I posted earlier this week on the enormous financial needs for restoring our water resources 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
We have a lot of chickens in Maryland. And, in fact, we humans are outnumbered 1,000 to 1 along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Lots of chickens also means lots of chicken poop – something you probably don’t care to think about as you’re nibbling on that chicken wing. And fact, most of the chicken manure (a/k/a chicken litter as it’s called locally) is land-applied, which is also what’s affecting the quality of water in the Chesapeake Bay. More manure equals more algae, equals less oxygen for fish, crabs and other aquatic critters. But, as a vital nutrient resource that keeps on giving, it can also be transformed into a renewable energy source as discussed below. Continue reading
The following may be a wee bit granular for some of my readers, but hear me out, because this is a big deal in the context of improving national water quality. According to EPA, nearly 50 percent of the Nation’s water bodies, i.e., lakes, streams, rivers, still do not meet water quality standards due to impairments from pollution. One of the biggest offenders is excess nutrients as I’ve touched upon previously here (think harmful algal blooms). Thus, EPA has been applying significant pressure on the States to adopt numeric nutrient criteria (as opposed to qualitative criteria), which in theory should make it easier and more effective to regulate nutrient pollution. This has been a highly contentious issue, even going back to my time at EPA, as reflected in the recent Florida litigation. Continue reading
Inspired earlier this month by the conservation work of Chris Bayley out in Oregon, and his 12,000 rain garden campaign to improve water quality in Puget Sound, as discussed here, I finally committed to trying my hand at constructing a rain garden as my small contribution toward helping improve water quality to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. After a few sore muscles and a couple of Advil, and seven hours of labor, and for a grand total of $255.09 (including band-aids for a couple of pesky blisters), I’m pleased to report back on the project. The proof of success was in the final reveal and my wife’s comment, “wow – I really like it” – turned out even better than I expected. Hope others will be similar inspired for this year’s Earth Day, April 22.
One of the ideas behind creating this blog was to highlight some of the great conservation efforts underway across the Country and recognize the entrepreneurs and stewards behind those efforts, the unsung heroes of conservation. I was recently introduced to the work of Chris Bayley, Founder and Chair of Stewardship Partners, by a mutual friend, Michael Brown, Principal of Mead Brown. Check out Chris’s website – his work is dedicated to helping restore the Puget Sound, working with landowners and businesses to live more thoughtfully here on the earth, by reducing water pollution entering the Sound through storm water runoff, a growing problem in many areas as I’ve highlighted here and here due to impervious surfaces such as roads, driveways, parking lots, and roof drains.
I’m inspired by Chris’s 12,000 rain garden campaign and will soon break out the shovel and landscaping tools to construct my very own rain garden. Found a couple of great sites here and here with good background and design tips. As the best of intentions go, I’ve been meaning to give this a go for quite some time to help restore the stream ravaged by storm water pollution here in our Rockville, Maryland community, but the hustle and bustle of life have diverted my attention. Chris’s work has now given me that extra motivation. I will endeavor to chronicle my efforts on this blog, along with a status report and pictures, as my progress (or failure) materializes. If any readers have installed rain gardens of their own, and have tips or pictures they wish to share, please send them along and I will post them for all to enjoy and from which we can all learn.
(Btw, Michael and I served together at EPA, and he has one of the best gigs in the world, hanging out and entertaining guests in Costa Rica at his rental villa – if you want an awesome vacation, check out Michael on Facebook).
Great article today by Brad Plumer of WaPo regarding my friend, Jonathan Adler, arguing why conservatives can also be environmentalists. Adler is a strong proponent of using private property rights to create the right incentives for promoting efficient and cost-effective conservation – taking a more libertarian approach as I discussed previously here. Adler has written extensively on free-market environmentalism. On climate change, something which many conservatives respond to about as well as swallowing a hair ball, Adler is fully consistent in his argument. Continue reading
Similar to climate change, the issue of hydraulic fracturing is now deeply mired in the quagmire of national politics and caught up in environmental hysteria. Josh Fox’s movie Gasland created a huge sensation – decrying the environmental evils of fracking, including exploding water faucets seen here, and calling for a national moratorium on fracking. Hollywood too has entered the fray, with Matt Damon’s Promised Land movie, adding fuel (no pun intended) to the political fire. So, here we go again – what and who is the public to believe regarding the risks and dangers of fracking. Is Hollywood sensationalizing the issue just to sell more tickets?! Continue reading