Interior funds project to reduce Colorado River water use
The Interior Department will provide $125 million for a program that compensates water users, including farmers, on the Upper Colorado River who voluntarily conserve water. The money for the System Conservation Pilot Program was part of $728 million announced by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Monday for Western water projects.
‘The truth is California does not have enough water’
California’s San Joaquin Valley is getting drier, hotter and more polluted as climate change intensifies, and its communities will need to embrace more equitable agricultural strategies in order to survive, according to local experts and political leaders.(No paywall)
Arizona farms on the front lines of a climate and water crisis
Arizona's farmers are facing a water crisis, as the state diverts scarce Colorado River resources to booming population centers, reports Stephen R. Miller, in FERN's latest story with National Geographic. To deal with the situation, farmers are drilling deeper into aquifers or selling off land, but pressures will only mount with climate change.
Half the world could face ‘water stress’ in 2050, says report
More than one-third of the world’s population lives in water-scarce regions, and by mid-century, half of the projected 9.8 billion people on Earth “could be at risk due to water stress,” said a report out today from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Coastal states sue EPA over WOTUS delay
Ten states on the East and West Coasts sued the EPA for its decision to delay until 2020 a clean water rule issued during the Obama era, saying the suspension was hurried into effect "with inadequate public notice, insufficient record support and outside their statutory authority." The original rule was a prominent part of President Trump's campaign for regulatory relief.
A climate change impact: Bubbling lakes that emit methane
Shallow lakes in farming regions “will emit significantly greater amounts of methane, mostly in the form of bubbles” due to climate change, says a Aarhus University study in the journal Nature Climate Change. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. “Submerged …
Midwest farmers uproot FDR’s ‘Great Wall of Trees’
Midwestern farmers, seeking to expand their crop lands, are destroying millions of trees that helped protect the region's soil after the catastrophic Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The removal of these trees is expected to worsen the impact of a drought that could come as climate warms the region, says Carson Vaughn in FERN’s story with Weather.com.
Colorado farmers pump less and pay more for water
A decade or more ago, farmers in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado began to run out of irrigation water. The solution, after years of court cases and finger-pointing, was an agreement to raise the price of water, says the NPR blog The Salt.
16 percent of global population dies early because of pollution
Nine million people died prematurely in 2015 because of air, water and soil pollution — three times the number that died of tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined, says a study published in The Lancet. The exact cause of death ranged from lung cancer to heart disease, but the total amounted to 16 percent of all deaths globally.
Ogallala aquifer disappearing at faster rate than ever
The Ogallala aquifer shrank twice as fast in the last six years as it did in the previous 60, largely from over-pumping on farms, reports The Associated Press. The aquifer — a key source of irrigation water for farms in eight states — lost 10.7 million acre-feet of storage between 2013 and 2015, drying up streambeds, undermining fish species and threatening the farmers who rely on Ogallala for their crops.
Women in developing countries at high-risk for mercury in diet
Around the world, low-income women are exposed to high amounts of mercury, thanks to mining and marine-based diets, says a report from IPEN, a nonprofit focused on global health and toxic chemicals, and Biodiversity Research Institute, an ecology research organization. Of the 1,0444 women …
Nestle, Coca-Cola and Smithfield top water sustainability list
On average, food companies improved their management of water by 10 percent compared to 2015, according to the report Feeding Ourselves Thirsty, published by the nonprofit investor coalition Ceres.
Italian firm catches flack over water plan in rural New Mexico
A wealthy Italian family plans to pump groundwater out of rural New Mexico to supply 155,000 households in sprawling Albuquerque, 140 miles away. Local ranchers have criticized the plan, fearing that the $600 million project will deplete the ancient aquifer they depend on for their cattle and families.
In Colorado River Basin, project pays ranchers to leave land dry
A first-of-its kind program in the Colorado River basin is paying ranchers and farmers to forgo their water rights in order to conserve the region’s rivers and lakes. Launched in 2014, the $15-million “money-for-water program” was funded “by the four largest municipal water providers in the Colorado River basin (which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California), along with the Bureau of Reclamation,” says High Country News.
EPA’s Pruitt says he will bring clarity to clean water law
The EPA will provide clarity to the reach of the clean water law with its revisions of the so-called Waters of the United States that was proposed by the Obama administration and blocked by court challenges, said administrator Scott Pruitt in a Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette interview. Pruitt said the new rule would be “objectively measured and traditional in its view of how we should measure waters of the United States.”
Study: climate change will boost ag runoff 20 percent this century
The harmful effects of fertilizer runoff are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, as more extreme precipitation washes excess nutrients into U.S. waterways, causing dead zones, says a study published in Science. “The authors found that future climate change-driven increases in rainfall in the United States could boost nitrogen runoff by as much as 20 percent by the end of the century,” says The New York Times.
With climate change, some U.S. regions will be short of irrigation water
By 2050, a number of U.S. water basins will begin to experience water shortages if there is no action to reduce greenhouse gases, says a team of MIT researchers. The study says several basins, particularly in the Southwest, will see their existing water shortages become "severely accentuated," says the MIT study, published in the journal Earth's Future.
UNESCO gives Great Barrier Reef a pass
The United Nations’ UNESCO committee has voted to not add the Great Barrier Reef to its “in danger” list, despite the biggest die-off of coral ever at the World Heritage Site. "We're taking every action possible to ensure this great wonder of the world stays viable and healthy for future generations to come,” Australia's Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio.
Trump administration says WOTUS is on its way out
The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are moving to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which clarifies which waters are federally protected from pollution under the original 1972 Clean Water Act. A statement from the agencies calls the rule, known as Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, an example of federal overreach.