Archive for January 31, 2020

How much water is in a steak?

Water is a precious resource. There’s a lot of talk about how to reduce its consumption, but the crucial food production sector is often excluded. An Augmented Reality infographic in the article offers deeper insights.

Germans are making every effort to save water: They turn off the shower when soaping, collect rainwater for watering the garden, and install toilet flushes with economy buttons. These actions do little more than serving a clear conscience, though. Despite their efforts, Germans are among the world’s top offenders when it comes to wasting water. Read more

Catching fog in drought-stricken Chile

Farmers in northern Chile, one of the driest regions in the world, are learning to adapt to drought after discovering a new source of water — fog-catching nets.

Since December last year, the Coquimbo region of northern Chile has officially been suffering a drought emergency, and this is just the latest in a succession of parched years. But a surprising source of water is helping local farmers adapt to ever-drier conditions.

Villages in the region are typically made up of shacks with no running water. For electricity, these communities sometimes need to use a generator. They rely on the local government to deliver water in trucks, but say it isn’t enough to meet their needs. Read more

Climate wreaks havoc on water

Climate change is likely to intensify the alarming rate of degradation of the world’s rivers and wetlands unless water resources are better managed, according to a special issue of the international scientific journal Marine & Freshwater Research published online today.

Rain – Falling drops of water. The image was made from four big photos and downsized for better quality.

Rainfall runoff and water availability will be increasingly affected in the next four decades, with the tropics probably getting wetter and dry regions becoming drier, say leading water researchers in the issue, which is devoted to problems caused by water resource development and to providing solutions for improved management in an era of climate change.

Climate modelling is also predicting increases in the extremes of floods and droughts. As well, increasing temperatures are causing rivers around the world to change their flow patterns, particularly where they rely on snow melting.

Rivers and wetlands are already degrading more than any other ecosystem – with growing impacts on global biodiversity and on human communities that depend on river flows, says UNSW’s Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre, who edited the special issue. “The world is watching how Australia manages the over-allocation of rivers caused by dam-building and increasing effects of climate change,” says Professor Kingsford. Read more

Canadians Got Freaked Out by This Disturbing Pink Tap Water – Because Look at It

Residents in the Canadian town of Onoway, Alberta got quite a shock on Monday night when their drinking water suddenly turned bright pink. And we’re not talking just any old pink – that colour is outrageous.

Town officials have been forced to apologise to the locals, putting the neon nightmare down to a valve malfunction during some routine maintenance. Turns out, the pinkest chemical you’ve ever seen removes impurities from wastewater, and somehow it made its way into the Onoway reservoir.

“The Town of Onoway sincerely apologises for any alarm this may have caused. We assure you our water is safe and Public Works is doing everything they can to abate the situation as quickly as possible,” the local council said in a press statement. Read more

The WHO Has No Idea if Microplastics in Our Water Are Harmful or Not

It took us a while to notice, but now it’s clear that plastic pollution is everywhere: in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, and the water we drink.

Last year, an unsettling analysis found more than 90 percent of the world’s most popular bottled water contained tiny bits of plastic. In some cases, concentrations reached 10,000 pieces per litre.

Moved by these results, the World Health Organisation decided to launch a safety review. If microplastics were being swallowed day in and day out by humans all over the world, then health officials needed to know what that was doing to our bodies.

The results from their analysis have now been published, but they don’t exactly inspire a sigh of relief. With scant data available on both hazard and exposure, the authors were only able to review nine studies on microplastics in drinking water, and many of these were deemed unreliable in some way. Read more