As Lake Powell Hits Landmark Low, AZ Looks to a $1 Billion Investment and Mexican Seawater to Slake its Thirst
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
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
Since Kenneth McDarment was a kid in the 1980s, he’s seen the foothills of the Sierra Nevada change. As a councilman of the Tule River Tribe, a sovereign nation of around 1,000 members living on 56,000-odd acres in the foothills of the Sierras, McDarment deals with everything water-related on the reservation. Today there’s less rain and less snow than there was even a decade ago, which means that the land in the foothills was dangerously dry during the last fire season, when wildfires were sweeping across the state. “If you don’t got water,” says McDarment, “we don’t got nothing. In 2014, McDarment began looking into getting ahold of some beavers. McDarment hoped that beaver dams would create soggy areas on tribal lands that wouldn’t dry out during heat waves. “We’re hoping that means our land will be less likely to burn during fire season,” he says. “Beavers were here originally. So why not bring them back and let them do the work they do naturally? There was just one problem—it is illegal to move beavers without a permit. And a permit to move a beaver isn't easy to come by. - Sierra
Many Americans fill up a glass of water from their faucet without worrying whether it might be dangerous. But the crisis of lead-tainted water in Flint, Mich., showed that safe, potable tap water is not a given in this country. Now a study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy organization, reveals a widespread problem: the drinking water of a majority of Americans likely contains “forever chemicals.” These compounds may take hundreds, or even thousands, of years to break down in the environment. They can also persist in the human body, potentially causing health problems. A handful of states have set about trying to address these contaminants, which are scientifically known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). But no federal limits have been set on the concentration of the chemicals in water, as they have for other pollutants such as benzene, uranium and arsenic. With a new presidential administration coming into office this week, experts say the federal government finally needs to remedy that oversight. “The PFAS pollution crisis is a public health emergency,” wrote Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, in a recent public statement. - Scientific American
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