Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Last week’s Update mentioned that of the public water systems tested so far (50%) by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) just one – City of Parchment – showed elevated levels of the contaminant PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances).  On 08/27 DEQ updated that investigation, lifting the “Do Not Drink” order for Parchment.  Agencies concluded that the water met the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act for Parchment water system customers “who have flushed their homes according to instruction.”  The advisory remained for Parchment residents using wells, pending further testing. Those residents received “authorized filters.”  DEQ wrote that the Parchment system is “stabilized and capable of delivering water to customers that is compliant with Lifetime Health Advisory levels, with sampling results well below 70 parts per trillion (ppt).”  Recall that 1 ppt is roughly analogous to 1 second in 32,000 years or, for an additional comparative, you can work upwards (downwards?) from this swimming pool analogy.
*  US and Chile negotiators meet this week for the eighth meeting of the Environment Affairs Council established under the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement, as well as the sixth meeting of the U.S.-Chile Joint Commission on Environmental Cooperation, meetings last held in August 2015.  The agenda includes finalizing an updated Environmental Cooperation Work Program for 2018-2020.  New Work Program details are not part of the meeting announcement but the concluding Program dealt with four substantive topics: (1) strengthening implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations; (2) promoting conservation and the sustainable and inclusive management of natural resources, including biodiversity and ecosystem services, protected wild areas, and other ecologically important ecosystems; (3) promoting environmental education, transparency, and civil society participation in environmental decision-making and enforcement; and (4) encouraging development of low emissions technology, improving resilience to large-scale disasters, and encouraging the adoption of sound environmental practices and technologies.
*   The impact of climate on the oceans and fish is a closely watched topic.  There are concerns that the oceans, because of climate, are changing in ways deleterious to fish stocks, even causing species loss.  However, that set of questions is finally answered (if ever) the Fishery Management Plan for the Gulf of Alaska presents statistics which pretty clearly show how fish-loving humans impact numbers of fish.  Consider Pacific cod, for example.  In 1964, the first year a total catch number is available, commercial fishermen caught 196 metric tons.  In 1992, the total catch was 80,100 metric tons, the peak year.  In 2004, 55,638 metric tons, the last year for which a number is available.  For pollock, the 1964 harvest was 1,126 metric tons.  1985 – 284,823!  2004 – 62,200.  Yeah, maybe (maybe not) there’s an inexhaustible supply of fish in the huge oceans, but temperatures aside, no wonder they’re getting harder and harder to find.
Tom Ewing
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