Tag Archives: water

Winter is Coming… Story by Catherine Ross

Winters in Northern Idaho aren’t something to make light of, especially not in Sandpoint. The average amount of snowfall in Sandpoint, Idaho is 57.7 inches. That’s almost five feet of snow. However recently our winters have been filled with less snow, but rather lower temperatures and even more rain than snow. The winter of 2017-2018 is predicted to have lower temperature and wetter weather, as stated by EarthSky. The reason for this is because of La Niña, which is a phase of El Niño and brings in cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical pacific ocean.

Due to the fact La Niña is supposed to hit Northern Idaho this year, it’s causing some concern. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is worried about La Niña, due to it being the “biggest wildcard” for this year’s winter. NOAA also pointed out that fact that La Niña has a 55% to 56% of developing before our winter even officially begins. Which means everyone should prepare for what this weather will bring.

1940 Winter... Sandpoint has been getting heavy snow for decades. Photo By: sandpoint.com
1940 Winter… Sandpoint has been getting heavy snow for decades. Photo By: sandpoint.com

In Northern Idaho, power outages aren’t an uncommon appearance, so being prepared for a possible storm is a must. However, these power outages can last much longer than a couple of days, which is why North Idaho residences should be prepared for a maximum of three weeks without power. Below will be a list of supplies you and your family will need for staying home during a winter storm, and tips on to be the most comfortable when doing so.

Food and water are essential, meaning they should be the first things for you to think about. You need to rationally ask yourself ‘could I survive three weeks off of this?’ and if you say no, then you should go shopping. Water is very important, not only for drinking but also for cleaning dishes and flushing your toilet. The average amount of water used is 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. So if you rule out showering, the amount of gallons used drop considerably, but you still need enough water to last you and your family for a maximum of three weeks and prevent dehydration.

This means you should fill up a minimum of two six gallon jugs of water, four clean, five gallon buckets, which will be used for flushing your toilet. The current environmentally friendly toilets will take about one gallon in order to flush. If you find yourself running out of water, see how much water your hot water tank has and drain it out using a garden hose. Taking care of your food is very important as it has to last you just like water. Transferring any refrigerated or frozen foods into a large cooler and placing them in an easily accessible place out in the snow is ideal to keep your food fresh.

Warm Interior... A Kerosene Heater such as this can warm up your house during the winter. Photo By: Space Heater Reviews
Warm Interior… A Kerosene Heater such as this can warm up your house during the winter. Photo By: Space Heater Reviews

Camping gear is extremely useful in these situations. Purchasing things such as lanterns and propane cooking stove will make life much more comfortable for you. If you do invest in a propane cooking stove or a table top gas grill, make sure they aren’t electric, you will need around half a dozen (6) propane bottles in order to last you throughout the period of the power outage. However you must make sure that there is ventilation in the room that you are using these stoves in or else the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases tenfold. Opening a window slightly will create enough ventilation for you though.

For heating, make sure that the first thing you do is close off any unneeded rooms, in order to conserve heat. Stuff any towels or rags into cracks underneath doors to keep as much heat inside of the home as you can. Hanging black curtains on windows can also help as black absorbs the heat from the sun. Using a wood stove or fireplace are some of the most effective ways to heat your home. However a kerosene heater is another option, just make sure that it isn’t electric. Having warm and soft blankets are important as well for a comfortable night, but down sleeping bags can also be used.

However the most expensive thing you should definitely consider purchasing is a generator. Now, you will have to ask yourself if you do in fact need one and if you do, then you will need to plan on not using the generator too often. This is so that you will only be using non-ethanol gas and a fuel stabilizer, which makes it much easier for the generator to start. Make sure that you choose a generator that fits you the best, both in terms of needs and price. There are more expensive types, such as Honda generators which are quiet, making it more comfortable to be around. However, there are so many types, so it’s best that you go and see which one will suit you and your situation the best. Being comfortable and safe in your own home is one of the most important things after all.

So, will you be prepared for this winter?

 

Hurricanes Devastate America and Caribbean… Story by Lydia Martin

The southern part of the United States has been hammered twice within the past three weeks with torrential rain, violent winds, and engulfing floods. The first visitor was Hurricane Harvey which landed in Texas on August 25, 2017 and throughout its stay it has caused critical loss. Millions have been without electricity, running water, and homes. Over 136,000 buildings have been flooded and demolished by water and rain resulting in billions of dollars in damages.

The Aftermath…A smashed car sits outside a demolished building after Harvey hit Rockport, Texas Photo by: Courtney Sacco/Corpus via AP
The Aftermath…A smashed car sits outside a demolished building after Harvey hit Rockport, Texas. Photo by:  Courtney Sacco/Corpus via AP

The hurricane, which dumped more than 50 inches of rain, has caused cities that were once abundant to be reduced to nothing but murky water and debris. Not only have people lost their homes, but also friends and family. The total death toll is now up to 70 people and will continue to rise as the floodwaters recede.

Another major disaster that has swept Texas is the loss of cattle to the flood waters. Cattle is such an immense industry in Texas, plus the fact that most ranchers don’t ensure their livestock. The cattle owners could be in debt hundreds of thousands of dollars. Is this loss of livestock going to affect meat prices? David Anderson, an A&M professor and agriculture economist said that he doesn’t expect the losses to affect meat prices, because the number of cattle lost in Harvey won’t be enough to impact the national beef market, which is expected to yield a record amount next year.

Not long after Harvey hit Texas and parts of Louisiana, Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. Like Harvey, Irma has caused millions more to be without homes and has also caused over billions of dollars in damages. People are without power because of falling trees and high winds. Thankfully, it has been downgraded to a tropical storm but not without causing a lot of chaos.

Beat and Battered… A destroyed neighborhood seen after hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys. Photo by: Matt McClain/Getty Images
Beat and Battered… A destroyed neighborhood seen after hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys. Photo by: Matt McClain/Getty Images

The total death toll is a staggering 68–32 of those people in America, the rest being in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is struggling right now as food and supplies are running low and people have no place to go. Since homes are vacant because of people being evacuated, others have been arrested for looting homes and businesses.

It is going to take years and cost billion upon billions of dollars to repair what has been lost. The government has donated millions for relief, but even with that money will we ever recover from this catastrophe?

Water is Life… Story By: Natalie Faris

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is taking a stand for what matters to them. Recently, the Dakota Access Pipeline has begun its construction.

Water is Life... The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is gathering under the mantra “water is life” to protest the potentially dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline.
Water is Life… The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is gathering under the mantra “water is life” to protest the potentially dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo By: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The purpose of the pipeline will be to carry huge amounts of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois where it will be refined. The pipeline will be 30 inches wide and 1,172 miles long. A pipe of this size calls for a 3.7 billion dollar investment. However, for some, it is costing more than just money. The pipe will run through some of Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s sacred grounds and main water sources. If those water sources are polluted from the heavy machinery and crude oil, it will make a devastating impact on many lives in the tribe and surrounding areas.

The tribe has gathered a large crowd for protest. People from over 200 tribes have gathered together in unity to preserve their land, their total numbers being somewhere around 1,000 semi-permanent inhabitants who plan to stay at the protester camp for as long as it takes. They have tried to remain peaceful but according to Linda Black Elk, the Dakota Access company is trying to provoke them into violence.

Standing as one... Over 200 tribes from across the country are gathering together in unity. Photo By: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook
Standing as one…
Over 200 tribes from across the country are gathering together in unity.
Photo By: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook

The tribe filed a lawsuit trying to stop the construction in early September, the lawsuit claimed that the path of the pipeline was going to go directly through sacred burial grounds. “…Barely 24 hours after those papers were filed, Dakota Access used bulldozers to destroy those sites. It was absolute destruction. They literally bulldozed the ancestors right out of the ground, along with destroying tipi rings and cairns.” As they bulldozed the precious land, they kept the protesters away using attack dogs, tear gas, and pepper spray.

In another effort to stop the destruction, two of the protestors tied themselves to backhoes and refused to leave. One of them stayed on for two hours before the police came and arrested him along with 22 other protesters.

Recently in Alabama, a gasoline pipeline had a leak which released approximately 336,000 gallons of gasoline into the environment. If that were to happen with the future pipeline, which runs under the Missouri River and the Little Missouri River.

Iowa Farmers Sue Dakota Access over misuse of Eminent Domain Story By: John Holmes

Tradition, heritage, and profit. These three subjects all combine in the recent events surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline – being built by Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas based Energy Transfer Partners – will traverse through both North and South Dakota, Iowa, and end in Illinois. The company states the

Eminent domain…how should it be used? Photo by: the Daily Iowan.
Eminent domain…how should it be used? Photo by: the Daily Iowan.

pipeline will be capable of carrying 570,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois. However, construction on the pipeline has halted due to several lawsuits that Dakota Access faces. While the most popular suit against Dakota Access involves the protection of Native American land, another issue involves the company’s use of eminent domain. In June, the Iowa Utilities Board made the decision to allow Dakota Access the right to use eminent domain in building the pipeline. Eminent domain is normally defined as “a right of a government to take private property for public use.” However, in the 2005 Kelo v. the City of New London court decision, private companies were granted the right to eminent domain in lieu of public gain. A company’s use of eminent domain, however, can only be granted willingly by the state in which the company is seeking land. Through this, Dakota Access won 99 percent of their pathway in North Dakota by voluntary easement (the landowner acceptably giving their land).

Iowa, however, had the most landowners to refuse the company’s compensation, and thus the land was forcibly taken. The Iowa landowners have made their case based on the company building the pipeline for private profit – something not permitted in the Kelo v. New London decision.

The Dakota Access Pipline route…as planned by Energy Transfer Partners. Photo by: Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
The Dakota Access Pipline route…as planned by Energy Transfer Partners. Photo by: Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.

“[Dakota Access has] represented to the state that they are a public pipeline that is providing a common carriage service for the benefit of Iowans and the nation, and therefore they should be entitled to use the power of eminent domain,” Bill Hanigan, attorney for 15 Iowa farmers, states in an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. “And about that, we very much disagree.” Hanigan and the farmers he represents state that the argument Dakota Access has made is not valid, and therefore their use of eminent domain should not hold up in court. “The idea that a Texas company can take our land for its private purpose—you know, the argument that Dakota Access has made, that this is a somehow public purpose, is that they will take this oil off to the Gulf of Mexico through Iowa, and then they’ll produce unleaded gasoline, and somehow some of that gasoline will splash its way back to Iowa,” says Hanigan. “They can’t prove it.”

Without any proof that the money made from the pipeline will return to Iowa, Dakota Access has no verification that it will bring public good. Furthermore, with the repeal of the U.S ban on oil exports in 2015, Dakota Access can sell their oil overseas, dramatically limiting the amount of revenue invested back into the States.

In addition to protecting their land, the farmers want to bring the matter to the eyes of the Iowa Supreme Court in hope of preventing for-profit land seizure.

Another concern the farmers brought up was the effect on the land surrounding the pipeline – specifically the soil. “It took 10,000 years to get the soils where they are now,” says Keith Puntenney, an Iowa farmer involved in the lawsuit. ““It’s going to take the rest of my lifetime for it to become productive again.” With the pipeline construction disturbing the Iowa soil, the fruitfulness of that soil has been compromised. It could take years for Iowa farmers to begin cultivating again.

The Crude Truth about the Dakota Access Pipeline Story By Mack Jastle

Environmental conservation was once again catapulted into the public spotlight this summer as the Dakota Access Pipeline entered its final stages of completion.

Back in May, the $3.8 billion pipeline began construction after being approved by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and it expected to begin piping crude oil before the end of this year.

It’s now September, and construction has ground to a halt as numerous environmental groups, Native American tribes, and farmers protest the construction of the line and delay it in any way they can.  The tribes assert that the pipeline will disturb and desecrate sacred land and burial grounds.  The Sioux of Standing Rock, one of the tribes most affected by the pipeline, claims that the proposed pipeline could contaminate their water supply, as the pipeline crosses under the Missouri River in that spot.  If it spilled, the crude oil could potentially leech into the river and contaminate the water supply.

Environmentalists call attention to the lack of risk analyses conducted to determine the risk of oil spilling from the pipeline and the impacts of such a spill.

Sacred…Assembled Native American tribes protest the pipeline’s destruction of sacred Sioux burial grounds and historical sites. Photo-by: theeventchronicle.com
Sacred…Assembled Native American tribes protest the pipeline’s destruction of sacred Sioux burial grounds and historical sites. Photo-by: theeventchronicle.com

Thus far, the pipeline has received permission for the project using Nationwide Permit 12.  This permit is an expedited permit that can be granted to projects that could only cause minimal adverse impacts.  In order to authorize the pipeline under the expedited process, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to treat the pipeline as a series of half-mile projects, with each one being separate from the others.  This allowed them to approve the pipeline without the usual thorough analysis required for such a gargantuan process.

This expedited process does come with a few caveats.  The expedited review glances over the pipeline, meaning areas of potentially extreme environmental impact might not have gotten the thorough analysis that they need.

This is what the protestors are hitting the Army Corps and the pipeline itself hard on.  Despite this, construction continued to creep forward.  Already overdue for construction, every day Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners aren’t constructing the pipeline, that’s another day where they aren’t paying off their loans.

The 30-plus banks funding the pipeline have poured about $3.8 billion into the project, and they make that investment with the expectation of the pipeline paying them back once it’s up and running.  If the pipeline’s construction is halted, it could potentially cause the banks’ investments to fall through, which could destabilize the banks.  If this happens, we could be at risk for another round of corporate bailouts.  And according to several prominent figures in the economic sector, those bailouts could be devastating.

“[There’s] only so much you can squeeze out of a debt cycle…we are there!”

This was the keynote line of the Delivering Alpha Conference, spoken by Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, creator of the world’s largest hedge fund.  Dalio drew reference to the 1935-1945 economic growth rates, stating that the current economic condition is analogous to that period.

Not exactly confidence inspiring.

Black Water….Protestors call attention to the potential water contamination that could result if there is a spill in the pipeline, and criticize the Army Corps for not properly reviewing the environmental impact. Photo-by:dandelionsalad.wordpress.com
Black Water….Protestors call attention to the potential water contamination that could result if there is a spill in the pipeline, and criticize the Army Corps for not properly reviewing the environmental impact. Photo-by:dandelionsalad.wordpress.com

Dalio warned of lower growth rates than usual, noting that, as a result of the current economic climate, it is difficult to push the prices of assets up…and easy for them to fall.  This creates an environment in which the failure of the Dakota Access Pipeline could have potentially catastrophic impacts on the American Economy.

No pressure.

To complicate matters further, the Obama administration stepped in this month to halt construction on a key segment of the 1172 mile-long pipeline.  The move gave a brief respite to the assembled protestors, but despite the halt, construction elsewhere continued, and in a memo released by Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfer Partners CEO, pipeline construction is at 60%.

As the battle for the pipeline continues, construction inches forward.  The Dakota Access Pipeline has a long way to go before being complete, and it’s unclear as to whether or not it will be completed.  However, the consequences for whatever action the pipeline takes are potentially very severe, and they are ones that will take time to sort out.

Is the DAPL the future of American energy, or just a pipe dream?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Vows to Drink Water from Flint Michigan! Story By: Dave Dowel

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Vows to Drink Water from Flint Michigan!

Story By: Dave Dowel

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been busy in the aftermath of a lead poisoning crisis in Flint - Photo by Associated Press
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been busy in the aftermath of a lead poisoning crisis in Flint – Photo by Associated Press

Why Rick? Why are you doing this, oh wait you are doing this to prove that Flint Water is safe. Well, it’s not; the EPA says it’s not. Why can’t you believe them, they’re the EPA, but no your government is not trusting anyone and saying the water is complete safe? Yes the EPA said filters are helping, but they are not cleaning everything out. So to prove them all wrong you are going to drink the water for the next month at home and at work in Ann Arbor. He will refill on water when he visits every week.

The EPA was told Flint residents to try their tap water, while the lead is still exceeding the Federal Standards. Flint residents are still in danger because the lead is still exceeding the safe it’s according to the EPA. The real question is why was the Municipal government not do anything about the Flint water problem.

The city of Flint, Michigan, stopped sourcing its water from Detroit’s system and started pumping from the Flint River to save money. – Photo By Steve Carmody
The city of Flint, Michigan, stopped sourcing its water from Detroit’s system and started pumping from the Flint River to save money. – Photo By Steve Carmody

Is this simply a political move by the governor to save his job? The Flint water situation really started in 2014, when the City of Flint start pumping their river instead of pumping from Detroit because it was cheaper to pump from the flint river. The Flint River water was corrosive enough to erode the lead piping and that is what put lead into the water. Over time the lead became too toxic and many people developed medical problems. Virginia Tech tested the water and stated that it had too much lead. After that, the mayor tried to keep it covered up, but one of the doctors figured out that the water had too much lead in it and the secret was out. Virginia Tech when to Flint, to bring the bottled water to Flint, Michigan. Then the EPA stepped in and that’s where we are now.

How safe is your Water?… Story By: John Holmes

How safe is your Water?… Story By: John Holmes

The contaminated water of Flint…can be seen while a city employee flushes a fire hydrant. Photo by: CNN.
The contaminated water of Flint…can be seen while a city employee flushes a fire hydrant. Photo by: CNN.

Water is a vital resource to a community. But, do we know how safe our water actually is? Residents of Flint, Michigan, had suspected a bad water supply after local officials decided to switch from the town’s original water line. The town was paying for the original line – running from Lake Huron. Two years ago, city officials decided to switch the water supply to Flint River – a river that runs through town, notorious for its filth. The switch was due to a financial crisis for the town.

Though the water looked and smelled suspicious, residents of Flint were told by city officials that the water was fine. It wasn’t until August of last year that a contamination of the city water was discovered.

A research team from Virginia Technical Institute conducted several in-home tests of the drinking water. Their findings indicated elevated levels of lead in the water. In relation to the lead, there is also a high capacity of iron. The Flint River water supply is 19 times more corrosive than the Lake Huron supply, according to the Virginia Tech. (For more about the Virginia Tech’s involvement, see here).

Several Flint residents are involved in a class-action-lawsuit against the state of Michigan, including former governor Rick Snyder.

But what about our own water? Is it safer than Flint’s?

Idaho’s water…pretty clean, isn’t it? Photo by: Idaho Conservation League.
Idaho’s water…pretty clean, isn’t it? Photo by: Idaho Conservation League.

According to the City of Sandpoint’s most recent Water Quality report, the two water sources used by Sandpoint residents are Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille. There are no lead contaminants running from the sources, though the pipes do contain lead. However, the lead content is well below the maximum limit of 15 parts per a billion – ranging in at an average 3.33 parts per billion. (For more on Sandpoint’s water supply, see here).

The report also states that there have been no violations of Federal standards.

Also, if you use a well on your property, it is relatively simple to test your water. Here are some directions to test your well water. So, Idaho residents, you need not worry about your water.