One of the first things groundwater sustainability agencies need to do is identify where in their groundwater basins they have GDEs. So, The Nature Conservancy has worked in partnership with California’s Department of Water Resources to develop a database to inventory GDE locations. “It’s a starting point,” Rohde said of the database. Groundwater sustainability agencies will then “have to use local hydrologic knowledge to groundtruth the mapped ecosystems in the dataset and also fill in any missing gaps to create a basin GDE map.”
The database, Rohde said, found 2.2 million acres of likely GDEs across California, half of which are in desert subbasins. GDEs in desert areas are some of the most vulnerable, she said, because overpumping of even a single well could draw down a desert spring that provides critical water and habitat for wildlife.
One of the reasons protecting GDEs is such an important part of SGMA is that we don’t have many of them left. The state has lost around 95 percent of its historic wetlands. Much of the remaining wetland and riparian habitat is highly fragmented. A number of native fish species are being pushed toward extinction.
Fox Canyon has completed a draft of its groundwater sustainability plan, and has used the state’s dataset and The Nature Conservancy’s guidance document to help incorporate GDEs into its plans, said Rohde.
When it comes to resources, though, there’s still more work to do in one really crucial part of the process: determining which biological and hydrological thresholds need to be set to keep the various plant and animal communities in GDEs thriving. “The holy grail of all of this,” said Rohde, “would be to be able to give [groundwater agencies] threshold numbers, so that they can focus on management activities to sustain that.”
How Ranchers Are Getting by With Less Water Across the West
Most ranches depend on rain to ensure cattle have enough to eat, but arid conditions amplified by drought across much of the West means that ranchers are employing best practices to use water as efficiently as possible, writes New Mexico rancher Cassidy Johnston.
|WRITTEN BYCassidy Johnston||PUBLISHED ON||READ TIMEApprox. 3 minutes|
Mike Rosengrants feeds his cattle at his ranch in Campo, Colorado, in 2014. Drought across the West this year is making it tough for ranchers and farmers.RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images
IN THE SUMMER, all we talk about is rain. Walk into a diner or a barn, or just run into someone at the store, and the first question anyone asks – even before, “How are you?” – is, “Did you get any rain?” It’s the same in New Mexico as in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and California. Everyone is concerned because, as ranchers, we know the health of our cattle depends on the amount of water that falls out of the sky. And this year, it hasn’t been a lot.
Much of the American West is classified as either semi-arid or desert, so water is our most precious resource. We need to use water efficiently to protect what little we have in this climate, especially in drought years. Most grazing pastures are not irrigated, so we rely heavily upon rainwater to replenish the grasses our cattle eat and the springs, streams, ponds and wells where they drink.
Ranchers continually have to ask themselves: Do we have enough water? What is the best way to bring water to our cattle? How can we improve our water systems to preserve more natural resources?
The answers to these questions have helped ranchers come up with some best practices to endure in tough climates.
Ranches that depend on dirt tanks filled by rainwater need to haul water to the pastures for cattle to drink. However, no amount of drinking water makes up for the lack of rain. While cattle usually graze grass in the summer, heat and drought have decreased forage growth. Some ranchers are supplementing their cattle’s diets with hay, while others are selling cattle to prevent damaging their rangelands with overgrazing.
Others may be doing fine this year because they routinely understock their ranches in anticipation of dry years like this. But if drought continues, even that isn’t a guarantee. In areas that have been drought-stricken for longer periods, ranches are either going out of business or hanging on by a thread, praying for rain that may never fall.
I feel fortunate to work on a ranch with an excellent water infrastructure. Since most ranches in our area have little to no surface water, we use a complex system of solar-powered pumps, tanks, lines and drinkers (water troughs) to deliver water over tens of thousands of acres to the cattle on our ranch.
We rely on our water system to keep the cattle hydrated, so we check it every day and repair broken water lines as soon as possible. Earlier this month, our ranch got new water tanks and drinkers because some of our pastures didn’t have enough places for the cattle to water to ensure the whole pasture is utilized properly, which is especially important in dry years.
In such a dry climate, strategic water use and grazing on our ranch keeps our rangelands healthy for our cattle and the wildlife that live here. In drier, drought-prone parts of the West, some ranchers will conserve resources by stocking their ranches at 50–70 percent carrying capacity with breeding cows and calves, the foundation of many ranches. This allows them to stock the rest of their ranch with cattle that can be sold during a drought to leave more resources for the breeding cows and calves. Rotational grazing – regularly moving cattle to fresh pastures – prevents cattle from overgrazing, which protects the health of the soil and increases resilience to drought.
Ranchers use these measures and more to conserve water because we know we could not raise healthy cattle without it.
Cattle ranchers are proud stewards of the land, and we take that job seriously. We know that if we do not manage resources like water efficiently on our rangelands, we will no longer be able to raise cattle and conserve the rangelands we love. Sustainable practices allow ranchers to produce food while protecting the resources we all share. We are constantly striving to improve how we use water for the good of our cattle, our environment and the next generation.
This commentary was produced as a result of a partnership with Sustainable Brands. The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policies of Water Deeply or Sustainable Brands
WATER ALERT – Water Access Restricted – Bans on NEW Private Wells . . coming State, Nationwide, Worldwide . . go to PrimaryWater.org
Water TAX on Drinking Water – and More Water Taxes in the Future!
With the state legislature returning from summer recess, the proposal to impose a statewide tax on drinking water could return before the end of the current legislative year on August 31.
The proposed tax on drinking water was introduced in 2017 by Sen. Bill Monning (SB 623). The primary purpose of the bill was to fund solutions in some disadvantaged communities without access to safe drinking water, which are primarily located in rural areas in the Central Valley. In September of 2017, the Assembly Appropriations Committee moved the bill to the Assembly Rules Committee, where it currently remains as a two-year bill. The proposal would have generated roughly $110 million per year through a 95-cent monthly fee on home water bills as well as taxes on businesses of up to $10 per month. Another $30 million would come from higher fees on agricultural and dairy businesses, industries whose chemicals contribute to the problem of contaminated groundwater.
I’ve argued it’s a very bad idea because it is the proverbial camel’s-nose-under-the-tent: It surely would be the first step towards more taxes on public drinking water.
Mexico quietly hands its water supply over to transnationals
While many in Mexico are distracted by World Cup matches and the upcoming presidential elections, something big and strange has been going on under the radar.
Earlier this month, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed 10 decrees that essentially give transnationals like Coca-Cola and mining companies even greater access to the country’s water supply.
But there was little in the news about it. The media framed the measures as “guaranteeing water (supplies) for the next 50 years”. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also got behind the decrees, under the pretence that they protect the environment.
After academics and water rights activists analysed the legal content of what had been passed and declared their opposition, the WWF again defended the measures. It claimed the “water reserves don’t represent in any way the privatisation of a resource, nor the extinguishing of any right to use water. Rather, [the decrees] clearly establish volumes of water that should be intact for biodiversity.”
But the WWF is not impartial in Mexico, given its alliance with Mexico’s top billionaire Carlos Slim. Author Wilfried Huismann denounced the WWF saying it has been “selling its soul” and “greenwashing” business operations for companies such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest.
“WWF is a willing service provider to the giants of the food and energy sectors, supplying industry with a green, progressive image … On the one hand it protects the forest; on the other it helps corporations lay claim to land not previously in their grasp. WWF helps sell the idea of voluntary resettlement to indigenous peoples,” said Huismann.
An analysis by Water for All, a Mexican grassroots organisation that campaigns for water rights, found that the recent decrees allow the government to guarantee water for mining, petroleum and private companies, at the expense of rural workers, indigenous groups and urban communities. The decrees lift a prohibition on extracting water from about 300 catchment areas.
They also declare that any water rights that have not been renewed are now invalid – meaning 50,000 towns, common land holders and communities, not realising they had to renew their right to access the water on their own land, have lost that right.
Furthermore, for the next 50 years, some states will be in charge of distributing water for public urban use through concessions. As seen in Puebla already, these concessions are essentially a privatisation of water, putting its management into the hands of corporations through a bidding process.
The Puebla government was the first state to successfully award a 60-year deal to a consortium to manage the local water. That consortium is run by corrupt business owners and money launderers — and as a result of the privatisation we have seen our water bills rise to 13 times what nearby states pay.
The company, Waters of Puebla, surprises residents with random water bill debts; refuses to fix broken connections while still charging water rates; restricts water access to some suburbs, seeing them go without water for months; and limits water to most poorer areas to just 60 minutes a week, while providing unlimited supply to wealthier suburbs and businesses such as Walmart.
In response to the WWF’s claim that the decrees have environmental goals, Water for All pointed out that the water the decrees reserve for conservation is expressed in millions of cubic metres a year, but “protecting rivers, catchment areas and their ecosystems depends more on regulating the water flow”.
The decrees also come in a context of expanding “megaprojects” in the country. Huge construction, energy and mining projects are carried out at the expense of rural and indigenous communities, and the environment.
With the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, extractive industries took off in Mexico. Mexican researchers have warned that 70% of the country’s rivers are already “seriously contaminated” by extractive industry. Indigenous and rural communities suffer, as their only water sources are flooded with toxic chemicals. Already, of the 731 drainage basins, 104 are undersupplied due to overuse.
In response to Water for All’s analysis, Mexico’s private media has published several articles calling the claims of privatisation “fake news”. “The privatisation of water is false,” stated one article, while another was headlined “Peña Nieto privatising the water is more fake news”.
The coverage seems to be a clean-up campaign by the private media to quickly reframe the conversation.
Ultimately, none of these articles dispute that the decrees were passed; instead they discuss whether it is correct to label the removal of prohibitions and the concessions to private companies as “privatisation”.
The timing of the decrees is no coincidence. Left-wing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly referred to as AMLO) is highly likely to win the July 1 presidential election, but he will not be sworn in until December 1. That gives the national and state governments a few months to award irreversible decades-long contracts and permits to corporations.
[Tamara Pearson has been an activist and journalist for 17 years, writing and fighting from Australia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and now Mexico. She blogs at Resistance Words, and is the author of The Butterfly Prison.]
TOXIC WATER ALERT: Public water in Washington, D.C., was declared unsafe to drink; warnings issued to the public –NaturalNews.com
Public water in Washington, D.C., was declared unsafe to drink; warnings issued to the public 7/17/18
(Natural News) Many Washington, D.C., residents spent the weekend under a boil water advisory due to a contamination risk. On Friday, DC Water began advising tens of thousands of homes and businesses across a big area of Northeast and Northwest D.C. to boil their tap water before drinking or cooking with it.
Around 34,000 people were affected by the problem initially, although the actual number could be much higher because, for example, all of the residents in an apartment complex are often counted as just one customer.
The issue stemmed from a problem with the city’s water system that allowed contaminants to get into the water in the affected areas. The source was an open valve at the Bryant Street pumping station, which is situated to the east of Howard University.
After detecting a drop in water pressure at around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, the emergency alert was issued at 4:35 a.m. on Friday morning. The area covered by the boil water advisory was reduced just after noon on Friday. However, a new area of land near the border with Maryland was added to the advisory.
Experts weren’t initially sure if any water had been contaminated, but they put the advisory in place as a precaution. Although the water was safe to use for bathing, customers were advised to use boiled or bottled water for purposes such as preparing food, feeding pets, drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and preparing baby formula.Those who accidentally ingested the water need to look out for digestive issues. One area out of 13 tested positive for contamination with total coliform bacteria, but it has since been cleared. Washington, D.C., officials also closed all of the pools, water fountains and spray parks in the areas affected, despite temperatures reaching into the 80s. Bottled water was delivered to those living in area homeless shelters.
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Was the boil water advisory handled poorly by authorities?
Some residents were outraged that they only learned about the problem through the news and social media instead of being informed directly by the government or DC Water. The general manager of DC Water, David Gadis, insisted that the utility did everything it could to reach customers using methods like email and robo calls.
Washington, D.C.’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency warned residents of the advisory through Twitter and its Alert DC system. However, only those who sign up for these alerts will receive them, so many people simply didn’t get the word that their water was unfit for consumption.
The alert was lifted on Sunday, but residents were warned to run cold water through the taps for 10 minutes before getting back to their usual water usage.
Cities across America covering up crumbling water infrastructure instead of fixing it
Although this problem was reportedly caused by a valve issue, crumbling infrastructure in aging water delivery systems remains a huge problem throughout the nation. When water passes through corroding iron pipes, it can become contaminated with rust. These pipes can also rupture, allowing diseases and pollutants from the ground to get inside the water supply. Many waterborne disease outbreaks can be attributed to distribution system problems.
Across the nation, municipalities spend in excess of $50 million every year to bring residents “clean” drinking water. However, some experts say there is little point in cleaning up water but then delivering it to people using dirty pipes. The cost of replacing aging pipelines around the country in the decades to come could cost water utility companies hundreds of billions of dollars.
This is why people who care about their health avoid drinking tap water, regardless of how clean their municipality says it is. Aging infrastructure, the addition of fluoride, and possible contamination are just some of the issues that are driving people to increasingly turn to gravity water filters so they can feel confident that the water they are drinking is safe and clean.
WATER – Global Restrictions to water access . . .
WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow)
The American West faces serious water challenges. Wide-spread drought, increased populations, aging infrastructure, and environmental requirements all strain existing water and hydropower resources. Adequate and safe water supplies are fundamental to the health, economy, and security of the country. Through WaterSMART, Reclamation will continue to work cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts.
Bureau of Reclamation makes funding opportunities available for Desalination Construction Projects under the WIIN Act and Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects
The Bureau of Reclamation has made two funding opportunities available, Desalination Construction Projects under the WIIN Act and Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects. Applications are due for both funding opportunities by 4 p.m. MDT on July 27, 2018. Read More →
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced that the El Dorado County Water Agency and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District will receive $260,000, combined, to prepare drought contingency plans. The funding provided is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART initiative. Read More →.