Daily Archives: January 13, 2012

Portland (OR), Parasites, and Politics

Portland’s Bull Run watershed is a beautiful place (click here for prior post)…..A city utility worker gave me and another engineer a tour of it in 1987 (yes, that long ago)….I recall as we drove up the valley stopping at a clearing, the utility worker pointing to an area saying, this is where we would build a filtration plant if necessary.  Of course, the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments were just passed the prior year, and EPA was just beginning to work on the criteria to determine when filtration would be required (or avoided, as it turned out).  I met an EPA employee with a funny name (Stig Regli), who has since spent most of his career at EPA working on filtration and disinfection regulations.

To make a longer story short, the EPA decision to allow unfiltered water systems (like Portland) to not install filtration has always been a mixture of science and politics.  Back in the late 1980s, it was more about defining the science. Now, 15 years later….the science is pretty well-defined….and a decision to let a city avoid filtration is mostly (if not all) politics.  Democrat governor, democrat mayor, democrat local politicians running for election…. Democrat EPA administrator, President, etc….why cause economic distress  and upset voters….

Cryptosporidium has been detected once again in the Bull Run watershed….and the same arguments to avoid filtration are being made now that have been made for 15 years….same for Portland’s uncovered water storage reservoirs….the more things change the more things (in Portland) stay the same….click here….

Nyack, New York investigating high lead results

Nyack Water Dept is monitoring for lead to determine cause of high lead levels found in some homes…..click here

Elevated copper at Connecticut Water Company

Amston Lake water system in Hebron, Lebanon and Colchester should not drink water from the tap due to elevated levels of copper in the drinking water….click here….

Falmouth, Mass: “This town is completely out of control”

Water superintendent accused of stealing copper sulfate….click here

USEPA Comments on the New York State draft EIS for hydraulic fracturing

Click here or cover letter below for the documents.




Kuipers Munneke et al 2012: Insignificant change in Antarctic snowmelt volume since 1979

This paper found no significant change in Antarctic snowmelt over the entire 31 year period of satellite observations 1979-2010.

Kuipers Munneke, P., G. Picard, M. R. van den Broeke, J. T. M. Lenaerts, and E. van Meijgaard (2012), Insignificant change in Antarctic snowmelt volume since 1979, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L01501, doi:10.1029/2011GL050207.

Image source: The Hockey Schtick

Abstract: Surface snowmelt is widespread in coastal Antarctica. Satellite-based microwave sensors have been observing melt area and duration for over three decades. However, these observations do not reveal the total volume of meltwater produced on the ice sheet. Here we present an Antarctic melt volume climatology for the period 1979–2010, obtained using a regional climate model equipped with realistic snow physics. We find that mean continent-wide meltwater volume (1979–2010) amounts to 89 Gt y−1 with large interannual variability (σ = 41 Gt y−1). Of this amount, 57 Gt y−1 (64%) is produced on the floating ice shelves extending from the grounded ice sheet, and 71 Gt y−1 in West-Antarctica, including the Antarctic Peninsula. We find no statistically significant trend in either continent-wide or regional meltwater volume for the 31-year period 1979–2010.

Click here for the full paper (fee).


Politics: Mitt Romney on global warming

I’ve already posted on Rick Santorum’s views on global warming (click here). This post covers examines one candidate….and future posts will examine others. 

Activists in Massachusetts have pushed the state in recent years to address global warming. Mr. Romney was very much a global warming advocate…..In June 2011, Romney is reported as saying:

“But I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is is getting warmer. And number two, I believe humans contribute to that.” click here 

Romney opposed cap and trade, but apparently changed his position on climate change in Oct. 2011……click here 

Candidates and elected officials may certainly adopt any position on climate they so choose and change it later based on new information. However, a candidate reveals his or her core values by the positions and views the candidate takes regardless of the personal cost. A candidate not guided by core values and science will be pushed here and there on climate, and tend to change positions based on the way the political wind blows.

Of more importance, such candidates prefer to act based on political expediency, rather than acting on principle. We need principled elected officials if we are to find a sustainable path on climate and other issues facing us.