NEWS


Humboldt Penguins from Woodland Park Zoo

Humboldt Penguins from Woodland Park Zoo

Information taken from Woodland Park Zoo

By Gigi Allianic

Seattle, WA – This May, Woodland Park Zoo is going black and white and green all over! That’s because Humboldt penguins will return to the zoo in an all new, sustainably built “green” exhibit that will save 3 million gallons of water a year.

The new exhibit is set to open to the public with special festivities on Saturday, May 2, 2009.

A colony of 20 endangered Humboldt penguins will move into the all new 17,000-square-foot exhibit this spring. The new, naturalistic exhibit features shoreline cliffs, viewable nesting burrows, rocky tide pools, crashing waves, and a beach, recreating the desert coast of Punta San Juan, Peru-home of the largest colony of wild Humboldt penguins.

With special windows and acrylic walls, dramatic underwater vantage points will offer guests nose-to-beak viewing as penguins splash, dive and “fly” underwater at speeds of up to 17 mph. Visitors will see these flightless birds preen, breed and squabble over nesting sites-much like they do on the shores in the wild.

Exhibit features and programming led by zoo staff and volunteers will introduce visitors not only to the fascinating biological adaptations of the Humboldt penguin, but also its compelling conservation story.

Families will encounter a blowhole that shoots water, oversized climb-in penguin burrows, and even a recreation of a wildlife research blind where visitors can observe penguin behavior like a real researcher.

As part of Woodland Park Zoo’s ongoing commitment to “green” practices, the penguin exhibit is built sustainably, using geothermal energy and an innovative filtration system that will save 3 million gallons of water and 75 million BTUs of energy each year-the equivalent of saving 24 million pints of drinking water, and heating five, new two-bedroom townhouses each year! The exhibit is also designed to contain and recycle all stormwater runoff thereby preventing the pollution of natural water sources like Puget Sound.

It is estimated that only 12,000 endangered Humboldt penguins survive in the wild. Overfishing of anchovies-the penguin’s primary food source-and other human activities, such as the harvesting of guano, which penguins rely on to build nests, pose the greatest threat to their survival. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, breeding endangered penguins through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan, and encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options.

For more information about the new exhibit, visit http://www.zoo.org/penguins or call 206.548.2500.

blog-27

Article taken from the US EPA

Release date: 04/22/2009

Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415.947.4149 Perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

LOS ANGELES – In Tecate, Mexico today, representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SEMARNAT, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources along with the Border Environmental Cooperation (BECC), the Baja State Water Commission for Tecate (CESPTE), and the city of Tecate, celebrated the completion of the first phase of a wetlands project funded by the United States and Mexico.
Once completed, the newly constructed wetlands will cleanse treated municipal and brewery wastewater that are discharged into the river, create areas for groundwater recharge, help reduce floods, and provide refuge and food for resident and migratory birds.

“Today on Earth Day, the EPA is proud to join Mexico in celebrating an important milestone of this wetlands project that will help revitalize the Tecate River for future generations of residents,” said Doug Liden, Environmental Engineer of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.. “Through joint projects such as these, our two countries continue to improve the quality of life along our shared border.”

While only the first cell covering one acre has been completed, sampling by CESPTE has shown a 60 percent reduction in suspended solids in the portion of wastewater being directed through the wetland. In addition, 600 recycled tires were used in the membrane, and 80 abandoned cars were removed from the floodplain to make room for the wetland.

Once construction of the second and third cells is completed later this year, the wetlands will cover nearly four acres and improve the quality of flows from the brewery, as well as the wastewater treatment plant. Since the Tecate River flows across the international border, the wetlands project will improve water quality in both Tecate and California.

The EPA’s Border 2012 program helped finance the wetlands project with a $50,000 grant. The North American Development Bank partially funded the project, as well as Fundacion La Puerta, a Mexican NGO, contributed another $41,000, and the Baja Water Commission provided the remaining $57,000. In addition, the firm Huffman and Carpenter, Inc. provided nearly $60,000 in technical services.

The EPA’s Border 2012 U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program works to protect the environment and public health for ten states on both sides of the 2,000-mile border, including 26 U.S. tribes and seven groups of Mexican indigenous people. Border 2012 seeks to reduce pollution in water, air, and on land, reduce exposure to chemicals from accidental releases or terrorism, and improve environmental stewardship.

For more information on the EPA’s Border 2012 Program, please visit:
http://www.epa.gov/usmexicoborder/

Article taken from Mercury News

The long-suffering San Joaquin River and its environs can soon sigh a breath of relief, thanks to new legislation signed into law by President Obama. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 protects 2.1 million acres of federal land across the American West, including 750,000 acres in California. It also saves 1,000 miles of rivers from new dams.

“This legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted,” Obama told press, such as the Mercury News, at a White House ceremony. “But rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share.”

Co-written by Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Dianne Feinstein, the act almost died in the House. After amendments, it finally passed 77-20 in the Senate, and 285-140 in the House. A majority of Republicans objected, due to restrictions on oil drilling.

Californian’s find the bill’s path for restoration of the San Joaquin River one of its more salient objectives. Enduring dry weather, thirsty agriculture and an uncertain snowpack melt, the state faces a serious water crisis.

The bill provides a long-term plan, allocating $400 million from farm water fees and bond money to remove fish barriers and restore levees. It also promises farmers inexpensive water in wet years, in order to encourage water banking. Although the legislation proved less than ideal for worried farmers in California, years of drought have left them with few alternatives.

Peter Moyle, a biologist at University of California-Davis, sees promising changes ahead. “Nature is amazingly resilient,” he told Mercury News. “This is a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t be working on it if I didn’t think it was possible.”

Read more here.

Source: Mercury News

New York State Watersheds

New York State Watersheds

Information from www.usda.gov

Recovery Act Assistance Will Help Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the USDA will be sending $84.8 million to state and local governments to improve water quality, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion, and improve fish and wildlife habitat in rural communities as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

“President Obama is committed to improving water quality, creating more dependable water supplies and decreasing soil erosion and this funding will make a big difference in the lives of the people who live in these rural communities,” Vilsack said.

Other major benefits include improved community safety and health, flood mitigation, sediment control, and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat.

“For example,” Vilsack said “the Neshaminy Creek Watershed (Pennsylvania) project funding will be used to acquire, elevate and flood-protect approximately 80 homes and businesses in the 100-year flood plain, while the Beaver Creek (Colorado) Watershed project will develop 45 land-treatment contracts with family-owned farms, resulting in significant water quality improvement, water conservation, and enhancement of scarce wildlife habitat.”

T. Boone Pickens courtesy Getty Images

T. Boone Pickens courtesy Getty Images

article taken from www.businessweek.com

by Susan Berfield

T. Boone Pickens thinks water is the new oil—and he’s betting $100 million that he’s right.

Roberts County is a neat square in a remote corner of the Texas Panhandle, a land of rolling hills, tall grass, oak trees, mesquite, and cattle. It has a desolate beauty, a striking sparseness. The county encompasses 924 square miles and is home to fewer than 900 people. One of them is T. Boone Pickens, the oilman and corporate raider, who first bought some property here in 1971 to hunt quail. He’s now the largest landowner in the county: His Mesa Vista ranch sprawls across some 68,000 acres. Pickens has also bought up the rights to a considerable amount of water that lies below this part of the High Plains in a vast aquifer that came into existence millions of years ago.

If water is the new oil, T. Boone Pickens is a modern-day John D. Rockefeller. Pickens owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already has, some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “There are people who will buy the water when they need it. And the people who have the water want to sell it. That’s the blood, guts, and feathers of the thing,” he says.

In the coming decades, as growing numbers of people live in urban areas and climate change makes some regions much more prone to drought, water—or what many are calling “blue gold”—will become an increasingly scarce resource. By 2030 nearly half of the world’s population will inhabit areas with severe water stress, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development. Pickens understands that. And while Texas is unusually lax in its laws about pumping groundwater, the rush to control water resources is gathering speed around the planet. In Australia, now in the sixth year of a drought, brokers in urban areas are buying up water rights from farmers. Rural residents around the U.S. are trying to sell their land (and water) to multi- national water bottlers like Nestlé. Companies that use large quantities of the precious resource to run their businesses are seeking to lock up water supplies. One is Royal Dutch Shell, which is buying groundwater rights in Colorado as it prepares to drill for oil in the shale deposits there.

Into this environment comes Pickens, who made a good living for a long time extracting oil and gas and now, at 80, believes the era of fossil fuel is over. So far he has spent $100 million and eight years on his project and still has not found any city in Texas willing to buy his water. But like many others, Pickens believes there’s a fortune to be made in slaking the thirst of a rapidly growing population. If he pumps as much as he can, he could sell about $165 million worth of water to Dallas each year. “The idea that water can be sold for private gain is still considered unconscionable by many,” says James M. Olson, one of America’s preeminent attorneys specializing in water- and land-use law. “But the scarcity of water and the extraordinary profits that can be made may overwhelm ordinary public sensibilities.”

Algae

Algae courtesy gas2.org

Article taken from gas2.org

Published on March 29th, 2008

PetroSun has announced it will begin operation of its commercial algae-to-biofuels facility on April 1st, 2008.

The facility, located in Rio Hondo Texas, will produce an estimated 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million lbs. of biomass per year off a series of saltwater ponds spanning 1,100 acres. Twenty of those acres will be reserved for the experimental production of a renewable JP8 jet-fuel.

Gordon LeBlanc, Jr., CEO of PetroSun, had this to say:
“Our business model has been focused on proving the commercial feasibility of the firms’ algae-to-biofuels technology during the past eighteen months. Whether we have arrived at this point in time by a superior technological approach, sheer luck or a redneck can-do attitude, the fact remains that microalgae can outperform the current feedstocks utilized for conversion to biodiesel and ethanol, yet do not impact the consumable food markets or fresh water resources.”

SWSRF

Article taken from wwn-online.com

April 8, 2009

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the first of the Clean Water (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) grants under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, according to April press releases. CWSRF grants have been made to New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Nebraska. DWSRF grants have been awarded to Kansas and Nebraska.

New York
In the single largest grant in its history, EPA on April 3 awarded more than $430 million to the state of New York for wastewater infrastructure projects.

“New York state is committed to innovative approaches to building environmentally sustainable and energy efficient wastewater treatment technologies. This funding will help protect our environment and will support thousands of jobs across the state at a time when we need it most,” said Gov. David Paterson.

The state will provide at least 20 percent, or at least $86 million, of its Recovery Act funds to “green” projects, those that involve green infrastructure, improve energy or water efficiency, or that have other environmentally innovative aspects.

The grant will be held by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and implemented by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, a state-run organization that helps public and private entities comply with federal and state environmental requirements.

West Virginia
The agency awarded more than $48.8 million to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

“West Virginia now has the ‘green light’ to fund projects that will upgrade water infrastructure and invigorate local economies across the state,” said William T. Wisniewski, acting administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “This financing is crucial when you consider that some small, rural areas will get wastewater treatment systems for the first time.”

This grant is a partial award of the $61,092,100 available through the Recovery Act to West Virginia’s CWSRF program. The remaining 20 percent for Green Reserve Projects — $12,218,428 — will be awarded to the Department of Environmental Protection later in the year.

North Carolina
EPA awarded $70,729,100 million to the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources.

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