Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

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Despite Recent Storms, California Still Far From Optimal Water Levels

December 18th, 2014

vineyardGiven the recent downpours that northern California has received, many people are left to wonder if they can take this as a sign to resume watering their lawn and taking longer showers. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. According to recent data, the Golden State is still faces a significant deficit in water levels.

According to recent satellite data collected by NASA, California needs around 11 trillion gallons of rainwater to end the record-setting drought. That’s enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool 17 million times! The study to determine the amount of water the state needs was the first of its kind, using Earth’s gravitational field to measure fluctuations as well as documenting changes to the shape of the planet’s surface.

NASA also reported on the groundwater levels and the state of the snowcap. Data suggests that California’s 2 biggest river basins, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, have lost a combined 4 trillion gallons of water per year since 2011. This year’s snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977. With less snow we tend to see less sunlight reflection, which means Earth is absorbing much more heat then usual.

While the rain might not have put much of a dent in the amount of water we need, the states reservoirs received a substantial boost. According to measurements taken by the Department of Water Resources, 2 of the states largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, saw their water levels rise from 41% to 53% and 44% to 54%, respectively. The 10 other smaller reservoirs also saw their water levels rise.

California residents should take these signs as a reason to continue monitoring personal water use and cutting back as much as possible. That means checking pipes for leaks, taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when washing your hands, and only washing full loads in the washer. You can find more water saving tips HERE.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/18/us/california-rains-and-drought/index.html

Water Thieves Adding to CA’s Drought Woes

November 15th, 2014

We are all well aware of the adverse effects the drought has brought upon the state and its residents. A few posts ago, I outlined one of the bigger causes for concern regarding our already depleted water levels, but recently news outlets have identified a new offender in the battle for water: Thieves.

In some of the state’s worst hit areas water has become a valuable commodity, with some people turning to illegal means as a way of acquiring it. Recent investigations have identified criminals operating illegal marijuana grow sites as some of the most prolific water thieves. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marijuana Enforcement Team, these marijuana farms have siphoned 1.2 billion gallons of water from local and public sources. That’s enough water to fill 2,000 Olympic-sized pools!

illegal water diversion

An example of an illegal pump that are used by thieves to steal water

The theft of water doesn’t just impact length of our showers and the extent we can water our plants, it puts local wildlife and vital resources in jeopardy. As a result of the theft by marijuana growers, the population of Salmon found throughout northern California has been put in severe danger.

Humboldt County has seen a couple major cases of water theft in the last several weeks. Criminals were able to steal around 20,000 gallons from a community services district board in the town of Weott. Three weeks later another 20,000 gallons of water were taken from a surplus tank at the Bridgeville Elementary School in Eureka, causing the school to shut down this past Tuesday.

In North San Juan, a small town located along the Sierra Nevada Mountains, thousands of gallons were stolen from a fire station this summer, during the peak of wildfire season. Although it is purely speculation at this point, most residents and authorities in the afore-mentioned areas suspect marijuana farmers to be behind the crimes.

In order to stop these criminals from stealing the states valuable resources, residents need to be dilligent about reporting any suspicious activity and waste. These reports are usually taken by the utilities department of your city or county.

Sources:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/drought-is-taking-california-back-to-the-wild-wild-west-20141110

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Pot-Farmers-Steal-Water-Amid-Epic-Drought-281822141.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/illegal-pot-plantations-hazard-california-salmon/

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_24024319/water-theft-forces-humboldt-county-school-close

Tips for a Waste Free School Year

October 7th, 2014

school-kidsThe beginning of autumn means the start of a new school year, marking a joyous occasion for parents and a tearful end to summer vacation for kids. In honor of this occasion, we decided to share a few tips that can make this school year your most eco-friendly to date:

–  Before shopping for new school supplies, take inventory of what supplies you already have and can use again this year. Should you have to get new materials, look for things you can get the most use out of (i.e., reloadable mechanical pencils).

– Aim for packing “waste-free” lunches. This includes implementing reusable containers and utensils and minimizing use of plastic snack bags. Remember to mark all reusable items with your child’s name and contact info should it be misplaced at school so they can be returned. For more info on how to pack waste-free lunches, check out http://www.wastefreelunches.org/.

–  Encourage your child to use 3 ring binders instead of spiral bound notebooks for note taking in class. Not only can binders be reused for different classes, but the binder paper can be easily removed for sorting and recycling as well.

–  Use grocery bags to maker covers for textbooks. Chances are that the school reuses textbooks, and covers help keep them in good condition for years to come.

–  Biking or walking to school helps keep air pollution from cars down, but gives kids a nice bit of exercise as well.  Should you live far enough away from the school to walk, coordinate with other parents in the area to start carpooling.

–  Work with your child’s school to promote eco-friendly activities, like starting a recycling program or a community compost bin. Programs like theses not only benefit the environment, but present learning opportunities for the children as well.

As California’s Drought Worsens, Residents Continue to Consume

August 1st, 2014

droughtFIAs California began to feel the worsening effects of this summers drought, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 20% cutback on overall water use among resident. Unfortunately, residents are failing to act accordingly. In a recently updated report of statewide water use, not only has consumption failed to fall, but also residents are actually using 1% more then last month.

 

This alarming data comes on the heels of the data released last month that showed only a 5% drop in use. Compared to the new data, those look more and more favorable. This is leaving state officials stammering to find means to get residents on board with conservation efforts. The study has pointed towards two geographical areas as the worst offenders: coastal communities in Southern California and communities in the northeastern corner of the state. A $500-a-day penalty implemented last month for people using excess water for things like landscaping, car washing, and fountains is failing to inspire conservation.

 

Felicia Marcus, Chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, recently commented on the ongoing failure to conserve water, saying, “Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is … and how bad it could be. There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state.” The board is currently looking into imposing stricter usage rules, including requiring water districts to repair leaks and working with local agencies to increase rates to heavy users.

 

While this blog usually cover topics relating to recycling and waste management, we felt it was necessary share this information with our readers. We implore everyone to remember that just because you can turn on the faucet and see water come out, doesn’t mean the drought is not affecting you. Please think twice to analyze your water use and look for ways you can cut down.

 

(Source: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/california/California-Water-Use-Rises-Amid-Crippling-Drought–267215981.html#246934731246934731 )

How Cities are Combating Waste

February 19th, 2014

San Francisco, CA, USASmart cities, or sustainable cities, are the product of multi-layered programs that seek to reduce the environmental agents that threaten quality of life for succeeding generations.  These initiatives involve efforts to reduce carbon emissions, protect natural resources, and eliminate or systemically reduce waste.  These efforts are tied closely to the hope of addressing climate change and meeting the demands of future population growth.

The following Innovate programs illustrate through real-world examples of excellence, the capacity if smart cities to incorporate and expand renewable energy, efficient waste management systems, and harness community planning that supports smart growth in cities around the world.

Critical Water Conservation Planning

As our population continues to grow, so does the burden of maintaining adequate water supply.  Current estimates suggest that by 2080 1,8 billion people could be facing water scarcity (if global temperatures increase by 3-4 degrees).  For cities concerned with their future freshwater demands, water conservation, treatment and recycling practices must be made top priorities.

In Philadelphia, their “Green City, Clean Waters” plan works to protect the city’s water supply from stormwater runoff pollution.   The city has also partnered with the environmental protection agency to create better water handling strategies that use hydraulic and hydrologic methods.

Sustainable Solid Waste Management   

No city can truly aspire to be sustainable unless it has effective waste management practices established.   In the U.S. alone, waste increased by 184% over the course of 50 years (1960 to 2010).  San Francisco has stepped confidently up to the plate, launching its zero waste program that intends to eliminate solid waste by 2020.  A key part of the infrastructure of the program is the diversion of waste from landfills through either repurposing, recycling, or reusing them.  Companies like Fast Haul are filling an important role in enabling the city’s waste management to handle the increased overflow from landfill to alternate recycling facilities.  Since the program started, the city’s recycling rate has increased by 80%.

Long-Term Energy Efficiency

Central to any smart city plan is a plan for energy efficiency.  Energy conservation and reduction saves money, reduces pollution, and supports energy independence and stability – and contributes new jobs.

Vienna, Austria, has the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 80 by 2050.  Towards that end, it installed multiple end-user heating systems and has adapted energy efficiency standards on new construction that are among the most stringent in the world.

Renewable Energy for Future Security

Munich, Germany’s renewable energy program seeks to corral all of the city’s energy production by generating its own green energy, through harnessing locally produced biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind energy.   Renewable energy facilities provide domestic energy while decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Sources: http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/01/cities-can-address-critical-need-sustainable-development/

By: Ethan Malone

 
 
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