Jeremy B. White, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
California voters will be asked to authorize $7.5 billion to bolster the state’s water supply, infrastructure and ecosystems in November, as lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday struck a long-sought deal to move a new water bond to the ballot.
An extraordinary drought that has strained California’s water supply spurred a concerted push for a new water bond. Lawmakers moved to replace an $11.1 billion previously slated for the ballot, convinced that voters would reject it.
Instead, voters will see a $7.5 billion measure that contains significantly less money for Delta restoration. The final sum represents a compromise both from Republicans, who called for $3 billion for surface storage projects, and from Brown, who sought an overall total closer to $6 billion.
via Water bond headed to voters – Capitol Alert – The Sacramento Bee.
Craig Miller, KQED SCIENCE
Three years into a historic drought, we’re hearing a lot of talk about resilience in California. For inspiration, Californians might do well to look south — all the way to Australia.
“We had here a phenomenon that people called ‘bucket back,’” says Rebecca Nelson, describing the back strain Aussies would suffer from catching the excess shower water in buckets and hauling it outside to water the garden. Nelson is a research fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment. She lives in Australia, which recently endured a nine-year drought — something that hasn’t happened in California for at least a century. (There were two six-year droughts in the 20th century.)
Bucket back was the least of it. The stretch that came to be known as the Big Dry was the worst drought in Australia’s history. During the first decade of this century, it devastated the farm economy (at one point halving the number of sheep, the nation’s principal livestock) and triggered severe restrictions on urban water use. But Nelson says it also transformed the water culture in that country. She says some ways they found to adapt were relatively painless — and much of it stuck.
via Drought Lessons From Down Under | Science | KQED Public Media for Northern CA.
Brenda Adelman, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Words have the power to conjure up all kinds of feelings for good or ill, such as “treated sewage” or “recycled water”. Most people would never dream that these disparate terms represent the same product.
Over the years, there has been this subtle and intentional shift in language to persuade the public to accept exposures to treated wastewater in everyday life. After all, it looks and smells the same as potable, and even experts can’t tell the difference. Some officials and politicians have even tasted the local chemical concoction to certify it’s high quality. Over the years, what used to be ‘treated sewage’ became ‘treated effluent’, then ‘wastewater’ or ‘treated wastewater’, and finally ‘recycled water’, this latter having entirely removed the ‘yuk!’ factor. Yet little has changed in the content of the product.
Current treatment of the raw sewage is better than it used to be, and probably the term ‘treated sewage’ is no longer fair, but ‘recycled water’ is very misleading, since of the approximately 80,000 chemicals on the market, only 125 are regulated. We have a long way to go before we should agree to drink the stuff. What we are learning about endocrine disrupting chemicals (most pesticides are in that category, for example) is that children are more vulnerable than adults and low dose exposures can have major impacts on the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
via Down the Drain: ‘Treated Sewage’ or ‘Recycled Water’?.
Brenda Adelman, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Last year’s controversial legislation, AB 2398, proposed loosening State requirements for wastewater irrigation in order to greatly expand reuse. Now it’s returned as AB 803, and still maximizes opportunities for over-irrigating wastewater that can pollute our waterways with concentrated nutrients, toxic pesticides, and other endocrine disrupting chemicals during low stream flows when pollutants are least likely to be assimilated. This is also the time when recreational use is highest and the potential for human contact is great.
The person who helped write both pieces of legislation, Dr. Dave Smith, is head of California WateReuse, and also the prime wastewater consultant for the City of Santa Rosa for the last 27 years. During that time, and with Santa Rosa’s support, Dr. Smith advocated greater discharges into the Russian River, argued vociferously for mixing zones (areas allowing pollutant discharges), assisted in lawsuits against the State Water Board to avoid regulation of nutrient discharges into the severely impaired Laguna, and much more. For years he advocated significant capacity increases in the City’s discharge permit over what was needed for projected growth, and is currently lobbying to minimize regulatory oversight in the City’s revised discharge permit.
via Round Two: Irrigated Wastewater Legislation.