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NFC: Fw: RiverCurrents: February 1, 2002

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The online community for river activists and river friends

AOL KEYWORD: American Rivers
In this issue...

* Selling salmon short

* EPA report: old sewage systems fouling waters nationwide
* Study: climate change could disrupt river ecosystems

* Northeast: New York mayor calls for water conservation
* Mid-Atlantic: Groups file suit to keep WV streams clean
* Southeast: Saving the Alabama sturgeon proves difficult
* Great Lakes: A river renaissance in St. Paul
* Midwest: Report: Iowa's manure lagoons threaten water quality
* Rockies: "Time out" on Montana's Rock Creek Mine
* Northwest: City of Yelm, WA awarded for reclaiming wastewater

* Stop this bad Farm Bill amendment!
* At-home tip: make your own eco-friendly floor/furniture polish

* Find funding for your riverfront restoration project

* How you can join American Rivers today



Selling salmon short: 
Newly uncovered documents show funding to save NW salmon is only 
half of what's needed

Salmon recovery in the Columbia-Snake river basin of the Pacific 
Northwest will cost more than twice the amount the Bush 
administration has so far been willing to propose, according to 
internal budget estimates of the agency that wrote the federal salmon 
recovery plan. 

Obtained by conservation groups through a lawsuit aimed at 
strengthening the salmon plan, the internal budget documents were 
written by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the lead 
agency in charge of implementing the salmon plan, also known as the 
2000 Biological Opinion.

The internal documents show that NMFS saw a need for more than twice 
the funding requested by President Bush and ultimately appropriated 
by Congress for Columbia-Snake River salmon recovery in fiscal year 

Click here for the full story (American Rivers press release)



1) EPA report: old sewage systems spew over a trillion gallons of raw
sewage into waters each year

Every year, more than 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage pours 
from aging sewer systems that overflow when it rains into rivers and 
other water bodies, according to a recent report by the Environmental 
Protection Agency. The EPA stated that this leads to  "serious public 
health and water concerns." (San Francisco Chronicle Online, 01-30-

In cities with older sewage systems, raw sewage often overflows into 
rivers and streams, as well as ditches, canals, bays and lakes.  The 
EPA report found that the worst of these older systems are spread 
among 32 states, most of them in the Northeast, Midwest and West 

As reports the Chronicle, the EPA said that federal loans for 
upgrading systems totaled $2 billion from 1989 to 2000-- only about 5 
percent of what was needed to bring them into compliance.

Nancy Stoner of the Natural Resources Defense Council told the 
Chronicle, "This report shows that it's time to stop the hand-holding 
and hand-wringing, and put the resources into implementing and 
enforcing this program."

2) Study: Climate change could disrupt river ecosystems

A new study from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change finds that 
global warming could have major effects on the United States' 
freshwater ecosystems.

As reports Greenwire (01-30-02), "the temperature increases forecast 
for the United States in the next century will disrupt animal and 
plant distributions throughout the country."

The report states, "Cold-water fish like trout and salmon are 
projected to disappear from large portions of their current 
geographic range in the continental United States, when warming 
causes water temperature to exceed their thermal tolerance limits."

At the same time, fish that prefer warmer water, such as largemouth 
bass and carp,  should benefit. Different types of algae are also 
predicted to flourish in warmer waters, potentially reducing the 
amount of dissolved oxygen and impacting the food chain.

Click here for the report, Aquatic Ecosystems and Global Climate 



1)        NORTHEAST
New York mayor calls for water conservation

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called this week for voluntary 
water conservation measures, as a dry winter has left upstate 
reservoirs only half as full as they usually are at this time of year.

"There are not a lot of storms on their way, as far as we can tell, 
so this is a problem that is going to get worse," the mayor 
said. "The question is, what can we do about it? And conservation is 
the answer." (New York Times, 01-28-02).

The Times reports, "The mayor ticked off a host of recommendations 
for saving water, from fixing leaky faucets to running dishwashers 
only when they are full to cutting shower times in half. ("Get in, 
turn it on, get it to the right temperature, lather up, get rid of 
the soap and get out," was his prescription for ablutions.)"

New Yorkers' water consumption has actually been decreasing. While it 
was up to an average of 1.45 billion gallons a day in 1991, today 
consumption has fallen to an average of 1.2 billion gallons a day. 
Officials attribute the decline to conservation efforts, including 
the installation of 1.7 million water saving toilets and plumbing 

2)        MID-ATLANTIC
Lawsuit challenges policy meant to keep streams clean

Twenty-five environmental groups filed suit against the EPA this 
week, alleging that its approval of a West Virginia stream anti-
degradation policy violates the federal Clean Water Act and federal 
water quality regulations.

"For years, we have tried to work with state and federal agencies to 
come up with a plan that protects our rivers," Jeremy Muller, 
executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, told the 
Charleston Gazette. "However, EPA and the state were not willing to 
put forth protections for West Virginia's outstanding rivers and 
streams. Instead, they continually gave in to polluters." (Charleston 
Gazette, 01-25-02)

As the Gazette explains, under federal law the anti-degradation 
policies "are supposed to provide streams with an added layer of 
protection above the state water-quality standards. Anti-degradation 
mandates that the current water quality of streams will generally not 
be lowered."

The EPA is required to make sure that states have adequately 
stringent rules. 

The Rivers Coalition and other groups are unhappy with the state's 
anti-degradation implementation policy, and even unhappier with the 
EPA's "unconditional approval."

"The Bush EPA-approved plan is a better deal for polluters than it 
is for the citizens of this state," said Margaret Janes, senior 
policy analyst for the Appalachian Center. "It does not comply with 
federal law. That's why we had to sue."

3)        SOUTHEAST
Conservationists find sturgeon hard to save

The endangered Alabama Sturgeon is proving to be one tough fish 
to save, reports the Anniston Star (01-29-02). "Despite working 
for nearly a decade and spending millions of dollars to capture 
and breed the...fish, the state has little to show for its efforts."

The last remaining captive sturgeon, nicknamed "Bubba", represents 
the government's last chance to breed the rare fish.'

It is not clear how many of the fish are still living in the wild, 
but experts say few are left in the lower Alabama River, the 
sturgeon's prime habitat. The fish also used to thrive in extensive 
portions of the Mobile River system. At one time, the fish were so 
abundant that they were caught and sold commercially for their rich 

Federal officials declared the fish an endangered species in 2000. 
Navigation-related development, dams, water quality degradation, 
and over-fishing all contributed to the demise of the sturgeon. The 
fish's historical range has been reduced by roughly 85 percent.


River Walk: a journey toward the future of the South's rivers

Don't miss this inspiring photographic exhibit of the rivers of 
Alabama--sponsored by the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

-- At the Alabama Museum of Natural History through May 5th.
Click here for more information: 


4)        GREAT LAKES
ST. PAUL: Riverfront restoration planned

The city of St. Paul is rediscovering its riverfront. And to keep the 
momentum of the river renaissance going, riverfront boosters are 
hoping to get more than $8.3 million in financing from the state this 
spring, as reports the Pioneer Press (01-24-02).

The money would go toward rehabilitating Raspberry Island, improving 
shorelines, and restoring parkland.

Some of the highlights of the project would include:

-- Building a walkway and adding an overlook on Raspberry Island 
-- Refurbishing the Minnesota Boat Club 
-- Adding walking paths along the downtown shore of the river

Supporters hope to nail down the funding and plans quickly, in time 
for the July 4, 2004 "Grand Excursion" - a commemoration of a 150-
year old Mississippi riverboat extravaganza. 


"Restoring Riverfronts: A Guide to Select Federal Funding Sources" 

Is your community working on a riverfront revitalization or 
restoration project? Our funding guide can help! Get the full 
guide on our website at 


5)        MIDWEST
Report: manure lagoons threaten Iowa's waters

In what is one of the "most comprehensive looks yet at geological 
factors that could worsen pollution from Iowa's 750 earthen livestock-
waste lagoons," a new report warns that hog-manure lagoons threaten 
Iowa's drinking-water supplies and rivers. 

Further, researchers say that new facilities should be kept out of 
floodplains and areas with leaky soil - which would include most of 
central Iowa. Particularly worrisome to the researchers are those 
areas in north central Iowa where lagoons sit on top of leaky soil 
and fractured rock, and also near farm-field drainage wells where 
manure could contaminate groundwater, reports the Des Moines Register 

For the first time in several years, state legislators are poised to 
debate whether to impose new environmental controls on Iowa's hog 
industry. The report is to be published in the June issue of the 
Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

6)        ROCKIES
"Time out" on Montana's Rock Creek Mine

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service this week asked a federal court 
to delay a lawsuit challenging its evaluation of Montana's Rock 
Creek Mine while the agency reconsiders its analysis.

If constructed, the Rock Creek Mine would extract copper and silver 
ore from beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area. 

While the mine would operate on Forest Service land, the Fish & 
Wildlife Service is responsible for the protection and recovery of 
the area's endangered species, including the grizzly bear and bull 
trout. (Rock Creek Alliance Press Release, 01-29-02).

The Fish & Wildlife Service evaluated the Rock Creek Mine in 2000 
and concluded that it would not jeopardize the species. 

Mary Mitchell of the Rock Creek Alliance said that the agency's 
"decision to revisit its evaluation of the mine means that the agency 
no longer has faith in its previous analysis and must take a look at 
the science instead of ignoring it." 

In their press release, the Rock Creek Alliance, Cabinet Resource 
Group, Earthjustice, and other groups state that the mine would 
"degrade over 7,000 acres of habitat vital to the survival of the 
Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear population, would destroy bull trout 
habitat in Rock Creek, and would discharge up to three million 
gallons of waste water a day into the Clark Fork River." 

"We're hopeful that FWS' second look at the science will be more 
thorough and lead the agency to conclude that these bears urgently 
need greater protection, not another massive mine," said Cesar 
Hernandez of the Cabinet Resource Group.  

7)        NORTHWEST
Yelm, WA honored for reclaiming wastewater

The city of Yelm, Washington was honored this week with the state's 
highest environmental award. The city's water reclamation project 
won The Environmental Excellence Award for reclaiming and re-using 
100 percent of its treated wastewater.

As reports the Environmental News Service (01-24-02), the award is 
given to individuals, businesses or groups that exemplify model 
behavior for the overall benefit of the environment.

Linda Hoffman, deputy director of the Department of Ecology presented 
the award to Yelm Mayor Adam Rivas at a city council meeting.

"Yelm is a role model to the rest of Washington's cities. As the 
competition for water heats up among people, fish and business uses, 
reusing water is the way to go," Hoffmann said. 

The city reuses its wastewater--about 200,000 gallons a day--to 
irrigate landscaping at churches, parks, and a football field. 
Wastewater is also used to recharge a wetland in one of the city's 

As reports ENS, most cities discard treated wastewater on land or in 
water under the requirements of Department of Ecology permits. 


Stop this bad Farm Bill amendment!

The amendment, filed by Sen. Gordon Smith, would pay industry for 
compliance with environmental laws -- a sweeping, unprecedented, 
and unwarranted change in federal resource management.

Click here to help:



Make your own eco-friendly furniture and floor polish

Many polishes found in stores contain ingredients 
hazardous to both people and the environment. Try this 
idea from the Environmental Protection Agency instead:

* Mix one part lemon with two parts olive oil. Apply a light
coating of the mixture to the surface and rub in with a soft cloth.



Join online and you'll receive a handsome "rivers" decal, a
rivers calendar, and more:

Click here to join using our new and improved
online membership page: https://radlib.com/ar/


RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as 
reported by media outlets across the country. The inclusion of a 
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