Groups urge swift action to reduce nutrient pollution, protect Great Lakes

Although the immediate crisis in the city of Toledo has passed, the threat to drinking water supplies in Toledo and other Lake Erie communities has not. The same factors that led to nearly 500,000 Lake Erie residents not being able to drink the water for two days will return until measurable reductions in nutrients, particularly phosphorus, are implemented on a clear and swift timetable.

Nutrient pollution is a clear danger not only to our drinking water, but our way of life and economic well-being. While the Great Lakes region is focusing on developing a “blue economy” for the Midwest, we must realize that this new economic future cannot stand with national headlines declaring Great Lakes water unsafe to drink. Until we stop polluting our lakes, our economy, drinking water and way of life are in jeopardy.

The algal bloom “season” on Lake Erie is just getting under way and is forecast to continue into October. Due to previous damage to the lake, invasive zebra/quagga mussels that exacerbate the concentration and intensity, and the effects of a changing climate, the nutrient pollution problem will likely get worse if we do nothing. This is a problem that is being felt most acutely in Lake Erie, but is well-entrenched in locations throughout the Great Lakes region.

Fortunately, the problem is not out of our control. It is preventable. It is unacceptable that our region has chosen to pollute Lake Erie so significantly that drinking water for approximately 11 million Americans and Canadians is at risk. We can change this. Swift action by the governors of Great Lakes states and Premier of Ontario is needed to implement measurable reductions in nutrients, particularly phosphorus, on a clear timetable to protect our region’s health, economy and quality of life.

See our “Recommendations for a Lake Erie Nutrient Diet” at:


Behind Toledo’s Water Crisis, a Long-Troubled Lake Erie

Read the full story in the New York Times.

It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year.

Flooded by tides of phosphorus washed from fertilized farms, cattle feedlots and leaky septic systems, the most intensely developed of the Great Lakes is increasingly being choked each summer by thick mats of algae, much of it poisonous. What plagues Toledo and, experts say, potentially all 11 million lakeside residents, is increasingly a serious problem across the United States.

How to green the Feds’ supply chains? First, think ink

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

This article originally appeared at IW Financial.

President Obama first issued an order directing federal agencies to incorporate sustainability into their procurement operations in 2009. He laid out a series of ambitious goals, calling for direct U.S. government greenhouse gas emissions to fall 28 percent below 2008 levels by 2020.

Indirect emissions, including those generated by federal contractors and suppliers, were targeted for a 13 percent reduction. The following year, a working group recommended that GHG emissions form a key part of the criteria used in procurement decisions.

The General Services Administration is leading the effort to incorporate environmental factors into the federal procurement process. The agency is taking multiple steps to promote sustainability, including adding language to contracts issued under the OASIS program, requiring contractors to disclose pertinent information through the Global Reporting Initiative framework.

10 companies making waves in water innovation

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The data on water scarcity continues to be sobering, and shortages increasingly are linked to both natural and human-made causes. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in regions that face “absolute water scarcity,” reports the United Nations. Stemming the losses and re-diverting the flow to stressed regions this will take a big investment: almost $1.8 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the U.N. University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

The good news is corporate investments in innovative technologies and processes for reducing the drain on aquifers, detecting leaky infrastructure, reusing wastewater and addressing the troublesome water-energy nexus are on the rise.

Texas Tech Researchers Discover Low-Grade Nonwoven Cotton Picks Up 50 Times Own Weight of Oil

Read the full story from Texas Tech University.

Texas Tech University researchers recently discovered that low-grade cotton made into an absorbent nonwoven mat can collect up to 50 times its own weight in oil.

The results strengthen the use of cotton as a natural sorbent for oil, said Seshadri Ramkumar, professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech who led the research. The results were published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Nanostructured Metal-Oxide Catalyst Efficiently Converts CO2 to Methanol

Read the full story from Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a new catalytic system for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) to methanol-a key commodity used to create a wide range of industrial chemicals and fuels. With significantly higher activity than other catalysts now in use, the new system could make it easier to get normally unreactive CO2 to participate in these reactions…

The research team, which included scientists from Brookhaven, the University of Seville in Spain, and Central University of Venezuela, describes their results in the August 1, 2014, issue of the journal Science.

“Wetting” a Battery’s Appetite for Renewable Energy Storage

Read the full story from Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Sun, wind and other renewable energy sources could make up a larger portion of the electricity America consumes if better batteries could be built to store the intermittent energy for cloudy, windless days. Now a new material could allow more utilities to store large amounts of renewable energy and make the nation’s power system more reliable and resilient.

A paper published today in Nature Communications describes an electrode made of a liquid metal alloy that enables sodium-beta batteries to operate at significantly lower temperatures. The new electrode enables sodium-beta batteries to last longer, helps streamline their manufacturing process and reduces the risk of accidental fire.


How invisible water sources could green the nation

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

U.S. water infrastructure is ailing, but we can fix our tenuous grid to make use of a largely untapped source.

How Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier Era

Read the full post at Dot Earth.

It’s way past time for California to come to grips with the possibility that its extraordinary water woes are the new normal — and essentially the return of the old normal given the state’s climate history, in which drought has been the rule and the verdant 20th century the exception. In the weekly update to the U.S. Drought Monitor site yesterday, nearly 80 percent of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

Quinn signs water-safety legislation into law

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday signed into law three pieces of legislation aimed at improving safety of the state’s water supply.

The Urban Flooding Awareness Act creates a working group of representatives from local, state and federal agencies to recommend ways to control urban flooding. Another bill requires community water supply systems to designate an operator who will be directly responsible for each system’s supply and distribution.

And the third bill allows law enforcement agencies to collect pharmaceuticals and other controlled substances from residents for safe disposal.