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Welcome to the GET WET! Blog

This is the post excerpt.

All are invited to participate!

Welcome to the blog that is going to keep you informed about water issues!  Political, social, economic, human health, land use… you name it!  It has been my personal goal to educate the public to the need to understand that our water health is dependent on our actions and inaction.

Your community CAN protect your water! Logo Jpeg

Exploring real world environmental concerns must also include social, economic, political, human health, and natural resource implications. This allows for a comprehensive understanding of complicated environmental matters that do not stop at man-made state lines, or international lines of delineation. Water, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), waste, industrial farming, disaster relief, air quality, carbon sequestration, energy production, and fishing industries, to name a few, all encompass multiple disciplines in both its onset and its potential solutions. Educating the public to environmental sciences as a single discipline, taught from a text, within a classroom, whose antithesis is business, does not convey the entire picture.

The GET WET! Project addresses residential water needs by collaborating with local universities, government representatives, businesses, conservation commissions, ENGOs, parents, and community volunteers to assure all interested parties are heard. Focusing on local environmental issues through school-centered, community-based curriculum increases participation and opens a dialogue regarding local resources, jobs, human health, politics, and economics. Allowing the community to decide which of the concerns they feel deserves the most attention provides an autonomy that may be more palatable.

Scientists theorize new origin story for Earth’s water

This view of Earth’s horizon was taken by an Expedition 7 crew member onboard the International Space Station, using a wide-angle lens while the Station was over the Pacific Ocean.
Credit: NASA

Earth’s water may have originated from both asteroidal material and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, according to new research. The new finding could give scientists important insights about the development of other planets and their potential to support life.

In a new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, researchers propose a new theory to address the long-standing mystery of where Earth’s water came from and how it got here.

The new study challenges widely-accepted ideas about hydrogen in Earth’s water by suggesting the element partially came from clouds of dust and gas remaining after the Sun’s formation, called the solar nebula.

To identify sources of water on Earth, scientists have searched for sources of hydrogen rather than oxygen, because the latter component of water is much more abundant in the solar system.

Many scientists have historically supported a theory that all of Earth’s water came from asteroids because of similarities between ocean water and water found on asteroids. The ratio of deuterium, a heavier hydrogen isotope, to normal hydrogen serves as a unique chemical signature of water sources. In the case of Earth’s oceans, the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio is close to what is found in asteroids.

But the ocean may not be telling the entire story of Earth’s hydrogen, according to the study’s authors.

“It’s a bit of a blind spot in the community,” said Steven Desch, a professor of astrophysics in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona and co-author of the new study, led by Peter Buseck, Regents’ Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University. “When people measure the [deuterium-to-hydrogen] ratio in ocean water and they see that it is pretty close to what we see in asteroids, it was always easy to believe it all came from asteroids.”

More recent research suggests hydrogen in Earth’s oceans does not represent hydrogen throughout the entire planet, the study’s authors said. Samples of hydrogen from deep inside the Earth, close to the boundary between the core and mantle, have notably less deuterium, indicating this hydrogen may not have come from asteroids. Noble gases helium and neon, with isotopic signatures inherited from the solar nebula, have also been found in the Earth’s mantle.

In the new study, researchers developed a new theoretical model of Earth’s formation to explain these differences between hydrogen in Earth’s oceans and at the core-mantle boundary as well as the presence of noble gases deep inside the planet.

Modeling Earth’s beginning

According to their new model, several billion years ago, large waterlogged asteroids began developing into planets while the solar nebula still swirled around the Sun. These asteroids, known as planetary embryos, collided and grew rapidly. Eventually, a collision introduced enough energy to melt the surface of the largest embryo into an ocean of magma. This largest embryo would eventually become Earth.

Gases from the solar nebula, including hydrogen and noble gases, were drawn in by the large, magma-covered embryo to form an early atmosphere. Nebular hydrogen, which contains less deuterium and is lighter than asteroidal hydrogen, dissolved into the molten iron of the magma ocean.

Through a process called isotopic fractionation, hydrogen was pulled towards the young Earth’s center. Hydrogen, which is attracted to iron, was delivered to the core by the metal, while much of the heavier isotope, deuterium, remained in the magma which eventually cooled and became the mantle, according to the study’s authors. Impacts from smaller embryos and other objects then continued to add water and overall mass until Earth reached its final size.

This new model would leave Earth with noble gases deep inside its mantle and a lower deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in its core than in its mantle and oceans.

The authors used the model to estimate how much hydrogen came from each source. They concluded most was asteroidal in origin, but some of Earth’s water did come from the solar nebula.

“For every 100 molecules of Earth’s water, there are one or two coming from solar nebula,” said Jun Wu, assistant research professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and lead author of the study.

An insightful model

The study also offers scientists new perspectives about the development of other planets and their potential to support life, the authors said. Earth-like planets in other solar systems may not all have access to asteroids loaded with water. The new study suggests these exoplanets could have obtained water through their system’s own solar nebula.

“This model suggests that the inevitable formation of water would likely occur on any sufficiently large rocky exoplanets in extrasolar systems,” Wu said. “I think this is very exciting.”

Anat Shahar, a geochemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who was not involved with the study, noted the hydrogen fractionation factor, which describes how the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio changes when the element dissolves in iron, is currently unknown and difficult to measure. For the new study, this property of hydrogen had to be estimated.

The new model, which fits in well with current research, could be tested once experiments reveal the hydrogen fractionation factor, Shahar said.

“This paper is a very creative alternative to what is an old problem,” Shahar said. “The authors have done a good job of estimating what these different fractionation factors would be without having the experiments.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by American Geophysical UnionNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jun Wu, Steven J. Desch, Laura Schaefer, Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Kaveh Pahlevan, Peter R. Buseck. Origin of Earth’s Water: Chondritic Inheritance Plus Nebular Ingassing and Storage of Hydrogen in the CoreJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018JE005698

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  American Geophysical Union. “Scientists theorize new origin story for Earth’s water.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181107130306.htm>.

Plastic microfibers found for first time in wild animals’ stool, from S. A. fur seals

South American Fur Seal

For the first time, plastic microfibers have been discovered in wild animals’ stool, from South American fur seals. The findings were made by a team of Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Georgia, who suggest examining scat from pinnipeds can be an efficient way to monitor environmental levels of microfibers and microplastics in the environment. Their study was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

“It’s no secret that plastic pollution is one of the major threats to marine ecosystems, but we’re learning now just how widespread that problem is,” said Dr. Mauricio Seguel, a research fellow at the University of Georgia. “These samples are invisible to the naked eye. We want to understand factors that are driving their distribution and what this means for animals in the Southern Hemisphere.”

The team examined the scat of 51 female South American fur seals on the remote Guafo Island, in southwestern Chile, from December 2015 to March 2016. Each sample’s inorganic material was dissolved in a solution in a lab, leaving only the microscopic, plastic particles to be analyzed. Researchers then found 67 percent of the samples showed a remarkable abundance of microfibers, which until now had only been reported in animals fed in captivity.

Microplastics are plastic fragments smaller than 5 millimeters. Microfibers are the least studied form of microplastic. They are small hairs of plastic, less than 1 millimeter in size, from materials such as polyester or nylon and can end up in the ocean through waste water after cleaning, no matter how thorough the treatment. They also can absorb a wide array of pollutants.

The researchers believe the microfibers arrived at Guafo Island through changing ocean currents, before being consumed by plankton and continuing up the food chain through fish and, finally, to the seals. There isn’t enough evidence to determine if microfibers have any adverse effects on mammals, but some studies have indicated morphological changes in fish.

Scat analysis, the team noted, could be a good tool to monitor the exposure of marine mammals to plastics as it’s effective and non-invasive, poses no danger to either the researcher or the animal, and it’s easy to identify both fur seals and their feces. Dr. Seguel says his colleagues are conducting similar, follow-up tests in other parts of South America.

“It’s not too late to act to heal our oceans, but one of the first steps is determining how much we have damaged the ecosystem through our activities, like producing and disposing of plastic,” said Dr. Kelly Diehl, Morris Animal Foundation Interim Vice President of Scientific Programs. “Studies like these will help us learn those answers so we can begin to make better decisions for the health of marine life.”

Morris Animal Foundation has funded other fur seal studies at Guafo Island with Dr. Seguel’s team. One found that factors that contributed to a die-off of South American fur seal pups included mites, pneumonia and changing sea surface temperature. In another, researchers discovered hookworms feed at a constant rate on their seal pup hosts before they produce eggs and die, a strategy which also often kills the pups as well.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Morris Animal FoundationNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

 

Journal Reference:

  1. Angela Toepp, Mandy Larson, Geneva Wilson, Tara Grinnage-Pulley, Carolyne Bennett, Adam Leal-Lima, Bryan Anderson, Molly Parrish, Michael Anderson, Hailie Fowler, Jessica Hinman, Eric Kontowicz, Jane Jefferies, Marvin Beeman, Jesse Buch, Jill Saucier, Phyllis Tyrrell, Radhika Gharpure, Caitlin Cotter, Christine Petersen. Randomized, controlled, double-blinded field trial to assess Leishmania vaccine effectiveness as immunotherapy for canine leishmaniosisVaccine, 2018; 36 (43): 6433 DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.08.087

FOR MORE INFORMATION:Morris Animal Foundation. “Plastic microfibers found for first time in wild animals’ stool, from S. A. fur seals.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181109185723.htm>.

Nestle has been bottling and selling water it has no right to in drought-stricken California, state says

Demonstrators protest against Nestle bottling water during the California drought, outside a Nestle Arrowhead water bottling plant in Los Angeles

Nestlé has been bottling and selling water that it does not have the legal right to use, officials in California have concluded.

Fights over water are a constant in California, exacerbated when drought years make the supply especially scarce. Since 2015, officials with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) had received numerous complaints that Nestlé was claiming water from the San Bernardino National Forest to which it had no right and then selling it under its Arrowhead brand.

Because California allocates water rights in part based on who got there first, getting to the bottom of those allegations required a deep dive into history. Nestlé cited a 150-year-old claim by a man named David Noble Smith whose property later became the site of the Arrowhead Springs Hotel, for instance.

The company’s materials tout its history in California and its commitment to “sourcing water exclusively from carefully selected mountain springs,” which “ensures that every drop is as crystal clear as the water revered by Native Americans for its healing powers”.

“Westerners have savoured the natural goodness of Arrowhead water since bottling began in the 1890s,” the company’s website proclaims.

After combing through decades worth of permitting information, the water board declared last week that the company had no basis for much of the water it was draining from the Strawberry Canyon watershed. It said the company’s invocation of David Noble Smith was “not valid for Nestlé’s current appropriative diversion and use of water from the San Bernardino National Forest”.

“A significant portion of the water currently diverted by Nestlé appears to be diverted without a valid basis of right,” the report said.

Ultimately, the board found Nestlé had the right to about 26 acre-feet a year, or about 8.5m gallons, but had averaged some 192 acre-feet a year, or about 62m gallons.

The board’s report isn’t the same as an enforceable order. It issued a series of recommendations for Nestlé in a letter to the company, including suggesting the company “cease any unauthorised diversions”, submit a compliance plan and secure a permit for diverting water beyond its allowance.

In a statement, Nestlé said it was pleased the water board had vindicated its claim to “a significant amount of the water in Strawberry Canyon”.

“We look forward to cooperating with the SWRCB during the review process and to providing the necessary documents to supplement the SWRCB’s report, including producing information requested from over a century ago, to the extent that it is available,” the statement said.

While California law does not prohibit private companies like Nestlé from bottling the state’s water, the company is a regular target for environmentalists, Native Americans and other activists.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/nestle-water-selling-diverting-bottled-arrowhead-san-bernardino-forest-california-a8130686.html

STUDY LOOKS AT NEW WAYS TO REMOVE MULTI-RESISTANT BACTERIA FROM SEWAGE

WWI HyReKA sewage.jpg.scale.LARGE.jpg

An ultrafiltration system consists of extremely fine membrane sections, in which antibiotics-resistant bacteria are removed from the sewage. Credit: HyReKA

GERMANY, NOV 8, 2018 — Multi-resistant bacteria have learned to survive treatments with antibiotics by developing defense mechanisms. Not all of them are dangerous for human beings. Still, these bacteria are able to transmit their resistance genes to disease-causing pathogens. In this way, the number of resistant germs increases in the environment.

“When the bacteria spread, people have contact with them more often. If we do not take action against the spread, the number of effective antibiotics will decrease and, in the end, there will be few substances only or no substances with which we can fight a disease,” says Professor Thomas Schwartz of KIT’s Institute of Functional Interfaces (IFG).

The microbiologist and his team study water bodies for the abundance and spread of clinically relevant antibiotics resistances and bacteria that may be dangerous to humans with aweakened immune system, small children, and elderly people. “With the sewage from hospitals, nursing homes, domestic areas, slaughterhouses, and agriculture, resistant bacteria enter sewage treatment plants. Here, we detected bacteria not only at the inlets, but also at the outlets,” Schwartz says. Hence, current sewage treatment methods remove part of the bacteria only, while the remainder is discharged into rivers and creeks together with the processed water.

For this reason, the scientists test and assess various methods for the removal of these critical pathogens in sewage treatment plants: an ultrafiltration plant, an ozone and UV treatment, a combination of both, and activated charcoal treatment. “In the case of ultrafiltration, water flows through extremely fine membrane sections and the amount of antibiotics-resistant bacteria can be reduced to such an extent that they can hardly be detected anymore. Ozone treatment, also in combination with UV radiation, enables a smaller, but still promising reduction of germs. For activated charcoal, we found no efficient change, i.e. no reduction,” says the microbiologist.

Within HyReKA, the scientists plan to develop the ultrafiltration system to maturity and to optimize ozone and UV treatment to enhance reduction efficiency. In addition, the scientists of KIT set up an assessment concept for the individual methods, such that study parameters can also be applied to other sewage treatment methods. “In this way, we might provide hospitals, nursing homes or agricultural facilities, where the risk of resistant bacteria can also be suspected to be high, with these technologies to reduce the load acting on municipal sewage treatment plants,” Schwartz says.

HyReKA
HyReKA is the German acronym of “Biologically and Hygenico-medical Relevance and Control of Antiobiotics-resistant Pathogens in Clinical, Agricultural, and Municipal Sewage and their Importance in Raw Waters.”

 

SOURCE: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Nearly 1,300 day cares in Oregon have missed a deadline to submit drinking water test results to state officials to make sure children aren’t at risk of lead poisoning.

To read more: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/oregon/articles/2018-11-10/oregon-day-cares-miss-reporting-deadline-for-lead-in-water

 

EPA INVITES 39 PROJECTS TO APPLY FOR WIFIA FUNDING

HOW TO APPLY: https://www.epa.gov/wifia

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WASHINGTON, DC, NOV 5, 2018 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting 39 projects in 16 states and D.C. to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. Together, the selected borrowers will receive WIFIA loans totaling approximately $5 billion to help finance over $10 billion in water infrastructure investments and create up to 155,000 jobs.

“Through WIFIA, EPA is playing an integral role in President Trump’s efforts to improve and upgrade our nation’s water infrastructure and ensure all Americans have access to clean and safe water,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This year, EPA will help finance over $10 billion in water infrastructure investments that will create up to 155,000 jobs, upgrade aging infrastructure, reduce lead exposure, and improve the lives of millions of Americans across the country.”

EPA’s WIFIA loans will allow large and small communities across the country to implement projects to address two national water priorities – providing for clean and safe drinking water including reducing exposure to lead and other contaminants and addressing aging water infrastructure.

EPA received 62 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2018 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).

Of the selected projects, 12 projects will reduce lead or other drinking water contaminants and 37 will address aging infrastructure. 8 prospective borrowers submitted letters of interest in response to the 2017 Notice of Funding Availability, resubmitted them for 2018, and are now invited to proceed in the 2018 funding round. To learn more about the 39 projects that are invited to apply, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-selected-projects.

FORE MORE INFO: https://www.waterworld.com/articles/2018/11/epa-invites-39-projects-to-apply-for-wifia-funding.html

2018 Election: Voters Reject Stricter Rules for Oil, Gas, and Mining

Water protections and spending were at stake in state and local ballot initiatives.

2015-05-30-Weld_County_Colorado_©JCGanter_B2823-2500.jpg

Proposition 112, which would have increased the distance between new oil and gas wells and homes, schools, and water sources, was rejected in Colorado. Photo © J. Carl Ganter/Circle of Blue

By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue 

Voters in three western states rejected citizen-driven ballot measures that would have placed stricter rules on the fossil fuel and mining industries in order to protect water and wildlife, while Washington state voters opposed a carbon tax that would have provided funds for water and ecosystem projects.

Losses by green groups in Alaska, Colorado, and Montana contributed to a 2018 election in which water-related policies and funding were on the ballot in at least a dozen local and state initiatives.

In two other high-profile decisions, voters in Baltimore backed a first-ever municipal ban on privatization of a city water utility while Californians uncharacteristically rejected an $8.9 billion bond for water projects.

In western states, extractive industries, which spent tens of millions of dollars to oppose the measures, avoided more restrictive permitting rules designed to minimize harm to water sources.

In Alaska, Ballot Measure 1 aimed to defend fish habitat from damage by new development, which includes not only fossil fuel projects but any construction that would disturb watersheds that nurture salmon and other anadromous fish. The measure, which would have expanded state permitting authority, lost by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent.

The oil and gas industry were targets in Colorado, where Proposition 112 would have pushed new fossil fuel infrastructure farther from schools, homes, businesses, and water sources. The proposal would have lengthened setback distances for developments not on federally managed public land from 500 feet to 2,500 feet, and allowed local jurisdictions to establish even tougher limits. Voters rejected the proposal by a 57-43 margin.

In Montana, supporters of Initiative 186 wanted to ensure that new hardrock mines would not require perpetual water treatment after closure. The initiative is losing 57 percent to 43 percent, with three-quarters of precincts fully reporting results.

Water Infrastructure Initiatives

A second water theme of the midterms was infrastructure funding.

Baltimore became the first U.S. city to ban the sale or lease of its municipal water system when a large majority of voters approved Question 3, by a margin of 77 percent to 23 percent.

Two small bonds — $47 million in Rhode Island for water systems and environmental cleanup and $30 million in Maine for wastewater treatment — passed easily.

California voters, usually keen to support water projects, bucked recent history in rejecting Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond. The margin was 52 percent to 48 percent. The editorial boards of the state’s largest newspapers opposed the expenditure, arguing that beneficiaries of the projects should pay, not the general taxpayer.

Two local measures in California performed better. Eighty-two percent of San Francisco voters approved a $425 million bond to repair the century-old Embarcadero sea wall so that it can better withstand earthquakes and rising seas.

In Los Angeles County, a parcel tax on paved surfaces passed with two-thirds voting in favor. Expected to raise $300 million per year, the tax will pay for stormwater projects in the nation’s most populous county.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of Houston voters reaffirmed support of a fund to pay for stormwater projects and street repairs. The ReBuild Houston program was established eight years ago, but the Texas Supreme Court ordered it back to the ballot with wording that clarified the source of funding, which is a fee levied on the amount of paved surface.

Old battles were resurrected elsewhere, too. In an echo of 2016, when a similar measure was on the ballot, Washington state voters rejected a carbon tax by a margin of 56 to 44. A quarter of the revenue from the tax — estimated at $2.3 billion over the first five years — would have been directed toward clean water and forest restoration.

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