Rivers Alive 2008 – October 11th

2 09 2008

Rivers Alive 2008 is coming!  On October 11, 2008 you can join others from around your community to help care for our local waterways.

Many people believe that businesses and industries are responsible for most of the water pollution in Georgia. This is not true.  Since the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972, industrial and commercial dumping (“point sources” of pollution) has been strictly regulated, with enforced standards for environmental impact.  Far more extensive and harder to control is what is known as nonpoint source pollution. 

Nonpoint source means pollution that comes from all over, not just a single pipe or drain.  Rainwater runs across the surface of a road, carrying brake dust and motor oil into the nearest stream.  Sprinklers wash lawn fertilizer into the drains, where it joins soapy water from washing cars on its way to the storm drain and the river.  Candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and drink containers are carried in by wind or water, or are deposited directly on the streambank alongside unwanted cars and appliances.

Learn more here.

Georgia Bioenergy Industry Emerging

2 09 2008

By Brad Haire | Southeast Farm Press

With abundant biomass, cutting-edge research and a strong agricultural base, Georgia is becoming a U.S. alternative fuel leader, said Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue at a recent conference in Tifton.

The state must continue to find better ways to grow, convert and use alternative energy sources, he told the 400 bioenergy experts, industry representatives, businessmen and enthusiasts gathered at the third annual Southeast Bioenergy Conference at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center.

“If you will do anything in your own hearts today, and I won’t give an altar call, but if you all will promise this won’t be a fad and that you will maintain passion and interest about this, this is the way solutions come about,” Perdue said. “It’s way too important just to be cool about this.”

Forbes magazine recently ranked the state No. 3 in the U.S. for future alternative energy production. Reasons, he said, were entrepreneurial-friendly policies, recent legislation to reduce taxes on biosciences energy companies and an executive order to expedite environmental permits for biofuel plants in the state.

Over the past three years, he said, $700 million was invested in Georgia bioenergy projects.

The three-day conference drew 60 national and international bioenergy experts along with several state and federal legislators to talk about how the Southeast can grow its alternative energy policy and industry.

Seeking new energy sources is crucial for the environment, economy and national security, said Gale Buchanan, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary and a headline speaker.

He placed the current energy crisis in a historical perspective. During the 1970s oil embargo, the U.S. got only 28 percent of its oil from other countries. Today, the U.S. gets 60 percent of its oil from foreign countries.

Oil-producing countries in the 1970s were working at 65 percent of their capacities, he said. Today, the capacity is 98 percent. “For several years, we’ve been using two barrels of oil for every new barrel of oil we find,” he said.

Right now, the U.S. is riding an ethanol wave. The alternative fuel is made primarily from corn in the U.S. Corn prices have soared to record prices based largely on speculation and ethanol demand.

Read on here.

Schools Fighting Effects of Bus Fumes

2 09 2008


By Tom Corwin| Augusta Chronicle

Frances Canterbury fans herself as she sits in the driver’s seat of her school bus outside Spirit Creek Middle School, waiting for the kids to pile in. The muggy weather is just one of the things the veteran bus driver has to deal with.

“I get a lot of fumes,” she said, and she suffers from chronic bronchitis. “It seems to get worse in the fall and winter.”

Medical College of Georgia researchers are trying to quantify just how much impact on air quality those buses are having at certain Richmond County schools.

Exhaust from school buses is the target of a national campaign to eliminate idling at schools while they wait to pick up students. The National Clean Diesel Campaign of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes grants to districts to retrofit school buses with emission controls or to burn cleaner fuel.

There are roughly 390,000 diesel buses in use nationwide, and a third of them were built before 1990, Jim Blubaugh, the director of the clean diesel program, said. A 2007 survey found nearly 2,000 that were circa 1977 or older, he said.

“We’ve made great progress in getting a lot of those off the road,” he said. “But it kind of just illustrates the extent of the age of this particular fleet and quite frankly the extent of the problem we’re tackling.”

Monroe: Reservoir Project Will Not Get $10M from State

2 09 2008



WALTON COUNTY — The Hard Labor Creek Reservoir project got some hard news earlier this month as county officials discovered that the state can’t afford the $10 million promised earlier this year as part of a $40 million statewide cache to help with the drought.

Walton County was one of the 13 cities and counties that had their funding slashed.

Officials with Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office said cuts are having to be made across the state in various areas and the water-based allocations were just one of the many designated funds cut.

State leaders approved more than $21 billion in state spending in April but are now looking to slash at least $1.6 billion as the state battles a revenue shortfall.

Walton was one of the hardest hit. Officials hoped the $10 million would help lower the reservoir’s project price tag of more than $350 million.

“The initial revenue bonds for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Project were issued prior to the announcement of the State’s Water Supply Grant Program, so these grant funds were not included in the original projections,” said Jimmy Parker, vice president of Precision Planning, Inc., the engineers of the reservoir project. “However, the (Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority) and the Reservoir Management Board were very optimistic towards receiving a very significant grant allocation, based on recent meetings with (Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority) representatives. Any grant funds received would have reduced the overall project costs for both Walton and Oconee County, therefore the State’s decision to suspend the program was disappointing.”

However, Parker remains optimistic that some sort of funding will come the project’s way.

Read on here.

Rains Help, But Thirsty Lake Still Needs More

2 09 2008

By Debbie Gilbert (Gainsville Times)

Rain from Tropical Storm Fay earlier this week pushed up the level of Lake Lanier by more than 2 feet, but the lake is still lower than it has ever been at this time of year.

“We’re still in a drought,” said Lisa Coghlan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Lanier. “One tropical (storm) is not enough to bring the lake back to normal.”

When the storm began last Sunday, the lake stood at 1,053.31 feet above sea level. By Saturday, it had risen to 1,055.75. But that was still more than 15 feet below the normal full pool of 1,071.

What would it take to get the lake back to that level? Only the passage of time.

“We’re going into September and October, historically a very dry period,” said David Stooksbury, Georgia’s state climatologist. “I don’t think we can pull out (of the drought) until wintertime.”

Stooksbury said even if we get multiple tropical storms, the effect is fleeting. “We just lose too much water to evaporation and plant use,” he said.

Read on here.