Q & A with John Cronin on Environment and Education 0

The excerpt below is taken from an interview by Barbara Moroch for the Higher Education Supplement of Sunday’s Journal News. John is senior fellow for environmental affairs at Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. He edits and is a frequent contributor to EarthDesk.

stony point cronin students net beach 3

What is the most important thing you’d like readers to know about the environmental work you do?

We are the most extraordinary species on the planet. And we will be successful if we not only learn to care about nature, but about each other, especially for those amongst us who are suffering due to poverty, homelessness, hunger and poor health.

What are your hopes for the Millennial generation?

Passion, compassion, and independence of mind. I hope they will learn more from my generation’s mistakes than from our successes. They have access to tools and knowledge unprecedented in any generation that preceded them. I believe they are at the doorstep of becoming our most creative problem-solvers, innovators, and advocates for a new era of caring for others. All they have to do is walk through.

Go to full interview.

Water Pollution by Arend van Dam 0

Swimming

«« »»

Arend van Dam is a Dutch political cartoonist whose work has appeared in Reformed Netherlands, Central Weekly, Time, the Financial Times, and the Agrarian Dagblad among others. In addition to his cartoon work, he is also a book illustrator. He sometimes works under the pseudonym Zetbe.

Arend has won a number of international awards, including the Golden Palm at the 1972 Salone Internazionale dell’Umorismo in Bordighera, Italy, and the prize of the Ministry of Rijkswaterstaat at the ninth Eindhoven Dutch Cartoon Festival. In addition to his work as a political cartoonist, he lectures on organizational psychology.

View more of Arend’s work at PoliticalCartoons.com.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Responds to EarthDesk Critique of the Clean Water Act’s Performance 0

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discusses environmental issues with Hari Sreenivasan of PBS News Hour at the Aspen Ideas Festival. July 3, 2013

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discusses environmental issues with Hari Sreenivasan of PBS News Hour at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Link to video.

Defending the Clean Water Act from EarthDesk’s continuing critique of the law’s performance, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy echoed President Barak Obama when she called upon the memory of the 45-year old Cuyahoga River fire as evidence of current progress toward clean water (See EarthDesk commentary on the president’s remarks).

Below is that excerpt from her interview with Hari Sreenivasan of PBS News Hour. The full video interview is available here. More on Adminstrator McCarthy’s comments soon.

Sreenivasan: John Cronin from the EarthDesk blog recently had a post about the 31st anniversary of the Clean Water Act’s failure to achieve its goal in 1983.

McCarthy: (Laughs) That’s not much to celebrate.

Sreenivasan: No, it’s not. So he was pointing out a fact sheet from the EPA that says approximately 40 percent of our surveyed rivers lakes and estuaries are not clean enough to meet basic uses such as fishing or swimming. Why is this?

McCarthy: Clean water continues to be a significant challenge. I mean I can certainly counter that by how much we have improved. If you remember, when the Clean Water Act came into place, it came into place because the Cuyahoga River was burning.

More

Abison Numangu by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency 0

Today’s EarthDesk Sunday is the official beach warning sign of Guam. Last week, EarthDesk featured daily stories about some of the many polluted beaches and swimming areas in states the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not include in its database of beach advisories. But USEPA does include American territories. On July 11, Guam EPA posted 10 beach closures. They did not appear on the USEPA site.

GuamBeachSign2
For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More

The Big Sioux River: Its Four Decade Journey from Unswimmable to Unswimmable; EPA Beach Warning Website Silent 0

Controversy erupted in Sioux Falls, South Dakota yesterday when the East Dakota Water Development District proposed warning signs that would advise swimmers, paddlers and other recreational users about excessive bacterial pollution of the Big Sioux River.

BigSiouxCourseWatershed1Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether opposes the plan. In a statement that reveals as much about the troubled river’s past as its present he told the Argus Leader, “We don’t need a bunch of expensive and obtrusive signage to remind us what only makes common sense.”

A 1973 study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency found the Big Sioux highly contaminated with municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes. A 2012 study by Environment America found the same and named the Big Sioux the 13th most polluted river in the nation.

The 419-mile long Big Sioux River originates in South Dakota, flows to Iowa and, in part, forms the boundary between the two states. A tributary of the Missouri River, its watershed encompasses 7,280 square miles and includes part of Minnesota as well. The Big Sioux is not part of the EPA online database of swimming advisories, which only includes coastal and Great Lakes waters.

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More

Illness, Death and Swimming in Tennessee: E. coli Takes Its Toll; No Advisory from EPA 0

In Tennessee, where typical daytime summer temperatures are locked in the high 80s and above, “about 176 river miles are posted due to bacterial contamination,” warns the state’s Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

Tennessee swimming sign_smCauses of the contamination are “pathogen sources include failing septic tanks, collection system failure, failing animal waste systems, or urban runoff,” according to the most recent DEC reporting, which has remained unchanged since April.

The warning includes 20 miles of Beaver Creek, a favorite paddling and swimming destination in northeast Tennessee that has suffered chronic contamination problems for years. Reported TriCities.com on August 10, 2011:

On a hot summer day, the waters of Beaver Creek and its streams and tributaries – which cut a 20-mile path from the Virginia-Tennessee line to Boone Lake — might tempt those looking for a great place to splash around and cool off. . . State environmental officials warn that these waters could also be a great place to come into contact with Escherichia coli – a potentially fatal strain of bacteria

. . .  Eighteen people in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia were diagnosed with E. coli infections between May 8 and June 11, including Gabby Blair, a 2-year-old girl from Dryden, Va., who died June 5 after she was rushed to Johnson City Medical Center’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with HUS [hemolytic uremic syndrome].

According to the National Institutes of Health, HUS,  a disease that destroys red blood cells and is the most common cause of sudden, short-term—acute—kidney failure in children:

. . . develops when Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria lodged in the digestive tract make toxins that enter the bloodstream and start to destroy red blood cells. Most cases of HUS occur after an infection of the digestive tract by the E. colibacterium, which is found in foods like meat, dairy products, and juice when they are contaminated. Some people have contracted HUS after swimming in pools or lakes contaminated with feces.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency does not include Tennessee in its online national listing of swimming beach advisories which is limited to only coastal or Great Lakes states.

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More

23% of Ohio River Samples Unsafe for Swimming but Absent from EPA Database 0

53% of Samples Taken at Wheeling, WV Unsafe.

23% of samples taken from the Ohio River tested unsafe for swimming due to bacterial contamination according to analyses conducted by the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) at six sites spread over five states along the 981-mile river (see map below). Every site tested unsafe at least once during the week of June 20, the most recent sampling period available. Wheeling, WV scored worst with 16 of 30 samples testing unsafe. The Ohio River watershed encompasses 189,422 square miles and all or part of 15 states but is not included in the EPA national database of swimming beach advisories, which generally covers only coastal and Great Lakes beaches.

Ohio River

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More

Local TV Warns of Years-Old Kentucky Swimming Advisories; EPA Does Not 0

licking river

“Swimming advisories that have been in place for several years . . .will remain in effect” on the Kentucky River, Upper Cumberland River and Licking River “because of high levels of fecal coliform bacteria,” according to the State of Kentucky Division of Water.

If you are not from Kentucky, there is little chance you would know of the warning. The United States Environmental Protection Agency does not include Kentucky swimming areas in its national database of beach advisories. See below to view local station WLWT’s coverage of the Licking River.

Kentucky is straightforward about the causes:

Illegal straight pipe discharges, failing septic systems and bypasses from sewage collection systems . . . combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows. . . heavy rainfall events, especially in dense residential, urban and livestock production areas . . . increased potential for exposure to pollution from urban nonpoint source pollution, bypasses from sewage collection systems . . . and pollution from livestock waste.

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More

12% of Iowa Swimming Beaches Unfit, but not Included in EPA Database 0

At present, 12% of Iowa’s swimming beaches have elevated levels of  E. coli bacteria, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Beach Monitoring Progam (locations in yellow below). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not include Iowa beaches in its database of beach advisories because they are not coastal or Great Lakes beaches (EarthDesk July 1, 2014).  Iowa is not alone. In New York, EarthDesk’s home state, swimming beaches in popular vacation areas such as the Finger Lakes, Lake George, and the Hudson River Valley are not included.

iowa beaches

Iowa Beach Water Monitoring Program map, July 7, 2014. Via Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More

29 Signs of the Times: Making Beach Pollution Routine in South Carolina. 0

Twenty-nine oceanfront warning signs in the Myrtle Beach area (below) are “a better system than media advisories because beach-goers have a constant reminder of the dangers of swimming,” according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. TheState.com

Myrtle beach warning2

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s failed July 1, 1983 policy goal regarding water and recreation: EarthDesk July 1, 2014 and EarthDesk July 1, 2013.

More