Here We Go Again, Another Dam

HooverDamFrontWater
Source: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The United States Army Corps of Engineers have given a water agency in Colorado’s Front Range the green light to build a large dam and reservoir to divert and store water from the Colorado River – the first such project that has been permitted in decades.

The $400 million Chimney Hollow dam and reservoir is designed to “firm” water supply to nearly a dozen quickly growing communities in Colorado’s Front Range communities, north of Denver. In water parlance, firming refers to making a variable water supply secure.

Feds Issue Permit for Large Dam on Colorado River Headwaters, Water Deeply, May 31 2017, by Mary Catherine O’Connor

I’ll start off by saying, “This is insane!” Gary Wockner, director of Save the Colorado River,  points out that the Colorado River “is already the most dammed, drained, depleted river on the planet – with every drop drained before it reaches the Gulf of California.” The Colorado River provides water to over 40 million people in the Southwestern states. Currently its two major reservoirs, Lakes Powell and Mead, are already only half full. The Colorado River use to drain into the Gulf of California providing for a rich farming area in northern Mexico. Those days are long gone.

The purpose of the dam is to provide water to the Front Range communities north of Denver. While it is true that these communities are growing at a fast rate and will need water, there are other alternatives available. As a former Californian experienced in living with droughts, I have been living in a Front Range community for 10+ years. I have not witnessed my water district supporting any education about water use. If I ask people around here to describe their water shed, I’m met with blank stares. These Front Range communities have large green lawns and enjoy generous maximum water usage amounts before a higher tiered rate is applied.

In times of drought, water use restriction have been mild compared to what I dealt with in California. Before we dam an over-taxed river, there needs to be some eduction in Colorado. The accelerated rate of building residential properties should take into consideration our existing water supply and restrict building that exceeds the current capacity. Damming rivers is a last resort, not a first resort. Below is a picture of the headwaters area of the Colorado River. A dam and the infrastructure required to built a dam does not belong in this remote area.

 

Kawuneeche_Valley
Kawuneeche Valley, Rocky Mountains, Colorado River, USA (cc) Darekk2

 

Fox Watching the Henhouse

slyfox
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There are many insidious ways to undermine the body politic. The current U.S. Administration has used political appointments to formerly apolitical government agencies to create chaos. Here are a few examples:

Lobbyist Who Once Sued Interior Named To Be Department’s No. 2 Official
His name is David Longly Bernhardt, and he’s worked as the top lobbyist for California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural entity of its kind in the nation. He’s sued the Interior Department and helped write legislation on behalf of his client. Largely because of his services, Westlands has paid Bernhardt and the law firm where he works $1.27 million since 2011.

Fresno Bee, April 28, 2017, by Steven Leavenworth

For those familiar with California water issues, the Westlands Water District is a well-known player in thwarting efforts to reduce selenium and other toxic chemicals in California’s irrigation water.

Trump Friend and Climate Foe Sam Clovis Is Up for a Big job at the USDA
The post, undersecretary of research, education, and economics, sets the Agriculture Department’s scientific course. Clovis’s background as a professor of economics fits with the econ and ed parts of the job, but reports of his pending appointment is drawing criticism because he has no experience with scientific research.

Grist, May 15, 2017 by Nathanael Johnson

Clovis was also a Trump campaign advisor and a conservative talk show radio host in Sioux City, Iowa. Surely that makes him qualified to be Chief Scientist for the USDA.

Trump’s New Bank Regulator: Lawyer Who Helped Banks Charge More Fees
Keith Noreika helped big banks avoid state laws protecting consumers. As head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, he now has the power to override those state laws.

ProPublica, May 15, 2017, by Cezary Podkul

EPA’s Climate Change Page

epa_current

“We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.” Given that statement, I guess the EPA’s Climate Change page will remain in a state of being updated for quite some time.

However, the City of Chicago has published the EPA’s former Climate Change page and the underlying archive of information.

EPA_Chicago.jpg

You can visit the City of Chicago/EPA Climate Change page and obtain current information about climate change and how it affects us. It is being hosted on the City of Chicago’s website.

It’s Not Only About Healthcare!

The goal of the House Republicans’ repeal of “Obamacare” is to divert money from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to pay for tax cuts for wealthy Americans. The ACA covered not only health insurance provisions but also many other issues related to the health of Americans, especially public health.

foodborne-causes-lg

Food safety funding has been drastically reduced. John Auerbach, CEO of the Trust for America’s Health, reports: “If the bill eventually becomes law, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lose 12 percent of its budget, of which a significant portion—$625 million a year—goes directly to state and local health departments.” (Source: House ACA Replacement will Cripple the Nation’s Health, Trust for America’s Health Statement, May 4, 2017).

 

CDC estimates that each year roughly 48 million people gets sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The 2011 estimates provide the most accurate picture of which foodborne bacteria, viruses, microbes (“pathogens”) are causing the most illnesses in the United States. According to the 2011 estimates, the most common foodborne illnesses are caused by norovirus and by the bacteria Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. Source: CDC Website

The state and local health departments are the front line protecting Americans from foodborne illness to Zika virus infections. Their budgets need to be greatly increased, not decreased.

The Wall, Again

wall_sand-dune-fence
United States Border Patrol at Algodones Sand Dunes, California, USA. 
Source: Department of Homeland Security, United States Border Patrol

 Trump’s wall is unChristian. Trump’s wall is anti-Christian. Christians who supported Trump should be publicly asked if they support his wall. Call them up. Members of Congress who will be asked to approve funding to build Trump’s wall should be told by the Christians in their districts to vote against it. Call them up.

Christians Can Stop Trump’s Wall
Sojourners, April 26, 2017, by Jim Wallis

The wall, intended to halt illegal immigration, would also block many rivers and streams. This consequence has not yet been discussed much. The wall itself could restrict water flow important to farms and cities on both sides of the border. This could worsen water pollution and lead to flooding disasters. It might also change groundwater recharge in areas fed by rivers.

Trump’s Border Wall Could Have Lasting Effect on Rivers, Water Supply
Water Deeply, April 24, 2017, by Matt Weiser

Mexican engineers believe construction of the border barrier may violate a 47-year-old treaty governing the shared waters of the Rio Grande. If Mexico protests, the fate of the wall could end up in an international court.

Mexico Worries That A New Border Wall Will Worsen Flooding
National Public Radio (KRWG), April 25, 2017, by John Burnett

100 Days …

bad graph

The following are commentaries about the Twitler’s first 100 days in office. I post their links here because they offer interesting perspectives. If you are not interested in this topic, check out Paul Nicklen’s website. He is an extraordinary photographer and I like his Sense of Place gallery.

The 100 Days That Turned America Upside Down
Moyers & Company, April 26, 2017, by Neal Gabler

The First 100 Days of Resistance Restored Our Faith in Democracy
The Nation, April 24, 2017, by John Nichols

 

Twitler to Order Review of National Monuments, Including Bears Ears

BearsEarsUSGS-2D

Bear Ears, Utah (Source: U.S. Geological Survey (https://3dparks.wr.usgs.gov/nabr/html2/nb077.htm) Public Domain)

 

President Donald Trump this week will order a review of national monument designations — including southern Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — as part of a wide look at a century-old law that allows presidents to set aside federal lands without congressional approval.

On Wednesday, Trump will sign an executive order to demand that the Interior Department secretary examine all national monument designations in the past 21 years to discern whether their size and scope are within the law’s intent, a move that tracks clearly with concerns of members of Utah’s federal delegation about the use of the unilateral presidential power in designating monuments.

Trump to Order Review of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase
The Salt Lake Tribune, April 23, 2017, by Thomas Burr

It was a great day (Dec. 28, 2016) when President Obama issued the proclamation establishing Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. I have been supporting the establishment of this National Monument for a long time. There are many attributes that make this National Monument so special. The collaboration of five sovereign tribal nations is outstanding. These nations are:  Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Indian Tribe. For more information (and lovely pictures) please visit the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition. This land needs to be protected from drilling, dumping, road building, and fracking. Not all of Utah deserves to be poisoned.