EPA Announces Request for Proposals for Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant

EPA is soliciting proposals for the management of the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant. The purpose of the grant is to accelerate and expand the strategic protection of healthy freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds across the country. EPA expects to issue a cooperative agreement to fund a single grantee to manage the Healthy Watersheds Consortium grant program and issue sub-awards on a competitive basis.

Eligible applicants for this Request for Proposals are non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations, interstate agencies, and inter-tribal consortia which are capable of undertaking activities that advance healthy watershed programs on a national basis. Eligible entities for the sub-awards include public and private nonprofit institutions/organizations, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, states, local governments, U.S. territories or possessions, and interstate agencies. Anticipated federal funding under the competition is approximately $3.75 million over six years.

Proposals are due January 5, 2015.

EPA will host a national Information Session regarding the funding opportunity “Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant” on Thursday, November 13th at 2pm Eastern. Register for the information session at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4218108496644088065. Questions and answers from this Information Session will be posted at http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/watershed/consortiumgrant.cfm.

8 ways Big Data helps improve global water and food security

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Big Data is transforming agriculture, and just in time. The demand for food is expected to double by 2050 as the world’s population heads toward 9 billion people and increasing incomes allow many more to afford a better diet. Lack of water is a critical constraint to increasing food production, particularly as droughts and other consequences of climate change are making water scarcer.

To help solve this enormous challenge, the agriculture and water communities are harnessing Big Data to ramp up food production with less pressure on our water resources. Experts from around the world gathered in Seattle this week at the Water for Food Global Conference to discuss ways to harness this data revolution in agriculture. Hosted by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska in association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the conference focused on mobilizing Big Data to improve global water and food security.

With that in mind, here are eight ways Big Data is helping to create a more water- and food-secure world.

Coping with Water Scarcity

Read the full story from the University of California, Riverside.

As California enters its fourth year of severe drought, Southern California water agencies have turned to new pricing structures, expanded rebate programs and implemented other means to encourage their customers to reduce consumption.

Some of those policies have greatly reduced per capita consumption, while others have produced mixed results, according to a report published in the UC Riverside School of Public Policy journal Policy Matters. The journal is published quarterly by the School of Public Policy, and provides timely research and guidance on issues that are of concern to policymakers at the local, state, and national levels.

Getting the salt out

Read the full story from MIT.

The boom in oil and gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is seen as a boon for meeting U.S. energy needs. But one byproduct of the process is millions of gallons of water that’s much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from rocks deep below the surface.

Now researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia say they have found an economical solution for removing the salt from this water. The new analysis appears this week in the journal Applied Energy, in a paper co-authored by MIT professor John Lienhard, postdoc Ronan McGovern, and four others.

Stream Discovery workshop for Illinois educators Nov. 14th

Have you ever wanted to involve your class or student group in a citizen science project collecting and analyzing real scientific data!?

Have you ever wanted to help protect Illinois streams and rivers but don’t know where to start?!

The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center invites you to attend a Stream Discovery training workshop November 14th from noon-5pm at Lewis and Clark Community College, Godfrey, IL.  Stream Discovery is a statewide program that offers educators the resources and materials to involve their class in citizen science stream monitoring and water quality analysis. Monitoring includes a habitat, chemical, and a biological survey (includes catching macroinvertebrates like dragonfly and mayfly nymphs) on a wadeable stream near your school or organization. Workshop attendees will also receive access to our online database designed by National Geographic to upload and share pictures and data.

This workshop is part of the Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium being conducted Nov. 14-15th, featuring keynote speakers Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters and Sean O’Connnor of National Geographic. Please visit http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e9o47rcu02c45931&llr=wx7o69dab to register. Cost is $55 for the conference, plus $25 dollars for the Stream Discovery workshop. If you would like to attend the Stream Discovery workshop, but not the conference, then please e-mail riverwatch@lc.edu to be put on the workshop list.

Registration deadline is 1 week before the workshop. Registration is limited, first come first-served! Sign up today!

Contact Matt Young, Illinois RiverWatch Coordinator for more information.

China’s water dilemma between farming and growing population

Read the full story in The Guardian.

In an increasingly volatile world, China’s economic growth has proved remarkably resilient. While the economies of Europe and America have stalled or nose-dived since the 2008 financial crash, China’s has continued to expand. The headlines are startling: since the early 1990s, GDP growth per capita has averaged 8.9%, and nearly 600 million people have been lifted out of poverty.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that China’s growth was kick-started by investment in agriculture. This, in turn, catalysed growth in the wider rural economy and, as China’s rural inhabitants got richer, so they moved to growing towns and cities, building – literally – the skylines of Beijing, Shanghai and other megacities.

In the meantime, China’s agricultural economy has motored on. Despite rapid urbanisation, and an economy now driven by industry rather than farming, the country is still able to feed over 20% of the world’s population. Maintaining self-sufficiency in wheat and rice remains ideologically important, even if imports of feed grains for meat production have soared over recent years.

But agriculture – and particularly the irrigated agriculture that supports food production in the drier north of the country – needs water. And as other parts of the economy have boomed, water scarcity is biting hard. This has created something of a dilemma for China’s ruling Community Party (CCP): how can it safeguard food production, and the incomes of China’s farmers, while releasing water to increasingly thirsty urban and industrial users?

Farmers Fight Coca-Cola as India’s Groundwater Dries Up

Read the full story from Bloomberg News.

Savitri Rai winces as she recounts how police beat her when she protested against groundwater extraction at a Coca-Cola Co. (KO) plant near her farm in India. A decade later, she said her water supplies keep dwindling.

“We have to dig ever deeper wells,” the 60-year-old said outside her mud house in Mehadiganj village in Uttar Pradesh state, blaming the beverage company’s bottling line a kilometer (0.6 miles) away. Coca-Cola, which declined to comment on Rai’s allegations, in August scrapped a $24 million expansion at the site, citing delays in permits to extract more water.

Such flashpoints add pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve groundwater management in the world’s biggest user of the resource as he seeks to transform India into a manufacturing hub. Growing aquifer overexploitation by farms, businesses and cities imperils India’s development goals, according to the World Bank, signaling challenges for industries from mining to brewing in need of reliable water sources.