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Latest news on the state of the Earth's water resources.
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Why we need to save seagrass

Why we need to save seagrass | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Seagrass is one of the most important coastal habitats where young ocean-going fish such as Atlantic cod can grow and develop before setting out on the journey of life. But these critically important habitats, revealed in new research, are being damaged the world over and its not just threatening biodiversity but our food security. Some 30,000 […]

Some 30,000 km2 of seagrass (Zostera marina) has disappeared over the past two decades, about 18% of the global area. This is incredibly important. One hectare of seagrassabsorbs 1.2 kilogrammes of nutrients each year, equivalent to the treated effluent of 200 people. It can produce 100,000 litres of oxygen per day, can support 80,000 fish and 100m invertebrates – and absorb ten times as much CO2 as a pristine area of Amazon rainforest.

Providing shallow-water habitats where young ocean-going fish can grow and develop is one of the key ecosystem services that our coastal seas provide, but unfortunately we largely don’t recognise the value of them in supporting the fishery resources of vast ocean basins. We continue to allow the loss of this coastal habitat to occur throughout the world – in spite of regulations in many nations to protect key habitats and biodiversity.

Bert Guevara's insight:

What is the value of seagrass to the environment?


"... One hectare of seagrass absorbs 1.2 kilogrammes of nutrients each year, equivalent to the treated effluent of 200 people. It can produce 100,000 litres of oxygen per day, can support 80,000 fish and 100m invertebrates – and absorb ten times as much CO2 as a pristine area of Amazon rainforest.


"Seagrass meadows are globally important resources that are being threatened by a whole series of issues ranging from climate change and major weather events to boating activity, poor water quality and coastal development. This work clearly illustrates how key habitats in our coastal seas such as seagrass need protecting, not just for biodiversity but for the continued food security provided by our oceans."

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China shipping delivers toxic pollution cocktail-report ("1 ship emits pollution equal to 500k trucks")

China shipping delivers toxic pollution cocktail-report ("1 ship emits pollution equal to 500k trucks") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
BEIJING (Reuters) - China is waging war on pollution, closing factories and targeting dirty coal-fired power plants, but its ports are pumping out pollution virtually unchecked, according to a report by

Seven of the world's 10 largest ports are in China, with more than a quarter of the planet's maritime cargo passing through China, and the heavily populated coastal cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen are among the most polluted.

"With ocean going ships allowed to burn fuel with sulphur levels that are 100 to 3,500 times higher than permitted in on-road diesel, one container ship cruising along the coast of China emits as much diesel pollution as 500,000 new Chinese trucks in a single day," said the NRDC report.

Most ships at Chinese ports use cheap bunker fuel, which is high in sulphur, and port vehicles and equipment are powered by diesel fuel. The combined exhaust from ships and ports contain high levels of diesel particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulphur, said the NRDC.

"These emissions are known to cause cancer and are associated with a wide range of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses," said the report.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The ugly cost of progress is daunting to the environment and to the people that the economy is supposed to benefit.

"The thousands of ships that ply China's waterways are delivering a toxic cocktail of pollution, with just one ship capable of emitting the same pollution as half a million trucks each day, the report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said."

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These maps of California's water shortage are terrifying ("we don't know how much is left underground")

These maps of California's water shortage are terrifying ("we don't know how much is left underground") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Not only that, but the same thing is happening in China, India, and the Middle East—and climate change is making it worse.

The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. "California's Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011," he writes. That's "more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley."

Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe's aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.

The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: "Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned."

The Central Valley boasts some of the globe's fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe's largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, "underlie the world's great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity."

Bert Guevara's insight:

The over-extraction of underground water is happening not only in the US, but also in China and India. The little known fact is that it cannot be replenished easily (approximately 40 years for water to travel through the ground?).

"And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What's left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. ... All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth—so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water."

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Price of keeping river clean rises ("the price to pay increases after years of pollution neglect")

Price of keeping river clean rises ("the price to pay increases after years of pollution neglect") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
HAVERHILL — The city plans to spend another $5.2 million — or a total of $12.1 million this year — to fix its drains and keep pollution out of the Merrimack River.

The city plans to spend another $5.2 million — or a total of $12.1 million this year — to fix its drains and keep pollution out of the Merrimack River.

In April, City Council approved a request from Mayor James Fiorentini to borrow $6.9 million to repair and upgrade storm water and sewer pipes that have been polluting the river for decades.

 

At Tuesday's council meeting, the mayor will ask for approval to borrow another $5.2 million, for a total of $12.1 million for the project ordered by the federal government. The city plans to borrow the money from the state's low-interest environmental loan fund and pay it back over 20 years. Paperwork on the loan said the city will be making annual payments of $746,116.

Fiorentini said he did not know when the loan would begin impacting residential and business sewer bills, but that it would likely be soon.

Worse, he said the city will have to borrow millions more in the next few years to complete the federally-mandated repairs, beginning with another round of borrowing as soon as next year.

Most of the money is to replace sewer pipes and modernize the sewer and storm water system, but some of it will be used to design and construct improvements at the city's sewage treatment plant on South Porter Street, the mayor said.

The plant is recovering from a recent major malfunction in its treatment tanks that caused foul odors to be spewed across the city for several weeks. The upcoming project involves replacing two centrifuges at the plant that are used for de-watering foul-smelling sludge before it is transported out of the plant for disposal.

Bert Guevara's insight:

As city populations increase, one common result is more waste water output from human activities. The price of keeping the waterways clean increases as population density climbs.

The only way to mitigate this trend is to practice waste water management from the source, but this will require a huge effort from the community. But can we afford not to address the problem?

 

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Alcoholic drinks makers lead way on climate change adaptation ("their survival depends on h2o supply")

Alcoholic drinks makers lead way on climate change adaptation ("their survival depends on h2o supply") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Wine and beer lovers face an uncertain future. While climate change is a distant consideration for many global businesses, grapes and grains are on the front line.The good news for

The good news for those who like a tipple is that alcoholic drinks makers are among businesses leading the way in devising technology to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

"It's something we are focused on," Treasury's Chief Supply Officer Stuart McNab said at the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit. "It's treating water as a scarce and precious resource."

Treasury, whose brands include Penfolds, Beringer, Wolf Blass and Rosebank, is testing watering pipes laid beneath the soil because rising temperatures mean too much water is being lost above ground through evaporation.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) projects an increase of 0.3 to 1.7 degrees Celsius by 2030 in Australia's wine regions, including the Barossa where Treasury is trying out the irrigation technology.

That rise is likely to reduce grape quality by 12 to 57 percent, according to CSIRO.


Bert Guevara's insight:

It pays to be ready - climate resiliency is the goal.

"CDP found that companies featured in the S&P 500 share index .SPX which actively planned for climate change booked return on equity (ROE) in the 2014 business year that was 18 percent more than peers and 67 percent higher than those which did not disclose climate change-related strategies.

"Such companies also reported 50 percent lower earnings volatility over the past decade compared with firms at the lower end of CDP's climate-awareness scale."

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Beijing to tap water from thousands of kilometers away ("it confirms serious water source woes")

Beijing to tap water from thousands of kilometers away ("it confirms serious water source woes") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
BEIJING (Reuters) - The water coming out of Beijing taps later this month may have traveled more than 1,400 kilometers, transported along a series of canals and pipelines that form part of the world's

The $62 billion undertaking - dreamed up by former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the 1950s - is designed to supply China's parched and pollution-ridden north, home to more than 300 million people and countless water-intensive businesses.

For global companies that rely on Chinese factories and farms to supply clothing, food, electronics and a host of other products, it's crucial that China gets this right.

"There is no doubt that cities (in) the rapidly growing powerhouses of regional economies would be seriously compromised without additional water supplies," said Simon Spooner, a China water expert with consultancy Atkins Global.

The government could keep water flowing into industry by taking it away from agriculture, with crippling consequences for the latter. By transporting water from the south, the government can avoid having to make such a choice, Spooner said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Water is merely transferred from one use to another, but foreseen consequences cannot be set aside. This major water project will not be without its negative impacts.

"In February, Qiu Baoxing, the vice minister of housing and urban-rural development, said the water diversion project was unsustainable and that Beijing would be better off relying on desalination technology and saving rain water.

"Some critics have said the project is yet another example of China trying to engineer its way out of a problem that could be largely solved through better policies, such as a tiered pricing system for water and better monitoring."

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Ocean acidification up 26% since pre-industrial era - The Australian ("very difficult to reverse")

Ocean acidification up 26% since pre-industrial era - The Australian ("very difficult to reverse") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Nature World News Ocean acidification up 26% since pre-industrial era The Australian Ocean acidification has risen by a quarter since pre-industrial times as a result of rising carbon emissions, casting a shadow over the seas as a future source of...

Rising acidity will have damaging consequences for shellfish, corals and other calcium-making organisms which play a vital part in the food web, they said.

"It is now nearly inevitable that within 50 to 100 years, continued anthropogenic [man-made] carbon dioxide emissions will further increase ocean acidity to levels that will have widespread impacts... on marine organisms and ecosystems and the goods and services they provide," they said.

Acidification may already be affecting shellfish farms in the northwestern United States, they said.

The 102-page document, based on a review of hundreds of published studies, said the ocean's pH level was falling - which indicates rising acidity - and the consequences would be enduring.

The experts sounded a special warning for tropical coral reefs, whose health is already affected by warmer seas.

The risks are "of great concern, since the livelihoods of around 400 million people depend on such habitats," they said.


Bert Guevara's insight:

"Recovery from a major decrease in ocean pH takes many thousands of years,"

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Confirmed: California Aquifers Contaminated With Billions Of Gallons of Fracking Wastewater (it's true)

Confirmed: California Aquifers Contaminated With Billions Of Gallons of Fracking Wastewater (it's true) | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
After California state regulators shut down 11 fracking wastewater injection wells last July over concerns that the wastewater might have contaminated aquifers used for drinking water and farm irrigation, the EPA ordered a report within 60 days.

It was revealed yesterday that the California State Water Resources Board has sent a letter to the EPA confirming that at least nine of those sites were in fact dumping wastewater contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants into aquifers protected by state law and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, reveals that nearly 3 billion gallons of wastewater were illegally injected into central California aquifers and that half of the water samples collected at the 8 water supply wells tested near the injection sites have high levels of dangerous chemicals such as arsenic, a known carcinogen that can also weaken the human immune system, and thallium, a toxin used in rat poison.

The full extent of the contamination is not yet known. Regulators at the State Water Resources Board said that as many as 19 other injection wells could have been contaminating protected aquifers, and the Central Valley Water Board has so far only tested 8 of the nearly 100 nearby water wells.
Fracking has been accused of exacerbating California's epic state-wide drought, but the Central Valley region, which has some of the worst air and water pollution in the state, has borne a disproportionate amount of the impacts from oil companies' increasing use of the controversial oil extraction technique.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Talking of misplaced priorities, drought-stricken California is contaminating its remaining aquifers for cheap natural gas. What do we need more, water or gas?

"Adding insult to injury, fracking is a water-intensive process, using as much as140,000 to 150,000 gallons per frack job every day, permanently removing it from the water cycle."

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SC issues Writ of Kalikasan to stop projects at Benguet watershed ("more important than development")

SC issues Writ of Kalikasan to stop projects at Benguet watershed ("more important than development") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The Supreme Court (SC) issued yesterday a Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) to stop immediately the road opening and other developments being undertaken at Mount Sto. Tomas watershed in...

In a Writ of Kalikasan that contained the TEPO, the SC granted the petition filed by church leaders and residents who feared the degradation of the watershed which is the primary source of water for Tuba and Baguio City.

Yesterday’s full court session of the SC was presided by acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and Justices Jose Portugal Perez and Estela B. Perlas-Bernabe are on official travel abroad.

The petitioners were led by Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Baguio-Benguet Diocese, and Archbishop Socrates Villegas of the Lingayen-Dagupan Diocese.

In the petition, the SC was told that the road opening project has disturbed the stability of the mountain slope, resulting in massive landslides which are aggravated by the rains.

They said that sediments and rocks continuously slide down, causing contamination of the Amliang dams which are being used to impound fresh spring water for distribution to residents of Baguio City and Tuba town.

They said the road opening and other developments being undertaken at Mount Sto. Tomas were reported by mountain trekkers on April 15, 2014, when they noticed tree-cutting and massive earth-moving activities in the area.

Bert Guevara's insight:

"Citing a report from the Baguio Water District, the petitioners said that the earth-moving activities and the cutting of trees within Mount Sto. Tomas have resulted in the contamination of water sources."

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Ocean acidification could lead to collapse of coral reefs ("looking the same but less resistance")

Ocean acidification could lead to collapse of coral reefs ("looking the same but less resistance") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
An expedition from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Carnegie Institute of Science has measured a roughly 40% reduction in the rate of calcium carbonate deposited in Australia's Great Barrier Reef in the last 35 years—a scenario that could damage the reef framework and endanger the entire ...

Coral reefs are the most ecologically diverse and productive ecosystem in the ocean, with rich and diverse communities of fish, corals and mollusks making them a major attraction for marine and underwater tourism. Producing almost 50% of the net annual calcium carbonate in the oceans, corals play an important role in the global carbon cycle.

The ecological success of coral reefs depends on their calcium carbonate (CaCO3, limestone) structures that function as a huge filter to obtain plankton from the open ocean. Yet recent environmental changes including coastal nutrient pollution, global warming and ocean acidification caused by atmospheric CO2 increasingly threaten the existence of these unique ecosystems.

While previous studies on individual reef building corals have shown that they lower their calcification rates in response to ocean acidification, in the present study this was demonstrated for the whole community. These findings suggest that coral reefs are now making skeletons that are less dense and more fragile. While they still look the same, these coral reefs are less able to resist physical and biological erosion.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The bad news in broad strokes.

"The results of this study show a dramatic decrease in the calcification of the reef, and that it was likely caused by ocean acidification. When the rate of calcification becomes lower than the rate of dissolution and erosion, the entire coral ecosystem could collapse and eventually be reduced to piles of rubble. The collapse of this habitat would ultimately lead to the loss of its magnificent and highly diverse flora and fauna."

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Is there such a thing as an eco-swimming pool? ("dare to try filtered waste water or pool-pooling?")

Is there such a thing as an eco-swimming pool? ("dare to try filtered waste water or pool-pooling?") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
With widespread drought, swimming pools are seen as luxury indulgences. But from natural and moss-filtered pools to pool sharing - there are ways to be more sustainable

Like natural pools, moss-filtered pools reduce the need for chemicals such as chlorine and algaecide since they inhibit the growth of microorganisms. This also reduces water consumption as there is less frequent need to ‘backwash’ the pool to clean it, a process that sends water to waste.

Although the US has been slow to catch on to the use of solar heating in homes and businesses since low natural gas prices have traditionally undercut the costs of solar water heating, there’s nothing new about using solar heating in swimming pools, in America and beyond.

In the Netherlands, Raalte’s local swimming pool is heated by warmth from wastewater. Every hour, 40,000 litres of purified wastewater is transported from the wastewater treatment plant to the pool, where heat exchangers extract heat from the wastewater, making it possible to heat the swimming pool water to 30C. This new system saves the pool an average of €57,000 on gas and reduces its carbon dioxide emissions by 137,000kg per year.

And finally to sharing. While owning a private pool may be a status symbol, there’s a growing sharing movement that sees neighbours lend everything from cars to tools to dogs which could easily embrace the shared swimming pool too.


Bert Guevara's insight:

"Twenty-five years on, our relationship with water is changing. The municipal pools and piscines françaises are still there - joined now by their increasingly affluent holiday resort cousins - but so are stories ofwidespread drought in California, water-related food insecurity in Djibouti, dams being used as weapons of war in the Middle East, and a UN prediction that by 2030 almost 50% of the global population could be facing water scarcity.

"In this light, it’s hard to see swimming pools as anything besides luxury indulgences that intensify the difference between the haves and have nots. So what are the options for sustainable swimming pools, and are they anything more than bluewash?"

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Tropical Dams an Underestimated Methane Source | Climate Central ("not clean energy from tropic dams")

Tropical Dams an Underestimated Methane Source | Climate Central ("not clean energy from tropic dams") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
New scientific data supports the belief that methane emissions from big hydroelectric dams outweigh the benefits.

In many rocky regions low on vegetation and population, such as in Iceland and other northern mountainous regions, the production of electricity from hydropower is clearly a net gain in the battle against climate change.

In Asia, Africa and South America, however, masses of methane are produced from dams by the drowning of tropical forests in them. As long ago as 2007, researchers at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research calculated that the world’s largest dams emitted 104 million tonnes of methane annually and were responsible for 4 percent of the human contribution to climate change.

Since methane has an impact 84 times higher over 20 years than the same quantity of carbon dioxide, this is a serious short-term threat to pushing the planet towards the danger threshold of increasing temperatures by 2°C (3.6°F).
Despite the warnings that big dams in the tropics might be adding to climate change, governments go on building them — while often claiming that large dams equal clean energy.
The new research shows that the methane discharges are probably even worse than current calculations.
In an attempt to find out exactly what the perils and benefits of big dams in the tropics can be, a French team from the National Center for Scientific Research has been studying the Nam Theun 2 reservoir in Laos — the largest in Southeast Asia — prior to its filling, in May 2008, right up to the present to calculate the total methane emissions.
Methane is produced by bacteria feeding on the plant material drowned when the dam is filled. This is added to by more organic matter that is washed into it by rivers and rains.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Mega-hydroelectric dams in tropical countries may be big contributors of GHG, especially methane. Check out this report.

"Measuring the methane produced is the tricky bit as it reaches the atmosphere in three ways. (a) Some is dissolved in the water and reaches the atmosphere by diffusion, (b) some goes through the turbines and is released downstream, and (c) the third way is called ebullition — which means bubbles of methane coming directly to the surface and going straight into the atmosphere."

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Manila Bay Reclamation Project - YouTube ("stewardship of creation involves caring for common good")

Listen to the other side of the fence. The Catholic media cites the lack of adequate studies to the proposed Manila Bay Reclamation. They enumerate the possible negative effects of the project to the common good.

Watch the full video.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The Manila Bay Reclamation Project has elicited negative concerns from many civilian sectors, including the Catholic Church. This video shows a scientific basis for the concern.

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Your clothes are polluting the ocean every time you do laundry ("either redesign sewers or textile")

Your clothes are polluting the ocean every time you do laundry ("either redesign sewers or textile") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
An estimated 1,900 microfibers can get rinsed out of a single piece of synthetic clothing each time it's washed, and these microplastic fibers might be the biggest contributors to ocean pollution.

The source of some of these tiny bits of plastic, the so-called microplastics, is microbeads in personal care products, which are washed down the drain and are too small to be effectively filtered out at wastewater treatment plants, and which probably ought to be banned.

However, one of the sources of this microplastic pollution might be as close as our own laundry room, especially if we own clothing made from synthetic fibers. After studying microplastics from shorelines at 18 sites across the globe, ecologist Mark Browne found that 85% of the synthetic materials accumulating there were microfibers that matched the kinds of materials found in synthetic clothing, which might mean that our wardrobes and washing machines are two of the biggest culprits in ocean pollution.

One of the most telling findings is the estimate (based on experiments which sampled wastewater from domestic washing machines) that a single piece of synthetic clothing can release about 1,900 microfibers each time it's washed. Multiply that figure by the number of pieces of clothing made from synthetic fabrics that get washed every single day, and it adds up to a huge amount of plastic microfibers entering our waterways each year.

That's an alarming amount of plastic pollution, and if, as Browne suggests, "a large proportion of microplastic fibers found in the marine environment may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing of clothes," then part of the solution needs to come from fiber and apparel companies, through designing better synthetic fabrics that don't shed their fibers as readily. But in searching for support to study the issue further, Browne found that the leaders in the industry, including some of the most progressive clothing companies, such as Patagonia, weren't interested, and his efforts at fundraising have received only one small grant from a clothing brand over the past year.

Bert Guevara's insight:

How do you approach this kind of pollution?

Do you redesign sewer filter?

Do you redirect laundry water from washing synthetic clothes?

Do you ban synthetic textile?

Do you reinvent textile?

Do you invent a new washing detergent?

"That's an alarming amount of plastic pollution, and if, as Browne suggests, "a large proportion of microplastic fibers found in the marine environment may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing of clothes," then part of the solution needs to come from fiber and apparel companies, through designing better synthetic fabrics that don't shed their fibers as readily."

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7 things you should know about marine pollution | OUPblog ("it's a big mess that we need to control")

7 things you should know about marine pollution | OUPblog ("it's a big mess that we need to control") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Marine pollution has long been a topic of concern, but what do you really know about the pollutants affecting the world’s waters? We asked Judith Weis, author of Marine Pollution: What Everyone Needs to Know to delve into the various forms of pollutants, and the many ways they can harm our environment and bodies.

(1)   Marine debris is much more than an aesthetic issue. In the United States, over 100 species of marine mammals, sea turtles, birds, fish, and invertebrates are injured or die after getting entangled in marine debris.

(2)   Some chemical pollutants are gender benders, altering the sexual development of marine animals. 

(3)   Ocean acidification, a side effect of climate change, is affecting marine life by impairing the ability of young shellfish to make their shells, and affects the homing and prey detection behavior of fishes.

(4)   Nutrients are essential for all life, but in excess they become one of the most serious and widespread pollutants.

(5)   Harmful algal blooms, frequently associated with excess nutrients, have become more prevalent in recent years, and have been found along the shores of many continents, as well as in freshwater.

(6)   Water pollution gets worse after a severe rain storm.

(7)   Invasive species, a type of biological pollution, can have a major impact on biological diversity, fisheries, human health, and economics.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Marine pollution has long been a topic of concern, but what do you really know about the pollutants affecting the world’s waters?

"We asked Judith Weis, author of Marine Pollution: What Everyone Needs to Know, to delve into the various forms of pollutants, and the many ways they can harm our environment and bodies."

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How California is turning drainage canals back to rivers - Los Angeles Times ("beyond flood control")

How California is turning drainage canals back to rivers - Los Angeles Times ("beyond flood control") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The Santa Ana River, born of snowmelt and natural springs near Big Bear Lake, flows through Southern California as one of the region's most scenic rivers — until it hits Orange County.

After cutting through a deep, lush canyon and flowing through the city of Riverside, the Santa Ana spills into riprap and the county's dreary concrete flood control channel extending 26 miles to the Pacific Ocean.

Under recently approved legislation, long stretches of the flood control channel's banks will have trails, parks and natural areas, and portions of the river itself will be cleared of boulders, low-hanging limbs and other entanglements to open the waterway to kayaking and rafting.

In Southern California, however, the Santa Ana and half a dozen other once beautiful rivers and streams have remained drainage channels. Their purpose is to prevent the flooding that devastated the region in the middle decades of the last century when flash storms in the San Gabriel Mountains sent massive amounts of water into communities unable to handle the deluge. Too much open land had been developed and paved.

Converting the rivers into efficient drainage channels all but ended the flooding, and for more than half a century, government flood control agencies fought any changes that would diminish carrying capacity, even as environmentalists and river advocates began calling for ecological restoration and recreational improvements in the 1980s.

"They are the last open space we have in working-class and park-poor communities for healthy recreational goals such as walking, hiking and biking trails," said D.J. Waldie, an author and expert on the local landscape and culture.

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

Having it both ways -- flood control and bringing nature back to the water ways. It is like turning Pasig (sewer) River into a scenic Pasig River again. These kinds of efforts are what the people yearn for.

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Sao Paulo Running Out of Water Unless Reserve Tapped Now ("more cities running dry even before summer")

Sao Paulo Running Out of Water Unless Reserve Tapped Now ("more cities running dry even before summer") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Latin America’s biggest metropolis may run out of water next month. For some of the 20 million residents across Sao Paulo, the nation’s financial hub, taps are already running dry.

Dilma Pena, chief executive officer of the state-run water utility, told the city council yesterday that supplies are only guaranteed until mid-November unless it can tap the last of the water in its Cantareira reservoir. The four-lake complex that supplies half of Sao Paulo has already been drained of 96 percent of its water capacity amid Brazil’s worst drought in eight decades. Regulators have so far refused to allow Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, known as Sabesp (SBSP3), to use the rest on concern it’s mismanaging supplies.

Meanwhile, rising temperatures are increasing the need for water. Last week, Sao Paulo recorded heat of 36.7 degrees Celsius, the highest since 1933. At the end of October, rains will become more regular and from November to February they will be in the historical average, according to weather forecaster Climatempo. To help Cantareira recover would take twice the historical average rainfall, according to Climatempo meteorologist Bianca Lobo.

Sabesp, Latin America’s biggest publicly traded water utility, has plunged 26 percent this year, compared with a 2 percent gain in the 20-member Bloomberg World Water Index.


Bert Guevara's insight:

We can no longer maintain the carefree urban lifestyle that most of us grew up in. The promise of a comfortable living in the city is being threatened with dwindling water supply and electricity.

We have to live as if electricity and water are limited everyday, because they really are. This brings in the need for "smart & green" cities.

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Oceans experiencing largest sea rise in 6,000 years, study says ("reversing it is almost impossible")

Oceans experiencing largest sea rise in 6,000 years, study says ("reversing it is almost impossible") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Once the sea levels rise, you can't make them go down again.

What has been less clear, however, is whether the development is recent or not. Over the last several thousands of years, has the ocean risen and fallen and risen again? A new study, just published in PNAS, suggests that the ocean has been surprisingly static since 4,000 B.C..

But that changed 150 years ago. Reconstructing 35,000 years of sea fluctuations, the study, which researchers say is the most comprehensive of its kind, found that the oceans are experiencing greater sea rise than at any time over the last 6,000 years. “What we see in the tide gauges, we don’t see in the past record, so there’s something going on today that’s wasn’t going on before,” lead author Kurt Lambeck, a professor at Australian National University, told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation. “I think that is clearly the impact of rising temperatures.”

Using data drawn from 1,000 ancient sediment samples from the shores of Australia and Asia and from islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans, the researchers pieced together the history of the seas by studying indicators of an era’s sea level, like tree roots or mollusks. They found a large ice melt 16,000 years ago, which leveled off 8,000 years ago. Then over the last 6,000 years, little changed.

Bert Guevara's insight:

“It’s like if you leave a block of ice on the table, it doesn’t melt instantaneously, there’s always a delay in the system.” But once it hits, it’s hard to reverse he said. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

 

“Over the last century, global average sea level rose by 1.7 mm [0.067 inches] per year, in recent years (between 1993 and 2010), this rate has increased to 3.2 mm [0.126 inches] per year.” In all, the sea has risen roughly 20 centimeters since the start of the 20th century. “The rate of sea level rise over the last century is unusually high in the context of the last 2,000 years,” the Australian report added.

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UK waters face 'invasional meltdown' (man-made activities accelerate invasion of species - not good!")

UK waters face 'invasional meltdown' (man-made activities accelerate invasion of species - not good!") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Scientists warn that an army of organisms from Turkey and Ukraine is poised to invade Britain's waterways and destroy native species.
Bert Guevara's insight:

Biodiversity alert!!!

"What worries scientists is the increasing speed with which these creatures are moving. At the beginning of the 20th Century, it took up to 30 years for a species to move from the Netherlands to the UK. In the past decade, this has reduced to five.

"Due to globalisation and increased travel and freight transport, the rate of colonisation of invasive species into Britain from the Netherlands keeps accelerating - posing a serious threat to the conservation of British aquatic ecosystems," said co-author Dr Belinda Gallardo, now based at the Doñana Biological Station in Spain.

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Ocean acidification causes US$1trn of damage a year - study - Responding to Climate Change

Ocean acidification causes US$1trn of damage a year - study - Responding to Climate Change | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
NEWS: Some 400 million people depend on threatened coral reefs for their livelihoods, British scientists warn at UN meeting

As well as warming the atmosphere, carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and cars dissolve in the ocean, making it more acidic.

While it is driven by the same human activities as climate change, ocean acidification tends to have a lower profile, perhaps because the economic impacts are less well understood.

But the phenomenon causes nearly US$1 trillion worth of damage to coral reefs a year, in tandem with other human-caused environmental changes.

That is according to a report collated by British scientists from the work of thirty experts worldwide, to be launched at a UN biodiversity conference on Wednesday.

Murray Roberts, co-editor of the report and professor at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, said: “At the end of the day, the only way to deal with ocean acidification is to reduce CO2 emissions.

“But for this to happen people first need to be aware that ocean acidification is an important issue.”

Oceans cover two thirds of the planet and absorb much of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, both through direct warming and acidification. 


Bert Guevara's insight:

“There can be no solution to the climate challenge without a healthy ocean,” Miliband warned.

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Glaciers Lose 204 Billion Tons of Ice in Three Years ("it is affecting the planet's gravity")

Glaciers Lose 204 Billion Tons of Ice in Three Years ("it is affecting the planet's gravity") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Antarctica is losing so much mass that it’s actually changing Earth’s gravity.

In that mission, scientists are aided by gravity. As Antarctic ice melts, it shifts mass from the continent into the oceans, slightly changing Earth’s gravitational field in that part of the world. We wouldn’t notice it, but orbiting observatories like the Gravity Field and Steady State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE, which is more an abbreviation than acronym) can measure small fluctuations in gravity compared with other spots on our planet.

Data from GOCE and the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) probes show that Antarctica is losing ice at a scary rate, as reported inGeophysical Research Letters. Between 2009 and 2012, the years for which GOCE was taking data, the amount of gravity in Antarctica decreased noticeably, corresponding to a lot of ice melt. 

As a result, a satellite passing over a higher-mass region would speed up very slightly, and slow down over a lower-mass one. Gravitational fluctuations from place to place over the whole Earth are represented by a hypothetical map of ocean levels known as the geoid, and it shows a lot about the hidden internal structure of our planet. However, as data from GRACE showed, it’s also possible to map changes in gravity over time. Many geological processes, such as plate tectonics, are too slow for satellites to see, but unfortunately climate change isn’t one of those.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Once glaciers are lost, they will not recover during our lifetime.

"How much is a lot? The authors of the new paper looked at GOCE and GRACE data for three Antarctic glaciers, and found they are losing approximately 185 billion metric tons (204 billion US tons) of ice each year for the three years of the study. For comparison, all the humans put together weigh approximately 287 million metric tons (316 million US tons)—each of the three glaciers loses more ice mass than the combined weight of humanity."

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New Analysis Shows Global Exposure to Sea Level Rise | Climate Central ("Phil is in top 10")

New Analysis Shows Global Exposure to Sea Level Rise | Climate Central ("Phil  is  in top 10") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
Explore our new analysis of worldwide exposure to sea level rise & coastal flooding, complete with an interactive graphic via NYT.

Every global shore touches the same ocean, and the ocean is rising.

Climate Central just completed a novel analysis of worldwide exposure to sea level rise and coastal flooding. We found that 147 to 216 million people live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by the end of the century, assuming emissions of heat-trapping gases continue on their current trend. By far the largest group — 41 to 63 million — lives in China. The ranges depend on the ultimate sensitivity of sea level to warming.

But even these figures may be two to three times too low, meaning as many as 650 million people may be threatened.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The Philippines just made it to the Top Ten (again)!

"The top-20 list of most exposed countries includes representatives from every continent except Australia. The top seven slots, and 12 overall, come from Asia. Five European Union members make the list, as do the U.S., Brazil, and Nigeria."

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Obama Just Created The Biggest Marine Safe Haven In The World ("save our oceans for future generation")

Obama Just Created The Biggest Marine Safe Haven In The World ("save our oceans for future generation") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will be expanded to six times its current size, protecting critical ecosystems southwest of Hawaii.

On Thursday, Obama will designate the largest marine reserve in the world southwest of Hawaii, creating a haven from both fishing and drilling.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was first created by the George W. Bush Administration in 2009, just weeks before it left office. The original monument spans out to 50 miles from five groups of uninhabited islands, reefs, and atolls, and marine scientists attest the reserve protects some of the most vibrant and untouched marine ecosystems anywhere in the world. President Obama’s move, announced Wednesday, will expand the monument to six times its current size — covering 490,000 square miles in all.

“The Administration identified expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as an area of particular interest because science has shown that large marine protected areas can help rebuild biodiversity, support fish populations, and improve overall ecosystem resilience,” the White House said in a statement.

Commercial fishing and energy extraction will not be permitted in the protected area, but “traditional and recreational fishing” will still be allowed as long as it occurs in accordance with conservation goals.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Give the fish a break!

"Beyond preserving these ecosystems, Michael Conathan recently identified several other benefits from the move: it will provide a safe haven for several species of critically endangered sharks, whales, and sea turtles; it will make it easier to prevent illegal fishing; it will arguably boost the fishing industry over the long term by providing fish safe areas to reproduce; preserving the ecosystems will benefit both marine science and the indigenous cultures of Hawaii; and finally the move will build the international trust and reputability that will encourage other countries to make similar moves."

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Bluefin Tuna Are Showing Up in the Arctic—and That’s Not Good News ("the biodiversity gets upset")

Bluefin Tuna Are Showing Up in the Arctic—and That’s Not Good News ("the biodiversity gets upset") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it

“Climate change is really challenging political and diplomatic relationships,” said Nick Dulvy, a professor of marine biodiversity and conservation at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. “Species names will change, and if your quotas are tied to a species name, that’s a problem for the fishery,”

In 2009, after mackerel had spread to the coastlines of Iceland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland set itself a mackerel quota of 112,000 metric tons. That angered the European Union, and conservationists worried that stocks of the humble fish would suffer.

Between 1985 and 1994 and 2007 and 2012, waters with temperatures greater than 11 degrees Celsius in the Denmark Strait and Irminger Sea increased by 278,000 square miles—an area larger than Texas. “It’s only in the past two to three years that we can see that the temperatures of the waters east of Greenland have gotten above 10 degrees Celsius in the summertime,” MacKenzie said.

Not only can bluefin tuna tolerate warming Arctic waters more easily, but their prey can too.

The oily fish is a preferred prey for tuna, which usually only search in waters where the minimum surface temperature is above 11 degrees Celsius, said MacKenzie. That the tuna were brought in with a load of mackerel in 2012 suggests there was a school of tuna hunting the smaller fish, he said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The fish distribution in cold and warm waters is getting mixed up because of changing ocean temperatures. Experts say this is not good.

"Finding bluefin tuna off Greenland is more evidence that climate change is shuffling the species swimming about the world’s oceans. Fish generally found in warmer waters are being spotted in regions formerly filled by cold-tolerant species or are expanding their range. Mackerel have moved into the waters south of Iceland, and anchovy now swim the North Sea."

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7 GIFs That Will Convince You Just How Scary the Drought in the West Is ("pictures tell the story")

7 GIFs That Will Convince You Just How Scary the Drought in the West Is ("pictures tell the story") | The Water Steward | Scoop.it
From a popular skiing spot to the largest man-made reservoir in North America, these before-and-after photos show why we need to save water.

This week the city’s Department of Water and Power announced that it’s ramping up patrols by deploying four inspectors—up from one—to drive around and investigate water-wasting complaints. But in a city of nearly 4 million, it will be no surprise if four people aren’t able to stop golf courses from maintaining their green grass to a tee, dads from hosing down their SUVs, and Ice Bucket Challengers giddily dousing themselves with water. (Grist offers some commonsense advice: Skip the shower, recycle the water, or just donate to ALS research.) Meanwhile, Nestlé, which owns Arrowhead, continues to tap water from the desert 80 miles from Los Angeles.

Other Southwest states have been seeing the effects of the drought as well. Last month in Nevada, Lake Mead’s water level dropped to its lowest since the 1930s.

Most Americans might not feel the thirst just yet, but if the current rate of water consumption continues, they soon will. So here are seven before-and-after GIFs that reveal just how bad the drought has gotten.

Bert Guevara's insight:

If this kind of drought can dry up this part of the world, then it is not far fetched that continuous global warming can do the same in other warm parts of the planet.

Let's observe how the impending El Niño may make matters worse.

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