Thursday, June 30, 2011

Marcellus Shale Drilling: Concerns for Water Resources

by Dr. Susan Cushman, FLI Research Scientist; Director of Introductory Biology Laboratories, HWS Department of Biology

Drilling of the Marcellus Shale has the potential for serious environmental implications. Extending halfway up into the Finger Lakes region from the Appalachians and even into the Catskills, this Devonian age sediment was deposited by an ancient river delta, and includes a large amount of natural gas. It has been stated that the Marcellus Shale deposit holds 10-20 years of natural gas supply for the entire nation, yet process of extracting this resource from horizontally oriented fractures is significant to the surrounding terrestrial environment.

In particular, the processes of site analysis and clearing as well as gas production and delivery could have major impacts to both water quantity and quality within the area surrounding a well. There are four main concerns for water resources related to drilling the Marcellus Shale: 1) clearing land for well pads, 2) supplying water for well construction and drilling, 3) degradation of water quality in local streams due to increased traffic by large construction vehicles on rural roads, and 4) disposal of large amounts of waste “water”, e.g. contaminated fluids from wells. First, a well site must be completely cleared of trees and vegetation (5 acre pad = ~3500 trees), which means that rainwater will not be intercepted, and instead run overland polluting local streams with excessive amounts of sediment. Secondly, each of these drilling sites requires large amounts of water to keep the drilling bit cool. Water is also needed to create hydrofrack fluids enable both shale fractures to be held open under pressure and the gas to be released upwards through the well. The estimated water use of one well is 1.5 million gallons during drilling – 62.5 times more than a traditional vertical well. The increased traffic by heavy construction vehicles and tanker trucks that bring in this water will most likely increase the erosion along rural routes, thereby increasing sediment in small streams. Knowing that small streams lead to bigger streams and lakes in the Finger Lakes region, this could significantly impact our water quality. Finally, the wastewater that results from the hydrofrack creates significant concern over where to put it. Currently, the wastewater from hydrofracking systems is sent to wastewater treatment plants (PA) or sometimes injected back into the earth at a shallower depth (TX, WV). Wastewater treatment plants don’t necessarily have the ability to remove contaminants like brines, heavy metals, and radionuclides that are present in these contaminated fluids – and therefore pose concerns to our drinking water supplies if disposed of in this way. If injected back into the ground, there are also concerns over groundwater supply contamination unless it is injected well below known aquifers.
Source: Finger Lakes Institute Happenings

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update on Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended the public comment period by 30 days for the draft guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. In response to requests from state and local officials, as well as other stakeholders, EPA and the Corps will take additional comment until July 31, 2011 on this important draft guidance that aims to protect U.S. waters. These waters are critical for the health of the American people, the economy and ecosystems in communities across the country.

This change in the public comment period will not impact the schedule for finalizing the guidance or alter the intent to proceed with a rulemaking.

Public input received will be carefully considered as the agencies make final decisions regarding the guidance. These comments will also be very helpful as the agencies prepare a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The original 60-day public comment period was originally set to expire on July 1, 2011. The agencies will be publishing a notice of this 30-day extension in the Federal Register.

More information:

Source: Water Headlines

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lake Scientist Website

There is a new website entitled "Lake Scientist" that should be of interest to lake residents and those involved in managing the water quality of a lake or pond. Here is what they have to say about themselves:
Lake Scientist emerged from the leadership of Fondriest Environmental, in collaboration with Miami University and Kent State University’s EARS (Environmental Aquatic Resource Sensing) IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training) program*, with a vision to create a central resource about lake science.

The site’s mission is to provide an interactive community resource focused on lakes and other freshwaters for the benefit of the scientific community, the education community, and all others interested in the subject.

Lake Scientist offers a rich repository of in-depth information about lake science, as well as covering the latest news on topics that affect our world’s freshwater resources
Source: Lake Scientist

New York State banning phosphorus in detergent and fertilizer

ALBANY, Aug 15, 2010

The state of New York has joined 16 other states in banning stores from carrying dishwasher detergents that contain phosphorus.

Gov. David Paterson signed the new state restriction into law last month. As of Saturday, stores in the state have 60 days to sell off their existing inventory. Sales for commercial use must end by July 1, 2013.
Dishwasher detergents are presently permitted to contain as much as 9 percent phosphorus by weight, but the new law lowers allowable levels to only 0.5 percent. Moreover, a similar ban will limit phosphorus in lawn fertilizers starting in 2012, reducing levels from a maximum of 3 percent to 0.67 percent.
In the early 1970s, regulations were enacted to limit phosphorus in soap and laundry detergents, but dishwasher detergent was not included as it was not yet common.

Runoff from farms is the leading source of phosphorus pollution. However, The Associated Press reports that dishwashing detergent accounts for 9 to 34 percent of the phosphorus found in municipal wastewater. Furthermore, as much as 50 percent of phosphorus found in storm runoff comes from lawn fertilizer.
Phosphorus impairs drinking water quality, and it is one of most significant nutrients that causes eutrophication, or nutrient loading. It is estimated 48% of lakes in North America are eutrophic. These excessive nutrients feed algal blooms that can significantly damage lake ecosystems, notably by depleting dissolved oxygen that aquatic life needs to breathe.

“The impact of phosphorus is particularly significant in lakes and reservoirs. Over half of all the lake acres in [New York] have water quality impacts for which phosphorus is a contributing cause," according to a Department of Environmental Conservation analysis.

More than 100 New York water bodies are identified as impaired, including Cayuga Lake and Lake Champlain.
Source: Lake Scientist

New website at the North American Lake Management Society

The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) has announced the launch of their brand new website, a site devoted to the Society’s mission of forging partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow.

This new site is the result of the hard work of the NALMS website team and the e-business consulting firm Acumium. With, their goal is to provide all of the site visitors an easy to navigate, content rich experience. Their aim is to continue to deliver high quality information and updates on the latest lake management activities of NALMS and our members.

For NALMS members, the aim is to deliver more intuitive access to their growing membership benefits. All NALMS members now enjoy access to a personal profile, electronic issues of LakeLine, and a new Membership directory. For Professional, Student and Organization members they also continue to offer access to electronic issues of Lake and Reservoir Management. And with, they anticipate having the flexibility to offer more membership benefits in the future – so check back often!

Site Features
  • About NALMS: Here you can learn more about NALMS as an organization and stay up-to-date with our current Officers, Directors, and Staff. You can also keep tabs on our various Committees and stroll through a brief NALMS history. 
  • Conferences & Events: Here you will find information on our upcoming Symposium, our past conferences, and other events. 
  • Programs: Learn more about NALMS involvement in programs ranging from our Professional Certification program to Blue Green Algae work. 
  • About Lake Management: Provided here are the basics of Limnology and lake management plans. You will also find links to our Affiliate Members and other lake management organizations. 
  • Publications: Provided here is information on our publications including LakeLine, Lakes and Reservoir Management, NALMS Notes and our Invasive Species Cards. We also include our Affiliate Member’s Newsletters and a listing of other lake management books you can purchase through NALMS. 
  • Lake Management Policy: In this section you will find NALMS position statements and links to other Public Policy Resources.
Member’s Only Resources
  • Edit Profile: Here, members can stay up-to-date with their colleagues and NALMS by updating their contact information, adding a professional biography and including a picture! 
  • Member Directory: With this directory they have made it easier to stay in touch with colleagues and other NALMS members. Members can search for other NALMS members, add them as colleagues, and send messages. 
  • LakeLine Magazine: The LakeLine section is more complete than ever before with electronic copies of every issue dating back to our 1993 Spring issue. Here, members can find both individual articles and complete issues of our flagship publication! 
  • Lake and Reservoir Management Journal: Provided here is a link to the host site for electronic issues of our journal at Taylor & Francis.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Largest U.S. Dam Removal to Begin June 1 in Washington

The Elwha River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula once teemed with legendary salmon runs before two towering concrete dams were built about a century ago.

On June 1, nearly two decades after Congress called for full restoration of the river and its fish runs, federal workers turned off the generators at the 1913 dam powerhouse and set in motion the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.

Contractors will begin dismantling the dams this fall, a $324.7 million project that will take about three years and will allow the 45-mile Elwha River to run free as it courses from the Olympic Mountains through old-growth forests into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The 105-foot Elwha Dam came on line in 1913, followed 14 years later by the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam 8 miles upstream. For years, they provided electricity to a local pulp and paper mill and the growing city of Port Angeles. Electricity from the dams, enough to power about 1,700 homes, now feeds the regional power grid.
Source: NALMS Notes June 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 18th Annual Secchi Dip-In Begins June 25th

This is an invitation to participate in this year’s Secchi Dip-In, which runs from June 25 to July 17. This is the 18th year of the Dip-In, and the three week event in June and July demonstrates that volunteers can collect valuable water quality data. The Dip-In is a network of volunteer programs and volunteers, that together gather and provides continent-wide (and world-wide) information on water quality.

If you are a coordinator of an aquatic monitoring program that measures transparency, pH, or temperature of surface waters, would you please urge your volunteers to participate? Probably never in recent history has our environmental efforts been more under greater attack by special interests. The Dip-In won’t solve our environmental crisis, but it does provide reliable contemporary data on a continental scale on change in our waters to state and federal agencies and to researchers. We rely on existing programs because your volunteers are trained, providing assurance that the data are reliable. The Dip-In provides an event that coordinators of programs both large and small, can use to advertise their program and to explain to the public and to officials the importance of environmental monitoring.

We have a New Website Address. We now have a new website: Volunteers can retrieve and edit the data they have entered and coordinators can retrieve and edit data from any waterbody in their program. If you want to be designated as a coordinator, please register and then send me an email. Volunteers also have the ability to personalize their waterbody site by adding pictures. A satellite map and graphs of data for each waterbody is now available. Bob Carlson Secchi Dip-In Coordinator, E-Mail:, Facebook Site:
Source: NALMS Notes June 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yellow Iris - pretty but invasive

Yellow iris or Yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus) is in full bloom, but don’t let its good looks fool you! We’ve received several recent calls about it growing in wild places. Read the short blog by Don Lehman about yellow iris sightings in Lake George…

If you see yellow iris growing in the wild in the Adirondack region, please report the location to Brendan Quirion at Brendan can also provide guidance to landowners on proper management and permitting.

Images of Yellow Iris
Blogger's Note: For more information on Yellow Iris, visit UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants Yellow Iris page. For more images of Yellow Iris, see (edited June 23,2011 16:10

(Use RedLaser or ScanLife on your smartphone to access images using QR Code on left )

Source: Hilary Smith
Director, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program
The Nature Conservancy - Adirondack Chapter
PO Box 65
Keene Valley, New York 12943
518-576-2082 x 131 (tel)
518-576-4203 (fax)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Flooding Ravages New York Counties

Governor Cuomo and several cabinet officials toured locations in northern and central New York that experienced severe flood damage as strong winds and rains combined with spring snowmelt

See complete article at
Source: EnvironmentDEC

EPA Releases Searchable Website for Drinking Water Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced improvements to the availability and usability of drinking water data in the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) tool. ECHO now allows the public to search to see whether drinking water in their community met the standards required under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which is designed to safeguard the nation’s drinking water and protect people’s health. SDWA requires states to report drinking water information periodically to EPA. ECHO also includes a new feature identifying drinking water systems that have had serious noncompliance.

The new Safe Drinking Water Act information on EPA’s website provides:

- Users with information about whether their drinking water has exceeded drinking water standards.
- A serious violators report that lists all water suppliers with serious noncompliance.
- EPA’s 2009 National Public Water Systems Compliance Report, which is a national summary of compliance and enforcement at public drinking water systems.

EPA’s enforcement goals for clean water include working with states and tribes to ensure clean drinking water for all communities and improving transparency by making facility compliance data available to the public. The release of drinking water violations data in ECHO advances these goals and creates additional incentives for government agencies to improve their reporting of drinking water violations and increase efforts to address those violations.

Safe Drinking Water Act search page:
Enforcement and Compliance History Online tool:
Source: Water Headlines