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These legal responsibilities to the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe derive from the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which guaranteed tribal water rights sufficient to maintain harvestable salmon populations. power energy definition Because these rights have never been quantified we don’t know how much water needs to flow in the Nooksack River and its tributaries to meet our legal obligations to the tribes.

Technically, the Ecology rule sets flow levels below which no more water can be withdrawn from the river or its tributaries; but the agency’s rule does not explicitly determine optimal flow rates for fish. gas pain relief That rule specifies, for about 50 locations within the Nooksack River basin, minimum flows for every two-week period throughout the year.

Although I emphasize the importance of these calculated instream flow numbers needed for a healthy environment, others disagree with my interpretation. gas pressure definition chemistry They note that the ideal numbers would not be met even if human water consumption was entirely eliminated. industrial electricity prices by state They focus on the need to increase streamflows during critical periods and not on the absolute goal, which they consider theoretical.

Second, the adverse effects of climate change will continue to increase demand for irrigation water, as summer air temperatures increase and summer rainfall declines. gas dryer vs electric dryer cost savings Climate change will also continue to decrease summer supplies as glaciers shrink. gas 4 less redding ca The North Cascade glacier mass is about 30 percent less today than it was three decades ago. As snowpack drops, and streamflows decline.

The absence of publicly available water-meter data means that our knowledge of agricultural water use is based on estimates. Ecology collects meter data from some farmers but appears to do little with these data. These estimates rely on methods developed decades ago for much dryer and warmer climates (e.g., eastern Washington). gas after eating meat So we should meter at least a representative sample of Whatcom County farms and/or better use the data Ecology already collects from farmers.

In addition to these efficiency options, many supply options have been explored in Whatcom County but not yet widely adopted. These include: (1) conversion of water rights from surface water to groundwater (which spreads the impact of the water withdrawal over time, rather than concentrating the effect in the dry irrigation season), (2) pumping and piping water from one location to another, and (3) building reservoirs to store winter flows for use during the summer.

A responsible agency such as Ecology or Whatcom County needs to step forward and take charge. Other entities—like the City of Bellingham, Public Utility District #1, Whatcom Conservation District, the tribes, and the county’s six agricultural watershed improvement districts—are likely to be active participants in such efforts if some other entity takes responsibility for pushing through a comprehensive strategy and package of measures and programs to resolve local water quantity problems.

Finally, the various interests in local water issues (the tribes, local governments, farmers, rural households, utilities, fishers, foresters and business) need to believe that negotiations on these complicated and controversial issues will be conducted in good faith. That is, all parties must believe that it is possible to develop and implement solutions that are win:win or at least share the costs of problem solving.