Category Archives: Educational

Giraffe Katie gives birth ~ Dallas Zoo ~ Amazing!

Katie the Giraffe’s Story | Giraffe Birth Live – Published on Apr 10, 2015 – Get to know Katie, the sweet and friendly giraffe at the Dallas Zoo who is a mother-to-be and star of Giraffe Birth Live. | http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/…

 

Katie the Giraffe Gives Birth!, published on Apr 13, 2015 – Katie the Giraffe gave birth! Watch the highlights as captured on Animal Planet’s Live Cam. |http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/…

The following remarkable BBC wildlife video is highly recommended:
Born to Be Wild: Giraffes on the Move with Joanna Lumley, u
ploaded by BBCWorldwide on Apr 9, 2009 – Joanna Lumley gets up close and personal with one of the most graceful creatures on the planet – the giraffe. Joanna follows the dangerous journey of seven endangered Rothschild giraffes to a new home in the hope that they will establish a breeding herd.

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDHave a great weekend everyone
– warmer weather, sunny days,
– ah, spring at last!

Tragic! Ocean choking on 8 million metric tons plastic per year

 

Episode 6 Ocean Requiem, uploaded on Jun 30, 2009.  This is a rather slow moving video but the end is very touching. This is a good relaxing video with a message so enjoy and visit seashephard.org to see how you can help. 

February 13, 2015
Plastic in oceanPromo image Lindsay Robinson/University of Georgia
As Maggie recently wrote about, there’s a lot of plastic crap in Earth’s oceans; The latest estimate was that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our seas, weighing over 250,000 tons. That’s about 700 pieces of plastic for every human on earth.

Image result for Jenna Jambeck university of GeorgiaBut a new study paints an even more alarming picture of the situation. Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the University of Georgia found that an incredibly large amount of plastic waste is mismanaged by the populations living in coastal area, and that even a conservative estimate of how much ends up in the sea puts adds up to between 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic. Per year. (8 million is the mid-point of the estimate).

Part of the problem is that some of the countries with the largest coastal populations – mostly in Asia – are also developing nations with inadequate infrastructure to deal with all the waste that they generate.

Here one of the authors of the study explains the methodology behind the numbers and also gives a warning about the future if we don’t clean up our act on waste management:

Image result for From there, we looked at what percent of that waste is plasticOur methods for this estimate were to look at per person waste generation rates in 2010 from 192 countries with a coastline in the world. Because people’s activities nearest the coast are responsible for most of the plastic going into the water, we limited our analysis to a 50km strip of the coastline. From there, we looked at what percent of that waste is plastic, and what percentage of THAT is mismanaged waste (which means litter or when waste is not captured and dumped on the land). From there we had three scenarios of input into the ocean: low, mid and high. Our 8 million metric ton estimate is that mid-range scenario. 8 million metric tons of plastic is equal to 5 bags filled with plastic going into the ocean along every foot of coastline in the world. That… is HUGE.

And it can get worse. If we assume a business as usual projection with growing populations, increasing plastic consumption and increased waste generation, by 2025, this number doubles – we may be adding 17.5 million metric tons of plastic per year. If that happens, then our cumulative input over time from 2010 to 2025 is projected to be 155 million metric tons.

The solutions to this plastic pollution problem are known, we just need to actually do it. We need to cut back on plastic production in the first place, so there’s less of it in the system. Then whatever is left needs to all be captured and managed properly. This requires not only better infrastructure (especially in poorer areas of the world), but also social and cultural changes. People need to be educated on what needs to be done with their trash in general, and plastic specifically.

 

Mother Nature at Her Most Bizarre ~ Photos

I received the following photograph collection of Mother Nature’s amazing oddities, “These Bizarre Nature Photos Show How Strange Earth Really Is” from http://www.viralnova.com/earth-oddities yesterday.

These photos might look like they come from an alien planet, but it turns out our own little Earth is capable of some truly weird stuff. All of these things occur naturally across the globe because of, like, science and stuff. A lot of the reasons why go over my head, but it’s all true. It’s easy to appreciate the wondrous beauty of Earth without knowing exactly how it happens. Some of these are cringe-worthy, but others make me want to buy a plane ticket. And I am definitely going to pay closer attention to sunsets from now on. Take a look at some of the cool things you didn’t realize happen on our home planet.

1. Never-ending Wave: Occurs twice a year in Brazil when the Atlantic ocean meets the mouth of the Amazon River. The resulting waves can travel 500 miles inland before slowing down.

2. Underwater Crop Circles: In Japan male pufferfish flapping their fins creating their alien-esque circles in the sand.

3. Bleeding Glacier: Also known as Blood Falls in Antarctica, the outflowing water resembles blood due to iron oxide.

4. Blue Lava: Due to sulfuric gases at extremely high temperatures, this volcano in Indonesia produces the blue glowing lava.

5. Calcifying Lake: This creepy lake in Tanzania has such high PH levels that it calcifies any animal that goes into the water.

6. Cocooned Trees: During the flood season in Pakistan, spiders are forced to flee to the trees where their webs create this effect.

7. Danixia Landforms: Over millions of years, the red sandstone and mineral deposits in certain areas of China have created these rainbow-like landforms.

8. Frost Flowers: In Arctic areas these floral ice formations occur when the temperature between the ocean and the atmosphere differs.

9. Green Flash: This rare phenomenon occurs when the conditions are right at the beginning or end of a sunset.

10. Hair Ice: Water escaping ice in freezing weather can have this follicle-effect due to certain bacteria presence.

11. Horsetail Falls: In Yosemite National Park, California, this waterfall looks more like lave with a bright orange glow at certain times of the day in February.

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPEDHave a great weekend everyone.  It looks as if Mother Nature is finally going to be kind to us and send us some half decent weather over the weekend – hope you have the same.

Arsenic, the Silent Killer – Part II

Please see my first article on arsenic: Arsenic – The Sleeping Giant, published Mar. 31st this year.

“Know Your Well ~ Saskatchewan’s watershed authority teaches users about proper maintenance.” This article appeared in the May/June issue of watercanada magazine by Kerry Freek


A man cleans a well during a community clean-up day in Anguissa, Yaoundé, Cameroon. Provincially, Saskatchewan has got high levels of arsenic, selenium and uranium. When floods occur, these concentrations can make well water unsafe. The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority recommended regular flushes to maintain good water quality.

For Saskatchewan, spring runoff season presents a huge risk for private well contamination, especially considering the province’s high levels of arsenic, Image result for Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA)selenium, and uranium. At the height of this year’s flood crisis in theImage result for drinking water standards saskatchewanPrairies, Terry Hanley, director of science, information, and monitoring for the Saskatchewan Watershed
Authority (SWA) shared details on the water quality risks for well users.

“We have a database of about 4,000 wells that we’ve tested,” says Hanley. “About 50 per cent of those wells exceed at least one maximum allowable concentration (MAC) or drinking water standard. Now that there’s flooding, there’s increased risk to the 100,000 residents that rely on wells.”
He says that last year, after severe flooding in Maple Creek, Yorkton, and North Battleford, 70 per cent of wells in those areas exceeded acceptable nitrate or bacteriological levels. “The MAC for drinking water is 45 milligrams per litre, but we had levels in the 1,500 range,” says Hanley. “There are pretty significant risks, and we expect the same this year.”
That’s why the SWA offers free well tests. “We’ve had E. coli levels in the tens of thousands,” he reveals.
“That’s slightly less than treated effluent—it’s usually a shock to people. Just because the water’s clear doesn’t mean it’s good.”
In Manitoba—also affected by the spring floods—the chief provincial public health officer announced that people using private water supplies should boil their water and test it for bacteria. The Province added that it would cover the full cost of well-water testing for affected areas.
Image result for shock chlorinated the wellsIn addition to gathering demographics on site visits, SWA assesses the wells. How old is the casing? Are there well caps in place? Have the owners shock chlorinated the wells after major weather events?
They found some surprising statistics. Two out of three wells didn’t have caps or casing that is at least two to three inches above ground. Nine out of ten wells had never been shock chlorinated.
“It only takes a few hours to fix these things,” says Hanley, who hopes these assessments will help owners take the simple steps to better understand and maintain their wells.
It appears the program is working. “Of the clients we’ve tested, about 60 per cent have adopted our recommendations,” says Hanley. “That’s huge for us.” 

Here’s a link I  found on Uranium tailings in the Athabasca basin of northern Saskatchewan – definitely worth reading-  http://www.usask.ca/geology/JimSite/Research.html

Arsenic ~ The Sleeping Giant

FAUCET
ARE WE OVERLOOKING THE REAL ARSENIC RISK? Posted by Jim Barlow – Oregon on March 10, 2015

“No one has touched on the link between arsenic on the surface and in groundwater,” says Qusheng Jin. Geologist Qusheng Jin had “a wild hypothesis” in 2008 that a bacterial process was at work in an arsenic-contaminated aquifer in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Jin’s team shows the process is in play and concludes the practice of just monitoring total arsenic levels for groundwater safety is not enough.
They suggest organic arsenic forms, generally considered less toxic, should be looked at more closely in aquifers around the world.

Image result for University of Oregon geological sciences department“No one has touched on the link between arsenic on the surface and in groundwater,” says Jin, a professor in the University of Oregon’s geological sciences department.

“Traditionally the presence of the organic form in groundwater has been ignored. The focus has always been on inorganic forms, arsenate and arsenite.”
That approach, Jin says, over-simplifies the view on arsenic levels and overlooks how human activities, including pumping and irrigation, or environmental factors such as heavy rain or drought may influence organic forms.
SAFE TO DRINK?
Water is considered safe to drink when total arsenic levels are below 10 micrograms per liter. Levels above that are considered cancer risks.
Arsenic is a natural element found in abundance in the Earth’s crust. Organic arsenic, Jin says, is made up of a series of carbon-containing forms.
Image result for Total arsenic is commonly assumed to be a pure metalloid formTotal arsenic is commonly assumed to be a pure metalloid form. Arsenic often changes forms as it moves through the environment. It also is used in some pesticides, herbicides and wood preservatives and in chicken feed.
The organic arsenic that caught the team’s attention is dimethylarsinate (DMA). This intermediate stage is a floating mishmash of dissolved organic forms along with inorganic arsenite and arsenate already floating freely in the water.
DMA’s concentration—sometimes exceeding 10 percent of inorganic arsenic—always correlates with the overall arsenite level, Jin explains. Eventually, he adds, the conversion process can turn arsenic into arsine, a volatile gas similar to fluorescent phosphine that rises as the result of decomposition in graveyards.
TESTING WELL WATER
NSFThe fieldwork, funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Jin, involved gathering water samples at depths ranging from 20 to 40 meters (66 to Oregon researchers detail new insights on arsenic cycling131 feet) from 23 wells located on rural properties near Creswell, Oregon. In 10 of the wells tested, DMA was found with concentrations as high as 16.5 micrograms per liter.
The aquifer consists of volcanic sandstone, tuff and silicic ash, overlaid by lava flows and river sediments. The basin floor dates to 33 million years ago. Organic arsenic in the aquifer, the researchers noted, is similar to that in aquifers in Florida and New Jersey in the United States and in Argentina, China (Inner Mongolia and Datong), Cypress, Taiwan, and West Bengal. Arsenic in groundwater is a challenge worldwide, including all 48 contiguous U.S. states.
To test the hypothesis that arsenic cycling was occurring by way of native bacteria, doctoral student Scott C. Maguffin conducted a series of three laboratory experiments involving dissolved arsenite and arsenate taken from wells in the study area.
The addition of ethanol in the final experiment stimulated bacterial activity, resulting in DMA concentrations much higher than those found in the field.
“I am concerned about the impact of this cycling process in aquifers,” Jin says. “If this process is as important as we believe it is, it will impact the transport and fate of arsenic in groundwater. Many organic arsenic forms are volatile and prone to diffusion. Where will these organic arsenic forms go? Will they ever make it to the surface?”
Source: University of Oregon
http://www.futurity.org/arsenic-groundwater-871572/?utm_source=Futurity+Today&utm_campaign=8641b8af89-March_10_20153_10_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e34e8ee443-8641b8af89-206319993

~ Arsenic, the poison ~
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Canadian water/wastewater sectors need climate change planning

“No Time to Lose – Canadian water and wastewater sectors must
adapt to climate change” by Hiran Sandanayake appeared in watercanada’s July / Aug 2014 issue

CWWAA few years ago, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA ) staff asked its members a simple question: “How prepared are the Canadian water and wastewater sectors for climate change and extreme events?”

The following creative Youtube video, “Water and climate change : let’s adapt!”, published on Jul 30, 2014, mentions many vital concerns:

On the World Environment Day 2014, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency launched an animated film on adaptation to climate change in the water sector.  Climate change is here. Let’s adapt! The French Government, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency, the regions of Franche-Comté, Burgundy, Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur have engaged in a plan to adapt to change climate. Making the ground permeable again to allow water to infiltrate, reducing water waste, preserving wetlands and biodiversity… the plan proposes a range of measures to reduce the vulnerability of territories.

 After discussions, meetings, and a poll, the CWWA developed a quick snapshot. There was some good news: some municipalities saw climate change as a risk worth addressing. Some of them were establishing climate-change policies and strategies, quantifying climate-change risk, and developing adaptation programs for climate change and extreme events.

Unfortunately, there were warning signs, too. There appeared to be a wide range in levels of preparedness across the country. As the national voice for the water and wastewater sector, CWWA felt it urgent to advocate for climate-change adaptation and provide guidance.
CWWA created a new national technical committee for climate change. Since then, it has been bringing early adaptation adopters and champions together to spark a dialogue, learn from each other’s experiences, and learn about data and technical tools available for water and wastewater managers and utilities.

Another short video published Oct. 14, 2013 dealing with this topic is,”Preparing Great Lakes Cities for Climate Change: Adapting to Change and Building Resilience”, emphasizing collaboration between Canada and the USA regarding these concerns.

For communities in the Great Lakes region climate change poses unique challenges and creates intriguing opportunities. While many regions of the country face catastrophic threats of sea level rise or tragic outbreaks of wildfires, climate change impacts in the Great Lakes region create more subtle and insidious stresses on the way we live, work and play in our communities. At the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute, we are working to address these impacts and develop strategies for building more resilient cities.

Through my role as chair of the climate-change committee, I have had the privilege of learning from and working with a broad range of professionals from water and wastewater utilities, the private sector, government departments, and academia. During this time, some themes have become apparent to me:
• Adaptation to climate change often requires multi-disciplinary approaches.
• Climate-change planning is founded on many existing municipal planning processes.
• Incremental approaches to climate-change adaptation may not be sufficient.
• Local climate-change risk assessments and proper data are critical to making informed decisions. Without these, proposed solutions may result in monies not being spent on the true priorities or, worse,
may result in maladaption (unintentional exacerbation of vulnerabilities).
• Applying a true climate-change lens to water and wastewater planning may result in different solutions; place new emphasis on non-traditional or non-infrastructure intensive approaches to water management and protection during extreme events; force us to re-examine traditional approaches to uncertainty, risk, vulnerability, and level of service; and require changes now to increase resiliency.
Lessons from extreme events can be instructive for climate-change planning. These events sometimes highlight linkages not readily apparent during normal operations (for example, the limitations of municipal human resources, municipal cash flow/financing, public preparedness, et cetera). In some cases, the lack of mandates and efforts coordinated between jurisdictions can also further complicate adaptation efforts.
Funding for climate-change adaptation is needed, not only by the municipal utilities but also by the regional, provincial, and federal departments that are providing research, technical guidance, and coordination.

Though we have already seen successes in climate change adaptation and collaboration, we are still in the early days of this process. For our part, the CWWA climate-change committee will be Image result for CWWA climate-changepolling municipalities to get an updated survey of the state of climate-change adaptation. We are also creating an electronic resource databank and have other technical and coordination initiatives in the early planning stages.

The time is now to begin the adaptation process. Quantifying local risks and increasing resiliency now is the best and most cost-effective strategy.

HIRANHiran Sandanayake, P.Eng., is a senior water resources engineer with the City of Ottawa and chair of the CWWA ’s climate-change committee.

Interesting related article ~ 
http://www.horizons.gc.ca/eng/book/export/html/1888

Canada in need of a national water policy?

1-BLOG WATER ACT

The following article, “Should Canada have a National Water Policy, by Stephen Braun, appeared in the July/Aug 2014 issue of watercanada.

Despite the best efforts of many people who care so much about our national water resources, Canada has no national water policy or strategy. 

hydrologic_cycle

Canada’s creeks, rivers, lakes, and groundwater are governed by a patchwork of laws and regulations, though they cross provincial or territorial boundaries without restriction.
One thing is certain: coming up with a better definition of a national water policy is not going to make it spontaneously materialize. We have defined this issue well and have a good point of reference. What is required now is political will and recognition that such a policy is essential to Canada’s self-interest – and nothing less.
CWRAFor example, the Canadian Water Resources Association took the issue on in 2008 with the release of Toward a Canadian National Water Strategy, authored by well-Rob-de-Loeknown water policy expert Rob de Loe. Yet implementation remains elusive on this subject despite this and other high profile efforts.
More recently, Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood’s 2013 down the drainbook, Down the Drain: How We are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources, explained the unimplemented but ambitious 1987 Federal Water Policy,and that little progress has been seen since federally. Their arguments and facts that our water resources are an issue of national importance and cannot be left to the provinces are compelling. Pentland and Wood stated: “Legislation currently in force and Confederation’s founding documents empower Canada’s federal Crown to take robust action to defend water, waterways, and the life that inhabits them.”
Canada’s past approach to the contrary, the federal government absolutely does have the power to ensure our national water resources are kept healthy and sound. Canada
Canadians might believe this country is advanced in its environmental policy, but we are lagging behind other Image result for environmental protection agency (epa)jurisdictions. Even Republican U.S. President Richard Nixon recognized the importance of a national water policy. He founded
the  Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA), which subsequently led to the Clean Water and Safe DrinkingSAFE WATER ACT Water acts.  Nixon facilitated some pretty ambitious national water protection in a country not known for its love of federal regulation.
Canada’s more recent approach Of discontinuing environmental round-tables, restricting scientists from speaking publicly, and shuttering cottages on certain lakes might seem like the time isn’t ripe for a national water policy. Perhaps the time will never be right exactly, but as water professionals we must continue to advocate for it.

DESMOND TUTUDesmond Tutu visited some of Canada’s northern watersheds this spring. His famous quote, “I am not an optimist, I am a prisoner of hope,” seemed to capture the mood up there. But he said something else.
ch7_11If we apply this insight to a national water policy, it can be seen that the pillars of the bridge are largely in place. They are there as the result of excellent past work of many in this country and within other parts of the world. The reasonableness is in those pillars; it is up to us to build the rest of the bridge—hopefully with more magnanimity than realpolitik—but it must get built. 

 STEPHEN BRAUNStephen Braun is a principal
and water resources engineer
with GeoProcess Research
Associates.

RAINGRID LOGOHe is a founding
partner of RainGrid Inc.

CWRAand is currently the Ontario branch president of
the 
Canadian Water Resources Association.

Related link

http://www.canadians.org/waterpolicy-info 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er3pJzAmouw