Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WaterTags , Leave a comment on Drought conditions stun North Coast grape growers

Drought conditions stun North Coast grape growers

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The North Coast needs an additional foot of rain between now and May just to get back to drought conditions seen in 1977, and even then Lake Mendocino could still go bone dry by autumn for the first time in recorded history, water officials said Tuesday.

The warning stunned North Coast grape growers who packed a Cloverdale meeting hall Tuesday to discuss ways of saving their crops amid the worst drought any of them can recall.

None of the strategies, which ranged from installing more wind machines to covering ponds with plastic tarps to reduce evaporation, compared with what everyone agreed is the most pressing need: more rain and lots of it.

If Lake Mendocino runs dry, it could be disaster for growers, in particular those with vineyards along the upper Russian River. Many rely on water from Lake Mendocino for irrigation, as well as for frost protection.

“If you’re below Dry Creek, it’s going to be a bad year. If you’re above Dry Creek, it’s going to be a biblical year,” said Sean White, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control District.

via Drought conditions concern North Coast grape growers | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable LivingTags , , Leave a comment on Gardening during drought

Gardening during drought

Wendy Krupnik, iGROW Blog

Hooray! Finally a little rain! I’m glad that I waited until today to post what I wrote yesterday, as this “much” (around a half inch) of rain was not expected. It was enough to wet my garden and will prompt some grass to grow in the fields – yea! BUT – we need to remember that we are behind on 2 season’s worth of rain. Although very welcome and helpful, a little rain does not end this drought.

 The drought is now official, serious and already having devastating consequences, especially for animals – with local livestock and already endangered fish populations diminishing. And also for farmers, who may not have water to grow crops. Although most jurisdictions have not yet called for mandatory conservation, I think restrictions – with penalties – should be enacted. It is too easy for those not directly affected to go on running the tap until we all run dry. I’d like to suggest reviewing what Sara and I wrote in our January blogs about gardening during drought, as it is all still very relevant.

 Birds are having a hard time as well. Several gardeners have commented that birds have been scratching up the soil like chickens do and sometimes eating crops more than usual this winter. I’m using row cover, strawberry baskets and chicken wire to protect plants. Consider providing water in a bird bath and bird seed to help the poor birds though this time.

via Gardening during drought | iGROW Sonoma.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , , Leave a comment on Hearing continues on disputed recycling facility at county landfill

Hearing continues on disputed recycling facility at county landfill

Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A planned recycling facility at the Sonoma County landfill that has been caught up in a lawsuit is set for a second round of public input after its permit hearing before the Board of Supervisors was continued Tuesday.

The project calls for installation of a mechanized solid waste sorting and recovery operation inside the existing transfer station at the central landfill off Meacham Road west of Cotati.

The plans are part of the county’s effort to boost recycling of reusable material now being disposed at the landfill, thereby increasing the site’s lifespan and cutting down on carbon emissions from decaying garbage.

“When we divert more material, we create a cleaner environment,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a strong supporter of the recycling project.

It was packaged within a larger deal approved by the county last year to turn over operation of the landfill to a private operator under a 20-year agreement worth an estimated $547 million.

via Hearing continues on disputed recycling facility at county landfill | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Sonoma CoastTags Leave a comment on No detectable radiation in seawater yet from Fukushima

No detectable radiation in seawater yet from Fukushima

UPDATE: January 28, 2014, CENTER FOR MARINE AND ENVIRONMENTAL RADIATION

The first results from seawater samples come from La Jolla and Point Reyes, Calif., and Grayland and Squium, Wash. Four samples from these three locations show no detectable Fukushima cesium. We know this because Fukushima released equal amounts of two isotopes of cesium: the shorter-lived cesium-134 isotope half-life of 2 years and the longer-lived cesium-137 half-life of 30 years. Cesium-137 was found at levels of 1.5 Bq per cubic meter Bq/m3, but this was already detectable prior to releases at Fukushima and came primarily from nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific during the 1950s and 1960s.

This so-called "negative" result has two immediate implications. First there should be no health concerns associated with swimming in the ocean as a result of Fukushima contaminants by themselves or as a result of any additional, low-level radioactive dose received from existing human and natural sources of radiation in the ocean existing levels of cesium-137 are hundreds of times less than the dose provided by naturally occurring potassium-40 in seawater.

Secondly, and just as important from a scientific perspective, the results provide a key baseline from the West Coast prior to the arrival of the Fukushima plume. Models of ocean currents and cesium transport predict that the plume will arrive along the northern sections of the North American Pacific Coast Alaska and northern British Columbia sometime in the spring of 2014 and will arrive along the Washington, Oregon, and California coastline over the coming one to two years. The timing and pattern of dispersal underscores the need for samples further to the north, and for additional samples to be collected every few months at sites up and down the coast.

For this reason, we are also pleased to report that funds are already in hand to continue sampling at both the La Jolla and Pt. Reyes locations thanks to the foresight and generous donations of the groups who volunteered to adopt these sites. We expect levels of cesium-134 to become detectable in coming months, but the behavior of coastal currents will likely produce complex results changing levels over time, arrival in some areas but not others that cannot be accurately predicted by models. That is why ongoing support for long-term monitoring is so critical, now and in the future.

via How Radioactive is Our Ocean?.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sonoma Coast, TransportationTags Leave a comment on Electric vehicles to get a coastal charge

Electric vehicles to get a coastal charge

Matt Brown, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Richard Sachen enjoys driving his electric Nissan Leaf from his home in Petaluma to the coast. The tech entrepreneur used to worry about having enough juice to make it home.

Not any more. Sachen recently installed an electric vehicle charger at Point Reyes Station to eliminate so-called “range anxiety.”

Sunspeed Enterprises, the company Sachen founded in 2012, is developing a network of fast charging stations up and down the coast from Eureka to Malibu. Sachen calls it the “Pacific Coast Sun Trail.”

EV advocates say the new network will fill an overlooked niche by adding charging infrastructure in rural areas that attract tourists while other companies have focused on installing charging stations in urban centers and along major highways.

via Sunspeed Enterprises, Point Reyes, Richard Sachen, Eureka, Malibu, Greenlots, electric vehicles | PressDemocrat.com.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Lake County seeking tax increase in fight against invasive mussels

Lake County seeking tax increase in fight against invasive mussels

Glenda Anderson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Lake County supervisors are again asking voters to help them keep invasive, ecology-altering mussels out of Clear Lake.

“It’s ultimately up to voters,” said Supervisor Tony Farrington.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved placing a half-percent sales tax increase on the June ballot.

The “Healthy Lake Sales Tax” would boost funding for the county’s battle against quagga and zebra mussels. It also would fund clean water and wetlands projects and the ongoing battle to control the chronic overgrowth of aquatic plants in the lake.

via Lake County seeking tax increase in fight against invasive mussels | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, WaterTags Leave a comment on Final state Water Action Plan released: Outlines California's near and long-term priorities

Final state Water Action Plan released: Outlines California's near and long-term priorities

California Natural Resources Agency, PRESS RELEASE
Click here to read the report.
As California experiences one of the driest winters on record, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture released the final California Water Action Plan, laying out goals and vision for the next five years. The plan will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems, and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.
At the direction of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., a collaborative effort of state agencies, and nearly 100 substantive public and stakeholder comments formed a plan to set direction for a host of near- and long-term actions on water issues for the state.
“It is a tall order. But it is what we must do to get through this drought and prepare for the next,” said Gov. Brown in his 2014 State of the State address.
The Governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget lays a solid fiscal foundation for implementing near-term actions for the plan, recommending $618.7 million in funding for water efficiency projects, wetland and watershed restoration, groundwater programs, conservation, flood control, and integrated water management.
“As we work on emergency actions to manage through one of the driest winters on record, we are also taking proactive, long-term steps to prepare California for future droughts and flood,” said Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “Each decade brings improvements, but also significantly highlights what we can do better. The California Water Action Plan gives us clear focus and vision for the next five years.”
Final revisions to the draft plan, released in October, include an expanded section on drought response and a new effort focused on better management of Sierra Nevada headwaters that helps water storage and quality, and ecosystems. Public comment on the draft plan made it clear that California must better understand the economic and ecological harm of sustained dry weather. The Governor’s proposed budget would provide $472.5 million in Proposition 84 funds to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for integrated regional water management. The bond funds would leverage local and federal investment in projects that reduce demand, build supply, and offer additional benefits such as wildlife habitat and flood management. The budget also placed immediate emphasis on water and energy use efficiency and wetlands and coastal watershed restoration to further support the resiliency of water supply and ecosystems during this dry weather period.
The governor’s budget also would allow DWR to better monitor the groundwater resources that provide more than one-third of California’s supplies in dry years, and supports the development of a state backstop for sustainable groundwater management practices by the State Water Resources Control Board, should local efforts to do so not materialize.
“Together, the Governor’s proposed budget and this finalized plan provide the State with practical solutions to the state’s most critical problems; the proposals on groundwater are a good example,” said Cal/EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez. “Data collection and monitoring are crucial to sustainable management of our unseen but incredibly important aquifers.”
All of the near-and long-term actions in the plan center on sustaining supplies of water for people, the environment, industry and agriculture. This year’s severe dry conditions highlight the stakes. Drought threatens to force the fallowing of hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, throw thousands of people out of work, and potentially raise supermarket food prices.
“Our severe dry conditions are alarming for California’s agricultural industry,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “In the near term, we must do all we can to keep our fields productive. In the long term, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the investments that will allow us to stay productive in the face of a changing climate.”
Key actions identified in the Plan include:
Make conservation a California way of life.
Increase regional self-reliance and integrated water management across all levels of government.
Achieve the co-equal goals for the Delta.
Protect and restore important ecosystems.
Manage and prepare for dry periods.
Expand water storage capacity and improve groundwater management.
Provide safe water for all communities.
Increase flood protection.
Increase operational and regulatory efficiency.
Identify sustainable and integrated financing opportunities.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County Biological Opinion Annual UPDATE

Sonoma County Biological Opinion Annual UPDATE

Vesta Copestakes, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

I find this subject fascinating. I fervently believe that all life systems are connected and that we are responsible for taking care of the home in which we live. Here in Sonoma County water is on the top of our list of environmental topics because we (usually) get rain 50% of the year and sun the other 50%. That has an impact on how we use, preserve and protect our water resources. 

As Anne Maurice stated in her public comment at the update hearing January 17th, we don’t live as if water is scarce 50% of the year. We grow crops when there is no rain to feed them. We plant lawns because we came from places where lawns made sense. We WASTE water on a daily basis.

So what does the Biological Opinion have to do with all of this?

It’s about water and the fish that live in it because they are our “Canary in the Coal Mine” for us. As they thrive or die, so do we.

via Sonoma County Biological Opinion Annual UPDATE.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Drought threatens coho salmon

Drought threatens coho salmon

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Coho salmon are trapped in the Russian River and urgently need a boost from Mother Nature.

Cut off by lack of rain from most of the small streams where they habitually spawn, the endangered coho face a ticking biological clock that could decimate this year’s reproduction.

“We know their time is running out,” said Nick Bauer, a biologist with UC Cooperative Extension’s coho monitoring program.

via Drought threatens coho salmon | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, WaterTags Leave a comment on Governor declares drought emergency

Governor declares drought emergency

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration Friday of a drought emergency in California does not immediately trigger new restrictions on water use on the North Coast, where officials already have begun asking people to voluntarily cut back their use.

Brown, speaking in San Francisco Friday, said California is in perhaps its worst drought since record-keeping began a century ago.

His proclamation states that drought and water shortage are creating “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property” in the state. The governor asked Californians to reduce their water usage voluntarily by 20 percent.

via Drought declaration underscores state's water woes | The Press Democrat.