March 2014, Vol. 26, No.3


Coastal wetlands continue to decline

Coastal wetlands in the U.S. are on the decline. The report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009, concluded that on average more than 32,375 ha (80,000 ac) of wetlands are being lost each year, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release.  

The report examined wetlands on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts, and Great Lakes shores. Losses along the Gulf Coast, amounting 104,066 ha (257,150 ac), accounted for 71% of the total loss during the study’s period. But Great Lakes watersheds experienced a net gain in wetlands by an estimated 5508 ha (13,610 ac), the news release says.  

Wetland loss was attributed to coastal storms, urban and rural development, forestry practices, and rising ocean levels, the news release says. But conservation programs have helped ameliorate wetland losses in the Great Lakes and agricultural portions of other coastal watersheds, the news release says.   

Read the report at


Restoring oyster habitat in the gulf

Oyster habitat soon may be restored in the Half Moon Reef off the Texas Gulf Coast. A project led by the Nature Conservancy (Arlington, Va.) will provide new habitat in effort to rebuild oyster populations in the heart of Matagorda Bay, according to a Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi news release. 

Changes in freshwater inflow, rerouting of the Intracoastal Waterway, and effects from Hurricane Carla in 1961 have harmed the reef. Restoration will help restore oyster and other marine species, protect the shoreline from storms, and serve as a foundation for a healthy ecosystem, the news release says. 

For the first phase of the project, 84,981 Mg (93,600 ton) of limestone was used to build a 16-ha (40-ac) complex structure for oysters. In the second phase, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will aid in restoration by adding 5 ha (12 ac) to the reef structure, the news release says.   

Jennifer Pollack, coordinator of the university’s Fisheries and Mariculture Program, and her team will monitor the abundance and diversity of marine species in the reef and how salinity levels in the bay affect the marine residents during the next 5 years. Success of the project will be measured by comparing to the historic oyster reef populations, the news release says. 



Fish-protein producer conserves and reclaims water

Omega Protein Corp. (Houston), producer of omega-fish oil and specialty protein products, has instituted processes that conserve approximately 68,130 m3 (18 million gal) of water annually, according to a company news release.  

Omega’s Health and Science Center installed a 757 m3/d (200,000 gal/d) dissolved air filtration system to treat its soap-stock waste stream. Soap stock is recovered and sold, while treated water is recycled for use in the facility. This enables the company to reduce groundwater use by 52%.  

To produce fish meal and fish oil, menhaden fish are cooked, pressed, and dried. A processing technique separates the liquid released from the fish into two parts, fish oil and an organic, protein-filled water solution. This solution is evaporated to a 35% to 40% concentration called fish solubles. Solubles can be sold either as organic plant fertilizer or added back to the fish meal to create a higher protein product, the news release says.   

Condensate resulting from the evaporative process becomes a waste stream that must be treated, the news release says. The company installed ammonia strippers to treat the condensate. The strippers remove approximately 90% of the ammonia before discharge. The treated water now is captured and used in the plant for various uses including wash-up water and vacuum-seal pump water, the news release says. Using this water enables the company to reduce groundwater use by approximately 757 m3/d (200,000 gal/d), the news release says. 


Polymer beads hold the key to cleaner laundry

Polymer beads can reduce the amount of water and detergent used for washing laundry.  

Stephen Burkinshaw, University of Leeds (England) professor, has researched how to improve anchoring dye onto fabrics. After recognizing the similarities between dyes and stains, he began examining how to remove stains from fabrics, according to a university news release. 

In examining how to use fabric polymers to remove stains, Burkinshaw and his research team found nylon polymers become highly absorbent in humid conditions as well as highly resilient and able to be reused, the news release says. 

Nylon polymers have an inherent polarity that attracts stains. In humid conditions, the polymer changes and dirt is not just attracted to the polymer but absorbed into its center. When nylon beads are tumbled gently with damp garmets, stains are absorbed into the polymers.   

In February 2007, Xeros Ltd. (Rotherham, England) was established to promote this technology. In 2009, the company partnered with GreenEarth Cleaning (Kansas City, Mo.), which became the exclusive licensor of the Xeros technology to retail dry cleaners in North America. Now, Xeros is preparing to launch the technology in the commercial laundry market, the news release says.