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Posts Tagged ‘stormwater’

I never expected that I would be a tribute writer, but recently that’s how its panned out (I hope you read my posts on Silent Spring, and Russell Train).  In this latest tribute, last week, the Clean Water Act turned 40!

There’s no doubt that the Clean Water Act has led to cleaner watersheds and reduced pollution in our nation’s waters.  To date, 65% of our nation’s waters are swimmable and fishable (that’s the Act’s classifications).  What many don’t know is that the Clean Water Act was passed through amendments to the Federal Pollution Control Act of 1948, and it was a result of several disasters such as the famous burning of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River.

One of the goals of the Clean Water Act was for all the nation’s waterways to be fishable and swimmable by 1985.  News flash, we haven’t met that goal.  The Act gave authority to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to states to set pollution control standards to restore and monitor water quality.  One of the greatest aspects of the Act is that it allows public citizens to file suit on violators of the Act.  Many people don’t know this!  I’ve heard from EPA officials that the Clean Water Act is the people’s act.  Our nation’s waterways belong to us.

A few successes of the Clean Water Act include better overall water quality to over 60% of the nation’s waterways, more waterways that are swimmable, and restoration of major waterways such as the Hudson and Cuyahoga Rivers and Lake Erie.  I think the OMB article only touched on a few of the Act’s successes and I’m sure you can do a Google search and find more info.  Although I only like to highlight positive sustainable practices in my posts, I think it’s only fair to highlight that there are future challenges ahead for the Clean Water Act.  Factors such as population growth and urban development have led to runoff mismanagement,  particularly water from wet weather events, that are not addressed in the Clean Water Act.  Wastewater in natural gas fracturing (fracking) wells are also not included in the Act. Just today I heard that this current Congress has posed approximately 200 attacks on the Clean Water Act.

But, this is a tribute, and clean water will win.

Clean pipe discharge!

There are so many great on-the-ground partnerships taking on water issues, a few that come to mind include The Urban Waters Federal Partnership, Groundworks USA, and the River Network.  Those who question and attack the Act must not want fishable and swimmable waters for their families.  Maybe they just take it for granted, I think that’s the case.  Cheers to 40 years of success and to another 40 years of greater success.  Now go for a swim!

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Just 3 days. I haven’t seen my favorite Texas country star, Pat Green, since Mardi Gras last year in New Orleans; so before I talk about anything I think you should take a listen.

What I really meant was only 3 days till the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics!  London’s mayor has viewed the Olympics as an opportunity to transcend neighborhoods into sustainable communities for other countries to emulate.  The London 2012 Sustainability Plan highlights how London has aimed to host the most sustainable Games ever. The London Sustainability Plan focused on five key themes: climate change, waste, biodiversity, inclusion (new local employment and business opportunities), and healthy living. The Guardian UK reported on how the Games would focus on the key themes.

Look at this GREAT list of what London has done so far:

  • The Velodrome is almost 100 per cent naturally ventilated and uses natural light to reduce energy consumption and rain water will be collected from the roof for flushing toilets and irrigation.
  • The Olympic Stadium’s roof was made out of unwanted gas pipelines.
  • Water used to clean the swimming pool filters in the Aquatics Centre will be recycled for toilet flushing.
  • The foundations for venues and roads have used recycled materials and many of the venues and bridges will have green habitat spaces incorporated into walls and roofs.
  • Over 100 hectares of new parklands for people and wildlife with over 4,000 trees and over 300,000 wetland plants.
  • 100 per cent of spectators arriving at the Games by public transport or by walking or cycling.
  • Improvements to 80km of cycling and walking routes to the Olympic Park and just under 6,000 temporary bike parking spaces during the Games.

Congrats to London, and I hope you enjoy the green Games. Cheers.

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Florida is a special place – Disney world, alligators, South Beach, the pan handle, and gorgeous beaches.  In the enviro realm, water nutrient issues in Florida are very hot (aka many Florida officials are saying the federal EPA better mind their own businass) right now.  By “nutrient issues” I mean phosphorous and nitrogen (N&P) pollution (stay with me now) from farming and city runoff in many of Florida’s waterways; each state has its own targets and pollution limits according to the Clean Water Act (the grand daddy law from the 70s that protects our nation’s waterways and drinking water).  Florida has exceeded its permissible N&P limits, so the federal EPA stepped in to slap them on the wrist, but Florida said you can’t do that because you don’t have jurisdiction in our state. Anyway, that’s in court now.  Back to the point, I have good news about the Everglades!

How the Everglades are meant to look, untouched.

The recent announcement has left EPA saying “this is a milestone for America’s Everglades.”  An $880 million plan to improve water quality in the Everglades has been approved and it includes a 12-year clean up (yikes that’s three more election cycles).  Pollution from farming practices and nearby urban centers has left the Everglades with poor water quality which is a major source of drinking water for South Floridians.

The Everglades are home to some of the most unique species in the U.S.  The new cleanup plan is a response to a lawsuit from….1988!  The plan includes new water treatment and stormwater infrastructure to address some of the polluted waterways in the Everglades.  Glad to see that we can still preserve our country’s land.  Many of our lands, waters, and species are interconnected and are affected by any change whether you can visually see it or not. Cheers.

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What a coincidence, that car is green!

From 2004 – 2007, animated rapper Xzibit hosted a TV show on MTV called Pimp My Ride; the show that surprised owners of car clunkers by pimping them out with bells and whistles like fancy paint coats, leather interiors, and always some amazing trunk feature like a hidden picnic table or a jacuzzi.  Car owners always had insane reactions to their pimped out clunker

I think Jessie is about to get really excited

Ok, back to my point – if Xzibit pimped my roof it would look like this

It’s like a farmer’s market on your roof

Green urban roofs are now popping up in cities across the country.  I know New York and Philadelphia are supporting the trend, and now Seattle is on board and even universities too!  Roofs have direct access to sunlight so you’re bound for a successful garden and/or green landscape.  Save some space for solar panels too (that’s where Xzibit comes in).  Urban green roofs also provide a buffer for stormwater runoff which is also a very hot topic these days (it’s a complex issue and I will save that for a separate post).  Here are some best practices for starting your own rooftop garden (if you just want the tips scroll down half way).  Check with your employer and colleagues to see if there’s any interest at your office or at home at your apartment complex.  Taking care of a garden during the busy work day is a great break AND it would save you money!  Produce is not cheap these days.  Cheers.

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