SEE relation to Hepatitus C
Be aware that media WILL NOT SHARE this information with the public
By Christopher A. Brown 9/25/02
The crisis was first noted in 1999 by observation of Cold Springs creek in Santa Barbara California. Colds Springs creek begins at a spring at approximately 1800 foot elevation. Local aquifers provide additional water from annual rainfall.
Historically in the late spring algae appeared on the bottom and surface of the creek in any pool or stretch having even minimal sunlight. By mid summer many pools were completely covered. The algae on the surface typically had many insects trapped in the fibrous and bubbled exposed organism.
Following heavy floods such as 1995 and 1998, the creek is scrubbed clean of algae. The algae quickly returns every year. When heavy rainfall is absent, the accumulations made the algae's' very dense. Frog populations became thick and insects of all types were present in the riparian area. Frogs and insects lay their eggs in the algae and are dependent upon it for spawning as well food.
In 1999 in the late summer no algae appeared. No frogs were seen. Some insects were in the water. A creek test kit was obtained from the Community Environmental Council and tests were made of the water. Nitrate levels were slightly high which is normal and PH was also normal. Oxygen however was not measurable. An insect trap was placed in the creek and two weeks elapsed before the trap was removed. The insect count was fairly normal.
Other local creeks were visited and little or no algae was seen. When algae was seen it was most often the surface variety. San Ysidro creek which is very wide having plentiful sun through a 1,000 foot long stretch with only 8 inches of water was devoid of any usual algae. Instead a new variety that formed a thin layer forming large bubbles up to 2.5 inches in diameter was present. Historically this stretch had long, flowing algae filimintis in the rapid zones with clumping surface algae in the eddies.
A request in person to the Community Environmental Council to create a public inquiry into the disappearance of algae from other creeks was made. It was pointed out that human memory was frail and that after a few years the obscure species that may have not been noted anyway, definitely would not be remembered by most people. It was suggested that the non profit organization sponsor publicized events specifically for finding those members of the public who did remember the local algae populations and reminding the rest of the interested public of algae in the creeks. It was pointed out that the trend was likely to expand and other species would be disappearing as well. No assistance was forthcoming.
A hypothesis was extended to explain the disappearance. That the only real possibility for the impact on the creek was from air pollution because Cold springs has no residential, no agricultural and no industrial potential for impact. The only human impact other than the air over the watershed is a trail winding through the canyon to the top of the coastal mountains. Two roads touch portions of the canyon watershed. Gibralter road has a switch back with approximately 200 feet adjoining the west fork and Camino Cielo traverses the entire canyon head at the summit of the mountains for perhaps one mile intermittently through various gulches and sloping areas.
After much thought on exactly what had changed in the air that might cause the die off of algae it was remembered that in 1992 a media series of mini articles detailed the only real change in vehicle emissions. The articles reported on atmospheric impacts of the earlier change from leaded gasoline to gasohol or petroleum ethanol mixes detailed the only real change of pollutant into the air. One later article talked about a "greenish" layer appearing on the horizon and environmentalists. The final article stated that the E.P.A. had agreed to issue a waiver to California to burn MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) into gasoline despite the fact they had established good reason to ban MTBE totally. The E.P.A. had conducted closed system tests where everything growing in the closed system died. Another aspect reported was that the oxygenate would cause carbon particulate to not vaporize and rise into the upper atmosphere to be distributed over large areas. In other words the impacts from vehicle emotions would remain in the areas where the emotions were created.
The author speculates that because the exact reason for the death of the plant life in the closed system could not be attributed to a specific cause by the E.P.A. scientists, environmentalists chose to push the recommendation of the petroleum industry in talks with the E.P.A to waiver the use of what the industry termed "the best oxygenate". The waiver was conditional and stickers on the gas pumps stated that "MTBE was to dispensed only between the months of October 31, and February 31".
The reason for this is now clear. The E.P.A. knew from their tests that the accumulation of the carbon particulate on the ground being washed into the soil by rains precipitated the die off of vegetation. Burning the MTBE during wet months assured that nightly condensations would run of from previously saturated soils, into streams and down to oceans. In Southern California this is very irresponsible because rainfall is not predictable.
What happened was that in late 1993 or at least 1994 MTBE was added. By late 1994 it was determined that the "sky was not falling" and use of MTBE went year round. The appearance of the sky had improved although unknown to anyone the improvement was only an appearance and that long term damage was being done to plant organisms that would take time to show.
Simple logic says that when things are burned they become smaller and more numerous. MTBE mixes phenomenally well with water. MTBE is mixed into gasoline to lend its oxygen to the combustion of the petroleum product. It is safe to assume, if MTBE is "the best oxygenate" that all of its oxygen has been depleted after combustion. Making one ASSUMPTION explains how this, numerous, very fine particulate could make water repell oxygen. That assumption is the combusted MTBE particle can no longer associate with oxygen. When the dilution concentration of the particulate reaches a certain level, the water cannot associate with oxygen gas.
THE DENIAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORITY
Through 1999 and 2002 phone calls and email contact were made as follows:
11/22/99 Dave Parker 10:45 AM Bren environmental school. firstname.lastname@example.org.
1/03/01, Regional Water Quality Control Board, Mike Higgins.
"There is no algae at those elevations." "There has to be total dissolved oxygen." (805) 549 3147
1/03/01, California Fish and game, BIO. Stream Surveys, Maurice Cardenas. "Algae is bad." (805) 640 1852
1/03/01, California Fish and game, BIO. Ken Wilson. Recommends appropriate water tests. On request Wilson phoned Mike Higgins and informed of recommendation. (805) 568 1231
1/08/01, U.C.S.B. BIO. Herpetologist. Sam Sweet, California Fish and game. Informed of frogs diminishing. "Maybe eaten by craw dads."
11/22/00, California Fish and game, Terrestrial BIO. Morgan Whetje Received copy of declarations and informed of diminished populations of frogs, bird in upper riparian areas. "We don't use anecdotal evidence of environmental impacts." (805) 491 3531
11/17/00, KEYT, Newspress, Independent, received copy of declarations and request to disseminate documentation to public.
11/17/00, Gildea Institute, Community Environmental Council. Delivered declarations and informed of declaration delivery to media. KEYT, Newspress, Independent and asked to communicate veracity of food chain and declarations to media.
11/17/00, Environmental Defense Center received copy of declarations and asked to communicate veracity of legal declarations to media.
5/23/01, Federal Fish and wildlife, Lisa Roberts. Called to confirm Receipt of declarations.
3/22/01, Sierra Club called to say request to club to file Amicus Curiae in federal case against governor RE. MTBE ban was returned along with declarations to Santa Barbara Chapter, no contact from Sierra Club since.
5/02, Conception Coast project, Michael Summers. Too involved with stopping drilling in Los Padres Forest to be involved with low oxygen in water.
Santa Barbara County Environmental health, 1/3/01 Dan Reed, Project Clean water, 1/11/01, Rob Almy (received declarations)
Heal the Ocean, Hillary Hauser
Channel Keeper, Drew Bohan, 1/19/01 No sue E.P.A. for waiver on MTBE
Urban Creeks Council, Rhonda
Surfrider (received declarations)
Oak Project, coordinator, Nicole Palovsky (Marin)
U.S.F.S. Ben Parker, Don Owen, John Kelly, Susan Frankel (Vallejo)
U.C. Berkely, Rick Standiford,
The declarations were sent to Lisa Roberts of Federal Fish and Wildlife. After a month of not hearing back I called Lisa Roberts of the Federal Fish and Wildlife in August I was informed that she would call the Central Coast State Regional Water Quality Control Board to authorize a test of the water. I called and was put in contact with environmental scientist Mary Adams and scheduled a visit for testing of Cold Springs creek.
On September 30, 2001 Mary Adams and a biologist accompanied me to Cold Springs and used sophisticated test device to measure the total dissolved oxygen in the water. Here is the email from her responding to my request for the results of the testing.
The oxygen levels in the morning were not much different that what we
observed Sunday evening, still right around 8.0 mg/L.
For fish and other aquatic organisms the lowest acceptable DO level is 5.0
mg/l. Below this level critters become severely stressed and superable to
other environmental conditions which would not otherwise affect them. Fish
kills are likely below 4.0 mg/l. FI you would like some more complete
information on oxygen and other water quality parameters check out the cool
water quality web page produced by Penn State.
Have a great day
Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program (CCAMP)
Regional Water Quality Control Board
81 Higuera Suite 200
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
No pollutants were found in the tests so no alarm went off. Low oxygen levels are not unusual. However, when missing algae indicates perpetually low levels are present, the authority of science, should rightfully, with regard to its supposed commitment, should have scheduled a long term study of the creek. The environmental scientists also were shown Eucalyptus trees that were dying near the measured creek that had dark carbon stains on them.
Many oaks near roads are showing abundant brown leaf as branches die. Here the cause can be related to the introduction of carbonized MTBE into the air then water. In Northern California, marin area, many Tan oaks suddenly died. sudden oak death was created to describe the blight eventually identified as caused by a phytophora fungas. Reports said the trees had fooded trunks. My theory is that the tree cannot use water in the photosynthetic process with such low levels of total dissolved oxygen and so store the water in their trunks in the cambium layer. In Southern California the live oaks suffer from a beetle that bores tunnels through the wood of the tree. You can see that the wood dust cuttings from the borings is stored between the wood and the bark in the normally wet cambium layer. The wetter or flooded trunk keeps the beetle healthy and floats the cutting, softens them for compression increasing storage.
Eucalyptus are dying from infestations of Lipids, a natural parasite for the Blue Gum Eucalyptus tree. The trees have resisted the parasite that came with them from Australia for over a hundred years. Why now do these trees succumb to this pest? There were dark carbon stains on the trees trunks.
HOW MIGHT LOW OXYGEN LEVELS IMPACT HUMAN LIFE?