Photo retrieved from: www.newser.com
“Archaeologists say they’ve stumbled upon a grim page in American history: the site of the 1863 Owens Lake massacre. The Los Angeles Times provides a history lesson: The Paiute Indians occupied land some 200 miles north of LA that proved desirable to an influx of ranchers in the mid 1800s. The Owens Valley Indian War broke out in 1861, but a seminal moment occurred on March 19, 1863: Settlers and soldiers battled with the Paiutes, who tried to flee their attackers by swimming into the lake, but were thwarted by a strong wind; nearly three dozen of them drowned or were shot. The tale of that day remains, but the exact location was lost.
That’s in part because officials diverted the Owens River in 1913 in order to feed LA’s water needs, reports Grist; by the middle of the next decade, Owens Lake was no more. But heavy winds and rains in 2009 may have helped return bullets, buttons, and Native American artifacts to the surface; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archaeologists found them during a survey last year. But the discovery is spurring a small controversy: The dry lake bed fuels toxic dust storms, and DWP has been charged with mitigating that with shallow flooding—at what is now thought to be the massacre site.”
Read more: Newser
Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org
“On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy said liquid levels are decreasing in one of 177 underground tanks at the site. Monitoring wells near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels, but Inslee said the leak could be in the range of 150 gallons to 300 gallons over the course of a year and poses a potential long-term threat to groundwater and rivers.
The Northwest News Network, in an interview with Tom Carpenter, head of the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge, found that Friday’s news highlights the fact that problems have been endemic to the site for years and there’s not even a place to transfer the contained waste or a place to return any that may be recovered from spills or leaks.
“If you have another leak, what do you do?,” ask Carpenter. “You don’t have any strategy for that. And the Hanford Advisory Board and the state of Washington and Hanford Challenge and others have been calling upon the Department of Energy to build new tanks. That call has been met with silence.”
And the Chicago Tribune adds:
Though more than a third of the 149 old single-shell tanks at the site are suspected to have leaked up to 1 million gallons of nuclear waste over the years, this is the first confirmed leak since federal authorities completed a so-called stabilization program in 2005 that was supposed to have removed most liquids from the vulnerable single-shell tanks.”
Read more: Common Dreams
Photo retrieved from: www.npr.org
“The water is likely to be considerably cleaner upstream and downstream from the sewage plant where the Swedish perch were captured.
Adding more uncertainty in this case: Benzodiazepines have been used for decades in Sweden, so they have no doubt been in this aquatic ecosystem for many years.
“These fish may have adapted to that,” Schlenk says.
Scientists now realize that low levels of pharmaceuticals have spread through the environment. For instance, Schlenk has found a Valium-like drug in the hornyhead turbot, a fish that lives on the seafloor off the California coast. Other lab studies have shown that human drugs can affect the behavior of striped bass and other species.
These drug traces don’t pose an obvious threat to people, who might drink water from streams or eat the fish that live in them.
“The presence of pharmaceuticals in surface waters — or even the residues that accumulate in edible in fish and shellfish — are much lower than what you might need to gain a therapeutic dose,” says Bryan Brooks of Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
But, he cautions, that isn’t necessarily the case in the developing world.”
“Some of the observations in India, for example, downstream of manufacturing facilities, are among the highest concentrations of pharmaceuticals reported in the environment,” he says. “So the developing world really deserves some additional attention.”
Read more: NPR
Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com
“In California’s water system, one of the world’s most sophisticated and complex, the snowpack plays a leading role by supplying water to more than 25 million people and almost one million acres of farmland. Snow that accumulates on the Sierra Nevada’s 400-mile range starts to melt in the spring, draining into rivers that feed reservoirs below.
As Mr. Gehrke and his team gauge the depth and water content of the snowpack, other department officials begin forecasting how much water the snowpack will be able to deliver this year.
Those who depend on the snowpack for water adjust their plans accordingly. Water districts may start looking for water elsewhere or carry out conservation measures. Farmers consider the forecasts in deciding what crops to plant or whether to take bank loans to buy more seed and equipment for the year.
Ryan Jacobsen, who is executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau and also sits on the board of the Fresno Irrigation District, said that the snow surveys are the” “bible for what decisions irrigation districts are going to make for the rest of the year.”
“Fresno County is the No. 1 agricultural county in the nation, but we also happen to be situated climatically in the middle of a desert,” he said. “It really is the Sierra Nevada snowpack that makes this desert bloom.”
Read more: The New York Times
Photo retrieved from: www.latimes.com
“The region’s economy and wildlife have struggled in a stunning landscape of snowcapped peaks, cascading streams and sage plains dotted with alfalfa fields and cattle ranches, and flanked by lava flows and dormant volcanoes. At dry Owens Lake, the focus of an agonizingly complex and expensive effort to control dust storms, dust pollution frequently exceeds federal health standards. Some locals have expressed their feelings toward the DWP by urinating in the aqueduct while reciting, “L.A. needs the water.”
These days, many Owens Valley residents are happy about the DWP’s newly conciliatory attitude, even if they wonder why it is coming now instead of much earlier. “The obvious question to ask is, ‘Why couldn’t it have been resolved years ago?’ ” said Geoff Pope, chairman of the board of the 40 Acres Homeowners Water Assn.
The DWP insists publicly that the three settlements have nothing to do with the anniversary festivities. “It’s serendipity,” DWP General Manager Ron Nichols said. “The important thing is to show that the DWP will work with reasonable people to find solutions that work for both sides.”
The standoff at 40 Acres, where the DWP and residents own property and water rights, began in 2001, when the utility constructed the diversion gate controlled with a wheel the size of a dinner plate.
The structure gave DWP control of the water, replacing a wooden diversion gate that locals had installed at a fork in the creek in the mid-1970s. It diverted water into a latticework of ditches, which disperses it through their little patch of cottonwoods, modest homes and pastures.”
Read more: Los Angeles Times
Photo retrieved from: www.aqueductfeatures.com
“Hydro-librium signifies the balance of water, an ironic caption depicting the not so equated water dispute between the Owens Valley and city of Los Angeles. As Los Angeles began to flourish as a result of purchasing water rights from the Owens Valley, the playa began to pay the price for the success of this new-found metropolis: Los Angeles.
Water is a natural resource that serves a significant purpose in balancing our ecosystem. The narrative of the Owens Valley and Los Angeles water dispute, showcases a variety of disturbances within the ecology of the landscape as a result of imbalanced water use. Project one attempts to map out the impacts and benefits resulting from the construction of the LA aqueduct. The mapping (above) displays an effort to engage a temporal look at the effects of groundwater pumping in the Owens playa and compare it to observed changes in the climate of the Owens Valley basin. The research however, was not plausible enough to conclude that the results of groundwater have created adverse effects on temperature change within the basin.”
Read more: Aqueduct Futures
Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org
“When groundwater reserves ran low in the 1940s, the region turned to Lake Mead. Today, the Las Vegas area gets 90 percent of its water from the no-longer-very-mighty Colorado River as it is corralled behind Hoover Dam in Lake Mead. And now that’s threatened. A new federal study released in December found that the over-allocated Colorado River will be further stretched by climate change, drought and climbing populations. By 2060, the river will be short of what its dependents in seven U.S. states need by 3.2 million acre-feet a year. (An acre-foot of water is roughly enough for one suburban family per year.)
So what’s a city — or really, its water manager — to do? A smart gambler wouldn’t bet on the Colorado.
SNWA is in the midst of an $800 million project to insert another “straw” into Lake Mead. This is the third intake pipe built for the lake — the last two proved not deep enough to keep up with the lake’s falling levels. But this is just part of the plan. Another part comes with a bigger pricetag — estimated as high as $15 billion — and involves building hundreds of miles of water pipelines and related infrastructure to tap water from four rural valleys in eastern Nevada’s White Pine and Lincoln counties.”
Read more: Alternet
Photo retrieved from: www.wikipedia.org
“The SAD-BJP government’s claims about attracting over a lakh crore rupees of investment in Punjab have been proven hollow, evidently by their own admission. Not just are the bigger industries moving out, but Punjab is among the worst performing states in the country when it comes to checking water pollution. The state is among the worst defaulters in the country with at least seven grossly polluting industrial units dumping their toxic waste directly in the rivers and lakes.
The latest environment report of the state,Environment Statistics, has expressed concern over the present industrial scenario having a depressing effect on the economy. The report, released this week, clearly states that not just “the number of large industries in state is going down, but the state economy is based on small scale industries, mostly food processing industries.”
Of the 20 grossly polluting industries not even half, nine units, comply with norms regarding water pollution. The others are discharging toxic waste in the state’s lifeline – its rivers and lakes. Punjab ranks seventh on the list of defaulting states with most other states –Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Jharkhand — managing to have not a single such polluting unit. The industrially-strong Gujarat has reported one such unit. In Punjab, a few industrial units in Jalandhar and Ropar are dumping toxic waste into the river.”
Read more: The Times of India
“The Owens study area is approximately 1,030 square miles (2,668 square kilometers) and includes the Owens Valley groundwater basin (California Department of Water Resources, 2003). Owens Valley has a semiarid to arid climate, with average annual rainfall of about 6 inches (15 centimeters). The study area has internal drainage, with runoff primarily from the Sierra Nevada draining east to the Owens River, which flows south to Owens Lake dry lakebed at the southern end of the valley. Beginning in the early 1900s, the City of Los Angeles began diverting the flow of the Owens River to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, resulting in the evaporation of Owens Lake and the formation of the current Owens Lake dry lakebed. Land use in the study area is approximately 94 percent (%) natural, 5% agricultural, and 1% urban. The primary natural land cover is shrubland. The largest urban area is the city of Bishop (2010 population of 4,000).
Groundwater in this basin is used for public and domestic water supply and for irrigation. The main water-bearing units are gravel, sand, silt, and clay derived from surrounding mountains. Recharge to the groundwater system is primarily runoff from the Sierra Nevada, and by direct infiltration of irrigation. The primary sources of discharge are pumping wells, evapotranspiration, and underflow to the Owens Lake dry lakebed. The primary aquifers in Owens Valley are defined as those parts of the aquifers corresponding to the perforated intervals of wells listed in the California Department of Public Health database. Public-supply wells in Owens Valley are completed to depths between 210 and 480 feet (64 to 146 meters), consist of solid casing from the land surface to a depth of 50 to 80 feet (15 to 24 meters), and are screened or perforated below the solid casing.”
Read more: USGS