Every time you poop, you’re helping Chicago health officials track COVID

Read the full story from WBEZ.

People shed the virus through their nose and mouth and in their poop. The city is using sewage data to help keep tabs on transmission.

Study seeks private well users for research into lead levels

by Trish Barker, Prairie Research Institute

The Water Survey, with collaborators from the University of Illinois and county health departments, is continuing a study into measurable lead levels in homes with private wells in rural areas of Champaign, Jackson, Peoria, Kane, and Whiteside counties.

Lead exposure can cause serious damage to children’s developing brains, so identifying elevated lead concentrations and working with homeowners and public health workers to mitigate sources of lead in water is vital.

The study involves taking water samples to determine if there is lead. After initial sampling, some participants are then selected for the next phase, which involves repeat sampling and plumbing and well assessments to identify sources of lead. If the water is found to have lead in this phase, researchers randomly assign the home to one of four mitigation methods, which include devices to remove lead and potentially modifications to the pipes, plumbing, and/or well.

The study is now recruiting participants from Champaign and Whiteside counties, and the neighboring counties of Ogle, Lee, Bureau, Henry, and Rock Island. If you live in one of these counties, use a private well, and are interested in participating, please contact waterlead@illinois.edu for more information.

This story originally appeared on the PRI News blog. Read the original article.

The avoided-cost calculator: The controversial metric at the center of California’s solar net-metering fight

Read the full story from Canary Media.

Tying rooftop solar payments to climate and grid benefits makes sense in theory. But in the real world, it could get very messy.

SK invests in Fulcrum BioEnergy to accelerate production of low-carbon fuel from waste

Read the full story at Green Car Congress.

SK Inc., the strategic investment arm of South Korea’s SK Group, was part of a $50-million investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a US-based waste-to-fuels company. SK Inc. was joined in the investment with a Korean private equity fund.

Fulcrum produces biofuel on a commercial scale by chemically converting municipal solid waste (MSW) into transportation fuels. SK Inc. plans to enhance its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) portfolio with its investment in Fulcrum.

Cities lack sufficient data to monitor their progress toward climate goals: report

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

More than a third of the nation’s 100 large cities have failed to establish overall community-wide climate goals, and just 19 of the 38 that have data available on their efforts to date were on track to meet their goals, according to the 2021 City Clean Energy Scorecard released Dec. 15 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

San Francisco ranked first overall, with Seattle and Washington, D.C., next. Madison, Wisconsin; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Honolulu were the year’s most-improved cities, but many municipalities saw their progress stifled by the pandemic due to budget cutbacks and worker furloughs.

Although transportation contributes the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, just a quarter of these 100 cities have set goals to reduce either vehicle miles traveled or GHG emissions from the sector, the report stated.

The Western megadrought is revealing America’s ‘lost national park’

Read the full story from NPR.

Despite recent rain and record snowfall in California’s Sierra Nevada, the Western U.S. is experiencing one of its driest periods in a thousand years — a two-decade megadrought that scientists say is being amplified by human-caused climate change. The drought — or longer-term aridification, some researchers fear — is forcing water cutbacks in at least three states and is reviving old debates about how water should be distributed and used in the arid West.

At Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, record-low water levels are transforming the landscape, renewing a long-standing dispute over the land the reservoir drowned — a canyon labyrinth that novelist Edward Abbey once described as “a portion of earth’s original paradise.” For half a century, environmental groups and Colorado River enthusiasts have implored water managers to restore Glen Canyon by draining the reservoir.

Biogas from America’s favorite meat: pollution solution or a prop for poultry?

Read the full story from the Food & Environment Reporting Network.

But in addition to producing 4 billion pounds of what the industry touts as the healthiest, most affordable, and climate-friendly meat, Delmarva also annually generates hundreds of thousands of tons of chicken waste, including manure, feathers, bones, and processing sludge. These dregs — which contain high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus — are often over-applied to farm fields and then run off into local waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay, where these nutrients contribute to low-oxygen conditions that kill fish and crabs.

Now, a solution modeled by dairy and swine operations may be in the offing as biogas companies vie to build anaerobic digesters on Delmarva. Inside these heated tanks, hungry microbes will consume poultry waste and emit a mix of gases rich in methane. This biogas will be scrubbed to remove impurities like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. Rebranded by the industry as “renewable natural gas,” it will then be sold to energy companies including Chesapeake Utilities and British Petroleum, which will burn the methane to generate heat and electricity, or compress it and sell it as truck fuel.

LanzaTech and Zara debut collection made from recycled carbon emissions

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

A little black dress made from captured carbon emissions could make a remarkable green Christmas present this winter, after biotech developer LanzaTech announced it has teamed up with fashion retail giant Zara to produce textiles made using carbon emissions. 

The resulting capsule collection of party dresses is available for sale through Zara.com from this week, with the companies highlighting how the technology both captures carbon emissions and displaces demand for conventional fossil fuel-based polyester yarns.

The cities that battle winter with beets

Read the full story from Bloomberg CityLab.

When Washington, D.C., announced it was busy preparing for a wintry mix by making a cocktail of road-coating beet extract last week, some people were understandably confused. Beets and streets do not compute. Salt and streets, on the other hand, has a nice ring to it — if only because that particular food-infrastructure pairing had a head start in the popular imagination as an effective way to stop cars from skidding during icy nights. 

But D.C., like many cities, has long relied on a potion of beet-enhanced brine to coat its roads. The extract of sugar beets, when combined with traditional ice-melting chlorides, can be more effective at lowering the freezing point of water than salt alone (here’s how the chemistry works). It’s also more biodegradable and less corrosive to vehicles. Discovered by a Hungarian scientist in the 1990s, the just-add-beets method has spread across North America, joining a host of other agricultural byproducts — including pickle juice, cheese brine and leftover beer — sprayed on streets in a quest to cut the dangerous salt habit that highway departments have picked up. 

The water issues to keep your eyes on during 2022

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

For years, water issues have revolved around the resource being too scarcetoo abundant or too polluted. 2022 may be the year when we finally start talking about water extreme events being too frequent as well. From droughts to floods to cities with boil water notice, the intervals between events continue to shrink as climate change advances.

2022 may also prove to be a year of change for water. Significant legal and policy shifts are underway that should be on everyone’s watchlist.