“The U.S. Interior Department has awarded more than $20 million in grants for water conservation projects in 11 Western states, including several in Utah, Nevada and California.
The WaterSMART grants announced Wednesday will fund a total of 44 projects, including a plan to convert earthen irrigation canals in Utah by lining them or converting them to pipelines and the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s landscape rebate program that provides homeowners incentives to convert their grass lawns to water-efficient landscaping more suitable to the desert.
The Las Vegas-based water authority was awarded a $300,000 grant toward a $3.3 million effort to expand its existing rebate program that is expected to result in the replacement of 2.6 million square feet of thirsty turf. It should result in a savings of 448 acre feet of water annually in the Colorado River, which provides supplies for southern Nevada, California and Arizona.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation estimates the grants will save more than 100,000 acre feet of water annually—enough to supply 400,000 people.
“Throughout the West, we’re seeing that drought, growing populations, energy demands and basic environmental needs are stressing our finite water and energy supplies,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said These WaterSMART grants will help stretch water supplies and improve water and energy efficiencies in communities throughout the West to support sustainable uses of our limited resources,” she said.”
Read more: Mercury news
“A California agency on Thursday unanimously adopted a broad, long-range plan to manage the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
After several hours of public comments and protests by opponents, the Delta Stewardship Council voted 7-0 to approve the final version of the Delta Plan, a blueprint for restoring the delta’s ecosystem and improving water supply reliability.
The plan does not call for specific construction projects but contains policies and recommendations. The $14 billion twin tunnel project, which is being developed through a separate federal and state initiative, will be incorporated into the plan if the tunnels are approved and permitted.
Critics say the Delta Plan doesn’t do enough when it comes to restoring and protecting the delta or its threatened fish species – and could negatively impact delta communities.
The plan comes after years of concerns over an increase in water demand and the degradation of habitat in the delta, which supplies drinking water for two-thirds of California residents and irrigates about 4 million acres of crops.
The ecosystem’s rapid deterioration has spurred regulations that limit delta pumping. Farmers and water users whose water was curtailed have clamored for a stable water supply. In 2009, the Legislature created the seven-member council to come up with a plan to manage the estuary.”
“The plan tells us how to get through the next 100 years,” said Phil Isenberg, the council’s chairman and a former Sacramento mayor. “Everybody has to conserve water all the time, everyone has to decrease reliance on the delta, and everyone has to help with the environmental needs of the delta. We’re running out of easy solutions, so everybody has to kick in.”
“A new report from the Columbia University Water Center, in conjunction with Veolia Water and Growing Blue, reveals that businesses and cities in some of America’s most iconic regions are now under even greater risk of water scarcity.
“All cities and all businesses require water, yet in many regions, they need more water than is actually available – and that demand is growing,” said Upmanu Lall, director, Columbia Water Center. “In response, many tools have been developed to help businesses assess their water risk. But these tools actuallyunderstate the risk of climate variations. The new study reveals that certain areas face exposure to drought, which will magnify existing problems of water supply and demand.”
“Research already proves that the demands on our water systems, both urban and rural, have never been greater,” said Ed Pinero , chief sustainability officer for Veolia Water . “And in some very populated areas, this new research shows that the risk of water shortages has never been higher.”
The U.S. metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles; and San Diego are of greatest concern, which could impact approximately 40 million Americans. Numerous counties in 46 states are also facing the same challenge of experiencing drought-induced shortages. Joining the metro areas on the list are the breadbasket regions of Nebraska, Illinoisand Minnesota, which produce almost 40 percent of the nation’s corn, a key ingredient in many of our foods and an essential feed source for livestock.”
Read more: PR news wire
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, has ordered two gas stations to close their underground injection wells to protect drinking water on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington.
Da Stor at Lillie’s Corner gas station, in Wapato, operates two underground injection wells. Cougar Den gas station in White Swan operates one underground injection well.
The injection wells dispose of untreated fluids collected through open drains on the stations’ fueling pads. The wells may contain contaminants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, cadmium, chromium, and lead that could endanger underground drinking water sources.
Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for the communities of Wapato and White Swan.”
Read more: Kimatv
“A billboard in Bujama, Peru, which creates drinking water from humidity in the air, has produced 15,000 litres of water in six months.
Co-produced by outdoor advertising owner ClearChannel Peru and researchers at UTEC, University of Engineering and Technology in Lima, the billboard cost US $32,600 to set-up.
William Eccleshare, CEO of ClearChannel Outdoor, said: “This is outdoor advertising at its most inspiring: embracing new technology, working in partnership with a host of agencies and delivering a lasting benefit to the people of Bujama.”
On average, 15 to 18 families arrive at the billboard to access the water every day, which is stored in tanks at the top of the structure, and then filtered before flowing down a pipe to a tap that is accessible to all who walk past.”
Read more: The Drum
The Gulf Times newspaper of Qatar cited Chilean Ambassador Jean Paul Tarud over the weekend as saying that ‘‘Chile has some of the largest fresh water export capabilities in the world.’’
The report caused a public outcry in Chilean social media after Tarud reportedly confirmed that a trial project to export fresh drinking water to Qatar had started.
But Chile’s foreign ministry ruled out any such project, saying media reports had confused the intention of a private company in Qatar with a plan by Chile’s government.
‘‘There’s no initiative from the government or our embassy’’ in the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said in a statement Monday. ‘‘Ambassador Tarud denies making the claims attributed to him on the subject and even more so, making any offerings involving the Chilean government.’’
The world’s driest desert is located in Chile’s north and the country has been suffering from drought in several regions. Environmental groups have staged protests in recent months arguing that Chile’s water scarcity is caused by government policies that exploit natural resources.”
Read more: Boston globe
“To Mark Mattson, Canada’s old fashioned method of water treatment is a national embarrassment.
“We’re probably one of the most backwards countries in terms of treating our water,” says Mattson, who runs the Lake Ontario Waterkeepers, an organization that advocates for clean, safe water.
Until recently, municipalities were only required to use primary treatment, meaning wastewater plants would clean solid waste – or “floatables” – from the water. Primary treatment doesn’t include liquids, such as spoiled milk, or cleaning products and even the old medications that get poured down our drains.
“We might have removed at best about 70 per cent of the suspended solids here,” says North Vancouver Mayor, Darrell Mussatt at the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment plant.
Cities such as Vancouver, on the Pacific Ocean, have been banking on the old notion that ‘dilution is the solution to the pollution’ for years – that water dilutes and assimilates waste.”
Read more: Global news
“Laura Garcia was halfway through the breakfast dishes when the spigot went dry. The small white tank beneath the sink that purified her undrinkable water had run out. Still, as annoying as that was, it was an improvement over the days before Ms. Garcia got her water filter, when she had to do her dishes using water from five-gallon containers she bought at a local store.
“Ms. Garcia’s well water, like that of her neighbors, is laced with excessivenitrates, a pollutant associated with agriculture, septic systems and some soils. Five years ago, this small community of 49 homes near the southern end of the Central Valley took its place on California’s priority list of places in need of clean tap water.
“Today the community is still stuck on that list, with no federal help in sight.
“Monson’s situation has parallels in places around the country, large and small, seeking federal funds under theSafe Drinking Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency distributes these funds to state agencies that are supposed to identify problems and underwrite solutions. By the E.P.A.’s calculations, no state has been as inept in distributing the money as California.”
Read more: NY Times
“On Saturday, May 4, 2013, approximately 70 Native Americans representing the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Wells Colony, Elko/TeMoke Tribe, Battle Mountain and Yomba Shoshone along with Tribal members from the Northern Ute, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Navajo, Cherokee and non-natives begin a Walk/Run from Wells, Nevada towards Caliente, Nevada, a distance of approximately 272 miles.
“After a blessing and prayer for the water, the group began the long trek walking and running on U.S. 93 towards Ely, Nevada.
“The walk/run is to bring attention to the proposed Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) proposed water theft from northeastern Nevada and for prayers to save the sacred water for the children not yet born, the animals, plants, protection of traditional medicine, traditional food and ceremonial places.
“Along the route willows will be planted with prayers for the water. Camp is set up each evening along the side of the road.”
Read more: DGR news service
“The skin of the desert has been peeled away. It is aloft, and it chokes those of us who breathe here. Each scrape from each stray plow or dozer, each square foot of exposed lakebed with the water siphoned off, each section of desert deemed to be more useful as a blank square mile ends up as dust in the air. It hangs in our skies. It collects in our lungs. It kills us by increment, and someone else benefits.
My life has been shortened by living here. I have been sick. For the past eight months I have mostly woken in coughing fits. My abdominal muscles ache from it. My body heals itself as best it can, but the slightest cold, the slightest cloud of vapor from a gas pump that would cause a short moment of choking before I moved here, and I’m off again for weeks. It doesn’t take much dust. One day in a month, perhaps, of the blue sky replaced by khaki and that sick metallic, greasy smell is all it takes.
You might come visit for a weekend at a time and never see the dust. You might never get the feeling in running your fingers through your hair that they come away coated in talcum and static electricity. You might never find yourself wondering if that trip to the grocery store might cost you a day’s work in lung spasms.
Stay here for more than a couple weeks and you will know the feeling.
Dust was in court last week, or at least dust’s advocates at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) were in court, hearing their lawsuit against the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District get thrown out on a technicality. LADWP is concerned that taking action to keep alkaline dust from blowing off the Owens Lake bed, which it dried out by stages over the last century, would be — in words LADWP uses over and over again — ” “a waste of water.”
Read more: KCET
“In my last post, I described how our attempts at fishing in the Mekong River had produced meager results, which was somewhat puzzling because the Mekong produces the largest harvest of freshwater fish in the world, by far.
“As a father, this was frustrating; catching fish was the top priority of my 10-year old son, Luca, and I was determined that he fulfill that goal. But as a river ecologist, our low success rate had me curious about the status of fish populations in this river.
“And it wasn’t just that I’m an inexperienced angler trying to catch fish in a big, complicated river (and using a rod and reel in a place where people generally use nets and traps). We’d spent one afternoon with experienced fishers — using the right equipment — and we’d hauled in a pretty small catch for the effort. Were Mekong fisheries in decline?
Read more: NY Times
“Interest in seawater desalination in California is high, with 17 plants proposed along the California coast and two in Mexico. But removing the salt from seawater is an energy-intensive process that consumes more energy per gallon than most other water supply and treatment options. A new report from the Pacific Institute series Key Issues for Seawater Desalination in California describes the energy requirements and associated greenhouse gas emissions for desalinated water and evaluates the impact of short- and long-term energy price variability on the cost of desalinated water.
“Energy requirements are key factors that will impact the extent and success of desalination in California. The analysis shows energy requirements for seawater desalination average about 15,000 kWh per million gallons of water produced. By comparison, the least energy-intensive options of local sources of groundwater and surface water require 0 – 3,400 kWh per million gallons; wastewater reuse, depending on treatment levels, may require from 1,000 – 8,300 kWh per million gallons; and energy requirements for importing water through the State Water Project to Southern California range from 7,900 – 14,000 kWh per million gallons.”
Read more: Pacific Institute
“The man in charge of surveying California’s snowpack to measure the amount of water that will flow into storage reservoirs over the next few months had bad news Thursday.
“I’m finding nothing. Seriously, there is no snow on the course at all,” said Frank Gehrke, chief surveyor for the Department of Water Resources.
“The survey showed the water content in the snowpack at 17 percent of normal, an ominous situation for a state that depends on a steady stream of snowmelt to replenish reservoirs throughout the summer.
“For nearly a century the state has been taking snow measurements at select areas across the Sierra Nevada in an attempt to gauge how much water will be available for farmers and city dwellers. Having a course bare of snow is not unusual in May — the last month it is measured — but it’s another stark reminder that water will be in short supply this summer.
“With the DWR projecting to supply just 35 percent of what 29 agencies providing water to 25 million Californians say they need, officials still are not ready to call it a drought.”
Read more: NBC
“A truck carrying drill cuttings from a fracking site set off a radiation alarm at a landfill in Pennsylvania. Emitting gamma radiation ten times higher than the permitted level, the waste was rejected by the landfill.
“After the alarm went off, the MAX Environmental Technologies truck was immediately quarantined and sent back to the Marcellus Shale fracking site it had come from in Greene County, Va. The 159-acre Pennsylvania landfill site accepts residual and hazardous waste, but the cuttings were too radioactive for the site to safely dispose.
“Environmentalists remain concerned about the effects of the radiation produced by hydraulic fracturing sites. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this year began analyzing wastewater from fracking sites and testing waste products for radioactivity. The investigation is ongoing.”
If the DEP study could somehow keep political influences from altering the science, and later its interpretation, the study could end up being significantly more instrumental in capturing the true impact of fracking on surronding water bodies and relaying that information to the public.
Read more: RT
“Yesterday’s letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe from over two dozen Republican Senators urges EPA to perpetuate the stalemate which is leaving drinking water sources without Clean Water Act protection.
“We hope this letter has the opposite effect, which is to remind the Administration that we can’t face today’s clean water challenges with this kind of vulnerability affecting so many of our precious water resources. The science is behind this. Despite this letter’s claims, the intent of the Clean Water Act is behind this.
“And if that’s not enough, consider this:
- The water bodies left vulnerable to pollution and destruction serve the drinking water sources for over 117 million people in the United States.
- Just last month, EPA released a report on the condition of our nation’s rivers and streams which found that 55% of them are unhealthy for aquatic life.”
Read more: Clean water action
“It is a little-known and poignant fact that some of the silver and chemicals to produce the films that made Hollywood the global center of the movie industry were extracted from the Owens Valley and environs. As if it weren’t enough that Los Angeles drained water from the Eastern Sierra to expand into the San Fernando Valley, its major industry and part of the reason for the city’s growth were also being supported through mining in the same region, an ecological double jeopardy. Los Angeles artist Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio are using this set of entwined histories to make visible the effects of the historic resource extraction on both the Owens Valley and the city to the south.
“The snow-fed waters that flow down the Eastern Sierra and into the Owens Valley once watered its substantial agriculture before terminating in Owens Lake. After William Mulholland opened the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 to capture and transport those waters to the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the valley’s agriculture became unsustainable and the 108-square-mile lake began to dry up. By 1924, Owens Lake no longer held water year-round. In 2006, Los Angeles was forced by a dust-mitigation lawsuit to begin re-watering 60 miles of the river, with the result that approximately 27 square miles of the lakebed are now flooded, a ghost of the lake that was.”
Read more: KCET
“On Tuesday, Oklahoma and Texas will face off in the U.S. Supreme Court. The winner gets water. And this is not a game.
The court will hear oral arguments in the case of Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann, et al. The case pits Oklahoma against Texas over rights to water from the river that forms part of the border between them. Depending on how the court decides, it could impact interstate water-sharing agreements across the country.
Keeping Up With Texas
To understand what the fight is all about, you have to go to the Texas side of the Red River. North Texas is one of the fastest-growing regions in one of the fastest-growing states. Cities like Arlington and Fort Worth have enjoyed a surge of growth that’s brought new jobs, businesses and development.
The future looks bright for this part of Texas, but it also looks dry. Drought has hit Texas particularly hard over the past couple of years. Water officials say the north Texas region’s growth is outpacing the water supply nearby.”
Read more: NPR
“A recent article from The Guardian Higher Education Network blog entitled “How academics can engage with policy: 10 tips for a better conversation” provided ideas to help scholars better convey research to policymakers. It explained appropriate times for sharing academic information, how to communicate with policy officials, and how to create relationships with policymakers. This article exemplifies the dominant science and policy discourse of the day – scientists have a hard time communicating their research to policymakers who need this information to make important decisions.
“Sheila Jasanoff from Harvard described, as stated by Eva Lövbrand in “Pure Science or Policy Involvement“, co-production as “a dynamic process by which science and society continually shape, constitute, and validate one another”. Mike Hulme further delineated Jasanoff’s perspective in “What Sorts of Knowledge for what sort of politics?” saying she would argue for “deliberation and participation across all relevant questions”. Charis Thompson from UC Berkeley said co-production processes for science and technology knowledge creation in society occur through “developments around representation, identity, discourse, and institutions”.
“So what does this mean for the lay person trying to understand the creation of water science knowledge in society? It means there is always societal influence on knowledge rooted in science and policy. Or in simpler terms, science is never fully insulated from policy. And societal influence can be varied depending on the type of science conducted.”
“Mexico plans to expand shale gas exploration this year, but it could run into a shortage of water, which is essential to hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the method used to capture natural gas from shale rocks.
“In Mexico there isn’t enough water. Where are they going to get it to extract shale gas?” Professor Miriam Grunstein at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) remarked in an interview with IPS.
She is opposed to the involvement of PEMEX, Mexico’s state-run oil company, in fracking, and recommends that it instead focus on higher priority sectors.
In 2012, a lengthy drought especially affected a large part of central and northern Mexico, with a heavy impact on agriculture and livestock, and on living conditions in dozens of rural villages.
And the forecast for this year is not much different.
Since 2011, PEMEX has drilled at least six wells for shale gas in the northern states of Nuevo León and Coahuila. And it is preparing for further exploration in the southeastern state of Veracruz, at a cost of 245 million dollars over the space of 18 months, in conjunction with the Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP), a state institution.
To obtain shale gas, high pressure is applied in order to pump vast quantities of chemical sludge into layers of shale rock located deep in the earth. This results in the fracturing of the shale and the release of natural gas trapped in the rocks.”
Read more: IPS
“President Obama sent his 2014 budget plan to Congress on Wednesday. The $3.8 trillion proposal would increase funding for the departments of Interior and Energy and reduce budgets for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.”
In relation to California’s water here’s a brief recap of the numbers:
- “$152.5 million for the Central Valley Project (CVP). Within this total, $14 million and an additional $2 million in the CVP Restoration Fund is for the Trinity River Restoration program; and $38.2 million continues court ordered actions for drainage services in the West San Joaquin Division, San Luis Unit.
- $37 million for the California Bay-Delta Restoration Fund activities aligned with the Interim Federal Action Plan issued Dec. 22, 2009 — including $25.5 million to address the degraded Bay-Delta ecosystem; $9.9 million for smarter water supply and use and $1.7 million for a renewed federal-state partnership.
- $53.3 million for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund to continue funding a variety of activities to restore fish and wildlife habitat and populations in the CVP service area of California.
- $88.1 million for the Dam Safety Program to continue dam safety risk management and risk reduction activities throughout Reclamation’s inventory of dams. Corrective actions are planned to start or continue at a number of facilities. A major focus continues to be modifications at Folsom Dam.”
Resources are being taken out of critical oversight agencies such as the U.S. EPA, whose facing a 3.5% reduction in funding, but projects, such as those stated above, are receiving direct injections from the Feds.
Read more: ACWA
“The sprinklings of rain and dustings of snow that will fall on California over the next few days are not going to make up for three of the most remarkably dry months in state history, water resources officials said Thursday.
“The mountains of the Sierra, which were buried in giant mounds of snow as the new year began, are now comparatively bare. The monthly measurement of the state’s frozen water supply Thursday found 52 percent of the normal snowpack for April 1.
“The amount of water in the snowpack at this time of year is extremely important, he said, because the largest proportion of the ice that melts in the Sierra after April 1 is captured in nearby reservoirs. That water used to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and quench the thirst of most of California’s 37.8 million people.”
Read more: SFgate
“Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results of the first comprehensive survey looking at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half – 55 percent – are in poor condition for aquatic life.
“The health of our Nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy.”
“The 2008-2009 National Rivers and Stream Assessment reflects the most recent data available, and is part of EPA’s expanded effort to monitor waterways in the U.S. and gather scientific data on the condition of the Nation’s water resources.
“EPA partners, including states and tribes, collected data from approximately 2,000 sites across the country. EPA, state and university scientists analyzed the data to determine the extent to which rivers and streams support aquatic life, how major stressors may be affecting them and how conditions are changing over time. “
Read more: EPA
“One thing stood out in the pile of documents released Thursday detailing state plans to replumb California’s water hub: Construction could start on the massive project before water managers know whether it will work as intended.
“The still-evolving proposal, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and the federal government, is designed to partially restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta environment and halt reductions in delta water exports.
“But uncertainty over the volume of future water deliveries is likely to linger for years as government scientists try to nail down how much water imperiled salmon and smelt need in the delta.
“This plan does not include any guarantees for water supply deliveries,” said Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources.
“Proponents also don’t know whether restoring about 100,000 acres of habitat in the much-altered delta will produce the desired effect of bolstering fish and wildlife populations.
“But state officials argue that doing nothing will guarantee the continued deterioration of the delta ecosystem, and with it, additional cuts to southbound water deliveries.”
Read more: LA Times
“The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force for the South Coast, is pushing for increased “fracking” in California.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.
The question is: Where will the industry get the water for fracking on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and coastal areas, including Monterey County where large Monterey Shale deposits are located?
Burt Wilson, Editor and Publisher of Public Water News Service, believes he has the answer. He contends that the “hidden agenda” of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build twin tunnels is to provide water for the environmentally destructive process of fracking in California.
Wilson definitely knows what he is talking about. He was was on the media staff of the “No on 9″ campaign against the peripheral canal in 1982. They won by a 2/3 vote statewide and stopped the canal.
Unfortunately, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the urging of corporate agribusiness interests, began his campaign build the peripheral canal in 2007. Brown has continued and fast-tracked the Republican governor’s plan, opting to go for twin tunnels under the Delta than a single peripheral canal.
“As the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) nears completion, some unusual elements of the project have been revealed piecemeal and when they are all put together the total effect is that there is a hidden agenda going on that is far from what has been revealed on the surface,” said Wilson.”
Read more: AlterNet