Water

Fukushima’s Nuclear Waste Will Be Dumped Into the Ocean, Japanese Plant Owner Says

17 Jul 2017   Japan, Nuclear, Water

Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen. Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing more than 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since. While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company […]

Rains Expose a New Water Problem in California: Storage

7 Mar 2017   Water

Since the beginning of the year, enough water has spilled out of California’s rain-swollen Lake Oroville to meet the demands of roughly 14 million people for a year. With no place to store the excess, much of it ended up flowing out to sea. It wasn’t just last month’s dramatic near-disaster at Lake Oroville’s dam that is to blame for the water loss. After years of drought, months of rains are exposing a major weakness…

Trump Orders Review Of Obama Waterway Regulation

1 Mar 2017   Water

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order on Tuesday directing regulators to review an Obama administration rule that expanded the number of federally protected waterways as the new president targets environmental regulations conservatives label as government overreach. Trump’s executive order directs the Justice Department to ask a federal court to put legal challenges to the rule on hold as the administration conducts its review, a senior official said. The order, which the White House did not immediately make public, will kick off what will likely be a lengthy process to undo the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 to clarify which bodies of water are covered by the Clean Water Act. Trump said during the signing that the Clean Water Act should apply only to navigable waters that […]

Rule Tightens Restrictions on Coal Mining Near Streams

20 Dec 2016   Coal, Water

The Interior Department on Monday issued a rule putting tighter restrictions on coal mining near streams, one of several environmental rules President-elect Donald Trump has targeted to undo once he takes office in January. The department has been working on the rule, which sets tougher standards for water quality and requires companies to restore streams more comprehensively after mining activities, for nearly all of President Barack Obama’s time in the White House. It is one of several regulations the administration is releasing in the 11th-hour of Mr. Obama’s eight-year presidency. Deriding the rule as “excessive,” Mr. Trump cited it as one of several he would rescind as president on his transition website soon after his surprise victory in the presidential contest. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump often accused Mr. Obama of waging a […]

Massive 2013 oil spill in North Dakota still not cleaned up

19 Dec 2016   USA, Water

Three years and three months later, a massive oil spill in North Dakota still isn’t fully cleaned up. The company responsible hasn’t even set a date for completion. Though crews have been working around the clock to deal with the Tesoro Corp. pipeline break, which happened in a wheat field in September 2013, less than a third of the 840,000 gallons that spilled has been recovered – or ever will be, North Dakota Health Department environmental scientist Bill Suess said. A farmer, Steve Jenkins, who’d smelled the crude oil for days, discovered the spill in his northwestern North Dakota field near Tioga – his combines’ tires were covered in it. While the nearest home was a half-mile away and the state said no water sources were contaminated and no wildlife hurt, one of the largest onshore oil spills recorded in the U.S. […]

Fracking Can Taint Drinking Water, EPA Report Finds

14 Dec 2016   Shale Oil, Water

Fracking can affect drinking water supplies in certain circumstances, the Obama administration said in a long-awaited report issued Tuesday, leaving open the possibility of more widespread impacts that it says can’t be determined with current data. The report, written by Environmental Protection Agency scientists, includes findings that are more open-ended than those in a draft version last year , when the agency said fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, isn’t having “widespread, systematic impacts on drinking water.” The final report doesn’t include that phrase because EPA scientists determined they couldn’t back it up without comprehensive data on hydraulic fracturing across the U.S. and because it didn’t “really communicate the findings in the report,” said Thomas Burke, deputy assistant administrator at EPA on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. The report is one of a number of actions supported by environmentalists that the Obama administration has taken in its final weeks in […]

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused widespread land erosion in Louisiana

24 Nov 2016   USA, Water

Marnie Winter remembers seeing the oil spread through the waters of Barataria Bay in southeastern Louisiana. It was 2010, just a few weeks after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico began the largest marine oil spill in US history . About 4 million barrels of oil were poured into the sea, affecting more than 1,300 miles of shoreline from Texas to Florida . “It was scary,” says Winter, who’s the assistant director of the environmental department at Jefferson parish, one of the three parishes surrounding Barataria Bay. She and other local officials began working with the Coast Guard to keep the oil from reaching the shore, but despite their efforts, the oil began coating the Louisiana marshlands. “It was no surprise that the vegetation would die,” Winter says. Those plants and their roots, however, had been keeping the land from eroding. After […]

Industry advocate downplays report that reignited fracking debate

16 Aug 2016   Shale Oil, Water

A drilling industry advocacy group on Monday downplayed a report released last week by a scientific panel that called into question a major finding that the Environmental Protection Agency had published more than a year ago concerning the lack of evidence that hydraulic fracturing has had any negative impact on drinking water supplies. On Thursday, the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) said the EPA had failed to provide sufficient documentation to back up its assertion that the agency had found no evidence that fracking had led to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” The conclusion came in a 180-page report on the EPA’s June 2015 draft assessment on the potential impacts of fracking on drinking water. In an email Monday, Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for pro-drilling industry group Energy In Depth, said the SAB report does not refute the EPA’s original finding. “The panel […]

Africa awaits major crisis unless governments make interventions

1 Aug 2016   Africa, Water

This implies that Africa awaits major crisis unless governments become unified in giving priority to water security management and sanitation. Almost 98 per cent of the affected people live in the developing world and particularly in Africa, which accounts for almost 40 per cent of the population. According to water experts and stakeholders, for Africa to attain sustainable development on water security and sanitation, the governments in the continent should come up with proper financing mechanisms, taking into account huge funding requirements for the sector. Others say that African governments should tackle corruption in the sector to ensure that the resources allocated are efficiently utilised and direct their focus on the significant results of scientific research to underpin the solutions of the challenges facing the water sector. Last week, more than 1000 participants from public and private sectors, researchers and development partners from across Africa and beyond gathered in […]

China’s Massive Effort to Purify Seawater Is Drying Up

12 Jul 2016   China, Water

Stalled projects and underperforming plants have hampered China’s desalination plans. The site of a seawater desalination plant that could provide up to one-third of the water consumed by Beijing’s households lies about 200 kilometers southeast of the parched Chinese capital. In 2014, China’s state news media reported that the facility, to be located on the shores of Bohai Bay, would be completed by 2019, contributing to the three million tons of fresh water per day of desalination capacity that China wants to have built by 2020. Since then, the planning of this facility has been touch and go: it’s been approved by the provincial development agency and listed as one of the major projects in China’s initiative to build a supercity around Beijing, but it’s still far from certain when the construction will begin. After an initial boom—from 2006 to 2010, China’s desalination capacity grew nearly 70 percent each […]

The Energy Sector is One of the Largest Consumers of Water

27 Jun 2016   Water

The implications of the global water footprint of energy generation are phenomenal, writes Gary Bilotta of the University of Brighton. He warns that i f policy makers fail to take into account the links between energy and water, we may come to a point in many parts of the world where it is water availability that is the main determinant of the energy sources available for use. Courtesy The Conversation . With a quarter of the world’s human population already living in regions that suffer from severe water scarcity for at least six months of the year, it is perhaps not surprising that the World Economic Forum recently rated water crises as the largest global risk in terms of potential impacts over the next decade. Electricity generation is a significant consumer of water : it consumes more than five times as much water globally as domestic uses (drinking, preparing […]

Why China Is Running Out Of Water

24 Jun 2016   China, Water

A wave of recent reports from China make it clear that the country is now facing a water crisis of massive proportions. As Jules Suzdaltsev explains in today’s Seeker Daily report, industrialization and population growth have led to a core supply-and-demand issue in China. With a population of just under 1.5 billion people, the country has about 20 percent of the global population, but only about seven percent of the world’s fresh water. Making matters worse, rapid industrial development in the last 50 years has led to fundamental changes in how China uses — and pollutes — its water. According to statistics released in April by the Chinese government itself, more than 80 percent of the rural water supply in the country is now unsafe for drinking or bathing. A test of 2,103 underground wells revealed dangerous levels of contamination from industry and farming. More than half of China’s […]

Two-third of world population to suffer from water scarcity in 10 years

13 Jun 2016   Climate, Water

The Secretary of Iran Urban Economics Scientific Association (IUESA) Seyed Mohsen Tabatabaei made the remarks noting that that global demand for water follows extremely urbanization growth. he underlined that water and its resources remain as core issues related to sustainable development and access to proper drinking water is one of the most important goals of the third millennium; “food security, health and the environment are all affected by water.” Saying that water leads to the improvement of social welfare and overall growth and the livelihoods of billions of people worldwide, he added “water is the source of many development vertices, but we consider concerning trends globally to the extent that some experts claim conflicts, tensions and civil, regional and international wars will be over water access in the not-too-distant future; therefore, this requires more accurate attention.” Tabatabaei highlighted that global demand for water is largely followed by urbanization growth, […]

Largest U.S. water reservoir at record low due to drought

25 May 2016   Climate, Water

The water in the largest U.S. reservoir has sunk to a record low, due to the severe drought in the American Southwest. Lake Mead, in Nevada, had dropped 10 feet in three months. With an average depth of 1,084 feet in February, last week the reservoir measured only 1,074 feet deep, or only 37 percent of capacity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The manmade lake — formed during the Great Depression by the blocking of the Colorado River with Hoover Dam — has […]

Over 80 Percent of Water Is Polluted in Tested China Wells

12 Apr 2016   China, Water

BEIJING — More than 80 percent of the water from underground wells used by farms, factories and households across heavily populated plains of China is unfit for drinking or bathing because of contamination from industry and farming, according to new statistics that were reported by Chinese media on Monday, raising new alarm about pollution in the world’s most populous country. After years of focus on China’s hazy skies as a measure of environmental blight, the new data from 2,103 underground wells struck a nerve among Chinese citizens who have become increasingly sensitive about health threats from pollution. Most Chinese cities draw on deep reservoirs that were not part of this study, but many villages and small towns in the countryside depend on the shallower wells that are.

New Poll Finds Growing Opposition To Fracking

8 Apr 2016   Shale Oil, Water

A new study from Stanford has confirmed that fracking operations are contaminating drinking water sources in Wyoming. “This is a wake-up call,” said lead author Dominic DiGiulio, a visiting scholar at Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “It’s perfectly legal to inject stimulation fluids into underground drinking water resources. This may be causing widespread impacts on drinking water resources.” Of course this comes soon after a Pennsylvania jury awarded $4.24 million to two families in Dimock, PA who sued Cabot Oil for contaminating their drinking water via fracking operations. And a new study that has found fracking — and not just frack waste injection — is causing earthquakes in Canada . Reuters recently reported that Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy revealed that, “Methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas sector are substantially higher than we previously understood.” So, it shouldn’t be too surprising […]

Report Ties Coal Plants to Water Shortage in Northern China

23 Mar 2016   China, Coal, Water

Across the country, coal-fired power plants consume 7.4 billion cubic meters of water each year, enough to meet the basic needs of about 30 percent of the nation’s population. Credit Kevin Frayer/Getty Images BEIJING — China’s consumption of coal, a major contributor to climate change and the country’s horrific air pollution, is worsening a severe water shortage in the northern part of the country, Greenpeace said in a report released Tuesday. China ’s coal-fired power plants consume more water where water is scarce than plants in any other country, according to the report, which assessed global water depletion from coal use. A decades-long drought in northern China — home to the bulk of the country’s coal production and consumption — is worsening, and the central and local governments are grappling with widespread desertification. Officials have relocated millions of people. Beijing, the […]

How water shortages threaten jobs and growth

23 Mar 2016   Water

An estimated three out of four jobs globally are dependent on water, meaning that shortages and lack of access are likely to limit economic growth in the coming decades, the United Nations said on Tuesday. About 1.5 billion people – half the world’s workers – are employed in industries heavily dependent on water, most of them in farming, fisheries and forestry, the U.N. World Water Development Report 2016 said. “There is a direct effect on jobs worldwide if there are disruptions in water supply through natural causes, such as droughts, or if water doesn’t get to communities because of infrastructure problems,” said Richard Connor, the report’s editor-in-chief. Research has shown investment in small-scale projects providing access to safe water and basic sanitation in Africa could offer a return equivalent to almost 5 percent of the continent’s economic output, the report said. In the United States, every $1 million invested […]

The world has even bigger water problems than we thought

13 Feb 2016   Water

Alarming new research has found that 4 billion people around the globe — including close to 2 billion in India and China — live in conditions of extreme water scarcity at least one month during the year. Half a billion, meanwhile, experience it throughout the entire year. The new study, by Mesfin Mekonnen and Arjen Hoekstra of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, uses a high resolution global model to examine the availability of “blue water” — both surface and underground freshwater — in comparison with the demand for it from agriculture, industry and human household needs. The model — which zoomed in on areas as small as 60 kilometers by 60 kilometers in size at the equator — also took into account climatic factors, ecological ones (how much water is needed to sustain a river ecosystem or lake) and other causes of depletion such simple evaporation. “We […]

More Drinking Water Contamination

12 Feb 2016   Shale Oil, Water

Two recent drinking water investigations in Texas show dangerous levels of contamination. The larger study tested 550 water samples collected from public and private water wells in the north Texas Barnett Shale region over a three-year period and found that the closer a water well is to a fracked gas well, the higher the concentration of contaminants including arsenic, selenium, strontium, and barium. This investigation also found “alarming” levels of benzene, a known carcinogen. A smaller study in in south Texas sampled water quality in 80 homes in the Eagle Ford shale region. Of the 80 samples, 20 (25%) showed contamination with high levels of bromide . According to the scientist who conducted the investigation: “almost exclusively those were found within one kilometer of the drilling sites.” The sampling also found a few occurrences of volatile organic compounds that are dangerous to human health. Bromide is known to be […]

Pennsylvania law okays treated coal-mining water for frac jobs

14 Oct 2015   Water

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill intended to encourage more oil and gas companies to use treated coal-mine wastewater for hydraulic fracturing . The law was scheduled to become effective in December. Consol Energy operates coal mines in southwestern Pennsylvania as well as developing and producing natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales . Consol Energy already had used wastewaste from its coal mines for fracturing, a company spokesman said. The new law is intended to encourage other gas operators to use treated mine water instead of fresh water. The use of mine water for fracing was among recommendations made by former Gov. Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a white paper to promote the practice. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials supported the legislation. Previously, oil and gas companies were reluctant to use treated mine […]

Have We Reached A “Peak Water” Tipping Point In California?

6 Oct 2015   Water

It may be a see-saw course, but it’s riding an uphill train. A bit ago I wrote , regarding climate and tipping points: The concept of “tipping point” — a change beyond which there’s no turning back — comes up a lot in climate discussions. An obvious tipping point involves polar ice. If the earth keeps warming — both in the atmosphere and in the ocean — at some point a full and permanent melt of Arctic and Antarctic ice is inevitable. Permanent ice first started forming in the Antarctic about 35 million years ago, thanks to global cooling which crossed a tipping point for ice formation. That’s not very long ago. During the 200 million years before that, the earth was too warm for permanent ice to form, at least as far as we know. We’re now going the other direction, rewarming the earth, and permanent ice is […]

Oil Drillers Spared More Misery by U.S. Judge’s Fracking Ruling

1 Oct 2015   Shale Oil, Water

A U.S. judge in Wyoming has blocked new rules that tighten controls over fracking on federal lands, granting a measure of relief to producers who would have faced higher costs at a time when profits already are strangled by low crude prices. The order by U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl puts a temporary hold on the most closely-watched effort by the Obama administration to ensure that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t contaminate water supplies. While the rules apply only to federal lands, they are designed to spur states to follow suit, magnifying the impact and potentially slowing development of oil and natural gas resources. Skavdahl said the government’s Bureau of Land Management lacks the authority to control fracking. Republican Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, approved of the ruling as “the right decision because it stops the Obama Administration from shoving this harmful policy down the states’ […]

California drought and impending El Niño raise fears of levee breaks

23 Sep 2015   Water

California’s historic drought is in its fourth year and gloom-and-doom scenarios of its impact on everything from killing the state’s vegetation and triggering bug infestation to destroying farming jobs have been trickling in daily. Now, there is another fear: The prolonged drought may have weakened California’s more than 13,000 miles of levees, which could result in floods and affect the quality of water for millions of Californians. That’s a scary prospect for parts of the state that could get doused with torrential rain this winter, thanks to an El Niño weather front triggered by unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. And the mere mention of levee breaks evokes terrifying images of the devastation Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans 10 years ago. A Mississippi State University civil engineer sounded the alarm in a recent article in Science magazine . “If the drought ends with heavy rainfall-induced flooding, […]

Scientists say it’s been 500 years since California has been this dry

15 Sep 2015   Climate, Water

Many Tahoe-area ski resorts have closed due to low snowfall as California’s historic drought continues. (Max Whittaker/Getty Images) Researchers knew California’s drought was already a record breaker when they set out to find its exact place in history, but they were surprised by what they discovered: It has been 500 years since what is now the Golden State has been this dry. California is in the fourth year of a severe drought with temperatures so high and precipitation so low that rain and snow evaporate almost as soon as it hits the ground. A research paper released Monday said an analysis of blue oak tree rings in the state’s Central Valley showed that the amount of mountain snow California relies on for moisture hasn’t been so low since the 1500s. That was around the time when […]

Impact of Exxon Valdez spill on fish far greater than thought, study finds

9 Sep 2015   Environment, Water

Federal scientists may have found a link between the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and a decline of herring and pink salmon populations in Prince William Sound. In a study published Tuesday in the online journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that embryonic salmon and herring exposed to even very low levels of crude oil can develop heart defects. Herring and pink salmon juveniles that were exposed to crude oil as embryos grew slower and swam slower, making them vulnerable to predators, said John Incardona, a research toxicologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, in a prepared statement Exxon Valdez: 25 years later We explore the lasting impacts of oil spills on communities and the country. “These juvenile fish on the outside look completely normal, but their hearts are not functioning properly and that translates directly into reduced swimming […]

Former Bakken Operator Pleads Not-Guilty

3 Sep 2015   Shale Oil, Water

A Southlake, Texas man charged with illegally injecting saltwater into a disposal well in North Dakota pled not guilty to federal charges last week in federal court. Jason Halek, a former operator of a saltwater well in southwest North Dakota, was indicted on 13 federal counts and fined a record $1.5 million in 2013 for putting drinking water at risk by illegally dumping more than 800,000 gallons of salty, oilfield wastewater into a former oil well in Stark County. He entered not guilty pleas to all charges including violating the Safe Drinking Water Act, making false statements and obstructing grand jury proceedings. The indictment claims Halik conspired to hinder by “craft, trickery, deceit, and dishonest means the lawful and legitimate functions of the EPA, in enforcing federal laws relating to the requirements of the North Dakota underground injection control program.” Saltwater is considered an environmental hazard that […]

Texas regulator clears oil and gas company of causing quakes

2 Sep 2015   Environment, Water

The regulatory agency overseeing Texas’ oil and gas industry has determined that a series of small earthquakes in North Texas likely wasn’t caused by drilling operations by an Exxon Mobil subsidiary. The preliminary findings mark the first decision by the Texas Railroad Commission since it was authorized last year to consider whether seismological activity was caused by injection wells, which store briny wastewater from hydraulic fracturing. The commission ordered hearings after a university study suggested two companies’ wells were responsible for quakes that shook Reno, Texas, in 2013 and 2014. Commission investigators concluded that a well where Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy pumps millions of gallons of the wastewater likely didn’t cause the quakes, but also said there wasn’t enough evidence to demonstrate the earthquakes were naturally occurring. Parties have 15 days to respond. The report was released Monday, a day before a new law […]

Report: Groundwater pumping in California has land sinking

20 Aug 2015   Water

Vast areas of California’s Central Valley are sinking faster than in the past as massive amounts of groundwater are pumped during the historic drought, state officials said Wednesday, citing new research by NASA scientists. The data shows the ground is sinking nearly two inches each month in some places, putting roads, bridges and vital canals that deliver water throughout the state at growing risk of damage. Sinking land has occurred for decades in California because of excessive groundwater pumping during dry years, but the new data shows it is happening faster as the state endures its fourth year of drought. “We are pumping at historic levels,” said Mark Cowin, head of the California Department of Water Resources. He added that groundwater levels are dropping to record levels – up to 100 feet lower than previously recorded. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory […]

EPA Chief Apologizes for Toxic Spill Affecting Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico

12 Aug 2015   Water

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy apologized Tuesday for a mine spill in Colorado caused by her agency, but she indicated she didn’t know much about what happened and would seek to fix any flaw in the agency’s procedures. “I am absolutely deeply sorry this ever happened,” Ms. McCarthy said at a news conference in Washington. “But I want to make sure we react positively and in a way that’s credible and we move this forward.” An EPA cleanup crew on Aug. 5 accidentally triggered a breach in an abandoned gold mine in the Southwestern part of Colorado, releasing an estimated three million gallons of toxic, mustard-hued sludge through a river system spanning three states. The sludge, which flowed down the Animas River and emptied into the San Juan River in New Mexico, contains such contaminants as lead and arsenic from the Gold King Mine, north of […]

Nonlinear: New York, London, Shanghai underwater in 50 years?

27 Jul 2015   Climate, Water

Those under the impression that climate change is advancing at a constant and predictable rate don’t understand the true dynamics of the issue. The rate of increase of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, went from 0.75 parts per million (ppm) per year in 1959 to about 1.5 ppm each year through the 1990s, to 2.1 ppm each year from 2002 to 2012, and finally to 2.9 ppm in 2013. The fear is that the ability of the oceans and plants to continue to absorb half the carbon dioxide human civilization expels into the atmosphere each year may have become impaired. That means more carbon dioxide is remaining in the atmosphere where concentrations are building at the fastest rate ever recorded in the modern era. Permafrost across the most northern reaches of land on the globe wasn’t expected to start melting until […]

California drought makes quest for water a consuming grind

20 Jul 2015   Water

Their two peach trees had turned brittle in the heat, their neighborhood pond had vanished into cracked dirt and now their stainless-steel faucet was spitting out hot air. “That’s it. We’re dry,” Miguel Gamboa said during the second week of July, and so he went off to look for water. He had a container in the bed of his truck from the dairy where he worked, a 275-gallon tank that had been used to treat milk with chemical preservatives. Now he rinsed it with bleach and drove out of the suburbs, passing rows of tract houses with yellowed front lawns. He went to see a friend who still had a little water left in his well, and the friend offered Gamboa his hose. They stood together and watched the tank begin to fill with water that looked hazy and light brown. “You really want this?” the […]

Water diversion project increases supply to parched Beijing

14 Jul 2015   China, Water

A new pumping station has increased the capacity of the massive project bringing water from the Yangtze River to Beijing, just as the city’s water demand soars under a heat wave. Huinanzhuang, a major pumping station on the middle route of the south-to-north water diversion project, went into operation on Monday, pushing up the water inflow of the route from 24 to 38 cubic meters per second, according to the Beijing south-to-north water diversion office. As a result, the project’s water supply capacity has been increased from 2.07 to 3.28 million cubic meters per day, with its daily supply to the city’s water plants growing from 1.77 to 2 million cubic meters. Beijingers have been thirsty as the Chinese capital has baked under temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius since Saturday. Daily water supply in the city has been kept above 3 million cubic meters […]

In California, Big Oil Finds Water Is Its Most Prized Commodity

11 Jul 2015   Water

California’s epic drought is pushing Big Oil to solve a problem it’s struggled with for decades: what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that gush out of wells every year. Golden State drillers have pumped much of that liquid back underground into disposal wells. Now, amid a four-year dry spell, more companies are looking to recycle their water or sell it to parched farms as the industry tries to get ahead of environmental lawsuits and new regulations. The trend could have implications for oil patches across the country. With fracking boosting the industry’s thirst for water, companies have run into conflicts from Texas to Colorado to Pennsylvania. California could be an incubator for conservation efforts that have so far failed to gain traction elsewhere in the U.S. Drillers may have little choice. The state’s 50,000 disposal wells have come under increased scrutiny this year, after regulators […]

California Farms Are Using Fracking Wastewater to Grow Crops

9 Jul 2015   Water

California’s epic drought is pushing Big Oil to solve a problem it’s struggled with for decades: what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that gush out of wells every year. Golden State drillers have pumped much of that liquid back underground into disposal wells. Now, amid a four-year dry spell, more companies are looking to recycle their water or sell it to parched farms as the industry tries to get ahead of environmental lawsuits and new regulations. The trend could have implications for oil patches across the country. With fracking boosting the industry’s thirst for water, companies have run into conflicts from Texas to Colorado to Pennsylvania. California could be an incubator for conservation efforts that have so far failed to gain traction elsewhere in the U.S. CHART: Big Oil’s Other Gusher […]

BP Agrees to Pay $18.7 Billion to Settle Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Claims

3 Jul 2015   USA, Water

If approved by a federal judge, the deal would conclude a monumental legal showdown over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 crew members aboard the drilling rig and caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The agreement would avert years of litigation over the environmental impact of the spill, which leaked millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf and coated hundreds of miles of sensitive beaches, marshes and mangroves. The settlement would add at least $10 billion to the $44 billion BP has already incurred in legal and cleanup costs, pushing its tab for the spill higher than all the profits it has earned since 2012. But the payments would be stretched out over 18 years at around $1.1 billion annually, softening the blow to the company’s cash flow. Much of the penalties would likely be tax-deductible, analysts noted. The money largely will end up […]

EPA’s New Fracking Study: A Close Look at the Numbers Buried in the Fine Print

27 Jun 2015   Shale Oil, Water

When EPA’s long-awaited draft assessment on fracking and drinking water supplies was released, the oil and gas industry triumphantly focused on a headline-making sentence: “We did not find evidence of widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” But for fracking’s backers, a sense of victory may prove to be fleeting. EPA’s draft assessment made one thing clear: fracking has repeatedly contaminated drinking water supplies (a fact that the industry has long aggressively denied). Indeed, the federal government’s recognition that fracking can contaminate drinking water supplies may prove to have opened the floodgates, especially since EPA called attention to major gaps in the official record, due in part to gag orders for landowners who settle contamination claims and in part because there simply hasn’t been enough testing to know how widespread problems have become. And although it’s been less than a month since EPA’s draft assessment […]

Troubled Delta System Is California’s Water Battleground

24 Jun 2015   Water

Fighting over water is a tradition in California, but nowhere are the lines of dispute more sharply drawn than here in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta , a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that is the hub of the state’s water system. Giant pumps pull in water flowing to the delta from the mountainous north of the state, where the majority of precipitation falls, and send it to farms, towns and cities in the Central Valley and Southern California, where the demand for water is greatest. For decades, the shortcomings of this water transportation system, among the most ambitious and complex ever constructed, have been a source of conflict and complaint. But […]

California Has Never Experienced A Water Crisis Of This Magnitude – And The Worst Is Yet To Come

20 Jun 2015   Water

Things have never been this dry for this long in the recorded history of the state of California, and this has created an unprecedented water crisis. At this point, 1,900 wells have already gone completely dry in California , and some communities are not receiving any more water at all. As you read this article, 100 percent of the state is in some stage of drought, and there has been so little precipitation this year that some young children have never actually seen rain . This is already the worst multi-year drought in the history of the state of California , but this may only be just the beginning. Scientists tell us that the amount of rain that California received during the 20th century was highly unusual. In fact, they tell us that it was the wettest century for the state in at least 1000 years. Now that things […]

Two Billion People Are Running out of Water

19 Jun 2015   Water

Forget about peak oil—we should be worrying about peak water: Groundwater basins that supply 2 billion people are being rapidly depleted , according to a new study. Worse: No one knows how long those reserves will last. A research team led by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, examined the world’s 37 largest aquifers between 2003 and 2013 and found that one-third of them were “stressed,” meaning more water was being removed than replenished, according to one of two studies published Tuesday in the journal Water Resources Research . The eight worst-off aquifers, labeled “overstressed,” had virtually no natural replenishment to offset human consumption. The scientists determined the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System, which supplies water to 60 million people, to be the most overstressed. The Indus Basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan is the second-most overstressed, followed by the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa. California’s Central Valley […]

Beyond the Perfect Drought: California’s Real Water Crisis

18 Jun 2015   Water

The record-breaking drought in California is not chiefly the result of low precipitation. Three factors – rising temperatures, groundwater depletion, and a shrinking Colorado River – mean the most populous U.S. state will face decades of water shortages and must adapt. The Lake Oroville reservoir in Northern California was at less than 25 percent capacity last month. Image via raybouk/flickr. Creative Commons 2.0. The current drought afflicting California is indeed historic, but not because of the low precipitation totals. In fact, in terms of overall precipitation and spring snowpack, the past three years are not record-breakers, according to weather data for the past century. Similarly, paleoclimate studies show that the current drought is not exceptional given the natural variations in precipitation of the past seven centuries. Nor can it be confidently said that the current drought bears the unequivocal imprint of climate change driven by increasing greenhouse gases, since […]

Two Billion People Are Running out of Water

18 Jun 2015   Water

Forget about peak oil—we should be worrying about peak water: Groundwater basins that supply 2 billion people are being rapidly depleted , according to a new study. Worse: No one knows how long those reserves will last. A research team led by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, examined the world’s 37 largest aquifers between 2003 and 2013 and found that one-third of them were “stressed,” meaning more water was being removed than replenished, according to one of two studies published Tuesday in the journal Water Resources Research . The eight worst-off aquifers, labeled “overstressed,” had virtually no natural replenishment to offset human consumption. The scientists determined the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System, which supplies water to 60 million people, to be the most overstressed. The Indus Basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan is the second-most overstressed, followed by the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa. California’s Central Valley […]

New NASA data show how the world is running out of water

17 Jun 2015   Water

The world’s largest underground aquifers – a source of fresh water for hundreds of millions of people — are being depleted at alarming rates, according to new NASA satellite data that provides the most detailed picture yet of vital water reserves hidden under the Earth’s surface. Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers — in locations from India and China to the United States and France — have passed their sustainability tipping points, meaning more water was removed than replaced during the decade-long study period, researchers announced Tuesday. Thirteen aquifers declined at rates that put them into the most troubled category. The researchers said this indicated a long-term problem that’s likely to worsen as reliance on aquifers grows. Scientists had long suspected that humans were taxing the world’s underground water supply, but the NASA data was the first detailed assessment to demonstrate that major aquifers were indeed struggling to […]

Global water supplies are ‘in distress’, scientists warn

17 Jun 2015   Water

More than a third of the world’s biggest aquifers, a vital source of fresh water for millions, are “in distress” because human activities are draining them, according to satellite observations.  Scientists from Nasa, the US space agency, and the University of California, Irvine, analysed 10 years of data from the twin Grace satellites, which measure changes in groundwater reserves by the way they affect Earth’s gravitational pull.

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Day After EPA Finds Fracking Does Not Pollute Water, Top Oil Regulator Resigns Over Water Contamination

8 Jun 2015   Water

Put this one in the awkward file: just hours after the EPA released yet another massive study (literally, at just under 1000 pages ) which found no evidence that fracking led to widespread pollution of drinking water (an outcome welcome by the oil industry and its backers and criticized by environmental groups), the director of the California Department of Conservation, which oversees the agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, resigned as the culmination of a scandal over the contamination of California’s water supply by fracking wastewater dumping. An aerial view of pits containing production water from oil wells near California 33 and Lokern Road in Kern County This is what the allegedly impartial EPA said on Thursday when it released its long awaited study: “ we did not find evidence that [hydraulic fracking has] led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United […]

EPA Study: Fracking Puts Drinking Water Supplies at Risk of Contamination

6 Jun 2015   Shale Oil, Water

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its long awaited draft assessment of the impacts that fracking has on the nation’s drinking water supplies — confirming that the process does indeed contaminate water. “From our assessment, we conclude there are above and below ground mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources,” the EPA wrote. The impacts take a variety of forms, the EPA wrote, listing the effects of water consumption especially in arid regions or during droughts, chemical and wastewater spills, “fracturing directly into underground drinking water resources,” the movement of liquids and gasses below ground “and inadequate treatment and discharge of wastewater.” The agency wrote that it had documented “specific instances” where each of those problems had in fact happened and some cases where multiple problems combined to pollute water supplies. Environmental […]

Fracking Has Had No ‘Widespread’ Impact on Drinking Water, EPA Finds

5 Jun 2015   Water

Fracking isn’t causing widespread damage to the nation’s drinking water, the Obama administration said in a long-awaited report released Thursday. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—after a four-year study that is the U.S. government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue to date—concluded that hydraulic fracturing, as being carried out by industry and regulated by states, isn’t having “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.” However, the EPA said there were a small number of contaminated drinking wells and highlighted potential vulnerabilities, including the disposal of wastewater and construction of durable wells. The report was issued nearly a decade since fracking began helping unlock vast reserves of oil and natural gas across the U.S. It also bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry and its supporters: that fracking can be carried out safely. “Hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to […]

Oasis at Risk: Oman’s Ancient Water Channels Are Drying Up

3 Jun 2015   Oman, Water

Since pre-Islamic times, Oman’s water systems known as aflaj have brought water from the mountains and made the desert bloom. But now, unregulated pumping of groundwater is depleting aquifers and causing the long-reliable channels to run dry. It was 47 degrees Celsius. Make that 117 degrees Fahrenheit. In mid-May, the desert of northern Oman may have been the hottest place on the planet. But in the shade of the oasis, the temperature was dramatically cooler. Ali Al Muharbi, in his white robes and beard, beamed as he showed me around the date palms. All were irrigated by water gurgling down a channel dug many centuries ago to tap underground water in the nearby Hajar mountains. In Oman, a country on the shores of the Arabian Sea, these magical waters conjured from the most arid land imaginable are called “unfailing springs.” Image by Fred Pearce: Ali Al Muharbi (right) says […]

California water use fell 13.5 percent in April amid drought

3 Jun 2015   Water

Ordered to use a fourth less water during this record drought, Californians managed to get about halfway to their goal in April, regulators announced Tuesday. California residents reduced overall water usage by 13.5 percent compared to the same month in the benchmark year of 2013, water officials said. That’s the second-best conservation achievement since state officials started closely tracking water use more than a year ago, but falls short of the 25 percent cuts Gov. Jerry Brown that became mandatory for cities and towns on June 1. “Local communities are stepping up in a way they weren’t before, and I’m hoping that’s why we are starting to see the uptick” in conservation, said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board, which compiles usage reports from more than 400 water agencies around California. “The real challenge is, we really have […]

How the ‘Paddle in Seattle’ Plans to Beat Shell

27 May 2015   Arctic, Water

Kayak-tivists gathered in Elliott Bay on Saturday, May 16, where the Polar Pioneer drilling rig is docked. (Flickr / Backbone Campaign) Seattle has become a hub of anti-extraction activism. Protests began on May 14, when Royal Dutch Shell — bucking city residents and officials — docked its Polar Pioneer off the Emerald City coast. The towering 400-by-355-foot oil rig is en route to the Arctic, where it is scheduled to begin drilling operations this summer. The largest demonstration yet happened May 16, as hundreds of “kayak-tivists” swarmed Seattle’s Terminal 5, where the Polar Pioneer is docked. Since then, protests against the rig have been ongoing, and show few signs of letting up. This week, I spoke with Puget Sound resident John Sellers, a global justice movement veteran and […]