Here’s the release from the National Ground Water Association:
A U.S. Department of Defense progress report released on March 13 states the number of sites it is investigating for potential release of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the environment has grown from 401 to 651 as of September 2019.
The report summarizes the PFAS task force’s accomplishments since its establishment in July 2019 and its planned activities moving forward.
According to the report, no U.S. military personal on or off bases is drinking water above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion where the DoD is the known source of drinking water. Where levels exceed the EPA’s health advisory level, the DoD has provided bottled water and filters, and taken other actions as appropriate.
Additional updates include the following items.
No PFAS-free foam has met the strict safety standards the DoD requires to rapidly extinguish fuel fires. The DoD only uses aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) to respond to emergency events and no longer uses it for land-based testing and training. To limit environmental effects, the department treats each use of AFFF as a spill response. The DoD is investing $49 million through fiscal year 2025 in research, development, testing, and evaluation to find an effective alternative.
Each military service is collecting drinking water sampling results where DoD is the purveyor and maintaining the data in a centralized database.
Scientists are still studying the health effects of PFAS exposure. The DoD has provided $30 million and will provide an additional $10 million this year, to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to conduct exposure assessments in the communities around eight current and former military installations, as well as a multisite health study.
The task force will explore potential options for addressing PFAS overseas.
Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be increased to 1050 cfs on Wednesday, March 25th. Releases are being adjusted to accommodate the change in diversions to the Gunnison Tunnel, which will occur on Thursday, March 26th. Snowpack in the Upper Gunnison Basin is currently at 106% of normal. The March 15th runoff forecast for Blue Mesa Reservoir predicts 78% of average for April-July inflows. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.
Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for January through March.
Currently, Gunnison Tunnel diversions are at 300 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 400 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be at 500 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 550 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.
Here’s the release from the University of Sydney (Marcus Strom):
Experts call for phasing out of reliance on controversial herbicide
Glyphosate, or Roundup, is under scrutiny because of possible impacts on human health and ecosystems. Here Federico Maggi and Alex McBratney present the world’s first map detailing contamination hotspots of the controversial herbicide.
Agricultural scientists and engineers have produced the world’s first map detailing global ‘hot spots’ of soil contaminated with glyphosate, a herbicide widely known as Roundup.
The map is published as the world’s eyes fall on glyphosate and concerns about its potential impact on environmental and human health. Last year in the US the owner of Roundup, Monstanto (now owned by Bayer), was ordered to pay $US2 billion to a couple who said they contracted cancer from the weedkiller, the third case the company had lost.
This year, Australia is emerging as the next legal battleground over whether the herbicide causes cancer with a class action suit being prepared for the Federal Court.
“The scientific jury is still out on whether the chemical glyphosate is a health risk,” said Professor Alex McBratney, director of the Sydney Institute of Agriculture at the University of Sydney. “But we should apply the precautionary principle when it comes to the health risks.
“And even if no evidence emerges about these risks, it is time for the agriculture industry to diversify our herbicides away from relying on a single chemical.”
The map and associated study have been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Lead author of the paper is Associate Professor Federico Maggi from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture and Faculty of Engineering. He said: “Glyphosate is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. About 36 million square kilometres are treated with 600 to 750 thousand tonnes every year – and residues are found even in remote areas.”
The paper identifies hotspots of glyphosate residue in Western Europe, Brazil and Argentina, as well as parts of China and Indonesia. Contamination refers to concentration levels above the background level.
“Our analysis shows that Australia is not a hotspot of glyphosate contamination, but some regions are subject to some contamination hazard in NSW and QLD and, to a lesser extent, in all other mainland states,” Associate Professor Maggi said.
He said that given the widespread use of the herbicide, soil contamination is unpreventable. This is because it is hard to be degraded by soil microorganisms when it reaches pristine environments, or it releases a highly persistent contaminant called aminomethyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA) when it is degraded.
The researchers emphasise that contamination levels do not necessarily equate to any environmental or health risks as these are still unknown and require further study.
“Our recent environmental hazard analysis considers four modes of environmental contamination by glyphosate and AMPA – biodegradation recalcitrance, residues accumulation in soil, leaching and persistence,” Associate Professor Maggi said.
“We found that 1 percent of global croplands – about 385,000 square kilometres – has a mid- to high-contamination hazard.”
He said that contamination is pervasive globally, but is highest in South America, Europe and East and South Asia. It is mostly correlated to the cultivation of soybean and corn, and is mainly caused by AMPA recalcitrance and accumulation rather than glyphosate itself.
“While there are controversial perspectives on the safety of glyphosate use on human health, little is known about AMPA’s toxicity and potential impacts on biodiversity, soil function and environmental health. Much further study is required,” Associate Professor Maggi said.
Poor long-term policy
Professor McBratney said aside from the risks to human health, it is poor long-term agriculture policy to rely on glyphosate as a herbicide.
“Weeds are genetically adapting and building resistance to glyphosate,” he said. “And there is growing evidence that a new generation of precision herbicide application could further improve yields.”
Professor McBratney said Australia was well placed to economically benefit from the development of new herbicides.
“In these times of increasing food demand, relying on a single molecule to sustain the world’s baseload crop production puts us in a very precarious position,” he said. “We urgently need to find alternatives to glyphosate to control weeds in agriculture.”
Here’s the release from Western Resource Advocates (Jamie Trafficanda):
Western Resource Advocates, American Planning Association Colorado Chapter, and Conservation Colorado today welcomed the passage of a bill to help Colorado communities include water efficiency in their long-range comprehensive planning and identify conservation strategies for new developments and growth.
HB20-1095 [Local Governments Water Elements In Master Plans] authorizes and provides support for Colorado communities to voluntarily include a water element in their master plan, enabling cities and towns to pursue water efficiency and conservation strategies to meet their needs. Linking land use planning with water planning will better facilitate and enable communities to meet their goals of developing projects sustainably, resulting in connected state and local efforts for water planning and conservation, and ultimately continued implementation of the Colorado Water Plan. The legislation now heads to Governor Jared Polis to be signed into law.
“In recognition of the importance of water to agriculture, recreation, the economy, and our overall quality of life, APA Colorado has long championed stewardship of water, a scarce resource in the arid West. Stewardship includes utilizing the tool that comprehensive master plans provide to link community land use planning with water planning,” said Susan Wood, AICP, APA Colorado legislative affairs representative. “Passage of this bill is the culmination of a multi-year effort by the APA Colorado Chapter and its members and we are pleased that it provides planning assistance to local governments through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and connects to policies provided in the Colorado Water Plan. Our mission is Making Great Communities Happen and planning for our water future is essential to fulfilling this goal.”
“As Colorado becomes hotter and drier due to climate change, this bill will support Colorado’s growing communities that are interested in using water more efficiently,” said John Berggren, Western Resource Advocates water policy analyst. “By including water in master plans, our communities can grow without stressing our water supplies, increasing their resiliency and reducing their vulnerability to drought and shortages. We applaud Colorado lawmakers for valuing water efficiency as our communities grow, and we look forward to continuing to work with communities across our state to support locally driven water efficiency efforts.”
“Due to population growth and climate change, Colorado faces an impending water supply gap where our communities will need more water than they currently have,” said Josh Kuhn, water advocate at Conservation Colorado. “The passage of this bill provides greater direction and resources for communities across our state ensuring planning is smart from the start.”
APA Colorado, WRA, and their partners have been working for several years to help Colorado communities integrate their water and land use planning processes to improve water conservation and build more water smart communities. They have offered workshops, conducted trainings, and created resources for planners, including a first-of-its-kind guidebook that details how communities can integrate water efficiency into their land use planning and development processes.
While Colorado’s population is expected to grow from its current 5.8 million to over 8 million by 2050, climate change is causing our state’s water resources to become increasingly scarce, putting greater stress on our rivers, cities, farms, ranches, and recreation opportunities. Rising temperatures in Colorado and prolonged drought are expected to further reduce annual flows in our state’s rivers, making additional local and state water conservation efforts essential.
Such uncertainty is likely to hurt so-called “beginning farmers” – typically smaller-scale, start-up operations. As an expert in diversified farming systems, I can see vulnerable farmers closing down as a result of this crisis, and this could have a knock-on effect on the long-term food supply chain.
They also have an average age of 46 – more than 10 years lower than the general farmer population’s average age of 57.5.
Beginning farmers form a vibrant and diverse part of the U.S. farming community. However, they are also among the most economically vulnerable of farmers. Since they are just starting out, they are often still formulating business plans, balancing farm finances, creating new marketing opportunities and establishing their farms’ viability.
They are also less likely to farm commodity products – crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat. Instead, they tend to focus on diversified fruits and vegetable crops, such as heirloom tomatoes, green beans and blueberries, depending upon the climate and soil conditions.
Farm to table
Beginner farmers also tend to find it harder to access capital investments or federal loan opportunities that would provide support during inclement weather or a pandemic lockdown.
Clearly, this makes the more than 900,000 beginning farmers in the U.S. at risk from potential closures of farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants due to coronavirus restrictions.
Beginning farmers typically farm on small acres of land, with a diverse array of crops, and sell to nontraditional supply chains, instead of large grocery stores.
Many small-scale beginning farmers have found success in the past decade due to the public’s increased interest in consuming local food. That has made farmers markets and community-supported agriculture important supply outlets. The value of sales of local food and products direct to consumers has more than doubled between 2012 and 2017.
These niche markets have increased engagement between farmers and consumers. The supply chain is based on local farmers modifying what they farm based on local consumer needs. This increased interaction has benefited both parties, but it has also left the system vulnerable to the realities of dealing with the current pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic puts these smaller businesses at great risk amid uncertainty about whether farmers markets will remain open.
The added challenge for farmers also pertains to their business model. Farms incur nearly all of their costs at the beginning of the growing season when farmers are purchasing seeds, growing seedlings and preparing the land. Without a market in place for these farmers, they will be more at risk of losing their business.
It is also much harder for small-scale farmers to get contracts to sell into large grocery stores, so they will be disproportionately affected by any lengthy shutdown of restaurants or farmers markets.
Farmers markets can be safe places for people to go to pick up local products at a minimum risk if protocols are put in place to increase social distance and reduced handling of products, such as ordering online and then prepackaging the products into one box or bag per customer.
Most small-scale beginning farmers will have few options for marketing without the direct sales of their products to consumers. Without them, farming businesses will decrease, impacting the capability of growers in the U.S. of providing enough food, fiber, and flowers in the future.
There are some glimmers of hope for beginning farmers. By their very nature, they may have had to be creative in identifying new opportunities and innovative in their marketing approach – qualities that might make them innately prepared to adapt to the new conditions, such as moving their business model to online sales. What they need now is for society to ensure that some type of supply chain is in place for them to be able to capture the current demand.
A dispute over whether a fisherman has the right to put his line into the Arkansas River near Cotopaxi has been moved from federal court to state court in Canon City.
Fly fisherman Robert Hill contends the bed of the river is — or should be — public land, entitling him to fish there.
Owners of residential property adjacent to his favorite fishing spot contend their deed gives them ownership of the riverbed at that location. They say Hill is trespassing when he fishes there.
The owners, Mark Everett Warsewa and Linda Joseph, “appear hell-bent on stopping him,” U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya, wrote in a 12-page ruling.
In the ruling issued last week, she said the dispute belongs in Fremont County District Court, not in federal court. In 2018, Hill filed his lawsuit in the federal court in Denver.
Hill, 77, of Colorado Springs, stated in his lawsuit that Warsewa and Joseph used force starting in 2012 to chase him and his fishing buddies away. The site is near where Texas Creek flows into the river…
Hill wants a judge to issue a judgment declaring that the riverbed is owned by the state, and to order Joseph and Warsewa not to bar him from using it.
“The state of Colorado, however, does not want ownership” of sections of privately owned riverbeds, Tafoya wrote.
The state contends private property rights of the riverbed were established around 1876, when Colorado became a state, the judge states.
“Public access to Colorado’s rivers has been the subject matter of litigation for many years,” she wrote. “State courts are well-equipped to handle this type of controversy.”