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    Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    NJ take note...

    Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish
    Associated Press
    By PHUONG LE
    Scientists Study Stormwater to Help Save Salmon


    POULSBO, Wash. (AP) — Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from one of Seattle's busiest highways. One by one, the fish were removed from a tank filled with coffee-colored water and inspected: They were rigid. Their typically red gills were gray.

    "He's way dead," David Baldwin, a research zoologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, declared at the four-hour mark.

    This was the fate of coho salmon exposed to the everyday toxic brew of dirt, metals, oil and other gunk that washes off highway pavement after rains and directly into Puget Sound.

    When that runoff was filtered through a simple mixture of gravel, sand and compost, however, the outlook was much brighter. Salmon exposed to treated water were healthy and responsive, even after 24 hours.

    The research being conducted by scientists with NOAA, Washington State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a promising solution to stormwater pollution, a major problem for Puget Sound and other streams and lakes in the nation.

    With pollution from industrial pipes closely regulated, cities and states are more often tackling stormwater runoff that results from everyday activities: oils from leaky cars, pesticides from lawns and other pollutants that wash off roads and sidewalks and into streams and lakes.

    Across the country, there's been an aggressive push for rain gardens and other green techniques that rely on vegetation, soil or natural elements to slow and filter stormwater.

    "The results are pretty stark," said Jenifer McIntyre, a researcher with WSU who is part of salmon experiment. "So far, what we're seeing is that, absolutely, things like rain gardens are going to be part of the solution."

    Washington state now requires municipalities to adopt such green techniques to get a stormwater permit under the Clean Water Act after a conservation group sued. A campaign is trying to get 12,000 rain gardens in Puget Sound to help reduce water pollution. Portland, Oregon; Kansas City, Missouri; and Philadelphia and other cities have embraced similar green technologies.

    "It's really promising, showing that rain gardens and bio-filtration are removing the pollutants that are killing the salmon," said Chris Wilke with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.

    More than a decade ago, researchers began noticing adult coho dying before spawning in urban creeks in Seattle. Monitoring over eight years, they observed fish consistently dying and at high rates in Longfellow Creek and other urban creeks compared with a stream that wasn't in an urban area.

    The salmon swam erratically near the water's surface, appeared disoriented and displayed other neurological symptoms. Disease or typical water issues such as temperature or dissolved oxygen didn't appear to be a problem.

    The evidence pointed to one or more chemical contaminants, most likely carried into urban streams through stormwater runoff, according to a study by NOAA and others.

    The scientists are still working to find out the underlying cause of death: what contaminant or mixture of contaminants in that runoff is harmful to salmon.

    "There used to be coho salmon runs all through Puget Sound and creeks. There haven't been for decades," said Julann Spromberg, a toxicologist working for NOAA Fisheries. "They're coming back, and they're dying. We need to figure out what's going on."

    "A silver bullet would be nice but it doesn't appear to exist," she added.

    In an experiment two years ago, the scientists exposed adult coho salmon to artificial cocktails of metals and petroleum hydrocarbons in runoff and found that it didn't kill the fish.

    Actual runoff was another matter.

    One morning at Grovers Creek Hatchery in Poulsbo, Spromberg and her colleagues ran an experiment to find out how fish respond to stormwater runoff and runoff that had been treated.

    About a dozen salmon were netted and placed in 2-foot-long PVC tubes and then submerged into one of three holding tanks.

    One tank was filled with runoff collected from a downspout off Highway 520 in Seattle. In a second tank, that same runoff had been seeped through a mulch layer and into 55-gallon drums filled with gravel, sand and compost to simulate a rain garden. A third tank with well water was used as a control.

    Over the next few weeks, the scientists repeated the experiment two additional times. Each time, salmon in the dirty water died while the others survived.

    In the next phase of the research, they plan to expose coho salmon embryos to find out how stormwater runoff affects fish development.

    "People don't understand necessarily how all those tiny little actions can make a combined effect — tires worn down, exhaust from my car. It's not something that people are thinking about on a daily basis," McIntyre said.

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    John
    Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.--Henry David Thoreau

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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Not exactly news, this has been studied for at least two decades. This is an aspect of what is called non-point source pollution. As a significant amount of point source pollution (power plants, factories, refineries etc.) have been reduced by regulation over the years environmental scientists have found that all kinds of other materials that come off roads, lawns, farms and other distributed sources is a much larger problem than originally thought. Where did you think all that lawn fertilizer, road salt and manure run off went?

    Steve


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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Rutgers is ahead on this one.

    Water Resources Program at Rutgers NJAES


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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    I will say NJ has been working on this for a while and is ahead of the curve, but getting a handle on non-source point pollution is difficult. It is easy to walk a stream and check what is coming out of pipes, but the non-point source stuff is difficult. It starts with timing; most of the pollutants wash off in the first 20 minutes of a heavy rain so one has to be ready to drop what you are doing and take samples when a rain event occurs. Then there is political will. Take phosphorus. Decades ago phosphorus was dropped from laundry detergent (but not from dishwasher detergent, another story). Now the biggest source in much of NJ is lawn fertilizer runoff. Getting the perfect lawn with 5 applications of chemicals a year combined with rapid drainage so your yard dries quickly after a storm is a potent source. (FYI, suburban lawns use 5X the fertilizer as farms. Farms have to turn a profit and letting fertilizer run off doesn't help the bottom line. Suburban homeowners spend whatever on lawns). One help may be a statewide regulation of phosphorus in fertilizers, but that is politically dead. Some towns have banned phosphorus fertilizers, but with 600 towns in NJ you never have to go far to buy high phosphorus fertilizer where it is legal.

    E Coli bacteria are another issue with goose and dog poop significant sources. Even deer can be a problem because in much of Morris Co they have so damaged the ground cover that soil erosion rates are off the hook leading to a lot of stuff just washing into the streams rather than percolating into the soil where it an be filtered out. Decades of soil abuse have compacted our soils and the damage is apparent even in areas that have been reforested. Who knows when a parcel of land that has gone back to nature will get anything close to the original soil.

    The issue of non-point pollution is a complex one where work will be going on a long time. NJ is in the lead for filtering storm drains, better retention basins, goose management, rain barrels and rain gardens, porous pavement, and storm water management. However, it is a long road IMHO and much education and behavior change for the public is needed.


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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    These are good points. But putting the complexity of its sources aside for a moment, isn't runoff the primary factor in non-point source pollution? I was under the impression that yes, it is caused by many and diffuse sources, by definition. But the material that collects it and funnels it into watersheds is typically nonporous pavement, making urban and suburban sprawl the main culprit.

    (That's why I thought FF mentioned Jersey in his post)

    So, if that's true, wouldn't a complex problem have a relatively simple solution - limiting development, protecting open space, and adopting low-impact development requirements? (As an out-of-stater who mainly visits on Thanksgiving and Christmas, seems like that should be the number one priority in Jersey generally.)

    By the way, speaking of Thanksgiving, can we just kill all the Canadian geese already and eat those fuckers? They contribute nothing and I'm tired of their greasy turds littering perfectly good soccer fields and corporate campuses. Bunch of Canuck interlopers. They should be hand-grenaded and turned into fertilizer, or better yet, a high protein mush that can be exported to nutrient poor places in the developing world.

    That got a bit off-topic.


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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbug201 View Post
    So, if that's true, wouldn't a complex problem have a relatively simple solution - limiting development, protecting open space, and adopting low-impact development requirements? (As an out-of-stater who mainly visits on Thanksgiving and Christmas, seems like that should be the number one priority in Jersey generally.)
    Which is exactly what NJ has been doing for well over a decade after finally waking up. As for preserving open space, we lead the nation in that particular area when it comes to percentages of lands not yet developed. Look at the Pinelands and Highlands Acts to protect drinking water, C-1 designated streams with 300' development buffers, an ever strengthening storm water set of regulations that is showing promise where old systems are being replaced by newer, much more effective systems, etc. for proof that NJ was forced to lead in several of these areas.

    But had we taken this approach 50 or so years ago, many of the more recent ones wouldn't be necessary. That's the take-away lesson for other states who all seem Hell bent to follow our path.

    A sinking fly is closer to Hell - ​Unknown

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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbug201 View Post
    By the way, speaking of Thanksgiving, can we just kill all the Canadian geese already and eat those fuckers? They contribute nothing and I'm tired of their greasy turds littering perfectly good soccer fields and corporate campuses. Bunch of Canuck interlopers.
    Does that mean we should allow all US bred CANADA GEESE to remain and continue to crap all over the place?


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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbug201 View Post
    By the way, speaking of Thanksgiving, can we just kill all the Canadian geese already and eat those fuckers? They contribute nothing and I'm tired of their greasy turds littering perfectly good soccer fields and corporate campuses. Bunch of Canuck interlopers. They should be hand-grenaded and turned into fertilizer, or better yet, a high protein mush that can be exported to nutrient poor places in the developing world. That got a bit off-topic.
    they are not Canadian Geese..They are Canada Geese ......Nice goin' eh....

    "I'm not out on the river to win." -Kieth Rutherford

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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbug201 View Post
    These are good points. But putting the complexity of its sources aside for a moment, isn't runoff the primary factor in non-point source pollution? I was under the impression that yes, it is caused by many and diffuse sources, by definition. But the material that collects it and funnels it into watersheds is typically nonporous pavement, making urban and suburban sprawl the main culprit.

    (That's why I thought FF mentioned Jersey in his post)

    So, if that's true, wouldn't a complex problem have a relatively simple solution - limiting development, protecting open space, and adopting low-impact development requirements? (As an out-of-stater who mainly visits on Thanksgiving and Christmas, seems like that should be the number one priority in Jersey generally.)

    By the way, speaking of Thanksgiving, can we just kill all the Canadian geese already and eat those fuckers? They contribute nothing and I'm tired of their greasy turds littering perfectly good soccer fields and corporate campuses. Bunch of Canuck interlopers. They should be hand-grenaded and turned into fertilizer, or better yet, a high protein mush that can be exported to nutrient poor places in the developing world.

    That got a bit off-topic.

    That sounds delish. Even with LU's vast experience working the drive-thru, he could not make a flying rat taste as good as an old crusty boot. But I am not one to judge on culinary delights.Just kidding I do judge. Perhaps you can set a new tradition for Thanksgiving and indulge on the succulent cuisine of the inedible.

    "Hatchery fish have the same colors, but they always seem muted like bad reproductions of great art." Bill Barich

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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by tomfly View Post
    That sounds delish. Even with LU's vast experience working the drive-thru, he could not make a flying rat taste as good as an old crusty boot. But I am not one to judge on culinary delights.Just kidding I do judge. Perhaps you can set a new tradition for Thanksgiving and indulge on the succulent cuisine of the inedible.
    They truly serve no purpose....disgusting creatures, flavor, appearance, sound, poop....all gross.....oily nasty!!!!!!

    "I'm not out on the river to win." -Kieth Rutherford

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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by lightenup View Post
    They truly serve no purpose....disgusting creatures, flavor, appearance, sound, poop....all gross.....oily nasty!!!!!!
    They really have no redeeming value.....

    My buddy shot one this fall because he's a new hunter and wanted to try it all. I warned him about their taste and sure enough, it was inedible even when marinated. You should be able to serve up an old leather boot if you marinate it long enough. But not with Canada geese.



    A sinking fly is closer to Hell - ​Unknown

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    Re: Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish

    Quote Originally Posted by lightenup View Post
    they are not Canadian Geese..They are Canada Geese ......Nice goin' eh....
    But, if they were BORN in Canada...
    They'd be Canadian Canada Geese.
    So ALL geese born in Canada are Canadian geese...

    John
    Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.--Henry David Thoreau

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