US states to meet at deadline on Colorado River drought plan
By KEN RITTER
Monday, December 10
LAS VEGAS (AP) — With drought entering a second decade and reservoirs continuing to shrink, seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River for crop irrigation and drinking water had been expected to ink a crucial share-the-pain contingency plan by the end of 2018.
They’re not going to make it — at least not in time for upcoming meetings in Las Vegas involving representatives from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the U.S. government, officials say.
Arizona has been the holdout, with farmers, cities, Indian tribes and lawmakers in the state set to be first to feel the pinch still negotiating how to deal with water cutbacks when a shortage is declared, probably in 2020.
“There will be cuts. We all know the clock is ticking. That’s what a lot of the difficult negotiations have been around,” said Kim Mitchell, Western Resource Advocates water policy adviser and a delegate to ongoing meetings involving the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Central Arizona Project, agricultural, industrial and business interests, the governor, state lawmakers and cities including Tucson and Phoenix.
In Arizona, unlike other states, a final drought contingency plan must pass the state Legislature when it convenes in January.
Federal water managers wanted a deal to sign at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference beginning Wednesday in Las Vegas, and threatened earlier this year to impose unspecified measures from Washington if a voluntary drought contingency plan wasn’t reached.
However, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman is signaling that the agency that controls the levers on the river is willing to wait. She is scheduled to talk to the conference on Thursday.
“Reclamation remains cautiously optimistic that the parties will find a path forward,” the bureau said in a statement on Friday, “because finding a consensus deal recognizing the risks of continuing drought and the benefits of a drought contingency plan is in each state’s best interest.”
Colorado River water supports about 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.
After 19 years of drought and increasing demand, federal water managers project a 52 percent chance that the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam, will fall low enough to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system.
The seven states saw this coming years ago, and used Colorado River Water Users Association meetings in December 2007 to sign a 20-year “guidelines” plan to share the burden of a shortage.
Contingency agreements would update that pact, running through 2026. They call for voluntarily using less to keep more water in the system’s two main reservoirs, lakes Powell and Mead.
Lake Powell upstream from of the Grand Canyon is currently at 43 percent capacity; Lake Mead, downstream, is at 38 percent.
Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the river’s Upper Basin states, aim to keep the surface of Lake Powell above a target level to continue water deliveries to irrigation districts and cities and also keep hydroelectric turbines humming at Glen Canyon Dam.
The Lower Basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada aim to keep Lake Mead above a shortage declaration trigger point by using less water than they’re legally entitled to.
If Lake Mead falls below that level, Arizona will face a 9 percent reduction in water supply, Nevada a 3 percent cut and California up to 8 percent. Mexico’s share of river water would also be reduced.
Water officials in most states — from the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas to the Colorado River Water Conservation District in Glenwood Springs, Colorado — have signed off on plans in recent weeks.
In Arizona, the board governing the Central Arizona Project irrigation system approved the Lower Basin plan on Thursday.
In California, the sprawling Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves some 19 million people, is set to approve it Tuesday.
Board members there were reminded the agreements are only a short-term fix.
According to a board briefing, the Bureau of Reclamation, seven basin states and water contractors will begin negotiating again beginning no later than 2020.
“That process is expected to result in new rules for management and operation of the Colorado River after 2026,” the board briefing said.
Omega Center for Sustainable Living
Edible Water Pods Could Replace Billions of Plastic Bottles Per Year
Kate Harveston December 6, 2018
Ooho is a naturally degradable edible water bottle blob developed by Skipping Rocks Lab to make a more ecologically friendly option to single-serving plastic bottles.
The idea of people going green or living greener lives is something that you can find almost anywhere you look. On practically any soda bottle or fast food container, you’ll see a triangle symbol with the reminder to please recycle. Local dumps have signs pointing out where you can separate your plastics to easily recycle them. People are pushing beyond typical advertisements like billboards and commercials to encourage everyone to think about the earth and reuse what can be recycled.
One of the major problems you’ll hear most about when it comes to recycling is what happens with plastic bottles after they’re used. They typically have the recycle triangle and a reminder on whatever label they have, but because they’re used on the go, plastic bottles end up in trash cans, on the side of the road and even in the ocean. Plastic isn’t a substance that breaks down easily on its own, so the bottles challenge innovators every year to find a way to solve the problem of plastic bottle pollution.
Read on to find out what a small, London-based startup is doing to minimize the effects of plastic bottles that aren’t recycled. There’s always another step forward that everyone can take, and what they’ve created could be the next big thing for the future of going green.
Damage Caused by Plastic Water Bottles
To fully understand how water pods are helping, you have to get an idea of where the planet stands right now. Plastic is cheap to make, which is why it’s used for bottling drinks and other liquids, but that doesn’t mean it’s as good for the environment as it is for the manufacturer. Every plastic bottle takes a thousand years to break down, which leads to massive piles of waste that go nowhere fast.
Just how massive are the piles of plastic bottle waste? Enough plastic materials are thrown out each year to circle the earth four times. Now picture 91 percent of it in landfills. Every day, more and more plastic is made and distributed because companies can make a major profit off of it. By putting the recycling reminder on, they appear to be doing what they can for the earth, but what would be better is if they looked to the future like the London-based Skipping Rocks Lab.
How Water Pods Can Help
Back in 2013, the team at Skipping Rocks Lab came up with the idea of an edible water pod that could one day overtake the plastic bottle industry. They began to work on a prototype, using all-natural materials taken from seaweed and other plants to make a clear membrane thick enough to hold water but thin enough to easily bite through.
Now, they have Ooho, a packaging cheaper than plastic that can hold water, spirits, soda and even cosmetics and naturally breaks down in four to six weeks. The product is so innovative that it’s won a number of awards, such as the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the 2015 SEA Award and the 2016 UK Energy Globe Award. Their goal is to greatly reduce the amount of plastic produced and discarded into the world, which currently adds up to billions of pounds of plastic in the ocean alone.
Why Everyone Should Help the Earth
If the earth continues to be hurt by pollution, it won’t be able to continue supporting human life as it currently does. The planet provides oxygen, a sustainable environment and anything humans could need to find food, shelter and water.
To make a profit and provide products for an ever-growing number of consumers, industries have found ways to use chemicals and other processes to manipulate earth’s resources and make more of what’s available. A report published by the UN Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel found that human consumption of natural resources has grown by over 48 billion tons in the last 40 years, topping out at 70 billion tons.
Not everything can be reproduced in a lab, and what the earth provides is invaluable to helping the people around us. If the water resources continue to be polluted with plastics, there won’t be enough clean water left for our use.
Without clean water, the earth wouldn’t be able to survive. It hydrates and replenishes, keeps body temperatures regulated and grows all plants from seeds to maturity. It powers what humans need through hydroelectricity, which helps curb the need for power sources that pollute the planet, like coal. Nowadays, water technology is even helping disabled individuals learn to walk again. People can come up with inventions to purify water, but if it’s constantly polluted, the ability to clean the water will be overtaken by how quickly it gets polluted again.
How Can We Make the Right Changes?
Plastics play a big part in what’s currently hurting the earth’s environment. There’s the well-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch that’s up to nine feet deep and contains 7 million pounds of garbage. As plastics float around in waters like this, they kill about 1 million seabirds and over 100,000 marine animals each year.
Plastic pollution isn’t only in the ocean either. In spots like Lake Erie, 1.7 million plastic particles were found per square mile. And even if you don’t live near Lake Erie or the ocean, you’re still at risk for ingesting plastic chemicals. Starting from the age of six, 93 percent of Americans test positive for BPA, a chemical commonly found in plastic products like bottles and Tupperware.
Groundbreaking products like Ooho are important — we need to keep heading in this direction and bringing awareness to these issues. People should know what plastic is doing to the earth and that there’s more they can do to help than recycling a soda can every once in a while (which is great too — but won’t be enough in the long-run, unfortunately). Teams of researchers and scientists are finding ways to change how people interact with the planet, down to what materials are used to create everyday products.
Anything that’s friendly to the earth and the people who use the product is worth trying. There’s only one earth, and everyone should do their part to take care of it.
Wintry storm ices roads across much of US Southeast
Monday, December 10
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A lingering storm kept dumping immobilizing snow, sleet or freezing rain across five southern states, leaving dangerously icy roads and hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. Authorities urged people to stay home Monday in areas where driving was dangerous.
Accidents on snow-covered interstates caused major delays Sunday, hundreds of flights were canceled and drivers in North Carolina and Virginia got stuck in snow or lost control on icy patches. But the commuters’ nightmare provided pre-winter thrills for kids and the young at heart, who were able to go sledding and build snowmen in places that don’t often see so much of the white stuff.
The National Weather Service said a “prolonged period of snow” began late Saturday and would last until Monday in the region, with the heaviest snow in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia. Some areas of North Carolina and Virginia saw more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow by Sunday afternoon.
More than 300,000 power outages were reported across the region, with North Carolina bearing the brunt of it, and nearly 270,000 remained without power Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us. South Carolina and Virginia, along with parts of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, also saw outages.
Police in North Carolina and Virginia said they’d responded to hundreds of snow-related traffic accidents as of Sunday afternoon, as cars, trucks and tractor-trailers all struggled with the snow and ice.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper strongly urged residents to stay off the roads, asking drivers not to put lives of first responders needlessly at risk. Cooper said emergency crews, including the National Guard, worked overnight to clear traffic accidents on major roadways.
“Stay put if you can,” Cooper said Sunday. “Wrap a few presents, decorate the tree, watch some football.”
Five members of a dive team searched the Neuse River in Kinston, North Carolina, for a missing driver Sunday after a tractor-trailer ran off a road and into the river, WRAL-TV reported . Police just outside of Charlotte said a driver died when a tree fell on a moving vehicle.
Some found that walking was a more reliable means of transportation as the roads were blanketed with a wintry mix. On Sunday, Tervante Wilkerson trudged through blowing snow up Old NC 98 in Wake Forest, North Carolina, to walk across town to see his two young children.
Still, he made light of the situation, saying: “It’s definitely a Kodak moment in Wake Forest.”
In Greensboro, a few restaurants were open Sunday night for NFL games despite as much as one foot (.3 meters) of snow falling on the city, according to the News & Record.
“We’ve got some nice homemade chicken soup, some tacos and we’ve got beer,” Greg Munning, owner of Taqueria el Azteca, told the newspaper. “We’re just hanging out and chilling and watching the Panthers game.”
The Roanoke, Virginia, area saw 10 or more inches (25 cm) of snow. And it came down so fast that some people couldn’t keep up with their snow shovels, such as Adam Thompson, who was working on the walkway to his house.
“That’s funny,” he told The Roanoke Times. “I just shoveled that part and it’s already covered in snow again.”
Governors and local officials in several states declared emergencies ahead of the storm crossing several Southern states, which hit portions of North Carolina and Virginia particularly hard.
Virginia State Police said Interstate 81 in far southwest Virginia was particularly dangerous, with snow coming down faster Sunday afternoon than crews could clear it. Police said several tractor-trailers slid off the highway.
Officials warned residents to prepare emergency kits and stay off roads in impacted areas. Several schools districts in North Carolina and Virginia announced they’ll be closed Monday.
“Virginians should take all necessary precautions to ensure they are prepared for winter weather storm impacts,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the country, said American Airlines reduced its operations, with more than 1,000 flights canceled on Sunday.
American Airlines also issued a travel alert for nine airports throughout the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Virginia, meaning passengers may be able to change travel plans without a fee.
Travelers were advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport. Cancellations were reported on flights from as far as the Midwest.
Canucks see rivals, partners in new Seattle NHL franchise
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
Friday, December 7
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Sitting high above the ice of Rogers Arena, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has fond memories of his time playing junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League and their trips up Interstate 5 to play at the old Mercer Arena against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Well, how fond he is depends on the perspective.
“They had chicken wire, and the fans were rowdy,” Benning recalled recently. “The thing with the chicken wire is like you’d line up for a faceoff and they could spit right through the chicken wire.”
While Benning’s memories playing against Seattle remain — and who could forget chain-link fence in place of glass boards at one end of the rink — he’s also thinking ahead. Looking out at an empty arena a couple of hours before a Canucks faceoff, he can envision fans of Seattle’s new NHL franchise making the trek north on I-5, through the border crossing and into downtown Vancouver to watch their team play the Canucks.
He has no doubt it will be a healthy rivalry and great for the sport in this corner of North America. But the Canucks see the addition of Seattle as more than adding a rival 2 ½ hours away by car. Seattle will be a critical partner for the future success of both franchises.
“We see this as a kind of one plus one equals three. We’re going to be able to grow the sport of hockey in this region, working with the Seattle team,” Canucks COO Jeff Stipec said.
The approval of Seattle as the 32nd NHL franchise earlier this week has thrilled hockey fans who for years made their way north to Vancouver to see the game played at its highest level. But there’s an almost equally excited group just north of the 49th parallel who can’t wait for 2021 when the Seattle franchise begins play.
“Vancouver is already a partner. They were the most enthusiastic team in the league about this. They love the idea of this rivalry,” Seattle team President Tod Leiweke said. “I think for the two cities to connect like this, the two cities are 130 miles away but now they’re going to connect in a whole different way and I think that’s one of the great things that is going to come out of all this is a deep, deep visceral connection between Vancouver and Seattle and we’re going to play some great games.”
Adding Seattle to the league helps the Canucks in various ways, from marketing to travel and interest in the game. Stipec is already planning ways the Canucks can sell Seattle’s addition, even if it’s three years away.
Stipec noted that even as Vancouver’s on-ice product is improving around a core of young stars and rejuvenating interest in the city after a few down seasons, the fans flocking back to the games are seeking different opportunities.
“Our season ticket members, what they’re looking for now are experiences,” Stipec said. “They’ll hop down, go to Vegas, follow the team down to Vegas. But to be able to put together some packages where our season ticket members are hopping on the bus, having a great time, going down to Seattle for a game and then coming back, that’s something they’re really excited about, too, and we’re excited to be offering that.”
While it would seem the proximity of the two cities could create issues when competing for dollars on the business side, it doesn’t appear that will be the case largely because of the border. The border creates a natural break between the two teams, both in their attempts to gain market share, but also in corporate dollars and talent acquisition.
“It couldn’t be a more perfect storm for the Canucks in that it’s not that we just have somebody that’s two and a half hours away, we have that international border between us,” Stipec said. “So that protects us a lot from corporate partnerships, broadcast rights, a whole bunch of things. It’s not like a Pittsburgh-Philadelphia situation. So it’s great that way, that we have our own protected markets in a sense in some of those key areas.”
The Canucks have not actively sought to promote themselves in the Seattle area. Playoff games have been broadcast on Seattle sports radio at times through the years, but any fans that have made an investment in being Canucks ticket holders have found them.
Alym Rayani lives just outside Seattle and has gone in with friends on season tickets for the Canucks for about a decade. After spending part of his childhood in Vancouver, Rayani drove back for games after settling in Seattle during the Canucks’ run as one Western Conference’s elite teams earlier this decade.
But like others from the Seattle area who regularly attend Canucks games, they’re hockey fans more than Vancouver fans. For Rayani, his loyalty and his dollars will belong to Seattle when it comes on board. He’s No. 16 on the season-ticket deposit list.
“I definitely feel loyalty to the Canucks being born there and having lived there, but I think it will be interesting how I’m going to feel 10 years from now,” Rayani said. “My kids, they watch the Canucks now, they’re going to be huge Seattle fans I’m sure. … I think over time I will morph to Seattle. I like the idea of being a fan or part of something from day one.”
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Ohio may raise marriage age after Dayton Daily News investigation
By Laura A. Bischoff, Cox Newspapers
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio senators are considering legislation to raise the marriage age for girls to 18, more than a year after a Dayton Daily News investigation documented thousands of cases of underage boys and girls getting married.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Kevin Bacon, R-Columbus, said he expects House Bill 511 to receive two more hearings this week and then it’ll likely move to the Senate floor for consideration. The Ohio House passed it in June.
Current law sets the marriage age at 16 for girls and 18 for males, but children of any age may marry in Ohio if they have parental and juvenile court consent.
HB511 would move the marriage age to 18 for both the bride and groom, allow 17-year-olds to marry with juvenile court approval and prohibit 17-year-olds from marrying someone more than four years older than them.
When asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee why not limit marriage to 18 and older, state Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, said, “Nationwide, these have been very difficult bills to pass.”
The Daily News found a case of a pregnant 14-year-old girl marrying her 48-year-old boyfriend with the blessing of her parents and a Gallia County judge in 2002. Between 2000 and 2015, 4,443 girls age 17 or younger were married in Ohio, including 59 who were 15 and younger, state records show.
Advocates for stricter marriage laws say Ohio’s laws are too lenient, setting girls up for failure and even exploitation. But it’s not just girls who are marrying before age 18: 301 boys age 17 or younger were married during the time frame studied by the newspaper, including 25 to women who were age 21 or older.
Girls who marry young often struggle financially and most of the marriages don’t survive. A national study in 2012 found American women who marry before their 18th birthday trail those who delay marriage in educational attainment, mental and physical health and financial security; 80 percent of the marriages did not last, the study found.
Unchained At Last, a non-profit group seeking to end underage marriage across the globe, reports that two states adopted strict bans of marriage before age 18 and many other states, including Ohio, have passed or are considering legislation to raise marriage ages. The group opposes bills that include exemptions for anyone under age 18.
Erin Ryan of the Women’s Public Policy Network spoke in favor of HB511, saying, “While child marriage is decreasing in the United States, it’s not happening fast enough.”