Top Stories

How California distributes scarce water

The state of California is asking a basic question right now that people often fight over: What's a fair way to divide up something that's scarce and valuable? That "something," in this case, is water.

There's a lot at stake, including your very own nuts, fruit and vegetables, because most of the water that's up for grabs in California goes to farmers. This year, some farmers will get water, and others will not, simply based on when their land was first irrigated.

Consider, for instance, the case of Cannon Michael. He grows tomatoes and melons in California's Central Valley. And despite the drought, he'll still grow them this year.

>> Read the Full Article

What lead is doing to our students

Every child's ability to succeed in school is influenced by lots of external factors: teacher quality, parenting, poverty, geography, to name a few. But far less attention has been paid to the power of a child's bedroom walls. Or, rather, the paint that's on them and the lead that may be in that paint. A new study published in the Harvard Educational Review suggests that efforts to reduce kids' lead exposure have led to tangible academic gains in Massachusetts.

>> Read the Full Article

Report finds rise in ER visits following heavy rainfall

Consumers whose drinking water can be contaminated by the release of untreated wastewater after heavy rains face increased risk for gastrointestinal illness, according to a report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “Combined” sewer systems collect both sewage and stormwater runoff on the way to treatment facilities. When heavy rainfall fills these systems beyond their capacity, untreated wastewater can back up into homes. To reduce the risk of home flooding during heavy precipitation, municipalities often discharge some of the untreated flow into nearby bodies of water. The release of untreated waste is known as a combined sewer overflow.

>> Read the Full Article

The importance of oceanic phytoplankton

Do you have any idea just how many organizims are in seawater?  Not the fish you can see, but the microscopic organizims you cant see?

Dip a beaker into any portion of the world’s oceans, and you’re likely to pull up a swirling mix of planktonic inhabitants. The oceans are teeming with more than 5,000 species of phytoplankton — microscopic plants in a kaleidoscope of shapes and sizes. Together, phytoplankton anchor the ocean’s food chain, supplying nutrients to everything from single-celled organisms on up to fish and whales.

Through photosynthesis, these tiny organisms supply more than half the world’s oxygen. When these plants die, they drift to the ocean bottom, or evaporate into the air as carbon — a process that generates more than half the world’s cycling carbon.

>> Read the Full Article

Warmer Waters Threaten Future of Traditional Fish and Chips

Popular North Sea fish such as haddock, plaice and lemon sole could be replaced on the menus of the nation’s fish and chip shops as the seas around the UK continue to warm at a rapid rate, a new study warns. Fish distributions are limited by water temperature and some species can only thrive in certain habitats and depths. 

>> Read the Full Article

Fungi thrived in flooded Colorado homes months after waters receded

Basements that flooded after heavy rains deluged the Colorado Front Range in September 2013 had higher levels of airborne mold and other fungi months after the waters receded compared with basements that didn’t flood, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

>> Read the Full Article

Combined sewer systems and heavy rainfall not healthy

Emergency hospital admissions rise following heavy rainfall after a new study found consumers’ drinking water can be contaminated by the release of untreated wastewater, increasing the risk for gastrointestinal illness.

"Combined" sewer systems collect both sewage and stormwater runoff on the way to treatment facilities. When heavy rainfall fills these systems beyond their capacity, untreated wastewater can back up into homes. 

To reduce the risk of home flooding during heavy precipitation, municipalities often discharge some of the untreated flow into nearby bodies of water. 

>> Read the Full Article

The impact levees have on groundwater recharge

Strange as it sounds, flood control can be part of the solution to managing California’s droughts. University of California scientists have shown that making more room for floodwaters can improve the state’s groundwater supplies and fisheries.

Removing some levees or rebuilding aging ones some distance away from riverbanks can appreciably replenish aquifers during wet years, providing some relief during droughts.

>> Read the Full Article

Record low snowpacks in Southwest is bad news for water supplies

Nine states report record low snowpacks. A report from the US Department of Agriculture states, “the largest snowpack deficits are in record territory for many basins,especially in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada where single – digit percent of normal conditions prevail. Very low snowpacks are reported in most of Washington, all of Oregon, Nevada, California, parts of Arizona, much of Idaho, parts of New Mexico, three basins in Wyoming, one basin in Montana, and most of Utah.” This region is undergoing the warmest winter temperatures since record keeping began in 1895.

>> Read the Full Article

New strategy will help save declining ape population

The number of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa continues to decline due to poaching, habitat loss and disease according to a new plan published by WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Wildlife Conservation Society and partners. The strategy, “Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of Western Lowland Gorillas and Central Chimpanzees 2015-2025”—outlines the growing number of threats to these great apes across six range countries, including gaps in law enforcement and the threats by well-connected traffickers seeking to supply the illegal commercial market.

>> Read the Full Article