Monday, March 10, 2008

Report On Climate Change & CSO Impacts In The Great Lakes Region

U.S. EPA release of a final report entitled, A Screening Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Mitigation in the Great Lakes and New England Regions. The document was prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment's Global Climate research staff. The report is a screening-level assessment of the potential implications climate change has had on combined sewer overflow (CSO) mitigation in the Great Lakes and New England Regions [See WIMS 3/29/07].

Combined sewer systems (CSSs) collect and co-treat storm water and municipal wastewater. During high intensity rainfall events, the capacity of CSSs can be exceeded resulting in the discharge of untreated storm water and wastewater directly into receiving streams. The combined sewer overflow events (CSOs) can result in high concentrations of microbial pathogens, biochemical oxygen demand, suspended solids, and other pollutants in receiving waters. Climate change in many parts of the country is expected to increase the proportion of rainfall occurring in high intensity events, resulting in increased stormwater runoff. The report indicates that these changes present a risk of increased CSO frequency and water quality impairment.

Access an overview and link to the complete 52-page report and background information (
click here).

Great Lakes Protection Fund RFP For IT Prototypes

Mar 7: The Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF) issued a Request for Preproposals (RFP) that seeks a suite of projects to design, deploy, and evaluate information technology prototypes that permit individuals, institutions, and/or private corporations to make healthier choices for the Great Lakes ecosystem. The Fund believes that the deployment of new or existing information technology prototypes that connect behaviors and ecosystem outcomes can push the collection of individual, isolated behaviors towards a tipping point that improves Great Lakes health. GLPF said it wants to support a number of project teams willing to test this hypothesis. Submissions are due by midnight, April 20, 2008.

The RFP indicates that many of the problems plaguing the Great Lakes are the result of a large number of individual, seemingly inconsequential, disjointed decisions. These problems include: the widespread use of water at times that stress the infrastructure and lead to combined sewer overflows; the use of electricity during peak periods from power plants that are relatively high emitting facilities; purchasing, shipping, and other contract decisions that lead to the release of exotic species; and other manufacturing, planning, development, or land-use choices that result in toxic or nutrient pollution of the Lakes.

For example, the RFP cites: individual households that choose not run their appliances during a rainstorm are usually unaware of and not rewarded for the reduced stress on combined sewers. Similarly, individuals or institutions that overcool their facilities during peak summer power hours are unaware of the impacts of this decision on the region’s ambient air quality. The aggregate impact of such small choices can be significant enough to drive either degraded or improved ecosystem conditions. The Fund believes that information technology can be used to increase the transparency of these seemingly inconsequential actions and provide individuals with the opportunity to make changes on basin lands, and in basin waters, to improve the ecological integrity of the Great Lakes.

GLPF indicates that, "Ideally, projects will not only include a subset of users in demonstration or pilot settings, but also be designed with the active involvement of future, potential users or customers. This strategy has proven to be the most effective way of creating a path to scale, so that the project team can influence behavior across the set of actors that affect the health of the basin. Projects that rely on a "create and disseminate" approach -- building a prototype without the involvement of the basin-wide community of potential users and distributing reports, software or samples -- are not encouraged."

Non-profit organizations (including environmental organizations, trade associations, and universities), governmental agencies, individuals, and for-profit businesses are eligible for Fund support. Budget requests should reflect the full amount of funds necessary to complete the work. The average level of support has been $150,000-$250,000, but budgets in the past have ranged from $15,000 to $1.5M. Matching funds are not necessary.

Access links to the RFP, project ideas an FAQ document and related information (
click here).