Western Resource Advocates President Jon Goldin-Dubois released the following statement today on the Trump administration’s proposal to gut the Clean Power Plan by dismantling the federal government’s framework for cutting greenhouse gas pollution.
“The Trump administration is backing away from action on climate change as communities across the West struggle through years of record drought and a summer choked with wildfire smoke – both fueled by global warming. We need leadership on climate change at the federal level. Today’s action is further abdication of the responsibility to act on climate to protect our health, livelihoods, and future generations. Fortunately, smart utilities in the West and nationwide are moving in the opposite direction, motivated by market forces and public demand for clean energy. We urge the administration to take its head out of the sand, listen to Westerners, consumers, and the marketplace, and honor its responsibility to cut carbon emissions.”
FromThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Amy Hamilton):
In what may be the first time ever, the city of Grand Junction on Tuesday imposed mandatory outdoor water use restrictions, as the ongoing drought has drained area reservoirs and rivers that will struggle to refill if the state endures another dry winter.
The city’s roughly 9,700 domestic water customers can only water lawns and gardens and use outside water three times each week for the remainder of August. Indoor water use is not restricted.
Residents can only water twice a week in September and once a week in October. City officials dubbed the water program 3-2-1 to help residents remember to scale back the weekly days of water usage in the ensuing months.
Residents can choose which days of the week to water outdoors.
Water providers across the Grand Valley are supporting Grand Junction’s efforts, but no other mandatory water restrictions were set in place Tuesday for users who receive water from the Ute Water Conservancy District, the town of Palisade or the Clifton Water District.
Low reservoir water levels, extreme drought and extended hot weather conditions, combined with a lack of monsoonal wet weather usually seen this time of summer, contributed to Grand Junction’s decision to call for mandatory water restrictions, said Randi Kim, city utilities director.
“What we don’t want is if the drought continues and we don’t have the runoff in the spring, we’d be tapping into our water reserves,” Kim said. “We want to be sure we have enough water to carry over into the next year.”
Grand Junction, like other local water providers except Clifton Water District, obtains its water from Grand Mesa. Grand Junction receives most of its water from Kannah Creek, which typically runs at 60 cubic feet per second. The creek now is running at 8 cfs and the city is barely able to get its full allotment of 7.8 cfs, Kim said.
Kim said reservoir levels are as low as they were during the 2012 drought, but city officials had been waiting for forecasted monsoonal, wet weather before considering stricter water restrictions this year. When the late summer monsoons didn’t materialize, city officials opted to instate the mandatory restrictions.
As you read this, you’re surrounded on all sides … by water.
Even in the driest of climates, it’s everywhere, found in gaseous form as an integral part of Earth’s hydrosphere. And though not as apparent as its solid and liquid counterparts, vapor may prove a crucial tool in the future of sustainable humanitarian and agricultural infrastructure.
“There’s largely untapped water resource all around us,” said Michael May, a senior sustainable-systems engineering major at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “It was intuitive to ask about accessing it – and how to put it to use in a dry environment.”
One approach that water futurists such as May are interested in is coupling “horizon materials” – those that aren’t yet feasible to scale – with existing technologies to bridge the gap between imagination and reality.
“Think about silica-gel packets that come with new shoes; they absorb moisture, and you can extract the water, but it requires too much energy to do so at scale,” May said. “Right now, though, there are some promising studies happening in this area, and we could see a potential increase by an order of magnitude – 10 times over on the low end.”
Another budding area of development is community partnerships to harvest that ever-present vapor around us.
“We brought in an expert who talked about technologies like fog nets for air-based extraction,” said Jennifer Riley-Chetwynd, director of marketing at Denver Botanic Gardens and co-director of the One World One Water Center at MSU Denver. “That planted the seed – if we could use renewable resources to harvest water without burning fossil fuels, it would be a game-changer.”
After subsequent research, Denver Botanic Gardens then acquired several atmospheric-water-capture devices, called SOURCE, from Arizona-based Zero Mass Water.
The apparatus uses solar-electric and solar-thermal panels to power fans that draw in ambient air; vapor is then passed through a condenser and collected via an onboard reservoir.
In addition to three at its York Street headquarters and one at its Chatfield location, Denver Botanic Gardens donated a device to MSU Denver, currently outside the Jordan Student Success Building (another was donated to University of Colorado-Boulder as well).
May was also involved in the equipment deployment as a guest lecturer for a CU Boulder environmental-design class.
Though SOURCE is devised to provide potable water to drink, Denver Botanic Gardens is also the first location to test modified versions for irrigation purposes, with one located next to the Hive bistro for a tasty slice of stewardship.
“The garden we’re using it in is producing squash, tomatoes, herbs and other ingredients you can order on your pizza,” Riley-Chetwynd said.
This is all more than pie-in-the-sky, too – the implications are international.
Take the scenario facing Africa, which is home to 1.2 billion people; that number is expected to more than double by 2050. And the impact of that will be felt everywhere, said Aaron Brown, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering technology.
“We all need water to live, and a huge population explosion is going to happen on the poorest continent,” he said. “These kinds of problems are often best solved from a mulitidisciplinary perspective, and here at MSU Denver we look at research in humanitarian technologies for vulnerable populations.
“We’re training students to address the nexus of energy, water, food and health in a holistic, systems way.”
That’s Brown’s approach to this fall semester’s Sustainable Development Strategy course. Following up on a 2016 trip to Bhopal, India, where students worked in a local integrative-health clinic, the class is a launching pad for a study-abroad effort that will map geographic information systems’ health data compared with water delivery and water tables to see if there’s a correlation between pollution migration and health.
It’s part of a comprehensive community-based conservation conversation. And though using technology such as atmospheric water capture to irrigate beyond small plots of land isn’t currently viable, future research is encouraging.
“If you can pull two to three liters of water from the air in Denver, with 25 percent humidity, that’s really promising for more-humid environments,” Brown said.
For May, whose continued commitment to advancing sustainable solutions included a recent Colorado Science and Engineering Policy Fellowship, coupling innovative material with emerging practices is less of a silver bullet than one of many silver BBs, as he quoted John Stulp, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s special policy advisor for water.
And thanks to partnerships such as the one between MSU Denver and Denver Botanic Gardens, today’s water stewardship is built to scale for tomorrow’s world.
From the Navajo Nation via the The Navajo Hopi Observer:
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye met with Interior Department representatives Aug. 16, to discuss the framework for a settlement of Navajo water rights on the main-stem Colorado River and the Little Colorado River (LCR).
Also present at the meeting, held at the Office of the President and Vice President, were Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates and various Council delegates. Navajo leaders met with the Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office (SIWRO), an agency that operates under the Interior Department.
The Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe have been negotiating water rights for the Colorado River and LCR for decades without substantial resolution.
“We’re ready to move forward on this and we have been,” Begaye told SIWRO officials. “Establishing Navajo water rights to the main-stem and LCR is critical to the future of the Navajo Nation. I’ve been advocating for water allocations for homes, businesses and tribal operations, and for funding to build a pipeline to provide water to communities in the Western Agency.”
In June 2017, the Udall Foundation provided mediation between the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe to work toward agreeable terms in a settlement. Although the tribes were able to gain certain consensus on some issues, they failed to come to an agreement.
Begaye said the negotiation process is now back at square one.
“When it comes to LCR, we go full circle. We’ve come to this impasse before,” he said. “We have a good relationship with Hopi, but this is an area we can’t seem to agree on. However, when it comes to water rights and how they affect the future of our people, this settlement is paramount.”
Begaye said the SIWRO, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe need to consider alternatives in reaching a settlement.
“Maybe there is another way of looking at this. Yet still, Navajo is ready to move on with a settlement,” Begaye said.