Must watch - fully scientific based solution for transition to 100 percent clean energy!
Must watch - fully scientific based solution for transition to 100 percent clean energy!
The Green Harbors Project is an initiative that is aiming to address and solve urban harbors environmental challenges that lead to habitat degradation and the loss of biodiversity, as well as human health concerns. Dr. Anamarija Frankic, director of the Green Harbors Project and founder of the Biomimicry LivingLabs, as well as an internationally-recognized researcher, professor and leader in the field of biomimicry, is leading a team of students from UMass Boston that is focused on designing and testing greener products and solutions that imitate nature to mitigate and restore our urban harbors. The team has established Biomimicry LivingLabs across the world, including Zadar, Croatia as well as many sites around Massachusetts, including Savin Hill Cove, Nantucket, Wellfleet, Mystic River, Neponset River and Pier 5 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
The Green Harbors Project is a community oriented effort with local businesses stepping in to help. Here in Massachusetts, for example, Spencer-based FLEXcon, a manufacturer of engineered films and pressure-sensitive films and adhesives, has donated materials so that the team can design and test a solution that will prevent biofouling—one of the many environmental issues the team is tackling as part of the Green Harbors Project. Fouling is the accumulation of unwanted organic material on solid submerged surfaces such as the underside of boats, pilings, nets and other harbor infrastructure. Not only are removal costs very high, but the materials that are used (such as formaldehyde) are detrimental to the environment and humans alike. Dr. Frankic and her team are working to create sustainable alternatives.
With global warming a true reality and draught common in many states, particularly in the West and Southwest regions of the U.S., reusing water is not a new concept. But using filtered wastewater as drinking water is relatively recent.
The idea has been toyed with and dropped because of the "ick" factor. But other regions like Singapore have been using reused water, or "NEWater," for drinking water as well as irrigation and manufacturing for some time now.
(We have also discussed the concept of properly filtering water for reuse on this site. Check out this article from October, 2008 about Dean Kamen's water filter and how it could help third world countries have potable water.)
The "ick" factor is completely understandable here. But, isn't it about time that we've gotten beyond our internal gag reflex and looked at the possibilities of what new technology can offer in terms of filtering out impurities? When the levels of our rivers and streams, lakes, and wells are dwindling rapidly, now is the time to create our own "Waterworld."
See an excerpt below from yesterday's New York Times below.
As ‘Yuck Factor’ Subsides, Treated Wastewater Flows From Taps
By FELICITY BARRINGER
Published: February 9, 2012
SAN DIEGO — Almost hidden in the northern hills, the pilot water treatment plant here does not seem a harbinger of revolution. It cost $13 million, uses long-established technologies and produces a million gallons a day.
But the plant’s very existence is a triumph over one of the most stubborn problems facing the nation’s water managers: if they make clean drinking water from wastewater, will the yuck factor keep people from accepting it?
With climate change threatening to diminish water supplies in the fast-growing Southwest, more cities are considering the potential of reclaimed water. A new report from the National Academy of Sciences said that if coastal communities used advanced treatment procedures on the effluent that is now sent out to sea, it could increase the amount of municipal water available by as much as 27 percent.
To read more, click here.
by Dr. Amy Wiesner
What’s so important about water? You can quench your thirst from most liquids, it doesn’t have to be plain water, does it? And you only need to drink it when you are thirsty, right?
Water is the second most important thing we need to live after oxygen. Our bodies are made up of 75% water. You can only live without water for 3 days. Water is needed both inside and outside of the cells. It is needed for muscle regulation, detoxification, elimination, weight control, disease prevention and anti-aging.
According to the World Health Organization, less than 1% of the world’s fresh water is easily obtainable for human use. Only 0.007% of all the water on the earth can be used by humans. The rest is salt water. According to the United Nations, more than 1 billion people do not have access to clean water and 2.6 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. In developing countries, easy access to water is not a right that those of us in rich nations take for granted.
People and the Natural World: An Exploration of Connections
Monday, April 4 at 8 p.m.
Celine Cousteau, Granddaughter of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, ambassador of the environment and native cultures
World explorer and environmentalist Céline Cousteau, closes the popular Fairfield University lecture series Open VISIONS Forum (OVF) on Monday, April 4 at 8 p.m. when she speaks at the Quick Center for the Arts. Tickets are $45. This OVF event is an Arts & Minds presentation.
The name Cousteau is familiar to legions and is synonymous with underwater exploration. The OVF speaker is Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s daughter. She has pursued the family passion and made it her own and for OVF, she will speak on “People and the Natural World: An Exploration of Connections.”
On March 13, 2011 you — our dear reader — will have a chance to poop on your friends. For charity. As strange as it may sound, “World Poopin’ Day” is a pretty smart way of mixing social media with under-served water sanitation issues.
“Poopin” can refer to one of two things. In net-speak, it is the term used for sending messages through a friend’s Twitter or Facebook account when they’ve left their cell phone unattended. There is even a list of rules associated with poopin, like “2. Stealth is rewarded” or “6. Accept defeat with grace and dignity.” The anatomical definition of pooping is, well, yeah.
Yeah, poop is funny, but it’s not funny,” World Poopin Day spokesperson, Cybele Diamandopoulos said. “Humor is definitely key, but we don’t want to lose sight of what we’re doing.” The stats are a little shocking. According to Water.org, more people on the planet have a cellphone than have a toilet. The water in American toilets is cleaner than nearly 1 billion people have to drink. Each year, diarrhea kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. To put that in perspective, the world loses 70,000 classrooms of kindergartners every year due to diarrhea.
That discomfort with talking about poop is actually core to World Poopin Day, an awareness campaign benefitting Water.org and GiveLove to drive awareness to water sanitation issues, especially in developing countries, like Haiti. There, we've partnered with GiveLove to create a design collaborative called HaitiOnward, to bring sustainable solutions to the people of Haiti.
You can join the cause by signing up at WorldPoopinDay.com using your Facebook or Twitter account. Accounts will be randomly poopin’d at some point on March 13 from a selection of five messages expressing support for water sanitation issues. The posts will share the hashtag #poopin along with information highlighting the issues and a call to donate. You can also text “poopin” to 27722 to make a $10 donation.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, results of frequent dives in December from researchers at the University of Georgia have some disturbing news. Only 10% of the oil residue left on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico has been dissolved by microbes. It was expected that more of it would be gone by now. In the meantime, animals that ordinarily would be thriving are dead or dying. See an excerpt below.
Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, dead
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer – Sat Feb 19, 8:53 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist's video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn't degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.
That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.
At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't.
"There's some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn't seem to be degrading," Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington. Her research and those of her colleagues contrasts with other studies that show a more optimistic outlook about the health of the gulf, saying microbes did great work munching the oil.
"Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don't know," Joye said, later adding: "there's a lot of it out there."
Click here to read more.
Image courtesy of National Geographic.
In today’s news from Reuters, the EPA drafted a plan to determine if drilling for natural gas and oil in bedrock, shale, and tight sand—also known as “fracking”—is harmful to water supplies. In a previous article on this site, we discussed this topic in regard to the documentary Gasland, produced and directed by Josh Fox. One particularly telling scene from that indie film was a resident living in the Marcellus Shale area who lit his tap water on fire. So does fracking harm drinking water? Perhaps, that’s a rhetorical question.
See the excerpt below.
EPA releases draft plan for fracking study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – “U.S. environmental regulators issued a draft plan on Tuesday outlining how they will determine whether a technique for drilling natural gas harms supplies of drinking water.
Congress commissioned the Environmental Protection Agency to study hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", after complaints that the process pollutes water. The EPA is slated to make public initial results of the study by the end of next year.
The study will investigate reported instances of drinking water contamination in three to five sites across the country where fracking has occurred, the agency said in the draft.
In addition, the EPA will conduct two to three prospective case studies, to take samples before, during and after water extraction, drilling and production of gas…
Congressman Ralph Hall, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said in a statement that he would closely review the study because he felt fracking had been the subject of ‘misleading attacks.’
‘Natural gas is a vital resource, and hydraulic fracturing is a well-established process that is enabling greatly increased production of clean, affordable energy,’ he said.”
To read more of the article, click here.
Image courtesy of Zazzle.com.
Tags: contamination, drilling, drinking water, EPA, fracking, Gasland, House Committee on Science, hydraulic fracturing, Josh Fox, Marcellus Shale, natural gas, Ralph Hall, Space and Technology, water supply
We've had articles on this site before about bottled water. But this one from Yahoo News featuring statistics provided by the Environmental Working Group takes a graded look at which brands offer the best thirst quencher when you're on the run. From Whole Foods to Nestle to Poland Spring, EWG analyzed 173 different labels to see if the water you purchase is really all it's cracked up to be. See the excerpt below.
Worst bottled water brands
Lori Bongiorno – Wed Jan 5, 3:00 pm ET
"How much do you know about the bottled water you drink? Not nearly enough, according to a new report released today from Environmental Working Group (EWG). "Bottled water companies try hard to hide information you might find troubling," says Jane Houlihan, senior vice president of research for the Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy group.
EWG analyzed the labels of 173 unique bottled water products and company websites to determine if companies disclose information on where water comes from, how or if their water is treated, and whether the results of purity testing are revealed. The nonprofit also looked at how effective (and advanced) any water treatment methods are. Researchers followed up by calling dozens of bottled water companies to find out which ones willingly tell consumers what's in their bottles...
Only three brands earned the highest possible marks for disclosing information and using the most advanced treatment methods available -- Gerber Pure Purified Water, Nestle Pure Life Purified Water, and Penta Ultra-Purified Water.
On the other end of the spectrum, these six brands got the worst marks in the EWG report because they don't provide consumers with the three basic facts about water on product labels or their company website -- Whole Foods Italian Still Mineral Water, Vintage Natural Spring Water, Sahara Premium Drinking Water, O Water Sport Electrolyte Enhanced Purified Drinking Water, Market Basket Natural Spring Water, and Cumby's Spring Water..."
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of Yahoo News via Getty Images.
by Angela Hotaling
A biting controversial issue about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing has recently caught my interest. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process of extracting natural gas from under the earth’s surface. Wells are drilled deep into the ground and then water, sand, and chemicals are pumped at high pressures to break shale formations and release pockets of natural gas. The gas industry has exploded over the past several years creating jobs and supplying energy; however not without stirring up some very hot debate in the process.
Last week, The New York Times published an article about hydraulic fracturing. The article, written by Clifford Krauss and Tom Zeller Jr., says, “Natural gas currently satisfies nearly a quarter of the nation’s power needs. And with vast methane reserves now available in previously inaccessible layers of shale deep underground, its position as a cornerstone of the domestic energy supply may well be secured for decades--if the public supports it.”
by Jessica Levinson
We all know by now to recycle our plastic, glass and paper. To a lesser extent, people recycle paint, batteries and television sets but not many consider the implications of throwing our outdated prescriptions or over the counter medication down the toilet, drain or into the garbage. We may not think twice about throwing our drugs away, but researchers and activists have been getting the word out that it’s just as important to recycle our medications.
These drugs find their way into our wastewater treatment plants, surface water and even our drinking water. Whether we realize it or not, we end up consuming drugs through our water and food supply everyday.
Via Debra Caviness
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced the state is dedicating $4 million in federal stimulus funds to help homeowners and businesses pay for the installation of solar-powered hot water heating systems, an investment that will lower utility bills and promote the use of alternative fuels.
“I am proud of Connecticut’s leadership in promoting and using greener, cleaner technology,” Governor Rell said. “This incentive will help hundreds of families and businesses make the switch to renewable energy by saving them money on installation costs and ultimately their hot water bills. It would also be a much-needed boost in business for those who sell and install these systems.”The new Solar Thermal Incentive Program is part of the comprehensive State Energy Plan that has qualified for $38 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The broad-based plan includes programs that:
Tags: CCEF, clean energy ct, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, ct green business, ct green living, federal stimulus ct, governor jodi rell, Lisa Dondy, renewable energy ct, solar hot water incentives, Solar Thermal Incentive Program
For those of you who wanted to preserve Long Island Sound, your money may no longer support such a good cause.
Conservationists: Projects May End Up Underfunded
By Ken Dixon
Staff Writer, Connecticut Post
Updated: 09/12/2009 10:40:18 PM EDT
HARTFORD -- Sixteen years after motorists began paying premiums for special "Preserve the Sound" license plates, lawmakers have disbanded the fund that has invested nearly $5 million in a variety of education and conservation projects.
The Long Island Sound Fund, a dedicated pot of revenue that could not be used for any other reason, will go out of business Oct. 1, the victim of "sweeps" by legislative leaders desperate for money to balance Connecticut's precarious budget.
On that date, money collected by the state Department of Motor Vehicles that had gone into the fund will revert instead to the General Fund.
Twenty special funds within the state Department of Environmental Protection will be closed out, from the Connecticut Lighthouse Preservation account to the pool of money used to clean up oil and hazardous waste spills.
To read more of the article, please click here.
When more garbage dumps are being filled to capacity with enough plastic to sink a ship, it's disheartening to read about it in the oceans as well. And, with landfill issues in Connecticut as recent as the one in Franklin, where we put our debris is a growing problem. See the post below originally from the Associated Press.
Associated Press Writer
August 27, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tawny stuffed puppy bobs in cold sea water, his
four stiff legs tangled in the green net of some nameless fisherman.
It's one of the bigger pieces of trash in a sprawling mass of garbage-littered water, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where most of the plastic looks like snowy confetti against the deep blue of the north Pacific Ocean.
Most of the trash has broken into bite-sized plastic bits, and scientists want to know whether it's sickening or killing the small fish, plankton and birds that ingest it.
During their August fact-finding expedition, a group of University of California scientists found much more debris than they expected. The team announced their observations at a San Diego press conference Thursday.
"It's pretty shocking — it's unusual to find exactly what you're looking for," said Miriam Goldstein, who led fellow researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego on the three-week voyage.
While scientists have documented trash's harmful effects for coastal marine life, there's little research on garbage patches, which were first explored extensively by self-trained ocean researcher Charles Moore just a decade ago. There's also scant research on the marine life at the bottom of the food chain that inhabit the patch.
Tags: California, ecosystem, environmental issues, garbage, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, marine debris, marine life, non-biodegradable, North Pacific Gyre, plastic, The Great Garbage Patch, toxic chemicals, trash, waterways
by Eileen Weber
Much of the seafood we eat comes directly from fish farms, also known as aquaculture. More specifically, the majority of those fish farms are in China and some in Vietnam. With shrimp, eel, catfish, basa, and dace among them, the Chinese alone farm more than 50 million tons of fish. Compare that to about 5 million tons produced in the U.S., a mere fraction of the Chinese market.
According to some statistics listed on the Food & Water Watch web site, Americans eat more than 16 pounds of seafood per person per year. That’s almost 30 percent more seafood than 25 years ago. The amount we consume is about two billion pounds, which is the weight of approximately 270,000 Hummer SUVs.
Part of the problem with the Asian fish farms is that many of them are contaminated by sewage, agricultural runoff, and industrial chemicals dumped into the waterways. They keep the fish in near-shore pens, nets, and enclosures that become breeding grounds for disease. To counteract this, Asian fish farmers turn to illegal veterinary drugs to ward off bacteria and parasitic infections. When that seafood is contaminated with illegal veterinary drugs and other environmental contaminants, what’s on our plates doesn’t seem all that appetizing after all.
The drug residue on Chinese farmed fish was the reason for a block on imports in 2007. According to a New York Times article dated December 28, 2007, the drugs are effective in fighting disease and increasing the survival rates of the fish, which directly affects their profitability.
“The dirtier the water and the more pollution there is, the more drugs are used, there’s no question about that,” said Lai Zini as quoted in the article. Zini is a researcher at the Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute in southern Guangdong Province
The Hartford Courant
By ALAINE GRIFFIN
June 18, 2009
FRANKLIN--Opponents of a plan to create an ash dump in Franklin are closely watching Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office this week, hoping she will sign legislation that blocks the project.
The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority says its plan to dump ash from its trash incinerators at the Franklin site is safe. But a group of residents have fought the project, taking their battle to the Capitol. Both the House and the Senate this session passed legislation barring the CRRA from buying land in either Windham or Franklin for an ash dump.
Rell spokesman Adam Liegeot said Wednesday that the governor has until Tuesday to act on the measure.
In a letter to Rell this week, Sen. Edith G. Prague, D-Columbia, said a veto by the governor "would show complete disregard for the well-being of those it would harm the most." An ash dump in Franklin would destroy "pristine" land there and pollute residents' drinking water, the letter states. Also signing the letter were Reps. Kevin Ryan, D- Montville, and Susan Johnson, D-Windham.
The letter follows recent allegations by environmentalists that the CRRA is using "last-minute scare tactics" to push for a veto, telling municipalities the legislation would mean the state would lose its ability to site landfills, forcing towns and cities to pay more to ship ash outside Connecticut.
You know, you just can’t make this stuff up. A water purifier that turns any liquid, including your own urine, into potable drinking water has been gaining attention. Headlines like the one on treehugger.com, “Pee Filter Runs on Poo”, have been hamming it up.
But to Dean Kamen, inventor of not only this contraption but the Segway Personal Transporter in 2001, this is serious business. And, he has been talking about it to anyone who will listen. From a comic foray on The Colbert Report to a more sober audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival earlier this year, Kamen has been working hard to promote his water purifier. Dubbed the “Slingshot”, it distills and condenses liquid waste into pure drinking water.
Originally unveiled in 1993 by his company, DEKA Research & Development Corporation, it has been slowly gaining momentum. He said many people die every year in poverty-stricken countries from not having a clean water source, many of them children. “Chronic human disease,” he said, “often results from bad water.”
by Hashim Rahman
Plans to build a natural gas plant in the Long Island Sound came to a halt on April 10, 2008, when New York State announced its decision to block the project. Despite approval by the Federal Regulatory Commission, New York exercised its authority to reject the project under the Coastal Zone Management Act which allows states to make their own ruling on whether such endeavors are consistent with the uses and values of the coastal area at issue.
Governor David A. Patterson stated that allowing the plant, referred to as Broadwater LNG, would "establish a dangerous precedent of industrializing a waterway that generations of people have spent millions of dollars [in] trying to preserve."
Connecticut Governor, M. Jodi Rell, a persistent opponent of the project, hailed the decision as a victory for the environment, and stated that "New York's Department of State has recognized peril that the Broadwater project represents."
There's no two ways about it: bottled water is B-A-D for the environment and E Magazine (below), for one, agrees. But what to do when reports like the one that was released last week by AP show that our tap water is ladened with, "A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows?"
So let me get this straight. We have drugs, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum, storm water run off and other pollutants tainting the water that flows from the tap, yet bottled water wreaks havoc on Mother Earth and leeches plastic from the bottles. It's no wonder, as Lester Brown pointed out last year, we've fallen subject to one of the greatest con jobs of all time: believing that bottled water is safe.
Organic Vodka, straight up, anyone?
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: Is it possible to landscape my property in a green-friendly way? I would like to create a more natural and wildlife-friendly backyard, but I don’t want to break the bank doing it. Are there any tax incentives for completing such projects? -- Michal Avraham, Olive Branch, MS
One common misperception about adopting green practices around the home is that doing so will cost more money. But this may be true only in the short run. There are certainly some up-front outlays to converting a conventional backyard into a more environmentally friendly space (like any landscaping job), but homeowners should be able to make their money back within a few years through savings on their water and yard service bills alone.
Landscapes designed with the principles of nature and wildlife habitat in mind are often referred to as
“ naturescapes” (or “xeriscapes” when they also require little water to maintain). They usually replace most lawn grass and instead populate space with native plants that are attractive to wildlife for food or shelter.
According to the nonprofit PlantNative, maintaining a green backyard can cost up to 90 percent less than keeping up a traditional lawn-based landscape. “Since naturescapes effectively take care of themselves, there is little or no maintenance and hence little or no maintenance cost,” says the group. The average American lawn costs about $700 yearly to maintain, says PlantNative, which also points out that the average household lawnmower is used upwards of 40 hours a year, the equivalent of a full work week.
Spurred to action by 3 unprecedented floods within 7 months, flooded Darien residents met several times at the Darien Library to voice concerns and develop strategies. Vanessa Wood and Laura Giobi, instrumental in organizing residents, announce that they have joined an established Darien environmental group, Save Darien's Wetlands, shifting the group to focus on flooding.
Save Darien's Wetlands, Inc. was formed in 2001 by the late Lee Fingar of Darien as a neighborhood advocacy group to address water concerns. Mr. Fingar's death in July 2007 left the fate of the group uncertain. Flood residents met several times this year for public meetings demanding action and worked find flooding answers through their blog http://darienflooding.wordpress.com "We hope to expand the work that Lee began," stated Mrs. Wood. "Our vision is to go forward as an advocacy group for the water concerns that are plaguing several neighborhoods in . Town government has come under heavy scrutiny this year. Examination is healthy. Under the watchful eye of its citizens we expect Darien will meet the challenge of dealing with water issues to create a new standard as a modern town."
The restructured group announced their goals:
Increase public awareness of options to decrease water danger and damage.
Advocate flood control solutions that will protect homes, businesses, and the environment.
Inform residents and businesses on government activity that affects Darien's Wetlands.
(Boston, Mass. – September 24, 2007) – A recent agreement cleared the way for cleanup work to begin at a contaminated drainage swale at 80 Wampus Lane in Milford, Conn. The work is being conducted jointly by EPA and FCI USA Inc. to remove contaminants from the site, including metals (beryllium and lead), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and oils.
The current cleanup, estimated to cost approximately $360,000, will address contaminated surface soils in a 210 foot-long, man-made earthen drainage swale on the property. The swale reportedly received treated plating wastewater, which still contained harmful liquids, between 1965 and 1991.
The 24 acre site likely was contaminated from years of industrial activity on the property, where the manufacturing of electrical components and accessories took place from 1956 to 1999. Operations at the facility included rubber and plastic molding, screw machining, de-greasing and plating as well as waste water treatment. The Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) has previously overseen the remediation of two contaminated waste lagoons and a landfill on site. Read the full story here.
What is the name of your organization and what is its mission? The Farmington River Watershed Association was established as a 501©3 non-profit conservation organization in 1953 with a mission of protecting the Farmington River and its watershed forever through implementing research, education, and advocacy programs.
What is your day-to-day role in the organization? Every day I am involved with directing programs, making public presentations, responding to questions about the watershed, developing ideas for new programs on emerging environmental issues, serving as a liaison with our Board of Directors, working with other local and statewide groups trying to make a difference, and raising funds to support our activities.
What prompted you to become eco-conscious? I grew up in Pittsfield, MA near the Housatonic River. As a kid, I went to the Pleasant Valley (Audubon) Wildlife Sanctuary day camp in Lenox and learned about pond, river, and meadow ecology. In High School, I started hearing and learning about PCB’s and other environmental contaminants that were added to the River by a local business, and my AP Biology teacher inspired me to think about a career in science. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a History degree, I went to work for Congressman Silvio O. Conte in Washington, DC serving as his legislative aide handling elderly, environmental, health, and women’s issues. With Conte, environmental issues quickly became my favorite and I worked with a team of people to write legislation that created the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge along the Connecticut River. When Conte passed away in 1991, I went to work for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, then got a Master’s degree in environmental science at U.C. Berkeley, and I haven’t looked back since. I have been FRWA’s Executive Director since January, 2003.
What do you see as the most pressing environmental issue in Connecticut? Why?
Many environmental issues are connected but I would say that one of the prime drivers of environmental problems is sprawl (a.k.a. unwise land use). This leads to a bevy of problems: an increase in impervious/paved surfaces which leads to more stormwater run-off pollution and flooding as well as less groundwater/aquifer recharge; an increase in commute times which are connected to increased consumption of fossil fuels and a worsening of global warming and air pollution; and the loss of key habitats and species due to fragmentation by roads and poorly planned developments.
The Director of Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown, said on Treehugger.com, "the industry has done a real con job on the American public. I mean, designer water? Water that we pay more for than we pay for gasoline or for milk? We can easily provide the people of the planet with clean water."
So why do we continue to fall for it? In the name of convenience, expert branding, and a unfounded fear that tap water isn't as clean or as nourishing as beautifully packaged bottled water. The thing is, it just may be our false fear of unclean tap water that becomes our self-fulfilling prophecy.
The plastic manufacturing process, along with the fact that we throw away more than 30 billion plastic water bottles a year, (nearly all of which end up in landfills) doesn't bode well for a clean water supply a few decades from now. Especially since the bottled water we drink travels an average 2,500-5,000+ miles to our local store, emitting particulates into the air that fills with moisture and falls to the ground as raindrops into our water table.
All of those billions of tons of carbon emissions that are pumped into the atmosphere and the toxic landfill chemicals that filter back into the water supply as materials such as plastic break down (which takes thousands of years), can all be avoided by drinking from the tap! Go figure.
The Ocean Conservancy’s 22nd annual International Coastal Cleanup will involve hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the globe on Saturday, September 15, 2007.
Locally, volunteers of the Norwalk River Watershed Association [NRWA], Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, other groups, and members of the public are encouraged to participate in “pollution prevention” by teaming up to remove trash from our region of the Long Island Sound’s shoreline. Trash removed from the shore saves marine animals’ lives and can improve water quality, and so Ed Holowinko of NRWA will be at Norwalk’s Veteran’s Park at 9 AM to organize local volunteers who want to take part in this global effort. Please call Ed at 203.852.7187 to register your interest. Volunteers working for three hours will satisfy the hands-on component required to earn the Norwalk River Watershed Patch. Visit www.norwalkriver.org for details.
For people who wish to work in other geographic locations, online registration may be done at the Ocean Conservancy’s website; visit www.oceanconservancy.org, and click on the International Coastal Cleanup “Register Now” box. Boaters who can clean up coastal islands and boat ramp areas are especially appreciated!
This year marks our 20th anniversary Clean-up--a community event that gets people of all ages working together to clean up litter along the banks of the Farmington River and its tributaries. In 2006, clean up sites were in Avon, Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Bristol, Burlington, Farmington, Granby, and Simsbury. Over 350 volunteers participated in collecting nearly 4 tons of trash in 2006. Let's beat that number this year! For more information, visit the Farmington Watershed Association website.
If you haven't already, you should read our post about how stormwater runoff affects our water supply. Thankfully, there are several simple ways to reduce the effects of stormwater in your yard and neighborhood as suggested by EPA and written up in the Spring 2007 issue of The Habitat, the official newsletter of the Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions, Inc.
Keep litter, pet wastes, leaves and debris our of street gutters and storm drains, which lead directly to lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands.
Use organic fertilizers and herbicides. There are lots of great options out there.**
By Eric Hammerling
The pejorative term “sprawl" conjures up an image of cookie-cutter subdivisions marching inexorably over gentle hills that were once farms or forests. Many of us bemoan the changes that sprawl has wrought on our neighborhoods and towns — more paved areas, more traffic, more look-alike strip malls. We rarely speak of what may be the most harmful aspect of sprawl, and that is how it affects our water supply.
What is happening isn’t hard to explain. Sprawling development is accompanied by an explosion of paved areas, which scientists call “impervious surfaces.” When rain falls or snow melts, the water runs off these impervious surfaces into storm drains and is conveyed directly into the nearest river, stream, or lake. Stormwater, as this runoff is known, carries along whatever is in its path. That too often includes pet wastes; road sand and salt; oil, gas, heavy metals and other car-related pollutants; pesticides; and fertilizers and sediment from poorly controlled construction sites. These pollutants, especially when combined with low water and warm temperatures, can spell serious trouble for the river or lake and the fish and the wildlife who depend upon it.
While I'm not sure how anyone will monitor such actions, it's great to hear that all of Connecticut's waters in Long Island Sound are now part of a "No Discharge Area," making it illegal for boaters to discharge sewage from their vessels anywhere in the state's portion of the Sound.
A "No Discharge Area" is a designated body of water in which the discharge of treated as well as untreated boat sewage is prohibited. Boaters in "No Discharge Areas" are required to use pumpout facilities or pumpout boats to dispose of any waste.
Connecticut's first "No Discharge Area" was approved by EPA and designated in the Stonington area in 2003, followed by the Mystic/Groton area in 2004 and the Groton to Guilford area in 2006. The final portion is the Branford to Greenwich stretch of Long Island Sound announced today. DEP requested the No Discharge designation for this area in May 2006.
A report today by ABC News claims that Minneapolis, MN, Ann Arbor MI, San Franscisco, CA, and Salt Lake City, UT have banned bottled water. Why? It's B-A-D for the environment.
According to the report by ABC News we throw away more than 30 billion plastic water bottles a year, which is enough to circle the Earth 150 times. And if you think lots of people are recycling, think again. Four out of five plastic bottles end up in landfills--but not before they travel 2,500-5,000+ miles where they're stored in your local, energy-hogging store until you drive your car to the store, buy the water, and drive back home.
What can you do? Lots. Read this indepth article titled, How to Green Your Water by TreeHugger; Click here for a full list of home water purification systems available in Connecticut; and email Jodi Rell to ban bottled water in our State.
By Heather Burns-DeMelo
The thought of swimming around in chlorinated water has never sounded like a good idea to me. The smell of my skin off-gasing well after returning home from a day at the pool has often left me uneasy, and I much prefer a day at the beach. While I've often had a nagging feeling that fresh bodies of water weren't as clean as I'd like, this article posted on the Connecticut Fund for the Environment has me considering spending the next steamy day cooling off in my bathtub.
According to the article, "the federal government and the state of Connecticut promised the state's citizens clean and healthy water 30 years ago, yet much work remains. That early commitment calls for stopping the 2 billion gallons of raw sewage that enters our waterways each year by separating combined sewer overflows and restoring the “Dead Zone” in Long Island Sound by removing about 60 percent of the nitrogen discharges from the sewage treatment plants in the state.
While the regular legislative session adjourned in early June, it did so without passing a budget or bond package, leaving key components like the Clean Water Fund stuck in limbo.
Despite years of great progress, the Clean Water Fund — the primary mechanism for funding those wastewater treatment and sewer projects in Connecticut — began to fall apart when the legislature decided to shift that money to other non-water related purposes in 2002."
What can you do? Email Jodi Rell and ask that she make cleaning up our water--or at least stop making it a toilet--a priority.