Fracking, a fossil-fuel extraction technique in which drilling companies inject high-pressure liquids (frackwater) into the ground to break open rock formations containing oil or gas, is known to have detrimental effects on the environment. Frackwater can contain a myriad of chemicals including benzene and xylene as well as potentially dangerous … Read More
While I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to do my job well and report information accurately in my role as editor, when I mess up or fail to act, a comma is misplaced or a person’s name misspelled. It’s unfortunate, but nobody dies.
The charges recently brought against five Michigan … Read More
Two weeks ago, I wrote about efforts to cultivate algae as a food source. Proponents of algae-based nutrition point out that 70% of the world’s freshwater use goes into raising crops and livestock. We’ve also touched on the issue here, comparing how much water various types of food—especially meats—take to … Read More
I learned recently that approximately 40% of the world’s food is cultivated in irrigated areas and that 10% of the world’s population consumes food irrigated with wastewater.
This realization made me wonder: how safe is it to irrigate crops with wastewater? And, after a bit of research, it appears that there … Read More
Since 1993, the equipment rental industry has more than doubled in size—from $11.2 billion to $22 billion. Just 10 years before that, equipment rental was a $1.1-billion industry.
Industry experts say that a combination of factors is responsible for this sizable boost, most notably the construction booms of the late 1980s … Read More
I’ve written about rising sea levels and the potential effects on infrastructure for a number of years now. But the gravity of this global issue resonated with particular poignance last week when my town released a landmark report outlining the effects of sea rise on our little seaside community.
The … Read More
A field of golden sunflowers stretches along the Neuse River Greenway in Raleigh, North Carolina. Their faces shift, following the sun’s path overhead.
“Right now it looks like a sea of gold,” Tim Woody, superintendent of the Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility, told North Carolina Public Radio.
The flowers—one of several … Read More
Among researchers who study the potential effects of rising sea levels, and among the city planners in coastal areas who are actively trying to come up with viable plans for their communities, the idea of retreat is catching on. The alternative is to build physical defenses—costly sea walls, levees, or … Read More
It’s the season of giving and during the holidays, many of us celebrate by sharing gifts. A few years ago, I became interested in microlending while searching for a way to, in some small way, do a little global good. I thought I would share my personal experience here as a … Read More
Where do you stand on climate change? Is the issue settled? Do you think there are still some uncertainties to be cleared up?
Last week I wrote about a recent report on the science behind sea level rise; the authors of that report explain the models and data they’re using to … Read More
Nuclear generation makes up about 20% of the United States’ energy supply. While nuclear plants are in-line with current carbon-free environmental goals, positive attributes, such as grid stability and consistent base load are often overlooked. As a result, today, they are struggling to compete.
In May, at a US Department of … Read More
For the past several years, the solar industry has been on a tear. The aggressive tax incentive is set to step down from 30% to 10% in 2016 before it goes away completely at the end of 2017. Some solar CEOs are lobbying for another extension of the Solar Investment Tax … Read More
Last week, as you’ve probably heard, five people in Michigan were charged with involuntary manslaughter for circumstances related to the Flint water crisis—specifically for their failure to sound the alert about increases in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease. It’s believed that pipes corroded by the city’s new source … Read More
Although towing an iceberg from Antarctica to South Africa to relieve drought-plagued Cape Town sounds far-fetched, or like the plot of a summer blockbuster movie, it’s a solution that experts in South Africa are seriously considering.
Marine salvage expert, Nick Sloane, who in 2014 successfully refloated the capsized Italian passenger ship … Read More
“The current reality of smart cities is that there aren’t any,” asserts a recent Scientific American article. And it’s true. While there are a number of cities with “smart” elements, such as networked cameras and traffic signals or daylight-sensing streetlights, most of today’s smart cities are made up of smart … Read More
Last Sunday’s New York Times article, “It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead,” hit the nail on the head by suggesting that people, not some intergalactic demonic force, are responsible for all but 6% of the 38,000 roadway fatalities in 2015. What’s behind the 6% not … Read More
As utilities across America struggle to afford the repair of aging water infrastructure and climate change impacts water scarcity, the nation’s poor are simultaneously challenged to pay rising water bills. And this ever-expanding economic gap promises to present grave problems within the next decade.
Water rates across the nation are increasing. … Read More
It’s estimated that 70% of freshwater withdrawals worldwide are for agricultural use. Although some see recycled wastewater as a potential solution component to global water scarcity issues, the costs of treating wastewater—to remove contaminants, reduce crop-damaging salts, and to meet health standards for reuse—often present financial limitations.
A new economic model … Read More
In May 2016, the governor of Colorado signed a bill legalizing rain barrels. Before then, the capture and use of rainwater, even on so small a scale, was illegal in Colorado. It wasn’t the first time such a bill had been proposed—a similar effort failed last year—and the decision, hailed … Read More
Many cities and some states have banned single-use plastic shopping bags. The next item on the list? It could be the plastic drinking straw.
Cities and states that have banned plastic bags have done so for several reasons—they’re not biodegradable; they contribute to landfill waste—but one of the most-cited has been … Read More
The Space Fence, a sophisticated surveillance system designed to improve the way the US Air Force identifies and tracks objects in space, is under construction and scheduled for operation by 2018. The radar installation addresses the growing problem of space debris, an issue that became reality in 2009 when a … Read More
This is a question many have asked, particularly over the past decade as the concern for energy resources again reared its ugly head. Given the opposition to WTE by those claiming to speak on behalf of the “environmental community,” those favoring the development of alternative practices to accompany recycling efforts … Read More
What exactly does “navigable” mean? Vague definitions of which bodies of water are protected by federal agencies have confounded policy makers for decades. In 1972, the Clean Water Act gave federal authorities the power to regulate pollution in “navigable waters.” The job of determining which of those waters the policy … Read More
For our March/April 2013 issue’s Editor’s Comments I wrote a piece on leadership that received not only the highest number of responses of any in all the magazine’s history, but was also picked up by other publications for reprinting. I regard why this was so as one of those mysteries … Read More
Global sea levels are rising at an astonishing rate—a pace that increases with each climbing degree of warmth that our planet experiences. The inevitability of saltwater influx means that in the future, humans will have to rethink, rebuild, and relocate infrastructural systems, potable water sources, and in some cases entire … Read More
I, along with many of you, was saddened to learn of Dick Townley’s passing this past weekend. I know that he was a Californian and an expert at many things, a list that included laughing a lot, at the same time taking his longstanding role in waste management matters seriously. I … Read More
In the near-distant future, spent batteries could clutter the landscape. A primary focus of energy storage tech developers has been on engineering more power-dense and lighter weight lithium-ion batteries to power devices like laptops, cell phones, and electric vehicles. But it seems that little planning has gone into the product’s … Read More
As many new presidential administrations do, Donald Trump’s is promising to take action on improving the country’s infrastructure. How fast it can move ahead might depend on which environmental and other regulations stay and which ones go.
This recent article from the Wall Street Journal titled “Speed Limits Await Infrastructure Spree” looks … Read More
The closer we get to the end of the year, the more we need to think about the China Waste Ban. Right now, I would like you to consider the thoughts of John Trotti regarding the subject.
The following is the editorial he wrote for the November/December 2017 issue of MSW … Read More
Women and water share a powerful and intimate bond. In many parts of the world women bear the primary responsibility for water collection, they nourish their families with it, and often play a vital role in water economies. Water is fundamental for health, safety, industry, and food security. In an … Read More
Satellite radar measurements provided by interferometric synthetic aperture radar, or InSAR, can detect subtle, millimeter-scale changes in ground elevation as areas gain or lose groundwater. Researchers have recently utilized the technology to quantify the effects of California’s drought. And in an unexpected twist, they also detected shifts due to policy … Read More
The intersection of water and energy is an interface that in the water industry we often explore in terms of operational efficiencies, conservation policies, and cost perspectives. But on a micro scale, the water-energy nexus is encapsulated within a single molecule. And the research surrounding the separation of this molecule’s … Read More
Children’s toys, broken electronics, fragments of plastic, and abandoned fishing nets. It sounds like a line from poet Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Things. But instead, it’s an account of the debris swirling between Hawaii and California in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) as observed by oceanographer Laurent Lebreton and … Read More
For the most part, antibiotics play a positive role in the modern world. They help combat infection and keep us healthy. However, antibiotics often find their way into water streams and wastewater treatment plants while still biologically active. And that’s a problem for a variety of reasons. … Read More
When a tsunami inundated Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant on March 11, 2011, it damaged the cooling systems of three reactors, causing a catastrophic nuclear disaster. Ever since the meltdown, authorities have wrestled with a monumental decision: what to do with more than 750,000 tons of water contaminated with a … Read More
When it’s time to replace a water heater—or put one into a newly constructed building—facility managers can choose between the traditional storage tank heater or a tankless water heater.
Tankless water heaters, also known as demand-type water heaters, can provide endless hot water only as it is needed and used, points … Read More
Data centers use water for cooling hot servers and electrical equipment—an Olympic-sized swimming pool every two days, in fact, according to Data Center Dynamics.
Air exiting electrical equipment is cooled by passing though an air/liquid heat exchanger. The liquid coolant picks up heat from the exchanger on its way to … Read More
We’ve talked a lot on this website and in Erosion Control magazine about invasive species, from kudzu to the salt cedar beetle. Sometimes non-native species are introduced into an ecosystem deliberately: as ornamental plants, or vegetation used to shore up eroding hillsides, or animals and insects used as biological controls … Read More
During the recent drought, California farmers pumped so much groundwater that the water table dropped by 10 to 20 feet in some places, and up to 100 feet in others. Aquifers were depleted. Wells ran dry. And then, as if by some miracle, it rained.
This winter, storms have delivered rainfall … Read More
Many agricultural areas of the American West are reliant on groundwater withdrawals—and even more so in the face of drought. But many aquifers have become depleted or overdrafted over the years. And as temperatures rise with climate change and as droughts become more extreme, overdrafts are likely to increase. To … Read More
Has recycling in the United States stalled? How dire is the situation? Industry executives have argued forcefully that prices for recycling commodities have largely fallen to the point over the past several years that it is not economical for them to process recyclables and market them to largely Asian markets, … Read More
It seems like a passage from Latin American fiction—a surreal scenario in which citizens awaken to find their country dry, and a mustached general rationing their water. But for citizens of La Paz, Bolivia, this is not a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel—it is their reality.
For eleven years, scientists like Edson … Read More
It’s not quite as serious as the toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie that cut off Toledo’s water supply a few years back, but it’s pretty dramatic nonetheless: A pond in Maine has an acre-sized blob of algae beneath its surface, and some local officials are calling the situation an … Read More
China recently filed with the World Trade Organization its intent to ban the import of a number of scrap categories by the end of the year. We’re talking about mostly mixed paper and plastics along with scalings and other waste from the manufacturing of iron and steel. The filing states … Read More
Here’s a quick quiz: which of the 50 states has the highest hidden flood risk? (Scroll down for the answer.)
You might guess Florida—I did—but that low-lying coastal state, in fact, comes in second. And although Florida does have the greatest overall flood risk, hidden risk is something different: it … Read More
Last week Governor Jerry Brown’s $15 billion plan to construct two tunnels to convey water from northern California to southern California achieved early approval from federal wildlife officials. The support represents a step forward in a complex approval process.
The tunnels—each four stories high and 35 miles long—would collect water … Read More
I might be overstating it a bit with this title, but I do find the tentative US/Mexico trade deal, or as the White House calls it a “preliminary trade agreement,” somewhat confusing. The Administration says it’s going to submit the agreement that was reached last week to Congress and set … Read More
According to scientific consensus, the future of climate stabilization depends upon the decarbonization of energy systems and the reduction of global greenhouse-gas emissions. The electrification of buildings, power industry researchers explain, is an important step on the path to decarbonization.
A European study conducted by the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project indicates … Read More
As gloppy, green cyanobacteria overtake southern Florida’s waterways, a debate has erupted over whom is to blame for the state’s algae bloom emergency.
It’s a perfect storm, really, and the sort of environmental nightmare that happens precisely when water management issues and inadequate infrastructure funding collide. … Read More