IJC Teleconference on water levels

The International Joint Commission (IJC) invites you to participate in a teleconference briefing on Thursday, June 13 regarding public hearings on a proposal for regulating the water levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. IJC staff will make a presentation and be available to answer questions.
When:  June 13, 2013, at 2:00 pm
How to participate:
Teleconference number: 1-877-413-4781
Participant code: 736 879 4
Webinar login information:
1. Go to https://pwgsc-nh.webex.com/pwgsc-nh/j.php?ED=207417192&UID=0&PW=NYWJkNGQxMGRk&RT=MiMxMQ%3D%3D
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: IJC
4. Click “Join Now”.
To update this meeting to your calendar program (for example Microsoft Outlook), click here.
WebEx will automatically setup Meeting Manager for Windows the first time you join a meeting. To save time, you can setup prior to the meeting by clicking here.
Frank Bevacqua, Public Affairs Adviser, Washington D.C. – 202-736-9024, bevacquaf@washington.ijc.org
Bernard Beckhoff, Public Affairs Adviser, Ottawa ON – 613-947-1420, beckhoffb@ottawa.ijc.org

IJC RFP For Lake Erie Nutrient Runoff Engagement

The International Joint Commission’s (IJC’s) Great Lakes Regional Office (GLRO) is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for anticipated services of a qualified contractor to conduct a study in the Lake Erie basin to support binational efforts to engage farmers, lake shoreline residents, and urban residents to implement best management practices to reduce nutrient runoff to Lake Erie. The study will analyze barriers to and incentives for participation in nutrient runoff reduction initiatives and use a social marketing strategy to encourage implementation of best management practices for nutrient runoff reduction.
    The RFP is open to all teams of researchers, consultants and contractor(s), colleges, universities, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies where the lead investigators normally reside in Canada or the United States. Experience in statistical research, social marketing and project management is highly desired. Subject to the availability of funds, IJC contemplates an award of a single-award, firm fixed price contract with an estimated Period of Performance of 16 months to obtain the results described in the statement of work. The Maximum sum of the contract awarded under a Fixed Price Contract is anticipated not to exceed $130,000 USD. Questions and requests for clarifications regarding the RFP must be submitted no later than 5 PM on Friday, June 14, 2013. The closing date for the RFP is June 28, 2013.


State Sovereignty over Water

The supreme Court will rule on Tarrant  v Hermann soon. Here is some background on the issue. State sovereignty over its resources is at stake and could set a new precedent for other regional water compact disputes like Arizona or California. Here is an excerpt from Dallas paper:

The central question in Tarrant Regional Water District vs. Hermann is whether the Supreme Court will uphold the Red River Compact, a 35-year-old pact that sets markers on how Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana share water from the river. Each state signed the compact, and Congress approved it in 1978.
Among other points, the agreement stipulates that Texas has access to certain water basins in Oklahoma, just as Oklahoma has access to specific Texas basins. Oklahoma, however, has denied the Tarrant Regional Water District the right to seek a permit for its share of the water from one of the basins the compact covers.
The Tarrant district rightly has pressed this case all the way to the Supreme Court.
The justices may be tempted by sovereignty arguments that were used by Oklahoma legislators to sustain a moratorium on the sale or transfer of water from Oklahoma to Texas. Here’s the problem with that line of reasoning: Whenever a state enters into a compact, it by definition loses some of its sovereign rights. Chief Justice John Roberts emphasized that reality during oral arguments in this case back in April.


Who pays for restoration?

While there is high water levels in Georgian Bay, there are low water levels for Huron-Michigan. Who will pay for restoration of water levels? This problem’s complexity is heighten by climate change by glacial isostatic adjustment. Here is an excerpt from article from Globe and Mail:


Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. While St. Clair River dredging projects between the late 1800s and 1962 (and probably some further erosion subsequently) did contribute to lower water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the decline caused by channel alterations only exacerbates the key driver of water level changes: climate. Scientists tell us that low levels are caused by persistent decline in precipitation, lack of ice and the resulting increase in evaporation. In fact, evaporation is by far the top cause of water loss from the lakes. Scientists’ satellite images and anglers’ unused-ice fishing tip-ups can tell you that the amount and duration of wintertime ice has fallen dramatically since the 1970s.

In addition, the movement of the Earth’s crust in response to the melting of glaciers, a phenomenon known as glacial isostatic adjustment, has also contributed to the apparent drop in water levels, especially around Georgian Bay. Just in the course of my lifetime, GIA has caused an apparent drop of 18 centimetres.

Those who point only to the dredging of the St. Clair River are oversimplifying the dynamics.


Eco-Diversity New Focus of Studies

Cutting edge study show the importance of diversity essential for healthy planet ecosystems. Excerpt from Science Daily:

“Zavaleta and two ecologists who recently received Ph.D.s from UCSC illustrate the importance of landscape diversity in their article “Several scales of bioversity affect ecosystem multifunctionality” published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lead author Jae R. Pasari, who received his Ph.D. in 2011, conceived of the study for his dissertation. He, Zavaleta, and coauthor Taal Levi created simulations based on landmark research conducted by David Tilman, professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior at the University of Minnesota.
Tilman — also a co-author — created 168 plots nine meters square and planted them with randomized combinations of perennial grassland species. He was interested in how the plots would fare depending on the combination of species included.
Pasari, Levi, and Zavaleta took Tilman’s data gathered since 1997 to create 7,512 experimental computerized landscapes. The computer simulations are grounded on very real data, Zavaleta said.
“We used the simulation models to create imaginary landscapes with many kinds of habitats,” she said. The team was able to test combinations of “patches” in order to determine the overall potential health of the “quilt.”
The authors write: “In addition to conserving important species, maintaining ecosystem multifunctionality will require diverse landscape mosaics of diverse communities.”
“What’s new here,” Zavaleta says, “is reminding us that it’s not just important to protect a diversity of species but also important to protect the mosaic of habitat patches in a landscape.”


Sea Level Rise Mapper | Scenic Hudson

Found this interactive map of the Hudson river. This June day perfect to get your boat out and play! Such a unique estuary, goal to preserve it in an environmentally changing atmosphere is challenging. You can stop commercial development but can you stop nature as sea rises? This excerpt is from the Scenic Hudson website:

“The Hudson River is an extension of the Atlantic Ocean, a 160-mile-long estuary that stretches from the Narrows in New York Harbor to the Federal Dam at Troy. Sea level along the entirely estuary is thus linked to any changes in water levels in the Atlantic and around the globe.

Over the past century, sea level on the Hudson has risen about a foot—more precisely about 3.2mm per year—a rate greater than the global average. The best data available indicates that we can expect the Hudson’s water levels to continue rising up to six feet by the end of this century, and perhaps that much again during the next century. Over 9,000 acres of riverfront lands lie within the expanding reach of daily high tides, threatening both the most critical river habitats and approximately 3,600 households and 6,900 people. Accompanying shifts of flood-prone areas will put another 6,400 households and 12,200 people at greater risk from damaging storm surges and floodwaters. At the same time, the most critical habitats of the Hudson River ecosystem—the 13,000 acres of tidal wetlands and shallow water vegetation beds—will be increasingly stressed by rising water levels.

As both a mission-driven organization and a stakeholder owning over 1,000 acres of protected lands along the river’s edge, Scenic Hudson is working to catalyze long-range planning for sea level rise along the estuary. Our goal is to work toward a future that balances and reduces risks to people, property and nature, and holds the promise of secure, thriving riverfront communities within a vibrant, healthy ecosystem.”

Check out the interactive map here:


Environmental Justice U.S. EPA

From NYSPSA at Syracuse Univ. Nicole Daniels found that spa definition “too broad” and confusing to people. She called definition ” squishy”. Read on for EPA definition of environmental justice. Next question, how does EJ differ from Superfund concept

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

What is meant by fair treatment and meaningful involvement?

Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies

Meaningful Involvement means that:
people have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;
the public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision;
their concerns will be considered in the decision making process; and
the decision makers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected
EPA and Environmental Justice

EPA’s goal is to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

EPA’s environmental justice mandate extends to all of the Agency’s work, including setting standards, permitting facilities, awarding grants, issuing licenses and regulations and reviewing proposed actions by the federal agencies. EPA works with all stakeholders to constructively and collaboratively address environmental and public health issues and concerns. The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) coordinates the Agency’s efforts to integrate environmental justice into all policies, programs, and activities. OEJ’s mission is to facilitate Agency efforts to protect environment and public health in minority, low-income, tribal and other vulnerable communities by integrating environmental justice in all programs, policies, and activities.

Learn more on the history of Environmental Justice…