News Briefs

News briefs and articles about water footprints, water use and availability, as well as interviews with key people in the fields of water footprints and water use.

Redrawing Crop Distribution Could Boost Food Production

November 8, 2017

A new study in Nature Geoscience finds that global redistribution of the 14 crops that make up 72 percent of global harvests – peanuts, corn, millet, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, roots, sorghum, soybean, sugar beets, sugarcane, sunflowers, tubers and wheat – could significantly reduce water stress by making rain-fed production less susceptible to dry spells […]

Ag-Related Nitrate Common in Small Town Water Supplies, Says New EWG Report

November 7, 2017

According to a new EWG report, the drinking water supplies for millions of people living in farm country are compromised because of a pollutant associated with agriculture: nitrate. Excessive nitrates spawn harmful algal blooms that form “dead zones” and, in infants, can cause the potentially deadly “blue baby syndrome.” According to EWG, “Drinking water supplies for more than 200 million Americans […]

Living Sustainably: Three’s Not Enough: The Eight R’s of Recycling

November 7, 2017

For those who think the concept of the “Three Rs” of recycling are difficult, get ready to meet the “Eight Rs.” For those of who recycle, you’re going to love the new Rs: remember the need; refuse and assess; reduce; reuse; refill; repair; regift; recycle; and repeat. [Holland Sentinel]

New Online Tool Teaches Students About the Energy-Water Nexus

October 31, 2017

Using a new online tool, students can use real energy and water data sets to explore how surface and groundwater use are impacted by population changes, power generation and water-saving strategies. The interactions between food, energy and water supplies are critically important to sustainability. Energy and water are strongly interrelated because it takes water to […]

NASA Ends Trailblazing Satellite Mission that Revealed Global Groundwater Trends

October 30, 2017

NASA and its partners ended the GRACE satellite mission this week after eight of 20 battery units in one of the paired satellites stopped working. The satellites – GRACE-1 and GRACE-2 – worked in tandem to measure fractional changes in Earth’s gravity due to, among other things, the amount of groundwater in prominent aquifers. Data […]

Cape Town Rations Water Before Reservoirs Hit Zero

October 27, 2017

Due to severe drought, Cape Town, South Africa is imposing extreme conservation measures on it’s 4 million residents in order to avoid having it’s water system turned off. After three years of extremely low rainfall, Capetonians will be allowed no more than 23 gallons per household (equivalent to about a 10-minute shower). This extreme  measure […]

How much water flows into agricultural irrigation?

October 26, 2017

A recently published study figured out how to more precisely monitor agricultural irrigation using satellite and environmental data from Google Earth Engine. Such new research methods are important because agriculture is the largest use of fresh water around the globe, but precise data and maps are in short supply for farmers and water resource managers. […]

Residential End Uses of Water, V. 2

August 25, 2017

This update to the comprehensive Water Research Foundation’s 1999 Residential End Uses of Water study is the gold standard for water use in the United States. The update includes more varied site locations, hot water end use data, more detailed landscape analyses and expanded water rates analyses. The project focused solely on single-family residences. [Circle […]

Your Drinking Water Might Not Be Safe Because of Farm Pollution, Says Environmental Group

August 8, 2017

US water systems may contain contaminants even in trace amounts, according to a new Environmental Working Group database. While the vast majority of the 500,000 water utilities reviewed supply high quality water, smaller systems, especially in places like rural Iowa, have trouble meeting standards for such compounds as nitrates caused by farm pollution. [Des Moines […]