New Zealand, China and Cook Islands Join to Improve Water Quality

September 2, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

On the 31st of August 2012 a new partnership was set between New Zealand, China and the Cook Islands in order to deliver an improved water mains system in Rarotonga.

With over 14,000 inhabitants Rarotonga is the most populous of the Cook Islands. It is a famous tourist destination within the region, with sandy beaches, lagoons and reefs. The interior of the island, however, remains largely unpopulated due to lack of infrastructure.

Mr Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and a leader of the centre-right National Party, emphasizes that this major infrastructure project will improve water quality and address health and sanitation issues in Rarotonga. It will also ensure access to clean drinking water for communities and businesses. It will mean a much improved quality of life for local people and it will hugely improve the visitor experience. It is expected that this programme will make a major contribution to economic growth.

This project is part of an on-going commitment by the Cook Islands’ Government to develop its water and sanitation infrastructure. New Zealand and the Cook Islands have already been working together on improving the water quality of the Muri Lagoon, a paradise for swimmers, snorkelers and boaters on the south eastern coast of Rarotonga.

However this is the first time that New Zealand and China have worked together on a major development initiative in the Pacific.

The network of water mains across Rarotonga will be increased. The total cost of the project is approximately NZ$60 million (€38.3 million). New Zealand is providing NZ$15 million (€9.6 million) to assist the Cook Islands Government. China will provide approximately NZ$32 million (€20.5 million) by way of a loan.

New Zealand will provide on-going support for both water and sanitation and has held in reserve a further NZ$10 million (€6.4 million) for related initiatives in the Cook Islands.

Article source: http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/53697

Recent heavy rain takes toll on water quality

August 23, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Heavy late-summer rains and storm water runoff are being blamed for high bacteria levels at local waterfront parks.

The Okaloosa County Health Department reported Thursday that water quality is poor at 10 of the 13 sites it regularly monitors for enterococci, bacteria found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals.

“You’re going to see spikes in the summer,” said John Hofstad, [the Okaloosa county] public works director. “When you get significant rainfall after extended dry periods, you get that sheet flow of storm water across roads and across lawns … picking up animal waste and various pollutants.”

That polluted water flows into local bays and the Gulf of Mexico, he added.

Signs warn visitors of high bacteria levels and state that swimming is not recommended.

The Health Department uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard to measure local enterococci levels.

Water quality is rated good, moderate or poor, based on the number of enterococci per 100 milliliters of water. Typically, when levels are high — 105 or more per 100 milliliters — people who get in the water may experience symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal illnesses and mild diarrhea to rashes and skin infections.

“You always swim at your own risk in a natural body of water,” Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman said. “The greatest risk is for very young children, the elderly and people who have compromised immune systems.”

Healthy people who swim in the polluted water likely will see minimal or no symptoms. But open cuts or sores could result in minor inflammation and infection, she added.

Hofstad, who has studied local water pollution issues since the early 1990s, said improving storm water protections help but will not solve the problem.

“Every time you install a storm water separator, you’re making some attempt to reduce pollutants, and it will have an impact … but you’re still going to have those points on our coastline where storm water will flow into the bay.”

Editor’s note: While this article is region-specific, I’ve included it because of the sheer number of similar articles I have sifted through across not only the country, but the world. E.coli levels at beaches due to runoff and in many instances sewage being pumped directly into the sea is at epidemic proportions and deserves to be brought to awareness and looked at closely by the general public.

Article source: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/beach-51906-quality-water.html

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

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

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

Dirty Beaches in NYC: Which Ones Need a Bath?

June 30, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

The Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual beach water quality report yesterday and found water at a total of 134 beaches in the five boroughs and its surrounding areas had bacteria levels that exceeded state health standards.

Nationally, the report found the number of beach closings and advisories was at the second-highest level in the 18 years that the report has been issued.

According to the study, one Brooklyn swimming hole—Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach in Southern Brooklyn— was closed at different points due to bacteria levels. Five other sites in Brooklyn — including three Coney Island beaches, Kingsborough Community College Beach and Manhattan Beach– had bacteria levels that were unsafe for swimming on various days last year when samples were taken.

Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach’s water was higher than the acceptable standards for swimming 14 percent of the time. It was closed a total of 14 days.

Both Coney Island’s Brighton 15th-16th and West 16th-27th beaches had pollution levels higher than the state standard nine percent of the time.

The study also found levels that were unacceptable for swimming by New York State health standards at nine sites in the Bronx, 31 in Nassau County, 67 in Suffolk County, 17 in Westchester County and two in Staten Island.

“America’s beaches have long suffered from pollution,” said Jon Devine, a senior attorney for the defense council. “The difference is now we know what to do about it. By making our communities literally greener on land, we can make the water at the beach cleaner. In the years to come, there’s no reason we can’t reverse this dirty legacy.”

The council, which is a non-profit environmental safeguard group that would formed in 1970, found that aging sewage treatment systems and contaminated storm water were the primary reasons for polluted beach water. Pollutants included litter, floating debris and “toilet-generated waste,” according to the defense council.

In Queens, Douglas Manor Beach, a private swimming spot, exceeded the state’s acceptable standard 25 percent of the time and was closed 54 times during the course of the study and Whitestone Beach exceeded the limit 17 percent of the time and was closed 21 times.

According to the study, Nassau County’s most polluted beaches were Crescent Beach, where samples were higher 27 percent of the time, and Seacliff Beach, which exceeded the limit 16 percent of the time.

But none of these beaches were listed in the study among the state’s most polluted.

“Generally, private beaches are more susceptible to closure due to higher bacteria levels, especially during times when there is rainfall due to their location. City beaches are classified as closed or under advisory when confirmed samples show that bathing beach water quality exceeds the water quality standard for marine water beaches,” said a spokesperson from the city’s Health Department.

“During the 2010 beach season, four public beaches - Coney Island, Orchard Beach, Wolfe’s Pond and Manhattan Beach- had exceedances when the weekly scheduled samples were collected, but re-sample results showed no exceedances. Therefore, the beaches were not closed.”

Related Topics: Beaches, Breezy Point, Brooklyn, Douglas Manor Beach, Douglaston, Environment, Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach, Nassau County, National Resources Defense Council, and coney island

Article source: http://bed-stuy.patch.com/articles/dirty-beaches-in-nyc-which-ones-need-a-bath

Near Record High Number of Beach Closings in 2010

June 29, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Near Record High Number of Beach Closings in 2010

Aluminum can buried in beach sand

June 29, 2011 — Last year, America’s beaches had the second-highest number of closings and advisory days in more than two decades. Dirty, polluted water was the main culprit.

In 2010, U.S. beaches were closed for 24,091 days, up 29% from 2009, according to the 21st annual beach water quality report, which was released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action group headquartered in New York City.

The increase is mainly the result of heavy rainfall in Hawaii, contamination from unidentified sources in California, and oil washing up from the Gulf oil spill. Seventy percent of the closings resulted from too-high levels of bacteria from human or animal waste that finds its way into oceans in large part because of storm water runoff and sewage overflow. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water makes its way to surface water each year.

“This year’s report confirms that our nation’s beach water continues to suffer from serious contamination,” David Beckman, director of the water program at the NRDC, said during a teleconference.

Beach water pollution poses health risks including stomach flu, skin rashes, and pinkeye; and ear, nose, and throat problems. Overall, the Great Lakes region had the most frequently contaminated beach water in 2010, and the Southeast, New York-New Jersey coast, and Delmarva region had the cleanest beach water, the new report showed. Individual states with the highest rates of reported contamination in were Louisiana, Ohio, and Indiana. States with the lowest rates of contamination last year were New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Hawaii, and Delaware. The NRDC based their report on government data on beach water at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide, and also gave ratings to 200 popular public beaches based on their water quality.

Common Sense Advice for Beach Days

Beach goers can also do their share to make sure a day at the beach is nothing short of a day at the beach, said NRDC senior water attorney Jon Devine.

“A day at the beach doesn’t have to mean getting sick,” he says. “Don’t swim near or in front of storm drains and don’t swim within 72 hours of heavy rain,” Devine says.

And always make sure you check for closures or advisory notices before you hit the beach, he says. “If the water looks or smells funny, don’t go in,” he says.

“Picking up your garbage, not feeding birds or other wildlife, cleaning up after your pets, and directing water runoff from your house to soil, not the street also helps,” he says.

On a national level, green infrastructure — which involves the use of techniques that allow rainwater to infiltrate the soil, instead of flowing to storm drains that carry it to nearby water bodies — is part of the safer beach water solution. Congress is mulling over a Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act.

Article source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20110629/near-record-high-number-of-beach-closings-in-2010

Disaster-Stricken Japanese Towns Still Struggle After Earthquake, Tsunami

June 25, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Toxic Spills, Water Quality

After seeing the news footage of the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that slammed into Japan in March and hearing about the Fukushima nuclear power plant explosion, I thought I wouldn’t be making a return trip to the country anytime soon.

I traveled to Japan in December, and I couldn’t wait to go back. Seeing news accounts of the destruction and devastation of so many of its people was heartbreaking, and I presumed the country as a whole was no longer a desirable destination or a safe place to travel.

I was fortunate enough, however, to have been able to take another trip to Japan, where I’ve found that presumption to be untrue. Tokyo and other large metropolitan areas are bustling as usual. Radiation levels in most of the country are back to normal, except in areas surrounding the Fukushima power plant. Most of the food and water is safe to consume.

If I were to confine myself to Tokyo or many other cities here, I would never know an earthquake or tsunami had struck the country. I might convince myself that it never happened, as the pictures and other news footage seemed so unreal to begin with.

Unfortunately, denial was not in the cards on this trip. The purpose of traveling here with my significant other was to oversee the installation of temporary housing units for earthquake and tsunami victims.

His company, CTSS Group, has begun to ship these small but functional units to earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged villages to help people begin to live independently again, rather than in classrooms or gymnasiums.

The three-month anniversary of the disaster passed a few days ago, and by the looks of things on the coast, little progress has been made in the affected region.

Some roads have been rebuilt and some debris has been sorted, but the scale of the storm-related damage is unfathomable and the government has released little or no funding for relief efforts. The turmoil in the inhabitants’ lives continues.

While visiting the affected areas, all of your senses are thrown for a loop. The sight of the destruction is unimaginable. Many towns are deserted, so the silence is eerie. The pungent odor is what I imagine the beach would smell like in hell.

The winding drive along the coast, with views of green mountains and calm blue water, prompts you to stop and ponder how nature can be so beautiful, yet so incredibly deadly.

In one of the small towns we visited Saturday, we met the mayor, who now lives with his family in a nearby shelter. All 28 families in the town lost their houses, but they all survived. They had prepared for an evacuation and had fled to the hills before the tsunami hit.

The mayor came to watch the few new temporary housing units being set up amid the debris of the destroyed houses.  His house once sat by the water but had been pushed hundreds of yards inland. As he knelt down by the roof of his home, I watched and wondered what he was thinking.

Was he dreaming of his new life or mourning the loss of what once was? Either way, when I saw him gazing out over the ocean with the slightest gleam in his eye, I sensed he had hope for the future of his town.

As will many other towns in the United States that recently have been hit by storms, these small coastal villages will take years to recover. Still, I admire people who are so loyal to their hometowns and refuse to let Mother Nature deter them from calling a certain place home.

I can’t say that I’d definitely stay in Sewickley if such a catastrophe destroyed everything I once knew. I do hope that, like that mayor, I would look at my disaster-ridden community and believe that things eventually would be OK.

The author is currently visiting parts of Japan, including Sendai, which was destroyed  by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Article source: http://sewickley.patch.com/articles/disaster-stricken-japanese-towns-still-struggle-after-earthquake-tsunami

Missouri river flooding threatened America’s nuclear plant

June 25, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

By IBTimes Staff Reporter | Jun 21, 2011 04:17 AM EDT

The swollen Missouri River had posed a serious threat to a riverside nuclear power plant in the state of Nebraska in the United States after levees built to hold back the rising floodwaters failed.

The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant was reportedly very close to getting engulfed by the floodwaters, raising fears of a crisis similar to Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

Though the nuclear plant declared the event as “unusual,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) maintained that there was no risk of disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, was devastated by Tsunami waves in March 2011, leading to leakage of radioactive water into the ocean.

As a massive earthquake and tsunami killed thousands of people in Japan, radiation woes and a much more severe nuclear crisis took the country’s economy into recession affecting businesses, consumer spending and tearing apart supply chains.

Federal officials widened flood gates last week to allow record, or near-record water releases to ease pressure on six major reservoirs swollen by heavy rains and melting snow, Reuters reported.

But later in the week, Missouri River floodwaters reached a levee built up to protect Hamburg, Iowa, after the main protection along the river failed, a county emergency official said.

Check out some of the latest pictures of Missouri river flooding below:

Missouri river flooding threatened Americas nuclear plant

A crew of U.S. Fish Wildlife Service employees reinforce a levy to stop flood waters more than a mile away from the Missouri River in rural Missouri Valley, Iowa, June 17, 2011. The Missouri River, swollen by heavy rains and melted snow, has been flooding areas from Montana through Missouri.

Source: REUTERS


Vehicles sit stranded in flood waters in rural Missouri Valley, Iowa June 17, 2011. Missouri River floodwaters have reached a levee built up this week to protect Hamburg, Iowa, after the main protection along the river failed, a county emergency official said on Thursday.

Source: REUTERS

U.S. Fish Wildlife Service employees reinforce a levy more than a mile away from the Missouri River in rural Missouri Valley, Iowa, June 17, 2011.

Source: REUTERS

Steve Howerton ties a sandbag as U.S. Fish Wildlife Service employees reinforce a levy to stop flood waters more than a mile away from the Missouri River in rural Missouri Valley, Iowa, June 17, 2011.

Source: REUTERS

A pickup truck is submerged on an access road just east of Blair, Nebraska, June 12, 2011. Residents have been shoring up levees along the Missouri River from Montana through Missouri as federal officials widen flood gates to allow record, or near-record water releases to ease pressure on six major reservoirs swollen by heavy rains and melting snow.

Source: REUTERS/Daniel Wallis1

Article source: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/166612/20110621/latest-pictures-of-missouri-river-fort-calhoun-nuclear-power-plant-flooding-missouri-river-flooding.htm

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