Four Water Resolutions for a Sustainable Planet

Most of us have been taught since childhood to be careful in our use of water. We’ve been encouraged to take shorter showers, not let the water faucet run while brushing our teeth or shaving, or to install water-efficient plumbing fixtures such as low-flow toilets in our homes to conserve water.


The Salmon River in Idaho, one of the very few well-protected rivers in the lower 48 states.

Each of these water-saving measures is important, and practicing them should be part of everyone’s water conservation ethic. Each of these actions will reduce the volume of water that must be withdrawn from natural habitats such as rivers, lakes, and aquifers, leaving more water to support fish and other aquatic life. Water conservation can help cities avoid water shortages, or enable a city’s population to expand without having to further deplete freshwater sources. By using less water we are also using less energy, because it takes a lot of electricity to pump water from a water source, purify it for our use, distribute it to our homes and businesses, and clean it again after we’ve used it. Read more

Artificial Glaciers Water Crops in Indian Highlands

yazghil-glacier-thumbA remote Indian village is responding to global warming-induced water shortages by creating large masses of ice, or “artificial glaciers,” to get through the dry spring months.

Located on the western edge of the Tibetan plateau, the village of Skara in the Ladakh region of India is not a common tourist destination.

“It’s beautiful, but really remote and difficult to get to,” said Amy Higgins, a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies who worked on the artificial glacier project.

“A lot of people, when I met them in Delhi and I said I was going to Ladakh, they looked at me like I was going to the moon,” said Higgins, who is also a National Geographic grantee. Read more

Water, Power Agencies Ask State Board to Defer Flows Review

Citing potentially severe impacts on water supply and power operations, a group of public water and power agencies is asking the State Water Resources Control Board to delay any revision of Delta flow objectives until key analyses can be completed as part of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.

bay-deltaIn a letter submitted to the State Board, the water and power organizations said flow criteria developed by Board staff in a narrow process in 2010 would have devastating effects on beneficial uses of water if formally adopted by the State Board. Storage levels in key reservoirs would be greatly reduced by the end of summer in many years, hydropower generation would be reduced by an average of 30%, and temperature objectives designed to help winter- and fall-run salmon would not be met in most years, according to the letter. Water supplies for a variety of uses would also be severely reduced. Read more

Earth’s Water May Even Be Older Than The Sun Itself

Just how old is H2O? A fascinating new study suggests that some of the water molecules we drink and bathe in are way old — as in more than 4.6 billion years old.

001That’s older than the solar system itself.

“Our findings show that a significant fraction of our solar system’s water, the most-fundamental ingredient to fostering life, is older than the sun,” study co-author Dr. Conel Alexander, a scientist at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, D.C., said in a written statement, “which indicates that abundant, organic-rich interstellar ices should probably be found in all young planetary systems.” Read more

This Is How Much Water It Takes To Make Your Favorite Foods

Extensive drought has Californians thinking twice about running the tap while brushing their teeth or taking that 20-minute shower. But what some people don’t realize is that a huge portion of our water footprint is “hidden,” meaning it’s used for the things we eat or wear, and for the energy we use. Globally, agricultural production accounts for 92 percent of our water footprint. In the United States, meat consumption alone accounts for a whopping 30 percent of our water footprint.

So exactly how much water do the foods you eat require? Which food would win in a water use showdown? We’ve got the answers below, along with some helpful hints about reducing the water footprint of your diet.

All data come from Water Footprint Network’s website and reports on the global average water footprint of different foods. All winners are based on the gallons of water needed to produce a pound of each item or a gallon of each drink.

Tea vs. Coffee

C-TWinner: Tea is the winner at 108 gallons of water per gallon of brewed tea. Coffee requires almost 10 times as much water, using 1,056 gallons of water per gallon of brewed coffee. Read more