Posted on June 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Estuaries are important nurseries for marine species, and they are also susceptible to pollution from land-based sources.
‘We are finding hypoxic areas wherever we look’
FRISCO — Nutrient pollution from farming has seeped into nearly every corner of a California estuary, affecting the abundance of fish in the important marine nursery, according to new research by scientists with the University of California at Santa Cruz and The Nature Conservancy.
Lead author Brent Hughes began studying water quality in Elkhorn Slough as a UCSC graduate student. His earlier research showed that virtually every portion of the estuary is adversely affected by high nutrient levels. The pollution stimulates the growth of algae, leading to low oxygen levels when the algae die and decompose.
The new study, based on data collected over the past 40 years, shows how low levels of dissolved oxygen (a condition known as “hypoxia”) affects fish populations in the estuary and beyond. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: Elkhorn Slough, Environment, fisheries, Monterey Bay, nutrient pollution, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 6, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Excess nutrient pollution in streams means less organic carbon available for aquatic organicsms. bberwyn photo
Excess nitrogen and phosphorus speed breakdown of forest litter
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
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: Environment, nutrient pollution, stream carbon cycles, water pollution, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
States outline small voluntary steps toward new 2035 deadline
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.
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
Filed under: agriculture, Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: Gulf of Mexico dead zone, hypoxia task force, nutrient pollution, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 30, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
An endangered green sea turtle swims along the sea bottom. Photo courtesy NOAA.
‘We’re drawing direct lines from human nutrient inputs to the reef ecosystem, and how it affects wildlife’
FRISCO — What goes on your lawn and garden doesn’t stay there — and that’s bad news for sea turtles in Hawaii, Duke University biologists said this week, explaining that pollution from urban areas and farms is causing often-deadly tumors in the endangered animals.
A new study, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PeerJ, shows that nitrogen in the runoff ends up in algae that the turtles eat, promoting the formation of tumors on the animals’ eyes, flippers and internal organs. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Environment, green sea turtle tumors, nutrient pollution, ocean conservation, sea turtles | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by Caroline Rogers/USGS.
‘We’re desperately trying to save what’s left, and cleaning up the water may be one mechanism that has the most promise …’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — By setting up a long-term, controlled exposure experiment in Florida, researchers were able to pin down the impact of nutrient overloads and separate them from other possible causes of coral reef decline.
The three-year study, confirmed what scientists have long suspected — pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff and other land-based sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.
The results showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled. However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: coral reefs, Environment, Florida Keys, nutrient pollution, oceans, Oregon State University | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A proposed new Colorado rule setting limits on nitrogen and phosphorus will help protect water quality.
Proposed rule still subject to hearings and final EPA approval
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Twenty years after the Clean Water Act was amended to address organic pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus, Colorado is moving to limit the discharge of those nutrients, which lead to vexing water quality issues in lakes and streams.
“Phosphorus and nitrogen are incredibly prevalent. They’re in animal waste, human waste, fertilizer, and we’ve ignored it for 20 years,” said Becky Long, water caucus coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
If left unaddressed the pollution causes algae blooms and dead zones in waterways, impacting aquatic wildlife and Colorado’s outdoor recreation opportunities.
Long said she’s encouraged by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s early support for the new standards limiting nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The rule is still subject to challenge at subsequent hearings, as well EPA review and final approval.
Long said the standards go beyond simply protecting aquatic life and human health by addressing potential impacts to recreation. More details at the EPA’s nutrient pollution web page. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Summit County news, water | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Colorado, Colorado nitrogen and phosphorus rule, nutrient pollution, United States Environmental Protection Agency, water quality | 3 Comments »