Study shows simple treatment can protect salmon from toxic urban stormwater runoff

Coho salmon

Coho salmon are struggling, but green stormwater infrastructure could help protect the species. Photo courtesy USFWS/Penny Crane.

Green stormwater infrastructure needed to protect salmon in urban streams

Staff Report

Simple sand and soil filters could prevent much of the pollution from urban runoff that’s killing adult coho salmon in West Coast streams, NOAA researchers found after studying water quality around Puget Sound.

The research traced the link between toxic parking lot runoff and other urban pollution and salmon deaths. More than half the coho salmon returning to urban streams dominated by stormwater runoff die every year before they spawn. Continue reading

Morning photo: Lake light

Day trip …

Just an hour away from Linz, the Alps rise, an impressive wall of limestone peaks towering above the rolling countryside of Upper Austria. Glacier-fed streams have carved deep gorges through the soft rock, and valley bottoms are punctuated by stunning lakes. But all is not well in this fairytale landscape. By some measurements, Austria is a global warming hotspot, and that spells trouble for the country’s glaciers and lakes. In a country that uses hydropower extensively, big changes to flow regimes in rivers and streams could have a huge economic impact. This summer’s drought and extreme heatwave in Austria was one of the worst on record, and many alpine glaciers visibly wasted away under relentless summer sun. Many lakes are expected to warm by 3 degrees Celsius by mid-century, with massive ecosystem changes in store. Learn more about climate change impacts in Austria here.

Upcoming seminar spotlights regional water issues

CRWCD’s annual water seminar features leading national and regional water and climate experts

Several weekend stories addressed water quailty issues.

Got water?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado this summer may have escaped the severe drought plaguing much of the West — at least for now — but that doesn’t mean the state is immune from regional water woes.

Planners and water users know very well that huge long-term challenges remain for all the states in the Colorado River Basin, and some of those issues will be highlighted during the Colorado River Water Conservation District’s Sept. 10 water seminar in Grand Junction.

Two of the most important women in Western water leadership will be addressing the Colorado River District’s popular Annual Water Seminar in Grand Junction, Colo., that takes place Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Two Rivers Convention Center. Continue reading

Environment: Study helps quantify plastic pollution from household cosmetic and cleaning products

Microbeads are bad juju for world’s waterways and oceans

 This image captured by an electron microscope shows polyethylene microbeads widely used in shower gel. Photo courtesy Thompson/Bakir/Plymouth University.

This image captured by an electron microscope shows polyethylene microbeads widely used in shower gel. Photo courtesy Thompson/Bakir/Plymouth University.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Simple, everyday uses of some cosmetics and cleaning products releases huge amounts of plastic micropollution into the environment, potentially at levels harmful to marine life.

Scientists at Plymouth University recently tried to quantify the well-known environmental problem by studying brands of facial scrubs that listed plastics among their ingredients. They used vacuum filtration to sort out the plastic particles and analyzed the debris with electron microscopes, finding that each 150ml of the products could contain between 137,000 and 2.8 million microparticles. Continue reading

EPA releases internal report on Animas River Spill

EPA releases first results of internal investigation

Why did the Gold King Mine spill its guts?

Why did the Gold King Mine spill its guts?

FRISCO — EPA officials say that workers at the Gold King Mine likely underestimated the pressure building up inside the mountain. That miscalculation likely resulted in the massive 3 million gallon spill that tainted the Animas and San Juan rivers for miles downstream.


Petition seeks new mining regulations to prevent future disasters like the Animas River spill


Drainage from the abandoned Pennsylvannia Mine in Summit County, Colorado, has been poisoning Peru Creek and the Snake River for decades, @bberwyn photo.

Common sense tweaks would require more monitoring as well as reclamation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Congress, under fierce lobbying pressure from the mining industry, may not have the political wherewithal to make meaningful changes to mining laws.

But public land agencies could tweak their regulations to reduce the chances of another event like the spill from the Gold King Mine that tainted the Animas and San Juan rivers earlier this month.

A coalition of community and environmental groups hopes to spur those changes at the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture with a formal petition under the Administrative Procedures Act. The petition seeks four key changes to mining rules that would go a long way toward averting future toxic spills.

The rules changes would:

  • Limit the lifetime of a mine permit,
  • Impose enforceable reclamation deadlines and groundwater monitoring requirements on mines
  • Require regular monitoring and inspections,
  • And limit the number of years that a mine can remain inactive.

Continue reading

Environment: Canadian mine, energy developments stir trans-border unease in Alaska


Ecosystems in a transboundary region are at issue in a series of upcoming meetings in Alaska. Map courtesy Rivers Without Borders.

Alaska communities seek international review of Canadian projects that will affect their rivers

Staff Report

FRISCO — Mining and energy development in western Canada is making some Alaskans uneasy, as they eye potential impacts to pristine salmon streams in the region.

Citing a bilateral environmental treaty, activists this week will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest B.C.

The environmental and community advocates said an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by mine development in British Columbia. Continue reading


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