Environment: Nutrient pollution disrupts stream carbon cycle

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Excess nutrient pollution in streams means less organic carbon available for aquatic organicsms. bberwyn photo

Excess nitrogen and phosphorus speed breakdown of forest litter

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with causing unwanted and potentially toxic blooms of algae, nutrient pollution also causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon in stream ecosystems — to the detriment of aquatic life, according to a research team led by University of Georgia scientists.

Even moderate amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in a stream cause the carbon to break down twice as fast, their research found. In Colorado, regulators have made efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in streams. Continue reading

New map IDs pesticide pollution hot spots

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Pesticide pollution hotspots are identified in a new map.

Global warming could exacerbate pesticide woes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world has a long way to go to come to grips with pesticide pollution say scientists who recently created a global map showing which areas are most susceptible.

Their modeling suggests that streams across about 40 percent of the planet’s surface are at risk from the application of insecticides, with the Mediterranean region, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia among the hotspots.

On average, farmers apply about 4 million tons of agricultural pesticides  annually, equating to an average of 0.27 kilograms per hectare of the global land surface. Continue reading

UN says big investments needed to avert water wars

Will the world get it together on climate change?

Will the world get it together on water?

Upfront spending would avoid the huge costs of escalating conflicts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Big investments in water infrastructure are needed around the world to avert future conflicts over the world’s most essential resource. Looming shortages of water could trigger conflicts and mass migrations, contributing to social and political instability, the report warns.

“The consequence of unmet water goals will be widespread insecurity creating more international tension and conflict,” said lead author Bob Sandford. “The positive message is that if we can keep moving now on water-related sustainable development goals we can still have the future we want,” he said. Continue reading

Environment: Study shows that even ‘isolated’ wetlands are crucial to protecting water quality

Findings come as EPA edges toward final new clean water rule

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By Summit Voice

Geographically isolated wetlands like prairie potholes and desert playas in the Southwest are critical to water quality and also provide many other ecosystem services — even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to Indiana University researchers.

Continued loss of such wetlands is likely “to cause serious harm to North American waters,” according to John M. Marton, a researcher with the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” Marton said, discussing the conclusions of a new article appearing in BioScience. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists document the rise of blue-green algae in lakes around the world

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Algae blooms spreading in high mountain lakes.

Even remote alpine lakes at risk from increased nutrient pollution

Staff Report

FRISCO — The immoderate use of fertilizers in the last half century is literally choking some lakes to death and raises the risk of human exposure to dangerous toxins, scientists said after studying the proliferation of blue-green algae.

Those organisms have spread much more rapidly than any other type of algae in North American and European lakes, according to McGill University scientists, who published their findings in the the journal Ecology Letters. In many cases, the rate of increase has sharply accelerated since the mid-20th century. Continue reading

Part of huge environmental settlement to help clean tainted coastal wetlands in North Carolina

Cape Fear, North Carolina, photographed by a NASA satellite.

Cape Fear, North Carolina, photographed by a NASA satellite.

Funding will help restoration of Cape Fear watershed after decades of industrial pollution

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tainted North Carolina wetlands and streams will be restored thanks to a $13 million in cleanup funding under federally administered environmental programs.

The payment, announced by NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in their capacity as natural resource trustees, to repair the damage from 40 years of pollution at Kerr-McGee’s wood treatment facility in Navassa, North Carolina. Another $9 million is on the table. Continue reading

Gulf of Mexico dead zone cleanup target pushed back

States outline small voluntary steps toward new 2035 deadline

A NOAA graphic shows the impacts of nutrient loading by highlight oxygen-starved dead zones in red.

A NOAA graphic shows the impacts of nutrient loading by highlightig oxygen-starved dead zones in red. A task force hopes to shrink the dead zone significantly by 2035.

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a classic example of government double-speak, the EPA announced this week that Mississippi River Basin states want to speed the reduction of nutrients that cause a huge Gulf of Mexico dead zone, but that they’re pushing back their target date for a cleanup by 20 years. Continue reading

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