Monday, December 28, 2009

Frozen, but not forgotten

A visit to the rivers of Minnesota this time of year is more likely to require a pair of snowshoes than a kayak. That makes it a good time to snoop around the web for issues and ideas related to the care and conservation of waterways.

So where does all that water go? There’s a lot of talk about water shortages, lately, especially in the western states. Here’s an article from the Denver Post that illustrates how dramatically water consumption can vary from one city or region to another.

Closer to home. The voter-approved Clean Water and Legacy Amendment created funding that has been recently awarded to a number of conservation and restoration projects across Minnesota. See a brief synopsis of the projects here, provided by the Post-Bulletin in Rochester, MN.

Some tips about conservation during your holiday entertaining and beyond. I found this conversation about basic conservation at News Channel 8 in Austin, Texas. (Commercial pre-roll may be required.) Or, if you prefer reading the story instead of watching video, click here.

A dark anniversary for the TVA coal ash disaster. One year later, the Tennessee Valley Authority spill near Knoxville didn’t get a whole lot of press. But I did come across a few stories on the topic… and looking at the spill’s impact on people, communities, regulations, and the EPA. One from the West Virginia Gazette... and another from the Associated Press.

Making it look easy. On more than a couple occasions, I’ve written here about the complexity of restoring a river… especially when the project is big enough to impact much of California. But here’s a great little web site that explains the San Joaquin River Restoration process, including a photo tour.

© 2009 Mike Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More clippings from the web on matters of conservation

Undoing what’s been done can come with challenges. I’ve been following the story about restoring flows to the San Joaquin River in California. This story from the Fresno Bee newspaper explains why simply “refilling the river” isn’t enough. The water table has been left to dry for years… meaning underground reservoirs must also be restored before the river can be completely revitalized.

If you’re a fan of nature, you’re probably a fan on Ansel Adams. So you’ll probably like this story I came across from The Bulletin, in Philadelphia.

EPA vows more rigid enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The Act, created in 1972, is useless without compliance. So I was delighted to hear that its rules—and reasons—are being revisited. To learn more, see this story from the New York Times (10.15.09). For a primer on the Clean Water Act, click here.

A by-product of free trade. Must commentary has been offered about the manufacturing jobs that have been exported to Mexico since the 1990s. But building all kinds of new factories comes with a cost: it has also placed heavy stress on Mexico’s natural resources. See this story from Arizona Central about the man-made reservoirs that are swallowing-up many small towns and other lands across the Mexican landscape.

Closer to home…

Have you heard of “Project Conserve?” This article from Star News shares insights from a family that is participating—and learning—about how to reduce, re-use and recycle in a number of new ways. Best regards to the Harvey family for setting a great example for all of us… from their home in Elk River, Minnesota.

Something fishy is going on again. Earlier this month, I wrote about the evolving Asian Carp problem; the non-native species have been introduced to fresh water sources in the U.S., and now threaten the Great Lakes. Well, down in Florida, they’ve been dealing with a similar issue… except that the non-native species is a variety of Piranha. See this story from the Palm Beach Post, or see the video immediately below.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Interesting headlines from around the web

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Officials in Dakota and Scott counties in Minnesota are trying to unify in the protection of the Vermillion River just south of the Twin Cities. As someone who often operates alone on the water, I can tell you that there is strength is numbers, so this is nice to see. And you can see more in this story from the Pioneer Press.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is targeting farm run-off into the Mississippi River. There are 41 problem watersheds up and down the river, from its headwaters to New Orleans. Read more about it in this story from the Associated Press.

A very cool site worth sharing: The River Alliance of Wisconsin. Just thought you might appreciate a peek at this grass-roots organization: Click here to visit.

The Asian Carp issue has gone from special interest to mainstream news story. And it shows what can happen when man messes with the ecosystem. Click here to see the USA Today story about about how this predator-free fish now threatens the Great Lakes. Or, see this video from the USA Today story:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Getting back into the flow

It seems like forever since I was granted the time to write a bit about the river and my time on it. Indeed, it has been a month and a half since my last posting (10.15.09). I would apologize, but most readers stop here only once in a great while, or casually happen across my blog when browsing for a related topic; the person most deprived by my lack of attention to this writing is myself. There is no doubt that I take more from this experience than anyone who visits.

The year has thrown many obstacles our way this year. Lately, there have been two culprits. My spare time—what there is of it—has been consumed by the renovation of our lower level; we were going to start with just my office, but expanded the project to include a family room. But mostly, it seems like work has been particularly intense. In my line of work, as with so many other people, the economy placed additional demands on my supply of time and energy.

But I’ve denied myself enough writing time. Work does not own me 24 hours a day, and if home improvement leaves me no time to indulge in the river, then it’s not really improving much. So the break is over. There has never been a lack of time spent thinking or reflecting on this topic that I favor. But now, too, I re-commit to preserving more time to capture more of those thoughts in word… and to getting the companion blog I’ve thought about ready by the end of this year.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.