Friday, July 18, 2008

C'mon EPA!

The Chesapeake could really use this...

Groups want nationwide limits on water nutrient pollution (from Wastenews.com)

July 18 -- Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit July 17 to force the federal government to set new limits on the nutrient pollution that triggers harmful algae blooms.
The public interest law firm Earthjustice is representing the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John´s Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club in the case, which will challenge a decade-long delay by the state and federal government in setting limits for nutrient pollution.
When it rains, run-off from factory farms, fertilized landscapes and agricultural operations pour fertilizer and animal waste residue into Florida´s rivers and lakes, according to the complainants. These contaminants nourish algae blooms and therefore are referred to as "nutrients."
The water in which the algae blooms becomes oxygen deprived, and the result is what is known as red tide or a dead zone in which fish and aquatic life cannot thrive.
The lawsuit has nationwide implications. Currently, Florida and most other states have only vague limits regulating nutrient pollution. Today´s legal action seeks a court order requiring that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency impose quantifiable -- and enforceable -- limits for those contaminates in Florida.
The EPA gave Florida a 2004 deadline to set limits for nutrient pollution, which the state disregarded, according to Earthjustice. The EPA was then supposed to set limits itself but failed to do so. The EPA recently approved a plan that would have limits, at best, being proposed by 2011.
Earthjustice filed the lawsuit in federal court for the Northern District of Florida. It is available at www.earthjustice.org/library/legal_docs/complaint-and-exhibits-fwf-v-usepa-07-17-08.pdf

2 Comments:

At 10:07 AM, Blogger darren said...

Runoff is a HUGE local issue. The main reason the Chesapeake c. virginica oyster is almost kaput is algae blooms from nitrogen runoff (from farms, golf courses, industrial plants, etc).

The resulting algae blooms cut off sunlight and oxygenation to the Bay floor, and the oysters choke in the nasty anoxic environment.

Then there's the blue crab. Two vital things to their survival -- oysters to feed on (see above), and submerged aquatic vegetation (grasses) where they can hide from predators. The grasses are even less able to survive in the anoxic Bay floor environment, so now, blue crabs are spiraling too. Next up in the food chain will be the Bay otters, who depend on both the oysters and crabs for their food.

Here's the oyster aquaculture outfit I interned with in college. http://www.oysterranching.com/

He devised a system and a line of Chesapeake oysters that can be grown on the surface of the water. This gives you good clean oysters, but also revitalizes the water around the oyster 'float', as each individual oyster can filter the nitrogen out of 50 gallons of water a day. At the main ranch shown in his pictures, blue crabs and grasses have returned, and the water clarity is spectacular.

I think some others in Virginia have also dabbled in surface oyster aquaculture. Given a chance to succeed, these efforts could accomplish the dual goal of cleaning up the water, and revitalizing the local oyster harvest (both aquaculture and wild) without having to resort to wrongheaded introduction of a non-native oyster species, as has been recently proposed.

whew. So, hey, how's it going?

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger CityBikesMike said...

Nice work, d-money!

There's some nice aquaculture oysters coming out of the Choptank as well. It's the future of oystering...

 

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