Friday, October 17, 2008

WATER POLLUTION: Court rules EPA must set stormwater limits for construction industry (09/19/2008)

WATER POLLUTION: Court rules EPA must set stormwater limits for
construction industry (09/19/2008)

Katherine Boyle, Greenwire reporter

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld a lower court decision
requiring U.S. EPA to set standards to control stormwater pollution from
strip malls, subdivisions and other new developments by Dec. 1, 2009.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Natural Resources
Defense Council and the Waterkeeper Alliance, ruling EPA must promulgate
effluent limitation guidelines and new source performance standards for
stormwater pollution discharges caused by the construction and
development industry.

The states of Connecticut and New York supported NRDC and the alliance
in the case.

NRDC and the alliance predicted the court's decision would prevent beach
closings, waterborne disease, flooding, fish kills and contamination of
drinking water supplies.

"This decision will go a long way toward protecting America's streams
and rivers from the construction and development industry," said Melanie
Shepherdson, a staff attorney at NRDC. "The court made it very clear
that EPA can't just shirk its responsibilities to rein in pollution from
this industry."

EPA spokesman Nick Butterfield said making sure the nation's coastlines
and watersheds remain vibrant and healthy is a top priority for the
agency. He noted that EPA is currently working on a new clean water
regulation to reduce runoff pollution from construction sites, as the
court ordered.

When EPA appealed the 2006 U.S. District Court for the Central District
of California decision, the agency argued that the annual cost of
proposed effluent standards would be more than half a billion dollars
and would result in job displacement. EPA also noted that existing
permit programs could control 80 percent to 90 percent of sediment

Additionally, EPA argued that the definition of "new source" should not
include construction sites.

The National Association of Home Builders intervened in the case on
behalf of EPA. The homebuilders have said a rule placing a numerical
limit on stormwater runoff would pose problems for the construction
industry because it is impossible to predict how much it will rain
during a project.

NRDC and the alliance argued that EPA's failure to promulgate stormwater
standards after listing the construction industry as a point source
violated the Clean Water Act.

EPA originally predicted that a final stormwater rule could come out
this year but now says it will not be released until 2009. The agency is
delaying the rule in order to convene an advisory panel that will
examine the economic impact it could have on small businesses, despite
previously concluding a panel would not be necessary.

EPA said it expects to publish a proposed rule by Dec. 1, 2008, and is
still on track to finalize the rule by Dec. 1, 2009, the court-ordered
deadline (Greenwire
; , Aug. 19).

Click here ; to read the
court's decision.

Low Dissolved Oxygen Stocking Requirements

From Jeff Williams

Hello All,

Although the high precipitation earlier this year and the resulting high flows
from the dams have had some positive effects on the trout fisheries in the White
and North Fork Rivers, these conditions have resulted in some of the lowest
dissolved oxygen levels observed on these waters. When the dissolved oxygen
levels began to drop below the state standard of 6.0 mg/l, the Corps of
Engineers blocked open the turbine vents to allow more air to be entrained.
This helped some, but as the season progressed the dissolved oxygen levels began
to approach 4.0 mg/l. The Corps and Southwest Power instituted maximum loading
restrictions on the turbine releases from the dams. This basically means that
they are putting less water through the turbines to allow greater aeration.
This helped to bring the dissolved oxygen levels back up and for that reason we
continued to stock trout in all areas in an effort to maintain a satisfactory
fishery. During this time we closely monitored the water quality situation and
collected field samples to determine the extent to which sub-standard dissolved
oxygen levels reached below the dams. However, the dissolved oxygen levels have
continued to drop and despite the turbine venting and loading restrictions we
are now seeing readings approach 3.0 mg/l. This is a threshold level where we
could begin to see trout mortality and for that reason we have recommended to
cease stocking in areas affected by low dissolved oxygen. Field samples taken
earlier this week have shown that at the current flows the dissolved oxygen is
not recovering to 6.0 mg/l until just above Rim Shoals on the White and until
the bottom of the catch-and-release area on the North Fork. Therefore, we will
cease stocking trout from the dam down to Cotter on the White and will only
stock at Rose's Dock on the North Fork until conditions improve.

It should be noted that the fish that were scheduled for the affected areas will
be held at the Jim Hinkle/Spring River Hatchery to be stocked in those areas
when conditions improve. I realize the impact that these restrictions may have
on many of you, however, this is a very unusual year. In fact, we have also
instituted stocking restriction on the upper 6 miles of the Little Red for the
first time ever.

I have attached a copy of the memos in which we recommended the stocking
restrictions. Please let me know if you have any questions at all. Thanks.


<> <Restriction Memo 10-2-08.doc>>

Jeffrey S. Williams
Trout Management Supervisor
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
201 East 5th Street
Mountain Home, AR 72653
Phone: (870) 424-5924
Fax: (870) 425-6596

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (LID) is all about protecting rivers and lakes. The whole idea is to encourage the natural cycle of water - so rainwater soaks into the ground to be filtered by the soil and used by the plants rather than running over the ground as it runs down hill to the river and lake. As storm water runs across the ground, it also picks up debris, silt, chemicals and other pollutants and carries them directly to lakes and rivers. Silt and sediment are some of the biggest polluters because they choke streams, fish and aquatic life. Encouraging the natural cycle keeps silt and also pollution out of the water and promotes a healthy water environment for fish and humans. In our own area, fish have disappeared from a mile long stretch of Mill Creek in Izard County because the stream bank was cleared without erosion control measures and silt clogged the creek bed.

Another benefit is that not all the rainfall reaches the river in a short period of time. This means that the river doesn’t rise as much or so fast which means there is less bank erosion. It also means the groundwater reaches the river slowly so there is more “recharge”. The river is replenished by ground water even when there is no rainfall because it takes a while for the water to move through the soil and rock.

Development refers to anything people do that impacts the environment. Any time land is paved or a building built, less water can get into the ground. That means more run off. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical city block generates five times more run off than a wooded area of the same size because there are so many hard surfaces that block water from soaking into the ground.

“What I do doesn’t make much difference”

Well, yes it does. There are many small ways we all contribute to environmental degradation, but there are many easy things we can do to encourage the natural water cycle that all together make a big difference. Rain barrels catch rain water from roofs that can be used later to water landscaping. Rain gardens are landscaped areas that are slightly depressed so rain water pools so it can be used by the plants or soak into the ground. If properly done, the water soaks is gone before mosquitoes can breed.

Improving landscaping can make a big difference. Trees and shrubs catch and absorb more rain water than grass. Grass absorbs more than bare dirt or rock. Another thing we can do is find ways to slow water down as it travels across the ground. Taking some of the energy out of the flow will decrease the amount of dirt carried away – and in our rocky area, we need all the soil we can get. Don’t over water and use pesticides and herbicides sparingly. Dispose of litter, household and yard waste, and hazardous materials properly.

Another LID strategy is to make sure our septic tanks are inspected and pumped regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Just because the toilet flushes doesn’t mean that the sewerage is being properly treated. The state of Missouri estimates that 70% of the state’s septic tanks don’t function properly. That’s scary. The Bull Shoals area and northern Arkansas has the same kind of rocky “karst” ground as much of Missouri. In many places, traditional septic tanks can’t work. However, new septic tank technology that works much better is available.