Treatment wetlands equal cleaner water and more birds

By Debra Segal and Robert Knight

Debra Segal, M.S. is an environmental scientist who has assisted in designing, permitting, and monitoring treatment wetlands in Florida, including Gainesville’s Sweetwater Wetland Park and the Lake Hancock Outfall Wetland. She is also a volunteer for the Alachua Audubon Society.

Robert Knight, Ph.D. is co-author of Treatment Wetlands and is a pioneer of treatment wetland design, operation, and performance. He has been instrumental in incorporating productive and safe bird and other wildlife habitat in treatment wetlands and has been active in the design and/or operation of many of the systems described in this blog.

Some of the most productive birding hotspots in Florida are man-made treatment wetlands that were designed to remove nutrients and pollutants from treated wastewater and stormwater. Increasing wastewater flows and stormwater runoff are the inevitable results of increasing human populations. But a growing number of communities in Florida and worldwide, are turning this liability into an asset by initially treating this water through conventional advanced treatment technologies and then recycling the partially purified water into wetland systems designed to provide final purification cost-effectively. One ancillary benefit of these treatment wetlands is their high biological productivity that supports complex and abundant wildlife populations, including many wetland-dependent birds. With additional forethought and some additional cost, these treatment wetlands are becoming important destinations for bird watching and nature photography. Continue reading Treatment wetlands equal cleaner water and more birds

Energy, ecology, & economics — part II

By Mary Logan

This is part two of a three-part series revisiting HT Odum’s classic Ambio paper on the 3Es, which was written 40 years ago for a special issue of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science’s Energy in Society issue (Ambio, 1973). The article was republished in Mother Earth News, and the reprint is still available online through Minnesotans for Sustainability. The first 10 points are covered in part one of the post series. Points 11-15 of the Ambio paper are extracted and quoted below; in this section of the paper Odum described the not-yet named field of ecological engineering, as well as energy quality (transformity), and the net energy of solar and nuclear energy. Continue reading Energy, ecology, & economics — part II

What might a smart paradigm include?

by Paula Williams

Dr. Williams wrote her dissertation on The role of social paradigm in human perception and response to environmental change. She is the director of UAA’s Office of Sustainability. Her previous post on this topic appears here: http://prosperouswaydown.com/williams-not-economy-paradigm/

If not a stupid paradigm, then, as previously described, what might a smart paradigm include?

Many people who live in societies that embrace the western industrial dominant social paradigm don’t subscribe to that paradigm in whole or in part.  Many realize, or sense, that our current paradigm threatens our ability to survive long-term.  Our current paradigm tells us that the economy must continuously grow; that the role of government is to enforce contracts and keep it’s regulatory hands off of business; that technology will save us, particularly from our environmental sins; that humans are the most important forms of life; and that competition is the best way to manage systems and people.

Because this paradigm shapes the way most people think about how the world works and even shapes our living space (for example, with an emphasis on roads and driving) it won’t be easy to change.  But since not changing it will clearly impact whether we survive into the future and what future life for our children and grandchildren will look like, changing the paradigm, or trying, is a moral imperative.  First we need to consider what a new paradigm should look like. Continue reading What might a smart paradigm include?