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NFC: Fw: RiverCurrents: December 14, 2001

RiverCurrents readers,

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RiverCurrents: December 14, 2001

Brought to you by www.americanrivers.org: 
The online community for river activists and river friends

AOL KEYWORD: American Rivers

RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as 
reported by media outlets across the country. The inclusion of a 
story or point of view in RiverCurrents does not necessarily indicate 
endorsement by American Rivers. If you have clarifications or 
corrections about a story in RiverCurrents, please send them to 
asouers at amrivers_org.

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This week's river news:

1) Making hydropower dams more "river friendly"

The Hydropower Reform Coalition this week applauded the Federal 
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for shining a spotlight on 39 
rivers across the country that are burdened by antiquated dam 
licenses. But the HRC qualified its praise by saying that "action 
must follow."

The HRC also called on Congress to include language in its energy 
bill to ensure that modern licenses for the more than 450 dams due 
for licensing in the next 10 years are issued in a timely manner with 
appropriate conditions to protect the health of public rivers.

"Chairman Wood's attention to these antiquated hydropower dam 
licenses is a positive sign for the future of our rivers," said Matt 
Sicchio, Coordinator of the HRC.

"We hope this attention is followed by action that brings these dams 
up to modern environmental standards as soon as possible. After all, 
these dams have been using public rivers with little or no 
environmental protections for decades."

Read more: http://www.amrivers.org/pressrelease/hydro12.12.01.htm

Get a clear overview of the issues and solutions in our user-friendly 
online information kit:


2) "Citizen scientists" monitoring Pennsylvania's streams

Bud Bankert, a retired biology teacher, and Ernie Lauer, a retired 
Harley-Davidson engineer, today are "citizen scientists" watching 
over Pennsylvania's rivers and streams. The two men are among 1,000 
seniors who have signed up with Pennsylvania's Senior Environment 

The Corps is a volunteer program launched in 1997 through an 
agreement between the state departments of aging and environmental 
protection and a Virginia-based nonprofit organization (Pittsburgh 
Post-Gazette, 12-9-01).

"We decided it would be a good thing to be involved with, mainly 
because most people don't realize how critical the water situation is 
becoming," said Bankert, 73. "The only way we can ensure we have good 
water in the future is to keep monitoring it."

As reports the Post-Gazette, "State officials say the program -- 
funded with about $300,000 in state grants, combined with federal and 
private grants -- illustrates how teamwork between citizens and 
government can benefit the environment. Most of the money is used to 
train volunteers and provide them with test kits and other light 
equipment needed to do their sampling."

Bankert, Lauer, and the other volunteers wade into streams to test 
phosphate, nitrate and sulfate levels, as well as alkalinity and 
acidity. They also conduct macroinverterbrate inventories and look 
for signs of erosion along the banks. The information is entered into 
an internet database and used by Department of Environmental 
Protection officials and watershed groups.

"There are 83,000 miles of waterways in Pennsylvania, and are we 
hitting them all? No," said Beth Grove, an Environmental Alliance 
employee who works with Pennsylvania volunteers. "But we're making 
one heck of a dent in them."

Fifteen other states-- including California, Oklahoma and New 
Hampshire-- have used Pennsylvania's model to start their own 

Get your own stream survey forms (provided by Tim Craddock, the 
Citizens Monitoring Coordinator for the West Virginia Department of 
Environmental Protection)


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3) Public says Texas water plan needs work

Two thousand people submitted comments to the Texas Water Development 
Board about the state's water plan, "Water for Texas 2002."  
Environmental groups say roughly 96 percent of these public comments 
point out shortcomings in conservation and fish and wildlife habitat 

According to one national environmental group, one of the problems 
with the $108 billion plan, which addresses water usage in Texas 
through 2050, is that it does not use conservation as a water supply 
strategy. In addition, plan allots $17 billion for dams and pipelines.

"More and more water will be demanded by growing urban areas," added 
Mary Kelly, executive director of the Texas Center for Policy 
Studies. "If we don't manage that demand wisely, fish and wildlife 
resources and rural economies that rely on those resources could be 
damaged irreparably. That doesn't have to happen if the board will 
just listen to what the general public is saying." (Greenwire, 12-11-

4) Groups criticize plan to save fish

Two environmental groups say that a plan hailed by states and water 
users is not enough to save the Colorado River Basin's humpback chub, 
bonytail chub, razorback sucker and Colorado pikeminnow.

Utah-based Living Rivers and the Desert Fishes Council have outlined 
several criticisms, saying the plan-- under consideration by the US 
Fish & Wildlife Service-- places too much reliance on hatcheries to 
increase fish numbers; not enough habitat restoration; and not enough 
attention on removing invasive fish. 

"We're concerned that the agency, in its eagerness to please water 
and power interests in the seven Colorado River basin states, is 
rushing to set criteria that will cost taxpayers millions more 
dollars while not helping recover the fish they're supposed to be 
saving," said David Orr of Living Rivers (Las Vegas Sun, 12-12-01).

5) Report: West Virginia Rivers

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition released a report this week 
concluding that the state must make tougher water pollution limits 
more of a priority. The report points to the positive developments 
that have taken place across the state, but says that the "real test" 
will come over the next few years when hundreds of TMDLs (Total 
Maximum Daily Loads) are written.

According to the report's author Evan Hansen, the state and the 
Environmental Protection Agency have so far written 25 TMDLs. But, 
says Hansen, none of the TMDLs spell out how required pollution 
reductions would be achieved (Charleston Gazette, 12-12-01).

"The DEP has not publicly committed itself to methodically and fully 
implementing TMDLs," the report says.

The Bush administration has withdrawn the Clinton administration 
proposal that would require all TMDLs to contain implementation 

Hansen told the Gazette, "Our state lists over 700 polluted river and 
stream segments and lakes, and cleanup plans have been developed for 
fewer than 200 of these water bodies. And most of the cleanup plans 
were developed just this year."

6) Report: Colorado water

A recent report from the University of Colorado Natural Resources Law 
Center concludes that "a more flexible and sophisticated approach 
will be needed to meet the challenges of water management in the 21st 
century" (Denver Post, 12-11-01).

As Colorado continues to grow, so will water demands. That's why the 
state should prepare a variety of management tools to address future 
needs, says Peter Nichols, one of the report's authors.

The report makes several recommendations, including the "reuse of 
wastewater to help provide cost-effective supplies for nonpotable 
uses, including industrial and landscaping irrigation."

University of Colorado professor David Getches, a natural resources 
law scholar and author, told the Denver Post, "The report is 
remarkable in that it looks at growth and water together. That 
inextricable connection is something that should concern everyone." 

"Up to now, we've emulated Southern California at every turn, and 
that has led to a land-use nightmare," Getches said. It's crucial for 
people to understand the implications of growth and development on 
water resources and the report helps illustrate these issues, he 

"For example, if people knew that living on a quarter-acre lot with a 
bluegrass lawn means there will be no place to fish for trout within 
an hour's drive, they might be willing to accept smaller lots," 
Getches said.


Colorado water facts
(as reported by the Denver Post)

* Coloradans use about 208 gallons per day for "domestic use," 
compared with a national average of 179 gallons. 

* Largely because of irrigation, total per capita off-stream water 
use in Colorado is 3,690 gallons per day, nearly three times the 
national average of 1,280 gallons per day. 

Only four other states have higher levels of use: Idaho, Montana, 
Nebraska and Wyoming.

* More than 90 percent of water consumed through human activities in 
Colorado occurs in agriculture. 


7) Toms River families settle in cancer suit

A group of 69 families in Toms River, N.J. this week settled their 
claims against three companies that the families blamed for causing 
cancer in their children.

As reports the Philadelphia Inquirer (12-14-01), the mediated 
settlement came just five days before New Jersey health officials are 
to release a study on whether the cancers could be attributed to 
polluted water. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, 
and the companies - Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp., Union Carbide 
Corp., and United Water Resources Inc. - did not admit fault. 

The families maintain that the cancers were caused by pollutants in 
their water generated by Ciba and a contractor hired by Union 
Carbide. The chemicals involved were used in the manufacture of 
epoxies, resins and dyestuffs.

One high-profile lawyer in the case was Jan Schlictmann, whose 
efforts in a Woburn, Mass., case were depicted in the book and movie 
A Civil Action. 

Bruce Anderson, a lifelong resident of the Toms River area-- and 
whose son was found to have a rare form of leukemia-- told the 
Inquirer that he started a website, www.tr-teach.org, to educate 
people about environmental hazards in their communities.


About RiverCurrents

RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as 
reported by media outlets across the country. The inclusion of a 
story or point of view in RiverCurrents does not necessarily indicate 
endorsement by American Rivers. If you have clarifications or 
corrections about a story in RiverCurrents, please send them to 
asouers at amrivers_org.

About American Rivers

American Rivers has a national office in Washington, DC and field 
offices across the country. We are a non-profit conservation 
organization dedicated to protecting and restoring rivers and to 
fostering a river stewardship ethic.

If you'd like to support our conservation efforts, please consider 
becoming a member of American Rivers. Call 1-800-296-6900 x3009 to 
find out how to become a member or to give a membership as a gift.

Additional information is available at our website, 

Thank you robertrice at juno_com for helping to protect and 
restore America's rivers.

To contact American Rivers, send an email to Rebecca 
Sherman at outreach at amrivers_org or call 202-347-7550.

To update your information, please visit: 

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