Posts Tagged ‘phenology’

Dayton, DNR unveil invasives effort

March 22, 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.

Dayton seeks fee increases for invasives fight
Saying zebra mussels, Asian carp, Eurasian water milfoil and other invasive species threaten Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, billion-dollar tourism industry and a way of life, Gov. Mark Dayton announced a legislative proposal to slow their spread.

 Catching boaters who transport invasive species to or from infested lakes is part of the plan, which would be paid for by raising the boat registration surcharge and nonresident fishing fees. But the proposal clashes with the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has vowed no tax increases or fee hikes.

 Still, Dayton and DFL legislators said it’s imperative that both parties agree to slow the spread of invasives before it’s too late.

 “What we’re trying to protect is truly priceless,” Dayton said. “The clock is ticking. This is not a Republican, DFL or Independence Party problem, it’s a Minnesota problem. And once it’s too late, it’s too late.”
–The Star Tribune

U.N.’s World Water Day looks at urban water
Half of the world’s population now lives in cities, with 3 million urban arrivals every week. In the next two decades, nearly two-thirds of humanity will be living in cities, delegates at a three-day event held in Cape Town to mark World Water Day were told.

This year, WWD is focusing on the provision of water in urban areas.

Over a thousand representatives from more than 30 organisations gathered in South Africa to discuss the urban water challenges and opportunities facing the world today. It is hosted by South Africa, in collaboration with UN-Water, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (Amcow), the UN secretary general’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (Unsgab), the UN Environment Programme, and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

In Africa, where the rate of urbanisation is the world’s highest and urban populations are expected to double in the next 20 years, water services have been on the decline since 1990. Amcow highlighted the opportunities provided by the conference for African ministers, mayors, civil society organisations and representatives of development banks and the private sector to discuss how they can move faster and more effectively in closing this gap and achieving millennium development goals. The critical need for collaboration and communication between sectors, and the need for visionary leadership to manage the planet’s limited water resources were recurring themes.
–The Guardian 

 EPA probes chronic sewage spills in Chicago
Billed as an engineering marvel and national model, Chicago’s Deep Tunnel was designed to protect Lake Michigan from sewage overflows and put an end to the once-frequent practice of dumping human and industrial waste into local rivers.

But nearly four decades after taxpayers started paying for one of the nation’s most expensive public works projects, billions of gallons of bacteria-laden sewage and storm runoff still routinely pour into the Chicago River and suburban waterways during and after storms, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

Lake Michigan, long considered the sewage outlet of last resort, has been hit harder during the past four years than it was in the previous two decades combined.

Between 2007 and 2010, records show, the agency in charge of Deep Tunnel dumped nearly 19 billion gallons of storm water teeming with disease-causing and fish-killing waste into the Great Lake, the source of drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs.
–The Chicago Tribune 

Research: House cats a menace to birds
While public attention has focused on wind turbines as a menace to birds, a new study shows that a far greater threat may be posed by a more familiar antagonist: the pet house cat.

 A new study in The Journal of Ornithology on the mortality of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs found that cats were the No. 1 killer in the area, by a large margin.

 Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland. Death rates were particularly high in neighborhoods with large cat populations.
–The New York Times

Phenology applies nature to science
People have tracked phenology for centuries and for the most practical reasons: it helped them know when to hunt and fish, when to plant and harvest crops, and when to navigate waterways. Now phenology is being used as a tool to assess climate change and its effects on both natural and modified ecosystems.

 How is the timing of events in plant and animal life cycles, like flowering or migration, responding to climate change? And how are those responses, in turn, affecting people and ecosystems?

 The USA National Phenology Network is working to answer these questions for science and society by promoting a broad understanding of plant and animal phenology and their relationship to environmental change. The network is a consortium of organizations and individuals that collect, share, and use phenology data, models, and related information to enable scientists, resource managers, and the public to adapt in response to changing climates and environments. In addition, the network encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to observe and record phenology as a way to discover and explore the nature and pace of our dynamic world.
–U.S. Geological Survey

 Wisconsin Gov. Walker calls for rules rollback
Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill proposal would roll back regulations designed to protect waterways from weed-producing phosphorus and other pollutants that wash from streets and construction sites.

The changes to water pollution rules – some of which were approved as recently as last summer – are coming under fire from environmentalists who say the existing regulations are needed to clean up lakes, rivers and streams.

Critics of Walker say his budget proposals also would unwittingly wipe out other pollution laws.

But the state Department of Natural Resources, which advanced the regulations under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, now says it needs to make changes to avoid heaping huge costs on municipalities and businesses.

 “What we are trying to address are cities’ and companies’ concerns and still make sure we are addressing the phosphorus problem,” said Bruce Baker, administrator of the water division of the DNR.
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Farmers urged to do more to clean Chesapeake Bay
A federal study assessing how much farmers are doing to clean up the Chesapeake Bay credits them with making progress in reducing their pollution but says the vast majority need to do more to help the troubled estuary.

Conservation practices adopted by farmers in Maryland and the other five states draining into the bay have cut erosion by more than half and curtailed runoff of fertilizer by 40 percent, according to the study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But 80 percent of the 4.6 million acres used to raise crops need additional measures, the report says, to keep fertilizer from washing off fields into nearby streams when it rains or soaking into ground water and ultimately reaching the bay.

The 158-page report comes as the Obama administration’s push to increase Chesapeake cleanup efforts comes under fire from farm groups and their supporters in the bay region and nationwide.
–The Baltimore Sun

Fix a leak. Save a trillion gallons.
Across the country, household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year – enough to supply the water needs of Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles combined. Easily corrected household leaks can increase homeowners’ water bills by 12 percent.

 “When households have a leak, it’s not just a waste of water, it’s a waste of money,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “But by fixing leaky pipes, buying WaterSense products and taking other simple steps, families can save on their water bills and conserve clean water for future generations to enjoy.”

 Homeowners’ water bills provide an easy and quick leak-checking measure; if wintertime water use for a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, their home may have a leak. Fixture replacement parts often pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers, professional plumbers, or EPA’s WaterSense irrigation partners.
–EPA News Release

 Invasive lionfishes’ spread is unprecedented
The rapid spread of lionfishes along the U.S. eastern seaboard, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean is the first documented case of a non-native marine fish establishing a self-sustaining population in the region, according to recent U.S. Geological Survey studies.

 “Nothing like this has been seen before in these waters,” said Dr. Pam Schofield, a biologist with the USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center here.  “We’ve observed sightings of numerous non-native species, but the extent and speed with which lionfish have spread has been unprecedented; lionfishes pretty much blanketed the Caribbean in three short years.”

 More than 30 species of non-native marine fishes have been sighted off the coast of Florida alone, but until now none of these have demonstrated the ability to survive, reproduce, and spread successfully.

Although lionfishes originally came from the Indo-West Pacific Ocean, there are now self-sustaining populations spreading along the western Atlantic coast of the U.S. and throughout the Caribbean.
–USGS News Release

 Conference on St. Croix set April 5
The 12th annual “Protecting the St. Croix Basin” conference will be held Tuesday, April 5, at the University Center in River Falls, Wis. The conference is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team.

This year’s conference features a celebration of the 100-year history of the St. Croix River Association.  The conference will also explore phosphorus reduction, which is necessary to bring cleaner water to Lake St. Croix, a 25-mile stretch of the St. Croix River between Stillwater, Minn. and Prescott, Wis.  This year, the conference will feature a musical tribute, keynote speaker Tia Nelson and an art exhibition called “In a New Light.”

The conference is open to the public.  Advance registrations will be accepted through March 25.  See www.stcroixriverassociation.org  or call 715-635-7406 for information and registration.  The cost is $50, or $25 for students.
–MPCA News Release

Japan quake jolted Florida groundwater
The devastating earthquake that shook Japan caused a temporary jolt in groundwater levels throughout much of Florida, officials said.

 The South Florida Water Management District reports that a network of groundwater gauges registered a jump of up to three inches in the water table from Orlando to the Florida Keys about 34 minutes after the quake struck on March 11.

 The oscillations were observed for about two hours and then stabilized.

 “We were not expecting to see any indication of the geological events in Japan given the island’s great distance from Florida,” Susan Sylvester, the water district’s director of operations control and hydro data management department, said.

 Shimon Wdowinski, an earthquake researcher with the University of Miami, said the water table likely rose because of Florida’s porous limestone, which allows water to easily flow beneath the earth’s surface and respond to changes in pressure caused by a wave.
–The Associated Press

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Minnesota phenology conference set Feb. 26-28

February 9, 2010

Do you pay attention and make a note when you see the first robin each spring? Are you interested in the way the plants and trees around you change with the seasons?

 Are you a scientist who actively employs phenology – the study of the timing of nature – in your research and want to network with other phenologists and learn about changes in the science. Do you want to learn how to use phenology as a teaching tool at a school or nature center? Are you interested in starting a regional phenology data base? Are you curious about why there is such interest niow in using phenology to monitor climate change?

 If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should attend the Northwoods Phenology Conference, Feb. 26-28 at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland, MN.

 To learn more, go to www.wolf-ridge.org or click here. Conference classes will be taught by expert in the field, including university professors. Many classes will be taught in the woods around Wolf Ridge; others will be taught indoors. This will be a chance to network with folks interested, as you are, in this emerging science called Phenology.

  In addition, you or family member attending with you can ign up for limited spots to take additional Wolf Ridge classes such as cross country skiing, rock climbing, winter survival and dog sledding.

Phenology, tap water ads and lynx

March 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.

Volunteers sought for phenology survey
Volunteers across the nation are being recruited to get outdoors and help track the effects of climate on seasonal changes in plant and animal behavior.

The USA-National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), a consortium of government, academic and citizen-scientists, is launching a new national program built on volunteer observations of flowering, fruiting and other seasonal events. Scientists and resource managers will use these observations to track effects of climate change on the Earth’s life-support systems.

“This program is designed for people interested in participating in climate change science, not just reading about it,” said USA-NPN Executive Director and U.S. Geological Survey scientist Jake Weltzin. “We encourage everyone to visit the USA National Phenology Network Web site and then go outside and observe the marvelous cycles of plant and animal life.”
–U.S. Geological Survey

Tap water advertising campaign expands
A project that originated at a boutique ad agency to help UNICEF deliver clean drinking water to children in developing countries is expanding in its third year as more firms join to support the cause.

The Tap Project, as the initiative is called, is adding cities and sponsors and is going bilingual with ads in Spanish as well as English. It takes place this year during World Water Week, which begins on March 22.
–The New York Times

Forest owners hope to cash in on carbon sequestration
The north woods of Minnesota hold one key to fending off the effects of global climate change. The trees, the soil, and the humus on the forest floor all store carbon. Some land owners think there may eventually be a profit to be made from that carbon storage.
–Minnesota Public Radio

U.S. to revise policy on lynx habitat
Soon some immigrants will find life easier in Minnesota and the rest of the United States: A proposed change in the management of land roamed by the Canada lynx would broaden protections for the big cat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised its critical habitat designation for the lynx, which has been the subject of controversy and court actions in the last few years. The proposal preceded an announcement Tuesday by President Obama to resume full scientific reviews of projects that might harm endangered wildlife and plants.
–Minnpost.com

EPA plans new rules on coal ash retention ponds
The Obama administration will propose new regulations governing coal combustion waste by the end of the year, and will act immediately to prevent accidents like the release in December of more than a billion gallons of coal ash that smothered 300 acres in eastern Tennessee and choked nearby waterways, a senior Environmental Protection Agency official said.

The spill, at the Kingston Fossil Plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority near Knoxville, brought renewed attention to the agency’s failure to live up to a promise in 2000 to issue regulations for coal ash, which contains toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury.
–The New York Times

DNR merger protested
When the Department of Natural Resources announced that it was merging its divisions of Ecological Resources and Waters into a single division, it might not have anticipated much reaction.

After all, those divisions generally aren’t nearly as visible as the Fish and Wildlife Division. But Jeff Broberg noticed.
–Star Tribune

Grassroots Japanese protest opposes river dam
First, the farmers objected to an ambitious dam project proposed by the government, saying they did not need irrigation water from the reservoir. Then the commercial fishermen complained that fish would disappear if the Kawabe River’s twisting torrents were blocked. Environmentalists worried about losing the river’s scenic gorges. Soon, half of this city’s 34,000 residents had signed a petition opposing the $3.6 billion project.
–The New York Times

The Apostle Islands: Coming to a coin near you?
Wisconsin has nominated the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to appear in a new series of quarters depicting national parks.

The U.S. Mint plans to begin issuing quarters in the series starting next year. The quarters will roll out over 11 years.
–The Associated Press

Florida water woes worsen
The latest report from the Southwest Florida Water Management District shows aquifer levels are continuing to fall.

According to the district’s March 6 Aquifer Resource Weekly Update, the central aquifer, which is a water source for the Tampa Bay region, is down to a negative 1.69 feet. Last week, the aquifer was at negative 1.65 feet. The normal range is between 0 and 6 feet.
–Tampa Bay Newspapers

California farming town prepares for drought Armageddon
Shawn Coburn is barreling down a country road in his white Ford F-150 pickup, talking about how California’s water crisis darkly reminds him of a scene from a movie aptly named “Armageddon.”

“Billy Bob Thornton tells Bruce Willis that a huge asteroid is approaching Earth,” says Coburn, 40. “Willis asks Thornton who will get hurt, and Thornton tells him that he just doesn’t get it — that everyone will be dead, that the game is over.”

The disaster coming this spring and summer is no movie, and nothing menacing is falling from the sky.
–San Jose Mercury News

Sacramento considers selling wastewater
Californians have grown accustomed to digesting odd ideas that routinely flow out of Sacramento, many of them not so palatable.

But are they ready for this one?

Last week, amid a third year of a statewide drought, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District adopted a strategy to sell treated sewage as drinking water. The buyer would hypothetically partner with the district to recycle wastewater from the capital-area’s 1.4 million people into a new municipal water source.
–The Sacramento Bee

Wisconsin to track golden eagles
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is planning to strap small GPS units on golden eagles over the next three years to see where the birds go when they migrate from western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota.

The golden eagle is mostly a western bird and is plentiful from the Dakotas west to the Pacific Ocean. The national bird of Mexico, it also lives in northern Ontario, where it’s listed as a species of concern.
–The Associated Press

Chicago ponders water supply constraints
As Chicago’s population grows its water supply must too, but with overworked aquifers and legal constraints, local officials are looking for solutions.

“Even in this region, water resources are not infinite, they are finite,” said Daniel Injerd, chief of Lake Michigan management for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
–Medill Reports

Oregon experiments with conservation credits
Three years ago, Oregon looked ready to re-invent conservation banking. Instead of establishing separate banks to offset wetland damage and other habitat loss caused by transportation construction, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) was going to roll it all into one package.

On this web site Bill Warncke, ODOT’s Mitigation and Conservation Program Coordinator, laid out an innovative approach that would address multiple resources simultaneously – including wetlands, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and endangered species.

Just months later, however, the plan was shelved.
–EcosystemMarketplace

Idaho fish farm squeezed out irrigators
The head of the Idaho Department of Water Resources has ordered hundreds of groundwater users in south-central Idaho to stop pumping, saying that a fish farm has first dibs on the limited resource.

The curtailment order came from David Tuthill. It is intended to ensure that Clear Springs Foods, a fish farm near Hagerman, has access to the water it needs to maintain the farm. Idaho law distributes water rights on a first-come, first-served basis, and the fish farm has an older, or senior, water right compared to the 865 junior water rights held by the roughly 430 people affected by the curtailment.
–The Associated Press