Archive for April, 2014

Lichen is part of the biodiversity of vegetation in our watersheds and serves as tool for water retention.

April 30, 2014
Kenya: Mau Forest, source of the Mara River

Kenya: Mau Forest, source of the Mara River

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Protect Our Water Resources

April 30, 2014

 

NYC SAFE Disposal Events in Spring 2014 (held rain or shine):

Sun, May 4 – Brooklyn, McCarren Park

Sat, May 10 – Bronx, Orchard Beach Parking Lot

Sun, May 11 – Manhattan, Union Square, North Plaza

Sat, May 17 – Staten Island, Midland Beach Parking Lot

For more info – http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/events/bwprr_safe.shtml

https://www.facebook.com/NYCRecycles

https://twitter.com/nycrecycles

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

The Water and Energy Connection

April 29, 2014

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One 60-watt incandescent bulb on 12 hours a day may use 6,300,000 gallons of water per year. If 300 million Americans turned off a light, we’d save 1.9 trillion gallons of water.
–Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable

How far would you walk for clean water?

April 23, 2014


“We need to care for the water instead of merely use it,” states Sharon Day, an Ojibwe elder leading the Ohio River Water Walk (Nibi) 966 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL starting on #EarthDay .  Every step is a prayer for the most polluted river in the United States.

For more info and to track their walking route:  http://nibiwalk.com

Related articles:

Walking for Water

Standing in Solidarity: This Week in Daily Giving – Huffington Post

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Earth Day Symposium on Awareness of Water Usage

April 23, 2014
Water Symposium panelists L-R: Karl Weber, Alison Jones, Alex Prud'homme, Nicholas Robinson, John Cronin

Water Symposium panelists L-R: Karl Weber, Alison Jones, Alex Prud’homme, Nicholas Robinson, John Cronin, Photo by Sang Bae

“No resource on earth is more precious—or more endangered—than water.”  – Last Call at the Oasis

“It’s too late for pessimism.”  – Alison M. Jones

Yesterday, Alison M. Jones (Director of No Water No Life and Conservation Photographer) was one of the panelists at Earth Day’s “Water Symposium” at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Other panelists included John Cronin (author of The Riverkeepers and Beacon Institute Fellow at Clarkson University); Alex Prud’homme (author of The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century and Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know); Karl Weber (editor of companion book to the film, Last Call at the Oasis: The Global Water Crisis and Where We Go From Here) and Nicholas A. Robinson (Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at Pace University).

Environmentalism means respect for all beings -human and otherwise.

April 22, 2014

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

 

Click on images for larger view.

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

April 16, 2014
California, Sacramento River Basin, Central Valley, sunrise over the Buttes-the smallest mountain range in the world

USA: California, Sacramento River Basin, Central Valley, sunrise over the Buttes-the smallest mountain range in the world

Last month’s NWNL SPOTLIGHT on the California Drought documented the state’s inland Central Valley. Usually, the Sierra Nevadas’ runoff supplies water to the Sacramento River Basin’s rice fields, walnut orchards and migratory waterfowl havens around
the Buttes. However California’s 3-year drought has drastically
reduced this water supply, so critical for agricultural and
ecosystem needs throughout the Central Valley and in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Photo by Barbara Folger, NWNL Project Coordinator

April 16, 2014
USA: Iowa, Upper Mississippi River Basin, Cedar Falls, Prairie preserved by University of Southern Idaho

USA: Iowa, Upper Mississippi River Basin, Cedar Falls, Prairie preserved by University of Southern Idaho

From the Mississippi’s 1993 Flood to Today

April 15, 2014

By Alison M. Jones, Director of No Water No Life®
and Professional Photographer
As published by American Rivers in “The River Blog”-April 10, 2014

Newly planted corn in 2013 Flood

Newly planted corn in 2013 Flood

“But, what about the newly planted corn?
I’ve seen how the Big Muddy can flood a field.”

On a No Water No Life® expedition in the Mississippi Basin last year, I asked that of stewards, US Fish and Wildlife scientists and US Army Corps engineers.  Twenty years earlier I visited the middle Mississippi during the Flood of 1993.  Since then, the world, Mississippi flood management and I have changed.

Engineers used to say, “The equation for inundation is elevation,” as they raised their levees.  Now the USACE promotes “flood risk management” instead of “flood control” because every levee pushes the water onto someone else.  The USACE also promotes healthy ecosystems at its National Great Rivers Museum in St Louis.

Ste. Genevieve's Le Grand Champ levee

Ste. Genevieve’s Le Grand Champ levee

Even so, American Rivers lists the middle Mississippi as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers ® of 2014 because of a new old-school USACE “flood control” project..  As we all focus on upstream-downstream issues in the face of climate disruption, American Rivers is advocating for floodplain connection, not levees.  Perhaps the question isn’t what will happen to young corn in a flood year, but what will happen if we keep building levees?

Why do I, as a New Yorker, care about Missouri’s habitats and communities?  As I describe in the following story, my connection to the Mississippi began twenty years ago.

Driving through flooded backwaters in '93

Driving through flooded backwaters in ’93

“The Flood of 1993:  A Month in Missouri”

I didn’t care about the Midwest Flood of 1993. I knew all about floods.  For three December days, my Connecticut home had been under five feet of icy water.  Hollywood called it “The Perfect Storm.”  I flew to Missouri that steamy July to photograph iconic Midwestern scenes.

Pig farm near Ste. Genevieve

Pig farm near Ste. Genevieve

I visited Daniel Boone’s homestead, pig farms and craftsmen.  But after torrential thunderstorms at a dairy farm and seeing new-mown hay swept off low-lying fields, my adrenaline rose with the river.  Singing “I drove my Chevy to the levee,” I arrived in the Creole river town of Ste. Genevieve.  But the levee wasn’t dry.  Brown water threatened this week’s sandbagged walls, inches from the top; and it seeped out underneath.

This flood was different.  Many levees had been constructed since a 1973 flood, upsetting previous prediction models.  These added restraints just intensified the Mississippi’s fury.  Forecasts were for another week of rain.  As herons flew into the storm clouds, my mood of creative elation disappeared.

Great Blue Heron flying into storm clouds

Great Blue Heron flying into storm clouds

I saw the grit of people resisting nature, the invincibility of humor,
and the camaraderie of strangers fighting together.  Using sandbags and bulldozers, sweating residents and uniformed troops stayed ahead of the river: block by block, inch by inch.  Putting my cameras down, I joined in.
“I can’t be here and not sandbag,“ I wrote.

Sandbagged historic Ste. Genevieve MO

Sandbagged historic Ste. Genevieve MO

Flying home weeks later, I stared at the “inland sea” below.  While photographing levees and Levi’s, cheerleaders and retirees, and the grateful folks of Ste Genevieve, I’d become part of that community.  Using Bryce Courtenay’s words, we worked with “one heart, one plan, one determination.”  Whether it would happen again or not, that was the Spirit of 1993.

Ste. Genevieve intersection in '93 Flood

Ste. Genevieve intersection in ’93 Flood

My thoughts, April 2014:  The Mississippi rolls on, but we still need to better adapt to its swells and floods.  History should have taught us that.  American Rivers is trying to do that.  As Mark Twain predicted,  “The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise.”

"The Mississippi will have its own way."

“The Mississippi will have its own way.”

View more photos of the Great Flood of 1993

Read Related Story:  Parallels: Mississippi Flood of 1993 and Gulf Oil Spill of 2010

Take Action: Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abandon the levee project and the Environmental Protection Agency to veto it if the Corps proceeds with this ill-conceived plan.

Finding Wetlands in a Drought

April 11, 2014
Lesser yellowlegs, San Luis NWR

Lesser yellowlegs, San Luis NWR

By Alison M. Jones, Director of No Water No Life ®
and Professional Photographer
As published by American Rivers in “The River Blog”-April 11, 2014

The phone rang.  That snowy Saturday I was editing photos of Ethiopia’s Omo River.  “Alison, you must cover California’s drought for No Water No Life®.  It’s beyond regional. US and Asian markets depend on that produce.” I envisioned photographs of a three-year drought:  monotones of white salt on sand.

San Joaquin River, Modesto

San Joaquin River, Modesto

Within 24 hours however, I connected California’s plight with our project’s case-study watersheds. Management solutions for California could help other watersheds. So, escaping an
unusually wet East Coast winter, I packed cameras and
sunglasses to document an arid valley 3,000 miles away. I didn’t expect to enjoy it.

On the plane, I read The Mountains of California written by John Muir 120 years ago.  “Every glacier in the world is smaller than it once was.  All the world is growing warmer….”1

What would he say today?  Surface area of Sierra Nevada glaciers
is 55% less,2 and development still increases along rivers below. Rivers? Oh, actually, the Central Valley now has fewer rivers and more canals.

Then unexpectedly, with expedition advice from American Rivers, my story grew beyond the desolation of drought to include hope.  Droughts come and go in California.  They may get worse.
But there are mitigating solutions. Restoration of streams,
riparian zones and wetlands matter as much as reduced
water consumption.

American Pelicans, Mendota Pool

American Pelicans, Mendota Pool

As American pelicans paddled through Mendota Pool, I read that wetlands hold 10 to 1,000 times the living matter in nearby dry land.  At dusk, a great-horned owl hunted above as I framed reflections in San Luis NWR.  What a relief from miles of empty concrete canals!  I thanked the sedge grasses rubbing my ankles for absorbing pollutants from nearby crop fields, hog farms and dairy-cattle pens.

Red-winged blackbird, San Luis NWR

Red-winged blackbird, San Luis NWR

An insect hatch sounded like rain on my windshield. I wished for higher levees to better view Pacific Flyway waterfowl in the bottomlands. Someday I hope to see Aleutian crackling geese and the tule elk now protected in San Joaquin NWR.

In 2006 Jared Diamond, Paul Ehrlich, Sandra Postel, Peter Raven, Edward O. Wilson et al. told the Supreme Court:  “More than a source of water and fish, the nation’s rivers, lakes, and wetlands store flood waters and reduce economic devastation due to flooding. They recharge groundwater, filter pollutants, and purify drinking water. And they provide the habitats that sustain a diversity of species, which themselves perform important ecological functions.”3

American egret, San Luis NWR

American egret, San Luis NWR

Despite such support, more than 90% of California’s historic riparian and wetlands habitats are gone (U.S. Fish and Wildlife). Today, the San Joaquin’s riparian habitat is scant.  But these traces of willows, shrubs and grasses support the highest diversity of wildlife in the Central Valley.   Wood ducks, river otters, warblers, eagles, spawning salmon and formerly California bear follow these wooded highways for safety, food and spawning.

Lesser scaup, California Aqueduct, Los Banos

Lesser scaup, California Aqueduct, Los Banos

The drought brought me here.  I saw trickles lead to less water, not more.  Nature seems turned inside out.  Yet American Rivers, other stewards, scientists, stakeholders and policymakers are working together to address needs of natural and human communities.  Just as John Muir wrote in 1885 about accumulating snowflakes in the Sierra, grassroots efforts can affect policy: “Come, we are feeble; let us help one another.  We are many, and together we will be strong.  Marching in close, deep ranks, let us … set the landscapes free.”4

Coots and Northern shovelers, San Luis NWR

Coots and Northern shovelers, San Luis NWR

——-

1 Muir, John.  The Mountains of California.  New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1985, Page 15.  (Originally published: New York: Century, 1894.)

2 Basagic, Hassan.  “Twentieth Century Glacier Change in the Sierra Nevada.”

3 Jason Rylander, et al. “Supreme Court Amici Curiae,” Nos 04-1034; 04-1384 regarding John A. Rapanos, et ux., et al., v. USA and June Carabell, et al., v. USACE and US EPA. Jan 12, 2006.

4 Muir, John.  The Mountains of California.  New York: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1985, Page 12.  (Originally published: New York: Century, 1894.)

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