Archive for September, 2014

The Arkansas Delta

September 28, 2014
Waves on the Mississippi

Waves on the Mississippi

Birds in trees in river

Birds in trees in river

The Mississippi, Arkansas and White Rivers irrigate the flat, fertile lands of the Arkansas Delta, as do the many tributaries, bayous and irrigation ditches. Either muddy water or sandy, dry soil is underfoot – nothing in between. But it is the mix of the two that yields the state’s renowned crops of cotton, soy, corn, wheat and rice that is barged throughout the nation – and the world, thanks to the navigation channels of the Mississippi and its tributaries.

Throughout the month of September NWNL will be visiting the Lower Mississippi River Basin and tributaries with a focus on urban and rural resiliency to climate change. Read more about this Lower Mississippi expedition and see more NWNL photos from the Louisiana segment of this expedition depicting Isle de Jean Charles and Parish of St. John the Baptist.

NWNL will be posting more photos from this expedition in the coming weeks on nowater-nolife.org.

Fishing on the Arkansas River

Fishing on the Arkansas River

Cotton field

Cotton field

Brain-eating amoeba in Louisiana’s water

September 26, 2014
Parish of St. John the Baptist, Louisiana

Parish of St. John the Baptist

Naegleria fowleri  (also known as the “brain-eating amoeba”) is a free-living, thermophilic excavate form of protist typically found in warm bodies of fresh water, such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It is also found in soil, near warm-water discharges of industrial plants, and in poorly chlorinated, or unchlorinated swimming pools….

N. fowleri can invade and attack the human nervous system and brain, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Although this occurs rarely, such an infection nearly always results in the death of the victim.  The case fatality rate is greater than 95%. [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naegleria_fowleri]

This parish is like so many other towns we all live in…  Except that in southern Louisiana in September the weather is wicked hot and humid – and there is lots of industry responsible for creating fence-line communities.

New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, "Petro-Chemical Alley"

New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, “Petro-Chemical Alley”

(“Fence-line” refers to communities with refineries, gas compression stations and other kinds of industrial operations. These plants put up high wire mesh fences to keep people out of their premises, but those fences don’t stop toxins from entering the air and water of those communities. The term is used by agencies trying to address the resulting health issues occurring due to such toxins.)

New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, "Petro-Chemical Alley"

New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, “Petro-Chemical Alley”

The parish government has implemented “chlorine burns” to disinfect the Lions system, which serves over 12,000 people. The School Board has declared an emergency, taking school water fountains offline and putting water coolers in place. The deadly amoeba infiltrates via water vapor in the nose, and spreads to the brain causing severe damage. Residents are getting home water tests and taking precautions when swimming or bathing. Town meetings have drawn large crowds to discuss what can be done in their communities.

Parish of St John the Baptist school sign "Better Schools, Better Futures"

St John the Baptist Parish school sign “Better Schools. Better Futures.”

Related news : http://abcnews.go.com/Health/brain-eating-amoeba-found-louisiana-water-supply/story?id=25160247

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/09/brain-eating_amoeba_in_st_john_1.html

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

America’s energy leftovers makes its mark

September 19, 2014
USA:  Louisiana, New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, flight over coastal wetlands south of New Orleans, aerial view of barge carrying uncovered coal, spilling into the Mississippi River

USA: Louisiana, New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, flight over coastal wetlands south of New Orleans, aerial view of barge carrying uncovered coal, spilling into the Mississippi River

The world’s largest deposits of
“recoverable” coal are in the U.S.

Will we always be exporting coal?

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Coal exports threaten human health, aquatic life and degrade natural resources

September 17, 2014

USACE is pulling out of its study of the coal terminal in Portland, Oregon since tribal fishing rights are stopping the process. This is great news, as the Columbia Riverkeeper notes, for the health of the anadromous fish populations as well as human communities in the Lower Columbia River Basin.

But this news puts more pressure on a proposal for a new international coal terminal at the end of the Mississippi River in its Delta where air and water pollution from coal already being exported degrades the lives of those nearby. Unfortunately, Louisiana is one of the states that doesn’t require coal cars or coal piles to be covered. Thus wind blows coal ash off open train cars, conveyer belts and large storage piles in all directions. The levees around the stored piles waiting for transfer onto barges are low and simple earthen structures that are easily breached in big storms….

There are many fewer people to be affected in the Mississippi Delta than in Portland and surrounding communities on the Columbia. So, it’s not likely there can be the coordinated, strong protest that has been ongoing in the Columbia River Basin. Nor are there tribal fishing rights that stand up in court. In the Mississippi River Delta it falls to local shrimpers and oyster fishermen to prove that coal ash in the water affects the health of the fin fish and shellfish populations.

Interesting how what happens in one NWNL watershed affects and relates to another.

USA:  Louisiana, New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, Gulf Coast, Mississippi River Delta, coal being prepared for export

USA: Louisiana, New Orleans, Lower Mississippi River Basin, Gulf Coast, Mississippi River Delta, coal being prepared for export

 

“They think we’re all gonna drown down here. But we ain’t going nowhere.” – Hushpuppy

September 9, 2014
Isle de Jean Charles

Isle de Jean Charles

NWNL is headed to the “Bathtub!” – The geographic inspiration for the movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild.” As director, Benh Zeitlin put it, “This is the edge of the world.”

Isle de Jean Charles is a sliver of marshland, deep in the bayous of Louisiana – also ground zero for climate change in the US. It is home to Native Americans that live off the land and water, a place of extraordinary biodiversity and beauty, but the Isle de Jean Charles is rapidly disappearing. The environment, history and culture of this coastal region is truly fascinating – Read more about it here.

Keep your fingers crossed that Island Rd ain’t flooded!

I’ll leave you with some Hushpuppy wisdom….

“Sometimes you can break something so bad, that it can’t get put back together.”

“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the entire universe will get busted.”

“I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.”

Crabbing on the causeway

Crabbing on the causeway

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Charcoal burning destroys Kenya’s forests

September 5, 2014

 

Africa:  Kenya; North Rift District, Turkana Land, bags of charcoal for sale

Africa: Kenya; North Rift District, bags of charcoal for sale

How many trees are cut down to make one bag of charcoal? This illegal trade destroys endangered animals natural habitat and puts pressure on the entire ecosystem.

Fact – In Kenya, charcoal provides energy for 82% of urban and 34% of rural households. Source: http://asokoinsight.com/news/illegal-logging-charcoal-burning-destroying-east-africas-forests/

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Historic Powerhouse on the Snake River

September 2, 2014

Swan Falls Dam, built in 1901, is the oldest hydroelectric dam on the Snake River and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Swan Falls Dam on the Snake River, Idaho

Swan Falls Dam on the Snake River, Idaho

This photo shows the scrub and sage brush that covers most of the land around the Snake River in western and south-central Idaho. If anyone is going to grow anything, they need lots of water!

Photos by Barbara Briggs Folger.

View more shots from this spring’s Columbia River Basin Expedition:

Upper Snake River dams and levees

Beautiful Scenics of the Upper Snake River

Flora and Fauna

 

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