Posts Tagged ‘gene merriam’

Nutrient pollution; conservation; road salt

December 19, 2012

The Freshwater Society blog publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

EPA videos take on nutrient pollution
Nutrient pollution is one of the nation’s most widespread and costly environmental problems. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus from farm and lawn fertilizer, pet and livestock waste, roads and houses, faulty septic systems, and treated sewage can turn waters green with slime and pollute waters for swimming, boating, and fishing. To help raise awareness about this growing environmental problem, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a short video to illustrate the potential impacts of nutrient pollution on recreation. The Choice is Yours: Clean or Green Water can be viewed on EPA’s YouTube Channel. The new video complements another EPA YouTube video that provides a broad overview of nutrient pollution.
–EPA News Release

Merriam advocates conservation in Farm Bill
Read a recent Freshwater Society newsletter column by Gene Merriam on conservation in the Farm Bill. He urges Congress to adopt a Senate position that would make compliance with some conservation standards a requirement for farmers seeking subsidized crop insurance coverage.

Use salt sparingly to protect water
Excessive use of road salt – on streets, bridges, parking lots and sidewalks – is s significant cause of pollution of both ground and surface waters. And how cold is too cold for the salt to be effective?

Read a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency news release with tips for safe and effective use of road salt. Here’s a hint: The MPCA says use less than 4 pounds of salt to clear 1,000 square feet of pavement. That’s the equivalent of a heaping 12-ounce coffee mug of salt for an area that equals about seven average-sized parking spaces.

1,500 injection wells put toxins into the ground
Read an investigative report on federally approved injection wells that allow industries to pour waste products into the ground, sometimes contaminating drinking water aquifers. The report is the work of Pro Publica, a public interest journalism project.

Chesapeake Bay credit plan examined
Read an interesting article from the Southeast Farm Press on tradeoffs in pollution credit trading as it applies to agriculture.

Chicago River: A superhighway for invasives
Standing on the banks of the Chicago River, you realize that maybe the best thing about this filthy waterway is that it was reversed over a century ago so it flows away from Lake Michigan instead of into it.

Water isn’t even the first thing you notice where the river merges with a notoriously fouled little tributary, dubbed Bubbly Creek for the gases still belching from untold tons of cow carcasses dumped into it by the city’s old stockyards.

Floating on the surface is the crinkly corpse of a pink Mylar balloon that’s wrapped itself around a 40-ounce beer bottle. Nearby is a pumpkin stuck in the muck, orbited by an array of tampon applicators and plastic bottle caps. Just below a sewer pipe that excretes a septic stew when big rains hit, a boot floats sole-up next to a tennis shoe; if the pair were a match you’d fret they were attached to feet.
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

UW research targets invasive smelt
University of Wisconsin scientists are studying how mixing the water in a lake could eliminate an invasive fish.

The technology works by moving large air bladders up and down the depth of a lake, mixing the water and raising its temperature to where it is intolerable for the fish, said Jake Vander Zanden, supervisor of the study.

The bladders are much like gigantic trampolines, Vander Zanden said. They’re about 25 feet across. Air is pumped in and out so it rises and falls.

The project is designed to eliminate invasive rainbow smelt from the small Crystal Lake in Vilas County, Wis. If successful, it may be applied to other lakes where smelt have invaded and decimated native populations of yellow perch, lake whitefish, northern cisco and commercially important walleye
–Great Lakes Echo

Merriam warns of environmental retreat

April 11, 2011

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Gene Merriam criticizes retreat on the environment
Freshwater Society President Gene Merriam writes that lawmakers, both in the Minnesota Legislature and in Congress,  increasingly are retreating from leadership on the environment.  He warns that Minnesota is in danger of “joining other states in a race to the bottom – in the pollution we accept and in the scientific evidence we ignore.”

 Merriam’s column was published in Freshwater’s April Facets newsletter and re-printed on the Minnpost web site. Read it either place. 

The newsletter also has articles on Craig A. Cox’s prescription for “Taking the Pollution out of Agricultural Production” and a q-and-a interview with Pamela Shubat, director of the Minnesota Health Department’s Contaminants of Emerging Concern program.  

freshwater party and fund-raiser set April 21 Support Freshwater; come to a party
The Freshwater Society will host an Ice Out/Loon In party and fund-raiser April 21 in Excelsior. 

The event is keyed to two signs of spring:  Ice-out on Lake Minnetonka and the frequent stop-overs of migrating loons on the lake.

The party, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.,  will feature food, drink, bluegrass music, a raffle and silent auction, and presentations on loons and ice-out on the lake. If you think you are up to it, join the loon-calling contest.

 Visit the Freshwater web site for information and registration

Open house on south metro Mississippi plan set
A public open house on a draft clean-up plan for the Mississippi River in the south metro area will be held from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May  4.

The open house will be at the Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul.

 The open house is sponsored by the Friends of the Mississippi River, the Mississippi National River &  Recreation Area and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

 The Mississippi, from its confluence with the Minnesota River in St. Paul to Red Wing, currently fails to meet basic health standards because of excess sediment in the water.

 People attending the open house attendees will learn about a Total Maximum Daily Load plan prepared by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that spells out maximum levels of pollution that the river can accept and still offer a clean and healthy environment for humans, animals, fish and plants.

At the open house, there will be two presentations on the plan – at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – and each will be followed by a question-and-answer session with a panel of water quality and restoration experts.

 To learn more about the South Metro Mississippi Turbidity TMDL, visit the MPCA’s Mississippi River TMDL web page.  For more information about the open house, contact  Trevor Russell at 651-222-2193 x18 or Lark Weller at 651-290-3030 x304.

 Sigurd Olson lectures scheduled
Amy Vedder, a renowned gorilla researcher and conservationist, will deliver three public lectures – in St. Paul, Duluth and Ely – on April 19 and 20 in the 2011 Sigurd Olson Lecture Series. The series is sponsored by Vermilion Community College and the Friends of the Boundary Water Wilderness.

 Vedder, the senior vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, is the author of In the Kingdom of Gorillas, which describes her effort to study and protect mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

 The title of her lecture is “From Gorillas to Grizzlies: A Conservation Journey.” The lectures will be:

  •   At  3 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in Room 203 of Green Hall on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.
  • At noon on Wednesday, April 20, in the fourth-floor library rotunda at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
  • At 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, in the auditorium of Vermilion Community College.

 $103 million Texas groundwater deal set
A West Texas tycoon who shopped valuable water across the state for more than a decade has settled for selling to his neighbor.

 Lubbock and 10 Panhandle cities have a purchase agreement for thousands of acres of water rights owned by famed corporate raider T. Boone Pickens, potentially solidifying the group as the state’s largest holder of groundwater rights and closing a combative and fascinating chapter in water marketing in Texas.

 The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority confirmed the purchase of water rights beneath 211,000 acres in seven counties north of Amarillo for $103 million, increasing its groundwater holdings by 80 percent and an estimated 4 trillion gallons. The sale is expected to close in July or August, based on a statement from the authority.
–The Lubbock  Avalanche-Journal

 Electric carp barrier activated  near Chicago
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it activated a new electric fish barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville designed to keep Asian carp from migrating to Lake Michigan. 

It was completed a year ahead of schedule, the corps said.

Because of the electric discharge, the corps warned boaters to use “extreme caution” while traveling between river mile markers 296.1 and 296.7. It is dangerous to enter the water or place hands or feet in the water for any reason, the agency said.

Last month, federal officials said that lab testing found the Sanitary and Ship Canal’s electric dispersal barriers were effective for fish 5.4 inches or longer. 

Higher electric power levels might be needed to immobilize small Asian carp about 2 to 3 inches long, they said. The smaller fish are not believed to be close to the barriers, which are near Lockport.
–Chicagobreakingnews.com

 Chicago urges quick action on Asian carp
Chicago is leaning on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fast-track an ongoing study to protect Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline – and the rest of the Great Lakes – from an Asian carp invasion.

 “The proposed timeline for the study is too long,” Chicago environment commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna wrote to the Army Corps on March 25. “The threat of Asian carp has been known for more than a decade. It is not acceptable to wait another five years for solutions. We urge the Corps to speed up this timeline to every extent possible.”

 It is an ironic twist of history, considering that Chicago sparked the problem over 111 years ago when it obliterated the natural barrier between the Mississippi River basin and Lake Michigan by constructing the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

 The canal remains the linchpin in the Windy City’s giant plumbing system that flushes waste away from its Lake Michigan drinking water intake pipes, down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico. The canal, which reversed the flow of the Chicago River so it flowed out of Lake Michigan instead of into it, was built to send about 6 billion gallons of Lake Michigan water per day into the Mississippi basin, though a Supreme Court ruling has capped that amount at about 2 billion gallons per day.
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Can and bottle deposit bill proposed
When it comes to recycling bottles and cans, Minnesota pales in comparison with Iowa.

Here, 35 percent of them are recycled; the rest are lost or tossed. But south of the border, where a beverage container deposit law is in place, 86 percent, or 1.65 billion every year, are recycled.

 The reason for the difference?  “The answer is the deposit,” said Minnesota Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park.  “People don’t throw away money.”

 Minnesota would adopt a similar approach under a bill she and Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, plan to introduce. Their proposal would attach a 10-cent deposit on most bottles and cans containing beverages such as soft drinks and beer. Consumers would get their money back when they turn in the empty containers.

 By putting value on bottles and cans, people would be much more likely to return them, keeping them out of ditches or other parts of the waste stream, Hortman said.

And because there always would be fewer containers returned than bought, there would be unclaimed refunds that the state could use to offset budget problems, she said.
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Wisconsin gov backs off on phosphorus rule repeal
Gov. Scott Walker has apparently backed off his plan to repeal a rule passed last year that sets limits in Wisconsin lakes and streams for phosphorus, a nutrient from fertilizers which causes weed and algae growth.

 Instead, Walker has proposed that the new rule not be put in place for two years, according to Cathy Stepp, secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources. Stepp testified on the proposal, and other conservation-related items in the budget, before the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

 Stepp said municipal officials and others affected by the rule told the agency that implementing the tougher statewide standard would be too expensive during this difficult economic period. Some communities estimated they would have to raise sewage treatment rates by as much as $900 per customer per year.
–Wisconsin State Journal

 Minnesota DNR seeks tougher inspections for invasives
The Legislature is poised to give the Department of Natural Resources new authority to require boat inspections and decontamination to slow the spread of zebra mussels.

And that means Minnesotans could see some changes at boat landings this summer when they go out to visit their favorite lakes.

But there is disagreement about how effective these efforts could be.

 Zebra mussels hitchhike from lake to lake on boats and trailers. They can clog water intakes and boat motors, leave sharp shells on beaches, and, in high numbers, they can alter the food chain.

Minnesota now has 19 lakes and four rivers infested with zebra mussels — including Mille Lacs Lake, the state’s best-known walleye fishery, and popular Lake Minnetonka.
–Minnesota Public Radio

 Climate change threatens extinctions
Over the past 540 million years, life on Earth has passed through five great mass extinctions. In each of those catastrophes, an estimated 75 percent or more of all species disappeared in a few million years or less.

 For decades, scientists have warned that humans may be ushering in a sixth mass extinction, and recently a group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, tested the hypothesis. They applied new statistical methods to a new generation of fossil databases. As they reported last month in the journal Nature, the current rate of extinctions is far above normal. If endangered species continue to disappear, we will indeed experience a sixth extinction, over just the next few centuries or millennia.

The Berkeley scientists warn that their new study may actually grossly underestimate how many species could disappear. So far, humans have pushed species toward extinctions through means like hunting, overfishing and deforestation. Global warming, on the other hand, is only starting to make itself felt in l the natural world. Many scientists expect that as the planet’s temperature rises,  global warming could add even more devastation. “The current rate and magnitude of climate change are faster and more severe than many species have experienced in their evolutionary history,” said Anthony Barnosky, the lead author of the Nature study.
–The New York Times 

 Texas clean-air advocate wins $150,000 Goldman award
They call Port Arthur gasoline alley, cancer alley, and the armpit of Texas. For most of his life, Hilton Kelley has called it home.

 The city has had the same distinctive odor since he was a boy, Kelley said. Adults jokingly called it the smell of money, because the nearby oil refineries and petrochemical plants did most of the hiring. But after the cancer rate grew, the childhood asthma rate rose and the population plummeted, Kelley, now 50, stopped laughing.

 Kelley’s decade-long fight to lower the city’s air pollution earned him this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize for the North America category, being awarded Monday in San Francisco.

The annual prize and a $150,000 stipend is routinely awarded to six grass-roots environmentalists from different parts of the world. Since the award was established in 1990, a total of $13.2 million has been awarded to 139 recipients from 79 countries, as of 2010, according to a spokeswoman.
–The Washington Post

 Migrant’s genes transformed Isle Royale wolves
In Ontario, in the winter of 1997, a particularly virile male wolf stepped onto the ice of Lake Superior and headed toward Isle Royale, an island about 15 miles offshore. There he radically changed the genetic makeup of an isolated group of wolves that had lived there since the late 1940s.

 Researchers, who for many years have been observing the Isle Royale packs and the moose they feed on, did not realize at first that he was an immigrant, but soon his appearance and behavior became impossible to ignore.

He was larger than most of the Isle Royale wolves, and was so strongly territorial that he completely displaced one of the four packs, driving it to extinction within two years of his arrival. His own pack grew to 10 wolves, the largest seen on the island in almost 20 years. As he aged, his fur grew paler, almost white, a phenomenon known in other wolves but never before seen in the Isle Royale animals.
–The New York Times

 California board eyes groundwater clean-up
Farmers in California’s agricultural heartland, which also is home to some of America’s most contaminated aquifers, may soon have to start monitoring and cleaning up groundwater.

But the proposal being considered by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in Rancho Cordova has generated frustration on all sides.

Farmers say the new regulations affecting 35,000 famers and 7 million acres of irrigated land are an expensive, bureaucratic burden. And environmental groups say the rules are not strong enough to protect drinking water from the threat of fertilizers and other agricultural runoff.

The new long-term rules would cover not only ground water but also surface water, which has been regulated on an interim basis since 2003.

University and local government studies have found that nitrate levels harmful to human health have increased dramatically in drinking water supplies in past decades. A report last month by the Oakland-based Pacific Institute concluded more than 1 million San Joaquin Valley residents—a third of the Valley’s population—are exposed to drinking water tainted with fertilizer and other toxins.
–The Associated Press

 Advocacy group releases report on carcinogen
U.S. water utilities have known about the prevalence of a likely carcinogen in water sources for seven years and have failed to share that information with the public, according to an advocacy group, which released a 2004 industry study of hexavalent chromium.

The American Water Works Association Research Foundation study focused on hexavalent chromium in groundwater sources nationwide. The AWWA report was obtained and released by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

The 124-page report features data from tests on 341 water samples from 189 water utilities in 41 states. About two-thirds of those samples came from groundwater sources, while another third came from surface sources. The report found hexavalent chromium nationwide, particularly in groundwater. The highest levels were found in California.

The study emphasizes that the “majority of the hexavalent chromium results were found to be less than” the current U.S. EPA Method Detection Limit. But it also concluded that conventional filtering systems used by water utilities in 2004 were typically ineffective in addressing hexavalent chromium.
–The New York Times

 Research: Invasive species could cost $1.4 trillion
The recent disasters in Japan may be driving increased resolve to plan for biological invasions of species, a crisis that can be as costly as natural disasters.

Global biological invasions, including the potential carp invasion of the Great Lakes, could cost an estimated $1.4 trillion per year of damage – 5 percent of the global economy – according to an article in this month’s “BioScience.”

The report by three biologists from McGill University in Montreal contends that biological invasions may be more damaging economically than natural disasters.

“Obviously, the disaster in Japan will bring to people’s attention the problem of rare extreme hazards,” said invasive species biologist Anthony Ricciardi, lead author of the report. “You never know when they are going to strike, or how costly they will be.”

Their proposal is simple: because biological invasions are similar to natural disasters, they require similar management strategies that are not currently in place in any nation. This includes safety codes and standards, emergency preparedness and rapid-response measures similar to those in place for earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
–Medill Reports

Merriam calls for ‘cultural shift’ on water

January 25, 2010

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Merriam calls for ‘cultural shift’ on water 
Most Minnesotans no longer think it is OK to smoke in the office or in other places where their secondhand smoke will affect non-smokers. And most Minnesotans now accept the minor inconvenience of buckling up their seatbelts as a small price to pay for the safety the belts provide.

In a commentary published by Minnpost.com, an on-line news source, Freshwater Society President Gene Merriam reflects on the “cultural shift” he says has occurred in recent decades in the way people view smoking and seatbelt use.

Merriam says he and the Freshwater Society are working to bring about a similar cultural shift in attitudes toward water protection and conservation.

 He concludes that – as with smoking restrictions and requirements for seatbelt use – we eventually will need more government regulation to enforce that protection and conservation of water resources. 

MPCA won’t renew controversial dairy’s permit
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it won’t re-issue a permit for the Excel Dairy farm in northwestern Minnesota, in effect shutting it down, but that doesn’t mean the foul-smelling and overflowing manure pits will be cleaned up anytime soon.

 The state has been unable to get the farm, near Thief River Falls, to obey state law, for three years. Excel Dairy has been in violation of state law almost from the moment it opened in 2005.

The operators had more cows in the barn than they should have, they built a feed pad without permission, and they tried methods of treating manure that weren’t approved. They also ignored orders to repair and empty manure ponds and failed to cover manure ponds that can hold 33 million gallons of manure.

Neighbors for more than a mile around have been enduring extremely high levels of hydrogen sulfide. That’s the rotten egg smell no one likes to encounter.
–Minnesota Public Radio

 Wisconsin approves dairy expansion
A Wisconsin dairy farm has been given permission to double its herd despite environmentalists’ concerns that manure might poison groundwater supplies.

The Department of Natural Resources approved a permit by Fon du Lac County’s Rosendale Dairy to expand its herd from 4,000 to 8,000 cows, making it Wisconsin’s largest dairy operation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Rosendale told the newspaper the expansion represents an investment of more than $70 million.

But an attorney for the environmental group Clean Wisconsin sees the approval of Rosendale’s expansion as a step toward more large dairy farms, the Journal Sentinel said.
–United Press International

 Amendment money not raided for deficit, group says
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature kept faith with voters last year when they approved the first round of conservation funding under the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, a review by a key conservation group says.

 In a report, Conservation Minnesota said Pawlenty and legislators followed a constitutional requirement that amendment funds raised by a sales-tax increase not be used as a substitute for general-fund spending.

 The amendment approved by voters in 2008 said, in part, that “money under this section must supplement traditional sources of funding for these purposes and may not be used as a substitute.”

 Still, with the governor and lawmakers looking to solve a projected $4.6 billion budget deficit last session, environmental and outdoors interests feared they might disproportionately cut spending for such places as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the state Department of Natural Resources. 

The report, however, said cuts to general-fund spending at the MPCA and the DNR were “roughly proportionate to those of the overall state budget.”
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Ramsey looks to soil to save water
Quality dirt has become a consuming issue in Ramsey in recent years. It’s drawn the attention of city commissions, staff and elected leaders, who have mulled over what kind of topsoil to require in new developments. The goal?  To save water by reducing the need for lawn and garden irrigation on lots where new homes or buildings go up.

 Black dirt containing organic material holds water so that it doesn’t drain as quickly through Ramsey’s sandy soil, which is part of the underlying Anoka Sand Plain. The city erected a new water tower last year and doesn’t want to build another anytime soon.
— The Star Tribune

Last decade sets warmth record, NASA says
The decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record, new surface temperature figures released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration show.

The agency also found that 2009 was the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement began. The warmest year was 2005. The other hottest recorded years have all occurred since 1998, NASA said.

James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said that global temperatures varied because of changes in ocean heating and cooling cycles. “When we average temperature over 5 or 10 years to minimize that variability,” said Dr. Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists, “we find global warming is continuing unabated.”
–The New York Times

U.N. climate change panel admits error
For many Indians, the most powerful and urgent reason to battle global warming arose from a report warning that the Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035.

But that prediction was an error, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which authored the report, said.

Speaking publicly on the issue for the first time ,Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning panel, said the mistake occurred because rigorous procedures for scientific review were not followed. He promised a more robust research system in the future. 

But he said the blunder should not detract from a sense of urgency over the need for action on a crisis that threatens the entire planet. “I hope that people around the world are not going to be distracted by this error. Climate change is not only limited to what will happen to the Himalayan glaciers,” he said.
–The Washington Post 

Signs of life in the Minnesota River
The Minnesota River contains less phosphorus, a whole lot more fish, less sediment and is seeing a rebound in the otter population.

But nitrate levels haven’t improved much, if at all, mussel populations are just holding steady, and the amount of prairie land continues to dwindle.

Those are some of the conclusions in a first-ever trends report recently completed by the Water Resources Center, Minnesota State University and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Scott Kudelka of the Water Resources Center said they pulled various data and research together to get a big picture of what’s happening in the 335-mile-long river. To read the full report, click here.

–The Mankato Free Press 

Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan
Genetic material from the Asian carp, a voracious invasive species long feared to be nearing the Great Lakes,  has been identified for the first time at a harbor within Lake Michigan, near the Illinois-Indiana border, ecologists and federal officials said. 

A second DNA match was found in a river in Illinois within a half-mile of the lake, according to scientists at the University of Notre Dame who tested water samples and provided the results to officials. 

Experts said the most recent findings, from Calumet Harbor and the Calumet River, could mean that the carp has found its way beyond an elaborate barrier system built at the cost of millions of dollars to prevent the fish’s access to the Great Lakes and its delicate ecosystem, where it has no natural competitors and would threaten the life of native fish populations.
–The New York Times

Silverfin (a.k.a. Asian carp) coming to a store near you
Building off a state-developed marketing plan, a group of Louisiana-based companies has started a joint venture that will put Asian carp on retail shelves within weeks.

The fish are being marketed as silverfin, the name it was given in a marketing plan developed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The agency is promoting recreational and commercial applications of an invasive fish that has caused huge problems for boaters in northern states.

Rather than poisoning the fish to get rid of them like northern states have done, wildlife officials are opting to make them an appetizing meal.
–National Public Radio

Volunteers worth $8.8 million to Minnesota DNR
More than 32,000 citizens donated services valued at $8.8 million during 2009 to assist the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with a variety of projects and programs. That’s the equivalent of an extra 209 full-time staff. 

DNR managers, professionals and technicians work alongside volunteers to help manage the state’s diverse natural resources. 

“We’re fortunate to have so many dedicated Minnesotans who are willing to donate their time and talents for conservation projects,” said Renée Vail, DNR volunteer programs administrator. “We’re extremely grateful for their efforts. Many of our projects would not be possible without their help.” 

Volunteer positions can range from specialist jobs requiring extensive skill and experience to work requiring little or no previous experience.
–Minnesota DNR news release

Florida cold snap saps groundwater
An uneasy truce could be struck in the impending groundwater rift between agitated Plant City area residents whose wells have run dry and the strawberry farmers who sucked the water out of the ground to keep their crops from freezing during this month’s unusually long cold spell.

 Over the past week, about 400 small, private wells around the strawberry fields of Plant City have dried up. 

Some residents have been forced to move from their homes; others have resorted to running hoses to neighbors’ homes for drinking water. Families are showing up at fire stations for water rations. One woman has had to carry water for her horses.

 Anger is growing among some of the residents, even though strawberry farmers must pay for new wells or well repairs under their water-use permit with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

 Still, the inconvenience of living without running water is irking people, who have accused big growers of ignoring their neighbors to make a profit. Growers have said they also stand to lose money after the unusually long freeze and had no other choice but to run sprinklers all night to save their crops.
–The Tampa Tribune 

Maryland chicken farm resists testing
A month after environmental groups alleged that an Eastern Shore chicken farm was polluting a Chesapeake Bay tributary, state regulators have yet to test the fouled waterway or the pile of sewage sludge said to be contaminating it, officials have acknowledged.

Robert M. Summers, deputy secretary of the environment, said the owner of the farm near Berlin has refused to allow inspectors to take samples of the pile or of the water in a drainage ditch running through his property. Summers said the department had mailed the farmer a letter Friday and warned that the state would seek a search warrant if he did not permit sampling.

The disclosure that no testing has been done on the farm comes after a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of the Environment told reporters more than two weeks ago that inspectors had collected samples and that most of the sludge pile had been removed to a local landfill. Dawn Stoltzfus, the spokeswoman, confirmed last week that both statements were in error after the environmental groups alleged the department had given out inaccurate information.
–The Baltimore Sun

Radioactive water found at Vermont nuke plant
A day after contaminated water was found in a test well at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, company officials announced finding wastewater containing high levels of radioactivity, news outlets are reporting.

The water, reportedly about 100 gallons, was contaminated with radioactive tritium at a concentration of about 2 million picocuries per liter, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the Brattleboro Reformer. That’s about 100 times the allowable federal level for drinking water and 70 times the standard for groundwater.
–USA Today