Category Archives: Environmental concerns

STOP KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE PETITION

KEYSTONE PIPELINE

A brief excerpt from Avaaz.com taken from an e-mail received 03.06.14

Right now, the US government is about to make the defining climate decision of Obama’s presidency - whether to approve a monstrous pipeline that will transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of the world’s dirtiest oil from Canada across the US.

If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will help pump billions of dollars into the pockets of a few companies… but also millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. It’s been called “a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet”. Bold public action has delayed it once, and a court ruling last week has dealt a serious blow to the project. Now, if we act fast and in massive numbers, we can help kill it for good.

Please sign the petition here -
http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_keystone_xl_pipeline_loc/?blTFScb&v=36936

I really feel confident that you will not hesitate to sign this petition before it is too late once you’ve read the Huffingtion Post article below:

STOP PIPELINE COLLAGE SIGN

The following article “10 Reasons to Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline” is taken from Huffington Post ‘The Blog’ posted on
02/18/2014  by Rose Ann DeMoro – Executive director, National Nurses United (AFL-CIO) and California Nurses Association.

With the clock ticking down on a final decision by the Obama administration on Keystone XL, it’s a good time to summarize reasons to oppose a project that looks more like a pathway to pollution than a gateway to our gas pumps.

Citing the threat to public health and how the project would hasten the climate crisis, nurses have been on the front line of protests against Keystone, a 1,700-mile pipeline that would transport 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil every day from Alberta, Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, largely for export.

Here’s 10 reasons why:

1. No jobs on a dead planet
More jobs are certainly needed, but even the just concluded State Department assessment conceded Keystone would support only 35 post-construction jobs.

Infrastructure repair and promoting a green economy is a far better solution for the jobs crisis than a project that NASA scientist and climate expert James Hanson famously calls “game over” on the climate front.

If the threshold issue is jobs, nurses should support the pipeline as a full employment act in the volume of additional patients sickened by the pipeline’s health hazards and toll from accelerated climate change. But nurses see an inseparable link between environmental justice and the health of our communities and planet.

IMAGE1

2. Don’t drink the water…
From the ground to the pipe to the refineries, Keystone’s tar sands oil, with its thick, dirty, corrosive properties, pose a far greater hazard than conventional oil — a major reason for National Nurses United and nurse opposition.

Toxic contaminants in the massive water needed for extraction are infecting clean water supplies with towns nearby Alberta experiencing spikes in cancer deaths, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. Huge pipeline spills near Marshall, Mi. and Mayflower, Ar. have led to respiratory ailments and other health ills. Pollutants from tar sands refineries are linked to heart and lung disease, asthma, and cancer.

3. And don’t breathe the air
Mounds of Petcoke, the carbon residue of tar sands refining, piled up for export for burning, have produced toxic dust storms that have left area residents gasping near Detroit, Chicago, and other locales. Canadian scientists are also alarmed at mercury “wafting” into the air from tar sands production which, in chronic exposure, have been linked to brain damage.

4. An asthma nation
Nurses see an explosion of asthma sufferers, especially children. More than 40 percent of Americans now live in areas slammed by air pollution with levels of particle pollution that can also cause higher incidents of heart attacks and premature death.

Keystone will multiply carbon emissions and speed up climate change resulting in more polluted air, higher air temperatures which can also increase bacteria-related food poisoning, such as salmonella, and animal-borne diseases such as West Nile virus.

5. The gathering storms
In the last year alone, we’ve seen the worst cyclone ever to hit landfall, fueled by sub-surface ocean temperatures 9 degrees above normal, the largest tornado ever recorded, record droughts, and other unprecedented weather anomalies. While some discount the link to climate change, there’s no dispute that the past decade was the hottest on record.

Nurses, as volunteers with National Nurses United’s RNRN project can attest, treat the human collateral damage, thousands of patients affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines, for example, who endured life threatening injuries and loss of their homes and livelihoods.

6. The carbon bomb
All workers and their families live in the same communities affected by the climate crisis and the pipeline health hazards. Despite naysayers who insist there is no environmental justification to block it, there is as much scientific consensus on Keystone as there is on the human hand behind the climate crisis, or the factual evidence of evolution.

In addition to Hanson, who calls Keystone “the biggest carbon bomb on the planet,” dozens of other prominent scientists signed a 2013 letter stating “the actual and potential environmental damage (are) sufficiently severe to reject Keystone to protect the climate, human health, and the multiple ecosystems this project threatens.”

In simple terms, Keystone would generate the carbon emission equivalent of 40 million more cars or 50 coal-fired power plants every year.
IMAGE2
7. Not headed to your gas pump
Contrary to the myth, Keystone would contribute little to U.S. energy independence. The oil is headed to Texas ports for a reason — to be shipped overseas. TransCanada, the corporation behind Keystone, balked at a Congressional proposal to condition approval on keeping the refined oil in the U.S., and reports say TransCanada already has contracts to sell much of the oil to foreign buyers.

8. Pipeline or bust for the tar sands industry
Proponents insist that if Keystone is blocked, the tar sands crude will just be shipped by rail. Many disagree, among them a pro-pipeline Canadian think tank that predicts without Keystone, “investment and expansion will grind to a halt,” a view shared by the International Energy Agency, Goldman Sachs and some oil executives. Increasingly, it appears, the pipeline is the linchpin for tar sands development.
9. Which side are you on?
In one corner, the American Petroleum Institute, the oil billionaire Koch Brothers, other fossil fuel giants, the far right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and politicians they influence — the same folks behind the attacks on unions, worker rights and health care and social justice reforms.

Standing with NNU in opposition are every major environmental group, farmers, ranchers and community leaders along the pipeline pathway, First Nations leaders, most Canadian unions, and U.S. transit unions.

10. A last word, from Robert Redford
“The more people learn about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the less they like it,” says actor/environmentalist Redford. “Tar sands crude means a dirtier, more dangerous future for our children all so that the oil industry can reach the higher prices of overseas markets. This dirty energy project is all risk and no reward for the American people.”

PLEASE SIGN PETITION

Article link ~
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rose-ann-demoro/10-reasons-to-oppose-the-_1_b_4791713.html

Threatened species saved by constructed wetlands in Sweden

WETLANDS SAVE WILDLIFE


This article is from Science News Jan. 21, 2014 “Constructed Wetlands Save Frogs, Birds Threatened With Extinction”

SWEDENOver the last few decades, several thousands of wetlands have been constructed in Sweden in agricultural landscapes. The primary reason is that the wetlands prevent a surfeit of nutrients from reaching our oceans and lakes. A study from Halmstad University shows, in addition, that wetlands haveRED LIST contributed to saving several frog and bird species from the “Red List” – a list that shows which species are at risk of dying out in Sweden. In the latest update, five of the nine red-listed bird species that breed in wetlands -

CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS

including the little grebe and the little ringed plover could be taken off the list. Yet another bird species was moved to a lower threat category. As regards batrachians, four species-among them the European tree frog-have been taken off the list, and two species have been moved to a lower threat category.
Great effect on biological diversity
Definition of eutrophication: the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (as phosphates) that stimulate the growth of aquatic plant life usually resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen.

WEISNER“An important objective in constructing wetlands is reducing eutrophication – over-fertilization. It’s surprisingly positive that they’ve also had such a great directHALMSTAD U SWEDEN effect on biological diversity,” says Stefan Weisner, Professor of Biology specialising in environmental science at Halmstad University.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the amount of wetlands in Sweden decreased drastically: almost all original wetlands in agricultural areas have disappeared through drainage and land reclamation. This has affected many of the plants and animals that depend on these types of environments.
An inexpensive way to reduce eutrophication

EUTROPHICATION

Over the last 15 years, nearly 3,000 wetland areas have been constructed in agricultural landscapes around Sweden. Farmers SWEDISH AGRICULTURE LOGOhave the possibility of receiving economic support for this from sources such as the Swedish Board of Agriculture. The primary reason is because wetlands catch the surfeit of nutrients from agriculture such as nitrogen and phosphorus-substances that would otherwise have leaked out into the seas and lakes and contributed to eutrophication.IMAGE6
The study shows that creation of wetlands is a cost-effective to catch the nutrients.
“It’s a very effective way of purifying the water.

TREATMENT PLANTIt’s less expensive than constructing treatment plants, and in addition it contributes to biological diversity,” Prof Weisner says.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01 /140121092911.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fearth_climate%2Fwater+%28Water+Conservation+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Expertsvar.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Journal Reference:
John A. Strand, Stefan E.B. Weisner. Effects of wetland construction on nitrogen transport and species richness in the agricultural landscape—Experiences from Sweden. Ecological Engineering, 2013; 56: 14 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2012.12.087

Designing water reclaiming and recycling programs – green technology

ROOFTOP GARDEN

This article, ‘Function and Beauty – A new reality for watershapes’, by Aviram Müller, appeared in the Jan/Feb issue of WaterCanada magazine.

Please note that I’ve added a YouTube video, uploaded Sept. 15, 2010 by Aviram Muller, regarding the BioReSys – Bionic Regeneration Systems which I definitely recommend – should be a must for our current school curriculum.  This video is the first of five parts which you can access after watching Part 1.

In recent centuries , designers have done a tremendous job of figuring out how water looks and sounds. As environmental concerns become increasingly important, however, we’re being challenged to think differently about water – how it affects us physically and the essential role it plays in maintaining a healthy world.
2ND PARAAs a species, we’ve done a great deal to squander water as an asset, whether by contaminating and otherwise polluting natural bodies of water or by treating pools and other watershapes with harsh chemicals. Isn’t it ironic that spas, which exist primarily so we can take advantage of their healthful benefits, are commonly sanitized with chlorine or other powerful oxidizers that may be hazardous to our health?
3RD PARAIn trying to use water to achieve healthful or recreational ends, we have in fact turned away from its natural value and benefits. And it’s not just spas or swimming pools—even with decorative, purely visual water features such as fountains, we have for years turned our backs on natural processes while
pursuing our aesthetic goals.
Point of crisis
Today’s culmination of economic and environmental crises presents an amazing opportunity for watershapers to step back and set the foundations for a fresh, sustainable direction.
5TH PARAWhen water features emerged in Classical times, Islamic and later European societies, they introduced fountains as the public source for potable water. It was only after centuries of performing this public function that fountains moved decisively away from their original purpose and became more or less purely decorative.

6TH PARAThe time has come for water feature to come full circle. Not only must water features be beautiful and soothing, but henceforth, they must be functional, purposeful in the reclamation and decontamination of water. And if water features as part of water management also remediate existing environmental damage or contribute to the cooling of interior spaces, even better.
Increased scope
7TH PARAIn recent years, the typical water feature (fountain, pool, spa, pond or stream) has essentially been a standalone unit in which water is circulated, filtered and treated in a closed loop. As such, these features have very little (if anything at all) to do with the overall performance of adjacent buildings or spaces.
8TH PARABut water features could be part of a much larger system. Water could be reclaimed from roofs and other impermeable surfaces, moved into storage in various cisterns or reservoirs and then treated biologically in planted pond or wetland areas or used as part of a water feature. Then, this same water can be used for irrigation, firefighting, air conditioning or the cooling of manufacturing, industrial and power-generating systems.
Some of the pioneering work has already been done. What may seem revolutionary to some in North America is, in fact, already widely practiced in Europe and has been part of the designer approach for more than 20 years. In some places, natural resources and environments are so restricted by population density that designers have already moved in this direction out of necessity.
For years, they’ve dealt with acid rain, groundwater contamination and rivers so polluted that swimming in them has become hazardous or impossible. Under those constraints, system designers think differently about how they manage, reclaim and reuse water.
Using biology
In North America, we have been taught that water can only be effectively treated through use of chemicals and mechanical filtration. But in Europe, the effluent from car washes, water discharged from nuclear power plants, cooling water from large office buildings, and even the water that emerges from zoological exhibits are treated biologically. In addition, the European experience has shown that biological filtration using specific types of plants can help remediate contaminated water by removing heavy metals and organic compounds introduced into water supplies via the fertilizers used by agricultural or industrial operations.
Whether they take the form of ponds with wetland areas and planted floating islands or of green roofs that bring park like features to urban settings, biological systems can be beautiful. Once humdrum settings, such as retention basins, are now accented with plants, pathways, docks, floating fountains, floating islands and diverse varieties of wildlife.
Specific measures
PARA 14Currently, there are no classifications or criteria in the LEED certification program referring specifically to water feature designs. The Water Efficiency category, however, emphasizes reducing the use of potable water supplies and thus presents several opportunities for creative applications.
PARA 15Already, according to current LEED provisions, a green roof can be used to capture rainwater. Once captured, the water is treatment by flowing either to a gravel-based wetlands zone/retention basin or into a body of water that contains floating islands and myriad plants that take up contaminants.
PARA 16When water exits these basins, no matter its condition, it can be used for water features, irrigation, or numerous other reasons. Alternatively, this water can be channeled into an “infiltration” basin where water is injected into the ground to help recharge aquifers. This can be helpful in areas where there are issues with seawater intrusion or underground plumes of pollution.
PARA 17Some LEED projects seek designs that involve remediation of environmentally damaged areas. Indeed, contaminated soil can be helped by properly designed water management – for instance, designs can include choosing plants specifically meant to biologically treat water containing certain contaminants.
Active participation
In sizing up the LEED point potential of water features, it’s important to recognize that the water features will help earn credits relative to specific situations. The LEED point system and the relative value a “functional” water feature can bring opens the discussion of the role the designer can play in the final design of commercial complexes and residential developments.
PARA 20  Traditionally, designers in their more aesthetic or recreational roles are among the last consulted in a project. Until recently, in fact, fountains, swimming pools, spas, ponds, cascades or interactive water features have been seen as separate and divorced from everything else on site.
LAST PARAWith this new green philosophy, designers are becoming integral participants in the process of designing water reclaiming and recycling programs, and providing beauty with function.

MULLERAviram Müller is the founder of Karajaal, a Quebec-based company that designs and engineers distinct and interactive venues using water, lighting effects, fountains and pools.
A graduate of Frankfurt University, Aviram has dedicated 25 years to the creation and development of water-based art. Aviram is recognized by his peers as an artist and sculptor with a strong engineering and technical foundation.

 

Devastating effect on Canada’s lakes caused by acid rain

BLAME IT ON THE RAINThe following article, “Blame it on the Rain” appeared in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Watercanada magazine, written by Rebecca Taggart.

Acid rain leaves its mark in Canada’s freshwater lakes:

Calcium deficiency is commonly  considered an ailment of the elderly. However, many of Canada’s freshwater lakes are now being diagnosed with a similar condition.
Calcium levels in many of Canada’s freshwater lakes are dropping. Just as it’s necessary for a healthy human body, calcium is also essential for supporting life in aquatic ecosystems. Environment Canada scientists are involved in collaborative research that sheds light on a pattern of calcium loss in our small lakes and wetlands. For almost 30 years, samples were collected from lakes across southeastern Canada to monitor chemical levels in ecosystems sensitive to acid rain. In an assessment of chemical changes from 770 Ontario lakes, researchers noticed a troubling pattern of declining calcium.

MAKING A RECOVERY:  When rain falls on the land or drainage basin surrounding a lake, it washes a small amount of calcium from the soil and drains it into the lake. This natural process has occurred over thousands of years, and accounts for most of the calcium found in lakes.
Acid rain speeds up this process by washing calcium from the soil and into lakes at a much faster rate than regular rain.
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN
Acid rain also increases the acidity of lake waters, which can negatively affect the aquatic species that rely on the lake to survive. Acid rain peaked during the 1970s and 1980s because of increased urban and industrial development throughout eastern North America. Since then, aggressive environmental policies have reduced the harmful emissions that cause acid rain, and have succeeded in reducing its occurrence.

However, those decades of faster calcium leaching due to acid rain have depleted the natural stock of calcium found in the soil of land in lake drainage basins. Now that we are seeing less acid rain, calcium concentrations in some lakes are declining, perhaps to levels that are lower than those before acid rain became a problem.
This means that there may not be enough calcium available for some aquatic species to survive in these lakes. Low calcium levels may also slow the biological recovery of lakes from the higher acidity levels that were also caused by acid rain.
GETTING TO THE CORE OF OUR LAKES: To demonstrate the effects of this problem, research scientists studied Daphnia, a crustacean that lab studies have shown is strongly dependent on sufficient calcium concentrations in lakes.
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN2
Researchers conducted a paleolimnological survey, which involves using a coring device to remove a sample of the lake’s sediment floor. Lying within these sediments are remains of plants and animals that have been preserved over time.

BLAME IT ON THE RAIN3
Based on an analysis of lake sediment cores, scientists found that Daphnia began to decline in the 1970s, showing a strong link with measured declines in lake calcium levels.
Declines in Daphnia and other calcium rich foods have the potential to threaten many other species. Daphnia graze on algae, which regulates their presence in a lake. This affects other animals in the food chain such as fish and birds.

BLAME IT ON THE RAIN1
The results of this research teach an important lesson about the role that each creature plays in an ecosystem. Small lakes and wetlands provide important habitat for many species. The individual roles these species play in our ecosystems demonstrate the interconnectedness of all life forms and illustrate the potential for habitat pollution and other impacts to have complex consequences for ecosystems. WC Rebecca Taggart is with Environment Canada.

Here’s a link to a related and more in-depth article, “Acid rain legacy hurting lakes”
ONTARIO'S PLASTIC LAKE
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2008/11/28/acid_rain_legacy_hurting_lakes.html

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE LINKED TO MOTOR NEURON DISEASE

BLUE GREEN ALGAE

Breakthrough Discovery Links Blue-Green Algae With Motor Neuron Disease

The following excerpts are from Water Online, September 25, 2013

In summary:

  • UTSFor the first time UTS and US research has found a link between toxins produced by blue-green algae and motor neurone disease
  • Over 90 per cent of motor neuron diseases have had no known cause or cure   

M N DISEASEA recently identified link between a toxic amino acid found in blue-green algae and several motor neuron diseases could help researchers devise a therapy for the fatal conditions.

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), most often associated with nutrient runoff in coastal waters, produce a neurotoxic amino acid called β-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA.

RIVERAustralian waterways regularly succumb to toxic algal blooms, the NSW’s Barwon-Darling River System suffering one of the world’s largest in the summer of 1991-92 when a bloom spread for over 1000 kilometres.

There has been increasing evidence of a link between motor neuron disease and the consumption of food or water contaminated by blue-green algae but it wasn’t clear how the algal toxin was damaging the central nervous system.

KEN ROGERSNow, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) researchers led by Dr Ken Rodgers, in collaboration with leading ethno botanist Dr Paul Cox and researchers fromPAUL COX the Institute of EthnoMedicine in Wyoming in the US, have discovered that BMAA mimics an amino acid called serine that is used to make human proteins. BMAA is mistakenly incorporated into human proteins in place of serine, resulting in damaged proteins which over time, build up to toxic levels and kill the cells.

The research findings are published today in the journal PLOS ONE. The first author of the paper, Dr Rachael Dunlop, said for many years people had linked BMAA with an increased risk of motor neuron disease.

“The missing piece of the puzzle was how this might occur. Finally, we have that piece,” said Dr Dunlop. “Common amongst all neurodegenerative diseases is the problem of clumps of proteins overloading cells and forcing them to ‘commit suicide’. This research reveals that BMAA can also trigger this process,”

MOTOR NEURONBMAA was originally identified in Guam after the indigenous people, the Chamorros, were found to suffer motor neurone disease up to 100 times more often than other people. The Chamorros used seeds from cycad palms to make flour, and regularly ate fruit bats, which also ate the seeds. Both these foodstuffs contained BMAA.  Since then, research has revealed increased incidences of MND in people who lived near lakes subject to frequent cyanobacterial blooms, among consumers of contaminated shellfish, and in soldiers deployed to the Gulf War between 1990-1991.

Over 90 per cent of motor neuron diseases have no known cause or cure. The diseases kill motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, progressively paralysing the body.  Though MND is relatively rare, it has a high profile as a result of a number of high-profile people being affected including Professor Stephen Hawking.

SOURCE: University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)

untitled

link to article ~ http://www.wateronline.com/doc/breakthrough-discovery-blue-green-algae-motor-neuron-disease-0001?sectionCode=News&templateCode=SponsorHeader&user=2702840&source=nl:38437

P.E.I.’S NEW WATER AUDIT PROGRAM

PEI WATER AUDIT

Switching to low-flow shower heads can cut water-use by half and save thousands of dollars from a hotel’s water bill. It’s just one of the suggestions the City of Charlottetown floated to hotels in a recent water audit. Laura Chapin explains in this CBC audio, ‘Conservation, policies and PEI’s water-use laws’, May 16, 2013 ~
http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2013/05/16/conservation-policies-and-peis-water-use-laws/

The following article, Be My Guest ‘Hotels participate in a new water audit program in Prince Edward Island.’ by Clark Kingsbury appears in the May/June issue of WaterCanada magazine.

Charlottetown’s Water and Sewer Utility Department has launched an innovative project aiming to improve water efficiency in the city’s hotels. The Hotel Audit project offers to identify easy, cost-effective way for hotels to reduce water waste by both guests and staff. The project will be executed in partnership with Holland College’s Energy Systems Engineering Technology program. Three hotels are currently involved.

“This pilot supports the tourism industry while also reducing the amount of water used in our city during the busy summer months,” says Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “Involving Holland College in the process allows us access to the expertise of its energy systems engineering technology program managers and provides students with an excellent educational opportunity.” The project requires students to perform the audits with water and sewer utility staff members.

Despite public concern about the amount of water consumed by cruise ships docking in Charlottetown’s harbour, the city’s hotels actually consume more water than the Harbour Authority uses in an entire year.

“It seems lately that the focus has moved from conservation to trying to assign blame to a particular industry for high water usage, but the reality is that it’s not one industry or sector that is to blame,” says the water and sewer utility’s chair, Edward Rice. “Conserving water and finding ways to keep water use down during the summer months is the collective responsibility of all businesses, sectors, and industries, as well as governments and residents.”

The audit includes testing of all water use in the participating facilities, and provides recommendations with payback periods based on anticipated savings on water and energy bills.

 

PROGRAM REDUCES E. COLI THREATENS TORONTO’S CHERRY BEACH

CHERRY BEACH1

Excerpt from WaterCanada magazine’s July/August issue – “A power plant works to mitigate E. coli that threatens the sandy shores of Toronto’s Cherry Beach“, by Leslie Hetherington, as printed in the
On a summer day, residents and tourists often flock to one of Toronto’s many Lake Ontario beaches.

E COLI

However, leisure activities can be curtailed by high levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the lake water. Although most E. coli strains are harmless, some can cause serious health problems to humans who swallow them or swim in water that has been contaminated by them. To protect the public, Ontario warns against swimming when tests show 100 E. coli-colony-forming units per 100 millilitres (CFU/100 mL) of water at a specific beach and has set this value as a Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO).
ENERGY CENTREAs a local natural gas-fired power plant with a community focus and an active ecological sustainability strategy, the Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) is well aware of the threats E. coli pose to nearby Cherry Beach, an eco-labelled Blue Flag beach for its adherence to strict global standards.
BLUE FLAGThe Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label that works towards sustainable development of beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety, and other services.
The 550-megawatt (MW) PEC was built in 2008 to meet 25 per cent of Toronto’s electricity needs, primarily during peak demand times, and offset emissions from Ontario’s coal-fired generating TORONTO HARBOURstations. During operation, it takes water from Toronto Harbour’s ship channel and turning basin for generation processes and cooling, treats it on site, then releases it into the discharge channel and back to Lake Ontario’s Outer Harbour.
Some E. coli in sanitary sewer and storm water runoff from Toronto neighbourhoods north of the plant enters the ship channel and turning basin from two of the city’s overflows and then enters PEC’s water intake. From there, it may be inadvertently transferred to the Outer Harbour through normal discharge of cooling water, and could potentially reach the popular Cherry Beach.
MINISTRY ENVIRONMENT As part of the its Certificate of Approval for water permits, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) requires the PEC to implement an E. coli control program for the water it uses, but the plant’s management chose to go further.
ECOMETRIXIn 2008, it hired EcoMetrix Inc., an environmental consulting firm, and embarked on a comprehensive four year E. coli monitoring program during the summer months that included the ship channel, the discharge channel, the intake basin, the Outer Harbour, Cherry Beach, and the Eastern Gap.
During the first summer, the firm established a baseline by measuring E. coli concentrations before the plant was operational. As expected, these data revealed no direct relationship between E. coli in the discharge channel or the ship channel during pre-operations.
The consulting firm followed this research in 2009 by looking for relationships between E. coli levels and various aspects of the plant operations. This included studying the effects of operational factors, including volume and temperature of the cooling water intake discharge flows. The team also studied how rainfall influenced E. coli concentrations. In the third summer, team members collected daily samples for 22 weeks to research potential associations between E. coli in cooling water effluent and E. coli at Cherry Beach.
Efforts also included measuring E. coli levels throughout the Outer Harbour after significant rainfall events to narrow down the most probable source of E. coli that could potentially impact Cherry Beach. DON RIVERFindings suggested that the Keating Channel running from the Don River, via the Eastern Gap, was the most likely source of E. coli to affect the popular beach.
Monitoring studies found that changes to flow volume and water temperature caused by plant operations did not appear to influence E. coli concentration in the cooling water effluent. Similarly, E. coli levels in the discharge water were generally the same as those in the intake basin. From this they concluded that on its own, discharged water from the plant was unlikely to increase E. coli concentrations at Cherry Beach.
EAKINSThe same could not be said for precipitation. “We saw E. coli concentrations typically spike to 3,600 to 8,700 CFU/100 mL, during the two to seven hours after we received at least 10 millimetres (mm) of rain within a 24-hour period,” explains Robert J. Eakins, an associate and senior fisheries ecologist at EcoMetrix. “Our modelling studies further indicated that when these E. coli levels reach 3,500 CFU/100 mL, they could potentially cause corresponding levels at Cherry Beach to rise above 100 CFU/100 mL.”
CHERRY BEACHMore importantly, in 2011, the team began to test the effectiveness of using a specialized hyper chlorination process to treat the cooling water effluent to reduce E. coli in it. They pumped a small amount of sodium hypochlorite into the effluent, followed by sodium bisulfate to neutralize and reduce chlorine concentrations to levels below 0.01 milligrams per litre before it’s discharged, as specified in the Certificate of Approval. The impact was almost immediate; E. coli levels in the effluent decreased by approximately 90 per cent within five seconds of treatment.
“With these results, we began to ask what steps we could take to treat more than the mandated amount of water we use and create farther reaching benefits,” says Curtis Mahoney, general manager at PEC. “We coordinated with the City of Toronto and the MOE to implement a larger-scale control program to mitigate E. coli that threatens Cherry Beach and help maintain Blue Flag swimming conditions, even during seasonal periods of heavy rainfall.” …
This summer, the team plans to collect hourly samples before, during, and after significant rainfall events to explore potential program refinements, such as shortening the duration of each chlorination treatment.
With PEC’s program and concerted efforts from other organizations, this summer should offer residents and tourists many carefree hours enjoying Toronto’s Cherry Beach.
LESLIE HETHERINGTON

Leslie Hetherington is communications director for Hardy Stevenson and Associates Ltd.

ALEXANDRA COUSTEAU ON THE OTTAWA RIVER

COUSTEAU OTTAWA RIVER

ALEX PHOTOAlexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famed oceanographer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau, was in the Ottawa for a 13-day filmmaking trip to the Ottawa River watershed as part of a project to make three short documentaries on the Ottawa River, in co-operation with the Ottawa Riverkeeper group. Cousteau and    Riverkeeper Meredith Brown took to the water to sample the river near the Hull Marina, testing for oxygen, phosphorus and nitrogen in the water.  The documentary is about the Ottawa River and its tributaries, focusing on issues of waterway management and conservation. 

RIVERKEEPER LOGOIn my previous blog the video, ‘Ottawa River Keeper’ provides historical background and impressive scenery for  today’s video, “Alexandra Cousteau on the Ottawa River”, published on Youtube September 14, 2013.

BLUE LEGACY LOGOAlexandra Cousteau heads the Washington-based Blue Legacy foundation, which is “dedicated to advocating the importance of conservation and sustainable management of water in order to preserve a healthy planet.”

The three documentaries will be released in the spring of 2014.

 Link ~ … “The goal of our water quality monitoring program is to provide communities with timely, easy-to-understand information on water quality along their reach of the river; MEREDITH BROWNinformation that is surprisingly difficult, if not impossible, to get elsewhere,” says Riverkeeper Meredith Brown. “Not only does this engage communities in protecting the river, they have a right to know what’s in their water.”…

http://www.fondationdegaspebeaubien.org/en/news/alexandra-cousteau-tells-the-story-of-her-10-days-expedition-on-the-ottawa

OTTAWA RIVER KEEPER ~ IMPRESSIVE VIDEO

OTTAWA RIVER

The following video, “Ottawa River Keeper”, was uploaded on Mar. 10, 2008, by Lu Utronki.  This video is designed to bring awareness to the importance of the Ottawa River for sustainability. 

The Ottawa River flows through the provinces of Quebec and Ontario for over 1200 kilometres.  There are almost 2 million people who live throughout the Ottawa River watershed.  To the Algonquin First Nations who lived by its banks and traveled by canoe the river was known as the Kitchi-sippi, meaning “The Great River“.  Visitors such as white water paddlers, fishing enthusiasts and river trippers from around the world looking for a wilderness experience  enjoy the Ottawa River year round.  The Ottawa River is a globally significant river and is part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence watershed, and is the largest freshwater system in the entire world.

Hope to see you back here for our next blog featuring “Ottawa River Keeper Part 2″ and “Alexandra Cousteau on the Ottawa River” – a Youtube video published this year on September 14th.

GREEPEACE MEMBERS JAILED IN RUSSIA ~ PLEASE HELP!

GREENPEACE CREW JAILED

ARCTICAna Paula and 29 of her Greenpeace crewmates are trapped in a Russian jail for trying to save the Arctic from oil drilling. But our community could set them free if we help Greenpeace build a massive global outcry targeting Russia’s biggest global partners.

AVAAZLet’s reach 1 million to free the Arctic 30 — sign now by clicking below to add your name to this global petition:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_the_arctic_30_loc/?blTFScb&v=30369

The following Youtube videos provide additional background information on Greenpeace members charged with piracy and jailed in Russia.

Published on Oct 5, 2013 by Real World News, “Russia charges Greenpeace crew with piracy” – Russian investigators have charged the entire 30-member crew of a Greenpeace ship with piracy for a protest at an oil platform in the Arctic. The charge, which carries a 15-year prison term, was filed on Thursday against 16 members of the crew, including a prominent Russian freelance photographer.

Published on Oct 5, 2013 by News World, “Greenpeace protests worldwide for release of activists held in Russia”, - From Hong Kong’s harbour to London and Toronto, supporters of Captain Pete Wilcox and his crew of imprisoned Greenpeace activists are sending a message to Russia today: “Free the Arctic 30.”