Archive for February, 2009

Save water: Put less in the pasta pot

February 26, 2009

Food writer Harold McGee, writing in the New York Times’ Curious Cook column, has a suggestion for saving energy: Put less water in the pot when you boil pasta.
McGee says the standard recipe for cooking pasta calls for 4 to 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta.
He says experimentation convinced him that – with a little additional stirring of the pasta to keep it from sticking – you can get by with 1.5 quarts. He calculates that Americans cook a billion pounds of pasta a year, and could save “several trillion” B.T.U.s of energy, worth perhaps $10 million to $20 million at today’s oil prices, if they used less water and spent less time bringing it to a boil.
McGee doesn’t dwell on the water savings, but saving 4 billion or so quarts of water a year is not insignificant. And that’s why you are reading about pasta boiling in blog devoted to water. Go to the Times for McGee’s recipe.

Mercury, invasive species and gray water

February 23, 2009

Every week, the Freshwater Society posts a digest of regional, national and international news articles and research reports on water and the environment. Go to the Freshwater web site to read the latest digest, or click on the links below to read the original articles. If you see something that interests you, let us know by posting a comment.

U.S. endorses treaty to limit mercury emissions
The Obama administration reversed years of U.S. policy by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world’s gravest chemical problem.

Some 6,000 tons of mercury enter the environment each year, about a third generated by power stations and coal fires. Much settles into the oceans, where it enters the food chain and is concentrated in predatory fish like tuna.

Children and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to poisoning by the toxic metal, which can cause birth defects, brain damage and peeling skin.
–The Associated Press

PCA reports increase in mercury in fish
After falling for years, mercury levels in large Minnesota fish such as northern pike and walleye are unexpectedly on the rise, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Those levels declined by 37 percent between 1982 and the mid-1990s but have increased by 15 percent since, the agency said in a study published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The analysis was based on tissue samples from fish collected from 845 state lakes.

“It is something that is affecting all the lakes in Minnesota,” said agency scientist Bruce Monson, who conducted the analysis and characterized the results as surprising.
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Controversy dogs Grand Canyon water flow experiment
Nearly a year after the federal government flooded the Grand Canyon in a test of resource restoration, questions persist about whether the agency in charge watered down the experiment to protect power providers and ignored high-level critics of the operation.

The allegations resurfaced with a January memo written by the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, who accused his bosses of disregarding science in preparing for the flood designed to reverse some of the damaging effects of Glen Canyon Dam on the canyon and on the Colorado River. He also described the environmental review of the experiment as one of the worst he’s seen.
–The Arizona Republic

EPA may regulate greenhouse gases
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to act for the first time to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet, according to top Obama administration officials.

The decision, which most likely would play out in stages over a period of months, would have a profound impact on transportation, manufacturing costs and how utilities generate power. It could accelerate the progress of energy and climate change legislation in Congress and form a basis for the United States’ negotiating position at United Nations climate talks set for December in Copenhagen.
–The New York Times

Huge forest easement proposed
More than 187,000 acres of forest and wetlands in north-central Minnesota, an area almost as large as the entire existing state parks system, would be protected permanently under a proposal that will be unveiled at the state Capitol.

If given the thumbs up, it would be largest public-private land conservation project in recent Minnesota history.
 –The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Mining clean-up requirements proposed
With a new type of mining being proposed for northern Minnesota, some state legislators want to impose tighter site-cleanup standards and financial assurance requirements.

Legislation introduced Thursday would force companies engaging in sulfide mining to make sure that their sites are clean and nonpolluting when they’re done and that they’ve put enough money aside so taxpayers aren’t on the hook for subsequent problems.

“Our intention is to make this kind of mining safe,” said Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, chief sponsor of the Senate bill. Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, is the chief sponsor of a companion bill in the House.
-The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Wisconsin proposes ballast rules to fight invasive species
Oceangoing ships would have to meet some of the nation’s strictest ballast water quality standards before they could dock in Wisconsin’s Great Lakes ports under regulations state officials proposed.

The plan is designed to block new invasive species from hitching rides in oceangoing vessels’ ballast water and overwhelming native Great Lakes ecosystems. The state Department of Natural Resources estimates more than 180 nonnative fish, plants, insects and organisms have entered the Great Lakes since the 19th century, wrecking food chains, ruining beaches and jeopardizing tourism.
–The Associated Press

Invasive mussels spread west
It took some of America’s best engineers, thousands of laborers and two years of around-the-clock concrete pouring to build the 726-foot-high Hoover Dam back in the 1930s. It took less time than that for the tiny, brainless quagga mussel to bring operators of this modern wonder of the world to their knees.

While federal lawmakers continue to squabble over how to stop overseas ships from dumping unwanted organisms into the world’s largest freshwater system, the Great Lakes’ most vexing invasive-species problem has gone national.
–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Satellite to track carbon dioxide
Thirty billion tons of carbon dioxide waft into the air from the burning of fossil fuels each year. About half stays in the air. The other half disappears. Where it all goes, nobody quite knows.

With the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a NASA satellite scheduled to be launched on Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, scientists hope to understand better the comings and goings of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas behind the warming of the planet.

The new data could help improve climate models and the understanding of the “carbon sinks,” like oceans and forests, that absorb much of the carbon dioxide.
–The New York Times

Florida water manages eye massive pipe grid
Having less water in Florida could lead to building some really big water lines.

Central Florida utility managers have begun circulating long-term proposals to lay hundreds of miles of interconnected pipelines that could cross nine counties to satisfy growing demand for drinkable water.

About 3 million people now live in that area, which reaches from St. Johns and Putnam counties to Central Florida suburbs west of Orlando.
–Jacksonville News

Volunteers sought to clean up rare fen
After decades of negotiation aided by the Watershed District, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in spring 2008 bought 106 acres of the 600-acre Seminary Fen wetlands complex, in Chaska and Chanhassen, from the Wetterlin family’s Emerald Ventures LLC. The agency funded the purchase with about $1.3 million of state bonding passed in 2003.

Together with the DNR, the Watershed District is now soliciting Friends of the Fen volunteers to 1) educate and inform the public on this rare natural resource and 2) help clean up and remove invasive species.
–Eden Prairie News

UW-River Falls ‘gray water’ system up and running
UW-River Falls students, faculty and staff may or may not have noticed the blue signs in the University Center bathrooms commenting on the gray water in the toilets. The signs — put up during J-Term — signal the recent success of the rainwater reuse system.

The rainwater reuse system is the first of its kind in a state of Wisconsin building, Mark Gillis, assistant supervisor of facilities maintenance, said.

The rainwater reuse system has begun to run functionally in the last month. The University Center opened two years ago, but the original design of the rainwater reuse system did not work.
–UW-River Falls Student Voice

Michigan asks EPA to take over wetlands regulation
Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s proposal to hand over protection of Michigan wetlands to the federal government comes as critics in Congress and elsewhere say federal agencies are falling down on the job.

A muddled U.S. Supreme Court ruling on two Michigan cases in 2006 has caused wide confusion about which wetlands the government can regulate. Since then, there has been “drastic deterioration” of wetland protection under the Clean Water Act, a congressional memo said in December.
–The Associated Press

Global water shortage looms
If you’ve read anything about the global water crisis, you’ve likely read a quote from Dr. Peter Gleick, founder and president of the Pacific Institute, and one of the world’s leading water experts. His name has become as ubiquitous as drought itself, which is suddenly making major headlines. A report from the World Economic Forum warned that in only twenty years our civilization may be facing “water bankruptcy”–shortfalls of fresh water so large and pervasive that global food production could crater, meaning that we’d lose the equivalent of the entire grain production of the US and India combined.

But we don’t have to wait twenty years to see what this would look like. Australia, reeling from twelve years of drought in the Murray-Darling River Basin, has seen agriculture grind to a halt, with tens of billions of dollars in losses. The region has been rendered a tinderbox, with the deadliest fires in the country’s history claiming over 160 lives so far. And all this may begin to hit closer to home soon. California’s water manager said that the state is bracing for its worst drought in modern history. Stephen Chu, the new US secretary of energy, warns that the effects of climate change on California’s water supplies could put an end to agriculture in the state by 2100 and imperil major cities.
–The Nation

Drought threatens Tampa Bay area
As the traditionally dry spring approaches, regional water managers are asking the state to impose the toughest watering restrictions in history.

The reservoir that helps supply water to the Tampa Bay area is about a month from being drained, a sign of how dire the problem has become, officials with Tampa Bay Water said.

“We’re in a severe water shortage, and we need to take action,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, chairman of the utility’s board.
–St. Petersburg Times


Endocrine-disruptors and birds moving north

February 16, 2009

Every week, the Freshwater Society posts a digest of regional, national and international news articles and research reports on water and the environment. Go to the Freshwater web site to read the latest digest, or click on the links below to read the original articles. If you see something that interests you, let us know by posting a comment.

Database tracks impacts of endocrine-disruptors

An electronic database has gathered the latest science on some of the most controversial chemicals in use, offering a handy look into potential health effects when babies are exposed while developing in the womb.

The interactive Web site, called “Critical Windows of Development, ” has compiled an array of data from hundreds of scientists studying low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Theo Colborn, a scientist often credited with discovering in the early 1990s that environmental pollutants were mimicking and altering hormones, led the effort to create the database. She said her intent is to give scientists, policymakers, journalists and others immediate access to the information in a user-friendly, visually interesting way.

“This puts information directly at our fingertips with the utmost ease,” said Gail Prins, a physiology professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and one of a few dozen scientists who have previewed the Web site. “By making it electronic, the worldwide availability is a tremendous step forward in data dissemination.”
–Scientific America

L.A. mayor urges tiered water rates to spur conservation
Calling the ongoing three-year drought a crisis, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for severe water-use restrictions and a tiered rate system that would reward customers who conserve and punish those who don’t with higher bills.

Lawn watering would be restricted to two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays, and could be cut to one day a week by summer if the drought continues, Villaraigosa said. The mayor made his announcement on a rainy winter day, but L.A.’s current wet weather is not expected to ease the drought. Restrictions could be imposed as early as March but would have to be approved by the City Council and commissioners at the city’s Department of Water and Power.

The increased conservation measures are proposed because the Metropolitan Water District, a major wholesale water supplier to Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California, has warned that the worsening drought may force it to cut water deliveries by 15% to 25%.
–The Los Angeles Times

Northeastern moose count holds steady
Northeastern Minnesota’s 2008 moose survey estimates a population of 7,600 animals. This is similar to last year’s count, but related factors suggest that the population is continuing to decline.

“The raw survey numbers were similar,” said Mark Lenarz, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife researcher overseeing moose research. “But a historically low calf survival rate, a steadily declining hunter-success ratio, and a higher than normal non-hunting mortality rate all continue to suggest a downward trend in the moose population.”

Minnesota’s 2008 non-hunting mortality moose rate was 17 percent, down 3 percent from the 20 percent average rate reported during the past seven years. Elsewhere in North America, between 8 and 12 percent of moose generally die from causes other than hunting.
–Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Climate change drives birds north
Nearly 60% of the 305 bird species found in North America in winter are on the move, shifting their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. Audubon scientists analyzed 40 years of citizen-science Christmas Bird Count data — and their findings provide new and powerful evidence that global warming is having a serious impact on natural systems. Northward movement was detected among species of every type, including more than 70 percent of highly adaptable forest and feeder birds.

Only grassland species were an exception – with only 38 percent mirroring the northward trend. But far from being good news for species like Eastern Meadowlark and Henslow’s Sparrow, this reflects the grim reality of severely-depleted grassland habitat and suggests that these species now face a double threat from the combined stresses of habitat loss and climate adaptation.

China vows to wring more production from water
China, faced with widespread water shortages exacerbated by its worst drought in decades, aims to cut the amount of water it uses to produce each dollar of national income by 60 percent by 2020, state media said.

The target, unveiled by Water Resources Minister Chen Lei, underlines Beijing’s growing concern over chronic water shortages that it fears could undermine its ability to feed itself and crimp economic growth in the long run.

“We must take strict measures to preserve water resources in the face of the severe lack of water worsened by factors such as overuse, pollution and drought,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Chen as telling a conference on Saturday.

New fish consumption advisory set
Twin Lake in Robbinsdale and Crystal in Hennepin County has been found to have levels of a perfluorochemical (PFC) in fish, similar to the higher levels previously measured in lakes Calhoun, Elmo and Johanna. The PFOS (perfluorooctonate sulfate) levels in these fish place them in the one meal per month consumption category, given no impact from other contaminants.

“Our concern with consuming fish is any long-term exposure to contaminants,” said Patricia McCann, fish consumption advisory coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health . “Our advice for how often it is safe to eat fish is set at a level that is protective of human health over many years of continuous fish eating.” The advisory is updated annually to reflect new fish contaminant data.

The Health Department is in the process of analyzing the fish tissue data from this latest round of lake sampling by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for PFCs as well as data on additional lakes from the Department of Natural Resources for mercury and polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs).
–Minnesota Department of Health

Florida review predicts ground water decline
Aquifer levels will drop seriously in Northeast Florida within 20 years if a growing population doesn’t waste less water, new estimates by water managers warn.

That change could draw saltier water into some wells JEA uses to supply its customers, making them unacceptable for public use, say the projections by scientists at the St. Johns River Water Management District. It could also have far-reaching effects on the region’s natural environment, from harming plants to lowering lake volumes in Putnam and southern Clay counties.

“This is a fairly significant projected impact,” said Hal Wilkening, director of the agency’s resource management department. “When we look at it cumulatively … this is not going to be sustainable.”
–Jacksonville Times-Union

Economy threatens ethanol industry
Barely a year after Congress enacted an energy law meant to foster a huge national enterprise capable of converting plants and agricultural wastes into automotive fuel, the goals lawmakers set for the ethanol industry are in serious jeopardy.

In the meantime, plans are lagging for a new generation of factories that were supposed to produce ethanol from substances like wood chips and crop waste, overcoming the drawbacks of corn ethanol. That nascent branch of the industry concedes it has virtually no chance of meeting Congressional production mandates that kick in next year.
–The New York Times

Pentagon pays to offset birds’ habitat loss
The Pentagon has been funding Texas A&M University to pay landowners near a Texas military post to protect endangered bird species on their land under a secretive program designed to free the military to conduct training activities that would damage the birds’ habitats inside the post’s boundaries, documents show.

Despite complaints that the program is a boondoggle for the landowners, some federal officials are pushing to replicate it at other military sites and in federal highway projects. The program’s effectiveness has been questioned by several military officials, federal wildlife authorities and an independent consulting firm, which recommended that the Army cancel it.
–The Washington Post

West Virginia ground water study is late
A study into the effects of coal slurry on groundwater has missed three deadlines and is still months from completion, and West Virginia lawmakers are running out of patience.

Department of Environmental Protection Director Randy Huffman bore the brunt of legislators’ frustration Tuesday, as they said even the appearance of foot-dragging on a public health issue is inexcusable.
–The Associated Press

California drought spurs talk of cooperation
The potential for unprecedented water shortages this year may spur farmers, environmentalists and urban water planners, to find common ground that has so far eluded them, according to speakers at an irrigation conference in Sacramento.

During panel discussions at the 47th annual California Irrigation Institute conference last week, several speakers stressed the urgent need to resolve the state’s pressing water problems.

“Too often, we talk at one another instead of with one another, and that is not conducive to arriving at what can be some longer-term progress and solutions,” farmer Mark Borba of Riverdale told the conference. “People are tired of fighting.”
–California Farm Bureau Federation

Pollution ruins Vietnamese oyster farms
Nearly 3,000 hectares of oyster farms in Long Son Village of Vung Tau City has been destroyed due to polluted water, causing a property damage worth tens of billions of Vietnam dong for local people, said an officer of the village.

Bui Duc Binh, vice chairman of the island village, told the Daily on Tuesday that the water source of the Van and Rang rivers, where nearly 500 families of the village are cultivating oyster, has been polluted since August last year. The polluted water has killed most of oysters.

Binh said the villagers early this year had lodged some 400 complaints to the city government to demand a probe into the water pollution situation.

He said that the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment then had conducted inspections at the rivers to find out the cause of pollution, and pinpointed the culprits being some 25 companies in Tan Thanh District discharging untreated wastewater into the two rivers.

Fire-fighting foam, fish viruses and drowning corn

February 9, 2009

Every week, the Freshwater Society posts a digest of regional, national and international news articles and research reports on water and the environment. Go to the Freshwater web site to read the latest digest, or click on the links below to read the original articles. If you see something that interests you, let us know by posting a comment.

DNR inadvertently allows new fish virus into state
The state agency charged with protecting Minnesota’s multibillion-dollar fishing industry from diseases allowed a virus potentially dangerous to fish into the state last year.

Last May, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources mistakenly approved a shipment of 2,000 rainbow trout from Wisconsin to a rural Cloquet man, who legally purchased them and put them into his private pond.
– St. Paul Pioneer Press

Obama Administration begins to weigh Environmental Priorities
In his first weeks in office, President Obama has dismantled many environmental policies set by the Bush administration. But in some areas, he will be building on the work of his predecessor, rather than taking it apart.

Mr. Bush was not known for his concern over the environment. In the eight years of his tenure, he opened vast tracts of public lands to drilling, mining and timbering, earning the enmity of many environmentalists. His critics accused him of easing restrictions on polluters, subverting science and dragging his feet on global warming.
 The New York Times

PCA to study contamination from fire-fighting foam
Minnesota health officials are launching a major investigation into whether drinking water in 15 Minnesota cities is contaminated with chemicals formerly manufactured by 3M Co. and used in municipal fire-fighting foam .

The tests, set to begin next month, will be important to residents and fire officials in communities across the country where a 3M firefighting foam has been used for years in training exercises, often on city-owned property adjacent to municipal wells. The foam is flushed into storm sewers or left to seep into the ground, raising the possibility that drinking water has been affected.

“This could have national significance,” said Doug Wetzstein, supervisor in the superfund section at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Firefighters virtually everywhere have used the foam for decades, he said, at city practice areas, community college training courses, and especially at military bases, airports and refineries where jet fuel and other petroleum-based fires are a major concern.
–Star Tribune

Climate change prompts Arctic fishing ban
A federal fishery panel voted to close off a large swath of the Arctic sea to commercial fishing. The move was a pre-emptive measure to protect more than 150,000 square nautical miles north of the Bering Strait that have become more accessible as a result of the warming Arctic climate.
–The New York Times

Oregon legislation seeks dam removal dollars
Groups representing irrigators, fishermen and tribes urged Oregon lawmakers to approve a bill to increase power rates for PacifiCorp customers to pay for removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River .

The rate hike bill is needed to help put into effect a tentative deal reached last fall by state and federal officials calling for removal of the dams as a way to settle a decades-long water struggle in the Klamath Basin.

As a Senate panel opened hearings on the proposal, supporters said it would improve beleaguered salmon runs and provide stability for agriculture in the area.
–The Associated Press

Save the planet: Drown some corn stalks
A leading idea to fight global climate change is to permanently remove some of the carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere.

Plants remove CO2 from the air through photosynthesis, incorporating the carbon in their tissues. So dumping corn stalks, wheat straw and other crop residues into the deep ocean, where cold and lack of oxygen would keep them from decomposing, would in effect sequester atmospheric CO2 on a time scale of millennia.
–The New York Times

Corn-based ethanol no better than gas, study finds
Corn ethanol is no better fuel than gasoline, and it may even be worse for air quality, according to a new University of Minnesota study.

The study is the first one to estimate the economic costs to human health and well-being from three different fuels — gasoline, corn-based ethanol and cellulosic (plant-based) ethanol — its authors say.

Scientists and economists looked at life-cycle emissions of growing, harvesting, producing and burning different fuels, and concluded that ethanol made from switchgrass and other plant materials is far better than either corn ethanol or gasoline.
–The Star Tribune

Under-ocean lab studies climate change
A crane on a ship deck hoisted a 502-pound video camera and plopped it into the ocean for a 3,000-foot descent to the world of neon-glowing jellyfish, bug-eyed red rock cod and other still unknown slithery critters.

The so-called Eye-in-the-Sea camera would be added to the first observatory operating in deep sea water and become part of a new kind of scientific exploration to assess the impacts of climate change on marine life.
–The Associated Press

San Diego considers fee-based water conservation
In drafting their newest proposal to cope with drought, San Diego’s leaders said they favor empowerment over enforcement .

The emerging plan minimizes efforts to police people’s behavior, such as restricting days for lawn watering, and instead allocates water to customers based on their usage in 2006 and 2007.

Residents and businesses would use their monthly “budget” as they see fit. If they go over the cap, they would get hit with fees up to five times the regular cost of water.
–San Diego Union-Tribune

Mining Alberta’s oil sands demand lots of water
An awe-struck James Smith, chairman of Shell UK, reflects as he surveys the huge Muskeg River Mine in Canada’s Albertan oil sands . “It’s big,” he says.

Certainly, standing 25 metres down in a 15km squared oil sands quarry puts the scale of the operation in perspective. Here the world’s largest trucks transport 400 tonnes of tar sands in each haul – just four grabs of the even larger excavator’s claw. The truck tyres are twice the height of an ordinary human being.

“I’ve worked in the world’s largest goldmine [in Indonesia] and this is much bigger,” observes Todd Dahlman, Shell Canada’s mining operations manager. Muskeg River Mine has a design capacity of 155,000 barrels per day (bpd) of bitumen, a heavy crude oil that, once mined, is separated from the sand using warm water. It is run by Albian Sands Energy, a joint venture between Shell Canada (60%), Marathon Oil Canada (20%) and Chevron Canada (20%).

Washington State wells mine Ice Age Water
A groundwater-mapping study that tracks how water trickles under Eastern Washington shows deep wells in four counties are in deep trouble.

The two-year study done by the Columbia Basin Groundwater Management Area, based in Othello, found that aquifer levels are dropping fast, that most deep wells in the study area are drawing water left from the ice-age floods at least 10,000 years ago, and that there is virtually no chance Lake Roosevelt is recharging deep wells in Eastern Washington’s driest counties.
–Tri-City Herald

Wolves owe black coats to dogs, research shows
In a bit of genetic sleuthing, a team of researchers has determined that black wolves and coyotes in North America got their distinctive color from dogs that carried a gene mutation to the New World.

The finding presents a rare instance in which a genetic mutation from a domesticated animal has benefited wild animals by enriching their “genetic legacy,” the scientists write in Thursday’s Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science. Because black wolves are more common in forested areas than on the tundra, the researchers concluded that melanism — the pigmentation that resulted from the mutation — must give those animals an adaptive advantage.
–The New York Times

Ground water depletion turns Calcutta water saline
Calcutta’s water is turning saline, forcing many parts of the city to depend on bottled water to dilute the mineral monster.

There is not a drop to drink in Santoshpur, for instance, which has been left with only saline water in its underground poolin the wake of a real estate boom. In some other crowded areas, tubewells are being sunk deeper than 700 feet to find fresh water.
–The Telegraph

California lawsuit filed over salmon
Conservation and fishermen’s groups filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court seeking to force state and regional water boards to implement existing clean water laws in the wild rivers and streams of the state’s North Coast region.

The groups argue that only cleaner waters will enable the recovery of endangered salmon species.

For decades, water quality in North Coast river and streams has been degraded by sediment, nutrients, high temperatures, low dissolved oxygen levels, and turbidity. These pollutants are the result of dam construction, water diversions, urban development, agriculture, logging, mining, and grazing.
–Environmental News Service

Write sustainability into your travel itinerary
From diesel buses kept running outside ancient ruins, their engines driving the air conditioning for those trooping around the historic site, to the polluting effects of the airplanes that transport us around the world, travel is an easy target these days for those who would see us reduce our environmental impact.

But travel can also be positive — it can contribute to the viability of local communities, it can connect people to cultures around the world, and it can even open our eyes to where we can help the world the most.

So, is it possible to travel without damaging the world?
– Calgary Herald

Blackduck man fined for filling wetlands
A Blackduck man has been found guilty of major wetlands violations in Itasca County. The violations were part of the Wetland Conservation Act, administered by local counties with support from by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Jeffery R. Swanson, 40, was sentenced to pay more than $15,000 in fines and fees, placed on a two-year unsupervised probation and had 180 days in jail stayed for two years.
–The Bemidji Pioneer

Saving water helps some mosquitoes
Mosquitoes have an unwitting new ally in the war on infectious diseases—conservationists. Turns out that, for mosquitoes carrying dengue-fever, environmentally conscious humans may be aiding the invasion. That’s the finding of a study published in the journal Functional Ecology.

In Australia, severe drought has led citizens to capture and store rainwater. While that’s good for water conservation, the resulting array of water-storage tanks provides the perfect breeding ground for an army of mosquitoes.
–Scientific American