Starting Off the New Year Right
by Brian Oram
Happy New Year, I would like to propose we make one additional commitment this year. This commitment is to care about the water we drink as we try to remember how we impact or influence the quality and quantity of the water resources. Although it is the beginning of a new year (wishing you GOOD Luck in 2017!), for the water cycle the new year started in October. This is the time of the year when the aquifer begins to recharge. Many people are unaware that the aquifer must recharge, it is not infinite. In Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States, we are blessed with having abundant water resources, but something we should not take for granted. In 2016, we had an interesting election year that brought up many concerns. Also in the news, came a reminder of the limitedness of the water. A number of regions of Pennsylvania were put on a drought advisory and many small streams, springs, and even a few shallow wells dried up, i.e., no water. With 2016 in the rear-view mirror, I would like to suggest a few small steps to help move us forward in a positive direction. These steps are as follows:
- Learn about how and where you get your drinking water – Does your water come from a private source or city water supply source?
- If the water is from a private well- When did you have the water tested? For parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, it is not uncommon for about 40 to 50% of private wells to have a problem that may make the user or a guest sick.
- If you are on a city water source- Have you ever looked at the Annual Confidence Report about the quality of your drinking water? The most common problem with community water sources is elevated levels of trace metals like lead and chlorine by-products like trihalomethanes, i.e., suspected carcinogens. For information on water testing, please visit water-research.net.
- Are you using your water wisely? There are ways to use our drinking water resources more efficiently. A website titled, wateruseitwisely.com, offers over 100 tips on how to best use water. My favorite tip is “Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four”. There are over 4 million households in Pennsylvania, this one lifestyle change could save 41.6 billion gallons of water. This is only one change!
- Our surface water and groundwater are connected, and “we all live downstream”. This phrase means that how we use the groundwater resources directly impacts the surface water resources and we all are interconnected. Therefore, when using cleaning products, chemicals, or managing a waste we all live downstream from someone else. For example, the biggest source of man influenced global oil pollution is not massive spills or leaks. Only 8% of man influenced oil pollution comes from pipelines and major releases. The biggest sources are the small leaks from our boats, cars, and other means of transportation and the improper disposal of waste oil by individuals.
- Know Your H20? – it is important to know how you can influence the quality of the water resources, but it is also important to know the historic hazards in your community that may be contributing to a problem. With this in mind, it is important to learn about the historic hazards in your community and surrounding your home. The Keystone Clean Water Team offers neighborhood or community hazard survey reports for communities within the Unities States. The 501 c3 offers a few free reports each month. To get more information about this program, please visit – knowyourh20.us.
The best way to start off the New Year is not with a significant lifestyle change, but baby steps. Make a few basic commitments and make small changes that will help you and your family save and conserve water, check the quality of your drinking water, learn about the hazards in your community, and perhaps implement 1 item each month that will save and conserve water. It is important to remember that the less water you use, the more money stays in your pocket.
A few short phrases we should try to remember.
We ALL Live Downstream !
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are Part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!
You can help – Make A Donation !
FREE forum “EDIBLE YARDS” and FREE Seed Swap
SEEDS (Sustainable Energy Education & Development Support) kicks off its 2016 education series with a free forum on Edible Yards to be held Tuesday, March 29 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Park Street Complex, 648 Park Street in Honesdale.
Learn how to grow healthy food while becoming more self-reliant and creating a bio-diverse environment for a healthy planet.
Several expert panelists will share their tips and tricks on topics including
raising chickens, foraging, growing fruit trees, beekeeping, and much more. In addition, members from the Audubon Society and Master Gardeners will be part of this informative event with plenty of time for Q & A.
No space? No problem! Learn about Honesdale’s Community Garden that provides plots for residents.
SEEDS will also be hosting a free Seed Swap. Bring seeds you’ve collected from your own garden or extra seeds you’ve purchased, and share with others.
Come and participate in this fun and informative evening.
Baked goods and light refreshments will be served. There will also be door prizes.
SEEDS (Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support) is a non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable living. Visit www.seedsgroup.net to join our newsletter list to be notified of all our upcoming free forums.
Note Our Work – Email blast from PIOGA
A state task force on natural gas pipelines is making 184 recommendations touching on everything from location of pipelines to emergency response plans, all designed to promote “responsible” pipeline development in Pennsylvania. The 335-page document, crafted by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, has been posted online for public review.
“It is important to remember that the report is not meant to be the final word,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley, who chaired the task force. “When we present our report to the governor in February 2016, I anticipate that the next step will be to determine the feasibility and implementation strategies for each recommendation.”
The 48-member task force was created in May by Governor Tom Wolf to develop policies, guidelines and tools to assist in pipeline development, operation and maintenance.
Recommendations in the draft were assembled by delegates from sectors affected by pipeline development, Quigley noted, including agriculture, communities, environmentalists, cultural resource advocates, industry officials, government agencies and emergency responders.
That lengthy list of recommendations starts with “educate landowners on pipeline development issues.” Other recommendations:
- Implement full-time environmental inspections during pipeline construction.
- Monitor water quality during construction.
- Establish planning coordination between county agencies and pipeline developers.
- Require pipeline abandonment plans.
- Standardize emergency response plans and provide 911 addresses for pipeline-related facilities.
- Do not locate pipelines parallel to waterways within their 100-year floodways.
- Conduct early outreach with affected communities.
- Minimize impact on local roads.
- Create various statewide bodies and processes, including an all-region DEP pipeline review committee, a statewide pipeline information center for the public, and a DEP design manual for pipeline construction.
A 30-day public comment period on the draft report will run through December 14. [Read more]
Please note – there is no assumed responsibility associated with Pipeline Construction for Private Well Impacts – therefore it is important to document baseline conditions for your existing water sources and water wells. Primary items of concern are aesthetic water quality issues, future methane and other gas releases, spills, local disturbances, discolored water, and related contaminants. The Know Your H20? App for Baseline Testing in PA should help.
New Tools and Courses
Know Your H20 Phone App and Database Search
Citizen Scientists – The Online Water Quality Index Calculator is Available.
Training Courses on Natural Gas Development and Environmental Concerns
Stream Restoration, Wetlands, and Water Resources Management
- If you have any testing done as part of this action, please consider releasing this data to the Citizen Groundwater and Surface Water Database. Fill out the attached form and mail the data to the following address:
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
Keystone Clean Water Team
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612
Please note- if you have baseline testing done already you may have some information on the level of surfactants in the water if you had a MBAS test done.
- Informational Screening Testing – Get your water screened for water contamination including isopropanol – Informational Screening Water Kit (Not Certified) Covers about 200 parameters, plus a review of any predrilling data – Only $ 275.00. Email
- Drinking Water Guide for Pennsylvania.
“Earlier this week, I attended an event in Michigan that included a screening of a brand-new documentary called Farming In Fear. The film, just 28 minutes long, tells the story of Martha Boneta, who bought a small farm in Virginia and tried to make a go of it by selling produce and so on. She was viciously harassed by a variety of government agencies and environmental groups who evidently intended to drive her out of business.
It appears to be a classic example of the abuse of regulatory power to promote private interests and ideological agendas. Ms. Boneta’s farm home was subjected to repeated and apparently purposeless inspections of closets, bathrooms and so on. At one point, she was cited for holding an “event” without obtaining thousands of dollars worth of licenses and permits. The “event” was a birthday party for a friend’s daughter.
The story ends happily, as Boneta’s case became notorious and Virginia’s legislature eventually passed legislation that brought the harassment to a stop. Both Ms. Boneta and the filmmaker attended the screening and answered questions; she was very impressive. The film is produced by the Charles Koch Institute.”
The link to the embedded video
Comments and Thoughts
- there needs to be balance in all things. This includes a balance between economy and environment, private property and public good, and community interest over individual interest.
- it should always be about balance, current laws and freedoms, and facts – Not Fear.
- do we need a National Organization that protects landowners ??
- are we over regulating? “Should we not want more small family farmers and farms?”