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Top 10 Water News Stories of 2012

Best-in-class reporting on the confrontation between water, food, and energy that influenced policy making in Asia, proved invaluable to university researchers in Europe, and informed citizens and the media in the United States and around the world.

A Remarkable Year
In January 2012, findings from our 2011 Choke Point: China report were cited in a congressional hearing of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington, D.C. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton featured 14 of our images during her speech opening the U.S. State Department’s World Water Day event. In June, the Rockefeller Foundation recognized the importance — and challenges — of our work and our mission with the $US 100,000 Centennial Innovation Award. In September, Circle of Blue director J. Carl Ganter was named vice-chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security for 2013, an honor that recognizes him as one of the most prominent experts on the condition of the world’s water and possible solutions to the freshwater crisis. And in December, in a particularly gratifying response to our work, Circle of Blue received the Traverse City Central High School Junior Achievement Class’s philanthropy award of $US 84.10. From the big stage to the small classroom, our work is being recognized by readers like you. Thank you.

Around the globe, 2012 was a year of extremes – flooding and drought, superstorms and low water levels. More than ever, the confrontation between water, food, and energy informed Circle of Blue’s reports, from Australia to China, the Philippines to the United States. Below you’ll find our Top 10 stories from 2012. We also provide updates from our Top 10 of 2011. (For links to all our stories from 2012, click here. For a preview of the stories we’ll be watching in 2013, click here.)

Look for more breakthrough reporting, revealing photography, and incisive infographics in 2013. And, as always, we want to hear what you think. What are the big stories, the untold trends that you think we need to cover? Who are the new heroes? Contact us via email at, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Top 10 Water News Stories of 2012


  Choke Point: China II  
  Our Choke Point: China coverage continued in 2012, describing how the world’s largest nation is developing at a speed and scale never before witnessed. From the shift in China’s food production to the slow development of its deep shale gas reserves, the expansion of China’s economy is pushing the nation to the brink of its resource limits. Read More…


  Water & Energy in the Outback  
  On-the-ground coverage from Down Under this year revealed that rising global demand is driving Australia’s energy production to new heights, producing a tight competition over water. In Australia’s southwest, a political fight developed over a new draft plan for the restoration and allocation of water supplies in the Murray-Darling Basin. Read More…


  Philippines: Sanitation & Supply  
  While water privatization projects around the globe continue to be controversial, Circle of Blue reported on the Philippine capital of Manila, one of the world’s most extensive urban water privatization projects. In Cuatro, a poor, “informal” community in Manila’s East Zone, our team found nearly 100 percent of the population with potable drinking water. Read More…


  Global Drought + Food  
  Crop failures, food security, and uneven water supply for irrigation buffeted the world’s farm sector and drove food prices higher around the world. From India’s weak monsoon season to the food crisis in Somalia, Circle of Blue documented how the planet’s changing climate is producing more dire consequences for global food security. Read More…  

  U.S. Drought + Food  
  The most extensive U.S. drought since the 1950s decimated the corn crop and fueled wildfires in Colorado, where farming — driven by high commodity prices — threatens aquifers in the San Luis Valley. In the South, river beds dried up and brackish water harmed the oyster industry in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. Read More…


  U.S. Water Pricing and Infrastructure  
  Your water bill most likely increased during 2012. Climate change is the major perpetrator of price increases due to increased risks of emergencies, like Superstorm Sandy and the high cost of adapting our aging infrastructure. Read More…


  U.S. Election and Budget  
  President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget expanded clean energy funding, but cut back the EPA’s budget for water and sewer infrastructure spending. Circle of Blue’s election coverage including a guide to water-related ballot issues for the 2012 election. The results proved that voters will do what it takes to keep their water systems secure. Read More…


  Great Lakes Climate  
  Circle of Blue’s comprehensive reporting on the threat that climate change poses to the Great Lakes encompassed the looming threat of the invasive Asian carp, the economic benefits and environmental risks of expanding tar sands pipelines, and the serious droughts and dropping lake levels affecting port communities and shipping industries alike. Read More…


  Action Figures  
  One idea, one drop, one story at time: Today’s real superheroes don’t have alter-egos and they don’t wear capes. The Action Figures series showcases people like you and people you know who are shaping how we understand the world’s greatest challenges in water, food, and energy. Read More…


  In The Circle: Fresh Focus  
  Ever wonder what we’re working on behind the scenes? Blog posts and commentary from all our contributors can be found at In The Circle: Fresh Focus — what we’re reading, what data we’re playing with, what recent report has piqued our interest. Whether we’re in the office or in the field, you’ll hear from us before the big story publishes. Read More…


Author: Allison Voglesong   is an editorial intern for Circle of Blue based out of Traverse City, Michigan. She holds a BA in International Relations from Michigan State University's James Madison College. Her interests include water pricing, environmental economics and policy, and conflict mediation.

Email: Allison Voglesong  :: Follow on Twitter :: More Articles

1 Comment
  1. […] Top ten water news stories of 2012: This round up of news stories published by Circle of Blue gives a great overview of where we stand now in terms of the global water crisis. […]

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