Precision Conservation conference set March 29
Precision conservation effectively and efficiently targets scarce resources to the spots on the landscape where they will do the most good. Learn about the latest technology — much of it
On Thursday, March 29, the Freshwater Society will sponsor a day-long conference: “Precision Conservation: Technology Redefining Local Water Quality Practices.”
The keynote address will be delivered by Dave White, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Dr. David Mulla, a University of Soil Scientist and a pioneer in employing modern LiDAR-based technology in the service of conservation, will describe current and emerging strategies.
The conference will focus both on technology — much of it derived from vastly improved terrain mapping developed from Light Detection and Ranging laser scanning — and the decision-making process by which policy-makers choose where to employ their time, energy and scarce financial resources.
Who should attend? Watershed District managers, Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors, county commissioners, water planners and policy-makers.
Report explores water re-use
Each day, American municipalities discharge treated wastewater back into natural sources at a rate that would fill an empty Lake Champlain within six months.
Growing pressure on water supplies and calls for updating the ancient subterranean piping infrastructure have brought new scrutiny to this step in the treatment process, which is labeled wasteful and unnecessary by a spectrum of voices.
“As the world enters the 21st century, the human community finds itself searching for new paradigms for water supply and management,” says a report releasedby the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences.
The report investigates the potential for establishing a more resilient national water supply through the direct recycling of municipal wastewater.
“Law and practice have always been that water goes back into a river or into groundwater or the ocean before it returns for further treatment,” said Brent Haddad, founder and director of the Center for Integrated Water Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a member of the committee that wrote the report. The critical question, he said, is “whether that natural stage of treatment is actually an efficient stage of treatment.”
–The New York Times
Don’t forget: Mindy Lubber to lecture March 1
Mindy Lubber, an international leader in efforts by investors to lead and pressure multinational companies to adopt environmentally sustainable business practices, will deliver a free, public lecture March 1 in St. Paul.
The lecture, “Investing in Sustainability: Building Water Stewardship Into the Bottom Line,” is sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences.
Register to attend. Learn about the lecture series and view video of previous speakers. Lubber is president of Ceres, a 22-year-old Boston-based nonprofit that works with companies like Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss and IBM to encourage the firms to make their products and processes more water- efficient and less vulnerable to climate change.
As part of that work, Lubber directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, an alliance of 100 institutional investors who manage $10 trillion in assets. In 2011, she was voted one of “the 100 most influential people in corporate governance” by Directorship Magazine.
Lubber’s lecture will focus on the risks businesses and their shareholders face as a result of a population-driven demand for increased water use colliding with a fixed global supply, aggravated by more pronounced droughts and flooding resulting from climate change. She will offer specific examples of companies that are changing their business models to become more sustainable.
Minnesota joins effort to protect L. Winnipeg
Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba are planning to work together to fix an expanding dead zone in Lake Winnipeg.
The lake is a major fishery in Manitoba, but it’s health is declining because of nutrients like phosphorus flowing in through the Red River. The nutrients cause large algae blooms.
The problem has been building for decades, said Lance Yohe, Red River Basin Commission executive director.
“The new research is indicating we’re getting closer and closer to a tipping point where the lake would start to deteriorate rather fast,” he said. “If we solve the problem and make progress, this is the best tool to do that.” The Red River drains a large area, and the first step is to identify where nutrients are coming from, Yohe said.
–Minnesota Public Radio
Carver County joining zebra mussel fight
Beginning May 15, all boats entering Lake Minnewashta in Carver County will be inspected for zebra mussels in the most ambitious effort yet in the state to prevent the invasive pests from infesting a lake.
It marks the first time that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has authorized a local government to take over such a program, with authority to require inspections and deny boat launching if necessary.
County commissioners voted 3-2to pay half of the $31,000 cost for daily inspections. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District will pay the rest.
The partnership could become a model for other lakes in the southwest metro county, as well as those in other counties. It comes at a time when some lakeshore owners and others are desperately trying to devise local efforts to stop zebra mussels, which have infested about two dozen lakes in the state, including heavily trafficked Lake Minnetonka in 2010.
–The Star Tribune
Tons of Asian carp seized in Canada
Almost 6.3 tonnes of Asian carp, an invasive species no one wants in the Great Lakes, has been seized at the Windsor-Detroit border in the last three weeks. That’s alarming, University of Windsor professor and aquatic invasive species expert Hugh MacIsaac said.
“The Americans have put $78 million into trying to detect where the fish are and to make sure they don’t get into the Great Lakes at Chicago,” said MacIsaac. “And here on the other hand we still have people shipping these things around as though it’s legal and advisable, and it’s neither.”
Since 2005, it’s been illegal to possess live Asian carp in Ontario. Over fives tonnes of Asian carp, some of them alive, was seized on the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor. That came about two weeks after nearly 1.2 tonnes of live Asian carp was seized at the border Jan. 9, Ministry of Natural Resources spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski said.
MPCA seeks comment on Anoka County lakes
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking feedback on a draft water quality improvement report for Peltier Lake, Centerville Lake, and the lakes in the Lino Lakes chain (George Watch, Marshan, Reshanau, Rice and Baldwin lakes) in Anoka County.
The MPCA has identified these lakes as impaired because of their high levels of phosphorus. Lakes with excess phosphorus are prone to algal overgrowth, which interferes with swimming, fishing and recreation.
The MPCA, in partnership with the Rice Creek Watershed District, has determined that the phosphorus levels in Peltier Lake must be reduced by up to 85 percent to meet state water quality standards. For this chain of lakes, much of the phosphorus load comes from internal sources, such as rough fish (carp) and decaying vegetation. Therefore, the studies recommend managing populations of fish and aquatic plants in the lakes to control the internal phosphorus load.
Local initiatives to improve the management of stormwater will also reduce the flow of phosphorus into Peltier Lake. Focus on this upstream lake will be critical for success in restoring the downstream lakes. Part of the study included an evaluation of historic phosphorus levels in Peltier Lake.
The MPCA has proposed assessing Peltier Lake in comparison to its natural background level of phosphorus, rather than using the more stringent state water quality standard. George Watch, Marshan, Rice and Baldwin lakes, since they are downstream of Peltier, would also use the natural background condition as their standard.
The MPCA report, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load report, or TMDL, may be viewed on line. For more information or to submit comments, contact Chris Zadak (email firstname.lastname@example.org ; phone 651-757-2837), MPCA, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., Saint Paul, MN 55155-4194.
–MPCA News Release
DNR begins moose count
Recent snowfall in northeastern Minnesota has allowed for the start of the 2012 aerial moose survey, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The annual survey, which has been conducted every year since 1960, provides critical data needed to determine the size of the moose population and to set the number of moose hunting permits.
Observers from the DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, the 1854 Treaty Authority, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa gathered in Ely to begin the survey, which is expected to last two to three weeks, depending on the weather.
Forty-nine survey plots randomly scattered across the survey area will be flown. This includes the addition of nine specially selected “habitat” plots that will be studied to determine how moose respond to recent wildfires, prescribed burns and timber management.
–DNR News Release
Research: PFCs impact immune systems
Children exposed to the same common household chemicals that have contaminated groundwater near a number of 3M Co. sites in the St. Paul suburbs have weakened immune systems that make them more vulnerable to infections, according to research.
The study is the first to confirm the suspected link between immune function and PFCs, a family of compounds used in everything from Teflon pans to microwave popcorn bags.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it’s the latest in a growing number of scientific studies raising questions about the health implications of the compounds, which have become ubiquitous in the environment, animals and people.
The chemicals are of particular concern in the east metro area, where groundwater and drinking water were contaminated after 3M made and used the compounds for decades at its Cottage Grove plant to make products like Scotchgard, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam. 3M stopped using the chemicals in 2002.
But many people who live nearby have elevated levels of the compounds in their blood — significantly higher than do the Scottish children who were studied in the research published by JAMA. That means their immune systems could be even more affected, Minnesota health officials said.
–The Star Tribune
Garden chart recognizes warmer winters
It’s still too cold for Japanese maples and flowering dogwoods, but warmer winters have shifted the Twin Cities into a new plant-hardiness zone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
The Twin Cities used to be Zone 4A, which meant winter temperatures plunged as low as 30 degrees below zero. Now the USDA places the Twin Cities in Zone 4B, which means winter temperatures drop as low as minus 25 degrees.
The move to a slightly balmier zone comes after the USDA recalculated its map with newer weather data for the first time since 1990. Two decades of gradually warmer winters have shifted most of Minnesota – and much of the United States – one notch higher on the USDA’s plant-hardiness charts.
The zones depict the lowest winter temperatures for each region and are used to advise gardeners which plants are safe to buy. “The new map is generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States,” said Kim Kaplan of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press