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Building a Resilient Water Portfolio

By Robert B. Sowby People often ask me, “So what’s the answer to the world’s water problems?” and expect an easy, digestible response. But there is no silver bullet. While most water plans have a dominant component, dependence on a single strategy is risky. Climate change, population growth, and other 21st-century challenges can adversely impact…

Short on Water? Don’t Blame it on the Rain

The common refrain in media stories about water shortages is that they are caused by droughts.  Don’t believe them. Droughts don’t cause water shortages.  People do. The water shortages appearing with increasing frequency and intensity around the globe are, regretfully, poignant signs of our society’s woeful inability to govern itself within limits, or to plan…

Chill Out on Ice Cubes to Save Water

Saving water is cool. No ice necessary.                   California 2013-2014 drought. It’s epic. The worst in the state’s recorded history. Everything you can think of is at a record low for this time of year: rainfall, snowpack, streamflow, reservoir storage…It’s so bad that Governor Jerry Brown has…

In Ireland, Water Will No Longer Be Free

Ireland is surely one of the greenest countries in the world, but its management of freshwater in recent times has been anything but green. Some 41 percent of the nation’s drinking water leaks out of delivery pipes – twice the UK average. That’s a costly loss given the expense of treating and pumping that water…

New Mexicans Call for Conservation over River Diversions

The western United States was settled with the help of big dams and river diversions that delivered distant water to burgeoning cities and farms, but at least one state is saying it’s time to shift gears. In a resounding voice of support for river protection, 85 percent of New Mexico residents say they want officials…

Act Now to Save U.S. Water Efficiency Standards

This afternoon I learned from the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced a bill that would repeal the enormously successful and crucially needed national water efficiency standards for plumbing fixtures. A vote could take place Monday. We cannot allow two decades of water conservation…

The Good News and Bad News of Declining Water Demand

By Sharlene Leurig, water financing expert with Ceres Water utilities across the United States are planning major infrastructure investments in the coming decades. How much? The Environmental Protection Agency estimates about $300 billion will need to be spent by 2030 to keep our drinking water systems safe. When it comes to economic investment, there are few…

California Cities to Reduce Water Imports From the Colorado River and Bay-Delta

The history of water, especially in the western United States, is largely one of reaching further out to distant water sources as population grows and local supplies get tight. But five southern California cities that today rely heavily on water transferred hundreds of miles from the Colorado River and the San Francisco Bay-Delta are reversing…

Tapped Out: How Will Cities Secure Their Water Future?

Today, global demands for food, energy, and shelter are putting unprecedented pressure on the resources of the planet. Water is at the heart of this crisis. In fact, more than half of the world’s cities are already experiencing water shortages on a recurring basis – based on findings from a study that I published, along…

Change the Course: Help Save the Colorado River

The Colorado River may have cut the Grand Canyon, but for much of its course the river is no longer so mighty. Most of the time, the Colorado no longer even reaches the sea. The moisture the Colorado River brings to an arid part of the United States and a piece of northern Mexico has sustained generations…

A Bolder Clean Water Act for the Next 40 Years

As game-changing laws go, the 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act ranks high. With images of rivers like the Cuyahoga burning and fish floating belly up in Lake Erie still fresh in the public’s mind, the Act transformed the nation’s relationship with fresh water.  It forbade cities and industries from using rivers and lakes as waste…

This Simple $10 Fix Saves a Gallon Per Flush

My friend Jeffrey Davis of the blog Ecosnobbery Sucks just put together a brief video on a simple $10 product that saves about a gallon of water per toilet flush. The product is an efficient toilet fill valve, which Jeffrey says can be “dialed in” to dispense only the minium amount of water needed to fill…

Thinking Big, Acting Small, and 5 Other Things I Do To Save Water

A few years ago, my wife Cathy suggested that I consider incorporating advice in my climate change lectures on the little things that we can do each day to combat global warming.  Although I tend to deliver most of my doom and gloom messages with a smile, the scope of the environmental issues that we…

Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park: Baja’s Miracle Threatened

Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park: Baja’s Miracle Threatened   By the 1990s, decades of destructive overfishing in the waters of the Sea of Cortez left the coral reef at Cabo Pulmo severely impacted. In order to restore and recover the vitality and biological diversity of the reef’s ecosystem, the local community on the east cape…

How to “Fix” the Colorado River?

  Much ado has been made in recent headlines about growing scarcity on the Colorado River.  Water supply, as reflected by what’s left in storage in the basin’s big reservoirs, has dropped from full just over a decade ago to 64% today, and the river hasn’t run regularly to the sea since the 90’s. While…