Category Archives: Water

Rep. Powers Hannley: 2017 Legislative Report Card (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers HannleyIn 2016, I ran for the Arizona House on a platform of economic reform, equality, and tackling the opioid epidemic. I stood up to big-money politics and ran as a Clean Elections candidate, despite much advice to take the money and run.

I am honored that you elected me on Nov. 8, 2016. This year in the Legislature, I fought for fairness and stood up for your rights with my voice, my votes, and my bills.

I am running for re-election in 2018. As a Clean Elections candidate, I have pledged not to take big-money donations from special interests. This is my report card to you, the voters of Legislative District 9. It has been an honor to serve you.

Economic Reform & Public Banking 

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The ‘Infrastructure Week’ that wasn’t

So how about that “Infrastructure Week” that wasn’t?

Trump’s ‘Infrastructure Week’ collapsed around him. “It was a given from the moment Donald Trump opened his mouth to defend rallying white supremacists and Nazi groups in Charlottesville that the administration’s “Infrastructure Week” was going to be a hot, molten mess.”

It also resulted in the collapse of his would-be Advisory Council on Infrastructure before it managed even a single meeting.

Infrastructure remains stuck near the rear of the legislative line, according to two dozen administration officials, legislators and labor leaders involved in coming up with a concrete proposal. Trump’s ‘Great National Infrastructure Program’? Stalled.

“It awaits the resolution of tough negotiations over the budget, the debt ceiling, a tax overhaul, a new push to toughen immigration laws — and the enervating slog to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.”

Mr. Trump’s team has yet to produce the detailed plan he has promised to deliver “very soon.”

It’s just not going to happen.

Legislative Whirlwind Part 4: Lettuce & Birds (video)

Lettuce in Yuma

Here we can see miles of fields of Romaine lettuce with crews of migrant workers in the distance. In the foreground are 1000s of discarded outer Romaine lettuce leaves. Workers severely trim lettuce heads down, so they can be sold as “Romaine hearts”. The leaves will be plowed back into the ground for nutrients, but still, the waste was surprise to someone like me who heard “waste not want not” many times while growing up.

During our Yuma Legislative Tour in December, we saw miles and miles of lettuce, cotton, broccoli, seed crops, and more. We got muddy and trudged around the Romaine lettuce fields with migrant workers, and we also toured a cotton gin. (More photos are here on my Facebook page.)

After our first day of touring Yuma’s agricultural areas, we heard multiple presentations at a hosted dinner paid for by different growing/ranching industry groups and served up by 4H and JTED youth. The presentation by Paul Brierley, director of the University of Arizona Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, stuck out in my mind. He talked about using engineering technology to help growers in the Yuma area. According to the UA website, “The [Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture], based in Yuma, is a public-private partnership (PPP) between the college and the Arizona and California desert agriculture industry, dedicated to addressing ‘on-the-ground’ industry needs through collaboration and research.” The website continues on to say: “More than two dozen industry partners from Yuma and Salinas, California, have invested in the center, together committing more than $1.1 million over the next three years.”

Brierley is an affable engineer who grew up on a large farm. According to Bierley, the primary problem that industry partners wanted the PPP center to tackle was “productivity”. He talked about different ways to boost productivity by using technology. For example, Brierley said that the date palms needed help with pollination. He showed a photo of a migrant worker pollinating date trees using a machine that looked like a leaf blower strapped on his back. This human-assisted pollination worked, but to improve productivity, the UA and Yuma growers began experimenting with drones. They found that drones to be more efficient pollinators than people. Technology to the rescue: mechanical birds. (For some jobs, this is the future: people being replaced by machines.)

Another problem area that had been identified as a hindrance to productivity was birds.

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Legislative Whirlwind Part 3: 92,000 Cows

92,000 cows in Yuma

This is what 92,000 cows looks like, and this is what agribusiness looks like.

The Yuma border tour in mid-December was amazing on multiple levels.

Outside of Yuma, Arizona Legislators toured a feed lot had been owned by a local Yuma family for generations. The sign for McElhaney Cattle Company can still be seen at the entrance and on some of the equipment. In recent years, it was sold to a Brazillian corporation, which has invested millions and greatly expanded it, according to our tour guides.

Down from a normal population of 100,000 cows, we saw 92,000 cows standing and lying around in pens– with nary a cowboy in sight. We were told that the cowboys check all of the cows every night because of the heat. Although the temperature was pleasant on the December day that we visited, there were no feed lot workers anywhere– except for the couple on the bus giving the tour. The guides said these cows are tracked by computer. Is Hal tending the herd?

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Time for Planting: Lack of Dust Control on I-10 Is Hazardous (video)

Oracle, Arizona

Desert vegetation along Oracle Road, just south of Oracle, Arizona.

Every time I drive to Phoenix on a windy day, I get a little bit nervous.

It’s a familiar scenario: Trees are swaying, tumbleweeds are bouncing around the barren land, dust devils swirl in the distance, and flashing lights on the government signs tell us it’s windy.

So far– the lighted warning signs are the Arizona government’s only official response to years of dangerous interstate driving, major dust storms, and multiple crashes.

We have all seen the pictures and heard the stories about massive dust storms on I-10 and the tragic fatalities. Regular road closures east of Tucson due to dangerous blowing dust from one property owner have resulted in low-tech mitigation– AKA, “watering” the lose dirt with “gorilla snot”, a mixture that keeps the dirt from blowing. Really? Gorilla snot and flashing lights? Is this the best we can do to control this widespread public health hazard?

Not only do dust storms bring hazardous driving conditions, they also cause breathing problems and serious health conditions. Just a few years ago– not long after Wall Street crashed Arizona’s economy–we were driving through San Tan on an extremely windy day. Large swaths of desert in and around San Tan had been scraped clean, presumably to build housing. The air was brown and thick blowing dirt. Visibility was maybe 50 feet, yet people were walking around, going about their business as breathing dust was perfectly normal.

What about plants?

Five years ago, when I first wrote about dangerous dust storms on I-10, I called for replanting desert vegetation along I-10.

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Back when Fort Lowell was operational

The entrance to Ft. Lowell Park is located at 2900 North Craycroft Road in Tucson. Along with the usual offerings, this city park is home to a museum andFTL 5 artifacts dating from the time in the late 1800s when Fort Lowell was an active military post. The fort once played a major role in the Apache wars.

In the 1860s, Tucson’s population was around 700. The dusty little community centered on what are now Main, Washington, Church and Pennington Streets. Water flowed in the Santa Cruz River, the irrigated fields along its banks producing a variety of crops. During the summer of 1866, the army established Camp Lowell on a site slightly to the east of town in what is now the downtown area. The installation was named in honor of Col. Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., a Union officer killed in battle in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War.

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