Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tell the EPA to raise water quality standards!

People swimming at Coney Island in 2010. Image via.

Everyone at Alive Structures got into the field of green infrastructure for a number of reasons, but for all of us one of the most important of those is improving local water quality. So we really appreciate that the folks at S.W.I.M. Coalition (Storm Water Infrastructure Matters) are on top of policy issues that affect water quality and safety. Currently, the EPA has a renewal of their beach pollution regulations on the docket, last updated in 1986.

The proposed standards are not strict enough. They allow for 90 averaging of pathogen levels, a period almost as long as New York City's beachgoing season. As S.W.I.M. put it in their email, "Under the proposal, the pathogen levels could be unacceptably high every Saturday during the beach season but the 90-day average may still meet the standards." And this does happen - Riverkeeper, a New York non-profit, tests water quality at a variety of locations around New York City. Their Pier 96 at West 56th St testing location is a boat launch and recreational kayaking spot for New Yorkers. Enterococcus counts (fecal pathogens) at Pier 96 failed water quality standards on four of the six testing days in 2011, and got as high as seven times the limit on one dirty day in May, but if the tests in the ~90 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are averaged the water quality was acceptable.


National Resources Defense Council has a petition to the EPA urging them to make these regulations stricter. Today's the last day to comment so we hope you'll sign!

Kids are particularly vulnerable to getting sick from dirty water. Image via.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More Terrariums, if possible....

I know the design world is gaga about terrariums. Maybe they've become so trendy, that they're actually no longer in style. This sentiment is expressed in the blog site I was sent by an architect friend : fuck your noguchi coffee table, which states "fuck your terrarium lamp" with image below.

Nonetheless, my enthusiasm for terrariums is actually just now blossoming.

I'm attaching some images of a terrarium we built for a client using a vessel made from recycled glass. The vessel was pretty expensive because of it's elegant shape and lightweight material. But there are plenty of glass jars and pre-existing terrarium like containers which could be used for free or for little cost.

What's fun about building terrariums is the creation of another world and experimenting with different types of plants. I built this one with my mom which was fun. But also getting the plants through the bottleneck and into the soil can be a bit nerve racking. Anyway, nothing is very satisfying unless there's challenge involved.