[env-trinity] [FOTR] Fresno Bee, Diener

Allen Harthorn ahart at harpos.to
Wed Apr 7 14:41:59 PDT 2010

Has anybody seen the Carrizo Plains National Monument west of 
Bakersfield in the hills?  This would be a great use for the Westlands.  
I think a Westlands-Grasslands National Monument would put this land 
back to what it was and should be - open space, natural grasslands, full 
of wildflowers.  We could even name it after a Senator or something.  
TNC, UC and other sould make it a showcase!

frankemerson at redshift.com wrote:
> Hey what a great idea, UC Kern, maybe they can take over the Kern Water
> Bank as part of the research on ASR. :P
> Frank
>> 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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