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Category Archives: ‘Water’
Forget environmental concerns: When it comes to fracking, Germans are worried about how it might affect beer quality. In a letter to several ministries in Berlin, brewers expressed concern that the exploitation of shale gas could contaminate water supplies and thus violate the beer purity law of 1516.
The fight over fracking in Germany has taken an unexpected turn: German breweries are now warning that the controversial method of extracting natural gas from rock layers deep in the earth would affect their ability to brew the best beer.
The process threatens to contaminate drinking water, according to a letter written by the German Brewers Federation to the federal government, and quoted by the mass daily tabloid Bild.
Regulations controlling the brewing of beer in Germany date back to the beer purity law, or Reinheitsgebot, of 1516 -- the world's first food purity law. According to the Brewers Federation, German beer still may only be made from malt, hops, yeast and water.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition has drafted regulations for fracking, but the brewers say their proposed laws don't go far enough.
Dependence on Clean Water
To read the entire article go to: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/german-brewers-oppose-fracking-because-of-fear-over-clean-water-a-901474.htmlShare This Post
Posted on 21 May 2013
By Dan Aiello
Dan Aiello reports for the Bay Area Reporter and California Progress Report. His coverage of California water issues and fracking were recently cited in a San Diego Union Tribune editorial, "A Faustian Bargain
Kern County almond farmer, Fred Starrh, is an unlikely darling of the anti-fracking movement in California.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an environmentally risky oil production method of pumping under pressure large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to bubble to the surface heavy tar-like oil left in depleted oil wells and to reach deep deposits of oil and natural gas.
Fracking is the method oil companies seek to employ to proliferate drilling in California where the discovered Monterey Shale Deposit is estimated to contain as many as 15.4 billion barrels of crude 11,000 feet deep.
In both conventional oil drilling and fracking, as many as 8 barrels of water are used and turned into "produced" wastewater for every 1 barrel of oil produced, and that wastewater, which cannot be recycled, can be carcinogenic, radioactive and capable of contaminating local water supplies should it migrate to groundwater tables from casing failure or mishandled at the surface.
It is not widely known that oil production demands huge amounts of water and that water must be disposed of as carefully as oil must be handled to prevent environmental catastrophe. In California, water is as precious as oil and the possibility that local groundwater is in peril from an expected fracking boom worries farmers, environmentalists and water-thirsty districts throughout the Golden State.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/california-farmer-warns-dont-trust-oil-industry-state-or-courts-protect-water?utm_source=Daily+Email+05%2F21%2F13&utm_campaign=05%2F21%2F13+Daily+Email&utm_medium=emailShare This Post
Demand for fresh water could exceed supply by an estimated 40 percent by 2030, pushing up prices for the water-intensive energy industry. Soaring water prices would help wind, solar, and natural gas, but hurt coal and nuclear plants.
By Eli Hinckley, Guest blogger / May 19, 2013
Why It Matters
Energy: The industry uses 23 percent of fresh water globally and 40 percent in the US.
Environment: Higher water prices would be one way to ration increasingly precious fresh water, where demand is outstripping supply.
There is a broad and growing consensus that freshwater is undervalued. It is a limited, but vital, commodity without a price. In nearly every region the price of water is the cost of water access rights, treatment costs, and transportation costs. There is no price or market for the water itself.
That will begin to change. Prolonged drought and overuse have depleted freshwater reserves at the same time that demand is rising rapidly. The resulting imbalance has some projections of demand for freshwater exceeding supply by as much as 40% by 2030 . Increasingly, water starved regions have begun to look to ways to both reduce overall use and to prioritize different types of use. While there are a number of policy approaches, one that seems to have wide support is the idea of regional exchanges where water could be priced (with adjustments for preferred uses) and sold.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0519/Water-may-reshape-energy-industry?nav=92-csm_category-leadStoryShare This Post
Published: May 19, 2013
HASKELL COUNTY, Kan. — Forty-nine years ago, Ashley Yost’s grandfather sank a well deep into a half-mile square of rich Kansas farmland. He struck an artery of water so prodigious that he could pump 1,600 gallons to the surface every minute.
Last year, Mr. Yost was coaxing just 300 gallons from the earth, and pumping up sand in order to do it. By harvest time, the grit had robbed him of $20,000 worth of pumps and any hope of returning to the bumper harvests of years past.
“That’s prime land,” he said not long ago, gesturing from his pickup at the stubby remains of last year’s crop. “I’ve raised 294 bushels of corn an acre there before, with water and the Lord’s help.” Now, he said, “it’s over.”
The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/high-plains-aquifer-dwindles-hurting-farmers.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0Share This Post
Published: Friday, May. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 10A
Unable to match the salaries of private and some public utilities, California cannot retain enough skilled employees to maintain and operate its complex and vital water delivery system.
As The Bee's Jon Ortiz reported on Thursday, years of staffing shortages and turnover among workers occupying skilled trades and craft positions at state hydroelectric plants have compromised safety and efficiency.
In the short run, the solution will be to negotiate new labor contracts authorizing higher salaries. In the long run, the structure of the state water system must be freed of constraints of state hiring and procurement rules.
The State Water Project – a vast, aging network of aqueducts, dams, reservoirs, pumping stations and hydroelectric plants – supplies water and power to 25 million people. Its safe and efficient operation is vital to the state's economy and to the health and welfare of the public.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/17/5427319/state-must-pay-enough-to-keep.htmlShare This Post
By Curtis Tate
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Published: Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 - 2:57 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 - 4:20 pm
WASHINGTON -- In a rare display of bipartisanship on major legislation, the Senate passed a bill Wednesday to move forward on a variety of water infrastructure projects throughout the country.
The Water Resources Development Act, the first law of its kind in six years, would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with flood control efforts, port improvements, wetlands restoration and coastal storm protection.
The $12.5 billion bill drew overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans. The vote was 83-14. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told colleagues that she was gratified.
“This type of a bill is not easy to get through,” Boxer said. “Every state has its own needs. We were able to meet the needs of the entire country.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/15/5423715/senate-overwhelmingly-approves.html?storylink=lingospot_related_articlesShare This Post
By Jon Ortiz
Published: Thursday, May. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
California officials say the state cannot retain enough trained workers to efficiently run and maintain its complex water delivery system, a problem that has consequences for cities and farms statewide.
State pay for some key jobs, they say, has fallen so far behind the industry's standard that the Department of Water Resources serves as a farm system for private utilities and other government entities.
The problem costs taxpayers extra tens of millions of dollars each year to move water around the state, officials say, because facilities aren't managed efficiently.
"There has been a talent drain in some critical areas," said Daniel Curtin, who sits on the California Water Commission, a panel appointed by the governor. "There are key facilities that are unmanned. That tells you that we could use a few more players, but the salaries are lagging behind industry standards."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/16/5424586/california-short-on-key-state.htmlShare This Post
By Edward Ortiz
Published: Thursday, May. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am
A centuries-old farming technique called dry farming - once the order of the day in the Central Valley - is once again drawing the interest of some of the region's farmers.
The technique is as simple as it is risky. Dry farming relies solely on rainwater to keep crops growing throughout a dry season.
Used for centuries in the Mediterranean region to grow crops like olives and grapes, the technique is not for the faint of heart. A year such as this, with a dry winter, can devastate crop output and put an onerous dent in a farmer's wallet.
"Dry farming would be a hard life because you're at the whim of the rains," said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. "It would have to be a fairly small-scale farm, and in some cases, it would be a good road to poverty."
Yet dry farming has its adherents. Many are small farmers and vintners who either lack irrigated water or believe that dry farming produces better tasting fruits and vegetables.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/15/5424007/dry-farming-draws-interest-of.htmlShare This Post
Published: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6E
For more than a decade, the big farm and urban districts that have grown dependent on water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have tried to discredit scientific findings that greater Delta flows are needed to recover endangered species.
"We don't think that these (proposed flows) do a lot of good for fish," said Daniel J. O'Hanlon, who represents the Westlands Water District and other contractors, at an April law conference in San Francisco. "We can't find a relation between fish abundance and flows."
The water contractors, which include Westlands and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, have argued that restored habitat and reduced ammonia pollution would be better for smelt, salmon and other fish. In fact, they are trying to make the claim – through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – that new habitat and other non-flow measures should be enough to allow them to divert extra water from the Delta through a pair of proposed tunnels.
It's a convenient theory for water exporters. The only problem? Few, if any, independent scientists agree with them. Recently the Public Policy Institute of California asked 122 scientists with Delta expertise about the major stressors facing the estuary. The PPIC compared their responses with those of water exporters, Delta interests and other stakeholders.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/12/5411951/if-bdcp-were-science-based-delta.htmlShare This Post
By Dan McSwain5 p.m.May 11, 2013
Last week, a state agency ordered dozens of local governments to spend whatever it takes to reduce the levels of bacteria, dirt and chemicals in the water that flows from storm drains into creeks and the ocean, when it rains and during dry weather.
The ambition is noble, not to mention popular with Californians; everybody wants clean water. However, society has made such enormous gains in water quality over the last 40 years that further progress is becoming enormously expensive, with fewer prospects for helping the environment.
As returns dwindle on our clean-water investments, the new rules imposed last week by the state’s San Diego Water Quality Board appear to be particularly unfortunate.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/may/11/clean-water-quest-enters-unknown-expensive-realm/Share This Post
By Howard Schneider, Published: May 8
The World Bank is making a major push to develop large-scale hydropower projects around the globe, something it had all but abandoned a decade ago but now sees as crucial to resolving the tension between economic development and the drive to tame carbon use.
Major hydropower projects in Congo, Zambia, Nepal and elsewhere — all of a scale dubbed “transformational” to the regions involved — are a focus of the bank’s fundraising drive among wealthy nations. Bank lending for hydropower has scaled up steadily in recent years, and officials expect the trend to continue amid a worldwide boom in water-fueled electricity.
Such projects were shunned in the 1990s, in part because they can be disruptive to communities and ecosystems. But the World Bank is opening the taps for dams, transmission lines and related infrastructure as its president, Jim Yong Kim, tries to resolve a quandary at the bank’s core: how to eliminate poverty while adding as little as possible to carbon emissions.
“Large hydro is a very big part of the solution for Africa and South Asia and Southeast Asia. . . . I fundamentally believe we have to be involved,” said Rachel Kyte, the bank’s vice president for sustainable development and an influential voice among Kim’s top staff members. The earlier move out of hydro “was the wrong message. . . . That was then. This is now. We are back.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/world-bank-turns-to-hydropower-to-square-development-with-climate-change/2013/05/08/b9d60332-b1bd-11e2-9a98-4be1688d7d84_story.html?wpmk=MK0000200Share This Post
The rights and wrongs of Belo Monte
Having spent heavily to make the world’s third-biggest hydroelectric project greener, Brazil risks getting a poor return on its $14 billion investment
May 4th 2013 | ALTAMIRA
THE biggest building site in Brazil is neither in the concrete jungle of São Paulo nor in beachside Rio de Janeiro, which is being revamped to host the 2016 Olympics. It lies 3,000km (1,900 miles) north in the state of Pará, deep in the Amazon basin. Some 20,000 labourers are working around the clock at Belo Monte on the Xingu river, the biggest hydropower plant under construction anywhere. When complete, its installed capacity, or theoretical maximum output, of 11,233MW will make it the world’s third-largest, behind China’s Three Gorges and Itaipu, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.
Everything about Belo Monte is outsized, from the budget (28.9 billion reais, or $14.4 billion), to the earthworks—a Panama Canal-worth of soil and rock is being excavated—to the controversy surrounding it. In 2008 a public hearing in Altamira, the nearest town, saw a government engineer cut with a machete. In 2010 court orders threatened to stop the auction for the project. The private-sector bidders pulled out a week before. When officials from Norte Energia, the winning consortium of state-controlled firms and pension funds, left the auction room, they were greeted by protesters—and three tonnes of pig muck.
Since then construction has twice been halted briefly by legal challenges. Greens and Amerindians often stage protests. Xingu Vivo (“Living Xingu”), an anti-Belo Monte campaign group, displays notes from supporters all over the world in its Altamira office. James Cameron, a Hollywood film-maker, has chimed in to compare Brazil’s dam-builders to the villains in “Avatar”, one of his blockbusters.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21577073-having-spent-heavily-make-worlds-third-biggest-hydroelectric-project-greener-brazilShare This Post
Shrouded in secrecy
Small dam, big argument
May 4th 2013 | GEORGETOWN
GUYANESE have long dreamed of harnessing their powerful rivers for hydroelectricity. Instead, they rely on imported oil for intermittent and expensive power. Now the government wants to move forward with an $840m project at Amaila Falls, deep in the forested interior. At full capacity of 165MW, it could supply more power than Guyana’s present needs.
The lead developer is Sithe Global, part of the Blackstone Group. Sithe wants a guaranteed 19% return on its equity stake, and plans to start construction this year. China Railway First Group signed an engineering contract in September. The China Development Bank will lend most of the money. The Inter-American Development Bank has been asked to chip in $175m; the World Bank was initially involved, but has pulled out.
Amaila’s supporters point out that it will flood less than 55 square km (21 square miles). No villages will be displaced and little wildlife will be disturbed. Guyana would no longer rely on fossil fuels for electricity. After two decades, ownership would pass to the government, construction costs paid off.
Opponents worry that clean electricity will not come cheap. Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the state-owned electricity company, will pay about $100m a year to the Amaila consortium. Electricity bills are unlikely to fall (three people were killed last year in protests over electricity charges). And Amaila’s power may not be reliable. The El Niño weather pattern can bring a year-long drought. In normal years, the plant will run below capacity between October and April. GPL will have to pay for backup thermal power. The IMF has urged “careful consideration of the [financial] risks”.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21577090-small-dam-big-argument-shrouded-secrecyShare This Post
More accurate, more frequent measurements of mountain snowpacks will allow water managers to mete out reservoirs with greater confidence. Two watersheds in the western US are testing grounds for a new aerial approach.
By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / May 4, 2013
The aim is to measure the snow's water content more accurately and more frequently, so that water managers can mete out water stored in reservoirs more effectively. The data also are expected to improve snowmelt forecasts as a melt season progresses.
The three-year demonstration project is focusing on a watershed in California's southern Sierra Nevada Mountains that provides San Francisco with water and another watershed in Colorado that feeds the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Rapid population growth and the subsequent demand on water resources in a drought-prone region are enough to justify the effort, suggests Thomas Painter, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the lead scientist on the project. Dr. Painter's research focuses on Earth's water and carbon cycles.
But the issue becomes more critical in the face of global warming. Taken as a whole, the West's mountains have experienced a decline in April snowpack since the 1950s, studies indicate, although some portions of the West's mountain ranges, such as the southern Sierras, have seen increases in April snowpack.Share This Post
Water managers answer 'yes,' and they've put forth a $23 billion plan to do just that
Posted: 05/04/2013 02:12:02 PM PDT
Updated: 05/04/2013 02:12:14 PM PDT
Steve Scauzillo covers the environment and the communities along the Puente Hills. He's the current recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing from The Wilderness Society. Follow him on Twitter @stevscaz or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the Wicked Witch of the West needed to get out of a jam, she waved her magic wand and made it snow.
Unfortunately, the California Department of Water Resources has no such powers. On Thursday, it announced the snowpack in the Sierra was 17 percent of normal. For thirsty Southern California, which gets about two-thirds of its water from Northern California and the Colorado River near Arizona, this is a concern.
Less snow means less water flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, less going into major reservoirs such as the San Luis Reservoir, less coming south down the State Water Project into Southern California homes, businesses, etc.
But hey, 2011 was one of the wettest wet years in history, which was followed by dry wet seasons in 2012 and 2013. The point? These water guys expect the unexpected. Put another way, short-term weather patterns mean nothing. However, long-term solutions are where the game is played. Or, if you're a cynic, where the water wars are fought.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_23173060/steve-scauzillo-can-sacramento-river-delta-be-fixed?source=rss&utm_source=feedlyShare This Post