Oceans At Risk

Below is a sobering story of a yachtsman who, in a recent voyage from Australia to Japan, observed some disturbing telltale067467-200-ocean-pollution signs in the oceans.  While fish were scarce, human debris littering the ocean was apparently plentiful.

An Australian sailor has described parts of the Pacific Ocean as “dead” because of severe overfishing, with his vessel having to repeatedly swerve debris for thousands of kilometres on a journey from Australia to Japan.

Ivan MacFadyen told of his horror at the severe lack of marine life and copious amounts of rubbish witnessed on a yacht race between Melbourne and Osaka. He recently returned from the trip, which he previously completed 10 years ago.

“In 2003, I caught a fish every day,” he told Guardian Australia. “Ten years later to the day, sailing almost exactly the same course, I caught nothing. It started to strike me the closer we got to Japan that the ocean was dead. Continue reading

The Ick Factor to Recycled Water – Just a Drop in the Ocean

just-a-drop-in-the-ocean-543410-mPut this in the column of wacky Friday stories.  In a story this week involving Portland, Oregon’s, drinking water reservoir:

One man caught urinating into Portland’s Mt. Tabor reservoir on Wednesday morning caused panic – forcing the city to dump almost 8 million gallons of drinking water at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

Police were called to the open air reservoir, which supplies some of the city’s 500,000 residents with their water, after surveillance cameras captured the unidentified 21-year-old relieving himself by the water’s edge.

While the police did not arrest or charge the man, this is the fourth contamination incident in five-years for the controversial reservoir, causing them to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars dumping millions of gallons of drinking water each time.

Full story here.  The resulting consequence of this stranger relieving himself in Portland’s water supply cost $36,000.  I’m quite confident the City would not have made this costly decision but for the public’s squeamishness and the “ick” factor associated with “recycled” water.  But truth be told, we humans drink recycled water every day.  There isn’t a glass of water or soda consumed that hasn’t previously been cleansed by the kidneys of another human, or dinosaur for that matter.  The risk to the public from this event was non-existent.  So, we the public need to get over the ick factor, and stop making our resource managers make these kind of silly decisions.  And increasingly, the need for using reclaimed water grows, where strains on the environment, aquatic life, and water resources are reaching a breaking point. 

Frogs are Green – or at Least the Living Ones

Just like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, where canaries served as human sentinels in subterranean conditions, amphibians today are viewed by many as serving thatcropped-FrogsRG_header-2013 same role for the terranean landscape.  Because amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, are sensitive to habitat loss and environmental pollution, they have become the biological sentinels of the environmentContinue reading

Water Doesn’t Grow on Trees Nor Do Roots Sprout Pipes

I posted earlier this week on the enormous financial needs for restoring our water resourceswater main break and infrastructure within the United State alone.  Our water systems have atrophied and are no longer able to provide the same level of services we have come to expect and need to maintain our current standard of living.  Below is a picture of what happens when a 66-inch water main breaks.  This was near my home in Potomac, MD, on River Road, which occurred several years back.  That fateful morning, River Road turned into a torrential river, nearly claiming the lives of several commuters, who had to be rescued, and cost millions of dollars in emergency repairs and lost business due to extended water outages.  This senario is occurring far too often as water main breaks and costly outages are becoming the norm in many communities.  Continue reading

Connecting the Dots, Collecting the Drops

global-water-volume-freshI love this picture – as it puts into perspective the importance of Earth’s finite water resources.  The largest, blue sphere represents the total volume of all water on Earth.  The medium size one over Kentucky represents all useable freshwater, including surface and groundwater.  And the tiniest one over Atlanta, hardly visible, represents the amount of water in lakes and streams, the same water that gets recycled and filtered everyday through biological systems and has been available to sustain life for millions of years.  It’s limited, that’s all there is.  Just think, the water you drink from your tap was at one time filtered through the kidneys of dinosaur.  Someone’s waste is another’s treasure or, in this case, water.   Continue reading

Good News for Pacific Northwest Salmon

chinookVery encouraging news for the Pacific Northwest salmon fishery.  Due to recent conservation efforts to restore beleaguered chinook populations, this year the Fall run is breaking records not seen since 1938 when the Bonneville Lock and Dam was constructed.  la-na-chinook-salmon-20130924-gMaria Ganga reports from the LA Times.

The tiny fish-counting station, with its window onto the Columbia River, was darkened so the migrating salmon would not be spooked. And it was silent — until the shimmering bodies began to flicker by.   Then the room erupted with loud clicks, as Janet Dalen’s fingers flew across her stumpy keyboard. Tallying the darting specimens, she chanted and chortled, her voice a cross between fish whisperer and aquatic auctioneer. Her body swayed from left to right. Her tightly curled bangs never moved.”Come on, come on, come on,” Dalen urged, as she recorded chinook and steelhead, sockeye and coho. “Treat the fish counter nice. Keep going, sweetheart. That’s a good girl.… Pretty boy! Salute to the king! He’s a dandy. Beautiful, beautiful. Lotta fun. Just can’t beat it. An amazing year.” Continue reading

EPA Goes Big with Air and Water Proposals

Toward the waning hours of every administration the pace of regulating at EPA picks up – you can set your watch to it.

Last week was no exception, with two big announcements by EPA’s leadership affecting water and air resources.  As part of POTUS’ climate change priority, EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, announced on Friday EPA’s intention to move forward with a regulation to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.  The current best hope for meeting the aggressive limits being sought by EPA is the use of new technologies that will promote the practice of carbon capture and storage, where carbon is removed from coal emissions and injected deep under the earth’s surface.  After Friday’s hearing before the House Energy Committee, skeptical Republican senior leadership, who are concerned about the impacts on the nation’s energy costs, have vowed to block EPA’s efforts. Continue reading