Category Archives: Environmental concerns

Toxic ‘Blue-Green Algae’ in many Canadian Lakes

BLUE GREEN ALGAE
Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious threat to drinking-water sources, because certain species contain toxins harmful to the liver or nervous system.
Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious threat to drinking-water sources, because certain species contain toxins harmful to the liver or nervous system. (Photo credit: Dr. Ron Zurawell, Ph.D., P.Biol. Limnologist/Water Quality Specialist, Alberta Environment)(Photo credit: Dr. Ron Zurawell, Ph.D., P.Biol. Limnologist/Water Quality Specialist, Alberta Environment)
Article courtesy of ScienceDaily |February 26, 2015 | ScienceDaily | Shared as educational material
Summary:
Image result for blue green algaeThe organisms commonly known as blue-green algae have proliferated much more rapidly than other algae in lakes across North America and Europe over the past two centuries — and in many cases the rate of increase has sharply accelerated since the mid-20th century, according to an international team of researchers.
Image result for blue green algaeThe organisms commonly known as blue-green algae have proliferated much more rapidly than other algae in lakes across North America and Europe over the past two centuries — and in many cases the rate of increase has sharply accelerated since the mid-20th century, according to an international team of researchers led by scientists at McGill University.

The following youtube video is one of many published regarding the toxic blue-green algae. “Bloom – the Plight of Lake Champlain” (Part 1 of 4) is a documentary featuring Lake Champlain.


Their study, published in the journal Ecology Letters, represents the first continental-scale examination of historical changes in levels of cyanobacteria, the scientific term for the photosynthetic bacteria that form blue-green scum on the surface of ponds and lakes during hot summer months. Cyanobacteria blooms pose a serious threat to drinking-water sources, because certain species contain toxins harmful to the liver or nervous system.

Image result for blue green algae“We found that cyanobacterial populations have expanded really strongly in many lakes since the advent of industrial fertilizers and rapid urban growth,” says Zofia Taranu, who led the study as a PhD candidate in McGill’s Department of Biology. “While we already knew that cyanobacteria prefer warm and nutrient-rich conditions, our study is also the first to show that the effect of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, overwhelm those of global warming.”

Alpine lakes affected:
Researchers from France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Malaysia, and across Canada contributed to the study. While the increase in cyanobacteria in agriculturally developed watersheds was in line with their expectations, the scientists were surprised to find that cyanobacteria also increased in many remote, alpine lakes. In those sites, warmer temperatures and nutrient loading from atmospheric sources are likely to have played a bigger role than direct agricultural runoff.

Dense algal blooms have become a summertime staple of media coverage — and a growing concern of lakefront homeowners — in certain regions, but until now there had been little in the way of long-term, large-scale synthesis of data on the phenomenon. This left room for doubt as to whether harmful algal blooms were truly on the rise, or whether communities were simply better equipped to identify and report blooms when they occur.

The rapid increase in cyanobacteria identified in the study points to the potential for a parallel increase in the concentration of harmful cyanotoxins, says Taranu, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Université de Montréal. While potentially toxic species don’t synthesize toxins at all times, studies have shown that one of the best predictors of toxin concentrations in lakes is the total abundance of cyanobacteria.

Image result for Cyanobacteria cause damage to the liver or nervous systemCyanobacteria can produce toxins that cause damage to the liver or nervous system. The most common symptoms of acute exposure to harmful algal blooms are skin rash or irritation, gastroenteritis and respiratory distress. Chronic, low dose exposures over a lifetime may also result in liver tumors or endocrine disruption. Preliminary studies also suggest that a recently isolated cyanotoxin may become more concentrated across food chains and may be associated with the formation of progressive neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS diseases. Although this latter work is still controversial among scientists, “our results underline the importance of further research in this area,” Taranu says.

Image result for minimizing excess fertilizer applicationCollaborations needed to tackle problem:
“Our work shows that we need to work harder as a society to reduce nutrient discharges to surface waters,” says Irene Gregory-Eaves, an associate professor of biology at McGill and co-author of the study. “Because diffuse nutrient loading (as opposed to end-of-pipe effluent) is the main issue, we need to build collaborations to tackle this complex problem. For example, partnerships among freshwater scientists and farmers are starting to happen, and more of this needs to take place, so that we can strike a balance between maximizing crop yields and minimizing excess fertilizer application.”

http://savethewater.org/2015/03/04/blue-green-algae-proliferating-lakes-2/

NYC Water Tank Project ~ Fabulous Results!

ICON
Launching summer 2014, The Water Tank Project will transform the New York City skyline.  Look up! Some 300 water tanks around NYC are getting artsy makeovers all in the name of water conservation.

Run by Word Above the Street, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and water conservation through art, the Water Tank Project looks like it will be a gushing success.water-tank-project-new-york-2.jpg

Art gets wrapped around NYC water tanks | ZoomIN

The Water Tank Project is the inaugural initiative of Word Above the Street, a non-profit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and social advocacy through art. The incredible Water Tank Project will see approximately 100 local artists, including NYC public school students and internationally acclaimed artists such as Laurie Simmons and Odili Donald Odita, wrapping their artwork around selected city tanks. JORDI FORNIESArtwork by acclaimed artists and New York City public school students will be wrapped around rooftop water tanks throughout the city, celebrating the talents of established and emerging artists, and calling attention to the global water crisis. IMAGE3The Water Tank Project is part art exhibition, part awareness campaign. For the duration of the project, art above will be complemented by action on the ground through educational programs, public tours, social media activities and a symposium dedicated to inspiring fresh views on global water issues. 

For the duration of the city-wide event, tanks from Staten Island to the Bronx will be wrapped in vibrant artwork in hopes of bringing much-needed attention to global water issues. Often overlooked as rooftop eyesores, some of the 17,000 water tanks in Manhattan date back as far as the Industrial Revolution. While some may consider the rusty relics a thing of the past today, the Water Tank Project brings an important environmental purpose to the large iconic barrels.

IMAGE2 DOG

If you happen to be at Union Square, look up at the water tower above the Burlington Coat Factory. There’s a picture of a surfing dog on it, taken by fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Part of the Water Tank Project, this is one of several water towers around the city that will be wrapped in artwork to raise awareness about the global water crisis.
“I once had a dog named Palomino. He was an English Golden Retriever who loved nothing more than freewheeling like a hot dog surfer on the level of Kelly Slater. Whether on water or on land, with Palomino life was always an adventure”
. Bruce Weber, “Palomino Takes a Wave”.

ODILI DONALD ODITA
This painting called “Current” by Odili Odeta  – 282 11th Ave  (Chelsea) can be seen in the skyline to the left of Laurie Simmons’ Love Doll .

SWIMMER LAURIE SIMMONSSince I moved to New York many years ago I’ve wondered what it would be like to swim in a water tank. The Love Doll gets to enact this fantasy for me.” Laurie Simmons 

BACTERIA“Despite the fact that Georgia, the country where I was born, has numerous rivers, in the days of the Soviet Empire, when nothing was working well, there were many hours a day when we were without water. During my life I have lived in different countries, countries where water only runs during certain hours of the day. For my work for the water tank, “Bacteria”, my thoughts were focused on the contamination of water. Water can cause health problems; that made me think of the bacteria in water. We associate water with purity, cleanliness, and well-being. In many areas of the world, this is not the case. I imagined water bacteria in my painting for The Water Tank Project to raise awareness.” — Eteri Chkadua

SIGRID CALON

The Sigrid Calon tank at 530 West 25th St. in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood.

FEMALE FIGURE LORENZO PETRANTONIWater Means Life – Lorenzo Petrantoni – 393 W Broadway (SoHo) 

GUSH As you stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan, look to the South to view Marilyn Minter’s Gush atop 264 Water Street. SCOTT CHRISTOPHERTessa Traeger – 110 Fulton Street Tessa Traeger (Financial District)

IMAGE1Our aim is to produce art as social intervention, to inspire awe and joy, to educate, and to alter attitudes and habits among those who experience The Water Tank Project, ultimately creating meaningful and long-lasting change.

POTTERYThe organizers of the event hope that by decorating the tanks, the artsy initiative will inspire awe and joy as well as educate and alter everyday attitudes and habits towards water conservation. In addition to the water tank makeovers, the organization is planning tours, parties, educational programs and multiple forums discussing global water issues.

seen from Union SquareInterestingly, the printed wraps are installed on the tanks by Isseks Brothers, a family-owned NYC business established in the late 1800s. Isseks is one of only two companies in New York City that build and maintain water tanks. 

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.

 

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

California’s water crisis ~ Alarming prediction!

1-CALIFORNIA WATER CRISIS

These Maps of California’s Water Shortage Are Terrifying

California's water shortage

The following was posted on savethewater.org, by Tom Philpott, Oct. 30, 2014.

Just how bad is California’s water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state’s ongoing and epochal drought:

The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. “California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011,” he writes. That’s “more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”

Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe’s aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.

FARMER IN FIELDMore than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it’s also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.

The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: “Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned.”

The Central Valley boasts some of the globe’s fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe’s largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, “underlie the world’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”

CHART TO CROP

The navy-blue line represents the Ogallala aquifer—a magnificent water resource now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains. Note that it has quietly dropped nearly as much as the Central Valley’s aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in Punjab, India’s breadbasket and the main site of that irrigation-intensive agricultural “miracle” known as the Green Revolution, which industrialized the region’s farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China’s key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the water table there has been dropping steadily for years.

groundwater supplyAll of this is happening with very little forethought or regulation. Unlike underground oil, underground water draws very little research on how much is actually there. We know we’re siphoning it away faster than it can be replaced, but we have little idea of how long we can keep doing so, Famiglietti writes. He adds, though, that if current trends hold, “groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades.” As for regulation, it’s minimal across the globe. In most places, he writes, there’s a “veritable groundwater ‘free for all': property owners who can afford to drill wells generally have unlimited access to groundwater.”

And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What’s left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. Eventually, “inequity issues arise because only the relatively wealthy can bear the expense of digging deeper wells, paying greater energy costs to pump groundwater from increased depths and treating the lower-quality water that is often found deeper within aquifers,” Famiglietti writes—a situation already playing out in California’s Central Valley, where some low-income residents have seen their wells go dry. In a reporting trip to the southern part of the Central Valley this past summer, I saw salt-caked groves with wan, suffering almond trees—the result of irrigation with salty water pumped from deep in the aquifer.

All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth—so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water. Famiglietti’s piece ends with a set of recommendations for bringing the situation under control: Essentially, let’s carefully measure the globe’s groundwater and treat it like a precious resource, not a delicious milkshake to casually suck down to the dregs. In the meantime, Famiglietti warns, “further declines in groundwater availability may well trigger more civil uprising and international violent conflict in the already water-stressed regions of the world, and new conflict in others.”

http://savethewater.org/maps-californias-water-shortage-terrifying/

Related link ~ http://yournewswire.com/global-collapse-coming-from-groundwater-supply-depletion-nasa/

Reshaping Florida’s Kissimee River

1-KISSIMMEE RIVER

Kissimmee: River of Dreams, Part 1 of 3 – Youtube video published on Jul 13, 2012  . This 27-minute documentary from 1997 was produced for the South Florida Water Management District.

The Kissimmee River Basin extends from Orlando southward to Lake Okeechobee. The largest source of surface water to Lake Okeechobee, this basin is about 105 miles long and has a maximum width of 35 miles. The Kissimmee River was originally a 103-mile-long shallow, meandering river that was reconfigured in the 1960s into a 56-mile-long canal (renamed C-38) for flood control. As a result, about 40,000 to 50,000 acres of floodplain marsh disappeared, resulting in a significant loss of habitat for wading birds and other aquatic animals, and in a loss of the natural nutrient-filtering effects of these wetlands.  The 15-year restoration project, initiated in 1999, is repairing the river and its floodplain by increasing water storage in the upper Kissimmee Basin, backfilling 22 miles of the C-38 Canal, recarving nine miles of river channel, removing two water control structures, and removing floodplain levees. The backfilling of the C-38 Canal and restoration of Kissimmee River are one of Florida’s great watershed restoration success stories.

Part 1 of 3 

Part 2 of 3 

 Part 3 of 3

SOURCE: http://www.care2.com/causes/why-is-florida-reshaping-an-entire-river.html

“The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis” by Gary Wockner

The following article, “The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis” by Gary Wockner and Youtube video, “WKA Peoples Climate March Video 8 19 14″ was posted to Ecowatch.com on Sept. 15, 2014

We’ve seen near-record wildfires, rain, drought, flooding and snowpack in the last 5 years in the watersheds along the Front Range of Colorado. In the same 12 months that record rain has occurred in one part of the Southwest U.S.’ Colorado River basin, record heat and drought has occurred in another.

Climate change is real, is happening now, and the climate crisis is a water crisis.

WATER CRISIS

On Sept. 20 as a part of the People’s Climate March in New York City, I and other colleagues from the international Waterkeeper Alliance we be holding a teach-in, The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis. We will come from all over the U.S. to tell a story about the link between climate and water, and we will offer our observations and recommendations on the next steps forward.

Here in the Southwest U.S, we must do everything we can to stop from making climate change worse. Unfortunately in Colorado and across the region, our public policies are going the wrong direction—we are drilling, fracking and mining fossil fuels faster than ever before, and we are burning them at record rates. Colorado’s frack-happy politicians and policies only seem to be rivaled by Utah’s deep dive (“carbon bomb”) into oil shale and tar sands mining. We must stop and head the other direction.

We also need to be better prepared to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We will likely see more extreme weather variability, we may see more extreme droughts in the Southwest U.S., and California’s extreme heat and drought going on right now may become a “new normal.”…

Taken from Gary’s post, “Waterkeepers March!” on Ecowatch, Sept. 21, 2014

WATERKEEPERS MARCH

“It was euphoric!

Never in my life have I been in such a mass of humanity as I was today in New York City in the largest climate march in world history. Joining me were 100 members of Waterkeeper Alliance as we marched along with more than 300,000 people through the streets of Manhattan. The march was three times bigger than anyone expected. The day was simply amazing…”

Gary Wockner, PhD, is Waterkeeper for the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins, Colorado, and directs the Save The Colorado River Campaign. You can reach Gary at Gary@GaryWockner.com.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

300,000+ Demand Climate Action Now at Largest Climate March in World History

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now! Discussing Capitalism vs. the Climate

How Climate Change Exacerbates the Spread of Disease, Including Ebola