Alandra's B2 Blog

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The End. May 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 2:12 am

Hi everyone,

Last week at B2 we had our final get together as fellows and welcomed the incoming students. They’re a great bunch and it should be a wonderful year. I just wanted to thank B2 for the fellowship opportunity and everyone who helped bring the wetland to life. Thanks for sharing in the science with us.  It was a great experience. Thanks again.  Cheers!

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.
— Lao Tzu


The finished product! April 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 11:12 pm

Hi everyone!

I’m happy to report that Earth Day last weekend was a big success- we had over 1200 people attend. Thanks for coming out and enjoying Biosphere 2 with us! For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’ve posted some pictures of the finished wetland- complete with signage! It was a huge project, and I’m grateful for everyone who contributed. Thank you so much, and enjoy!

Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it.

Lao Tzu quotes (Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism, wrote “Tao Te Ching” (also “The Book of the Way”). 600 BC-531 BC)

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Wetland Update April 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 8:44 pm

Welcome back readers! Just a quick update on the progress of the wetland. The Tucson Watergardeners were here volunteering their time and expertise this weekend. They brought a ton of plants and a great work ethic.  We used a variety of water loving plants to populate the marsh areas and the aquaculture tank. You can check out the pictures in the slideshow below.

And don’t forget, the B2 Earth Day celebration is this weekend! Come out to B2 to check out all the new exhibits and visiting experts this Saturday, April 17th from 10am to 4pm!

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Wetland April 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 7:09 pm

Welcome back readers!

Construction for the wetland has been in full swing for the past week or so, which is why I haven’t been writing. The project is coming along really well, and we should be on schedule for unveiling at Earth Day (see note). I’ve been working for the last week on hauling pumps, tanks, and rock to the site and preparing the exhibit. I’m pleased to announce that we should have water and power this week, so testing can begin. The Tucson Watergardeners have agreed to donate time and plants this weekend, which is fantastic. Feel free to check out the pictures following; I’ll be posting more as we get further along.

NOTE: Earth Day will be held at Biosphere 2 on April 17th from 10am to 4pm. This event includes live music, demonstration and booths with green technology and innovations from the local community, science talks from the University of Arizona, and more. This event is kid-friendly, so please feel free to bring the entire family. You can read more here:

Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. The very deep did rot: O Christ! That ever this should be! Yes, slimy things did crawl with legs Upon the slimy sea.
Author: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Source: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (pt. II, st. 9)

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In the news. March 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 5:59 pm

On January 15, 2010, the FDA reversed its position on BPA, openly declaring that there is concern about the health effects resulting from continued exposure to this chemical. They are now supporting the phase out this material from the market, particularly baby bottles and other areas of exposure to young children, who are most affected by exposure.  This is good news for consumers, who will likely be seeing safer products on the shelves soon. You can read more about it here:

In other news, the EPA has decided to tighten limits on drinking water contaminants. They have also elected to speed up the evaluation process by evaluating contaminants in groups, rather than one at a time. The consideration of contaminants by category rather than individual should significantly reduce the time it takes for new compounds to be added to operator watch lists and recommendations. The public will benefit immensely from this new process, as lower limits and wider scopes of evaluation will ultimately mean cleaner drinking water. Good news. You can read the article here:

Water has no taste, no color, no odor; it cannot be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself. It fills us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY (1900-1944), Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939


Tucson Watergardeners March 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 5:31 pm

I recently attended a meeting of the Tucson Watergardeners. Those of you who are regular readers might remember that I am building a wetland as a permanent exhibit here at B2, and as build day gets nearer, it’s time to start looking for materials. Wetland plants, while abundant in their natural habitat, tend to be harder to find in nurseries. I went to the Tucson Watergardeners for help.
One of the fundamental questions they often encounter is: What is a Watergarden?

A watergarden can be anything from a plastic pail to an in-ground pond. As long as it holds water and you can grow plants in it, it’s a water garden!

Some other examples of Water Gardens are:

* Wooden Barrel
* Pre-formed Plastic Pond
* Flexible Liner Pond
* Poured Concrete Pond
* Metal Watering Trough

All of these can be both above ground or in-ground. The Tucson Watergardeners members have a wide range of ponds, and some even have all of the above.
The group was very welcoming and more than willing to lend expertise and plants. Some of the vegetation we’ll be getting from them includes native Southern Arizona Water Lilies, Yerba Mansa, Papyrus, and Taro.

Their website is a great resource for watergardners who are just starting out, and they are very receptive to questions.
You can check them out here:

“Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.”- Thoreau


Toxic waters March 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 6:48 pm

This has been all over the news today:

Essentially what has happened is that the court system has limited the power of the Clean Water Act- one of the most powerful regulatory tools we have.

To quote:

“The court rulings causing these problems focused on language in the Clean Water Act that limited it to “the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters” of the United States. For decades, “navigable waters” was broadly interpreted by regulators to include many large wetlands and streams that connected to major rivers.

But the two decisions suggested that waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems may not be “navigable waters” and are therefore not covered by the act — even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water.”

The trouble here is the language- litigators have successfully argued through the clause making a water “navigable” to get around pollution regulations.  There is hope however:

“In the last two years, some members of Congress have tried to limit the impact of the court decisions by introducing legislation known as the Clean Water Restoration Act. It has been approved by a Senate committee but not yet introduced this session in the House. The legislation tries to resolve these problems by, in part, removing the word “navigable” from the law and restoring regulators’ authority over all waters that were regulated before the Supreme Court decisions.”

However, some argue that elimination of the term makes even puddles subject to regulation under the Act. Scary, but not true, nor feasible. Greater regulation tied to the elimination of the term from the law may come to stormwater and other runoff sources, but this is a good thing. Runoff has been tied to widespread eutrophication in the Gulf, as well as smaller scale pollution in urban neighborhoods.

By limiting the Act, we are opening the door for pollution to become unregulated again- taking a huge step backwards. By either issuing new legislation or regulations, we can prevent this from happening. Let’s hope Congress takes note.


PFOS in the news February 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 7:14 pm

Hi folks!

It’s been a busy few weeks in the lab here, sorry for the absence.

I’ve got another short article that might interest you for today:

PFOS is another trace organic that we’re currently tracking through the ecosystem.  PFOS is a long chain of fluorines that is used as a surfactant (a detergent-like compound). Manufacturers love PFOS because it repels both oil and water. Places you’ll find PFOS are in fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, and things like Scotchguard.  The trouble is, the reasons why we like to use PFOS so much are also the reasons it’s harmful to the environment. PFOS contamination has been found around the globe, in soil, air and water, which is why we’re interested in learning more about it. Happy reading!

“Water is personal, water is local, water is regional, water is statewide. Everybody has a different idea, a different approach, a different issue, a different concern. Water is the most personal issue we have..”
– Susan Marks


Don’t swim in the Chicago River. January 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 12:10 am

The city of Chicago’s sanitation agency defends its decision not to disinfect its sewage. It is the only major city in the US not to do so. You can read the full story here:

Essentially Chicago officials are making the case that by adding an extra step to their wastewater treatment process, they are increasing their carbon footprint. According to their calculations, building additional treatment will cost the city between $500 and $300 million , depending on whether you believe the city or the EPA.  To be clear, the city is within its permit from the EPA, which allows it to discharge treated wastewater into the Chicago River. The item in question is related to making the river safe for recreational use, which would require more stringent controls on nutrients, fecal coliform bacteria and other bacterias.  Essentially, the municipal governing board is throwing everything they can at the idea because they don’t want to spend the money to make the river safe for recreational use.  Disinfection technology is not a new idea, nor would it be so expensive if they hadn’t fought the proposal for so long. It’s also worth bearing in mind that cities downstream from Chicago that use the discharged water have to deal with this undisinfected water to make it safe for their populations. Until things change, don’t swim in the Chicago River.

High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time, is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth.

EDMUND S. MUSKIE, U.S. Senator, speech, 1 March 1966


FDA rules BPA unsafe! January 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — alandrakb2 @ 6:17 pm

This just in: The FDA has reviewed its 2008 decision declaring Bisphenol A, a chemical used in hard plastics and can liners, as safe. The original report, written by chemical industry lobbyists, has been reviewed and coupled with new information from those not connected to the industry and investigative reporting from the Milwaukee Journal.  Upon review of this new information, the FDA has declared BPA to be an unsafe plastic additive, with continued exposure resulting in reproductive problems and greater risk of breast and prostate cancers. The FDA is now working on eliminating the chemical from baby bottles, can liners and hard plastics.

You can read the full article here:
I got this powdered water – now I don’t know what to add.
Steven Wright