Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Interactive Environmental Health Mapping Using Online Mapping Tools

Posted on
Online mapping is an extremely useful tool for conveying geographic information. It’s capability to be largely public and community based is largely what makes it so powerful. Organizations can create beautiful and informative maps with existing data as a way of conveying a message to a community. Online mapping can also be much more broad, showing national or worldwide trends in data. A brilliant example of an online community-based mapping website is Mappler. This site gives the user the ability to either add GPS point data at their location with attribute data of the individual’s location, through the mobile app MapplerK, or previously acquired data in the form of points, lines, polygons and raster data sets. Sites like this are very versatile and can be applied to any field from ecology, to the environment, to health care, to planning and asset inventory. Mapping is in the hands of the user(s). envhealth The screenshot above is an example of what online mapping sites can do. This site is one created using Mappler, and shows the correlation between environmental and human health. The map can be viewed at http://www.mappler.net/envhealth/.   For more information on the Mappler site, visit the hompage at http://mappler.net/. Colin Munro, Intern gis@vertices.com

Growing Food Demand Strains Energy, Water Supplies

Posted on
Groundwater tables have fallen precipitously, 600 feet below the ground in some places, requiring even more powerful pumps to bring water to the surface. Over-consumption has taxed the power grid, constraining the electricity available for others. Many countries that rely on farming are unstable because because of the relationship between energy and groundwater. A man irrigates his field with an electric water pump east of Gauhati, in northern India. Excessive water pumping has strained both water and energy supplies in India, China and other hot spots around the world. Read the full article here Source: The National Geographic Rituparna Ganguly, Research Assistant at VERTICES, ritu@vertices.com

The Future of America’s Drinking Water: Uncertain

Posted on

IMAGE from the NY TIMES: C.M. Glover for The New York Times, Repairing a Water Main Break in Norwich, Conn.

Click Here for the NY Times article 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. Meghan Karlik Project Manager IMRivers mkarlik@vertices.com

“Cleaner” Energy at the Expense of Water Quality?

Posted on
Hydraulic rock fracturing has gained much popularity with natural gas drilling companies over the past decade or so, because it can increase production of wells.  Natural gas is abundantly found in Marcellus Shale which reaches from Virginia to mid New York state.  In an effort to extract as much gas as possible, drilling companies are fracturing the shale with a large amount of water and a mixture of chemicals which they pump into the earth, a process called hydrofracking.  The problem with this method, which is well documented by the EPA, is that many of the chemicals used are toxic to humans and the environment.  Drilling requires upwards of 12,000 gallons of chemicals mixed with over a million gallons of water to be pumped into the ground, much of which will stay there and possibly seep into the ground water supply.  Some of used chemical mixture is re-collected and sent to treatment plants, but it is documented that some of the plants are not capable of removing toxins before discharging the water into a river.  This is becoming a big problem in areas such as Pennsylvania, where the number of wells has just about doubled since 2000, from 36,000 to 71,000.  The New York Times produced an informative interactive map of water contamination in Pennsylvania due to hydrofracking.  Many of the chemicals used in this process have significant health effects upon people who come in contact with them, which should be a big concern because of many wells (at least 116) have produced waste water containing levels of radioactive material over a hundred times the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. Sources: New York Times, River Network Scott Jablonski, VERTICES Intern