Water

Drought Hypocrisy: San Francisco Using Drinking Water To Heat City Hall, Other Buildings

Read the full story from KPIX.

The people who want us to use less water are part of a system that could be among the biggest water wasters in San Francisco. That system is in hot water, because of hot water.

“After the water is heated up, the condensated water is then discharged into the sewer system,” said Tyrone Jue of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “This is drinking water that is being used for the steam loop.”

Water is heated to make steam to heat City Hall and 170 other nearby buildings. Although City Hall reuses most of its portion, a quarter million gallons a day goes wasted. Good drinking water ends up in the sewer. It’s a system that is more than 80 years old.

How an upstream ditch limits downstream algae

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

A ditch cuts through the fields of this Indiana landscape.

But it’s no ordinary ditch. This one reduces the nutrients leaving the farm fields that can eventually pollute waterways nearby and far away.

It is called a two-stage ditch because of the two levels of soil, called benches, on either side of the stream that flows through it. The benches act as a buffer, soaking up the fertilizers and other water contaminants draining from the field.

DeWitt board, Clinton Landfill owners reach deal barring PCBs

Read the full story in the News-Gazette.

Ending a 7-year-long dispute, the DeWitt County Board on Thursday night voted to approve a settlement agreement with the owners of Clinton Landfill that keeps PCBs and manufactured-gas-plant wastes out of the landfill.

The landfill sits over the Mahomet Aquifer, which is the water source for Champaign-Urbana and about 800,000 central Illinois residents.

MPCA celebrates citizen work to preserve Minnesota lakes

Minnesotans feel strongly about their iconic lakes and are uniquely active in protecting them. This Earth Day, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) honors the work of citizens around the state who are responding to water quality threats to their beloved lakes. Their work, in some cases, has been going on for decades, and the MPCA recognizes their critical role in defending lakes from a variety of contaminants. A few examples:

  • Lake Volney — A local association has worked for decades to improve Lake Volney in Le Sueur County, near Le Center. They’ve taken on wetland restoration, buffer strips, stream bank stabilization, raingardens, annual cleanups, and working with farmers to adopt beneficial practices. The lake has gone from algae covered in the 1990s to good water clarity in 2013.
  • Lake Shaokatan —Located near Ivanhoe in Lincoln County, Lake Shaokatan is in a watershed dominated by agriculture and has suffered from excess runoff of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. It has extensive algae blooms in the summer — including blue-green algae which is toxic to humans and pets — and has seen periodic fish kills. A partnership of state and federal agencies, local governments, and local groups began by addressing malfunctioning septic systems near the shore, runoff from animal feedlots, and wetlands restoration. Ongoing efforts continue to bring improvements in the lake’s water quality.
  • Lake Winona — A group scientists, residents, and local officials calling themselves Healthy Lake Winona has formed recently in order to look at ways to improve water quality in Lake Winona. The lake is burdened with excess phosphorus, which can cause algae growth, reduce water clarity, and kill fish. One source of the phosphorus is stormwater runoff that carries fertilizers, leaves, and grass clippings. The group hopes to promote residential rain gardens that can reduce stormwater and to educate city residents on keeping debris out of storm drains.

The Minnesota Waters web site has a list of and links to the state’s active network of lake associations and rivers organizations, which are critical to protecting water quality in the state. The sheer number of lake and river organizations demonstrates how important our water resources are to Minnesotans.

Another way state residents demonstrate their affection for water is by participating in the MPCA Citizen Monitoring program. More than 1,300 Minnesota citizens perform water clarity tests at a designated lake or stream each week throughout the summer. For some lakes and streams, volunteer-collected data is the only data available, making citizen involvement crucial to ensuring the lasting health of Minnesota’s waters.