Watershed Info No 970

1. NOAA: Arizona Outlook Promises Warmer, Wetter Winter – But Not Too Wet. Arizona could see a wetter and warmer winter than usual, with a weak El Niño system bringing steady, mild rains to the state, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

NOAA’s winter forecast, released last Thursday, is just what state farmers are hoping for — rain, but not the recent torrential storms that made this month the wettest October ever recorded at Sky Harbor International Airport.

“Ranchers are loving the rain and even the crop farmers, but we’re kind of saying, ‘OK, slow down, Mother Nature,’ because we’re worried about the cotton crop,” said Julie Murphree, outreach director for the Arizona Farm Bureau.

State Climatologist Nancy Selover said the coming winter rains, coupled with October’s downpours, should help make a dent in Arizona’s long-running drought.

That was echoed by NOAA, which said drought conditions are expected to improve in Arizona and New Mexico this winter, among other regions.

Where the October tropical storms that blew up the coast of Mexico were “like flipping a switch,” Selover said this year’s El Niño is expected to be relatively weak for most of the country.

But weaker storms are good for southern-tier states. The stronger storms typically hit California and Colorado harder, she said, while the weaker storms give a good amount of precipitation to Arizona.

Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, agreed, saying December, January and February will bring more “garden-variety low pressure systems” than the recent storms.

The National Weather Service cannot forecast specific rainfall amounts this far out, said Marvin Percha, an NWS meteorologist in Phoenix, but there could be a chance for more flooding across the state.

He said there “really isn’t any correlation between what happened this month and what will happen for the rest of the winter.” This winter’s precipitation is “more the largescale pattern that’s evolving along the Pacific and into the western U.S.”

2.. How Do Dogs Affect the Environment? Oh Crap!!!

BY BOB SCHILDGEN | NOV 6 2018—Wolf in Tahoe City, California

Q: Has any individual or institution investigated the potentially disruptive impacts of the United States’ close to 90 million registered dogs on our environment and wildlife?

A: Surprisingly little research has been done on canine environmental impacts, maybe because of a certain bias toward “man’s best friend.” However, a recent study indicates that dogs and cats combined are responsible for around 1.5 percent of U.S. emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. Their diet alone accounts for up to 30 percent of the environmental impact from all animal production, in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphates, and biocides.

Several researchers contend that dogs rank third in their ability to disturb other species, outdone only by cats and rodents. (One study revealed that even dogs piously walked on a leash scared away 40 percent of the birds as they went through an area.) Dogs have driven 11 species into extinction, and they threaten another 188, according to a 2017 study published in Biological Conservation. [And lets not forget about all of the dog poop that gets washed into fresh waters]

The good news for dogs and cats is that there are now fewer being euthanized at U.S. shelters, down from 2.6 million in 2011 to 1.5 million annually, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This big reduction has been made possible by an increase in the number of adopted animals and stray animals returned to their owners.

We still need better control of pet dogs and stronger efforts to contain feral populations. However, given our longtime affection for the critters—one estimate puts our relationship with dogs back an astounding 30,000 years—it’s understandable that we are a bit reluctant to take action. Clean up after your dog during your walk.

3. Santa Cruz Gets Creative And Dirty With 5k Waste Walk. In a demonstration of creative education of the public, Santa Cruz, California sponsored an event full of humor and games helps punctuate the importance of human waste infrastructure.

Thanks to a unique public outreach effort, more than 200 Santa Cruz residents now know exactly what happens after they flush their toilets. Earlier this year, public works partnered for the first time with schools and arts organizations to raise awareness of the California city’s water footprint and enlighten the public on the sustainability, equity, and intricacies of modern sanitation.

“Follow the Flush” used humor to drive these points home. The city’s arts commission collaborated with FICTILIS, an artists’ cooperative in Oakland, and students in the Digital Arts & New Media program at the University of California, Davis, to teach residents about the path from toilet to treatment plant by figuratively walking them through it. Beginning at Neary Lagoon Park, residents encountered 11 interactive exhibits along a five-kilometer route to the city’s award-winning 7 mgd wastewater treatment plant.

The two-hour course flushed out the unknown regarding human waste and sanitation via games like Pin the Poop and Guess the Scat (wildlife poop), a Best Bathroom prize, water tastings, and waste mapping exercises, which all aimed to appreciate human waste in a playful way. Among those present were:

  • The People’s Own Organic Power (POOP) project, which uses art, theater, and education to create a conversation about sewage as a renewable resource
  • The Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) advocacy group, whose display emphasized recycling nutrients as a holistic alternative to conventional sanitation solutions.
  • Three walks were scheduled throughout the day. At the wastewater treatment plant, optional tours explained the role microorganisms play in processing human waste.
  • Due to initial success, the Public Works Department hopes to hold the event again in 2020 with even more interactive stations and an abbreviated walk that would broaden participation. Source: pwgmag.com

4. Levels Of PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl substances) Chemicals In Tucson Water Samples Show Sharp Decline. Levels of a toxic contaminant have sharply declined in water served to some Tucson customers since the city adjusted the operations of a south-side treatment plant last month.

In August, Tucson Water temporarily shut down the treatment plant after discovering it was sending water to thousands of customers containing unexpectedly high levels of PFAS compounds. City officials don’t know how long water with elevated levels was served to customers.

They have said they believed the water was safe to drink even at the higher levels but have slashed the contaminant levels “out of an abundance of caution” and to increase the margin of safety.

Formerly used in a wide range of products including firefighting foam and nonstick containers, PFAS (perfluoroalkyl) compounds are known to be highly persistent in the environment and are suspected of causing cancer in humans over lifetime exposure.

Levels reached 29 to 30 parts per trillion in samples taken Aug. 1 at three points. They were in the Menlo Park area, near Speedway and Main Avenue and at Grant and Silverbell roads.

That’s less than half than the maximum level the Environmental Protection Agency recommends in its 2016 health advisory for the compounds.

But it’s still significantly more than another agency, connected with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, recommends.

After adjusting the treatment plant’s water supplies, Tucson Water’s most recent samples, taken Oct. 4, show a range of 8 to 8.3 parts per trillion. That compares favorably to the 18 parts per trillion maximum level recommended for the same compounds by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry, part of the CDC.

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) impart oil and water repellency, temperature resistance, and friction reduction to a wide range of products used by consumers and industry. For example, PFAS, have been used in coatings for textiles, paper products, and cookware and to formulate some firefighting foams, and have a range of applications in the aerospace, photographic imaging, semiconductor, automotive, construction, electronics, and aviation industries.

A fourth October sample, taken at the city’s Santa Cruz Lane Reservoir just west of the Interstate 10-Interstate 19 interchange, showed 8.7 parts per trillion. That sampling point gets water from the treatment plant and from Central Arizona Project water, piped in from the Avra Valley and containing no detectable PFAS compounds. The two supplies are blended in an underground vault.

The contaminant levels are lower in the new water samples because of the adjustments the utility made at its treatment plant. First, Tucson Water cut off flows to the treatment plant from the three underground wells with the worst PFAS contamination, utility spokesman Fernando Molina said.

Second, the city began blending the treatment plant’s water with CAP water, to reduce contamination further.

Known as the Tucson Airport Remediation Project, the treatment plant was started up again in mid-September. The plant, near I-19 and Irvington Road, has been operating to clean up other contaminants, including trichloroethylene, since 1994.

The plant’s treated water goes to a large V-shaped area, population about 60,000, stretching. Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) impart oil and water repellency, temperature resistance, and friction reduction to a wide range of products used by consumers and industry. For example, PFAS, have been used in coatings for textiles, paper products, and cookware and to formulate some firefighting foams, and have a range of applications in the aerospace, photographic imaging, semiconductor, automotive, construction, electronics, and aviation industries. north from East 29th Street through downtown to just north and west of the city limits, and flanking Interstate 10. The area spans as far west as the Tucson Mountains foothills and as far east as North Campbell Avenue and beyond

There is a national scientific disagreement over what PFAS levels are safe to drink. Some states, including Arizona, are following the EPA’s lead, while others are setting or considering setting tighter advisories or outright limits.

In the long run, Tucson Water officials say they plan to upgrade the treatment plant to be able to better treat the PFAS. That will involve testing and installing carbon filtering materials that can remove the compounds for now. Eventually, they’ll build an entirely new plant that can clean up PFAS, TCE and 1,4-dioxane, a third chemical that’s been found in south-side groundwater.

5. Thanksgiving Quiz: Back in 1760, English people would sing and clap their hands as they sang this song :

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

What is porridge made from? See end of newsletter……….

6. Water Shortages Top Arizona Issue, But Not On Ballot: Report. Predicted water shortages aren’t on the Nov. 6 midterm election ballot in Arizona, but winners will have to confront the problem.

In Arizona, water conservation has taken on renewed urgency after a prolonged drought. The state gets its water from two large reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, that store water from Lake Meade, the largest water reservoir in the U.S. provides water from the Colorado River to Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico. Its water level is expected to dip to 1,080 feet above sea level by the end of the year, just 5 feet shy of the the threshold to trigger a shortage. If that happens, “Arizona and Nevada, who have the most junior rights in the basin, would face the biggest cuts. Grand Canyon State water managers recently began drafting a drought contingency plan to soften the blow through conservation and other measures,” the magazine wrote. Read more at patch.com

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