• Warmer spring temperatures reduce Colorado River flows

    Warmer-than-average spring temperatures reduce upper Colorado River flows more than previously recognized, according to a new report. The study, the first to examine the instrumental historical record, discovers that temperature has played a larger role in streamflow and in exacerbating drought since the 1980s.

  • Groundwater deficit growing in important western U.S. aquifers

    By 2050, climate change will increase the groundwater deficit even more for four economically important aquifers in the Western United States, a new report says. Groundwater deficits are expected to worsen in four important aquifers, creating a precarious balance between usage and recharge. The new report is the first to integrate scientists’ knowledge about groundwater in the American West with scientific models that show how climate change will affect the region.

  • Water storage strategies in Sub-Sahara Africa

    Direct abstraction of water from rivers through ponds and pumping devices seems the most attractive water storage option in Ethiopia. However, the funding agencies that may be interested in investing in such a storage system have to consider that better access to credit, and clear abstraction policies should be ensured.

  • Chlorine-free water tastes better, and may be healthier

    Chlorinated tap water is the norm around the world, but the experiences of several European countries is that it does not have to be. The benefits of foregoing chlorine include better-tasting and, potentially, healthier water.

  • Virginia Tech continues addressing water crisis in Flint, Michigan

    Last summer, a Flint resident reached out more than 500 miles to Virginia Tech for help, after officials said the orange water flowing into residents’ homes was OK to drink. That first round of testing was a wake-up call to the nation. Virginia Tech students and discovered more than 133 times the amount of lead on average was in the water than the maximum allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • Four billion people affected by severe water scarcity

    There are four billion people worldwide who are affected by severe water scarcity for at least one month a year. This alarming figure is much higher than was previously thought. In the first research of its kind, researchers identified people’s water footprint from month to month, and compared it to the monthly availability of water.

  • Putting a price on groundwater, other natural capital

    Most people understand that investing in the future is important, and that goes for conserving nature and natural resources, too. But in the case of investing in such “natural” assets as groundwater, forests, and fish populations, it can be challenging to measure the return on that investment. A Yale-led research team has adapted traditional asset valuation approaches to measure the value of such natural capital assets, linking economic measurements of ecosystem services with models of natural dynamics and human behavior.

  • Battery technology would charge up water desalination

    A new technology, which charges batteries for electronic devices, could provide fresh water from salty seas, says a new study. Electricity running through a salt water-filled battery draws the salt ions out of the water.

     

  • FBI launches investigation of lead poisoning of Flint’s drinking water

    The FBI has launched an investigation into the contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan, which has left Flint children and other residents poisoned by lead. In a hearings on the Hill yesterday, lawmakers from both parties described what is happening in Flint as a “a man-made public health catastrophe.” Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014 after a state-appointed emergency manager ordered city officials temporarily to switch the city’s water source from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to water from the Flint River, treated at the Flint water treatment plant. The order by the state-appointed emergency manager was part of the state’s cost-cutting measures.

  • In kids, even low lead levels can cause lasting harm

    By Robert L. Fischer and Elizabeth Anthony

    Until a few years ago, the federal standard for action was 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood, and in 2012 it was lowered by half in recognition of evidence showing a lower threshold of concern. But the truth is there is no known safe level of blood lead for children, and the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said as much. The medical research community has documented negative impacts on children with even lower levels of lead exposure than the current 5 micrograms per deciliters standard. With that view, we might consider every child with a confirmed nonzero lead test as at-risk. Testing lead blood levels in children is simply too late. This is akin to the TSA searching for lethal weapons after the passengers have boarded the flight and the plan has taken off. Once the lead is in the bloodstream, the damage is real and lasting for these children, and the options for response are far fewer and less effective. Children living in low-income neighborhoods, children of color, and children whose families live in rental housing are statistically at the greatest risk of exposure to lead. That means the children most at risk of lead exposure also disproportionately face the effects of poverty, low-resource communities, and trauma.

  • Flint Water Study research team to present findings on Thursday

    Virginia Tech’s Marc Edwards and his team of research scientists and students will give a presentation on Thursday, 28 January, in Blacksburg to outline their work — done in collaboration with Flint, Michigan, residents — which exposed widespread lead-in-water contamination. The presentation will provide an overview of the Flint Water Study team’s efforts combining ethics engineering, citizen science, laboratory experiments, investigative science, and social media to confirm the high lead levels in Flint’s water.

  • Piping as poison: the Flint water crisis and America’s toxic infrastructure

    By Chris Sellers

    As the crisis over the water in Flint, Michigan, rolls on, we’re learning more and more about the irresponsibility and callousness of officials and politicians in charge. The mix of austerity politics, environmental racism, and sheer ineptitude makes for a shocking brew, yet the physical conditions that have made it literally toxic for Flint residents are neither as exceptional nor as recent as much of the media coverage suggests. An estimated three to six million miles of lead pipes across the United States still carry water, and most all of them are vulnerable to similar dangers, whether at the hands of short-sighted and prejudicial bureaucrats or politicians whose ideology or opportunism leads them to blithely dismiss well-established science. The best solution would be to replace our lead lines systematically and proactively, not just one crisis-beset city at a time. Until we do so, it’s a safe bet that more Flints lie on our horizon.

  • Global water supply under increasing pressure

    A new study projects that global demand for water could more than double by 2050, increasing pressure on already scarce water resources. “Our current water use habits increase the risk of being unable to maintain sustainable food production and economic development for the future generation,” says one researcher. Water efficiency and water saving measures could stabilize demand.

  • As climate warms, Colorado high peaks lose glaciers

    Melting of ice on Niwot Ridge and the adjacent Green Lakes Valley in the high mountains west of Boulder, Colorado, is likely to progress as climate continues to warm, scientists have found. Their study reveals declines in ice — glaciers, permafrost, subsurface ice, lake ice — in the Niwot Ridge area over the past thirty years. For glaciers like Arikaree, the time left may be counted in years, not centuries nor millennia, says one expert.

  • Protecting drinking water

    We place high demands on the quality of our drinking water. If pathogens or toxic substances found their way into the piping system, many people could become infected or injured very quickly. This is why this risk must be kept low. To do this, experts have developed technologies for a comprehensive monitoring, early warning and emergency management system.