Term Paper: Water Geography

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Water Geography

PART ONE (TERMS / PROCESSES):

Celilo Falls: This is an issue that was originally created when the government of the U.S. damned up a portion of the Columbia River - the Bonneville Dam in 1938 - for a source of electric power and for navigation. It created Celilo Falls. The Native Americans living in that region had signed a treaty with the U.S. Government in 1855 that guaranteed them fishing rights in perpetuity (forever). Meanwhile, the falls provided great salmon fishing for the tribes living in the area (Nez Perce, Yakama, Wasco, Wishram, and Warm Springs), according to a review of Katrine Barber's book (Death of Celilo Falls) written by John Walton. It also was great fishing for non-natives. But when the Army Corps of Engineers built the Dalles Dam in 1959 it marked the end of the great salmon harvest that Native Americans had enjoyed at the falls. Today, there are eight separate stocks of salmon (and steelhead) that are listed as Endangered Species, largely due to the dams on the Columbia River; and Donald Sampson, Umatilla Tribal spokesman, was quoted in an article as saying, "You always hear about what farmers or other groups will lose if we take out the dams, but you never hear about what Indians will lose if the fish go extinct."

Stormwater Detention Basins: These basins are considered by engineers and city planners as a reasonably effective device to store water during high volume periods (storms); they then can be used to allow the water to be released back into the storm drain system at a time deemed appropriate by city engineers. They are of course an important weapons against flooding in urban areas. The question of how big they should be, and how much emergency water flow they should be capable of handling, is based on the geography of that particular area. In some cities, like Salt Lake City, stormwater detention basins do additional things, like helping the city to manage the annual spring snow melt, and also by providing the community with places where children can play (in open spaces created by the basins), citizens can get away from the routine of tall buildings.

Rosgen system of stream restoration: The system developed by David L. Rosgen is considered the most widely used strategy for the restoration of streams in the U.S. Because of that fact, professionals who are practicing restoration methods are familiar with the jargon associated with the Rosgen approach. Using the Rosgen system, one becomes aware of the importance of key fluvial geomorphology, and also that to attempt a restoration project on a stream without addressing potential changes that will occur in the evolution of the channel or in the hydrology dynamics is heading for failure in the project. The Rosgen system of classification breaks streams into seven categories - based on the width-to-width ratio, the entrenchment ratio, slope and sinuosity. There are those who criticize Rosgen's system as too simplistic, and that it fails to relate to all geomorphic factors, but nevertheless, it is respected and utilized widely.

Lake Baikal / Lake Victoria key issues: Lake Baikal is located in Siberia, and it is the oldest and deepest lake in the world, according to the lake Baikal Homepage. Twenty percent of the world's fresh water is found in the lake. But there are pollution problems; industrial waste is dumped in the lake, there is a pulp and paper plant that spews pollutants into the lake as well. However, Russia has taken some measures - such as no logging near the lake - to protect this valuable resource, but conservationists and others say more should be done. Lake Victoria, meanwhile, is suffering due to soil erosion, garbage disposal directly into the lake, deforestation, and continuing industrial expansion in western Kenya. Some of that pollution due to industrial expansion comes from fertilizer that is used heavily on crops like coffee, sugar cane, and maize. The industries that are encroaching on the lake itself are paper mills, breweries, coffee processing, agro-chemical production and sugar refineries. Also, untreated wastewater from cities (Kisumuand Homa Bay) is dumped into the lake, further causing environmental damage.

Whirling Disease: This is disease that attacks fingerling trout; a parasite called Myxobolus cerebralis gets into the head and the spinal cartilage of those fingerlings and quickly that parasite explodes in numbers. This causes big problems for the trout, and causes the fish to swim in crazy circles (hence, the name "whirling disease") and makes it easy prey for predators. The parasite is native to the Eurasian continent, according to the Whirling Disease Foundation, but it was introduced into North America in the 1950s, causing "severe damage" to the wild rainbow trout population. The problem goes beyond the damage done to trout; the parasite is said to be nearly indestructible, and is able to withstand freezing and "desiccation," and can live in a stream for 20 to 30 years, the foundation reports.

PART TWO (ESSAYS):

ONE: Primary, secondary, and tertiary sewage treatment. The primary treatment of sewage is simply the process whereby materials that can easily be separated from the sewage are collected. It is the simplest and least effective treatment; primary treatment removes only about one third of the "biochemical oxygen demand" (BOD). Secondary treatment is the taking of sewage from the primary treatment plant and using oxygen and microorganisms to break down the harmful organic materials into less harmful substances. When primary and secondary treatments are both used, about 90% of the BOD is removed. Tertiary treatment (also called effluent polishing) is the final stage of basically removing harmful materials from the sewage, making it clean enough to be discharged back into the environment (the lakes, rivers, ground water, or the ocean).

ONE: Clean Water Act. When reviewing federal activities with reference to regulations that support proper sewage treatment, it is instructive first to look at what the Bush Administration has done with reference to the Clean Water Act. In 2003, the EPA (with Bush appointees running the department and direct influence coming from the White House) issued a "draft guidance" policy that would have allowed water treatment plants to dump partially treated sewage into the nation's waterways. That would have been a violation of the Clean Water Act, which required that the only time partially treated waste water into waterways was if "...there is no feasible alternative and it is necessary to prevent personal injury or property damage," such as during a weather emergency (hurricane), according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), among the most vocal and effective conservation / environmental organizations in the nation.

The guidelines that the Bush Administration proposed - a dramatic change from previous interpretations of the Clean Water Act - would have allowed "more viruses and parasites" into the drinking water America uses, the NRDC writes (November 3, 2003). Traditionally, and according to the Clean Water Act's guidelines, secondary sewage treatment involves removal of solids, biological treatment and disinfection - the pathogenic organisms that cause illness in humans. The Bush changes would have allowed sewage facilities to "bypass the second step and 'blend' partially treated sewage with fully treated sewage" prior to discharging it into the waterways.

The pathogens associated with untreated sewage - disease-producing microorganisms that are present as a matter of course in untreated sewage - include E. coli, viruses like hepatitis a, protozoa and helominth worms. The pathogens mentioned above also can kill fish and destroy shellfish beds - not to mention close beaches, which has an enormous effect on local economies that count on beach-going tourists and locals. That EPA proposal was not allowed to become a permanent regulation, however; in 2005, the EPA announced an alternative to its poorly thought out proposal of 2003. The NRDC and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies got together and put forward a plan that would require sewage treatment plants to "fully treat sewage unless... [it is] determined there is no feasible way to do so." It also requires that when there is raw or partially treated sewage dumped into waterways, the operators of those plants are required to notify the public.

The EPA proposal would have allowed facilities to discharge untreated sewage into waterways "virtually any time it rains," the NRDC Web site explains. There are 7.1 million cases of infectious waterborne diseases diagnosed in the U.S. annually, the NRDC reports, and "many of these cases are caused by exposure to sewage."

Presently there are three bills in the House of Representatives that are opposed by the Bush Administration. Bush wants to phase out federal funding for clean water projects, NRDC explains. The three bills are: H.R. 720 (reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving fund at $14 billion; authorize a clean water trust fund); H.R. 569 (authorize $1.8 billion in grants for cities and counties to shore up their treatment facilities); and H.R. 700 (authorize money for pilot programs for alternative water source projects).

ONE: Sewage sludge changes in the New York - New Jersey… [END OF PREVIEW]

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