Water

Plastic pollution now found in drinking water all over the world

Plastic pollution now found in drinking water all over the world

by Betsy Herbert, Earth Matters

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 9/14/17

Sometimes reading a science article can be downright scary. On September 5, I read a piece in the Guardian, “Plastic fibers found in tap water around the world, study reveals.” U.S. scientific researchers analyzed tap water samples from more than a dozen nations for an investigation by Orb Media (orbmedia.org), a non-profit journalism group. The Orb study, entitled “Invisibles: The plastics inside us,” concluded that billions of people on five continents are drinking water contaminated by plastic micro-particles.

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California state parks do more than provide public recreation

California state parks do more than provide public recreation

by Betsy Herbert, Earth Matters

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 8/17/17

Have you noticed all the mountain bikes strapped on cars traveling over Highway 17, especially on weekends? Demand for biking and other forms of recreation in the public spaces of Santa Cruz County is steadily increasing and much of that demand is coming from “over the hill” in the San Francisco Bay Area. Apparently, people increasingly need to escape from the stress of living in Silicon Valley.

At the same time, California State Parks has cut way back on acquiring new parklands in Santa Cruz County and throughout the state, following a complete reorganization of state parks beginning in 2013.

As demand steadily increases for recreation, sometimes people forget that state parks — as well as county and city parks and other public spaces — were originally set aside to do more than provide trails for public recreation. They were also established as natural areas to preserve habitat for other lifeforms and to ensure that natural processes — part of our planet’s life support system — function properly.

 

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Synthetic clothing crisis: Microfibers mucking up our oceans

Synthetic clothing crisis: Microfibers mucking up our oceans

by Betsy Herbert, Earth Matters

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel April 20, 2017

Those warm, cuddly fleece jackets and quick-dry synthetic fabrics that fill so many of our closets now have created a big problem for the world’s oceans. Every time they get washed, clothes made from synthetic fabric shed thousands of tiny microfibers. Carried along with dirty wash water to the sewer and on to the wastewater treatment plant, many microfibers are so small they pass right through wastewater filters and are carried all the way out to our bays and oceans.

Tiny microfibers have turned into an enormous problem. In 2011, British ecologist Mark Anthony Browne published research describing the discovery of microfibers—mostly synthetic polyester and acrylic—on beaches worldwide, but most highly concentrated near wastewater disposal sites. Suspecting that these microfibers came from laundered clothing, Browne filtered the water used to wash a single fleece jacket and retrieved 1,900 fibers.

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A glimpse of Galápagos life before man intervened

by Betsy Herbert, Earth Matters

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 4/28/16

 The author next to a Galapagos giant tortoise in the wild on Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

The author next to a Galapagos giant tortoise in the wild on Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

In month 10 of my yearlong trip around the world, I flew from Quito, Ecuador, 600 miles west to the tiny Pacific island of Baltra in the Galápagos Islands. From Baltra, I took a spectacular cruise on a 75-foot catamaran, exploring six of the islands.

On this eight-day voyage, I was thrilled by the unique natural beauty of this volcanic archipelago. I also learned about some egregious human impacts that have taken a big toll here and the extraordinary efforts underway to reverse them.

The Galápagos, of course, are famed as the site of Charles Darwin’s epic 1835 journey on Captain Robert Fitzroy’s HMS Beagle. The strange wildlife endemic to this place — most notably Galapágos finches and giant tortoises — started Darwin’s wheels turning about natural selection and led to his eventual publication of “The Origin of Species.”

My longtime fascination with the Galápagos is shared with some 150,000 tourists who visit each year. Since 1959, most of the entire land mass of the Galápagos Islands was designated as a national park and as a World Heritage Site protected area. So, tourism is regulated, especially extended cruises, where trips to each island are professionally guided and well-coordinated.

Most of the islands still seem pristine and are incredibly beautiful. We hiked across huge spreads of black Pahoe-Hoe lava dotted with cacti. We got up close to some of the rarest birds in the world, including red-footed boobies, Galápagos finches and flightless cormorants. We plodded alongside huge Galápagos giant tortoises and land iguanas in the wild.

 A marine iguana on Isla Santiago, Galapagos Islands.

A marine iguana on Isla Santiago, Galapagos Islands.

We snorkeled with sea lions, penguins, and Pacific green turtles and walked among hundreds of marine iguanas piled up on the beach like stacks of pancakes.

But, as our guide carefully explained, the monumental efforts now in place to conserve biodiversity on the Galápagos got a late start.

When the first Europeans landed in the Galápagos in 1535, there were no humans living there. The islands’ remoteness, inhospitable terrain and scarcity of water would have made permanent settlement very difficult indeed.

In the 1700s, the Galápagos became a frequent port for whalers, because of the islands’ proximity to prime sperm whale habitat.

In the 1800s, whalers aggressively sought out the slow-moving Galápagos giant tortoise as a food source. Because these reptiles can survive for months without food or water, they could be easily be kept alive on board ship before ending up in the stew pot.

Whalers took more than 100,000 giant tortoises from the islands. As tortoise populations plummeted, whalers looked for a new food source. They released a few goats to one of the islands, intending to return periodically to hunt them.

But the goats, without any natural predators, quickly reached a population of 100,000 that devastated the island’s native flora needed by the tortoises — another step down the path to extinction.

Similar stories have played out throughout the Galápagos with goats, dogs, pigs — and lately, a fly maggot — all continuously being imported by people and wreaking havoc on native ecosystems.

In 1959, when the Galápagos Islands was declared a World Heritage site, UNESCO partnered with the Charles Darwin Foundation to fund research, conservation, and education strategies to protect endemic species of the islands.

Since then, the Galápagos Islands have attracted top conservation scientists and witnessed some of the most extraordinary invasive species eradication projects anywhere. For example, Project Isabela, overseen by Galápagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Foundation, has eradicated feral goats and pigs from Santiago and Isabela islands.

While tourist dollars help fund conservation efforts, tourists also unwittingly import new invasive species every year. If you go, be prepared to have your baggage inspected!

Betsy Herbert is a freelance writer who is taking a year-long journey around the world. You can read her travel blog and environmental articles on her website, www.betsyherbert.com.

Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier puts on a show

by Betsy Herbert, Earth Matters

posted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel March 17, 2016

The face of Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier is as tall as a 20-story building. In the background are the Andes and in the foreground is Lake Argentina.

It was Feb. 13 — month 10 of my yearlong trip around the world — and I stood bedazzled in front of the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina. It’s hard to comprehend the size of this aquamarine-tinted mass of ice. It’s 19 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 200 feet tall where its front edge meets Lake Argentina.

Perito Moreno Glacier, part of Los Glaciares National Park, is one of South America’s most popular tourist attractions, and with good reason. Chances are, if you wait for five or 10 minutes on the park’s viewing deck, you’ll witness the glacier as it drops or calves huge chunks of ice into the lake. This is part of a natural process that occurs as the glacier slowly expands and moves forward down the valley toward the lake.

 Perito Moreno Glacier, part of Los Glaciares National Park, is one of South America’s most popular tourist attractions.

Perito Moreno Glacier, part of Los Glaciares National Park, is one of South America’s most popular tourist attractions.

Perito Moreno is one of 48 glaciers within the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. A few thousand years ago, glaciers here in the southern Andes covered much larger areas than they do today. They advanced like gargantuan caterpillars, fed by voluminous year-round snowfall characteristic of this part of the world. As they grew and moved slowly downhill, the glaciers eroded the rocky landscape, carving out expansive valleys edged by steep cliffs.

Our group took a small cruise boat onto Lake Argentina — getting as close as we dared — to watch Perito Moreno Glacier as it was calving. Park guides explained that this was a critical time; every three or four years, as the glacier expands forward, it connects to a point of land that juts out from the shore of Lake Argentina.

When the glacier meets this point of land, it forms an ice dam dividing the lake in half. The level of the top half of the lake begins to rise as water collects behind the dam. Eventually, the ice dam gives way, and an enormous surge of water smashes through, roaring down to the bottom half of the lake and thrilling expectant spectators.

Park guides told us that they have a 24-hour web-camera aimed at Perito Moreno’s ice dam and they expected it to break at any time. That day, we were lucky to see the glacier calving chunks as big as houses. Like most of the other observers with their cameras ready, we were hoping to actually witness the collapse of the ice dam ... but it wasn’t to be that day.

Park guides explained that Perito Moreno Glacier is exceptional in yet another way; it is still expanding, despite global warming. Most other glaciers in the world, as well as in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, are shrinking in response to increasing average global temperatures.

Why Perito Moreno Glacier is still expanding while most others are shrinking is still somewhat of a mystery. Every glacier has its own unique line of equilibrium. Above that line, the glacier takes on ice; below the line, it loses ice. Our parks guides explained that, to date, the enormous snow accumulation in the Andes has been enough to keep Perito Moreno growing, even as it loses a tremendous amount of ice at its front.

On March 10, just three weeks after my visit to Perito Moreno Glacier, I was watching the news in Quito, Ecuador, when I learned that the glacier’s great ice dam had just burst, creating an awe-inspiring show of collapsing ice and surging water. You can view the collapse of Perito Moreno’s ice dam on YouTube: https://youtu.be/JBpZvkNuUwU

Bhutan: Where environment is key to ‘Gross National Happiness’

by Betsy Herbert, Earth Matters column

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 10/22/15

 Bhutan opened its doors to tourism only 40 years ago, and it still requires every tourist to be part of a certified tour group. The government of Bhutan wants to avoid the environmental degradation that Nepal has suffered over the past 50 years due to tourism.

Bhutan opened its doors to tourism only 40 years ago, and it still requires every tourist to be part of a certified tour group. The government of Bhutan wants to avoid the environmental degradation that Nepal has suffered over the past 50 years due to tourism.

As our flight ascended above the thick blanket of smog over Kolkata on the east coast of India, I was excited to be heading north to the remote country of Bhutan, known for its ancient monasteries, multi-colored prayer flags and spectacular scenery.

In just 45 minutes, we would be making one of the world’s most thrilling descents into Bhutan’s international airport, nestled in the Paro Valley between soaring Himalayan peaks.

For years I had wanted to visit Bhutan because its government officially measures national progress by the “Gross National Happiness” of its people. This term was coined in 1971 by the king of Bhutan, but the concept has increasingly drawn global attention.

Unlike other indicators of national progress, Gross National Happiness is a scientifically constructed index that ascribes equal importance to noneconomic aspects of people’s well-being, such as education, health, environmental protection and cultural preservation. The concept is rooted in Bhutan’s history. According to the legal code of Bhutan, dated 1729, “If the Government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.”

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a primarily Buddhist country whose population is around 770,000 (about 1/18th the size of the city of Kolkata). Tiny Bhutan is surrounded on three sides by India (population approaching 1.3 billion), while China (population 1.4 billion) borders it to the north.

After we made a flawless landing at the Paro airport we approached the main terminal, which at first it looked like a temple with its curved tiled roof, colorful hand-painted timber-framed windows and whitewashed walls.

As our small tour group made its way through immigration, we met our Bhutanese tour guide named Chen, who would — with grace and humor — treat us to some unforgettable experiences in Bhutan for the next week.

Bhutan, now a constitutional monarchy, opened its doors to tourism only 40 years ago, and it still requires every tourist to be part of a certified tour group. Chen said the government of Bhutan wants to avoid the environmental degradation that Nepal has suffered over the past 50 years due to tourism.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index gives the natural world a central place in the making of public policy, and environmental protection is a core guiding principle in Bhutan’s constitution. As a result, Bhutan has pledged to remain carbon neutral. In 2015, Bhutan is a carbon sink, meaning it stores more carbon than it emits. This is partly because the country has pledged to keep at least 60 percent of its land forested. Currently, more than 70 percent is forested. Bhutan has banned export logging, so that most of its big trees remain standing in the forests, where they sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

 Bhutan’s happiness index is rooted in the country’s history. According to the legal code of Bhutan, dated 1729, ‘If the Government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.’

Bhutan’s happiness index is rooted in the country’s history. According to the legal code of Bhutan, dated 1729, ‘If the Government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.’

Still, Bhutan faces environmental challenges. Hydropower and tourism are Bhutan’s largest industries. The abundant water supply from glacial fed rivers from the steep slopes of the Himalayas create huge hydropower potential.

According to one source, (www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/328-5) some 24,000 megawatts of hydropower could be feasibly realized in Bhutan, though only about 1,360 MW have been developed to date. Most of these hydropower projects have been financed by India, which takes delivery of most of the electricity produced.

It's unclear how much Bhutan can develop its hydropower potential without causing significant harm to its river ecosystems. No doubt this issue could present a serious challenge to Bhutan’s commitment to environmental protection. During my visit, I photographed one large sign in a local village that expressed concern about the demise of the rare white-bellied heron as a result of hydropower development.

Betsy Herbert is a freelance writer who is on a yearlong journey around the world. You can read her travel blog and environmental articles on her website, www.betsyherbert.com.

 

 

Earth Matters: Exploring the lakes and trees of Scotland

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 08/21/2015

 The Hermitage Pathway was been walked by the likes of Wordsworth, Queen Victoria and Mendelssohn. (Contributed photo)

The Hermitage Pathway was been walked by the likes of Wordsworth, Queen Victoria and Mendelssohn. (Contributed photo)

After a few days of fun and frolic at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland last week, I rented a car and set out on an eight-day foray through the Scottish Highlands. As an American, I did not take driving in Scotland lightly. It’s scary driving on the other side of the road and you have to muddle through “rotaries” to find your exit while remembering to yield to cars coming from the right. Scotland’s roads are narrow and often edged with high and unforgiving curbs. Stressful!

For me, hiking has always been a great way to relieve stress, so I decided to visit plenty of forests, rivers, and trees in Scotland. What a joy it was to see so much water! I started with a visit to a Scottish fish ladder at the dam in the town of Pitlochry. The ladder is designed to help salmon returning from the sea bypass the dam on their way back to their ancestral headwaters to spawn. Engineers have installed an electronic counter that keeps track of the fish that use the ladder each season. When I looked, the count was 3,760, but the season isn’t over yet.

No visit to Scotland would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. My favorite view was from the ruins of Urquhart Castle, near Inverness.

 The original Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond. (Contributed photo)

The original Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond. (Contributed photo)

I next set out to view some of Scotland’s oldest and biggest trees. First on the list was the Fortingall Yew, an ancient European yew (Taxus baccata) in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall in Perthshire. The yew is estimated to be anywhere between 1,500 and 5,000 years, so it may be the oldest tree in Britain. It’s difficult to ascertain its age because the tree has been cut back and burned repeatedly over the ages

On my way to the village, I stopped to visit Castle Menzies, a 16th century stone relic that has been thoughtfully restored. I learned from the exhibits inside that one of the Menzies clan who inhabited.the castle was the famous Scottish botanist Archibald Menzies, who traveled the world in the 1700s collecting plants. Menzies’ name is commemorated in the scientific names of several plants he discovered, including the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and the Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), trees which are very familiar to Californians. (David Douglas introduced the Douglas fir to Scotland from the Pacific Northwest in 1837).

The next ancient tree I visited was the legendary Birnam Oak, thought to be the last surviving tree of Birnam Wood, featured in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The Birnam Oak grows, along with other very old giant trees, along the River Tay near the town of Dunkeld.

Though most of the forest land that I saw from the road was intensively managed timberland, there are also some beautiful protected areas that are part of the National Trust for Scotland.

One of them is the Hermitage, a woodland surrounding the river Braan and its spectacular Black Linn Waterfall. I took great pleasure in knowing that the path that I followed had been walked by Wordsworth, Queen Victoria, Mendelssohn and Turner. The path, which feels like the backdrop to a fairy tale, takes you into iconic stands of enormous Douglas firs, planted in the 1800s and 190

I ended my Scottish Highlands tour with a visit to Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in Britain, and Ben Lomond, the peak that towers above it. In Santa Cruz County, our own Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond are named after these places, so this was indeed a meaningful way to end my tour.

Betsy Herbert is a freelance writer. She can be contacted through her website, www.betsyherbert.com.

 

 

 

 

Enjoying and protecting wild Croatia

by Betsy Herbert

published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel 06/20/2015

Last week I left the beautiful old city of Dubrovnik, saying goodbye to Croatia and to the 17 other hikers, bikers and kayakers I met during our two-week Sierra Club International outing, “Jewels of Croatia: Forests, Rivers and Islands.”

 The famous Plitvice National Park draws more than a million visitors a year.

The famous Plitvice National Park draws more than a million visitors a year.

Starting in the capital city of Zagreb, our group, led by two Croatian guides, would travel by van roughly north to south, stopping to experience the country’s vastly different landscapes. We would hike through alpine meadows of the Velebit Mountains, cycle through valleys graced with small towns and vineyards, kayak on crystalline rivers, and sail to some of the 1,200 islands along the coast of the Adriatic Sea.

Before we left Zagreb, a scientist named Mate Zec briefed us about the natural areas we were about to see. Zec is employed by Association Biom, a nonprofit based in Zagreb and affiliated with Birdlife International, a nonprofit that manages 6,000 natural areas in 47 countries.

Croatia is about the size of West Virginia. Some 25 percent of its land is arable farmland and about 40 percent is forested. Fifty percent of Croatia’s landmass is limestone karst. Riddled with caves and underground cavities, limestone karst stores and exudes enormous amounts of water in the form of abundant rivers and waterfalls. Croatia’s coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot and dry summers, while its mountains, the Dinaric Alps, have cold winters and hot summers.

 Karstic limestone in the Velebit Mountains show signs of long-ago erosion.

Karstic limestone in the Velebit Mountains show signs of long-ago erosion.

These different climates and landscapes have produced remarkable biodiversity in Croatia. The network of subterranean limestone caves host species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world. Croatia’s forests and grasslands are home to many different species including brown bears, wolves and lynxes. But many of these species, especially the native lynx, are threatened.

According to Association Biom, 8.5 percent of Croatia’s land is designated as some type of protected area. There are both national parks and regional “nature parks,” which are managed differently. Admission tickets to the more popular parks provide an important source of income for park management. The famous Plitvice National Park, for example, draws more than a million visitors a year.

Tourism accounts for about 15 percent of Croatia’s GDP. Croatia’s population of 4.5 million has an average per capita income of $17,800. So, income from tourism is especially important.

But tourism can also create problems for natural areas. For example, Zec explains that a few “rich parks” with high numbers of tourists have no daily limits to the number of visitors. Later, when our group visited Plitvice National Park, we found that even prior to peak season, we had to move single-file along the trails, reminiscent of U.S. national parks like Yosemite at peak season.

Zec said that park management varies greatly throughout Croatia due to political influence. The result is that parks throughout the country have different levels of habitat protection, policies and investments in research.

Land-protection policies may be changing in Croatia, though, since Croatia joined the European Union (EU) in 2013. That’s because the EU has relatively high standards for protection of natural areas and endangered species that member countries must address.

Zec identified some threats to Croatia’s biodiversity on land outside of protected areas. These include increased development along the coast for tourism and increased construction of wind and hydro-power plants. While alternative energy projects help combat climate change, wind farms can spell death for migratory birds and dams can impact freshwater ecosystems.

Learning about Croatia’s natural areas enhanced our ensuing adventure. As we kayaked the wild rivers of Croatia and sailed the turquoise Adriatic Sea, we were newly inspired to help protect these natural gifts.

Betsy Herbert is a freelance writer who serves on the boards of Sempervirens Fund and the Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council. She is on an around-the-world adventure, during which she will be filing monthly reports on environmental and sustainability issues she encounters. Contact her through her website, www.betsyherbert.com.




Learning about Croatia’s natural areas enhanced our ensuing adventure. As we kayaked the wild rivers of Croatia and sailed the turquoise Adriatic Sea, we were newly inspired to help protect these natural gifts.

Betsy Herbert is a freelance writer who serves on the boards of Sempervirens Fund and the Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council. She is on an around-the-world adventure, during which she will be filing monthly reports on environmental and sustainability issues she encounters. Contact her through her website, www.betsyherbert.com.

Saying goodbye to the West

Saying goodbye to the West

Last week, after stacking my furniture into a 10-by-15-foot storage unit, leasing my house and selling my car, I felt foot-loose and finally ready for some serious travel. But before embarking on my year-long trip around the world, I wanted to pay goodbye visits to friends scattered throughout the West.

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Process underway to transform Davenport cement plant

Process underway to transform Davenport cement plant

From the seventh floor of the Davenport cement plant cooling tower on a sunny morning last week, I was wowed by a panoramic view of the Santa Cruz County coastline and surrounding Coast Dairies property, now proposed as a national monument.

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Lawn-less: A new era for a drought-stricken state?

Lawn-less: A new era for a drought-stricken state?

Have you noticed that, at least in some Santa Cruz neighborhoods, green lawns no longer rule? I’ve observed on my morning walks over the past few months that brown lawns outnumber green ones by about 10 to 1.

Given that we’re in the midst of California’s worst drought on record and that lawns require more water than any other landscape plant, this is a welcome trend.

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Redwood Champions Amid Drought and Climate Change

Redwood Champions Amid  Drought and Climate Change

by Betsy Herbert, Ph.D.

published in the Mountain Echo, newsletter of the Sempervirens Fund, Fall 2014

Redwoods are extraordinary. The more we learn about them, the more extraordinary they prove to be. We’ve known for a long time that California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the world’s tallest trees and among the longest-living. Scientists are now confirming that redwoods play an important role in the local water cycle and in achieving a healthy, stable climate.

By meticulously measuring redwoods, scientists are determining how fast they’re growing, storing carbon and capturing fog, and how they are responding to climate change. For example, a team of scientists is working on the “Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative” (RCCI), with support from Sempervirens Fund, to quantify how accelerating climate change is affecting California’s redwoods.

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Art exhibit lets visitors get handle on water issues

Art exhibit lets visitors get handle on water issues

Eleven emerging artists--who combine science, technology and art to explore serious social problems in playful ways--invite the public to interact with their works in a new exhibit called “Undercurrents,” on display at UCSC’s Digital Arts Research Center on campus from May 1 – 4. 

Local water issues is the theme selected by three of the artists, who have become thoroughly engaged in both the science and local politics driving these issues. 

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Looking back on 2013: Environmental issues in the headlines

Looking back on 2013: Environmental issues in the headlines

With 2013 declared the driest year on record in California, water supply and drought top last year's list of environmental issues affecting Santa Cruz County. Below I list some of the milestones of environmental change for 2013:

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Aging water infrastructure -- national problem hits home

Aging water infrastructure -- national problem hits home

Much of the nation's water infrastructure -- especially in California -- is aging and badly in need of replacement. But, according to an Environmental Protection Agency survey released in June, the public is simply not aware of the critical nature of the problem.

"Because most of this infrastructure is out of sight and because many fine professionals work every day to keep it operating under difficult conditions, the full extent of the challenge we face is generally not understood by government officials, businesses and the public," said water expert Gerald E. Galloway in his July 25 U.S. Senate hearing testimony.

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Composting toilets: Do they pass the sniff test?

Composting toilets: Do they pass the sniff test?

With water-conservation ideas generating so much buzz lately, it's worth revisiting an old technology -- the composting toilet -- to see if it might offer new solutions.

Composting toilets have been around for decades, they use little or no water, and they treat toilet wastes on-site for re-use as valuable compost. How have these devices, with their enormous nationwide water-saving potential, fared recently in public acceptance and use by the building sector for residential, public, and commercial spaces?

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Summit-area residents fear timber bill could resurrect rejected logging plan

Summit-area residents fear timber bill could resurrect rejected logging plan

When Linda Wallace, a manager for a telecommunications company, goes home at night she doesn't look forward to poring over the fine print of a complicated legislative bill. But that's just what she and a group of her neighbors in the Summit Road/Highway 17 area have been doing for the past month.

AB 904 (Chesbro), a timber bill being considered by the state legislature, is of great concern to these mountain residents. They fear that if AB 904 becomes state law, it will clear the way for a contentious logging plan -- which CalFire rejected in 2007 -- to go forward again.

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Logging: Santa Cruz Mountains protection threatened

Logging: Santa Cruz Mountains protection threatened

Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties' redwood forests, known as the Southern Subdistrict, are highly valued for their timber, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration -- but also as places for people to live and enjoy the outdoors. Many mountain communities and the entire county of Santa Cruz also depend upon forested watersheds for their drinking water.
But a bill in the California Legislature would remove critical protections that counties in this region have relied on for decades.

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The 100 Greywater System Challenge: Are you on the map?

The 100 Greywater System Challenge: Are you on the map?

With water conservation becoming a hot topic in this dry year, local residents are flocking to free "laundry-to-landscape" workshops to learn how they can harness their washing machines to water their gardens.

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