Wastewater

Mining Approximately 10 million gallons of wastewater spilled from northern Mexico’s Buenavista copper mine last week, contaminating portions of the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, the Associated Press reported. The rivers provide water to a number of cities and towns in the region, including Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora state. The failure of a tailings dam […]

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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 Scarcity A growing population and Egypt’s food subsidy programs are pushing farmers to grow more wheat, but land and water constraints will likely mean that imports of the staple crop will increase, Reuters reported. Agriculture accounts for the use of 85 percent of Egypt’s water supply, the vast majority of which comes from the […]

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Water Scarcity Agricultural diversions, dams and climate change have led to the loss of 85 percent of the water in Lake Urmia, a lake that once covered 5,000 square kilometers, Bloomberg News reported. Iran’s president said the country is initiating efforts to restore the lake, which are expected to take 10 to 15 years to […]

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Desertification Approximately 105 million hectares, or 32 percent of India’s land, is degraded and one quarter is facing desertification, according to India’s environment minister, Reuters reported. The trend is thought to be caused by overuse of land for grazing livestock and shifting rainfall patterns. India is not alone. Globally, 2 billion hectares a year are […]

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Workers walk through the mechanical room underneath the membrane filters.

Why? Old pipes, clean water regulations, and years of inadequate investment.

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Pollution Oil spilled into southern Lake Michigan Monday from a BP refinery in Indiana that was updated last year to accommodate an increasing amount of crude oil coming from Canada’s tar sands, Reuters reported. Lake Michigan is currently 60 percent covered in ice, and the company has not yet said how much oil was leaked. […]

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Pollution Officials have found 131 dead pigs in China’s Ganjiang River near Nanchang, and are still recovering more carcasses, Bloomberg News reported. Drinking water in Nanchang has been tested and is safe, according to tests, but the incident is once again raising concerns about food and water safety a year after dead pigs were found […]

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Mining Mining activities for graphite, a material used in several electric car batteries popular in the United States, are leading to polluted rain and wastewater discharges in China, Bloomberg News reported. The pollution has prompted China to suspend operations and many of its graphite mines, even while world demand for the mineral is growing. A […]

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Leaks of contaminated water from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami three years ago, are still the biggest problem facing the site’s cleanup, the Associated Press reported. Without improved water management that can keep the leaks out of the soil, groundwater and ocean, residents who evacuated the […]

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Scientific research stations in Antarctica are contaminating the surrounding environment through wastewater discharges, and toxic chemicals have been found in the tissues of penguins and fish, sediments, and dust, National Geographic reported. Though it is unclear what effect the chemicals are having on the animals, levels in some sediment samples were as high as those […]

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Europe The United Kingdom has been suffering a deluge of heavy rainstorms for months, leading to record-breaking floods that have inundated thousands of homes and businesses. In this comprehensive summary report of the floods, the Guardian examines how they might affect the country’s water management and the implementation of climate change adaptation measures. Exploration projects […]

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While both federal and local government budgets for flood defenses dwindle, the United Kingdom’s government is spending large amounts of money on policies that are counterproductive to flood control, the Guardian reported. Agricultural subsidies that require farmers to keep their land bare of trees, increasing runoff, are just one example of such policies. Africa Improving […]

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Climate Change Under a worse-case scenario in which global temperatures rise 4 degrees Celsius, most of the world would experience interrelated stresses to water, agriculture, ecosystems, and public health, with 18 percent of the population experiencing “severe pressure” in each category, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, […]

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Pollution Discarded computers, tablets, refrigerators, and other electronics are the fastest growing type of waste in the world, according to a report from the United Nations Step initiative, the Guardian reported. The toxic “e-waste”, primarily generated in the developed world, poses a serious pollution threat to the water, air and soil of developing countries, where […]

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Pollution The disposal of wastewater created during the mining of bituminous tar sands is a growing problem for Canada’s oil industry, which must store the water in vast reservoirs, and the industry is planning expansions that could turn Alberta into the largest man-made lake district in the world, Bloomberg News reported. Environmentalists worry that the […]

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Water Pollution The top 10 toxic hotspots in the world are primarily in developing countries in places where people are either processing resources or recycling waste for the developed world, polluting waterways and creating major health concerns, according to a new report released by the Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland, the Guardian reported. Among […]

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Water Scarcity Water demand fueled by a booming tourism industry in Dunhuang, China, is outstripping both surface and groundwater supplies in the arid city, which was once an important stop along the Silk Road trading route, Xinhua reported. Efforts are underway to restore forests upstream of the city’s reservoir and divert water from a nearby […]

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Water Contamination River sediments downstream of a Pennsylvania plant that treats and releases hydraulic fracturing wastewater contained 200 times the amount of radium found in sediments upstream of the plant, according to a new study published by Duke University researchers, USA Today reported. The study’s authors point to a lack of “enforced monitoring” as one […]

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Water Supply There will likely be a “rapid increase” in the amount of wastewater used globally for irrigation and drinking water as the costs to recycle become competitive with measures to secure scarcer fresh water, according to a study from Japan’s Totorri University and the U.N. University, Reuters reported. North America produces enough treated wastewater […]

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