Water Technology / Treatment

  • Water infrastructureEarthquake-proofing L.A.’s water infrastructure

    Since Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced his earthquake-safety proposal in December 2014, public attention has focused on requirements to retrofit old vulnerable buildings, but the plan also calls for fortifying the city’s vast network of water pipes and aqueducts. Water infrastructure is “the single biggest vulnerability we’re facing in Southern California,” said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones, who helped develop Garcetti’s earthquake-safety plans.

  • WaterWorld population may outpace water supply by mid-century

    Population growth could cause global demand for water to outpace supply by mid-century if current levels of consumption continue. It would not, however, be the first time this has happened, a new study finds. Using a delayed-feedback mathematical model which analyzes historic data to help project future trends, the researchers identified a regularly recurring pattern of global water use in recent centuries. Periods of increased demand for water — often coinciding with population growth or other major demographic and social changes — were followed by periods of rapid innovation of new water technologies that helped end or ease any shortages. The researchers’ conclusions: Technological advances will be needed in coming decades to avoid water shortages.

  • WaterNew membranes deliver clean water more efficiently

    Researchers have developed new membranes or micro-filters that will result in clean water in a much more energy efficient manner. The new membranes will supply clean water for use in desalination and water purification applications. The novel membrane technology uses layer-by-layer polymer assembly.

  • Water infrastructureU.S. water infrastructure in crisis as a result of lack of investment

    Over the past decades, America’s water infrastructure has deteriorated, lacking the much needed investment to secure and ensure the sustainability of a vital natural resource. An analysis of U.S. infrastructure investment shows that spending on capital improvements to U.S. ports, for example, has averaged $10 billion annually over the last ten years. By 2025, that figure will reach $20 billion annually. In contrast, U.S. capital investments in water supply and wastewater treatment was roughly $2 billion annually over the last decade. It is projected to reach just $3 billion annually by 2025. “Our water infrastructure is in a state of crisis that is only exacerbated by the effects of climate change, growing populations and demand. The longer we ignore the problem, the more it costs us,” said Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland).

  • WaterCalifornia exploring water purification, imports, and conservation as water situation worsens

    California officials are calling on residents better to manage their water usage as the state enters its fourth consecutive year of drought. An average American uses 100 gallons of water each day, and reservoirs in California only have enough water to supply this level of consumption until the end of 2015. In 2014 alone, the state’s agriculture sector lost $2.2 billion in revenue as a result of the drought. State officials acknowledge that a heavy rainfall alone will not be sufficient to restore the groundwater the state needs, so water districts are investing in water recycling plants and exploring strategies ranging from importing water to encouraging greater conservation.

  • WaterDiminished Utah snowpack threatens Salt Lake City water supply

    Studies of water use from 2005 to 2010 show that Utahans used more water for public supply than any other state, despite Utah being ranked the second most arid within the country. Significantly lower levels of Utah snowpack this winter are the biggest climate challenge now facing Salt Lake City: The Northeastern part of the country is inundated with record amounts of snow, but Salt Lake City’s snowpack is 69 percent below the 30-year average.

  • WaterAverting global water crisis

    Climate change is increasing the demand for desalinated water — by 2025,14 percent of the global population will be forced to use desalinated sea water — as greater evaporation and rising seas further limit freshwater supplies for a growing world population. Current methods to desalinate water, however, come at a very high cost in terms of energy, which means more greenhouse gases and more global warming. Carbon nanotube membranes have the potential to tackle the current and future challenges in water purification.

  • WaterThe quality of the U.S. groundwater

    About 115 million people — more than one-third of the U.S. population — rely on groundwater for drinking water. As the U.S. population grows, the need for high-quality drinking-water supplies becomes even more urgent. The recently completed USGS’s national summary report of the quality of the Nation’s groundwater is now available online. Nine associated reports (USGS circulars) detail regional-scale assessments of groundwater quality in about thirty of the most heavily used principal aquifers across the United States.

  • WaterFunding water projects in times of financial uncertainty

    Currently, water projects in California are partly funded with municipal bonds, some of which must be approved by voters. A new analysis produced by Stanford University’s Water in the West Program provides a blueprint for overhauling the way California funds water infrastructure and innovation projects. The analysis recommends small per-usage fee — known as a public goods charge (PGC) — as appropriate way to pay for proper management of resources.

  • WaterRemoving iron from contaminated water

    High concentrations of dissolved iron from abandoned coal mines in Pennsylvania have been contaminating some of the Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers for many years, potentially affecting aquatic habitats and drinking water for millions of residents. To combat this problem, a team of Penn State researchers has proposed a method to eliminate much of the iron before it reaches the waterways.

  • DroughtsWarming pushes Western U.S. toward driest period in 1,000 years

    Study warns of unprecedented risk of drought in twenty-first century. Today, eleven of the past fourteen years have been drought years in much of the American West, including California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona and across the Southern Plains to Texas and Oklahoma. The current drought directly affects more than sixty-four million people in the Southwest and Southern Plains, and many more are indirectly affected because of the impacts on agricultural regions. A new study predicts that during the second half of the twenty-first century, the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains will face persistent drought worse than anything seen in times ancient or modern, with the drying conditions “driven primarily” by human-induced global warming.

  • Water & superbugThe water industry needs to join the fight against superbugs

    By Peter Fisher and Peter Collignon

    The fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria — so-called “superbugs” — is a huge challenge, one that the World Health Organization has described as a grave global problem. The problem of antibiotic resistance is being exacerbated worldwide by the pollution of waste water with leftover drugs, providing breeding grounds for resistant bacteria and their genes. The problem can persist for years, constantly refreshed by new discharges of both drugs and of resistant bacteria themselves, shed by people and animals. It is time for the health and water industries to strike a bargain. Health professionals need to be aware of the need for pharmaceuticals to be managed as organic and persistent pollutants. Tackling hot spots in “source control” such as hospitals and clinics could make significant inroads on the amount of waste drugs entering treatment plants. The water industry should ensure that treatment plants are operating under optimal conditions and that the older ones are either replaced or upgraded.

  • WaterDangerous levels of arsenic found in many U.S. wells

    Naturally occurring arsenic in private wells threatens people in many U.S. states and parts of Canada, according to new studies. The studies, focused mainly on New England but applicable elsewhere, say private wells present continuing risks due to almost nonexistent regulation in most states, homeowner inaction, and inadequate mitigation measures. The reports also shed new light on the geologic mechanisms behind the contamination. The studies come amid new evidence that even low doses of arsenic may reduce IQ in children, in addition to well documented risks of heart disease, cancer, and reduced lung function.

  • WaterInvention slows water evaporation, generates energy

    A new technology offers a positive environmental impact by slowing the evaporation of water from bodies of water such as mining tailings ponds and reservoirs, while simultaneously generating solar energy. The invention, called Hexocover, consists of floating hexagonal plastic panels that sandwich 4-inch balls linked together to form a cover to prevent evaporation. The panel design addresses the need for mobility through the inclusion of a propulsion system as well as GPS, so the panels can be built to be remotely configurable. Further, when configured with solar cells, the panels can generate electricity.

  • WaterChina’s water stress to worsen with transfer initiatives

    New research paints a grim picture for the future of China’s water supply, as its booming economy continues to heap pressure on its natural resources. The study determined that water stress is only partially mitigated by China’s current two-pronged approach: physical water transfers to water-depleted regions, including the major South-North water transfer projects, or the “virtual” water embodied in traded products between regions and countries.