More hearings on Water Quality and Groundwater Safety concerns

Guest writer:

Dear Water Warriors,

If SF has plenty of water in storage*, why is the city blending?
The state may be requiring SF to do so but…why?
How much is DPW involved in this “blended” water project?
After all, pipes are repaired, re-routed by DPW…& if there is an “emergency,” aren’t there federal funds?**  Could this be part of OneBayArea Plan to support the 1 million people for our future city? But since we don’t have the $, do they need to mess with it and then “fix” it? Hate to think so…but really, why? See some detailed information about other city experiments with changing water sources in the links below:

“San Francisco Ordered to Stop Using Century-Old Water Rights” (KQED 6/26/2015)
https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2015/06/26/san-francisco-ordered-to-stop-using-century-old-water-rights/ according to Steve Ritchie: “We have plenty of water in storage.”

“Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol” (SF Chronicle 3/21/16)
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Fight-over-senior-water-rights-splashes-into-the-6932476.php

Senior water rights data – California
http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_data/ca_water_rights/

PBS link to “Poisoned Water” video about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis:
http://www.pbs.org/video/3001355667/

** Flint received $10 billion from the federal government to “fix” the water emergency problem (subsidies ran out, water rates increased): http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/senate-approves-bill-water-projects-millions-flint/

Flint said it was costing them too much for their water system so was this all just to get $$$? to be used like wherever the officials wanted? This is so weird.

There’s a bunch of other articles on Flint on the pbs website:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/flint-water-crisis/

Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

vineyards1

by Darren Smith : jonthanturley – excerpt

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider…(more)

How much damage can the government do before the public reacts? It appears we had two good outcomes in two states this week that prove when the public protests buildings casting shadows on parks and forced use of poisons on organic farms the government sometimes still listens.

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Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor : jonathanturley – excerpt (includes video)

An Organic Farm Under Threat from Azure Standard on Vimeo.

Action Request!!
Azure Farm, a Certified Organic farm in Central Oregon, is under threat from the local county government who wants to spray Azure’s Certified Organic farm with herbicides like Roundup (Glyphosate). Here’s what you can do to help. Contact Sherman County court via email at lhernandez@co.sherman.or.us or call Lauren at 541-565-3416 and express your concern. See azurestandard.com/healthy-living/info/azure-farm-moro/ for more details.

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses… (more)

RELATED FOLLOW-UP

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor:

Yesterday I fielded an article concerning a rather distressing mandate by an Oregon county weed control agency seeking to force the application of hazardous herbicides onto a 2,000 acre organic farm owned by Azure Farms. Sherman County Oregon maintains this scorched earth policy is necessary to abate, or more specifically “eradicate”, weeds listed by state statute as noxious.

Now, the scientific community is responding to this overreaching government action by acting in the interests of health and responsible environmental stewardship through advocacy in the hopes that officials in Sherman County will reconsider their mandate.

Dr. Charles Benbrook is a highly credentialed research professor and expert serving on several boards of directors for agribusiness and natural resources organizations. Having read news of Sherman County’s actions, he penned an authoritative response I believe will make informative reading for those concerned by present and future implications in the forced use of herbicides under the rubric of noxious weed eradication, and the damage to organic farming generally arising from such mandates… (more)

Dakota Access pipeline has first leak before it’s fully operational

: theguardian – excerpt (includes video)

Leak raises fresh concerns about hazards to waterways and outrages indigenous groups, who have long warned of threat to environment

The Dakota Access pipeline has suffered its first leak, outraging indigenous groups who have long warned that the project poses a threat to the environment.

The $3.8bn oil pipeline, which sparked international protests last year and is not yet fully operational, spilled 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station, according to government regulators.

Although state officials said the 6 April leak was contained and quickly cleaned, critics of the project said the spill, which occurred as the pipeline is in the final stages of preparing to transport oil, raises fresh concerns about the potential hazards to waterways and Native American sites.

“They keep telling everybody that it is state of the art, that leaks won’t happen, that nothing can go wrong,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been fighting the project for years. “It’s always been false. They haven’t even turned the thing on and it’s shown to be false.”

The pipeline, scheduled to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois, inspired massive demonstrations in 2016 and was dealt a major blow when the Obama administration denied a key permit for the project toward the end of his presidency. But shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the new administration ordered the revival of the pipeline and worked to expedite the final stage of construction

The April spill, which was first uncovered this week by a local South Dakota reporter, illustrates the need for the more robust environmental assessment that the tribe has long demanded, said Hasselman… (more)

Freight Rail Fight Could Impact Calif. High-Speed Rail Project

By

AN FRANCISCO (CN) – An impending decision by the California Supreme Court over whether the state or federal government has jurisdiction in railway decisions could have major implications for the Golden State’s high-speed rail project.

The justices heard oral argument by the North Coast Railway Authority, which argued the federal government’s decision to allow freight service to resume on a 316-mile line that runs through northern counties outweighs the state’s environmental rules under the California Environmental Protection Act.

“Federal courts have universally ruled that open-ended pre-clearance processes like CEQA are preempted by the authority of federal regulators,” said Andrew Sabey, attorney for Northwest Pacific. The railroad operates the freight trains that traverse through Sonoma, Humboldt and Mendocino counties…(more)

Calif. Central Valley Sank 3 Feet During Historic Drought

By Matthew Renda : courthousenews – excerpt

PALO ALTO, Calif. (CN) – While this past winter busted California’s five-year drought, a new Stanford University study shows how the dry years did permanent damage to Central Valley aquifers.

A satellite remote-sensing study performed by Stanford researchers shows a portion of the Central Valley sank by as much as three feet due to overpumping of groundwater during the drought, permanently reducing the region’s capacity for water storage.

“California is getting all of this rain, but in the Central Valley, there has been a loss of space to store it,” said study co-author Rosemary Knight, a professor at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

The alteration of the clay layers that comprise the San Joaquin Valley translates into a permanent loss of natural storage capacity of anywhere between 360,000 to 600,000 acre-feet of water, the study says.

As a point of comparison, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir – which provides water to San Francisco and is roughly the size of the Yosemite Valley – holds about 360,000 acre-feet of water… (more)

Next time you hear about rising sea levels remember that land can also sink. the effect is the same. San Francisco is embarking on a plan to blend groundwater with Heth Hetchy water for half the city’s water customers. EIRs do not seem to study the effects of removing ground water or much else that effects the environment and as we know there is no real mitigation done to protect one from any of the negative results anyway.

 

The Sad State of the University Degree for Planners & Designers

by Rick Harrison : newgeography – excerpt

For the past four decades, technology has improved nearly all aspects of our life – except for the physical land development patterns of our cities. The 1960’s suburban pattern, still in use today, is unsustainable. However, the ‘architectural’ answer to the ‘planning’ problem of sprawling subdivisions has been to simply go backwards to the gridded past.

Without a high degree of architectural and landscaping detail, this model, known as New Urbanism, does not work. As such, there are few (if any) affordable New Urbanist non-subsidized developements. The Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) boasts of their success in gentrification, but instead of reinventing ‘design’ to address the problems, the architect’s answer is to make site plan function as if it as a simplistic rectangular floor plan.

The CNU objective is to create a pedestrian oriented society and do everything possible to do away with car ownership. To combat suburban sprawl, they attack those who invest in suburban homes even though they represent 80 percent of the housing market growth. Even with the nearly three decades New Urbanists have promoted this singular solution, there are relatively few actual CNU projects.

ne of the largest groups of CNU followers are university professors who teach young, impressionable minds that suburbia is terrible and only high density is the answer. These students go deep into debt thinking that they will be part of a vast new era of change, however, when they look for employment in the real world, they are miserably unprepared. The technical skills taught in Urban Planning and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) revolve around software and training supplied by ESRI, and for architectural or civil engineering students, most likely an AutoCAD targeted module like Civil3D or Revitt, the current industry-leading software products… (more)

 

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Harlan County switches to solar power

Housed in a former commissary building and tucked into the hollers of Harlan County — the heart of Kentucky mining country — is a museum dedicated to all aspects of extracting coal from the state’s mountains.

Mining equipment decorates its walls, while a two-ton block of coal at the front door greets visitors. Children can climb on the museum’s 1940s model electric locomotive that once carried Kentucky men into the mines. An exhibit dedicated to Loretta Lynn (who wrote and who is the “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) sits on the third floor. Guests can even wander through an actual underground coal mine.

Not much about the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum screams modern. Its website — nay, websites — boasts early 1990s Web design, and its advertisement on YouTube appears to have been shot on a handheld camcorder. It sits next to City Hall on Main Street, the only thoroughfare of Benham, Ky. That’s to be expected from a museum dedicated to an old form of energy, which is what makes its own power methods so interesting.

The museum is switching to solar power in hopes of saving money on energy costs, as reported by WYMT and EKB-TV. The installation of solar panels began this week…(more)

Burn Baby Burn: Trump Set To Eviscerate Obama’s Environmental Protection and Climate Change Reforms

by – excerpt

With the health care reform defeat, the Trump Administration is moving aggressively toward new goals including tax cuts in Congress.  Today, however, he will keep another pledge and dismantle Obama orders protecting the environment and combating climate change and environmental protection. With the rescinding of the orders, Trump will place the United States in the most anti-climate change posture of any major nation, rivaling even China in the lack of hard commitments to move away from fossil fuels. Indeed, he is expected to open up new leases for coal and relax regulations to allow increased fossil fuel consumption.  As I have previously discussed, this move is not only running against the grain of other major nations but against the market itself. While other countries are moving aggressively toward clean energy and green markets, the United States will be moving aggressively backward…

obviously view the rollback on environmental and energy policies to be a terrible decision for the public. Indeed, any rational review of the market can see that green technology and alternative energy is the future for the world economy.  We are going big on yesterday’s industries like the investors who bet heavily on new canal projects despite the obvious advancement of railroads.  Tesla is now worth as much if not more than Ford.  Solar energy not employs more than all of the fossil fuel industries combined.  Major nations are now moving to be fossil free with huge strides in the use of alternative energy sources, including Germany.

I have always been caught in a philosophical dilemma. I believe that these issues need to be decided by Congress even though I have little faith that Congress will move toward greater environmental protection and alternative fuels.  That is burden of a representative democracy. I do not believe that these issues should be decided unilaterally by Obama or Trump.  The decisions come with great costs either way.  It needs to be a decision of the country as a whole.  However, I believe that Obama was right about the need to move strongly in favor of these measures to protect the future of this country and the whole at large.  I have no objections to Republicans who raise questions about the real benefits of some measures, particularly given their high costs. I also believe that there is a need to address the skyrocketing regulations imposed on businesses. However, we need to take action (in my view) to curtail these pollutants and have this debate . . . on the floor of Congress…(more)

I don’t think anyone is going to convince GE to start producing incandescent light bulbs again. I doubt anyone will go back to transistor radios. Maybe some people will consider going back in the coal mines, but the market may not be there, and reviving a dead market may not be worth it. The car industry is way past producing gas guzzlers. Industries are moving at a fast pace, developing new products for a hungry consumer market. It probably will not take Trump long to figure this out. The real problem that needs to be solved is much more difficult than turning the clock back. We need a new paradigm for a culture and society that may not need to work 40 hours a week. If the robots already in the planning phase are rolled out the way their inventors intend, we will have to figure out how to live with them and without the high level of employment we currently enjoy. Robots are the threat to employment, not foreign trade. Maybe one of Trump’s kids can work on that problem. That is the one that needs solving.

SF Supervisor Aaron Peskin named to California Coastal Commission

By By Peter Fimrite : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who has worked for environmental nonprofit groups for three decades, was appointed Thursday to the California Coastal Commission, an agency racked by dissension over the past year after the firing of its executive director.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León appointed Peskin to fill the commission seat representing the North Coast and Central Coast, which was vacated by former Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who retired.

The commission, widely considered one of the most powerful and effective coastal-protection agencies in the country, was created by voter initiative in 1972 to regulate development and protect the coastline.

“I am honored, delighted and excited,” Peskin said. “Our coast is under a tremendous amount of pressure. There are a whole slew of issues related to sea-level rise and I look forward to being at the cutting edge on all those matters.”…

Peskin said he will resign his position on the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District so he can dedicate more time to the Coastal Commission, which he acknowledged is in the midst of “some tumult.” He will represent an area that includes Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma counties...

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