Archive for the ‘water quality’ Category
Coursing Waters, Brenda Jones
The most impactful response I have seen to Hurricane Irene comes from Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Since 1949, this farsighted, crusading organization has assiduously and effectively taught us about the power, importance and threatened condition of water in our region. They have taken giant steps at every possible level to safeguard our waterways.
Now, due to accelerated climate change, it could be seen as ironic that Jim has to teach us how to protect ourselves from water!
I wrote Jim Waltman, immediately upon seeing his “Lessons from Hurricane Irene” in a number of print publications. He graciously gave me permission to share it with NJ WILD readers here and abroad. At the last tally, people are reading of nature in our region in ninety countries. Jim and the Watershed Association are masters at communication, so it is an honor to be able to extend their reach somewhat on this urgent issue.
With Jim Waltman’s kind permission. [bolds mine cfe]
Your water. Your environment. Your voice.
Lessons from Hurricane Irene
A message from the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
By: Jim Waltman, Executive Director
By any measure, Hurricane Irene was a monster. Like much of New Jersey, our watershed was hammered by rain, wind, power outages and flooding. Damages from flooding occurred in almost every corner of our 265-square-mile watershed, and in all 26 towns within our region of central New Jersey. The boroughs were hit particularly hard, with large portions of Manville, Millstone and Hightstown under literally feet of water.
The Millstone River and Stony Brook both reached all-time record high levels in various places, each merging with the Delaware & Raritan Canal for a portion of their journeys, and numerous lakes spilled over their banks. Our hearts go out to the thousands of people who lost property, businesses or, worst of all, loved ones in this storm.
Normal Autumn Waters, Brenda Jones
As we near the end of yet another wet week, those of us at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, central New Jersey’s first environmental group, feel an even greater than usual urgency.
While Hurricane Irene was a true “outlier,” –an enormous storm that would have caused massive flooding and damage no matter what we did to prevent it–, climate scientists are telling us that our region is most likely going to continue to get wetter and wetter (except of course during periods of prolonged drought, which are also likely to become more severe). This means that, –unless we change our mindset, behaviors and policies–, we may be living our future.
However, hope is not lost. Together we can make a difference:
First, we need to stop making the problem worse. Ill-conceived developments near streams and within wetlands, not only damage our supply of clean water and destroy important wildlife habitat, they also dramatically increase the risk of flood damage to homes and businesses.
‘Our’ Towpath After an August Deluge cfe
Since 1949, the Watershed Association has sought to reverse that tide. In Cranbury, we are working closely with the Township Committee, Planning Board and Environmental Commission to secure a new ordinance to prohibit new development and [prevent] the clearing of native vegetation near streams. We are working with Hopewell Township to secure a new ordinance to protect our forests, which help absorb and slowly release rain and snow, and hold soil in place with deep root systems that stabilize streambanks and reduce erosion.
We also need to recommit ourselves to preserving open space along stream corridors and steep slopes as a means of both reducing floodwaters and keeping people out of harm’s way from future Irenes.
Water Fury, Brenda Jones
Second, we need to start fixing the mistakes of the past. Developments built before any significant regulation to contain stormwater can be retrofitted to retain runoff and allow it to percolate into our water supply. For example, the redevelopment of the Princeton Junction train station in West Windsor offers the opportunity to fix flooding issues there caused by acres and acres of impervious paved parking.
Peaceful Skies, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association Trail Walk, cfe
In nearby Princeton we are working to investigate what can be done to reduce the flooding of Harry’s Brook. It’s not too late to correct past mistakes.
We also need to recognize that it makes sense to move or remove some structures that were built near water bodies and have been repeatedly damaged by flooding. The state’s “Blue Acres” program, a cousin of the more familiar Green Acres Program, provides funding to purchase such flood prone properties. With bold action, we can prevent unmitigated development from contaminating and depleting our surface and ground water, and creating additional flood hazards.
We wish those still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Irene a quick and full recovery.
Interviews with Executive Director Jim Waltman are available upon request.
email@example.com to arrange an interview.
The Hobbit Tree - Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association Trail Walk cfe
The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is central New Jersey’s first environmental group, protecting clean water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science and education.
See new information re “Living Our Future” from Jim Waltman of Stony Brook Millstone Watershed below…
Floodwaters, Brenda Jones
If the Weather Channel promulgates that calumny one more time, I may do what a most respected male friend admitted today - yell at the television.
HURRICANE IRENE AND OTHERS ARE NOT TO BE BLAMED UPON SO-CALLED MOTHER NATURE. RATHER, UPON EMISSIONS, CO2, BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, AND OTHER EUPHEMISMS FOR HUMAN GREED.
On CNN, of all places, just before Irene’s debut in our neighborhood, I heard a geologist (don’t ask me why they chose that field to discuss the ways of water and wind) answer, simply, almost abruptly, “Well, of course, hurricanes are intensified because of the increasing temperature of the waters due to climate change.”
This is not NEWS to NJ WILD readers. You’ve ‘heard’ me over and over again linking melting glaciers to increased seawater quantities and depths; decreased sea temperatures and therefore altered currents; increased water vapor; increased intensities of weather, and the worst of this at the poles. All of this fuels wild weather.
OK, it’s a royal pain cleaning up after Irene. All I can say is, get used to it. And start investing in sustainability and green technology, (which could also help heal the economy), while you’re at it.
I kept a semi-journal, first by lamplight, then by lanternlight. I did not go out in the storm with my trusty camera. When I can bring myself to relive those lengthening hours, I may share them with NJ WILD.
Memories are, frankly, turgid.
Waters the color of cafe au lait surged across our Canal Road, scouring the woods as they roared halfway up our steep driveway. Power was out for nearly 24 hours; no television for days; no internet until nearly the week anniversary of Irene.
Some memories are deeply tragic. I mourn the loss of that devoted EMT young man, on Rosedale Road’s bridge right below D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. My heart and prayers are with his family every time I drive that road, and whenever I see his smiling face in any of our newspapers or on-line services.
These recurrent, exacerbated and exacerbating storms are no light matter.
Do not fall for the ploys of any media, least of all the Weather Channel, so eager to lay blame for storm damage at the feet of “Mother Nature.” Heed not the similar ploys of politicians.
Let’s be very clear about the increasingly severe results of ceaseless emissions, of using the verb “believe” in connection with catastrophic climate change, with science itself.
FROM MY FRIEND JIM WALTMAN OF THE STONY BROOK MILLSTONE WATERSHED ASSOCIATION - HE’S BEEN PREACHING ALONG THESE LINES FAR LONGER, AND MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN I. HEED JIM:
[bolds mine... cfe]
“So the idea from afar that only a few hundred birds really got badly oiled turns out to have been a false sense of security.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology Director, John Fitzpatrick
Black Skimmer Skimming - in Clean Water — Smithsonian
NJ WILD readers know how I fret over the fate of every wild creature, from the slain beavers of Princeton’s Pettoranello Gardens/Mountain Lakes ‘Preserve’, to all the winged beings harmed, starved, oiled, killed by the oils of the ceaseless volcano from the so-called Deepwater Horizon last year.
So many waterbirds and shorebirds were breeding, nesting, and/or feeding young, as that foul spewing continued and expanded, well, exPLOded in the normally fecund and to me always sacred waters of our Gulf.
Great Blue Heron Flies over Clean Lake Carnegie - Brenda Jones
You also know that my deepest alarm is that no experts from elsewhere showed up to solve and resolve. Not only did BP not know (or care) what to do. Our American government was powerless, able only to urge tourists to come by and tromp the oiled beaches for the sake of motel and restaurant owners. No one anywhere knew or knows how to resolve an oil disaster.
Any more than anyone anywhere knows what to do about quaked and flooded Fukushima nuclear plant in shattered northern Japan.
Remember the lies? Remember 500 barrels a day in the Gulf? Remember that I told you, watch and see how those numbers tiptoe upwards in the days, weeks and months ahead?
Remember whatever the Japanese were admitting? At best, at the beginning, the reactors were called compromised. The term melt was not part of their vocabulary in the early days. Somewhere there must be a school officials attend, teaching how to lie calmly to all who have the right to know. Teaching how to show up days or weeks later with band-aids for ruptures of the highest magnitude to the fabric of our world.
Last night, on CNN, I heard that there have been “melt-downs or melt-throughs” in three of the four reactors of Fukushima.
And where is that radiation going? Into our skies… Into our ocean — for there is really only ONE ocean. Into our fish and water mammals such as dolphins and whales. Turtles. Plankton. As the Gulf’s oil spewing destroyed everything from the most microscopic to behemoths of the deep.
No one knows. No one tells.
Roseate Spoonbill near Clean Water - from Internet
Here is the Cornell Ornithology Lab on the Gulf disaster, one year later. Even THEY are heedless enough to call those millions of barrels or gallons - what difference to the migrating and breeding birds? — a ’spill’…
Nonetheless, I’m glad there’s a Cornell Lab of Ornithology to address these issues and go to the trouble to have articles written and published on the peril of creatures in our time, especially birds.
However, as a subscriber to their Living Bird Magazine, I have watched this disaster played down in those glossy pages. We have no way of knowing the death toll of birds, let alone plankton and other nearly invisible but essential sea organisms. The red knots who feed on horseshoe crabs in New Jersey are down 5000 this year, when I believe there were only about 15,000 known individuals tallied last year. Did red knots migrate over the Gulf at a critical time, perishing either directly or from consuming poisoned foods?
Gradually, in this article below, realization of the deep inner costs, the hidden, the invisible, the untallyable seems to be seeping in, at least in the world of ornithologists.
Not, however, in the world of oil and business - our new golden calf. The altar upon whose slab we are all Abraham, raising the sword over our sons, Isaac…
Viewpoint: The Oil Spill, One Year Later
One year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick discusses what we learned, and what we can take away from it.
Q: What is your reaction when you look back at footage of birds videotaped along the Gulf Coast by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s team during the oil spill?
(put quotes around that noun “spill”, everyone… cfe)
NJ WILD readers know that my sympathies are with all animals of the wild, by no means limited to New Jersey. You are accustomed to my urging you to pay attention to and support your local land trusts/preservationists, such as D&R Greenway (where I work), Kingston Greenways, Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (restoring legendary Princeton Nurseries habitat and buildings in Kingston), Friends of Princeton Open Space and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed.
Defenders of Wildlife, on the national level, so often speaks what I would urge. Here they focus on the subject about which you’ve so often read in these virtual pages: my horror that the world continues to term that volcano of oil in our sacred ocean, ‘a spill’, and its effects upon the turtles.
Sea turtle deaths, see below, are more than three times the annual average!
Our government, basically, has sat on its hands, allowing BP “business as usual”, while turtles perish and fishermen and shrimpers lose their multi-generational livelihoods, and the sea withers.
Now this, from Defenders of Wildlife. What will you do about it?
“All that it takes for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing…”
REASON to REJOICE - D&R CANAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE
NJ WILD readers know my passion for the D&R Canal and Towpath. For decades, as a poet, I referred to those sacred trails as “nurse, haven and muse.”
Eagle over Sculler on Lake Carnegie - D&R Canal Park - Brenda Jones
It’s never made any sense to me that we might do away with the D&R Canal Commission! That water is our drinking water. That historic landscape is beyond price. The Commission costs taxpayers nothing, which people more politically astute than I can and do explain easily. My friend and colleague at D&R Greenway, Jim Amon, is a person of the highest integrity and honor. He served as Director of the D&R Canal Commission for thirty years before coming to us as Director of Land Stewardship. It is to Jim’s vigilance, persistence, high aesthetic sense, and political savvy that we owe much of the beauty of that State Park. Even the handsome ‘new’ bridge over Route 1 at Lawrenceville, designed to echo canal bridges and wrought iron signs of yesterday, wouldn’t have happened without Jim. In all its years, the D&R Canal Commission has only missed decision deadlines ten times! Tell us what other government agency can match this record, these accomplishments.
Alexander Road Bridge, D&R Canal and Towpath, Full Summer cfe
But Governor Christie said the Commission had to go. The Commission was going to be folded into NJ DEP, that same sterling bureaucracy that just brought us the inexplicable shooting of the beavers of Mountain Lakes so-called Preserve… “And Governor Christie is an honorable man….” (please feel full irony straight from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in the above quote, one of my favorite speeches in all theatre…)
Approaching Storm, Griggstown, D&R Canal and Towpath, Martha Weintraub
Many of us protested the evisceration of the D&R Canal Commission in various ways, –in person and through letters and in the hot links I am always urging NJ WILD readers to use. Thank heaven especially for Jeff Tittel, head of NJ Sierra Club, for leading the charge. Here is the result of courage and persistence.
Great Blue Heron with Fish, Lake Carnegie, D&R Canal State Park, Brenda Jones
Never cease to be vigilant in terms of saving New Jersey beauty and history.
D&R Canal State Park, Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
On Thursday, the Senate Environment Committee unanimously released SR117 (Smith/Bateman), a resolution supporting the continued existence of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) and calling on the governor to authorize the commission to hire a new executive director and full-time staff.
The Assembly Environment Committee passed a similar resolution on Monday. The commission helps operate the Canal Park, which is a state and national historic district visited by 1 million people a year, and oversees land decisions that impact the state park and the water supply for 1.5 million people.
Not Only Drinking Water - Kayaker, Tasha O’Neill
“In order for the D&R Canal Commission to be an independent, professional board, the Legislature needs to support it. The DRCC brings a planning and regional perspective to development applications along the Canal that DEP does not have when it comes to land use planning,” said Jeff Tittel, director of NJ Sierra Club. “The Governor is trying to take over the DRCC and merge it with the DEP. We believe that what the administration wants to do is wrong and we applaud the Legislature for moving this resolution forward.”
The DRCC has been under attack since December when DEP Commissioner Martin recommended the board be abolished under Governor Christie’s Executive Order 15.
The Sierra Club challenged the statutory authority of the governor to eliminate the DRCC and that of the DEP to dictate who the DRCC hires. On Thursday the DRCC held a special meeting where the governor’s representative on the board outlined the administration’s plan to maintain the commission but move staff into the DEP to share resources, despite DEP staffing being at historical lows. The representative also presents two resumes from within the DEP to fulfill the executive director position, which will be vacant on June 1, leaving the DRCC with no staff to review or process permit applications.
In response, The DRCC passed a resolution stating it will decide who it will hire for their Executive Director position. The resolution also asked the Attorney General’s office to appoint legal representation to the Commission if the DEP and Department of Treasury did not place the new staff members on the payroll.
Having an independent regulatory land use program and board is critical not only for water quality but also for properly dealing with land use issues that affect the canal and the 400-square mile watershed. Diminishing staff at the DEP is ill-equipped to handle the additional workload eliminating the commission would result in and would not review localized and cumulative impacts to the park as thoroughly as the commission.
The commission has established their own standards and review procedures for projects to consider natural, historic, and recreational resources of the park, and the DEP only considers regulated program areas in issuing permits.
Less than 10 percent of projects considered by the DRCC would require DEP Land Use approval and the State Historic Preservation Office only has authority over projects in the Park that receive state or federal funding and cannot protect the scenic and recreational qualities of the Park.
Re-Creation: Come Sit a Spell, North from Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
The commission also holds and monitors conservation easements for stream corridors prohibiting any future development, a land preservation technique that involves no expense to the state.
The 70-mile canal spans 22 municipalities in Mercer, Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties. Fifteen of these municipalities and Mercer County have adopted resolutions opposing the elimination of the DRCC.