A Wake-Up Call on the Hudson
Riverkeeper released its second report on sewage contamination in the Hudson River Estuary today, How Is the Water? 2012 detailing the ongoing widespread problem of sewage pollution in our local waterways.
Twenty-four percent of Riverkeeper’s samples, taken from NY Harbor to Troy between 2006-2011, failed EPA guidelines for safe swimming. This is up from a failure rate of 21 percent for 2006-2010 and is three times greater than the 7 percent failure rate at beaches nationwide for the same time period.
The Hudson, like many waterways in New York, is suffering from failures of our aging and overburdened sewage delivery and treatment infrastructure, causing billions of gallons of sewage to enter the Hudson each year. In the past 20 years federal funding to states for sewage infrastructure has been cut by 70 percent. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has estimated a $36 billion price tag to properly address New York’s wastewater infrastructure needs in the coming 20 years.
“Riverkeeper’s study provides a roadmap for identifying sources of pollution on the Hudson,” said Tracy Brown, Riverkeeper’s water auality advocate and the report author. “The good news is that sewage contamination in the Hudson tends to stay near the source, so communities that have high or frequent levels of contamination on their shorelines can track down and eliminate the sources and improve their local water quality.”
Riverkeeper is working with citizens, agencies and elected officials throughout the region to identify and eliminate sewage pollution. “How Is the Water?” details actions that can be taken now to reduce sewage pollution and inform the public on where and when it’s safe to get in the water. In addition to investing in infrastructure, Riverkeeper is calling for increased water quality monitoring and public notification to provide the information communities need to address their local sewage problems.
Riverkeeper is calling on New York State to increase its enforcement efforts on the Hudson and to update our outdated State Recreational Water Quality Standards. Currently NY State uses only a geometric mean standard (a weighted average) for assessing and reporting on Hudson River water quality. Riverkeeper wants a single sample standard used as well, consistent with beach standards, to better inform and protect the public from the highly variable water quality conditions found in the Hudson. This is especially important in the 9 communities on the Hudson that have Combined Sewage Systems that release large pulses of raw sewage and stormwater when overloaded during rain events. These Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) contribute billions of gallons of sewage pollution to the River and our waterfronts each year.
“This report should be a wake-up call for policymakers at every level,” according to Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay. “Wastewater treatment plant investment and clean water law enforcement have dropped significantly over the past twenty years. Is it any wonder that we continue to see water quality problems on the Hudson and its tributaries? The good news is that the six smart, cost-effective actions that Riverkeeper proposes in How is the Water? 2012 can put us squarely back on the road to better water quality.”
Summary of Key Findings
1. Water quality varies greatly location by location.
2. Water quality varies greatly over time.
3. Individual sample sites vary in both the degree (how high the sewage concentration is), and the frequency (how often it occurs) of contamination
4. Rain events are a common trigger of sewage pollution releases.
5. Sewage contamination is often higher near the shoreline and at the confluence of tributaries than elsewhere in the estuary.
Riverkeeper’s Action Agenda
1. Reinvest in our Wastewater Infrastructure
2. Enforce Existing Water Quality Protection Laws
3. Improve NY State Recreational Water Quality Standards
4. Engage Citizens in Local Solutions
5. Start Frequent Water Quality Monitoring & Prediction
6. Notify the Public of Sewage Contamination
As the Hudson River becomes increasingly popular for recreational water sports, Riverkeeper remains the only source for water quality data across the region. Their ongoing study, which publishes data each month (May through October) to www.riverkeeper.org/water-quality/locations, has led to an increased awareness of this harmful pollution and to important policy changes such as the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law that will go into effect May 2013.
This study was conducted is collaboration with scientists for Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia and Queens College, City University of New York.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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