Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay Dead Zones 2009

Revised estimates of Gulf and Chesapeake Bay Dead Zones


Dead Zone in Gulf Is Smaller Than Forecast but More Concentrated in Parts

Published: July 27, 2009

Scientists said Monday that the region of oxygen-starved water in the northern Gulf of Mexico this summer was smaller than forecast, which means less disruption of shrimp, crabs and other marine species, and of the fisheries that depend on them.

But researchers found that although the so-called dead zone along the Texas and Louisiana coasts was smaller — about 3,000 square miles compared with a prediction of about 8,000 square miles — the actual volume of low-oxygen, or hypoxic, water may be higher, as the layer is deeper and thicker in some parts of the gulf than normal. And the five-year average size of the dead zone is still considered far too big, about three times a target of 2,000 square miles set for 2015 by an intergovernmental task force.


Bay 'dead zone' bigger than predicted
The fish-stressing "dead zone" in the Chesapeake Bay is bigger than predicted this summer, scientists say.

Just about a month ago, University of Michigan scientists had forecast that the amount of oxygen-starved water in the Chesapeake should be much lower than average for the troubled estuary. University of Maryland scientists had followed with similar predictions that the bay's ''dead zone'' -- where dissolved oxygen levels in the water are too low for fish to breathe comfortably, if at all -- was likely to be one of the smallest ever measured.

The scientists had based their predictions on below-normal flows in late spring of the Susquehanna River, which supplies half of the fresh water entering the bay. Though it rained a lot in Maryland and Virginia in May and June, it had been relatively dry in the Susquehanna's drainage basin in New York and Pennsylvania.

But based on water sampling conducted every two weeks since May, University of Maryland scientists hve found that the volume of water with little or no oxygen in it has exceeded the forecast -- increasing from below-average in late May to above normal for June and remaining about average for this month, even as rains locally subsided.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dissolved Oxygen in Chesapeake Bay

A very detailed paper on Dissolved Oxygen level in Chesapeake Bay.


The effect of global warming on eutrophication in lakes


The effect of global warming on eutrophication in lakes
Source: European Commission, Environment DG
Jul. 24, 2009

Shallow lakes are an important type of ecosystem that may be vulnerable to current warming trends. A recent study examines just how vulnerable they are. It indicates that climate change combined with nutrient pollution could exacerbate eutrophication and suggests nitrogen levels should be monitored.

The researchers used 48 tanks in north-western England which simulated shallow lake communities. They studied the effects of warming by 4°C (which is the high emission scenario for the temperature increase during a hundred years period) and the effects of two levels of nutrient loading relevant to current degrees of eutrophication.

Levels of nutrients, oxygen and pH, as well as phytoplankton, fish and plants, were also studied. During the experiment the highest temperatures at noon reached 21°C in unheated shallow lakes and 25°C in heated lakes. They did not drop below about 3°C in either.

The study demonstrated that warming increased the concentration of soluble phosphate in the water. It also increased total plant biomass, but surprisingly reduced the amount of phytoplankton. The fall in phytoplankton is thought to be caused by shading from increased floating plants, which may be linked to a warming-induced release of soluble phosphate from the sediment. Warming also reduced fish biomass, probably the result of oxygen stress. Perhaps more importantly, high nitrogen loading as well as warming reduced the number of plant species.

Although temperature rises alone are unlikely to cause a switch in water conditions, they could intensify signs of eutrophication in shallow lakes. For example, increased temperature together with increased nutrient loading may cause nuisance growths of floating plants which may affect biodiversity.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Clean-up from fish kill costs thousands

News about cost of fish kill due to fertilizer run off.


Clean-up from fish kill costs thousands

COLUMBUS -- A fish kill caused by runoff of corn syrup and manure cost one Licking County farmer's insurance company more than $20,000 in restitution.

Ron Rodgers, a law-enforcement supervisor with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said Larry Cooperrider applied a mixture of manure and about 530,000 gallons of corn-syrup material, a byproduct of ethanol production, to his field as fertilizer.

Before the mixture was incorporated into the soil, a large rainfall washed it into three nearby waterways: Otter Fork Creek, East Fork Rattlesnake Creek and the North Fork of the Licking River.

The runoff temporarily depleted oxygen levels in the water and killed about 49,000 aquatic inhabitants, including fish, in August 2008.

The farmer's insurance company agreed to pay $20,213.24 in restitution to the Division of Wildlife.

"These byproducts from ethanol production are a relatively recent product," Rodgers said. "I don't think he will do it again."

Can We Save the Ponds by Eating Oysters?

Can Mussels and Oysters be used to consume Nitrogen in ponds.
Swedish experience and proposals from USA.
Diatoms and Fish are a better and simpler option.

News report from Martha's Vineyard


Can We Save the Ponds by Eating Oysters?


... a solution to the most pressing environmental problem on Martha’s Vineyard: pollution of our ponds by nitrogen which leaches out of septic systems.

And it’s a solution which is cost effective, creates jobs and is delicious.

We’re talking shellfish, folks.

See, about a decade ago, the Gullmar Fiord on the Swedish west coast had the same problem the ponds on this Island have today. That is, excessive nitrogen fueled excessive growth of algae which in turn led to what they call eutrophication of the water, essentially the removal of oxygen, which makes life untenable for other plants and animals.

Then a team lead by a marine ecologist with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences named Odd Lindahl, began cultivating mussels. They found they could cut the nitrogen load (i.e. the total nitrogen in the water) by 20 per cent, at a lower cost than a standard water treatment plant.

“In one year they removed 39 tons of nitrogen from the fiord,” said Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group.


“There are 933 existing residences in the Edgartown Great Pond watershed,” said Mr. Wilcox. “There’s roughly 300 more than the pond can tolerate.

“And we’re looking at a potential 749 extra residences, which could be built under existing zoning,” he said.

Edgartown is currently working to extend sewerage to enough of those currently-existing houses to reduce the nitrogen load by the 30 per cent.

“That can and will address the existing situation,” said Mr. Wilcox, adding:

“But what about future development? Every additional house is in excess of what that threshold number for nitrogen is.”

Of course, the town could just keep extending the sewer system; the town’s wastewater treatment plant has extra capacity. But that is very expensive.

“The areas they are doing now, it comes out to $10,000 to $15,000 for each house, which is actually relatively cheap,” said Mr. Wilcox, pointing out also that those properties now being done were close to the facility.

“But if you have to build a new plant, the cost could be three, four, five times that.

“Who pays that? People have batted around the idea of a nitrogen tax paid by all residents in the watershed. Maybe there could be impact fees for any new development.”


“If we don’t do something about growth, the ponds are going to suffer.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One month climate simulation

Great Video on youtube.
A GCM simulation of one calendar month of global climate.


You can compare this simulation with our video on oxygen bubbling up in a lake.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aliens invade the Great Lakes


Aliens invade the Great Lakes

The ecology of the Great Lakes may be permanently altered by invasive species of mollusks that filter out algae and diatoms needed by native species. There appears little that can be done.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
by Jim Erickson

Abroad the research vessel Laurentian on Lake Michigan, the steel cable whines and the winch groans as it hoists a net crammed with about 300 pounds of fingernail-size quagga mussels over the stern and onto the deck.

University of Michigan fishery biologist David Jude opens the net and starts sorting the catch, the result of a five-minute trawl along the bottom of Lake Michigan, about 3½ miles west of Grand Haven in the lake's southern basin.

Tiny shrimp-like creatures called diporeia also eat diatoms. Their numbers have declined sharply in recent years, and scientists suspect it's because the mussels are filtering diporeia's food from the water. As a result of the diporeia's population crash, "prey fish" such as alewives, which feed on diporeia, have also been declining.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Bangladesh, Dhaka: dying rivers threaten residents


Bangladesh, Dhaka: dying rivers threaten residents
Posted: 20 Jul 2009 01:30 AM PDT

Severe pollution is rendering the rivers around the capital, Dhaka, biologically dead, with specialists warning the situation is beyond rescuing. “The rivers around Dhaka have too little oxygen for the survival of aquatic life,” Umme Kulsum Navera, assistant professor of Water Resource Engineering (WRE) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, told IRIN. “The water is especially toxic during the dry seasons,” he said. While oxygen levels increase during the monsoons, they are still too low for a healthy, thriving aquatic environment.

According to research conducted by the WRE, some invertebrates and small organisms come to life in these rivers when water-flow increases at this time. But in the dry season, these life forms completely disappear in

In past decades, the changing nature of the river has forced many – particularly fishermen – to switch livelihoods as the Buriganga – one of the four major rivers that encircle the city (the others are Shitalakhya, Turag and Balu) – no longer holds any fish.

[...] Even the slightest physical contact with the water, which could be described as nothing more than raw sewage, is potentially hazardous, say health experts. “Most of the boatmen around the Buriganga have several types of skin disease. The poisonous water is responsible as there are major toxic elements in the water, from irritants to carcinogens,” Abdal Miah, a dermatologist in Dhaka.

Meanwhile, the Shitalakhya, another major river that flows along the eastern part of the city, has become so polluted that its foul stench can be smelled half a kilometre away.

Industrial dumping is primarily responsible for the Buriganga’s state. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the tanneries around the Buriganga are the leading culprits.

Despite a 1995 Environment Conservation Act, stipulating that all industrial units must have proper treatment plants to get clearance from the Department of Environment (DoE) and hence supplies of gas and electricity, the reality is quite different.

According to the Institute for Environment and Development Studies (IEDS), a leading local environmental NGO, thousands of small and medium factories dump industrial effluent directly into the rivers.

Some 40,000MT of toxic sludge containing hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, chlorine, chromium and other harmful chemicals from the tanneries are discharged into the Buriganga every day.

“The concentration of organic pollutant in the Buriganga is 17 times higher than the allowable limit of 3mg per litre. Chemical pollutants like ammonia, aluminium, cadmium, lead and mercury have also been detected in the Buriganga,” SM Mahbubur Rahman, head of the water resource planning division of the Institute of Water Modelling (IWM), said.

The lone sewage treatment facility operated and maintained by Dhaka Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DWASA) has a treatment capacity of 0.12 million cubic metres per day, while the daily volume of sewage generated in Dhaka city is 1.3 million cubic metres.

The untreated portion is dumped into the rivers around Dhaka.

At a conference on drinking water in Dhaka held in May 2009, the Industries Minister Dilip Barua admitted that the industrial sector lacked social responsibility plans, especially when it came to effluent treatment plants. The installation of such plants would be enforced stringently by the government and efforts would be taken to relocate the tanneries from the capital city, he said.

See also: Bangladesh, Dhaka: pollution gets to groundwater

Source: IRIN, 13 July 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ganga, Yamuna "no cleaner" now than 20 yrs ago, says Ramesh


Ganga, Yamuna "no cleaner" now than 20 yrs ago, says Ramesh
PTI 17 July 2009, 03:58pm IST

NEW DELHI: In a frank admission, Government on Friday said in Lok Sabha that rivers Ganga and Yamuna were "no cleaner" now as they were two decades ago despite spending over Rs 1,700 crore.

"I admit with full responsibility that Ganga and Yamuna are no cleaner than 20 years ago," said environment minister Jairam Ramesh while responding to a Calling Attention Motion on checking pollution in rivers and lakes in India.

He said a "determined and renewed effort" was required to cleanse these major rivers.

To a question by BJP member Adityanath on the cleanliness of the two major rivers of North India, Ramesh said he could provide figures on their pollution levels but "I myself don't believe these numbers. ... For a layman, the answer is a depressing 'no'".

While over Rs 816 crore was spent on two phases of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP), Rs 682 crore was spent on the first phase of the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) in the first phase and another Rs 190 crore on the second phase so far, he said.

Referring to the National Ganga River Basin Authority headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said global tender for project consultants to prepare a basin management plan have attracted 30 bids and the selection would be done in the next two months.

Its quite clear that the problem is not funds or implementation.
The technology being used is not adequate to solve the problem.
A new approach has to be adopted to solve the problem.

Diatom Algae are the best means to remove Nutrients from water.




April 20, 2009


In general, the Bay Program partners have made some important – but not sufficient progress to reduce nutrient pollution from agriculture and wastewater treatment plants. Agriculture is the single largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution to the Bay, with about half of that load directly related to animal manure. However, the pollution from urban and suburban stormwater is actually increasing.”


The straightforward conclusion is that the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem remains severely degraded, despite the concerted efforts by many for more than 25 years.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2009


America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2009 announced today
Annual report highlights threats to drinking water, flood protection, river health


Amy Kober, 206-213-0330 x23, akober@americanrivers.org

April 7, 2009


Rivers in Alaska, California, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin are on the list this year.


Ganga - recent news


Fishes in Ganga can breathe easy again
shivani vig, TNN 10 July 2009, 10:38pm IST
KANPUR: If the monitoring done by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) is any indication, the Anoxic Bioremediation (ABR) treatment for 5 mld Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Jajmau and on-channel treatment of sewage drain have been considerably successful in reducing the water odour, reduce Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and turbidity in the waste water. This would also help in survival of aquatic life.

Notably, to save aquatic life in the Ganga and to effectively treat waste water, two pilot projects had been initiated by WWF India's Living programme in the city which are -- Use of ABR in the 5 mld STP at Jajmau and on-channel treatment of sewage on the 3 km stretch of the Singhpur-Kalyanpur Nullah (Near DPS school).

The monitoring done at the STP by Pollution Control Board before and after ABR treatment showed that BOD level was brought down within the prescribed limit. The BOD before treatment which was sampled at 320 mg/l (mg/l) was found to be about 60 after the ABR process.

"The monitoring results have shown that 60-70 per cent of BOD has been reduced, but it being only one time sampling, the efficacy of the ABR process cannot be concluded on this sampling alone and we would have to wait for more testing results," claimed Radhey Shyam, regional officer, UPPCB.

Similarly, the suspended particles which were found to be 766 mg/l, after the treatment were recorded to be only 176 mg/l thus reducing the turbidity in outlet channel due to the oxidation of organic matter present in the sludge.

The STP was not the lone example of this new technique, the on-channel stretch of the Singhpur-Kalyanpur also showed the results vis-a-vis reduced turbidity and BOD. More so, the site was free from odour.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Board scientists also claimed that the efficiency of the ABR treatment would depend on the proper doses and maintenance of the process and thus, trained manpower would be required for its maintenance in the long run.

Dr Suresh Rohilla, director and team leader of WWF India's Living Ganga programme said, "The process does not require any electricity."

He added that at present Kanpur requires a lot of electricity for pumping of waste including high operation and maintenance cost for waste water treatment. "The successful implementation of the pilot projects will set the roadmap, reduce the power consumption and will create a footprint of the city on the Ganga system and emerge as a model city in the Ganga basin," maintained Rohilla.

Interestingly, Kanpur Nagar Nigam being the regulatory body would decide upon the extension of these pilot projects. "We are waiting for the completion of these projects. If the results are positive, we would look forward to the implementation of the ABR treatment to other sites," pointed out municipal commissioner KNN, P K Pandey.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Diatoms in the Arctic Ocean


The Arctic Ocean was once full of life
Posted on July 11, 2009 by robertkyriakides

The Arctic Ocean is home to very few types of life. There are some plankton and algae, which provide the food for small fish, worms, crustaceans and molluscs, which in turn are eaten by cod. The cod are eaten by seals and the seals are eaten by polar bears. Of course, it is all a bit more complicated than that but there are not many different varieties of life in the Arctic Ocean because the fact that the ocean is mostly frozen tends to limit the size of the food chain.

If you look point a powerful microscope at cores of mud that have been extracted from beneath the Arctic Ocean you will see, I am reliably informed, diatoms. Diatoms are very small algae. From the pattern of the distribution and arrangement of diatoms you can, according to Alan Kemp of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, reconstruct the Arctic Ocean’s climate. From Mr Kemp’s observations he has deduced that the Arctic was once rich in life of many varieties, because of the sheer numbers and distribution of the diatoms. It was once as rich in life as the Indian Ocean is today.

From this it seems that the Arctic was once ice free, certainly in the summer time, and possibly for some of the winter. The diatoms were laid down in the ocean floor mud at the same time as when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Some think that the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice in the next twenty or so years. If that happens then whatever the climate change consequences (which are likely to be very unpleasant for humanity) the consequences of an Arctic Ocean supporting far more life than it does today will be to provide a much needed source food for those animals at the top of the practical food chain – humans.

Why wait for the Arctic Ocean to thaw to get more Diatoms.
There are better ways to do this - Nualgi and this will prevent the Arctic Ocean from thawing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chesapeake Bay - buy back of crabbing licenses


Maryland Seeks to Buy Back Small-Scale Crab Licenses

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 10, 2009

The state of Maryland is offering to buy back crabbing licenses from about half of the state's watermen in a bid to rebuild the Chesapeake Bay's beleaguered stock of blue crabs by reducing the number of people trying to catch them.

The offer was mailed Wednesday to 3,676 watermen who hold "Limited Crab Catcher" licenses, state officials said. These are the state's small-scale crabbers, licensed to set out 50 or fewer wire-mesh crab traps, or "pots." The other half of the state's watermen, with licenses to use more pots, were not included in the offer.

The state will use a "reverse auction," officials said: Each crabber will submit a bid, saying how much he or she would accept in exchange for giving up a license. Officials will accept the bids, starting with the lowest, until the money runs out or the price reaches a level the state deems too high.

Lynn Fegley, an official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said the auction aims to eliminate uncertainty about the state's crab harvests. She said that about 1,060 crabbers who hold the small-scale licenses have not worked on the water since 2004. Others catch relatively few.

But all of them might suddenly choose to catch more, she said. She said the state would like to buy back 2,000 licenses.

"You have a lot more [fishing] capacity out there than the resource can bear," said Douglas Lipton, a University of Maryland economist who helped design the buyback system. "This is a way, in the future, to have more of a handle on that."

Maryland and Virginia have put restrictions on the blue crab catch in the past two years, trying to stem a sharp drop in the population. Virginia officials are also planning a license buyback program, a state official said, but the details have not been worked out.

All this is so unnecessary.
Nualgi can be used to treat the Bay.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Coral condemned to extinction by CO2 levels, warns Attenborough

Guardian has an interesting article about Coral Reefs


Nualgi can reduce the CO2 levels of the water and increase O2 level.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi on Lakes

The website of CSE, Delhi has some useful information on Lakes in India.


There is also a blog managed by Ms Sushmita of CSE.