staff.

  4. Natural Dam Breakthrough Event at Pope Marsh- Greg Powell

    On February 29, 2000, a private citizen informed Lahontan of the water backing up in Pope Marsh and causing flooding of homes and roads in the Jameson Beach area, near Camp Richardson, approximately five miles north of South Lake Tahoe. During the winter, a natural dam forms at the outlet of Pope Marsh when a buildup of sand develops over a concrete weir. This process is naturally occurring and takes place over a span of several months. As the water level in Pope Marsh increases it will either be released naturally when the water crests the sand berm, or breaks through.

    This year the build up of water was released by an employee of the Jameson property owners using a shovel. Regional staff member Greg Powell inspected the release within an hour of the breakthrough. A dark plume of dissolved organic material was observed entering Lake Tahoe. Photographs were taken along with water samples. Lab results have been received and reviewed. Samples taken during the breakthrough are inconclusive. Nutrient levels of Pope Marsh waters generally exceed Lake Tahoe's nutrient concentrations.

  5. Status of the Tahoe Basin Interagency Road Runoff Collection and Treatment Subcommittee (TIRS) BMP Manual- Mary Fiore

    Road operations and maintenance procedures are identified as everyday practices that impact the environment in the Lake Tahoe Basin. In efforts to minimize these impacts, local governments, California and Nevada Departments of Transportation, The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, US Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration, California Tahoe Conservancy, and the Lahontan Regional Board have collaborated to create an Executive Committee called the Tahoe Basin Interagency Roadway Operations and Maintenance Committee. The Executive Committee has formed working subcommittees. These subcommittees address issues of aesthetics, maintenance, bikeways, mile markers, and road runoff.

    The Tahoe Basin Interagency Road Runoff Collection and Treatment Subcommittee (TIRS) is sponsored by staff from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board-Lahontan Region. Members of TIRS consists of the Lahontan RWQCB, TRPA, NDOT, Caltrans, City of South Lake Tahoe, Placer Co., El Dorado Co., Washoe Co., and the U.S. Forest Service. The group has been meeting regularly since January 1999. The focus of the group is to identify the most effective Best Management Practices (BMPs) and design standards to minimize the impacts resulting from current and past road operations.

    Recent efforts of the group have been directed towards the development of a BMP Manual. The intent of the manual is to provide guidelines for road departments, thereby streamlining the permitting process, and achieving BMP alignment among the road departments. During monthly meetings, the subcommittee discusses the most effective techniques, designs, and practices to include in the BMP Manual.

    TIRS has completed a draft outline for the BMP Manual and will be requesting input from the Executive Committee in May. The manual will include a volume on implementation that will present guidelines for source control, stormwater conveyance, treatment, maintenance, and monitoring. A hierarchy of project components will be identified so project review is streamlined. Another volume will present ways to further streamline projects by establishing Memorandums of Understanding with different agencies. The MOUs will identify selected projects and BMPs that can be implemented without individual project review and approval. Participants also plan to develop a schedule to ensure that the BMP Manual is developed and updated in a timely manner. The BMP Manual will be a component of a larger guidance manual which will include operations and maintenance for the road departments in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

  6. California Environmental Quality Act Workshop with USDA Forest Service- Dale Payne

    A joint workshop was held between the Lahontan Regional Board and the USDA Forest Service (USFS), Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to discuss the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its relevance to USFS projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin. In addition, Regional Board and USFS staff discussed the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the USFS and Lahontan Regional Board as it relates to upcoming project review and approval. Lauri Kemper, Senior Water Resource Control Engineer (Region 6), and Lisa O'Daly, USFS Community Planner, presented information at the workshop. Staff from various departments of the USFS and Regional Board staff were present. The presentation included examples of when compliance with CEQA by the USFS will expedite the project approval process, and differences between CEQA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). CEQA requires mitigation measures to be incorporated into the project description, where NEPA does not. In addition, growth inducing impacts, cumulative impacts, and mitigation measures are only required to be discussed by CEQA if significant, whereas with NEPA, direct impacts, indirect impacts, cumulative impacts, and mitigation measures are to be discussed regardless of significance. The other large difference between CEQA and NEPA is that alternatives in CEQA are not expected to be as detailed as the preferred alternative, unlike NEPA where equal treatment of alternatives and the project description (action) is required. USFS staff now has a better understanding of California requirements. USFS staff agrees to involve Regional Board staff early in the process. Regional Board staff is looking forward to an improved project review process with the USFS.

  7. Bodie Hills Recreational Vehicle Park Project, Mono County - Tom Suk, Alan Miller

    Over objections from the Regional Board Executive Officer, the Mono County Planning Commission recently voted 3-1 to forward a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Bodie Hills Recreational Vehicle (RV) Park to the Mono County Board of Supervisors for final approval. The project, which would be constructed along both sides of Clearwater Creek and the Bodie Road near the junction of U.S. Hwy 395, involves mass grading, potential wetland disturbance and proposed modifications to the channel of Clearwater Creek. The proposed RV Park includes construction of a seasonal resort including motel units, campsites and RV sites, a market, a laundromat/shower building, a museum, employee housing units, associated bridge and roadways, onsite wastewater disposal systems (septic systems). Due to the high sediment loading, the creek is on the federal Clean Water Act, Section 303(d)-list. Surveys of Clearwater Creek stream biota indicate that aquatic life uses are impaired. Clearwater Creek is tributary to the Bridgeport Reservoir, which is Section 303(d)-listed for nutrients. Where water quality objectives are being violated and/or beneficial uses are impaired; it is not appropriate to allow further degradation of water quality which may be attributable to projects such as the Bodie Hills RV Park.

    In several letters, Regional Board staff commented on these and other relevant water quality issues and the inadequacy of the project EIR, and requested further information on, and evaluation of, potentially significant adverse effects of the proposed project on water quality. Such analyses by qualified persons are necessary to develop measures to reduce and mitigate impacts to insignificant levels, preferably prior to project approval by the Board of Supervisors. The Executive Officer has sent letters to the members of the Board of Supervisors requesting that they withhold project approval until the outstanding water quality issues are resolved. While some issues appear to be resolved, Regional Board staff is not satisfied with the County's response to other issues.

    On February 27, 1998, a Report of Waste Discharge (permit application) was requested from the project proponents. This action, in effect, prohibits the discharge of waste from the project until the Regional Board issues Wastes Discharge Requirements, or a waiver thereof. Regional Board staff will continue work to resolve issues associated with the project, either through the California Environmental Quality Act EIR process, or using the authorities of the Regional Board to regulate waste discharges from the project, as necessary.

  8. I-80 Rehabilitation - Greg Zentner

    Caltrans is planning to rehabilitate Interstate 80 from Donner Summit to Stateline. The project will consist of three phases possibly beginning this summer. Over the next several years, Caltrans will replace pavement, demolish and re-build several bridges, and widen portions of the roadway to meet current freeway design standards and to provide for a truck passing lane in the uphill, westbound direction. Phase I of the project involves re-paving the freeway and replacing several bridges from Trout Creek near downtown Truckee to Floriston. This phase of the project, like all phases, involves impacts to wetlands and 100 year floodplain. In May or June of this year, we expect to bring to the Board a resolution that provides for an exception to the Basin Plan prohibition on floodplain disturbance in the Truckee River watershed for Phase I. Since the project will require that the US Army Corps of Engineers process a 404 permit, Caltrans must also receive a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for from the Regional Board. Caltrans must also receive Regional Board staff approval for a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan before Phase I can commence.

    Caltrans is currently constructing the Highway 267 Truckee Bypass project which involves a new interchange with I-80. The new interchange is located within the Phase I area of the I-80 rehabilitation project. Construction of the new interchange may occur this year and will be regulated under the permits issued for the Highway 267 Bypass project.

  9. Squaw Valley UST sites, Olympic Valley, Placer County - Tammy Lundquist

    Several underground storage tank (UST) sites under Regional Board oversight are located within the Squaw Valley Ski Area. Of these active UST cases, two are located at the base of Squaw Valley: the Opera House and the Olympic Village Loading Dock. The Opera House is of specific concern because the former diesel UST was located in the vicinity of several municipal supply wells. Recent laboratory analytical results in ground water show up to 170 parts per billion TPH-diesel in one monitoring well. In order to remediate these residual hydrocarbon concentrations; hydrogen peroxide is proposed to be injected into the monitoring wells. Hydrogen peroxide is used as an oxidizing agent to effectively "burn up" these residual diesel hydrocarbons. The hydrogen peroxide injections will be performed by March 3, 2000. Once the hydrogen peroxide is injected, and sufficient time has passed to allow the chemical reaction to occur, the well will be re-sampled and hydrogen peroxide will be reapplied, if necessary.

    Two USTs containing diesel were located at the Olympic Village Loading Dock. In September 1998, one UST was removed and one UST was closed in-place due to the presence of underground utilities that had been routed over the top of the UST. During UST removal activities hydrocarbon contaminated soils were encountered. Excavation activities continued to remove as much soil contamination as possible. Although ground water was not encountered during excavation activities, one geoprobe point was advanced near the tank cavity. Ground water analytical results showed non-detect for TPH, BTEX, or MTBE. However, since petroleum-contaminated soil was in excess of 10 mg/kg Placer County Department of Environmental Health requested that one monitoring well be installed at the site. The monitoring well (MW-1) was installed in October 1999. Laboratory analytical results reported a TPH-diesel concentration of 14,000 ppb, TPH-gasoline at 680 ppb and MTBE at 0.51 ppb in ground water.

    Board staff then requested a workplan to evaluate the lateral extent of ground water contamination. The workplan, received in January 2000, proposes to install up to three additional monitoring wells. The workplan will be implemented by March 31, 2000.

  10. Status of Caltrans Lake Tahoe Basin Snow Removal Practices - Robert Erlich

    Caltrans District 3 officials and supervisors responsible for snow removal and de-icing activities in the Tahoe Basin met with Regional Board staff on March 9 to explain changes to their winter operations and the implementation of the Governor's ban on "slushing". Two South Lake Tahoe residents had phoned the Regional Board with complaints about Caltrans snow removal practices. Dale Ten Broek, District Division Chief, Maintenance explained that Caltrans winter operations have been changing since the days when the snow removed from Tahoe highways was dumped directly into the lake. Caltrans has stopped slushing, has reduced the use of de-icers and abrasives, and reports improved percentage of recovery for abrasives applied to improve traction. Caltrans is also participating in a pilot study using storm drain inserts to trap sediment along Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe, and has acquired new sweepers and equipment to remove sediment from drop inlets and storm water clarifiers.

    Caltrans generally hauls windrows of plowed snow from the center lane to disposal sites: However, these windrows are left in the center lane if they are too small for efficient removal or if additional snowfall is predicted within the next 48 hours. These windrows can include abrasives, salt and brines applied by Caltrans, or remaining on the roadway between storms. The windrows may also include airborne or waterborne fine particulates that did not originate from the Caltrans right-of-way. On warm, sunny days, when predicted storms do not arrive, the melting snow in these windrows contributes sediment and other pollutants to roadside stormwater conveyances. Though the flow rates and pollutant loads from melting windrows appear to be much less than when slushing operations spread the snow over two travel lanes, hauling the snow to designated snow storage facilities would be more effective in preventing discharge of pollutants to surface waters. RWQCB staff has asked Caltrans to consider initiating night or daytime hauling operations on the South Shore when high pollutant loads would be expected. District Caltrans staff has not yet obtained funding for additional equipment and staffing necessary to commit to additional hauling of snow from windrows. It may be desirable to develop a public outreach component for businesses and residents before starting a program of hauling during daylight hours along Highway 50.

  11. Outreach at Kings Beach Elementary School - Robert Erlich

    Staff has been working with educators at Kings Beach Elementary School to install a recording rainfall gauge which can provide precipitation data to be used in analyzing performance of erosion control projects in Kings Beach. Measuring rainfall in central Kings Beach ties in with California Tahoe Conservancy-Placer Co.-USGS efforts to measure and record the water levels in two stormwater treatment basins a few blocks away from the school. These basins are part of the County's Kings Beach Erosion Control Project. By comparing the recorded rainfall and basin water levels, we can determine how the basins respond to different size and duration rainfall events.

    In the past few years, Kings Beach Elementary School teachers, and students have worked with CTC and AmeriCorps to propagate, grow, and install wetland plants in the treatment basins. The students have also made bilingual signs which explain that the treatment basins help improve water quality. This outreach ties in with the efforts to make communities aware of stormwater runoff and water quality issues, and can provide data needed to analyze the performance of water quality projects.

  12. Spalding Community Services District, Lassen County - T. Jerrold Peacock

    Consultants for the Spalding Community Services District (CSD) are finalizing responses to comment for the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed sewage collection and treatment system for the Spalding Subdivision at Eagle Lake. The major issues have been related to potential impacts of increased development on Bald Eagle Habitat. The CEQA/NEPA document will likely be certified within the next two months. Negotiations with the US Forest Service for a land exchange to obtain the proposed site will resume once the CEQA/USFS document is completed. At that time, the CSD will also attempt to secure necessary funding for the project. The CSD has already obtained partial funding through a grant associated with the recently approved State of California Proposition 13. The Proposition 13 grant requires local matching funds. A local election to authorize the local matching funds will be scheduled in late 2000 or early 2001.

  13. Lake Tahoe Water Quality Working Group - Lauri Kemper

    In February 2000, Regional Board staff attended the Lake Tahoe Water Quality Working Group Meeting. This group meets quarterly to address issues regarding Tahoe's Environmental Improvement Program as it relates to water quality improvements. At the February meeting, Lauri Kemper presented information concerning the Regional Board's efforts at Lake Tahoe. She summarized the Basin Plan and Regional Board authorities. Specific projects from the annual workplan for Tahoe were highlighted, including the renewed construction General Permit, the proposed (renewal) Municipal Stormwater Permit, a research and monitoring plan for Lake Tahoe, TMDLs for Heavenly Valley Creek and Blackwood Creek, and updated permits for marinas and golf courses.

    John Reuter, Geoff Schladow and Ted Swift from the University of California Davis (UCD) also presented information regarding water quality modeling efforts at Lake Tahoe. Three models are currently underway: the lake hydrodynamic model, the lake optical model, and the watershed sediment transport model. The lake models are attempting to estimate lake response to changes is stream loading and other inputs. The optical model can estimate secchi depths and color based on amount of particles (organic and inorganic) and dissolved organic constituents in a water sample. For example, the model predicts a secchi depth (which is closely correlated) of 17 meters for 0.3 mg/l total suspended solids, with particle composition of 90% organic and 10 % silt (inorganic). Most of the clarity loss is associated with organic particles (plankton, detritus, etc.). Very fine sediments make up the majority of the clarity loss associated with the inorganic particles. Dissolved organic constituents, including tea-colored components make up the smallest component of clarity loss. Watershed modeling is focused on sediment and nutrient transport mechanisms. UCD plans to complete the models by January 2001.

  14. Lake Tahoe Ecological Forum - Lauri Kemper

    Several Regional Board staff attended the Lake Tahoe Ecological Forum on March 10, 2000 held at the Lake Tahoe Community College. Speakers presented information on restoring aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Jim Harrington from the Department of Fish and Game discussed the California Stream Bioassessment Procedure for documenting effects of aquatic habitat restoration. Cyndie Walck, Department of Parks and Recreations presented information on restoring dirt roads to natural grades and vegetation. She showed slides of the many sections of roads in Burton Creek State Park that were restored. When restoring a road, it is important establish the natural grade. This involves removing the fill slope and filling in the cut slope and re-planting, not just tilling the roadbed and re-planting. The Forum finished with a lively panel discussion concerning the barriers to habitat restoration. The panel was made up of representatives from environmental groups, tourism industry, TRPA, the California Tahoe Conservancy, and a restoration consultant. Social issues are the largest barriers. Public education is key to gaining public support of these projects.

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

    Regional Board staff has worked extensively for the last two months to re-start the pump and treat system at the Tahoe Tom's Gas Station. The system was shut down on January 24, 2000 when the South Tahoe Public Utility District no longer allowed treated ground water discharged to the sewer. The District's action was based on not having received a signed copy of their Special Use Permit from the Regional Board, and two instances of minor breakthrough of MTBE from the treatment system. We are waiting for feedback from Department of General Services as to whether or not the state can accept a permit which provides for indemnification.

    Regional Board staff proceeded to evaluate alternate disposal options for treated ground water from the Tahoe Tom's Gas Station. The contract with the Board's consultant has been modified to install a storage container on site and transport effluent water to the infiltration gallery at the Beacon Station in Meyers, the Board's other EAR site. Implementing this activity has been delayed by negotiations for expanded site access from the owner of the Tahoe Tom's Gas Station. At issue is the owner's request for insurance indemnity from a potential accident resulting from additional corrective actions by the Board's consultant and subcontractors. Board counsel is concerned that naming the gas station owner in the consultant's insurance policy may conflict with coverage already provided to the Regional Board. If this issue is resolved and expanded site access is granted, the pump and treat system will be immediately re-started.

    With the pump and treat system being down so long, Board staff has concerns about MTBE plume migration. Monitoring data shows MTBE concentrations increasing in off-site monitoring wells having prior MTBE detection. However, data indicate there has not been migration to further downgradient monitoring wells or drinking water wells. Staff will apprise the Regional Board should conditions change.

  16. USA Gas Station, El Dorado County - Lisa Dernbach

    In December 1999, I issued a letter to USA Petroleum to investigate the possibility of new releases at the USA Gas Station in South Lake Tahoe. The request was based on monitoring reports showing repeated ethanol detections in ground water monitoring wells. The gas station was the first in the Tahoe Basin to switch to MTBE-free gasoline in April 1999. As of February 2000, up to 43,000 ppb ethanol was still being detected in downgradient ground water monitoring locations.

    USA Petroleum has submitted several draft workplans to El Dorado County Department of Environmental Management, the UST permitting agency, for conducting a Tracer Test at the site. The test involves inoculating the USTs with a fluorocarbon tracer. Soil vapor samples collected from probes installed above the USTs, product piping, and vent-piping should determine whether a leak exists. If the County approves the workplan in March, the results of the test will be known by late-April.

    In the meantime, USA Petroleum will have completed installing the new dual vapor extraction (DVE) system at the site in March and should begin operating it by late-April, after finishing the Tracer Test. The DVE operation date is dependent upon permitting from the local air pollution control district.

  17. Edwards Air Force Base Detects NDMA - Elizabeth Lafferty

    Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) has uncovered an unusual problem at its Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). They have detected nonyl dimethyl amine (NDMA), a breakdown product of hydrazine (rocket fuel), in ground water. Hydrazine was widely used in the1950s and 60s at EAFB and is found in ground water beneath the Rocket Test Stands. Apparently, natural degradation (or biological activity) breaks down the hydrazine into its components, including NDMA. Toxicological tests have determined that NDMA is a human carcinogen at its detection limit of 0.002 parts per billion (ppb).

    NDMA has been detected in the influent to the WWTP at 4.6 ppb. The results from several sampling events show concentrations in the Plant effluent as high as 200 ppb. The WWTP discharges to a lined evaporation pond. The mystery is how and where the NDMA is entering the sewer system. By letter, the Regional Board staff has requested EAFB to conduct sampling and analysis to determine the sources of the NDMA.

    Other sites such as Aerojet General in Sacramento and Rocketdyne have also detected NDMA. We are in communication with project managers at those sites to determine if there is cost effective and dependable technology to remove NDMA from impacted waters. Board staff has requested EAFB to provide all available data, to determine the source of the NDMA, and propose mitigation measures.

  18. Staff Review of Administrative Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Biosolids Land Application - Jehiel Cass

    Board staff reviewed and submitted comments on the Administrative Final EIR for Biosolids Application prepared by the State Board staff to evaluate the effects of biosolids application that could be conducted under the proposed general Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs). The Administrative Final EIR consists principally of comments and responses received on the Draft EIR circulated last year. The State Board staff addressed most of Board staff comments on the Draft EIR.

    The major concern communicated to the State Board in March 2000 was that mitigation measures proposed in the Final EIR must be included, as appropriate, in the general WDR. This is necessary so that both project proponents and Board staff become aware of the full range of mitigation measures adopted with the Final EIR. If this is not done, then the mitigation measures will not be effective and may not be included in approved biosolids application projects. The State Board will consider certifying the EIR and adopting the General WDRs later this year.

  19. Mammoth Community Water District - Michele Ochs

    On February 17, 2000 Board staff met with Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) personnel and consultants to discuss the proposed use of treated recycled water for irrigation use at Sierra Star Golf Course, and regulation of MCWD's discharge of treated wastewater effluent to Laurel Pond.

    MCWD is now in the planning stages of preparing a draft environmental document for the recycled water distribution line project to transport and use recycled water to irrigate the Sierra Star Golf Course. The water quality issues that must be evaluated are surface runoff of irrigation water and possible ground water impacts. Board staff has requested that MCWD submit a Report of Waste Discharge (RWD) for the project.

    MCWD discharges treated wastewater effluent to Laurel Pond under WDRs. Laurel Pond is an ephemeral pond that has ranged in size from dry to 70 acres with an average size of less than 20 acres, prior to MCWD's discharge. With the discharge, the pond ranges up to 80 acres depending on seasonal conditions. Board staff considers Laurel Pond a Water of the United States. Therefore, discharges to the pond should be regulated with a NPDES permit. The current discharge is regulated by waste discharge requirements and Board staff has indicated an intent to propose a NPDES permit. In order to avoid having a NPDES permit, MCWD has suggested alternatives to discharging effluent to Laurel Pond. Board staff has requested that MCWD develop a long-term strategy to address this permit issue. This strategy is due to Board staff in early May 2000. Board staff will brief the Regional Board at a future Board meeting.

  20. Molycorp Initial Study - Tim Post

    On March 7, 2000, San Bernardino County informed Regional Board staff that the Planning Commission would not have a quorum for the scheduled March 9, 2000 meeting, to consider the Initial Study and Negative Declaration for Molycorp's proposed On-Site Evaporation Ponds. San Bernardino County has rescheduled this item for April 6, 2000—too late for the Regional Board to consider the WDRs at its April meeting. This Negative Declaration is necessary to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The CEQA process must be complete before proposed WDRs can be adopted by the Regional Board.

    These double-lined, on-site evaporation ponds are part of Molycorp's proposal for the treatment and disposal of wastewaters from the ground water extraction system, the open pit, storm water runoff, and tailings seepage water from two recovery wells. These wastewaters were formerly piped to the New Ivanpah Evaporation Pond in Ivanpah Valley. Molycorp is currently trucking these wastewaters off site for disposal by underground injection at an approved disposal facility near Bakersfield, California.

  21. Review of Initial Study Negative and Proposed Declaration for The Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program - Joe Kenny

    An Initial Study dated February 2000, was prepared for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), to evaluate potential impacts of the proposed action for dust mitigation at the Owens Lake playa. Owens (dry) Lake is located eight miles south of Lone Pine, Inyo County. During windy conditions, the area exceeds air quality standards due to the characteristics of the dust generated from the lake's surface. Shallow flooding of the lake's northeast portion (identified as Zones 1 & 2) was selected as the proposed method to control the dust. The flooding project will cover about 13.5 square miles. The project will be designed and constructed on property owned by LADWP, BLM and California State Lands Commission.

    Review by Board staff has identified concerns about; 1) the possible use of non-potable ground water from aquifers beneath Owens Lake and its potential impact on the flora, fauna and water quality; 2) the fact that the water supply for the dust mitigation procedures has yet to be designated; 3) the potential for loss of wetlands and riparian vegetation areas and the wetlands replacement plan; 4) the potential for flooding to degrade ground water quality in communities adjacent to the flooding areas and; 5) the potential for de-watering to result in land subsidence adjacent to the northeast portion of the lakebed. Regional Board staff provided comments on the initial study and will continue to brief the Board as the project is developed.

  22. Tecopa Hot Springs Residential Well Replacement - Kai Dunn

    On March 3, 2000, Regional Board staff conducted a site visit to the community of Tecopa Hot Springs in Inyo County. This inspection was to evaluate conditions at the site and in response to a complaint from a local resident regarding the status of residential well replacement. The shallow ground water in the area is impacted by the Delight's Hot Spa underground storage tank leak.

    Regional Board staff toured the area along with the consultant representing the responsible party. Seven shallow residential wells located hydrologically downgradient of the underground storage tank site have been impacted. These wells were used for domestic use, except for drinking water supply due to the natural presence of arsenic and fluoride in the water. The responsible party proposed a Well Replacement Program to provide an alternate water supply as part of the remedial action for the site. To date, four replacement wells have been drilled on the impacted parcels. The depth of these wells is approximate 250 feet below ground surface to provide an adequate source of replacement water. Some delay has occurred because the wells had to be deeper than anticipated and the pump order had to be modified. The consultant sampled the deep wells to ensure the domestic water quality is adequate. Additional existing shallow wells were sampled to determine if the wells needed to be replaced. Regional Board staff split samples at the site.

    While the work to provide replacement well has taken longer than anticipated, the delays were justified. It appears that the complaint was initiated due to a lack of communication on the status of the work. The complaintant was satisfied with the information on the status of the effort and reasons for the minor delay. The responsible party has committed to providing more timely reports if additional delays are encountered.

  23. PG&E Hinkley and the film Erin Brockovich - Joe Koutsky

    On March 17, 2000, Danny DiVito's Jersey Films and Universal Pictures released the "based-on-a-true-story" film, Erin Brockovich, in which a twice-divorced mother of three young children (Julia Roberts) helps an attorney (Albert Finney) in a lawsuit against a large utility company. The company is blamed for causing an outbreak of cancer and other illnesses in a small desert community. The story was inspired by a direct-action lawsuit with over 600 plaintiffs and a $330 million settlement against Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The lawsuit involved chromium-contaminated ground water in the Hinkley area of San Bernardino County.

    According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the film is "very accurate from the standpoint of how [Ms. Brockovich] started working on Hinkley, and how she did her research on this case. The screenplay writer, Susannah Grant, said she spent weeks poring over the trial transcripts and water board records and reading notes that Brockovich had made during the investigation.

    The film contains several fictional parts for dramatization effects. The water board is portrayed as a singularly-staffed county agency. In the office with a sign labeled "Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board," a clerk watching television allows Brockovich to enter the file/storage room by herself after the young man's romantic overtures are spurned by Brockovich at the counter. On a later visit, Brockovich confronts the clerk that he and the agency are responsible for a threatening late-night phone call to Brockovich and are protecting PG&E - denying the affected Hinkley residents justice. "How do you sleep at night?" she declares. The Regional Board's actual Cleanup and Abatement Order (CAO) 6-87-160 cover page ultimately is shown on-screen.

    PG&E has operated the Hinkley natural gas compressor station since 1952. During an environmental assessment, PG&E discovered high concentrations of hexavalent chromium in several wells near the facility. PG&E notified the Regional Board and San Bernardino County on December 7, 1987. Within the next week PG&E sampled nearly 90 wells, notified the people with affected wells, and supplied bottled water to those families.

    On December 27, 1987, the Lahontan RWQCB issued Cleanup and Abatement Order 6-87-160 requiring PG&E to completely characterize and remediate the contaminated ground water. The subsequent site investigation traced the source of the contamination to chromium-based corrosion inhibitors, that were used for cooling at the facility, and discharged to unlined ponds in the 1950's and 1960's. PG&E has been actively remediating the chromium contamination since approval of its remedial action plan in 1991. Currently, PG&E reports submitted to the Regional Board office indicate that the plume is contained, has separated into two controlled plumes, and the hexavalent chromium concentrations are, for the most part, below the drinking water standard of 0.05 mg/L. Some high-concentration zones remain and the Regional Board staff is working with the PG&E staff to evaluate the effectiveness of the cleanup and time estimate for the corrective action.


  1. Beacon Gas Station, Meyers - Chuck Curtis

    In July 1998, using funds from the Emergency, Abandoned, and Recalcitrant Account, the Regional Board took over remediation activities at the site. Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) from the site impacted two municipal drinking water wells owned by the South Tahoe Public Utility District. Remediation efforts conducted by the Regional Board's contractor continue to clean up contaminated ground water at the site. Additional investigation and clean up is required, and the Regional Board will be conducting the work with continued funding from the EAR Account. Results from a recent offsite investigation are pending.

  2. Law Shell, Susanville - Chuck Curtis

    On February 18, 2000, I issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order to Mr. Francis Law, owner of Law Shell in Susanville. The Order requires investigation and cleanup of gasoline and MTBE contamination resulting from the gas station. The Order was issued following a long period of non-compliance with Regional Board directives for investigation at the site. A municipal drinking water well lies approximately 1,500 feet downgradient of the site and is potentially threatened by the discharge.

  3. IMC Chemicals Inc. (IMCC) - Petroleum Contamination on Searles Lake - Greg Cash

    A Notice of Violation (NOV) was issued on February 29, 2000 to IMCC for violations of WDRs regarding releases of petroleum hydrocarbons. Several recent releases have caused a discharge of petroleum products (oils, kerosene) into Searles Lake. IMCC has an oil skimmer to collect and remove the oil before plant effluents discharge into Searles Lake. It appears that this oil skimmer is not working correctly or is not effectively removing the petroleum products. These discharges are in excess of the effluent discharge limits allowed by the WDRs. The NOV requests IMCC to evaluate the skimmer process and provide a technical report of the actions taken to correct this situation. This report is due April 1, 2000.

    Due to these recent releases, Board staff is currently working with the Department of Fish and Game to oversee cleanup of the petroleum products that now are along the shores of Searles Lake. IMCC has initiated cleanup of the floating oil along the lakebed, as well as the oil stained shoreline. Several dead migratory birds have been found in the oil, along with some small carnivores. The cleanup started on February 18, 2000, and is ongoing. The IMCC cleanup crew is using hand labor and vacuum trucks to remove the oil from the lake and shoreline for offsite disposal.

    Additionally, the Executive Officer issued a request for IMCC to conduct daily sampling of the effluent from the Trona and Argus plants. The WDRs require quarterly sampling, however more frequent sampling is needed until IMCC demonstrates it has eliminated the source of the petroleum discharges. Board staff has conducted periodic (weekly) inspections during the cleanup process. Board staff is also collecting independent samples of the effluent.

  4. City of Victorville Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Complaint - Gene Rondash

    The City of Victorville (City) discharged 324,075 gallons of contaminated construction water to the Mojave River without filing a Report of Waste Discharge (RWD). Pursuant to Section 13385 of the California Water Code (CWC), an Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) complaint was issued against the City for failure to comply with Section 13376 of the CWC.

    The City engaged in a 3-phase sewer improvement construction project. At the time of Phase III project planning, the ground water in the vicinity of the proposed construction site was known by the City engineers to contain chlorinated hydrocarbons in excess of the California Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) near the planned construction site. During construction activities on July 27, 1999, a pit was created for an auger-tunneling rig to drill beneath the adjacent railroad tracks. The pit housing the tunnel rig intercepted ground water approximately six feet below ground surface. From July 27 through August 5, 1999 approximately 324,075 gallons of contaminated ground water from excavation activities were pumped to a nearby concrete lined channel that out-falls within the channel of the Mojave River defined by the innermost flood control berm. The City terminated the discharge immediately upon field notification by Board staff of the situation.

    As a result of the discharge, I issued ACL Complaint No. 6-00-10 on March 13, 2000, in the amount of $10,000 for a violation of Section 13385(a)(1) and (a)(4) of the CWC. If the City does not pay the ACL and waive the right to a hearing, a public hearing will be scheduled for May 10 and 11, 2000, at the Regional Board meeting in Lancaster.


  1. Closure of Upper Vehicle Maintenance Shop, Squaw Valley, Placer County, LUSTIS No. 6T0288A -Tammy Lundquist

    In August of 1998, six underground storage tanks (USTs); three 10,000-gallon diesel, one 5,000 gallon, and two 10,000-gallon gasoline tanks were removed from the site. Following the UST removal, grab samples showed up to 9,300 mg/kg total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) diesel in soil and 150 ppm TPH diesel and 2.6 ppm TPH gasoline in the ground water. MTBE in ground water was also detected at 150 ppb. In October 1998, the area was over-excavated and approximately 700 to 800 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed. In addition, a temporary ground water pump and treat system (GPT) was installed to recover and treat the contaminated ground water within the vicinity of the tank excavation. Since not all of the soil and ground water contamination was removed in October 1998, the temporary GPT was reactivated in September 1999 and over-excavation of the site continued to bedrock. Analytical results in ground water indicated non-detect for all constituents of concern from effluent from the temporary GPT system. Confirmation soil samples indicated a residual maximum concentration of 850 mg/kg as TPH diesel.

    Contamination was removed to the greatest extent possible in soil and ground water. Therefore, based on site conditions and data, case closure is appropriate. Site conditions are protective of water quality and beneficial uses and human health and the environment. The case was officially closed on February 23, 2000.