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Archives for March 2011

Beyond Earth Hour

Tonight at 8:30 p.m. is Earth Hour, a world wide event to help celebrate the planet and bring awareness to environmental issues. But the actions can’t stop at 9:30 p.m. so the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has started Beyond the Hour. A website to help remind us that little actions do add up.

Here are a few ideas for things to start doing after Earth Hour.

  • Get a reusable water bottle to use in place of bottled water.
  • Use reusable bags when you go grocery shopping.
  • Pick up litter around your favorite park or neighborhood.
  • Start a compost bin.
  • Learn more about recycling in your area, to be sure you are recycling everything you can.
  • Remember to unplug electronics when not using them.
  • Drive less, walk or ride your bike more.
  • Start using public transit when you can.
  • Eat more locally grown foods.
  • Check out your local farmer’s market.
And don’t forget to turn off the lights (and non-essential electronics) at 8:30 p.m.


About the Author



Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

A Time of Drought, A Time to Conserve

Oklahoma is currently experiencing an extreme drought through most of the state. The drought has already caused several devastating wildfires. And currently much of the state is under a burn ban.

According to data from the Oklahoma Mesonet, the previous 120-day span (November 24, 2010- March 23rd, 2011) is the driest on record for central and southwestern Oklahoma. The average rainfall recorded in the central part of the state over that period of time is 2.42 inches, which is 5.88 inches below normal. The southwestern part of the state is even drier with only 0.76 inches on average, a deficit of over 5 inches. The statewide average is 3.45 inches for the last 120 days, which ranks it as the third driest such period on record.

The drought is starting to cause water issues around the state. There are reports of empty or near-empty farm ponds. Some reservoir levels have also had a drop in water levels. Lake Altus is down to 48 percent capacity. Lakes in Broken Bow and Eufaula are between 70-80 percent capacity. There are currently no water restrictions but some may end up being needed. The drought is causing problems for farmers and ranches alike. Emergency assistance for livestock water maybe needed if the drought continues.
These conditions are a reminder of the importance of water conservation. There are many ways you can start conserving water in your home, here are a few.
  • Use low flow aerators. This is a very easy and cheap way to save water. Doing this you can save you thousands of gallons of water each year.
  • Use low flow shower heads. You can find many styles anywhere you would find shower heads. You can save around twelve gallons of water per shower.
  • Place a full water bottle in your toilet tank to save water each time you flush.
  • If buying a new toilet look for ultra low flow toilets, or even better dual flush.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving. You will save around four gallons of water each time you brush.
  • If you hand-wash your dishes don’t just leave the water running, fill the sink to wash them.
  • Check for leaks in your toilet. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank and if you see any in the bowl without flushing then you have a leak. Fixing toilet leaks can save around 200 gallons of water a day.
  • Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.
  • If buying a new washing machine look for a water saving high efficiency (HE) washer.
  • When planting this spring look for native plants that are used to our climate and require less water.
  • If possible skip watering your lawn. If not possible then water during cooler parts of the day to avoid evaporating.
All of these add up to big water savings, which will save you money and help our state during this time of drought.
For more information on the drought visit the Oklahoma Climatological Survey website and for more water conservation tips check out Water Use it Wisely.



About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


Photo Credit: the Italian voice

Oklahoma 'Gray Water' Bill Passes the House

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have approved a bill that will allow for private use of gray water systems. The bill creates a permit exemption for gray water systems that use less than 250 gallons of gray water per day. The bill defines gray water as untreated household wastewater that has not come in contact with toilet waste or water from a kitchen sink.

 

“It’s [water] one of our greatest natural resources and in my opinion will only become more important as new strains and stresses are put on our drinking water supply. I believe common sense reuse is good policy and I’m thrilled that my colleagues recognize its importance. Other states in the Southwest have utilized reuse for many years and I’m hopeful in the not-to-distant future Oklahoma will be able to enjoy its benefits.” said the bill’s author, Scott Martin.

Gray water systems that would be exempt would have to:

  • provide for overflow into the sewer or on-site wastewater treatment
  • and disposal system;
  • include cover for any gray water storage tank to avoid the creation
  • of a habitat for mosquitoes and other insects;
  • be located outside of a floodway and five feet above the groundwater
  • table;
  • clearly identify gray water pressure piping as a non-potable water
  • conduit;
  • be used on site and not run off the property;
  • minimize the potential for contact with people or domestic pets;
  • minimize standing water and ensure the hydraulic capacity of the
  • soil is not exceeded;
  • avoid spraying or discharge into a waterway;
  • be in compliance with municipal or county ordinances;

House Bill 1575 passed unanimously and now proceeds to the Senate.


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

Photo Credit: fox_kiyo


Lead Found in Ada Drinking Water

Ada city officials reported that for the first time since mandatory testing began in 1992 that high levels of lead have been found in the city’s water supply. The level of lead found in the water are not a violation but an “action level.” An “action level” requires the water system to review its water process. At this time the cause of the lead is unknown. The source is not believed to be Byrd’s Mill Spring. Lead in drinking water is normally from older homes with lead pipes or lead solder.

Ada’s water supply comes from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer. The aquifer surfaces at Byrd’s Mill Spring and then flows approximately 12 miles into the city’s water plant.

The EPA has the following recommendations to help protect your family from lead in drinking water:


Flush your pipes before drinking, and only use cold water for consumption. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Anytime the water in a particular faucet has not been used for six hours or longer, “flush” your cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get. This could take as little as five to thirty seconds if there has been recent heavy water use such as showering or toilet flushing. Otherwise, it could take two minutes or longer. Your water utility will inform you if longer flushing times are needed to respond to local conditions.

Use only water from the cold-water tap for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels of lead. The two actions recommended above are very important to the health of your family. They will probably be effective in reducing lead levels because most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply. –read more

If you are worried about lead levels in your home click here for more information on getting your water tested.


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


Photo Credit: armaggesin


Three Cheers for the EPA!

 

With glasses raised and the taps flowing, members of the Oklahoma Sierra Club, local leaders, and Oklahoma City residents converged on McNellies Pub on a Tuesday night. They came

together to show their appreciation for the Environmental Protection Agency and more specifically, the recent actions the agency has taken to clean up our air and water. Those in attendance also signed petitions to tell the EPA and President Obama that they want strong final rules that will truly make a difference. Acting on both the federal and state level, the EPA has four major actions in the works that have the potential to significantly reduce pollution related illness and the healthcare expenses that accompany them.

Three of these actions will set new air quality standards at the national level. These will reduce the amount of ozone, soot, and toxins that are emitted by the burning of fossil fuels. They are as follows:

  • Smog/Ozone Rule– Ozone is a highly reactive compound that is responsible for thousands of cases of bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks each year. This rule aims to change the current limit for ozone in the atmosphere from 84 parts per billion to 60-70 parts per billion. With the passage of this rule, an estimated 12,000 premature deaths will be prevented, as well as a savings of some $13-100 billion in healthcare expenses.
  • Soot Rule– Soot or fine particulate matter, is a combination of metals, chemicals and acid droplets emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels. An estimated 9,700 hospitalizations and 20,000 heart attacks are attributed to soot pollution. The purposed rule will lower the current soot standard, significantly reducing the fine particulate matter in our air and saving an annual $100 billion in healthcare cost.
  • Air Toxics Safeguard– Thousands of tons of toxic substances such as mercury, arsenic, lead, dioxin and acid gases are emitted into the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels. These toxins lead a wide variety of health problems including, cancer, birth defects, asthma and reduced fertility. The passage of this rule will reduce the emissions of these toxins, making way for a cleaner, safer future.

The fourth major EPA action is taking place right here in our state. According to the Clean Air Act, individual states are responsible for making sure they meet regional haze requirements set by the EPA. These requirements limit the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, improving visibility and more importantly improving human health. Oklahoma’s State Implementation Plan, aimed at reducing pollution from the states three oldest coal-fired power plants, failed to meet these federal requirements. In response, the EPA has purposed a Federal Implementation Plan that has the prospect of bringing our state out of the “coal age” and into a clean energy future. Whitney Pearson, the Oklahoma field organizer for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, stated it best when she said, “We applaud the EPA for taking steps to reduce pollution from power plants in Oklahoma. This is a much needed step to protect the health of Oklahomans. Now it’s time for Oklahomans to examine whether coal-fired generation makes sense for a state with so much wind potential.”

There are a variety of ways that you can take action. First, I encourage each person that reads this article to take the next step and sign the online Stop Polluters Petition (Editor’s note: this website is currently not working). This is the fastest way you can express your concern for cleaner air and water. If you want to be more involved, you can make use of the public comment period and submit your thoughts directly to the EPA. The last and most important action you can take, is your personal presence at the EPA’s hearing for the review of the Federal Implementation Plan for Oklahoma. This will be taking place on Wednesday, April 13th in Oklahoma City. This is your opportunity to speak directly to the people of the EPA and let them know we want a clean energy future, no more coal.

It’s an exciting time for environmental progress. With the proposal of these new rules we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives and health of the people of Oklahoma as well as the nation. Now more than ever, the EPA needs the support of the citizens that it protects to help get the purposed rules approved and implemented. I hope that each of you will do your part to help move us into a cleaner, safer, and sustainable future.

 


About the Author

Matthew Weis is a student at the University of Oklahoma and an intern for the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club.
Photo Credits: melalouise

Oklahoma Based Company’s ‘Fracking’ Disposal Sites Suspended

In January a six-month moratorium was placed on new injection wells in central Arkansas due to supposition that the wells are causing the earthquake swarm. The moratorium is to allow time to study the connection between the earthquakes and injection well sites.

There are currently four companies operating injection well sites in the area. Including two Oklahoma based companies, Chesapeake Energy based in Oklahoma City and Clarita Operating of Little Rock, Clarita’s parent company is True Energy Services based in Ada, Okla. Chesapeake and Clarita have recently agreed to temporarily suspend the use of injection wells in Arkansas.

There have been more than 800 quakes in the area in the past six months with the largest being a 4.7 quake on March 27th, 2011. Lawrence Bengal, director of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, said the region could possibly see quakes reaching as high as 5.0, but above 6.0 is unlikely.

Experts don’t believe any of these quakes will cause major damage but still as always advise people to be prepared for the worse. We should learn more about this issue in the coming months.


Photo credit: danielfoster437