RENewsletter | June 16, 2013


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“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”


[06/09/2013 – 06/16/2013]


Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Take Action



Opening Salvo:  “More water, sewage, and Climate Change in the Rochester, NY region”


Home, the movie by artist-activist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, is quite an amazing film about our home, Earth: how we have radically compromised its health in a very short time, and how we have to fix it quickly as our planet warms from Climate Change. You can watch the entire film at no charge on YouTube (as a gift to the public) here, though I recommend getting a hold of the Blu-ray version because the photography and music are incredible. I mention Home to open this essay on waste, sewage, and Climate Change in our region because it provides the proper perspective (“HOME is the first film that has been made using aerial-only footage.”) from which we must now view our local environmental issues. There are no environmental borders that our planet understands.


Last year I wrote “Water, sewage, and Climate Change in the Rochester, NY region” to make the case that, according to various Climate Change studies, frequent heavy rainfalls in our Rochester, NY region should be high on our priority list. My thesis was, and is, that combined sewer systems, which dominate the urban Northeast, are going to be increasingly overwhelmed by frequent heavy rains, thus spewing raw sewage into the waters where we drink and fish. Alas, it was a very warm spring last year with little rainfall and many folks probably thought it too soon to worry. This year is different. Flooding due to heavy rainfall has inundated local news: Look here, here, and here, just in case you haven’t been outside traipsing through the mud in the last month.


But despite all the high-water stories that our local news loves to march out during flooding events, none of them attempt to connect the dots to Climate Change. Here are a few major Climate studies that do connect the dots:  


·         Combined sewer systems, which collect and treat both municipal wastewater and stormwater, are disproportionately concentrated in the state’s older, urban areas (and particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income, minority residents). Combined sewer systems contribute to localized flooding and serious water quality problems during periods of heavy rainfall. These flooding events, known as combined sewer overflows (CSOs), are likely to become worse with more frequent heavy rainfall events under climate change. Adaptation planning needs to take into account the concerns of environmental justice communities that are affected by siting decisions and/or CSOs. (Page 68. Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID)

·         The current climate in New York State can be described as humid and continental. Key features of New York State’s climate include the following: Short-duration flooding, which can result from heavy rainfall and runoff from snowmelt, affects the entire state.” (Page 2-8, New York State Climate Action Council Climate Action Plan Interim Report  (2010)

·         “The decisions and strategies used to reduce greenhouse gases and protect communities from climate effects also have important health implications. For example, reducing combustion of fossil fuels as a means of reducing carbon dioxide levels may lower the levels of many harmful air pollutants, like soot. And adaptation measures such as higher capacity storm water management systems may provide the opportunity to reduce health risks from combined sewer overflow events.” (Page 25, The National Global Change Research Plan: 2012-2021 )

The Investigative Post out of Buffalo is not so shy about linking heavy rains with sewage overflows. 


Ugly month for sewer overflows in Erie County For the first time, the numbers are flowing in on sewer overflows across the state and it isn’t pretty. In Erie County, almost 7 million gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into local waterways in May. This information wasn’t publicly available on the Internet until the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Law went into effect last month. Based on what’s reported so far, the biggest repositories of raw sewage were Ellicott Creek (2 million gallons), Scajaquada Creek (1 million) and the Niagara River (679,000). Heavy rain or snow melt is often the cause of these overflows. The ground water seeps through cracks in the sewer pipes or enters the sanitary sewer system through footing drains, sump pumps or improperly connected downspouts. (June 11, 2013) Investigative Post


The newly passed Sewage Pollution Right to Know for New York State is going to make it easier to discover when our sewage infrastructure contaminates our water. It will also allow the public (and hopefully our intrepid media) to track where and how much untreated sewage gets away from local waste treatment plants. Though this data system is just starting up, and many waste treatment plants are not reporting, it will eventually have the affect of connecting increasing sewage overflows with heavy rains as predicted—or not.  One way or the other, we will find out whether this spring’s flooding is a fluke or the new normal.


This new law might lift, Escher-like, doubts about Climate Change in this region from its two-dimensional ‘wait and see’ approach to a galvanizing three dimensions. Along with folks who suddenly find they cannot get affordable house insurance (After Sandy, a new threat: Soaring flood insurance)  because Climate Change has tossed them onto a new floodplain, heavy rains overwhelming our sewer systems will turn doubters into believers. 


The problem, as so artfully described in Home, is that by the time we discover those disconcerting red flags our environment has been trying to tell us for so long, we’ll have left ourselves very little time to address Climate Change. And then, “It is too late to be a pessimist.”  (Click on my email for feedback)





* Got news? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY or Tweet me @!/FrankRrrr   On Twitter and Facebook:  and Examiner/RochesterEnvironment,


I post local environmental events, news, and commentary as soon as it happens. The ability of this newsletter to inform and get the public focused on our local environment is dependent on reaching a lot of folks. If you think this newsletter, which continually informs our community on our local environmental news, events, actions, is worthwhile, please encourage others to sign up.  We who care about our environment and future need to ‘Occupy’ the Rochester media to change how the public views environmental news. This newsletter looks and works great on your tablet device.


The great conundrum of our times is that in a time of rapidly occurring Climate Change and a rapid disintegration of the environment that we need to thrive and survive, mainstream media still marginalizes environmental concerns. [Check often for this continually updated list on the possible consequences of Climate Change in our region--supported by facts.] If there isn’t a quick and substantial change in how environmental concerns are reported, edited, and chosen in mainstream media, the public will continue to believe that environmental concerns are merely special interest matters, issues they can avoid if they choose.  How can we inform the public and monitor our environment without abridging our Freedoms--in enough time to save ourselves?


“Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” -- Carl Sagan


My companion book to written in 2005 still holds true. Now, “We Don’t Get It!” is an E-Book on and Kindle We Don't Get It! eBook: Frank Regan: Books



NewsLinks Environmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]


·         New water management plan for Lake Ontario open for comment 

·         Gas drilling stays in limbo in large slice of NEPA 

·         Methane Leaks 

·         New water management plan for Lake Ontario 

·         Changeable weather trends affect NY 

·         N.Y. sewage overflow law flouted 

·         Study Finds Honey Bee Colony Losses More Than Double Since Last Winter 

·         DEC Purchases 296 Acres of Hudson River Lands Lands to Be Open to Public 

·         Spring in U.S. Was Cooler and More Extreme Than Average 

·         Extreme weather caused $110 billion in damage in 2012 

·         Fighting aquatic hitchhikers in the Finger Lakes 

·         New Report Finds Fracking Poses Health Risks to Pregnant Women and Children 

·         Mayfly population is steady, indicating good water quality 

·         ‘Unusually high’ numbers of fish dying in many WNY waterways  Massive Bat Cave Stirs Texas-Size Debate Over Development 

·         Cuba girds for climate change by reclaiming coasts 

·         Tour allure: Enjoy Cornell's 'garden of weedin'' 

·         Changing lake levels a concern 

·         Legislature Votes In Favor Of County Fair Move 

·         Lakeshore Residents Anxiously Awaiting Lake Ontario Report 

·         New Yorkers to Rally Against Fracking and In Support of Renewable Energy June 17 

·         Meeting Wednesday on Greece’s bicycle and pedestrian plan 

·         Ugly month for sewer overflows in Erie County 

·         Governor Cuomo Announces Over $500 Million in Hazard Mitigation Grants to Rebuild Stronger, Resilient Communities Impacted by Recent Natural Disasters 

·         Fracking -- No Complaints, No Problems -- Right? 

·         “Go Green with Michael Viggiani” 

·         Annual Go Green expo slated for June 20 

·         US emissions hit first low since mid-1990s 

·         Bloomberg Outlines $20 Billion Storm Protection Plan 

·         Field Notes: Going Batty! 

·          After release of report, UN climate change official reiterates now is ‘crucial moment’ to act 

·         Tempers fray over Russian block at climate talks 

·         Changing lake levels a concern 

·         County Legislature votes for fair at Northampton Park 

·         Invasive species talk set for June 12 at Wood Library Canandaigua, N.Y. 

·         UN Climate Talks Collapse Leaving Island Nations Facing Sea Level Rise Indignant 

·         New battle plan against invasives 

·         Rochester Company Could Cut Costs of Solar Systems 

·         Wind energy conference 

·         World ‘Drifting Off-track’ for Two Degree Climate Limit 

·         Legislation would create unit for Great Lakes projects 

·         Caddisflies are missing from Ogdensburg, and no one really knows why 

·         More awareness for walkers, bicyclists 

·         What to Make of a Warming Plateau 

·         As Arctic ice melts, disease spreads 

·         Greenhouse gases nearing highly dangerous levels, study finds 

·         WSP Species Spotlight: My Lake Has Fleas? 

·         New IEA Report Calls for Energy Revolution to Avoid Climate Catastrophe 

·         Obama, China Make Climate Change Agreement 

·         Climate change is happening but we can meet the challenge 

·         DEC states no environmental concerns for Oatka Creek 

·         After Sandy, a new threat: Soaring flood insurance 

·         Prey fish being added to Lake Ontario restoration effort 

·         The Future of the Pacific Ocean Hangs in the Balance

·         Cities step up disaster-response planning 

·         Nuclear Dominoes Fall in California and Kentucky 



Updates Daily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments.]




Events Rochester Environmental Events Calendar – [The most complete listing of all environmental events around the Rochester, New York area.]  If you don’t see your event, or know of a local environmental event, please send me the info: with (EV event) in the subject line. Also, be sure to check other calendars and environmental series for multi-day events.


June 2013



September 2013





Action Take Action - Often, I receive request to pass on alerts, petitions, Public Comments on local developments, and environmental items needing action by the Rochester Community and around the world. I’ll keep Actions posted until their due date.