Today in WaterWise News:
Sea level rise implications and climate change - more trouble for the Obama Administration's Waters of the U.S. rule - New England looking to Canada for a Power Boost - wildfires in Wyoming, near-failing infrastructure along Mississippi - coastal protection via dunes and wider beaches or lack thereof - dredging Boston Inner Harbor - figuring out when, not if, Miami will be under water.
Coastal News Today - Most people - certainly ones willing to look at the facts - agreed that sea level is rising. How much is often open to discussion, but when does that discussion turn damaging? The Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change (IPCC), the world body for assessing the science related to climate change, was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations General Assembly, to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not do its own research, conduct climate measurements or produce its own climate models; it assesses the thousands of scientific papers published each year to tell policymakers what we know and don't know about the risks related to climate change. Read more.
New York Times - The climate has been changing forever. It will continue to change. Some scientists believe that humans have a direct impact on it. But trying to curb carbon emissions to slow the change could destroy the economy, eliminate millions of jobs and cast Americans into poverty. This is what's known today as the moderate Republican position on climate change, held by presidential hopefuls like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. Then there are Republicans like James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate committee responsible for the environment, who calls global warming "the greatest hoax," and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, another presidential contender, who argues that the scientific case for seeking to curb climate change is nothing more than a liberal plot aimed at "massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives." It wasn't always so. These views, in fact, stand in sharp contrast to the mainstream position of the Republican Party less than a decade ago. Read more.
The Bismark Tribune - A judicial panel dealt anther setback Tuesday to a federal water rule that has been temporarily blocked from taking effect nationwide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the "Waters of the United States" rule in May, but a lawsuit filed by 13 states led by North Dakota was successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction in August to block the rule's implementation in those states. Last week, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order blocking the rule nationwide. The EPA and corps had unsuccessfully requested that North Dakota's lawsuit be put on hold while a judicial panel considered consolidating it with other lawsuits from around the country challenging the rule. The lawsuits seek to clarify which waters are covered by the federal Clean Water Act. Read more.
Army Times - A year-long continuing resolution would spell major cuts to big programs like helicopters and vehicles two US Army leaders said Tuesday. Congress passed a short-term funding measure in lieu of approving a fiscal year 2016 budget that will end on Dec. 11. The resolution sets the budget at the previous year's levels and if Congress can't agree on a budget, a longer continuing resolution could be coming. "I think my biggest fear is a lot of critical major programs, we really are going to buy a lot less quantity," Heidi Shyu, the Army's acquisition chief said at the Association of the US Army, and this would mean buying half of the AH-64E attack helicopters the Army is planning to buy in 2016 and half of its new-build CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters. The Army would also be unable to begin 75 of its new start science and technology programs. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - New England's most populous states are looking to tap Canadian dams and rivers for more of their electricity, a change that officials say would help cut greenhouse-gas emissions and help keep some of the nation's highest power prices in check. Canada, with plenty of water and just 35 million people, gets 65% of its power supply from hydroelectric dams, and is adding more with an eye on exports. Getting that power to New England is no easy talk - one power-line proposal in New Hampshire has drawn criticism from locals - but policy maker sin the region have long been tantalized by the prospect of plentiful, cheap Canadian power. Massachusetts and Connecticut, home to most of New England's population and power demand, could add enough new hydropower to supply millions of people through efforts under way in each state. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - A wildfire tearing through central Wyoming destroyed buildings and forced hundreds of evacuations. The fire has burned at least 10 homes and several outbuildings, with many of the structures listed as complete losses. A second day in a row of dry weather and strong wind Monday caused the fire to spread across more than 15 square miles of grassland near Evansville, just east of Casper. Nobody was reported hurt but firefighters struggled to contain the flames. Some 100 firefighters and two air tankers were on the scene. An evacuation center was set up at Casper College. Winds topping 50 mph Sunday afternoon pushed the fire onto the grassland from a composting area at a landfill about a mile from Evansville. Read more.
Press of Atlantic City - Swimming against the tide can be heroic when it's necessary, but foolish if it's not. Margate's quixotic quest against creating dunes on its barrier-island beaches is looking like the latter. Last week the state filed an eminent domain action against the city, seeking the legal right to improve city-owned beach property as part of a vast project to keep Jersey Shore residents and properties safer. You have to hand it to Margate officials and the many city residents who support them in this resistance to shore protection funded mainly by the U.S. government, apparently because they prefer some other form of protection. When it comes to intergovernmental disputes, they are the 300 Spartans of the day, holding out on a patch of sand against an empire. But if their actions become legendary, the tale is likely to be about their waste of resources as they stubbornly pushed past numerous warnings to certain failure. Read more.
Fox2Now - The Mississippi River is in bad shape according to a new report being presented in St. Louis later this morning. It will receive a D+ on its first ever report card. The Mississippi Basin impacts more than 41 percent of the United States. According to a panel of experts, it's in trouble. The group known as America's Watershed Initiative will present its findings Wednesday. The sneak peek they have released offers reasons for concern in several areas specifically pollution, food control and the poor condition of the locks and dams throughout the river basin. The Mississippi River watershed also includes the other major rivers that flow into it. Part of the reason for this report is to create a shared vision of the problems affecting so many different states because there is no single institution making decisions about the system of rivers. Read more.
Marine Link - Dredges are currently being used in a large tidal marsh restoration project at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, one of the largest ever marsh restoration projects in the eastern U.S. Using two Two Ellicott 460SL dredges, the project aims to restore a highly damaged tidal marsh/barrier beach ecosystem covering 4,000 acres within the former freshwater impoundment system on the refuge. This coastal wetland restoration also improves the ability of the refuge marshes to withstand future storms and sea level rise and improves habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. AMEC and their marine subcontractor, Dredge America, have had great success since the restoration work began in June, Ellicott said. Each dredge operates 10 hours per day, six days a week. Read more.
Cape Gazette - An early October nor'easter-like storm reminded Cape Region communities like Lewes and Milton that disastrous flood waters often come too close for comfort. with proactive planning in mind, seven Delaware communities, including Lewes Milton, are taking a closer look at how they can improve their resiliency to coastal hazards in the face of sea level rise and climate change with the assistance of matching grants from the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. In Milton, officials are reviewing flood-prone areas that pose risks to critical infrastructure, and plan to review building and zoning codes to prevent future building in at-risk areas. The DNREC grant provided half of the $14,000 needed for the extensive study in Milton, which focuses on data collection and mapping to identify potential flood risks. Read more.
USACE New England District - Lend Lease Development, Inc. is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to impact waters of the U.S. in conjunction with dredging and doing other work in the Boston Inner Harbor in East Boston, Mass. The proposed work involves the removal of existing pile fields and piers, dredging, stabilization of seawalls through the placing of rip rap, creation of new seawalls, installing an overlook pier and floating dock system, placing four stormwater drain outfalls and associated splash pads, and the creation of a living shoreline that will include the construction of a wetland, a kayak ramp, and a small rocky beach. Impacts to waters of the U.S. will total 63,071 square feet of subtidal and intertidal area. Read more.
The Outer Banks Voice - Nags Head's shoreline is gaining sand in some areas, holding its own in others and losing ground to the surf in a few hot spots and its far southern end, according to an analysis of the town's 4-year-old beach nourishment project. Tim Kana, president of Coastal Science and Engineering, told the town's Board of Commissioners in a presentation Sept. 16 that about 70 percent of the new sand is gone along the last quarter mile of South Nags Head. But farther north, toward the Nags Head Fishing Pier, the analysis shows a net gain. About 4.6 million cubic yards of sand were pumped onto the beach during the widening project along 10 miles of beach in the late summer of 2011 at a cost of around $34 million. Read more.
Malibu Surfside News - On Oct. 9, after more than fours hours of discussion, the California Coastal Commission narrowly approved the Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District's proposed revetment, beach nourishment, and dune restoration project. The project, described as experimental, is intended to stabilize and rebuild Broad Beach by depositing more than 600,000 cubic yards of quarry sand over a 10-year period. The plan includes permanent retention of an existing approximately 4150-foot-long, rock revetment, relocation of approximately 1,800 linear feet of the as-built rock revetment further landward, extensive monitoring of the newly deposited sand that will cover the revetment, and a provision requiring the homeowners to develop a plan for moving off septic systems and onto a package plant system for treating wastewater. Read more.
Miami New Times - Miami will be threatened by rising sea levels over the next few centuries. On that there's pretty much scientific consensus. The only question is exactly how big the threat. Well, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America predicts that our choices are either completely underwater or with some area left high and (relatively) dry. Which means even under the best-case scenario, Miami will stop looking like mainland Florida and start looking like a string of Islands that are essentially the new northern end of the Florida Keys. (Read an interview with the study's author here.) The study looked at our future if we continue to release carbon emissions into the atmosphere on the same rate we are now, which would almost certainly lead to the collapse of the West Antartic ice sheet. Read more.