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/
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Solar Array Added to Power Agricultural District’s Irrigation Systems

Tranquillity Irrigation District, which serves the water needs of the 10,750-acre agricultural community of Tranquillity in Fresno County, today announces plans to build a 1.8 megawatt ground-mounted solar tracker system that will provide enough electricity to meet 50 percent of the agency’s energy demand. Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a leading designer, developer, installer and O&M …

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

“[…] Tranquillity will save a net $10 million over the 25-year term of its power purchase agreement (PPA)—a financing mechanism that enables customers to invest in solar without any upfront costs. The District will buy the energy produced from the system owner at a set price over the PPA agreement term.

“Solar was clearly the best use for our site, especially considering the savings we’ll realize for our residents through the PPA – it’s truly a win-win,” said Danny Wade, general manager of Tranquillity Irrigation District. “The reality is that we will continue to be plagued with limited water resources for the foreseeable future, and solar is a sustainable solution to help us deal with the resulting energy demand and cost increase due to the drought. Any water district in the state should be investigating whether solar works for them.”

Given the ongoing drought in California, the District has needed to use its wells more than it had pre-drought. As a result, more electricity is needed to power the pumps bringing water toward the surface. The District is trying to provide water to its landowners and the community of Tranquillity as efficiently and economically as it can. For example, the District recently received a $5 million grant from the California State Department of Health to build a necessary water treatment facility. The solar tracker system will be placed adjacent to the treatment facility on land already owned by the District. […]

In its first year of operation, the array will generate an estimated 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity— enough to power approximately 450 homes. The installation will offset more than 760 metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually, which is the equivalent of taking 162 cars off the road for a year or the amount of carbon sequestered by 630 acres of mature U.S. forests each year.

ABOUT TRANQUILLITY IRRIGATION DISTRICT

Tranquillity Irrigation District was formed January 22, 1918, as a public agency designed to serve the local community with water supplies. It is the second oldest such agency in Fresno County. A Board of Directors elected from the community at-large governs the District. The District is approximately 10,750 acres in size and is located in the west central portion of Fresno County in the Great Central Valley of California. The District farmland produces a variety of commodities including: cotton (pima and acala), canning tomatoes, alfalfa for seed, sugar beets and almonds. Its principal community is the unincorporated town of Tranquillity.  […]”

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

California Water Conservation Causing A Sewer & Plumbing Pipe Crisis

“Shorter showers, more efficient toilets and other reductions in indoor water usage have meant less wastewater flowing through sewer pipes, [California] sanitation officials say. With less flow to flush the solids down the system, those solids are collecting and can eventually damage pipes.”

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

” […]

Less Water Flow Means Greater Pipe Degradation

As home and business owners throughout California use various methods to cut water consumption both in and out of their properties, less water is then available to cycle through sewer systems. Lower sewer flow then makes it difficult for waste materials, oils water and other contaminants to cycle through. Best case scenario, this can result in minor sewer buildup or blockage; worst case, it can cause severe clogging, corrosion and pipe breakage at weak joints.

With corrosion comes increased pipe repair and replacement costs. Otherwise healthy sewer pipes will fail prematurely as clogs and chemicals remain stagnant within pipes.

Decreased water flow due to conservation is a particularly troubling problem in Sacramento, where the municipal sewer system is relatively flat compared to other cities in the state. With a flat sewer system, it is already difficult for water and materials to flow at a normal rate; when this rate is lowered, and gravity cannot help waste and waste water along, there is little to push solid materials along.

The people of Sacramento, in this case, are stuck between a rock and a hard place: water has to be conserved in light of the unrelenting draught, and doing so creates hazards for the entire city sewer system.

Dealing With the Issues

One way Sacramento residents can help reduce the likelihood of sewer clogging during low water flow periods is by changing the way they use their plumbing systems – overall reducing the amount of non-fluid materials that enter sewer systems.

This includes knowing what kinds of things you should not flush or dispose of through the sink, such as:

Baby wipes or other kinds of “flushable” wipes – they’re not really flushable, and actually cause millions of dollars in sewer damage annuallyStarchy food products or peelsAny plastic materials, including wrapping or casesPaper towels

Beyond better flushing practices, also steer clear from using chemicals or commercial drain cleaning products, as these products can eat away at sewer pipes from within, causing extra difficulties for pipes with low-flow or stagnant water. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

96 Million ‘Shade Balls’ Installed to Cover L.A.’s Reservoirs

A California woman, for one, who wants to ease the drought, put disabled vets to work, and make some money

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

>” […] The shade balls of Los Angeles are 4 inches in diameter, hollow, polyethylene orbs […] The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has now dumped 96 million balls into local reservoirs to reduce evaporation and block sunlight from encouraging algae growth and toxic chemical reactions. The balls are coated with a chemical that blocks ultraviolet light and helps the spheres last as long as 25 years. Las Virgenes, north of L.A., now uses shade balls, too. […]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has encouraged the nation’s water managers in recent years to find ways to cover or contain their resources, to prevent sunlight from reacting with chlorine and possibly creating carcinogens, says Ed Osann, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The shade balls shouldn’t pose a pollution problem in themselves, he says, since “everything that comes in contact with drinking water has to be a certified material.” Chase says the balls are designed not to degrade.

The shade balls are a novel way to protect drinking water, and Californians’ latest attempt to adjust to their four-year drought. […]”<

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

California’s Carbon Cap-and-Trade Fund Attracts Energy Industry Project Proposals

With California’s growing cap-and-trade program expected to yield a budgetary bonanza, lawmakers and interest groups have ample ideas for how to spend the money. Floating proposals ahead of a pivotal period for budget negotiations, they say they want to fund port improvements, pay for heavy-duty trucks and ferries, nurture urban rivers, sponge up carbon in soil and provide discounted bus passes.

Image source:  http://mammothlakeshousing.com/120-million-available-through-cap-and-trade-funds-for-affordable-housing-in-ca/

Source: www.sacbee.com

>”[…] Seeking to counteract climate change, lawmakers in 2006 authorized California to establish its first-in-the-nation carbon auction program, compelling businesses to purchase allowances for what they pump into the atmosphere.

By this time last year, the system already had generated hundreds of millions of dollars that were parceled out via the budget, including a controversial annual outlay to support high-speed rail. But this year is different: Oil and gas producers have been obligated to buy permits for the first time, likely generating a multibillion-dollar influx.

“With transportation fuels coming under the cap, there will be more money for years to come. That changes the dynamic,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. “Because there’s going to be a lot more money, there’s going to be that many more projects competing for dollars.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s January proposal underestimated the amount available in the coming fiscal year by as much as $3.9 billion and most likely by around $1.3 billion, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The updated numbers will come this week in Brown’s May revision.

Per a formula established in last year’s budget agreement, 60 percent of the auction dollars will flow to areas such as high-speed rail, urban transit and housing. The remaining 40 percent is up for debate in the Legislature.  […]

The competing proposals raise a larger question about what type of project qualifies. Money spent out of the cap-and-trade fund must verifiably work to curtail the greenhouses gases that fuel climate change.

“It is a fee, and we want to spend it appropriately,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who carried the bill establishing the program.

Critics assailed Brown last year for directing revenue to the high-speed rail project, arguing that carbon reductions wouldn’t materialize for years. Legislative leaders are scrutinizing ideas this year and filtering out proposals that don’t pass muster.

At de León’s prodding, a Senate bill seeking to clean up urban watersheds was amended to seek funding from a different source. Another proposal floated by a range of environmental and community activist groups argued for subsidized bus passes.

“We know that the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California is from transportation, so there a number of ways we are addressing that, and one way of getting cars off the road is improving the choices in public transit,” said Magavern, whose organization was among those making the proposal.

In his January budget, Brown proposed using the money over which lawmakers have control on an array of areas, including energy-efficiency upgrades for public buildings, waste diversion and fire prevention (forest fires pour huge amounts of carbon-thick smoke into the air). That largely holds the line on last year’s proposals.

A potential addition would direct dollars to help water resources. As a prolonged drought has prompted extraordinary conservation mandates from Brown, the administration has been studying the ways in which energy and water overlap.

There, too, policymakers have experts working to quantify how much energy is used in transporting and heating water. If they can establish they’re reducing emissions, they can tap into the cap-and-trade money.

“There are a lot of really smart people working on getting this right,” said Pavley, who has a bill directing the state to study the energy footprint of water systems. “I think it opens up an amazing possible win-win for expenditure of auction revenues.”

With a growing pile of money spurring interest, Pavley said, officials must be vigilant about keeping their focus on cutting greenhouse gases. Sacramento suffers from no shortage of ideas for spending money, but not all of them fit that framework. […]”<

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New California Housing Community Goes Zero Net Energy

California has set a goal for all new residential construction in the state to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction to be zero net energy by 2030. Spring Lake uses no natural gas and receives most of its power from photovoltaics.

Source: www.calenergycommission.blogspot.ca

>”The $13 million Spring Lake project in Woodland has 62 affordable apartments and townhomes for agricultural workers and their families.  […]

“The community will generate at least as much energy as it consumes,” says Vanessa Guerra, a project manager with Mutual Housing California, a Sacramento-based non-profit that develops sustainable affordable housing communities.

The California Energy Commission adopted zero net energy goals in its 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR). It further defined what ZNE buildings are and laid out the necessary steps and renewables options for achieving the ZNE 2020 goals in the 2013 IEPR.

The project was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Citibank, Wells Fargo Bank, the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the City of Woodland.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

LA’s Urban Heat Island Effect Alters Weather

Over the last 60 years urban areas of Southern California have lost significant amounts of fog due to the heat created by paved roads and buildings.

Source: www.scpr.org

>” A new study reports that coastal fog in Southern California is on the decline, especially in heavily urbanized areas.

In particular, Los Angeles saw a 63 percent decrease over the last 60 years.

You can blame the heat island effect created by city streets and buildings, said the study’s author Park Williams of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.

Fog may be a nuisance for drivers, but according to Williams, it also plays a crucial role in hydrating many costal ecosystems.

These include mountains with coastal forests and hillsides covered in chaparral, which easily burns when conditions are too dry.

“They all receive water directly from fog and benefit from the shading of these clouds,” Williams said.

In fact, he noted that in some parts of Southern California, fog may provide plants with almost as much water as rain does. Williams says this loss of coastal fog could impact the regional environment.

Fog typically forms when the air is cool enough for clouds to condense close to ground level. This often happens at night and in the early morning.

However, Williams said this process is being upset by all the concrete in urban areas, which absorbs heat in the day and slowly releases it over night, raising temperatures.

“When you increase the temperature of the surface of the Earth, then you essentially need to go higher up into the atmosphere before [it] is cool enough to promote condensation,” Williams explained.

The end result is that as cities heat up, clouds rise and fog disappears.

Data for the study came from the detailed logs of the 24 coastal airports between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

“Of course airports have been collecting really good data on clouds because the presence of clouds and their hight in the atmosphere really affects air travel,” he said.

Many of these logs had hourly updates on cloud height, some dating back to the 1940s.

Using this information, Williams and his colleagues determined that the greatest loss of fog occurred in Ontario where there was a nearly 90% decrease over the last 60 years.

Other airports such as LAX, Burbank’s Bob Hope, Long Beach Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County also saw a considerable decrease in the average amount of fog.

However, less urban areas like Santa Barbara and the undeveloped the Channel Islands remained quite misty.

Williams says this trend is concerning because man-made climate change is expected to heat things up even more in the future.

Coastal fog can help cool an area down but as cities continue to bake, they will gather and emit even more heat, driving away even more fog.

“That can then feedback until the cloud layer is eaten away entirely in the daytime,” he said.

Soon, Williams hopes to explore how much water fog provides Southern California in general to see whether the continued loss of these low clouds could dry out the region even more.

His current paper appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.”<

 

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State’s First Fracking Regulation Will Go Into Effect Next Year

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept 20 (Reuters) – California’s first regulations on fracking and related oil production practices will go into effect next year in the most populous U.S.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>State Senator Fran Pavely, a Democrat who represents the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills and was the author of the new law, said the regulations would stop oil companies from fracking in the state without full disclosure of their methods.

“Oil companies will not be allowed to frack or acidize in California unless they test the groundwater, notify neighbors and list each and every chemical on the Internet,” Pavely said. “This is a first step toward greater transparency, accountability and protection of the public and the environment.”

Opposing the measure along with the environmentalists was the oil industry, which said the new law could make it difficult for California to reap the benefits offered by development of the Monterey Shale, including thousands of new jobs, increased tax revenue, and higher incomes for residents.

The law “could create conditions that will make it difficult to continue to provide a reliable supply of domestic petroleum energy for California,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western State Petroleum Association, which represents oil companies in California.<

See on www.huffingtonpost.com

Companies Fined for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reporting Errors | The National Law Review

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Nine companies were issued fines by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) for violating the State of California’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting rule. The ARB adopted the reporting rule in 2007.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The companies cited for violations were not concentrated in one industry sector.  Sources receiving fines included a refinery, a biomass generating plant, an oil and gas production company, a utility company, a lime manufacturing company, and a cement company, among others. <

See on www.natlawreview.com