Integrated Solutions for Drought Speaker Event

To All,

Integrated Solutions for Drought: Simple and Effective Ways to Enhance the Natural Abundance of Your Home, Community, and the Larger World.

  • Featuring: Brad Lancaster with Special Guests Brock Dolman & Trathen Heckman
  • Date: Thursday, April 17 6:30-8:30.
  • Price: $10 (No one turned away for lack of funds)
  • Location: Petaluma Communtiy Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma
  • Buy $10 Tickets:  https://events.nonprofiteasy.net/dailyacts/eventdetails?EventId=19834

Daily Acts Transform Communities

This dynamic presentation shares patterns and strategies to harvest, integrate, and enliven free local resources—such as rainwater, greywater, and stormwater; sun, wind, and shade; along with soil fertility, wild foods, and community fun—in a way that generates far more potential than the sum of their parts. Scarcity is re-visioned into abundance simply through creative cycling and utilization of what is already at hand. Costly and consuming habits and infrastructure, disconnected from their surroundings, are reoriented and reconnected to maximize enriching opportunities.

You’ll see many examples of such transformation, including how once-dying wetlands and creek flows are being regenerated with simple hand-built structures made of on-site materials; how ancient sun- and shade-harvesting sites are informing passively heated, cooled, and powered modern homes and retrofits; and how once-blighted, overheated neighborhood streets are being rejuvenated into thriving greenbelts of water, people, wildlife, art, food, and celebration by planting once-drained stormwater, seed, and yard prunings.

This talk is both an invitation for you to engage and partner with your natural surroundings and community, and a treasure map showing you the way—by planting the rain, dancing with the sun, growing fertile shade, and more to live as one of your community’s inspirational sparks!

Brad Lancaster is a dynamic teacher, consultant, and designer of regenerative systems that sustainably enhance local resources and our global potential. He is the author of the award-winning, best-selling book series Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond; the website www.HarvestingRainwater.com; and its ‘Drops in a Bucket’ Blog.

Brad has taught throughout North America as well as in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Australia. His hometown projects have included working with the City of Tucson and other municipalities to legalize, incentivize, and provide guidance on water-harvesting systems, demonstration sites, and policy. He has likewise collaborated with state agencies to promote practices that transform costly local “wastes” into free local resources. Brad’s aim is always to boost communities’ true health and wealth by using simple overlapping strategies to augment the region’s hydrology, ecosystems, and economies—living systems upon which we depend.

Brad lives his talk on an oasis-like demonstration site he created and continually improves with his brother and neighbors in downtown Tucson, Arizona. On this eighth of an acre and surrounding public right-of-way, they harvest 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year where less than 12 inches fall from the sky. But it doesn’t end there. The potential of that water is then integrated with the simultaneous harvest of sun, wind, shade, and fertility. Brad is motivated in his work by the tens of thousands of people he has helped inspire to do likewise, go further, and continue our collective evolution.

This event is co-hosted by Daily Acts and Occidental Arts & Ecology Center’s WATER Institute. Brad will share the stage with the directors of both organizations, Brock Dolman andTrathen Heckman, who will root the solutions presented with local context and pathways for application right here at home.

This event is co-sponsored by the Sonoma County Water Agency and Wyatt Irrigation Co.- our local partners in water conservation. Learn about Wyatt’s Million Gallon Challenge -an initiative to help our community save a million gallons this growing season.

Learn more and get tickets: https://events.nonprofiteasy.net/dailyacts/eventdetails?EventId=19834

Ryan

Posted in Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

It Takes How Much Water to Grow an Almond?!

Why California’s drought is a disaster for your favorite fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

By  and 
Mon Feb. 24, 2014 2:55 AM GMT

Crop maps based on 2012 figures.

California, supplier of nearly half of all US fruits, veggies, and nuts, is on track to experience the driest year in the past half millennium [1]. Farms use about 80 percent [2] of the state’s “developed water,” or water that’s moved from its natural source to other areas via pipes and aqueducts.

As the maps above show, much of California’s agriculture is concentrated in the parts of the state that the drought has hit the hardest. For example: Monterey County, which is currently enduring an “exceptional drought,” according to the US Drought Monitor [3], grew nearly half of America’s lettuce and broccoli in 2012.

When it comes to water use, not all plants are created equal. Here’s how much water some of California’s major crops require:

Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water | Leave a comment

Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty

By JAMES MCWILLIAMS, MARCH 7, 2014

AUSTIN, Tex. — CALIFORNIA is experiencing one of its worst droughts on record. Just two and a half years ago, Folsom Lake, a major reservoir outside Sacramento, was at 83 percent capacity. Today it’s down to 36 percent. In January, there was no measurable rain in downtown Los Angeles. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. President Obama has pledged $183 million in emergency funding. The situation, despite last week’s deluge in Southern California, is dire.

With California producing nearly half of the fruit and vegetables grown in the United States, attention has naturally focused on the water required to grow popular foods such as walnuts, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, almonds and grapes. These crops are the ones that a recent report in the magazine Mother Jones highlighted as being unexpectedly water intensive. Who knew, for example, that it took 5.4 gallons to produce a head of broccoli, or 3.3 gallons to grow a single tomato? This information about the water footprint of food products — that is, the amount of water required to produce them — is important to understand, especially for a state that dedicates about 80 percent of its water to agriculture.

Image: Credit Sarah Mazzetti

Credit Sarah Mazzetti

But for those truly interested in lowering their water footprint, those numbers pale next to the water required to fatten livestock. A 2012 study in the journal Ecosystems by Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra, both at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, tells an important story. Beef turns out to have an overall water footprint of roughly four million gallons per ton produced. By contrast, the water footprint for “sugar crops” like sugar beets is about 52,000 gallons per ton; for vegetables it’s 85,000 gallons per ton; and for starchy roots it’s about 102,200 gallons per ton.

Factor in the kind of water required to produce these foods, and the water situation looks even worse for the future of animal agriculture in drought-stricken regions that use what’s known as “blue water,” or water stored in lakes, rivers and aquifers, which California and much of the West depend on.

Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water | Leave a comment

Integrated Solutions for Drought Speaker Event

To All,

Integrated Solutions for Drought: Simple and Effective Ways to Enhance the Natural Abundance of Your Home, Community, and the Larger World.

  • Featuring: Brad Lancaster with Special Guests Brock Dolman & Trathen Heckman
  • Date: Thursday, April 17 6:30-8:30.
  • Price: $10 (No one turned away for lack of funds)
  • Location: Petaluma Communtiy Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma
  • Buy $10 Tickets:  https://events.nonprofiteasy.net/dailyacts/eventdetails?EventId=19834

Daily Acts Transform Communities

This dynamic presentation shares patterns and strategies to harvest, integrate, and enliven free local resources—such as rainwater, greywater, and stormwater; sun, wind, and shade; along with soil fertility, wild foods, and community fun—in a way that generates far more potential than the sum of their parts. Scarcity is re-visioned into abundance simply through creative cycling and utilization of what is already at hand. Costly and consuming habits and infrastructure, disconnected from their surroundings, are reoriented and reconnected to maximize enriching opportunities.

You’ll see many examples of such transformation, including how once-dying wetlands and creek flows are being regenerated with simple hand-built structures made of on-site materials; how ancient sun- and shade-harvesting sites are informing passively heated, cooled, and powered modern homes and retrofits; and how once-blighted, overheated neighborhood streets are being rejuvenated into thriving greenbelts of water, people, wildlife, art, food, and celebration by planting once-drained stormwater, seed, and yard prunings.

This talk is both an invitation for you to engage and partner with your natural surroundings and community, and a treasure map showing you the way—by planting the rain, dancing with the sun, growing fertile shade, and more to live as one of your community’s inspirational sparks!

Brad Lancaster is a dynamic teacher, consultant, and designer of regenerative systems that sustainably enhance local resources and our global potential. He is the author of the award-winning, best-selling book series Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond; the website www.HarvestingRainwater.com; and its ‘Drops in a Bucket’ Blog.

Brad has taught throughout North America as well as in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Australia. His hometown projects have included working with the City of Tucson and other municipalities to legalize, incentivize, and provide guidance on water-harvesting systems, demonstration sites, and policy. He has likewise collaborated with state agencies to promote practices that transform costly local “wastes” into free local resources. Brad’s aim is always to boost communities’ true health and wealth by using simple overlapping strategies to augment the region’s hydrology, ecosystems, and economies—living systems upon which we depend.

Brad lives his talk on an oasis-like demonstration site he created and continually improves with his brother and neighbors in downtown Tucson, Arizona. On this eighth of an acre and surrounding public right-of-way, they harvest 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year where less than 12 inches fall from the sky. But it doesn’t end there. The potential of that water is then integrated with the simultaneous harvest of sun, wind, shade, and fertility. Brad is motivated in his work by the tens of thousands of people he has helped inspire to do likewise, go further, and continue our collective evolution.

This event is co-hosted by Daily Acts and Occidental Arts & Ecology Center’s WATER Institute. Brad will share the stage with the directors of both organizations, Brock Dolman andTrathen Heckman, who will root the solutions presented with local context and pathways for application right here at home.

This event is co-sponsored by the Sonoma County Water Agency and Wyatt Irrigation Co.- our local partners in water conservation. Learn about Wyatt’s Million Gallon Challenge -an initiative to help our community save a million gallons this growing season.

Learn more and get tickets: https://events.nonprofiteasy.net/dailyacts/eventdetails?EventId=19834

Ryan

Posted in Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

Drought Plans

Top Story: Drought Operations Plan for Coming Dry Months Presented by Federal, State Water Managers

Framework for Water Delivery Potential, Environmental Protections, and Conserving Water Through 2015

April 9, 2014

SACRAMENTO – Managing California’s scarce water resources in order to protect the state’s economy and environment during one of the worst droughts on record, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released a multi-stage Drought Operations Plan for the rest of 2014. The plan will be implemented in close coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board.
As California transitions from the rainy season to the coming dry months, this Drought Operations Plan will ensure key water needs are met in the third consecutive year of dry conditions. The operations plan provides a framework for water management decisions through mid-November and will be modified as conditions change and new information is available on the state’s water supply. With active, aggressive management of the precious little rain and snow that California has received in the past three months, water managers can now more accurately provide this management framework for water usage.

The overall objectives of the plan are to:

Closely manage our scarce water resources in the coming dry months and into next year;
Augment water exports from the Delta for storage and use this spring when possible;
Ensure adequate water supplies for drinking water, sanitation and firefighting;
Prevent saltwater from intruding into California’s water delivery system;
Provide sufficient water for fish migration and spawning; and
Meet water quality needs for water users located in the Delta by keeping saltwater at bay.
“In late January, amidst the driest calendar year on record, we took action to conserve water in upstream reservoirs for beneficial use later in the season,” explained DWR Director Mark Cowin. “Since then, we have taken advantage of the rain we’ve received and through flexible management the water projects have captured storm runoff for use later this year. Now, as we head into the dry season, this plan will carefully guide management of these scarce water resources through the coming dry months and into next year.”

“California’s scarce water supplies require extraordinary management measures by water project operators, water quality and environmental regulators, the hundreds of local water agencies that supply most Californians with water, and state residents themselves,” said David Murillo, the Regional Director of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region. “Providing a roadmap for 2014’s water management gives urban and agricultural water users, and environmental managers the tools they need to protect economic and environmental interests.”

Today’s plan results from hydrological assessments and weeks of consultation among agencies and with stakeholders from the agricultural and environmental communities. Reclamation and DWR closely consulted with federal and state environmental regulatory agencies in the drafting of this plan and will continue to collaborate on water operations with these agencies to reduce economic impacts and avoid permanent damage to California’s natural environment. Since December, state and federal agencies have worked together daily to cope with drought.  Together, these agencies have maximized regulatory flexibility to adjust quickly to changes in the weather and environment and bolster water supplies when possible while minimizing impacts to fish and wildlife.

“Using history as a guide, we know that managing our natural environment through a severe drought presents significant peril and risks,” said DFW Director Chuck Bonham. “Only by relying on the best science known and working within existing legal frameworks, can we potentially head off decades of possibly irreversible damage to some of our most iconic fish species.”

Reclamation and DWR’s proposed drought operations plan incorporates the following components into operations of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project through mid-November 2014:

Operational plans and forecasts of water deliveries will be updated each month as new hydrologic data become available. This plan is based on hydrology as it was on March 1 and an update of the operations plan based on April 1 data will be provided in the coming weeks.
Planned actions intended to achieve water flow needs and temperature management are outlined for Northern California reservoir releases and management of the Feather River, Sacramento River, Trinity River, Clear Creek, American River and Stanislaus River.
Proposed changes to Delta flow criteria for April and May are detailed, including modified Delta Cross Channel operations to protect water quality, increased exports that take advantage of natural or abandoned water flows for the remainder of the spring, and increased flows to protect out-migrating San Joaquin River steelhead and salmon.
The operations plan considers Emergency Drought Barriers in the Delta and corresponding changes to Delta water quality objectives to keep saltwater from intruding from the San Francisco Bay in order to protect urban and agricultural water users located in the Delta.
The plan calls for improved emergency fisheries monitoring, updated fish barrier technology, and a science plan to minimize effects to endangered species and improve understanding of biological effects of water operations during the drought.
This plan is considered a flexible framework to guide decision making in the coming months.  Reclamation and DWR will update the plan in collaboration with other agencies as current conditions and forecasts change for the Sierra snowpack, reservoir storage, and river flow.

The release of this Drought Operations Plan continues water operations that have been in place since late January to manage drought conditions.  In late January,  after a record number of rainless days in December and January, state and federal water managers took action, including making regulatory adjustments, to ensure minimal health and human safety water needs are met.  As late season storms came in February and March, agencies worked together to capture and store as much storm runoff as possible.  Water management actions since January have included multiple petitions to the State Water Resources Control Board, close coordination with environmental agencies, and aggressive actions within the water projects. For more information on the actions taken to manage California’s scarce water resources, click here.

Posted in Drinking Water issues, Environmental Impacts, Groundwater Impacts, Lakes and Resevoirs Impacts, Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

Drought and Politics

Politics cloud water debate

Fixing California’s water crisis requires finding a way to reallocate supply among the state’s three major user groups ? and avoiding the political posturing and bickering that have surfaced.

Michael

There are two possible policy outcomes to a severe drought like the one California is experiencing now.

One is that the drought focuses the minds of political leaders and water users, prompting them to come together to craft a broad, comprehensive solution to a problem that won’t be going away.

The other is that the community of water users will fragment and turn on one another, with farmers lining up against environmentalists, suburbanites against farmers, and so on.

Which way would you guess things are going?

Here’s a clue: Last week a clutch of Republican members of Congress from California agricultural counties arranged (with the connivance of House Speaker John Boehner) to pass?a bill overriding mandates?to keep water flowing in the state’s rivers in favor of increasing supplies to farmers. They sounded the tired old cry about “putting families over fish,” as though there aren’t families in California dependent on healthy fisheries, too, and as though the water transfer in question would relieve what is shaping up as a record drought year.

The measure is?opposed by Gov. Jerry Brown,?state water officials and Democrats in both houses of Congress. It’s nothing but a sop to credulous farm voters in the districts of Reps. David Valadao, Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes, its sponsors. It doesn’t create a single drop of water, despite ridiculous claims that it will?”solve California’s water crisis” (Nunes),?and abrogates jealously guarded states’ rights over water allocations to boot.

Yet while this posturing was going on in Washington, the drought in California was growing worse and solutions more elusive. Even if it’s relieved by the wet spell we’ve seen in recent days continuing through the rest of the wet season, it’s a harbinger of more extremes to come, thanks to climate change.

No one thinks a fix will be simple. The supply of water from within and outside the state is becoming oversubscribed, and the allocations and promises made to growers and residential developments out of step with reality. More dams won’t solve the problem, nor will technological innovations like desalination.
Even conservation has its limits. As Ellen Hanak and her colleagues at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California have documented, per capita consumption in semi-arid Southern California is?among the lowest in the state. But incremental gains may be getting harder to come by.
The Central Valley congressmen who introduced the “Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act” talk as though the farmers’ problems would be solved if only they got their hands on 800,000 acre-feet of water that must legally flow through the Sacramento delta to save the delta smelt, an endangered species, but that’s a self-interested simplification.

At its core, California water policy is about allocating supply among the state’s three major user groups ? agriculture (the largest consumer), residents and the environment. That’s not simple.

The state’s legal and regulatory framework for allocating water is complex ? some of it is antique, some of recent vintage and some laboring under a legal cloud. For example, it’s legally unclear whether diverting water from agricultural users for environmental protection is a “taking” under the U.S. Constitution and therefore requires financial compensation, which would complicate such diversions enormously.

The last appellate judges who considered the matter said no, but the issue hasn’t come before the Supreme Court and won’t for years at least. “Until the U.S. Supremes rule, it’ll be a live wire,” says Antonio Rossmann, a veteran water rights attorney in Berkeley.

Another constraint dates from the so-called Monterey Amendments,?a backroom deal?reached in 1994 between the State Water Project and several water contractors, including the Metropolitan Water District and private Paramount Farms. Paramount is owned by Roll Global, the corporate arm of?Beverly Hills billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick,?who are better known as the purveyors of Fiji Water and Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice. Paramount also is the largest grower and processor of almonds and pistachios in the world, in part because the Monterey deal gave it access to a permanent supply of water. That’s necessary for the cultivation of nut trees, which can’t survive interruptions in water.

Critics say the Monterey Amendments turned over too much control over water allocations from the SWP to private interests. “They cut the natural resource aspect out of the SWP water and made it just about its economic value,” says Adam Keats, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, which is suing to overturn the deal. “They eliminated the state as manager of public resource. When you do that, the rich guys benefit.” (The Sacramento Superior Court judge hearing the case has hinted that he might uphold the deal, but his decision is almost certainly destined for appeal no matter which side prevails.)

The amendments’ effect was to make it easier for Paramount to keep its water flowing to its nut trees, and also for farmers to sell their water to land developers. “That hardened demand,” says attorney Rossmann ? farmers growing beans and alfalfa can fallow their land for a year or two in a dry period; nut growers and residential developments can’t. And that leaves the state with less flexibility than it had even during the long, severe drought of 1987-92 to reallocate supply to where it’s most needed.

Inevitably, the solution to the state’s water crisis must lie in finding a way to reallocate supply among the Big Three users. Playing the people-versus-fish card is utterly pointless, because even canceling all the environmental allocations wouldn’t solve the essential supply problem.
Already, observes Hanak of the Public Policy Institute of California, supplies are so low that all categories of users are going to have to absorb cuts. “If it doesn’t rain,” she says, “they’ll have to balance the water between different fish species.”

Hanak advocates freeing the state’s water trading system so that the guardians of fish and wildlife can buy and sell environmental water allocations the way urban and agricultural users do now. What’s troubling about that idea is that the environment doesn’t have legal water rights like other users: fish, wildlife and rivers are protected through regulatory actions, not through contracts. “The environment should not have to participate in a market with consumptive users,” says Rossmann, the Berkeley water attorney. State and federal fish and wildlife officials would face “major institutional hurdles” in water trading, “because they’re not used to doing that.” He argues that environmental water, which serves not only ecological needs but the fishery and resort industries, should be allocated first, with farmers and urban dwellers free to trade the rest.
The most important factor in meeting the crisis is a recognition that California has made some bad choices in the past that would not be made today, knowing what we know about the likely trajectory of statewide water supply. We would plant fewer permanent crops like nut trees, and make fewer commitments of firm water to housing project developers.

Some of these decisions will have to be undone in the near term, some will be undone by the implacable economics of residential development and agriculture, and some we will have to live with for decades more. Fatuous political posturing to give some groups of users priority over others is a waste of time, and one thing we have less of every dry day is time.

Michael Hiltzik’s column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Read his blog, the Economy Hub, at latimes.com/business/hiltzik, reach him at  mhiltzik@latimes.com, check out facebook.com/hiltzik and follow @hiltzikm on Twitter.

–Felice

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Drinking Water issues, Environmental Impacts, Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

“It could last decades”: 5 shocking facts about California’s drought

Droughts aren’t new to the golden state, but this one is for the ages and it comes with a distinct set of troubles

February 19, 2014

A warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. (Credit: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

A warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. (Credit: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

There are likely a lot of East Coasters wishing they lived in sunny, dry (and comparatively warm) California right now. But Californians know their weather is anything but a blessing these days with a drought that’s being called “unprecedented.”

The situation has even sparked a trip from President Obama, who visited the epicenter of California’s massive agriculture industry, the Central Valley, on Friday and announced $100 million in livestock disaster assistance, $5 million in targeted assistance for hard-hit areas, $5 million for watershed protection programs, $60 million for food banks and 600 new sites for a summer meals program, $3 million in emergency water assistance for rural communities, and a commitment from the federal government to reduce water use and focus nation-wide on climate resilience.

While the funding and programs may be welcome for immediate assistance, solving California’s water crisis will require more than a big checkbook. Water in the West, California included, is contentious and politically wrought. Here are five key things to know if you want to truly understand the impact of California’s drought.

1. We may be facing a mega-drought

California’s Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency on January 17 when it became clear that 2013 closed out the driest year ever recorded for many parts of the state and the 2014 water year, which began October 1 , had thus far been the driest in 90 years.

Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change Impacts, Drinking Water issues, Environmental Impacts | Leave a comment

Warmest winter on record worsens California drought

Warmer winters make for less snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When the snow melts into the state’s rivers, it provides water throughout the summer, when the state typically experiences little rain.

By Laila Kearney, Reuters / March 17, 2014
The Christian Science Monitor

The dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir

The dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir is seen on Thursday, March 13, in Cupertino, Calif. Lack of seasonal rain has meant water shortages for Californians this winter. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The state had a average temperature of 48 Fahrenheit (9 Celsius) for December, January and February, an increase from 47.2 F in 1980-81, the last hottest winter, and more than 4 degrees hotter than the 20th-century average in California, theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) said in a statement.

Warmer winters could make the already parched state even drier by making it less likely for snow to accumulate in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, NOAA spokesman Brady Phillips said. That snow, melting in the spring and summer and running down through the state’s rivers, is vital for providing water in the summer, when the state typically experiences little rain.

“Winter is when states like California amass their main water budget, when snowpack is building,” said Phillips, a marine biologist. “If you’re starting from a deficit and going into the dry season, it’s setting you up for a drier summer.”

California is in the grip of a three-year dry spell that threatens to have devastating effects on the state and beyond. Farmers are considering idling a half million acres (200,000 hectares) of cropland, a loss of production that could cause billions of dollars in economic damage, and several small communities are at risk of running out of drinking water.

The state also recorded its driest winter to date by March, despite recent storms, with an average of 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) of rainfall, compared to 11.7 inches (29.7 cm) over the previous winter, NOAA said.

Around the West and in the Great Plains, multiple states also experienced warmer temperatures and low rainfall. Arizona had its fourth warmest winter to date and Texas had it lowest reservoir levels in 25 years by March.

Despite regional heavy snow pummeling regions the eastern region of the country, overall rainfall across the United States was far below normal. An average of 5.7 inches of rain fell overall in the United States in the past three months, causing the ninth driest winter on record, NOAA said.

Climatologists and other scientists with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center record a summary of temperatures and rainfall for all 50 states each month. Every three months, the federal agency releases data on spring, summer, fall and winter weather.

The agency is planning to release its spring outlook climate forecast on Thursday.

Posted in Climate Change Impacts | Leave a comment

Invitation to North Bay Tour

To All,

North Bay Bioengineering Tour
April 18th, join us for a tour of streambank bioengineering solutions. We’ll be talking willow, coir, seeds and slopes. The project is near the Sonoma Raceway amid a working cattle ranch. The Sonoma Land Trust and Prunske Chatham, Inc. worked together on this project that will protect Tolay Creek. Tolay Creek connects the upstream and adjacent Tolay Regional Park with thousands of acres of a unique ecosystem of freshwater lakes, creeks and tidal wetlands.

Owned by the Sonoma Land Trust, the Ranch possesses a variety of unique characteristics including serpentine grasslands, oak woodlands and riparian habitats. Among the species found in these habitats are golden eagles, red-legged frogs, western pond turtles, and northern burrowing owls, as well as the more common coyote, deer, hawks, songbird and garter snakes.

The southwest corner of the property contains serpentine soils that offer a vibrant array of native wildflowers every spring. Humans have been present on the property for thousands of years, leaving their traces in many places, from petroglyphs to remnants of the property’s early ranching history.

Interested? Contact info@envirotechservices.biz.

Posted in Waste Discharge Pollution | Leave a comment

California Drought: San Joaquin Valley sinking as farmers race to tap aquifer

By Lisa M. Krieger
lkrieger@mercurynews.com
March 29, 2014

PIXLEY – So wet was the San Joaquin Valley of Steve Arthur’s childhood that a single 240-foot-deep well could quench the thirst of an arid farm.

Now his massive rig, bucking and belching, must drill 1,200 feet deep in search of ever-more-elusive water to sustain this wheat farm north of Bakersfield. As he drills, his phone rings with three new appeals for help.

“Everybody is starting to panic,” said Arthur, whose Fresno-based well-drilling company just bought its ninth rig, off the Wyoming oil fields. “Without water, this valley can’t survive.”

Cannon Michael, president of Bowles Farming Company Inc. on his family farm near Los Banos, Calif.  Water shortages are forcing Michael to leave fields

Cannon Michael, president of Bowles Farming Company Inc. on his family farm near Los Banos, Calif. Water shortages are forcing Michael to leave fields fallow on his 10,000 acre farm. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

When water doesn’t fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there’s only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation’s most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.

The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival — new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.

Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Groundwater Impacts, Watershed Related Concerns | Comments Off