Environment
LakeMichigan-250

Canadian and American advocates join to promote big oversight idea of the “commons.”

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Beach-70

Closing in on nearly two decades in court, this “David and Goliath” fight seems far from over. Plaintiffs contend that no amount of money can repair the damage to the environment and to the lives of the 30,000 who claim to have been affected, while the U.S. oil company has denounced the Ecuadorean court system […]

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Panama is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Western Hemisphere, largely thanks to a new free-trade agreement with the U.S. and an ongoing $US 5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal. Slated for completion in 2014, the expansion will double the canal's capacity, which will reduce emissions, and the new system will recycle 60 percent of the water in each transit, along with an overall decrease of 7 percent less water than is used by the existing locks.

News headlines are often dominated by the big, unexpected events — BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, for example, or Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophes in 2011 — but some events come with advance warning. Here is a preview of the water news to look for in 2012.

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Pharmaceuticals in the Water Systems Infographic

An estimated 10 to 40 percent of prescription and over-the-counter medicines are not used, but how to properly dispose of these drugs depends on who you ask. Since there is no continuous national program, states — and even some cites — are instituting their own regulations, but not without complaints from the pharmaceutical industry.

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Red Tide Dead Fish Algae Blooms

High temperatures and salinity concentrations along the Texas Gulf Coast are behind a toxic red tide, fish kills, and an influx of oyster parasites. Additionally, several saltwater species have been found upstream, surviving in a typically freshwater environment and signaling a large change in these delta ecosystems.

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European Fracking Infographic

Shale gas test drilling likely triggered two minor earthquakes in northwestern England earlier this year, according to a a new report commissioned by Cuadrilla Resources, a private United Kingdom-based energy company.

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Public Art Purple Pipe

The $1.8 billion Brightwater facility, 10 miles northeast of Seattle, eschews old notions of what a sewage plant is. State-of-the-art membrane technology produces reusable water, a trail system allows outdoor recreation, and wetlands give salmon a place to spawn.

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Infographic: China’s Water Pollution Events and Protection Policies (2004-2011)

China has some of the dirtiest and most dangerous water in the world. This detailed and interactive timeline shows key pollution events, protests, and policy reforms from the last eight years at both the national and regional levels as China tries to clean up its act.

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USGS groundwater water pollution contamination 2011 report arsenic manganese radon uranium

Utilities are required by law to treat water to national standards, but no such controls exist for private wells, where the risk from contaminants is greater.

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shan

A new community on the Yangtze River has, so far, been more successful at attracting ducks than people. But city officials have their sights set high for Lingang Port City, which they say could be home to nearly a million people by 2050. Cleaner water will be a big help.

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Susitna River approved for Dam

Throughout many parts of the United States, old dams are being removed. But in Alaska, the state legislature and the governor want to build what would be one of the nation’s tallest hydroelectric facilities. If built, the 200-meter dam on the Susitna River would be the nation’s fifth tallest.

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wild-rice-infographic

Wild Rice is an aquatic grass that is harvested annually for its nutritious grain. Throughout its growth cycle, wild rice encounters many external threats, both environmental and human-made, which are being compounded by the effects of climate change.

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Wild rice on the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin is in the floating leaf stage by early June, with a single shoot lying on the water’s surface. This is considered one of the most critical—and and dangerous—stages in the rice’s life cycle. The plants are just beginning to change physiologically from exchanging gases with the water column to exchanging gases with the air. Therefore, they are very susceptible to heavy rains and flooding events that can either rip out the young plants by the roots, or drown them. June 6, 2011.

For generations, the upper Great Lakes region has boasted harvests of wild rice, growing in Lake Superior and other watersheds within the basin. But disease, dams, and climate change are now endangering the uncultivated bounty.

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UNESCO

In June, a committee concluded that the construction of the dam endangered the existence of Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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If the Republican-sponsored bill passes the Democrat-controlled Senate, the final decision could come by the beginning of November.

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un70x70

Climate change became a hot-button issue at a recent U.N. Security Council meeting.

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Infographic: Map of Pollution Levels in China

The seven major river basins, as a whole, have had steady improvements in water quality over the past decade.

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template-teaster-charts

Despite getting a go-ahead in the U.K., shale gas faces an uncertain future in Europe.

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Ocean Currents: Harness installation on primary structure

Launching in June, the Aquarius satellite mission will improve scientific understanding of the global water cycle.

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Top Ten Endangered Rivers

American Rivers’ annual list highlights waterways with an immediate threat to their ecosystems.

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