• Perspective: Water woesBottled Water Is Sucking Florida Dry

    Florida has the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world, but they are being devastated by increasing pollution and drastic declines in water flow. Some springs have dried up from overextraction; others have shown signs of saltwater intrusion and harmful algae blooms. The answer to this problem is simple: No more extraction permits should be granted, and existing permits should be reduced with the goal of eliminating bottled water production entirely in Florida. But that simple solution is not being implemented. In the next few months, Nestlé, the largest bottled-water company in the world, is set to renew its permit at Ginnie Springs, one of the most popular recreational attractions along the Santa Fe River,” Sainato and Skojec write. “The permit allows Nestlé to take one million gallons per day at no cost, with just a one-time $115 application fee.”

  • Perspective: Water woesThe Water Wars Are Here

    Everyone remembers the scene in Chinatown when Jack Nicholson almost gets his nose sliced off, but many do not recall what the dispute was about. It wasn’t drug smuggling or gun running that got Nicholson’s character slashed. It was water rights. Since the film was released in 1974, the question of who will get the limited water in the American West, particularly the all-important flow of the Colorado River, has grown even more contentious. Dystopian novels and movies predict a future in which people fight it out for every last drop of water to quench the thirst of expanding cities, parched agriculture, and wasteful suburban grass lawns. But the future is already here.

  • Water securitySmart Faucets Could Aid in Water Conservation

    An experiment with a water-saving “smart” faucet shows potential for reducing water use. The catch? Unbeknownst to study participants, the faucet’s smarts came from its human controller. “We looked at the faucet because that’s where a lot of water usage in the home occurs, but when you compare your sink to other products in the house – a thermostat or refrigerator – you see that there haven’t been updates to how the sink works in a very long time,” says one researcher.

  • Food securitySoils Could Be Affected by Climate Change, Impacting Water and Food

    Coasts, oceans, ecosystems, weather and human health all face impacts from climate change, and now valuable soils may also be affected. Climate change may reduce the ability of soils to absorb water in many parts of the world, according to a Rutgers-led study. And that could have serious implications for groundwater supplies, food production and security, stormwater runoff, biodiversity and ecosystems.

  • Water securityMicroplastics Harming Our Drinking Water

    Plastics in our waste streams are breaking down into tiny particles, causing potentially catastrophic consequences for human health and our aquatic systems. Approximately 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year and up to 13 million tons of that is released into rivers and oceans, contributing to approximately 250 million tons of plastic by 2025. Since plastic materials are not generally degradable through weathering or ageing, this accumulation of plastic pollution in the aquatic environment creates a major health concern.

  • Water securityNew Ways for Taking Salt Out of Seawater

    As populations boom and chronic droughts persist, coastal cities like Carlsbad in Southern California have increasingly turned to ocean desalination to supplement a dwindling fresh water supply. Promising design rules for cost-effective desalination rely on just a few ingredients: ionic liquids plus low-cost geothermal or solar heat, or waste heat from machines.

  • Water securityWhat Will Communities Do When the Water Runs Dry?

    Earlier this summer, the sixth-largest city in India, Chennai, ran out of water. Water crises are now global. Cape Town, South Africa, narrowly escaped Day Zero last year, but it’s still at risk, as are Sao Paulo and Mexico City. Iraq, Morocco and Spain also face water shortages.What we are seeing in Chennai right now is a devastating illustration of human-driven climate disruption,” says an expert. “It is hard for me to picture a near future where access to clean, fresh water continues in as plentiful a way as it is in most of our country at this moment.”

  • FloodsInnovative Approach to Flood Mapping Supports Emergency Management, Water Officials

    Dependable, detailed inundation estimates are vital for emergency managers to have enough situational awareness to quickly get the right resources and information to flood-impacted communities. In 2007, severe flooding in southeastern Kansas put a spotlight on the lack of timely, reliable projections for floodwater spread.

  • FloodwaterDeveloping ‘Smart City’ Floodwater Management

    In a world of smart watches, smart homes and smart appliances that monitor their environments to keep users safe and informed, can whole cities be smarter? Short answer: Probably, using cutting-edge information technologies to keep citizens and property safer.

  • Water securityCalifornia Plans to Better Use Winter Storms to Refill Its Aquifers

    With new rules coming into effect, California farmers and municipalities using groundwater must either find more water to support the aquifers or take cropland out of use. To ease the pain, engineers are looking to harness an unconventional and unwieldy source of water: the torrential storms that sometimes blast across the Pacific Ocean and soak California.

  • Water safety“Liquid Forensics” Checks Safety of Drinking Water

    Ping! The popular 1990 film, The Hunt for Red October, helped introduce sonar technology on submarines to pop culture. Now, nearly thirty years later, a team of scientists is using this same sonar technology as inspiration to develop a rapid, inexpensive way to determine whether the drinking water is safe to consume.

  • PerspectiveDesalination is booming as cities run out of water

    It’s been a long time coming for desalination—desal for short. For decades, we have been told it would one day turn oceans of salt water into fresh and quench the world’s thirst. But progress has been slow. Jim Robbins writes in Wired that that is now changing, as desalination is coming into play in many places around the world. Several factors are converging to bring new plants on line. Population has boomed in many water-stressed places, including parts of China, India, South Africa, and the United States, especially in Arizona and California. In addition, drought—some of it driven by a changing climate—is occurring in many regions that not that long ago thought their supplies were ample.

  • Water securityMelting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled in recent years

    Almost one billion people depend on melt-water from Himalayan glaciers for the water they need, but global warming has dramatically increased the pace of glacier melting. A new analysis, spanning forty years of satellite observations across India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, indicates that glaciers have been losing the equivalent of more than a vertical foot and half of ice each year since 2000 — double the amount of melting that took place from 1975 to 2000.

  • Water securityWith floods and droughts increasing, communities take a new look at storing water underground

    By Erica Gies

    Groundwater recharging – that is, actively moving water underground, a practice known as managed aquifer recharge (MAR) — is the latest wave in water security. There are about 1,200 managed aquifer recharge projects in 62 countries. MAR can be used to restore depleted aquifers, rehabilitate ecosystems and cleanse polluted water. But there are challenges as well.

  • Water safetyThe U.S. drinking water supply is mostly safe, but that’s not good enough

    By Joan Rose

    Most Americans take clean drinking water for granted as a convenience of modern life. The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. As a scientist specializing in water quality, I believe water providers and regulators can’t afford to be complacent.