Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What does selenium taste like?

Californians first learned about the effects of selenium in their water when Lloyd Carter was writing about death of the wildlife at the Kesterson Reservoir. That was back in the 1980's when Lloyd was a reporter. He was still writing about this in 2007, as mentioned in this Badlands Journal post. The entire story, long version, can be found in Carter's 2009 paper for Golden Gate University's Environmental Law Review: Reaping riches in a wretched region: Subsidized industrial farming and its link to perpetual poverty.

I suggest that you read enough of the items above to understand what is heading for Los Angeles.

The situation is really untenable right now. Westland Water District farmers need to irrigate, but along with the irrigation comes the accumulation of salts, borax and selenium in the groundwater. Eventually, it ruins the land. Since they can no longer dump the drainage into Kesterson, their new plan is to drill wells to pump out the contaminate groundwater and run it through the California Aqueduct. The overview of this plan is posted on the Westland Water District Web site. Even the project name seems to be designed to make it look benign, or to confuse the reader, or both. The "Conveyance of Nonproject Groundwater from the Canalside Project using the California Aqueduct" Project

One key question is that of what happens to the Nonproject contaminated Groundwater. The project description would make you believe that they will just use it elsewhere.
WWD is proposing to pump groundwater from land near the California Aqueduct and convey it through the aqueduct for distribution on other land within the district.
Yet, the aqueduct does not stop here. It is 444 miles long and the Edmonson Pumping Station lifts it over the Tehachapi Mountains to LA. I guess that Westlands assumes it will all be so mixed out with other water that no one individual will get very much of it.

There is an announced plan to have an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Westlands is soliciting public input.
Public comment is an integral part of the EIR process. The “scoping” process, which we are currently conducting, is a period in which WWD asks the public to recommend additions to the scope of the document by identifying problems that may arise as a result of the project or resources that may be significantly affected. The scoping period for this project lasts from February 1, 2010 to 5 p.m. on March 5, 2010. You can send your comment letters to:

Westlands Water District
Attn: Russ Freeman
3130 North Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93703
Before you do, as I hope you will, you might also want to ready what Restore the Delta says about this: A little salt will bring out the flavor. (2nd topic).

If this has not yet gotten you motivated to do something, take a little more time to read this letter directed to Tom Birmingham (Head of Westlands and the lawyer who defended the Metropolitan Water District's use of Mono Lake Water) and Congressmen Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa, both Democrats. The important fact to note here is that these farmers, the ones who went on 60 Minutes to bemoan their plight and had Sean Hannity do a full segment about farmers vs. fish, those same farmers are going to make an additional $140,000,000 this year from increase water supply and have more what then they know what to do with. That is our money. Ours, the tax payers of CA. Time for action folks. But then, I always knew that these Westlands farmers were the salt of the earth.

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