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  1. Local Meetings for Proposition 13 - Cindy Wise

    During the week of January 1, Regional Board staff conducted two meetings in the Region to provide potential applicants with information about Proposition 13 (Costa-Machado Water Act of 2000). One meeting was held in Truckee and one was in Victorville. These two meetings were in addition to several December 2000 Proposition 13 meetings sponsored by the State Water Resources Control Board and held throughout the state.

    Proposition 13 authorized the sale of $1.97 billion in general obligation bonds to support safe drinking water quality, flood protection and water reliability project throughout the state. The State Board and State Departments of Health Services, Water Resources and Fish and Game are responsible for administering the bond funds.

    Under a Request for Proposals (RFP) dated November 2000, the State Board is releasing $19.8 million to support projects which implement nonpoint source controls and TMDLs, provide flood protection, or result in the development of local watershed plans, safe drinking water quality or water supply reliability. A portion of the funds ($2.2 million) can be used only for coastal waters and 60% of the overall bond funds must be used to support projects located in six southern California counties (including Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties). A local match ranging from 0 to 20% is required. To date, based on interest in the RFP and participation in the statewide and local meetings, about 20 projects may be submitted for potential funding within the Region.

    Municipalities, local agencies and nonprofits are eligible to submit project proposals that are due to the State Board by February 1, 2001. During the months of February, March and April, Regional Board staff will review and evaluate all proposals received both from the Region and throughout the state. Staff will then participate in a statewide ranking process of all proposals in order to make a funding recommendation for consideration by the State Board members. The State Board will make a final project funding decision in May 2001. In Spring 2001, the State Board will release a second RFP to solicit additional projects for funding under Proposition 13.

  2. East Walker River Fuel Oil Spill, Mono County - Robin Mahoney

    A discharge of fuel oil #6 (estimated volume 3500 gallons) into the East Walker River occurred on December 30, 2000, approximately three miles downstream (north) of the Bridgeport Reservoir, and approximately six miles upstream of the Nevada state line, when a tanker truck overturned on State Route 182. The truck was owned and operated by Advanced Fuel Filtration Systems, Inc. (Corona, California). This Company has taken responsibility for the incident and is cooperating fully with federal, state and local officials to implement and fund the cleanup.

    This reach of the East Walker River is a prized wild trout fishery of major economic importance to Mono County and the town of Bridgeport. Water from the river is used downstream as a source of municipal and agricultural supply. Evidence of contamination following the spill was visible downstream a couple miles past the California-Nevada border.

    Regional Board staff learned of the spill on December 31, 2000 and first inspected the scene on January 1, 2001. Regional Board staff found that initial cleanup efforts were inadequate and requested the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), to take command of the incident. As of January 3, 2001, OSPR assumed command of the incident cleanup/control operations. Regional Board staff coordinated with multiple federal, state, and local agencies on spill cleanup efforts, and received up to $10,000 from the State Water Resources Control Board's Cleanup and Abatement Account to cover the costs of water quality testing.

    Cleanup efforts currently comprise approximately 50 cleanup personnel situated along the Walker River who have deployed containment booms, sorbent, snare booms, one Baker collection tank, two vacuum trucks, a backhoe, and 11 roll-off bins. Efforts will continue for the foreseeable future under the direction of OSPR, unless cleanup efforts become unproductive or precluded by adverse weather conditions.

    CDF staff biologists have been monitoring the effects of the spill on the local wildlife. Affected wildlife includes low numbers of birds, beavers, and fish that have been found dead in the immediate area below the spill. The site has not been determined to be a public health hazard based on water quality tests conducted by Regional Board staff and others.

    Cleanup of the spill area has been slow and difficult for responders because the oil is a thick, tar-like substance, the region is remote, ice in the river has hampered cleanup efforts and, since daylight is short, field personnel are exposed to below-freezing weather conditions. There is no estimate when the oil spill area in the Walker River and its adjacent habitat will be fully restored.

    Regional Board staff has been continuing sampling and monitoring the waters and cleanup efforts in the area of the spill in coordination with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. Regional Board staff will assess whether or not enforcement action is warranted for cost recovery or resource damage liability.

  3. 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 (by June 30, 2001). 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, from direct toxicity or possibly 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 preserved. 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 proposed to incorporate the TMDL and implementation plan into the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region (Basin Plan). Staffs from the Regional Board's Watershed Planning/TMDL Unit and Mono/Owens Watershed Unit are developing the TMDL with assistance from the USEPA's TMDL contractor.

    As part of this TMDL effort, Regional Board staff met with staff of the LADWP on January 10, 2001 to discuss the TMDL process and to request technical information related to Haiwee Reservoir operation and LADWP's copper treatments. Also, Regional Board staff has scheduled a stakeholder meeting to discuss the Haiwee TMDL with all interested parties on February 1, 2001 in Bishop.

  4. Big Tree Cleaners, Placer County - Lisa Dernbach

    The responsible parties for the Big Tree Cleaners in Tahoe City are in non-compliance with directives to submit documents to further expand remediation at the site. The parties were required to submit three needed documents to the Regional Board by December 10, 2000: a workplan for implementing soil remediation and expanding groundwater plume capture, an implementation schedule, and a funding commitment. This is a high priority site for the Regional Board because solvents occur in groundwater beneath the site up to 13,000 micrograms per liter. The solvent groundwater plume extends 600 feet from the site to Lake Tahoe, at Commons Beach. Lake sampling has not shown detectable concentrations of solvent constituents.

    I intend to issue an administrative civil liability complaint to the responsible parties for not submitting the requested technical documents. I also intend to issue a cleanup and abatement order.

  5. Update of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) - Lauri Kemper

    The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) released a draft update of the Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) in late December 2000. The Update includes four volumes: 1) Overview, 2) Master List of Threshold Needs (projects, research and programs), 3) Finance Plan and 4) EIP Accomplishments Report (not released yet). Comments are due January 26, 2001. Regional Board staff is reviewing the documents and preparing comments. Regional Board staff did raise several concerns at the January 10, 2001 TRPA Advisory Planning Commission Meeting regarding the contents of the update.

    Our concerns focused on three areas: research and monitoring, prioritization, and program support. Regional Board staff will be working closely with TRPA staff to update specific research and monitoring projects with current estimated costs and potential funding sources. The draft updated EIP contains proposed prioritization criteria for some threshold areas such as water quality. However, the criteria have not been applied to projects proposed to improve water quality. Although the draft updated EIP lists projects by implementation dates, it is unclear what prioritization criteria were used. Regional Board staff will be urging the TRPA Governing Board to apply proposed prioritization criteria to the updated list of EIP projects by June 2001. Staff recognizes that more data needs to be collected to accurately identify where the greatest sources of pollution to Lake Tahoe occur. However, qualitative information such as proximity to the Lake and estimated pollutant reductions can be used now to prioritize the current list of projects. Producing a list of projects prioritized by estimated greatest benefit to water quality would allow new funding to be directed to the most beneficial projects. As more information is gathered, the criteria will be revised and priorities adjusted. The updated EIP contains some program support needs and staff will be encouraging TRPA to add known program support needs such as interagency working groups to the updated EIP. Significant resources from many agencies and organizations are being devoted to planning, coordinating and implementing the EIP. Recognition of current resources and the need for additional resources should be documented in the updated EIP.

    TRPA staff has agreed to incorporate many of our comments. The TRPA Governing Board will consider adoption of the updated EIP on February 28, 2001.

  6. Notice of Violation of Cease and Desist Order Against Placer County
    Discharging Wastes from the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road to McKinney Creek
    - Kara Russell

    Placer County owns, operates, maintains, and allows use of a four-mile stretch of dirt and paved road, the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road (Rubicon Road), located adjacent to McKinney Creek, tributary to Lake Tahoe. The Rubicon Road provides recreational access to a variety of users and is a popular off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail. Due to the road usage and lack of road maintenance during the early 1990's, stormwater runoff containing significant quantities of waste earthen materials from the roadway discharged to McKinney Creek and its tributaries. In 1994 the Regional Board adopted Cease and Desist Order No. 6-94-20 against Placer County for unauthorized discharges of waste earthen materials from the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road (Rubicon Road) to McKinney Creek. The Cease and Desist Order required Placer County to implement water quality improvement measures.

    Placer County has completed paving and drainage improvements along approximately two miles of the Rubicon Road, from the Tahoma Subdivision to the staging area, since the Board adopted Cease and Desist Order No. 6-94-20. The County has also added barricades in this area to prevent off-road use.

    Having received several complaints concerning the condition of the road, staff from the Regional Board, Placer County, the Forest Service, and the League to Save Lake Tahoe inspected Rubicon Road on September 5, 2000. Near the top of the McKinney Creek Watershed, approximately two miles from the paved sections, the existing dirt roadway is severely damaged with gullies several feet deep in some locations. Roadbed erosion has caused significant sediment loading to adjacent wetlands and lakes. Barricades previously installed by Placer County have been moved, and OHVs have encroached onto adjacent Forest Service lands.

    On December 1, 2000 I issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Placer County for violating Cease and Desist Order No. 6-94-20. The NOV requires Placer County to implement a spring strategy to reduce OHV use during saturated soil conditions and develop and implement a plan for erosion control/runoff treatment measures to prevent discharge of waste earthen materials from the upper portions of the Rubicon Road to adjacent surface waters, including wetlands. The NOV also requires Placer County to provide a schedule for constructing the improvements and submit an annual operation and maintenance plan for McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road.

  7. Use of Regional Board Web Site - Brad Nelson

    The software used for the Board's web site automatically tracks its use. In data obtained from April 2000 thru January of 2001, we found the following:

    • Visits to the site average 200 per week.
    • Tuesdays are the busiest days by a small margin, but we got hits seven days a week.
    • The busiest hour(s) of the day was from 5 to 6 p.m, and the slowest was from 2 am to 5 am. We got at least some hits at all hours of the day or night.
    • We got visits from at least 5 foreign countries (Canada, Mexico, France, Japan, and Taiwan)

Above all, the Board's website provides a great deal of information to the interested public while making only modest demands on Board staff time. To visit the web site, go to http://www.waterboards.ca.gov, click on the button for Regional Boards, and then click on the Lahontan Region.

  1. Hexavalent Chromium Sampling near Lancaster - Tim E. Post

    On December 11, 2000, the Antelope Valley Press published an article regarding the results of total and hexavalent chromium testing from 44 water supply wells in the Antelope Valley. All of the wells sampled are owned and operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. The sampling and analyses were performed as part of Los Angeles County's ongoing assessment of chromium in drinking water supplies.

    The hexavalent chromium concentrations ranged from 2.8 to 17.6 parts per billion. Total chromium concentrations ranged from 4.1 to 19.3 parts per billion. Currently, there is no California maximum concentration limit (MCL) for hexavalent chromium. The MCL for total chromium is 50 parts per billion. In December 1999, the State Office for Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommended Public Health Goals of 2.5 parts per billion of total chromium and 0.2 parts per billion hexavalent chromium. These Public Health Goals are currently under review by the Department of Health Services. California Water Quality Control Board staff (Board staff) is collecting available data to access occurrences of hexavalent chromium in the area.

  2. Stormwater Phase II Workshop - Gene Rondash

    On January 10, 2001, Board staff sponsored a public workshop regarding Stormwater Phase II. The workshop was attended by representatives from Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, Edwards Air Force Base, Ft. Irwin, Hesperia, Lancaster, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Palmdale, Ridgecrest, and Victorville. Welcoming remarks were provided by Hisam Baqai who emphasized that the cities should focus on characterizing their municipal stormwater, cooperatively structure their Phase II Stormwater Program by December 2002, and establish a strategy for understanding the impacts on water quality from their stormwater/nuisance water discharges.

    Board staff presented information on stormwater control measures and emphasized the importance of two main areas, namely, on control measures for illicit discharge detection/elimination, and construction oversight. Two items requiring evaluation are: 1) ordinances for defining guidelines; and 2) permitting process and code enforcement/penalties for non-compliance.

    Board staff also discussed a proposed protocol for evaluating the potential impact dry wells and retention basins may be having on water quality. After reviewing the analytical and historical data, Board staff and city representatives will target those systems that require additional evaluation. Sampling data from this evaluation will determine if a more extensive monitoring and sampling program is warranted. Board staff indicated our commitment to assisting with developing each city's stormwater assessment strategy for implementation by March 2001. However, it was emphasized that ultimate responsibility to comply with the Stormwater Phase II regulations lies with them.

    The next workshop has been set for the Engineering Office Conference Room, City of Lancaster, Wednesday, March 7, 2001, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  3. Mountain View Estates Subdivision, Inyo County - Cindi Mitton

    Inyo County requested that the Board staff consider an exemption to the density criteria for the use of individual wastewater disposal systems in the Mountain View Estates Subdivision. The Mountain View Estates Subdivision is located 10 miles Southwest of Bishop. The subdivision contains 36 buildable lots, of which many are already developed. Inyo County submitted information supporting the request and demonstrating that its proposal is protective of water quality. In addition to the standard criteria for septic systems, Inyo County proposed to require an alternative system, (a bottomless sand filter) to be used for lots that are less than 15,000 square feet. Inyo County provided Board staff with effluent monitoring data for the Mustang Mesa area, which uses sand filters. The data demonstrates that the sand filters are effective in removing pathogenic organisms, namely bacteria and viruses. Additionally, the proposal was evaluated for potential water quality impacts from other constituents such as nitrate. Based on ground water monitoring data from other sites, other mechanisms exist for nitrate reduction in soils such as denitrification in moist soils above the water table. These mechanisms are expected to be present at Mountain View Estates and reduce the threat of water quality impacts due to nitrates. Additional water quality monitoring of the community water supply wells will be conducted as part of the proposal. Board staff reviewed the request and concluded that the proposal is protective of water quality and meets the exemption criteria in the Lahontan Basin Plan. On January 5, 2001, the Executive Officer granted Inyo County's request for an exemption. Inyo County staff will oversee the installation of disposal systems to be approved under this exemption.

  4. El Mirage Area Ground Water Issues - Jehiel Cass

    In mid-January 2001, Board staff completed sampling of approximately 15 individual domestic ground water wells in the El Mirage area. Not all data have been received; however, some results are available. Board staff began sampling wells in the area in May 2000 to determine any impact to the upper shallow aquifer from local dairies. After August 2000, chromium VI was added as a parameter of concern. Some wells have been sampled multiple times to provide additional data for verification. After complete analytical results are available, a staff report will be prepared for a future Regional Board meeting. Preliminary indications, from the data received so far, are that chromium VI concentrations may be naturally present in the ground water at levels of approximately 10 ug/L. One private well sampled had 56 ug/L of total chrome, greater than the primary drinking water standard of 50 ug/L. Board staff is working with San Bernardino County Department of Environmental Health Services to properly inform well owners.

  5. Molycorp, North Tailings Pond (P-16) - Curt Shifrer

    Board staff recently met with representatives of Molycorp Inc. to discuss a proposed plan to monitor the effectiveness of controls to prevent windblown tailings and waste overspray. Mechanical misters used to evaporate wastewater during interim operation of P-16 are a potential source of overspray. Windblown tailings and waste overspray would constitute disposal outside of the authorized disposal site and be considered a violation of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs). Due to these concerns, Board staff requested Molycorp to prepare a work plan to address these issues.

    The proposed work plan includes placement of monitoring devices at one upgradient and three downgradient-monitoring stations. To monitor for wastewater overspray, Molycorp proposes water-sensitive paper specifically designed for measuring overspray. The water-sensitive paper has been used in the agriculture industry for a number of years to monitor controls to prevent pesticide overspray. To monitor dry suspended particulate particles, Molycorp proposes a high-volume atmospheric sampler. Sampling and analysis will be in accordance with established United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) procedures. Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs) have used these samplers for a number of years. Molycorp has scheduled a meeting with the Mojave Desert AQMD to solicit any comments it may have.

    Completion of installation of the monitoring systems and startup of those systems is scheduled to occur by March 9, 2001.

  6. IMCC Update - Michele Ochs

    Results from the IMCC daily sampling data show that effluent from the Trona and Argus plants has improved and has been meeting the Interim Effluent Limitations as described in the WDRs. In the last two months there have been two exceptions: 1) one unexplained daily sample result in mid December; and 2) a daily sample result in mid January attributed to testing new Wemco procedures.

    IMCC is working with the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and Board staff to construct an emergency remedial pond that will provide a place for birds to rest and/or cleanse themselves. It will have duck decoys to lure birds to it and away from the process brine in the percolation and dredge ponds. This initial small pond will be lined with plastic and filled with either brackish water, or brackish and potable water. The pond is expected to be in use by the end of February.

    Bird deaths on Searles Lake have declined recently. This may be due to the following factors: 1) this time of year is between migratory seasons and there are fewer birds; 2) much of the effluent channels have been netted; and 3) the rehabilitation of affected birds by International Bird Rescue and Research Center (IBRRC). IBRRC works with DFG and are based out of Berkeley. IBRRC staff is on Searles Lake daily. Birds that have been found recently do not appear to be impacted directly by oil, although weak and injured birds are still being found suffering mainly from exposure. Research is ongoing as to the cause of impacts to birds.

  7. Management Direction for the Inyo Forest Wildernesses - Kai Dunn

    Board staff reviewed the revised draft environmental impact statement (RDEIS) entitled "Management Direction for the Ansel Adams, John Muir and Dinkey Lakes Wildernesses." The purpose of the RDEIS is to revise the Forest Service's Land and Resource Management Plans to address issues associated with visitor use, commercial activities and stock forage in the John Muir, Ansel Adams and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness areas of the Inyo National Forest. The Lahontan Region includes portions of the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness areas.

    Board staff's comments requested that the final EIS address: appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the Basin Plan and water quality standards; a monitoring plan to assess water quality for high use areas; a protocol for evaluating proposed actions in wetlands; a mitigation plan if wetlands impacts are unavoidable; control measures for erosion and backcountry recreation; and an evaluation of the volunteer program for human waste disposal in the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Board staff will continue to work with the Forest Service as it develops the final EIS.

  8. Caltrans Update - Doug Feay

    Rush Creek Four Lane Project
    As part of the highway construction along Highway 395, Caltrans has completed the installation of additional flow capacity to the diversion system at Lee Vining Creek. Board staff requested the additional flow capacity to ensure the diversion structure would not fail during winter rains and/or snowmelt. As of December 22, 2000, Caltrans stopped work on the Rush Creek Four Lane project and winterized the site. The site was inspected by Board staff to insure that Caltrans had appropriately winterized the site using Best Management Practices (BMPs). Work will start-up again on the Rush Creek project on May 1, 2001. The project is expected to be completed during summer of 2002.

    North Mono Lake Widening Project
    Caltrans has proposed the North Mono Lake widening project. This project will widen and update 2.8 miles of Highway 395 north of Lee Vining and adjacent to Mono Lake. Board staff sent written comment on the project to Caltrans through the Notice of Preparation, Mono Lake Widening Draft Environmental Impact Report. Issues Board staff commented on were stormwater design, cut and fill areas, Mono Lake water quality and BMPs. The final design for the project is not expected to be complete before next year. Board staff will continue to provide oversight on this project related to water quality issues.

  9. Proposed Interim Specifications for Caltrans Road Abrasives, Tahoe Basin - Bruce Warden

    In the October Executive Officer's Report, staff summarized the Caltrans FY 1999/00 "Deicer Report". Staff found that although Caltrans has reduced the quantity of road sand and salt applied to Lake Tahoe Basin roads, the quality of sand applied can be improved. Regional Board staff have been working with Caltrans to refine its specifications for the Tahoe Basin, particularly for key water quality related indices such as phosphorus content, fraction of fine particles, and durability (to reduce further production of fines from vehicle tires and snow removal equipment). In response to Regional Board staff concerns, Caltrans staff proposed sand quality specifications in an e-mail dated December 21, 2000. Regional Board staff responded the same day with the suggestions for interim sand quality specifications. (See values on chart below.)

    This proposed interim criteria is based on the fact that six of the sixteen local sand sources Caltrans tested in the 1999/00 Deicer Report were able to meet these criteria. Other parameters may be added such as Sand Equivalent (SE), and Total Reactive Phosphorus (TRP). More data needs to be assessed. The Caltrans laboratory has agreed to test more materials, including the "Cinderlite" road abrasive used by El Dorado County, Placer County, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and others. Caltrans has also provided some information about the source of sand and quality of sand being used this season.

    Regional Board met with Nevada DOT staff on January 8, 2001 to discuss developing improved specifications Basinwide. NDOT staff will bring up the matter at the next meeting of the Winter Operations and Maintenance Sub-Committee of the Tahoe Basin Interagency Road Maintenance & Operations Committee.

    Regional Board staff intends to request Caltrans to (1) submit a quality assurance/quality control plan to cover the variability of sample values observed in earlier analyses, (2) evaluate sand quality data, showing how it can minimize phosphorus and fine particulate loading by adopting guidelines based on this analysis, and (3) perform additional analyses of local sand sources.

    Constituent Caltrans

    Total Phosphorus (TP)
    ppm maximum
    passing #200 sieve (fines)
    % maximum
    Durability of Fines (DF)