• Trend

    Concern about pharmaceuticals showing up in drinking water in trace quantities has prompted a growing public awareness of the need to dispose of unneeded pharmaceuticals properly; changing disposal methods will not solve the problem of other organic waste contaminants, because most of them get into the wastewater stream through intended uses, such as bathing and laundering, and because wastewater treatment systems generally are not able to remove them

  • Texas’s population of about 24.3 million is expected to hit about 45.5 million by 2060, and the water supply can not come close to keeping pace; if the state were to experience major drought conditions with that many more people, officials estimate almost every Texan would be without sufficient water and there would be more than $90 billion in economic losses

  • Michigan State University researchers develop robots that use advanced materials to swim like fish to probe underwater environments; robotic fish — perhaps schools of them operating autonomously for months — could give researchers far more precise data on aquatic conditions, and the quality — and security — of the water supply

  • Water wars

    The ice and snow caps of the Himalayas are depleted by global warming; as the availability of water in Himalayan-fed river systems that support 1.3 billion people drops, experts expect the border between India and Bangladesh to be the first flashpoint of an intensifying battle across south Asia

  • There are three options for meeting the food needs of Asia’s population, which will expand by one-and-a-half billion people over the next forty years: The first is to import large quantities of cereals from other regions; the second to improve and expand rainfed agriculture; and the third to focus on irrigated farmlands

  • Wars of the future

    Up to 1.2 billion people in Asia, 250 million Africans and 81 million Latin Americans will be exposed to increased water stress by 2020; over 260 river basins are shared by two or more countries; as the resource is becoming scarce, tensions among different users may intensify, both at the national and international level

  • California already has upward of 1,000 dams that provide water supply, flood control, and hydropower, but California growing water shortages; last month Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger insisted he would not sign off on any major overhaul of the water system without money for new dams and reservoirs

  • Researchers substitute an atom of gallium for an aluminum atom in the center of an aluminum oxide cluster, creating a more effective process for removing bacterial, viral, and other organic and inorganic contaminants from river water destined for human consumption, and from wastewater treatment plants prior to returning water to the environment

  • New study says there is a one-in-two chance of fully depleting all of the Colorado River reservoir storage system by mid-century assuming current management practices continue on course

  • Land down under

    Lake Wivenhoe, which spans an area about the size of the city of Brisbane, supplies water to 1.5 million residents in south-east Queensland; CSIRO deploys its FLECK smart wireless sensor network technology to monitor water quality

  • Using disinfectants to keep water drinkable was one of the major achievements of the twentieth century; a recent study now shows that the chemicals used to purify the water we drink and use in swimming pools react with organic material in the water yielding toxic consequences

  • Researchers develop nano-sized laboratory, complete with a microscopic workbench, to measure water quality in real time; breakthrough will help keep water safe from pollution and bioterrorist threats

  • New self-forming, self-healing wireless mesh sensor network can detect railway embankment landslides, humidity in art museums, water quality in water treatment facilities — and has military and security applications such as a perimeter network that can detect intrusion through breaking a light beam, or triggering a tripwire, or proximity sensor

  • Civil engineers association assigns a D grade to U.S. infrastructure, and says $2.2 trillion in repairs needed

  • On the water front

    Researchers develop hydrogel material that can detect and remove contaminants in water; the hydrogel shrinks as it absorbs heavy metal pollutants, signaling the presence of cadmium and other toxic ions, even as it absorbs them from the contaminated water

  • Lists

    U.S. citizens may upset to learn — should be upset to learn — that their drinking water contain disturbing amounts of pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals; the concentrations are small, for now, but individuals with some health conditions should consult their physicians

  • The American Chemical Society wants to do its share to bolster societal safety — and a new series of an the organization-sponsored podcasts describe an array of technologies to help assure personal safety and national security

  • Each year, an influx of nutrients — mainly nitrogen — which come from fertilizers flushed out of the Mississippi basin creates dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico — zones where there is not enough oxygen to sustain life; the summer’s Midwest floods flush record levels of nutrients into the Gulf, creating a dead zone the size of New Jersey

  • On the water front

    Water-attracting materials seem to repel impurities, thus leaving a layer of pure water near their surface; making tubes from these particle-excluding materials would allow for a new way to purify water — if, for now, in relatively small quantities

  • On the water front

    Scottish researchers develop a method for turning farm-yard waster into water fit to bathe in; new method also prevents loss of contaminants to rivers and lakes, where they may be detrimental to animal or human health