Counting the Drops: Leak detection and auditing methods for water supply systems

Read the full story in Water Efficiency.

Leaks are never good, whether it’s a leaky boat or a leaky pipe system. Even advanced water utility systems can experience water loses ranging from 10 to 40%, with these losses being proportional to the population of the urban area serviced by the water distribution system. Large cities like New York, Beijing, and London are vulnerable to staggering amounts of water losses in absolute terms. It represents both a significant loss of resources and loss of revenues with matching increases in operational costs to a city and its water utility.

Scientists’ Group Launches Website to Help Federal Whistleblowers

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

Fearing an assault on science from the Trump administration, the Union of Concerned Scientists is creating a way for federal scientists to report abuses.

Chicago goes ‘back to basics’ to boost dismal recycling rate

Read the full story in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago is launching a “back-to-basics” campaign to boost a recycling rate that has dropped to just 4.5 percent on the Southeast Side and 9 percent citywide since the rules were changed to “Go Bagless.”

Average number of televisions in U.S. homes declining

Read the full story from the Energy Information Administration.

Results from the U.S Energy Information Administration’s most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) show that an average of 2.3 televisions were used in American homes in 2015, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per household in 2009. The number of homes with three or more televisions declined from the previous survey conducted in 2009, and a larger share of households reported not using a television at all. Televisions and peripheral equipment such as cable boxes, digital video recorders (DVRs), and video game consoles account for about 6% of all electricity consumption in U.S. homes.

After Flint, Feds and Some States Speed Up Time for Notifying Public About Lead-Contaminated Water

Read the full story in Governing.

The nation’s public water utilities will have to tell their customers within 24 hours — rather than 60 days — if dangerous levels are detected in homes they service under a law Congress recently passed in response to the Flint water crisis.

Clean Water Rule on Trump’s Next Chopping Block

Read the full story in Governing.

President Donald Trump will order his administration to rescind and rewrite an Obama-era environmental rule that critics say gave the U.S. government too much power to regulate waterways nationwide, according to a senior White House official.

Trump is set to sign a directive on Tuesday compelling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to review and reconsider the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” rule, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the document before its release. The Trump administration also will ask a federal court to halt consideration of a lawsuit from dozens of states and an assortment of businesses and agricultural groups challenging the rule while the measure is being reviewed.

Sustainable ceramics without a kiln

Read the full story at

The manufacture of cement, bricks, bathroom tiles and porcelain crockery normally requires a great deal of heat: a kiln is used to fire the ceramic materials at temperatures well in excess of 1,000°C. Now, material scientists from ETH Zurich have developed what seems at first glance to be an astonishingly simple method of manufacture that works at room temperature. The scientists used a calcium carbonate nanopowder as the starting material and instead of firing it, they added a small amount of water and then compacted it.

Full research article: Bouville F, Studart AR: Geologically-inspired strong bulk ceramics made with water at room temperature. Nature Communications, 28 February 2017, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14655

Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference

May 31, 2017 – June 1, 2017
I Hotel & Conference Center (1900 South First Street, Champaign, IL)

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) are co-organizing the Emerging Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment Conference (ECAEC17) which will be held on May 31 – June 1, 2017, in Champaign, IL.

The conference is an expansion of the successful conference on pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment held in April 2016. It will feature presentations and posters on the latest in emerging contaminant research, policies, and education. In addition, there will be opportunities for discussion with those interested in all aspects of emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment.

ISTC and IISG encourage researchers, educators, businesses, government officials, outreach and extension professionals, environmental groups, and members of the general public to attend the conference.

The event will take place at the I Hotel Conference Center in Champaign, IL. On May 31, oral sessions will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. CDT, with a reception and poster session following from 4:15 – 6:00 p.m. On June 1, oral sessions and a panel discussion will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration will open mid-February. (Times are subject to change once the agenda is finalized.)

Visit the conference website for up-to-date information.

Contact Information:
Contact: Elizabeth Meschewski
Phone: 217-333-7403

ISTC Sustainability Seminar: Are pyrethroid insecticides a threat to aquatic non-target species?

March 2, 2017 , noon-1pm CST
In person at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (1 E. Hazelwood Dr., Champaign) or online at

Presented by Michael Lydy, Ph.D. — Professor in the Departments of Zoology and Chemistry & Biochemistry, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Pyrethroid insecticides are currently used for pest control in terrestrial environments in both agricultural and urban areas world-wide, but often their residues are transported to aquatic systems through runoff events. These insecticides are hydrophobic so they tend to associate with the organic carbon portion of sediments and mortality has been linked with sediment pyrethroid residues. Special concern has been raised about the impacts of pyrethroid exposure in urban environments. In addition, several field populations of the freshwater amphipod, Hyalella azteca, from pesticide-exposed waterbodies demonstrate resistance to pyrethroid insecticides. If resistant H. azteca experience pyrethroid exposure, one of the possible consequences is bioaccumulation, which increases the potential for transfer of pyrethroids from the resistant individuals to higher trophic level organisms. This presentation will address how prevalent pyrethroids are in the aquatic environment and whether they are detected at high enough concentrations to cause harm to non-target aquatic species. It will also detail results concerning the potential for transfer of pyrethroids from resistant individuals to higher trophic level organisms.

Groups fighting repeal of safety regs for industrial plants

Read the full story at E&E News.

A coalition of more than two dozen environmental justice groups is advocating against congressional repeal of recently released U.S. EPA safety regulations for chemical plants, oil refineries and thousands of other major industrial facilities.