Day: November 2, 2017

The United States Geological Survey Science Data Lifecycle Model

Download the document. See also this article in Journal of eScience Librarianship for a discussion of the model’s development.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data represent corporate assets with potential value beyond any immediate research use, and therefore need to be accounted for and properly managed throughout their lifecycle. Recognizing these motives, a USGS team developed a Science Data Lifecycle Model (SDLM) as a high-level view of data—from conception through preservation and sharing—to illustrate how data management activities relate to project workflows, and to assist with understanding the expectations of proper data management. In applying the Model to research activities, USGS scientists can ensure that data products will be well-described, preserved, accessible, and fit for re-use. The Model also serves as a structure to help the USGS evaluate and improve policies and practices for managing scientific data, and to identify areas in which new tools and standards are needed.

Weighing the Economic Benefits vs. Environmental Impacts of New Buildings

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

New buildings can bring income to the communities in which they’re built by attracting new business and residents to the area. The materials and fuels used to build a new structure also have significant environmental impacts, and new impacts arise once the building is in operation.

Do the many economic benefits of new buildings outweigh the environmental harm they can cause? Could we reduce new buildings’ environmental footprints while still retaining their financial advantages?

McCormick’s recipe for packaging that’s more sustainable

Read the full story in Packaging Digest.

Mike Okoroafor, vp, global sustainability & packaging innovation, discusses the key ingredients of McCormick & Company’s sustainable packaging projects.

Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force 2017 Report to Congress

Download the document.

This 2017 report highlights specific examples of progress achieved by the Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) and its members. The report also discusses strategies for meeting the HTF’s goals, as well as key lessons the HTF has learned, including the importance of: planning and targeting at a watershed scale; identifying the critical pollutants, their sources, and means of transport; using appropriate models to plan and evaluate implementation; using appropriate monitoring designs to evaluate conservation outcomes; understanding farmers’ attitudes toward conservation practices and working with
them through appropriate messengers to offer financial and technical assistance; and sustaining engagement with the agricultural community following adoption of conservation systems.

Illinois sportfish recovery a result of 1972 Clean Water Act, scientists report

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Populations of largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and other sportfish are at the highest levels recorded in more than a century in the Illinois River, according to a new report. Their dramatic recovery, from populations close to zero near Chicago throughout much of the 20th century, began just after implementation of the Clean Water Act, the researchers say.

Senators Introduce Bill to Reduce ‘Colossal and Completely Preventable Waste’

Read the full story from ProPublica.

Two U.S. senators introduced legislation Tuesday requiring federal agencies to come up with solutions to the waste caused by oversized eyedrops and single-use drug vials, citing a ProPublica storypublished earlier this month.

Resource efficiency in practice: Closing mineral cycles

Download the document.

Nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are essential elements for living organisms, including plants, animals and bacteria. They are used as fertilisers in agriculture to guarantee high yields and quality products. However, the increasing demand not only in food production, but also in feed, fibre and fuel, has resulted in an increasing use of N, P and K. The depletion of non-renewable resources (such as mined phosphates rock) jeopardises the viability of the current agricultural production systems in the long term. In addition, while progress has been made towards sustainable agricultural practices, a number of inefficiencies are observed in nutrient use which can lead to the degradation of land, soil and water resources. Ultimately, this can impede well-being and economic growth from farm level to EU level. In this context, the first objective of the project “Resource efficiency in practice – Closing mineral cycles” was to identify the most promising measures at regional and farm levels, in particular in nutrient saturated areas, to improve the use of nutrients and to reduce their negative impacts. The second objective was to communicate the information gathered to farmers, farmers’ associations, and regional decision-makers in an educational style to empower them to take action at their level. Communication channels included leaflets, a dedicated website (http://mineral-cycles.eu) and four regional conferences, as well as a final conference in Brussels.

Green Events Guide

The Green Events Guide is geared to support planning and action around seven focus areas common to public events:

  • Food and Food Service
  • Venue
  • Communications and Event Materials
  • Vendors
  • People
  • Transportation
  • Housing

It is intended to assist community-based, volunteer event planning leaders and teams, especially folks in rural areas. This FREE online resource was developed by the EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden, with support from the U.S. EPA. The completed guide includes a webinar recorded on 10/20/17.

Stormwater Management: EPA Pilot Project to Increase Use of Green Infrastructure Could Benefit from Documenting Collaborative Agreements

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Almost all 31 municipalities GAO surveyed reported using green infrastructure to comply with their Clean Water Act permits or combined sewer overflow (CSO) consent decrees. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates stormwater pollution under the Clean Water Act, which requires municipalities to obtain permits to discharge stormwater into waterbodies. EPA has also entered into consent decrees with municipalities that have CSOs—events where raw sewage is discharged into waterbodies. Green infrastructure uses natural processes to manage stormwater, such as capturing stormwater so it can seep into soil (see figure). However, of 27 municipalities responding, 15 reported that less than 5 percent of the area subject to their permit or consent decree drained into green infrastructure, with the remaining area draining into gray infrastructure, such as concrete sewers, or directly to waterbodies. Most of the municipalities reported funding green infrastructure with fees and general revenues.

Of the 31 municipalities GAO surveyed, 26 reported that green infrastructure was more challenging than gray infrastructure in aspects of infrastructure development, such as developing project operation and maintenance cost estimates. Nevertheless, 25 of these municipalities reported instances where they used green infrastructure even though it was more challenging. Some municipalities reported that they were less familiar with green infrastructure but used it anyway because it performed better or it provided additional benefits, the community wanted to use it, and the municipality saw an opportunity to learn about green infrastructure.

EPA provides multiple resources to educate and assist municipalities on the use of green infrastructure. In 2016, the agency launched a pilot project with five municipalities to encourage states, communities, and municipalities to develop long-term stormwater plans to increase their use of green infrastructure. Key to the success of the pilot project is collaboration among many stakeholders from across each community, such as members of the local utility, transportation, and recreation departments, as well as local organizations. GAO has previously identified key considerations, such as documenting agreements on how to collaborate that can benefit collaborative efforts. However, EPA has not yet documented collaborative agreements with pilot stakeholders. EPA could better assure that the stakeholders will successfully develop long-term stormwater plans if it documents how the stakeholders will collaborate.

Why GAO Did This Study

Urban stormwater runoff is a major contributor to pollution in U.S. waters. Municipalities historically managed stormwater with gray infrastructure. In 2007, EPA began encouraging the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater and reduce the need for gray infrastructure.

GAO was asked to examine the use of green infrastructure by municipalities to meet EPA’s stormwater requirements. This report (1) describes the extent to which selected municipalities are incorporating, and funding, green infrastructure in stormwater management efforts; (2) describes what challenges, if any, municipalities reported facing in incorporating green infrastructure into stormwater management efforts; and (3) examines efforts EPA is taking to help municipalities use green infrastructure.

GAO surveyed two nongeneralizable samples totaling 31 municipalities with stormwater permits or consent decrees for CSOs and interviewed EPA officials to examine EPA efforts to help municipalities use green infrastructure. The municipalities were randomly selected from lists of municipalities that are required to have permits and have consent decrees.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that EPA document agreements, when working with municipalities and other stakeholders, on how they will collaborate when developing long-term stormwater plans. EPA generally agreed with GAO’s recommendation and plans to implement it over the next 12 to 18 months.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation Now Open Through Dec. 19, 2017

Open: Oct. 31, 2017 Close: Dec. 19, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the release of its 2017-2018 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation to develop innovative technologies that will help protect human health and the environment.

EPA is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept in the following topic areas: air quality, manufacturing, clean and safe water, land revitalization, homeland security, and building construction materials. See the full solicitation posted on FedConnect to learn more about these topic areas, view specific subtopics for each area, and access instructions on how to apply.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation from idea conception to commercialization. EPA’s SBIR funding boosts local economies by creating jobs and promoting collaborations among communities and small businesses. This funding also supports technologies aimed at creating cleaner manufacturing materials and better infrastructure in communities. Successful Phase I companies are eligible to apply for Phase II funding, which awards up to $300,000 for two years with a commercialization option of up to $100,000, to further develop and commercialize their technologies.

All applications must be submitted through FedConnect.  For more information on eligibility, application process and the SBIR program, visit the EPA SBIR website at www.epa.gov/sbir.

Missed the Sept. 28, 2017, informational webinar on how to apply for the 2017-2018 EPA SBIR Phase I Solicitation? View the presentation at https://www.epa.gov/sbir/us-epa-2017-2018-small-business-innovation-research-sbir-solicitation-webinar.

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