Water Problems, Water Problems Everywhere . . . 0

Dry California river bed.   By National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Wikimedia Commons

All water is local.

For that reason, we do not see the hundreds of headlines about shortages, contamination and related issues that are daily spread across news sites such as The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio, the Times News of Twins Falls Idaho, the Cape Coral Daily Breeze of Cape Coral, Florida, the Kingston Daily Freeman of Kingston, NY, the Bakersfield Californian, and the Arizona Republic, or the AzerNews of Azerbaijan, the Times of India and AllAfrica.com.

These few sources were returned in a narrow Google News search for “water shortage,” which yielded approximately 200 news stories from the past week.  Hundreds more appear if you add “pollution,” “spills,” “beach closures,” “drinking water,” and similar terms. There are hundreds of additional stories not even “selected and ranked” by Google computers. If we all shared the same water supply, or the same news source, we would read or hear about water every day.

Despite the age of our environmental statutes, and the common challenges water use poses, relatively little water innovation has been implemented across the US population in the four decades since the passage of our major water laws. As the smattering of one week’s stories suggests, 20th century approaches are not a match for 21 century problems, despite the hundreds of water plans and thousands of water regulations that federal, state and local agencies administer.

Following is a very brief, representative list of links from the past week about water shortages and pollution in the U.S. Leading the list is California, where a devastating drought is making daily headlines. Do a search of your own. You are bound to find a water issue nearby.

California Drought: Communities at Risk of Running Dry
San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2014

It is a bleak roadmap of the deepening crisis brought on by one of California’s worst droughts – a list of 17 communities and water districts that within 100 days could run dry of the state’s most precious commodity.

The threatened towns and districts, identified this week by state health officials, are mostly small and in rural areas. They get their water in a variety of ways, from reservoirs to wells to rivers. But, in all cases, a largely rainless winter has left their supplies near empty.  More . . .

 

12 Utah Counties Designated Primary Natural Disaster Areas Due to Water Shortage
Fox 13 News, Salt Lake City, January 14, 2014

HURRICANE, Utah – It’s still early in the year, but water district directors in southern Utah say unless things change, they’re predicting a drought worse than what has been seen in years past

The Washington County Water Conservancy District said water levels are currently at around 60 percent of normal. Despite an early winter storm that dropped several inches, the mountains are looking bare.  More . . .

 

Boyd County, KY Declares State of Emergency Due to Water Shortage
WOWK TV, January 30, 2014

A state of emergency has been declared for all of Boyd County, KY.

According to Boyd County Emergency Management, this is due to a water shortage throughout the county. The City of Ashland says a boil water advisory is in affect for all water users until further notice.  More . . .

 

Drought Worsens in Arizona, Rest of Southwest
Tucson News Now, January 30,2014

Here in Tucson we depend on groundwater and the Central Arizona Project. That’s Colorado River water. However, when you’ve had drought conditions for more than a decade, something has got to give.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows that 36 percent of Arizona is in severe drought. Three months ago it was 14 percent.  More . . .

 

Inside City’s Water Tanks, Layers of Neglect
The New York Times, January 27, 2014

[I]nside these rustic-looking vessels, there are often thick layers of muddy sediment. Many have not been cleaned or inspected in years. And regulations governing water tanks are rarely enforced, an examination by The New York Times shows.

Even some that are routinely maintained contain E. coli, a bacterium that is used by public health officials to predict the presence of viruses, bacteria and parasites that can cause disease.  More . . .

 

Experts Warn “Flushing” May not Have Worked
West Virginia Gazette, January 29, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The “flushing” recommended by the Tomblin administration and West Virginia American Water might not have effectively eliminated Crude MCHM and other toxic chemicals from plumbing systems in homes and businesses, experts are warning.

MCHM from the Jan. 9 Freedom Industries leak into the Elk River might be stuck inside pipes and hot-water tanks, and experts are concerned that the chemical also could be breaking down into other toxic materials that have yet to be fully identified.  More . . .

 

New study: Babies Near Gas Wells More Likely to Have Birth Defects
Environmental Health News, January 31, 2014

EarthDesk Note: Though EHN is a national news service, this story has thus far gone mostly unnoticed by the regular media. It is centered on Colorado with implications for the fracking controversy.

Researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health analyzed birth defects among nearly 125,000 births in Colorado towns with fewer than 50,000 people between 1996 and 2009, examining how close the mothers lived to natural gas wells.

Babies born to mothers living in areas with the highest density of wells – more than 125 wells per mile – were more than twice as likely to have neural tube defects than those living with no wells within a 10-mile radius, according to the study published Tuesday.  More . . .