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29 February 2016

Lead, Plumbosolvency, and Phosphates in the Environment

What’s happened to the water supply in Flint Michigan is especially ironic considering the state is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, which make up 95% of the surface fresh water in the United States. If Michiganders can’t have safe public water, who can? Plumbosolvency The problem, briefly summarized here, boils down to variable source water chemistry, plus common chemicals added at the water-works, interacting with outdated lead plumbing components …

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1 January 2016

Agricultural Runoff and Ohio’s Senate Bill 1

In response to the August 2014 shutdown of Toledo’s water supply due to microcystin contamination, the Ohio legislature passed Senate Bill 1, which regulates fertilizer and manure application to farm fields. Essentially, the new regulations prohibit spreading manure or fertilizer in the Lake Erie Watershed when soils are frozen, snow-covered or saturated, or if there is a more than 50% chance of at least one-half inch of rain in the …

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16 November 2015

Field Drain Tile and the “Re-Eutrophication” of Lake Erie

Algae Blooms, Microcystin and Phosphorus It’s been over a year since Toledo, Ohio and surrounding communities shut down public water supplies due to an algae bloom and microcystin contamination in western Lake Erie. Was the trouble a “one-off” or can we expect more of these events in the future? While attending a seminar this year hosted by the Michigan Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, my interest was …

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16 March 2015

Unearthing a Soil Mystery Using Differential Solution Analysis

Some years ago while in graduate school at the University of New Hampshire, I was presented the opportunity by my advisor, Dr. Chris Evans, to solve a hard soil mystery resting mostly unnoticed except to those who had to work in it. Found on steeper slopes under coniferous forest, for builders, the Success series can be troublesome. It’s effort enough to dig any soil, but the Success soil is especially …

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20 November 2014

Update: American Farm Bureau Federation et al. v. EPA Oral Arguments

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments were held Tuesday (see previous post) and early indications suggest the Farm Bureau is fighting an uphill battle as it attempts to block the EPA from implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program for Chesepeake Bay. The program calls for a 25% percent cut in nitrogen, 24% cut in phosphorus, and 20% reduction in sediment loads by …

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16 November 2014

American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA: Oral Arguments Scheduled for Tuesday

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its authority to regulate farm runoff. The issue has gained attention following this summer’s “do not drink” advisory affecting over 500,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio …

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17 August 2014

Soil Connections: Drought, Dust and Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

An unfortunate sequence of events involving drought, depleted water resources, wastewater management, antibiotic resistant bacteria (ABR) and dust storms may pose a real health risk in desert states – and, perhaps, beyond. Briefly, here’s the sequence of steps, beginning with drought and ending with a respiratory infection: 1. Arid states can’t grow everything they want with what little rainfall they get – so they irrigate. 2. Limited fresh water used …

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26 May 2014

Remembering the 1966 Riga Confined Space Tragedy

On a Saturday afternoon in May 1966, five men lost their lives, wives lost their husbands, and twenty children lost their fathers. Consider it a cautionary tale about the lethal danger of hydrogen sulfide. The confined space was a cistern fed by a 300-foot deep water well and the gas apparently occurred naturally in the ground. The accident was reported as far away as Sidney, Australia via Associated Press wire …

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24 November 2013

On Site Wastewater Disposal Systems: Soil Considerations

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 1990 there were 24.67 million residences serviced by on-site waste disposal (OSWD) systems, representing 24.1 percent of the total number of households. The highest concentration of OSWD systems is found in the New England states where Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have about 50% of their households using them. That number has surely grown, but, unfortunately, 1990 data is the most up-to-date …

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25 August 2013

Is Fukushima Out of Control?

Following up on a recent post, the news out of Fukushima just got worse last week in what appears to be shaping up as a major environmental crisis requiring a massive and coordinated international response. A spike in radioactivity led to the acknowledgement by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) of a leaking tank used to store some of the more heavily contaminated water from the damaged reactor. Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory …

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