NEWS WORTH NOTING: State of California tackles drought with IoT & Blockchain; Commission accepts listing petition for Upper Klamath spring chinook salmon; Public interest groups appeal Poseidon desalination decision; Water and climate update
State of California Tackles Drought with IoT & Blockchain
The Freshwater Trust, IBM Research and SweetSense Inc. aim to make groundwater usage sustainable
From the Freshwater Trust:
The Freshwater Trust (TFT), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems, is partnering with IBM Research and SweetSense Inc. , a provider of low-cost satellite connected sensors, to pilot technologies which can accurately monitor and track groundwater use in one of the largest and most at risk aquifers in North America. Additional research support will be provided by the University of Colorado Boulder.
Jointly funded by the Water Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the project’s scientists and engineers will demonstrate how the blockchain and remote Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can accurately measure groundwater usage transparently, and in real-time.
The sensors will transmit water extraction data to orbiting satellites and then to the IBM Blockchain Platform hosted in the IBM Cloud. The blockchain will record of all data exchanges or transactions made in an append-only, immutable ledger. The blockchain also uses “smart contracts,” whereby transactions are automatically executed when the conditions are matched.
Commission Accepts Listing Petition for Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon
From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:
At its February 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources.
The Commission accepted a petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon as endangered, setting into motion a status review to be completed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
The petitioners, the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council, submitted information suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making this stock of salmon vulnerable to extinction. The Commission action results in Spring Chinook Salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), which provides Candidate Species the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.
CDFW also requested the Commission adopt emergency fishing regulations necessary to reconcile them with the CESA protections. CDFW will also be in consultation with federal regulatory bodies concerning ocean fishing regulations.
Acceptance of the petition triggers a one-year status review by CDFW to determine if a CESA listing by the Commission may be warranted. CDFW, after review of the best scientific information available, will make a recommendation to the Commission on whether to list Spring Chinook Salmon as either endangered or threatened, or that listing is not warranted at this time.
Public interest groups appeal Poseidon desalination decision
California Coastkeeper Alliance, Orange County Coastkeeper and California Coastal Protection Network have appealed a Superior Court ruling that upheld the decision of California’s State Lands Commission to approve the lease of state-owned tidelands for a controversial Orange County desalination project without a full environmental review. The public interest groups filed a lawsuit last October challenging the State Lands Commission’s decision, seeking a full study of costs and alternatives for the billion-dollar project, proposed by Poseidon Resources. Their appeal comes on the heels of a Municipal Water District of Orange County analysis that concluded Poseidon’s for-profit desalination plant is the least cost-effective way to meet water needs in Orange County. The county has several active proposals for rainwater capture and water recycling projects that would cost less, save energy, and reduce polluted runoff.
“We are asking the court to enforce a law designed to protect communities against corporate interests,” said Sean Bothwell of California Coastkeeper Alliance. “The State Lands Commission broke the law by shortcutting its review of Poseidon’s desalination proposal, and we want to make sure state and local decisionmakers as well as consumers understand the considerable environmental and economic cost of this project.”
“We are fortunate, in Orange County, to have more affordable and environmentally-friendly ways to supply local water needs. Recycled water and rainwater capture projects like Carson and Strand Ranch not only save money for ratepayers, they also reduce pollution,” said Garry Brown of Orange County Coastkeeper. “If state agencies conduct a full review of impacts and alternatives for Poseidon’s boondoggle, as required by law, they will find a range of problems, from the harm to fish and wildlife from its outdated intake pipe to the salty brine and outsized energy use and price tag.”
“As California works to prepare for climate change, Poseidon’s desalination project is clearly a step in the wrong direction,” said Susan Jordan of California Coastal Protection Network. “It makes no sense to build new infrastructure in the coastal flood zone with sea levels rising, nor to choose energy intensive water sources that will fuel more drought by undermining our efforts to get off fossil fuels.”
Water and Climate Update: Unusual snow at sea level has little impact on Pacific Northwest snowpack
From the USDA/NRCS:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.
A winter storm blanketed the Pacific Northwest this week, from the beaches of the Pacific to the Cascade Range and beyond. Snow and ice in Seattle and Portland closed schools and slowed traffic with hundreds of crashes. SNOTEL sites in the Cascade Range reported depth increases from 1 to 14 inches in the last few days. Although the recent snow helped to boost the overall snowpack in the region, most of the SNOTEL and snow course sites are below to well below normal for the beginning of February. The dry winter follows a dry 2018 with the U.S. Drought Monitor reporting much of Oregon and Washington in drought conditions. Meanwhile, in California the same storm caused rain, flooding, and heavy snow up to 10 feet in the Sierra Nevada.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.