Fund water-quality tests at NJ shore, lawmakers urge Congress

August 23, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Two of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers are urging Congress to approve funding for water-quality programs along the shore.

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal does not include any money for a 12-year-old program that gives grants to states to test water quality.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg wants $10 million to be authorized so beach-goers can know if the ocean water is safe.

“A day at the beach should never turn in to a visit to the doctor afterward,” he said. “We’ve got to do what we can to protect every mile of our beautiful coastline, to protect it from waste and pollution.”

Congressman Frank Pallone joined Lautenberg on the Asbury Park boardwalk Thursday to push for faster testing.

Pallone said there is new technology that makes it possible to get results in six hours instead of the current 24-hour wait to determine if beaches should be closed to swimmers.

The two Democrats are urging that federal grants be approved for towns to detect sources of pollution so they can be cleaned up.

With the surf crashing in the background, Lautenberg and Pallone also hammered away at Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s proposal for a new national energy strategy.

The cornerstone of Romney’s plan is opening up more areas for offshore oil drilling, including in the mid-Atlantic, where it is currently banned.

Lautenberg opposes the idea as much too risky to the environment.

“We don’t want our beaches filled with oil. We don’t want our waters filled with oil,” he said. “We don’t want the result that you could easily get from drilling off our coast.’

Romney says ramping up offshore drilling could create 3 million jobs and more than $1 trillion in revenue. He also wants to give states more control over energy production on federal land.

Editor’s note: Just the fact that a trip to the beach could be “followed by a trip to the doctor,” is enough to raise a red flag in anyone’s sensibilities, right? Think about this - if you cannot safely enjoy your local beach without researching the toxicity levels first or if you are at risk for illness at anytime, there is a problem, and not one that will be solved on its own. Speak up for to your politicians and advocate for funding for water safety. Also, urge lawmakers to vote against any legislation that endangers our waters, because cleaning that up is not simple, never quick, and causes years of in many cases irreparable damage. Do you really want to never enjoy your beaches and waterways again?

Article source: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/43323

Improving water quality can help save coral reefs

August 20, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Corals are made up of many polyps that jointly form a layer of living tissue covering the calcareous skeletons. They depend on single-celled algae called , which live within the coral polyps.

The coral animal and the associated zooxanthellae depend on each other for survival in a , where the coral supplies the algae with nutrients and a place to live. In turn, the algae offer the coral some products of their , providing them with an important energy source.

High can block photosynthetic reactions in the causing a build-up of toxic , which threaten the coral and can result in a loss of the zooxanthellae.

a nutrient-stressed staghorn coral

Light and temperature trigger the loss of symbiotic algae (bleaching) in a nutrient-stressed staghorn coral. Credit: University of Southampton

Without the algae, corals appear white, a state which is often referred to as ‘bleached’. Bleaching often leads to coral death and mass coral bleaching has had already devastating effects on coral reef ecosystems.

The study of University of Southampton, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, has found that of the water can increase the probability of corals to suffer from heat-induced bleaching.

Within the coral, the growth of zooxanthellae is restricted by the limited supply of nutrients. This allows the algae to transfer a substantial amount of their photosynthetically fixed carbon to the coral, which is crucial for the symbiotic relationship.

Algal growth becomes unbalanced when the availability of a specific nutrient decreases compared to the cellular demand, a condition called nutrient starvation.

Researchers from the University of Southampton based at the Coral Reef Laboratory in the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, found that an increased supply of dissolved nitrogen compounds in combination with a restricted availability of phosphate results in phosphate starvation of the algae. This condition is associated with a reduction in photosynthetic efficiency and increases the susceptibility of corals to temperature and light-induced bleaching.

Dr Jörg Wiedenmann, Senior Lecturer of Biological Oceanography at the University of Southampton and Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory, who led the study, says: “Our findings suggest that the most severe impact on coral health might actually not arise from the over-enrichment with one group of nutrients, for example, nitrogen, but from the resulting relative depletion of other types such as phosphate that is caused by the increased demand of the growing zooxanthellae populations.”

Dr Wiedenmann adds: “Our results have strong implications for coastal management. The findings suggest that a balanced reduction of the nutrient input in coastal waters could help to mitigate the effects of increasing seawater temperatures on . However, such measures will be effective only for a short period of time, so it is important to stop the warming of the oceans, which will otherwise destroy most of the reefs in their present form in the near future.

“Finally, our results should help the design of functioning marine reserves.”

Journal reference:

Nature Climate Change
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Provided by

University of Southampton
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Article source: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-quality-coral-reefs-video.html

Water quality devices track dead zones off Grand Strand

August 15, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

by Joel Allen

Dead zones, those areas of low oxygen levels in the ocean that can cause various environmental problems, seem to be showing up more often off the coast of the Grand Strand.

Researchers from Coastal Carolina University have placed water quality monitors on several local piers with the hope that the measurements they gather will help scientists get a better idea of what causes dead zones and perhaps what to do about them.

Scientists from CCU’s Environmental Quality Laboratory showed off their newest sensor equipment to reporters Wednesday.

While fishermen at the Cherry Grove Pier work on landing a big one, the CCU lab’s sensors in the water beneath their feet quietly gather information about things like ocean temperature, dissolved oxygen and barometric pressure.

That information is sent to a public website, where the CCU scientists can use it to get a better idea of what’s going on beneath the ocean surface.

Fishermen can use it, too.

“Different people have different theories about what’s the best time to go fishing and fishing for different fish, and so they can form their own opinions, go on there (to the website) and get the data for themselves and plan their day,” said Dr. Michael Trapp, the director of CCU’s Environmental Quality Lab.

But perhaps the major goal of the monitoring is to find out more about those regions of hypoxia, or low oxygen levels in the ocean, which can lead to fish kills, algae growth and a foul smell.

Researchers think storm water runoff from cities might have something to do with the formation of dead zones along the Grand Strand, but the scientists aren’t sure, which is why Trapp says they need long-term monitoring.

“We don’t know what it was like before there was people, we don’t know what it was like a hundred years ago. We only know what it’s like now and so it’s important to understand what’s going on.”

The city of Myrtle Beach contributed $110,000 toward buying the water monitoring equipment, plus $40,000 per year to help maintain it.

City officials say if it helps the ocean, it’s worth it.

“It is our biggest natural resource. We want to know all that we can about it to make sure that it is here forever for our visitors and our residents, so more data is good, so we’re happy to be a part of this,” said Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea.

The monitor at Cherry Grove pier is the newest, but others are in place at Apache Pier and 2nd Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach.

Article source: http://www.carolinalive.com/news/story.aspx?id=788868

Plastic in Birds’ Stomachs Reveals Ocean’s Garbage Problem

July 4, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

A pair of Northern fulmars in early May at their nest site at Cape Vera, Devon Island, Nunavut. The gull-like birds tend to breed in high-Arctic Canada and on islands in the Bering Sea. CREDIT: Mark Mallory.

Plastic found in the stomachs of dead seabirds suggests the Pacific Ocean off the northwest coast of North America is more polluted than was realized.

The birds, called northern fulmars, feed exclusively at sea. Plastic remains in their stomachs for long periods. Researchers have for several decades examined stomach contents of fulmars, and in new study they tallied the plastic products in dead fulmars that had washed up on the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada.

The research revealed a “substantial increase in plastic pollution over the past four decades,” the researchers said in a statement.

“Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans,” said Stephanie Avery-Gomm, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in University of British Columbia’s Department of Zoology. “Their stomach content provides a ’snapshot’ sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean.”

Plastic products deteriorate slowly and several studies in recent years have shown vast amounts plastic and other trash in the Pacific Ocean. The garbage can be harmful to the entire ecosystem, scientists say.

The new study found that more than 90 percent of 67 fulmars had ingested plastics such as twine, Styrofoam and candy wrappers. An average of 36.8 pieces of plastic were found per bird. On average, the fraction of a gram in each bird would equate to a human packing 10 quarters in his stomach, the scientists figure. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, globally, up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic. [Video of plastic-entangled sea lions]

“Despite the close proximity of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch,’ an area of concentrated plastic pollution in the middle of the North Pacific gyre, plastic pollution has not been considered an issue of concern off our coast,” Avery-Gomm said in a statement. “But we’ve found similar amounts and incident rates of plastic in beached northern fulmars here as those in the North Sea. This indicates it is an issue which warrants further study.”

The findings, announced this week, are detailed online in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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Article source: http://www.livescience.com/21391-ocean-plastic-pollution.html

Report: Delaware River ranks fifth in U.S. in legal dumping

April 10, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

More toxins are dumped into the Delaware River annually than all but four other U.S. waterways, according to a report released by an environmental group that wants tighter controls on water pollution.

The report, “Wasting Our Waterways,” compiled by Environment America, calls the Clean Water Act an “unfulfilled promise” in the 40th year of the federal law that requires a permit to discharge pollutants into navigable water.

TOXIC RANKING

The U.S. waterways with the most permitted toxic discharge in 2010, according industry reports to the EPA:

1. Ohio River 32.1*

2. Mississippi River 12.7

3. New River 12.5

4. Savannah River 9.6

5. Delaware River 6.7

States with the most toxins discharged into waterways:

1. Indiana 27.3

2. Virginia 18.3

3. Nebraska 14.7

4. Texas 14.5

7. Pennsylvania 10.1

12. New Jersey 8.5

* millions of pounds

Source: Environment America

It cites data submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and says 10.1 million pounds of toxins were dumped into Pennsylvania waterways in 2010, ranking that state seventh. In New Jersey, 8.5 million pounds of toxins were discharged into its waterways, the 12th most of any state.

Those figures include 6.7 million pounds of toxins dumped into the Delaware River, which trailed only four other U.S. waterways.

“The problem is that government agencies allow these discharges to continue by issuing permits to pollute, a perverse interpretation of the Clean Water Act,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “This has to stop if we want to provide a healthy, economically sound Delaware River for everyone.”

The data were reported to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory by industries that are permitted to discharge the toxins.

John Martin, a spokesman for EPA Region 2, which includes New Jersey, said the agency is pleased organizations are using the data “to make industries more transparent and to give citizens groups ” more information.

“We do a lot of enforcement in regard to ” tougher permitting,” Martin said. “We’re always looking to make sure that the waters of the U.S. remain clean and protect human health.”

Bob Considine, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the department is skeptical of the numbers because the report doesn’t say when and how the pollutants were counted.

He said the department “works every day to ensure that companies are in compliance within the rules of their discharge permits, and it takes appropriate enforcement actions when they are not.”

But the Riverkeeper Network and New Jersey Environment, the Garden State chapter of the group that did the study, want tougher standards. They’re calling for industries to reduce their discharges, for the Clean Water Act to apply to all waterways and the EPA to set pollution limits that would get stricter over time with stiff penalties.

The report says 226 million pounds of toxins were discharged into 1,400 U.S. waterways in 2010.

Article source: http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120408/NEWS90/204080330

Online beach alert system wins award

April 8, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

An innovative online project which provides real-time alerts on the cleanliness of Westcountry beaches has won a national award.

Beach Live was launched by South West Water last summer to provide live bathing water information about 21 popular or Blue Flag beaches across Devon and Cornwall.

It was developed by South West Water in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage, the Environment Agency, local authorities, tourism leaders and beach managers.

The website, which was named community project of the year at the annual Water Industry Achievement Awards, is set to be expanded to 40 beaches this summer.

South West Water chief executive Chris Loughlin said: “This is fantastic news and we are very proud that this key project has been acknowledged in this way.

“Sustainability, the environment and working in partnership and with our local communities is at the heart of what we do here so it is great to be recognised for our work in these areas. These awards are a testament to the hard work of our staff and all our partners.”

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for community safety and public protection Lance Kennedy said greater communication helped to “maintain confidence in the quality of Cornwall’s seas and beaches for residents and visitors alike”.

He said: “We already know we have some of the consistently best bathing water quality in Europe but we can’t just take that for granted. We have to show others that fact and demonstrate what is going on to keep it that way.”

Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, added: “Beach Live is an exciting service which gives our visitors information they can use. It’s live information that adds to our world class beach management and our competitiveness.”

Article source: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Online-beach-alert-wins-award/story-15762284-detail/story.html

EPA Must Clean Up Its (Water) Act

April 6, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Your editorial “Supremes 9, EPA 0″ (March 22) concluding that it is time for Congress to amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) was on target. This agency has lost its way particularly as it relates to administering the CWA. The EPA’s misguided policies are not limited to the private sector but hurt the public sector as well. Its unilateral and unbridled aggression to impose unfunded mandates based on interpretation of the CWA is having profound consequences on local governments.

The CWA has had a remarkable impact on improving the quality of all U.S. waters. During the first two decades of the act, the EPA partnered with state and local governments to improve water quality. Through this partnership, projects were based on cost sharing, cost benefit, good science and prioritization.

That sense of partnership has been lost. The new EPA is indifferent to the cost of compliance because it no longer has a monetary stake in its mandates and chooses whatever it deems as acceptable science to justify its decisions. Without a monetary stake, the EPA imposes unfunded mandates with impunity on local governments. The process for challenging its edicts is severely skewed in the agency’s favor to the extent that few communities choose to appeal its orders.

We need to preserve our aquatic resources and use validated science to guide how and where to spend the public’s money effectively. It is time to declare a moratorium on new CWA regulations or interpretations that will add to the burden of local government. The EPA must return to administering the CWA in a way that is sustainable and reasonable.

Robert L. Moylan Jr., P.E.

President

Massachusetts Coalition for Water Resources Stewardship

Worcester, Mass.

A version of this article appeared April 7, 2012, on page A14 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: EPA Must Clean Up Its (Water) Act.

Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303299604577324143756645260.html

USDA announces major water quality effort in Florida

August 11, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Protecting Habitats, Water Quality

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $100 million in financial assistance to acquire permanent easements from eligible landowners in four counties and assist with wetland restoration on nearly 24,000 acres of agricultural land in the Northern Everglades Watershed.

The wetland restoration will reduce the amount of surface water leaving the land, slowing water runoff and the concentration of nutrients entering the public water management system and ultimately Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

This is the largest amount of funding Florida has ever received for projects in the same watershed through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in a single year.

“Protecting and restoring the Northern Everglades is critical not just to Floridians, but to all Americans,” said Vilsack.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to conserve our national treasures, enhance the quality and quantity of our water, and secure the economic opportunities afforded by a healthy Everglades ecosystem.

“This announcement would not be possible without our local conservation partners and our relationship with private landowners who play a critical role in restoring wetlands and protecting wildlife in this unique habitat.”

Vilsack also participated in a signing ceremony with A.J. Suarez of Hendry County Nursery Farms — a landowner who will benefit from the funding.

Suarez signed an agreement with USDA to start the process to acquire the easement rights to 3,782 acres.

After the signing ceremony, Vilsack toured the 550-acre Winding Waters Natural Area, a site restored with $1.5 million from WRP in 2007. The nature area, owned by Palm Beach County, is home to bird species such as little blue heron, snowy egret and great egret, white ibis and Florida sandhill crane.

It also contains large areas of pine flatwoods, Cyprus forests, freshwater marshes and wet prairies.

Under WRP, landowners sell development rights to land and place it in a conservation easement that permanently maintains that land as agriculture and open space.

Article source: http://southeastfarmpress.com/government/usda-announces-major-water-quality-effort-florida

South Florida Farmers Achieve Record Year in Water Quality Success

August 11, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Protecting Habitats, Water Quality

/PRNewswire/ — Farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), south of Lake Okeechobee, achieved a record-setting 79 percent phosphorus reduction in the water leaving the farming region — more than three times less phosphorus than the state requirement.

The South Florida Water Management District, the agency tasked with Everglades restoration, announced today that the EAA’s on-farm Best Management Practices (BMPs), developed by university scientists in collaboration with farmers, are a resounding success. The District praised EAA farmers for being proactive and often implementing more BMPs than what is required.

“We’re proud of farmers’ accomplishments cleaning water, with an average phosphorus reduction of 55 percent over the last 16 years,” said Barbara Miedema, vice president of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative. “When the BMP program was first envisioned in 1991, no one imagined it would be this effective over the long term. It’s an example of the kind of success that can be achieved in partnership with scientists and farmers, who roll up their sleeves to get the job done.”

In addition to improving water quality using high-tech sustainable practices, more than $200 million has been paid by farmers for the construction of Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) to further clean water. Built on 60,000 acres of former farmland, the STAs have reduced phosphorus to the Everglades Protection Area by an additional 1,470 metric tons. That’s in addition to the 2,400 metric tons of phosphorus removed by farmers.

“Along with being stable economic drivers and job providers for our state and county, farmers have a long track record of supporting and implementing Everglades restoration,” said Gaston Cantens, vice president of Florida Crystals Corporation. “Today’s record-breaking results are another example of the proven success of our sustainable practices and demonstrate the significant role our farms continue to play in protecting and preserving the Everglades ecosystem, as the design was intended.”

Florida Agriculture Fast Facts:

  • Supports 766,000 jobs
  • Generates $100 billion annual economic impact in Florida
  • Responsible for $3 billion in tax revenue for local and state government
  • Florida Sugar Industry provides 7,000 direct jobs 23,500 indirect jobs
  • Florida Sugar Industry generates $2 billion economic impact

About Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative and Florida Crystals Corporation

Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative and Florida Crystals Corporation are two Palm Beach County-based sugar producers and owners of the world’s largest sugar company, American Sugar Refining, whose global production capacity is 7 million tons of refined sugar annually. Its products are marketed through its brand portfolio: Domino®, CH®, Redpath® and Tate Lyle®. Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, based in Belle Glade, is made up of 46 small and medium size farms in Palm Beach County. The grower members produce approximately 300,000 tons of sugar from 65,000 acres of land. The primary functions of the Cooperative are the harvesting, transporting and processing of sugarcane and the marketing of raw sugar to one of its American Sugar Refining facilities. Florida Crystals Corporation farms 190,000 acres in South Florida, where it also mills, refines and packages sugar and rice products. The company is the only producer of certified organic sugar grown and harvested in the USA, sold through the Florida Crystals® brand. Florida Crystals also produces clean, renewable energy from sugar cane fiber and recycled wood waste in its Palm Beach County biomass power plant.

SOURCE Florida Crystals

Article source: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/08/11/3831541/south-florida-farmers-achieve.html

Texas Petroleum Investment Company Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act (LA, TX)

August 11, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Texas Petroleum Investment Company Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act (LA, TX)

(DALLAS – August 11, 2011) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has fined the Texas Petroleum Company of Houston, Texas, $163,487 for violating federal Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations outlined under the Clean Water Act.

A federal inspection of oil production facilities in Terrebonne, Plaquemines, Lafourche, St. Charles and Iberia parishes in Louisiana revealed the company had failed to prepare and implement SPCC plans as required by federal regulations. Today’s announcement also settles Clean Water Act violations for discharges of oil into wetland areas and unnamed canals in Terrebonne, Plaquemines and Iberia parishes.

SPCC regulations require onshore oil production or bulk storage facilities to provide oil spill prevention, preparedness and responses to prevent oil discharges. The SPCC program helps protect our nation’s water quality. A spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.

Additional information on SPCC regulations is available at: http://www.epa.gov/oilspill

More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html

EPA audio file is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/podcast/aug2011.html


Article source: http://www.manufacturing.net/News/Feeds/2011/08/mnet-mnet-industry-focus-environmental-texas-petroleum-investment-company-fined-for-viola/

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