Community Agriculture Alliance: What is Reg 85? — Steamboat Pilot & Today

From Steamboat Pilot & Today (Greg Peterson):

In 2012, the state of Colorado passed Regulation 85, or Reg 85, which dealt with point source and nonpoint source water contaminants. Point sources, like wastewater treatment plants, were hit with strict measures for managing pollutants. Nonpoint sources, like parks, golf courses and agriculture, were not.

However, Reg 85 began a 10-year period where the agricultural community is encouraged to do voluntary measures for managing nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Agricultural organizations like the Colorado Livestock Association and Colorado Corn Growers Association were involved in those early discussions and pushed back against the assumption that agriculture is the main contributor of nutrients to streams and rivers in Colorado.

In 2022, the Water Quality Control Commission will determine if the agricultural community needs regulations or if we will continue voluntary measures. The first hearing on Reg 85 is in October, and it is an opportunity for the agricultural community to tell their story and keep Colorado as a voluntary state.

The main issue is not the voluntary measures. Farms and ranches throughout the state have been changing and adapting their practices constantly. Many practices, which have been implemented to simply keep a farm or ranch efficient or profitable, have also improved the management of nitrogen and phosphorus. Colorado producers will continue to invest and adopt practices that manage nutrients and are compatible with their operations.

The issue is telling this story to those outside of the agricultural community, and there are multiple opportunities to do just that.

A team with Colorado State University is conducting multiple edge-of-field studies to show the benefit of specific operations and practices on nutrient management. These studies provide us with valuable data to show the positive benefit of practices on the majority of farms and ranches today.

Additionally, these studies can help the landowner have a better understanding of their own application rates of nitrogen and phosphorus and how well those are being used by the crop.

There is also work being done to demonstrate past improvements through programs like EQIP — Environmental Quality Incentives Program —administered by Natural Resources Conservation Services. Every year, millions of dollars in federal and private funding are spent on Colorado farms and ranches that have had positive impacts on managing nitrogen and phosphorus. These studies can show us how much work has been done throughout the state in reducing loads of nitrogen and phosphorus because of new agricultural practices.

If there is a project that will benefit your farm or ranch and have a positive water quality impact, there is a lot of funding out there. We want to focus that money on projects that are compatible with farms and ranches, making them even better.

If you are interested in participating in any of these opportunities, want to know more about Reg 85 or are interested in project funding, please contact Greg Peterson at the Colorado Ag Water Alliance at coagwater@gmail.com or 720-244-4629.

Greg Peterson is the executive director of the Colorado Ag Water Alliance.

The essential nutrients needed for lucrative agricultural production, nitrogen and phosphorus, have been linked to adverse water quality in streams and rivers. Edge of field water quality monitoring of best management practices (BMP’s), like vegetated filter strips, helps the agricultural industry quantify potential water quality benefits and impacts of BMP’s. Photo credit: Colorado State University

Routt County dips into Stagecoach Reservoir to boost #YampaRiver amid hot, dry conditions — Steamboat Pilot & Today #ColoradoRiver #GreenRiver #COriver #aridification

From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Derek Maiolo):

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District has started releasing water from Stagecoach Reservoir to boost flows into the city of Steamboat Springs’ waste water treatment plant.

The release of 350 acre-feet of water also has the aim of keeping water temperatures cooler to protect the health of the ecosystem and to meet local supply needs, according to a news release from the district. This comes as rivers across Colorado are experiencing varying degrees of drought…

The district also initiated its annual drawdown of Stagecoach Reservoir, during which managers will gradually release an additional 1,000 acre-feet of water through Sept. 30.

All of this means higher flows on the local river. As of Tuesday, the Yampa River was flowing at about 160 cubic feet per second at the U.S. Geological Survey’s stream gauge at the Fifth Street Bridge, up from 90 cfs on Aug. 11…

Thanks to a grant from the Yampa River Fund, the Colorado Water Trust will lease an additional 500 acre-feet of water from the Conservation District, which is intended to improve river health and enhance flows during the hot, dry weeks ahead, according to the news release. The Water Trust can purchase additional water if necessary, up to 4,000 acre-feet for the rest of the year…

This marks the seventh year in the past decade that the Water Trust leased water from Stagecoach River to maintain healthy flows and water temperatures. The organization uses forecast models and historical data to gauge how much water to release during any given year.

Yampa River Basin via Wikimedia.

New #wastewater treatment plant, refined system close to completion — The #Snowmass Sun

Anaerobic Digester

From The Snowmass Sun (Maddie Vincent) via The Aspen Times:

By Sept. 16, the new plant — which started being constructed in 2017 and has now been up and treating local wastewater for more than a month — will be fully working in tandem with the newly renovated current plant, creating a refined wastewater treatment system that goes beyond more stringent state and federal requirements and discharges cleaner water into Brush Creek.

“To see the water flow from that plant through this and actually go out to the stream, to actually see the clarity of the water that goes out to the stream is very gratifying,” Hamby said.

As Hamby stood in the sanitation district parking lot looking at the three buildings, he explained that the primary reason for creating this newly refined wastewater treatment system was the need to align with Regulation 85, the state Nutrients Management Control Regulation passed in 2012 to help reduce phosphorus and inorganic nitrogen pollution to Colorado waterways.

According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Safety documents, Regulation 85 established new limits for how much phosphorus and inorganic nitrogen could be in the clean water discharged from state wastewater treatment plants, new and existing, and put new nutrient monitoring requirements in place.

All 44 wastewater treatment districts in Colorado must meet these new requirements by specified dates, with Snowmass being one of the first on deadline due to its size and location in a priority watershed, as previously reported.

Snowmass Water and Sanitation District voters approved a mill-levy tax to help construct the new plant in May 2016 and the district also was able to sell $23.3 million in bonds for the project, Hamby said.

The total cost for the whole renovated system — including construction of the new plant and renovation of the current plant — is around $27.6 million, Hamby said. The district anticipates it will be about 1% over budget when the project is completed this fall, but will be able to cover the extra cost with system development fee revenue from village construction projects, he explained.

And once it is fully up and running, the improved wastewater system will be able to filter out phosphorus to 1 milligram per liter and nitrogen down to 11.4 milligrams per liter, Hamby said. This is even stricter than the state’s limit of 1.75 milligrams of total phosphorus per liter at the 95th percentile (or 95% level of all samples taken in a given year) and 14 milligrams per liter of total inorganic nitrogen for new treatment plants.

Utilizing aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, the wastewater moves between plants through various aeration tanks, clarifiers, filters, UV disinfecting light and eventually out to Brush Creek. The predominately biological nutrient removal process will take around three days from start to finish and have a multitude of automated data collection and monitoring in place along the way to ensure it all runs smoothly.

“The idea of the process is we go from no air, to very, very little air, to a lot of air … that helps grow different types of bacteria. Different steps get you different nutrient removal,” Fineran explained.

Fineran and Hamby said the type of treatment plant and refined process isn’t unprecedented, but that the district was able to carry out the $3.5 million worth of improvements to the current plant in-house, or without any outside contractors to do the work — a feat the three men are proud of and a part of the district’s cost-effective philosophy.

Kids are bigger #coronavirus spreaders than many doctors realized – here’s how schools can lower the risk — The Conversation #COVID19


Students and parents at California’s Hollywood High School go through temperature checks before picking up laptops for online learning.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Phyllis Sharps, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Lucine Francis, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

The first U.S. schools have reopened with in-person classes, and they are already setting off alarm bells about how quickly the coronavirus can spread.

Georgia’s Cherokee County School District, north of Atlanta, had over 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases by the end of its second week of classes, and more than 1,600 students and staff had been sent home after being exposed to them. By the third week, three of the district’s high schools had temporarily reverted to all-online learning. Schools in Mississippi, Tennessee, Nebraska and other states also reported multiple cases, quarantines and temporary school closures.

Deciding whether to open schools for in-person classes during a pandemic is a complex decision. Children often learn better in school, where they have direct contact with expert teachers and the social-emotional learning that comes from being around other children. But they also risk spreading the disease to their teachers and one another’s families without even being aware they have it.

For schools that do reopen classrooms, there are important choices that can help them keep students, families and teachers safe. As nursing professors, we’ve been following the developing research on children’s risks of getting and spreading COVID-19, and we have some advice.

How infectious are kids?

Initially, it appeared that COVID-19 had minimal effects on children and that they didn’t spread it easily, but new research is changing that view.

A large study from Korea published in July found that older children, ages 10 to 19, were just as likely as adults to spread the virus to others. Younger children were suspected of infecting fewer people; however, a hospital in Chicago found that children under 5 with mild to moderate COVID-19 actually had more coronavirus genetic material in their upper respiratory tracts than older children and adults.

A COVID-19 outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia clearly showed how children of all ages are susceptible to infection: 51% of the campers ages 6 to 10 tested positive, as did 44% of those ages 11 to 17.

By mid-August, data from several states showed that children represented about 9.1% of all reported COVD-19 cases, and that the average had risen to 538 cases in every 100,000 children. The American Academy of Pediatrics found a sharp rise in the number of U.S. children testing positive, suggesting that far more children were infected than people realized.

How at-risk are kids?

Children do generally have milder symptoms than adults. In young bodies, it may show up as a fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea. Research suggests that children may have more stomach issues and diarrhea compared to adults.

But that isn’t the story for all kids. Some have died after contracting COVID-19, and others have developed severe complications after they appeared to have recovered.

Similar to adults, children face higher risks of developing severe symptoms if they have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, lung disease, suppressed immune system, congenital heart disease and serious genetic, neurologic or metabolic disorders. And children with none of these conditions can still end up in intensive care units because of COVID-19.

In very rare cases, several weeks after getting COVID-19, children have developed multi-system inflamatory syndrome (MIS-C), with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, including fever, rash, gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, shock and heart damage. At least six children in the U.S. have died from it.

A big concern for schools is that children who are infected but have no symptoms may be silently spreading the disease to their teachers and friends, who then take it home to their families and out into the community.

Ways to keep kids and their families safe

If a school decides to reopen for in-person instruction, it won’t be the same environment students found last fall. Officials will have to make difficult decisions that will ultimately affect the culture of school life.

Here are 10 recommendations to look for in schools that can help keep children, families and faculty safe:

  • Check everyone for symptoms each morning, including temperature checks, but recognize that the virus starts spreading before symptoms show.

  • If possible, set up quick-response testing. These tests can flag people who are infectious but don’t have symptoms, though they can be expensive, hard to find and have higher rates of false-positives than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that take longer.

  • Ensure everyone who can wear a face mask does. Research shows the coronavirus primarily spreads through the air. Masks can limit how far an infected person spreads the virus and how much mask-wearers breathe in.

  • Keep desks 6 feet apart for physical distancing. On the school bus and where lines form, mark off seating and line spacing to make physical distancing easy to remember.

  • Rather than having students change classrooms, keep them together in cohorts and have teachers move from classroom to classroom to limit contact in the halls. Hold classes outside when possible, and ensure outside air circulates into rooms.

  • Suspend extracurricular activities with a high risk of transmission, such as singing and sports with physical contact. Some activities are less risky, such as tennis, swimming and running.

  • Frequently clean high-touch areas, such as bathrooms and door handles.

  • Make sure students are current on all immunizations and get the flu shot.

  • Be prepared to provide emotional and behavioral support to students dealing with stressful and sometimes traumatic experiences during the pandemic.

  • Get a school nurse. During a pandemic like this, every school should have a nurse to check for symptoms and manage illnesses, but many schools don’t have one full-time.

Schools should have a plan and be ready to change it. If students and staff become infected or the school can’t meet safety requirements, the schools need the flexibility to take classes online.

COVID-19 presents an opportunity to reflect on the learning disparities and disadvantages many students will encounter without in-person learning. Out of the ashes of COVID-19, all key stakeholders of the school community will need to work together to develop innovative, sustainable solutions that benefit students who have been most disadvantaged by the pandemic.The Conversation

Phyllis Sharps, Professor of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Lucine Francis, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

In a Move That Could be Catastrophic for the Climate, [@POTUS’s] @EPA Rolls Back #Methane Regulations — Inside Climate News #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

The Four Corners methane hotspot is yet another environmental climate and public health disaster served to our community by industry. But now that we’ve identified the sources we can begin to hold those responsible accountable for cleaning up after themselves. The BLM methane rule and EPA methane rule are more clearly essential than ever. Photo credit: San Juan Citizens Alliance

From Inside Climate News (Phil McKenna):

Several oil and gas giants opposed loosening restrictions on the ‘super-pollutant,’ a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a long-anticipated rollback of methane emission regulations for the oil and gas industry on Thursday, marking the latest in a long series of attacks on federal climate policy by the Trump administration.

The move, which was opposed by several leading oil and gas companies, could result in a catastrophic increase in the release of a climate “super-pollutant,” at a time when global methane emissions from human activity are already rising yet, to limit future warming, they must be quickly reduced.

A pre-publication draft of the rules released by the EPA on Thursday would weaken Obama-era rules requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and fix points where methane—the second largest driver of human-made climate change after carbon dioxide—leaks from wells and other infrastructure. The change in rules would result in the release of an additional 4.5 million metric tons of preventable methane pollution each year, according to an assessment by the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

EDF President Fred Krupp said in a written statement on Thursday that the organization planned to sue the Trump administration over the rollback…

Reducing methane emissions makes economic sense for oil and gas companies because methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a valuable commodity. Leading oil companies BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil have all urged the Trump administration to maintain strong methane emission regulations…

The rollback comes as global methane emissions caused by humans are rapidly increasing, fueled in part by an increase in emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry, according to a study Jackson and others published in July in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Anthropogenic methane emissions have gone up by about 13 percent worldwide since the early 2000s, with roughly half the increase coming from fossil fuels in the United States and elsewhere, according to the study. Agriculture, including emissions from rice cultivation and methane emissions from cows and other animals, accounts for the other half of the increase and is a larger overall source of methane emissions, according to the report.

Jackson said the rollbacks would lower the bar for the oil and gas industry, allowing the worst performing companies to continue polluting as they have in the past.

“We want to reward the companies that are doing the most and bring the rest of the market to the same level of environmental stewardship, and that is what we are abandoning here,” he said.

High Emissions from Many Sources

The rollback comes as recent studies show that methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas sector are consistently higher than official EPA estimates.

For example, emissions from the Permian basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, the second largest natural gas production region in the country, are more than two times higher than federal estimates, according to a study published in April in the journal Science Advances.

Methane emissions from coal mines saw some of the largest growth from the early 2000s to 2017, according to the study Jackson and others published in July.

A 2019 report by the International Energy Agency found that coal mine methane emissions in 2018 were roughly equal to the annual emissions from international aviation and shipping combined.

Abandoned oil and gas wells that leak methane are another large source of emissions, and one that could increase as well operations are shuttered in response to plummeting oil demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. EPA data indicates that, as of 2018, there were already 2.1 million unplugged abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States, which emitted an estimated 280,000 tons of methane per year.

The April study looking at the Permian basin estimated that 3.7 percent of all the methane produced from wells in the region was released, unburned, into the atmosphere. While the leakage rate might seem small, methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas means that even a small rate of emissions can have a big impact.

Climate scientists estimate that if as little as 3.2 percent of all the gas brought above ground leaked into the atmosphere rather than being burned to generate electricity, clean-burning natural gas could be worse for the climate over the near term than burning coal.

However, with the time left to address climate change quickly running out, the question of whether burning natural gas or coal is worse for the climate is increasingly irrelevant, said Drew Shindell, an earth science professor at Duke University.

To limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century—the more ambitious of two targets set in the Paris Agreement—developed countries need to reduce their emissions by 40 to 50 percent by the end of the decade, Shindell said.

“That is just inconsistent with building new fossil fuel infrastructure,” he said. “Even if gas is better than coal, it still has a large enough CO2 footprint that it doesn’t get you toward where you want to go.”

Methane emissions also contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, or smog, which causes respiratory and cardiovascular disease, particularly in low income communities and communities of color where ozone levels are disproportionately high, Shindell said…

“That is just inconsistent with building new fossil fuel infrastructure,” he said. “Even if gas is better than coal, it still has a large enough CO2 footprint that it doesn’t get you toward where you want to go.”

Methane emissions also contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, or smog, which causes respiratory and cardiovascular disease, particularly in low income communities and communities of color where ozone levels are disproportionately high, Shindell said.

Methane emissions lead to approximately 165,000 premature deaths worldwide each year, according to a 2017 study Shindell published in the journal Faraday Discussions, looking at the societal costs of methane emissions. The study concluded that the social cost of methane—a tally of the overall damage to public health and reduced yields from farms and forests due to methane emissions—is 50 to 100 times greater than similar costs from carbon dioxide emissions.

“There is a compelling need to reduce emissions of methane,” Shindell said earlier this month in testimony before a U.S. House committee in a hearing on “the devastating health impacts of climate change.”

Ellis of BP America added that reducing methane emissions also made economic sense. “Simply, the more gas we keep in our pipes and equipment, the more we can provide to the market,” Ellis said.

“Unlike many CO2 measures, which can be expensive and challenging, controlling methane is generally a gain financially, that’s why this rollback is so disappointing,” Shindell said.

He added, “Not only would it improve climate change, but it’s actually good for the bottom line of companies that do it. If we can’t even manage that, that’s pretty pathetic and not very optimistic for our future.”