A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oysters Polyester


As a follow-up to the previous posting on Fiberseadepositus, National Public Radio has an article on plastics derived from our greywater showing up in oysters and clams. The research in the article hits a little closer to home:

...students at Vancouver Island University planted thousands of clams and oysters across coastal British Columbia and let them soak in the sand and saltwater of the Strait of Georgia. Three months later, they dissolved hundreds of them with chemicals, filtered out the biodegradable matter and looked at the remaining material under a microscope. Inside this Pacific Northwest culinary staple, they found a rainbow of little plastic particles.

"So when you eat clams and oysters, you're eating plastics as well," 

Check out the video to learn what the researchers found.

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"I wouldn't be overly concerned about eating shellfish specifically," 
"Microplastics are everywhere."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fiberseadepositus

A technofossil of the Anthropocene, the Rainbow Water Coalition proposes a new sedimentary deposit, "Fiberseadepositus". Fiberseadepositus is terrestrial in origin, a non-point source contaminant transported by fluvial "systems", ultimately "deposited" offshore.

Fiberseadepositus is the "fibres come from aging clothes, rinsed out with the laundry and into the environment." According to this article on fibers in greywater discharged to the Hudson River in New York, "approximately half of the fibres were plastic, while the remainder were spun from natural materials like cotton or wool."  The Hudson River alone discharges "300 million clothing fibres into the Atlantic Ocean each day". To put this into perspective..."An average-sized, above-ground swimming pool filled with this water would contain about 10,800 microfibres."

Where else has Fiberseadepositus been found?

After a microfibre study of the Seine River in 2014, Bruno Tassin, an urban hydrologist at University of Paris-Est, faced the same dilemma: tonnes of pollution without definitive point source. So he conducted a follow-up in Paris in 2016 to determine if microfibres clouded the atmosphere. Tassin found that three to ten tonnes of microfibres rain out of the air onto the 1,098-square-mile region surrounding Paris, each year. 

Trapping these fibers prior to "transport and deposition" is not easy, but has garnered the attention of the microfiber industry as outlined in this RWC posting on Greywater Guppies.

The RWC explored whether Fiberseadepositus has garnered any attention in Oregon, specifically the Willamette River, where there are major players in the garment industry. But the fiber industry extends beyond the traditional sources, and includes "glass fiber". In this article, the Willamette Riverkeeper was apparently ready to pull the litigation trigger for perceived discharges of glass fiber near Corvallis, OR. Upon further exploration, the "fiber" is apparently "..integral in the electric car and hybrid vehicle industry."

According to Amethyst Galleries - The Evolution of Minerals - "mineralogists have identified (and recognize) approximately 4,500 minerals on Earth. But there will be more in the future. Perhaps new minerals will be recognized that owe their existence to humanity, as we often create conditions even further from equilibrium in support of the industrial and agricultural processes than green algae did several billion years ago....a few names to propose: trashheapite and landfillite, or perhaps polyesterite!"

So, don't mourn your thread bare T-shirts, faded blue jeans, fuzzy-pilled fleece jackets, or worn out hybrid cars. Take solace in knowing that a small part of your life is forever part of the geologic record, much like glauconite.
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Are we really living in the Anthropocene, with its return to a curiously Eurocentric vista of humanity, and its reliance on well-worn notions of resource- and technological-determinism? Or are we living in the Capitalocene, the historical era shaped by relations privileging the endless accumulation of capital?
~ Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life (2015)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Spirit of Dialogue - Book Review

Colleague and friend Aaron Wolf published a new book - The Spirit of Dialogue, with Island Press. Despite knowing Wolf for many years, thus indicating that I have a potential conflict of interest, I prepared a review of the book and published here on mediate.com, fully disclosing our working relationship.

And to continue the spirit of full disclosure, I did provide a critique of the book:

The reader may be confused by the abrupt ending in Chapter 8. Wolf introduces the reader to the next scale of conflict - complex systems with complexly connected stakeholders. He briefly discusses an example of complexity with the Columbia River, dams, hydropower, and the declining salmon populations where we live and work in the Pacific Northwest of the US. He freely admits The Spirit of Dialogue framework is not extensively tested at this scale. 

I observed the challenges associated with his use of spirituality and conflict at this scale firsthand at an international conference on the renewal review of the Columbia River Treaty a few years back. Attendance was on the order of a few hundred, and included representatives from First Nations in Canada, Native American tribes, hydropower, power stakeholders, agriculture, non-governmental organizations covering a broad spectrum of interests, and legal, science, and engineering scholars from several regional universities. Wolf attempted to use “the spirit of dialogue” in a discussion on river governance, but the framework just did not connect with the many stakeholders. I think the challenge with Wolf’s framework is helping folks understand that spirituality and religion are not necessarily one and the same. 

If only The Spirit of Dialogue would have been available during the often-contentious debates over permitting graywater reuse in Oregon. With that said, past postings on the RWC reveal that greywater reuse is spiritual.
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"The approach to “conversion” is best summarized by Wolf 
where he states that we “do what we can in our own little microcatchment and pray that it scales up”. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Draining Oregon Redux

The Draining Oregon reporting team of Kelly House (now with Meyer Memorial Trust), and “geoviz whiz” Mark Graves won a first place National Headliners Award in April, 2017.

Videographer extraordinaire Teresa Mahoney won the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's annual competition in the multimedia category for her video connected to the Draining Oregon story in July, 2017.

And in August, 2017 the Draining Oregon reporting team was mentioned as a Finalist 2017 Explanatory Reporting, Medium Newsroom.

The University of Denver Water Law Review published a great summary on August 24, 2017 - Oregon Groundwater: Is There Enough?  A couple of suggestions to move forward included “Another potential response is to adopt a more stringent cap of total water use where users can buy and sell water rights, similar to the common practice in Australia. Oregon could also choose to charge a per-gallon fee on owners of water rights.” This latter approach is being tried in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

I was contacted by The Oregonian about what has been the outcomes since the Draining Oregon series ran in 2016. Quite a lot actually. First, the Oregon Water Resources Department designated a few new areas, including a “Serious Water Management Problem” in the Walla Walla Basin in Northeastern Oregon. The Greater Harney Valley is designated as a "Groundwater Area of Concern". These designations are somewhat new and apparently as they are not as formal as a Groundwater Limited Area or a Critical Groundwater Area, as defined by the Oregon Water Resources Commission. 

Michael “Aquadoc” Campana is volunteering to work with the folks in Harney County to see if a Groundwater Management District might be an option for the basin – a first for Oregon. He will be discussing this option more fully at the AWRA Annual Conference slated for early November, 2017 in Portland.

One of my graduate students is exploring the notion of developing an Aquifer Contract for the Harney Basin as part of their joint JD/MS in Water Policy and Management. This is something that is being practiced in Morroco. 

I mentioned the crazy idea of looking offshore for previously untapped freshwater reserves as part of a new research center devoted to Coastal and Ocean Aquifers potentially connected to the OSU Marine Studies Initiative.

And then, there is the new game that I am developing to join the long list of Serious Gaming in Water!

Extraordinary coverage for the least appreciated part of the hydrologic cycle! 

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"He that has satisfied his thirst turns his back on the well.”