Ag and water pollution; road salt; invasives

Sandra Postel
Sandra Postel

Don’t miss Sandra Postel
Put it on your calendar. Sandra Postel, a best-selling author and National Geographic  Freshwater Fellow will deliver a free, public lecture in St. Paul on Tuesday, Feb. 12.  The lecture is sponsored by the Freshwater Society, the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and is receiving special support from the Mosaic Company Foundation. Her talk is titled  “Will We Have Enough Water? Adapting to a Warming, Water-Stressed World.”  Learn more and register to attend. Read a Freshwater q-and-a interview with Postel.

Road Salt Symposium set Feb. 7
Register now for the Freshwater Society’s 12th annual Road Salt Symposium on the pollution of ground and surface waters caused by road salt and on ways to safely reduce the use of salt. The symposium will be Feb. 7 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska.  Learn more and register to attend.

Agriculture and water pollution
Read two fine articles on agriculture and pollution by Star Tribune environmental reporter Josephine Marcotty.  The first is about pollution of groundwater by nitrogen fertilizer. The second is about an Iowa farmer who quit using chemical fertilizers and pesticides by returning to an earlier era of farming that utilizes crop rotation, cover crops and human and animal wastes.

Congress passes Farm Bill extension
As part of the tax bill that partially averted the so-called Fiscal Cliff, Congress on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day approved a nine-month extension of the expired Farm Bill. Read a Des Moines Register blog about the extension. Read a Politico  article in which U.S. Rep. Colin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee,  blasts the extension.

 DNR appoints invasive species panel
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has named a 15-member committee to advise the department on aquatic invasive species. Read the DNR news release on the appointments. Read a Minnesota Public Radio report on the committee.

The members are: John M. Barten, Plymouth; Gary Botzek, Roseville; Jerry Byron, Waseca; Pat Conzemius, Brooklyn Center; Rachael Crabb, Minneapolis; Jeff Forester, Minneapolis; Jay Green, Mound; Kenneth Grob, Park Rapids; Tera Guetter, Detroit Lakes; Barb Halbakken Fischburg, Detroit Lakes; Gabriel Jabbour, Orono; Michelle Marko, Moorhead; Robert E. Olsen, Canby: Greg Oswald, Ellendale; Joe Vene, Bemidji.

Ex-officio members are: Michael Hoff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Carol Altepeter, Explore Minnesota Tourism; Doug Jensen, Sea Grant Program; Dr. Peter Sorensen, University of Minnesota.

Lisa Jackson is leaving EPA
Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House.

Ms. Jackson, 50, told President Obama shortly after his re-election in November that she wanted to leave the administration early next year. She informed the E.P.A. staff of her decision on Thursday morning (Dec. 27, 2013) and issued a brief statement saying that she was confident “the ship is sailing in the right direction.”

She has not said what she intends to do after leaving government, and no successor was immediately named, although it is expected that Robert Perciasepe, the E.P.A. deputy administrator, will take over at least temporarily.

Ms. Jackson’s departure comes as many in the environmental movement are questioning Mr. Obama’s commitment to dealing with climate change and other environmental problems. After his re-election, and a campaign in which global warming was barely mentioned by either candidate, Mr. Obama said that his first priority would be jobs and the economy and that he intended only to foster a “conversation” on climate change in the coming months.
–The New York Times

Book offers water and engineering classroom activities
Are you a teacher or professor struggling for ways to teach your students about water-focused engineering projects?

New book
New book

Check out this new book: H2Oh! Classroom Demonstrations for Water Concepts. The book, sponsored by the Excellence in Water Resources Education Task Committee of the American Society of Civil engineers, provides a set of 45 classroom activities on water-focused engineering topics. Each demonstration is short, so it can be performed as part of a lecture, and focused on visually presenting fundamental principles of water science and engineering.

Demonstrations are grouped into five areas: fluid mechanics, hydraulics, surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology, and water quality. Each demonstration identifies the targeted audience level, activity preparation time, duration of activity, learning objectives, materials, step-by-step instructions, and notes to assist the demonstrator. Some activities are accompanied by questions and answers.