Archive for November, 2010

How does planting trees and grasses help?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Example of trees & grasses to help your waterways!

  •      Siltation/erosion/sedimentation is the #1 pollutant in our watershed.  The grasses will help to settle out suspended sediment in the water to help hold down the soil that could be washed away because there is nothing to hold down the barren soil when the water comes rushing down during a rain event.


  •      Grasses filtrate sediment by holding water for a longer period of time so the sediment settles to the bottom instead of traveling downstream. 


  •     Removal of nutrients from the water before it passes downstream. 


  •       Plants produce enzymes which will absorb and “eat” bacteria


  •       Natural removal of chemical pollutants like fertilizers and waste materials removes nitrogen, phosphorous and toxins from surface water.


  •       Creating more shade will help to create Dissolved Oxygen that is needed in the water for fish and other wildlife to “breathe.”


  •       Floods problems can be alleviated – grassy knolls and trees can capture, store and slowly release water over a longer period of time


  •       Protect shorelines through reduction of destructive energy from fast moving/ rising water


  •       Alleviate pools of standing, stagnant water so West Nile will not have the opportunity to be passed on in the mosquito or human population



“87% of wetlands in Indiana no longer exist. Most of the forested river corridors in Allen County have been removed.  Water quality, stormwater drainage and sewage issues recognize no political boundaries and need regional coordination.” (Plan-It-Allen, 2007) So you will be aiding in replenishing wetland species right here!  Streambank stabilization projects are currently receiving 0 dollars in Indiana. (Soil & Water, 2008)  Please invest in Natural Capital!


60 Million Fish Dead/Year; New Permits now in place! GOOD NEWS

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Recapping this article; The FirstEnergy’s Bay Shore plant kills more fish than all others in Ohio combined and is one of the largest sites for fish kills in the region. Bay Shore kills up to 46 million adults and 14 million juveniles a year whenoperating at full capacity & estimates 209 million fish eggs and 2.2 trillion microscopic fish in the larval form being pulled through screens and killed inside the plant each year.  What a shame, but permits now in place, should be at least better!

State EPA renews Bay Shore’s permit
Lower fish kills factor in decision

PhotoFirstEnergy Corp. is getting the chance to prove that its dual strategy for reducing fish kills at its Bay Shore power plant in Oregon will work.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Friday announced it will renew the utility’s wastewater-discharge permit at the plant for 4 1/2 years, from Jan. 1 through July 31, 2015.

 The permit calls for the same reduction in fish kills that had been proposed in a draft document that went out for public comment last spring – at least 80 percent fewer impinged, or killed from being trapped against the plant’s intake screens, and at least 60 percent fewer entrained, or sucked through the hot plant by its powerful intake current.

The only difference between what was proposed and what was made final is that the deadline was moved up by 18 months, Ohio EPA spokesman Dana Pierce said, to April 1, 2013, instead of Oct. 1, 2014.
“Moving the date up will reduce two peak seasons of fish kills, which are highest during the April-to-June fish migration period,” the agency said in its news release.
The permit also provides FirstEnergy a variance from tougher federal rules for mercury releases into the water, giving the utility more time to phase in improvements.
Confronted by public outcry last spring, FirstEnergy said Friday it is pleased by the agency’s decision.
At an April 22 hearing, several area residents demanded the installation of a $100 million cooling tower.
Cooling towers greatly reduce water intake and reduce fish mortalities by 95 percent, making them the most effective devices at saving fish. But their price tag keeps them out of reach for many plants.
 The Bay Shore facility, built in 1955, is in a unique situation.
It sits in a modified estuary where the Maumee River meets western Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay, one of the Great Lakes region’s most valuable spawning areas. It kills more fish than all others in Ohio combined and is one of the largest sites for fish kills in the region.
 FirstEnergy’s consultant estimates that Bay Shore kills up to 46 million adults and 14 million juveniles a year when operating at full capacity.
More than half – 24 million emerald shiners and 14 million gizzard shad – are bait fish that support the Great Lakes region’s $7 billion fishery. About $1 billion of that economic impact is in Ohio alone.
 Records submitted by the utility also show an estimated 209 million fish eggs and 2.2 trillion microscopic fish in their larval form being pulled through screens and killed inside the plant each year.
Since last spring, FirstEnergy has announced scaled-back operations for three of the four units, saying the action was in response to the lackluster economy and less demand for industrial power, not because of fish.
 Prior to that, the utility installed several underwater shutterlike devices known as reverse louvers for a pilot study to see if they can be deployed on a larger scale to divert fish around the plant. The utility paid $500,000 to have enough installed for a two-year test run.
“Between the two of those, we will be able to meet the impingement and entrainment requirements,” said Mark Durbin, FirstEnergy spokesman. “Our focus all along has been on this system that we think will work, the louvers.”
 Contact Tom Henry at:
or 419-724-6079.

Mercury Contamination in 96% of Wastewater Discharge Samples from Public Treatment Facilities (USGS)

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

High Mercury Levels Found in Water Throughout Indiana

USGS study shows that rain and wastewater discharges are sources
November 18, 2010


Mercury contamination in water and fish throughout Indiana has routinely exceeded levels recommended to protect people and wildlife, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). About 1 in 8 fish samples tested statewide had mercury that exceeded the recommended safety limit for human consumption. The causes include mercury in the rain and mercury going down the drain, according to a recently released federal study.

The most significant source of mercury to Indiana watersheds is fallout from the air. Much of the mercury in the air comes from human activity. In Indiana, coal-burning power plants emit more mercury to the air each year than any other human activity. In urban areas, wastewater discharge contributes a substantial portion of mercury to waterways.

These are among the key findings of a comprehensive study of mercury in the state’s watersheds during the past decade by the USGS in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).

“Indiana has been a national leader in understanding its mercury problems through a long-term statewide network of monitoring,” said USGS hydrologist Martin Risch, who led the study. “Actions by the IDEM provided data about mercury in fish and wastewater. Our understanding of mercury would not have been possible without their cooperation.”

During the study, scientists examined mercury in water, fish, precipitation, dry fallout and wastewater to determine the causes and effects of mercury moving through the environment. They also examined landscape characteristics, precipitation and streamflow for a total of more than 380,000 pieces of data that provide a snapshot of mercury in Indiana.

“The amount of mercury in precipitation was the main factor affecting mercury levels in the state’s watersheds,” said Risch. “But wastewater discharge can be a significant source of mercury. When wastewater is delivered to a stream from hundreds of discharge pipes, it increases mercury levels in watersheds more than was previously recognized.”

Mercury was detected in 96% of the wastewater discharge samples from public treatment facilities in this study. Mercury in wastewater samples typically exceeded criteria set to protect people and wildlife. Higher numbers of discharge pipes in a watershed were linked to higher levels of mercury in the streams.

Water draining from reservoirs in this study had significantly higher percentages of mercury converted to methylmercury than water from streams without dams. Dams can trap mercury transported by suspended particles in streams. Once the particulate mercury settles in the lake or reservoir behind the dam, natural processes change some of it to methylmercury, a toxin that accumulates in organisms throughout their lives. Methylmercury levels are amplified up the food chain and reach high levels in some sport fish and in fish that serve as food for wildlife.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey   November 18, 2010

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Water

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 2009 by Rebecca Coffey

1. Water is everywhere – there are 332,500,000 cubic miles of it on earth’s surface.  But less than 1% of it is fresh and accessible, even when you include bottled water.

2. And “fresh” can be a relative term.  Before 2009, federal regulators did not require water bottlers to remove E. coli.

3. Actually, E. coli doesn’t sound so bad.  In 1999 the Natural Resources Defense Council found that one brand of spring water came from a well in an industrial parking lot near a hazardous wasted dump.

4. Cheers! The new Water Recovery System on the International Space Station recycles 93% of astronauts’ perspiration and urine, turning it back into drinking water.

5. Kurdish villages in northern Iraq are using a portable version of the NASA system to purify water from streams and rivers, courtesy of the relief group Concern for Kids.

6. Ice is a lattice of tetrahedrally bonded molecules that contain a lot of empty space. That’s why it floats.

7. Even after ice melts, some of those tetrahedrons almost always remain, like tiny ice cubes 100 molecules wide.  So every glass of water, no matter what its temperature, comes on the rocks.

8. You can make your own water by mixing hydrogen and oxygen in a container and adding a spark. Unfortunately, that is the formula that destroyed the Hindenburg.

9. Scientists have a less explosive recipe for extracting energy from hydrogen and oxygen.  Strip away electrons from some hydrogen molecules, add oxygen molecules with too many electrons, and bingo! You get an electric current.  That’s what happens in a fuel cell.

10. Good Gardeners know not to water plants during the day.  Droplets clinging to the leaves can act as little magnifying glasses, focusing sunlight and causing plants to burn.

11. Hair on your skin can hold water droplets too.  A hairy leg may get sunburned more quickly than a shaved one.

12. Vicious cycle.  Water in the stratosphere contributes to the current warming of earth’s atmosphere.  That in turn may increase the severity of tropical cyclones, which throw more water into the stratosphere.  That’s the theory, anyway.

13. The slower rate of warming in the past decade might be due to a 10% drop in stratospheric water. Cause: unknown.

14  Although many doctors tell patients to drink eight glasses of water a day, there is no scientific evidence to support this advice.

15. The misinformation might have come from a 1945 report recommending that Americans consume about “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food, ” which amounts to 8 or 10 cups a day.  But the report added that much of that water comes from food – a nuance many people apparently missed.

16.  Call waterholics anonymous: Drinking significantly more water than is need can cause “water intoxication” and lead to fatal cerebral and pulmonary edema.   Amateur marathon runners have died this way.

17. Scientists at Oregon State University have identified vast reservoirs of water beneath the ocean floor. In fact, there may be more water under the oceans than in them.

18.  Without water, ocean crust would not sink back into the earth’s mantle.  There would be no plate tectonics, and our planet would probably be a lot like Venus: hellish and inert.

19. At the other end of the wetness scale, planet GJ 1214b, which orbits a red dwarf star, may be almost entirely water.

20.  Recent evidence suggests that when the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago, comets had liquid cores.  If so, life may have started in a comet.

Did you know, why plastic bags blow?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

I took 2 weeks to make my Halloween costume.  I collected 4 women’s household plastic bags and about 20 of my own. All the bags were sewn onto a trench coat to make “Bag Monster.”  My Bag Monster had 688 attached bags that I wore for Halloween…and passed out this fact sheet.  If you thought I looked ridiculous, think of how ridiculous bags truly are…


   Why plastic bags blow?

*Plastic bags start as crude oil, natural gas, or other petrochemical derivatives.

*The first plastic “baggies” for bread, sandwiches, fruits, and vegetables were introduced in the United States in 1957. Plastic trash bags started appearing in homes and along curbsides around the world by the late 1960s and handed out by the millions in 1977.

*A quarter of the plastic bags used in wealthy nations are now produced in Asia.

*Only 0.6 percent of plastic bags are recycled – NOT EVEN A WHOLE PERCENT

*News sources cite a 500-year estimate for a plastic bag to decompose in a landfill, while others prefer a more conservative 1,000-year lifespan. In full sunlight plastic bags can take as little as 20 years…but when plastics break down, they don’t biodegrade; they photodegrade. This means the materials break down to smaller fragments which readily soak up toxins. They then contaminate soil, waterways, animals and eventually humans to digest.

*Some manufacturers have introduced biodegradable or compostable plastic bags made from starches, corn, polymers or poly-lactic acid, and no polyethylene—though these remain prohibitively expensive and account for less than 1 percent of the market.


*Think twice about taking a plastic bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry.

*Keep canvas bags in your home, office, and car so you always have them available when you go to the supermarket or other stores.

*Ask your favorite stores to stop providing bags for free, or to offer a discount for not using the bags. – NO PAPER OR PLASTIC

*Encourage your local politicians to introduce legislation taxing or banning plastic bags.

*Try to go at least one week without accumulating any new plastic bags. If every shopper took just one less bag each month, this could eliminate the waste of hundreds of millions of bags each year.

*DON’T FEED THE BAG MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bag Monster & Martha Stewart

Wanna know something really ridiculous?

* Somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year

*Each year the U.S. consumes between 30 billion-100 billion plastic bags and 10 billion paper grocery bags.

*The average American uses 300 to 700 plastic bags per year.

(1,400 bags for a family of 4)

*If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth 760 times!

*10% of the plastic you consume ends up in the ocean.

ALL litter that is not picked-up, eventually ends up in the nearest waterway….


*Each year the United States consumes 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14-17 million trees.

*According to the EPA, paper bags generate 70 percent more air pollution and 50 times more water pollution than plastic bags.

*Five industries account for 68 percent of all energy used in the industrial sector. Pulp and paper accounts for 6 percent of energy usage making it the fourth largest contributor…and Indiana continues to rely on burning coal for generating 96% of our energy.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now 2x the size of Texas.

*The world’s largest concentration of plastic pollution can be found floating mostly below the surface between Hawaii and San Francisco. Wind and sea currents carry marine debris from all over the world to what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This “landfill” is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and millions of pounds of our discarded trash, mostly plastics.

*It would take you a week to boat across the 3.5 million of tons of garbage strewn across the “Patch.” The garbage reaches depths of nearly 100 feet.

*Trash in the ocean is known to be the cause of death and injuries of numerous marine animals and birds because they become entangled in it, or mistaken it for prey and eat it or regurgitate it to young.

*At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris including seabirds, turtles, puffins, seals, sea lions, whales and fish.

*Scientists find many seabird skeletons on the Hawaiian Islands whose “gut content is just filled with plastic.” As the larger animals and marine life eat the smaller animals, the plastic eventually ends up in the human food supply, too.

*According to a 2006 report from the U.N. Environment Programme, every pound of plankton in the central Pacific Ocean is offset by about 6 pounds of litter. The report adds that every square mile of ocean is home to nearly 50,000 pieces of litter.


1. The Environmental Literacy Council. Paper or Plastic? 2008 – View Full Article
2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Questions About Your Community: Shopping Bags: Paper or Plastic or …? –
View Full Article
3. Wall Street Journal. Paper or Plastic? A New Look at the Bag Scourge. –
View Full Article by Jeffrey Ball
4. National Geographic News. Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Attracts Explorers
View Full Article by Brian Handwerk
5. Greenpeace. Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans. –
View Full Report by Allsopp, Walters, Santillo, and Johnston
6. National Geographic News. Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment? –
View Full Article by John Roach
7. Gloucester Times. Taking Our Own Steps to Fight Ocean Pollution.
View Full Article by Heidi Pearson
8. Scientists Study ‘Garbage Patch’ in Pacific Ocean.
View Full Article by Shelby Lin Erdman
9. New York Times. Recyclers, Scientists Probe Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
View Full Article by Colin Sullivan
10. National Cooperative Grocers Association. Paper or Plastic? NCGA Suggests Neither.
View Full Article
11. Energy Information Administration. International Energy Outlook 2009, Industrial Sector Energy Consumption.
View Full Article


What to plant in yard, what NOT to plant?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Even though these plants are prohibited from being planted in natural areas or riverbanks, many of these plants are sold in nurseries to homeowners.  When planting the undesired foliage in our yard, they end up in natural areas and riverbanks.  The homeowners do not realize these plants are invasive.  Plants and trees are good…plants and trees that choke out diversity and natives are not so good.  Choose wisely!

The following is a list:

Scientific Name ~ Common Name ~ Why the tree or shrub is undesirable/invasive/susceptible to problems

Fort Wayne and NE Indiana is Hardy Zone 4 – It is important to use plants adapted to our climate so they do not need to be watered after 1 year, because they will be watered naturally!
This tells you many of the preferred trees
(start at pg. 7 if you would like the LIST)

My proper tree planting always includes COMPOST from my home

The following is a well written article that explains and documents how “Foreign Plants and Animals Conquering Native Species” ~ Why to plant the preferred trees rather than others

This is more information on WHY to plant natives (University of Minnesota) and includes” submerged plants