Archive for March, 2014

Earth-POWER!

March 28, 2014
USA: California, San Francisco

USA: California, San Francisco

Give Mother Nature a break!
Shut OFF your lights on Saturday, March 30th from 8:30-9:30pm local time for Earth Hour.

The use of water and of energy are intricately intertwined.
–Saving Energy Saves Water: The production of energy — hydroelectric, industrial steam-power generation, fracking, etc— requires a lot of water.
–Saving Water Saves Energy: The extraction, treatment, distribution, and use of water – which is then followed by the collection and treatment of wastewater – requires a lot of energy.
–Saving Water and Energy Saves Greenhouse Gas Emissions! It’s up to state, tribal, and local governments – as well as us! – to implement actions that address energy-water-climate change challenges.

See also EPA on the Water-Energy Nexus

DID YOU KNOW?

— Running the hot water faucet for 5 minutes uses about the same amount of energy as burning a 60-watt bulb for 14 hours –U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

–In 2000, thermoelectric facilities (industrial steam-power generation) used 195,000 million gallons of water a day. This represents almost half of all of the water withdrawn in the United States. – United States Geological Survey

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Disparity in Rainfall between Pacific Northwest and California

March 26, 2014

The latest Columbia Basin Bulletin reports that the US Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water from the Dworshak Dam to make room for anticipated above average inflows from the spring snow melts, that have already started. The Dworshak Dam is on the north fork of the Clearwater River in west central Idaho and empties into the Snake River just above the big four Lower Snake River Dams. The storage reservoir water level behind the Dworshak Dam rose six feet between March 1st and March 15th. This is good news for migrating salmon and for the hydro power that these dams produce, but bad news for Californians who didn’t get needed water.

Californians continue to look square in the face of a continued and serious drought. On the California Data Exchange Center’s website for March 20th, there is not one reservoir that is 100% full. The range is 21% to 53% of total capacity except Pyramid and Castaic Lakes, which are 86% and 92% respectively. California is nearing the end of its rainy season and there has not been enough rainfall or snow accumulation to fill these reservoirs. From the Klamoth River in the north of the state to the Colorado Desert in the south, the percent of historic average rainfall in each of the 36 measured areas averages about 29%.

NOAA produced a map of recent precipitation in the West, above left. This shows the higher rainfall in the Pacific Northwest and west central Idaho and dry conditions southward. What is more disturbing is the NOAA map showing the precipitation average over the past 3 years, above right. The end is not in sight.

BF_DSC2805*Posted from San Francisco by Barbara Folger, NWNL Project Coordinator

 

Celebrate World Water Day with NWNL!

March 22, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 5.17.25 PM

Today is World Water Day 2014. This year’s focus is on the relationship between WATER and ENERGY. Water is required to produce nearly all forms of energy. Energy is needed at all stages of water extraction, treatment and distribution. Supplies are limited and the demand for freshwater and energy continues to increase.

Water and Energy are interdependent. Save water!  Conserve energy! And make more efficient choices!

Download NWNL’s WAYS TO SAVE OUR FRESH WATER RESOURCES Info Sheet. Spread the word and share your ideas with us!

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Daily Post – Weekly Photo Challenge: INSIDE

March 18, 2014
Kenya: Amboseli, Maasai (aka Masai) woman and baby in entrance to dung hut

Kenya: Amboseli, Maasai woman and baby in entrance to dung hut

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

A haiku to celebrate Nat’l Wildlife Week March 17-23! This year’s theme is wildlife + WATER!

March 18, 2014

the floating heron
pecks at it
till it shatters…
full moon on water
– zuiryu

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

NWNL Expedition Spotlights California Drought! 

March 14, 2014

 Chasing California’s Thirst
  March 14-26, 2014 Expedition

No Water No Life will visit the Sacramento Delta from San Francisco Bay to Antioch, the Sacramento River from the Delta north to the Butte Sink region, and the San Joaquin River from the Delta south to Bakersfield to document causes, impacts and solutions of California’s drought with photography, video and stakeholder interviews.

PROBLEMS:
– Increased Population and Growing Irrigation Demands with Finite Water Supplies
– Neither Consumers nor Regulators have sufficiently addressed The Value of Water

JUSTIFICATIONS:
– It affects us all!  CA supplies 50% of US veggies, fruits and nuts.
– No Water – No Irrigation – No Farms – No Food – No Jobs = Economic hit for all of the US!
– CA’s Drought Solutions can help solve the global problem of  “More people – Less available clean water.”

PURPOSE:
NWNL will document causes, impacts and solutions to CA’s Drought.
How will CA move from Water Scarcity to Water Sustainability?

Today is the International Day of Action for Rivers!

March 14, 2014
Canada:  British Columbia, Castlegar, Columbia River

Canada: British Columbia, Castlegar, Columbia River

NWNL strives to raise awareness EVERY DAY of the vulnerability of our freshwater resources since the planet has a finite supply for an ever-increasingly thirsty and growing global population.

But today is special —  as explained by International Rivers, a NWNL partner in awareness-raising:

“Every year, thousands of people around the world lift their voices to celebrate the world’s rivers and those who struggle to protect them. The International Day of Action for Rivers is a day to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration. It is a day to take to the streets, demonstrate and demand improvements in the policies and practices of decision makers. It is a day to educate one another about the threats facing our rivers, and learn about better water and energy solutions.”

And so, today NWNL honors International Rivers, all those out on the streets raising voices for rivers, and our colleagues in all 6 of our case-study watersheds who raise their voices daily.

Is the California Drought here to stay?

March 12, 2014

The short answer is an emphatic, “YES!” It is real. Even if El Niño arrives next year, as some climatologists have hinted, California currently uses too much water to allow replenishment of its reservoirs and ground water – now at historic low levels. It is predicted that precipitation levels will fluctuate wildly, as they have historically, while water demand increases. The California Data Exchange Center reports that California reservoirs are at 62.39% of average. Some are as low as 7 and 9%. The Sierra snowpack in the northern part of the state has reached 21% of average, up from 12% before the early March storms. Nowhere in the state is the snowpack above 34% and very little rain is forecast for the rest of this year’s rainy season. San Francisco residents depend on snow melt for their water. Some towns in California are predicted to have no water within 60 days. Irresponsible water use should not drain our precious resource.

One answer is conservation and planning. According to Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson, an expert in environmental and natural resources law and policy at Stanford University, there are many ways that Californians can use less water. At a symposium presented by the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Water in the West Project at Stanford University, Thompson proposed that the state protect ground water, protect the environment, avoid building new reservoirs and desalinization plants, set up water exchanges where even fish have water rights, and encourage water utilities to tier water rates.

Many of us who were here in the big droughts of 1976-77 and 1985-86 have already tightened our belts, so trying to reach the voluntary 20% reduction, as requested by Governor Brown, is going to mean even more careful planning. California has more people and less water. The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and has the highest per-state cash farm receipts in the nation, per CA Dept of Food and Agriculture. This farmland has international importance as well. It grows 70% of the world’s almonds.

The state needs to put serious water conservation measures in place before any rains that El Nino might bring next year could lull everyone back into complacency.

Related links for more information:

http://west.stanford.edu/publications/video/california-drought-causes-context-and-responses

http://www.aquafornia.com

http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/

*Posted from San Francisco by Barbara Folger, NWNL Project Coordinator

BF_DSC2805

March 5, 2014

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” ― Wendell Berry

Read a related article: The Race to Save Ethiopians Damned by the Dam, by Al Mariam  

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

A New 65′ Crack Found in Wanapum Dam: NWNL Reflects on “Saving the Past for the Future”

March 3, 2014
US:  Washington, Columbia River Basin, Wanapum Dam

Cover of a book on the Wanapum Indians.

Drummers and Dreamers:

Wanapum Indians and the Wanapum Dam

On the Columbia River.

By Alison M. Jones, Director of No Water No Life.
Image

Downstream side of the Wanapum Dam.

On March 1, a 65-foot-long crack was found in the hydroelectric #Wanapum Dam in Grant County WA.  This dam generates over 4 million megawatt hours annually, providing power to over 45,000 local customers and throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Bonneville Power Administration, now investigating the “risk of failure” presented by this crack, has notified residents downstream of possible evacuation and has closed all nearby boat ramps.  (For updates: http://www.grantpud.org/your-pud/media-room/news)  The dam’s initial 50-year operating license was granted in 1955 and extended by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2008.  However, that approval came with conditions, including modernization of the facility’s power generation capability.

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Columbia River near Vantage WA, upstream of Wanapum Dam.

In 2007 a No Water No Life expedition, following the Columbia River from source to sea, visited Wanapum Dam to add to its documentation of the values and the impacts of hydropower.  The dam is named for the Wanapum Indians whose tule houses along the Columbia River were flooded by the building of the dam.  Respecting the longtime Wanapum residents, the dam also houses the Heritage Center Museum displaying their cultural artifacts and documenting the upstream relocation of the town of Vantage.

The juxtaposition of this large, now-cracked hydrodam and displays of the heritage of Wanapum weavings, moccasins and prayers is a bit ironic.  Perhaps lessons can be gained from the traditional values of these “River People” as we consider the risks presented today by infrastructure, industry, machines and our efforts to control nature.  The words of Rex Buck, today’s Wanapum leader, are shown at the Heritage Center Museum:

Before the arrival of white man, Native Americans believed that all living things were endowed with spirit.  They believed that nature was alive and responsive to their needs for physical and spiritual nourishment.  Wisdom was passed from generation to generation in stories that embraced the spiritual characteristics of coyote, bear and all the animals.  Native Americans were the sensitive guardians of earth and all living things.  The arrival of the fur traders brought a slow and disastrous end to this symbiotic relationship.

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Wanapum Moccasins and weaving at the Heritage Center Museum.

In the early 1800’s the Wanapum numbered 2500 to 3000, according to the journals of Lewis and Clark.  Historically, the Wanapum have gathered roots from fields above Ephrata (near Soap Lake) down to the Snake River.  Until 1956 they had permanent winter villages of A-frames made with mats of tule gathered by the riverbanks, that were stowed during summer months.

Image

Sculpture of salmon at the Wanapum Dam.

In the spring the Wanapum went to Soap Lake to gather fruit.  In the summer they fished salmon with 14’ poles, submerged basket traps and torches at night.  While drying and storing their salmon, they ate eel and fresh-water mussels.  In the fall the women dug for roots which they ate raw, cooked or dried.  Into the winter hunted deer, big horn sheep, elk, rabbit and waterfowl.

According to Lenora Seelatsee, their mother was “Earth Woman,” who provided spiritual and physical sustenance and encouraged them to respect nature, peace and cooperation with others. Around 1700 the horse was introduced to this community; and the first impact of Europeans was the introduction of metal and glass beads.  Because the Wanapum never went to war with the U. S., there was never a treaty. Thus, they’ve received no recognition, land titles or money from the US government.

Editor and author of Drummers and Dreamers, Click Relander is the only white man buried in the Wanapum cemetery – an expression of their appreciation for his letters during the dam-building agreement requesting that the Wanapum got housing, electricity and jobs.  The Public Utility Department (PUD) rebuilt their 10 homes and long house.  The US Military still protects the Wanapum cemetery and their root-digging fields per an agreement with the Depart of Energy, downstream at Hanford Nuclear Site.  Seven years ago there were only 65 Wanapum left, according to Susan Parker, a Heritage Center docent.  That community represented 3 or 4 families on the west side of the Columbia River adjacent to military lands across from Priest Rapids.

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Transmission lines at the Wanapum Dam.

In 2007 NWNL spoke with Rex Buck, today’s Wanapum “prophet and spiritual guide.” (The Wanapum had no need for a “chief” because the tribe never fought.)  NWNL unfortunately didn’t meet Rex in person because his sister Lenora had died just “three sunrises earlier.”  But in a short phone conversation with NWNL, Rex talked of ongoing Wanapum culture and customs, as he explained that the Wanapum honor their deceased by not using their proper name for one year after their death.  At the end of that year observance, there is a “Give Away” memorial service that bequeaths the belongings of the deceased.

Today Rex continues to disseminate the spirit of #Smowhalla, the first Wanapum prophet and shaman who is remembered for interpreting his dreams and stressing the importance of sharing with others. The museum displays Smowhalla’s words to his people:  “Each one must learn for himself the highest wisdom.  It cannot be taught in words.”

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Archival photograph of the Wanapum and their long house, covered with tule mats.

As Smowhalla’s current successor, Rex Buck shared ongoing Wanapum wisdom with NWNL, saying, “We have feeling for all this land and to our past.”  When asked about the cultural resources of his tribe, Rex answered, “They are further and beyond dictionary definition.”  It seems that the Wanapum intertwine cultural resources with natural resources and together both are valued as the Creator’s promise for the future.

Puck Hyah Toot (Johnny Buck) spoke about the Creator’s gifts at the naming of the Wanapum Dam at Public Utilities Department office at Ephrata in May 1955.

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Electric transmission towers at Wanapum Dam

The part of the District where we lived the Creator made.  He made Earth.  He spread upon the Earth things for the Indian people so they could live.  He gave them roots and berries, salmon he put in their streams, and caused wild fowl and wild animals to come upon the land.  These were the foods the Indian has enjoyed, good food the Creator had given.  When I think of losing these things, I think I am losing my life!  I do not feel I should get angry or say anything that a dam is being built.  I feel that somehow I and my people will get by as long as we have friends like are here.  The Creator predicted and directed that the light shall fall upon the earth and give warming light to everything upon it.  The sun will brighten and warm the body of the Indian and will preserve that body.  You and I get this living under that light.  If any person does wrong to another race, the Creator will punish that person.  That we believe.

The Wanapum are disappearing. When the dam was built (1959-1963), there were only 5 full-blooded Wanapum.  Now there are about 60 Wanapum enrolled and assimilated into the Yakima Nation.  But even the family of Rex Buck, today’s Wanapum’s prophet, is not full-blooded. Rex’s mother is from Warm Springs, Oregon, and his wife is a Yakima Indian.

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“Saving the Past for the Future” – Philosophy of the Wanapum Indian Trust Collection.

Despite this assimilation, diabetes, alcoholism and epidemics, the messages of these “River People” will survive.  But will the natural resources given by their Creator survive?  What risks are engendered when dams crack?  The Grant County PUD’s policy is to “care for the preservation and conservation of the Collection” of Wanapum cultural resources in its Heritage Museum.  Are they also caring for “the preservation and conservation” of our natural resources?

Frank Buck, Rex’s uncle, asked us to share and respect our differing approaches to stewarding water, power, and food needed for all living on shared riverbanks.  On June 2, 1962, at the dedication of Priest Dam downstream of Wanapum Dam, Frank Buck shared this perspective:

I have a few words to express about white people.  You are glad that this Priest Rapids Dam is finished.  You are dedicating it today.  We are very glad to be with you here today.  This power is very important to you.  This power is like food to you.  The water that is making this power provides you all the food you need.  Your power and my power are two different things.  The things that I am showing outside of the teepees (in the village built for the dedication of the dam site), that is the food that we Indians was provided with.  That food will take care of us.  That food makes me strong and healthy.  It is our medicine.  Even what law comes against us, we don’t hold it against you.  We Indians are still friends with you.  You White People, We Indians.  It is our thoughts to go together as one on this Earth.  We will be taken care of.

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Maintenance construction at the Wanapum Dam in 2007

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