Rivers in the Media

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Colorado River water shortage looms

PUBLISHED: 25 JUNE 2015   SOURCE: The San Diego Union-Tribune

California’s drought emergency woes have worsened, with a shortage on the Colorado River next year becoming increasingly likely. Odds of a shortage rose from 33 percent to 50 percent from April 1 to May 1, Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s largest water wholesaler, said Monday.

 

Also Monday, a Metropolitan committee also unsuccessfully considered a proposal to spend an extra $150 million on water conservation projects, such as paying to replace grass with low water-use landscaping. The committee unexpectedly deadlocked, with some members, including San Diego representatives, objecting to the cost. The full Metropolitan board will take up the proposal Tuesday.

 

Southern California get nearly all of its water from the Colorado and from Northern California. Both sources are severely strained. This year, Metropolitan is getting just 20 percent of contracted supplies from Northern California.

 

To minimize water use, Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee considered a proposal to greatly expand an existing program that pays those with lawns if they replace them with less thirsty landscaping, such as low-water-use plants or artificial turf. Metropolitan now pays $2 a square foot for property owners who take part. The program was originally funded with $100 million, of which $77 million is already spent.

 

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No change in Yamuna pollution despite drop in sewage flow

PUBLISHED: 29 MAY 2015   SOURCE: www.dnaindia.com; image: dna Research & Archives

The Yamuna has failed to show any improvement in its pollution level in the past one year despite gradual reduction in pollution load contributed by major drains in Delhi, says an Environment Ministry report.

 

According to the Environment Ministry's Annual Report (2014-15), a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) study has found that discharge of sewage water intoYamuna has declined in the past one year though it still remains one of the top reasons behind the deterioration in the river's water quality.

 

Possible reasons for this decline are diversion of treated or untreated wastewater for irrigation and increased efficiency of waste water collection, transportation and treatment system, the report states.

 

The government has spent Rs 1,514.70 crore under Yamuna Action Plan I and II for creation of new sewage treatment capacity of 942.25 million litres per day (mld) in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

However, the CPCB study conducted in the about 40-km stretch in Delhi said pollution level in the river has remained unchanged.

 

"This might be due to less availability of fresh water in the river, essential to maintain self-purification capacity of the river. Less availability of fresh water in the river may be due to reduction in the rain fall in the catchment area or increased rate of water abstraction from the river," it said.

 

CPCB regularly monitors water quality of Yamuna at four locations -- Palla, Wazirabad Barrage, Nizamuddin Bridge and Okhla at Kalindi Kunj -- in the about 40-km stretch in Delhi.

 

The water quality status of this stretch suggests that values of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) observed during first ten months of 2014 was well above the prescribed limit of 4.0 milligram/litre (mg/l) at Palla and was in the range from 6.4-11.0 mg/l. It depletes significantly after Wazirabad Barrage and remains critical in remaining part of the stretch.

 

At Okhla, Biochemical Oxygen Demand values were found well above the prescribed limit (9-79 mg/l). The report also says that the presence of 'free ammonia' is showing increasing trend as compared to observations of 2013.

 

"The reason of deterioration of Yamuna River water quality in Delhi stretch especially after Wazirabad barrage is due to unabated discharges of waste water predominantly from domestic sources into the river," the report says

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England's water voles in desparate decline

PUBLISHED: 12 MAY 2015   SOURCE: www.theguardian.com; image: Terry Whittaker/Alamy

English waterways could lose one of their most charismatic and once widespread residents as water voles succumb to the invasive American mink, records released by the Canal and River Trust show.

 

Between 1970 and 1999, water voles were found on 269 of the 2,000 miles of waterways managed by the trust. But since the turn of the century, their range dropped by almost 50% to 141 miles.

Mark Robinson, national ecologist for the Canal and River Trust, said the numbers told of a species in desperate decline.

 

“I very rarely hear good news about water voles. Whether extinction [from England] will occur or whether we will turn the tide I don’t know, but I think it’s certainly in the balance,” he said.

 

The introduction of the American mink, which have escaped from fur farms in Britain since the 1920s, has been the single greatest driver of decline. Mink are voracious predators and will hunt voles.

 

“That has driven whole river systems to a complete population crash,” said Darren Tansley, a wildlife officer with Essex Wildlife Trust. “The possibility [that they will become extinct in England] is there if nothing is done to control mink.”

 

The development of river banks and water pollution has added to the pressure on one of Britain’s most endangered mammals. The industrialisation of river systems during the 1970s and 1980s destroyed the banks where voles make their burrows.

 

Tansley said although the Canal and River Trust’s numbers were based on ad hoc observations not scientific surveys, they were consistent with the observed decline in all English waterways. Water vole populations are very difficult to estimate, but Tansley said the natural population of tens of millions had now almost certainly dropped below one million.

 

All counties have suffered “dramatic declines”. A survey in Essex in 2006 found most main rivers “utterly devoid of water voles”. The animal is now extinct in Cornwall. Across the country water voles cling on in isolated pockets, coastal marshes and backwaters where the mink has not found its way. In Scotland water voles have fared better by behaving differently to their English cousins, often living on land and thus avoiding the mink invaders.

 

Where conservation programmes to control the mink have been put in place, Tansley said the vole population had rebounded. Unfortunately, he said, mink do not pose an economic threat and therefore controlling its spread was not seen as a priority and attracts no funding from the government. The fight to save water voles has been almost entirely led by charities.

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The trust has called for the public’s help in a mass citizen science survey of the species – the Great Nature Watch. Robinson asked people to download theeNatureWatch app and log their vole sightings.

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Mississippi River reforestation project could help landowners as well as the environment

PUBLISHED: 12 MAY 2015   SOURCE: www.theadvocate.com; image: Richard Martin / The Nature Conservancy

In an effort to reach a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction goal, Disney is helping pay for a reforestation project in the lower Mississippi River that will help plant trees on 2,000 acres in the next two years.

 

The program is using private funding from Disney along with Department of Agriculture conservation money to help volunteer landowners plant trees on their property. That money will help pay for about 1,500 acres of the reforestation work. Additional funding is being collected to meet the 2,000-acre goal.

 

In turn, the amount of greenhouse gases those trees are expected to absorb will help create carbon credits. The carbon credits will be given back to Disney to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to a news release from The Nature Conservancy, another partner in the program.

 

“They’re doing it as part of their corporate sustainability program,” said Jim Bergan, director of freshwater and wetland conservation at The Nature Conservancy.

 

There already have been 600 acres enrolled in the program, and the carbon credits have been verified through the voluntary greenhouse gas program Verified Carbon Standard.

 

“The work in the Mississippi River delta has been putting forests back to where forests were cleared,” Bergen said. “We’re trying to put the forest back together.”

 

The Nature Conservancy project is expected to help sequester more than 517,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide during the next 70 years.

 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions calculator, this is equal to the yearly emissions from 108,842 cars or the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the yearly energy use for 47,172 homes.

 

The way the program works is a landowner first enrolls in a U.S. Department of Agriculture program for one of a couple different conservation servitudes. The options include the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service wetland reserve program for a 30-year easement or the USDA’s Farm Service Agency contract program, generally for a 15-year easement.

 

Landowners have the option to go with a permanent easement available through the federal government or have the The Nature Conservancy take over the easement. The Nature Conservancy offers $500 more per acre as an incentive, which helps the landowner with more money and also is a benefit to the federal government by freeing up additional money for other conservation projects.

 

In addition, The Nature Conservancy pays for all of the restoration costs outside of any hydrology work the landowner might need to do.

 

“We can do some really good projects on private land,” said Kevin Norton, state conservationist with NRCS. “It’s a win for us. It allows us to work with more landowners.”

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