BLM’s new “alternative” on Vegas pipe

Ever heard of the Council on Environmental Quality? Chaired by former LA Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley, it’s a White House office that according to its website  ”coordinates Federal environmental efforts.”  To judge by a recent update from the Bureau of Land Management, Sutley’s office may just hold the key for a compromise in a long-running battle over rural groundwater between Utah and Nevada. Using powers supposedly afforded by the Council, the Bureau is adding a new alternative to an environmental impact statement that may allow Vegas to pump and Utah to keep its water too. The only clear loser is the environment.

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Water quality beneath the asphalt

Those wondering why so much of the recent rain across Los Angeles was flushed out to the Pacific through a storm drain system instead of socked into the local aquifer will find part of a complicated answer in a fact sheet issued last week by the US Geological Survey. Run-off from the Transverse Ranges into the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys hits land that the USGS classes as 83% urban, which means largely paved and impermeable. (For how a combination of arrogance and greed led to over-building of the Los Angeles flood plain, there is no better source than historian Jared Orsi’s “Hazardous Metropolis.”) Another  limit on our ability to store mountain run-off  in these valleys is groundwater pollution brought by that urbanization. The map below shows solvent hot spots. 

Hat tip to the Water Education Foundation’s Aquafornia for signalling the sheet’s publication.

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‘Fracking’ update

USGS map of the Monterey Shale formation doctored by an energy website "OilShaleGas.com." Click on the map to see if you live in "an area of mutual interest."

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks to do with “fracking” or the mining technique more properly called hydraulic fracturing. The Los Angeles Times reports that the oil and gas industry has written the Academy of Motion Pictures attacking the Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” as riddled with inaccuracies. T. Boone Pickens appeared on the Daily Show claiming, “I have fracked 3,000 wells in my life” and that “they always say that it contaminates the aquifer. I’ve never seen that happen.” Meanwhile, though the gas industry agreed to discontinue the use of diesel in fracking fluids in 2004, a congressional investigation reported late last month that more than 32 million gallons of it was used

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“Virtually impossible” for monitoring safeguards to work

WILL the monitoring of the groundwater pumping proposed by Las Vegas in the Great Basin safeguard the targeted valleys? “It is virtually impossible,” writes 32-year veteran of the US Geological Survey John D. Bredehoeft in the Salt Lake Tribune. To read the op-ed piece by the country’s presiding authority on groundwater, click here.

Or for a longer version of the article supplied by Dr Bredehoeft, click here.

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“Underground Rivers”

Via WaterWired: A draft version of the new book “Underground Rivers from the River Styx to the Rio San Buenaventura with occasional diversions” by University of New Mexico engineer Richard J. Heggen is available to download for free. For a fuller background on Heggen, go to WaterWired. To download the draft chapters, click here.

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