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EXECUTIVE OFFICER'S REPORT- April 2000

GENERAL

  1. Water Quality Planning and Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant Award Selection Process - Cindy Wise

    Annually, the State Board, the Regional Boards, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) request proposals for water quality planning projects and nonpoint source implementation projects to reduce, eliminate, or prevent water pollution and to enhance water quality. Funds through this Request for Proposals (RFP) are offered under the authority of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 205(j) for planning projects and under CWA Section 319(h) for nonpoint source projects. Water quality planning projects in the range of $25,000 to $125,000 are fundable and require a 25% non-federal match. Nonpoint source implementation projects in the range of $25,000 to $350,000 are fundable and require a 40% non-federal match. Statewide, $400,000 to $700,000 is available for water quality planning grants, and about $5 million is available for nonpoint source implementation grants.

    As the first step in the grant selection process, all Regional Boards (either through a formal Board action or as a staff-level action) place its Region's projects in a priority order for funding; the State Board staff does the same for projects of statewide applicability. The priority order from each Region and from the State Board is then submitted to the Watershed Management Initiative (WMI) Workgroup to complete the statewide ranking recommendation. The WMI Workgroup has one representative from each Regional Board staff, one from the State Board staff, and one from USEPA staff. Each organization has an equal vote in ranking the projects into a statewide priority order. Each Regional Board and the State Board may select up to $130,000 to dedicate to a single or to multiple nonpoint source implementation projects. The WMI Workgroup completes a process to recommend projects for funding from the balance of the nonpoint source funds (about $ 4 million). The WMI Workgroup completes a similar process for water quality planning funds. The two statewide project priority lists developed by the WMI Workgroup will then be reviewed and approved by the managers of the Regional and State Boards at a regular meeting of the Assistant Executive Officers, and then at the Management Coordinating Committee (MCC). The project priority lists is then considered by the State Board for formal approval, followed by the grant application process to USEPA to secure the funding. Although the State Board can revise the recommended statewide priority lists before its formal approval, in the past years it has made no or minor revisions to the lists.

    In most past years, Board staff has made a recommendation on project priorities to the Regional Board which, through a formal Board resolution, has adopted a final list. One exception was this past year. Without a Regional Board quorum available for a formal action, a recommended project priority order was determined by Regional Board staff and approved by the Executive Officer for transmittal to the WMI Workgroup for further ranking.

    For this year's process, proposals are due to the Regional Board staff for review by June 16, 2000. The start of the review and ranking process by the WMI Workgroup will begin in July and be completed by early August. Because of this timeframe, in order for the Regional Board to take formal action to adopt project priority lists, all related agenda materials (which traditionally are quite voluminous) would have to be sent to the Board separate from, and later than, the rest of the July agenda materials. Regional Board members would have a very short time to review a large quantity of material. Because of these circumstances, staff recommends to the Board that it follow the same process as last year when project priority order was determined by Regional Board staff and approved by the Executive Officer for transmittal to the WMI Workgroup for further ranking.
LAKE TAHOE
  1. Lake Tahoe Science Advisory Group - Lauri Kemper

    Regional Board staff have been meeting weekly in April with the Lake Tahoe Science Advisory Group (SAG). The SAG is primarily a group of scientists from institutions and agencies working at Lake Tahoe, including the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the U.C. Davis-Tahoe Research Group (TRG), University of Nevada at Reno (UNR), Desert Research Institute (DRI) and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). The group began meeting in December 1999. Its most important objective is to develop a comprehensive plan for research and monitoring to address all key management questions related to Environmental Improvement at Lake Tahoe. Some of the key water quality questions include the following: Where do the sediment and nutrients come from (identify sources and quantities)? How much of the loading needs to be reduced to protect Lake Tahoe's water quality? How do we achieve these needed reductions?

    Because of the State of Nevada's budgeting process, a draft two-year research and monitoring plan will be submitted to Nevada's Legislature in May. To complete the two-year plan, an overall plan will be outlined first. Priority items, those that need to begin in the near-term, will be proposed in the two-year plan. Regional Board staff continues to work with the group completing a long term plan so that a proposal identifying California's contribution to the research and monitoring program at Lake Tahoe can be developed.

  2. Construction Season Has Begun At Lake Tahoe - Kara Russell

    In response to requests from several public agencies, staff has issued variances to the October 15 - May 1 soil disturbance prohibition for several projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin. These include the California Tahoe Conservancy's Carnelian Bay Lake Access and Resource Enhancement Project, Placer County; Caltrans' State Route 89 Overlay and Underdrain Projects, El Dorado County; and the Tahoe City Urban Improvement Project, Placer County. The variances have been granted to allow the project proponents to initiate early work to minimize air and water quality impacts expected when construction occurs during the more congested May-October season.

    The Park Avenue Redevelopment Project in South Lake Tahoe is also underway. Demolition work began in early April and the project proponent hopes to begin construction May 1, 2000. Regional Board staff is preparing a Notice of Applicability of the NPDES General Permit to regulate discharges of storm water runoff associated with the construction of this project.

  3. Lake Tahoe Coordinating Group - Lauri Kemper

    On May 1, 2000, the California Lake Tahoe Coordinating Group will be meeting in South Lake Tahoe. Reports will be presented on the progress California agencies are making in developing a coordinated plan to implement the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP). The Coordinating Group consists of representatives from the California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL-EPA), The California Resource Agency, and the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. Subcommittees consisting of technical staff from the departments under these agencies have been meeting and working to complete various elements of the overall plan.

    The California Tahoe Conservancy staff is leading an effort to update the list of capitol improvement projects under the EIP. Caltrans, State Parks, and others are contributing to this effort. Caltrans is leading a committee to address support needs for the EIP, including long term operation and maintenance after EIP is implemented. The Program Support Committee will also identify program support staff needs under EIP, such as Regional Board project review and inspections.

  4. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Annual Water Quality Report - Lauri Kemper

    On February 9, 2000, Rita Whitney TRPA hydrologist presented the findings of the 1999 Annual Water Quality Report. A copy of the report will be sent under a different cover.

    The report describes water quality trends of Lake Tahoe and its tributaries. Algal growth in Lake Tahoe has increased nearly 300% since 1968, with a resulting 30 % loss in clarity.

    The Lake Tahoe Interagency Monitoring Program (LTIMP) operates 31 tributary stations in California and Nevada. Data is summarized. However, the Regional Board and the SWRCB are providing matching funds to the United States Geological Survey to complete an extensive data analysis of the twenty years of stream data collected. This trend analysis will be completed by mid 2001.

    The Annual Water Quality Report does contain annual average concentrations for the tributaries. California tributaries generally do not attain water quality standards for total nitrogen, total phosphorous, total iron, and total suspended solids. However, standards are being achieved in General Creek, mostly undisturbed watershed. TRPA staff recommends the Regional Board evaluate the iron data and consider changing the iron water quality standard (0.03 mg/L) since the standard was not met at any of the stream stations since 1989, when LTIMP began analyzing for it.

    The report contains ground water data and the results of other special studies conducted at Lake Tahoe including a pilot study on sediment transport, evaluation of TRPA's individual parcel evaluation system (IPES), treatment capability of stream environment zones, motorized water craft studies, and evaluation of Best Management Practices (BMPs). Based on the results presented, TRPA recommends continued installation of BMPs and modification of some designs to increase infiltration, and reduce discharge of fine particles to Lake Tahoe.

  5. Surface and Groundwater Interactions Studied in South Lake Tahoe Watersheds - Lauri Kemper

    On March 20, 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released the report, "Surface-and Ground-Water Characteristics in the Upper Truckee River and Trout Creek Watersheds, South Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada, July-December 1996." See abstract attached. Two primary conclusions were made. Groundwater in the watersheds contains higher levels of electrical conductivity and higher concentrations of nutrients than surface waters (except for bioreactive iron). Groundwater generally discharges into the streams with minimal direct discharge to Lake Tahoe. This information suggests that continued monitoring of Trout Creek and the Upper Truckee River will track changes in groundwater quality within this particular watershed as it relates to contributions of nutrients to Lake Tahoe.

  6. Bodie Hills RV Park, Mono County - Tom Suk

    On April 4, the Mono County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to certify the EIR and to grant approval for the project. The final EIR does not adequately address several issues raised by RWQCB staff. We have requested a Report of Waste Discharge (ROWD) from the proponents, and intend to regulate the project as necessary based on the additional information to be provided in the ROWD.

  7. Mandatory Penalty for Caltrans Violation of Numerical Effluent Limitations for Storm Water Discharges within the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit - Robert Erlich

    Caltrans plows snow from the travel lanes on Highway 50 into the center lane within the City of South Lake Tahoe. Caltrans can haul the snow (mixed with abrasives, de-icers and other fine particulate) from windrows in the center lane to disposal sites where snowmelt runoff can be detained and infiltrated. Although Caltrans has stopped "slushing", Caltrans leaves the windrows in the center lane if they are too small for efficient removal or if additional snowfall is predicted within the next 48 hours. On warm, sunny days, the melting snow in these windrows contributes sediment and other pollutants to roadside conveyances.

    On March 1, 2000, Board staff received a citizen complaint about snowmelt runoff from these windrows carrying materials from the roadway to Trout Creek. Analysis of runoff samples showed values for Total N, Total P, Total Fe, and Turbidity that were no less than five (5) times the numerical stormwater effluent limitations for surface discharge to Lake Tahoe or its tributaries Section L of the NPDES Statewide Storm Water Permit for Caltrans - Order No. 99-06-DWQ includes the requirement that Caltrans meet these numerical effluent limitations for storm water. The Clean Water Enforcement and Pollution Prevention Act of 1999 (SB 709) requires mandatory minimum penalties for serious violations where waste discharge exceeds effluent limitations for Group 1 pollutants by 40 percent or more. Within the next few months, the RWQCB intends to prepare an ACL complaint to assess mandatory penalties for the March 1, 2000 Caltrans discharge pursuant to new requirements from SB 709 now found in Water Code section 13385(h).

  8. Permeable Reactive Barrier Seminar - Elizabeth Lafferty

    Board staff attended this recent technical seminar presented by U.S. EPA because some of the innovative ground water cleanup technologies discussed are applicable to Edwards AFB and other ground water remediation sites. Permeable Reactive Barriers are used to treat and manage contaminated ground water plumes in-situ using a funnel and gate system (or similar approach) to direct ground water through the permeable reactive wall where treatment by a chemical reaction occurs.

    The seminar provided specific design criteria using actual case histories on how to collect and interpret data during site characterization that may be used for design of this system. Also discussed were different reactive materials that may be used such as zero valent iron and non-metallic reactive materials such as limestone, sorptive agents (carbon, bone char, phosphatics, zeolites, coal, peat and synthetic resins), reducing agents (organic compost, sodium sulfate Glauber's Salt, bacteria, acetate, corn syrup and molasses) and biologic electron acceptors (oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrate). Associated treatment mechanisms were also discussed such as chemical dehalogenation, pH control (acid neutralization), chemical precipitation (oxidation and reduction), co-precipitation on mineral surfaces and sorption reactions.

    Board staff expects to receive work plans for three sites at Edwards AFB where this technology may be used. A pilot study is proposed for a solvent spill site using a non-metallic reactive barrier for clean up. At another site, the remedial project managers are discussing the use of zero valent iron to remove electrons from and to break down the solvent trichloroethylene in ground water. And at a third site, a pilot study is proposed to evaluate using this technology to remediate rocket fuel and possibly nitrosodimethyl amine (NDMA).

  9. Mono County Landfills - Doug Feay

    Based on review of the ground water monitoring programs at the active landfills in Mono County, staff has determined that additional ground water monitoring wells are needed to comply with Title 27 water quality monitoring for solid Waste Management Units. Staff believes additional wells are needed to ensure there are a sufficient number of monitoring points to provide the best assurance and/or evaluation of detection of a release from the landfill. At this time Board staff will require Mono County to bring up to compliance the three landfills that have had historic releases that have impacted ground water. Those landfills are Benton Crossing, Bridgeport and Walker. The remaining landfills, which have had no detected releases to ground water, will be required to install additional wells within a reasonable time limit.

  10. Rush Creek-4 Lane Project - Doug Feay

    Starting May 1, 2000, CalTrans will be upgrading 7.5 miles of highway from two-lanes to four-lanes south of Lee Vining in Mono County. Construction will last two seasons. During the new construction, Rush, Parker, Walker, and Lee Vining creeks will need to be crossed. The project will include two new bridges at Rush Creek. In addition, there are ultimate plans to return Rush Creek to its original channel. South of the town of Lee Vining, a new slope stabilization wall will be constructed. Board staff attended a meeting with CalTrans to discuss the project on April 6, 2000, and will work with CalTrans to have the project constructed in a manner that is protective of water quality.

  11. Update - Lancaster Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project - Jehiel Cass

    The last report on this item to the Regional Board was the September 1999 report. On April 11, 2000 Regional Board staff met with representatives of the Los Angeles County Waterworks District 40, Antelope Valley East Kern (AVEK) Water Agency, and U.S. Geological Survey to discuss this pilot project and a proposed full-scale project. A Project Report for the three initial pilot project cycles was submitted in February 2000.

    This report acknowledges that trihalomethanes (THMs) are persistent and pose a problem for a full-scale project. The major concern regarding this project is the formation of THMs in the aquifer. THMs are formed by a chemical reaction of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) with residual chlorine (or bromine) used as a disinfectant in the injected AVEK water. THMs are a suspected carcinogen. During the project, THM concentration in injected water averaged about 40 ug/l with a maximum value of 56.5 ug/l. At the completion of the final extraction phase, THMs approached non-detectable (3.0 ug/l). The current primary maximum contaminant level in drinking water is 100 ug/l (soon to be lowered to 80 ug/l). Background levels of THMs in the aquifer, before the project, were non-detectable.

    During four separate cycles, now complete, treated water was first injected and then extracted. The adopted Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs-Board Order No. 6-96-7) prohibit pollution but acknowledge there will be some localized degradation for the duration of the pilot project. The WDRs require that all degradation be removed at the end of the project by pumping.

    On May 14, 1997, a ground water sample collected at Monitoring Well 4-32 contained 127 ug/l of THM. Because of this THM value is high, the agencies began a study to evaluate THMs. Board staff requested this report be available for review no later than June 30, 2000. The final THM report must be submitted before or as part of the Report of Waste Discharge (RWD) discussed below.

    AVEK and Los Angeles County intend to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in the spring 2000 for a full-scale project to begin injection during the winter 2000/2001 season. Board staff informed the agencies that an anti-degradation analysis must be provided for a full-scale project.

    AVEK staff is concerned about the use of the term "waste" associated with this project. Board staff has acknowledged those concerns and responded that the water was not a "waste," but rather the non natural constituents in the water (e.g. chlorine and other THM generating compounds) were "waste". Los Angeles County and AVEK staff have indicated a willingness to work with Regional Board staff in developing the full-scale project in a manner that meets Regional Board and Basin Plan criteria.

  12. Concerns of Rand Community Water District on Biosolids Application at Gardner Ranches - Jehiel Cass

    During the March 9, 2000 Board meeting in Victorville, Mr. Chris Kelly, General Manager of the Rand Communities Water District (RCWD) expressed his concerns regarding potential impacts to potable water resources in the Freemont Valley from biosolids application at the Gardner Ranches. His main concern was vertical migration of nitrates, metals, and toxic chemicals such as methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to ground water which may impact water quality in the vicinity of RCWD's water supply wells.

    Board staff studied the hydrogeology in the Freemont Valley and concluded that the ground water at Gardner Ranches is hydraulically down-gradient from RCWD's supply wells. The potable water resource of RCWD is unlikely to be impacted by biosolids application at Gardner Ranches. The RCWD and Mr. Gardner have agreed that RCWD will visit Gardner Ranches and collect soil samples for the analyses of metals, nitrates, and volatile organic compounds.

  13. IMC Chemicals Inc. - Continuation of Petroleum Contamination on Searles Lake - Greg Cash

    This is a follow-up to an item in the March 2000 EO report.

    IMCC has enhanced its cleanup of floating oil along the lakebed, as well as the oil stained shoreline. An additional oil skimmer is in place on the effluent channel, downstream of the original oil skimmer. Board staff has been attending weekly meetings with IMCC and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to discuss the ongoing cleanup activities.

    IMCC's daily sampling of the effluent from the Trona and Argus plants has indicated that the Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) are not being met. The WDRs limit the discharge effluent to 10 mg/l of total petroleum hydrocarbons, and 10 mg/l of kerosene. Board staff is evaluating options including, but not limited to further enforcement actions and modification of WDRs to lower the Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) and kerosene limits. IMCC has hired an engineering consulting firm to prepare a work plan to evaluate the petroleum hydrocarbon skimmer process and to propose corrective actions needed to comply with the required effluent limits.

    Board staff has conducted weekly inspections during the cleanup process. Oil discharges from the Trona oil skimmer have hampered the cleanup. IMCC's monitoring shows the effluent total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations range from non-detectable to 170 mg/l for the month of March 2000, with a daily average of 27 mg/l. Board staff also collected samples of the effluent which indicates that the surface water in Searles Lake contains > 10 mg/l of total petroleum hydrocarbons.

    Board staff is preparing revised WDRs for the Regional Board to consider at an upcoming Board meeting.

  14. San Bernardino Issues Molycorp Conditional Use Permit (CUP) - Tim Post

    On April 6, 2000, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission, in a 4-0 vote, granted Molycorp, Inc. a CUP and adopted a Negative Declaration for the Proposed On-Site Wastewater Treatment Project. The project includes construction of Lined Evaporation Ponds, and Land Application of treated wastewater at the Mountain Pass Operations Facility. This satisfies the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for the proposed project.

    Molycorp is constructing this wastewater system as an alternative to the 13-mile-long pipeline to the New Ivanpah Evaporation Ponds, the formerly permitted disposal facility. Due to numerous spills along the pipeline and contamination of the ground water beneath the evaporation pond, the Regional Board prohibited Molycorp from using the pipeline and the New Ivanpah evaporation pond in March 1998. Molycorp is currently trucking this wastewater off-site for disposal. The new system will allow Molycorp to treat and dispose of several wastewater streams from the Mine and Mill Site in compliance with various Regional Board Orders.

    Proposed WDRs for this project will be considered by the Regional Board at its May 2000 Meeting. Molycorp estimates that the system will take from August 1, 2000, to June 1, 2001, to construct.

  15. Leviathan Mine Activities - Chris Stetler

    During the summer of 1999, the Regional Board conducted a treatability study at Leviathan Mine. The treatability study had three main objectives: 1) setup and commission a temporary water treatment system capable of neutralizing acid mine drainage (AMD) held in evaporation ponds at Leviathan Mine; 2) operate the treatment system at full-scale (approx. 200 gallons/minute), 3) assess the system's performance and make recommendations for future implementation. The 1999 treatability study fulfilled each of the project objectives, and resulted in the treatment of approximately 4.5 millions gallons of AMD.

    During the latter part of March 2000, Regional Board staff discovered that the evaporation ponds at Leviathan had stratified in such a manner as to create a "clean" water layer (approximately 8 inches thick) on the ponds. With approval and oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Board staff successfully decanted approximately 400,000 gallons of the clean water out of the ponds, thereby creating additional storage capacity for highly concentrated AMD emanating from Leviathan's underground workings.

    The storage capacity provided by the Regional Boards 1999 treatment effort, combined with that provided by the recent decanting, may be enough to hold all of the influent AMD and to preclude pond overflow. As of April 25, 2000, there were approximately 820,000 gallons of freeboard capacity left in the evaporation ponds. If warm, dry weather persists, pond overflow is not expected to occur this year.

    Although the 1999 treatment system performed well, modifications need to occur to improve the system's performance and cost effectiveness. Regional Board staff is preparing contracts for re-implementation of pond water treatment during the 2000 construction season (mid-June through mid-October). The project schedule calls for re-installing the treatment system during the month of June, with pond water treatment commencing in early-July. It is proposed to run the treatment system 24 hours/day and 7 days/week to provide 12 million gallons of freeboard capacity in the ponds by no later than October 15, 2000.
ENFORCEMENT
  1. Tahoe City Public Utility District Unauthorized Discharge of Untreated Sewage to Lake Tahoe - Greg Powell

    The Tahoe City Public Utility District is the operator of the Park Terrace sewage pump station, Tahoe City, Placer County. The district reported that the overflow was caused by a combined failure of pump controls and wet well alarm reporting systems. During preventative and corrective maintenance on August 12, 1999 district staff removed, but did not replace a defective relay. The relay governs both the pump control and alarm circuits. The spill was estimated to have begun on August 13, 1999, one day after TCPUD maintenance personnel had removed a critical relay and the capacity of the wetwell at the pump station and the collection system was reached. The untreated sewage then backed up and leaked through the manhole cover at the spill location approximately 280 feet from the pump station. Regional Board staff determined that the discharge occurred over an 11-day period. TCPUD estimates 40,000 gallons of sewage was discharged to a wetland and then to Lake Tahoe. Fecal Coliform counts of 1300(cfu/100ml) occurred 25 ft from the spill site in Lake Tahoe. On March 28, 2000, I signed an Administrative Civil Liability complaint against the TCPUD in the amount of $35,000 for the spill.

UST CLOSURES
  1. Susanville Bunker C Fuel Vaults - Anne Sutherland

    On April 6, 2000, we issued a closure letter for this site. Total petroleum hydrocarbons were at non-detectable levels in all seven groundwater monitoring events. Soil contamination remains in place; however, due to the relative immobility of Bunker C fuel in the subsurface and lack of any detectable groundwater impacts, closure is appropriate. Site conditions are protective of water quality, beneficial uses, and human health and the environment.
 
 

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