Water Conservation and a Change in Climate Ends California Drought

Water scarcity is becoming a greater problem in our world as human demands for water increases due to population growth, industry, agriculture, and energy production. When the water supply is being pushed beyond its natural limits disaster may occur.  For California residents the end of the drought is good news.  Return of wet weather raises reservoir levels and effectively prevents wildfires.  However, another drought could be around the corner in years to come.  Thus government and water users need to remain vigilant and continue to seek ways to conserve and reduce water use.
ca-reservoirs 2017 End of drought.png
Figure 1. 2017 California Major Water Reservoir Levels
By Bark Gomez and Yasemin Saplakoglu, Bay Area News Group (1)
Friday, April 07, 2017 05:17PM

Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought Friday, lifting emergency orders that had forced residents to stop running sprinklers as often and encouraged them to rip out thirsty lawns during the state’s driest four-year period on record.

The drought strained native fish that migrate up rivers and forced farmers in the nation’s leading agricultural state to rely heavily on groundwater, with some tearing out orchards. It also dried up wells, forcing hundreds of families in rural areas to drink bottled water and bathe from buckets.

Brown declared the drought emergency in 2014, and officials later ordered mandatory conservation for the first time in state history. Regulators last year relaxed the rules after a rainfall was close to normal.

But monster storms this winter erased nearly all signs of drought, blanketing the Sierra Nevada with deep snow, California’s key water source, and boosting reservoirs.

“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” (2)

References:

  1. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/08/what-permanent-drought-california-governor-officially-declares-end-to-drought-emergency/ 
  2. http://abc7news.com/weather/governor-ends-drought-state-of-emergency-in-most-of-ca/1846410/

Top Ten Most Viewed Articles of 2015

Water Vortex

Photo:  Top Viewed Article of the year on Water Vortex Hydro-Electric Power Plant Designs

This is going to be a fun post to write, as I get to review the statistics for 2015 and pick out the ten most viewed posts on my blog for the year.  I am looking forward to performing this review, as I get to find out what works and what does not.  The idea being to give me a chance to refine my techniques and improve my blog posts.

I am listing them in reverse order as we want to heighten the suspense, leading up to the most viewed article.  Each post will also have the posting date and number of views for comparison.  I know this technique is not perfect as some posts will have a longer opportunity to be seen than those written later in the year.  Such discrepancies will be left to discussed in a future article.

10.  Climate Change, Pole Shift & Solar Weather

Magnetic pole shift

This post discusses Earth’s wandering magnetic poles, the fluctuating field strengths and links to solar weather and climate change.  Some rather eccentric, yet plausible explanations based on historical data that pole shifts are possible and have happened, at unpredictable, largely spaced intervals of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, the average being 450,000 years.

Posted on March 3, 2015 and received 44 views.

9.  Leaked HSBC Files from Swiss Bank lead to Tax Evasion and Money Laundering charges

HSBC Scandal

Headline tells it all.  Large bank caught helping clients evade taxes and launder illegally obtained money through bank accounts.

Posted on February 9, 2015 and received 48 views.

8.  Michigan’s Consumers Energy to retire 9 coal plants by 2016

Michigan Coal Plant

Coal is unclean to burn and becoming costly to do operate due to emissions, resulting in coal fired plant closures, 9 by one Michigan utility.

Posted on February 10, 2015 and received 50 views.

7.  Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) | Whole Building Design Guide

lcca_2

This article simply reprises, in part, the LCCA (Life-Cycle Cost Analyisis) procedure used for buildings as originally posted by WBDG.

Posted on February 15, 2015 and received 57 views.

6.  Energy Efficiency Development and Adoption in the United States for 2015

energy efficiency adoption

The article discusses the role of large scale energy efficiency programs as an investment and means to achieve certain goals when viewed as the “cheapest” fuel.  The graphic depicts a hierarchy of waste minimization correlating to cost and energy usage and effects with the environmental resources.

Posted on January 8, 2015 and received 59 views.

5.  Renewable Energy Provides Half of New US Generating Capacity in 2014

Renewable Energy

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided nearly half (49.81 percent – 7,663 MW) of new electrical generation brought into service during 2014 while natural gas accounted for 48.65 percent (7,485 MW).

Posted on February 4, 2015 and received 62 views.

4.  Cover-up: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown a Time Bomb Which Cannot be Defused

260px-Fukushima_I_by_Digital_Globe

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe.

Posted on July 22, 2015 and received 65 views.

3.  Apple to Invest $2 Billion in Solar Farm Powered Data Center Renovation in Arizona

Apple

The company plans to employ 150 full-time Apple staff at the Mesa, Arizona, facility… In addition to the investment for the data center,  Apple plans to build a solar farm capable of producing 70-megawatts of energy to power the facility.  […] Apple said it expects to start construction in 2016 after GT Advanced Technologies Inc., the company’s sapphire manufacturing partner, clears out of the 1.3 million square foot site.

Posted on February 11, 2015 and received 73 views.

2.  Determining the True Cost (LCOE) of Battery Energy Storage

Energy Storage

With regard to [battery] energy storage systems, many people erroneously think that the only cost they should consider is the initial – that is, the cost of generating electricity per kilowatt-hour. However, they are not aware of another very important factor.  This is the so-called LCOE,  levelized cost of energy (also known as cost of electricity by source), which helps calculate the price of the electricity generated by a specific source.

Posted on January 27, 2015 and received 109 views.

1. Water Vortex Hydro-Electric Power Plant Designs

Water Vortex

Austrian engineer Franz Zotlöterer has constructed a low-head power plant that makes use of the kinetic energy inherent in an artificially induced vortex. The water’s vortex energy is collected by a slow moving, large-surface water wheel, making the power station transparent to fish – there are no large pressure differences built up, as happens in normal turbines.

Posted on June 11, 2015 and received 109 views.

 

Massive Methane Gas Leak at California Storage Facility

The natural gas leak from a storage facility in the hills above Los Angeles is shaping up as a major ecological disaster as it vents large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.washingtonpost.com

” […]  A runaway natural gas leak from a storage facility in the hills above Los Angeles is shaping up as a significant ecological disaster, state officials and experts say, with more than 150 million pounds of methane pouring into the atmosphere so far and no immediate end in sight.

The rupture within a massive underground containment system — first detected more than two months ago — is venting gas at a rate of up to 110,000 pounds per hour, California officials confirm. The leak already has forced evacuations of nearby neighborhoods, and officials say pollutants released in the accident could have long-term consequences far beyond the region.

Newly obtained infrared video captures a plume of gas — invisible to the naked eye — spouting from a hilltop in the Aliso Canyon area above Burbank, like smoke billowing from a volcano. Besides being an explosive hazard, the methane being released is a powerful greenhouse gas, more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.

Scientists and environmental experts say the Aliso Canyon leak instantly became the biggest single source of methane emissions in all of California when it began two months ago. The impact of greenhouse gases released since then, measured over a 20-year time frame, is the equivalent of emissions from six coal-fired power plants or 7 million automobiles, environmentalists say. […]

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Japan Set to Restart First Nuclear Reactor Since Industry Shut-Down After Fukushima Disaster

Japan is due to switch on a nuclear reactor for the first time in nearly two years on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to reassure a nervous public that tougher standards mean the sector is

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.reuters.com

>” […] Abe and much of Japanese industry want reactors to be restarted to cut fuel imports, but opinion polls show a majority of the public oppose the move after the nuclear crisis triggered by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

In the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years earlier, the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant caused a release of radioactive material and forced 160,000 from their homes, with many never to return.

The crisis transfixed the world as the government and the Fukushima operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), fumbled their response and took two months to confirm that the reactors had undergone meltdowns.

Kyushu Electric Power said it aimed to restart its No. 1 reactor at its Sendai plant at 0130 GMT on Tuesday (2130 ET on Monday).

The plant on the west coast of Kyushu island is the furthest away of Japan’s reactors from Tokyo, where protesters regularly gather outside Abe’s official residence to oppose atomic energy.

At nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital, Sendai is closer to Shanghai or Seoul.

A successful restart would mark the culmination of a process whereby reactors had to be relicensed, refitted and vetted under tougher standards that were introduced following the disaster.

While two reactors were allowed to restart for one fuelling cycle in 2012, the whole sector has been shut down since September 2013, forcing Japan to import record amounts of expensive liquefied natural gas.

As well as cutting energy costs, showing it can reboot the industry safely is crucial for Abe’s plans to export nuclear technology, said Malcolm Grimston, a senior research fellow at Imperial College in London.

“Japan also has to rehabilitate itself with the rest of the world’s nuclear industry,” said Grimston.

At the Sendai plant, Kyushu Electric expects to have power supply flowing within a few days if all goes to plan. It aims to start the station’s No. 2 unit in October.

The head of Japan’s atomic watchdog said that the new safety regime meant a repeat of the Fukushima disaster would not happen, but protesters outside the Sendai plant are not convinced.

“You will need to change where you evacuate to depending on the direction of the wind. The current evacuation plan is nonsense,” said Shouhei Nomura, a 79-year-old former worker at a nuclear plant equipment maker, who now opposes atomic energy and is living in a protest camp near the plant.

Of Japan’s 25 reactors at 15 plants for which operators have applied for permission to restart, only five at three plants have been cleared for restart. […]”<

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Cover-up: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown a Time Bomb Which Cannot be Defused

epa02660905 A handout picture provided by Air Photo Service on 30 March 2011 shows an aerial photo taken by a small unmanned drone of the damaged units of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, Futaba district, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 24 March 2011. TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata announced on 30 March it will be more than a few weeks to fix the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. EPA/AIR PHOTO SERVICE / HO EDITORIAL USE ONLY +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster which has caused incredible an ongoing destruction, in the meantime authorities have tried to cover up the serious consequences…

Image source: http://www.theasiasun.com/

Sourced through Scoop.it from: oilprice.com

>” […] Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe. […]

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.”

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth. […]

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her. […]

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.” […]

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster:The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.” […] “<

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Alberta Pipeline Spills 5 Million Liters in Major Leak Near Oil Sands

Nexen Energy apologized Friday for a major leak in an Alberta pipeline that was only installed last year and said a warning system failed to detect it.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.news1130.com

>” […] A contractor discovered the leak Wednesday about 35 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, Alta. Nexen shut down the pipeline soon after, but not before some five million litres of bitumen, produced water and sand spilled into muskeg.

Nexen, which was taken over by China’s CNOOC Ltd. in 2013, says the affected area is about 16,000 square metres, mostly along the pipeline’s route. […]

John Bennett, national program director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, said he was worried.

“We’re always concerned when petroleum products get spilled into the environment. There’s always damage, and it’s usually permanent of some nature,” said Bennett. “It’s full of toxic elements that should not be released into the environment.” “<

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The 50 Year Underground Coal Mine Fire

By the early 1980s, the mine fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania was growing worse and increasingly threatening the people who lived there. GAI, Inc., a private geotechnical engineering company, was hired to review the situation and propose a solution to finally contain the fire. What they eventually came up with was so drastic, it might easily have been called Centralia’s “Nuclear Option.”

Source: www.centraliapa.org

Additional Information:  Zip Code 00000 (Washington Post) http://wapo.st/1eMhdGq

>” […]

GAI’s review and associated containment plan took months to complete. It analyzed mountains of data about Centralia PA, its abandoned mines, and the geology of the surrounding area. GAI also explored the beginnings of the fire, the current location of the burn, and the previous, failed attempts to stop it.

Finally on July 12, 1983 the findings were announced to the public. At that time, the mine fire was determined to be under 195 acres and burning in the Skidmore, Seven Foot, and Buck Leader coal veins. It was suggested that the fire could eventually grow to a maximum size of 3,700 acres of land.

GAI’s report made it clear that containing the Centralia mine fire would neither be easy nor cheap. The plan to contain the fire would require excavating a trench of massive proportions. This would need to be 3,700 feet long and 450 feet in depth – deep enough to hold a 45 story office building!

Worse yet, the trench would cut through the middle of the town. Although it would eventually be filled in with incombustible material to prevent the mine fire from moving further west, half of the borough of Centralia Pennsylvania would be destroyed while excavating it. The whole project would take years to complete.

If the damage caused by GAI’s plan wasn’t “nuclear” enough, there was always the price tag. GAI estimated it would cost a jaw-dropping $660 million to complete the project. This was over 100 times more expensive than the 1965 rejected plan to contain the mine fire. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, $660 million in 1983 is roughly equivalent to $1.5 billion in 2015. Today these cost estimates are still shocking.

It is no wonder that in August of 1983 the majority of Centralia PA’s residents voted to be relocated. After years of struggling with the mine fire, the “nuclear option” proposed by GAI to stop the fire and level half of the town was more than most could bear.”<

 

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Are Virtual Power Plants the Next Generation in Electrical Utilities?

Germany’s energy giants are lumbering behind the rapid advance of renewable energy. They might stay afloat for a while, but they don’t seem flexible enough to achieve a turnaround, says DW’s Henrik Böhme.

Source: www.dw.de

>” […]  Decentralization is the buzzword. And the power required elsewhere, say, for street lights, electric motors, or the bakery nearby will be largely generated through renewables. Even large industrial compounds will be in a position to generate enough electricity for their own needs.

Nuclear power stations will all have been switched off by then, with only a few coal-fired or gas-fired plants still in operation. One way or another, Germany’s power landscape is bound to undergo dramatic changes.

That’s been obvious for a couple of years now. But the German utilities’ age-old business models don’t seem to be working anymore. All they know is big and heavy – they’re used to nuclear and coal power stations guaranteeing billions in profit, year-in year-out, and they seemed to secure their earnings without any trouble. And then they grew fat and began making mistakes.  […]

Then came the Fukushima nuclear disaster four years ago, leading to the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear energy completely by 2022. That dealt a severe blow to Eon, RWE and co. which hadn’t really understood the thrust of the country’s energy transition anyway.

The utilities in question are now frantically trying to rescue what they still can. They’re cutting away some of the fat. Costs are being cut, employees are being laid off and selected divisions are being jettisoned. The companies have rediscovered private clients by offering them networking technology.

But people don’t trust those giant, de facto monopolist firms anymore. Younger companies can do the same just as well, and often far more efficiently. Take “Next Kraftwerke”, a Cologne-based start-up. They run a virtual power station where power is collected from many smaller facilities and redistributed in the process. This is pretty close to what a future energy supply system will look like.

According to Silicon Valley researcher Peter Diamandis, 40 percent of the world’s current biggest companies will have ceased to play an important role some 10 years from now. On current performance, among those to fall will most likely be Eon, RWE and others.”<

 

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Duke’s maligned handling of toxic coal ash is claimed typical for industry

Over 200 contaminations and spills document water contamination and deformed fish near coal ash sites.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>” Duke Energy faces criminal charges and a $100 million fine for a 2014 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River but environmental activists say its mishandling of coal ash waste is not atypical of the coal industry.  […] EPA released a final ruling on handling coal ash last December but both utility industry and environmental groups were dissatisfied. It creates requirements and standards for the management of coal combustion residuals (CCRs or coal ash) under Subtitle D of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). That subtitle governs solid waste. There is not yet adequate data, the EPA said, to justify managing coal ash under Subtitle C of RCRA, which pertains to hazardous waste.

“Coal ash is a toxic soup of heavy metals,” said NC WARN Energy Expert Nancy LaPlaca. “Pretending it is not hazardous waste is outrageous.”

Utilities are “pleased” that the EPA found it did not have adequate information to regulate coal as hazardous waste, explained Schiff, Hardin Partner/Utilities Counsel Josh More. But “EPA is pretty explicit this is not their final determination.” It failed, he added, because “it is a self-implementing program.”  […]”<

 

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Crude Oil Spills From Pipeline Into Yellowstone River, Montana

Residents have reportedly smelled and tasted oil in their drinking water downstream from the spill, and the city’s water plant has stopped drawing from the river.

Source: thinkprogress.org

>” […] On Saturday morning, a pipeline in Montana spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, the pipeline’s operator confirmed Sunday night. […]

The 12-inch diameter steel pipe breached and spilled anywhere from 12,600 to 50,000 gallons of oil nine miles upriver from the town of Glendive, with an unknown amount of it spilling into the partially frozen river, according to a statement from Bridger Pipeline LLC. The company said the spill occurred at 10 a.m. and they “shut in” the flow of oil just before 11 a.m. — meaning that though the pipeline section could still empty itself of its contents, no new addition oil would flow into the spilled area.

“Oil has made it into the river,” Bridger spokesperson Bill Salvin confirmed to the AP on Monday. “We do not know how much at this point.” Observers spotted oil, some of which was trapped under the ice, up to 60 miles downstream from Glendive. Paul Peronard, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator, said crews were attempting to use booms to prevent the spill from spreading further but the ice on top of the river was forcing them to “hunt and peck” through it.  […]

“We think it was caught pretty quick, and it was shut down,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock spokesperson Dave Parker, noting that the river was frozen over near the spill, which could help isolate the spill.

Parker told MTN News that “the Governor is committed to ensuring that the river is completely cleaned up and the folks responsible are held accountable.”

In 2011, an Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled 63,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone near Laurel, Montana. Days after the spill, goat rancher Alexis Bonogofsky was hospitalized for acute hydrocarbon exposure after noticing oil slicks along the riverbank abutting her ranch. She lived far enough downstream that any evacuation order missed her, she said. There was concern then that the cause of the spill was related to climate-change-influenced raging floodwaters that exposed the normally deeply-buried pipe to damaging debris.

Even two years later, the state was still fighting with Exxon over damages to the area from the spill and the clean-up process, leaving fish, birds, and wildlife dead or injured and interrupting environmental studies, recreation, and fishing.

Bridger’s pipeline runs from the Canadian border down through Montana across the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and east into North Dakota, dubbed the Poplar System. It is on the opposite side of Wyoming from, and downstream of, Yellowstone National Park, but the river empties into the Missouri River.

The proposed — and controversial — northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would bethree times the diameter of the breached Bridger pipeline, and pump more than 34 million gallons of oil per day through the Dakotas down into Nebraska and into the southern leg in Oklahoma and Texas. Many landowners and local residents are concerned about what a potential spill would mean for critical watersheds and aquifers — not to mention what subsequent increased tar sands oil production means for Canadian watersheds.”<

 

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