Tag Archive for 'california water'

The Price of Thirst: How Millionaires Buy Up Farmland And Hoard All Our Water

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Where I grew up, the city of Los Angeles diverted water away from Owens Lake, slowly draining it starting in 1913. It took more than ten years for the lake to dry up and turn into a toxic dust bowl, when naturally occurring heavy metals like aluminum and cadmium that had concentrated in the salt lake over centuries became airborne. This dust has been shown to cause cancer and respiratory failure, among other ailments. I grew up experiencing water inequity in my own body.

So when I saw Sean Hannity on Fox News broadcasting from another California valley allegedly drained of its water, I must admit I became curious. In September 2009, Hannity broadcast from Huron, California, in a weeklong special titled “The Valley Hope Forgot.” He was broadcasting from the poorest congressional district in the nation, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. According to the 2009 U.S. Census, 39 percent of Huron’s close to eight thousand residents live below the poverty line. It is a migrant labor town, a cotton-picker town, and is 98.6 percent Latino/a. Huron has no medical services, no high school, and no voting booth during elections, because most of the residents are undocumented. Some 80 percent of Huron residents have not finished high school, and children who are born there have more birth defects than children anywhere else in the country—most likely due to pesticide exposure.

One resident of Huron said she shut the windows when the wind blew. “What good is the wind?” she asked. “It’s all poison.” The water quality is no better, ranking 490 out of 502 cities in California, with fecal coliform bacteria, E. coli, and nitrates found in dangerous levels. The water system is built and run by Tri-City Engineering and owned by a former manager of Bechtel.

I could certainly see why Hannity would call it “The Valley Hope Forgot.” Ironically, these were not the problems that Hannity had come to discuss. According to Fox News, Huron had only one problem: “environmental extremists” had turned off the water to save a “two-inch fish” in the Bay Area. According to Hannity, both the winter-run Chinook salmon and the delta smelt had been listed as endangered species in 1994, an event that wreaked havoc on local farms. It had been determined that water pumped for farming in the San Joaquin Valley was destroying the fishes’ habitat up north. In an area known simply as “the Delta,” an ecologically unique inland estuary exists between San Francisco and Sacramento. Through this Delta, much of the state’s water supply passes, as do its endangered fish species. It turned out they were all competing for water.”

Read more: AlterNet

 

Water Bonds Shrivel as California Sees Driest Year

Photo retrieved from: www.bloomberg.com

“The driest year on record for Los Angeles and San Francisco is threatening water supplies to the world’s most productive agricultural region and almost doubling borrowing costs on some bonds issued by California water agencies.

Los Angeles, which normally gets almost 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain a year, got less than 4 inches in 2013, according to the National Weather Service. San Francisco, where 22 inches is typical, got 6. Severe or extreme drought grips 85 percent of California, a federal monitor reported Dec. 24.

The scarcity is depleting California’s reservoirs and jeopardizing the credit of at least 30 water agencies that had been considered safe bets because their debt is backed by user fees rather than general taxes. Concern grew in November when the California Water Resources Department, the state’s largest supplier, said it was filling just 5 percent of orders from local water agencies, the lowest in five years. Less supply means lower sales and revenue.”

Read more: Bloomberg

Film History as Urban Mystery: The Case of Chinatown

Film History as Urban Mystery: The Case of Chinatown, By John Walton

Introduction

Historians and students of film are familiar with movies based upon historical events and particularly with cinematic representations of those events, which are said to distort, reinterpret, or otherwise alter history in popular memory. Seldom, however, do we find instances of the effect of film and popular culture on history. The reason, perhaps, is that the latter side of this dialectic is rare or inconsequential in the unfolding course of history. This chapter will argue, on the contrary, that sometimes life imitates art, that renditions of the past in popular culture can have a forceful impact on the making of history. This proposition is examined in the context of Los Angeles’s historical, and often controversial, efforts to acquire water for development the political movement to restrain the city’s appropriation of natural resources mounted by citizens of the Owens Valley in the 1920s, the selective reinterpretation of these events in Roman Polanski’s classic filmChinatown (1974), and the influence of the film on the subsequent and ongoing controversy over water rights and land development in the region since the mid-1970s.

These events began when the City of Los Angeles reached out 230 miles to the northeast along California’s eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain chain and appropriated water from the Owens Valley in an aqueduct constructed from 1905 to 1913. Subsequently, drought and growing groundwater exploitation by the city in the 1920s resulted in the valley’s steady desiccation.

Urged on by growing desperation and traditions of popular action, the valley rose in revolt in 1924, protesting politically and, when that failed, bombing the aqueduct. Although the community struggle of the 1920s ended in defeat, it left a growing residue of memory in accounts of the David-and-Goliath struggle produced in fiction, local history, and early films. Many of these distorted the facts of the conflict by attributing a conspiratorial design to the city’s original effort to build the aqueduct and heroic motives to local resistance. In California parlance, these events came to be known histrionically as “the rape of the Owens Valley.”Chinatown built on this myth and it too altered the facts of the case. The site of the conflict was moved 200 miles closer to the city, the events were advanced by thirty years to the depression-era LA of Raymond Chandler and the story was reconstructed as a murder mystery revolving around conspiratorial land speculation.

Meanwhile, the original controversy had evolved into a complicated legal struggle involving new environmental legislation, a strategic lawsuit mounted by Owens Valley officials, and a revitalized popular movement. By contrast to failed attempts in the 1920s, the local cause was now publicized widely, state political actors drawn into the process, and state courts persuaded that rural communities were entitled to some defense of their resources. In this new struggle of the 1980s and early 1990s, public opinion assumed that Chinatown represented the true history of the conflict—much to the advantage of a burgeoning environmental movement.[1]

In some respects, popular culture became political history and collective action proceeded from a new set of assumptions. Contemporary history unfolded with redressing results, some of which could be traced to the influence of film and popular culture.

READ MORE: ARID Journal

 

Interactive Map: California: Compliance With Water Quality Laws

“CCKA recognized World Water Day through the release of its new, statewide, online interactive map tracking industry’s compliance with water quality laws. This tool maps all dischargers throughout the state issued mandatory minimum penalties (MMPs) since 2000. The state levies MMPs for “serious” and “multiple chronic” water quality law violations.

“The map, sorted by Regional Water Board, allows users to click on specific facilities to learn more about their violation records. The map also highlights facilities that have not received MMPs in recent years. Violations related to sewage releases, industrial wastes, and contaminated groundwater most frequently caused the issuance of MMPs statewide.

“The MMP Map complements CCKA’s enforcement efforts to improve the level, prioritization, and transparency of California’s water law enforcement activities. Additional public enforcement reports are available on the State Water Board’s website.”

read more: resource shelf

As We See It: Save the salmon: Good news on fishing season, but battle over water diversion remains.

“There was a time when salmon was king.

“Now, finally, for the first time in three years, sport fishermen will again be able to fish for salmon in Monterey Bay.

“But the glory days of salmon fishing in local waters — really, most of the fishing industry — are decades past. The issue of who is to blame for the decline in chinook salmon, and its resulting effect on the fishing industry, is complicated.

“Overfishing and climate change have been blamed. But probably the main culprit is changes in the freshwaters flowing to the ocean. Salmon spawn in rivers and streams, before maturing in the ocean — and fishing advocates blame corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley, which receive federally subsidized water diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, for ruining the salmon spawn.”

read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Twisted Logic of Privatization: You People Saved Water Last Year — So Rates Are Going Up!

“Several cash strapped US cities have sold off their municipal water systems or at least contracted operations to for-profit companies. (One of the truly odd things about the water market in America is that the biggest players in privatization are European corporations.) Recapping the perverse incentive: conserve water to be “green;” get charged more for what you still use to keep the overseas profit stream flowing.”

read more: AlterNet

California Farm Water Success Stories

“Viable alternatives to traditional approaches can help California meet today’s water management challenges.”

read more: pacific institue

The War on Tap Water

Water Number: $4 a bottle. In the latest skirmish in the war on tap water, the sports arena that hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team — with the lovely name of the Quicken Loans Arena concession — has removed its drinking water fountains. The only way for thirsty fans to get water now is to wait in line at the concessions counter for a free small cup or pay $4 for bottled water or try to drink water from the bathroom faucets.

Read more: War on Tap Water

Find A Spring

FindaSpring.com is a community database of natural springs in North America (and the world!).

check it out:

National science panel convenes on Calif. delta

An expert in California’s delta told a panel of the National Academies of Sciences on Sunday that their decisions about the largest estuary on the West Coast could alter how Californians use water.

Read more: National science panel convenes on Calif. delta