Upcoming Events

Daylighted  Marin Creek (Village Creek) as it flows through U.C. Village (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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Tonight:

Is Urban Stream Restoration Possible?

Ann L. Riley will present case studies from urban stream restoration projects. Riley serves as the advisor on watershed and river restoration for the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and is the Executive Director of the Waterways Restoration Institute.

When: Wednesday, November 17, 7 p.m.

Where: Dimond Library, 3565 Fruitvale Ave. (cross street MacArthur), Oakland, CA

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Net Impact San Francisco: Climate Change Policy Update – Looking forward to the next decade globally and locally

Net Impact SF’s professional chapter’s final meeting of 2010 will focus on the status and trajectories of national, international and local policy around climate change.

When: Tuesday, December 14, 7 – 9 p.m.

Where: TBD – More details here.

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Compostmodern ’11 : Fertile Ground for Designing a Sustainable Future

Compostmodern is a two-day event at the interface of sustainable product design and industry to solve pressing sustainability and ecological  problems.   “Compostmodern engages designers, sustainability professionals, artists and entrepreneurs to collaborate in realizing a more environmentally, culturally and economically sustainable world.”

When: January 22 – 23, 2011

Where:  Day 1 – Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave at McAllister St., San Francisco, CA

Day 2 – The Academy of Art, 79 New Montgomery between Market and Mission Streets, San Francisco, CA

Early bird rates until November 30. More info here.

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New LEED Draft Open for Comment

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Image Credit: USGBC

The first public comment draft of LEED is out for review. Comments are due by December 31, 2010.

This review period includes a revision of all of the LEED rating systems together, including New Design & Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Homes, and Neighborhood Development.

The drafts can be downloaded from the USGBC website here.

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BuildingGreen.org has a summary of New Design & Construction changes and highlights major changes in each category:

USGBC released the draft to EBN just before the public comment period was to open. Our analysis of what’s (mostly) the same, what’s different, and what’s totally new follows. We focused our analysis on the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) rating system, but readers should see the rating system draft for all the rating systems, including details on LEED-NC that we didn’t have space to discuss.

You can see the changes for each category and read the entire article here.

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PCL’s 8 Affordable Water Strategies

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The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The environmental lobby group Planning and Conservation League (PCL) has released a set of 8 strategies to cost-effectively meet the many challenges facing California’s water infrastructure.

PCL cites fisheries collapse, climate change and fiscal meltdown as key challenges for California’s water future moving forward, and created the 8 strategies to step back from CA’s contentious water politics and offer practical, actionable solutions that could be applied cost-effectively.

The eight “solutions” offered by the PCL are:

1-Use already approved bonds first. With $3 billion remaining in already approved voter bonds, these funds should be allocated to highest priority projects before considering any new borrowing.

2-Increase water supplies through safe recycling. PCL recommends that the Department of Health develop a broad set of criteria for safe water recycling.

3-Develop flow standards for the Delta and major rivers. Water diversion efforts and fisheries could be more successful side-by-side with greater amounts of scientific data on flow rates and how much water is needed to reliably retain health in the waterways.

4-Analyze a smaller Delta tunnel. Instead of a large-scale peripheral canal to meet the water needs to the south, PCL advocates a smaller, less costly tunnel diversion and a new series of  diversions from already existing Southern Delta facilities.

5-Require water-neutral development. Aggressive conservation standards and use of state of the art technologies in new development can help counteract the water needs of the expected 10 million growth in California over the next 20 years.

6-Convert unfarmable land to solar production. PCL advocates transforming failed and unfarmable agricultural lands on the West side of the San Joaquin Valley into large scale solar fields.

7-Protect California’s major water source. Protecting against degradation in the Sierra Nevada headwaters should be a top priority.

8-Consider a smaller water bond when the economy improves. Only if the economy rebounds in the next 2 years, should a new water bond be put to voters to improve drinking water safety and supply.

Download the full report from the Planning and Conservation League’s website here.

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10 American Cities Running Out Of Water?

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Las Vegas, Nevada (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

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24/7 Wall St. evaluated a couple recent studies (from Ceres and the NRDC) and also conducted some of its own analysis, focusing on the 30 largest American cities,  to  come up with the following list of 10 large American cities at the greatest risk of running out of water:

10. Orlando, FL

9. Atlanta, GA

8. Tucson, AZ

7. Las Vegas, NV

6. Fort Worth, TX

5. San Francisco Bay Area, CA

4. San Antonio, TX

3. Phoenix, AZ

2. Houston, TX

1. Los Angeles, CA

You can read more about their analysis and reasons for inclusion of each city here.

A note from Anna – I do not know much about 24/7 Wall St. or their track record on this sort of analysis. I think this sort of list is good for raising awareness that it is not just cities in the dry Southwest that are facing future water shortages. However, there are a few items in this article that gave me pause – first is the consistent misspelling of San Francisco as “San Fransisco”, second is the consistent listing of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) as the “National Resources Defense Council.”

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$274 Million for Water & Sewer Upgrades

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The Fresno Bee reports that the EPA is awarding $127 million to California’s Department of Public Health and another $147 million to the State Water Resources Control Board.

The agency said at least 20 percent of the money must be used to fun so-called “green” infrastructure projects that improve water conservation, energy efficiency and environmental projects.

The two agencies will be responsible for awarding dozens of grants or low-interest loans to cities throughout the state for new sewers and drinking water facility upgrades.

Read the entire story here.

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Tracking Water Resources in Real Time

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Image credit: SEBAL North America

According to a recent press release, scientists at SEBAL North America, located in Davis, California, are tracking real-time consumption of water by crops, cities, and natural ecosystems using satellites.

This new technology, applicable to water management needs globally, reduces substantial uncertainties in traditional approaches, greatly increasing confidence in water management decisions. Grant Davids, the company’s president, notes the broad range of applications of SEBAL for water managers. “Water consumption is usually the most important yet often most poorly quantified water management parameter. More accurate and spatially discrete estimates of consumptive use lead to improved water management over a wide range of conditions, from local to basin scales and from historical analysis for planning to real-time operations decision support.”

The company will be providing weekly maps showing water use for the Central Valley. The company also makes image overlays that can be opened in Google Earth to allow users to look more closely at water use in specific areas. Maps and data can be found on the SEBAL website.

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Peter Gleick on Cash for Water Clunkers

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In his latest post in the San Francisco Chronicle’s City Brights blog, Dr. Peter Gleick (president of the Pacific Institute) calls for a “Cash for Water Clunkers program:

The US should commit $5 billion in a “Cash for Water Clunkers” program to help individuals and businesses get rid of old water-wasting appliances and processes…

These funds would help homeowners and businesses who choose to replace old water-wasting appliances and equipment, which can then be recycled. Funding could be prioritized to water-efficient appliances produced in the U.S., thereby providing a special boost to U.S. manufacturers.

The program should also be accompanied by a jobs-training program for plumbers and contractors in low-income communities, along the lines of the now-legendary partnership between the Madres del Este de Los Angeles Santa Isabel (Mothers of East Los Angeles Santa Isabel – MELASI) and several local water utilities more than a decade ago. That program helped the City of Los Angeles replace over 2 million old inefficient toilets (though many millions more remain, locally and nationally). The funds for such programs could be managed by local community groups, in conjunction with local water utilities.

Read his entire post on the San Francisco Chronicle website here.

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Water Footprint Calculator

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The National Geographic website has a water footprint calculator that walks you through very basic aspects of your lifestyle and give you a sense of how much water you use at home, to produce your diet, to produce the stuff you buy, and to produce the fuel you need to travel. And it compares your use to the American average for each category. Check it out here!

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The Next Million Acre Feet of Water

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Pacific Institute has released a report on how to find the next million acre feet of water in California.  As with energy in California, which now has the “loading order”, the conclusion is that conservation and efficiency efforts can achieve water savings for less cost than building new or expanding existing supplies.

An overview of some of the water-efficient practices discussed in the report:

Water savings are available through a wide variety of water-efficient practices in the urban and agricultural sectors. In the urban sector this includes replacing old, inefficient devices with high-efficiency models, as well as lawn conversion, residential metering, and rate structures that better communicate the value of water. In the agricultural sector, best water management practices include weather-based irrigation scheduling, regulated deficit irrigation, and switching from gravity or flood irrigation to sprinkler or drip irrigation systems. Here, we focus on well documented, cost-effective approaches that are already being used in California. We emphasize efficiency improvements rather than behavioral changes because the latter are less easily quantified. Nonetheless, experience in Australia, Colorado, and California in recent years shows that changing water use behavior can also provide very fast and inexpensive savings in emergencies, with long-term benefits.

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A  full copy of the report can be found here.

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Links – Water and Energy

Alex Wilson, of BuildingGreen, has written two blogs posts recently that I think will be of interest to Zero Resource readers…I’ve posted snippets, but I recommend reading the entire original posts.

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Saving Energy by Conserving Water

Averaged statewide , roughly 5% of California’s electricity is used for moving and treating water and wastewater. (The oft-quoted figure of 19% includes water heating and other things we do with water in homes, businesses, and farms.) But these figures vary widely in different parts of the state. A 2005 report from the California Energy Commission found supply and conveyance of water to range in intensity from 0 to 16,000 kilowatt-hours per million gallons (kWh/MG), while filtration and treatment varied from 100 to 1,500 kWh/MG, distribution varied from 700 to 1,200 kWh/MG, and wastewater collection and treatment varied from 1,100 to 5,000 kWh/MG. Not surprisingly, average totals are far higher in southern California (12,700 kWh/MG) than in northern California (3,950 kWh/MG).

Saving Water by Conserving Energy

By weighting thermoelectric and hydroelectric power generation sources, the NREL report calculated an average water-intensity of electricity in the U.S. to be 2.0 gal/kWh. So if you use 500 kWh per month, that’s requiring, on average, 1,000 gallons of water.

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