Goldman environmental prize: top awards dominated by women for first time — The Guardian

Goldman environment prizewinners 2018: (clockwise from top left) Manny Calonzo, Francia Márquez, Nguy Thi Khanh, LeAnne Walters, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, Claire Nouvian. Photograph: 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize

From The Goldman Environmental Prize:

We are thrilled to introduce the Goldman Environmental Prize winners for 2018! Each of these individuals has moved mountains to protect the environment and their communities, and changed the world in ways large and small. Get to know these incredible Prize winners and learn more about how you can support their work.

Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, South Africa

As grassroots activists, Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid built a broad coalition to stop the South African government’s massive secret nuclear deal with Russia. On April 26, 2017, the High Court ruled that the $76 billion nuclear power project was unconstitutional—a landmark legal victory that protected South Africa from an unprecedented expansion of the nuclear industry and production of radioactive waste.

Khanh Nguy Thi, Vietnam

Khanh Nguy Thi used scientific research and engaged Vietnamese state agencies to advocate for sustainable long-term energy projections in Vietnam. Highlighting the cost and environmental impacts of coal power, she partnered with state officials to reduce coal dependency and move toward a greener energy future.

Claire Nouvian, France

A tireless defender of the oceans and marine life, Claire Nouvian led a focused, data-driven advocacy campaign against the destructive fishing practice of deep-sea bottom trawling, successfully pressuring French supermarket giant and fleet owner Intermarché to change its fishing practices. Her coalition of advocates ultimately secured French support for a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling that led to an EU-wide ban.

Manny Calonzo, The Philippines

Manny Calonzo spearheaded an advocacy campaign that persuaded the Philippine government to enact a national ban on the production, use, and sale of lead paint. He then led the development of a third-party certification program to ensure that paint manufacturers meet this standard. As of 2017, 85% of the paint market in the Philippines has been certified as lead safe.

LeeAnne Walters, United States

LeeAnne Walters led a citizens’ movement that tested the tap water in Flint, Michigan, and exposed the Flint water crisis. The results showed that one in six homes had lead levels in water that exceeded the EPA’s safety threshold. Walters’ persistence compelled the government to take action and ensure that residents of Flint have access to clean water.

Francia Márquez, Colombia

A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Francia Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. She exerted steady pressure on the Colombian government and spearheaded a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women to the nation’s capital, resulting in the removal of all illegal miners and equipment from her community.

Click here to view the photo gallery.

From The Guardian (Jonathan Watts):

The world’s foremost environmental prize has announced more female winners than ever before, recognising the increasingly prominent role that women are playing in defending the planet.

The struggle for a healthy planet may sometimes feel like a series of defeats, but this year’s Goldman environmental prize celebrates six remarkable success stories, five of them driven by women.

From an anti-nuclear court ruling against former South African president Jacob Zuma and Russian leader Vladimir Putin to a campaign that nudged the Vietnamese government from coal to renewable energy, the winners – unveiled on Earth day yesterday – are all grassroots activists who have taken on powerful vested interests.

In Latin America, the winner is Francia Márquez, an Afro-Colombian community leader who led a 10-day, 350-mile march of 80 women from the Amazon to Bogotá that prompted the government to send troops to remove illegal miners who were polluting rivers with cyanide and mercury.

Like many previous winners, she faces immense risks. The dangers of environmental activism have been evident in the murder of two Goldman-prize recipients in the past two years.

The 2015 winner Berta Cáceres – a Honduran indigenous rights and anti-dam campaigner, was killed less than a year after collecting the award. Ten months later, a 2005 winner – Mexican activist Isidro Baldenegro López – was gunned down in the Sierra Madre mountain range. Earlier this month, one of last year’s winners, Rodrigue Katembo – a park ranger in the Virunga sanctuary for mountain gorillas – lost six of his colleagues in a massacre by militia groups.

Márquez said insecurity is also a fact of life in her campaign.

“We constantly receive death threats from militias, leaders, organisations and communities. Protecting the environment and land will always result in dispute between those who want the territory to live and those who want it to fill their pockets with money,” she told the Guardian. “This award is a recognition of the collective struggle of all peoples in the world who care for the environment … and all the leaders who have been killed for the cause of caring for our common home.”

A law student and a single mother of two, the 35-year-old has been an environment and community activist since she joined a campaign against a hydroelectric dam at the age of 13.

The increasingly prominent role of women in environmental activism has been recognised by this year’s prizes. Since 1990, six awards – one for each habitable continent – have been announced by the Goldman prize foundation, which was set up by an member of the Levi Strauss family who made a fortune in the insurance business.

This is the first time that five of the six are women. The winners include South African anti-nuclear activists Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, Vietnamese clean-energy advocate Nguy Thi Khanh, US clean-water defender LeeAnne Walters, and French marine-life champion Claire Nouvian. The one male winner is Philippine anti-lead campaigner Manny Calonzo.

Márquez says she will use the award to promote a new mode of economics and politics based on life-giving “maternal love” rather than “dead” extractivism.

“The first thing we need is to be more aware of the historical moment in which we find ourselves: the planet is being destroyed, it’s that simple, and if we do nothing to avoid it we will we will be part of that destruction,” she said. “Our time has come, we must act, we have a responsibility to future generations to leave a better world, in which taking care of life is more important than producing cumulative wealth.”

2018 #COleg: HB18-1199 (Aquifer Storage-and-recovery Plans)

From The Telluride Daily Planet (Don Coram):

Most people do not realize that managing water in the West represents a larger effort than putting a man on the moon.

The wells, reservoirs and ditches needed to direct water for both agriculture and municipal uses have been a major accomplishment of mankind. Many forget that the land we live on was once abandoned by civilizations because of drought. To secure the future of water in the West, there is much more work to be done.

I am happy to be introducing legislation this year that both directs funds to the advancement of water projects in Colorado, and legislation that would allow for aquifer storage and recovery — two major components in the immediate future for Colorado water.

For years we have been drilling wells and pulling water out of the aquifers bellow us. In states like California and Texas, the aquifers have been overused, leading to compaction. This compaction destroys one of our most important natural resources. Colorado needs to work toward saving these natural reservoirs so that we can use them in the future.

Rep. Marc Catlin, of Montrose, and I began a very important bill when he introduced HB 18-1199. This bill is referred to as the aquifer recovery and storage bill here at the capitol. What it creates is a process for the Ground Water Commission to approve aquifer storage and recovery plans. This is very important to offsetting how much water we are pulling from our wells and it will help avoid the compaction and eventual collapse of our aquifers in Colorado.

HB18-1199 was signed by the governor on April 9.

Above the ground, Rep. Jeni Arndt, of Fort Collins, and I have been hard at work trying to fund water resources projects in Colorado. SB18-218 appropriates $36 million from the Colorado Water Conservation Board construction fund or the Department of Natural Resources to fund projects such as satellite monitoring systems, water forecast programs and the continuation of watershed restoration programs.

The advancement of these projects allows us to have more control over water resources in the state of Colorado, allowing for us to control our own future. This year’s water forecasts are grim and are concerning to many. It is important — even in years when we are fortunate to have adequate water — that we continue to plan and build for the worst. Appropriating these funds will allow us to continue to do so. It will allow our cities to grow, our farmers to farm, mines to mine and our rivers to flow.

Water is very important for the Western Slope. Multiple states, millions of people and another nation rely on us being responsible with our water. This is why we work so hard to bring legislation to further our water interest, and we thank you for the opportunity to make this happen.

@CAPArizona management of diversion for #LakeMead raises questions

From KUNC (Luke Runyon/Bret Jaspers):

The dispute centers on interpretations of a set of guidelines water managers agreed to in 2007, which called for conservation and a basin-wide approach to water management. Those guidelines are also linked to the fate of the watershed’s two biggest reservoirs: Lake Powell and Lake Mead. If Mead drops too low, Powell sends more water to balance it out.

The Upper Colorado River Commission and Denver Water accused the Central Arizona Project, managed by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District (CAWCD), of manipulating their water orders to keep Lake Mead from dipping to a level where a shortage would be declared, while keeping it low enough to get more water from Lake Powell’s reserves.

Central Arizona Project (CAP) officials say they’re ordering water wisely under the guidelines and that they’ve done nothing wrong…

The feud pulls back the curtain enough to give us all a glimpse at some truths about how we manage arguably the Western U.S.’s most important water source:

1. No one person is in charge of the Colorado River.

Given the Colorado River’s importance to life in the West — like the fact it provides water to 40 million people in the country’s driest reaches — one would think there’s some group of people who oversee how the river is divvied up.

But there isn’t.

Management of the river is brought to life by an amalgamation of compacts, treaties and more than a century of case law often referred to as the “Law of the River.” The actors in the Basin — like cities, farmers, irrigation districts, the federal government and conservation groups — all know those rules, built on a foundation called the Colorado River Compact. The compact is a 1922 agreement among all states that receive the river’s water. To this day, it receives healthy doses of both praise and derision in Westerners’ conversations about it.

2. Public shaming is how water managers police themselves.

Because there’s no police force regularly checking in on big water users within the Colorado River Basin, most of the enforcement of rules and norms comes down to the water users themselves.

The letters sent to CAP are a great example of how simple norm-breaking can quickly turn into a multi-state water feud. CAP officials were not coy about their strategy, taking to Twitter to blast out an infographic of their attempt to keep Lake Mead at a “sweet spot,” ensuring additional water from Lake Powell. It was a way to push back against a proposal from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey that would give the state more control over some water conservation. They communicated the strategy to a room of 20 reporters in late February.

But in the eyes of the Upper Basin, CAP crossed a line.

“Although we have heard these things, we certainly have not seen it become what appears such a blatant, actual publicly-stated policy of CAWCD,” says Don Ostler, the Upper Colorado River Commission’s executive director.

No one accused CAP of breaking the rules. Instead the complaints were that CAP was being sneaky and manipulative.

And how do you bring someone back into the fold who’s perceived as going rogue? You shame them, says Doug Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Some of Kenney’s work has received funding from the Walton Family Foundation, which also provides funding for KUNC’s Colorado River coverage.

“The [enforcement] mechanism is usually a social mechanism,” Kenney says. “And the mechanism is all of the other parties get in your face and say, ‘Hey, come on. This isn’t really the spirit of what we’re doing here, let’s get back to working cooperatively.’”

3. The weather plays a role.

The winter of 2018 was pretty dry. The flow into Lake Powell is currently projected to be 46 percent of average during the highest runoff months of April, May, June and July.

The drought that has plagued the southwestern U.S. is now in its 18th year, leaving some to wonder whether this drought is a glimpse at the future in the Colorado River Basin. Warmer temperatures are already sapping the river’s flow.

If this had been a wet year with high snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, there’s a good chance the accusatory letters would’ve never been sent, Kenney says. But scarcity can sometimes lead to conflict

4. This dust up could necessitate federal intervention.

If there’s one thing that most water managers along the river agree on, it’s that they’d rather not live their lives under fiat from the federal government. Even though the decentralized method of river management is sometimes messy, there’s an aversion to federal intervention written into the DNA of the West.

That’s why it’s surprising to see Colorado River District general manager Andy Mueller telling Colorado Public Radio’s Grace Hood that it might be time to bring in the Bureau of Reclamation to force everyone to play nice. That could be a negotiating tactic to get CAP to the table (again, the aversion to federal intervention runs deep).

Still, anytime you see a water manager calling on the Bureau of Reclamation for help in negotiating, it’s notable.

5. This dispute could reignite stalled talks.

No one likes being locked in an intractable argument with a colleague, even if one side is pretty sure they’re right. In the history of Colorado River management, Doug Kenney says this barely registers as a serious fight. Go back at least one generation if you want to see brawls over the river.

“This sort of thing happened all the time,” he says. “There was a lot of distrust and a lot of tension and a lot of name-calling.”

For years now the latest generation of river managers patted themselves on the back for how well they work together. Still, talks to hammer out a Drought Contingency Plan among Lower Basin water managers have stalled, and the 2007 guidelines at the heart of this current dispute are set to expire and will have to be renegotiated in the next couple years.

All this bluster could lend itself well toward getting players to the bargaining table sooner than later, Kenney says.

U.S. Secretary of @USDA Sonny Perdue to address Water in the West Symposium

McNichols Civic Center Building, Denver. Photo credit: Tsunami Publicity

From Colorado State University (Tiana Nelson):

Current United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Former US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are among the experts joining Colorado State University’s inaugural Water in the West Symposium on April 26-27, 2018 at McNichols Civic Center Building, 144 W. Colfax Ave., Denver.

The Symposium will bring more than 370 participants and 30 leading water authorities from across the nation to speak to the future of water in the Western region.

“When you think about water and the variety of uses that we put water to. It’s an amazing natural resource and something obviously that life depends on,” said Vilsack, who joined CSU as a special advisor on the National Western Center project in April 2017, has been key to visioning the Symposium.

“It’s not just life that depends on [water], economic opportunity depends on it, the opportunity to enjoy and entertain and to recreate depends on it, the opportunity to have safety and security in your home depends on it, your public health depends on it, it’s an amazing resource and it’s one, frankly, that most of us take for granted,” he said.

The Symposium will seek to understand water issues from a multidisciplinary perspective and set the stage for the research, policy work, and outreach focus for the future Water Resources Center, the first building to be constructed on the new National Western Center campus, and will address topics such as:

  • Research and innovation in water across sectors
  • Financing water projects
  • Federal perspectives on Western water issues
  • Connections between food, energy, and water in the West

“I think the time has come to really understand the role that water plays in our lives, to treat it as the precious natural resource that it is and to figure out ways that we can ensure that future generations will have sufficient water to do all of the variety of activity that water currently does today,” said Vilsack.

Vilsack said the event is key to communicating the urgency of addressing water issues and bringing leadership across business, agriculture, recreation, conservation, and a variety of other sectors to the table to begin the necessary work to identify solutions.

“I think the time has come to really understand the role that water plays in our lives. To treat it as the precious natural resource that it is, and to figure out ways that we can ensure that future generations will have sufficient water to do the variety of activities that water does today,” Vilsack said.

#Drought news: A look back at the development of drought across the southwestern U.S.

Gif via NOAA

From Weather Nation (Rebecca Lindsey):

At the start of the year, only a few small areas of extreme drought existed in the contiguous United States, the largest of them in Oklahoma and South Dakota. As the season advanced, extreme drought conditions expanded from Oklahoma into Texas and Kansas, with detached pockets also appearing in Arizona and New Mexico by mid-February.

By mid-March, drought in the panhandle of Oklahoma had reached “exceptional” status, and severe drought had pushed northward from Arizona and New Mexico into Utah and Colorado. As of mid-April, parts of seven Southwest states had progressed into exceptional drought.

Drought impacts are piling up. Endangered fish in the Rio Grande had to be rescued and relocated to wetter stretches as parts of the river in New Mexico dried up. In Arizona and New Mexico, birds and elk have been observed coming to stock ponds and yards for water and food as natural sources of surface water and vegetation become scarce.

In Colorado, livestock operators are hauling water for cows and sheep as stock ponds and streams dry up, and farmers along the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico have been told to expect half their normal irrigation allotment. Fire danger is extremely high for so early in the season, and burn bans are in place across many counties and forest service districts in multiple states.

UNM: “New Mexico Water: What Our Next Leaders Need to Know,” May 17, 2018

An acequia along the Las Trampas in northern New Mexico is suspended on a trestle. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

From the University of New Mexico Center for Water and the Environment:

Following the 2018 gubernatorial election, New Mexico will have new leaders of its resource management agencies. Other important water developments in the state include: 1) New administration at the City of Albuquerque; 2) Major shifts in federal policies & implementation; 3) Evolution of legal issues, especially interstate lawsuits; and 4) Financial challenges for our agencies and programs. This conference will feature presentations on water & environmental challenges facing the state by former senior state and federal managers. Each speaker has a long history of high level experience working on NM water issues. Speakers include:

Speakers include:

Presentations by federal water managers:

· Ron Curry – Former Administrator, EPA Region VI (former NMED Secretary)
· Estevan Lopez – Former Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner (former ISC Director)
· John D’Antonio – Currently with US Army Corps of Engineers (former NM State Engineer)
· Hilary Tompkins – Former Solicitor for the Dept. of Interior (former Chief Counsel to Gov. Richardson)

Presentations by state water managers:

· Scott Verhines – Former NM State Engineer
· Ryan Flynn – Former Secretary of NM Environment Department
· Amy Haas – Former Acting Director & former General Counsel, NM Interstate Stream Commission
· Tanya Trujillo –Former General Counsel, NM Interstate Stream Commission & Past Director of Colorado River Board of California
Concluding remarks: Mike Connor, Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Interior

Registration (includes lunch and parking):

Early registration – extended to Sunday, April 29: General – $30, Full time students – $10

Late registration (after April 29): General – $50, Full time students – $20

To Register with Credit Card:

Register online by clicking HERE. (scroll to the bottom of the page)

To Register with Check or Purchase Order:

Complete this form and send, along with payment, to cwe@unm.edu.

Tentative Program

#Snowpack news: Best news North

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.