A report on the Sacramento and San Joaquin delta ecosystem was released just before Christmas with a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that the abundant rain and snow fall in California over the past year has helped improve the delta’s ecosystem. To keep a small fish known as the delta smelt from extinction and the delta ecosystem from collapse, farmers near the delta were mandated to limit their water intake. This past year provided enough water for the smelt, ecosystem and the farmers. Along with better management in the delta, the ecosystem has seen improvement in many fish species, particularly the smelt and striped bass.
On the other side of the report, the fish species shad did not fair as well as other populations. Even worse is the identification of an invasive aquatic weed known as spongeplant. The plant sits and spreads rapidly on top of the water, choking the river and indigenous aquatic species. The spread of the plant could also have a negative impact on the delta’s pumping and irrigation delivery systems, which experienced problems in the past with the spread of another invasive species called the water hyacinth.
The dry winter is preventing the spongeplant from obtaining the amounts of water it needs, but so then are species like the smelt.
Barringer, Felicity. “California’s Delta Ecosystem Is Healthier, For Now”. Green: The Blog About Energy and the Environment; The New York Times. 29 December, 2011. Web.
New York State is pending new rules for the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Trenton Black River rock formation in Chemung County is an area where companies have been drilling for natural gas and may now experience an increase in gas production if the new rules are approved.
The danger for humans is in the possible contamination of drinking water but there are environmental impacts as well such as ecosystem disruption and the use of millions of gallons of water per each drilling well. A lawsuit was filed for contaminated drinking water in Chemung County, but the New York Department of Environmental Conservation found that it was unlikely that the gas wells caused methane contamination of the water wells.
Navarro, Mireya. “In Drilling Safety Debate, Hydrofracking’s Not the Only Target”. The New York Times. 28 December, 2011.
Madrid Rio, a park still under construction in Madrid, is transforming the Spanish capital and its waterfront. The park is over six miles long and is reviving a stretch of the Manzanares River by taking over land that was once occupied by highways. The highways have been torn down and redirected around or under the park so that the new public space filled with bike paths, playgrounds, fountains, and a wading pool called “the beach” could be created. The park connects the city back with the river as well as reconnecting neighborhoods that were separated by the old highway.
Hopes that many American cities will transform abandoned and disenfranchised urban areas to public use have become more tangible with the success of projects like the Madrid Rio. Cities affected by population decline and highways that cut right through neighborhoods can use the Madrid Rio as a template to bolster economic activity and make refurbished communities more attractive. Urban revitalization by reclaiming industrial areas to natural states may be the way of the future for many American cities that will need to redefine themselves due to industrial and population decline. The impact of building green, public spaces in urban cities is massive especially for its residents; as Madrid official, Ms. Martinez, states: “Now people who opened their windows to the sound of cars, open their windows to the sound of birds”.
Kimmelman, Michael. “In Madrid’s Heart, Park Blooms Where a Freeway Once Blighted”. The New York Times. 26 December, 2011.
On Wednesday, December 21, 2011, the Obama administration announced a mandate for power plants to reduce emissions. Over the next five years, power plants will have to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxins by about 90%.
CLICK HERE to read the full NY Times article.
Editorial. “Toward Healthier Air”. The New York Times. 21 December, 2011.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has recently reported on the condition of the United States’ community-based-drinking-water systems and public wastewater treatment facilities. Unless the systems are improved and modernized serious problems could arise in future years. The drinking-water systems are aging and rusting while the wastewater treatment facilities fail so often that 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage are discharged each year.
It is estimated by the EPA that to modernize the county’s water systems would cost $91 billion, but only $35 million is available. Not only does this pose a public health and environmental concern but also an economic problem. Thousands of jobs are directly related to the availability and quality of water such as wineries and chemical plants. Because water service infrastructure is located below ground it is easy to not notice the deterioration. But when the systems break it also causes huge damage to roadways and other public infrastructure.
A possible solution? Put public municipal infrastructure in the hands of private companies who often can borrow money for repairs at more favorable interest rates than local or state governments.
Barringer, Felicity. “Oh Danny Boy, the Pipes, the Pipes Are Failing”. The New York Times. 20 December, 2011.
The US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice has recently announced a grant opportunity. The Environmental Justice Small Grants Program has $1 million in funding to support grants of $25,000 each.
The awards will go to programs that support activities designed to educate, empower, and enable communities to understand environmental and public health issues and to identify ways to address these issues at the local level. The ultimate goal of the Environmental Justice Small Grant program is to create awareness about environmental justice concerns and partnerships within communities that will improve local environments in the future.
The focus of the EJSG is to continue aid to communities that support the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s top priorities:
- Improving air quality
- Managing chemical risks
- Cleaning up hazardous-waste disposal sites
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Protecting America’s water
Eligible applicants must be:
- Incorporated non-profit organizations (such as: environmental justice networks, faith based organizations and those affiliated with religious institutions)
- Federally recognized tribal governments
- Tribal organizations
The proposals are due on 29 February, 2012.
Please visit the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program Page (CLICK HERE) for more information about the Request for Proposal and past grant awards.
Make sure to check the EPA Urban Water Small Grants website frequently for grant updates, helpful information, and to register for webinars designed to help you complete the grant proposal! There is also a newly posted list of Frequently Asked Questions related to this grant opportunity that could help you as you work through the proposal.
For more information or for help in completing your grant proposal, you can contact IMRivers at email@example.com.
Urban Waters Small Grants Proposal due January 23, 2012
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set aside between $1.8 to $3.8 million to fund projects throughout the United States that are work to restore urban waters by “improving water quality and supporting community revitalization” as part of the EPA’s Urban Waters program.
As stated by the grant proposal guidelines, the goal of the Urban Waters Small Grants program is to “fund research, studies, training, and demonstration projects that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities such as public health, social and economic opportunities, general livability and environmental justice for residents.” Projects eligible for funding include:
- Education and training for water quality improvement or green infrastructure jobs
- Public education about ways to reduce water pollution
- Local water quality monitoring programs
- Engaging diverse stakeholders to develop local watershed plans
- Innovative projects that promote local water quality and community revitalization goals
Information about Urban Waters Small Grants including the Request for Proposal (RFP) and registration links for the webinars is available at http://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/funding, and the EPA expects to award the grants in Summer 2012.
For more information on this project and for help with developing grant proposals, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, IBM, and Clarkson University in Potsdam are to create the intelligent systems and cyber-infrastructure technologies required for real-time water monitoring for the Hudson River. Called the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON), it will be the first environmental monitoring system for rivers and estuaries. The sensor network will help researchers understand what’s happening in the ecosystem and help clarify the human and natural impacts on the environment.
For more information, click here.
Picture from: Wikipedia
Sachiye Day, VERTICES Intern. email@example.com