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Farm Country Faces Water Pollution from Droughts and Rains Spurred by Climate Change

In articles about water use and quality, footprints

When it rains it pours…nitrogen pollution into rural waterways especially after periods of drought. A recent study made that link and begs the question: What will happen to water in farm country if this pattern keeps up? Sun-baked fields and bone-dry streambeds set the scene in 2012 as a severe drought gripped much of the Midwest. If farmers in the …

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To HAB and HAB Not? Harmful Algal Blooms Plaguing Our Waters

In articles about water use and quality, footprints

Harmful algal blooms crop up because of excessive amounts of “nutrients,” primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, that act as super-charged feed for naturally occurring algae. These toxic blooms are a growing threat to public and ecosystem health. The transition from summer to fall is upon us, which means that peak foliage and peak pumpkin spice are just weeks away. Also peaking …

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Lake Mead: How Low Can You Flow?

In articles about water use and quality, footprints

Lake Mead supplies 90 percent of Las Vegas’ drinking water and frequently goes low enough to make water managers at the US Bureau of Reclamation nervous. It was a sweltering 108-degree June day when I landed in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there to give a talk about water and sustainability at the University Council on Water Resources 2015 conference. …

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For California Drought, Past is Key to Understanding the Future

In articles about water use and quality, footprints

While California is the agricultural hub of the United States, limited rainfall makes farming tricky. While forecasting future rainfall is a shaky business, a turn towards California’s hydrological history might be useful to understand the possible climate and water availability scenarios the state might encounter. The weekend storm that dumped heavy rainfall from the Bay Area to Los Angeles gave the state …

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Save Fisheries, Save Water

In articles about water use and quality, footprints

Saltwater fish production can help to meet the increasing protein demands of a growing population. But can it do so without substantially increasing the water footprint of humanity? Whoever thought that eating saltwater fish could help protect freshwater? Unlike land-based sources of protein including meat and dairy, saltwater fish production requires little to no freshwater. So, consuming fish instead of …