Yes there is some good news about water ethics. The Water-Culture Institute of which I am the director has started a network to share experience and inspiration across disciplines. The Water Ethics Network consists of a blog and newsletter and will be issued on the 15th of each month. You can subscribe to the newsletter on the blog site, and you are invited to submit news items to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other good news: The Charles River Watershed Association in Boston is a finalist for the international Riverprize awarded each year by the Australian-based International River Foundation. The nomination is an acknowledgement of the Association’s effective advocacy for reviving the health of the Charles River to the point where an annual swim can take place without anyone getting sick! See their website for details of their diverse set of programs.
Charles River (upper right) entering Boston Harbor, 24 August 2011
And still more good news about water ethics: A few days ago the once dead Los Angeles River was the scene of kayakers proving beyond a doubt that the river is alive once more, as a result of a decade-long effort by local activists. Click here for the New York Times account. Along the Buffalo River in New York, a $50 million clean-up effort was announced for the section of river that flows into Lake Erie and is polluted with PCBs and heavy metals. In Nevada, the native fish populations of Walker Lake are being restored with $200 million in federal funds, much of which will be used to pay irrigators for using less water so more can go to the lake. Click here for details. These cases are examples of changing values as local communities start to view their rivers and lakes as having enduring importance that justifies steep short-term investments.
Bad news is, of course, always easy to find. Two weeks ago the last commercial fisherman operating out of Milwaukee, on the shore Lake Michigan, closed his operation and is planning to move to Alaska where fishing is still viable. He’s not leaving the lake, he says: “The Lake left me” with collapsed populations of fish many of which are too toxic to eat anyway. See the story here. It’s both ironic and hopeful that the Milwaukee Water Council was formed just two years ago to orchestrate inputs from academia and business and draw attention to water issues.
Lake Michigan last week at dawn, looking more alive than dead.
The ugly news comes from Appalachia where Waterkeeper and other environmental groups are suing two Kentucky coal companies using the Clean Water Act. The suit claims the two companies have committed 5,000 new violations of the act, on top of 12,000 other violations previously identified. Click for the press release giving details.