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Happy Friday Readers: In honor of National Hispanic Heritage month we want to showcase South Florida Water Management District's Resiliency Officer Carolina Maran, Ph.D., P.E. The Balmoral Group has the great pleasure of collaborating with Carolina on some of our projects that support water resources planning and management, regulatory, and policy issues. Learn more about about Carolina Maran here .
This week's flash report features information on wildfires, soil health, rail strikes, and more. Our data visualization presents information on drought intensity across the United States and stored data can be compared from months and years past. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested. If you'd like to view previous editions please click here, or to subscribe please click here!
Wildfires Along West Coast Cause Air Quality Warnings
Smoke from wildfires affected most of the Western United States this last weekend, prompting Poor Air Quality Alerts for Canada, Washington, California, and Canada as firefighters struggled to contain large blazes. Poor air quality is mostly due to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) generated by wildfire smoke which adversely impacts human respiratory health. While many of the air quality warnings have subsided and fires being contained, wildfire season will last through October so communities are cautioned to have a Wildfire Action Plan in place. Additionally, the largest active wildfire, the Mosquito Fire in California has burned 49,761 acres is only 18% contained. Read More
Importance of Soil Health
Soil health is crucial to improving water quality and being able to produce enough food for a growing population (2 billion more people by 2050). A healthy soil is a soil that’s better-than-average at holding on to water and nutrients, which usually means it has a good amount of organic carbon. Much of the organic carbon in soils has been lost in the last 100 years of agricultural intensification (due to erosion and atmospheric losses). The U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USCRF) – an initiative of the Soil Health Institute – was awarded a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. The goal: help cotton farmers implement regenerative soil health practices that should store around 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere by 2026. The USCRF is already underway in some southern states, and the new funding will help expand the program to enroll more farmers in practices for improving soil health. Source: FarmProgress.com.
Rail Strikes Threatens to Slow US Supply-Chain Recovery
A tentative agreement has been struck between freight rail carriers and the unions representing tens of thousands of rail workers in a last-minute deal overseen by the Biden administration. The federally mandated cooling off period for negotiations ends at midnight tonight, September 16, meaning that unions would have been able to strike tomorrow if not for the agreement. Although carriers had begun preparing for potential disruptions, the unions have negotiated for a 24 percent pay increase for workers over five years, backdated to 2020, and unpaid time off to attend medical appointments, among other victories. The Association of American Railroads estimates that a shutdown would idle more than 7,000 long-distance Class I trains per day, costing the economy $2 billion per day. Bloomberg; Politico; New York Times.
A Startup's Chemically Engineered Water Filtration System Helps Large Farms and Industrial Processors Recycle their Wastewater
ZwitterCo, a wastewater reprocessing startup, has raised $33 million in efforts to scale up their operations for industrial companies and large farms. With water supply decreasing due to droughts ZwitterCo hopes to continue to expand to meet the rising demand of water and limiting supply. With 255 billion gallons of wastewater discharged daily by industrial facilities, there is plenty of water as long as it can be treated. Zwitter’s membrane technology has been successful at saving millions of gallons of water already for several companies, but it also has value on the other side of the filter. The material filtered out can be saved and used as fertilizer in many cases. For many companies and farms this means that the filter can pay for itself by saving them water to reuse as well as creating a product for them. Read More
Input Prices Down 1.1% in August
Nonresidential construction input prices fell in August 2022 by 1.1% compared to the previous month. However, prices are still 13% higher than a year ago. Fuel prices led the change, declining 13.4% last month. Additional declines were seen in steel mill products (-5.7%), aluminum mill shapes (-3.9%), and lumber and plywood (-2.9%). However, prices are still high for most materials, including steel products, year-over-year. Read more here.
Germany takes Subsidiary of Russian Oil Giant Rosneft Under State Control
Germany has nationalized the German subsidiary of the Russian oil company Rosneft, putting all three of their refineries into a trusteeship. This comes ahead of the EU's Russian oil embargo that will be implemented at the end of the year. This embargo will be a partial ban on Russian oil with the goal of crippling the funding of the Russian war machine. Germany's federal network regulator will beocme the temporary trust manage of Rosneft Germany. Read More
Data Visualization of the Week
Drought Intensity this Year
The U.S. Drought Monitor released this week's drought intensity. The Great Plains region and West Coast have seen long lasting severe increases in the intensity of their droughts. There have been minor increases in precipitation in some parts of the country since the previous month. However, serious droughts still continue to be worse than previous years. Read more