Monthly Archives: September 2013

Inspired by the Next Generation

IMG_1439

(left to right) Emma Hutchinson, Administrator Gina McCarthy, Eric Bear, Milo Cress, and Christina Bear

After serving as EPA’s regional administrator in Denver for only a few months, I am already impressed with the incredible staff we have here at EPA. I am also equally encouraged by what I have seen from our younger generations and the level of their environmental commitment. I recently had a chance to visit with several young people who are making a huge difference. These young folks attended the recent Climate Change Panel in Boulder, Colorado and had a chance to talk with me and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Developing the Lorax Within

Isabel and her son Dante enjoying a walk at BLM- ES Meadowood Recreation Area during National Public Lands Day (NPLD)

Isabel and her son Dante enjoying a walk at BLM- ES Meadowood Recreation Area during National Public Lands Day (NPLD)

By Isabel Long

“You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula Tree. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water.  And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
And all of his friends
May come back.”

Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

As a non-native English speaker, I didn’t grow up surrounded by Dr. Seuss’ rhyming language. But, some months ago, my husband bought The Lorax for our three and half year old son. One day I came into the room and saw our son looking at the last pages showing the destruction of the unique Truffula Trees. He had a serious look. We turned to the last page, where the Once-ler sends out his manifesto, and I was captivated. With no scientific words, and in a very graphic way, that children’s book was telling the story we often have seen: the harm caused by the unlimited use of natural resources.

The story goes to the core of a question that has been on my mind for some time, especially after becoming a mother: how and when does an environmental ethic start to develop? Aldo Leopold, in my favorite quote, said, “The evolution of a land ethic is an intellectual as well as emotional process.” In my case, the emotional relationship was there for many years as a silent visitor, with no knowledge of the intellectual discussion. During my childhood at the dinner table, discussions were about politics, arts and literature, never science.

It wasn’t until I worked for one of the largest environmental organizations that my land ethic reached its intellectual process. And click, the circle was completed. Working in DC, I was obviously informed about the policy discussion. Most importantly, I understood the personal relation between those pristine landscapes that I love and our personal and societal responsibility: not only for the landscape, but also for the water we drink and the air we breathe.

In March, I heard the same message at the White House Environment and Women’s Summit.  In a compelling speech, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urged us to bring our children outside to connect with nature. And she went further, highlighting the importance of having a “visceral” connection with the outdoors. She explained that only then will we and our children understand what might be in peril.

So today, one more time, I will argue in favor of developing that emotional connection to the land that Aldo Leopold and Gina McCarthy reflected on. The land ethic will naturally develop if the emotional process is in place. But, if the emotional connection is lacking, we’ll be only individuals arguing, not leaders. Let’s be more like the Lorax, standing up for the Truffula Trees, protecting those marvelous untouched places around the world, and demanding clean air and water for our families and the future generations.

About the author: Isabel Long is originally from Chile. She works for the Bureau of Land Management – Eastern States at the Department of the Interior. She is the co-founder of BLM-Eastern States Diverse Youth Outings Project in partnership with the Sierra Club, the National Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), and the Cesar Chavez Charter School in Washington D.C

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Celebrating Mushrooms, Farmers, and Watersheds in Kennett Square

By Christina Catanese

“What’s that smell?” I asked, as we got out of the car in front of my friend’s house in Kennett Square, PA.

“Oh, the mushroom compost?” Jaclyn said. “I don’t even smell that anymore.”

It wasn’t an unpleasant smell, but an earthy aroma that permeated the air the same way the culture of mushroom farming pervades this small Pennsylvania town.

Mushrooms are a way of life in Kennett Square.  Often called the Mushroom Capital of the World, mushroom farms in this area of Southeastern Pennsylvania produce the vast majority of mushrooms produced in the United States, outdone only by China in mushroom farming worldwide.  I heard some figures that mushroom farms in Chester County produce over a million pounds of mushrooms a week!

Enjoying a beautiful day in the Kennett Square community

Enjoying a beautiful day in the Kennett Square community

Every year, this proud tradition of mushroom farming is celebrated at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival.  I attended this year’s festival a few weeks ago, where I expected to and did eat many types and forms of mushrooms (including but not limited to the classic deep fried mushroom balls, the higher brow mushroom gorgonzola hummus, and even cream of mushroom ice cream).

What I didn’t expect was to learn so much about mushroom farming itself, and its role in the health of the watershed of the Delaware River, Red and White Clay Creek, and other local streams.  Part of the festival was an exhibition that walked through the process of growing mushrooms.  It really gave me an appreciation of the amount of work these farmers have to do to grow their crops.

A mushroom farmer harvests white button mushrooms from his exhibition at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival

A mushroom farmer harvests white button mushrooms from his exhibition at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival

It all starts with the substrate (the material the mushrooms are grown in), which generally consists of the waste products from other agriculture industries.  This mix of manure, hay, straw, wood chips, cottonseed meal, cocoa shells, and gypsum has to be kept at just the right temperature, pH, and light conditions in indoor mushroom farms, so the right fungi thrive and the wrong ones that could spoil the crop do not.  Once the mushrooms sprouted, I couldn’t believe how fast they grew, sometimes doubling in size in a single day!

After mushrooms are harvested, the substrate material can’t be used for mushroom farming anymore.  As at any farm, this compost can be a source of runoff and enter streams if not managed properly.  Source water protection efforts in the Delaware River Basin identified mushroom farms in the watershed as a partnership opportunity to help reduce nutrient pollution and potential sources of Cryptosporidium, a pathogen often found in manure that may cause disease.  These efforts work with farmers and conservation districts to set up ways to manage this runoff and protect sources of drinking water.

Phase 2 Compost: what the spent mushroom substrate looks like after mushrooms have been harvested and before it comes to your lawn or garden

Phase 2 Compost: what the spent mushroom substrate looks like after mushrooms have been harvested and before it comes to your lawn or garden

With its high capacity to hold water and nutrients, mushroom compost can be used as compost in many applications, like crop and garden fertilization, erosion control, and stormwater management.  Fall is the best time to seed new lawns and fertilize, so if you’re embarking on this process, consider mushroom or other organic soil amendments for your plants.  Like any fertilizer, mushroom compost must be applied appropriately to avoid nutrient pollution.

 

By the end of the day at the festival, I didn’t notice the smell of the mushroom compost much anymore, either.  When I did catch a whiff, it reminded me that this compost (like the mushroom ice cream I ate) was just one stage of a much larger process of mushroom farming.  It wasn’t the beginning or end, but part of a continuing cycle of growing, harvesting, consuming, and composting…all while boosting local economies and protecting local waters along the way.

 

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Water Snake Programming: A simple technical report

By Casey J. McLaughlin

Sometimes GIS development is about making maps easier for other people.  ArcGIS’s Python Add-ins functionality is a really easy way of automating map tasks and making mapping easier for end-users.  My first add-in was really simple but also reminded me why I’m only a part-time programmer…..

Many years ago I built a map document for helping TMDL permit reviewers see what was going on in the watershed.  Users work in a database and when ready, open a document that displays the watershed.  There are 147 HUCs approximating watersheds in Region 7.  I wrote a VBA script that fires when the document is opened which goes and grabs the HUC_ID from a database generated text file.  The script then sets the definition query and zooms to the HUC.  When the map opens, the user can start working right in the area of interest.  It’s a fairly simple routine that saves users from a few simple steps.

All good things require updates and this summer the application needed a minor update – of course we also added 50+ data layers so maybe it wasn’t minor!  Besides data, the script I wrote 5+ years ago also needed revision, especially because ArcGIS has discontinued support for VBA.

Yes, ArcGIS Desktop 10 does support Microsoft VBA. However ArcGIS 10 is the last version with VBA support, so we encourage you to start the migration process.  Python is an integral part of ArcGIS Desktop for automating tasks and the new add-in capabilities allow developers to easily create and deploy ArcMap customizations

ESRI recommends migrating VBA code to Python.  I think this is fantastic – Python is an open source, easy to learn, widely supported, multi-use, and generally fun language.  When I first started writing Python, I spent an hour writing a program that had taken me a week in VBA (maybe a slight exaggeration but back then I felt programming in VBA was like getting turned into a newt…and yes, I got better).

ArcGIS now supports a really easy interface for creating Python add-ins.  The new method is really easy but I haven’t been programming in ArcGIS for awhile so I watched the 60 minute training video and immediately started programming (yes, I read the docs, honestly).   The program I wrote performs the same function; when opening a TMDL document, find the HUC_ID and zoom to it.

The python script:

 def openDocument(self)
 mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument(“current”)
 mxd_name = os.path.splitext(os.path.basename(mxd.filePath))[0]
 ##Only try this if it is a TMDL document or in the TMDL directory
 if mxd_name.find("TMDL") == 0:
 #Open the IFO file and parse out the HUC ID
 ifo = mxd.filePath.rstrip(mxd.filePath[-3:]).upper() + "ifo"
 #check if it exists and then parse it out
 openFile = open(ifo, 'r')
 huc = openFile.readline().split(",")[2] ## Grabs the 3rd comma delimited element from the 1st line
 df = mxd.activeDataFrame
 lyr = arcpy.mapping.ListLayers(mxd, "8 Digit HUC", df)[0] ## Should look at source?
 lyr.definitionQuery = u"HUC_ID ='" + huc.strip() + "'"
 recordCount = len(arcpy.Describe(lyr).fidset.split(";")) ##Get number of features, if it is 1, zoom, otherwise it should error
 if recordCount == 1:
 df.extent = lyr.getExtent()
 arcpy.RefreshActiveView()
 else:
 pythonaddins.MessageBox(lyr.name + " found " + str(recordCount) + " records for HUC " + str(huc) ,"Error Selecting HUC", 0)
return

I was happy because I tested the script in the Python window in ArcGIS and it worked! I could make the startUp() function fire, but since none of the data was loaded, my function needed to be in openDocument(). Again, smooth sailing until I realized I couldn’t make the openDocument() function fire….or any function that wasn’t the startUp()! I didn’t find anything helpful during an internet search so I took a walk around the lake and a simple thought occurred to me about extensions. They need to be clicked ON to work! This was my gotcha moment – that time when I realized one little detail that I had overlooked.

I’m all done writing my extension and it works well-enough (suggestions are welcome). Now the users can zoom directly to their area of interest. Of course, I think it’d work better as a web map, but I’ll leave that for a future request, perhaps in 5 more years.

TMDL_EXAMPLE_APPLICATION

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Celebrate National Ceiling Fan Day!

ceiling fan

By: Jill Vohr

Today, September 18th is the first annual National Ceiling Fan Day.  If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, it’s probably because it is the first of its kind – but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to take part.  Ceiling Fan Day is brought to us by one of our ENERGY STAR partners, Fanimation, with support from the American Lighting Association and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others, as well as EPA ENERGY STAR.

National Ceiling Fan Day invites everyone to join the fight to reduce energy consumption by turning off their central cooling systems and relying on ceiling, floor, desk and wall fans to save trillions of  kilowatt hours of energy consumption.  Studies published by Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that 94 million of the 113.6 million residential homes in the United States use air conditioning equipment, and 110.1 million use space heating equipment.  Using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning – or with less air conditioning – is an effective way to save energy since ceiling fans use significantly less energy than air conditioning.

EPA ENERGY STAR supports National Ceiling Fan Day to encourage energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change.  We also invite everyone to save even more energy on this day by using an ENERGY STAR certified fan.  Ceiling fans that have earned the ENERGY STAR label are 60% more efficient than conventional fans.  But remember to turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room.  Ceiling fans cool people, not the room.

So, give National Ceiling Fan day a whirl – pun intended – and turn off your air conditioning and turn on your ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fan today.  You might be surprised how comfortable you can be, not only with the temperature, but also knowing you are helping protect the climate.

Jill Vohr is the Director of Marketing for the ENERGY STAR Labeling Branch. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Creating a Green Urban Oasis

Untitled-1

Design concept for Green Infrastructure Plan in Philadelphia

By Matthew Marcus

After interning in the Office of Environmental Justice this summer, I reflected on how environmental justice issues affect my beloved home city of Philadelphia.  There are pockets of communities throughout Philly that face challenges such as poverty, unemployment, a lack of educational opportunities and crime. They also face many environmental concerns such as foul air from cars and industry and polluted streams disproportionately affecting poorer neighborhoods.  However, Philly is rising to this challenge in unique and creative ways, and deserves praise for its efforts.

Untitled-3For instance, Philadelphia is addressing waterway pollution in innovative ways. Philly has old water infrastructure that combines storm water pipes with sewage lines, and during periods of heavy rainfall or snow melt, the volume of wastewater in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or wastewater treatment plant. When this happens, combined sewer overflow (CSO) and discharge sewage goes directly to nearby water bodies. These overflows can contain not only storm water, but also untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials and debris.

To address this problem, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), with support from the EPA, developed a strategy called Green City Clean Waters (GCCW) to mitigate this problem while remaining in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Traditionally, this would be done by building more “grey” infrastructure: bigger pipes underground that do nothing for the community.  The PWD has instead opted for a green infrastructure approach that simultaneously addresses many community needs. Howard Neukrug, PWD commissioner, told me that environmental and economic justice issues in poor urban areas are so closely related that they must be understood and tackled together.

Untitled-4

Proposed design for rooftop in Philadelphia

Green Infrastructure (GI) consists of designing urban buildings and spaces that allow storm water to permeate into the soil rather than runoff into the pipes.  Usually this takes the form of bioswales, rain gardens, or green roofs that convert impervious surfaces to pervious ones.  This green process/technique improves water quality and protects community residents from exposure to raw sewage, which is a long-term investment in public health and clean water. So far, more than 100 construction projects have been completed, converting more than 600 acres of impervious surface to green infrastructure. The result of this project will include 5-8 billion gallons of CSO avoided per year, as well as the restoration of 190 miles of wetlands, and 11 miles of streams that flow adjacent to surrounding low-income communities.

The projects’ benefits transcend water. GCCW is attempting to integrate all aspects of community planning to produce a favorable outcome to the environment and people. One can see these benefits emerging in the New Kensington neighborhood.  A large block was turned into a beautiful GI site, a LEED platinum high school was built; and now a grassroots movement has begun to make this area the greenest point in Philly.  Students’ work has improved in the new school, and the community has something to cherish together.

Another example is the Herron Park Spraygound.  Formerly an old dilapidated pool, it’s been transformed into a green square with sprinklers throughout the playground.  Children run through the fountains safely in this beautiful green oasis on hot summer days, and on rainy days, the water infiltrates into the soil.  To the community, the sprayground adds beauty and a safe recreating spot, and to the PWD, it reduces river pollution. GCCW’s approach to sustainability is beginning to affect all parts of life, and environmental justice is addressed. I am hopeful that this great work will continue in Philly and provide an example nationally to address urban EJ challenges.

About the author: Matthew Marcus interned with the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice the summer of 2013. He is currently studying his Masters of Applied Geosciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Temperature and Violent Crime: Implications of Climate Change?

Exploring the link between outdoor temperature and violent crime in American cities.

By Janet L. Gamble, Ph.D.

Skyline of Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Has a hot and humid day ever made you cranky?  If so, you might ask this question: can hotter days lead to more human conflict?  Scientists at the U.S. EPA and the Emory University School of Medicine are investigating whether hotter temperatures affect violent crimes, such as assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, many factors influence violent crime, including weather, age, population density, family cohesiveness and divorce rates, effectiveness of law enforcement, and others. Weather is of particular interest due to an observed association between crime and temperature. This relationship raises the question of whether the hotter temperatures that are expected to accompany climate change may contribute to increased rates of violent crime.

In our recent paper published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, “Temperature and Violent Crime in Dallas, Texas: Relationships and Implications of Climate Change,” we examined the relationship between daily temperature and daily incidence of violent crime in Dallas from 1993 to 1999.

We determined that the relationship in Dallas is not simply a linear function. Rather, while we found that daily rates of violent crime increase as temperatures rise in the low to moderate range, they begin to level off at temperatures above 80°F, and actually decrease above 90°F. In other words, we observe that as it gets very hot there are fewer violent crimes (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.  According to analyses of violent crime and temperature in Dallas TX, we found that aggravated assaults and other violent crimes decrease at high ambient temperatures.

Figure 1. According to analyses of violent crime and temperature in Dallas TX, we found that aggravated assaults and other violent crimes decrease at high ambient temperatures.

We were a bit surprised by our results, because prior studies have found linear and increasing crime rates even at very high temperatures. To explain our findings, we hypothesize that when it gets very hot people stay indoors where it is cooler. As a result, street crime and other crimes of opportunity are decreased. If this is correct, the higher temperatures expected to accompany climate change are unlikely to result in an increased rate of violent crime.

Yet, this is just one city and one study.  Would we get the same results in different cities with different ranges of daily temperatures? To answer this question, we are conducting analyses of multiple U.S. cities: Atlanta, Denver, Houston, and Chicago and re-doing the analysis for Dallas using more recent data. Stay tuned for more information as our climate change research continues.

About the Author: Dr. Gamble is a research scientist in the National Center for Environmental Assessment in the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. EPA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

La nueva generación de aplicación y cumplimiento de las leyes ambientales

091813 Photo CynthiaGiles2x3#

Por Cynthia Giles

Todos deseamos respirar aire limpio, beber agua limpia y estar seguros que nuestras comunidades están protegidas de la exposición a agentes químicos dañinos. Esos valores han sido fundamentales en la misión de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA, por sus siglas en ingles) desde su creación en 1970. Todos los días me centro en proteger el ambiente y la salud de los estadounidenses mediante un enfoque razonable de la aplicación de la ley que responsabiliza a los contaminadores y que hace más fácil cumplir las leyes que violarlas.

 

Estoy orgullosa de lo que hemos logrado en más de 40 años, pero me doy cuenta que los nuevos retos nos obligan a innovar y a mejorar nuestro trabajo de aplicación y cumplimiento de la ley. En el más reciente ejemplar del The Environmental Forum, ofrezco los detalles de una estrategia creada para lograr exactamente esa meta, llamada la Nueva Generación de Cumplimiento (o “NextGen”, por su nombre en inglés: Next Generation Compliance).

 

NextGen no es sólo una estrategia prospectiva sino también un programa que actualmente implementamos. Está diseñada para beneficiar a todas las partes interesadas, desde entidades reguladas hasta los residentes de comunidades altamente afectadas . NextGen ayuda a disminuir los costos y ahorra tiempo y recursos, a la vez que mejora el cumplimiento y la exactitud de la monitorización y los informes. Aquí les muestro un vistazo de los elementos de NextGen que están siendo puestos en acción:

 

  1. Queremos que no sea complicado cumplir con las normas de la EPA. Así que la EPA está desarrollando normas con el cumplimiento integrado. Un buen ejemplo es en el sector de gas y petróleo en plena expansión. En la norma propuesta para el control de emisiones publicada en abril, la EPA presenta la idea de simplificar el cumplimiento y disminuir sus costos relacionados. La EPA le pediría a los fabricantes certificar como “listo para el cumplimiento” el equipo para el control de la contaminación y así las empresas de extracción de energía podrían comprar esos modelos y eliminar la necesidad de pruebas de campo individuales. La certificación del usuario puede entonces cotejarse con la confirmación de venta del fabricante, lo cual simplifica la verificación del cumplimiento.

 

  1. La EPA también está haciendo uso de las tecnologías avanzadas de monitorización para hacer más fácil y fiable la identificación de la contaminación. Estas nuevas tecnologías también facilitan la monitorización del desempeño de las empresas para que así puedan encontrar y resolver los problemas de contaminación, a menudo ahorrándoles dinero en el proceso. La monitorización en tiempo real se usa hoy día tanto para aire como para agua. En el río Charles, de Boston, por ejemplo, la EPA usa aparatos de monitorización continua operados con energía solar que pronto serán capaces de transferir los resultados directamente a las computadoras de la agencia, y más programas de este tipo están por comenzar.

 091813 OECA BLOG PHOTO giles###

Empleado de la EPA que inspecciona las emisiones del equipo de una instalación usando una cámara infrarroja FLIR.

 

La imagen de la cámara infrarroja FLIR muestra el exceso de emisiones (invisible a simple vista) de una instalación de producción de gas

 

  1. Apenas el mes pasado, propusimos una norma para convertir la información que hay que reportar por los requisitos de la Ley de Agua Limpia a un enfoque de informes electrónicos de datos. Con el cambio de informes impresos a informes electrónicos, ahorramos en conjunto aproximadamente unos $29 millones por año en costos de transacciones, mejoramos los resultados y aumentamos la transparencia para que cualquiera tenga acceso a los datos de la contaminación que pudiese estar afectando sus comunidades.

 

Estos son solamente tres ejemplos de cómo progresamos en la implementación de NextGen. Tenemos estrategias que aumentan aun más la transparencia. Aprendemos de las prácticas más eficaces en la aplicación de la ley y la innovación y las expandimos a mayor escala. La conclusión: Estamos preparados para hacer uso de las tecnologías más avanzadas y los procesos disponibles para proteger la salud humana y el medio ambiente en tiempos de presupuestos limitados. Lo hacemos para beneficiar a todos los estadounidenses, que incluye los negocios que siguen las reglas del juego y que no deberían tener que competir con aquéllos que eluden las leyes. Con el aumento en la transparencia, que es esencial para el éxito de NextGen, los ciudadanos como ustedes reciben el poder para monitorizar nuestro progreso y mantenerse involucrados. Honestamente espero que así lo hagan.

Cynthia Giles es la administradora adjunta de la EPA en la Oficina de Aplicación y Cumplimiento del Derecho Ambiental, donde dirige los esfuerzos de la EPA para aplicar las leyes ambientales de la nación y fomentar la justicia ambiental. Giles tiene más de 30 años de servicio en los sectores público, privado y sin fines de lucro. Tiene una licenciatura de la Universidad de Cornell, un doctorado en leyes de la Universidad de California en Berkeley y una maestría en administración pública de la Escuela de Gobierno Kennedy de la Universidad de Harvard.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Raising Awareness About Harmful Algal Blooms Has Gone to the Dogs – Literally

By Patty Scott

If you’ve seen EPA’s water-specific Twitter feed or Facebook page lately, you may have noticed images of a stout little bulldog by the name of Odin or a video featuring an adorable labradoodle named Honey. These animal mascots are helping us raise awareness about harmful algal blooms, a serious, growing environmental and public health problem.

Harmful algal blooms, which thrive in nutrient-enriched waters, can make people and pets very sick. Excess nutrients from a variety of sources – agriculture, stormwater runoff, wastewater, fossil fuels, fertilizers, and household products – can lead to the explosive growth of algae in water. And certain species of algae – like blue-green algae or cyanobacteria – can release dangerous toxins. Dogs getting sick, or even dying, are often the first indicator when there’s been a harmful algal bloom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 38 dog fatalities between 2007-2011 related to harmful algal blooms. However, since there is no official record keeping, it’s difficult to know if the number is higher. Tragically, one 16-month-old black labrador named Axel died last month after swimming in the Middle Fork of the Willamette River in Oregon.

We’ve been using social media to help spread the word among pet owners. We’ve shared tweets, blogs, infographics and videos with a range of groups, who in turn are posting articles and retweeting our graphics and videos. You can help, too! Share this blog post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.

We can all do our part; last month, I shared information with my own vet about Lake Needwood in Montgomery County, Maryland, where many dog owners take their pets. The lake now has warning signs posted about a cyanobacteria outbreak. As the owner of two beautiful yellow labs, I want to alert others to the hidden dangers at the lake that could be fatal to our furry friends.

You can help keep your waterbody safe by cutting back on your nutrient footprint. Help reduce nutrient pollution by properly using fertilizers, using phosphate-free detergents, soaps, and household cleaners, and picking up your pet’s waste. To learn more, tune in to our harmful algal bloom webcast series, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to check out our new public service announcements featuring Honey, now on the EPA YouTube channel! Finally, submit any images of algal blooms you spot on our State of the Environment Flickr page.

About the author: Patty Scott works in EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds on communications and outreach.  She loves fishing, kayaking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA Science: Supporting the Waters of the U.S.

Reposted from EPA Connect, the Official Blog of EPA’s Leadership

By Nancy Stoner and Lek Kadeli

One of the great environmental success stories of our time is the Clean Water Act. Forty years ago, the condition of U.S. rivers, streams, lakes, coastal areas and other water resources was a national concern.

Things started to improve after the newly-established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was given direction “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” through major revisions to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (now the Clean Water Act).

But over the past decade, court decisions have created uncertainty about the Clean Water Act’s protection of certain streams and wetlands from pollution and development. In particular, the confusion centers on questions surrounding small streams and wetlands—some of which only flow after precipitation or dry up during parts of the year—and what role they play in the health of larger water bodies nearby or downstream.

This week, EPA’s Science Advisory Board released for public comment a draft scientific report, “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.” This draft report synthesizes more than 1,000 peer-reviewed pieces of scientific literature about how smaller, isolated water bodies are connected to larger ones and represents the state-of-the-science on the connectivity and isolation of waters in the United States.

Read more…

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.