Orcas, Water, Horses, and More Water

Happy Wednesday, loyal Nooze-readers! A handful of new stories for you today. From Ashley Ahearn with KUOW in Seattle, a piece about Ken Balcomb, preeminent orca researcher:

A Man and The Orcas 

SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. - Baleen hangs from the walls in Ken Balcomb’s house where others might display prints or paintings. Where some people keep coasters and coffee table books, he keeps an intact orca skull. Instead of cloth placemats he uses laminated photos of dorsal fins.

Strewn about Balcomb’s sunroom are the bones of a beaked whale that washed up on a Hawaiian beach where he was stationed as a naval officer in the early 1970s. They’ve been stored in a wooden crate for over 30 years but he’s now starting to reassemble them in the shape of their former living self. Some vertebrae hang by steel wire across the windows – strung out like giant Christmas lights replicating the natural curve of a swimming mammal’s back. A yellow sticky note reads “work in progress”... Read, hear and see more.

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The power of journalism!  Because of James Bruggers' tireless reporting in The Courier-Journal in Louisville, the residents will be saved millions of dollars annually:

Task force recommends a 'one-water' utility

The city’s troubled Metropolitan Sewer District and Louisville Water Co. should merge within five years, potentially saving customers millions of dollars annually by increasing efficiency at both agencies, according to a mayor’s task force recommendation made Tuesday.

Combining the city-owned water company with the General Assembly-created sewer district could save as much as $24 million a year by 2022, consultants working for the Utility and Public Works Task Force have calculated... Read and see more.

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Kate Campbell with California Country magazine takes a look at some modern-day cowboys, and how the benefits of riding the range - the old fashioned way - are far reaching:

Cattle ranchers work with nature's rhythms

When heading to work, a lawyer carries a briefcase, a doctor puts on a stethoscope—and Tuolumne County cattle rancher Bob Brennan always brings his horse. He knows checking livestock can mean hours in the saddle moving cattle, inspecting fences, gauging forage and monitoring the landscape for problems.

Brennan is quick to point out that while the work is demanding, it's not without perks. He says his "corner office" has some of the state's most fantastic views—soaring granite crests, sparkling mountain lakes, wildflower-dotted meadows, towering pines and canyons carved by snow-fed streams... Read and see more.

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And, from Lauren Sommer and others at KQED QUEST in San Francisco, an incredibly extensive interactive project about the history and future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Awesome maps and photos!

Envisioning California's Delta As it Was

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is at the heart of California’s water supply. This inland delta, where two major rivers converge and mingle with San Francisco Bay tides, has been re-engineered and re-plumbed over the last 160 years to meet the needs of a growing state.

Little is known about the Delta as it once was. Now, as efforts get underway to save the Delta’s failing ecosystem, researchers at the San Francisco Estuary Institute are reconstructing this complex landscape using thousands of historical sources... Read and see more.