Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Wetlands & Watersheds Article Series

The purpose of the Wetlands & Watersheds Article Series is to expand the Center’s current watershed protection guidance, tools, and resources to provide guidance to local communities on how to integrate wetlands into larger watershed protection efforts.

Center for Watershed Protection

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Urban BMP Performance Tool

This Urban Stormwater BMP Performance Tool
has been developed to provide stormwater professionals with easy access to approximately 220 studies assessing the performance of over 275 BMPs. Additional studies will be added to this collection periodically. This Tool presents information previously compiled by the International Stormwater BMP Database Exit EPA Site and by the State of California in an easy to use search and sort format. In the future, EPA hopes to add more studies to this collection, particularly ones that evaluate the performance of "green infrastructure" or "low impact development" BMPs.
Choosing effective stormwater BMPs is one of the key challenges facing anyone interested in improving or protecting the quality of our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Having access to studies of BMP performance that have been conducted by public agencies, academic researchers, non-profit groups, and others will help make better decisions. This tool provides access to summary information on studies that have been published in recognized journals or that have met detailed criteria Exit EPA Site established by EPA. This tool is not a statistical analysis of the data and, as such, the numbers presented should not be the sole basis for selecting BMPs. The purpose of this tool is to give users an easy to use website to access, read, and explore the literature on BMP performance. EPA hopes that this information will be used to conduct more thorough considerations of BMP selection and placement.

Read more

Monday, January 7, 2008

Arctic Alaska villages caught in slow-motion disaster onslaught

GLOBAL WARMING: Spiraling costs to move imperiled coastal communities pit needs against limited resources.


Published: October 22, 2007
Last Modified: October 22, 2007 at 01:23 PM

The cost of relocating villages that face extinction in the next decade or so -- sooner if the wrong storm hits the wrong place at the wrong time -- is staggering. Even by Alaska standards.
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge
• Moving Newtok, a Bering Sea coast town of 315 being squished and swamped by two rivers, could cost as much as $130 million. Or $412,000 per person.

• Moving Shishmaref, a strip of sand in the Chukchi Sea that's home to about 600 people, could cost as much as $200 million. Or $330,000 per person.

• Moving Kivalina, a shrinking barrier island in the Chukchi that last month saw most of its 380 residents run for safety from the season's first storm, could cost as much as $125 million. Or $330,000 per person.

Meanwhile, millions more are needed to protect people and facilities threatened by catastrophic erosion until they move.

Where will all the money come from?

read more

Friday, January 4, 2008

Life in Our Streams: A Green World

Vegetation along rivers and streams, called riparian vegetation, plays an important part in maintaining and improving the quality of our rivers and streams. The type, density and width of riparian vegetation provide a crucial link between terrestrial and stream ecosystems.

Native vegetation along the streambank provides food and shelter, while also providing a corridor for the movement of wildlife. Riparian vegetation provides vegetable matter, which breaks down and provides food for aquatic invertebrates. Shade from riparian vegetation helps maintain cool water temperatures in pools. In addition, fallen branches, large woody debris and aquatic plants provide habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Riparian vegetation is important in the prevention of stream bank erosion. Vegetation binds soil and and creates a “roughness” that reduces stream flow rates, particularly during floods. Vegetation at the base of riverbanks is especially important to riverbank stability, particularly on outside bends of meanders and on other banks where flow is deflected.Vegetated riparian zones maintain water quality by filtering sediment and nutrients, and reducing the amounts of water entering a water course. Any vegetation that provides a dense cover at ground level will be an effective filter. Riparian vegetation of course, has an inherent aesthetic and intrinsic worth that is difficult to value in monetary terms.
A wetland with different types of plants.

Wetlands are very productive ecosystems and can be thought of as “biological supermarkets.” Wetlands provide large amounts of food, which attract many different animal species. In addition to being “biological supermarkets” for other animals, wetlands produce a number of natural products used by humans, including fish and shellfish, cranberries, timber, wild rice, blueberries, as well as medicines that are extracted from wetlands soils and plants.

There are several types of wetland plants depending on where they live in the wetland:
Emergent plants are those that, although rooted under the water, emerge through the water’s surface (eg. sedges)
Submerged plants are those that stay submerged in the water column (eg. bladderwort)
Floating plants are those which live entirely on the water’s surface (eg. duckweed)

Wetland plants that require water and proper hydric soils at all times are termed “Obligates”. Those that are a little more forgiving in their environmental requirements are termed “Facultative”. Often, both can be found in a wetland.

Wetlands also absorb and retain stormwater helping to slow flooding. Wetlands are also useful in filtering out pollutants from Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD). Long a part of passive treatment technology, wetlands can capture and retain metals from AMD that would otherwise settle out in a stream.

For more information:

The Value of Wetlands
from the World Wildlife Fund