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Sustainable Water Management is Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits, say Countries - WaterWorld

Sustainable Water Management is Achieving Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits, say Countries - WaterWorld | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
RT @The_JEI: @UNEP cites economic, social & #environmental benefits from nations in support of sustainable #water management http://t.co/Dz7G50Pe...

The United Nations Environment Programme issued the following news release:
Over 80 per cent of countries have reformed their water laws in the past twenty years as a response to growing pressures on water resources from expanding populations, urbanization and climate change.
In many cases, such water reforms have had positive impacts on development, including improvements to drinking water access, human health and water efficiency in agriculture.
But global progress has been slower where irrigation, rainwater harvesting and investment in freshwater ecosystem services are concerned.

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Sections of Great Barrier Reef suffering from 'complete ecosystem collapse' ("no more fish thriving")

Sections of Great Barrier Reef suffering from 'complete ecosystem collapse' ("no more fish thriving") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Coral Watch investigator reports ‘shocking’ lack of fish and says the surviving corals are continuing to bleach, even during winter

“The lack of fish was the most shocking thing,” said Justin Marshall, of the University of Queensland and the chief investigator of citizen science program Coral Watch. “In broad terms, I was seeing a lot less than 50% of what was there [before the bleaching]. Some species I wasn’t seeing at all.” Marshall spent a week this month conducting surveys on the reefs around Lizard Island.

Marshall said many of the fish species that were commonly seen around branching coral had completely disappeared from the area, including the black-and-white striped humbug damselfish. He said in his time there he saw only one school of green chromis, which were previously seen all over the area. 

Marshall said the lack of fish was an indication that there was “complete ecosystem collapse”. Without enough surviving corals, the fish didn’t have the shelter and food sources they needed and had died or moved elsewhere. 

Without many of those fish, Marshall said the coral would face a harder time recovering, since the entire ecosystem had been degraded.

He said he was also surprised to see that some of the surviving corals continued to bleach, despite the southern hemisphere winter bringing cooler waters to the Great Barrier Reef.

Bert Guevara's insight:
It used to be unthinkable that the Great Barrier Reef, a very rich expanse of ocean-life biodiversity, is now collapsing in many areas. Does this confirm accelerated extinction?

"Marshall said the lack of fish was an indication that there was “complete ecosystem collapse”. Without enough surviving corals, the fish didn’t have the shelter and food sources they needed and had died or moved elsewhere. ...
"He said he was also surprised to see that some of the surviving corals continued to bleach, despite the southern hemisphere winter bringing cooler waters to the Great Barrier Reef."
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Warming Could Mean More Algae Blooms Like Florida’s ("it's payback time for pollution + warming")

Warming Could Mean More Algae Blooms Like Florida’s ("it's payback time for pollution + warming") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Algae blooms like the one plaguing Lake Okeechobee and Florida's coastline could happen more often as lakes and coastal waters warm.

The algae bloom is the result of a combination of factors, including the abundant nutrients washed in from surrounding agricultural lands, heavy winter rains and hot, calm summer weather. In the future, such blooms could become more common as Earth’s rising temperature heats up lakes and oceans, providing a more favorable home for algae and other potentially toxic microorganisms in the water.

The Okeechobee bloom began in May, when it was only about 33 square miles in area. Nutrients that the algae need to flourish are plentiful in the lake, primarily coming from fertilizers used in agricultural land. But those nutrients are not enough on their own to fuel a bloom; normally the lake is too turbid, with sediment in the water blocking the light that the algae need to drive photosynthesis. 

But in May, calm weather led to stiller water that let light through its upper layers, allowing the algae (a type called Microcystis) to go wild. 

“All it takes is the right weather,” Karl Havens, director of the Florida Sea Grant, said. Havens hasn’t studied this particular bloom, but said it bore a strong resemblance to what happened during the last major such bloom in 2005.

Added to that recipe were very heavy winter rains (due largely to a strong El Niño) that led to high water levels in the lake, taxing an old, ailing dike. To ease the pressure on the dike, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released water from the lake, which took the algae down the St. Lucie River and out to coastal waters, along with enough freshwater for them to thrive in the normally saline estuary.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Enjoy swimming while the water is still fine. The attack of the ALGAE BLOOM will be coming to a beach or lake near you.

"Warmer water temperatures could provide a more favorable environment for algae to grow and affect where they occur, how quickly they grow and how toxic they are. The 2015 study found that such blooms should be expected to increase by 20 percent in lakes.
"Algae, of course, aren’t the only potentially harmful microorganisms lurking in the water that could benefit from warmer temperatures. 
“When you go to the beach, there’s always some amount of viruses, protozoa and bacteria,” Havens said, and many of them thrive in warmer temperatures.
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Filipinos consumer almost twice more than their daily water needs ("maybe its due to the weather")

Filipinos consumer almost twice more than their daily water needs ("maybe its due to the weather") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
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Bert Guevara's insight:
Let us use water wisely and help the Philippines be secure in water resources.
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New Microscope Shows Coral Colonies Kissing, Fighting & Eating ("they're not plants; they're animals")

Scientists use a new underwater microscope to observe coral in its natural habitat for the first time.

Although corals look like a plant, they are actually animals, made up of thousands of individual polyps living together in a colony. Because of their small size, scientific observation of them has been difficult, if not impossible outside of a lab. 

Now, Andrew Mullen and Tali Treibitz from the University of California San Diego have developed a new way to observe coral colonies in their natural habitat. The Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM) allows divers to capture photos of corals over time without removing samples to be studied in a lab, as they demonstrated in a paper published in Nature on July 12th.  They used the BUM in the Gulf of Eilat at the northern tip of the Red Sea to observe corals feeding, fighting, sharing, and even ‘kissing’, a previously unobserved behavior. 

As coral bleaching threatens the world’s reefs, they hope that the instrument will be an important tool in understanding how corals work in the complex and constantly changing environment of the sea floor.


Bert Guevara's insight:
Great mistake - corals are not plants, they are actually animals! Check out the amazing microscopic shots of how they kiss, fight and eat.

"Although corals look like a plant, they are actually animals, made up of thousands of individual polyps living together in a colony. ...
"As coral bleaching threatens the world’s reefs, they hope that the instrument will be an important tool in understanding how corals work in the complex and constantly changing environment of the sea floor."
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Future of world fish production depends on urgent action to combat falling fish stocks

Future of world fish production depends on urgent action to combat falling fish stocks | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

UN agency releases global status of fish stocks revealing 89.5% are fully fished or overfished, while OECD forecasts 17% rise in fish production by 2025.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has today released its report on the state of world fisheries and aquaculture. The flagship SOFIA report, considered a check-up on the world’s fish supplies, has confirmed an alarming trend over the years in falling fish stocks, the result of vast overfishing on a global scale. Oceana regrets the new findings, which place overfished and fully-fished stocks at 89.5% in 2016, compared to around 62-68% in 2000. 

“We now have a fifth more of global fish stocks at worrying levels than we did in 2000. The global environmental impact of overfishing is incalculable and the knock-on impact for coastal economies is simply too great for this to be swept under the rug any more”, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. 

In a parallel report published earlier this week on agriculture and fisheries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts a growth in fish production of up to 17% by 2025. However, due to declining fish stocks, only 1% will come from fisheries, with aquaculture becoming the driving force behind this growth. 

Oceana believes that aquaculture is not the solution to meeting an increasing global demand - we must first address the unsustainable exploitation of wild fish. In fact, the OECD stressed that the rise in fish production hangs in the balance of environmental factors and productivity in fish stocks.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The fear of overfishing is now more real than 15 years ago. Most of our fish are now coming from aquaculture.

“We now have a fifth more of global fish stocks at worrying levels than we did in 2000. The global environmental impact of overfishing is incalculable and the knock-on impact for coastal economies is simply too great for this to be swept under the rug any more”, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
In a parallel report published earlier this week on agriculture and fisheries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts a growth in fish production of up to 17% by 2025. However, due to declining fish stocks, only 1% will come from fisheries, with aquaculture becoming the driving force behind this growth.
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Dangerous super bacteria found in Rio waters before Summer Olympics ("sewer dumping to ocean blamed")

Dangerous super bacteria found in Rio waters before Summer Olympics ("sewer dumping to ocean blamed") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Two disturbing new studies have found that the waters surrounding Rio are teaming with potentially deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Two new academic studies shared with Reuters news show that scientists have found drug-resistant “super bacteria” off Rio de Janeiro beaches – some of which will be hosting Olympic events in August. These deadly microbes, normally only found in hospital settings, have been turning up in the waters near some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Though city officials are blaming illegal dumping for the contamination, it more likely has something to do with the fact that Rio pumps literal tons of raw sewage into the ocean with only minimal treatment for safety.

Though Brazil promised to clean the city’s waterways as part of its initial Olympic bid in 2009, that goal has yet to materialize. If anything, the city’s waste-filled waters have only become worse in the intervening years. Athletes have long complained of a sewage stench in the areas where they’re meant to compete, and the amount of debris floating along the shore could pose a potential hazard to swimmers.

The super bacteria were first detected in a 2014 study off Guanabara Bay, where the sailing and wind-surfing competitions are supposed to be held. Last September, new studies showed that the contamination had spread to five other beaches in Rio, including the Copacabana where the open-water and triathlon swimming competitions are supposed to occur. 

These bacteria can cause difficult to treat urinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, and bloodstream infections and they have been linked to meningitis. According to the CDC, up to 50% the patients with a bloodstream infection from these microbes die. While not everyone exposed will develop an illness, scientists are concerned that the bacteria could lay dormant in a healthy person until they become sick or have a weakened immune system, at which point doctors may be unable to do anything to help. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about these bacteria is the fact that they’re able to pass on their antibiotic resistance to other germs present in the water.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Kadiri Olympics!!!

"These deadly microbes, normally only found in hospital settings, have been turning up in the waters near some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Though city officials are blaming illegal dumping for the contamination, it more likely has something to do with the fact that Rio pumps literal tons of raw sewage into the ocean with only minimal treatment for safety.
"Perhaps the most terrifying thing about these bacteria is the fact that they’re able to pass on their antibiotic resistance to other germs present in the water."
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UN: Global fish consumption per capita hits record high - BBC News ("more efficient consumption")

UN: Global fish consumption per capita hits record high - BBC News ("more efficient consumption") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Global per capita fish consumption passes the 20kg per year mark for the first time, but natural marine resources continue to be overfished, UN data shows.

Global per capita fish consumption has hit a record high, passing the 20kg per year mark for the first time, United Nations data has shown. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report said it was the result of improved aquaculture and reduced waste. 

It added that people, for the first time on record, were now consuming more farmed fish than wild-caught fish. 

However, the report's authors warn that marine natural resources continue to be overharvested at unsustainable levels. 

The data has been published in the FAO's biennial State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sofia) report. 

Manuel Barange, director of FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources, welcomed the fact that global per capita fish consumption has passed the 20kg per year threshold. 

"I personally think this is a very good thing because it shows that over the past five decades, fisheries supply - which combines aquaculture, inland fisheries and marine fisheries - has outpaced human population growth very significantly," he said. 

"This is very significant because fisheries have a very much smaller footprint than other main sources of animal protein," he told BBC News. 

"Fish is six times more efficient at converting feed than cattle, and four times more efficient than pork. Therefore increasing the consumption of fish is good for food security. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
Are you eating more seafood this year? 
Then you are a part of the global population that has learned to eat more seafood. Then let us maintain our oceans and seafood sources. Take care of our biodiversity and stop polluting our waters.

"In the 1960s, we used to eat about 67% of the fish we caught and cultured. Currently, it is about 87%," he said. 
"Improving consumption, improving the value chain and reducing losses, combined with aquaculture growth, is what has allowed us to reach this milestone."
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Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Newsroom ("good news for sharks; no action on blue fin tuna")

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Newsroom ("good news for sharks; no action on blue fin tuna") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

- Atlas - European Commission

Members could not agree on the recommendations by scientific experts to extend the fishing closure for Bigeye and Yellow-fin tuna to a total of 82 days in order to ensure sustainable fisheries in the region while accommodating for the recent increase in fleet capacity. Discussions will resume at an extraordinary meeting to be held in October. The EU is committed to adopting conservation measures in line with scientific advice. No progress was made on the conservation of Bluefin Tuna, a stock which is close to collapse. Decisions were deferred to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. 

Good results, on the other hand, were achieved for sharks. The conservation measures adopted for silky sharks are not as strong as the EU would have liked, but are definitely a step in the right direction and will hopefully loosens some of the pressure on this vulnerable species. The new measures adopted for stock assessment and data collection on both silky and hammerhead sharks, with safe release procedures for all non-retained sharks and a general ban on shark lines, are equally encouraging. 

The EU proposal on Fishing Aggregating Devices (FADs) was adopted and it will allow for progress on collection of data, research and management of FADs. 

While no decision was taken on the reduction of fleet capacity, general principles were agreed on and the EU entrusted with developing concrete proposals against overcapacity to be presented at the October meeting. 

Regrettably, the IATTC could not reach a consensus on the EU's proposals on fins naturally attached and on port state measures. The EU strongly encourages action in these areas as a way to combat non-sustainable fishing practices and contribute to the protection of vulnerable shark stocks. 

Members re-elected the current Director, who is to modernise the organisation's working methods and resource management on the basis of the recommendations issued by a recent Performance Review.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The predicted collapse of the blue fin tuna specie did not lead to any strong action for conservation. 
Poor tuna, a victim of greed.

"... No progress was made on the conservation of Bluefin Tuna, a stock which is close to collapse. Decisions were deferred to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. 
"Good results, on the other hand, were achieved for sharks. The conservation measures adopted for silky sharks are not as strong as the EU would have liked, but are definitely a step in the right direction and will hopefully loosens some of the pressure on this vulnerable species. The new measures adopted for stock assessment and data collection on both silky and hammerhead sharks, with safe release procedures for all non-retained sharks and a general ban on shark lines, are equally encouraging."
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NOAA: World's Worst Coral Bleaching Event to Continue 'With No Signs of Stopping'

NOAA: World's Worst Coral Bleaching Event to Continue 'With No Signs of Stopping' | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

NOAA predicts 2016 will be another year with significant coral bleaching. The Pacific islands's corals are likely to suffer from La Nina. The Great Barrier

The Pacific islands’s corals are likely to suffer from La Nina. NOAA predicts there’s a 75 percent chance La Nina will develop this year, bringing above normal water temperatures to the western Pacific.

NOAA said 2016 marks the third consecutive year with ocean water temperatures hotter than normal. This episode of coral bleaching began in mid-2014, making it “the longest and most widespread coral bleaching event on record.” 

During this period, the administration reported, 70 percent of U.S. coral reefs have been exposed to prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching. Ninety-three percent of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was bleached as of this April. Coral bleaching in the world’s largest reef system could cause it to be a “dead ecosystem” in 20 years, EcoWatch reported previously. 

The largest coral atoll in the world, Kiritimati, has lost 80 percent of its coral in the past 10 months due to this coral bleaching event. Last month, Thailand announced it was closing 10 popular dive sites due to coral bleaching.


Bert Guevara's insight:
No signs of stopping!

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts 2016 will be another year with significant coral bleaching; and scientists see no end in site.
“NOAA’s satellite and climate models provide us with the ability to track the high temperatures that are causing this bleaching and alert resource managers and scientists around the world,” C. Mark Eakin, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator, said. “However, it is crucial that scientists and the public continue on site monitoring of reefs to track the actual extent and severity of the bleaching.”
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Eric Larson's curator insight, June 27, 9:19 AM
Coral bleaching?
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Groundwater Pumping Sinks Beijing Region at Increasing Rate ("over-exploitation always has a price")

Groundwater Pumping Sinks Beijing Region at Increasing Rate ("over-exploitation always has a price") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Satellite data reveal the depths of the megacity’s thirst for groundwater.


Bert Guevara's insight:
After pumping out too much ground water, the railway system of China is in danger because of ground "subsidence." There is always a price to pay when we over-exploit nature.
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Here’s what a bleaching disaster looks like ("not all dead yet; just hungry, but may die soon")

Here’s what a bleaching disaster looks like ("not all dead yet; just hungry, but may die soon") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Is that coral bleached, dead, or just taking a nap? These photos will teach you the difference.

The good news: The peak of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef is over! The bad: The outcome of that bleaching is pretty awful — like, “one of the worst environmental disasters in Australian history.” 

That’s according to the Ocean Agency, which recently released photos taken in May near Australia’s Lizard Island. The slimy, smelly corals had the audacity to decompose and drip off the reef, right in front of the camera! Have some self-respect, guys.

“I can’t even tell you how bad I smelled after the dive — the smell of millions of rotting animals,” Richard Vevers, chief executive of the Ocean Agency, told the Guardian. 

Already-warm waters augmented by a strong dose of El Niño have led to the bleaching of 93 percent of corals in the Great Barrier Reef’s central and northern sections. Up to a quarter of all of its corals have already died.

When corals bleach, that doesn’t mean that they’re dead yet — just really hungry. Coral polyps — the small, blobby creatures that make up coral structures — don’t make their own food. Their main energy source is zooxanthellae, colorful algae that live in coral tissues and produce energy through photosynthesis. When waters warm up, those algae produce chemicals that agitate coral cells. Bleaching occurs when a coral polyp pushes its algae pals out, turning ghostly white in the process. 

If water temperatures drop to normal levels fast enough, corals can invite the zooxanthellae back, recover, and potentially live healthily ever after. If warm conditions persist, well … the corals starve to death, and turn from bone-white to muddy brown as algae grow over their surfaces.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The good news: The peak of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef is over! The bad: The outcome of that bleaching is pretty awful — like, “one of the worst environmental disasters in Australian history.”
"The bleaching event, which began last year, continues to threaten reefs around the globe, and the latest wave is sweeping the Indian Ocean. Let’s hope those corals fare better, and get their color back."
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Microplastics: which beauty brands are safe to use?

Microplastics: which beauty brands are safe to use? | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

The tiny beads used in exfoliant scrubs and toothpastes are at various stages of being phased out by the industry. Until a blanket ban comes into force, here’s a handy list of popular brands to help you choose which to use and which to avoid

Last week, Greenpeace found that two-thirds of the British public it polled think plastic microbeads used in exfoliant toiletries should be banned. 

The tiny beads - found in face and body scrubs and some toothpastes - are too small to be captured through existing wastewater treatment processes, and wash straight into the ocean where they harm fish and other sea life. 

The US passed a ban at the end of 2015, with Canada set to follow suit and several EU nations - but not the UK - calling for a legal ban. 

A single cleansing product can contain as many as 360,000 microbeads, while natural, biodegradable alternatives include jojoba beads, apricot kernels, ground nutshells and salt. 

Many beauty brands have already stopped using microplastics or committed to do so, but until a blanket ban comes into force, we’ve compiled a handy list of which companies to use and which to consider avoiding. 

If you’re unsure, check the label and avoid products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Microbeads - a problem that is so small (to the naked eye) that we don't realize how bad it is affecting our oceans and water supply. Read the list of companies and products who produce have stopped or are not using microbeads.

"A single cleansing product can contain as many as 360,000 microbeads, while natural, biodegradable alternatives include jojoba beads, apricot kernels, ground nutshells and salt."
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10 Things You Can Do to Save the Ocean -- National Geographic ("june 8 is world oceans day")

10 Things You Can Do to Save the Ocean -- National Geographic ("june 8 is world oceans day") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Learn what you can do to help save the ocean with these 10 tips.

1. Mind Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Energy Consumption 

2. Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices 

When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable. 

3. Use Fewer Plastic Products 

To limit your impact, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in nondisposable containers, bring your own cloth tote or other reusable bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible. 

4. Help Take Care of the Beach 

Whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. 

5. Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life 

Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products. 

6. Be an Ocean-Friendly Pet Owner 

Read pet food labels and consider seafood sustainability when choosing a diet for your pet. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, and never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water. 

7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean 

Find a national organization and consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy. 

8. Influence Change in Your Community 

Consider patronizing restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood, and speak up about your concerns if you spot a threatened species on the menu or at the seafood counter. 

9. Travel the Ocean Responsibly 

Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. 

10. Educate Yourself About Oceans and Marine Life 

Bert Guevara's insight:
June 8 is World Oceans Day. What can we do to help save the oceans?
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6 Human Activities That Pose The Biggest Threat To The World’s Drinking Water ("killing world slowly")

6 Human Activities That Pose The Biggest Threat To The World’s Drinking Water ("killing world slowly") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Humans are doing a pretty good job of seriously messing up our drinking water.

Here are some of the ways that human activity is seriously messing with clean water, both in the United States and around the world. 

Agriculture 

Agriculture is a huge contributor to water pollution, from fertilizers used for row crops to the manure created by large-scale animal agriculture.

Fossil fuel production 

Fossil fuel production is another human activity that places considerable strain on drinking water — and not just because fracking and coal mining use a great deal of water, but because their waste products can pollute groundwater, and therefore drinking water, as well.

Sewage 

In some places, population growth has strained wastewater treatment plants to the point where they cannot handle the amount of sewage that is produced by the city or town.

Pharmaceuticals 

In addition to poop, sewage, fertilizers, and coal ash, the United States’ drinking water might have a drug problem. U.S. health providers — as well as livestock producers — use millions of pounds of pharmaceutical drugs each year, and some of those are ending up in treated drinking water. Antibiotics are a particular concern, because they could lead to antibiotic resistance.

Development 

Development and land-use changes — or the changing of land from rural to urban — is a big part of what the PNAS study published Monday looked at when considering the degradation of drinking water.

Climate change 

The bad news is that climate change is expected to exacerbate a lot of the problems that already threaten our waterways.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Why are we polluting the resource that sustains life? Why are we throwing poisons into our sources of drinking water?

"The study, which was a joint effort from researchers at the Nature Conservancy, Yale University, and Washington State University, looked specifically at how three kinds of water pollution — sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus — have degraded the watersheds from which we obtain our drinking water. These kinds of pollution can enter into watersheds for a variety of reasons, but they all come back to one thing — human activity, which can have seriously detrimental impacts on drinking water."
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Giant Clam Poaching Wipes Out Reefs in South China Sea ("if China owned it, why destroy your home?")

Giant Clam Poaching Wipes Out Reefs in South China Sea ("if China owned it, why destroy your home?") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

A new analysis of satellite imagery shows extensive coral reef damage in the South China Sea for the first time.

More than 40 square miles (104 square kilometers) of coral reefs—some of the most biodiverse on Earth—have been destroyed by giant clam poaching in the South China Sea, according to a new analysis of satellite imagery. The poachers use boat propellers to loosen the valuable bivalves, which can weigh up to 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and are a luxury item in China. Carving up a reef leaves it barren of life. And because reefs in the region are often interconnected, the damage in one place can have repercussions elsewhere. 

Another 22 square miles (58 square kilometers) of reef have been destroyed by island-building activities, largely by China to solidify its presence, according to the analyis, which was presented at the South China Sea Conference on Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. Early Tuesday morning, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, an international tribunal, issued a long-awaited ruling in favor of the Philippines' claim that China violated its responsibilities under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas by engaging in large-scale environmental destruction to build artificial islands. 

John McManus, a marine biologist at the University of Miami who did the analysis, says about 10 percent of the shallow reefs in the Spratly Islands and 8 percent in the Paracels have been damaged by poaching and island building. 

The South China Sea is fiercely contested. China lays claim to almost all of it and has mapped out a boundary that extends hundreds of miles past its southernmost point into marine areas claimed variously by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. More than $5.3 trillion worth of international trade passes through these waters annually, making the South China Sea one of the world’s most important shipping routes. For many years the region was believed to contain significant reserves of oil and gas, but the two island chains likely have very little, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration 

Bert Guevara's insight:
If China owned the whole South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, then why did they destroy the valuable reefs? You do not destroy your house!
It is obvious that they merely wanted to get the riches and run.
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Forget seawalls: There’s a cheaper, more effective way to protect shorelines ("use living shorelines")

Forget seawalls: There’s a cheaper, more effective way to protect shorelines ("use living shorelines") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

"Living shorelines" use plants and other natural elements to stabilize vulnerable areas against sea-level rise.

As rising seas begin to creep up our shores, we’re building walls to try to keep the water out. As much as 14 percent of U.S. coasts are already “armored” — that is, built up with hard infrastructure like concrete seawalls. But it’s an imperfect solution. NOAA says that this coastal armor often destroys habitat and causes shorelines to erode even faster. 

A better solution might be “living shorelines,” a design that stabilizes banks with a clever use of wetland plants, sand dunes, stones, and other natural elements (such as oyster reefs, coral reefs, or mangroves, when conditions allow). 

Living shorelines perform the same function as their concrete counterparts — protecting communities and infrastructure from storm damage and flooding — but come with a few perks. Climatewire recently pointed out that living shorelines are relatively inexpensive, are more resilient to severe storms, and can conserve fish and shorebird populations. 

Of course, you can’t plop down a living shoreline on just any old coast. They work best in sheltered tidal areas, like the Chesapeake Bay, the Puget Sound, or the Great Lakes, where violent waves won’t immediately rip everything to pieces. 

Thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers, it may soon be a lot easier to build living shorelines in places like these. The organization is considering a measure to shorten the waiting period for a permit from 215 days to a more reasonable 45.

Bert Guevara's insight:
There are better, more natural ways to protect shorelines, than massive concrete seawalls.

"Living shorelines perform the same function as their concrete counterparts — protecting communities and infrastructure from storm damage and flooding — but come with a few perks. Climatewire recently pointed out that living shorelines are relatively inexpensive, are more resilient to severe storms, and can conserve fish and shorebird populations."
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Toxic Algae Blooms: Fish Are Dying ... Beaches Are Closing ... People Are Getting Sick ("what is it?")

Toxic Algae Blooms: Fish Are Dying ... Beaches Are Closing ... People Are Getting Sick ("what is it?") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Florida's algae problem is the latest reminder that we must act now to protect our waters and combat climate change.

It's as thick as guacamole, but you don't want it near your chips. You don't want it in your water, either, but that's exactly where it is, a sprawling mat of toxic algae the size of Miami, spreading out across Florida's storied Lake Okeechobee and from there along major rivers to the state's Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

Fish are dying. Beaches are closing. People are getting sick. 

"The smell is so bad it will make you gag," Mary Radabaugh told officials at a town hall meeting last week near Palm Beach. "We have red eyes and scratchy throats." 

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in affected areas and is pleading with Washington for assistance to cope with widespread threats to the environment and public health. 

"South Florida is facing a crisis," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, wrote in a letter July 6 to U.S. Senate leaders. "Beaches and waterways that would normally have been crowded this past Fourth of July weekend were empty as families and vacationers heeded warnings to avoid the toxic blue-green and brown algae blooms that have formed along the waterways and even out into the Atlantic Ocean."

The algae blooms that have thrown the Sunshine State into crisis are telling us three things. First, we need to protect our waters from the pollution that breeds these toxic blooms. Next, we need to fight the climate change that brings warmer temperatures that amp up algae growth. And finally, we need to demand real action on both fronts from our elected leaders at every level.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The attack of the GREEN ALGAL BLOOM! This is what happens when we mess around with ocean biodiversity. The oceans are fighting back!

"The algae blooms that have thrown the Sunshine State into crisis are telling us three things. First, we need to protect our waters from the pollution that breeds these toxic blooms. Next, we need to fight the climate change that brings warmer temperatures that amp up algae growth. And finally, we need to demand real action on both fronts from our elected leaders at every level."
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Climate Change Claims a Lake, and an Identity (Bolivia's 2nd largest lake dries up, villagers starve")

Climate Change Claims a Lake, and an Identity (Bolivia's 2nd largest lake dries up, villagers starve") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

An indigenous group that survived Spanish and Inca conquest cannot handle the abrupt upheaval of global warming. Lake Poopó was more than their livelihood: It was their identity.

The water receded and the fish died. They surfaced by the tens of thousands, belly-up, and the stench drifted in the air for weeks. 

The birds that had fed on the fish had little choice but to abandon Lake Poopó, once Bolivia’s second-largest but now just a dry, salty expanse. Many of the Uru-Murato people, who had lived off its waters for generations, left as well, joining a new global march of refugees fleeing not war or persecution, but climate change. 

“The lake was our mother and our father,” said Adrián Quispe, one of five brothers who were working as fishermen and raising families here in Llapallapani. “Without this lake, where do we go?”

After surviving decades of water diversion and cyclical El Niño droughts in the Andes, Lake Poopó basically disappeared in December. The ripple effects go beyond the loss of livelihood for the Quispes and hundreds of other fishing families, beyond the migration of people forced to leave homes that are no longer viable.

The vanishing of Lake Poopó threatens the very identity of the Uru-Murato people, the oldest indigenous group in the area. They adapted over generations to the conquests of the Inca and the Spanish, but seem unable to adjust to the abrupt upheaval climate change has caused.

Only 636 Uru-Murato are estimated to remain in Llapallapani and two nearby villages. Since the fish died off in 2014, scores have left to work in lead mines or salt flats up to 200 miles away; those who stayed behind scrape by as farmers or otherwise survive on what used to be the shore.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The demise of a lake used to be unthinkable, but the 2nd largest lake in Bolivia just died in December.

“We accepted the lake was going to die someday,” Mr. Pérez said. “Now wasn’t its time.” 
Lake Poopó is one of several lakes worldwide that are vanishing because of human causes. California’s Mono Lake and Salton Sea were both diminished by water diversions; lakes in Canada and Mongolia are jeopardized by rising temperatures.
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Florida's coral reef system in rapid decay, scientists say ("what was lost can no longer be returned")

Florida's coral reef system in rapid decay, scientists say ("what was lost can no longer be returned") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

The most terrifying thing lurking under the waters of the Atlantic Ocean may not come with razor sharp teeth.

Scientists say Florida's coral reef system, the third-largest in the world, is in rapid decay, with a variety of threats edging the delicate ecosystem closer to collapse sooner than anyone believed possible. 

"We didn't think this would happen for another 50 or 60 years," said Chris Langdon, a marine biologist at the University of Miami, who published a new report on the health of the reef in May. "This study showed a whole new thing we didn't even know was threatening them." 

Langdon and his team discovered that as ocean water becomes more acidic, due to carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the structures that support the coral are beginning to disintegrate.

According to Carmichael, the outflows dump hundreds of millions of gallons of waste into the ocean every day, including substantial amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen and other substances that have made the reefs "so grossly out of balance and under attack that they don't stand a reasonable chance of recovering." 

Carmichael says that "nutrient loading," or the dumping of chemicals into the ocean water, has strengthened the coral reefs mortal enemy: Algae. 

"It's actually become the dominant species on the reef," said Carmichael, who says the algae covers the ocean floor and smothers the reef by blocking sunlight. 

"It's like a constant beating and eventually, the reef lost," he said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
More bad news for a mismanaged coral reef system. Let us not repeat the mistakes of history. Florida officials better wake up to reality.

"We will never get back the reef that was lost," she said. "I think we need to take extreme measures at this point to protect every last coral that we can."
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The biggest body of warm water on Earth is getting even bigger ("will impact on strength of cyclones")

The biggest body of warm water on Earth is getting even bigger ("will impact on strength of cyclones") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Meet the expanding Indo-Pacific warm pool.

When it comes to fundamental drivers of climate and weather across the Earth, it is hard to think of a region more important than the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, an enormous area stretching across the Pacific and Indian oceans on both sides of the equator. 

This is, basically, the biggest body of warm water there is. Indeed, the warm pool, which is fueled by the intense sunlight striking the equator and tropics, is defined as the area where the average surface ocean temperature is greater than about 82 degrees Fahrenheit all year round (a temperature, incidentally, that is well above the threshold level needed for tropical cyclone or hurricane formation). 

The warm pool drives monsoons, tropical cyclones and much more. Its warm ocean surface is the home to deep atmospheric “convection,” or the rising of warm, moist air, which leads to atmospheric circulation and rainfall patterns that influence the entire planet. 

And the warm pool is growing. 

“It is about four or five times larger than Australia,” said Seung-Ki Min, a researcher at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea and an author of a new study in Science Advances on the warm pool’s expansion. “It has been increasing about 32 percent over the last 60 years in size.” 

The new study, which Min co-authored with Evan Weller of Pohang University as well as colleagues in China, Canada and Australia, proves for what is apparently the first time that this spatial expansion — which has implications for hurricane landfalls, rising seas (warm water expands and takes up more area) and much more — is caused by human-induced climate change.

Bert Guevara's insight:
These ocean warming trends will affect the Philippines, being inside the typhoon belt. Expect stronger and longer cyclones.

"More warm water means that there are more areas conducive to the formation of tropical cyclones, and it also affects how far they can travel, in any particular direction. A storm “can survive longer, because we now have a larger area of hot water, giving more energy to the tropical cyclone,” Min said. 
"When it comes to climate change, much of the most vivid imagery is far away from the warm pool — in the rapidly warming Arctic, for instance, where sea ice is vanishing and glaciers are breaking off city-sized pieces."
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Amazonian catfish’s 5,000-mile migration endangered by dams ("why dams have to be nature-designed")

Amazonian catfish’s 5,000-mile migration endangered by dams ("why dams have to be nature-designed") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Study proves giant Amazonian catfish species holds record for longest freshwater migration on earth — just in time for its possible demise due to Amazon dams.

A singular Amazonian catfish is capable of an amazing feat: hidden from human eyes, the species travels vast distances over its lifetime, making a round trip covering more than 8,000 kilometers (nearly 5,000 miles), to return to its natal breeding grounds, a new study confirms. 

But even as this record-setting feat — the longest freshwater migration in the world — is scientifically confirmed, the species is threatened by hundreds of planned Amazonian dams. 

Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii is a commercially valuable catfish species and an apex predator, growing to 3 meters (more than 9 feet) long. Understanding the migratory patterns of the fish, whose range spans six Amazonian countries, “is paramount for designing adequate conservation and management strategies, especially in view of the current and proposed hydroelectric development throughout the Amazon basin,” the researchers write in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The team’s ground-breaking work provides conclusive evidence of the homing behavior shown by B. rousseauxii on its 8,000-kilometer journey. “Such long-distance natal homing is exceptional in purely freshwater fishes,” the researchers state. 

The distance covered is “rather exceptional from a global perspective too,” said Herman Wanningen, director of the World Fish Migration Foundation. The catfish can hold its own against long-distance freshwater-saltwater migrants such as sturgeon, salmon and the European eel; the latter covers 10,000 to 12,000 kilometers (6,214 to 7,456 miles) on its journey between the Sargasso Sea and European lakes and rivers.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Altering the river system with hydro-power dams will definitely affect the biodiversity, and this case is one of them. How many more are happening around the world?
Design engineers should start studying biodiversity, on top of their basic technical subjects.

"Lessons learned from around the world indicate that dams and migratory species cannot coexist, Wanningen cautioned: “The only way to protect these long distance migrants is to keep certain river systems open for free migration to fulfil their lifecycle.” 
“The solution would be to implement river basin planning, where choices are made about which rivers will be kept free flowing and protected, which rivers are restored by removing barriers or where fishways are installed, and which rivers are utilized for energy production/hydropower,” he said. 
“This is what should be done first and then new hydropower plants can be built.”
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How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply ("more bad news for ocean life & our food")

How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply ("more bad news for ocean life & our food") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

New studies show that alarming numbers of tiny fibers from synthetic clothing are making their way from your washing machine into aquatic animals

he first time professor Sherri Mason cut open a Great Lakes fish, she was alarmed at what she found. Synthetic fibers were everywhere. Under a microscope, they seemed to be “weaving themselves into the gastrointestinal tract”. Though she had been studying aquatic pollution around the Great Lakes for several years, Mason, who works for the State University of New York Fredonia, had never seen anything like it. 

New studies indicate that the fibers in our clothes could be poisoning our waterways and food chain on a massive scale. Microfibers – tiny threads shed from fabric – have been found in abundance on shorelines where waste water is released. 

Now researchers are trying to pinpoint where these plastic fibers are coming from.

In an alarming study released Monday, researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that, on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. It also found that older jackets shed almost twice as many fibers as new jackets. The study was funded by outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia, a certified B Corp that also offers grants for environmental work.

“These microfibers then travel to your local wastewater treatment plant, where up to 40% of them enter rivers, lakes and oceans,” according to findings published on the researchers’ website.

Bert Guevara's insight:
What are we dumping into our oceans that we may eat later? Not only plastics; now it's fiber!!!

"Rochman’s own recent study of seafood from California and Indonesia indicates that plastic fibers contaminate the food we eat. 
"Testing fish and shellfish from markets in both locations, Rochman determined that “all [human-made] debris recovered from fish in Indonesia was plastic, whereas [human-made] debris recovered from fish in the US was primarily fibers”."
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Eric Larson's curator insight, June 27, 9:20 AM
Clothes poisoning oceans?
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Bren Smith: Vertical ocean farming ("making the most of nature without destroying it")

Bren Smith has created an alternative for fishermen who can no longer depend on a declining catch from the sea.
Bert Guevara's insight:
Watch video interview of Bren Smith: World's First Sustainable and Affordable 3-Dimensinal Vertical Ocean Farm - shellfish and seaweed farming
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Dozens of Philippine fish species in danger – study ("59 coral reef species no longer found")

Dozens of Philippine fish species in danger – study ("59 coral reef species no longer found") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

Overfishing to meet the demands of a fast-growing population and Chinese restaurants around the region is a key factor in the decline, says Gregorio dela Rosa, a marine biologist with Haribon

Fishermen reported that 59 coral reef species had gone missing from catches since the 1950s, according to the study conducted by Haribon, one of the Philippines' oldest conservation groups, and Britain's Newcastle University. 

It based its findings on interviews with 2,600 fishermen across the Philippines, which has one of the highest concentrations of marine species in the world. 

Overfishing to meet the demands of a fast-growing population and Chinese restaurants around the region was a key factor in the decline, according to Gregorio dela Rosa, a marine biologist with Haribon. 

"These species are usually served in restaurants, swimming around in aquariums. They command a high price. If you have lots of mouths to feed, you need lots of fish to catch," dela Rosa, told AFP. 

The Philippines' population has grown to more than 100 million people, from about 20 million in the 1950s. 

Dela Rosa said demand from China added to pressure from the local market. 

"It has a very big impact because most of our fish are exported to China, also Singapore and Hong Kong. The groupers are highly priced, especially the red ones which are in demand in Chinese wedding (receptions)," he said. 

While dynamite and cyanide fishing are illegal and no longer rampant, the study found that they continue to contribute to depleting fish stocks.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Fishing used to be an unlimited resource; now it is not only dwindling, it may be gone!

"Dozens of fish species have disappeared or are on the verge of being lost from marine biodiversity hotspot the Philippines, an environmental group said Friday, June 10, citing a new study. 
"Fishermen reported that 59 coral reef species had gone missing from catches since the 1950s, according to the study conducted by Haribon, one of the Philippines' oldest conservation groups, and Britain's Newcastle University."
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How fish and clean water can protect coral reefs from warming oceans ("natural ways of protection")

How fish and clean water can protect coral reefs from warming oceans ("natural ways of protection") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

A combination of factors – pollution, disease and overfishing – is harming corals but scientists have found clues to effective treatment by studying corals' microbiome.

What do we do to save reefs? Our work suggests that managing reefs at the local level by protecting important fish species and minimizing pollution can help prevent coral death. Even during the most warmest periods of the year, when temperatures were most stressful, we saw little coral mortality in places where there were abundant fishes and low levels of nutrients.

Possibly, protecting fishes and minimizing pollution will help protect corals from pathogenic bacteria that kill corals during stressful thermal events. This is especially important in an era of global climate change where ocean temperatures are gradually rising. Our work suggests there is hope for the future of coral reefs. 

There is little we can do about the impacts of massive El Niños on coral reefs. These are global anomalies out of our control. But, abundant fishes and clean water may be key to helping coral reefs survive increasingly stressful normal ocean temperatures – at least in the near term. In the long term, to ensure the persistence of coral reefs, curbing carbon emissions and slowing down the rapidly changing climate is essential.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The attempts to save the corals have hope if we approach it correctly with natural elements.

"Our work suggests that managing reefs at the local level by protecting important fish species and minimizing pollution can help prevent coral death. Even during the most warmest periods of the year, when temperatures were most stressful, we saw little coral mortality in places where there were abundant fishes and low levels of nutrients."
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