[env-trinity] Fresno Bee, Diener

frankemerson@redshift.com frankemerson at redshift.com
Wed Apr 7 10:15:44 PDT 2010

Hey what a great idea, UC Kern, maybe they can take over the Kern Water
Bank as part of the research on ASR. :P


> 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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