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Lake Erie's water crisis, then and now

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/22/14 @ 11:15am  |  Posted in Clean water, Water

The Toledo water crisis may have fallen off the front page of the news, but not before a prime suspect was identified. The deadly toxin that shut off the tap for 500,000 people in August comes from algae in Lake Erie fed by fertilizer running off of big, conventional farms in Northern Ohio.

The mouth of the Cuyahoga<br />Modern environmental regulations have greatly reduced industrial pollution, but we are still a long way from healthy and sustainable water resources.Lake Erie today<br />The eastern basin of Lake Erie, at Mentor Headlands.

Toledo's water crisis ties to sprawl, green lawns and big Ag

Marc Lefkowitz  |  08/04/14 @ 10:00am  |  Posted in Clean water, Home landscaping, Water

National Public Radio reported this morning about the woes of Toledo, a city of 284,012 people who’ve had no drinking water for three days because of a toxin known as microcystis which comes from algea growing in Lake Erie. The algae is a by-product of synthetic fertilizer (and animal waste) from farms and from grass-filled yards where is being spread in...

Algae in Lake Erie in summer 2011<br />Algae blooms in Lake Erie<br />Toledo and the Maumee River<br />

Oscar Romo turns trash into green infrastructure

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/26/14 @ 9:00am  |  Posted in Clean water, Plants & animals

Oscar Romo confides that sustainable cities are a dream during an off-air moment to me and Corrie Slawson. We’ve come to the end of our three-week residency at TJinChina, a project space in Tijuana, Mexico where artists and writers from around the globe exchange ideas, dialogue and produce work, and Romo is interviewing us about Cleveland, its history, and our...

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Rivers tie cities like Cleveland and Tijuana closer

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/17/14 @ 11:00pm  |  Posted in Clean water, Water

Cleveland’s enviable geography as a water abundant place in the Great Lakes basin is on my mind as I’m driven from Tijuana’s center to its sprawling suburban area east of the city at the border between the U.S. and Baja California, Mexico. Armando Ramos, a landscape designer who dabbles in development and environmental activism, is leading me on a quick tour...

Lost highway<br />Tijuana's sprawling east over land that was to be preserved as natural area.Armored<br />The Tijuana River in the city has been buried in concrete. Efforts are underway to reconsider how to invite green back in.Finding a place for trees<br />A street tree in the busy urban Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana, Mexico.

West Creek Watershed Stewardship Center shows where the water goes

David Beach  |  12/16/13 @ 2:00pm  |  Posted in Clean water

Northeast Ohio has an amazing new place to learn how to take care of water—the Watershed Stewardship Center at Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation. The center combines research, education, and community action to promote the protection of urban watersheds. The slideshow below shows many of the center’s stormwater management features and exhibits.

Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek<br />The new visitor center at Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation is a place for everyone to learn about stormwater issues and the care of water resources.Green roof<br />The first place to intercept rain water is on the roof, with a green roof planted with sedums and globe onions. A green roof also shades the building in the summer.Water storage<br />Some of the rain water from the roof is collected in this 2,200-gallon cistern and then used for watering the green roof and other landscaping during dry periods.Wetland pools<br />Stormwater from the front of the center is directed to a restored wetland, which filters pollutants and settles out sediment. Rain chains<br />Some of the West Creek Center's downspouts are replaced by rain chains, which dissipate the erosive energy of falling water, as well as make water more visible.Bioswale step pools<br />Rain water from the site drains into a long swale with weirs positioned as dams to make a series of temporary pools. This gives more of the runoff time to soak into the ground. Pervious pavers<br />Pervious pavers are made so spaces remain when they fit together, thus allowing water to infiltrate. A layer of porous sand or gravel under the pavers provides room for water storage. Pervious patio<br />The rear patio features pervious paving, a rain garden, and decorative runnel that conveys rain from a downspout to make the flow of water visible.Grass swale<br />A vegetated swale collects runoff from the road and trail and allows it to infiltrate slowly into the ground. The storm sewer catch basin is raised so it only accepts water when necessary during very heavy rains. Road collector<br />This traffic circle by the parking lot slopes to a rain garden. The curb is cut to allow water to flow in. The storm drain in the center is raised so it only works as an overflow. Bioswale for parking lot<br />Stormwater runoff from parking lots can be quite polluted. The main lot at the West Creek Center is sloped to drain into this bioswale, which filters the water and lets it soak into the ground. Inside a healthy stream<br />Among the exhibits inside the West Creek Center are aquariums showing fish and other wildlife that can be found in streams when stormwater runoff is reduced. Watershed view<br />This interactive exhibit in the West Creek Center allows you to project different land use and water features onto a three-dimensional map of the watershed.
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