Category: Department of Defense

Webinar: Advances in Understanding PFAS Ecological Risks

Apr 8, 2021, 11am CDT
Register here.

This SERDP and ESTCP webinar focuses on DoD-funded research to improve understanding of the ecological risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Specifically, investigators will discuss the pathways and rates of PFAS uptake, bioaccumulation, and biomagnification within freshwater food webs, and a tiered approach for assessing PFAS risk to threatened and endangered species.

DOD Announces Release of the DOD Regional Sea Level Database

The Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program has announced the public release of the DOD Regional Sea Level database.  

Making the information available broadly “is a critical requirement for its use in our Unified Facilities Criteria program for planners and designers,” said Thadd Buzan, Assistant Director for Military Construction, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Sustainment). 

Public access to the database allows for the integration of future sea level change information by contracted third parties such as engineering firms in their efforts to provide installation and facilities planning and design services for coastal locations. The database and its accompanying report, Regional Sea Level Scenarios for Coastal Risk Management, were developed by the DOD-led Coastal Assessment Regional Scenario Working Group to provide a consistent, authoritative approach to account for changing sea levels at DOD sites worldwide.  

Use of DRSL information is now incorporated into the department’s installation master planning criteria and civil engineering design criteria for coastal locations. When using the DRSL database, planners and designers must apply the planning horizon and regional scenario appropriate to the installation requirement, and the vertical datum (such as the North American Vertical Datum of 1988) appropriate to the location.

For more information on the DOD program, visit the SERDP-ESTCP website.

JBLM environmental advisers support mission sustainability

Read the full story from the U.S. Army.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has a strong sustainability and environmental compliance program. Multiple environmental advisers and other resources are available to help units and organizations comply with the various legal, regulatory and policy requirements needed for proper management of their environmental program — with an emphasis on preventing pollution.

A California water fight pits pistachio growers against the U.S. Navy

Read the full story from FERN’s Ag Insider.

A legal dispute over water rights in California’s Mojave desert has growers for The Wonderful Co. on one side and a town reliant on a sprawling naval base on the other. As Brent Crane reports in FERN’s latest story, published with Bloomberg Green, the case offers a glimpse of the coming water wars in California, as the state’s all-powerful agriculture interests increasingly square off against thirsty communities over a dwindling supply of fresh water.

Funding available for environmental and installation energy demonstrations

The ESTCP FY 2022 Solicitation was released January 7, 2021. Researchers from Federal organizations, universities, and private industry can apply for ESTCP funding. All proposals must respond to a Topic Area associated with the solicitation. ESTCP projects are formal demonstrations in which innovative technologies are rigorously evaluated. ESTCP demonstrations are conducted at DoD facilities and sites to document improved efficiency, reduced liability, improved environmental outcomes, and cost savings.

Topic areas for industry, academia, and state organizations include:

 Webinar

The ESTCP Director, Deputy Director, and Program Managers will conduct an online seminar ESTCP Funding Opportunities – FY 2022 on January 21, 2021. 

Climate Resilience: DOD Coordinates with Communities, but Needs to Assess the Performance of Related Grant Programs

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Department of Defense (DOD) domestic installations report extensive and varied use of community infrastructure and support services—such as roads, bridges, electricity, water, and medical facilities—that are vulnerable to disruptions from climate change and extreme weather. For example, 62 of the 63 installations (98 percent) that responded to GAO’s survey report relying on communities for electricity, access roads or bridges, and telecommunications.

DOD installations also report taking a range of actions to coordinate with organizations—including public utilities, county governments, and state agencies—to limit installation exposure to the effects of climate change and extreme weather.

Department of Defense's Climate Change and Extreme Weather Coordination Efforts with Communities
Department of Defense’s Climate Change and Extreme Weather Coordination Efforts with Communities

Note: CUP studies result in recommendations that address threats to installation readiness; MIR studies identify risks to infrastructure outside an installation; and DCIP provides construction funds to communities to address, among other things, deficiencies in community infrastructure that support military installation resilience.

DOD administers three grant programs that support community coordination with local installations on climate change and extreme weather—the longstanding Compatible Use Plan (CUP), and the Military Installation Resilience (MIR) and Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot (DCIP) programs established in fiscal year 2020. DOD and community officials emphasized the value of these grant programs as a means of facilitating and funding coordination with surrounding communities, including through joint land use studies and community infrastructure development. In fiscal year 2020, about $67 million was awarded under the three grant programs.

While DOD monitors the status of individual CUP grant expenditures and deliverables—and plans to similarly monitor its MIR and DCIP grants—it is unable to determine the effectiveness of the grant programs. Specifically, DOD has not developed performance measures to benchmark and to track overall program performance. Without establishing performance measures for these grant programs, DOD and Congress are limited in determining whether desired outcomes are being achieved and whether current and future investments in the grant programs are delivering their intended value.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD manages a domestic real-estate portfolio with an estimated replacement value of nearly $930 billion. DOD has acknowledged climate change and extreme weather as threats to its installations, operations, and readiness; and has noted the importance of coordinating with state and local governments to improve climate change preparedness and resilience.

GAO was asked to review DOD’s efforts to coordinate with communities surrounding its installations to limit the exposure to climate change and extreme weather. This report assesses the extent to which DOD (1) reports using the physical infrastructure and support services of communities surrounding domestic installations, and the vulnerabilities to such infrastructure and services from climate change and extreme weather, and (2) coordinates with such communities to limit installation exposure to the effects of climate change and extreme weather, and is able to determine the effectiveness of related community coordination grants. GAO surveyed 65 domestic military installations, reviewed documents related to climate resilience, and interviewed DOD and community officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making three recommendations related to developing performance measures for DOD’s community grant programs. DOD concurred with all three recommendations.

The World’s Single Largest User of Oil is Going Carbon Negative

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

When President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, perhaps he forgot to notify the Department of Defense. The U.S. military is more determined than ever to shed fossil fuels in favor of a carbon-negative future, and its efforts provide a roadmap for business leaders to follow.

Webinar: Addressing Threatened and Endangered Species on DoD Lands

August 20, 2020, 11 am CDT
Register here.

Abstracts

“A Multi-Disciplinary Assessment of Habitat Crediting Programs for Threatened and Endangered Species” by Dr. Liba PejcharSERDP Project Webpage)

DoD has been extraordinarily successful in conserving threatened and endangered species (TES) on installations, yet conservation activities can conflict with training. Cross-boundary conservation could reduce regulatory burden, but successes and shortcomings of such strategies are not well documented. To address this gap, we conducted a limited-scope assessment of cross-boundary habitat crediting programs. We synthesized existing information and surveyed experts to characterize the attributes of current programs, to report how outcomes are measured and perceived, and to evaluate whether programs account for ongoing environmental change. We identified nine habitat crediting programs in the United States and found that these programs have potential to provide regulatory relief and a positive return on investment, but not in all contexts. As will be discussed in this presentation, economic and institutional challenges include disagreement over whether contracts should be short-term or in perpetuity and involve high initial costs. As a result of the assessment, we found most programs monitor habitat amount and quality, but few measure species abundance, survival or reproduction. This multidisciplinary synthesis could inform DoD’s engagement in and assessment of cross-boundary habitat mitigation. In this presentation, we will provide recommendations for building on this synthesis to provide evidence-based guidance on cross-boundary programs to optimize DoD’s conservation investments and ensure that these activities support its core mission.

“BeeDNA: Microfluidics and Metabarcoding Reveal Pollinator Communities from a Single Flower” by Dr. Mark Davis ( SERDP Project Webpage)

Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate, spanning habitats, ecosystems and geopolitical boundaries with extinction rates exceeding those of the last five mass extinction events. Consequently, numerous pollinators have been added to the Federal Register as threatened or endangered, signaling the vital importance to pollinators to North American ecosystems and economies. Rapid, efficient, and accurate assessment of pollinator communities is a conservation imperative to inform adaptive management strategies and stanch pollinator losses. As part of this SERDP-funded effort, we assessed the efficacy of environmental DNA (eDNA) to document pollinator communities. In a controlled greenhouse experiment, we provided three flower species to the Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens). eDNA was sampled and pollinator presence was assessed via microfluidic metabarcoding. Also, we sampled flowers in the field to validate the method. Our results revealed that microfluidic metabarcoding of flower-derived eDNA is an effective means of documenting pollinator communities. Sampling and eDNA extraction method choice, flower morphology, bioinformatic pipeline choice and other factors were shown to influence the pollinator community that is detected. In this presentation, we will discuss how emerging eDNA chemistry and technology can be leveraged to improve measuring and monitoring of pollinator biodiversity in the Anthropocene.

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Liba Pejchar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University. Dr. Pejchar’s research focuses on conserving and restoring bird and mammal communities in human-dominated landscapes. She is trained as an ecologist, but often works closely with social scientists to seek interdisciplinary solutions to sustaining biodiversity and human well-being in the places where people live and work. These landscapes include military lands, agroecosystems and places undergoing energy and residential development. She has authored over 70 peer-reviewed research papers and book chapters, including articles focused on endangered species, cross-boundary conservation and innovative conservation practices. Dr. Pejchar earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science from Middlebury College in Vermont, and a doctoral degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Dr. Mark Davis is a conservation biologist and director of the Collaborative Ecological Genetics Laboratory at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Davis’s research focuses on leveraging genetic data to inform management of rare, threatened and endangered species. Specifically, his work involves the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to rapidly assay biodiversity in numerous contexts. He is actively partnering with project managers at U.S. military installations to mobilize eDNA monitoring for at-risk species. He has authored more than 25 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. Dr. Davis earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology from North Dakota State University, a master’s degree in ecology from Colorado State University, and a doctoral degree in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

With $3 billion PFAS cleanup price tag looming, Pentagon looks to industry for ideas

Read the full story from McClatchy News Service.

Staring down a $3 billion—and growing—tab to clean up water sources at military installations across the country that are contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals linked to firefighting foam, the Defense Department is now in discussions with private companies about potential cleanup solutions that might reduce the cost.

Military sees surge in sites with ‘forever chemical’ contamination

Read the full story in The Hill.

The military now has at least 651 sites that may have been contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more than 50 percent jump from its last tally.

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