Phosphorus, wind farms and 'Kentucky tuna'

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles where they originally were published.

Group sees protection for 404 species
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has filed a massive petition to protect 404 freshwater species in the southeastern U.S. The list includes 48 fish, 92 mussels and snails, 92 crayfish and other crustaceans, 82 plants, 13 reptiles (including five map turtles), four mammals, 15 amphibians, 55 insects, and three birds. The species live in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

 Why seek protection for so many species at once? The CBD says they all form a cohesive ecosystem, and they depend upon each other for their survival. According to the CBD’s Web site about what it refers to as the southeastern freshwater extinction crisis,  “All these species are intricately interconnected: For example, the map turtles’ survival depends on the abundance of snails and mussels, which they eat, while mussels depend on fish to host their larvae—and the fish, in turn, depend on the abundance of flies, whose larvae they consume.”
–Scientific American

 Agencies disagree over mine filling with water
A disagreement between two government agencies has stalemated a solution to a big problem for the Iron Range town of Bovey. That’s where a nearby mine pit continues filling with water that could inundate Bovey if not stopped. 

The 2008 state bonding bill authorized $3.5 million to draw down water in the Canisteo Mine pit — and two years later the money remains unspent while the water keeps rising.
–Minnesota Public Radio

 Governors back Cape Cod wind farm
Political pressure continues to build on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as he prepares to announce his decision this week on the fate of a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., that has been stalled for nine years.

 The governors of six East Coast states called on Mr. Salazar last week to approve the project, which is proposed by Cape Wind Associates and would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Turning it down, they said, especially on the grounds that it would harm the view from historic sites, “would establish a precedent that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to site offshore wind projects anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard.” 

Their states — Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — all have offshore wind projects in the works. Four of the governors are Democrats and two, in New Jersey and Rhode Island, are Republicans, showing that views of Cape Wind do not break down along political lines.
–The New York Times

Wisconsin phosphorus rules could cost $1.3 billion
Nobody wants weeds and algae choking Wisconsin’s lakes. But are people willing to pay to clean up the widespread and sometimes dangerous problem? 

A proposal from the state Department of Natural Resources to toughen standards on phosphorus, a nutrient in fertilizers that causes weed growth in the state’s waters, could result in an $85 million bill to the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) for an upgrade of its treatment systems, according to district officials. That, they say, could add $40 to the average residential customer’s annual bill. 

Statewide, according to DNR estimates, as many as 160 treatment plants could be affected, and the total cost of improvements to treatment systems could run as high as $1.3 billion.
–The Wisconsin State Journal

Judge blasts ‘glacial delay’ in Everglades clean-up
In the two decades since pledging to clean up the Everglades, Florida water managers, environmental regulators and political leaders have professed unwavering commitment to getting the difficult and costly job done.

 In a double-barreled legal blast this month, two Miami federal judges found the state, abetted by a lax U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more committed to something else in the Everglades: foot dragging.

 “Glacial delay” is how an exasperated U.S. District Judge Alan Gold summed it up in a blistering ruling that ordered Florida environmental chief Michael Sole and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to appear personally in court in October with new plans and hard deadlines.
–The Miami Herald

Floating plastic fouls Atlantic
Researchers are warning of a new blight at sea: a swirl of confetti-like plastic debris stretching over a remote expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. The floating garbage — hard to spot from the surface and spun together by a vortex of currents — was documented by two groups of scientists who trawled the sea between Bermuda and the Azores. 

The studies describe a soup of micro-particles similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a phenomenon discovered a decade ago between Hawaii and California that researchers say probably also exists in other places around the globe. 

The debris is harmful for fish, sea mammals and, at the top of the food chain, potentially humans, even though much of the plastic has broken into such tiny pieces they are nearly invisible.
–The Associated Press 

A little white wine with that Kentucky tuna?
It’s Extreme Makeover: Aquatic Edition.

 Asian carp are reviled as vanquishers of native species, feared as hefty jumpers able to break a boatman’s jaw, and scorned as, well, carp. But even as Northern states battle to keep them from ravaging the Great Lakes, officials in the South, where the alien species have multiplied like guppies, are working to transform the carp into marketable assets.

 First, the rebranding. In January, Louisiana wildlife officials rolled out the Silverfin Promotion, enlisting chefs to create recipes for what they called the tasty white meat of the bighead carp and silver carp, the two dominant invaders. 

“A cross between scallops and crabmeat,” declared Philippe Parola, a noted seafood chef whose new recipes include silverfin almondine. 

Meanwhile, would-be carp exploiters in Kentucky, after trying the fish smoked, canned and in fried balls, concluded that it tasted remarkably like tuna and proposed labeling it Kentucky tuna.
–The New York Times

 Two men fined in minnow-selling case
The commercial minnow licenses of two Baudette men have been revoked for three years following an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources .

 John D. Hult, 69, and Kim D. Barsness, 55, convicted in Beltrami County District Court on April 14 for the attempted illegal selling of wild animals (minnows), also face fines and court costs of $1,500 each. A six-month jail sentence was stayed pending no similar incidents, but both men were placed on two years probation. 

Their equipment was forfeited to the state. 

Prior to the 2009 fishing season, the men were reported to be using invasive species-infested equipment from Lake of the Woods to take minnows from Upper Red Lake. 

To prevent the spread of invasive species, such as spiny waterfleas, to U.S. – Canada border waters, the DNR has implemented regulations on Rainy Lake, Namakan Lake, Rainy River and Lake of the Woods that prohibit the transport of water, prohibit harvest of bait for personal use, and restrict the commercial harvest of bait from those waters.
–DNR News Release