Posted on May 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Fracking substances found almost two miles away from faulty drilling operation
FRISCO — Scientists in Pennsylvania said they’ve been able to track pollution from fracking as the source of contamination in drinking water wells more than 1 mile from the fracked shale gas wells.
The stray natural gas and wastewater moved laterally along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the source of the homes’ well water. The chemicals foamed from water faucets in three homes near a reported well-pad leak. The homes were sold to the gas company as part of a legal settlement in 2012, but scientists received samples before the transfer.
Previous studies had not been able to identify the cause of the foaming, but the new analysis found a chemical compound, 2-BE, and an unidentified complex mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in flowback water from Marcellus shale activity. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, water, water quality | Tagged: drinking water, energy, Environment, fracking, Marcellus shale, pollution, public health, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.
Impacts to water quality, cultural resources at stake, as conservation groups seek new environmental study
FRISCO — A U.S. Forest Service decision to allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon will be tested in court once again.
Conservation groups last week said they’ll appeal a lower court ruling that affirmed the agency’s decision on the mine, located about six miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell last month said conservation groups and the Havasupai Tribe failed to show that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws, but that decision will now be tested in a federal appeals court. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, national parks, public lands | Tagged: Canyon Mine, Environment, Grand Canyon, public lands, radioactive pollution, uranium mining, water quality | 3 Comments »
Posted on May 3, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Study findings will help river restoration efforts
FRISCO — Scientists say rivers recover quickly when dams are removed. In some cases, it only takes a few months or years, rather than decades, for most river channels to stabilize, particularly when dams are removed rapidly.
The new study, published in Science, came after the research team compiled a database of research and studies involving more than 125 dam removals. Important factors include the size of the dam, the volume and type of sediment accumulated in the reservoir, and overall watershed characteristics and history. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Dam removal, Environment, river restoration, salmon, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 13, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Toxic algal blooms like this one in Lake Erie in 2011 can cause human and animal health risks, fish kills, and degrade drinking water supplies. Image Credit: USGS/NASA Earth Observatory.
NASA and partners to track developing algal blooms from space
FRISCO — As global warming threatens to make toxic algal blooms more frequent and more intense, NASA, NOAA, the EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey have teamed up to try and develop an early warning system based on satellite data.
Algal blooms are a global environmental problem. They pose a health risk to people and animals and threaten drinking water supplies. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.
The new $3.6 million, multi-agency effort will use ocean color satellite data to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and an information distribution system to aid expedient public health advisories. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: Environment, freshwater algae blooms, NASA, toxic algae, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Methane found in stream near faulty Pennsylvania natural gas well
FRISCO — Gathering baseline water quality data from streams in fracking zones could help pinpoint impacts to drinking water, researchers at Penn State and the U.S. Geological Survey said after finding high levels of methane in a Pennsylvania stream.
Multiple samples from the stream, Sugar Run in Lycoming County, showed a groundwater inflow of thermogenic methane, consistent with what would be found in shale gas. The samples came from an area near the site of a reported Marcellus shale gas well leak. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling | Tagged: Environment, fracking, Marcellus Shale gas, methane, water quality | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 30, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Are the Great Lakes a hotspot for microplastic pollution?
Human garbage is choking ecosystems
FRISCO — Microplastic pollution is showing up in alarming quantities in the Great Lakes, with concentrations in Lake Erie as high as in some of the well-documents ocean garbage patches, according to scientists, who say more research is needed to help craft rules that could address the problem.
Based on a new report from Canadian researchers, a member of Canada’s parliament is calling on the government to list microbeads as a potential toxic substance. The tiny plastic flakes are used in cosmetics, but act like sponges for certain pollutants and are easily ingested by aquatic organisms, including fish and shellfish. Continue reading
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Posted on March 30, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
‘Many people would say, what’s the big deal if we drain this small area? But these smaller wetlands are integral …’
FRISCO — A new study by researchers at Waterloo University supports the EPA’s proposed new rule for protecting discontinuous wetlands by showing that those smaller marshy patches function best as a group.
Interconnected pockets of wetlands form a landscape mosaic which provide unique habitat and safe breeding grounds for species such as salamanders and migratory birds. Many traditional wetlands conservation projects tend to overlook that “edge” function and mistakenly focus on preserving only total wetland area, with no consideration of ecosystem services provided by different wetland types. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, wetlands | Tagged: Environment, water quality, wetlands, wetlands conservation | Leave a comment »