Explorations of the Lower Colorado River, #1: Motivation & the Vaquita Marina

March 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

The Lower Colorado River’s been getting some good attention in the media lately(1, 2).  And Creek Freak Josh Link and I have also recently been exploring the river and its issues, and look forward to presenting a series of posts on the topic.

It all started for me with the vaquita porpoise.

In 2005 I was a watershed coordinator tasked with addressing issues of water conservation in the Ballona Creek watershed.  As odd as that may sound to people expecting a watershed coordinator to focus, on, say, the watershed itself, that’s how the grant worked.  Chalk it up to Bay-Delta politics.  That mandate, however, did me an eye-opening favor.  For as much as I understood that most of our water was imported, I’d never bothered to consider how those far-away places were impacted by our big straws.  A little self-education via Google’s search engine opened up a world of dessicated wildlands, endangered species, and amazement at how completely we lack perspective when we talk about water “demand”(1, 2). « Read the rest of this entry »

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Cadiz wanna-be water empire gaining steam

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Someone drive a stake through the heart of this ecological vampire, once and for all.  Forwarding you today to Chance of Rain:

Cadiz, Inc today announced that it has optioned use of a derelict gas line to ship northern Californian water to the Mojave Desert for long-term storage by….

via Just say no to Cadiz stock tease.

Hope takes the 3:10 to Yuma (and the lower Colorado River)

December 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Speaking of the lower Colorado River, check out this wonderful video giving some historical context, issues and hope:

Click on image for link to video.

The rebound of bird species is particularly notable with this restoration project, where the prior, degraded, condition included filled channels, disconnected wetlands, and a lack of natural flooding resulting in the loss of habitat diversity and a thicket of non-native species.  Reflecting on some local arguments, I see that a combo of hand labor and big machines were used, dredging for floodplains and re-establishment of channels.  Restoring flooding with “industrial style” restoration with adaptive management techniques might not always be so bad after all…

For more info, here’s a slide show and an article in the journal Ecological Restoration.

Thanks to Fred Phillips, a Flagstaff-based landscape architect, who shared this link about his work with me when I went to visit the Friends of the Rio de Flag earlier this year.

 

Thankful on 37 gallons of water a day

November 24, 2011 § 11 Comments

You know how everyone always says there’s no way Angelenos could live on local water alone?

I had to test this assumption as my warm-up to a standard Thanksgiving exercise, naming something I’m grateful for: freshwater and all the lovelies it supports, in the myriad chain of life descending from the availability of freshwater.

There are obvious lovelies – cottonwood, willow and sycamore trees along riparian corridors.

And the well-known extirpated and endangered freshwater species – steelhead trout, salmon…

Or the less obvious – cuties like the turbid-delta-dwelling vaquita porpoise, who are squeezed to less than 250 individuals in the Gulf of California, thanks initally to habitat loss and now more hazardously, gillnet/trawler entrapment.  Of course there’s skepticism regarding the loss-of-habitat angle, after all the Colorado River Delta only shrank when Mexico lost 90-95% of Colorado River flows, or as the Center for Biological Diversity says:  “the (vaquita) also suffers by living in a habitat that is today a shadow of its former self. The Colorado River, once a raging torrent that fed a lush floodplain at the delta, has been reduced to a trickle by dams and water diversions to neighboring southwestern states.” « Read the rest of this entry »

Symposium Explores the Complexities of Sediment Management

September 29, 2011 § 7 Comments

1969. A conveyor belt transports sediment away from Big Tujunga Reservoir. (Los Angeles Public Library Images)

Last Tuesday (9/20), the Council for Watershed Health (formerly the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council) hosted a creek-freaky event entitled Shifting Soil: Sediment Management Policies in Los Angeles. While I was fortunate enough to be in attendance, it has taken some time to digest all that was discussed and to place in context all of the remarks that were made. The following is my best attempt at a summary including a few thoughts on the topic. For further reading, have a gander at Mademoiselle Gramophone’s in depth coverage (including video and audio snippets) or visit the Council’s event archive for downloadable PDF files of each presentation. A friendly forewarning: this post is a lengthy one… « Read the rest of this entry »

Upcoming Greywater Workshops – October 2011

September 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Joe's Washing Machine, hooked up to water trees and berries

In October 2011, Greywater Action are teaching workshops in Southern California. Greywater Action are the great folks formerly known as Greywater Guerillas, then they changed their names after the state of California went and made greywater legal. These are the folks who installed (and taught how to install) my home washing machine greywater system that I wrote about here.

If you’re in Los Angeles, there are greywater workshops on Friday October 14th and Saturday October 15th – both at Los Angeles Eco-Village. In Santa Monica, similar workshops on Saturday October 8th and Sunday October 9th. Bonus workshop on humanure (composting toilets) on Friday evening October 14th. Workshop details below and at Greywater Action website« Read the rest of this entry »

Bring back the floodplain!

May 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Creekfreaks who enjoy (if that’s the word for it) my regular call (rant?) for floodplain reacquisition may find this Washington Post article gratifying.

Floods along the Mississippi River lead to renewed calls for a change in strategy.

A point of view folks in California from the Bay Delta on down to “Katrina West” areas  may want to take under consideration.

Thanks to Melanie Winter of the River Project for forwarding the Wash Post story, and Jeffrey Jones for the Bay Delta report news.  To echo Mel, a functioning LA River floodplain – especially in the San Fernando Valley – would benefit our local water resources as well as bring back habitat and create recreational areas.

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