• Water securitySyrian crisis altered region’s land and water resources

    The Syrian civil war and subsequent refugee migration caused sudden changes in the area’s land use and freshwater resources. Using satellite imagery processed in Google Earth Engine, researchers determined the conflict in Syria caused agricultural irrigation and reservoir storage to decrease by nearly 50 percent compared to prewar conditions.

  • Water securityNew wastewater system design guidelines help protect aquatic life

    New wastewater system design guidelines can help municipal governments better protect aquatic life and save millions of dollars a year. Engineers developed guidelines that can tailor the design of specialized filters, called fluidized bed reactors, to local conditions and help prevent phosphorous deposits from forming in wastewater systems.

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  • Water securityNew lead detector for water

    Engineers have developed what you might think of as a “canary in the coal mine” for lead in water. ). They designed a sensor with a graphene-based nanomaterial that can immediately detect lead and other heavy metals. The new platform technology can be used for one-time testing of lead in tap water through a handheld device.

  • Water securityWater resources for developing countries

    Water experts believe by 2050 almost half of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic water shortage. The shortfall is the result of population growth, which leads to a greater demand for food, increased pollution, and climate instability. At the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU)’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, eighty scientists and 250 graduate students are working on ways to tackle the problem using cutting-edge science in partnership with academics around the world.

  • Water securityPeople prefer conservation as way to protect drinking water

    The water crisis in Flint, Michigan put the need to protect and invest in clean drinking water front and center in the minds of many Americans. But how to go about investing, as well as how to get the public on board with such spending, is a difficult challenge that faces policymakers. Researchers have found that when given the choice, people prefer to invest their money in conservation, such as protecting key areas of a watershed — also referred to as green infrastructure — than traditional water treatment plants, also referred to as gray infrastructure.

  • Water securityWater war between Asian nuclear powers looms

    A potential global catastrophe looms in Asia as rapidly rising water demand collides with a diminishing resource on which at least 300 million people depend directly, and the current political rhetoric between India and Pakistan underlines the risk of failing to manage correctly and cooperatively vital water resources shared between nations. The Indus Water Treaty governs the distribution Himalayan-origin water in the 1,120,000 km2 basin drained by the Indus River, six major tributaries, and connected waterways among India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China, but India wants to modify the treaty or walk away from it – and Pakistan announced that any Indian attempt to renege from the Treaty would be deemed an act of war.

  • Water securityMapping corrosive groundwater across the U.S.

    Approximately 44 million people in the United States rely on groundwater from wells as their water source. A new study found that untreated groundwater from twenty-five states could be potentially highly or very highly corrosive, a recent study finds. Corrosive water, while itself not dangerous, can dissolve lead and other metals from pipes, plumbing, and other metal surfaces into drinking water. While the quality of municipal water supplies is regulated and treated, domestic well owners are responsible for the treatment of their personal water supplies.

  • Water securityAssessing 100 years of Los Angeles groundwater replenishment

    A new study offers the most sophisticated analyses to date on how Los Angeles-area groundwater supplies are replenished. The analyses provide water managers with a clearer understanding of the sources and amount of available groundwater in the region — information that is important for planning and management of the vital resource.

  • Water securityAmbitious Baltimore water pollution clean-up project

    Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the urban rivers that flow into it are important sources of water to Chesapeake Bay, popular recreation sites for residents and tourists, and the targets of an ambitious clean-up plan to make the harbor swimmable and fishable by the year 2020. In a first for Baltimore and the nation, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency will soon be installing a suite of sensors that will provide the public and scientists with the first comprehensive, real time look at water quality in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

  • Food & water securityEven if the Paris Agreement is implemented, food and water supplies remain at risk

    By Mark Dwortzan

    If all pledges made in last December’s Paris climate agreement (COP21) to curb greenhouse gases are carried out to the end of the century, then risks still remain for staple crops in major “breadbasket” regions and water supplies upon which most of the world’s population depend. Recognizing that national commitments made in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall far short of COP21’s overarching climate target — to limit the rise, since preindustrial times, in the Earth’s mean surface temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 — a new report advances a set of emissions scenarios that are consistent with achieving that goal.

  • ResilienceNew $4 million facility at UW to investigate natural disasters worldwide

    A new Post-Disaster, Rapid Response Research Facility at the University of Washington will provide necessary instrumentation and tools to collect and assess critical post-disaster data, with the goal of reducing physical damage and socio-economic losses from future events. The NSF’s $40 million NHERI investment, announced in September 2015, funds a network of shared research centers and resources at various universities across the nation. The goal is to reduce the vulnerability of buildings, tunnels, waterways, communication networks, energy systems, and social groups in order to increase the disaster resilience of communities across the United States.

  • ResilienceStrengthening U.S. infrastructure to withstand disasters

    The delivery of essential services — whether in food, water, health, or emergency response — relies increasingly upon a complex, interconnected system of critical infrastructure. Ensuring these interdependent systems continue to operate during disasters and other disruptive events is crucial to maintaining public health and safety. NSF announces $22.7 million in new investments to promote better understanding and functioning of these infrastructures in an effort to improve their resilience.

  • MegadroughtsMegadrought lasting three decades likely for Southwest U.S., Midwest

    The consequences of climate change paint a bleak picture for the Southwest and much of America’s breadbasket, the Great Plains. The role of climate change in causing extreme heat waves, drastic rainfall, negative impacts on human health, and threatened food security have received more attention recently than megadrought, but scientists view prolonged drought risk as yet another natural hazard that becomes more likely from human activity.

  • Water securityNew technology pinpoints water contamination sources

    When the local water management agency closes your favorite beach due to unhealthy water quality, how reliable are the tests they base their decisions on? As it turns out, those tests, as well as the standards behind them, have not been updated in decades. Now scientists have developed a highly accurate, DNA-based method to detect and distinguish sources of microbial contamination in water.

  • Chemical spillsFlorida tightens public notification rules for pollution incidents

    Last week Governor Rick Scott instructed Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Jon Steverson to issue an emergency rule that establishes new requirements for public notification of pollution incidents. The rule is to take effect immediately. Scott issued the instruction following the sewage spill in Pinellas County and the sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales facility.