Today in WaterWise News:
Pilot program aims to save marshes - natural gas is catching to coal - more on failing water infrastructure across the U.S. - pursuing coastal restoration in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic - mapping waves and erosion - and dredging in Washington, Texas, Louisiana, and New Jersey.
New York Times - At first glance, the five rectilinear islands that bob off the south shore of Jamaica Bay look like an art installation cooked up in a studio in Williamsburg or Bushwick. But the structures, which resemble giant planters and are filled with smooth cordgrass, have an ecological purpose. They are helping to protect a quarter-mile ribbon of marshland that hugs the shore in the Rockaways by slowing the onslaught of waves, which are small but relentless. "Think of it as a death by a thousand pin pricks," said John K. McLaughlin, the director of the Office of Ecological Services for New York City's Department of Environmental Protection. "It's the everyday waves that are constantly hitting the marsh." The floating wetlands are officially called wave attenuators, they are merely the latest in a series of projects undertaken by the city, state and federal governments to restore the bay to its pristine, fertile former self. Read more.
Washington Post - Experts say that along with dramatic global coral bleaching, thousands of fires across Indonesia represents the next sign of an intensifying global El Niño event. And the consequences, in this case, could affect the entire globe's atmosphere. That's because a large number of Indonesia's currently raging fires are consuming ancient stores of carbon-rich peat, which is found in wetlands featuring organic layers full of dead and partially decomposed plant life. This year, the very smoky peat burning has been simply massive - the fires are estimated to have $14 billion in damage so far, and are causing hazardous air conditions in much of the area, including nearby Singapore. Millions of people have been affected, and 120,000 have sought medical treatment for respiratory illnesses, according to Weather Underground's Jeff Masters. Read more.
Washington Post - It's a key expected transition in how we get our electricity - and it may be happening even faster than expected. For the second time this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas has temporarily surpassed coal as the number one source of U.S. electricity. This happened in the month of April for the first time ever, and then also happened for July, when natural gas provided 35 percent of U.S. electricity generation and coal provided 34.9 percent, says EIA. This certainly doesn't mean gas will now be ahead every month going forward - natural gas prices have been quite low lately and may not stay that way - but it nevertheless does appear to be a milestone and a sign of the times. Read more.
KSDK - Hundreds of parents who live around two landfills in North County said they want the federal government to protect them. They said they're breathing and drinking contaminated water that might have toxic chemicals and radioactive radons in it. Missouri's Senators and Congressmen said the Environmental Protection Agency isn't doing a good enough job of protecting people who live in the area. They said they've been lobbying Department of energy to let the Army Corps of Engineers take over the landfills. The EPA said it does continuous testing at the Bridgeton and West Lake Landfills. EPA scientists said there's very little chance toxic fumes could come from the landfills and impact the people who live around it. But the Missouri Attorney General said the underground fire burning at the Brdigeton Landfill is moving closer to the radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill and toxic fumes could rise from the landfills in a few months. Read more.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay hopes a new report on the Mississippi River watershed will spur renewed attention to country's largest river system. Written in the style of a report card, the authors said the condition of the river's infrastructure, environment and indicators merited a D+. "A 'D+' is really nothing to be proud of, but it does give us direction and it does give us a sense of urgency," Slay said. The results of a years-long study of America's Watershed Initiative, a group made up of environmentalists, business and government interests, were released Wednesday at a conference in St. Louis. Backers aim to use the report card to track progress on fixing aging infrastructure, deteriorating ecosystem and rising flood risk. Read more.
How safe are Middle Tennessee's dams? The Old Hickory quarry fight has Rep. Jim Cooper and local lawmakers asking
Nashville Scene - A congressman, a state representative and a Metro councilman step onto a dam. This is not the beginning of a joke. The trio of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, state Rep. Bill Beck and Councilman Larry Hagar stands atop the concrete bulwark of Old Hickory Dam, roughly 11.5 miles northeast of downtown Nashville, on a clear October afternoon. They watch as water fills the lock chamber, lifting a boat some 60 feet from the river below the dam and delivering it to the lake on the other side. It's almost impossible not to be awed by the scale of the edifice, built in the early 1950s. And yet the musty Cumberland River laps against romantic notions of great civic projects. The sunlight shimmering on the water between the massive concrete walls is offset by the familiar, faintly fetid river smell. A dead duck floats on the rising water. Read more.
The Facts - Jan Edwards can recall looking across the San Bernard River at a back bay swarming with redfish. "The bays would turn copper," Edwards said. "That doesn't happen anymore." Edwards, who has live don the San Bernard since 2004, said that is just one adverse result of the river's mouth becoming blocked by sediment. After silting shut the river mouth several years ago, a $2.4 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project dredged it back open in 2009 - forming a 100-foot wide, 10-foot deep path into the Gulf of Mexico. For the next four years, the river enjoyed a thriving ecosystem. Piping plovers - small shorebirds commonly seen in coastal areas - showed up in droves, as did other fish the residents hadn't seen in some time. "They had equipment to monitor the mouth, and the whole intent was to redredge when necessary," Edwards said. Read more.
The Gilmer Mirror - A project underway by a Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher might save on Texas' most important - but relatively unknown - coastal venues from disappearing completely - Follet's Island. Tim Dellapenna, associate professor of marine sciences and oceanography who has studied Texas breaches for years at the Texas A&M Galveston campus, has identified a potentially huge sand deposit off the waters of Follet's Island, a tiny barrier island near San Luis Pass, not far from Galveston. Follet's Island is only 14 miles long and less than a quarter mile wide and protects nearby Christmas Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway from severe storms from the Gulf of Mexico. Working with a $100,000 grant from the Texas General Land Office Dellapenna has identified what he believes is a massive sand deposit that could contain as much as 55 million cubic yards of beach quality sand. Read more.
Coastal News Today - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with local sponsor Port of Everett, is to begin maintenance dredging of the lower channel of the Snohomish River, starting at the Port of Everett Marina downstream to Everett's Seaport in Port Gardner Bay. Contractor HME Construction, Inc., of Vancouver, Wash., begins work Oct. 19, using clamshell dredging to remove 70,000 cubic yards of material and place it in the Port Gardner Open Water Disposal Site. The $1.1 million project is expected to be done mid-February. The Corps' Seattle District Dredged Materials Management Office implements the interagency Dredged Material Management Program in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Washington state departments of Ecology and Natural Resources. Read more.
Asbury Park Press - The governors of New Jersey and New York are not tipping their hands on a proposed deepwater natural gas port near the entrance of the New York/New Jersey Harbor. Both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have veto power over the proposal. "At this point, we will reserve comment while the review process continues," said Brian T. Murray, a spokesman for Christie's office. Cuomo's office said the proposal "is under review," and issued no further comment. The proposed facility, called Port Ambrose, would be located 13.1 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook and 16.1 nautical miles southeast of Jones Beach, New York. The facility would import shipments of liquefied natural gas, treat the gas on site, and then connect it to a regional pipeline. Read more.
Press of Atlantic City - The city is getting a twofer from the state, as contractors pump sand this month from a chocked creek onto the city's badly damaged north-end beaches. The state Department of Transportation is dredging out Beach Creek in Hereford Inlet to make it more navigable for boaters. After an analysis determine that the dredged material was more than 80 percent beach sand, the state decided it could pump the material onto beaches between Second and Seventh avenues, instead of using an expensive dredge-spoils site. This is an opportune project, since the city's north-end beaches bore the brunt of the Oct. 2 coastal storm, Mayor Patrick Rosenello. said. Read more.
CapeCode.com - As a Centerville resident, I am super lucky to live near Craigville and Long Beach. My dog, Hanita, and I walk on beautiful Long Beach every day, even in the winter! Since our arrival back on the Cape in 2010, we have seen the landscape of the beach change, due to storms. Long Beach is a stretch of sandy beach on one side, with the Centerville River running parallel to it on the other side, the marsh side. It's a long spit of land surrounded by water on both sides, ending where the Centerville River opens up into the ocean. You can see Dowse's Beach in Osterville on the other side. As you walk Long Beach and approach its end where river meets ocean, the landscape becomes more narrow, naturally. In 2011, Hurricane Irene washed right up over the narrowest prat of it and over into the marsh side, clearing away an abundance of vegetation and flattening it out. Read more.
Daily Comet - In Bayou Lafourche just north of Plattenville, two dredges are working around the clock to help clear sediment from the waterway that provides drinking water to more than 300,000 people in Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption and Ascension parishes. The dredge work is part of a massive project called Mississippi River Reintroduction to Bayou Lafourche that is designed to increase freshwater flow into the bayou to sustain resident's water supply and surrounding coastal marshes. Ben Malbrough, Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District executive direcgor, said it's exciting to see progress made on various components of the project, including dredging, a new railroad bridge and a saltwater control structure, all of which are expected to work together to help revitalize the bayou. Read more.
KDLG Public Radio - Each year, coastal communities in Western Alaska watch feet - even yards - of shoreline disappear into the waves, Now, a new online mapping tool will let them look at past erosion and see where coastlines might in future years. In the next ten or twenty years, the waters of Bristol Bay will overtake much of Port Heiden's old abandoned village site. It's a fate that's long been obvious to residents of Port Heiden. And now anyone with an internet connection can see the water's progress over time using the new Alaska Shoreline Change Tool. "On the west side, that's where the shoreline's about 5 feet away from that building." Scott Anderson is the Mayor and Environmental Coordinator for the City of Heiden. Read more.
San Diego Union-Tribune - A binational team of scientists has spent the past few weeks injecting a bright pink fluorescent dye called rhodamine into the ocean on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, and seeing where it is carried by waves, winds and ocean currents. It is known as the CSIDE project, short for Cross Surfzone/Inner-shelf Dye Exchange, and funded by the National Science Foundation. Participating in the project are researchers from the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Jacobs School of Engineering, as well s the Autonomous University of Baja California, Ensenada-based scientific research institution CICESE, and members of the Tijuana environmental group, Proyecto Fronterizo de Educación Ambiental. The study targets an area on both sides of the border where untreated sewage can flow into the ocean, especially when it rains, affecting water quality and leading to beach closures. Read more.