December 2010

On 29 December 2010, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) gave formal notice, pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), of its intent to sue the City of Sacramento, Sacramento Area Sewer District and Sacramento County (Sacramento) for illegal sewage spills, overflows and discharges to various waterways that drain into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Since December 2005, the Sacramento County/Sacramento Area Sewer District collection system has experienced at least 6,119 raw sewage spills or 28.05 spills per 100 miles of sewer pipes per year.  During the same period, the City of Sacramento collection system had at least 364 sewage spills, or 12.5 spills per 100 miles of sewer pipe per year.  A well-run collection system experiences 0 to 3 spills per 100 miles per year and California’s median spill rate is about 4 spills per 100 miles.

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By: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

story today describes the latest fall mid-water trawl data from the California Department of Fish and Game. Basically, while there has been some improvement, several pelagic species are still at or near all-time lows.

Check out the numbers yourself (remember, these figures represent indices, not the actual number of fish).

We might want to also look at it this way: How recently has each species experienced a record-high population — and a record-low?

Click here to read more on Alex’s Blog

I was hiking the along the  Calaveras to see if I could spot any fish and  took this photo on 12/28/10, at about 11:00 AM. I saw a fairly large fish jump out of the water about east of Budiselich near a deep pool while hiking back to my car. Perched around the pool were a hawk (possibly a Red Tail), a great Blue Heron, and several Cormorants. There was definitely enough flow for fish to maneuver up  this notorious barrier today!

– Jeremy Terhune

What were the biggest environmental stories in 2010?

By: David Biello

Ah, 2010, how the environment shall miss you. This year, the Gulf of Mexico hosted an unprecedented months-long oil spill. At the same time, fracking for natural gas polluted water wells from Pennsylvania to Texas—but delivered a fuel that produces half as much CO2 as burning coal.

Speaking of which, the U.S. did not pass legislation to combat climate change, though President Obama did institute new auto efficiency standards. And California implemented its own cap-and-trade plan. Climate change didn’t wait though, with 2010 the hottest year on record, according to NASA, and chock full of extreme weather like floods from Pakistan to the U.S. and record heat in Russia. Yet, smears against climate scientists continued.

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WASHINGTON, DC, December 23, 2010 (ENS) – Tap water from 31 of 35 U.S. cities tested contains hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, according to laboratory tests commissioned by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and revealed in a report Saturday. The highest levels were detected in Norman, Oklahoma; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Riverside, California.

The cancer-causing chemical is best known to the general public from the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich,” starring Julia Roberts.

The film dramatized the plight of the cancer-stricken residents of Hinkley, California, who in 1996 won a $333 million settlement from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for contaminating their tap water with hexavalent chromium.

Click here to read more at ENS

By: Molly Townsend

A series of wintry storms, arriving in late November and carrying through Wednesday, have put a big dent into California’s three-year drought.

The state Department of Water Resources on Wednesday put the Sierra snowpack at 197 percent of average for this time of year in terms of water content.

The accumulation is already approaching 60 percent of the average total for the entire season, which runs from Nov. 1 through April 1, said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program.

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21 December 2010 – A new international body aimed at reversing the unprecedented loss of species and ecosystems vital to life on Earth due to human activity has passed its final hurdle with approval by the United Nations General Assembly.

In a resolution adopted by consensus, the Assembly yesterday called on the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to take the necessary steps to set up the Intergovernmental Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the final approval needed for the body for which the groundwork had been laid at UNEP-sponsored meetings earlier this year.

“IPBES represents a major breakthrough in terms of organizing a global response to the loss of living organisms and forests, freshwaters, coral reefs and other ecosystems that underpin all life, including economic life, on Earth,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said today.


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