Tuesday, August 10, 2010

HOW Calls For $972 Million Great Lakes CSO Investment

Aug 9: The Healing Our Waters (HOW) Campaign is calling on Congress to increase their investment in wastewater infrastructure in an effort to restore the Great Lakes and create tens of thousands of jobs in the region. In five historic Great Lakes cities HOW released its report: Turning the Tide: Invest in Wastewater Infrastructure to Create Jobs and Solve the Sewage Crisis in the Great Lakes. According to a release, nearly 200 communities on the U.S. side of the lakes have antiquated combined sewer systems (CSO) that when overloaded from rain or snow untreated sewage is sent into our lakes…and drinking water. HOW said this forces beaches to close, puts public health in danger, harms wildlife and hurts tourism.
    Eliminating the sewage problem is key to restoring health to the Great Lakes. The report emphasizes a two part solution that would help cities separate miles of combined sewer pipes (historically called gray infrastructure) while building up natural sources of storm water absorption such as green roofs, rain gardens and installing pervious pavement (recently termed green infrastructure). HOW said the States in the Great Lakes Basin need at least $23.3 billion to fix the CSO problems which they say the region cannot afford. Compounding the problem, they say, in recent years the Federal Government has actually reduced the amount of money available on loan to the states and cities for sewerage infrastructure.
    The Clean Water State Revolving Fund -- a low-interest loan scheme for sewer upgrades -- declined from $1.35 billion in 1998 to $689 million in 2008. And although Congress did inject more money into sewer infrastructure last year in the American Recovering and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- How says "it still falls far short of the need." The report highlights five cities -- Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Gary, IN, and Milwaukee -- and it examines how the cities are facing the infrastructure challenge.

    HOW is asking Congress to provide at least $2.7 billion in low interest loans this year with $972 million set aside for Great Lakes states and 20 percent prioritized for green infrastructure projects. The report says, "Eliminating combined sewage overflows needs to be an essential part of the effort to restore the Great Lakes and revive the economy." HOW said by doing nothing and allowing the status quo to continue any other effort made to return the Great Lakes to a healthy state of being will be slowed down. They also said that according to the Water Infrastructure Network for every $1 billion invested in wastewater infrastructure up to 26,669 jobs are created.

    Access a release from HOW (click here). Access a separate release and link to the complete report (click here).

Carp Above Barrier Maybe Put There By Humans

Aug 5: A six-year-old Bighead carp that was caught in the waters of Lake Calumet just outside Lake Michigan, and beyond the electronic barrier, in late June may have lived nearly its entire life in waters of Great Lakes origin according to tests and analysis conducted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC). The tests were conducted by the SIUC Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center. Illinois Department of Natural Resources Assistant Director John Rogner said, "While this report does not have all the answers, it does suggest to us that the fish caught in Lake Calumet last month may have been put there by humans, perhaps as a ritual cultural release or through bait bucket transfer. It underscores the need for the public to be even more vigilant and educated about Asian carp and the importance of not furthering the spread of these invasive species." 

    The tests looked at chemical markers in the inner ear bones, or otoliths, of the fish. Otoliths incorporate chemicals into their structure that are unique to the environments in which they live. They have been used in recent years to reconstruct the environmental history of individual fish or fish stocks. Dr. Jim Garvey, director of the SIUC Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center said, "The inferences about the environmental history of this fish should be viewed as preliminary and inconclusive given the data limitations and assumptions. But it is very plausible that this fish originated in the Illinois River and then moved or was transported to Lake Calumet or Lake Michigan during the early portion of its life."

    The Bighead carp, which measured 34.6 inches and weighed nearly 20 pounds, remains the only Asian carp found above the electric barrier despite extensive sampling and search operations since June 22 throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Sampling above the electric barriers also remains an important and continued effort in the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, which includes both short and long term actions to stop the migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

    Access a release from the Asian Carp Control website and link to the complete report (click here). Access the Asian Carp Control website for more information (click here).