Cyanobacteria highlight water-quality threats

Read the full story at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Researchers are on the lookout for cyanobacteria as part of a new environmental monitoring strategy that combines satellite and aerial imaging with in situ sampling. The three-stage approach targets the phycocyanin pigment responsible for the bacteria’s green bloom and allows scientists to quickly pinpoint local factors impacting water quality. Initial results highlight areas of concern in the Campania region of southwestern Italy.

Wastewater: The Untapped Resource

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Most human activities that use water produce wastewater. As the overall demand for water grows, the quantity of wastewater produced and its overall pollution load are continuously increasing worldwide. Over 80% of the world’s wastewater – and over 95% in some least developed countries – is released to the environment without treatment.

Once discharged into water bodies, wastewater is either diluted, transported downstream or infiltrates into aquifers, where it can affect the quality (and therefore the availability) of freshwater supplies. The ultimate destination of wastewater discharged into rivers and lakes is often the ocean with negative consequences for the marine environment.

The 2017 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report, entitled “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource”, demonstrates how improved wastewater management generates social, environmental and economic benefits essential for sustainable development and is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In particular, the Report seeks to inform decision-makers, government, civil society and private sector, about the importance of managing wastewater as an undervalued and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable by-products, rather than something to be disposed of or a nuisance to be ignored.

The report’s title reflects the critical role that wastewater is poised to play in the context of a circular economy, whereby economic development is balanced with the protection of natural resources and environmental sustainability, and where a cleaner and more sustainable economy has a positive effect on the water quality.

Improved wastewater management generates social, environmental and economic benefits, and is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

When birds of a feather poop together: Excessive birds feces and algal blooms

Read the full story in Science Daily.

Algal blooms deplete oxygen in lakes, produce toxins, and end up killing aquatic life in the lake. Researchers are tracing the role of bird feces, which are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen.

New and old users of Tipping Point Planner collaborate at Purdue workshop

Read the full story from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program.

Researchers, federal and state government and non-government officials, students, and representatives from Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan Sea Grants gathered at Purdue University recently to take part in the two-day Tipping Point Planner collaboration workshop.

The web tool uses the latest watershed research and cutting-edge technology to show planners how close their watershed is to known environmental tipping points and what the watershed will look like if land use decisions continue “business as usual.”

Treating wastewater wastes energy, but it doesn’t have to

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Wastewater treatment plants are energy hogs. A 2013 study by the Electric Power Research Institute and Water Research Foundation reported that they consumed about 30 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or about 0.8 percent of the total electricity used in the United States.

Wastewater treatment’s high energy footprint is ironic because the organic matter in wastewater contains up to five times as much energy as the treatment plants use, according to the American Biogas Council (PDF). Reducing treatment plants’ energy footprints through energy efficiency and using the currently wasted energy could save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite all that energy seemingly there for the taking, reducing the fossil fuel demand of treatment plants is challenging and requires myriad approaches. Around the world, the industry is experimenting with new technologies, evaluating them for not just energy benefits but also cost and unintended consequences, such as additional waste streams to be managed.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has set a target to be energy-neutral by 2023, following the lead of plants in the United Kingdom, Denmark and the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland, California, which has moved beyond net-zero energy to actually selling energy back to the grid. These innovators are using a variety of technologies to reduce the electricity they use through energy efficiency and to generate electricity onsite to offset what they do use.

Trump’s Budget Would Eliminate A Key Funder Of Research On Coastal Pollution

Read the full story from NPR.

For 51 years, a small federal program has been paying scientists to keep American waterways healthy. It’s called Sea Grant — part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for next year would eliminate it.

Air Force snubs Michigan law on tainted well fixes

Read the full story in the Detroit Free Press.

Oscoda area residents whose wells are affected by groundwater contamination from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base have been urged by state and local public health officials to seek an alternative water supply. And a new Michigan law that took effect in January would make the U.S. Air Force responsible for covering the cost of those alternative water supplies.

But Air Force officials will not comply with the new law, Public Act 545, said Paul Carroll, the Air Force’s environmental coordinator for Wurtsmith, at a public forum on the contamination issue in Oscoda on Tuesday.