Health Advisory & Spare the Air Alert Lifted 10/19/2017

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Today, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is lifting the Health Advisory & Spare the Air Alert due to significantly improved air quality conditions from favorable wind patterns and increased fire containment. However, unhealthy air quality will still be present in the immediate vicinity of actively burning fires.

There is the potential for smoke impacts this weekend due to shifting winds and significantly warmer temperatures that may cause increased fire danger. Check here for real-time air quality readings: https://go.usa.gov/xnxJE.

It is important that Bay Area residents protect their health, especially in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from asthma, emphysema or COPD. Elderly persons, children and individuals with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.

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BART – Taking Aim at Noise Pollution

Last year in August, BART announced a design breakthrough hailed as music to our riders’ ears: a small change in the way train wheels contact the rails that our engineers hoped would make a big difference toward reducing noise. By slightly tapering the wheel profile using the latest simulated modeling techniques, we hoped to reduce metal-on-metal contact and its consequences.

Fast forward to today and the results are in: the new, reduced-contact wheel profile has shown as much as a 15 dB decrease in interior noise on the current fleet. 15 fewer decibels may not sound like a big jump, but remember that decibels—like the Richter Scale—are measured logarithmically, not linearly. As shown in the graphic below, a 15 dB decrease is many times quieter than before, and with the new train cars’ micro-plug doors passengers can only expect things to get better.

Currently, 13% of our legacy fleet has been outfitted with the new wheel profile, and we estimate 90% will be converted by the end of 2019. All new Fleet of the Future cars coming off the assembly line will be outfitted with the new profile, bringing much-needed relief to passengers and neighbors who live close to BART lines.

Now with the plan for the wheels taken care of, we’re ready to take things to the next level.

Wheels are only one half of the screech equation. The rails themselves can also be optimized to work with the new profile, reducing noise even further through a program of custom rail grinding.

Currently, we do surface grinds to remove the effects of corrugation—a pattern of wear caused by acceleration or deceleration of the traditional BART train wheels, known to cause unpleasant sounds. The rail optimization plan will take place during maintenance hours overnight over approximately five years. There will be three phases, with six grinding passes per phase over the entire 235-mile system. That’s roughly 4,000 miles of rail grinding between now and 2022, about the same distance as a drive from San Francisco to Chicago and back.

Once finished, passengers can expect to hum along our tracks at comfortable noise levels, no longer having to worry about whether a banshee has been let loose in the tunnels. Plus, as a bonus, the new wheel profile no longer relies on the wheel flange catching the rail to turn around corners. This drastically reduces the amount of wheel and rail erosion, and will stretch the life of our infrastructure by many years. Less maintenance, more uptime: all part of what we’re doing to build a better BART.

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The Bay Area Air District has issued a Health Advisory and Spare the Air Alert for Thursday, October 19.

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Air quality in the Bay Area continues to be very unhealthy, especially in the fire-impacted counties of Napa, Sonoma and Solano.

Due to active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality will be unpredictable and could impact the Bay Area.

It is imperative that Bay Area residents protect their health, especially in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. It is recommended that residents in fire-impacted counties seek buildings with filtered air such as public libraries and shopping malls OR move to areas outside the region less impacted by wildfire smoke until smoke levels subside.

People in fire-impacted counties who must remain in the area are advised to use an N95 mask to help minimize breathing fine particles.

Please protect yourself and your family from the impacts of heavy smoke. If residents see or smell smoke in their immediate area, stay indoors, if possible, with windows and doors closed and air conditioning units on recirculate to avoid drawing outside air into buildings. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, emphysema and heart disease are most impacted.

Because of the serious air quality conditions in parts of the Bay Area, we are asking residents to avoid adding additional air pollution by curtailing air ­­­polluting activities such as wood burning, lawn mowing and leaf blowing, driving, and barbecuing.

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KRACK Attack Puts Wi-Fi Connections at Risk

A serious new vulnerability called KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attacks) was announced recently, likely impacting anyone who uses Wi-Fi. All Wi-Fi connection points and devices could be vulnerable—your local coffee shop, home, or workplace connection.

KRACK can allow attackers access to important information like credit card numbers, passwords, and emails transmitted over Wi-Fi networks. This vulnerability can also allow attackers to potentially infect your devices with malware or ransomware.

How to help protect your devices against KRACK

  • Wi-Fi users should immediately update their Wi-Fi-enabled devices as soon as a software update is made available. Wi-Fi enabled devices are anything that connects to the Internet — from laptops, tablets, and smartphones to other smart devices such as wearables and home appliances.
  • Stay informed – Learn More about the KRACK vulnerability.
  • Only browse secure websites whose URL begins with HTTPS. HTTPS-enabled websites provides an extra layer of security by using encryption.
  • HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – Consider using a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) to help protect your data against this new threat.

Note: Changing your Wi-Fi password will not prevent attacks.

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State’s Own Evidence Shows Tunnels Project Will Harm Fish

First published in ND Water Deeply

The Brown administration is denying scientific evidence when it comes to the impact that the proposed delta tunnels project would have on endangered species and fisheries, says scientist Jonathan Rosenfield of The Bay Institute.

A juvenile delta smelt inside a rearing tank at the U.C. Davis Fish Conservation and Culture Lab, located 80 miles from the Davis campus on the grounds of the California Department of Water Resources – John E. Skinner Delta Fish Protective Facility near Byron, California in Contra Costa County.Dale Kolke / California Department of Water Resources

Gov. Jerry Brown deserves credit for leading the fight against climate change in the face of Washington’s fact-free narratives. That’s why it’s so frustrating that his administration ignores scientific analyses regarding the impact of his controversial proposal to build two giant tunnels that would divert Sacramento River water under the Delta.

Despite years of assuring Californians that the new $17 billion tunnels would protect the San Francisco Bay estuary and would not increase the total volume of water exported from this ecosystem, the state’s own documents – including the Biological Assessment and Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIR/SDEIS) – show the opposite.

Currently, less than half of the winter-spring runoff from the Central Valley reaches the Bay in an average year, and it receives even less during dry years. An overwhelming amount of research leaves no doubt that the San Francisco Bay estuary ­­– the largest estuary on the Pacific coast of the Americas – has been severely damaged by decades of this unsustainable water withdrawal. Unless we change course:

  • Extinction of several native fish species is imminent;
  • Fisheries for salmon and other species that support recreational businesses and thousands of commercial fishing jobs from Morro Bay through Oregon will collapse;
  • Blooms of toxic cyanobacteria will become increasingly frequent;
  • The estuary will continue to be dominated by invasive water-weeds and other non-native species.

The best available science consistently demonstrates that we must allow more of the water in Central Valley rivers to reach San Francisco Bay as part of any comprehensive response to this estuary’s decline. Even colleagues who offer tepid support for the tunnels concept acknowledge that “…the best option for smelt, and other native fishes, especially salmon, is … a large increase in freshwater flows through [their] habitat,” as scientists Peter Moyle and James Hobbs wrote in a Water Deeply op-ed last month.

Yet, contrary to suppositions made by Moyle and Hobbs, the governor’s tunnel project (misleadingly named “California WaterFix”) will increase water exports from the Delta (see, e.g., California WaterFix Biological Assessment Appendix 5A. Figure 5.A.A.3-20). Indeed, the state’s own analyses reveal that operations of the new water diversions will reduce the flow of fresh water to San Francisco Bay and accelerate the ongoing decline of Chinook salmon and other native species. Reductions in fresh water flow are expected to increase residence time and to decrease turbidity (cloudiness) of water in the Delta (see, e.g., RDEIR/SDEIS Chapter 4); such conditions promote the increasing frequency of toxic cyanobacteria blooms.

For years, cheerleaders for the tunnels have argued that “the status quo is unsustainable.” Indeed it is. Ironically, the state’s sales pitch for the expensive twin tunnels is now an exercise in rationalizing maintenance of the status quo and avoiding analyses that demonstrate that this project will make conditions worse. For example, rather than argue that this project will improve conditions for imperiled species, the state now only attempts to show that the project will not increase the risk of extinction, which is already high.

Yet, despite serious flaws and major gaps in the state’s analyses, they clearly show that the tunnels will harm native species. Survival of juvenile Chinook salmon through the Delta, already unacceptably low, is projected to decline under WaterFix. For example, California Department of Fish and Wildlife evaluated the expected effects of the tunnels on the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and found: “Overall, the [Winter Run Life Cycle Model] results indicated lower abundances and lower cohort replacement rates under the Project compared to the [No Action Alternative]. Under all scenarios, abundance was lower under the Project relative to the NAA throughout the time series and all scenarios had a lower mean and median cohort replacement rate than the NAA.”

Other models of Chinook salmon survival indicated similarly poor results with operation of the proposed tunnels.

In addition, forage fish species, which are currently circling the drain, will continue to decline under the plan, increasing the likelihood that we will lose some of these populations forever. Even entrainment of fish into the existing south Delta export facilities – the one environmental problem the twin tunnels were designed to address – will increase dramatically for longfin smelt, a state-threatened species, as the Incidental Take Permit Application shows.

We live in a country where ignoring strong scientific evidence has become routine and extraordinarily expensive projects are promoted with the most cynical rhetoric. It’s disappointing to see this from a state that prides itself on environmental protection.

Reducing reliance on the Delta’s fresh water supplies is state law. California is also required to protect fisheries, water quality and endangered species. The twin tunnels project fails on all of these and other counts. Meanwhile, the Brown administration’s fixation with this risky, outdated and expensive engineering project diverts resources from practical solutions like water recycling and improved efficiency that can simultaneously improve water supply reliability and protect the estuarine ecosystem.

During the recent drought, Californians demonstrated that we can conserve a tremendous amount of water. But most water districts across the state have barely tapped the potential to improve regional self-reliance through water recycling, conjunctive use and stormwater capture. These approaches can secure the state’s water supply and protect fishing communities and the environment at far less cost than boring two giant tunnels under the Delta.

Californians deserve better. It’s time we followed the best available science to protect our imperiled ecosystems by investing in durable innovations that will secure California’s water supplies into the future. ∎

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Water Deeply.

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Santa Clara Water REJECTS Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels

Santa Clara Valley Water District rejects Jerry Brown’s twin Delta tunnels plan – San Jose Mercury News

In a landmark move closely watched across California, Silicon Valley’s largest water agency on Tuesday voted not to participate in Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

By a vote of 7-0, the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board of directors chose instead to adopt a set of principles that endorses a significantly smaller project, with one tunnel that would have less capacity and a lower cost.

“What magnitude of a project makes sense? From our perspective that looks to be something less than originally was envisioned,” said board member Barbara Keegan.

Santa Clara water district rejects Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels plan, urges him to scale down project – Sacramento Bee

Silicon Valley’s water district Wednesday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta but said it would support a smaller, less expensive project. A top state official said the Brown administration could support such an approach.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board voted 7-0 to give the Delta plan “conditional support” but only if it involves one tunnel instead of two. The board’s vote indicated the district would be willing eventually to commit more than $200 million to the project. That’s well below the $600 million or more in support it had been considering.

“It’s clearly going to be a smaller project than what was originally proposed,” said board member Gary Kremen.

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The Bay Area Air District has issued a Smoke Advisory and Spare the Air Alert for Tuesday, October 17 and Wednesday, October 18.

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Air quality in the Bay Area continues to be very unhealthy, especially in the fire-impacted counties of Napa, Sonoma and Solano.

Due to active wildfires and changing wind patterns, air quality will be unpredictable and could impact the Bay Area.

It is imperative that Bay Area residents protect their health, especially in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. It is recommended that residents in fire-impacted counties seek buildings with filtered air such as public libraries and shopping malls OR move to areas outside the region less impacted by wildfire smoke until smoke levels subside.

People in fire-impacted counties who must remain in the area are advised to use an N95 mask to help minimize breathing fine particles..

Please protect yourself and your family from the impacts of heavy smoke. If residents see or smell smoke in their immediate area, stay indoors, if possible, with windows and doors closed and air conditioning units on recirculate to avoid drawing outside air into buildings. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, emphysema and heart disease are most impacted.

Because of the serious air quality conditions in parts of the Bay Area, we are asking residents to avoid adding additional air pollution by curtailing air ­­­polluting activities such as wood burning, lawn mowing and leaf blowing, driving, and barbecuing.

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