[env-trinity] Fresno Bee, Diener

Emelia Berol ema.berol at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 7 08:20:45 PDT 2010


Oh thank you, I have had my belly laugh for the day, and it's only 8 am ... I can possibly imagine what Byron is thinking ... 

well, if it works, hurray, more power to them, who is Diener, anyway? 
I'd like to see solar farms out there, and forget about water-intensive food farming.  In fact, if I had land out in the Westlands, I would get some grants and open up an an energy and water research center ... much better use of public moneys than growing subsidized cotton and produce ... these can be, and are,  grown elsewhere. 

I have thought for a long time that the next UC campus should be an off grid non-fossil fuels energy research center; it would attract people from all over the world, the campus would run on solar, wind and geothermal energy  ... I imagine it to be way out in the wild windy butte country east of Redding, but the Westlands would be a good place for a research center , too. 





________________________________
From: Spreck Rosekrans <srosekrans at edf.org>
To: Byron Leydecker <bwl3 at comcast.net>; FOTR List <fotr at mailman.dcn.org>; Trinity List <env-trinity at mailman.dcn.org>
Sent: Mon, April 5, 2010 10:47:28 AM
Subject: Re: [FOTR] [env-trinity] Fresno Bee 4 3 10

 


I
cannot possibly imagine what Byron is thinking.
 
I am
skeptical of the economics, however. $2500 per af is about the cost of
desalting seawater. They have boron etc. to worry about as well. 
 
But if there
is a solid concept, maybe spending $M 3.2 on a pilot project is worthwhile. It
will need to be watched closely.
 
 
From:env-trinity-bounces at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us [mailto:env-trinity-bounces at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us] On Behalf Of Byron Leydecker
Sent: Monday, April 05, 2010 10:37 AM
To: FOTR List; Trinity List
Subject: [env-trinity] Fresno Bee 4 3 10
 
I
will keep my thoughts to myself.
 
Byron
 
Water-cleaning
project may aid Valley farms 
Fresno
Bee-4/3/10
By
Mark Grossi 
 
 A
surprising marriage of molecular chemistry and business might soon end the slow
poisoning of lucrative farmland in the nation's largest irrigation district.
 
The
science will be blended with business later this year in a $3.2 million project
to pump trapped farm drainage from beneath crop fields in Westlands Water
District, purify the bad water and harvest contaminants as valuable products.
 
One
big plus for taxpayers: It might eliminate most of the $2.7 billion price tag
federal officials have estimated to clean up the salty water beneath 200,000
acres. 
 
As
bonuses, the project would remove the global-warming gas carbon dioxide from
the air and eventually run on a renewable fuel, such as biogas from manure or
cogeneration with crop wastes.
 
It's
possibly a high-tech Holy Grail for the west San Joaquin Valley, where billions
of gallons of used irrigation water are perched on shallow layers of clay
beneath crops. The briny water slowly rises as irrigation takes place. It
already has made thousands of acres unusable, putting some farmers out of
business.
 
The
contamination has lingered for decades, mostly because no one knows how to
economically filter the bad water beneath this big swath of land -- which has a
footprint two-thirds the size of Los Angeles.
 
The
pilot project, spearheaded by westside farmer John Diener and a joint-venture
company, is supposed to clean up about 200 gallons per minute through
desalination, a well-known filtering process used on ships to provide drinking
water right out of the ocean. Officials with the company say they can clean out
such troublesome contaminants as boron, selenium and others.
 
The
newest part of the approach will be the removal and chemical alteration of
several tons of salt from each acre-foot of water. The salt will be converted
to marketable chemicals commonly used in plastics, glass and building
materials.
 
Officials
said the cost to clean up the water this way might be as high as $2,500 per
acre-foot -- an acre-foot is equal to 326,000 gallons or a year's supply for an
average family of four. But by selling products created in the process, the
resulting clean water might cost farmers about $300 per acre-foot.
 
"I
can't say if it's the whole answer to our problem," said Diener, a former
Westlands board member. "But I think we're quite a bit further down the
road now."
 
For
decades, the cleanup has been Diener's passion. He has worked on committees and
invested in attempts to recycle the dirty water on his own land.
 
He
says the pilot project will clean up dirty water beneath a 640-acre field of
his and produce enough water to irrigate the field. The next hurdle would be
expanding the process to clean up more of the billions of gallons of tainted
water.
 
It
was Diener who connected with water-treatment specialist Ron Smith, based in
San Francisco, to talk about Westlands' drainage water. Realizing the problem
was more than water treatment, Smith found Deane Little, a molecular
biophysicist who runs New Sky Energy in Colorado.
 
New
Sky uses carbon dioxide in converting salt to products that are
well-established manufacturing staples, such as polymers and carbonates. Other
products include baking soda, lime or carbon fibers for manufacturing.
 
Smith
and Little started a joint-venture company called Ag Water-New Sky to work on
the Westlands problem. 
 
Little
said the concept worked for his company because he needed a big supply of
sodium sulfate or salt -- which is abundant in the trapped water beneath
Westlands.
 
"We
weren't really thinking of the Central Valley and its salt problems,"
Little said. "We were wondering where we would get all our sodium
sulfate."
 
There
are other challenges in which Little's expertise helps. The brew of chemicals
in the farm drain water includes calcium and magnesium, which have clogged
expensive desalination filters in the past.
 
Little
said one of the products his company makes from salt and carbon dioxide is
sodium carbonate, a chemical water softener. When mixed with the raw water
before desalination, it converts the calcium and magnesium into useful
chemicals and prevents their fouling the desalination membranes.
 
Converting
the salt to a marketable product is basic chemistry common all over the world.
Little's twist on the process is trapping carbon dioxide from the air and
combining it with the salt. But the process uses a lot of electricity to get
the needed chemical reactions.
 
"The
cost for electricity is about $400 daily and represents about five months usage
for an average residence," Little said. "However, that is small
demand for an industrial manufacturer."
 
Water-treatment
expert Smith said the new company will try to create electricity using biomass,
such as manure, crops or even human waste solids from cities.
 
This
melding of science and business differs from the federal government's
multibillion-dollar plan, which involves buying and retiring a lot of farmland
on the west side.
 
In
the past several years, a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation and taxpayers are on the hook for the cleanup.
 
Westlands
officials say the federal government has agreed to pay for the pilot project,
though Bureau of Reclamation officials could not confirm it because the
drainage-water case is still in court.
 
Smith
said he hopes the pilot project will jump start a broad cleanup and save a big
part of west-side agriculture.
 
"There's
a lot of work that still needs to go into this," he said. "But this
could be a very efficient project that makes good business sense and is good
for the environment."
 
 
Byron
Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends
of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA
94942-2327
415 383 4810
land/fax (call first to fax)
415 519 4810
mobile
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)
http://fotr.org/ 
 
 
 

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