The Southwest’s megadrought has put the spotlight on water conservation, and experts agree it’s a crucial part of the solution. But what does conservation mean to the average Arizonan? Shorter showers? No more grass lawns? What really matters might surprise you. Let’s say you’re standing at the kitchen sink with an empty peanut butter jar. You want to put it in the recycling bin, but you need to rinse it out first. Is it worth the water? In our daily lives, there are many ways to save water, such as turning off the faucet when we brush our teeth or taking shorter showers. These are nice gestures, but to really save water, said Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute, we need to think bigger - Cronkite News
Democratic attorney general candidate Kris Mayes is calling to investigate and potentially cancel the leases the State Land Department signed with a Saudi Arabian company that is pumping from Phoenix's backup water supply in western Arizona. Mayes is also calling for the Saudi Arabian company to pay the state approximately $38 million for using the water in La Paz County, which sits in a basin that could be tapped as a future water source for the Phoenix area. Mayes says the lease should be put on hold while they are investigated because they potentially violate the Arizona Constitution in two ways: They could violate the gift clause as well as a clause that requires state land and its products to be appraised and offered at their true value. - AZ Central
The Tibetan Plateau, known as the “water tower” of Asia, supplies freshwater for nearly 2 billion people who live downstream. New research led by scientists at Penn State, Tsinghua University and the University of Texas at Austin projects that climate change, under a scenario of weak climate policy, will cause irreversible declines in freshwater storage in the region, constituting a serious threat to the water supply for central Asia, Afghanistan, Northern India, Kashmir and Pakistan by the middle of the century. “The prognosis is not good,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State. “In a ‘business as usual’ scenario, where we fail to meaningfully curtail fossil fuel burning in the decades ahead, we can expect a substantial — that is, nearly 100% loss — of water availability to downstream regions of the Tibetan Plateau. I was surprised at just how large the predicted decrease is even under a scenario of modest climate policy.” - Penn State
As concerns over water scarcity grow, research published in Nature recently documents how freshwater availability has changed over the years, helping water specialists and managers pinpoint how this essential resource’s flows have been changing. Xander Huggins, a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria and Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, and his fellow researchers decided to explore what exactly these changes would mean for life here on Earth. The team examined 1,024 basins across the world to understand how water availability couples with social processes to create vulnerability in communities. The main factor they studied were freshwater stress, which is the amount of H2O that naturally leaves the watershed or basin per year; the higher the stress, the less water there is available for ecosystems and for people’s demands, according to Huggins. Following this, he and his colleagues coupled the findings with data on how freshwater storage in underground aquifers and glaciers, for example, is changing. - Popular Science / Nature
Midwest power plants face shutdown after EPA proposes denying requests to keep using unlined coal ash ponds
The United States has a PFAS problem. Whether they are raining down from the sky or popping up in food packaging, the mysterious chemicals, also known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances have been finding their way into our bodies and environment—sometimes at concerningly high levels. PFAS are also found in everyday cosmetics, especially in longwear and waterproof makeup items and can accidentally be ingested overtime. PFAS can even be found in our drinking water. PFAS are not only dangerous because they build up in the environment and in our bodies, but the chemicals are often associated with low infant birth rates and even cancer according to the EPA. In the past year, some research has connected high rates of PFAS exposure to worse COVID outcomes. Despite being such harmful toxins to people, they’re used regularly and are not historically regulated in the U.S. To tackle this dilemma, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a “Comprehensive National Strategy” to regulate the toxic industrial chemical. The plan describes three main strategies going forward–investing in more research on PFAS, leveraging authorities that can take action to restrict more PFAS chemicals from being released, and accelerating PFAS contamination cleanups. EPA administrator Michael S. Regan pointed out that the agency will work on holding polluters accountable in the announcement. - Popular Science
President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes to spend $16 billion plugging old oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. But there’s no authoritative measure of how many of these sites exist across the nation. In a recent study, my colleagues and I sought to account for every oil and gas well site in the lower 48 states that was eligible for restoration—meaning that the well no longer was producing oil or gas, and there were no other active wells using that site. We found more than 430,000 old well sites, with associated infrastructure such as access roads, storage areas, and fluid tanks. They covered more than 2 million acres—an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. - Fast Company
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