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Geography in the News: The Great Lakes’ Mounting Problems

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Geography in the NewsTM The Great Lakes’ Mounting Problems Recent news about an algae bloom on Lake Erie leading to Toledo, Ohio’s municipal water plants closing is just one of the many problems affecting the Great Lakes. Toledo’s 400,000 people were forced to purchase bottled water for two…

Stop that Cow: When Ecuadoran Cities Organize to Protect Water Supplies

Arturo Quevedo, the engineer responsible for the watershed protection program for Loja, Ecuador’s municipal water agency, has a kind demeanor. His slightly crooked front teeth are prominent beneath his moustache as he waxes ebullient about clean water percolating through forested slopes, coursing through pipes, and hydrating Loja’s children. But don’t let the gentle, nature-lover exterior fool you. As tender as he is with the landscape, he is equally fierce in sniffing out water-polluting scum.

Wildfires in the Western U.S. Are on the Rise, Posing Threats to Drinking Water

When the Las Conchas Fire scorched some 151,000 acres of northern New Mexico in 2011, it wasn’t just the direct fire damage that was cause for worry. Striking as it did in the midst of a persistent drought, but just before summer “monsoon” rains, the Las Conchas – the largest blaze in New Mexico’s recorded…

Growing Teeth and Four More Odd Uses for Urine

Compost, fuel, water—and now teeth? See the unusual ways urine can be used in everyday life.

Fracking’s Threats to Drinking Water Call for a Precautionary Approach

At least one aspect of fracking’s risks to drinking water became a little clearer this week. A study led by Rob Jackson of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that drinking water wells located within 1 kilometer of a shale gas well…

First World Problem: Nothing But Clean, Filtered Water to Drink

My friend’s grandma never drank water. “That’s for horses,” she would say. Instead, she drank cafe au lait or orange juice. My own grandma rarely drinks water, usually preferring coffee or juices. A lot of people in the developed world are this way, even those who are told by their doctors that they are dehydrated. There…

The Endangered Waters Beneath Our Feet

    Last week, the conservation organization American Rivers released its annual list of the nation’s most-endangered rivers. I got to thinking, what if we had a sister list of most-endangered aquifers? After all, water from underground meets 20 percent of U.S. water demand for drinking, crop irrigation and everything else. It also provides the…

Fire and Rain: The One-Two Punch of Flooding After Blazes

The great balls of fire that leapt from treetop to treetop in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico earlier this summer, threatening the town of Los Alamos and a federal nuclear research laboratory, were apocalyptic enough.  They left behind a scorched landscape of dead trees, charred woods and blackened earth.  From June 26 until…

Who’s Skipping School?

The new Nat Geo movie, The First Grader, tells the story of a Kenyan man in his 80s who applies for a coveted spot in school along with first graders. Revisit some recent National Geographic articles illustrating the challenges which defeat many would-be students, and how education can change a life, and possibly a culture.

Americans Value Water More Than Energy, and Want Government to Fix Leaking Pipes

Ninety-five percent of Americans say water delivery is more important than access to energy sources and internet and cell phone service, according to a survey released last week by ITT, a $10.9-billion company with a $3.5-billion water engineering and infrastructure business. ITT also asked survey participants* if they think federal, state, and local governments should…