Posts Tagged ‘milfoil’

Poll: U.S. enviromental concerns decline

March 22, 2010

Environmental concern declines, poll shows
Americans are now less worried about several environmental problems than at any time in the past 20 years, partly because they believe conditions are improving, according to a Gallup Poll.

 Their concern for each of eight environmental problems fell from a year ago and in all but two areas — global warming and maintenance of the nation’s fresh water supply — reached an all-time Gallup low.

 “It also may reflect greater public concern about economic issues, which is usually associated with a drop in environmental concern,” Gallup says in its release, adding that another factor may be “greater action on environmental issues at the federal, state, and local levels.”

 The declines are quite dramatic for some issues. 

Less than half, or 46%, of Americans worry a great deal about pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, down from 72% in 1989.
–USA Today

 World Water Day: Raising awareness of clean water
Monday, March 22, is World Water Day, an observance sanctioned by the United Nations. 

An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide rely on unsafe drinking-water sources. Therefore the theme of World Water Day 2010 is focusing on raising awareness of water quality under the theme “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” 

World Water Day has been observed annually since 1992.

Some fish stocks rebounding, report says
A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report shows that the last decade has been a period of progress in rebuilding depleted fish stocks, sustaining many fisheries populations, and gaining a better understanding of the complex relationships between marine species and their habitats. 

The report cites the Alaskan groundfish fisheries—walleye pollock, Pacific cod, rockfishes and Atka mackerel—as a prime example of how managers and fishermen are working together to keep fish harvest rates at sustainable levels while reducing risks to other species in the ecosystem, including marine mammals, juvenile fish and other fish species not being targeted. 

These findings are one of a number of highlights from the nation’s coastal communities that are described in the newly released NOAA report Our Living Oceans: Report on the Status of U.S. Living Marine Resources

While the report details much progress, it also outlines significant challenges, including ending overfishing for about 20 percent of U.S. stocks where overfishing persists.
–NOAA news release

 EPA delays part of Florida water rules
The Environmental Protection Agency is delaying the downstream portion of water pollution rules being developed to control urban and farm runoff in Florida.

Peter Silva, the agency’s assistant administrator, advised Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole of the decision in a letter .

The downstream rules will be delayed until next year when the agency also will be working on similar regulations for estuaries and coastal waters.

The agency is still on track, though, for finalizing rules for lakes and springs by Oct. 15. The pollution has been blamed for causing algae blooms.
–The Associated Press

DNR won’t expand L. Minnetonka milfoil treatment
Bay-wide chemical treatments worked well to kill Eurasian water milfoil on Lake Minnetonka, but they won’t be expanded this year because of other troubling changes in the water, the Department of Natural Resources has ruled. 

Milfoil was nearly eliminated on Grays Bay and greatly reduced on Phelps Bay after chemical treatments last summer. But some desirable native plants disappeared with the unwanted weeds. Water clarity also dropped on Grays Bay. 

It’s not certain that the chemical affected water clarity, but both developments have given the DNR pause about expanding the treatments, said Chip Welling, DNR coordinator of aquatic invasive species management.
–The Star Tribune

 Anoka County preserves Rum River land
Anoka County is buying a prime tract of land for a natural area along the Rum River in Andover and Oak Grove.

The 590-acre property is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in the metro area, officials said.

 “It’s a real gem,” said John VonDeLinde, Anoka County parks and recreation director. Cedar Creek flows through the property, which has wetlands, flood plain, upland forests and grasslands, he noted.
–The Star Tribune

Lamprey battle offers hope for defeating Asian carp
The forecast was grim.

A parasitic invasive species that fed on healthy trout, salmon and catfish had entered the Great Lakes through its shipping canals, quickly asserted its dominance, and pushed the region’s commercial and sport fishing industries to the brink.

 The invader was the sea lamprey, a razor-toothed, eel-like monster that attaches itself to large fish and sucks the life out of them. And in the 1940s, with no known predators and no clear road map to stop them, many feared the sea lamprey would take over the largest freshwater body in the world.

More than 50 years after biologists launched an all-out assault on the sea lamprey — among the most intensive and costly invasive species eradication efforts in history — the war is all but over. With science, money and muscle, biologists have reduced the sea lamprey population by 90 percent and restored the natural balance to the Great Lakes.
–The Chicago Tribune

Six frequently asked questions about Asian carp
The Asian carp’s presence is highly contentious in the Midwest, with ramifications that could affect the economy as well as the environment. Here’s a primer on the Asian carp and why this invasive species poses such a threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. 

What is the Asian carp?

It’s a collective term that describes four species of fish that originated in China but have shown up in the United States: the silver, bighead, grass, and black carp. The bighead and silver carp are the ones that have made their way to the front door of the Great Lakes system. 

Grass and black carp can be found farther south, in the Mississippi River. But “they’re not knocking at the door [of Lake Michigan] yet,” says Jennifer Nalbone, director of navigation and invasive species for Great Lakes United, a coalition of advocacy groups.
–The Christian Science Monitor

 Company says it can lock carbon in cement
It seems like alchemy: a Silicon Valley start-up says it has found a way to capture the carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power plants and lock them into cement.

If it works on a mass scale, the company, Calera, could turn that carbon into gold.

Cement production is a large source of carbon emissions in the United States, and coal-fired electricity plants are the biggest source. As nations around the world press companies to curb their greenhouse-gas emissions, a technology that makes it profitable to do so could be very popular. Indeed, Calera’s marketing materials may be one of the rare places where glowing quotes from a coal company and the Sierra Club appear together.
–The New York Times

 DNR seeks to de-list Minnesota wolves
The Minnesota gray wolf should be removed immediately from the federal government’s endangered and threatened species list and returned to state management, according to a petition filed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

The DNR filed the petition with the Washington, D.C., office of the U.S. Department of the Interior and asked the government to make its decision within the next 90 days. The petition is a procedural step between state and federal natural resource conservation agencies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to delist the wolf in Minnesota and the western Great Lakes region from federal protection on two occasions. Both times the decision was overturned due to legal challenges related to procedural issues. 

“We filed the petition because it is time to have the federal classification match the Minnesota reality,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “Federal officials agree that the Minnesota gray wolf population is not threatened or endangered. They agree our wolf management plan ensures the long-term survival of the wolf.”
–DNR News Release

 Florida eyes rivers for drinking water
State water managers and utilities, some offering determined resistance, are drafting long-term plans for taking drinking water from Northeast Florida’s rivers.

 Specifically, they are targeting Black Creek in Clay County, the St. Marys River on the Georgia border and the Ocklawaha River in Putnam County. Together, they could yield 164 million gallons a day for utilities that rely on the increasingly strained Floridan aquifer. 

The plans may never be used, and just discussing them is stirring strong reactions from both sides, environmentalists and utilities. 

But the St. Johns River Water Management District is saying there are no more easy alternatives.
–The Jacksonville Times-Union

 Thompson Reuters goes greener
At Thomson Reuters’ sprawling campus in Eagan, employees on a committee dubbed “Bluebirds and Beyond” volunteered to work in a carpentry workshop on a recent afternoon, nailing together cedar birdhouses. 

Meanwhile, on a paved “Blue Bird Trail” that winds more than two miles past ponds and meadows, other employees were hiking, hoping for a glimpse of the deer, coyotes, wild turkeys and jackrabbits that populate the company’s land near Hwy. 149 and Opperman Drive. 

With an array of conservation projects underway, the landscape here is changing. This summer, it will bloom with wildflowers as the birds and wildlife get an upgrade in their habitat. 

That’s because more than 100 employees have been volunteering for stewardship projects that began last year with the removal of invasive plant species and reseeding.
–The Star Tribune

Fertilizer and zebra mussels

July 6, 2009

Every week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of the best regional, national and international news articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to their original sources.

BWCA recovering a decade after the blow-down

Ten years after millions of trees blew down in Minnesota’s pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness, the forest is in the midst of a comeback.

It was July 4, 1999, when a huge storm roared across the remote woods, terrifying campers and trapping them in a tangle of uprooted trees that blocked their way out.

These days, you have to do a little work to see the effects of the blowdown.

–Minnesota Public Radio

Chestnut revival could fight climate change

The American chestnut tree, which towered over eastern U.S. forests before succumbing to a deadly fungus in the early 20th century, appears to be an excellent sponge for greenhouse gases, according to a new study.

If scientists can develop a fungus-resistant version of the tree, the chestnut could play a key role in the battle against climate change, Purdue University scientists say.

“Maintaining or increasing forest cover has been identified as an important way to slow climate change,” said Douglass Jacobs, whose chestnut tree study appears in the June issue of Forest Ecology and Management.

–Scientific American

Fertilizer suspected as water pollutant

The water supply in the city of Park Rapids is contaminated with nitrates, and many suspect the source is the fertilizer used on local farm fields.

Park Rapids has had elevated nitrate levels in its water for years. But last April was the first time a city well exceeded 10 parts per million, the threshold for what’s considered safe. The well was shut down.

City administrator Bill Smith says residents aren’t panicking, they are concerned. Nitrate contamination can cause health problems. It’s especially dangerous for infants, who can get something called blue baby syndrome — when nitrates inhibit a baby’s ability to use oxygen.

Smith says some blame local farmers who put tons of nitrogen-based fertilizer on their fields. That includes the R.D. Offutt Company, or RDO — the largest potato grower in the U.S., and the community’s largest employer.

–Minnesota Public Radio

Winnipeg man spends month living on 25 liters of water daily

After a month of living on 25 litres of H20 daily, Kevin Freedman said saving water is still a priority. But handwashing all of his clothing? Not so much.

Freedman spent the month of June limiting his daily water use to 25 litres. That included a few litres for   drinking and the rest for washing, cooking and other necessities.

The experiment meant giving up the shower in favor of a bucket of water, flushing the toilet less often, and washing clothes with carefully doled out portions of hot and cold water.

–Winnipeg Free Press

Groundwater pumping threatens aqueduct

Fearing the main canal carrying drinking water to millions of Southern Californians is sinking again, water officials are monitoring the effects of incessant agricultural pumping from the aquifer that runs under the aqueduct.

Their concern is that the canal, which has sunk six feet in places during California dry spells, will buckle enough to slow delivery of water to parched points south and force costly repairs.

On June 1, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and other users of state water signed a $255,000, two-year contract with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor by satellite the California Aqueduct along a vulnerable 70-mile stretch west of here, between Los Banos and Kettleman City.

–The Associated Press

EPA settles suit over feminization of fish

It took a lawsuit, but the EPA announced the first step toward regulating a chemical that can cause male fish to develop female sex characteristics. The chemical, nonylphenol ethloxylate, is used in cleaning products and detergents.

Studies show that NPEs can change the biology of male fish so they grow female eggs at very low levels, said Albert Ettinger of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, in a statement. “The EPA ignored these studies because there was insufficient evidence of the impact on fish reproduction.”

The EPA issued the “notice of proposed rulemaking” as part of a settlement of the lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center, UNITE HERE, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations and Physicians for Social Responsibility filed in October 2007.

Other well-known sources of estrogen and estrogen-mimicking compounds, also called “endocrine disruptors,” are birth control pills, hormone replacements and hormones from livestock operations discharged from wastewater treatment plants.


Farming fish indoors in artificial sea water

Yonathan Zohar beams like a proud parent as he cradles the freshly netted fish in his hands.

He didn’t catch this glistening branzini. He raised it – and thousands more – in large fiberglass tanks at the Columbus Center at the Inner Harbor.

“This is a happy moment here,” says Zohar, director of the Center of Marine Biotechnology at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. “Green fish, as good as it gets. Clean, environmentally friendly, sushi-quality fish, delivered to the restaurant a few hours after harvesting.”

Zohar and his team of scientists and technicians have been laboring for years to perfect techniques for captive breeding and rearing of fish as quickly and cleanly as possible. For marine species like branzini, otherwise known as European seabass, they make artificial sea water, then recycle nearly all of it, filtering out waste and even capturing methane to offset some of the energy used in raising the fish in captivity.

–The Baltimore Sun

EPA identifies ‘high hazard’ coal ash dumps

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of 44 “high hazard potential” coal ash waste dumps across the country. The “high hazard” rating applied to sites where a dam failure would most likely result in a loss of human life, the environmental agency advisory said, but did not assess the structural integrity of the dam or its likelihood of failure.

The list was compiled as part of the agency’s inventory of coal ash sites after more than a billion gallons of ash broke through a dam at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant west of Knoxville last December. An engineering analysis of the failure cited design problems like the height of the ash, among other factors.

The list identifies disposal sites in 10 states, including 12 in North Carolina, 9 in Arizona and 7 in Kentucky. There were no Minnesota sites on the list.

–The New York Times

DNR approves zebra mussel filter for Snail Lake

Snail Lake looks more like a puddle than a lake these days.

Blame it on zebra mussels.

A combination of drought conditions and a water source cut off because of the invasive species means the Shoreview lake is almost 5 feet below its normal levels.

The rub is that, under ideal conditions, much of the lake averages only 6 feet deep.

This summer, the water has receded 50 to 60 feet from shore in some spots, and navigating anything bigger than a canoe means running the risk of running aground — often.

But a first-of-its-kind plan might refill the lake by next June.

–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Zebra mussels found in 3 Minnesota lakes

Minnesotans received bad news on the invasive species front: Three new lakes have been invaded by zebra mussels, small mollusks that can dramatically alter the ecology of a lake.

The invasive mollusks were found in Lake Le Homme Dieu in Alexandria, Pike Lake near Duluth and Lake Rebecca near Hastings.

DNR officials say heavy infestations of zebra mussels can kill native mussels, impact fish and interfere with recreation. Dead zebra mussels often mean masses of sharp shells on beaches.

“These new infestations are reason for concern,” said Jay Rendall, DNR invasive species prevention coordinator. “I don’t think we will entirely stop their spread. That will be unrealistic, so our program is aimed at curbing the spread.”

Rendall said Minnesota appears to be doing a good job at reducing the spread of the mollusks. He said in 1992, three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota — “all had a few infested waters.”

Since then, Wisconsin’s list of zebra-mussel-infested waters has grown to 100 and Michigan’s has reached 240. Minnesota still has only several dozen zebra-mussel infested waters.

–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Milfoil found in Lake Florida near Spicer

Eurasian watermilfoil has been discovered growing in Lake Florida, five miles west of Spicer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced.

Eurasian watermilfoil has now been discovered in 213 lakes and eight rivers or streams in Minnesota.

The nonnative, invasive aquatic plant was discovered near a public water access by a local angler, who reported it to the DNR. The discovery was verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

Eurasian watermilfoil can form dense mats of vegetation and crowd out native aquatic plants, clog boat propellers, and make water recreation difficult.

–Minnesota DNR news release

Sheep chew up invasive weeds

In between rows of grapevines at a Mendocino County farm in California, dozens of sheep are milling about, munching on the grass and weeds.

Sarah Cahn Bennett, co-owner of the family-owned Navarro Vineyards in Philo, Calif., says they began using the flock of 70 in June to keep the vineyard trimmed and minimize the work of tractors and manual labor.

Grazing vineyards is just one application of a growing niche industry that is harnessing the eating power of animals to control invasive weeds, maintain lawns and clear fire-prone grasses. The animals are an alternative to using machinery that burns up fossil fuels or herbicides that, in some cases, can seep into groundwater.

–USA Today