Today in WaterWise News:
Expiration of Land and Water Conservation Fund halts conservation plans ♦ Lethal temperatures coming to a city near you ♦ Budget deal serves as victory for President ♦ Now that the penguins are in danger, will people pay attention? ♦ Looking for unified response to western drought crisis ♦ Calls for emergency declaration at West Lake Landfill ♦ EPA funds coastal watershed restoration program ♦ How modeling could prevent building in vulnerable areas ♦ Rebuilding NJ three years after Sandy ♦ Artificial reefs and great sea walls being build in NY ♦ High tides and rain this week causing coastal flooding ♦ Lafourche oil spill money going to coastal restoration
Wall Street Journal - Dozens of proposals to preserve scenic or historic lands by transferring them to state or federal ownership are in limbo, after Congress for the first time in 50 years didn't reauthorize a program to help fund the deals. Among the 173 projects in question is a plan to protect one of the mots popular hikes in this Salt Lake City suburb, a trail that leads to a picturesque 300-foot waterfall. The owner, weary of vandalism and heavy public use, was negotiating to turn it over to the federal government. But the future of the Waterfall Canyon Trail is now in doubt, and that is spurring criticism of Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, a local congressman. The chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources chose earlier this month to let the Land and Water Conservation Fund expire in his committee owing to concerns it had strayed from its original purpose and was being used to buy property of questionable public value. Read more.
Too hot for humans: Persian Gulf may be uninhabitable within the century. What does this mean for your city?
Washington Post - A study predicting deadly heat waves in the Persian Gulf by the century's end has underscored concerns about the effects of rising global temperatures on cities in other parts of the world, including the United States. Monday's report in the journal Nature Climate Change warned that Persian Gulf cities could experience extreme summer temperatures that are literally too hot for human survival. But scientists say climate change will inevitably lead to hotter, longer heat waves and higher rates of heat-related deaths across large swaths of the planet. A study by U.S. researchers released in August predicted that the number of "dangerous" heat events experienced by Americans each year will rise fro ma baseline of four - the average number during the period from 1981 to 2010 - to about 10 in the year 2030, and then to 35 by the year 2090. Read more.
New York Times - The budget agreement struck late Monday between the White House and Congress hand President Obama a clear victory, vindicating his hard line this year against spending limits that he argued were a drag on the economy and buying him freedom for the final 14 months of his term from the fiscal dysfunction that has plagued his presidency. The deal is the policy equivalent of keeping the lights on - hardly the stuff of a bold fiscal legacy. But it achieves the main objective of his 2016 budget: to break free of the spending shackles he agreed to when he signed the Budget Control Act of 2011, an outcome the president allowed Tuesday, that he could be "pretty happy" about. For this fiscal year alone, the deal would add $50 billion in spending, divided equally between defense and domestic programs as well as $16 billion for emergency war spending, half for the military, half for the State Department. Read more.
Washington Post - Penguins are the cuddly faces of the Southern Hemisphere and among the most recognizable birds known to brave the chilly Southern Ocean. But like so many other charismatic favorites of the animal kingdom - especially those that inhabit the world's coldest places - they're starting to suffer the effects of climate change. The king penguin, an iconic black, white and yellow bird second only in size to the emperor penguin, is among the latest species to feel the heat. King penguins raise their chicks on the sub-Antarctic islands north of Antarctica and dive for fish in the frigid waters at the northern reaches of the Southern Ocean. But their breeding and foraging behaviors may be at risk as ocean temperatures heat up in the Southern Hemisphere. New research shows that warm sea-surface temperature anomalies in the region can cause shifts in the marine environment where they feed, forcing the birds to travel farther and dive deeper for their food - and causing declines in their populations. Read more.
E&E Daily - With the winter rainy season looming, a who's who of Western water power players is calling on lawmakers to put aside the partisan battles that have plagued drought relief efforts for the past two years and reach a compromise in time to go into effect before January. More than 100 agricultural groups and municipal water providers yesterday wrote Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), asking for a 'unified legislative response' to the record drought that is gripping broad swaths of the West. "Western drought legislation should shift the regulation of water resources away from the current adversarial structure that regards agriculture as a harmful activity that must be minimized in order to maximize environmental benefits," wrote the groups, including the Family Farm Alliance, the Western Growers Association, the Association of California Water Agencies, and a number of regional irrigation and municipal water suppliers. Read more.
Fox 2 Now - An activist group is asking Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to declare a state of emergency at the West Lake Landfill. The group, Just Moms STL, plans to deliver a petition with more than 11,000 signatures to Governor Nixon's office today asking him to abate the dangers. This petition drive comes after a heated meeting Monday in Bridgeton between residents who live near the radioactive site and officials from several federal agencies. The environmental protection agency, which is in charge of the contaminated West Lake Landfill, tried to assure residents that they have the site under control and everything is okay. But residents aren't buying that argument.The petitions being delivered this morning ask the governor to step in and use his power to mitigate and extinguish the fire burning at the Bridgeton Landfill which is right next to the radioactive West Lake Landfill. Read more.
EPA and Federal Partners Announces $5 Million for Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration
EPA News Release - EPA today joined state and local dignitaries to announce $5 million in federal to continue efforts of the Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration. The program brings together innovation and partnerships to apply an ecosystem approach to protecting and restoring the coastal watersheds of southeast New England from Westerly, R.I. to Chatham, Mass., including Narragansett Bay and all other Rhode Island coastal waters, Buzzards Bay, and southern Cape Cod. EPA has committed $4,999,500 for coastal watershed restoration in southeast New England through several partnerships. Read more.
Cape Cod Times - When Sandwich officials built the town's police station in 1972, they probably weren't worried about Cape Code Bay overtaking the nearby barrier beach and inundating a salt marsh, putting the building in danger. Today, if a coastal storm hits during high tide, flooding is a very real threat. Town Neck Beach has been battered to the point where the town's historic village is flooding more often. Now, dynamic modeling by the University of Massachusetts Boston, University of New Hampshire, and Woods Hole Group for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation could help towns avoid building in flood prone areas. "What's the real risk of sea level rise, storm surge and changing climate? What's the risk to communities?" said Kirk Bosma, a coastal engineer with Woods Hole Group. "Once you know what the risk is then we're trying to figure out what's vulnerable." Read more.
NJ.com - This week marks three years since Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey. Walk through neighborhoods in places like Union Beach and Brick Township this week and you still see a patchwork of progress. Many homes have been rebuilt, waiting for the next storm from higher perches atop pilings or head-high foundations. The sound of table saws and hammers still ring out as work on other homes continues. But vacant lots abound. Peer inside many vacant houses and it still looks like the storm hit last week. When so many people are still not back in their homes, it's hard to talk about much of anything else. But at the three-year mark, what's also beginning to come into sharper focus is how the choices made about rebuilding will reshape New Jersey's landscape for decades to come. Read more.
Coastal News Today - A new series of man-made reefs will be constructed off the south shore of Long Island to improve marine life habitat and bolster recreational opportunities for fishing and scuba diving, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced today. Federal and state permits were recently secured for the Rockaway Reef project, and the first placement of materials is happening this week. "The deployment of these new reef building materials will recreate vital marine habitat essential for improving the health of marine fish while also providing benefits for divers and fishermen alike," said DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman. "We thank the Army Corps of Engineers for working with DEC to obtain these new permits and to ensure this economically important habitat restoration continues." Rockaway Reef, originally permitted in 1965, is a 413-acre area of man-made reefs located 1.6 nautical miles south of Rockaway Beach off Long Island. Read more.
Staten Island Live - Staten Island's beaches have been replenished, and some 5 miles of coastline left vulnerable after Hurricane Sandy have been stabilized by the construction of berms, dunes and revetments. But, from an infrastructural standpoint, the areas of the borough most severely impacted by the storm are just as vulnerable today as they were the day it hit nearly three years ago. "I think we need to be candid with the public,' Borough President James Oddo told the Advance. "We still have a long way to go before anyone should exhale. And if you live in that corridor," he continued, referring to the area from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach that was most severely affected by Sandy, "I don't think folks do exhale." That's not to say progress hasn't been made. Public awareness has increased, the government is better prepared to respond to a storm-related crisis, and there are dozens of resiliency undertakings in the works on the East and South shores. Read more.
Coastal News Today - If you live in a low-lying area, the prospect of sea level rise is not a welcome one. But if you rely on a sandy shoreline to keep water at bay, new research says you could be facing a one-two punch that will make the future even more threatening. Scientists with The Nature Conservancy recently published findings gleaned from looking at some 60 years of wave energy data, which found that waves have been getting stronger in recent years compared to decades past. Much as with sea level rise, the increase in wave strength is not uniform, with greater increases in the southern hemisphere and more mixed results in the northern - less on the U.S. West Coast and Europe, more than the U.S. East Coast and Caribbean. These findings also note that other climatic events (such as the El Nino currently in force) can similarly affect wave energy, among other impacts. Read more.
KTLA - Forecasters warned that a combination of "unusually" high tides and building surf could lead to flooding along the Southern California coastline through Friday. Tides were expected to be highest during the mid-to-late morning hours on Wednesday and Thursday, with water levels possibly ranging between 7 and 7.5 feet each day, according to the National Weather Service. The highest tides were forecast to hit south of Point Conception. Along the Orange and San Diego county coastlines, high tides could reach near 7 feet during the late-morning hours through Friday. A westerly swell moving through the Pacific Ocean would also bring elevated-to-high surf on west and northwest facing beaches of the southwestern prat of the state, the weather service said. Read more.
Repeat of Tuesday's tidal flooding expected Wednesday when "king tide" hits Georgia coast, officials say
Florida Times-Union - Coastal Georgia residents got a preview about 25 hours early of Wednesday's expected tidal flooding of roads, parking lots, bike paths and yards. When the unusually high lunar tides rose along the Georgia coast Tuesday morning after 8 a.m., strong inshore winds pushed the water even higher than predicted and sent waves crashing over sea walls and revetments and onto mainland streets. And Wednesday's mornings "king tide" is predicted to be about two inches higher with a repeat of the inshore winds, said Mark Risse, director of the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Risse will be on Tybee Island Wednesday morning where he'll be joined by staff members and trained volunteers in mapping the flooding with a new cell phone application that the Wetlands Watch and Concursive Corporation developed. Georgia 80, the only access road to Tybee, was closed for several hours Tuesday morning after tides inundated it. Read more.
WCVB - A wind-swept, soaking rain will move in Wednesday, along with strong winds that could lead to coastal flooding, forecasters said. The storm formed from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia will bring 1 to 2 inches of rain to the area. The rain will impact the Wednesday evening commute, said Storm Team 5 meteorologist Cindy Fitzgibbon. The heaviest rain will fall overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning. Winds will gust to 50 mph along the Massachusetts coast bringing a storm surge that could lead to coastal flooding. Read more.
Press-Telegram - Seal Beach's annual construction of a sand berm to protect beachside properties from floodwaters coincidentally began on the same day weather forecasters warned of incoming ocean currents bringing possible tidal overflows to area beaches. The high tide conditions are expected to begin Wednesday. Lt. Chris Pierce of Seal Beach's Marine Safety Department said Tuesday that workers started construction of a 15-foot tall sand berm near Seal Beach Pier Playground. "The berm was planned to go up this week anyway," he said. Pierce anticipated workers using heavy equipment to push the sand in position will spend about two weeks to pile sand into a berm ranging from around 8th Street to Dolphin Avenue. Seal Beach residents who are worried about flooding near their homes may obtain sandbags from marine Safety headquarters at 888 Ocean Ave., or from the city's public works yard at 1776 Adolfo Lopez Drive, Pierce said. Read more.
The Times-Picayune - Lafourche has moved one step closer to spending $1.3 million in Restore Act money on five coastal restoration projects. The Daily Comet reports the Lafourche Parish Council approved the multi-year implementation plan at Tuesday's meeting. The plan sets aside money to design and permit 5,500 acres of marsh creation along Louisiana Highway 1 east of Leeville, 1,650 acres of marsh creation to the southwest of Catfish Lake, 11,000 acres of marsh creation from Belle Pass to Golden Meadows on the west side of Highway 1, a freshwater reintroduction project that should increase the flow of freshwater down the Atchafalaya River into Grand Bayou Canal, and a long-distance sediment pipeline connecting to the Mississippi. Read more.