In honor of World Biodiversity Day, we are pleased to announce that our commitment to protecting and restoring biodiversity is stronger than ever. Over the past year, we developed a number of action plans to restore ecosystems and protect threatened and endangered species in and around our water treatment sites. We operate in over 200 biologically diverse locations where, as leaders in the resource revolution, we take the lead in the environmental health of our surroundings.
So what is biodiversity and why is it important to the health of ecosystems? Biodiversity is an important part of making life livable on Earth. It provides us with an array of foods and materials and it contributes to the economy. Biodiversity also allows for ecosystems to adjust to ever-increasing natural disturbances like extreme fires and floods.
So what, then, is a biodiversity action plan and how can an environmental services provider contribute to the improved health of an ecosystem? An example of one of the action plans we developed this year can be found in Springfield, MA where the Connecticut River runs alongside a wastewater treatment operation that we manage.
The Connecticut River watershed encompasses 11,260 square miles, connecting 148 tributaries, including 38 major rivers and numerous lakes and ponds. It is home to many wildlife species, including bear, moose, bobcat, wild turkey, bald eagle, trout, shad, and 10 federally threatened or endangered species. It is also home to New England’s most productive farmlands and to 2 million human residents, about 84% of whom live in or near urban areas including Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut.
However, many urbanized portions of the Connecticut River, including the Springfield area, still face water pollution, due to combined sewer overflows (CSO) and stormwater run-off. These are ecosystems in transition and in trouble.
Our initiative to reduce pollution in the Springfield region involves a newly-developed procedure that outlines activities necessary to respond to dry weather overflow events at the CSO stations.
To reduce and minimize discharges during wet weather, we installed a CSO monitoring system that provides remote real-time monitoring of wastewater depths and flow velocities at the individual CSO stations throughout the system. The intent of this system is to provide data for analyzing conditions in the sewer collection system, as well as early warning of conditions in the system, alarming weather events, and estimates of quantities and frequency of discharge events at the CSO structures.
This allows us to set appropriate emergency response measures to stop the overflow condition and restore normal system function.
And most importantly, tackling water pollution and sewer overflows will improve the health of the Connecticut River for recreation, commerce and species that depend on it for their habitats.