20 Feb 2009

Clearing the Backlog, Part V

  • "With no synthetic pesticide use and more habitat kept intact, organic farms tend to have more biodiversity than conventional farms--including beneficial wasps that kill crop pests. But do these extra insects give organic farmers an edge in natural pest control over conventional growers? A study of 20 farms in the southwest of the United Kingdom says no."

  • "Even if humans can rein in the atmosphere's carbon dioxide content by the end of this century, large zones in the oceans could remain depleted of oxygen for hundreds or even thousands of years, researchers reveal."

  • "Climate change may be poised to claim its first Hollywood celebrities. Shrinking sea ice could wipe out the tuxedoed cast of March of the Penguins--or their descendents--by the end of the century."

  • "The Little Hoover Commission urged the governor and the Legislature to reform the State Water Resources Control Board and nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards...the Commission found that the water boards face increasingly complex water quality problems, caused in part by hard-to-regulate sources such as urban and agricultural runoff. The Commission also found that a decentralized governance structure, with nine regional water quality boards operating with distinct policies and processes, hinders accountability and transparency." [Read the report]

  • "Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) involves injecting water into an aquifer through wells or by surface spreading and infiltration and then pumping it out when needed. The aquifer essentially functions as a water bank. Deposits are made in times of surplus, typically during the rainy season, and withdrawals occur when available water falls short of demand." [More about ASR]

  • Rainwater harvesting in San Francisco.

  • Tucson Water's 733,000 customers are conserving so well that they've put the water utility into a financial hole. The city water department expects to run $15.4 million short... because water sales to homes, apartments, businesses and other customers are well below those of a year ago. City officials attribute the 6 percent decline this fiscal year to the recession and to continued concerns about drought and water conservation. As growth and development have slowed, the city is also getting less revenue than expected from new water hookup fees and other fees... The one thing the utility won't do? Ask its customers to use more water to bring in more money." While I think it's NICE that they are not asking for more money, I also think that digging into reserves and selling water rights (what the utility IS doing) is financially irresponsible. What they should do (have done!) is raise water rates FAR above cost of delivery and use the surplus $ for capital expenditures and/or per capita rebates.

  • "the Olivenhain Municipal Water District plans to charge developers about $3,000 for each new meter issued, which will be used to offset each new home's demand. Olivenhain will invest the money in recycled sewage distribution pipe expansions for golf courses and irrigation users, freeing up potable water for the new residents." That's the right way to reduce demand for new connections AND increase supply reliability.

  • "The Sacramento Municipal Utility District... began sending out statements to 35,000 randomly selected customers, rating them on their energy use compared with that of neighbors in 100 homes of similar size that used the same heating fuel. The customers were also compared with the 20 neighbors who were especially efficient in saving energy.

    Customers who scored high earned two smiley faces on their statements. “Good” conservation got a single smiley face. Customers like Mr. Dyer, whose energy use put him in the “below average” category, got frowns, but the utility stopped using them after a few customers got upset.

    When the Sacramento utility conducted its first assessment of the program after six months, it found that customers who received the personalized report reduced energy use by 2 percent more than those who got standard statements." I LOVE this idea [more], but SMUD must consider the number of people in the house -- not its size! If they make a census, the same numbers can be used to calculate per capita water allocations :)
hattips to ML and DW


  1. As far as the insecticide item goes, I am not too surprised. farmers in the UK (and California) widely practice Integrated Pest Management, which considers the entire field ecosystem in deciding what to spray and when. Modern pest control materials are far more selective, and far easier on beneficial insects, than those used 30 years ago. The Chicken Little types want the public to believe that a modern farmer just wields a flamethrower full of nasty poison every time he sees a bug.

  2. But Phillip, you know growers want to spray as many chemicals as posssible on their illegal alien workers that they pay in cash and make live in cardboard boxes. /sarcasm off/


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