But after local wastewater plants were "...upgraded and farms' management practices were improved, the amount of phosphorus declined and the copper sulfate was no long considered necessary" (Royte, 2007). The Times' story reports that to prevent the dumping of partially treated sewage water into the waterways, septic tanks need to be upgraded and "cleaning the water in sewage treatments plants even more thoroughly before it is discharged into the watershed..." is necessary. That will be quite a job, because "more than two dozen of the roughly 100 wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the city's watershed use a suboptimal cleaning process."
TWO: The flooding problem. Why has it become a more serious problem in recent years? Taking New York City as an example of the problem and its roots, the New York Times article alluded to in the previous section points out that recently, as developers began clearing more and more land, and paving more surfaces (parking lots, etc.), and building more roads, there has been an increase in the speed of water racing into creeks and streams. And with the advent of climate change (global warming), "stronger and more frequent storms" have compounded the problem of rapid runoff. For example, between September 2004, and June 2007, four major storms in the New York - New Jersey area have caused severe runoff and flooding.
TWO: flood control strategies: one of the most recent strategies in New Jersey is dredging waterways to allow for quicker runoff. Indeed, in August 2007, the New York Times reported that the mayor of Saddle Brook, NJ, Louis V. D'Arminio, is putting pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the low-lying Lower Saddle River basin. In fact, D'Arminio is giving consideration to suing the Army Corps of Engineers because the corps allegedly "failed to deliver on a 1996 plan...to dredge 5.2 miles of the Saddle River to reduce the likelihood of flooding" (Holmberg 2007). In another New Jersey down, Lyndhurst, the Board of Commissioners has asked the federal government to provide dredging for the Passaic River, which hasn't been dredged in 80 years.
The EPA's regional administrator, Alan J. Steinberg, said in the article that his agency is reluctant to authorize dredging in Saddle Brook - not because of money, albeit the project is expected to cost $113 million - but because of science concerns. That is to say, the federal government wants New Jersey to clean up the pollutants in the river before it can be dredged. That cost is estimated to be $20 million or more. The flooding in April 2007, in Saddle Brook cost the city $100,000 according to D'Arminio. As for Lyndhurst, its commissioners say the industrialization of its town has caused "degraded water quality, sediment contamination, loss of wetlands" and more. The cleaning up of the Passaic (necessarily before any dredging) would have to include addressing PCB's, pesticides, mercury and dioxin, the article explained.
THREE: Herbicides in Greenwood Lake, Lake Cochituate? The decision by officials to avoid using herbicide chemicals in Greenwood Lake to take care of the invasive plants growing the in lake pleased many residents in New Jersey, including the Orange Environment group. There are sustainable alternatives; the group said in the Mid Hudson News publication (www.midhudsonnews.com),including use of the hydrorake, a machine that rips the milfoil plant out by its roots, according to the article. Another option is to introduce the "native weevil" (Eurychiopis leconti), an insect that reportedly can "significantly reduce the amount of weeds in an area for a longer period of time than harvesters or herbicides."
Greenwood Lake provides water for 2.5 million New Jersey residents, the article points out, and to use herbicides is to take a risk involving the health of those citizens. Lake Cochituate, meanwhile, has been able thus far to prevent the state from using herbicides, according to an article in the Natick Bulletin and Tab (Manuse 2007). The pests that prevail in Lake Cochituate include the water chestnut, Eurasian milfoil, variable and curly-leaf pondweed. The city of Wellesley has purchased a new $120,000 weed harvester from Aquarius Systems of Wisconsin, and the harvester "is kind of like mowing the lawn," according to Janet Bowser, director of Wellesley's Natural Resources Commission. Another alternative is to neutralize the phosphorus that runs into the lake from lawn fertilizer, and Wellesley has installed a "phosphorus de-activation unit near the largest stormwater run-off point."
FOUR: legal basis for groundwater usage vs. legal basis for surface water usage. The legal doctrines surrounding all surface water law in the U.S. involve two basic approaches, according to attorney Eugene C. McCall of the South Carolina Bar Association. One approach, used mainly in the arid and semiarid regions, is called the Appropriation Doctrine. It is also called the Prior Appropriation and it protects those who initially put the water to a use that is beneficial. In other words, those who came first are protected from those who come later. The second doctrine, used east of the Mississippi, is called the Riparian Doctrine; it gives the landowner whose property is bordering on a stream, "...the right to make a reasonable use of the water and imposes a liability on the upper riparian owner who unreasonably interferes with that use." In White v. Whitney Mfg. co, the upper landowner (riparian land) was restricting the flow of the creek for his cotton gin needs; the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the upper landowner could not "...unreasonably diminish, detain, or divert" the water from its original channel.
Ground water rights in some states are regulated in the same manner as surface water, albeit some states designate critical ground water areas, where water is scarce. Joe Gelt of the University of Arizona writes that when a neighbor pumped his groundwater well so vigorously that he caused the surface water nearby (on government property) to drop as well, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the pumping should halt. Since the pool had been set aside, it was therefore "...protected from subsequent diversion, whether the diversion is of surface or groundwater" and regardless of state law.
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Gelt, Joe. (2005). Managing the Interconnecting Waters: The Groundwater-Surface Water
Dilemma. University of Arizona. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2007, at http://cals.arizona.edu/axwater/arroyo/081con.html.
Guo, James C.Y. (1999). Detention Storage Volume for Small Urban Catchments. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 125(6), 380-382.
Holmbert, David. (2007). As Flooding Persists, Calls for Dredging of Rivers. The New York
Times. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2007, at http://www.nytimes.com.
Lake Baikal Homepage. (2006). Justification for Inscription. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2007, at http://www.irkutsk.org/baikal/.
Manuse, Andrew J. (2007). Can Natick learn water treatment lessons from Wellesley? Nantick
Bulletin and Tab. Retrieved Oct. 15, 2007, at http://www.wickedlocal.com.
McCall, Eugene C. (2003). Drought Response in South Carolina: Legal Issues. The South
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Decision. Retrieved Oct. 16, 2007 at http://www.midhudsonnews.com.