Posted on August 9, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Tainted stormwater runoff is a significant threat to water quality in many Colorado streams.
EPA tackling major violations around the country
FRISCO — A Colorado construction company has been fined $310,000 after multiple failures to comply with an EPA stormwater permit. The civil penalty is outlined in a settlement agreement sanctioned by the U.S. District Court for Colorado.
Under the settlement, Hunt Building has agreed to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at two military housing construction sites at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The violations were discovered during EPA inspections at the site. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: Air Force Academy, Colorado, Environment, EPA, stormwater runoff, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Air quality regs pay off, as New England lakes and streams bounce back from acid rain.
It’s simple: Cleaning the air improves water quality
FRISCO — Acid rain, once the scourge of freshwater ecosystems in the eastern U.S., is waning, and the health of New England lakes and streams is improving, scientists said this week after documenting declines in sulfate concentrations in snow and rain.
The data gathered by scientists working under the auspices of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, show that sulfate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 40 percent in the 2000s. Sulfate concentration in lakes declined at a greater rate from 2002 to 2010 than during the 1980s or 1990s. During the 2000s, nitrate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 50 percent and nitrate concentration declined in lakes. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: acid rain, air quality, New England, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 11, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Caption: This is the freshwater algae known as “rock snot” or “didymo.” Credit: Carole-Anne Gillis.
Global warming likely to intensify outbreaks of unwanted algae, but eradication efforts may be futile
FRISCO — The recent proliferation of freshwater rock snot algae is probably related to changing environmental conditions, Dartmouth scientists reported in a new study last week.
The algae have been native to much of the world for thousands of years, but conditions promoting visible growths were absent or rare. It’s not likely the recent emergence of rock snot was caused by accidental introductions by fishermen or the emergence of a new genetic strain.
That means efforts to wipe out the algae with chemicals or fishing restrictions probably won’t work. Instead, resource managers should try to understand and mitigate the environmental factors that trigger the blooms. Continue reading
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Posted on May 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The Columbia River Basin, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
Some chemicals exceed limits set to protect human health
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Even the Northwest’s mighty Columbia River isn’t immune to persistent chemical pollution federal scientists said last week, publicizing a new study that found fish with traces of pesticides and PCBs at levels that raise health concerns.
The data have been sent to state health officials in Oregon and Washington who will evaluate the new information to determine exactly how much of the resident fish are safe to eat.
The researchers measured contaminants, including pesticides, flame retardant compounds, and ingredients from common household products in the water and osprey eggs at 10 different locations along the Columbia River. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: Columbia River, endocrine disrupting chemicals, Environment, USGS, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
High alpine wetlands that aren’t directly connected with larger rivers will regain more protection under a proposed new federal rule. bberwyn photo.
New rule aims to clear up regulatory limbo for seasonal streams and isolated wetlands
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A proposed federal rule would restore protection to hundreds of Colorado streams and big swaths of wetlands, including beloved alpine creeks and the sandy washes of the Front Range that only hold water seasonally.
The seasonal streams and disconnected wetlands long were covered under the Clean Water Act, but a pair of complex U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 opened some loopholes the regulations. At the least, the legal limbo caused headaches for scientists and regulators trying to assess impacts of housing developments and new roads. In some cases, they weren’t sure if they even had authority to regulate filling or draining of some wetlands. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality, wetlands | Tagged: Environment, water quality, waters of the U.S., wetlands | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New NOAA-USGS study evaluates aquaculture cleanup potential
Oysters could help clear the water in the Potomac River estuary.
FRISCO — Degraded water quality in the Potomac River estuary could be improved with intensive cultivation of oysters according to a new NOAA and U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Aquatic Geochemistry.
As filter feeders, oysters could remove all of the nitrogen currently polluting the river if 40 percent of its river bed were used for shellfish cultivation. The researchers determined that a combination of aquaculture and restored oyster reefs may provide even larger overall ecosystem benefits. Oysters can clean an enormous volume of water of algae which can cause poor water quality, leading to unwanted algae blooms and dead zones. Continue reading
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Posted on March 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Abandoned mine cleanups can help clean up polluted streams, a new USGS study in Montana finds.
Water quality improving in Upper Clark Fork Basin
FRISCO — There are hopeful signs that the ongoing cleanup of abandoned mines around the West will pay off.
The U.S. Geological Survey, reported decreased levels of toxic heavy metals in the streams of Montana’s Upper Clark Fork Basin that have been targeted by remediation efforts. Continue reading
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Posted on March 4, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Federal experts will use Clean Water Act standards to assess the potential impacts of a proposed open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Mining would threaten cherished and culturally critical natural resources
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The environmental impacts of a proposed mine along the Alaska coast will be scrutinized through the lens of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency announced last week.
The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay could become one of the world’s largest open pit mines if it’s approved, but conservation advocates have launched a fierce campaign to halt the mine. The EPA’s announcement to apply Clean Water Act standards came as welcome news to environmentalists. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment | Tagged: Bristol Bay, Environment, EPA, Native Americans, Pebble Mine, sockeye salmon, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Map courtesy USGS.
FRISCO — Some Wyoming watersheds may be showing signs of wear and tear due to coalbed methane development, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study done on the Powder and Tongue river basins in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana.
According to the USGS, three sites on the Powder River show a difference in water quality between the time before coalbed methane development and during the production period. But thirteen other sites, including mainstem and tributaries to the Tongue and Powder Rivers in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana, showed few substantial differences in water quality between the two time periods. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: coalbed methane, fracking, Powder River, water quality, Wyoming | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Worsening coastal water quality seen as factor
Endangered Florida manatees are dying at an alarming rate. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Florida manatee deaths in 2013 spiked to the highest level ever, with the state’s wildlife agency reporting that 829 of the gentle sea cows died during the year. That total is more than double last year’s and exceeds the previous record number of deaths set in 2010, when a severe cold snap contributed to 766 deaths.
If there’s any good news for manatees in this year’s numbers, it’s that the number of deaths attributed to collisions with boats dropped to the lowest level in at least five years, comprising only 9 percent of the total mortality.
On the downside, more frequent episodes of toxic algal blooms may have been a big factor in this year’s mortality toll, according to environmental watchdogs, who chastised state officials for not doing more to protect water quality.
Altogether, the 829 deaths comprise about 17 percent of the state’s total population of the endangered marine mammals. There were 276 red tide-related manatee deaths in 2013, almost as many as for the previous eight years combined and more than 60 percent above the previous record for red tide-related deaths of 151 back in 1996. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Florida manatees, water quality | 1 Comment »