Farmers, Ranchers, the Railroad and Water: How the (Rio Grande) Valley was Built

Editor’s Note:  

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you may remember reading about a cross-country move a few months back. Moving from Northern California to South Texas was a major change in cultures as well as states. It’s necessitated learning about the environmental issues (of which there are many), the climate (dramatically different), how to garden here (different climate means different viruses, etc.), and even language challenges (mine).

It’s also meant diving back into Texas history. Being Texas-born, I learned a great deal of Texas history growing up. Amazingly, in Texas, we learned ONLY Texas history until high school, where we were introduced to world history – a big eye opener!

But here is a glimpse of the history of the area where I grew up and now live again. The research was fascinating. Hope you enjoy my latest story which appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of AgMag Magazine.

Irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

Irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas

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Preliminary results of our oceans shows alarming amount of plastic debris

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There’s a race taking place and it doesn’t result in ribbons or plaques. It’s the “Race for Water Odyssey”. Sponsored by the Race for Water Foundation, this 300 day voyage, which will travel over 40,000 nautical miles, will create the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the ocean by visiting island beaches situated in the 5 “gyres” (trash vortexes)..

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Soaking Up Soil Conservation: Saving Water In The Face Of Drought

photo courtesy of normanack

photo courtesy of normanack

Water availability with the continuing drought has become a global issue.

Research shows that one of the easiest ways to nurture land, help the environment and have the land retain water is soil conservation through composting – turning food waste and yard scraps into usable garden soil that’s then applied to various landscapes.

To learn more about compost’s remarkable ability to save tens of thousands of gallons of water and help alleviate the drought, click here.

New York residents try to “buy back” their pro-fracking senator

NY residents buy back their senator 1If the politicians won’t stand up to the oil industry about fracking, consumers will. Case in point: Residents of New York state’s “Southern Tier” delivered a $202,000 giant fake eight by three foot check to Senator Libous’ (R-NY) Binghamton district office today to “buy their senator back” from pro-fracking business interests and from big oil and gas lobbyists. That’s the same amount of money Sen. Libous took in campaign contributions from fracking oil and gas interests in the last two years, according to the good government group Common Cause.

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The Paint Cover helps keep paint fresh

The Paint Brush CoverStopping in the middle of a project means dealing with messy, drippy paint brushes. Take a break and you could come back to a dried up brush. The alternative has been rinsing multiple times, wasting paint and wasted water, to say nothing of having to regularly replace paint brushes gone bad.

New York City firefighter Sal DePaola knows this problem well. After years of being bothered by having to constantly buy new paint brushes for his painting business, DePaola came up with a solution – a brush cover with an air-tight seal.

The idea languished for years because DePaola thought someone else would eventually do it. But since no one did, in 2011 he had an engineer draw a mock-up of what became the Paint Brush Cover.

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Enjoy chlorine-free summer fun with ECOsmarte

The ECOsmarte filtration system, courtesy of ECOsmarte

The ECOsmarte filtration system, courtesy of ECOsmarte

As we shift from spring into summer, dreams of summer pool parties dance merrily through our heads. Preparing your pool for summer fun means loading it with harsh toxic chemicals. With so many of us wanting to lead healthy lifestyles, going that direction makes no sense.

There’s a more efficient, healthier alternative.

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Unilever partners with Carrotmob to generate better sustainability with consumers

The saying “consumers vote with their dollars” is truer than ever these days. Manufacturers pay a great deal of attention to how and where consumers spend their hard-earned money and fine tune their products and marketing campaigns to meet their needs.

Unilever – a global consumer goods manufacturer – is deeply aware of this and recently partnered with non-profit Carrotmob to create sustainability campaigns that will attract green-minded consumers.

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“Over Troubled Waters” a cinematic and educational eye-opener

The cinematography throughout the film “Over Troubled Waters” is breathtaking

I attended the premiere of the new documentary “Over Troubled Waters” last night at the beautifully-restored Crest Theater in Sacramento. It was the first of 3 California scheduled showings and I’ll be writing more about the film and the water-related issues soon.

I have to say that this is a “must see” film for all Californians. It details visually and historically the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in a way most Californians have never seen or heard about it. The film not only clarifies many of the often murky issues surrounding this beautiful region, it is many times a stunning inditement to the state water agencies and “powers that be” with clear facts and figures that refute information that’s given out to the media and general public. And it’s stunningly beautiful in its cinematography.

The next two showings will be in Stockton on Monday, August 20 at 7:00pm at the Empire Theater and in Los Angeles with a special appearance by Ed Begley Jr. on Tuesday, August 28 at 7:00pm at the Landmark Theater. If you’re in either of those areas, this is one film you won’t want to miss. For tickets, go to OverTroubledWaters.org.

Auto Toilet Could Save Water by the Millions

The innovative Auto Toilet will be six times more water efficient than current low-flow models

In 2009, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought. That same year, a young company called New Age Hygienic Systems was selected as one of The New California 100 Businesses for its remarkable, water-saving Auto Toilet.

Inventor Dan Andreiu, New Age Hygienic Systems’ founder and CEO, created the Auto Toilet. He says that this invention is the first update to the fundamental design and operation of the toilet in 200 years.

To learn more about this innovative toilet and its potential for water savings, go to http://bit.ly/MPHoed.

California’s Troubled Waters: the Estuary vs. the Tap

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, focus on Governor Brown’s latest water war, photo by Media Creations

On Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced what they consider a landmark solution to the state’s water shortage: plans to build a massive twin tunnel system that will bring precious water from the San Joaquin River Delta to farms and cities. These two 33-mile-long tunnels have stirred the pot of an ongoing water war. This controversy is at the heart of a new documentary, Over Troubled Waters.

To understand the issues and some surprising history that’s been concealed, and have a chance to win tickets to the Sacramento premier of Over Troubled Waters, see http://bit.ly/NyVftn.