Increasing drought has caused freshwater aquifers to be increasingly tapped to make up for surface waters lost from drought-depleted wetlands, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Reports show that we are drawing down these mostly nonrenewable supplies at unsustainable rates in the Western United States and in several other dry regions across the globe. The current pressures on these hidden supplies are rising and media stories repeatedly warn of a looming crisis. “Disappearing groundwater is another out-of-sight crisis,” writes Dennis Dimick of the National Geographic. “We are not as adept when threats—or threatened resources—are invisible.” >Read More via National Geographic
The Obama administration this week proposed a long-awaited rule that promises to protect more than 6,000 miles of streams around the country from the impacts of both surface and underground coal mining.
The U.S. Department of Interior’s proposed stream protection rule adds requirements for companies to monitor and test streams before, during and after mining. The agency describes it as incorporating new information about mining’s impacts and following the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The rule would require companies to restore land and waterways to pre-mining conditions and purposes, and to re-vegetate disturbed areas with native plants unless regulators agree to a different land-use plan. It also implements tougher bonding requirements. >Read More
The White House recently finalized rules to clarify jurisdiction for the Clean Water Act. But it won’t resolve the fights boiling over between urban and rural interests in places like Iowa and elsewhere over how to clean it up.
Des Moines, Iowa has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to filter nitrate from the Raccoon River, where it gets its drinking water. The situation has grown so dire that the local water utility says it will soon need to build a new facility to comply with federal pollution laws, at a cost of somewhere between $76 million and $184 million.
To hear those who manage the area’s water utility tell it, the dirty water isn’t really Des Moines’ problem at all — it’s the problem of outlying rural counties, where farmers apply nitrogen-heavy fertilizers to boost crop production. And they are tired of waiting for farmers to voluntarily reduce the amounts of nitrate they allow to seep into groundwater, and tired of waiting for someone to police the farmers.
Read Farmers and Cities Play the Water Pollution Blame Game via http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-pollution-des-moines.html
Under statutes just signed into law by the governor, if you discover an environmental disaster in Wyoming you are required by law to keep it to yourself. According to legal experts, the statutes which make it a crime to “collect resource data” from any “open land,” are clearly unconstitutional and interfere with the purposes of federal environmental laws by making it impossible for citizens to collect the information necessary to bring an environmental enforcement action. The law defines the word ‘collect’ as any method to preserve information in any form, including taking a photograph so long as the person gathering the information intends to submit it to a federal or state agency.
Read how politics are being used to suspend free speech and circumvent the Clean Water Act via Slate http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/05/wyoming_law_against_data_collection_protecting_ranchers_by_ignoring_the.html
Michael Sullivan from IBM writes on the Forbes Blog http://www.forbes.com/ : “Massive forces are refashioning the relationship between humans and water.” Noting the current challenges presented by climate change, floods, droughts, population growth and increasing urbanization. “That’s why some countries and cities are getting very smart, very fast, not only about how they manage water, but also about connecting their water system to their energy, transportation and emergency management systems,” he says.
His article concludes with a call for the use of big data and analytics to help overcome complexity and truly manage water systems as systems. Read More via http://www.forbes.com/sites/ibm/2015/03/19/world-water-day-will-big-data-save-our-water-systems/
Yale University’s environment 360 reports on the important work constructed wetlands do filtering drugs and chemicals from drinking water. Writer Carina Storrs points out despite Southern California’s 96-mile long Santa Ana River river being treated at several dozen wastewater treatment plants, unwanted residue from pharmaceuticals and herbicides still remained, posing threats to endocrine activity, metabolism, and development in humans.
A year-old pilot project at the Prado Wetlands, operated by the Orange County Water District, now channels river water through a series of ponds allowing sunlight and bacteria to degrade the harmful pharmaceuticals and other man-made chemicals before the river reaches the city of Anaheim. This filtering is becoming critical as scientists fear that the more humans are exposed to antibiotics, the greater the threat antibiotic-resistant bacteria becomes.
Brett Walton quotes an email to Circle of Blue from Jonathan Overpeck: ‘It’s a wakeup call kind of paper that I’d take seriously.’ A climate scientist at the University of Arizona, Overpeck is a lead author for the United Nations’ climate assessments. The recent paper he references was published in the Journal of Climate and highlights how rising temperature really will be hard on our water supply in a large swath of the United States, especially the Southwest from California to Texas.
The southwest is currently in the middle of a dry cycle that has lasted four years in California, five years in Texas, and more than 14 years in the Colorado River Basin. >Read More about the risk of ‘Megadroughts’ via Circle of Blue http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2015/world/study-decades-long-megadroughts-in-u-s-southwest-and-central-plains-more-likely-climate-change/
A baseline assessment can best be described as the basis by which to judge the success of any action taken to conserve, protect, enhance or restore water resources or habitats. Monitoring, when properly executed, continues to evaluate the health of the resource after any action is taken in order to track results in a meaningful way. This is the critical feedback loop to insure successful restoration and prudent adaptive resource management.
Trout Headwaters Inc performs baseline assessments to meet a variety of objectives, and to guide all restoration planning, design and installation. New technologies have made the assessment process quick and low cost – certainly the best investment toward a successful enhancement or restoration project.
Assessments can do the following:
- Reveal ecological potential and challenges;
- Answer project feasibility questions;
- Uncover hidden problems before you renew, repair or restore;
- Provide baseline data for permitting and for comparison over time;
- Add value to property acquisition due diligence;
- Prevent costly surprises.
In advance of their Feb. 8-11, 2015 National Conference in Washington, DC, The Corps Network just released its 2014 annual report. The report recaps the good work of nearly 120 service and conservation corps, many partners, and supporters, to protect and restore our precious natural resources while offering young adults opportunities to improve their communities and grow personally.
Trout Headwaters looks forward to our Feb. 9 workshop at the conference where Waders in the Water program participants will share some of their experiences with this important green jobs program that continues to grow, and now reaches into 20 states and the District of Columbia.
Trout Headwaters has been providing water resource assessment, inventory and monitoring as part of successful restoration for many years, and continually look for ways to decrease costs and increase value for our clients. Since field data collection demands specialized equipment and skilled personnel, some project managers skip the assessment process altogether and more still fail to monitor the outcomes.
Anyone undertaking restoration should insist upon a good baseline assessment and monitoring program. Such an assessment can best be described as the basis by which to judge the success of any action taken to conserve, protect, enhance or restore water resources. Monitoring is performed on an ongoing basis to continue to evaluate the health of the resource after any action is taken in order to track results in a meaningful way.
Trout Headwaters performs baseline assessments to meet a variety of client objectives, and to guide all restoration planning, design and installation. New technologies have made the assessment process efficient, repeatable and low-cost – certainly the best investment toward a successful stream, river or wetland restoration project. Learn more about assessment tools and processes by visiting our sister company http://www.riverworks.net