Proposed high voltage transmission line sparks concerns

Photo by Tom_Focus; Flickr

The developers of a proposed high voltage direct current transmission line across about 500 miles of Iowa and western Illinois got pointed questions about the proposal in the first of two meetings in the Quad-City area.

Farmers and other landowners filled a large building at the Cedar County Fairgrounds, raising questions over the potential health impact of the project as well as its effect on land values, farming operations and potential noise levels.

To learn more, head over to the Quad City Times. 

Muscatine considers text/email warnings for poor air quality

Muscatine, IA. Photo by Pete Zarria, Flickr.

Muscatine has received lot of criticism in recent years for the county’s poor air quality.

In order to help residents deal with air quality issues, the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors is considering sending out emails or text messages whenever the air quality is deemed unsafe.

The system could also be used to warn residents of harmful weather and other public health issues.

Read more from the Quad City Times here.

How to environmentally dispose of electronic waste

Photo by U.S. Army Environmental Command

Ever wonder how to best dispose of your old electronics?

Many electronics should not be thrown out in the regular trash. Electronics often contain toxic chemicals that can enter the groundwater while sitting in landfills.

In fact, starting next year it will be illegal for Illinois residents to throw out electronics – there is no such ban in Iowa.

There are many recycling options for electronic waste. Often, manufacturers such as IBM and Apple will offer ways to recycle their computers and other products. Additionally, Midwest Electronic Recovery – an electronics recycling company – has two locations in Iowa (Walford and Clive).

For the full article on Illinois’ new electronic waste law, read the Quad-City Times article here.

For information on disposing of electronics in Iowa, and the harmful effects of throwing out electronics, visit the Iowa DNR’s webpage here.

Update: The EPA has even more suggestions on where to recycle electronic waste here.

It is also worthwhile to find out your city’s protocol for recycling electronics. Some cities in Iowa, including Iowa City, have some services available.

Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center set for early 2012 completion

Photo by J. Stephen Conn, Flickr

Construction continues to press-on for the Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center. The center, located near Camanche, IA, is scheduled for a February completion. It will house an aquarium, reptiles and amphibians found on the Mississippi, information on river history and uses and an environmental education classroom.

The Quad-City Times reports that the center needs to raise more money in order to complete the final phase of the project:

The $1.8 million project still is short about $500,000 as fundraising efforts continue, said Walt Wickham, the executive director of the Clinton County Conservation Board.  

“We’re working on a couple of grants right now, but we can always use private donations, no matter how big or small,” he said. “They all add up.”

Davenport library receives environmental award

Photo by marshlight, Flickr

A new library in Davenport received an award yesterday for its environmental design. The Eastern Avenue Branch of the Davenport Public Library – located at 6000 Eastern Avenue – received a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Davenport library’s environmental features include carpeting built from recycled material, designated parking for low-emission vehicles and large windows for natural lighting. Continue reading

Flooded farmland converted to wetlands in Clinton County

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region, Flickr

Clinton County is making the best of a bad situation. 100 acres of former farmland  that was flooded in 2008 and 2010, is being converted into wetlands and prairie. The land in near Wheatland, along the lower Wapsipinicon River. A federal grant and area groups pledged nearly $100,000 to purchase the land. Continue reading

Sewage flows into Cedar, Mississippi rivers

Cedar River. Photo by Rachel Dale, Flickr.

Clinton and Cedar Falls both accidentally discharged waste into nearby rivers yesterday.

The Quad-City Times reports:

The city of Clinton has discharged about 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the Mississippi River.

The state Department of Natural Resources told KCRG-TV that the city discharged the sewage while repairs were made Friday to a 65-foot section of pipe. Continue reading

Iowa named top-20 toxic state

Photo by hartanto, Flickr

Iowa was named among the top “toxic 20” states in the U.S. by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. They judged the states’ toxicity by their coal and oil power plant pollution. The nation’s leaders included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Kentucky. While Iowa was the 20th and final state to make the list, the Quad-City Times reports that the emissions from coal and oil power plants only begin to indicate Iowa’s total air pollution:

Half of the industrial pollutants in the U.S. come from coal- and oil-fired power plants. Nationwide, 381.7 million tons of toxic air pollution comes from the electric sector, the report said.

In Iowa, the picture is different. Continue reading

Herbicide linked to damaged trees

Photo by IRRI Images, Flickr

A new herbicide may cause coniferous trees to die. The Quad-City Times reports that a chemical called Imprelis, created by DuPont, appears to cause damage to a few types of trees including the white pine and the Norway and Colorado blue spruce. Among the cities reporting damage are Iowa City and Cedar rapids:

The first damage reports came in late May/early June from the East Coast. Damage has now been reported in Chicago, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but there has been none in the Quad-Cities, Iowa State University/Scott County Extension horticulturist Duane Gissel said.

Symptoms include twisting and curling, followed by the browning of needles, shoots and branch tips.

Although university Extension horticulturists say it is too early to determine whether affected trees are dead or will die, several nurserymen quoted in a July 14 New York Times article said they know of trees that are dead. Continue reading