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Red, White & Blue? Make your holiday weekend Green!

Enjoy your 4th of July Weekend fireworks along with these family-friendly outdoor activities. Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this holiday weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA! 

Friday – July 3, 2015

Learn How to Forage in the Heart of the Urban Jungle – Central Park Edition!
Manhattan – Central Park
11:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.

Learn how to forage in Central Park! In the Ramble, you can find large stands of field garlic with mild-flavored onion-like bulbs, plus the tender young leaves, which you use like chives. Wet lawn areas could feature spicy hairy bittercress and intensely flavored winter cress, while sunny, grassy spots with poor soil may produce shepherd’s purse, the most mild-flavored of the mustard greens.

Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco Party: Saturday Night Fever
Brooklyn – Prospect Park (Lefrak Center at Lakeside)
7:30 10 p.m.

Show off your disco moves at the Saturday Night Fever-themed roller disco party in the park!

Saturday – July 4, 2015

2015 Garden Street Farmers Market
Hoboken, NJ
9 a.m. 2 p.m.

The Hoboken Farmer’s Market serves three purposes. It helps small farmers in New Jersey sell their produce by giving them a venue they would otherwise not have. Local fresh fruits and vegetables are brought to the residents of Hoboken by the people that actually harvest them. And last but certainly not least the Hoboken Farmer’s Market has served as a gathering place for the community, where people exchange smiles, thoughts, and recipes.

Urban Farm Exploration Days 
Randall’s Island
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come discover Randall’s Island Urban Farm – all are welcome at these free events! An urban farm expert will be on site to answer questions. You can discover a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, meet the chickens, and learn about the rice paddies.

Pop-Up Audubon II: Fishing Fun 
Brooklyn – Prospect Park
Noon – 6 p.m.

Join the Prospect Park Alliance to explore aquatic and avian ecology in Prospect Park.

Sunday – July 5, 2015

Moderate Nature Exploration Hike
Staten Island – Wilde and Melvin Avenues in Schmul Park
11 a.m. 1 p.m.

Urban Park Ranger hiking guides will introduce you to the hidden gems of New York City and places often off-limits to the general public. On these hikes you can gain orienteering skills, explore our city’s rich history, or just take an hour to unplug from the world. Moderate hikes feature longer, faster paced hikes on rugged terrain. For all hiking programs wear comfortable shoes or boots, and pack water and a light snack.

Fun on the Farm
Brooklyn – Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park
2 5 p.m.

Visitors of all ages can come help Prospect Park Alliance staff take care of the potato plot, herb gardens, and berry patches by pulling weeds and helping to water. Bring a hat and a bottle of water and we will provide the tools and gloves.

Summer on the Hudson: Amplified Sundays Presents Banda Magda
Manhattan – Pier I (in Riverside Park South)
7 – 9 p.m.

Banda Magda plays vibrantly danceable live music accompanied by a spectacular sunset over the Hudson River!

Alley Pond Park Adventure Course
Queens – Alley Pond Park
1 – 3:30 pm

The Alley Pond Park Adventure Course offers free outdoor adventure that fosters trust, communication, and team building. The program is two-hour adventure which includes both low and high elements. The Adventure Course is open for individuals, small groups of friends, and family.

Forest Crew
Manhattan – Highbridge Park
1 – 3:30 pm

The Highbridge Forest Crew works to remove invasive plants from the park and to care for recently planted native trees.

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.

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All That Summer Brings

As you settle into the rhythm of summertime, we hope that you’re taking time to enjoy the wonderful outdoor activities that the New York City area has to offer! Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA!

 Friday – June 26, 2015 

River to River
Manhattan
Various locations on Governors Island
Friday, June 26, 2015
Noon 5 p.m.

Come to the final weekend of the annual, free 11-day River to River festival! There will be performances and exhibits involving dance, music, visual art, and new media projects. From this festival, you will learn about the history of Lower Manhattan’s architecture, socialize with fellow artists and art-lovers, and experience in a new way the area’s various waterfronts, parks, and historic landmarks.

Nature & Science in Dialogue
Queens
Queens Botanical Garden
Friday, June 26, 2015
8 a.m. 6 p.m.

Are you interested in the intersection of nature and science via art? If so, come to the exhibit of artist Emily Barnett! This exciting show puts science and nature into dialogue by featuring recent collages and installations about quantum corrals, snake skeletons, nests and constellations.

Parent & I Chalk Art
Staten Island
Midland Beach Splash Plaza
Friday, June 26, 2015
9:3010:30 a.m.

Engage your child in creative, hands-on learning while enjoying the outdoors! At this event, children and adults will collaborate to create outdoor chalk art masterpieces.

Tai Chi for Adults
Bronx
Poe Park Visitor Center
Friday, June 26, 2015
11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

Exercising is a great way to enjoy the environment while taking care of one’s health. Come to this event to learn Tai Chi, the exercise regimen which includes movement and breathing techniques for health, balance and well-being. Great for senior citizens!

 Saturday – June 27, 2015 

Family Art Project: Lavender Blooms 
Bronx
Wave Hill
Saturday, June 27, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The calming and fragrant lavender flower makes for great arts and crafts projects and keepsakes. Join this event to make pillows, sachets, Hacky Sacks, and more out of this great flower.

Yoga on the Beach 
Queens
Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
Saturday, June 27, 2015
8 9 a.m.

Refine your flexibility, strength, and endurance while enjoying the beach! Yoga instructor Helen Kilgallen from Elaine’s Dance School will teach this beginner Hatha Yoga class. Bring a mat, large towel, or blanket.

Insect Walk 
Manhattan
Highbridge Park
Saturday, June 27, 2015
9:3011 a.m.

The concrete jungle provides us many opportunities to observe wildlife. Expert naturalist Mike Feller, who has over 25 years of experience in NYC Parks, will lead a tour focusing on Highbridge Park’s insects (and the birds they attract).

Solar Observation 
Bronx
Poe Park Visitor Center
Saturday, June 27, 2015
11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Are you interested in learning about the environment beyond what the eye can see? Join the Amateur Astronomers Association members as they help visitors engage in solar observations during the day! Telescopes specially filtered to view the sun will be provided.

 Sunday – June 28, 2015

Saltwater Fishing
Manhattan
West Harlem Piers Park
Sunday June 28, 2015
11 a.m. 3 p.m.

Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to interact with the environment without depleting it. Experienced Rangers will teach the ethics of fishing and the ecology of our waterways. All equipment will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Children 8 years and older are welcome. Participation in a safety review led by a trained Ranger is required.

Historic New York: Native Americans
Queens
Fort Totten Park

Sunday, June 28, 2015
1 – 2 p.m.

Urban Park Rangers are experts in studying human and natural history in New York City. In this historic walking tour, Rangers will explore the neighborhood of Bayside, originally inhabited by the Matinecock (meaning “hilly country”) Indians, a tribe of the Algonquin nation. The focus will be on the historic sites within the park and Native American culture.

It’s My Park 
Brooklyn
Brower Park
Sunday, June 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Don’t just interact with nature—volunteer to improve its health! “It’s My Park” presents a series of volunteer activities that you can participate in to care for your parks. In this event, volunteers are needed to mulch, weed, and plant a butterfly garden and tree beds. Please bring your own work gloves, and email info@friendsofbrowerpark.org to register for the project.

Frida Kahlo: “Art, Garden, Life”
Bronx
The New York Botanical Garden
Sunday, June 28, 2015
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This must-see exhibit explores the ways in which nature—especially plant imagery—influences the work of renowned artist Frida Kahlo. Visitors can engage in hands-on art activities for kids, access rare photos, footage, and expert audio commentary, and create their own Frida Selfie.

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.

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Crushed Couch on Broadway

By Linda Longo

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

The other morning just outside my EPA office building at 290 Broadway in Manhattan on my way to get my morning coffee I saw a perfectly good couch being crushed by a solid waste truck. I wondered why someone would not want that couch. Then on my way back from coffee I saw the same solid waste workers crushing perfectly good office chairs, the kind with wheels and adjustable seating! I don’t need a new office chair and I don’t need a blue couch, but there’s got to be someone in New York City that does.

I had a long conversation with the solid waste worker (I regret not asking his name) and he told me this stuff is nothing compared to what he crushes in other, wealthier neighborhoods, like leather couches and oak tables and fine china. Seriously? Now I didn’t get the sense he was pulling my leg because I’ve seen good stuff out on the curbs with the piles of garbage too often. It’s commonplace in NYC maybe because we have small apartments or we get a better one or it has a rip or it just doesn’t fit out needs. I’ve tried to donate good items and it’s actually harder than you think. Places that sell used items only want things that are not ripped or stained. And my solid waste friend said he even crushes items from these stores on a regular basis because if they don’t sell it, then eventually they need to get rid of it, hence call the solid waste truck guy, and crush it, and pile it up in a landfill.

I wish I had the time and wherewithal to buy a big truck and follow my friend around to save the good items from being crushed. I’d have a big warehouse to store these items too and it’d be open 24 hours a day for anyone to come and take for free. I’d even have a free delivery service – because I know that’s always an issue in NYC too – many of us don’t have cars. If you have a similar reaction, here are a few websites for getting rid of unwanted items:

Reuse Marketplace

Build It Green NYC

About the Author: Linda started her career with EPA in 1998 working in the water quality program. For the past seven years she’s helped regulated facilities understand how to be in compliance with EPA enforcement requirements. Outside of work Linda enjoys exploring neighborhoods of NYC, photographing people in their everyday world, and sewing handbags made from recycled materials that she gives to her friends.

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.

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NYC‘s First Family Promotes Composting

By Tasfia Nayem

On my Twitter feed this weekend, in the midst of cat videos and movie trailers, was another video, this time featuring NYC’s own First Family. In the minute-long look into the de Blasios’ Brooklyn home, we see the mayor and his family collect their compostable waste for curbside organics collection.

Almost one-third of the waste generated by NYC residents is compostable. That’s 1.1 million tons of waste (enough to fill Yankee stadium from top to bottom!) unnecessarily being sent to landfills every year. To combat this issue, the city adopted a pilot program under which the Department of Sanitation offers curbside collection of organic waste to select NYC schools, residences, and institutions. Under the ongoing pilot program, which is in effect until 2015, 100,000 households in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island can have their compostable waste collected right from their homes. Residents not currently covered by the pilot program can bring their compostable waste to many farmer’s markets and other local organics drop-off centers.

According to the NYC Recycling program, curbside organics recycling can help the city reduce millions of dollars in landfill disposal costs, achieve recycling goals, and reduce pests by storing food waste in special rodent-resistant bins. The city will then turn organic waste into compost which can be used to fertilize gardens, parks, and street trees, or into renewable energy which can be used to power thousands of homes.

“Recycling food and yard waste is a lot easier than people think,” daughter Chiara de Blasio reminds us in the video. Curbside organics collection not only includes food and yard waste, but can include meat, eggshells, and soiled paper products, including pizza boxes and dirty paper towels. All that’s involved is placing the compostable waste into a collection bin similar to those used for garbage and recycling pickup.

Though my home is currently not in the curbside pickup pilot area, I can only hope the program is fully adopted by the city. Making composting more accessible would let New Yorkers take easy steps towards decreasing the city’s footprint, preventing pollution, and fostering a culture of environmentalism in NYC. Until then, I’ll just be taking my compostables over to the organics drop-off center at my local farmer’s market on my weekly trips to splurge on local cheese!

Find out more about NYC’s organics recycling here.

Learn more about composting.

See if your home is offered curbside organics pickup.

Find an organics drop-off center.

About the Author: Tasfia Nayem is an intern working in the Public Affairs Division of EPA’s Region 2. She holds degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology, and is going to go home and start a composting bin.

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.

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By Elias Rodriguez

NYC now offers spray caps for a safe and legal way to play with the water from fire hydrants.

NYC now offers spray caps for a safe and legal way to play with the water from fire hydrants.

There were three public pools within walking distance of the Manhattan apartment where I grew up, but the long lines and adult supervision were a drag for an inner-city kid looking for fun and games. On sweltering, muggy days nothing was as attractive or exciting as the news that someone had (illegally!) opened a New York City fire hydrant in my neighborhood.

The most frequent location for this crime was a low traffic street where my school – closed for the summer – was located. Usually, some big looking kid sporting a mustache, would use some sort of special wrench to crank open the fire hydrant and word would quickly spread that our instant water park was open for mayhem. Ice cold plumes would rapidly flood the street sweeping kids along with dirt, cans, bottle caps, glass, and assorted debris towards the storm drain. An improvised device, usually a soup can opened at both ends, would serve to guide the high pressure cascade of water. Even as a precocious minor, I suspected this was wrong because everyone would skedaddle as soon as the police or fire department would show up to shut off the water.

Little did I comprehend that I was a juvenile accessory to delinquent behavior. With education and the benefit of several decades of maturity, I now realize that opening a fire hydrant is not just a serious crime, it’s irresponsible and puts people’s lives at risk. Water is a precious and limited resource.

An illegally opened fire hydrant lowers pressure that firefighters need in case of a fire. A single hydrant opened in this hazardous way can release over 1,000 gallons of water per minute. That’s enough wasted water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than half a day! Indeed, the pressure would topple most of us and injuries were common. This was a diversion at a cost that I did not appreciate at the time. The unauthorized opening of fire hydrants is harmful to our own communities. A further disincentive is the penalty. The perpetrator could face fines of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

There is no excuse to commit this offense. In fact, the City has an easy way for people to request the installation of a spray cap on a fire hydrant for a controlled release of water. Among the lessons here is to never underestimate the resourcefulness of a bored pre-teen male. Hopefully this blog entry will dissuade someone from the idea that opening a fire hydrant is a victimless crime.

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

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.

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Tales from Our Trash: New York City’s Sanitation Workers, Sustainable Cities, and the Value of Knowledge

NYLPI_Map3_CommunitesOfColor_Uniform

By Rebecca Bratspies

screen_20060123182758_9talkingtrash2tsi's_pickup_crewWe have a problem in New York City: We generate more than 30,000 tons of waste each day. Roughly one third of that waste is household trash, and the daunting task of collecting garbage from New York City’s three million households falls to 7,000 workers from the NYC Department of Sanitation.  They are, in the words of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “keeping New York City alive.”

All of NYC’s waste is shipped out of state for disposal. But first, the city must consolidate the garbage at one of 58 waste transfer stations. In addition to the overpowering odors the trash itself produces, these stations generate a constant stream of truck traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, and safety issues. So, of course, no one wants to live near them.

Thus, it may come as no surprise that most of NYC’s waste transfer stations are concentrated in poor and minority communities in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. In 1996, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance helped form the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods to address this injustice, and over the next decade these groups worked with hundreds of concerned citizens, ultimately culminating in the passage of the City’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan. Although the plan laid the foundation for a more equitable distribution of these facilities, attempts to locate a waste transfer station in Manhattan have been met with litigation and outrage.

frank justich wayI think about these numbers every time I place my family’s trash can on the curb for sanitation workers to empty. These workers do this thankless and risky job every day. Sanitation workers are far more likely to be killed on the job than are police officers or firefighters. In 2010, this was the case when NYC sanitation worker Frank Justich was hit by a truck and killed while on the job in Queens. My daily commute takes me past the corner where he died, which was renamed Frank Justich Way in his honor. How many of us know the names of the men and women who collect our trash? Their vital contribution to our welfare goes unacknowledged: their specialized knowledge and skills overlooked.

This is why the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform (CUER) is launching its Whose Trash? Initiative, which uses NYC waste-handling practices to consider broader questions of urban sustainability. This initiative highlights the importance of including under-represented voices in the waste planning processes: communities burdened with landfills and transfer stations; workers tasked with collecting and handling wastes; and young people saddled with undesirable economic and ecological legacies.

The kick-off event, Tales from Our Trash, will take place this Thursday, November 14, at 6 p.m. at CUNY School of Law. Commemorating Frank Justich’s life and service, this event highlights the contributions sanitation workers make to urban sustainability. The event will be memorialized by Frank Justich’s widow, who speak briefly about what it means to her that this event is commemorating her husband’s life and work. Other participants include  Dr. Robin Nagle, anthropologist-in-residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation and author of Picking Up; CUNY School of Law Professor and CUER Director Rebecca Bratspies; artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, creator of Touch Sanitation and artist-in-residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation; NYC Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty; and three NYC high school students speaking on behalf of future generations. More information is available on CUNY Law’s website.  Don’t live in New York? No Problem! The events are free and it is open to the public, and will be live-streamed online. Hope to see you there!

About the author: Rebecca Bratspies, Professor, joined the faculty of CUNY Law in 2004. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. Professor Bratspies spent a year seconded to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Environmental Protection Administration. Upon her return to the United States, she was a litigation associate with Dechert, Price and Rhoads where she worked with civil rights groups to bring two victorious class action suits challenging Pennsylvania’s implementation of welfare reform.

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.

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New Frog in New York City | In Search of the Richmond Ribbiter

In the wilds of New York City (photo: Seth Ausubel, EPA)

By Seth Ausubel

The air was chill and the skies leaden as our party slipped quietly through the thick woodland underbrush.  We soon reached a densely overgrown pond.  The still dark waters roiled as dozens of unseen creatures fled the pond’s edge at our approach.

An eerie calm beset the pond as we began a silent vigil.  Soon the chorus of alien clucks that had guided us toward our destination resumed.  Then, a ripple…a vague form in the murky waters… a pair of eyes.  There it was — the Richmond Ribbiter!

O.K., so the part I left out is that the pond is a mere twenty-five feet from the edge of a busy road, next to a gun club and stone mason yard in Staten Island, a.k.a. Richmond County, one of New York City’s five boroughs.  What is truly remarkable is that our quarry was a newly discovered species of leopard frog.

I was there that March morning of 2012 with my friends and fellow naturalists, Dave Eib, Mike Shanley and Seth Wollney, all native Staten Islanders.

You’re probably incredulous that a new species of frog has been discovered in New York City.  It is an extremely rare occasion when any new vertebrate species is discovered in a major population center.  But, in fact, while the existence of these frogs has been known, it was only recently shown that they are genetically distinct from the other leopard frog species in the region – the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens), and the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia).  The new frog has not yet been described in scientific literature, nor has it even been named.  So for now I’m dubbing it…well, you know already.

While the Richmond Ribbiter looks very much like the other leopard frogs, its calls are quite distinct – a single “cluck” unlike the “chuckle” of the Southern Leopard Frog, and even less like the “snore” of the Northern Leopard Frog.  Seth Wollney has posted video and audio on his blog.  The calls of the other species can be found by following the links above.

Way back in 1936, Carl Kauffeld, the renowned herpetologist and Curator of the Staten Island Zoo, wrote that he thought there may be a third species of leopard frog in New York City.  But he never investigated further and the frog remained shrouded in obscurity.  Wollney, whose local knowledge is unparalleled, says he and others noticed the presence of an oddly singing frog a few years ago.  But it was the studies of Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University that identified the frog as a new species.

The range of the Richmond Ribbiter is still being investigated, but it is likely that only a small fraction of its former range still supports the frogs.  This shows the importance of habitat conservation, even in urban areas.

So, yes, there are wilds in New York City, and a unique frog.  Who knows what discoveries remain?

About the author: Seth Ausubel is Acting Chief of EPA Region 2’s Watershed Management Branch, and an avid birder and naturalist

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.

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Integrated Pest Management | Working with Schools

South 17th Street Elementary School in the Ironbound District of Newark, NJ

By Adrian Enache

Integrated Pest Management – is that a euphemism for whipping pests into shape? Well, that’s one way to look at it. But it’s so much more…

IPM is a system for reducing pesticide risk and exposure to humans, particularly children. Put simply, IPM is a safer and usually less costly option for effective pest management in a school community.

Two years ago, EPA launched an effort to highlight the nationwide adoption and implementation of IPM in Schools.  The focus: to expand protection for a vulnerable population – school age children. Here, in New York City and the region, we embarked on developing and implementing a robust School IPM program.  One of the main features of an effective IPM program is to monitor the pest population and determine the best pest control methods, using pesticides only and only if all other methods failed.

The first step consists of assessing the existing, if any, pest control practices in our schools. While some schools have IPM, others don’t.   Working together with our state and local pesticide regulatory and education department partners, we developed letters signed by all these agencies outlining the importance of IPM  in school settings and urging school administrators to consider adoption of IPM, as the not only environmentally sound pest control alternative, but also the economically advantageous alternative. In New York State, our letters reached 3,300 public schools attended by more than 1,782,000 students.  In New York City alone, we reached 1,700 schools attended by more than 1,100,000 children.

Naturally, our outreach efforts don’t stop here. We recently reached agreements with the New York State Pest Management Association (NYSPMA) and the New York City Pest Management Association (NYCPMA) to have these organizations promote to their membership adoption of IPM as the day to day operational method. The same is also talking place in other EPA Region 2 states.

Also as part of the regional School IPM efforts, we planned pilot projects in selected areas in New York City and Newark, New Jersey, targeting several environmental justice communities located in Staten Island, Brooklyn, West Harlem and Washington Heights.

About the Author: Dr. Enache is the Manager of Pesticides Program out of EPA Region 2’s office in Edison, New Jersey.  In this capacity, he is responsible for the implementation of pesticide regulations throughout the region.  He feels that strongly that the safe use of pesticides is one of the most important missions of the EPA’s Pesticides Program.  Dr. Enache and his team are focusing their outreach efforts towards schools and child care facilities, considering that children may potentially be exposed to harmful pesticides if misused or overused.

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.

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Urban Waters – So Fresh and So Clean

By Kasia Broussalian

After nearly an hour of splashing through, around, and over the fountain in Washington Square Park, a young boy takes a break to “dry off,” as he termed it, on the side. Even at 9 a.m., the humidity and heat made the cool water a welcome relief.

Nearly 6,000 pipes, aqueducts, and tunnels carry roughly a billion gallons of water a day throughout the five boroughs of New York. To monitor the quality, the city has almost 1,000 sampling stations that test directly from the pipes. Scientists conduct more than 250,000 tests a year, looking over a spectrum of 250 possible contaminants.

Today, New York City’s water supply mainly comes from three systems to the north that together cover an area of 2,000 square miles—almost the size of the state of Delaware. The reservoirs created by the state over the past 200 years have a storage capacity of 550 billion gallons of water, and much of the water reaches homes and businesses in the city through pipes and gravity alone. Because the city’s watershed area remains one of the largest protected wilderness areas in the United States, the natural filtration process remains, making New York City one of five cities in the country with drinking water pure enough to only require chlorination to maintain purity from the tap in normal circumstances.

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.

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Jet by the Light of the Moon

A plane taking off from Newark Airport.

By Jim Haklar

I have to start off by saying that this is a real, not composite, image. The plane actually flew in front of the moon. It was taken almost three years ago on a sticky summer night at the Edison Environmental Center, EPA’s laboratory facilities in Edison, New Jersey. I didn’t intend to catch a plane flying in front of the moon, but as I was focusing my telescope one plane flew by and I missed the shot. Since the Environmental Center is near the flight path of Newark Liberty Airport, one of the busiest airports in the United States, all I had to do was wait a few minutes for another plane to go by. The only problem I had was fighting off the mosquitoes!

I’ve always been interested in the night sky and I received my first (toy) telescope when I was about six years old. My interest in astronomy increased in high school, but I only started getting seriously into astrophotography – a hobby that combines astronomy and photography – about 10 years ago. Since then I’ve taken pictures of the sun, moon, planets and “deep sky” objects. The hobby has come a very long way since I started looking through a telescope many years ago!

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.

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