Testing the waters: How groups monitor toxic algae in the absence of state testing

Read the full story at Harvest Public Media.

Blue-green algae appears in lakes all over the Midwest during the summers and can make both people and animals ill. Few states have routine testing programs to check for the toxic algae, but some local and volunteer groups are stepping in to fill that gap.

4 key steps for finance to take to tackle the growing water crisis

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Financial institutions must act now to boost water security and to protect themselves from the risks created by the water crisis.

Americans keep moving to where the water isn’t

Read the full story from Vox.

According to an analysis published earlier this month by the Economic Innovation Group, 10 of the 15 counties last year were in the water-strained Southwest. Since 2012, an additional 2.8 million people have moved to counties that spent the majority of the past decade under “severe” to “exceptional” drought conditions.

Bringing science closer to the water

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Located on the bank of the Sangamon River near Monticello, Illinois, sits the University of Illinois RiverLab, built to study the chemical makeup of the river—and provide insights into inland surface waters like never before.

Situated near an array of scenic woodlands, grassy fields, and farms, the RiverLab is no bigger than a shipping container, but it’s far more sophisticated. The front half is a fully functional chemistry lab to analyze the solute concentrations of the river water, and the back half is a pump and filtration system that keeps the water flowing.

Ceres launches initiative to showcase water risks

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Ceres has launched the Valuing Water Finance Initiative, a way for 72 corporate water users and polluters to consider water as a financial risk and to better protect water systems. 

Project aims to reduce water, energy in ethanol production

Read the full story from the University of Nebraska.

Nebraska researchers are studying how to make ethanol production more environmentally sensitive by reducing the amount of water and energy required to produce it and cutting the air emissions that result.

This federal program helped clean up the Great Lakes. Could it work for the Mississippi River?

Read the full story from New Orleans Public Radio.

Flooding is happening with more frequency and lasting longer, changing floodplain habitats. Invasive species are working their way further up the river and into its tributaries. And despite efforts to curb pollution running off land and into the river, the dead zone where the Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico still persists.

Advocates for the river are hoping that a proposed federal funding program, modeled after an effort to clean up the Great Lakes, could change that trajectory.

The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) was introduced last June by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from the Twin Cities. It’s based on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) which launched in 2010.

How Minnesota’s little, polluted Crow River clouds the Mississippi

Read the full story at The Lens.

The Crow River drains thousands of square miles of western Minnesota’s crop fields, doubling the nutrient load in the Mississippi River when the two meet near Dayton, Minn.

Maybe PFAS aren’t as sturdy as previously thought

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have quickly become ubiquitous in the environment. Used for decades in everything from firefighting foams to nonstick skillets, these potentially toxic compounds are now being found in soils, groundwater and even rain and snow.

And they’re expected to stay in the environment for years—perhaps centuries—as the compounds’ sturdy fluoride-carbon bonds make it nearly impossible for them to degrade naturally. But now, scientists have developed a way to permanently break down two classes of these “forever chemicals” using relatively low temperatures and a few common reagents (Science 2022, DOI: 10.1126/science.abm8868). Brittany Trang, who co-led the study, presented the work on Wednesday at the ACS Fall 2022 meeting in the Division of Environmental Chemistry. William Dichtel, a chemist at Northwestern University, also introduced the work at a presidential event symposium on Tuesday.

Dried up: Texas cities in fear of running out of water

Read the full story at The Hill.

The American West is experiencing its driest period in human history, a megadrought that threatens health, agriculture and entire ways of life. DRIED UP is examining the dire effects of the drought on the states most affected — as well as the solutions Americans are embracing.

As the Western U.S. suffers under its worst drought in a millennium, the government of Texas, a state that faces its own unique set of dangers from extreme weather, is at last turning to deal with the threat that climate change poses to its long-term water supply. 

Texas’s situation is sufficiently dire that in July, a majority-Republican panel on the state legislature voted unanimously to require the state water planning board to consult with the state climatologist as it advises cities in planning to meet the state’s water needs in the future.  

The rule change “removes the possibility that the political climate could harm [local water officials’] ability to plan responsibly for the future,” state Sen. Nathan Johnson (D), a major backer of the shift, told The Hill. 

“It kind of insulates the regional water authorities from political pressures that would harm their ability to do what they need to do,” Johnson said.  

But that process won’t bear fruit for years — and Texans increasingly worry that the crisis is here now.