October 20, 2015

FYI: Coral reefs and sunscreen

No coral reefs here in Tidewater Virginia, but many residents of this area head off to Caribbean or Hawaii destinations when winter arrives. So a recent study about sunscreens should be of interest.

It seems that the chemical oxybenzone, found in more than 3500 popular sunscreens, is killing coral reefs. 80 percent of our reefs in the Caribbean are lost already. Degraded bleached out reefs might recover, but it takes a LONG time.

Anywhere from 6000 to 14,00 tons of sunscreen lotion wash off our bodies and into coral reef areas each year. And much of that sunscreen contains between one and ten percent oxybenzone. I just checked the Nutrigena products we use and see 6 percent oxybenzone.

So check EWG's Guide to sunscreens at ewg.org to see the ones they highly recommend. You will probably not be familiar with most of these brands.

October 18, 2015

James River improving?

Recent headlines tout the improving grade of the James River's water quality, but the jump from C+ to B- in the James River Association's report card is a tad misleading. And their B- is a 61%. That is VERY generous grading.

Indeed, OVERALL water "quality" improved due to the eagle count, phosphorus reduction and wastewater upgrades. But a parent looking at this report card would see these numbers and question Jimmy's teacher:

56% in stream health
40% in agriculture pollution control
44% in sediment reduction
36% in storm water pollution controls
30% in vegetated buffer restoration
58% in underwater grasses

Look here to see the entire report card: http://www.jamesriverassociation.org/stateofthejames

October 11, 2015

Tidewater groundwater faces a challenge in coming years

Here are a few handy facts and figures from today's DAILY PRESS article on local groundwater at http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-nws-water-20151011-story.html:

  • Quite a bit of our local drinking water from groundwater aquifers is 40,000 years old.
  • Virginia receives an average of 40 inches of rain each year, but less than one-half inch of it soaks into  our groundwater sediment.
  • Our groundwater has dropped as much as 200 feet during the last century in some areas in Virginia.
  • In James City County, current water consumption (in 2015) is 5.6 million gallons per DAY.
  • Virginia's DEQ may cut James City County's daily water withdrawal to 3.8 to 4 million gallons.
Prepare to conserve more water over the coming years.

Other eye-opening news is that the EPA tells us that $6.7 billion is needed for drinking water infrastructure needs in Virginia alone. $4.5 billion for pipeline improvements.

And $384 BILLION just to maintain the existing drinking water infrastructure in the entire country.