• Waterworld: Learning to live with flooding

    Flash floods, burst riverbanks, overflowing drains, contaminants leaching into waterways: some of the disruptive, damaging, and hazardous consequences of having too much rain. But can cities be designed and adapted to live more flexibly with water – to treat it as friend rather than foe?

  • “Water windfall” beneath California’s Central Valley

    New research indicates that California’s Central Valley harbors three times more groundwater than previously estimated, but challenges to using it include pumping costs — much of the water is 1,000 to 3,000 feet underground — ground subsidence, and possible contamination from fracking and other oil and gas activities.

  • Holocaust survivors give historic $400 million gift to Ben-Gurion University

    A couple who survived the Holocaust and made a fortune investing with Warren Buffett left a $400 million bequest to Ben-Gurion University (BGU). The bequest, much of which is earmarked to fund water-related research, is expected to double the size of BGU’s current endowment. The university’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research focuses on sustainability of water resources, desalination techniques, and improving water quality.

  • Cyber Guard 2016 aims to manage complexity in invisible domain

    Between one million and ten million U.S. homes and businesses are without power. An oil spill from a near-shore refinery is gushing into the waters off Texas and Louisiana. The port of Los Angeles is shut down due to a network outage. Visitors to exercise Cyber Guard 2016 here viewed mock newscasts detailing these scenarios as examples of the likely effects of a massive cyberattack.

  • Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to be shut down, replaced by renewables, efficiency, storage

    An historic agreement has been reached between Pacific Gas and Electric, Friends of the Earth (FOE), and other environmental and labor organizations to replace the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors with greenhouse-gas-free renewable energy, efficiency, and energy storage resources. FOE says the agreement provides a blueprint for fighting climate change by replacing nuclear and fossil fuel energy with safe, clean, cost-competitive renewable energy.

  • U.S. court asked to block restart of aging, damaged Indian Point nuclear reactor

    Friends of the Earth and other environmental organizations have filed an emergency petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking that the court compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to prevent Entergy from restarting an aging Indian Point nuclear reactor which was found to have unprecedented parts failure in its critical core cooling system. Entergy, the owner and operator of Indian Point, has repeatedly stated that it intends to start the reactor within days. The Indian Point reactors’ licenses expired in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and the plant is operating beyond its 40-year life span while the NRC considers whether to extend the license for an additional twenty years.

  • The contribution of human dynamics to coastal communities’ resilience

    The National Academies of Sciences has established a $10 million grants program to fund projects that enhance the science and practice of coastal community resilience in the Gulf of Mexico region. Rather than focus on infrastructure needs or the built environment, as many existing resilience-focused programs do, the new grants program will support the study of the human dynamics that influence a community’s ability to respond to adverse events.

  • Better water management to halve the global food gap

    Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated.

  • Pulling water from air

    Researchers are tackling the world’s water crisis by pulling water out of the air. Their result is the patent-pending Hybrid Atmospheric Water Generator (HAWgen), which generates clean drinking water from the atmosphere through the integration of sorption, refrigeration and water filtration systems.

  • What Flint’s water crisis could mean for the rest of the nation

    Elevated levels of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, brought to light not only the troubles of one city but also broader concerns about the nation’s aging water distribution system. Noted scientist is calling for federal funding to replace deteriorating lead pipes in large swaths of the United States.

  • For young engineers, Flint offers a lesson on the importance of listening

    Sheldon Masters, a former Virginia Tech Ph.D. student, says he used to think scientists and engineers should be like robots: “Emotionally unattached.” But after attending a class entitled “Engineering Ethics and the Public: Learning to Listen” with dozens of other young engineers at his university, he found his perspective changed. Developed with support from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, the course is intended to explore the relationship between engineering, science, and society.

  • Can drinking water be delivered without disinfectants like chlorine and still be safe?

    When we open the tap, we expect the water to be safe. That is, the water should be free of pathogens that could make us sick and any chemicals that could cause problems later in life. For the most part, potable water systems in the developed world have done a great job providing safe water. However, there are still unfortunate situations that develop, resulting in issues with the safety of drinking water. One of the conclusions of the research we have conducted is that potable water systems should consider moving beyond carrying a disinfectant and focus instead on maintaining and replacing their aging delivery systems and upgrading their water treatment steps. This will have the benefit of limiting exposure to DBP while also continuing to deliver safe water to consumers.

  • Water pipes crawl with millions of bacteria

    Researchers have discovered that our drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of “good bacteria” found in water pipes and purification plants. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent, but this new research is about to change that.

  • Rigid water pipes, fit for the future

    Water infrastructures – such as pipes, sewers, or water storages – are rigid systems. They are renewed according to certain renovation cycles. This can take up to 70 years for municipal sewage systems and up to 30 years for baths in rental apartments. “That has to be considered when creating concepts for the future of the water infrastructure,” says Dr.-Ing. Thomas Hillenbrand, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute.

  • Contamination in North Dakota linked to fracking spills

    Accidental wastewater spills from unconventional oil production in North Dakota have caused widespread water and soil contamination, a new study finds. Researchers found high levels of ammonium, selenium, lead and other toxic contaminants as well as high salts in the brine-laden wastewater, which primarily comes from hydraulically fractured oil wells in the Bakken region of western North Dakota.