Water

The Water Short List: The Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can Take to Curb Water Use

Read the full article in Environment Magazine.

The long-term sustainability of many urban water supply systems in the United States is under assault from a confluence of forces. Climate change, an aging and increasingly obsolete water infrastructure, an expanding population in water-scarce regions, and economic growth are several of the formidable challenges to meeting present and future freshwater demands.1 Water conservation (broadly defined as reducing water use) offers a cost-effective and environmentally benign way to address these challenges in comparison to capturing, transporting, and treating new supplies.2 American households, a key end user of publicly supplied water, can play a vital role by curbing their own water use through installing water-efficient appliances (e.g., clothes washing machines) and fixtures (e.g., faucets) and adopting conserving habits. Determining the extent to which overall water use can be curbed can demonstrate the potential broader role that households can play in contributing to more sustainable water systems. Furthermore, identifying the most effective actions can help individuals and households with limited time, attention, and resources prioritize actions with larger savings.

Under Water: The EPA’s Struggle to Combat Pollution

Read the full story at ProPublica.

For years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been frustrated in its efforts to pursue hundreds of cases of water pollution — repeatedly tied up in legal fights about exactly what bodies of water it has the authority to monitor and protect. Efforts in Congress to clarify the EPA’s powers have been defeated. And two Supreme Court decisions have done little to decide the question.

Most recently, in April, the EPA itself declared what waters were subject to its oversight — developing a joint rule with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that sought to end the debate and empower the EPA to press hundreds of enforcements actions against alleged polluters across the country.

The new rule, for instance, explicitly defines several terms — tributary, floodplain and wetland — and makes clear that those waters are subject to its authority.

But the EPA’s effort has been met with immense opposition from farmers who say the agency is overreaching. An expansive online campaign organized and financed by the American Farm Bureau Federation has asserted that the new rule will give the EPA jurisdiction over farmers’ irrigation ditches, watering ponds and even puddles of rain.

DEP: Oil and gas operations damaged water supplies 209 times since end of ’07

Read the full story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania water supplies 209 times since the end of 2007, according to official determinations compiled by the Department of Environmental Protection that the agency is preparing to release for the first time.

6 reasons technology alone can’t solve water scarcity

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainably addressing water scarcity will require technology solutions both conventional and innovative — both the “hard path for water” and the soft path for water. The conventional “hard path for water” is characterized by centralized infrastructure and decision-making using technology and institutions developed in the 19th and 20th centuries: large dams and reservoirs, pipelines and treatment plants, public water departments and agencies and private companies.

The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up

Read the full story from the BBC.

A container filled with millions of Lego pieces fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997. But instead of remaining at the bottom of the ocean, they are still washing up on Cornish beaches today – offering an insight into the mysterious world of oceans and tides.

Should Nestle Be Bottling California Water In The Middle Of The State’s Record-Breaking Drought?

Read the full story at Fast Company.

California is in a deep drought. 2013 was the driest year on record in the state. The State Water Resources Control Board went so far this month as to impose harsh restrictions on outdoor water use. (Using potable water in an ornamental fountain? That’ll be a $500 fine.) And somehow, in the middle of all this, Nestle is bottling California’s scarce water and selling it.

Wasting water in California will now cost you $500

Read the full story at Grist.

Here’s a list of things that could now get you fined up to $500 a day in California, where a multi-year drought is sucking reservoirs and snowpacks dry:

  • Spraying so much water on your lawn or garden that excess water flows onto non-planted areas, walkways, parking lots, or neighboring property.
  • Washing your car with a hose that doesn’t have an automatic shut-off device.
  • Spraying water on a driveway, a sidewalk, asphalt, or any other hard surface.
  • Using fresh water in a water fountain — unless the water recirculates.

Those stern emergency regulations were adopted Tuesday by a unanimous vote of the State Water Resources Control Board – part of an effort to crack down on the profligate use of water during critically lean times.