Connect with us

Environment

Residents Support Water Cutbacks, Worry About Rate Increases

Published

on

A recent Field poll indicates that 65 percent of Californians support Governor Jerry Brown’s mandatory 25 percent reduction of water use in urban areas.

At the same time, seven out of 10 homeowners say that it would be a “serious problem” if their water bill increased by 15 to 25 percent.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) customers have already been asked to reduce their water use by 20 percent, with a goal of 35 gallons per day, per person, for indoor use.

Residential water use accounts for around 68 percent of EBMUD’s water demand, while commercial use is around nine percent, and around 11 for industrial, according to Nelsy Rodriguez, spokesperson for EBMUD.

Current demand is going down because of conservation and is around 151 million gallons per day.

Also, a surcharge will be discussed by the EBMUD Board of Directors on June 9, and if approved, will go into effect July 1. The temporary surcharge would be removed if the EBMUD board decides the drought is over, according to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez went on to explain that about 100 people have protested the surcharge, using Proposition 218.

Prop 218 was passed in 1996, and requires local governments to have a vote when considering any new taxes on property owners. The law recently gained traction in April when a California Court of Appeals said that the law extends to water municipalities.

Residents in Morada, a small town just north of Stockton, protested against increased water rates. Prop 218 allowed the town to keep water costs at a flat rate, as long as the majority of customers protested the hike.

However, the same Field report also indicates that 57 percent of California residents believe that agriculture can reduce water consumption without hardships.

In an interview with the Post, Dr. Peter Gleick, founder of Oakland based Pacific Institute, said: “The biggest source of water out there is the water that we waste every day, doing the things that we do. A lot of the water we use now can be used more effectively. We could grow more food with less water, with better irrigation technology. And we could supplement that with more efficient toilets and washing machines at home. That’s probably the biggest source of untapped water, is the water that we’re wasting.”

Gleick went on to explain that “in the short run, individual behavior plays a significant role during droughts, because it takes time to implement new policies or technologies. But in the long run, changes in technology will be very important. We have a short term drought, and a long term water problem.”

Looking at possible solutions, Gleick said, “We treat waste water, and treat it to a fairly high standard, and then dump it into the ocean. But now there’s more of an effort to put that waste water to re-use. For instance, we use recycled waste water for our office landscaping.”

“We need to expand our storage capacity, but there are innovative ideas around groundwater storage,” he continued. “We over-pump our groundwater now, but we could be refilling those aquifers during rainy years.”

“There are proposals for conjunctive use – it’s the joint management of surface water and ground water together, and I think that offers far more potential than any new surface storage,” Gleick added.

“The reason the idea is so appealing is that it doesn’t require any more damage to rivers, and water isn’t lost to evaporation. I think the concept has great potential,” he said.

A recent Field poll indicates that 65 percent of Californians support Governor Jerry Brown’s mandatory 25 percent reduction of water use in urban areas.

At the same time, seven out of 10 homeowners say that it would be a “serious problem” if their water bill increased by 15 to 25 percent.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) customers have already been asked to reduce their water use by 20 percent, with a goal of 35 gallons per day, per person, for indoor use.

Residential water use accounts for around 68 percent of EBMUD’s water demand, while commercial use is around nine percent, and around 11 for industrial, according to Nelsy Rodriguez, spokesperson for EBMUD.

Current demand is going down because of conservation and is around 151 million gallons per day.

Also, a surcharge will be discussed by the EBMUD Board of Directors on June 9, and if approved, will go into effect July 1. The temporary surcharge would be removed if the EBMUD board decides the drought is over, according to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez went on to explain that about 100 people have protested the surcharge, using Proposition 218.

Prop 218 was passed in 1996, and requires local governments to have a vote when considering any new taxes on property owners. The law recently gained traction in April when a California Court of Appeals said that the law extends to water municipalities.

Residents in Morada, a small town just north of Stockton, protested against increased water rates. Prop 218 allowed the town to keep water costs at a flat rate, as long as the majority of customers protested the hike.

However, the same Field report also indicates that 57 percent of California residents believe that agriculture can reduce water consumption without hardships.

In an interview with the Post, Dr. Peter Gleick, founder of Oakland based Pacific Institute, said: “The biggest source of water out there is the water that we waste every day, doing the things that we do. A lot of the water we use now can be used more effectively. We could grow more food with less water, with better irrigation technology. And we could supplement that with more efficient toilets and washing machines at home. That’s probably the biggest source of untapped water, is the water that we’re wasting.”

Gleick went on to explain that “in the short run, individual behavior plays a significant role during droughts, because it takes time to implement new policies or technologies. But in the long run, changes in technology will be very important. We have a short term drought, and a long term water problem.”

Looking at possible solutions, Gleick said, “We treat waste water, and treat it to a fairly high standard, and then dump it into the ocean. But now there’s more of an effort to put that waste water to re-use. For instance, we use recycled waste water for our office landscaping.”

“We need to expand our storage capacity, but there are innovative ideas around groundwater storage,” he continued. “We over-pump our groundwater now, but we could be refilling those aquifers during rainy years.”

“There are proposals for conjunctive use – it’s the joint management of surface water and ground water together, and I think that offers far more potential than any new surface storage,” Gleick added.

“The reason the idea is so appealing is that it doesn’t require any more damage to rivers, and water isn’t lost to evaporation. I think the concept has great potential,” he said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

Published

on

As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

Continue Reading

Activism

Slashing Greenhouse Gases: California Revises Strategy for Climate Change

“The Air Resources Board’s latest climate plan once again pins California’s future on a dangerous carbon capture pipe dream,” said Jason Pfeifle, a senior climate campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Caving to polluters who want to keep burning fossil fuels and dirty biomass energy is a one-way ticket to climate destruction. California needs a plan that rejects industry scams, preserves our ecosystems, and rapidly phases out fossil fuels.”

Published

on

In the 2017 version of their scoping plan, air board officials estimated about 38% of emissions reductions would come from cap and trade. Instead, it now would help “fill the gap” to meet the accelerated 2030 emissions target.
In the 2017 version of their scoping plan, air board officials estimated about 38% of emissions reductions would come from cap and trade. Instead, it now would help “fill the gap” to meet the accelerated 2030 emissions target.

By Nadia Lopez, CalMatters

The California Air Resources Board unveiled a new version of its highly anticipated strategy for battling climate change on Nov. 16, setting more ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gases and scaling up controversial projects that capture carbon.

If adopted by the air board at its Dec. 15 meeting, the plan would radically reshape California’s economy, alter how Californians’ vehicles, buildings and appliances are powered, and ultimately serve as a blueprint for other states and countries to follow.

“Failure is not an option,” said air board Chair Liane Randolph. “There is too much at stake and we need to move as fast and as far as we can to lessen the worst impacts of climate change and leave future generations a livable and healthy California.”

The five-year climate change strategy, called a scoping plan, outlines in its 297 pages how California could end its reliance on oil and also clean up the nation’s worst air pollution.

The staff’s final draft plan adds bolder commitments, reducing oil use by 94% from 2022 levels by 2045 — up from a goal of 91% in the September version of the plan.

The plan also sets a more aggressive goal of cutting carbon emissions 48% below 1990 levels by 2030 — up from the 40% by 2030 required under state law. Net-zero emissions would be achieved in 2045. (Net-zero or carbon neutrality means striking a balance between the carbon dioxide added to the air and the carbon that’s removed.)

California has a long way to go to meet the new 48% goal in just eight years. By 2020 it had cut emissions only about 14% below 1990 levels, according to air board officials.

Danny Cullenward, a climate economist who serves on a committee advising the state about its system for trading greenhouse gas credits, said California isn’t on track to meet its existing 2030 reduction target, much less the new, more stringent goal.

“I don’t want to say California isn’t doing anything on climate. We’ve done a lot of things,” said Cullenward, who serves on the Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee. “But this is such a superficial exercise and it’s filled with so many faults and errors.”

Air board officials, however, said they are confident that the state can achieve the new target, largely with mandates and policies enacted this year. State officials phased out sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035, set a more stringent low-carbon fuel standard and streamlined siting and permitting of renewable energy projects.

“This plan is a comprehensive roadmap to achieve a pollution-free future,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “It’s the most ambitious set of climate goals of any jurisdiction in the world, and, if adopted, it’ll spur an economic transformation akin to the industrial revolution.”

But Cullenward criticized the staff’s modeling, which is used to predict how each sector of the economy will reduce emissions. He said the plan lacks a thorough analysis of the feasibility of its projections and makes major assumptions.

One example, he said, is that the plan relies on other agencies, such as the California Energy Commission, setting new policies, but it doesn’t address the timing and roadblocks they may face or other details.

“It’s a pretty aspirational document but it’s filled with bureaucratic doublespeak,” he said. “It’s really frustrating because there’s so much work to be done.”

Some policy experts say setting ambitious goals is a crucial step toward cleaning up air pollution and combating climate change.

“The scoping plan can at least help us direct our attention even if it doesn’t give us as much detail as we want,” said Dave Weiskopf, senior policy advisor with NextGen Policy, a progressive advocacy group. “On the one hand, that is really frustrating. On the other hand, it tells us that if we put in the effort to say what we think a good plan should look like, we at least have a shot of getting the state to take meaningful action.”

The new plan relies more than the original versions on two controversial, advanced technologies for eliminating planet-warming carbon dioxide. Combined, 15% — increased from 5%  — of all of the state’s targeted greenhouse gas cuts will come from carbon removal and carbon capture and storage.

One strategy removes carbon from the atmosphere, such as replanting trees or storing it in soils. Another, called carbon capture and storage, collects carbon spewed from industry smokestacks and injects it into the ground.

California currently has no carbon removal or capture and storage projects, and air board officials say they wouldn’t be deployed until 2028. The state’s scenario predicts that carbon-capture technology will be installed on most of California’s 17 oil refineries by 2030 and on all cement, clay, glass, and stone facilities by 2045.

Environmental groups oppose both technologies, saying they extend the lives of fossil fuels, while oil companies say they are necessary to achieve the state’s long-term climate goals. The debate pits those who want to mandate an end to fossil fuels against those who want an approach that relies somewhat on technology to clean up carbon.

Globally, 27 carbon capture and storage projects are operating so far.

Oil industry officials declined to comment on the plan Wednesday.

Achieving the plan’s targets would cost $18 billion in 2035 and $27 billion in 2045, according to air board estimates. The move to decarbonize and transition away from fossil fuels will also drastically increase electricity use, which is expected to soar by as much as 68% in 2045.

At Newsom’s direction, the air board in September already strengthened its draft plan, originally released last May, to include new goals for offshore wind, cleaner aviation fuels and reducing vehicle miles traveled.

Other changes include constructing 3 million climate-friendly homes by 2030 and 7 million by 2035, installing at least 6 million heat pumps by 2030, and eliminating the option of building new natural gas plants or using fossil fuels in the electricity sector to maintain grid reliability.

Eliminating 100 million tons of carbon

Under a new law that Newsom prioritized in his climate package at the end of this year’s legislative session, the air board was directed to create a new program that puts guardrails on carbon capture, use and storage projects while streamlining the permitting process.

These technologies aim to remove or capture and store at least 20 million metric tons of carbon by 2030 and 100 million metric tons by 2045, according to the plan.

Once captured from smokestacks, the carbon could be transported to sites in the Central Valley. Air board staff say the valley is an ideal location for injecting carbon dioxide deep into rock formations because it has the capacity to store at least 17 billion tons.

Though controversial, air board staff say the technologies are a “necessary tool” to reduce emissions from industrial sectors, such as the cement industry, where no other alternatives may exist.

“We’ve squeezed out all of the emissions that we can under the inventory for manufacturing for transportation and for industry, but we know residual emissions will remain,” said Rajinder Sahota, the board’s deputy executive officer for climate change and research. “We’re going to need all the tools in all of these categories.”

But at an Oct. 28 workshop, members of the state’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee raised several concerns about engineered carbon removal, saying it is an unproven strategy that could continue to plague local communities with air pollution. They also say it would delay closure of oil facilities and act as a substitute for direct emissions reductions.

“The Air Resources Board’s latest climate plan once again pins California’s future on a dangerous carbon capture pipe dream,” said Jason Pfeifle, a senior climate campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Caving to polluters who want to keep burning fossil fuels and dirty biomass energy is a one-way ticket to climate destruction. California needs a plan that rejects industry scams, preserves our ecosystems, and rapidly phases out fossil fuels.”

Air board staff acknowledged these concerns, but Randolph, the board’s chair, said many of the greenhouse gas targets could not be achieved without them. She said the board has prioritized creating a metric to measure how residents could be affected by these projects and also consider the needs of people who are most affected by air pollution.

Randolph said the plan’s heavy emphasis on cutting emissions from transportation will also significantly improve air quality in vulnerable communities. Cutting vehicle miles traveled and improving access to mass transit, designing more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and increasing access to electric bikes and vehicles all play a role.

The board expects the state’s landmark cap and trade program — which allows big polluters to buy credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions — to play a much smaller role over time.

In the 2017 version of their scoping plan, air board officials estimated about 38% of emissions reductions would come from cap and trade. Instead, it now would help “fill the gap” to meet the accelerated 2030 emissions target.

Cap and trade has been heavily criticized by legislators and experts in recent years. One criticism is that there are at least 310 million unused credits currently in the system, which is a problem because companies hoard credits that allow them to keep polluting past state limits in later years. Air board officials say they hope to reform the program and address the oversupply of credits at the end of next year.

Continue Reading

Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Published

on

As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on November 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilman Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on November 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilman Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled, “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments, and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help prepare neighborhoods for crises – hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics, or unrest – as well as to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending