• Water security“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.

  • Water securityHolocaust 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.

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  • Water managementBetter 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.

  • Water resourcesPulling 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.

  • FlintWhat 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.

  • FlintFor 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.

  • Water & healthCan drinking water be delivered without disinfectants like chlorine and still be safe?

    By Fernando Rosario-Ortiz and Vanessa Speight

    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 safetyWater 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.

  • Water pipesRigid 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.

  • FrackingContamination 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.

  • Climate & waterClimate change redistributes global water resources

    Rising temperatures worldwide are changing not only weather systems, but - just as importantly - the distribution of water around the globe, according to a new study. This study marked the first time scientists have used specific measurements to demonstrate how water sources are changing, especially in the northeastern United States.

  • Water securityWe’re (not) running out of water – a better way to measure water scarcity

    By Kate Brauman

    Water crises seem to be everywhere. In Flint, the water might kill us. In Syria, the worst drought in hundreds of years is exacerbating civil war. But plenty of dried-out places aren’t in conflict. For all the hoopla, even California hasn’t run out of water. There’s a lot of water on the planet. What is critical is managing water to meet current and future demand. Biophysical indicators, such as the ones we looked at, can’t tell us where a water shortage is stressful to society or ecosystems, but a good biophysical indicator can help us make useful comparisons, target interventions, evaluate risk and look globally to find management models that might work at home.

  • Water securityBacteria may help keep water cleaner

    Phosphorus is a crucial nutrient regularly applied to crops such as corn and soybeans to help them grow efficiently. However, excess phosphorus can be carried by rainwater runoff into lakes and streams, creating potential problems for aquatic environments and the ecosystem services they provide to humans. To combat this problem, researchers are trying to better understand two groups of bacteria that could affect whether phosphate is retained in the soil or becomes mobile and gets into the water.

  • Coastal infrastructureGroundwater extraction contributes less to sea level rise than previously thought

    Groundwater extraction and other land water contribute about three times less to sea level rise than previous estimates, according to a new study. The study does not change the overall picture of future sea level rise, but provides a much more accurate understanding of the interactions between water on land, in the atmosphere, and the oceans, which could help to improve future models of sea level rise.

  • Water securityNew paper filter removes viruses from water

    More than 748 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Water-borne infections are among the global causes for mortality, especially in children under age of five, and viruses are among the most notorious water-borne infectious microorganisms. They can be both extremely resistant to disinfection and difficult to remove by filtration due to their small size. Scientists have developed a simple paper sheet which can improve the quality of life for millions of people by removing resistant viruses from water.