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

Patrick Truman truman at jeffnet.org
Wed Apr 7 15:09:58 PDT 2010

name it after Jim Costa ... ... ...
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Allen Harthorn 
  To: frankemerson at redshift.com 
  Cc: FOTR List ; Trinity List ; Spreck Rosekrans 
  Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 2:41 PM
  Subject: Re: [env-trinity] [FOTR] Fresno Bee, Diener

  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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