New York Times - More than a year after residents of Flint, Mich., were switched onto a water supply that has since been linked to rising levels of lead in the blood of some children, state and city officials abruptly reversed course, announcing on Thursday that Flint would return to its old water source. "The realization of increased lead exposure and a rise in the number of children with elevated blood lead levels was devastating for our community," Dayne Walling, the mayor of Flint, said at a news conference where he and Gov. Rick Snyder announced plans to spend $12 million to restore the city's connection to Detroit's water system, which comes from Lake Huron. “I could hardly sleep knowing that our youngest and most vulnerable children could be at greater risk if precautionary steps were not taken,” said Mr. Walling, who is seeking re-election next month. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Rep. Kevin McCarthy started hearing the demands as soon as House Speaker John Boehner announced his decision to step aside. Conservative Republicans threatened to withhold their votes for Mr. McCarthy as speaker unless he helped make one of their own the next majority leader. A group of House conservatives, called the Freedom Caucus, demanded seats on the panel that decides committee assignments and changes to House rules. Above all, they wanted to prevent Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise from becoming Mr. McCarthy's No. 2. Right before the secret GOP ballot on his speaker bid, Mr. McCarthy stunned colleagues on Thursday by withdrawing from what appeared to be an easy race to succeed Mr. Boehner. Read more.
Valley News - The Environmental Protection Agency has fined the Army Corps of Engineers $85,059 to settle allegations that it failed to protect the public from hazardous chemicals at the Cole Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover. CRREL has about 14,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia in a closed-loop refrigeration system, and the EPA alleged that the Army Corps failed to comply with Clean Air Act regulations in its risk management planning. The allegations stemmed from an inspection at the lab in August 2013. The EPA said the laboratory along Route 10 near the Connecticut River failed to comply with safety information requirements; didn't adequately identify and control hazards; and didn't have an adequate emergency response program, among other faults, according to an EPA news release Thursday. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - Federal authorities investigating El Faro's sinking having zeroed in on another vessel that passed the doomed cargo ship before it ran into Hurricane Joaquin. El Faro and the SS El Yunque came within a few miles of each other, said T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency investigating the incident, in a press briefing Thursday evening. The ships appeared to pass each other the afternoon of Sept. 30, according to Genscape Vesseltracker, about 16 hours before El Faro sent its final communication, a distress signal indicating it had lost propulsion and was taking on water. Their captains swapped data and notes on weather and ocean conditions as they passed by, according to TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, the owner of both ships. Read more.
E&E Daily - Senate efforts to pass drought relief legislation for California and the West will hinge on key negotiators' ability to come closer to agreement, Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) signaled yesterday. During a legislative hearing that offered the first major public discussion of issues that have been the focus of backroom negotiations for months, she repeatedly pressured witnesses for areas of common ground. "We could talk about Goldilocks here, and which one is too big, too small, which ones is just right," Murkwoski said, referring to the pair of California measures before the committee - H.R. 2898 from Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and S. 1894 from California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. "But I think it's important to acknowledge that these are very complicated - some very complex - issues, and we need to reach a unified legislative response," she said. Read more.
Eurkalert! - As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the Caribbean and may last into the new year, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record. Waters are warming in the Caribbean, threatening coral in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands, NOAA scientists said. Coral bleaching began in the Florida Keys and South Florida in August, but now scientists expect bleaching conditions there to diminish. "The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world," said Mark Eakin, NOAA's Coral Reef Watch coordinator. Read more.
National Public Radio - New York City may have dodged a major storm recently when Hurricane Joaquin headed out to sea, but it was an unwelcome reminder of what happened three years ago when the city suffered catastrophic flooding during Superstorm Sandy. Now, the New York subway system is racing to get new flood-proofing technologies ready in time for the next big storm. One of those methods is called the Flex-Gate, a big sheet of waterproof fabric design to cover subway entrances and keep the water out. Engineers at the firm ILC Dover recently tested the Flex-Gate by hoisting it into a big custom-made box a few feet off the ground. They covered it with several feet of water and then measured how much it leaks. As the box filled up, some water started trickling. Read more.
Encinitas Advocate - The Encinitas and Solana Beach city councils next week will consider environmental approval of their join 50-year sand project. Under the plan, offshore sand would regularly be spread on local beaches with the goal of protecting infrastructure and coastal access. Solana Beach City Manager Greg Wade said environmental impact documents don't anticipate that the project will hurt marine life or surfing over the long term. But, he added, the documents do point out the possibility of beach nourishments affecting reefs off the city's coast, which would be closely monitored. "Typically, a concern in a beach replenishment project is (that) sand will come off of the beach and cover the reef," Wade said, nothing this could affect marine life. As a safeguard, biologists would analyze the reefs before and after the project. Read more.
Asbury Park Press - Last week's strong storm caused severe damage to many Jersey Shore beaches, with erosion so great that in Bay Head, Mantoloking, Ortley Beach and parts of Deal and Long Beach Island, there is little to no dry beach left. The results of a survey conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection are bad news for many Shore towns who are now facing a long winter storm season with beaches and dune systems that are already badly compromised. Erosion was particularly pronounced in areas of Ocean County's northern barrier island, where a long-awaited beach replenishment project to be completed by the Army Corps of Engineers has been delayed because dozens of oceanfront property owners have still refused to sign easements granting the corps access to the beach. Read more.
Philadelphia Inquirer - A week after calling this well-heeled beach town "selfish" for refusing to give up land needed for the state's dune project, Gov. Christie on Thursday moved to give Margate no choice. The state said it had filed an eminent domain action against the City of Margate to gain access to city-owned beachfront easements needed for the project. The city's opposition has caused the Army Corps of Engineers to abort plans for dunes for Ventnor, Margate, and Longport. Prior to the filing, the state had offered Margate $29,000 for nine beachfront easements, based on an appraisal, the cit said. When that was rejected, the Christie administration took the action in Superior Court, saying it was seeking 87 municipally owned lots. Margate officials could not explain what 87 referred to. Read more.
Newsworks - Over the past half century, the population of the Jersey Shore has more than tripled, while Ocean County - the state's fastest-growing - saw its population increase tenfold. Amid the growing desire to live, work, and vacation near the water's edge, state and federal authorities have created a multitude of regulations to ensure that unfettered development doesn't totally wreck the environment and put coastal residents in harm's way during major storms. Political leaders say they've sought to balance these concerns with the realization that New Jersey's coast - and the tourism dollars it generates - is a huge driver of the state's economy. Still, environmental planning advocates say the estimated $37 billion in losses and 365,000 homes severely damaged or destroyed during Sandy indicate that the rules haven't been strict enough. Read more.
The Star Ledger - The first important action Jim McGreevey took when he assumed the office of governor in 2002 was to break his leg - "literally" as he loved to say. A couple weeks after taking the oath of office, the new governor was enjoying a weekend in Cape May when he decided to go for a walk on the beach. He hadn't traveled far before he fell on the sand and broke his femur. This got the rumor mill working overtime. To this day I hear stores from people who "know" what really happened. After all, how could you break your leg on sand? I visited the scene of the crime at the time and found it to be entirely possible. The sand on the beach in question was mixed with silt from the Delaware Bay. Erosion had created a series of little cliffs with edges like concrete. That was indeed perilous. But at least it was natural - not like the scene I witnessed when I visited with Scott Gusmer at the oceanfront lot in Mantoloking where his home sued to stand until Hurricane Sandy came along. Read more.
WITN - After lifting their State of Emergency status on Tuesday, the Town of North Topsail Beach held a press conference Wednesday morning to update the area on the extent of damage there. Assistant Town Manager Carin Faulkner said that 11 miles of coastline suffered dune loss and dune breaches, but that no structural damage is reported. Heavy rains and storm surge caused some flooding and high tides that washed away steps leading from homes down to the beach. Crews were out along the beaches Wednesday removing debris and fixing the sand bag revetment at the North End. The town is now looking ahead at costs as they repair these damages. Read more.
WTOC - Hilton Head Island town officials are working on a project to restore the island's beaches. Town officials say the shore loses tens of thousands of cubic yards of sand each year, and more recently because of last week's storms and high tides. There's not much they can do to stop the erosion, so they're working on a project to take sand from the ocean and place it on the shore. This is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's been done three times already in Hilton Head. Twice in the 90s and again in 2006. The town was planning on starting the project this fall or winter during the tourism off season, but says the project might not get started until 2016. The benefits of the renourishment go beyond tourism and environmental purposes. Shore Beach Services says when there's more sand, it makes the jobs of lifeguards and beach patrol much easier. Read more.
The Plain Dealer - The Port of Cleveland has taken a big step toward solving its expensive dredging responsibilities announcing today that it sold its first load of Cuyahoga River sediment to a construction company. Great Lakes Construction Co. bought the equivalent of 300 dump truck loads of sediment from the Port and its partner - the Kurtz Bros. landscaping company - for use in the Ohio Department of Transportation's Lakeland Boulevard project in Euclid. Port President and CEO Will Friedman said the sediment sale demonstrates that a market exists for the reconstituted waste product. "When our studies determined the port could turn sediment from waste into a useful product, while also reducing public expense and advancing green, sustainable practices, we ran with it," said Friedman. Read more.
Union-Bulletin - Walla Walla County comissioners voted unanimously to not intervene in a local coalition's request to halt a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that will clear a 5,000-foot-long stretch of trees and brush along Mill Creek levee. The vote was made at a special meeting Wednesday to respond to opponents of the project who wanted commisioners to ask the Corps to delay the project until further studies are conducted. Before the vote, Commissioner Jim Duncan noted even if he and his colleagues agreed a delay was needed, theirs would only be a request at best. "I will say I believe whatever we do today, it will not affect what the Corps will do," Duncan said, "Essentially they own the property. And I don't think a decision we would make to the contrary would stop them from proceeding." Read more.
Daily Pilot - As Newport Beach prepares to dump sand along the seawalls surrounding Balboa Island's Grand Canal, residents are wondering when their dream of a fully dredged waterway may become reality. Since the Grand Canal was last dredged in the lat 1990s, waterfront residents have watched as the white sand lining the passage sloughed away, transforming it to a stretch of slimy mud. Decades ago, Balboa Islanders and visitors would place their beach chairs on the sand beside the Grand Canal to watch as their children hunted for crabs and seashells. Though the Grand Canal, which bisects the main island an Little Balboa Island, is still widely used by paddleboarders, boaters, and families, people are not as inclined to sit there anymore, given its current sate, residents say. Read more.
Travel Weekly - Beaches are king in Florida, at least when it comes to tourism. But a developing dispute over sand deposits off the state's east coast could portend a bump future. "You can sure that the sand wars for South Florida are right around the corner, though it's our hope that the state can avoid that type of situation." said Gary Appelson, policy coordinator for the Seat Turtle Conservancy, which fights to preserve beach turtle-nesting habitats. At issue are the sand nourishment programs that keep many beaches in South Florida and throughout the remainder of the state from becoming narrower and less appealing as a result of erosion. Nealy half of the state's 825 miles of beaches are critically eroded, according to the Florida Department of Environmental protection, which annually spends between $25 million and $40 million on restoration and nourishment projects. Read more.
Bay News 9 - A $4 million beach renourishment project at Honeymoon Island is set to wrap up just in time for the weekend. Park Manager Peter Krulder said the project funded the construction of three additional jetties on the north end of the island to help keep sand in place longer. "That blocks the wave energy that's coming in off the gulf," Krulder said. "And the stem of the t-groin will slow the sand's migration moving north and south." Krulder said 165,000 cubic yards of new sand was laid down over rocks originally brought in by a developer in the 1960s. Over the years, those rocks began to surface as the beach slowly eroded. Read more.