Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , Leave a comment on Flouride and other chemical risks

Flouride and other chemical risks

Living on Earth, PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL

Air Date: Week of February 21, 2014

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

New research finds exposure to fluoride in drinking water and several other common chemicals in early life diminishes brain function in children. Study lead author, Philippe Grandjean, tells host Steve Curwood fluoride, flame retardants, pesticides and and fuel additives may be affecting children’s intelligence.

via Living on Earth: Flouride and Other Chemical Risks.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags Leave a comment on More Sonoma County businesses running clean

More Sonoma County businesses running clean

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Go to this link to access the toxic release database. To generate Sonoma County’s report, use the TRI Explorer tool.

Toxic chemical releases from Sonoma County industries have declined steadily for six consecutive years, confirming the county’s reputation as a magnet for clean business.

Industrial pollution dropped 76 percent from 27,950 pounds in 2007 to 6,801 pounds in 2012, according to a federal government report.

Going back nearly a quarter century, local industries released 332,508 pounds of toxics in 1988, the year the Environmental Protection Agency began tracking chemical emissions.

The steep decline is driven by a mix of factors, including changes made by some companies to clean up their production processes, the closure of other operations or their move out of the county, and the North Bay’s long bid to build and recruit a wider network of businesses with a light toxic footprint.

via More Sonoma County businesses running clean | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , Leave a comment on Water war boils down to farmers vs. fishermen

Water war boils down to farmers vs. fishermen

George Skelton, Capitol Journal, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Don’t blame the little fish. And don’t call it the Central Valley.

Both comments, repeated incessantly, were irritants during President Obama’s visit to parched California farm country last week.

The president was there—in the San Joaquin Valley—to cuddle with water hogs.

The hogs are large growers who use lots of water, have just about run out and are angry because they’re being denied other people’s. And they keep complaining that the government is favoring a little "bait fish" over farmers.

Yes, regulators have been holding back some delta water in recent years to save the smelt, a finger-sized fish that is used not as bait but as a canary.

That is, the smelt is viewed by biologists as a canary in a coal mine, an indicator of ill health for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a source of drinking water for 24 million people and irrigation for 3 million acres.

So goes the smelt, so goes the delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of America, north or south. The smelt’s decline signals, among other things, increased pollution, salinity and devastation caused by giant fish-chomping pumps.

via Water war boils down to farmers vs. fishermen – latimes.com.

Posted on Categories WaterTags Leave a comment on Sonoma County expected to declare drought emergency

Sonoma County expected to declare drought emergency

Sean Scully, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County Supervisors are expected to declare a “drought emergency” Tuesday, a move designed to make the county eligible for possible state and federal aid.
“There’s nothing we couldn’t do for ourselves outside of that, to be sure that those funds are accessible,” Chairman David Rabbitt said Friday.
The county already was part of a disaster declaration issued in January by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making agricultural businesses eligible for federal assistance.
Supervisors say the county declaration is necessary in anticipation of state and federal legislation that could reimburse local governments for both short-term emergency measures, such as compensating farmers for crop losses and beefing up staffing to meet increased fire danger, and long-term conservation, such as distributing efficient water fixtures and encouraging small-scale, seasonal storage options.
via Press Democrat | Mobile | Sonoma County expected to declare drought emergency.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014

Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014

SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

The Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, a Joint Powers Authority composed of the Cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Sonoma; the Town of Windsor; and the County of Sonoma, voted unanimously today to adopt an ordinance to reduce carryout bag waste throughout Sonoma County.

“This ordinance will cause a dramatic decrease in the estimated 258 million plastic carryout bags used throughout Sonoma County annually,” said Henry Mikus, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.  The ordinance is effective on March 21, 2014, and retailers are encouraged to phase out their existing stock of plastic carryout bags as soon as possible, but enforcement will not begin until September 1, 2014.  The ordinance will be effective countywide unless a member jurisdiction formally opts out of the ordinance.

This carryout bag waste reduction ordinance prohibits retail establishments (excluding public eating establishments and nonprofit charitable reusers, as defined by the ordinance) from providing customers with plastic carryout bags at the point of sale or other departure point. 

Bags exempt from this ordinance include plastic bags without handles

(1) to transport produce, bulk food or meat from a produce, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale;

(2) bags used to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; or

(3) bags used to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a reusable or recycled paper bag. 

Paper bags made of at least 40% post consumer recycled content may be provided to customers for a minimum charge of $0.10 per bag.  Reusable bags, as defined by the Ordinance, may also be provided to customers. 

Retail establishments will be required to maintain accurate records of the number of recycled-content paper bags purchased and sold for a minimum of three years.  Violation of the carryout bag waste reduction ordinance would be an infraction, subject to fine, as defined by the administrative penalties ordinance.

Please visit http://www.recyclenow.org/reduce/carryout_bag_reduction.asp for more information.

via Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Local OrganizationsTags Leave a comment on Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner

Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner

EARLY BIRD TICKETS are $40 UNTIL FEBRUARY 14; $60 after February 14.

The 38th Annual Environmental Awards Dinner will be held Sunday, March 16, 2014, at the Sebastopol Community Center, from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
The Dinner is sponsored by the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter and Sonoma County Conservation Council and benefits the Environmental Center of Sonoma County. 
This year’s topic is, Building a Stronger Coalition between Agriculture and Environment. Farm and grazing lands represent 58% of Sonoma County’s land area. How these lands are stewarded is of critical interest to the public, the land owner/manager, and to the plants and animals that are found there. As Sonoma County looks ahead it is faced with needs that often appear to conflict: to preserve the economic viability of agriculture and protect the integrity of the many ways everyone benefits from healthy ecosystems. In this short and provocative talk, Joseph McIntyre, President of Ag Innovations Network, will share his thoughts on how to build a strong coalition between agricultural and environmental interests that can address the public’s need both for healthy food and a healthy environment.
Also featured is live music by Duo Giuliani – Terry Mills, guitar, and Richard Heinberg, violin. Their repertoire spans five centuries and includes tangos, hot jazz, and renaissance dance music.
A silent auction, many non-profit displays, a delicious dinner by A la Heart Catering, and of course, the Environmental Awards, will fill out this festive evening.
Tickets are $40 UNTIL FEBRUARY 14; $60 after February 14.
Purchase online at envirocentersoco.org or send a check payable to SCCC to PO Box 4346,  Santa Rosa, 95402. Please see web site for student ticket and group rates as well as work trade information.  Sponsorships welcome to support discounted tickets and Environmental Center operations.
For more information, contact Wendy at 707-544-4582; wlk@sonic.net
via Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Healdsburg may use treated wastewater for vineyards

Healdsburg may use treated wastewater for vineyards

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The historic drought and the emphasis on conserving potable water is bringing new urgency to using reclaimed wastewater for irrigation.

The Healdsburg City Council at 4 p.m. Friday is holding a special meeting to consider extending a pipeline from the city’s sewer plant to provide highly treated wastewater to surrounding vineyards.

It also would make it easier for trucks to access and haul the water beyond Healdsburg, not only for vineyards and orchards, but for frost prevention and dust control.

“It’s great quality water. There’s people who could use it,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “It’s a tremendous offset for potable water (use).”

Currently the state-of-the-art treatment plant discharges about one million gallons daily of “near drinkable” reclaimed water into a pond, which then leaches into the adjacent Russian River.

via Healdsburg may use treated wastewater for vineyards | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , Leave a comment on Sewage from ruptured pipe reaches Russian River

Sewage from ruptured pipe reaches Russian River

Sean Scully, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A ruptured sewer main is spewing out as much as 40,000 gallons per hour in Guerneville and at least some of the untreated waste has reached the Russian River, the Sonoma County Water Agency said.

The pipe ruptured around 12:20 p.m. at the corner of Beach and Orchard avenues. Repairs are expected to last through the night.

It’s not clear how much of the waste is reaching the river, but the agency said the majority is being recovered and pumped into tanker trucks for safe treatment elsewhere.

Drinking water supplies are not threatened, but the Sweetwater Springs Water District, which supplies water to the area, was asking customers to reduce consumption to slow the flow of the sewage, the agency said.

via Sewage from ruptured pipe reaches Russian River | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sonoma CoastTags , Leave a comment on Feds approve more fracking off California coast

Feds approve more fracking off California coast

Alicia Chang, ASSOCIATED PRESS

The federal government has approved three new fracking jobs off the shores of California as state coastal regulators voiced concerns about potential environmental impacts.

The work in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a 1969 oil platform blowout, has not yet begun and it was not immediately clear when it would.

The disclosure Wednesday came as the California Coastal Commission attempts to exercise greater oversight of the contested practice known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping huge amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep into rock formations to free oil.

The environmental impacts of fracking and other well stimulation techniques "are not well understood. To date, little data has been collected," said Alison Dettmer, a commission deputy director.

The agency launched an investigation into the extent of offshore fracking after The Associated Press last year documented at least a dozen instances of companies using the technique since the 1990s in federal waters.

via Feds approve more fracking off California coast.

Posted on Categories Local Organizations, WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Local ecologists and botanists advise Vegetation Mapping Team

Local ecologists and botanists advise Vegetation Mapping Team

Winter 2014 Newsletter, SONOMA VEG MAP
February 18th, 7:30 PM, California Native Plant Society, Milo Baker Chapter, General Meeting at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa, Santa Rosa.
Creating a Countywide Vegetation and Habitat Map of Sonoma County
Tom Robinson, Dr. Todd Keeler Wolf, Julie Evens and Joan Schwan will deliver a talk providing an overview of the program, describing the fieldwork and classification components completed to date, and how CNPS members can contribute to the project.

From the Newsletter:
The Local Ecology and Botany Advisory Group – 35 experts in ecology, botany, and natural resources management – convened at the Laguna Foundation’s Heron Hall in late January to advise the vegetation and habitat mapping team. The meeting began with presentations by members of the mapping team (Tom Robinson, Mark Tukman, and Joan Schwan) followed by breakout sessions. In the breakout sessions, committee members advised the mapping team on possible locations for field work, occurrences of unique or rare vegetation communities, and existing fine-scale vegetation data for use by the mapping team. Committee members also provided valuable input on strategies for maximizing the usability of the vegetation and habitat map.
For a list of Ecology and Botany Advisory Group members, see this blog post. Thanks to our ecologists and botanists for donating their time and expertise to help us make the best map!
via Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping and LiDAR Program – Winter 2014 Newsletter.