Friday, October 02, 2015

Implementing Low-Cost Modifications to Improve Nutrient Reduction at Wastewater Treatment Plants

Nutrient pollution is one of America’s costliest and most challenging environmental problems. However, many of the nation’s wastewater plants were not designed for nutrient removal and major retrofits may be a significant hurdle.
 
EPA recently released draft report on “Case Studies on Implementing Low-Cost Modifications to Improve Nutrient Reduction at Wastewater Treatment Plants.” The recent EPA draft report showcases a number of communities that were able to achieve better nutrient treatment at WWTPs through relatively low-cost modifications without requiring costly infrastructure upgrades. Nitrogen discharge levels in 12 case study plants were reduced by about 20 to 70%. In many cases, these facilities also reduced energy consumption and lowered operational costs.
 
Case Studies include:
  • City of Bozeman, Montana
  • City of Chinook, Montana
  • City of Flagstaff, Arizona
  • City of Layton, Florida
  • City of Montrose, Colorado
  • City of Tampa, Florida
  • City of Titusville, Florida
  • Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority
  • Hampden Township, Pennsylvania
  • Town of Crewe, Virginia
  • Town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
  • Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, California

EPA is interested in learning of additional communities’ successes and intends to update this document to help more of the nation’s wastewater treatment plants make progress towards additional nutrient reductions. Interested parties are invited to comment and recommend additional case studies by December 15, 2015 to POTWOptiNP@epa.gov.

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Source: Water Headlines & US EPA website
 

EPA Launches New Tool to Support Community Interest in Green Infrastructure

EPA is releasing a new web-based tool that helps local officials and other community members consider the benefits and uses of green infrastructure. The Green Infrastructure Wizard, or GIWiz, responds to growing community interest in using green infrastructure as a means of addressing water quality and a range of other local goals. Using a self-guided format, users can find EPA tools and resources to:
 
  • Learn the basics of green infrastructure;
  • Explore options for financing green infrastructure;
  • Visualize and design rain gardens, permeable pavement, and other types of green infrastructure;
  • Understand how other communities are using green infrastructure to revitalize neighborhoods and enhance land use; and
  • Develop green infrastructure public education and outreach campaigns.
EPA developed the Green Infrastructure Wizard with input from local, state and tribal partners. EPA is inviting additional input on this Beta version of the product, with the goal of making continued improvements going forward.
 
Read more here
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Source: Water Headlines
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

3rd Annual SepticSmart Week - Get SepticSmart to Help the Environment and Your Pocketbook

Nearly one in five American households depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater. During its third annual SepticSmart Week from Sept. 21-25, EPA will encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. These systems pose a threat to water quality and human health when they are not properly maintained. Maintenance can also prevent costly repairs. This year’s SepticSmart Week will also include a focus on advanced septic technologies that offer additional treatment beyond that of conventional systems. In addition to educating homeowners, SepticSmart also provides online resources for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations to educate their clients and residents. Look for #septicsmart on Twitter and Facebook, and visit www.epa.gov/septicsmart for more information.
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Source: Water Headlines (US EPA)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hydrilla Training Cruise Sept 2 on Cayuga Lake

CAYUGA LAKE FLOATING CLASSROOMPROJECT


WE NEED YOUR


EYES ON THE LAKE!

HYDRILLA VERTICILLATA threatens fisheries, tourism and the ecology of our lakes!  The fight is on to keep this highly invasive plant from spreading beyond the south end of Cayuga Lake.  
YOU CAN HELP by learning how to spot Hydrilla and other species poised to invade our lakes!  
The CAYUGA LAKE FLOATING CLASSROOM is offering free training and survey cruises, from points around Cayuga Lake during 2015.  
Wednesday, Sept. 2, 9am-noon, Interlaken. 
  • Kidders Landing/Busy Bee dock.
  • Free lake plant ID booklets.
  • Hands-on training for beginners and seasoned volunteers, alike. 
  • Access to the Hydrilla Hunters network of volunteers & info. 
  • Time on the lake, with great people!
     

·          
Free online reservations can be made at www.ithacaboattours.com (click on calendar button).    Visit www.floatingclassroom.net or call (607) 216-2238 for more information. 
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Source:  Finger Lakes PRISM

Monday, August 24, 2015

EPA Webinar on New Clean Water Rule August 27

A webinar will be held on Thursday, August 27 at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST to provide more details about the final Clean Water Rule. This webinar will provide a review of the final rule, answer some commonly asked questions, and discuss what to expect as the rule is implemented.  
In a historic step for the protection of clean water, EPA and the Army signed the Clean Water Rule on May 27, 2015, to protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources from pollution and degradation. The final rule is effective August 28, 2015. 
 

Register for the webinar  
 

For more information visit: www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule and http://www.army.mil/asacw.

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Source: EPA Office of Water | Water Headlines

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Support Lake Stewardship & Save Money - Shop Amazon through our Storefront

Lake Stewardship has an Amazon.com storefront. If you go there to make your purchases, or purchase one of our hand-selected items, you not only save a little money but you also help support our Lake Stewardship website and outreach programs.

So please shop or browse the Lake Stewardship Store.

Thank you.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

NYS DEC Announces New York State Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan

Public Notice

Final New York State Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan

Eurasian milfoil in Adirondack Lake
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) threaten the ecology of New York's freshwater resources and can harm water-based recreational and commercial uses to the point that they impact local economies. New York is particularly vulnerable to AIS due to its vast marine and freshwater resources, major commercial ports and the easy access that ocean-going vessels have to the Great Lakes via the State's canal system. Managing an infestation is extremely costly, so prevention is the most cost effective strategy.

The goal of this plan is to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in New York State. This will be accomplished through the completion of over 50 actions concerning the prevention, detection and response to AIS. Although the plan is directed at New York State's fresh waters, many of the actions called for in the plan will be beneficial in addressing this issue for marine and coastal portions of the state. A draft plan was completed, and notice of its availability for public comment from October 29 - December 12, 2014 appeared in the October 29, 2014 issue of the Environmental Notices Bulletin. Comments were received from the general public and from individuals representing organizations.

Nearly 300 comments were addressed in the Responsiveness Summary which is included as an appendix to the plan, priority actions identified in the plan include:
  • Expanding the boat launch steward program and ensuring consistency of these programs statewide.
  • Developing an AIS response framework to guide decision-making when AIS are detected, and communicate the reasoning for the response selected.
  • Implementing an AIS public awareness campaign and evaluating its effectiveness in reaching target audiences.
  • Expanding the use of AIS disposal stations at waterway access sites.
  • Creating regional "First Responder" AIS teams to incorporate local expertise in planning and implementing appropriate responses to AIS.
  • Identifying and evaluating the risks associated with various pathways for AIS introduction and movement within New York.

The final plan is available at: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/99053.html.

Contact: Phil Hulbert, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753, Phone: (518) 402-8890.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Are our Lake Management Institutions broken?

Veteran limnologist and Certified Lake Manager Dick Osgood examines why our lake management institutions might be broken in this article posted in Lakeshore Weekly News.

Today, our lake management institutions are broken. As a result, we see few tangible results in terms of measurable water quality improvements, we have stopped supporting demonstration projects, we have become uncritical in evaluating our management programs and actions, and we are wasting money.
 You'll want to read Dr. Osgood's full analysis in the Lakeshore Weekly News.

I am certain you'll find his other columns equally insightful and illuminating. Find them all in his blog, A Lake Manager's Notebook

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DEC Issues Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released the Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FSGEIS) for high-volume hydraulic fracturing that identifies and examines continued major uncertainties about potential significant adverse health and environmental impacts associated with the activity. After a required 10-day period, DEC will issue its formal Findings Statement, in accordance with the State's Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
Image Source: inhabitant.com
 

"The Final SGEIS is the result of an extensive examination of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and its potential adverse impacts on critical resources such as drinking water, community character and wildlife habitat," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "We considered materials from numerous sources, including scientific studies, academic research and public comments, and evaluated the effectiveness of potential mitigation measures to protect New York's valuable natural resources and the health of residents. I will rely on the FSGEIS when I issue a Findings Statement in accordance with state law."

The FSGEIS incorporates the State Health Department Public Health Review report issued December 17, 2014, which determined there is significant uncertainty about adverse health outcomes and whether mitigation measures could adequately protect public health, including impacts to air, water, soil and community character.
 
A copy of the FSGEIS can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75370.html
 
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Source: NYS DEC
 
 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

NYS DEC Watershed Stewardship Page

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation maintains a Watershed Stewardship page at
Photo copyright Michael R. Martin
http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/25604.html


Thursday, April 30, 2015

APA Seeking Public Comment on General Permits to fight Invasive Species

Ray Brook - The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is seeking public comment on two general permits
Copyright Michael R. Martin
to advance New York States goal to combat invasive species in the Adirondack Park. The general permits will streamline and expedite the Park Agency's review process. This will ensure qualified invasive species management organizations have the ability to quickly respond to invasive species infestations.
APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich, said, "As we celebrate Earth Week we remain vigilant to the threats of invasive species. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, the Adirondack Park Agency and our partners continue to take proactive measures to effectively combat and prevent the spread of invasive species in the Adirondack Park. Invasive species if left unchecked result in devastating impacts to biodiversity as well as diminishing the Park's recreational opportunities. I encourage all citizens to review these general permits and submit comments."

Aquatic General Permit

General Permit 2015G-1 is a new general permit proposed to ensure rapid response and containment of aquatic invasive species. This general permit authorizes the use of benthic barriers and hand-harvesting to eliminate or manage up to a half acre of specified aquatic invasive species within an individual waterbody. General Permit 2015G-1 would serve as a new rapid permitting tool to help contain or eradicate newly-discovered infestations of aquatic invasive species.

Terrestrial General Permit

General Permit 2014G-1A is the reissuance of a general permit for the management of terrestrial invasive plant species in or within 100 feet of wetlands in the Adirondack Park. The general permit authorizes qualified users to undertake invasive control activities in terrestrial wetlands using best management practices. Such activities may include the use of herbicides. In addition, the permit includes a provision to expand the list of designated authorized organizations or individuals eligible to use this permit.

The proposed general permits authorize activities in wetlands pursuant to the APA Act (Executive Law §§ 809 and 810) and Freshwater Wetlands Act (ECL Article 24). Both general permits apply to wetlands throughout the Adirondack Park and will remain in effect unless modified or revoked by the APA.

APA, as lead agency for State Environmental Quality Review purposes, has determined that the proposed general permits will not have a significant adverse impact on the environment. The permits contain findings of fact, conclusions of law and conditions to ensure compliance with applicable statutory criteria.

The proposed general permits and related documents are available on the Agency's website at www.apa.ny.gov.

The Adirondack Park Agency will accept public comment on this matter until May 29, 2015.

Please direct comments to: Richard Weber, Deputy Director Regulatory Programs, NYS Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977

Email: PublicComment@apa.ny.gov
After the public comment period expires, it is anticipated that the proposed general permits will be presented to the Agency for a decision at its June 11-12, 2015 meeting.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.ny.gov.
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Source:
APA Press Release: April 23, 2015
Contact: Keith P. McKeever | keith.mckeever@apa.ny.gov
Public Information Officer | Adirondack Park Agency | Press Office | (518) 891-4050

Friday, April 10, 2015

NYS Releases Smartphone App for Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife Enjoyment

Attention New York anglers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts: there's a new FREE smartphone app just for you!

Download the New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App on the Apple App Store or Google Play store, or by going to the Pocket Ranger website.

DEC, in partnership with ParksByNature Network®, is proud to announce the launch of the New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App for iPhone and Android.

This FREE, cutting-edge mobile app gives both novice and seasoned outdoorsmen and women essential information in the palm of their hands. Powered by Pocket Ranger® technology, this official app for DEC will provide up-to-date information on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching and serve as an interactive outdoor app using today's leading mobile devices. Using the app's advanced GPS features, users will be able identify and locate New York's many hunting, fishing and wildlife watching sites. They will also gain immediate access to species profiles, rules and regulations, and important permits and licensing details.

The app provides plenty of additional features to maximize any outdoor adventure:
  • Real-time calendar of events
  • News, advisories, and weather alerts
  • Social networking and photo sharing
  • Potentially life-saving alert features
  • Cacheable map tiles for offline use
  • Advanced GPS mapping features including built in compass

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

An innocent fish, wrongly accused?

(PAUL SMITHS, NY (04/06/2015)-- The yellow perch has had a bad rap as an invasive species in the Adirondacks since the 19th century. But now, researchers at Paul Smith's College are using DNA evidence to show that these fish might have been wrongly accused.

Profs. Curt Stager, Lee Ann Sporn, Melanie Johnson and recent graduate Sean Regalado believe the perch might have arrived in Lower St. Regis Lake more than 2,000 years ago, plenty of time to be considered a native species. They published their findings in the scientific journal PLOS ONE last month.

When the researchers first made their discovery, many, including members of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, were skeptical. But the new peer-reviewed journal article adds weight to the researchers' claim and raises new questions about the way we manage the species.

Fishery experts and DEC officials have long considered yellow perch to be nuisance aliens that starve out brook trout and compete with them for spawning sites. So they've been on a mission to eradicate the fish using controversial poisoning methods.

Copyright Michael R. Martin
The process, known as reclamation, involves poisoning a lake with rotenone, which kills fish but is considered of little threat to other species, including people. Reclamations are usually conducted in the fall, which allows the rotenone to break down before the lake is restocked with more desirable fish – usually trout – the following spring. The mass killing of fish makes reclamation a controversial practice, but even its opponents have agreed that yellow perch are not native to the Adirondack uplands, a conclusion based on early surveys dating back to the 19th century. That's why the new DNA evidence is so surprising: It means perch and trout coexisted in Adirondack waters long before the brook trout's numbers began to dwindle.

To conduct the study, the Paul Smith's researchers took sediment core samples from the lake floor by drilling through the ice during winter. They used those samples to extract DNA from the sediment and looked for genetic sequences that are unique to yellow perch. They expected the perch DNA to show up in only the upper layers of the cores. When it showed up much deeper, even in sediments more than 2,000 years old, they knew they had made an important discovery.

"We now know that yellow perch are as native to the Adirondack uplands as brook trout," Stager said. "What we want to know next is why they've become so much more numerous than before."

Stager believes that these same methods could be used to verify the native or invasive status of other species such as lampreys or Atlantic salmon in North Country lakes. "You could also use ancient DNA to study the evolution of native fish strains or to see if fish once lived in lakes that were recently sterilized by acid rain," Stager said. "The sky's the limit."

ABOUT PAUL SMITH'S COLLEGE

At Paul Smith's College, it's about the experience. Paul Smith's, which was founded in 1946, is the only bachelor's degree-granting institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information: www.paulsmiths.edu.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Late Ice May Contribute to Fish Kills in Western NY Ponds

The extended period of ice, blanketed by deep snow, is likely to result in fish die-offs in numerous
Copyright Michael R. Martin
area ponds, according to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 9 fisheries biologists.
"As winter ice has started to melt away, we are receiving calls from concerned pond owners reporting large numbers of dead fish in their ponds," said DEC Regional Fisheries Manager Michael Clancy. "In most cases, fish kills that become evident when the ice melts can be attributed to a natural phenomenon known as winterkill."

Winter die-off of fish, or "winterkill," is caused by oxygen depletion in the water through the winter. Ice that accumulates on ponds or lakes prevents wind action from adding oxygen to the water. If there is significant winter snow accumulation on top of the ice, sunlight is prevented from reaching plant life in the pond. Without adequate sunlight, the oxygen-creating process of photosynthesis cannot occur.

Shallower ponds are particularly susceptible to winterkill, due to their low storage capacity for oxygen. With the exception of extreme situations, it is rare that all fish in a pond will die as a result of winterkill. Typically, larger fish are more susceptible than smaller fish.

"Sensitivity to low oxygen levels varies by fish species," Clancy said. "For instance, catfish and carp are more tolerant of low oxygen levels than species such as sunfish, bass or trout."

If desirable fish species are completely eliminated from the pond due to winterkill, replenishment by stocking may be necessary. Please remember to obtain applicable stocking permits from DEC.

A long-term approach to avoiding winterkills is to deepen the pond. Pond depths exceeding 12 feet are recommended since ponds will gradually fill in over time. Removing some of the organic substrate (decaying plant material) that accumulates within the pond can also help combat oxygen depletion. As a pond ages, organic materials are deposited on the pond bottom; these decaying materials have a high metabolic demand for oxygen.

Source: NYS DEC

Friday, April 03, 2015

NYSFOLA to Celebrate Citizen Science

The New York State Federation of Lake Associations, Inc. (NYSFOLA) is getting ready for their 32nd Annual Conference entitled "Celebrating Citizen Science." The conference will be held May 1-3 at White Eagle Conference Center in Hamilton. Concurrent sessions on Friday and Saturday will include a Watercraft Inspection Steward Program Workshop and topics related to volunteer monitoring, harmful algal blooms, aquatic invasive species, Lake Law for lake associations, lake management plans, climate change, dam safety, and more! This year, we are excited to have the FLI’s "own" Dr. John Halfman joining us to give a presentation entitled, "Historical Chloride Concentrations in the Finger Lakes: Salt Mines and Road De-Icing Salts." This is the largest gathering of lake association members and lake enthusiasts from across the state each year. Won’t you join us? Registration information is on the web at www.nysfola.org.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Green river slime converting mercury into more toxic form at NH Superfund site

The green, slimy algae commonly found coating streambeds may threaten more than unsteady waders. New research from Dartmouth College and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reveals that communities of algae and bacteria known as periphyton are transforming the inorganic metal into its more toxic, organic form.


The Berlin, NH Chor-Alkali Facility was responsible for manufacturing chlorine used in paper production. In 2005, the U.S. EPA added the vacant property to its Superfund list, marking it for cleanup due to the mercury, lead and arsenic concentrations found in local groundwater in spite of the slurry wall and other installations meant to contain that contamination. It wasn’t until 2009, however, that the EPA began a full investigation of the site on the banks of the Androscoggin River.


As part of that investigation, a Dartmouth College team led by research professor Celia Chen worked closely with the U.S. Geological Survey to examine mercury uptake by riverine organisms. They hypothesized that periphyton was converting mercury into methylmercury, an organic form of the metal that bioaccumulates with greater potency than its inorganic form. Mercury normally methylates in anaerobic sediment — an absent factor in the fast-moving waters near the Superfund site — but the presence of periphyton makes the process possible in a greater range of environments.


Read the article at Environmental Monitor
 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Drought Effects On Water Quality Of Freshwater Systems

Copyright Michael R. Martin
Researchers in Australia examined the effect of prolonged draught on water quality in freshwater systems.
 

Effects of drought varied depending on the characteristics of a water body and its catchment. Water flow and volume decreases during drought tended to lead to increased salinity due to reduced dilution. And when air temperatures increased in some systems, water temperatures rose along with stratification.


"This also enhanced algal production, promoted toxic cyanobacterial blooms and lowered dissolved oxygen concentrations," said Luke Mosley, senior research fellow at U. Adelaide and author of a drought-impact study published in Earth-Science Reviews. "Nutrient, turbidity and algal levels also often increased in lake systems due to reduced flushing and enhanced productivity."

In contrast, Mosley found that nutrients and turbidity levels often went down during droughts in rivers that didn’t have significant loads coming in from point and non-point sources of agricultural runoff. This, he says, was due to drought’s disruption on catchment inputs and its influence on processes like biological uptake, denitrification and settling. Drought also caused a buildup of materials in these systems that resulted in large post-drought flood loadings of pH, major ions, nutrients and carbon.


 
Read the article in LakeScientist
 

Illinois Researchers Tracking Threatened ‘Mudpuppies’ in Lakes

Alicia Beattie, a graduate student zoology at Southern
Illinois University Carbondale, holds a mudpuppy
caught in a frozen lake in northern Illinois recently.
"Mudpuppies" -- large, fully water-dwelling salamanders -- are found in streams and lakes throughout the eastern half the country. They were once common, but now a threatened species in Illinois, which is a major reason why the state’s premier public aquarium, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, reached out to SIU. Researchers are finding out how Necturus maculosus lives in lakes and also what might be ailing them.
"One of the angles of this project is to find out more about how they live in lakes," said Matt Whiles, professor of zoology and interim director of the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, and director of the Center for Ecology at SIU. "There’s been a fair amount of research on populations that live in streams and rivers. We’re looking at populations that live in lakes in the Great Lakes area. Much less is known about those. The species does appear to be declining, but at one time it was fairly abundant throughout their range. Nobody really knows why."
Mudpuppies are amphibians and therefore, cold-blooded creatures whose body temperatures are heavily influenced by the temperature of their environment. But the coldest months, perhaps counterintuitively, are the most active for mudpuppies and have led to the most captures.
Philip Willink, senior research biologist at Shedd Aquarium, said mudpuppies are next-door neighbors to the facility, which sits on Lake Michigan’s shore.
"But we knew almost nothing about their status, population trends, ecology, seasonality and such," Willink said. "Basically they are something that people would come across by accident. They are a charismatic species that are often incorporated into habitat restoration projects. But we were surprisingly lacking in scientific information. This is a problem that needed to be rectified. So there was always a desire to study mudpuppies, but we were lacking the suitable opportunity."
After partnering with SIU on the project, the Shedd Aquarium will use the results of the ongoing study in a new, temporary exhibit devoted to amphibians later this year, Willink said.
Read the complete article in SIU News



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Invasive species use landmarking to find love in a hopeless place

Source: EcoWatch
Tiny populations of invasive species such as Asian carp start their domination of new ecosystems by hanging out at local landmarks, according to a new study published in the journal Theoretical Ecology this week.

Understanding how species use these local hotspots can play a key role in how officials approach population control for conserving endangered species and controlling invasive ones.

"We recently found that only ten Asian carp are needed to establish a population in the Great Lakes," said Kim Cuddington, an ecology professor from the University of Waterloo. "But then we asked, if there are so few individuals initially, how do they find a mate and create an ecological disaster?"
Read more from article source at Science Blog


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CyanoTRACKER Study Blooms In Georgia Lakes

Cyanobacteria bloom. Copyright Michael R. Martin
Scientists at the University of Georgia have launched a new lake monitoring effort called CyanoTRACKER, according to a release from the school. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation and will rely on crowdsourced data to spot lakes in Georgia at risk from harmful algal blooms.
 
Much of the data collection will rely on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that citizen scientists in the state can use to help identify blooms. Those online venues will complement current remote sensing efforts of cyanobacteria outbreaks in Georgia, as well as take advantage of cloud computing and modeling software to automate data processing and collection.
 
"The idea is to use citizen participation to capture the initiation of these harmful algal blooms, which can be very dangerous to humans and cattle and even pets," said Deepak Mishra, associate professor of geography, in a statement. "The cyano bloom that affected communities around Lake Erie could happen here, so rapid continuous monitoring using community-driven, crowdsourcing, social network-triggered data capture is the idea. You can think of it as a neighborhood watch system for Georgia waters."
 
Read the rest of the article here.
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Source: Lake Scientist
 
 

Rising Temperatures To Disrupt Oneida Lake’s Ecosystem

If temperatures continue to rise in New York’s Oneida Lake, it’s likely bye bye to the burbot fish there, according to a release from Cornell University. In addition to the local extinction of the cold water fish species, the shallow lake will become more vulnerable to algal blooms and lower oxygen levels, researchers say.


The predictions are being made following a study by scientists at Cornell who modeled the lake’s future using data on stream temperature and discharge, weather and lake temperature at varying depths. They modeled impacts of rising greenhouse gas emissions on the lake and took climatic snapshots of the years between 2041 to 2050 and 2090 to 2099.
 
For the year 2050, scientists predict that Oneida Lake’s temperatures will increase from April through November each year by about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This increase has already been apparent in 2011 simulations and the differences are much starker for the end of the century. In 2099, lake temperatures at 2 meters deep are projected to increase by 3.70 degrees Celsius. At 10 meters deep, they are estimated to yield a rise of 3.37 degrees Celsius.
 
Researchers also expect that temperature differences between the lake’s layers will become greater and last longer than they have in the past.
 
"Increased stratification and water temperatures are likely to cause more eutrophic conditions in the future, including more cyanobacteria blooms," said Amy Lee Hetherington, a doctoral student in natural resources at Cornell and the study’s lead author, in a statement.
 
More blooms coincide with lower oxygen levels in Oneida Lake’s bottom layers that will have effects on species abundance and diversity. Cold water fish species, like the burbot, will suffer, as will creatures accustomed to living with the bottom-level oxygen levels of today.
 
Read the rest of this article in Lake Scientist and the original report in Ecological Modelling.
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Source: Lake Scientist
 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pollution Biggest Driver Of Nuisance Algal Blooms In European, North American Lakes

Cyanobacteria bloom, Mohegan Lake, NY. Copyright Michael R. Martin
Scientists at the University of Nottingham and McGill University have found that pollution is the biggest driver for nuisance algal blooms in European and North American lakes, according to a release from U. Nottingham. They analyzed blue-green algae concentrations in more than 100 lowland and alpine lakes to make the find.

The study is published in the journal Ecology Letters and its findings not only point to pollution as the central cause for a rise in blue-green algal blooms but also delve into the complications that climate change can bring about.

"We found that cyanobacterial populations have expanded really strongly in many lakes since the advent of industrial fertilizers and rapid urban growth," said Zofia Taranu, a doctoral student in the department of biology at McGill, in Laboratory Equipment. "While we already knew that cyanobacteria prefer warm and nutrient-rich conditions, our study is also the first to show that the effect of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, overwhelm those of global warming."

"Our work shows that we need to work harder as a society to reduce nutrient discharges to surface waters," said Irene Gregory-Eaves, associate professor of biology at Mcgill and study co-author, to Laboratory Equipment. "Because diffuse nutrient loading is the main issue, we need to build collaborations to tackle this complex problem. For example, partnerships among freshwater scientists and farmers are starting to happen, and more of this needs to take place, so that we can strike a balance between maximizing crop yields and minimizing excess fertilizer applications."

Read the complete story here
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Source: Lake Scientist


Restoring Threatened Mussels To Freshwater Could Cut E. Coli Contamination

Man-made filtration systems often do a great job of protecting human health, but natural filtration systems can be equally if not more impressive than the ones people devise. Anodonta californiensis, a threatened mussel species, has shown its value as a filtration system that removes E. coli bacteria as water flows through it, according to Chemical and Engineering News.
Reintroducing a threatened freshwater mussel species to streams and estuaries could help remove harmful bacteria from the water, according to a new laboratory study (Environ Sci. Technol. 2015, DOI: 10.1021/es5033212).
The findings suggest that increasing mussel numbers could improve not only ecosystems, but also human health, says David C. Love, an environmental health scientist at Johns Hopkins University. The data are "yet another reason to want more shellfish restoration in our local streams, rivers, and estuaries," says Love, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Unfortunately, numbers of many bivalve species are dwindling across the U.S. because of habitat destruction, threats from invasive species, and pollution. One species in trouble is Anodonta californiensis, a native of the western U.S. These mussels are among the species that government officials are returning to Mountain Lake in San Francisco as part of a lake restoration project at the former Presidio military base.
Laboratory tests of the mussel’s ability to remove E. coli from water showed that it outperformed an EPA-approved filter at trapping E. coli. The mussel removed 90 percent of the bacteria from water pumped into aquariums, compared with no change in E. coli levels for aquariums using only the filters. The E. coli level in water is a significant monitoring parameter because it is a common indicator of the level of fecal contamination in the water.
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Sources: Environmental Monitor & Chemical and Engineering News
 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lake Tahoe more vulnerable to quagga mussel invasion than previously thought

Experts had long hoped that low-calcium waters could shield Lake Tahoe from the invasive quagga mussel, but it appears they won’t make much difference, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno dispelled that hope by discovering that the mussels could thrive in the lake.
The prime spots for quagga mussels to move in are the ones where other aquatic invasives are already present, say scientists at the university. In these areas, the mussels could easily live and reproduce.
 
Read the article in Environmental Monitor and complete story in Reno Gazette-Journal
 
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Source: Daniel Kelly, Environmental Monitor
 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Webcast on March 18 - Watershed Approach Handbook

EPA has announced a webcast on March 18 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern on a recently released handbook funded by the EPA called "Watershed Approach Handbook: Improving Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects." The webcast will give listeners a broad overview of the handbook, which was developed to advance the use of a "watershed approach" in the selection, design, and siting of wetland and stream restoration and protection projects, including projects required by compensatory mitigation. The handbook provides a framework for how to carry out the watershed approach, defines a range of different approaches, and offers examples of how these approaches have been applied across the country. The webcast will also feature a case study from Wisconsin. Download the Handbook here. Visit EPA's Watershed Academy here. Register for the Webcast here.
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Source: Water Headlines

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO PREVENT SPREAD OF AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES IN THE ADIRONDACKS

For Immediate Release: 3/10/2015
 
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO
State of New York | Executive Chamber
 
Eurasian milfoil, Mountainview Lake. Copyright Michael R. Martin
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT TO PREVENT SPREAD OF AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES IN THE ADIRONDACKS
 
53 Conservation Groups, Owners Associations, Local and State Governments Sign Agreement to Preserve Clean Water, Increase Recreation Opportunities and Promote Tourism
 
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an unprecedented agreement among 53 New York State agencies, municipal governments, property owners, lake associations, conservation groups, sporting groups and businesses to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the Adirondack region. The agreement will help preserve clean water, increase recreation opportunities and promote tourism in Upstate New York.
 

"In addition to being one of our State’s greatest natural treasures, the Adirondacks are a major economic asset for communities across Upstate New York, and today we are taking an important stand to protect the region from the threat of aquatic invasive species," Governor Cuomo said. "Preventing the spread of these invasive species is crucial to safeguarding the Adirondack waters both today and for the future, and that will ensure that visitors can continue to experience the Park’s natural beauty. Working alongside our dozens of partners, we will help protect the region for years to come."

A recent study by the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program found that if invasive species are allowed to spread, they could cost the Adirondack economy up to $900 million. This includes annual losses in visitor spending, and agriculture and primary forest production value as well as losses in property value that will affect the tax base and borrowing ability for property owners on an ongoing basis.
 
To prevent this, the 53 parties pledge to work together to develop a new region-wide aquatic invasive species prevention pilot program to proactively prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in Adirondack waters. The program will include stewardship, data collection, education, boat inspections and when necessary, decontamination of boats and trailers. Additional entities can sign onto the agreement going forward.
 
In his 2015 Opportunity Agenda, Governor Cuomo announced the Protected Landscapes and Thriving Communities initiative to foster the Adirondack’s tourism economy, conserve the Forest Preserve and help communities thrive. A core component of this initiative is preventing the spread of invasive species. To support this effort, the Governor proposed a $1 million increase to the Environmental Protection Fund in the next fiscal year to fight the spread of invasive species.
 
The agreement announced today supports the Clean, Drain and Dry standard for all boats entering and exiting the region and its waters. Under the agreement, a regional boat and trailer inspection and decontamination program is planned for 2015 that will build upon the successful efforts undertaken on Lake George and other lakes in the region.

Isolated wetlands impact water quality despite fewer protections

Copyright Michael R. Martin
Researchers at Indiana University say wetlands in isolated areas play big roles in providing clean water and other environmental benefits, according to a release from the school. This is in spite of the fewer regulatory protections for isolated wetlands to other similar wetlands.


"Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality," said John Marton, assistant scientist at IU Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Continued losses of the isolated wetlands could cause serious harm to North American waters.



Read the complete story at Environmental Monitor
 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Small predator diversity is an important part of a healthy ecosystem

Halloween darter - copyright Michael R. Martin
Biodiversity, including small predators such as dragonflies and other aquatic bugs that attack and consume parasites, may improve the health of amphibians, according to a team of researchers. Amphibians have experienced marked declines in the wild around the world in recent decades, the team added.


Read more at Science Blog

Largest dam removal in U.S. history results in restored habitat, massive sediment release

The habitat impacts of removing a dam are often as great as installing one — though not always in ways that are easy to predict. When the largest dam removal in U.S. history wrapped up at Washington’s Elwha River in 2014, it raised questions about the short- and long-term effects of such a huge undertaking.



Now, a series of studies by the U.S. Geological Survey, Reclamation, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, University of Washington and various state and federal agencies are providing answers and insight into the effects of dam removal. The five papers appear in the peer-reviewed journal Geomorphology.
 
 
Source: Envirnmental Monitor. Read the Complete Article here.
 
 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Methylmercury Found in 25 Percent of U.S. Waters Tested

A 2014 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report, Mercury in the Nation’s Streams - Levels, Trends and Implications, presents a comprehensive assessment of mercury contamination in streams across the United States. It highlights the importance of environmental processes, monitoring, and control strategies for understanding and reducing stream mercury levels. The report summarizes selected stream studies conducted by the USGS since the late 1990s, while also drawing on scientific literature and datasets from other sources.
Copyright Michael R. Martin

Previous national mercury assessments by other agencies have focused largely on lakes. Although numerous studies of mercury in streams have been conducted at local and regional scales, recent USGS studies provide the most comprehensive assessment of streams across the United States and yield insights about the importance of watershed characteristics relative to mercury inputs. The report also summarizes information from other environments (e.g., lakes, wetlands, soil, atmosphere, glacial ice) to help readers understand how mercury varies in space and time.

Methylmercury is a toxic organic compound that bioaccumulates in the food web. The highest concentrations can be found in predator fish such as bass, mackerel, northern pike, shark, swordfish and tuna, and potentially in humans who consume large quantities of affected predator f ish. Methylmercury is created by combining inorganic mercury (released into the atmosphere by certain industrial activities) with natural processes and sources, particularly where mercury enters aquatic ecosystems and becomes methylated by anaerobic organisms in low-oxygen environments, such as wetlands.

Mercury contamination in fish is the primary reason for issuing fish consumption advisories; these exist in every state. Much of the mercury originates from combustion of coal and can travel long distances in the atmosphere before being deposited. This can result in mercury-contaminated fish in areas with no obvious source of mercury pollution.


Read the Complete Article in Nonpoint Source News Notes



Many Sampled Streams Exceed Aquatic Life Benchmarks for Pesticides

Although pesticide levels seldom exceeded human health benchmarks, pesticides continue to be a concern for aquatic life in many U.S. rivers and streams in agricultural and urban areas, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study published last September. The 2014 study analyzed data collected over two decades (1992–2011). More than a half billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S. to increase crop production and reduce insect-borne disease.

USGS collected water samples nationwide from 182 streams and rivers during 19922001 and from 125 streams and rivers during 2002–2011. USGS collected the samples throughout the year, including during both high-flow and low-flow conditions. Sampling was most intensive during the time of highest pesticide use and runoff— generally weekly or twice monthly for a 4- to 9-month period.
Copyright Michael R. Martin

The level of pesticides in water is largely influenced by the surrounding land uses. Water analyses showed that the proportion of streams with one or more pesticides exceeding an aquatic life benchmark was similar between the two decades for streams and rivers draining agricultural and mixed-land use areas, but much greater during the 2002–2011 period for streams draining urban areas. Exceedances in urban streams increased from 53 percent during the first decade of monitoring to 90 percent during the second decade, largely as a result of the greater presence of fipronil and dichlorvos.

Read Complete Story in Nonpoint Source News Notes

Monday, February 23, 2015

NALMS past-presidents fault lake management organizations' watershed focus over in-lake issues

Kezar Lake, NH, USA. Copyright Michael R. Martin
North American Lake Management Society's past-presidents Dick Osgood and Ken Wagner, writing in the February issue of NALMS Notes, emphasize the water quality impact of our nations lake management institutions "watersheds only" management approach in support of a change to these policies.
 

"We support the recently adopted NALMS Position, "Changes in US EPA Policy Implementing the Clean Water Act Are Required to Restore Water Quality in the Nation’s Lakes and Reservoirs." This position is apt and timely and speaks to a larger concern regarding the institutionalization of the watershed-approach to managing lakes.

"The institutions involved with managing lakes, including the US EPA, have evolved to the nearly exclusive application of the watershed management paradigm with the result that more and more lakes are becoming impaired and few are actually being fixed.

"The watershed approach is an important and critical element of any lake management approach but one that ought not to be used exclusively. The NALMS position argues for a shift to a more balanced approach."

 
Read the article in this month's NALMS Notes.
 
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Editor's note: As a NALMS Past-president, I support NALMS' position and concur with my colleagues' article on the subject. - Michael R. Martin -
 
 
 

Researchers putting Water Hyacinth into Florida waters to improve water quality

Researchers in Florida are looking at adding rather than removing the aggressively invasive Water Hyacinth at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Kings Bay to improve water quality.
Source: Weed's News Digest

Volunteers were taking part in a bold pilot project that is the latest chapter in a half-century-long ecological story that reads like a fable. It started with a well-intentioned campaign to rid Kings Bay of the water hyacinth, an aggressive nonnative species, followed by decades of additional control measures and a tragic downward spiral that transformed these crystal-clear waters into an unpleasant soup of slimy green algae. Then the story takes an unexpected turn, back to its original antagonist. Only this time, Bob Knight, the wetlands restoration ecologist leading this pioneering project, has recast water hyacinth as the unlikely hero. He believes this South American native, if controlled, could help solve the algae problem and return the bay’s ecosystem to a more desirable state.

Read the complete story.

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Source: The Weed's News Digest


 
 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Report by NYS Comptroller outlines DEC's Economic Problems

A report by the New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, outlines the state of Environmental Funding in New York State and highlights the impact of low budgets and decreased staffing at the State's Department of Environmental Conservation.
"Created in 1970, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is responsible for most of the State’s programs to protect wildlife, natural resources and environmental quality. DEC programs range widely from managing fish and game populations and overseeing the extraction of natural resources to monitoring the discharge of pollutants and hazardous materials and cleaning up contaminated sites. These services are integral to New Yorkers’ public health and general well-being, and to the State’s economy."
Over the past decade, the scope of DEC's mandates have increased while staff has declined by over 300 (10.4%) and overall environmental funding remains flat and is expected to decline over the next three years, all while New York raids the dedicated environmental funds to provide budget relief elsewhere.
"The combination of increased responsibilities, reduced staffing, and ongoing fiscal pressure raises questions regarding the DEC’s capacity to carry out its critical functions."
The report is intended to assist State policy makers and the public in assessing these critical issues.



Study links acidic lakes to higher mercury concentrations in bats

Source: Environmental Monitor
A new study of mercury levels in bats links higher concentrations in some colonies to the acidity of nearby lakes and rivers, further illuminating the paths this global atmospheric contaminant follows though aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Previous research has shown that fish and other organisms in lakes with higher acidity tend to have higher mercury concentrations. This study from Nova Scotia shows the effect appears to extend to little brown bats, which feed on adult insects that live in aquatic habitats as juveniles.
"What we found was that the average water acidity in surrounding freshwater systems may be an important factor in increasing bioavailability of mercury in aquatic food chains leading to little brown bats," wrote Linda Campbell, study co-author and a senior research fellow in environmental science at Saint Mary’s University, in an email.
The study, published online by the journal Environmental Science and Technology, came about after a bird ecotoxicologist, a bat biologist and a limnologist got together.
"While we didn’t all walk into a bar, our interests and expertise overlapped nicely," said Campbell, the limnologist of the group.
Read the entire article here.
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Source: Environmental Monitor