Endocrine Disruptors: The Secret History of a Scandal

To River Watch readers: Our website has had several articles in the past on the impacts of endocrine disruptors in streams and other waters of the USA. Most of these chemicals come from pharmaceutical sources released through normal waste discharge without being filtered or treated. What has been revealed is that, unlike many other potentially harmful chemicals, endocrines can pose harm at very small concentrations. This is Part 1 of 3.

June 8, 2016
By Stéphane Horel

Editors Note: This article was originally published by Le Monde on May 20. This version is translated by the Health and Environment Alliance and is republished with permission. We are also republishing other parts of the investigation: Le Monde’s interview with French Environment Minister Ségoléne Royal (Part 2) and doubt sown by Brussels’ industry-linked scientific community (Part 3).

Graphic by AUREL. Translation courtesy HEAL

This is one of the best kept secrets in Europe. It is locked up in the maze of corridors in the European Commission, in a guarded room that only about 40 accredited officials have the right to enter. And then only with paper and pen. Smartphones are not allowed.

This is a stricter safety protocol than even for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) between the European Union and the United States: If members of the European Parliament want to access TTIP documents they can enter the reading room without anyone checking the contents of their pockets.

The secret is a report of about 250 pages. Its title, in the jargon of the Commission, is “Impact Assessment.”

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Stream Condition Databases

Hi Everyone,
Just sending word that the stream temperature database and scenarios for the Central Valley & remaining parts of California are now available on the NorWeST website (http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/boise/AWAE/projects/NorWeST.html). Also attached to this email is a poster showing the statewide stream thermalscape that’s now been interpolated from data at 2,663 sites that were contributed by biologists and hydrologists working for 15 state, federal, tribal, university, and private resource organizations. The NorWeST project is a grassroots effort to develop an open access, comprehensive stream temperature database and set of high-resolution climate scenarios for the American West. The database currently houses >200,000,000 hourly records from >20,000 unique sites that were contributed by >100 agencies & resource groups. NorWeST was funded for California by the USFWS & the California Fish Passage Forum (http://www.cafishpassageforum.org/), with complimentary grants to do the project elsewhere from the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, NASA, NFWF, USFS, & USGS.

NorWeST data products consist of three basic things (described below), all of which can be summarized, displayed, or queried in ArcGIS and other digital formats for ease of use. You can also view & query the stream temperature scenarios dynamically from your desktop using this nifty GoogleMap tool: https://www.sciencebase.gov/gisviewer/NorWeST/ (zoom in until the streams appear).

Geospatial products:
#1) ArcGIS shapefiles of mean August stream temperature predictions from an accurate model fit to all the data (r2 ~ 0.90; Average prediction error ~ 1.00°C; Average observed error ~ 0.70°C) and used to develop a consistent set of historical and future climate scenario maps at 1-kilometer resolution. The historical scenarios consist of composite averages over multi-year periods (Scenarios 1 & 2), each individual year’s mean August stream temperature (from 1993 ~ 2015), and 10 different future scenarios (Scenarios 23 – 32; metadata describing the scenarios and stream temperature model are available at the project website). The NorWeST stream temperature model predicts an August mean temperature because it’s the one month that’s been monitored most consistently across the region (which allowed us to use the largest proportion of everyone’s data in the model), because August is a thermally stressful period for many fishes, and because a monthly mean can be easily linked to outputs from global climate models to create an integrated system for downscaling climate effects to local stream temperatures.

#2) ArcGIS shapefile showing the precision associated with the stream temperature model predictions (Scenario 22), which is useful for identifying areas in streams that are not redundant with existing temperature measurements and could aid in designing efficient monitoring strategies.

#3) Daily summaries (min/max/mean) of all temperature data (including non-August days) and georeferenced locations of monitoring sites to facilitate coordinated monitoring efforts and new temperature research. Note that we can only distribute those data we are given permission to distribute, but the great majority of people (>95%) do give their permission.

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The Key to Halting Damage to 36,000 Miles Of U.S. Waterways Annually

To All,

This is a message from Karen of Clean Water Network that should be of interest to River Watch members and supporters.

Exposed Soil = Pollution  The Key to Halting Damage to 36,000 Miles Of U.S. Waterways Annually

Hello CWN members, I’m Richard Klein.  I’ve been helping folks throughout the U.S. win sediment pollution and other clean water battles since the 1970s.  Recently I’ve learned that clean water advocates now have a rare opportunity to dramatically reduce a major pollution source just by educating the public that Exposed Soil = Pollution, particularly when you see it on a construction site.  A few experiments have shown that spreading this message can improve construction site sediment pollution control throughout a region by up to 77% in just one year!  You can help win this battle by signing our Change.org petition and by informing your supporters and the public at large that:

              Exposed Construction Site Soil = Pollution
             Demand Full Use of Erosion Control Measures

As of 2009, USEPA data showed that 107,231 miles of U.S. waterways had been damaged by sediment pollution.[1]  A sizeable portion comes from the 18 million acres of construction sites active throughout the country at any given moment.[2]  Nationwide, construction site erosion and sediment pollution generation rates average 100 to 10,000 times the rate for forest.[3]  One study indicated that without effective control, the sediment pollution released from a site could damage three miles of downstream waters with recovery taking up to a century.[4]  Based upon the EPA data there could be more than 12,000 sites active nationwide, which creates the potential to damage 36,000 miles of downstream waters annually.

Fortunately, all construction sites over one acre must use measures to minimize soil erosion and subsequent sediment pollution.[5]  However, most sites only benefit from ineffective measures like frequently failing silt fences. Silt fences and other perimeter controls are very ineffective at preventing sediment pollution

Straw, Grass & Other Erosion Controls Key To Aquatic Resource Protection
Most of the nutrients and other pollutants entrained in construction site sediment pollution are dissolved or attached to clay and other fine particles.  The most commonly used measures like silt fence, sediment ponds and other perimeter controls cannot retain clay-bound or dissolved pollutants.  Plus, aquatic ecosystem damage cannot be prevented unless large quantities of clay particles are kept out of downstream waters.

Only by stabilizing (protecting) soil from erosion with straw mulch, grass or stone can you keep clay and dissolved pollutants on a construction site.[1]  Mulch alone reduces erosion by 90% and a thick grass cover achieves a 99% reduction.  So, whenever you see exposed soil on a construction site you can assume a nearby waterway will be polluted come the next storm.  In other words: Exposed Soil = Pollution.
Each Dollar Spent On Erosion Control Prevents $100 In Downstream Damages
Once initial grading stops and building or road construction begins all exposed soils should be covered with a layer of straw mulch or planted in grass if an area will not undergo earth-moving for 14 days or more.  Road and parking lot beds should be covered with a base course of stone ASAP.  The stone is not only a normal part of road construction but usually halts erosion of the underlying soils.  For each dollar spent keeping sediment on a construction site, at least $100 in downstream damages are avoided.[1]  Mulch must be kept thick enough to obscure underlying soil from view

Lack Of Erosion Control Is Also Illegal
Section, of the USEPA NPDES General Permit for Discharges from Construction Activities requires that when earth-moving activity (filling-cutting-grading) will cease for 14 days or more all exposed soil must be stabilized (protected) from erosive forces.[1]  The most commonly used measures are straw mulch, grass, stone or some equally effective erosion control practice.  Mulch is used in areas where grass cannot grow due to foot or vehicle traffic, like next to buildings under construction.  The mulch must be maintained thick enough so underlying soil cannot be seen.  As stated above, road and parking lot beds must be covered with stone.  All idle areas must be mulched and seeded with grass, then maintained to achieve at least a 95% vegetative cover.

Become An Erosion Control Advocate
When you see exposed soil on a construction site where earth-moving has ceased and building has begun, you’re not only seeing a pollution threat but a violation of the law.  Contact your local or state elected representative and urge them to have the appropriate agency get the soil stabilized.  If the agency claims a project is exempt from the NPDES requirement then contact me at 410-654-3021 or Rklein@ceds.org.  Together we’ll figure out if this is true.  If it is true then we’ll develop a strategy for using Politically Oriented Advocacy to win adoption of the necessary legislation.  This approach has proven more effective than past efforts like Get The Dirt Out.

About The Author
Richard Klein has been an advocate for aquatic resource protection since 1969.  Over the past 47 years he’s won better sediment pollution control on numerous of construction sites throughout the U.S.  For 18 years Richard was with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, spending ten years as the director of Save Our Streams.  In 1987, he founded his day-job as president of CEDS and has since helped thousands of citizens across the nation prevent threats to neighborhoods and the environment.

For further information:

Exposed Soil = Pollution webpage;
ES=P Guide which shows why erosion control is important and how to evaluate construction site erosion control quality

Posted in Environmental Impacts, Stormwater Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Waste Discharge Pollution | Leave a comment

Mendocino Redwood Company’s Political Cover Crops

June 1, 2016

The Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI) seemed to have a sure-fire plan when it proposed to receive $19.5 million for its conservation of the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest – northwestern Mendocino County land battered by more than a century of logging – from the State Wildlife Conservation Board. The state agency had received funding via a bond initiative, Proposition 84 (2006), for the purpose of conserving working forests. RFFI owned the largest section of working conservation forest land in the state (meaning light-touching logging would continue to occur there).

More than 300 individuals had written in support of the proposal, and State Assemblyman Wes Chesbro and State Senator Noreen Evans had testified in favor of the RFFI proposal. The Wildlife Conservation Board’s staff unanimously supported it. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors passed a supportive resolution and transmitted a letter to the Conservation Board’s director.

“The viability of sustainable timber management in Mendocino County relies on the Usal and Gualala models for job generation, restoration employment and future economic localization,” the May 2011 letter stated.

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The Fisher Octopus

May 25, 2016

The Fisher family’s roughly $10 billion in assets are spread across an opaque web of globe-spanning investments. One of their main money vehicles is Sansome Partners, the San Francisco- and Seattle-based investment firm that owns Mendocino Redwood Company and its northerly affiliate, Humboldt Redwood Company. The purpose of Sansome Partners, the company’s web site proclaims, is to make “long-term investments in high-quality businesses and assests.”

Best known as owners of The Gap and Banana Republic retail clothing empire, family matriarch Doris Fisher and her sons Robert, William, and John (best known in some circles as the majority owner of the Oakland A’s) are all billionaires. Within the Fishers’ 440,000 acres of forestland in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties, the family may own more coastal redwood forest than any private entity ever has.

As with Blum, it is difficult to know exactly where the Fishers’ fortune is invested at any given time. A 1998 San Francisco Business Journal story noted that “San Francisco’s real estate movers and shakers don’t like to talk about who’s stuffing their wallets with cash. Normally chatty developers turn stone-cold silent when the question is asked.”

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DWR Regulations to Guide Local Sustainable Groundwater Management Plans Approved by California Water Commission

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) regulations that will guide local groundwater sustainability agency management and regulation of California’s groundwater basins as outlined in the historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act(SGMA) enacted by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2014 were approved by the California Water Commission today. The approved emergency regulations now will be filed with the Office of Administrative Law and go into effect June 2016.

“Today we reach a major milestone in California’s quest to sustainably manage groundwater,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “These regulations will help communities bring aquifers into balance and prepare for a changing climate and future droughts.”

Groundwater is vital to California and supplies over a third of the water Californians use, and as much as 60 percent or more in some areas during times of drought. SGMA requires local agencies to draft plans to bring groundwater aquifers into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. Managing groundwater sustainably is a key element of the California Water Action Plan, the Brown administration’s five-year roadmap for building resilient, reliable water supplies and restoring important ecosystems.

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Groundwater Sustainability Moves Forward: Will Communities Be Left Behind?

By Jennifer Clary

On Wednesday, the California Water Commission approved emergency regulations for the implementation of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). These regulations are a significant milepost in what will be a very long journey towards groundwater sustainability in California.

The regulations are intended to provide requirements for local agencies developing groundwater plans as well as identify the evaluation tools that will be used by the Department of Water Resources to determine if a local agency is making adequate progress towards sustainability.

Clean Water Action, along with dozens of environmental, environmental justice and local community organizations, provided extensive comments to help strengthen the regulations. We know from long experience that local engagement, transparent information, and a strong and accountable governance structure are the basic building blocks of strong institutions. This is especially important in the case of groundwater, which directly impacts the lives of millions of Californians and has been exploited for decades.

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This Logging Plan called Dogwood

What is left out of the Press Democrat article, “Logging Plan along the Gualala…” are at least two very important facts.

One is that there are good rules on the books that disallow companies to log into sensitive floodplains of rivers. However, Gualala Redwoods Timber (GRT) asked for and was granted exemptions to these rules.  Let me repeat, the very rules that would prevent destructive activities in any stream’s floodplain was exempted. Why?  Because Alden requested it, that’s why.

Who is Henry Alden?  No mention of the infamous Pacific Lumber after it was taken over by MAXXAM Corporation and logged the old growth redwoods of Humboldt until massive protests called Redwood Summer forced a deal to save a small part of it, called Headwaters Forest.

Doesn’t Alden’s history here with PL have some bearing on what is going on now in our forests of Sonoma County?  You would think so. For the Press Democrat, this history is invisible, a clean slate. Alden is doing a good job, right?  That is why Alden’s company, GRT, will soon be logging itself out of business and moving on to some other resource to mine and leaving in its wake a devastated river and community to pick up the pieces.

Larry Hanson, Board President
Forest Unlimited

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Logging Plan along Gualala River Faces Opposition


Gualala River floodplain redwood forest, near proposed logging

Gualala River floodplain redwood forest, near proposed logging

A disputed plan to log century- old redwoods along the Gualala River is running into stiff opposition from environmentalists who say the days of timber operations near North Coast streams, even on land long used for commercial logging, should be over.

Opponents of the proposed timber harvest in northwestern Sonoma County are again taking aim at a project they say poses potential harm to wildlife and plants. It would harvest trees on about 330 acres in the river’s flood plain.

The use of heavy equipment in such an area to handle and haul away downed trees is not appropriate and shouldn’t be allowed by the state, opponents say.

“It’s an ecosystem. It’s not just a tree farm,” said Chris Poehlmann, president of Friends of the Gualala River, a nonprofit group that has taken a tough stand on other logging and vineyard conversion projects in the watershed, home to greatly diminished runs of coho salmon and steelhead trout.

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California Water Commission Meet, May 18, 9:30 am

To All,

This is an important meeting to attend if you can.

Meeting of the California Water Commission

State of California, Resources Building
1416 Ninth Street, First Floor Auditorium
Sacramento, CA 95814
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Beginning at 9:30 a.m.

1.    Call to Order
2.    Roll Call
3.    Approval of April 2016 Meeting Minutes
4.    Executive Officer’s Report
The Executive Officer will report on various matters addressed since the previous Commission meeting.
5.    Commission Member Reports
An opportunity for members to disclose any meetings or conversations related to Commission business since the previous Commission meeting.
6.     Public Testimony
Although no formal Commission action will be taken, this is an opportunity for interested members of the public to address the Commission regarding items of interest that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction, but that do not specifically appear on the agenda.
7.    Update on State Water Project Critical Issues
DWR staff will provide an informational update on the construction and operation of the State Water Project per California Water Code §165.
Action Item: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Implementation:  Consider Adoption of Final Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Regulations
DWR staff will present the Final Draft GSP Regulations for Commission consideration and adoption.
9.    Legislative Update
DWR staff will provide an update on State legislation relevant to the activities of DWR and the Commission.
10.    Briefing on Designing Effective Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) by Michael Kiparsky
Dr. Michael Kiparsky of UC Berkeley will brief the Commission on a framework for evaluating GSA governance.
11.    Update on Program and Administrative Activities for the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP)

Commission staff will update the Commission on activities undertaken to implement the Water Storage Investment Program.
12.    Consideration of Items for the Next California Water Commission Meeting
13.    Adjourn
*The Commission may break for lunch as needed.*

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