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By TARYN LUNTZ of Greenwire
November 11, 2009
The Army Corps of Engineers must consider the effects of climate change as it draws up plans for flood control, navigation and other water projects under a new agency policy.
The idea is to keep rising seas from swamping major federal investments.
“You don’t want to make stupid large investments that are difficult or impossible to undo,” said Jeffrey Gebert, the Army Corps’ chief of coastal planning in the Philadelphia district and a member of the team that drafted the policy.
In some cases, extra up-front investment could armor projects against worst-case scenarios, the policy’s authors say. In others, the corps could leave room for future adjustments.
“If you look at something like a levee in the Sacramento area and say we’re going to design it to a certain height, well, if we get a higher sea-level rise, then a levee won’t provide 100-year protection anymore,” said Kevin Knuuti, engineering chief in the Sacramento district and the lead technical author of the policy. “We can either build it extra-high now, which is expensive and will cost more to design, or maybe we can do things that will make it easier to modify the project in the future, if the need arises.”
Planning for future changes in the case of the Sacramento levee, Knuuti said, might mean purchasing extra land to accommodate future widening.
Officials said existing projects also will be evaluated with rising seas in mind.
“There is no grandfathering,” said Kathleen White, the corps’ senior leader for global and climate change initiatives. “It’s going to apply to everything. We are going to have to undergo a large effort to evaluate our projects to see what this guidance may mean to them.”
Experts said the policy signals a shift in the culture of corps leaders, some of whom rose in the ranks during a time of growing awareness about rising seas.
“The people who had just joined this corps when we were pushing this idea, 25 years later, they’re now the bosses,” said Jim Titus, a U.S. EPA researcher who specialized in sea-level rise.
Titus last month privately published a study in the journal Environmental Research Letters that showed 60 percent of coastal lowlands along the Atlantic Coast are likely to be developed in the next century and less than 10 percent of that area is set aside for conservation.
“To ignore rising sea level in the design of civil works would be like ignoring the health effects of smoking a cigarette,” Titus said. “We’ve gotten to that point.”
To read the rest of the article go to http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/11/11/11greenwire-new-army-corps-policy-forces-project-designers-7288.html
“Rising sea level threatens existing coastal wetlands. Overall ecosystems could often survive by migrating inland, if adjacent lands remained vacant. On the basis of 131 state and local land use plans, we estimate that almost 60% of the land below 1 m along the US Atlantic coast is expected to be developed and thus unavailable for the inland migration of wetlands. Less than 10% of the land below 1 m has been set aside for conservation. Environmental regulators routinely grant permits for shore protection structures (which block wetland migration) on the basis of a federal finding that these structures have no cumulative environmental impact. Our results suggest that shore protection does have a cumulative impact. If sea level rise is taken into account, wetland policies that previously seemed to comply with federal law probably violate the Clean Water Act.” Abstract from this article.
How-To Gardening Guide Helps Protect Our Oceans, Waves and Beaches
SAN CLEMENTE, CA (November 13, 2009) – There is a new buzz in the landscaping world — residential gardens that incorporate beautiful plants that thrive in our local climate and limit the necessity for irrigation and maintenance. The Surfrider Foundation and landscaping expert Douglas Kent have taken this concept a step further to include simple design ideas that will dramatically reduce runoff from properties that pollute creeks and beaches in a new manual available now for novice and expert gardeners: Ocean Friendly Gardens: A How-To Gardening Guide to Help Restore a Healthy Coast and Ocean.
Taking cues from the Surfrider Foundation’s “Ocean Friendly Gardens” program, the book describes how green-thumbs can help restore our precious oceans by applying simple practices to their gardening and landscaping routines including CPR – conserving the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides, increasing permeability so the landscape or garden holds more water, and developing water retention areas.
“With a growing trend of creating beautiful gardens that used native plants and other ‘climate-adapted’ vegetation, we wanted to show people how they could also help reduce water pollution,” said Chad Nelsen, Surfrider Foundation’s Environmental Director. “The result is a fantastic program
The Surfrider Foundation’s “Ocean Friendly Gardens” program developed from members’ personal contributions to their gardens and landscapes in an effort to restore and protect our oceans, waves and beaches. The results were unique and beautiful residential gardens that attracted the admiration and curiosity of the community.
Ocean Friendly Gardens: A How-To Gardening Guide to Help Restore a Healthy Coast and Ocean is available now at Amazon.com <http://Amazon.com/> .
Total recycling – Cape Coral reusing all of its wastewater during 2009
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Senator Durbin and Congressman Farr Introduce Legislation to Stop Cruise Ship Dumping
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Representative Sam Farr (D-Calif.) introduced legislation today that would prevent cruise ships from dumping sewage and other waste into coastal waters.
“Cruise ships are currently allowed to dump raw sewage just three nautical miles from shore. This practice is not only disgusting, it can threaten the public health, coastal tourism, fishing economies, and marine ecosystems,” said Neesha Kulkarni, Legislative Associate at Friends of the Earth. “Advanced technology is available to treat this waste, but the cruise industry has failed to install this equipment on a majority of its ships. The Clean Cruise Ship Act would put a stop to this practice and hold the cruise industry accountable.”
The Clean Cruise Ship Act would establish a no-dumping zone in waters within 12 nautical miles of U.S. shores and strengthen outdated standards for treatment of waste outside of this zone. The bill would also establish an onboard monitoring program to ensure that ships comply with the law.
“Big cruise ships make for big pollution; it’s an unavoidable truth. Unfortunately, responsible disposal of that waste hasn’t always been a given. The cruise ship industry is way overdue to take responsibility for its actions,” Rep. Farr said. “The Monterey Peninsula saw what happens when things go wrong when thousands of gallons of wastewater were dumped off our coastline. It’s ironic that the cruise industry relies on a clean ocean and pristine coastlines for its livelihood, but doesn’t put in the effort to sustain them. This carelessness must not be allowed to continue.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over the last decade the cruise industry has grown nearly twice as fast as any other travel industry. Average ship size has grown about 90 feet every five years and some ships now carry as many as 7,000 passengers and crew. In one week alone, an average cruise ship (3,000 passengers) can generate 200,000 gallons of sewage and 1 million gallons of graywater (water from showers, floor drains, and kitchens).
More information about cruise ship pollution and the bill can be found at http://www.foe.org/air-and-water/clean-cruise-ship-act.
Despite growing concerns about rising sea levels, Atlantic states, led by Florida, continue to steer development toward the coast, a new study finds.
As early as the 1980s, scientists warned that rising seas could submerge vast portions of Florida’s coast.
How have local and state governments responded? Build, baby, build.
A new study of development trends along the Atlantic Coast shows Florida has opened more vulnerable areas to construction than any other state. Three-quarters of its low-lying Atlantic coastline has already been, or will be, developed.
Despite mounting evidence of sea level rise, other states plan to follow Florida’s lead — though to lesser degrees — eventually pushing homes, condos and other buildings onto nearly two-thirds of coastal land less than a meter above the Atlantic. By 2100, many scientists predict a rise near or beyond a meter.
Unlike some climate studies, however, this one doesn’t suggest kayaks will be needed to navigate Miami or Manhattan.
Instead, it divides the coast into rural or wild areas likely to be abandoned, and urbanized areas likely to be forced to employ “increasingly ambitious” and expensive engineering to preserve real estate from encroaching ocean.
Think dikes, levees, pumps, stilts, more dredging to rebuild eroded beaches and mountains of fill to raise roads and structures.
“A map that shows Miami completely under water may not be as realistic as Miami subjected to a lot of shore protection measures,” said Jim Titus, the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency’s project manager for sea-level rise and the primary author of the study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Click To Read the Whole Story…
Our nation’s coast has wonderful beaches, parks, marshes, remarkable underwater ecosystems and amazing wildlife, all of which would be threatened by more offshore oil drilling, currently under debate in Washington DC. According to “Oceans Under the Gun: Living Seas or Drilling Seas ?”, a new report released by Environment America and the Sierra Club, clean beaches and oceans support a vibrant coastal tourism and fishing economy that generates almost $200 billion per year, using very conservative estimates that don’t include economic multipliers.
“Our research makes it clear that clean beaches and oceans are worth more than drilling for the last drops of oil. It’s time to protect our coasts from more spilling and drilling,” said Michael Gravitz, Oceans Advocate for Environment America. “Our clean beaches and oceans are the fragile foundation of coastal business and jobs from tourism, commercial fishing and recreational fishing conservatively valued at nearly $200 billion per year,” he added.
The report shows that the annual value of the sustainable economy based on tourism and fishing in the most regions of the country, with the exception of parts of the Gulf of Mexico, is approximately one and a half to twenty times larger than the annual value of oil and gas resources that we might find offshore. In the North Atlantic the ratio is 12 to 1; in the Mid-Atlantic the ratio is almost 4 to 1; in the South Atlantic the ratio is almost 21 to 1; on Florida’s west coast the ratio is almost 1.5 to 1; and on the Pacific coast the ratio is about 3 to 1.
“Right now the only thing some decision makers in Congress and state legislatures across the country are counting is barrels of oil in the ocean, not endangered species, special places or tourism dollars and coastal dependent business,” added Gravitz. “
Over the next few months Congress will decide whether to allow expanded drilling off our coasts as part of the energy and global warming legislation now moving through Congress. The eastern Gulf of Mexico is the area most at risk, but other regions like California, New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast are also threatened by some proposals.
“Our oceans are truly ‘under the gun’, threatened by Big Oil and their allies in Congress who want to expand offshore drilling,” Athan Manuel, Sierra Club Lands Director, concluded.
Experts concluding the global DIVERSITAS biodiversity conference in Cape Town described preliminary research revealing jaw-dropping dollar values of the “ecosystem services” of biomes like forests and coral reefs — including food, pollution treatment and climate regulation. Undertaken to help societies make better-informed choices, the economic research shows a single hectare of coral reef, for example, provides annual services to humans valued at US $130,000 on average, rising to as much as $1.2 million.