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Bob Gearheart

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  • 1. The Sustainability Paradigm Dance Robert Gearheart, Ph.D., P.E. Professor of Environmental Engineering Humboldt State University Arcata, California rag2@humboldt.edu
  • 2. After hanging around for 30 years I am just beginning to see the light
  • 3. The Promise of the Clean Water Act Senator Muskie 1971 • Concept of zero discharge-contaminants not water • Fishable waters • Swim able waters • Reuse/recycle • Help small communities (1977) • Prohibits discharge of toxic pollutants in toxic amounts
  • 4. Hydrological Scale • Interstate/multi bioregions • Watersheds in a single bioregions • Large areas of silviculture and agriculture • Large urban watersheds-devoid of natural drainage • Small urban areas with elements of natural drainage • Neighborhood drainage areas • Individual domestic/commerical/industrial lots • Various infiltrative and impervious surfaces types
  • 5. Natural Systems • Hydrological Processes • Ecological Processes • Microbial Processes • Physical Processes • Chemical Processes • Biogeochemical Processes
  • 6. Watershed Approach The basic concept remains that watershed analysis is a mechanism to address inconsistencies between the current scales of planning and the direction to implement ecosystem management.
  • 7. What can governments do-or undo- to provide incentives for planning and design of industrial and urban watersheds that incorporates the principles of ecological engineering? i.e.- In most cases it is impossible to re- establish natural landscapes-perhaps identify ecological functions to put into place to replace and restore lost functions not just preserving poorly functioning ecological services-case in point-recent State Board wetland policy.
  • 8. The Test Watershed analysis fails if it becomes an end in itself. It succeeds if it orders and enlightens all the diverse array of activities that are done under the name watershed management.
  • 9. The Challenge “ For several decades, we have grappled with how land use activities on federal, state, and private lands interact to affect hydrologic and ecologic processes.” USGS “ Grappling leaves its impact” RAG
  • 10. Alphabet Sustainability Soup Low Impact Development LID Ecological Footprint EFP Low Impact Feasibility Evaluation LIFE TM Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED Planned Obsolescence's Minimized MOP Life Cycle Analysis LCA Resource Utilization and Environmental Management RUEM Water and Wastewater Treatment Appropriate for Reuse WAWTTAR
  • 11. The Implementation Gaunlet -an impediment to sustainability- Local city and county zoning and public health rules Regional Water Quality Control Board California Fish and Game California Coastal Commission California Department of Forestry State Water Resources Control Board State Office of Planning and Research ( CEQA) National Marine Fisheries National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration Corps of Engineers Environmental Protection Agency Non-government organizations, i.e., Riverwatch, Bay Keepers, EPIC
  • 12. Sustainability • Resource • Technical • Institutional • Community
  • 13. The Environmental Justice Perspective Equitable access. Sustainability suggests fair and equitable access to water, water dependent resources and related infrastructure
  • 14. PARADIGM SHIFT PRESENT FUTURE Technical Technological Standard Performance Standard Sophisticated Equipment Appropriate Equipment Capitalization-Equip Sustainable-Natural Complex Operations Simple Operations Societal/Economic Healthy IndividualHealthy Community Centralization Decentralization Technology Based Community Based Societal Cost Community Opportunity Subsidized Self Supporting Resource/Environment Resource Protection Resource Enhancement Energy Intense Low Energy Needs Discharge/Disposal Reuse/Reclamation Technological Approaches Ecological Approaches
  • 15. PRESENT FUTURE Resource/Environment Resource Protection Resource Enhancement Energy Intense Low Energy Needs Discharge/Disposal Reuse/Reclamation Technological Approaches Ecological Approaches
  • 16. PRESENT FUTURE Societal/Economic Healthy Individual Healthy Community Centralization Decentralization Technology Based Community Based Societal Cost Community Opportunity Subsidized Self Supporting QuickTimeª and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
  • 17. PRESENT FUTURE Technical Technological Standard Performance Standard Sophisticated Equipment Appropriate Equipment Capitalization-Equip Sustainable-Natural Complex Operations Simple Operations
  • 18. Case Studies • Willits -Mendocino County • Arcata-Humboldt County • Oaxaca Mexico-
  • 19. Willits • Small rural communities in Mendocino County-facility planning process-Natural system • Willits has been working with NCRWQB since 1996 to develop a natural treatment system -ponds and wetlands Board staff have rotated through project - • Variance from dilution requirement (no science support) required extensive modeling- • Staff changed which changed the requirement identified a wetland mitigation which was not possible- previous staff had not identified the issue-Wetland Policy- • Cost 5 yrs and several million dollars-($5 M to over 10M) community is economically depressed-loss of confidence
  • 20. Oaxaca Mexico UAJBO Engineers Without Borders Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) Oxidation Pond-deep cell Free Surface Constructed Wetland QuickTimeª and a TIFF (LZW) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Subsurface Irrigation
  • 21. City of Arcata’s Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary
  • 22. Community/govt. Cummulative Community investments in Benefits/values from the environmental overlays of uses and services and restoration functions Public Relations and Community Marketing Increased Propert Values Open space/aesthetics Adjacent to AMWS Carbon Sequestration Wetland habita t Environmental Education Passive Recreation Park activities Wastewater Treatment and water reclamation Degraded-misused-over used and fringes and edges-a piece of real estate under utilized riverine or estuarine or lake
  • 23. Value of Constructed Wetland Treatment System with Multiple Benefits - Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary-2002 ($/yr) Alternative advance wastewater treatment 240,000 (nitrification/denitrification/filtration) Recreation/Public Use (180,000 pe x 1 hr x #6.50/hr) 1,170,000 Environmental Education (10,000 pe x 2 hr x $28/hr) 560,000 Wetland Habitat (90 acres x $20,500/acre)(0.08) 147,000 Public Relation (52 weeks x $750week) 39,000 Carbon Sequestration Total Annual Community Value of AMWS $ 2,156,000
  • 24. So what is it about natural treatment systems? Is it their biogeochemical effectiveness ? • Is it their simplicity? • Is it their elegance? • Is it their biological complexity? • Is it the diversity of disciplines involved? • Is it because there is an element of • imagination and creative vision involved? Are their aesthetic qualities expressed? • Others •
  • 25. Constraints, Uncertainties and Threats Divergent regulatory agendas- Unfunded mandates- Discharge permits moving targets- Fines and moratoriums- Conflicting science- Political insecurities and short life cycles- Regulatory discretionary decisions- Permitting and approval quagmires - Bounty hunting NGO’s- Others-
  • 26. Assessment • Aquatic natural resources are diminishing and beneficial uses reduced • Technical approaches are resource consuming costly and non-sustainable • Communities participation is dwindling and non- supportive • State regulatory agencies are often inconsistent, arbitrary and non-responsive to communities and landowners-where is the technical assistance?? • “blind to the needs of the community and the reality of the situation” quote from a Ferndale citizen
  • 27. Recommendations • Develop a more facilitative and assistance driven State Board and Regional Board approach to dealing with permit tees within the normal permit preparation and monitoring activities-wrench versus hammer approach • In concert with other resource agencies develop systematic watershed approaches to permitted municipal, storm water, and industrial discharges-Promises of the FCWA • Minimize lengthy and contested Board/Agency interactions which often affect the poor and specific ethnic groups- • Develop a unit which deals specifically with small communities and communities with significant environmental justice issues- affording technical ,CEQA,legal, and permit expertise • Within the Regional Boards develop a planning vision supported by qualified staff that promote watershed restoration/enhancement, natural systems/performance based treatment, and community participation-
  • 28. Monitoring Data Gaps Natural systems need to be monitored to demonstrate effectiveness QuickTimeª and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.

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