AmeriScan: August 1, 2007

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Western Water Conservation Grants Fund 44 Projects

WASHINGTON, DC, August 1, 2007 (ENS) - In the California city of Madera, the Irrigation District plans to create a groundwater bank to better manage up to 20,000 acre-feet of water per year. The total project cost is $1.39 million and today the federal government contributed $297,600 through the Water 2025 Challenge Grant Program.

The grant is one of dozens across the West totalling $9.2 million announced today by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.

The grants will help fund 44 projects in 11 states. Including the contributions of non-federal partners, the selected projects represent a combined investment of more than $32 million in water management improvements.

Awarded by Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, these grants fund a projects that will improve the efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation, efficiency and water market projects with the goal of preventing water crises and conflicts in the drought-ridden region.

Water 2025 helps communities predicted to experience conflicts over water during the next two decades by promoting the use of new technology for water conservation and efficiency and removing institutional barriers to cooperation and collaboration among federal, state, tribal and private organizations.

Water 2025 encourages voluntary water banks and other market-based measures and will fund two water banking projects in the current round of grants - the Madera project and another utilizing groundwater recharge in Utah's Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

The Water 2025 funding will cover three acres of recharge basins, fencing, one monitoring well and flow meter. The project is estimated to save 3,650 acre-feet of water per year. The total project cost is $473,363, including a Water 2025 contribution of $234,500.

"Broadly speaking, a water bank is an intermediary," explains Lawrence MacDonnell in his 1995 book, "Water Banks: Untangling the Gordian Knot of Western Water."

"Like a broker, it seeks to bring together buyers and sellers. Unlike a broker, however, it is an institutionalized process with known procedures and with some kind of public sanction for its activities," he writes.

Water banks exist in almost all western states. There are differences in the way the banks operate, particularly the degree of involvement surrounding sales, pricing, and price controls. Although the approaches may differ, the common goal is moving water to where it is needed most.

The agencies and groups that proposed the 44 projects will now work with the Bureau of Reclamation to secure cooperative agreements and complete regulatory processes. Groundbreaking on the projects is expected by the end of September. They must be completed within two years.

More information on Water 2025 is at: www.doi.gov/water2025. To see a map of potential Water Supply Crises by 2025, log onto: http://www.doi.gov/water2025/supply.html

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Michigan Enviros Petition Lawmakers for Cleaner Energy

LANSING, Michigan, August 1, 2007 (ENS) - Environment Michigan and a coalition of 20 environmental, faith based and labor groups Tuesday delivered to state lawmakers over 14,000 public comments calling for stronger clean energy policies.

To dramatize their request, the advocates gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol in front of a symbolic representation of 200 wind turbines.

"This representation of 200 wind turbines is symbolic of the new energy future we envision for the state of Michigan – one with clean, pollution free electricity that would create thousands of jobs," said Environment Michigan Field Director Abby Rubley. "They represent enough power for 140,000 homes - every household in Ingham County - and over 600 new direct jobs."

The advocates are calling on State Senator Bruce Patterson, who chairs the Senate Energy Policy Committee, and State Senate Majority Leader Michael Bishop, both Republicans, to require 20 percent of Michigan’s electricity to come from renewable energy by 2020.

They are also calling for a restart of Michigan’s energy efficiency programs with a goal of saving one percent of the state's electricity usage each year.

With over half a dozen clean energy bills already introduced in both houses, the Michigan Legislature is expected to take action soon after its summer recess.

This message from Michigan citizens is timed to align with the clean energy debate that is taking place in Congress, with the U.S. House debating a 20 percent by 2020 federal renewable energy standard this week.

"After talking to over 50,000 Michiganders, the message is clear – Michigan is ready for a cleaner, cheaper energy future that stimulates rather than drains our economy," said Rubley. "Michiganders want our energy needs to be met by clean, homegrown resources, not the polluting resources of the past."

According to NextEnergy, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center, if Michigan were to adopt strong clean energy policies it would create between 7,000 and 19,000 new jobs and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Currently, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have passed legislation requiring a percentage of their electricity to come from clean renewable sources – including Michigan’s Great Lakes neighbors Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.

Also, 22 states have successful energy efficiency programs that are saving their rate payers millions while protecting their environment. Michigan has neither.

"The Michigan Senate needs to heed the progress of other states," says Brian Beauchamp with the League of Conservation Voters. "Michigan has the opportunity to make new investments in the economy, protect the Great Lakes and once again become a leader in technological development, but we must act now."

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Blue Planet Run for Clean Water Enters California

SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 1, 2007 (ENS) - It's Day 62 for the Blue Planet Run, and its first day in the United States.

Since June 1, 20 runners have sprinted over 10,000 miles through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and Japan. Now in America to finish the final leg of the journey, they arrived in San Francisco today.

The goal of this 95 day, round-the-world relay run is to raise funds for those in need of safe drinking water.

Organizers say the 2007 Blue Planet Run, sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company, looks to raise money to fund water projects that will deliver safe drinking water to the estimated 1.1 billion people in the world who do not have it today.

The nonprofit group organizing the run, The Blue Planet Run Foundation, says $30 is the total amount needed to provide one person with a lifetime supply of safe drinking water.

Every hour and a half during the runners' 95-day journey, both the baton and their message about drinking water will be passed on.

At these exchange points, the Blue Planet Run crew will set up to answer questions, explain the water issue and encourage the public to become messengers. These exchange points are the best place to interact with the Blue Planet Run runners.

This afternoon they set up an exchange point at the South End Music Concourse, across from One Market Restaurant, then ran across the Golden Gate Bridge and through Sausalito, Mill Valley, and Corte Madera.

Tomorrow they will run from Napa south to San Jose, California and then continue south until they reach Los Angeles on Saturday.

Then the run continues to Las Vegas, Denver, Topeka, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Harrisburg, Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia. The Blue Planet Run ends in New York City on September 4.

The 20 runners hail from many countries - Kenya, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, and the United States.

The youngest, 23 year old Shiri Leventhal born in Cleveland, Ohio, now lives in Sri Lanka where she researches micro-finance projects for the non-profit Sewa Foundation.

"Water is the one resource we can't live without, and yet millions of people do, oftentimes either unwillingly or unknowingly," Leventhal said. "As a runner, water has always fueled my running. I'm excited to now use running to fuel more water sources."

The oldest, 60 year old Lansing Brewer of North Carolina, built his career as a music and environmental educator. He is now a volunteer musician in nursing homes and retirement communities. "We live on a fragile planet," said Brewer. "We each have a responsibility to do our part in caring for it."

One hundred percent of individual contributions to the Blue Planet Run Foundation goes toward funding safe drinking water projects across the globe. Find out more at: www.blueplanetrun.org.

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West Nile Virus Reported Coast to Coast

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, August 1, 2007 (ENS) – State Health Secretary Dr. Calvin Johnson today reported this year’s first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Pennsylvania. The 56 year old Clearfield County man is recovering and has been discharged from the hospital.

Across the country so far this year, five people were not so fortunate. Two people in California have died, there has been one death in Alabama, one in Mississippi, and one in South Dakota. In total, 185 people in 22 states have been treated for West Nile Virus infections this year.

"Every case of human infection from West Nile is a reminder that we can take precautions to help reduce the risk of illness," Dr. Johnson said.

Since it was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2000, West Nile virus has been found in all areas of the state and has returned each summer.

West Nile virus is spread to people and animals by infected mosquitoes. Usually, the infection does not result in any illness. Older adults and persons with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk of becoming ill after a West Nile infection.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus. For severe cases, hospitalization is needed and illness can be associated with long-term disabilities and death.

State DEP and county mosquito control professionals have been using Bti, a naturally occurring bacteria, to kill mosquito larvae for years. Spraying began in early June and is continuing.

In 2006 there were nine human cases of West Nile virus in Pennsylvania and two related deaths. In 2005 there were 25 human cases and two related deaths. In 2004 there were 15 cases of human West Nile virus, resulting in two fatalities.

"The chance of contracting West Nile virus from an infected mosquito is small, and your chances of becoming seriously ill are even smaller," Dr. Johnson said. "However, it is important to remember that everyone - particularly older adults and people with compromised immune systems – should take simple steps to reduce their risk."

Secretary Johnson says Pennsylvanians should presume that West Nile virus is present throughout the state during the warmer periods of the year and should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Two other insect repellants, Picaridin (KBR 3023) and oil of lemon eucalyptus, a plant based repellent, were tested against mosquitoes and provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.

Pennsylvanians also can reduce the risk of West Nile virus by eliminating the places where mosquitoes breed. Mosquitoes can breed in standing water that is present for four or more days.

For more information about West Nile virus, including current Pennsylvania test results for mosquitoes, birds and horses, visit the West Nile virus website at www.westnile.state.pa.us or call the Department of Health at 1-877-PA HEALTH.

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Plants Airlifted to Everglades Stormwater Treatment Areas

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, August 1, 2007 (ENS) - During a three-day airlift, the South Florida Water Management District this week began transplanting 23 tons of water-loving plants to revitalize Florida’s stormwater treatment areas, STAs.

"The constructed treatment wetlands use green technology to absorb harmful nutrients and improve the quality of water flowing into America’s Everglades," the district said.

The large-scale transplanting is revitalizing specific areas within the 6,700-acre STA 1-west, the 9,000-acre STA 2 and STA 3/4, which at nearly 17,000 acres is the largest constructed wetland in the world.

As part of the $30,000 operation, water managers are harvesting healthy batches of southern naiad, commonly referred to as pondweed, from within the STAs and moving the plants to areas where old plant life has died, or construction and maintenance work was recently finished.

After the pondweed is harvested, it is loaded into a large cargo net and carried by helicopter to a drop spot targeted with global positioning system technology. Hovering at about 500 feet, the helicopter pilot releases the load into very shallow waters.

Known as submerged aquatic vegetation because it grows at or below the water’s surface, pondweed quickly re-establishes itself and begins removing phosphorus from water flowing into the treatment areas.

District scientists and engineers work to maintain the appropriate balance of plant life in the STAs, so the systems can continue removing excess nutrients from water found in stormwater runoff.

These nutrients, including phosphorus, flow from farms, lawns, roadways and other developed areas. The STAs help remove these nutrients by channeling water through a system of treatment cells filled with wetland vegetation.

As part of its schedule to improve water quality in the Everglades, the state of Florida is operating more than 41,000 acres of constructed wetlands.

Last year, the STAs combined treated nearly 1.5 million acre-feet of water and prevented 176 metric tons of phosphorus from reaching the Everglades, the district estimates.

Stormwater treatment areas have also become prime locations for native birds and fish, as well as alligators, wild hogs and deer.

On July 11, the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District, SFWMD, adopted a resolution assuring that Everglades restoration projects completed as part of the state's accelerated construction initiative will, first and foremost, benefit the natural system.

The resolution states that the water made available for the natural system will be dedicated for that purpose and will be protected from allocation to water users.

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New Permit Limits Runoff at Boston's Logan Airport

BOSTON, Massachusetts, August 2, 2007 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has issued a new stormwater permit to Massport, the operator of Boston’s Logan International Airport, that upgrades protections to Boston Harbor.

The permit requires new runoff limits at three locations, and expands monitoring of runoff to ensure that surrounding waters are being adequately protected.

The new permit strengthens protections for Boston Harbor in several ways. First, the EPA is requiring effluent limits at three major outfalls for pH, oil and grease, and total suspended solids.

For the first time, monitoring of the outfalls that drain the runways and the perimeter roadway will be required.

During winter storm events, the EPA will require Massport to sample the drainage from the runways and perimeters of the airport for ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, total ammonia nitrogen, and two toxic additives to deicing agents, nonylphenol and tolyltriazole.

"By upgrading and reissuing the stormwater permit for Logan Airport, EPA is helping to protect Boston Harbor," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "We have worked hard to address the airport’s needs, and to address the concerns of the public, as we have updated these protections."

In addition to limiting runoff and requiring monitoring, the permit requires Massport to develop and implement a detailed plan to minimize the release of pollutants to Boston Harbor.

A key component of this pollution prevention plan will be best management practices which will identify and reduce sources of pollution related to deicing and anti-icing, bacteria, fuel and oil, and rubber removal, Varney said.

Massport will also be required to perform a study to help increase the understanding of how or if discharges from the airport cause water quality violations.

Under the study, Massport will calculate a dilution factor for each outfall that could be used by the EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to establish water quality based limits in the future.

In consideration of comments received from the public, the final permit contains additional requirements for public notification. It requires Massport to make the results of its monitoring available on its website and provide a copy of each report, including all environmental reports, to the Boston Public Health Commission, City of Boston Environment Department, and the Winthrop Town Manager’s office.

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Teens Who Wheeze Eat Too Little Fruit, Fish

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, August 1, 2007 (ENS) - Most teenagers in the United States and Canada don't choose to eat fish and fruit nearly as often as they choose burgers and chips. Now, a study of more than 2,100 teens conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and Health Canada has found that those who eat the least fruit and fish have the weakest lungs.

"Most of the adolescents in our study had dietary intakes of fruit, vegetables, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids below recommended daily levels," said Jane Burns, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. Fish are high in healthful omega-3 fatty acids.

"Low intakes were associated with lower lung function and increased odds of asthma and chronic bronchitis," said Burns.

About 20 percent of people under 18 years old cough, wheeze and suffer from asthma and bronchitis.

Smokers are four times more likely to experience these lung problems than non-smokers. The researchers found that the combination of smoking and not getting enough vitamins and other nutrients increases the risk of chronic bronchitis seven-fold.

To control for air pollution, teens were studied only in mid-sized suburban and rural communities, including Charlottesville, Virginia; Aberdeen, South Dakota; Monterey, California; Leamington, Ontario; Yorktown, Saskatchewan; and Penticton, British Columbia.

The 2,112 high school seniors took huffing and puffing tests to measure lung function and answered questions about their eating habits, respiratory health, medications, smoking and exercise.

Results showed that 86 percent did not eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Teens who consumed the least amount of vitamin E, either in foods or supplements, were most likely to have asthma.

Present in green vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, cereals and meats, vitamin E is essential for maintaining normal lung cell structure and protecting tissues from damage by pollutants.

Vitamin C, found in oranges, lemons, tomatoes, greens, and strawberries, is also necessary for protecting lungs and other organs from infection.

Most of the teens tested got the daily recommended amount of C mainly from fruit punch, which Burns says is not the best way. Those teens who barely consumed the recommended amount did not have the healthiest lungs.

Burns suggests raising the daily amount from the 85 milligrams now recommended to 100 milligrams.

Fish proved to be especially unpopular with the tested teens, although the omega-3 fatty acids in fish help protect lungs against inflammation.

Teens who dislike fish or greens can get their vitamins through supplements.

"Vitamin supplements are fine but they may not be enough," Burns said. "Supplement use does not completely alleviate the problem since omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients may not be included. Also, evidence suggests a greater biological effect from eating whole foods than from supplements alone."

Burns and her colleagues at Harvard and Health Canada published their findings in the July issue of the medical journal "Chest."

Other researchers have found that coughing, wheezing, and asthma in adults and young children are associated with diets low in fruit, vegetables, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, but this is one of the largest investigations of the connection among teens.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.