Tag Archives: Munster

Afghan Villagers Unite to Preserve Access to Water

In Dand District, Kandahar Province villagers from Qalach-a-Abad come together to clean the Nawai Pathaw Canal. They do this so they have enough water to irrigate their fields, and grow their crops for the rest of the year.

The canal needs to be cleaned every year due to the amount of mud and silt that accumulates and needs to be removed for the water to flow freely.


Over 100 villagers are working together to clean the canal. It takes 20 days to clean 10.5 kilometres of the canal, which provides water for 6 villages. It is also common to require 40 days to make repairs, stop leaks, and clean. In spite of this annual  effort it is not unusual for the villages to run out of water due to the leakages.

The canal that was originally built some 50 yrs ago, was rehabilitated in 2014 by the Irrigation Restoration and Development Project. The project which took a year included building new sluice gates, a protective wall, , flumes, and culverts the length of the canal. The result is agricultural output and activity has improved. 2,748 hectares of farmland is now serviced compared to the previous 2,320 hectares.


Before the upgrade villagers came out and did the work, but not happily. Now with the outside investment and the increase in crops, they are more happy to put in their own money and time to keep the improvements in good shape. the people of the 6 villages have a renewed sense of purpose.

This project is only part of the picture as irrigation systems serving some 300,000 hectares need upgrades. Presently, 98 irrigation schemes covering 100,000 hectares benefiting 63,000 farmers have been rehabilitated.

That is 63,000 people with a renewed sense of purpose. This carries over to the villages investing more into themselves…the true power of development.



Salmon sex linked to geological change

Researchers at Washington State University have found that the mating habits of salmon can alter the profile of the stream beds, affecting the evolution of an entire watershed. This is the first time we can say that salmon can influence the shape of the land.

Female salmon “fluff” the soil and gravel on the river bottom as the prepare their nests. The gravel and soil is then more easily moved by flooding, which exposes the underlying bedrock to erosion. By moving the sediment the fish are in fact changing the character of the stream bed, so in times of flood the base is more mobile.

the researchers modeled the changes over 5 million yrs and saw streams with spawning salmon lowering stream slopes and elevation over time.  Land beside the stream can also get steeper and more prone to erosion.

Different salmon species can have a different effect. Chinook can move bigger pieces of material, while coho move finer particulate. Over time, this diversification can lead to different erosion rates  and changes  to the landscape.

This research highlights the role of living things to shape their environment. Trees prevent landslides, beavers build dams that slow water..creating wetlands that benefit many.

Conversely, in streams where salmon drop in numbers or disappear completely significant long-term changes in their profile and ecology may be seen.

The evolution of a watershed can be influenced by the evolution of a species.

WHO: 1.7M children die every year due to polluted environments

Consider that a quarter of all global deaths of children under 5 are due to unhealthy or polluted environments including water and air, second hand smoke and adequate hygiene.

Unsanitary and polluted environments can lead to fatal cases of diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia kill 1.7 million children each year. A polluted environment can be deadly on young children, they’re developing organs and immune systems, smaller airways, and bodies make them vulnerable to dirty air and water.

Households without access to safe water and sanitation , or that are polluted with smoke from unclean fuels such as dung or coal for cooking and heating present higher risks for diarrhea and pneumonia.

Children are also exposed to harmful chemicals through food, water , and air around them.

Investing in the removal of environmental risks to health , such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels will result in massive health benefits.

US to rescind WOTUS based on flawed analysis

New evidence suggests that the Trump Administration’s proposal to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States rule that would limit the scope of the Clean Water Act inappropriately overlooks wetland related values.

In a 2017 government issued analysis, benefits to rescind the rule were found to be greater than costs, results conflict with a similar analysis made in 2015 under the Obama administration. The big difference is the 2017 analysis left wetlands related values unquantified, These differences led to an almost 90% drop in quantified benefits from the 2015 to the 2017 analysis. Excluding wetlands values obviously presents an incomplete picture.

How important is this?…The Supreme court will be holding a hearing that will decide selected issues related to WOTUS.

The 2015 report was put together by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, the 2017 report was also put together by these same groups. The 2015 report showed the wetlands benefits at up to $500million a year. The 2017 report excluded wetland values.

The 2017 analysis contained inconsistencies as wetland valuation studies were considered to old for inclusion while point source pollution studies published during the same time frame were not treated as too old, and were included.

A failure to consider available data on public attitudes regarding water quality protection that supports the credibility of the wetlands benefits in the 2015 analysis was also noted.

There are 10 recent studies that could be examined for wetland value estimates. Also, there is evidence showing that US public opinion on environmental protection remains strong.

The 2017 report seems to have lost some credibility.


Why Should We Save Water?

Why should we conserve water given that 71% of the Earth is covered with water?

What we know about water on Earth looks like this..97% of all water on our planet is salt water which is not suitable for drinking. Only 3% of all the water is fresh water, and only 1% is available for drinking. 2% of the available freshwater sources is locked in ice caps and glaciers.


With the continuing growth in the world population of humans, and with a small percentage of water suitable for drinking it just makes sense that we conserve this precious resource. We depend on water to sustain life as we know it, so we should learn how to conserve it and how to keep it pure and safe for consumption moving forward.

Why save? Our water supply is not infinite, it is not endless. We all need water to live our daily lives so water conservation is not just for scientists, hydrologists, city planners and the like…it is up to each one of us to use water with conservation in mind.

Conserving water minimizes the effects of drought and water shortage. Our need for fresh water is always increasing because of population and industry growth…but the supply remains constant. Thanks to the water cycle, water always return to Earth but not always to the same spot , in the same quantity and quality.

Conservation guards against rising costs and political conflict. By not conserving we could face a lack of adequate quality water leading to rising costs, potentially reduced food supplies, and political conflict.

We need to conserve to preserve our environment.

We need to conserve for recreational purposes. Golf courses, swimming pools and spas require large amounts of water. We also need water to water lawns, trees , flowers, and vegetable gardens.

Safe and beautiful communities require a volume of good quality water. Firefighters, hospitals, gas stations, health clubs, and restaurants need large amounts of water to provide their services to the community.

It is up to all of us to conserve water, every little bit helps, so what you do as an individual does count. Make conservation a way of life.


Algae Bloom Covering Lake Erie

Residents and officials local to Lake Erie were alarmed last week to find a potentially harmful algae bloom covered more than 700 sq miles in the western basin.

Scientists say the blooms have been a growing problem since the early 2000’s…mainly due to the use of fertilizer on the area’s farmland. Under certain conditions algae blooms can produce toxins that can contaminate drinking water and cause harm to the local ecosystem. The good news is that during last week’s bloom these toxins remained low around intake points where town’s draw their water.

So while not all algae blooms are toxic, they can produce toxins that can cause serious liver damage. Consider that in 2014  Toledo , Ohio had to shut down the drinking water to some 500,000 people for 3 days. The disruption to the locals affected must have been great. Now consider that 3 million people get their drinking water from the central basin of Lake Erie. Also, Lake Erie attracts millions of visitors for the beaches and recreational fishing…many businesses stand to lose the tourist dollars.

An official from the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association describes the algae as musty smelling, lime green skin on the lake’s surface that is so thick you can write your name on it. 

A big concern is that the blooms are getting larger. Most of the increase can be attributed to a rise in the amount of dissolved phosphorous flowing into the lake. Researchers started tracking algae blooms on Lake Erie in the 1980’s , at the time they were mostly small, but changes in farming practices has caused them to spike.

Global warming is now expected to play a role as the warming causes a change in rainfall patterns. Storms have become more intense carrying more nutrients from the farmland into the lake. 

Is Lake Erie the beginning and end to algae blooms? No, as the Carnegie Institution for Science has a study that shows algae blooms will continue to grow around North America and around the world, especially Southeast Asia.

Boaty McBoatface returns home from abyss

Researchers from the University of Southampton have got super data retrieved from some of the coldest abyssal ocean waters on earth…known as the Antarctic Bottom Water. They were able to get this information by using the yellow robotic submersible called Boaty McBoatface which arrived back in the UK last week.

The team of scientists got data on temperature, speed of water flow, and underwater turbulence rates in the Orkney Passage. This Passage is a region in the southern ocean which is around 4,000m deep, and roughly 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

In order to understand the progress of Boaty and place the data in the context of the complicated terrain of the region, the team have created an animated fly through of the Orkney Passage. The information collected will now be reviewed to understand the complex process of ocean mixing and how it affects climate change.

This was the first Antarctic voyage of Boaty McBoatface , one of the Autosub Long Range class of unmanned submersibles. these are the latest type of autonomous underwater vehicle developed by the National Oceanographic Center. The Autosub was named following last year’s campaign by NERC to name the UK’s new polar research vessel. The vessel will be named after the famous naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. The popular suggestion of the contest Boaty McBoatface, lives on in the form of the unmanned sub that supports the research ship to explore parts of the polar regions inaccessible to humans.

Boaty completed 3 missions, the longest lasting 3 days, traveling more than 180k, and reaching depths of nearly 4,000m. Travelling back and forth through the abyssal current of Antarctic Bottom Water along the Orkney Passage, sometimes in water colder than O degrees and in currents of up to 1 knot. Huge amounts of data has been collected that would not have been possible before, this is due to Boaty being able to move around whereas before scientists were only able to collect information from fixed points.

We look forward to the further adventures of Boaty McBoatface.