Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EPA Conducts Studies to Improve Safety of Swimming at Beaches

EPA is conducting two health (epidemiological) studies to help determine when water quality is safe for swimming. These studies will be used by EPA to develop new water quality criteria. One study will be conducted at a beach in a tropical region and another study will be conducted in marine waters impacted by urban runoff in a temperate region. After careful scientific evaluation, EPA has selected BoquerĂ³n Beach, Puerto Rico as the tropical site, and Surfside Beach, South Carolina as the urban runoff site. EPA will conduct the studies this summer and will monitor beach water quality at the two beaches on the days the studies are conducted. The studies will help in the development of new or revised criteria for water at beaches. States, tribes and territories will use the new or revised criteria to adopt new water quality standards to protect people at beaches from illness associated with fecal contamination in water.

For more information visit the National Epidemiological and Environmental Assessment of Recreational Water website at http://www.epa.gov/nheerl/neear/

Source: EPA Waterheadlines

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indiana Fish & Wildlife declare closed season on bass not needed

Despite some commonly expressed concerns, a closed season on largemouth bass fishing in Indiana natural lakes is not needed during the spring spawning period, according to the Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).

Biologists say ample numbers of young bass are produced each year to replace those caught and the current 14-inch minimum size limit provides adequate protection for bass that are mature (or large) enough to spawn.

In an eight-page document presented to the Indiana Lakes Management Workgroup (LMWG) in March, DFW biologist Jed Pearson addressed a series of concerns expressed by opponents to Indiana's policy of no closed season.

In 2007, the LMWG asked the DFW to summarize current information on bass populations in Indiana natural lakes and assess the need for a closed season. The group's request came in response to persistent complaints that catching bass "on the beds," a common term for fishing during spring spawning, harms bass fishing.

"Indiana's bass fishing regulations are not much different than in other states," Pearson said.Indiana, like Ohio and Illinois, dropped its closed season in the 1950s. Michigan, New York and Wisconsin recently relaxed their closed seasons. Minnesota is the only state that still bans statewide spring bass fishing but is considering changes. Like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin have a general 14-inch size limit. Ohio and Illinois have no size limit except at selected waters. 

Pearson said the overall number of bass in a lake depends more on habitat and how many survive from year to year, than on the number of eggs laid or fry produced in the spring.

"Bass fishing during the spawning period is harmful only if fishermen take more than the lake can replace," he said. "It makes no difference when a bass is removed if the total number is too high."

Biologists generally say that over-harvest occurs when more than 40 percent of the adult population is taken annually.

"Based on dozens of fishing surveys we conducted from 1980 through 2007, bass anglers take close to 40 percent of the 14-inch and larger bass present each year, but only 7 percent are taken in April and May combined," Pearson said.   

The most compelling argument against a closed season, according to Pearson, centers on long-term trends in bass populations monitored by the DFW at more than 50 Indiana natural lakes since 1980.

"Bass are now more abundant, bigger, and are caught at higher rates than ever before," Pearson said.  "All of these improvements have occurred despite the fact we have no closed season."

A copy of the document "Bass Fishing on the Beds: an Indiana Perspective" is at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/Bass_on_Beds_Final.pdf.

Source: Gwen White, Indiana DNR
From an Indiana DNR press release

For more information, contact Marty Benson, Indiana DNR (317) 233-3853 or dnrnews@dnr.in.gov

Monday, April 06, 2009

National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse Now Part of NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse

The aquatic invasive/aquatic nuisance species database of the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse (NANSC) is now a part of the NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse (http://NYIS.INFO). The database is a searchable, annotated catalog of the NANSC international library of research, public policy, and outreach education publications pertaining to invasive marine and fresh-water aquatic nuisance species that are found in North America. It is also the home of North America's most extensive library of publications related to the spread, biology, impacts and control of zebra mussels. The Aquatic Invasive Species Database can be searched via an extended outline search or via a powerful full text search feature.

Web site: http://NYIS.INFO     

Source: Charles "Chuck" R. O'Neill, Jr.
Sr. Extension Specialist
Cornell University/New York Sea Grant
Director, NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse
Director, National Aquatic Nuisance Species ClearinghouseCoordinator,
Cornell Invasive Species Program
SUNY College Brockport, NY

Friday, April 03, 2009

EPA Acts to Reduce Harmful Impacts from Coal Mining

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has sent two letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the potential harmful impacts on water quality caused by certain types of coal mining practices, such as mountaintop mining. The letters specifically addressed two new surface coal mining operations in West Virginia and Kentucky. EPA also intends to review other requests for mining permits.
“The two letters reflect EPA’s considerable concern regarding the environmental impact these projects would have on fragile habitats and streams,” said Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “I have directed the agency to review other mining permit requests. EPA will use the best science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting our environment.”

EPA’s letters, sent to the Corps office in Huntington, West Virginia, stated that the coal mines would likely cause water quality problems in streams below the mines, would cause significant degradation to streams buried by mining activities, and that proposed steps to offset these impacts are inadequate. EPA has recommended specific actions be taken to further avoid and reduce these harmful impacts and to improve mitigation. The letters were sent to the Corps by EPA senior officials in the agency’s Atlanta and Philadelphia offices. Permit applications for such projects are required by the Clean Water Act.

EPA also requested the opportunity to meet with the Corps and the mining companies seeking the new permits to discuss alternatives that would better protect streams, wetlands and rivers.
The Corps is responsible for issuing Clean Water Act permits for proposed surface coal mining operations that impact streams, wetlands, and other waters. EPA is required by the act to review proposed permits and provides comments to the Corps where necessary to ensure that proposed permits fully protect water quality.

Because of active litigation in the 4th Circuit challenging the issuance of Corps permits for coal mining, the Corps has been issuing far fewer permits in West Virginia since the litigation began in 2007. As a result, there is a significant backlog of permits under review by the Corps. EPA expects to be actively involved in the review of these permits following issuance of the 4th Circuit decision last month. EPA is coordinating its action with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and with other agencies including the Corps.

For more information on wetlands and the letters: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/

Source: Waterheadlines

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Safe Drinking Water Needs Assessed

A recent drinking water needs survey will help EPA determine the distribution formula for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) grants for the fiscal years 2010 through 2013 budgets. The assessment documents anticipated costs for repairs and replacement of transmission and distribution pipes, storage and treatment equipment, and projects that are necessary to deliver safe supplies of drinking water.

The Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, which is done every four years, reflects data collected in 2007 from states. According to the survey results, the nation’s water utilities will need to invest an estimated $334.8 billion over the next 20 years to deal with aging infrastructure.

Results from the assessment are used to develop a formula to distribute the agency’s annual DWSRF grants. The Safe Drinking Water Act established the DWSRF to help states provide grants to drinking water systems to finance infrastructure improvements. Since the DWSRF program began in 1997, states have provided more than $15 billion in funding to utilities for infrastructure projects.

The Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment:
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/needsurvey

Source: EPA Waterheadlines

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Water Storage Changes Earth Rotation, Causes Climate Disturbances

NASA scientists, in conjunction with USGS researchers, have discovered that changes in water storage have altered the tilt and rotation of the earth, causing a noticeable disturbance in climate. Damming rivers and creating permanent reservoirs far north and south of the equater, preventing surface water from taking its natural course to the sea, has changed the entire balance of the planet. As a result, measurably changes in the expected tilt and rotation have been detected by satellite and ground-based global positioning instrumentation. In response to these findings, the UN and WHO have drafted a planet-wide treaty to begin releasing stored water at a rate sufficient to stabilize the earth's water balance while minimizing flooding of downstream regions.
"The days of guilt-free hydropower and flood-control have come to an end," stated Izak Nu-Ton, acting chair of UN's Committee on Planetary Ecology. "We must soon return to our pre-dam state or face planetwide consequences."

USGS researchers note, however, that our loss (in power generation and flood control) will be the environment's gain, referring to the positive impact returning rivers to their free-running state would have on fish and other creatures.

Source: My Wild Imagination (but based on a kernal of truth)