Category Archives: August 29

Addressing the disconnect between water supply and demand

When Robert Glennon spends time at his seasonal residence in Martinsville, he says he can’t help being mindful about his well and the groundwater it supplies. Groundwater, in fact, is something Glennon thinks about quite a bit—along with every aspect of how humans get the water they need to sustain their lives. A professor at the University of Arizona’s Rogers College of Law, Glennon’s specialty is water policy and law, which involves searching for ways to solve the serious challenges this and other countries face around water sustainability and planning.

“Groundwater is a much misunderstood resource,” Glennon says. “And it’s an incredibly valuable resource. We have a well and I think most people on this peninsula have wells. So private wells in Maine have a very special importance for the people of Maine—more so than for people in big cities. We don’t have any surface water to use here and that makes it different even from Arizona, where my home is, because although it’s a desert, there’s the Colorado River. A big chunk of the water used in Phoenix and Tucson is from surface water, from the Colorado River, delivered through a 336-mile canal known as the Central Arizona Water Project. Really, throughout the West you see that. But in Maine, in the Great Plains states and in most of the world, people are using groundwater accumulated over tens of thousands of years, but they are using it in mere decades.”

Glennon says the biggest controversy around water in Maine has been Poland Spring and its bottled spring water. The company gets its name from the original spring in Poland. The spring’s water first began to be sold commercially in 1845. Poland Spring is now a subsidiary of Nestle, which has promoted Poland Spring water as particularly pure and refreshing as a way to increase sales. Demand today is so great that the brand’s water is now derived from multiple sources in Maine. The problem, Glennon says, is that spring water is a finite resource.

“An aquifer is like a giant milkshake glass and each well is like a straw in the glass,” he explains. “If you allow anyone to put a straw in, as most states do, you pretty quickly exhaust the supply.”

Recharge rates, he adds, often don’t compensate for demand.

“When we use well water here in St. George, some of it gets recharged in your septic system. So when you take the water out, some of it goes back. But in the case of Nestle and Poland Spring, it’s 100 percent consumptive. Every drop that they pump out and put into a bottle goes away, never to come back to the watershed where it was drawn. In the case of springs, the spring is a tiny rivulet flowing into a pond and Nestle is putting in wells a short distance from these springs, pumping 500 to 600 gallons a minute. This devastates the spring because the ground water is connected to the surface water. In addition, the cold fresh water from the spring is what provides the nutrients and the temperature control for the fish habitat in the pond or the bigger river. So it is all connected. If you are pumping water from springs, you are intercepting water that is flowing to the rivulets, flowing to the river, flowing to the ocean.”

Glennon was among the first to focus a spotlight on the impact the bottled water industry was having on the nation’s groundwater in his 2002 book, Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters. He is also the author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It (2009), in which he details the ways extravagance and waste are depleting the nation’s water supply and offers what he calls “a policy quiver” of solutions.

“For fresh water, the problem to be addressed is really the disconnect between supply and demand,” Glennon says. “The earth is now at 7.6 billion people. The United Nations predicts we’re going to add another billion people by 2030. And by 20 years after that a billion more. Where are we going to get resources, water included, to feed and clothe and provide drinking water and sanitation water for that many people? And there’s an answer to that, I’m not pessimistic, but its going to require all of the political will and moral courage we have to keep this from becoming a human tragedy.”

Foremost in his policy quiver of solutions, Glennon says, is the arrow of conservation.

“Conservation is about using more wisely the water you have. That could be anything from replacing an old six-gallon flush toilet to one that uses 1.4 or 1.28 gallons. It can be changing shower heads to use less. Two things that people don’t usually think about, which I think are big are, one, stop using your kitchen food disposal. If you use that disposal two minutes a day to get rid of food scraps you may use as much as 150 gallons a month just to get rid of food scraps. So put them in your compost pile. Or in the trash—putting them in the landfill is better than putting them into your septic system. Or two, if you want to save water, turn off the light or stop posting videos of your cat on You Tube—all of that is costing electricity.”

The second arrow in the quiver is reuse. “Water treatment plans have been used to dump the treated water into the ocean and that’s because treated water has been considered waste water,” Glennon says. “But all you have to do is purify that water.”

Desalination, too, while very expensive can also be part of the solution. As can water marketing and reallocation, the practice of allowing no new pumping unless an existing pumping facility is shut down. “Price is big,” Glennon says. “I want people to pay for water.” A 2014 publication he and two co-authors prepared in collaboration with the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution (Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West) details how putting a price on water could promote more efficient methods of using water. Glennon says farmers, in particular, need to be encouraged to use water more efficiently. “Farmers consume 80 percent of the water. But as long as they have water rights there is no incentive to stop practices such as flooding fields.”

Glennon absolutely believes that the U.S. is facing a water crisis, as his book Unquenchable details. And he also notes, with a wry smile, “The unlimited human capacity to ignore reality.” In the case of water, he says, “it is always that there is an oasis out there somewhere and all we have to do is augment the supply, bring more in, tow an iceberg, divert the flow of rivers. But I say let’s look closer to home. I’m not despairing. Things are happening. We have the tools available to fix the problem. But we have to be realistic. Water is a public resource, but right now access to it is limitless, so it’s a complete contradiction.”­—JW

PHOTO: Julie Wortman

A fiber artist trained ‘mostly through osmosis’

Clockwork Orange

Clark Island resident Jim Vander Noot creates unique award-winning art quilts that range from impressionistic to abstract imagery. Art quilting is a form of fiber art similar to painting a picture, but with fabric and thread instead of canvas and paint. This art form employs both modern and traditional quilting techniques and differs from “bed quilting,” which relies upon established patterns. Vander Noot is nationally known for imaginative fused applique quilts accented by dense quilting also known as threadpainting. It took many decades and a long career in computer programming before Vander Noot achieved a professional level in this art form.

Raised in Montclair, New Jersey, both of Vander Noot’s parents were art teachers. Family vacations were times when his parents would sketch all day as the young boy observed and even tried his hand at it. However, he had no patience for detailed work and was “turned off” to art altogether. It was fiber arts that had strong appeal for the youngster when he watched his mother sew fabrics and his grandmother knit. Trying his hand at knitting at age nine, Vander Noot fell in love with fiber arts and continued to explore them.

After high school, Vander Noot attended Bowdoin College, where he earned a dual-major degree in history and philosophy by 1974. While there, he enrolled in only one art course, which “was a kind of an eye opener for me,” he recalls. “I actually felt I could do it. I learned that art is more forgiving.” During his college years, he applied that lesson to creating his own designs for crochet, knitting, crosstitch, and needlepoint. He also took a course in computer programming and another in accounting. These three courses set him up for a future career as a computer programmer and a fiber artist.

Degree in hand, Vander Noot joined Norcross greeting card company in Westchester, Penn., where his father was employed. Initially, he was in charge of ordering and the distribution of art supplies, but soon transitioned into computer programming for the company. After six years at Norcross, Vander Noot moved to Texas, working in telecommunications for Tenneco where he developed the standard for internet commerce. It was there that he met his wife, Terry. By 1997 another opportunity arose, so he and Terry moved to New York where Vander Noot worked for the Campbell Soup Company as a telecommunications programmer and then as manager of the company’s global data network. Retirement arrived in 2013 as Vander Noot made the decision to care for his aging parents in Pennsylvania. So, the couple moved to be near his parents in Pennsylvania. However, they often vacationed in Maine and by 2007, the couple had purchased a second home in Clark Island, where they now spend most of their time.

During his years in telecommunications, Vander Noot found balance between his job and making fiber arts. Early on, when he was working at Norcross in the 1970s, he came across a quilting journal. “I was just mesmerized by the geometric patterns and colors,” he remembers. But it wasn’t until 1989 that he took his first quilting class, which was led by Karey Bresenhan at a quilt shop in Houston, Texas. Vander Noot gained expertise in quilting as he continued to take quilting classes over many years. “Taking classes has energized me so much,” he reflects.

Although he’s familiar with basic composition and color principles in fine art, Vander Noot is trained “mostly through osmosis,” as he puts it. Over time, he learned the importance of value over color in quilting designs. “With quilts, because you’re using fabric and thread, it’s difficult to know how much detail comes from the fabric and how much from the thread during quilting,” he explains. “I fell in love with thread painting when I first saw free-motion embroidery a few years ago.” This type of machine embroidery is highly complex and utilizes a range of thread colors and intricate patterns to exaggerate the pictorial effect. The process is very time consuming, and Vander Noot finds satisfaction in that. “I enjoy doing it for the meditative value and also the complexity of motion you can create.”

Vander Noot explains his process as a number of steps beginning with an original design that he creates. After selecting the appropriate fabrics for that design, which he often dyes, paints and textures himself, he cuts the correct shapes and fuses them to an interface fabric following his pattern. Although his basic design is established first, Vander Noot allows his intuition to build the design as it matures. Once all the fabrics are fused, thread painting begins, using a long-arm stitching machine. Batting, backing and edging complete the work of art.

As a member of the Maine Quilters Guild and the Coastal Quilters Guild, Vander Noot has plenty of opportunity to meet other art quilters. “So much comes from bouncing ideas of each other and seeing those lightbulb moments,” he remarks. He finds additional inspiration when he annually attends the Quilt Guy Quilt Camp in Vermont where fewer than twenty men gather to quilt together for four or five days.

Included in many exhibitions throughout the United States, Vander Noot’s quilts have won top awards and have appeared in numerous publications. In addition to making art quilts, the artist teaches workshops in the area. You may learn more about his activities and beautiful quilts at www.jimvandernoot.com. —Katharine Cartwright

Trekkers wraps up summer expedition season and fiscal year

Over the past two months, four of the 12 expeditions that are part of Trekkers’ year-round mentoring program covered 17 states across the U.S.

The 8th-grade Advance Trekkers trips took off shortly after school ended for their 10-day expedition across the Northeast. Team Vesuvis explored the White Mountains, went whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River, had a blast at Six Flags and spent time in Vermont learning about Buddhist meditation practices, eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and taking in a minor league baseball game. Team Krakatoa hiked in the Adirondacks, learned about the Amish in Pennsylvania and explored Connecticut.

Our 10th-grade teams had very successful Cross-America expeditions in July. Team Atlas went whitewater rafting in Montana, explored Yellowstone National Park, volunteered at an assisted-living facility and learned about the Eastern Shoshone culture. Team Beacon spent their 10 days exploring the Pacific Northwest—hiking the lava tubes at Mt. Saint Helens, volunteering at Benson Beach and swimming in the Pacific Ocean at Waikki Beach.

Expeditions like these offer our students a chance to build important life skills. As one student said following one of the trips, “I feel like I’ve developed leadership qualities and built confidence as a person.” A second spoke of an important insight: “I will think more about how my choices affect others around me”.

Talking together in group circles also offers the students a chance to reflect about and define their aspirations and to build personal strengths. “One of my strengths I gained was coming out of my shell,” one student noted. “An example of this was sitting with new people.” Another added, “I feel like I know myself better and what I need to do for myself. I also feel more confident.”

For nearly a quarter century, Trekkers has been cultivating the inherent strengths of young people through the power of long-term mentoring relationships. Trekkers was founded in 1994 as a community-based effort for at-risk middle schoolers from Thomaston and became a year-round mentoring program in 1999, eventually evolving into a six-year model that utilizes expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education and training to serve students in grades 7 to 12. In 2016, recognizing that youth throughout Maine and beyond would benefit from the Trekkers model, the Trekkers Training Institute was founded to provide youth development professionals and educators with training in Trekkers Youth Programming Principles. The Trekkers program is now being implemented in eight communities in Maine and beyond.

As Trekkers’ fiscal year ends on August 31st, please consider making a donation to help support trips like those our students took this summer, trips that allow students opportunities to broaden their horizons by increasing their awareness of different cultures and natural environments.

Three easy ways to give before August 31st: Visit the Trekkers website at trekkers.org; mail a check to Trekkers, 58 Park Street, Suite 202 Rockland, Maine 04841; or call the Trekkers development office at (207)594-5095.—Kate Elmes, Trekkers Development Director

Let’s make music and art as important as sports

Reflection

By Jed Miller

I am a life-long St. George resident and have three kids that have attended or still attend St. George School. The St. George School is a great school because it gives a lot of individual attention to each and every kid. It also provides a lot of different activities including band, all your classic sports, lacrosse, and many other extra curricular activities. One thing I’ve noticed since growing up in this area and also raising my kids, is that there still seems to be a greater amount of attention and esteem given to sports, particularly basketball. I myself have played and still play sports and love them. But it’s easy to become one dimensional and too focused on sports.

Sports are great for exercise, fundamental team-building skills, and learning to cope through adversity, but sports are not the only thing life is about. Sports can create a competitive environment, which is good to a degree, but that can make us forget about the beautiful parts about life. That’s where music and art come in.

Music and art slow us down and let us enjoy the moment and the beauty of that moment. I think that is severely important for every human. The world is fast-paced and ultra competitive, and we need to be prepared for that. But music and art last forever and make you feel better when things are getting too stressful. The St. George School does a great job of getting kids involved with music and art, but after they leave St. George a lot of kids don’t continue making music and art because they feel like it’s not “cool.” But music and art are cool, and they are pursuits a person can use forever.

So I would love to see kids become just as psyched about band as they are about the next basketball game. I’m sure that some kids are, but most aren’t. Maybe it starts with us parents. Maybe we as parents need to promote music and art as hard as we promote basketball, football, and baseball. Music and art are proven to be extremely beneficial for a child’s mental well being, as well as mental growth.

That’s just a thought coming from a sports nut and over-the-top parent.

St. George Cemetery Preservation Fund

A few years back some representatives of the major cemeteries in town came to the Select Board and asked for some financial assistance with the annual upkeep of their cemeteries. Because of a lack of volunteer help plus low interest rates on perpetual care funds, the privately-operated cemeteries were having problems keeping up with regular maintenance. The Select Board and the Budget Committee agreed that the cemeteries needed the town’s help. The cemeteries are not only the final resting places for local residents, they hold a great history of what this town has been. Seaside Cemetery in Tenants Harbor was eventually turned over to the town, while the North Parish Cemetery, the Ridge Cemetery and the Clark Hill Cemetery continue to be operated by cemetery associations.

The St. George Historical Society has recently created a Cemetery Preservation Fund to assist with the work necessary to save the gravestones that have tipped, fallen over and in some cases sunk into the ground. A generous donor started the fund off with a check for $750. All donations to this fund, that will be administered by the Historical Society in close cooperation with the cemeteries, can be earmarked for a specific cemetery, specific family stones, or used for gravestones that need the most attention. All donations are tax-deductible as the St. George Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation.

Donations should be made to the St. George Historical Society, P O Box 14, Tenants Harbor, ME 04860, with any specific instructions as noted above. If you have any questions about the fund, you may contact the Historical Society at stgeorgemainehistory@gmail.com or you may call John Falla at 207-701-9750.  —John Falla

Native plant corner

Veronicastrum with bergamot

We have passed that point in mid-summer when native plants turn their attention to flowering and now in late August, the real extravaganza of the native meadow begins its work. Monardas and mountain mints, garden phlox and black-eyed Susans, cardinal flower and Joe-pye to name a few, employ their complex blooms, masses of color and sweet scents to attract an exciting array of pollinators by day and night.

Amid this riot of bloom, sending its wispy, white racemes high above the tops of its companions, the elegant veronicastrum virginicum or Culver’s Root, puts in a stately appearance.

This hardy native sends up straight, sturdy stems with sets of 3 to 7 lance shaped leaves in whorls climbing the erect stalk. The last few sets of leaves then send out graceful tall spires of delicate white tubular flowers. Smaller, branching racemes give Culver’s Root a candelabra-like effect when it reaches full bloom and indeed lights up the garden.

You will find native veronicastrum virginicum easy to grow in average, medium-wet soils in full sun. The soil should remain consistently moist. The flower spires provide a strong vertical accent for borders or in the meadow’s midst. Add this under-used Maine native to your wildflower meadow. A myriad of pollinating insects and hummingbirds will join you in appreciating this lovely addition.

Native Plant Corner suggests planting “straight species” native plants instead of “named” cultivars. —Jan Getgood

 

PHOTOS: Jan Getgood