Archive for April, 2012

You Can Have Your Beer And Drink It Too

This post comes by way of The Huffington Post and describes one of the very many ways clean water is important.

As any beer enthusiast knows, you need good water to make good beer. The higher the water quality, the better the beer. Those who work at New Belgium Brewing, based out of Colorado, are also well aware of this fact. This company produces the very popular Fat Tire Amber Ale as well as 15 other quality brews. Jenn Vervier, their Director of Strategic Development and Sustainability, outlines the importance of clean water not just for basic health needs but also for sustainability-minded businesses like New Belgium Brewing.
new belgium brewery clean water
The article primarily mentions the importance of the Clean Water Act, which is celebrating its 40th year anniversary. The brewery is specifically concerned about some smaller waterways that are currently not protected by the Act. These mountainous streams contribute to the rivers whose water is used by the brewery to make its beer. Although the main rivers are protected under the CWA, they are still at the mercy of the smaller streams that feed into them.

Environmentally aware businesses like New Belgium are counting on the Obama Administration to help strengthen the power and reach of the CWA, which was weakened by the previous administration. The good news is that the President seems to be a strong proponent of the work being done by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The people have spoken as the EPA received more than 200,000 comments from people who are in support of stronger water pollution restrictions and a healthier Clean Water Act. This is obviously a topic that should receive full support from everyone. After all, we all need clean water. It doesnt get more basic than this.

This story is not surprising as Colorado is a very forward thinking and environmentally conscious part of the country. Hopefully this awareness spreads throughout the rest of the country. Businesses should eventually become aware of what New Belgium has; that clean water equals good business. Any of the costs associated with the EPA and its Clean Water Act will eventually be recouped through a much more sustainable and long lasting business.

One day we might not need agencies like the EPA. We should eventually get to a point where pollution would be unthinkable. We would finally have a full understanding of the idea that we have only one environment that we all live in. Its all connected, so we must do all we can to protect it.

I realize that many of my blog posts are about our severe water pollution issues. This is why it is always great to find a story that is a bit more on the positive side of things.

This article comes by way of the The Examiner and entails a great example of what some powerful organizations and people can do to help make sure our future contains plenty of clean water.

Apparently much work has recently been done to improve the quality of water in and around the Long Island Sound in New York. Awards have been given by the Sound Guardian to 4 different people and organizations largely responsible for this cleanup effort. Those who are the recipients this year are; Commissioners Joseph Martens and Carter Strickland, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Construction company Skanska USA Civil Northeast.
long island sound cleanup
The commissioners were specifically responsible for a 2.4 billion dollar pledge to develop some major green infrastructure improvements. This includes building rain gardens, making more porous pavements, allowing for more rooftop vegetation, and many other green advancements that make for safer and cleaner stormwater.

Senator Gillibrand is being recognized for her efforts in getting the Long Island Sound Stewardship and Restoration Act passed. This act is crucial for the funding that the EPA needs to continue its protection and work in this area of New York. In addition to an overall protection of the sound, the EPA now has more funding that it will specifically use to improve wastewater treatment facilities in the area. The senator sees the Sound as a great place to work, play, and raise a family so it should go without saying that these are crucial improvements that must occur to make this future a reality.

Last but not least to mention here is Skanska. Skanska is a very large construction company that has completed dozens of wastewater treatment projects all across the country. The company currently is working on three different projects in New York that will have a direct impact on the quality of water in the Long Island Sound and New York City as well. Due efforts in recent years, wastewater treatment facilities have largely been responsible for an increase in dissolved oxygen and a decrease in pathogens in tested Sound waters. Much work still needs to be done but Skanska is proud to be a part of the solution.

This story will undoubtedly inspire many other U.S. cities to take further action to improve their own local waterways. In the meantime, it is always a good idea to make sure the water that you drink is as pure as possible. Many have found that a home water filter is the perfect solution. Positive clean water stories like this one are definitely great to hear about, but taking an extra step to know that you are drinking the best water possible is sound advice.

In a report from indystar.com, Indiana was the state that allowed the most pollutants in its waterways for 2011.

More than 27 million pounds of toxins were dumped by industries in the Hoosier state in this past year. The company AK Steel was the largest single contributor of this water pollution. In 2010, the company dumped about 24 million pounds of pollutants in the Ohio River in that year alone. This plant uses nitric acid to clean its stainless steel products. This toxin then gets released into waterways as wastewater that contains nitrates.
polluted Indiana water
Not surprisingly, those that are in charge of speaking on behalf of these industrial (or should I say industrious?) polluters completely downplay the vast chemical discharges. The director of government and public relations for AK Steel basically claims that the companys discharge is well within government regulations and poses no threat to the environment. Even the spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said that the pollution that the company is responsible for cannot be used to draw conclusions to human health or the environment.

Really? Well, based on the responses by these two individuals, it is fairly easy to draw conclusions about who signs their paychecks. It is unbelievably audacious to defend a company whose waste has made its states waterways the most polluted in the country. Its typically not a crime to finish in last place, but in this case it should be. No amount of pollution should be considered safe and acceptable, so there is absolutely no reasonable defense for a company who pollutes the most.

It can be an easy argument to say that this company provides a much needed and valuable product for our country. However, there seems to be no attempt at discovering a better way to deal with the waste that is created from its business operations. Sure, this would mean an extra expense for the company. It could even be quite expensive. However, sustainable and long term operations should not be considered without making this change.

Hopefully the residents of Indiana are doing all that they can to protect themselves from their highly polluted water. Obviously, fishing should be out of the question since fish are the first to fall victim of the poisons in rivers. Many will start looking for the best water filter that they can find. This ultimately follows the awareness that bottled water is not the best choice for many reasons. Tap water is definitely out of the question here as well.

I guess the silver lining here is.well, not silver but a strong steel industry. At least Indiana can be proud of that. Who needs potable water?

Los Angeles waterways are about to receive some much needed attention.

A recent article from sportfishingmag.com entails this latest effort to clean up the most populated part of California. The Los Angeles Water Board and The Environmental Protection Agency have teamed up to make some major improvements to 175 bodies of water in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The effects of this clean up will be numerous. A few include reducing the amounts of bacteria, mercury, phosphorus, nitrogen, and many other toxic chemicals. This will ultimately help restore these ecosystems which will provide cleaner water to all forms of life in the area. It will be safer to consume fish and there will be fewer beach closures.
los angeles beach pollution
This plan calls for more than 95% of affected waterways to eventually meet water quality standards once the work has been done. This will definitely be quite an achievement considering that this is one of the most populated areas of the United States. California is well on its way in proving that it is possible to have both a high density population and very low water pollution levels. It is like play no deposit slots and win money without spending

Part of this new water pollution reduction effort is associated with something that has already been set forth in the Clean Water Act. States are being held responsible to make sure that the waterways that are polluted to meet TMDLs (Total Maximimum Daily Loads). It is sad that polluted waterways are still accepted as a given and that corporate polluters are given allowances in this regard. Ideally, there should be no allowable loads at all. At least California is taking a step in the right direction.

Locals will soon be able to really appreciate these efforts to clean up local creeks, rivers, and beaches. The ultimate goal is for places like Long City Beach to be open all the time, instead of closing due to high levels of bacteria. Waters in Santa Monica Bay are currently polluted with significant levels of toxic chemicals that make its fish inedible. Work that is underway will drastically reduce levels of toxins that are found in this body of water.

Corporate polluters aside, many of Southern Californias waterways have apparently been quite literally trashed. The burden to avoid this type of pollution in the future definitely falls on the community. State and government sponsored clean up efforts can surely go a long way, however, it will take a much better environmental awareness by the local community to prevent general trash from ending up in rivers and beaches.

Hopefully California will help influence and lead the way for other states to help clean up their local waterways. This is not a far fetched idea because this state is both large in size and power.