The State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) has recently released recommendations from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (“LLNL”) on Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring. Pursuant to Senate Bill 4 (“SB 4”), the Water Board is required to develop regulations for sampling, testing, and monitoring groundwater during hydraulic fracturing operations. The bill requires groundwater monitoring at scales from single well monitoring to regional monitoring.

The recommendations are designed to assist the Water Board in taking a scientifically credible approach in developing groundwater monitoring regulations. The authors acknowledge the immense challenge of developing a set of regulations to govern well stimulation in California due to the unique and dynamic nature of each oil field.

The report recommends a tiered approach to groundwater monitoring where higher quality water is monitored more intensively than lower quality water. The monitoring would be conducted through one upgradient and two downgradient wells within a one-half to one-mile radius of the stimulated oil well.
Continue Reading State Water Board Receives Groundwater Monitoring Recommendations from Experts

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) held a Public Workshop regarding the proposed Draft Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring (“Model Criteria”). In this meeting, the Water Board heard comments from stakeholders who voiced their support or concern regarding the Model Criteria.

Dr. Steven Bohlen, the State Oil & Gas Supervisor, on behalf of the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) provided the Water Board with a variety of statistics regarding well stimulation operations that have occurred since DOGGR’s Interim Regulations went into effect on January 1, 2014. Dr. Bohlen reported that over 1,500 Interim Well Stimulation Treatment Notices have been received by DOGGR since January 1, 2014. Additionally, 809 well stimulation operations have been conducted and 22 monitoring plans have been approved. Furthermore, about 200 acre feet of water has been used for well stimulation operations.Continue Reading Industry and Environmental Groups Make Pitch to Water Board Regarding Draft Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring

On May 5, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) adopted Emergency Regulations implementing a statewide 25% reduction of potable urban water use, which includes commercial, industrial, and institutional water use, in addition to residential water use. These regulations are in response to Governor Brown’s April 1, 2015 Executive Order mandating a statewide 25% reduction in water use from June 2015 through February 2016, as compared to the same months in 2013.   These regulations apply to all urban water suppliers, as defined in Water Code section 10617, excluding wholesalers.

To achieve the 25% statewide reduction in potable urban water use, the Water Board requires those areas with high per capita water use to achieve proportionally greater reductions than those with low use. The Water Board assigned each urban water supplier to one of nine tiers depending on the per capita water use in the supplier’s distribution area. Suppliers with the highest per capita water use must reduce water consumption by as much as 36%, while suppliers with the lowest water use must reduce water consumption by only 8%. Upon meeting certain requirements and approval by the Executive Director of the Water Board, some suppliers may qualify to be placed in a special tier requiring only a 4% reduction. Small water suppliers, defined as those with fewer than 3,000 service connections, must achieve a 25% reduction in water use or restrict outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week. Water suppliers are left to obtain these results through local restrictions on both residential and non-residential users.Continue Reading California Water Board Signs Off on Emergency Urban Water Use Restrictions

On April 29, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) issued a Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment and Notice of Public Workshop regarding the proposed Draft Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring (“Model Criteria”) for areas of oil and gas well stimulation. Senate Bill 4 requires groundwater monitoring for all oil and gas wells that receive stimulation treatments.

The Model Criteria will be used by (1) the Water Board to implement a regional groundwater monitoring program, and (2) oil and gas operators and Water Board staff in the development of groundwater monitoring near well stimulation activities. These Model Criteria outline the methods to be used for sampling, testing, and reporting the water quality associated with oil and gas well stimulation activities.

The groundwater monitoring data will be used to initially establish baseline condition prior to well stimulation. Thereafter, Water Board staff will evaluate data and test results to determine changes in water quality and whether additional monitoring requirements or corrective actions are necessary.Continue Reading Water Board Issues Proposed Draft Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring

On December 30, 2014, the California Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) approved the Final Permanent Well Stimulation Treatment Regulations (“Permanent Regulations”).  The regulations go into effect on July 1, 2015, and the Interim Regulations, which were operative all of last year, will remain the governing law in the meantime.  By finalizing the Permanent Regulations, California leads the way with the most stringent, comprehensive hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) regulations in the country.

The Permanent Regulations are the result of multiple regulatory revisions and reflect extensive input from the public, industry, and various state agencies. Please see our oil and gas resources page for more information about the development of the Permanent Regulations.Continue Reading SB 4 Well Stimulation Treatment Permanent Regulations Finalized

iStock_000007254832Small.jpgThe State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”) held a workshop last week on a proposed regulation designed to assess and mitigate water use from the Russian River by growers in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties during frost season. Though no formal action took place, the Board received numerous comments on the proposed regulation. 

The regulation would

The Napa County Farm Bureau held its first water forum in five or six years on March 9, in St. Helena, California. Kicked off by Bureau President Jim Lincoln, the event was well attended, with over 100 concerned stakeholders listening to the most recent updates in California water issues.

Phillip Miller, the Deputy Director of

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Reportedly, Executive Officer, Pamela Creedon of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley has approved a Draft Revised Monitoring and Reporting Program (Draft) for dairies under the current General Order (PDF).  The Draft requirement includes changes that clarify when certain activities take place, including inspections of the production area, visual inspections of stormwater