Irrigation

Agriculture More than half of the fertilizer applied to farmland globally is unnecessary, while 8 to 15 percent of the water used is wasted, according to a new study published in the journal Science, the Guardian reported. Better use of resources could help current farmland produce enough food to feed 3 billion more people, the […]

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Water Shortages India’s monsoon has so far delivered 36 percent less rain than average, and reservoir levels are below their 10-year averages, according to water officials, Bloomberg News reported. If the monsoon continues to perform poorly and dry conditions are compounded by an El Nino weather event, 333 million people in six states could face […]

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Satisfaction rates with local water quality have stayed consistent for the past five years, with 71 percent of people surveyed worldwide saying that they were satisfied in 2013, according to a newly released Gallup poll. One area of the world where satisfaction rates have not improved is sub-Saharan Africa, where only 50 percent of respondents […]

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Human rights groups have sent a report to the United Nations arguing that water shutoffs by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department are violating the human right to water, the Detroit News reported. Half of the city’s water accounts are overdue, and the city has so far shut off 4,500 of the 46,000 customers that […]

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Hydro Resources, a well-drilling contractor, works around the clock to punch new holes in the Ogallala Aquifer in Kansas. The Ogallala, the primary water source in the Great Plains, is declining because billions of gallons are pumped out each year to irrigate corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton.

A plan to reduce water use by 20 percent was voted down last week.

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The Federal Reserve’s assessment of current economic conditions, known as the beige book, notes that drought is affecting food prices and crop production. With cattle stocks the lowest in decades, beef prices are expected to rise, as are food prices more broadly because of California’s drought, the Fed claims. In Texas, wheat is in poor […]

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Energy & Natural Resources As many as 15,000 people, many of them Q’eqchi Mayans, will be displaced by the construction of a $US 337 million hydropower project in Guatemala, the Guardian reported. The Xalalá dam would be the second largest in the country, and the government has has vowed to build the project despite local […]

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Food prices set to climb as production of wheat and other staple crops is cut.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture brought a bounty of farm data to the public market on Friday when it released the 2012 agriculture census. Published every five years, the census is a trove of information down to the county level on production practices, farm economics, and rural demographics. Being a water news site, Circle of […]

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Farm data galore – by county and state, as well as nationally.

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India’s government is predicting a normal monsoon season this year, with rains at 96 percent of a 50-year average, Bloomberg News reported. The possibility of an El Niño weather pattern forming this summer is not expected to affect the rains, though it has caused droughts in the past. China The quality of groundwater in China […]

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Pollution Heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and nickel are some of the most common pollutants contaminating approximately 19 percent of arable land in China, according to an official report, The Wall Street Journal reported. The contaminants are deposited in the soil by water and air, and some of the most polluted areas are in […]

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Scientists have called into question the viability of wetland ecosystems recreated on land used for oil sands mining in Canada, saying they do not function as well as before, Yale Environment 360 reported. None of the areas reclaimed by oil companies have yet been certified as meeting government standards, and reclamation efforts can cost as […]

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Increased heat and water scarcity will limit food production. Farmers and food markets can adapt, but only to a point.

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Julene Bair author photo (credit Stephen Collector)

Fancy machinery and irrigation systems that pull millions of gallons per day from the nation’s largest aquifer have transformed the High Plains. But at what cost? Circle of Blue’s Brett Walton spoke with Julene Bair, author of The Ogallala Road, a memoir of a life shaped by land and water.

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Three years ago President Obama signed into law sweeping reforms for how the nation’s food is grown, harvested, packaged, shipped, and stored. At first an environmental review of the Food Safety Modernization Act was not deemed necessary, but after more analysis certain aspects of the new law are getting a second look. One aspect involves […]

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United States Pollution Alpha Natural Resources, a United States coal company, has been leveled with a $US 27.5 million penalty for violating the federal Clean Water Act and has agreed to spend an additional $US 200 million to clean up water pollution from its mines in Appalachia, The New York Times reported. The cleanup is […]

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A pipeline project moving water from Turkey to northern Cyprus is expected to be completed this year and should provide much needed relief for drought-hit farmers, the Associated Press reported. The project, however, has also become a source of political tension between Turkish populations in northern Cyprus—which Turkey invaded in 1974—and Greek populations in southern […]

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Water Projects A 2-year federal government study assessing the feasibility of agricultural expansion in northern Australia found that up to 50,000 hectares of crops could be irrigated with water from the Flinders and Gilbert rivers and their tributaries, the Australian reported. The report findings have been challenged by environmental organizations that warn diverting water from […]

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Approximately 100 million people living in rural China do not have access to safe drinking water, a problem driven in part by polluted groundwater, Xinhua reported. In response, some rural communities on Hainan Island are installing “ultra-filtration membranes” to filter out viruses and dissolved compounds, a technology that China believes could be used across the […]

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