About the Author


Janice Kaspersen

Articles by Janice Kaspersen

A New Use for an Old Nuisance

| Algae is rehabilitating its public image. Although we tend to think of it as a water-quality problem—driving away tourists, threatening drinking water supplies, and creating dead zones—different varieties are being put to work for all sorts of beneficial uses. It’s being touted as a sustainable source of protein; proponents claim that algae can produce seven ... READ MORE

New Zealand’s Unwanted Mammals

| In both Erosion Control magazine and our sister publication Stormwater, we’ve covered many different types of invasive species—plant and animal—and the ways people have attempted to get rid of them. In the early years of the 20th century, for example, it briefly seemed like a good idea to release nutria (very large rodents) throughout the ... READ MORE

A 60-Foot Setback

| The ban on plastic straws is now a reality in many places, with mixed reactions from the public. Some cities are phasing the ban in slowly, requiring customers to ask for straws rather than receiving them automatically with their drinks. (You might have seen this news item about a fast-food restaurant in St. Petersburg, FL, ... READ MORE

Under Fire

| Among the many consequences of the increasingly severe wildfires throughout the western US, homeowners in the areas of highest risk are finding that they may no longer be able to insure their property. Mortgage lenders generally insist on a property being insured, creating a catch-22. As this article describes, insurers like State Farm classify properties ... READ MORE

Welcoming 2019

| As we look forward in 2019, change is in the air. First, in case you missed it, Erosion Control and our annual conferences StormCon and the Western Water Summit, were acquired by Endeavor  Business Media last month.  We’re excited to be a part of the Endeavor Business Media family, and our team will continue to bring you the quality content ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: The Current Climate

| ON BLACK FRIDAY—the day after Thanksgiving in the US—the Trump administration released volume 2 of the National Climate Assessment. The federal government publishes a similar assessment every four years, reporting on the latest climate-related findings and their implications. (Volume 1 of the current report came out last year; you can find links to both volumes ... READ MORE

Stormwater Looking Ahead to 2019

| As we look forward in 2019, change is in the air. First, in case you missed it, Stormwater and our annual conferences StormCon and the Western Water Summit were acquired by Endeavor  Business Media last month.  We’re excited to be a part of the Endeavor Business Media family, and our team will continue to bring you the ... READ MORE

2018’s Greatest Hits from Erosion Control

| Before we close the books on 2018, let’s revisit Erosion Control’s top posts and stories for the year. This blog post received more comments than any other Erosion Control post published in 2018. As Nutritious as Cardboard They might have saved large swaths of Texas from blowing away during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, but today ... READ MORE

Stormwater’s Best of 2018

| Before we close the books on 2018, let’s revisit Stormwater’s top posts and stories for the year. This blog post received more comments than any other Stormwater post published in 2018. Meatless Monday—and Every Day—at the Office Many people, for environmental, health, or ethical reasons, choose not to eat meat.  But what if someone else made ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Marking Your Place

| There are many ways to leave your mark on the world, and as a whole, the stormwater industry hasn’t made the most attractive job of it. The bits and pieces that make up much of our infrastructure—culverts, outfalls armored with riprap—often appear utilitarian at best, downright ugly at worst. It doesn’t have to be that ... READ MORE

Tapped Out

| Water’s getting scarcer, and the lack of rainfall in some areas is prompting people to use resources they might have resisted even a short time ago. The use of recycled graywater—technically called “direct potable reuse,” but often labeled “toilet to tap,” which doesn’t help public acceptance at all—is becoming more common. For some communities, such ... READ MORE

A Close Look at the Irish Coast

| Erosion is a concern in almost every developed costal area; when you’re living on an island, the issue is perhaps even more pressing. In Ireland, a group called Coastwatch performs an annual survey of the condition of the country’s coasts. The results of the most recently released survey don’t look good: Nearly a third of ... READ MORE

The Dead Zones Move Inland

| We’ve often mentioned, online and in the magazine, the dead zones in various places around the world, especially the expanding one in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost always, though, they’ve been in the ocean, or in large freshwater lakes like Lake Erie. A new study shows that algae blooms, hypoxia, and the resulting dead zones—the ... READ MORE

Buried in Sand

| It’s common knowledge that the loss of vegetation can lead to soil erosion; we face the situation all the time in areas disturbed by construction, wildfire, or drought. Something we probably think about less often is the fact that the same thing—sort of—can happen underwater. That’s the case near the tiny village of Shoyna on ... READ MORE

The Right Amount of Water

| We often report on the problems major storms and excess rain bring: flooding, washed-out culverts, combined sewer overflows. The recently released National Climate Assessment, in fact, contains some dire predictions about what’s going to happen as larger and more frequent storms occur in the Midwest, including erosion in agricultural fields and larger algae blooms and ... READ MORE

An Erie Future

| The National Climate Assessment released on November 23 includes not only predictions of what will happen on a global and national level, but also detailed regional information. The news for the Great Lakes isn’t good, and as this article points out, it’s especially bleak for Lake Erie. The lake faces several threats, but one of ... READ MORE

The Climate Report

| A topic of conversation around our office—and very likely around yours—is the climate report released the day after Thanksgiving. At more than 1,600 pages, it’s the second volume of the National Climate Assessment, released by a team of 13 federal agencies; the first volume was released last year. The federal government is required to produce ... READ MORE

The Bull’s-Eye Effect

| We’ve all seen the images of Paradise, the town that was virtually destroyed by the latest round of wildfires in California. As this article and others have pointed out, many photos of the burned areas often show something surprising: “The buildings are gone, but most of the trees are still standing—many with their leaves or ... READ MORE

StormCon Call for Speakers Ends December 5

| If you’ve been thinking about submitting an idea for a presentation at StormCon, this is an excellent time to do it. The StormCon call for speakers ends on Wednesday, December 5.  StormCon, now in its 18th year, is dedicated exclusively to stormwater and surface-water professionals: municipal stormwater and public works managers, industrial stormwater managers, engineering ... READ MORE

Trouble in Slow Motion

| People living along the San Andreas Fault in California—and, for that matter, people living very far away from it—have long kept a wary eye out for any sort of seismic activity, always anticipating The Big One. It turns out they may have been waiting for the wrong thing. There is definitely something going on here, ... READ MORE

Paying for Green

| Many cities intend, or at least hope, to expand their use of green infrastructure to help manage stormwater and in some cases to reduce combined sewer overflows. Fewer, though, have a comprehensive plan for how to implement, monitor, and maintain these new installations, let alone how to pay for them. Developers might want to—or feel ... READ MORE

Applying Nuclear Science to Erosion

| Several countries in Africa are using an unusual technology to assess and prevent erosion and sedimentation: gamma spectroscopy. Gamma spectroscopy is often used to detect nuclear contamination, such as the fallout from the accident at the Fukushima nuclear reactor or waste from nuclear fuel. I had not been aware of its use for gauging erosion, ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Show Some Backbone

| A  few weeks back, I wrote in a blog for the magazine’s website about the situation on the Mediterranean coast, where nearly 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites are under threat. A recent study found that 37 sites are at risk from a 100-year flood and 42 from coastal erosion. With the exception of Venice and its ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: New Ways to Pay

| At this time last year, we here in southern California had no inkling that the Thomas Fire—until recently the state’s largest, ultimately burning its way through more than 280,000 acres—was just around the corner. It started in early December 2017, burned for more than a month, destroyed more than a thousand structures as well as ... READ MORE

Stopped in Its Tracks

| A few weeks ago I mentioned the Watergoat, a low-tech and affordable device that various watershed groups and volunteers are deploying in the Southeastern US to capture trash in waterways. This week Brigette Burich, the events director here at Forester who runs, among other things, the Western Water Summit and the annual StormCon conference, pointed ... READ MORE

Now Entering the Watershed

| Every once in a while, we run across results of a survey of local residents—often performed as part of the public outreach and education effort for a city’s stormwater permit—that gauges people’s knowledge of their environment. Questions often include things like, “Where does stormwater go once it enters the storm drain?” (a surprising number of ... READ MORE

Going in Circles

| On September 8, The Ocean Cleanup launched its first plastic-cleanup system from San Francisco, headed for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (You can follow its progress here and find some background on the project here.) The technology looks promising, and we wish The Ocean Cleanup every success—but there’s more to be done, and now some ... READ MORE

A Halloween Story

| In Erosion Control magazine, we’ve covered projects at many different types of sites, including lakes and shorelines, agricultural fields, and abandoned mines. All of these areas are on the radar, so to speak, for another type of effort now underway in Tennessee: tracking bats. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Nature Conservancy, and others are ... READ MORE

The Quest for Cleaner Shipping

| The upcoming November/December issue of Stormwater includes an article on how some stormwater programs are handling the problem of illicit discharges—ferreting out and stopping the release of things like motor oil, paint, concrete from construction sites, and so on into the storm sewer. The author asked several programs what their biggest problems are in terms ... READ MORE

Ready When Trouble Came

| We’ve talked a lot in Erosion Control magazine about shoreline erosion, as well as the options those of us in coastal areas have to choose from as storms increase in intensity and frequency and as water levels rise. We can stay put and try to replenish our eroding beaches with sand; we can continue to ... READ MORE

Book Your Trip Soon

| If you’ve been thinking about a sightseeing trip to the Mediterranean, you might want to go sooner rather than later, according to a recent study, which says that many of the cultural treasures along the coast will eventually be partly underwater or eroded away. The paper just published in the journal Nature Communications surveyed 49 ... READ MORE

Staying Afloat

| Several events have converged in the last couple of months to make people consider more urgently than before our relationship to the environment. These include Hurricanes Florence and Michael, as well as the latest report from climate scientists, warning that we have until 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas pollution if we’re going limit the increase ... READ MORE


| A recent news item from San Diego illustrates a couple of things we’ve discussed often in Stormwater magazine. Three employees of a painting company were fined and received other punishments for allowing lead-based paint to flow into a storm drain. As this article reports, the company had been hired to remove paint from curbs. They ... READ MORE

Where Does It All Go?

| Fertilizers. Insecticides. Fungicides. These are some of the many substances—collectively known as agrochemicals—farmers apply to crops to increase production and prevent losses. They’re necessary, if at times potentially overapplied, but there is increasing concern about where they eventually end up and what effect they’re having on groundwater and surface water, especially on potential drinking water ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Grains of Sand

| Of all the things you need to do this month, spending some time with one particular article in this issue should be on your list. It’s the summary, on page 40, of ASCE’s new certification guidelines for stormwater BMPs. ... READ MORE

Diving in Deeper

| Last year, Water Efficiency’s editor, Laura Sanchez, wrote about water use and data centers. Each one consumes on average an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of water every two days for cooling its equipment. She was talking specifically about the delicate balance for communities that want to attract tech companies but also want to protect their ... READ MORE

Look at What We’ve Built

| How much of the stuff in the world is yours? In other words, if you added together the weight of all the objects humanity has created—the bridges and buildings and statues and airplanes and park benches and bulldozers and all the rest of it—and divided it by the world’s population, what would be the total ... READ MORE

Following Florence

| Tolstoy famously wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Although he made no mention of it, the same principle might apply to flooded property. Every region has its own particular woes when the waters begin to rise. In the case of Hurricane Florence—not quite yet done with ... READ MORE

Burning Issues

| We’ve talked a lot online and in the magazine about what to do following a wildfire: how to stop the bare soil from moving, how to revegetate quickly, and how to prevent or at least minimize the flooding and landslides that so often follow. Now California—a state that’s repeatedly experienced the “biggest in its history” ... READ MORE

Spies With Feathers

| Among the many surface water concerns that stormwater managers need to be aware of, particularly in coastal areas, is the health of fisheries. Temperature, water quality, debris, erosion, ocean acidification—all of these affect them, and all can be connected back, in some way, to stormwater management. One thing a bit outside our purview is the ... READ MORE

Closing Up

| Researchers at the University of California Riverside and elsewhere have just published a paper linking the effects of climate change to more frequent and intense flooding. It has to do with the effects of temperature, rainfall, and humidity on the macropores in the soil—that is, the spaces larger than 0.08 millimeters, which, when they’re plentiful, ... READ MORE

The Uninvited

| Stormwater ponds in Ontario have some unexpected, and unwanted, guests: goldfish. Thousands and thousands of them. And they’re stirring up trouble—or at least sediment. The goldfish are a species of carp, native to Asia and considered invasive in North America. Unlike other species of Asian carp that threaten the Great Lakes, which originally escaped from ... READ MORE

Banking on Soil

| What’s a commodity in short supply in many large cities? There are many possible answers—parking spaces, reliable public transportation, affordable housing—but New York City is focusing on dirt. As this New York Times article explains, the city has set up a Clean Soil Bank, “a soil exchange that pairs local builders with environmental restoration projects ... READ MORE


| What if one morning the news contained, rather than more problems for you to contemplate, the solution to a longstanding dilemma? Thanks to researchers at the University of Illinois and elsewhere, we might have at least the beginning of an answer to the plastics problem. All the editors here at Forester Media have dealt at ... READ MORE

Two Million Tons of Sediment

| Any number of problems are blamed on dams: flooding when they fail, downstream sedimentation when they’re removed, disruption of habitat and fish passage when they simply exist. Recently in the Chesapeake Bay region, officials are blaming one particular dam, and those who control its floodgates, for a trash problem. Heavy rains several weeks ago led ... READ MORE

Boxed In

| Passing through an airport a few weeks ago, and having just had a water bottle confiscated at the security checkpoint (yes, I’m sorry to say I was one of those people who forgot all about the bottle in my carry-on and got pulled out of line), I stopped at a little coffee kiosk along the ... READ MORE

New Tastes to Save the Soil

| When’s the last time you tried a kedondong berry? As changes to the climate and soils—drought, desertification, and rising temperatures—threaten production of the most common crops, scientists are looking at ways to bring back local or “alternative” crops. Today, about two-thirds of the world’s agricultural output is limited to just four crops: wheat, maize, rice, ... READ MORE

A New Direction and a New Event

| Thanks to all of you who joined us last week at StormCon in Denver. Next year we’re heading east: StormCon 2019 will take place in Atlanta, GA, August 18–22, 2019. You can see more information—and the call for speakers coming soon—at www.stormcon.com. Before that, though, we have another event we’re eager to announce especially for ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Under Fire

| AS WE GO TO PRESS WITH THIS ISSUE, the (now) largest fire in California’s history is burning in the northern part of the state, having so far consumed more than 290,000 acres. It’s been labeled the Mendocino Complex Fire and is as of now only about 35% contained. Just a few months ago, a different ... READ MORE

Next Stop: Atlanta

| Thanks to all of you who joined us last week at StormCon in Denver. We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference in Atlanta, GA, which will take place August 18–22, 2019. You can see more information—and the call for speakers coming soon—at www.stormcon.com. In their keynote address, popular returning speaker Dominique Lueckenhoff of EPA ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: All in a Day’s Work

| If you stand back and look at what you’ve done on the job over the last few months or the past year, what comes to mind? Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing when you started out? Are there pieces of your job that surprise you? Anything you wish were easier to handle? ... READ MORE

A New Breakdown

| Just when you thought the news about plastics couldn’t get worse, another study comes along to show that it already has. Here at Forester, we’ve published a number of posts about the problems with plastic; here’s a recent one from MSW Management editor Arturo Santiago about the growing movement to ban single-use plastic items like ... READ MORE

Viva La Fiesta (The Mylar, Not So Much)

| In Santa Barbara, where Erosion Control’s offices are located, we have an annual tradition called Fiesta—also known as Old Spanish Days—involving a parade and a week’s worth of music, arts and crafts shows, food, and tours of the Santa Barbara Mission and other historic buildings. One of the popular trappings of Fiesta, which took place ... READ MORE

Killing Turtles

| We know the problems algae blooms can cause for humans—from unpleasantly slimy beaches to interruptions in the water supply to occasional respiratory problems in people who are exposed—and Florida seems to get more than its share each summer. Two years ago, thick algae on the state’s Atlantic coast led four counties to declare a state ... READ MORE

Bridging the Gap

| Very few of us are fond of our morning commute. Now imagine if you had to travel many miles out of your way because of a closed bridge—one that’s unlikely to be repaired anytime soon—or an impassable road. That’s the situation facing many people in Mississippi, just one of the many states that has a ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: “And Then We Kill Them”

| Of all the creatures living in the ocean, corals are some of the most vulnerable, and like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, they can let us know when conditions are dangerous. Unfortunately, just like the canary, they alert us by dying. Most of us are familiar with the corals from shallow waters, whether ... READ MORE

The Damage After the Floods

| The East Coast is under siege this week with widespread flooding. Seasonal flooding is common, but what’s unusual about this week’s storms is the sheer size of the area they cover; nearly 700 miles of coastline and cities farther inland are affected. As in other floods over the past several years—Houston comes to mind—the water ... READ MORE

Saving It Up for a Rainy Day

| With many states in the Southwest facing prolonged drought, the question of who has access to water—when and how much of it—is heating up. Arizona, which ranks lowest in priority among several states for obtaining water from the Colorado River, initially agreed to cut a third of its annual use, amounting to about 320,000 acre-feet. ... READ MORE

Meatless Monday—and Every Day—at the Office

| Two weeks ago, I wrote about efforts to cultivate algae as a food source. Proponents of algae-based nutrition point out that 70% of the world’s freshwater use goes into raising crops and livestock. We’ve also touched on the issue here, comparing how much water various types of food—especially meats—take to produce. A pound of chicken, ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Little Shop of Horrors

| we’ve all heard stories of non-native or invasive plants and the environmental havoc they can cause. They’re often difficult to get rid of, but we’re encouraged to try anyway; if you feel like clearing out a patch of kudzu, no one is likely to stop you. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even eat it. The roots can be used to make tea and the flowers to make jelly. ... READ MORE

Reconnecting Floodplains

| It’s getting harder to predict the weather. As this New York Times article points out, “Researchers say it is unclear whether climate change will make California drier or wetter on average. What is more certain is that the state will increasingly whipsaw between extremes, with drier dry years, wetter wet ones, and a rising frequency ... READ MORE


| What’s red and blue and devours almost anything? An inexpensive, low-tech device is being deployed throughout Florida and other southeastern states to capture trash in the waterways. Distributed by the nonprofit organization Bigwater Foundation, the floatable device consists of a chain of buoyant plastic balls and a net. It’s called a Watergoat—because goats eat anything—and ... READ MORE

Glossing Over the Problem

| At some point, the editors of all of Forester’s publications have addressed the problems with infrastructure in the US: too little funding, too much needing to be done, too many arguments about what should have the highest priority. You can see a roundup here of some industry experts’ opinions. It seems every country has its ... READ MORE

Erosion Control—Reader Favorites

| Listed below are the top Editor Blogs, Reader Favorite articles, and Erosion Control magazine articles for you to enjoy. This list is curated based on reader views, search traffic, e-mail click-through, and most commented articles. Bookmark this page so you will always have quick access to Forester Media's top Erosion Control content. ... READ MORE

A Whole New Menu

| “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner” has long been the slogan of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. If a new group of entrepreneurs has their way, we might all be eating something cheaper and greener (in every sense) instead. All across the country, especially in warmer weather, algae becomes a problem in ... READ MORE

Catching Up to What’s Already Here

| A debate that’s happening in many different cities across the US is being played out right now in the mid-sized community of Greenville, NC. The city’s population is just shy of 90,000—although there are nearly 175,000 in the entire metropolitan area—and it’s growing at a fairly rapid pace. And that’s part of the problem. The ... READ MORE

Sacred Sponge

| A few weeks ago, one of my fellow editors here at Forester, Rachel Sim, wrote a terrific blog post about death—or rather, about some of the stormwater and groundwater issues particular to cemeteries. If you’ve never given much thought to how coffin varnish and embalming fluid might affect the water supply, it’s definitely worth a ... READ MORE

The Fog Catchers

| In the 1946 short story “Miss Winters and the Wind,” a woman tries to capture the wind in a bedsheet; the results aren’t quite what she’d intended. Today, a small farming community in Chile is having better luck catching fog in a net. As we face the possibility of increasingly longer periods of drought, the ... READ MORE

The Great Ocean Cleanup

| There’s a martial arts technique that involves using opponents’ own momentum against them. Will it work on trash in the ocean? A young Dutch inventor has devised an elaborate system for removing plastic debris from the Pacific Garbage Patch and other places; his ambitious goal is to gather and recycle half the plastic in the ... READ MORE

Water—and Tempers—Rising

| No one particularly wants to live in a flood zone. But deciding just where that zone lies and how great the risk is has been an ongoing struggle, both for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that creates the nation’s flood maps and for the homeowners who sometimes dispute FEMA’s designations. We’ve written in Stormwater ... READ MORE

Swimming Through the Garbage Patch

| On August 25, 1875, a 27-year-old steamship captain named Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel unassisted. It took him a little under 22 hours to swim from Dover to Calais, and the journey made him internationally famous. Today his feat seems so… well, 1875. Why cross the English Channel when ... READ MORE

The Mayor of Nowhere at All

| Few of us these days can claim to have lived in the same location since birth; the average American makes more than 11 moves over a lifetime, with jobs, school, and other changes often sending us clear across the country. Still, there are some people who remain where they started out. A recent article shows ... READ MORE

Under the Sea: A Memorial Reef

| We have many recognizable monuments to honor and memorialize soldiers and service members, from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Now there’s a new one—harder to see, perhaps, but very unusual in its form and its purpose. It’s called the ... READ MORE

The Taj Mahal Effect

| Environmental problems come to light in many different ways; the plight of sea turtles or coral reefs might highlight the dangers of something we’re putting into the water, for instance. Almost as attention-getting as animals in trouble, though, is an iconic building in danger from its environment. The Taj Mahal is one of those buildings. ... READ MORE

Lightning Strikes Twice in Ellicott City

| You’re probably aware of the flooding that occurred in Ellicott City, MD, over the weekend, with some areas receiving as much as 8 inches of rain in just a few hours on Sunday evening. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from the rapidly rising water, and one was killed—a National Guardsman who was swept ... READ MORE

Devouring the Problem

| In a blog on the Stormwater magazine site a couple of years ago, I mentioned a battle taking place in the Great Lakes; invasive lampreys destroy about 100 million pounds of fish each year, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has been spending $20 million a year to try to control them. Researchers had begun ... READ MORE

The Smallest Apartment in the World

| The size of the average new single-family home in the US is now more than 2,600 square feet, having grown over the decades. In the 1970s, it was just under 1,800 square feet.  In 1900—when families tended to be much larger—the average home ranged from 700 to 1,200 square feet. Not everyone believes bigger is ... READ MORE

Dishing the Dirt

| In the pages of Erosion Control and online, we’ve often debated the pros and cons of dam removal. Demolishing outdated ones—many of which are a century or more old and in danger of collapse, and some of which have outlived their original purpose—can return a river to something closer to its natural state, improving habitat ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: The Desiccated Future

| About a year and a half ago, in the January/February 2017 issue of the magazine, I mentioned predictions from NASA and other organizations that the US is in for a megadrought sometime during this century. A megadrought is one that lasts for decades rather than months or years, and we once believed that they occurred a couple of times each millennium; now, researchers are thinking that warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns caused by increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere will make them happen more frequently. The Southwestern states are at greatest risk, followed by the Plains states. ... READ MORE

A Burning Question

| Just in time for summer, the state of Hawaii is trying to eliminate some forms of sunscreen lotion. Two common chemicals in sunscreen products, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been shown to kill marine life, particularly coral. Last week, Hawaii’s state legislature voted to ban the sale of the two chemicals starting in 2021; as of ... READ MORE

The Dinosaur in the Room

| It might have happened to you at one time or another: A project you were working on got delayed—or, even worse, canceled completely—because historical or archaeological artifacts were discovered at the site. Ideally, an archaeological survey takes place long before work begins, but every so often something is uncovered during excavation or construction. Frustrating as ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Schrödinger’s Salmon

| One of the most basic things we do—protecting water quality—is rooted in the Clean Water Act’s “fishable and swimmable” target uses. We’re looking out for aquatic habitats and our own health at the same time. But what is it we’re actually measuring when we determine how safe the water is? ... READ MORE

Going to the Dogs

| Oh, the irony. Last week, a Boston-area neighborhood was flooded after a storm drain clogged. When city workers in Canton, MA, delved into the problem, they found a 3,600-foot-long blockage inside a drainage pipe. Now, we know all sorts of materials can cause clogged pipes. Disposable wipes—now almost universally known as “so-called flushable wipes”—are notorious ... READ MORE

Treasures in the Mud

| Several weeks ago, Japanese researchers announced the discovery of a treasure trove off the coast of Minamitori Island: a tremendous amount of rare-earth minerals. As this article notes, rare-earth elements—17 in all, including the lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium—are much in demand for a growing number of high-tech applications like smartphones, superconductors, camera lenses and ... READ MORE

Stormwater Treatment With a Different Face

| Managing stormwater is usually a utilitarian function. Occasionally it can rise to an art. A number of facilities combine stormwater treatment with another role, such as providing green space or recreational facilities for the public at large. One of these is Indianapolis’s Cultural Trail, an 8-mile walking, jogging, and biking path connecting various downtown areas. ... READ MORE

A Long Dry Spell

| As of mid-April, one-third of the continental US is considered to be in a state of drought. The area affected is increasing, and various cities and states are considering making their temporary water restrictions permanent—perhaps a sign that we’re starting to consider the drought the new normal. As this article points out, the Northern Plains ... READ MORE

The $10 Million Phosphorus Race

| In the 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, a group of strangers competed to find $350,000 of stolen, buried cash. Today, that amount sounds much less impressive than it used to, but a much different group is racing to win $10 million by solving a persistent water-quality problem: excess phosphorus. Phosphorus-fueled algae blooms ... READ MORE

The Birds, the Bees, and the Lawsuit

| Two projects in different parts of the country are highlighting the potential conflict between the needs of the people and the needs of wildlife. Both illustrate, in different ways, the tricky juggling act agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers must perform to balance diverse—sometimes incompatible—priorities as they manage the nation’s waterways. In Los ... READ MORE

Amphibious Architecture

| In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s house was carried off by a tornado. In real life, depending on where you live, your house is probably more likely to get swept away by water than by wind, but there’s a possibility that, like Dorothy’s, it might just stay in one piece. Some countries—especially low-lying, flood-prone ones ... READ MORE

A Long, Slow Breakup

|   The surface of our planet moves in all sorts of ways. Erosion is one cause; landslides, as we’ve recently experienced, are another. Something most of us don’t think about all too often—except for those in seismically active areas—is the movement of the tectonic plates. The Great Rift Valley runs some 3,700 miles, from Lebanon ... READ MORE

A Grim Reminder, With a Better Ending

| By now you’ve probably seen or read reports about the 13-year-old boy in Los Angeles who, on Easter Sunday, fell into a sewer pipe. He was carried downstream and rescued—13 hours and three-quarters of a mile later—alive and unharmed. The boy, Jesse Hernandez, was lucky, and so were the many rescue workers who tracked him ... READ MORE

Mixing It Up: Intercropping and Soil Health

| A teaspoon of healthy soil contains more microbes than there are people on the planet. Chances are, though, the spoonful you take from an agricultural field today will have fewer than that; the microbes representing the populations of some of the largest countries—say, China and India combined—might very well be missing. This article from The ... READ MORE

Looking Farther Into the Future

| It’s not too often that most of us get to gaze into a crystal ball and actually see the future—but occasionally it works. What will we see? If all goes well, a message that tells us when to get out of the way. Crystal balls for divining the future, usually some form of quartz, were ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Underground Movement

| The water’s rising. We’ve had time, by now, to get used to the idea of sea level rise and its potential effects on coastal regions, and to think about how we can prepare for the various possible scenarios. The rise is estimated at between 18 inches and more than 5 feet in this century, depending where ... READ MORE

Fighting It Out Below Ground

| There can scarcely be a more loaded subject in the arid Southwest these days than water: who has it, who needs it, and who gets to take it from someone else. The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has just published an analysis of the situation in that state. Although it’s specific to Arizona and the ... READ MORE

Avoiding Sea Lice

| Humans consume more than 100 million tons of fish per year, and nearly half of that is farmed fish. In some ways farming is good; we’ve been overfishing many species in the wild. But aquaculture facilities also bring a host of problems. In some places, coastal wetlands and mangrove forests have been destroyed to make ... READ MORE

Another Dam Argument About Water

| What do you do when federal and state goals are at odds over a project within that state? What if the project itself is on federal land, but the work would affect large areas outside federal jurisdiction? Those are questions California and federal officials are arguing now in relation to expansion of the Shasta Dam. ... READ MORE

Editor’s Comments: Breaking the Plastic Habit

| There’s a designated day, week, or month for just about everything you can imagine, and a few things you’ve probably never thought of, spurred by creative marketers everywhere. Some are serious, some are silly, and all of them promote awareness of a product, industry, company, profession, or cause. We have National Save for Retirement Week (the third full week of October), Spinach and Squash Month (November), Return Borrowed Books Week (March 4–10 this year), National Cheer Up the Lonely Day (July 11), National Zoo Keeper Week (third week in July), Responsible Dog Ownership Day (third Saturday in September), National Start Seeing Monarchs Day (first Saturday in May, and that’s butterflies, not royalty), International Surfing Day (June 20), National Garage Sale Day (second Saturday in August), and National Leave the Office Early Day (June 2, unless it falls on a weekend, in which case it’s the closest working day). ... READ MORE

A New Emphasis for Green Infrastructure

| A few weeks ago I mentioned a plan in Orange County, CA, to capture stormwater by using inflatable dams to slow the flow in a couple of local creeks. The slow-moving water will infiltrate and help replenish the groundwater—the source of much of the county’s drinking water supply—rather than rapidly flowing to the ocean as ... READ MORE

All the Carbon in Poland

| Every so often we hear about a new so-called superfood—something so unbelievably ideal that it checks all the nutritional boxes and, in theory, protects us from a host of problems. Kale. Açai berries. Seaweed. There’s an environmental equivalent, a plant that does for its ecosystem what kale does for us. It prevents shoreline erosion and ... READ MORE

Finding the Right Shade of Green

| Okay, let’s look at this one more time, but from a different angle: I’ve been beating the plastic drum lately, writing about such things as single-use plastic straws and the potential bans on them that some jurisdictions—possibly the entire European Union—are considering. An article in the March 3 Economist is taking a different view of ... READ MORE

Close Together, Arms Above Your Head

| Last Saturday, March 3, was World Wildlife Day. No doubt we all want to protect wildlife, but some folks—especially on the East Coast—are finding they have too much of a good thing. As I wrote in the magazine last year, trees are making a comeback in New England and other eastern states, and that’s creating ... READ MORE

Drawing the Short Straw

| Just about a year ago, I wrote about cities that are considering banning single-use plastic items beyond the plastic bag. Drinking straws were high on the list. They’re rarely recycled, and millions of them end up in waterways. That post got quite a few comments at the time. Some of you pointed out that there ... READ MORE

Saving Giraffes, Competing With Elephants

| An adult elephant can drink up to 50 gallons of water at a time. Keep reading to see why that might be relevant. We often talk about the effects of prolonged drought: The loss of trees and vegetation it causes, the resulting erosion and dust, the drinking water shortages—some drastic, as in the case of ... READ MORE