Water

Stream Discovery workshop for Illinois educators Nov. 14th

Have you ever wanted to involve your class or student group in a citizen science project collecting and analyzing real scientific data!?

Have you ever wanted to help protect Illinois streams and rivers but don’t know where to start?!

The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center invites you to attend a Stream Discovery training workshop November 14th from noon-5pm at Lewis and Clark Community College, Godfrey, IL.  Stream Discovery is a statewide program that offers educators the resources and materials to involve their class in citizen science stream monitoring and water quality analysis. Monitoring includes a habitat, chemical, and a biological survey (includes catching macroinvertebrates like dragonfly and mayfly nymphs) on a wadeable stream near your school or organization. Workshop attendees will also receive access to our online database designed by National Geographic to upload and share pictures and data.

This workshop is part of the Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium being conducted Nov. 14-15th, featuring keynote speakers Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters and Sean O’Connnor of National Geographic. Please visit http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e9o47rcu02c45931&llr=wx7o69dab to register. Cost is $55 for the conference, plus $25 dollars for the Stream Discovery workshop. If you would like to attend the Stream Discovery workshop, but not the conference, then please e-mail riverwatch@lc.edu to be put on the workshop list.

Registration deadline is 1 week before the workshop. Registration is limited, first come first-served! Sign up today!

Contact Matt Young, Illinois RiverWatch Coordinator for more information.

China’s water dilemma between farming and growing population

Read the full story in The Guardian.

In an increasingly volatile world, China’s economic growth has proved remarkably resilient. While the economies of Europe and America have stalled or nose-dived since the 2008 financial crash, China’s has continued to expand. The headlines are startling: since the early 1990s, GDP growth per capita has averaged 8.9%, and nearly 600 million people have been lifted out of poverty.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that China’s growth was kick-started by investment in agriculture. This, in turn, catalysed growth in the wider rural economy and, as China’s rural inhabitants got richer, so they moved to growing towns and cities, building – literally – the skylines of Beijing, Shanghai and other megacities.

In the meantime, China’s agricultural economy has motored on. Despite rapid urbanisation, and an economy now driven by industry rather than farming, the country is still able to feed over 20% of the world’s population. Maintaining self-sufficiency in wheat and rice remains ideologically important, even if imports of feed grains for meat production have soared over recent years.

But agriculture – and particularly the irrigated agriculture that supports food production in the drier north of the country – needs water. And as other parts of the economy have boomed, water scarcity is biting hard. This has created something of a dilemma for China’s ruling Community Party (CCP): how can it safeguard food production, and the incomes of China’s farmers, while releasing water to increasingly thirsty urban and industrial users?

Farmers Fight Coca-Cola as India’s Groundwater Dries Up

Read the full story from Bloomberg News.

Savitri Rai winces as she recounts how police beat her when she protested against groundwater extraction at a Coca-Cola Co. (KO) plant near her farm in India. A decade later, she said her water supplies keep dwindling.

“We have to dig ever deeper wells,” the 60-year-old said outside her mud house in Mehadiganj village in Uttar Pradesh state, blaming the beverage company’s bottling line a kilometer (0.6 miles) away. Coca-Cola, which declined to comment on Rai’s allegations, in August scrapped a $24 million expansion at the site, citing delays in permits to extract more water.

Such flashpoints add pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve groundwater management in the world’s biggest user of the resource as he seeks to transform India into a manufacturing hub. Growing aquifer overexploitation by farms, businesses and cities imperils India’s development goals, according to the World Bank, signaling challenges for industries from mining to brewing in need of reliable water sources.

Microplastic is an Abundant and Distinct Microbial Habitat in an Urban River

Amanda McCormick, Timothy J. Hoellein, Sherri A. Mason, Joseph Schluep, and John J. Kelly (2014). “Microplastic is an Abundant and Distinct Microbial Habitat in an Urban River.” Environmental Science & Technology Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/es503610r.

Abstract: Recent research has documented microplastic particles (< 5 mm in diameter) in ocean habitats worldwide and in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Microplastic interacts with biota, including microorganisms, in these habitats, raising concerns about its ecological effects. Rivers may transport microplastic to marine habitats and the Great Lakes, but data on microplastic in rivers is limited. In a highly urbanized river in Chicago, Illinois, USA, we measured concentrations of microplastic that met or exceeded those measured in oceans and the Great Lakes, and we demonstrated that wastewater treatment plant effluent was a point source of microplastic. Results from high-throughput sequencing showed that bacterial assemblages colonizing microplastic within the river were less diverse and were significantly different in taxonomic composition compared to those from the water column and suspended organic matter. Several taxa that include plastic decomposing organisms and pathogens were more abundant on microplastic. These results demonstrate that microplastic in rivers are a distinct microbial habitat and may be a novel vector for the downstream transport of unique bacterial assemblages. In addition, this study suggests that urban rivers are an overlooked and potentially significant component of the global microplastic life cycle.

Why Americans need to ante up for water

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Squeezed by drought, U.S. consumers and western farmers have begun to pay more for water. But the increases do not come close to addressing the fundamental price paradox in a nation that uses more water than any other in the world while generally paying less for it. And some of the largest water users in the East, including agricultural, energy and mining companies, often pay nothing for water at all.

October is Rise Above Plastics Month

Rise Above Plastics Month is a month-long initiative encouraging the public to reduce their plastic footprint and raise awareness about the harmful effects caused by single-use plastics in our marine and coastal environments, including the Great Lakes region. RAP logo

Throughout October, the Surfrider Foundation will ‘Rise Above Plastics’ by providing tips on how you can reduce your plastic footprint and simple ways to implement change in your daily routine. Take the Rise Above Plastics pledge to commit to using less plastics every day.

You can also join your local Surfrider Chapter’s annual plastic trash cleanup and enter Surfrider’s Plastic Art Contest. Show your creativity and help to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. Enter to have a chance to win an epic prize pack including a Firewire Tibertek surfboard or Bureo skateboard, Spy + Surfrider Helm Sunglasses, ChicoBag and Surfrider gear.

The Rise Above Plastics program (RAP) is the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the problem of plastic litter in our ocean and marine environments. The goal of the program is to educate the public on the impacts single-use plastics have on marine environments, and how individuals can make changes in their daily lives and within their communities that will stem the flow of plastics into the environment. RAP also calls upon people to reduce their plastic footprint by reducing or eliminating the use of products such as single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags.

Some facts about plastics compiled by RAP include:

  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.[1]
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.[2]
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.[3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.[4]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[5]
  • In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.[6]
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[7]
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.[8]
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.[9]

Learn More

Plastics Pollution in the Great Lakes and the Marine Debris Problem
State University of New York researchers collaborated with the Los Angeles-based 5 Gyres Institute to study plastic pollutants in the Great Lakes Region. Read about their project and learn more about the problem of plastics pollution in the world’s water bodies. Newly updated to include recent research and news about microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes.