Congress passes Colorado River drought plan with unanimous approval from Arizona lawmaker by Andrew Nicla, Arizona Republic, April 8, 2019

April 9, 2019


A bill that would authorize the federal government to enact a drought plan for Colorado River basin states in times of shortage has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for the president's signature.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., fast-tracked the measure, clearing a final hurdle for the drought plan, a product of years of long and complicated negotiations that crossed state and party lines.

When enacted, the plan will spread the effects of expected cutbacks on the river and protect the levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the river's two largest reservoirs. Its aim is to protect water users from deep losses and keep the reservoirs and river healthy.

"The Colorado River is dissipating," Grijalva told The Arizona Republic.

"There's more demand from people and industries that depend on it. So how do we do that for the long-term? That's the task ahead," he said.

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The World is not on track to meet water sustainability goals laid out in SDG6, the crises will only compel necessary investment by Mike Scott BusinessGreen 4/8/2019

April 8, 2019

It almost goes without saying that clean water is a basic human need. It's essential for virtually every aspect of human health, wellbeing and prosperity, from drinking, hygiene, and health to growing food and producing goods.

But while it is obvious to everyone that water is crucial to life, less appreciated is its importance to business. All companies rely on plentiful, high-quality water to varying degrees, yet too often it is taken for granted, even though for the past eight years a water crisis has been cited as one of the five biggest risks in the World Economic Forum's influential Global Risks Report.

It's a crisis that's not just reserved for the future. We are already seeing water risks play out on the world stage, from devastating floods in India to multi-year droughts in California. Serious pollution events are another major threat, from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2014 to lead contamination in Flint, Michigan and horrific recent accidents at mines in Brazil.

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3 Water Stocks That Could Rally By Bill Alpert, Barrons, Feb. 15, 2019

February 19, 2019

3 Water Stocks That Could Rally
Photograph by Xavier Guerra

Matt Diserio and his partners started Water Asset Management about a decade ago, convinced that private capital could help solve environmental problems while making good returns. So far they have. But Matt doesn’t think every “sustainable” investment will prove to be a winner. He likes water more than renewable energy, for example. Edited excerpts of our conversation follow.

Matt Diserio and his partners started Water Asset Management about a decade ago, convinced that private capital could help solve environmental problems while making good returns. So far they have. But Matt doesn’t think every “sustainable” investment will prove to be a winner. He likes water more than renewable energy, for example. Edited excerpts of our conversation follow.

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Global Groundwater Supplies at Risk - There's a Water 'Time Bomb' Lurking Beneath The Planet's Surface, Scientists Warn by David Nield JAN 23, 2019, Science Alert

January 23, 2019

As climate change alters the world around us, scientists are warning that the impacts on groundwater reserves could take a century to catch up – which means it'll be our grandchildren dealing with the fallout of the effects on their water supply. 

Groundwater – fresh water cached underground in soil and between rocks – takes much longer to respond to temperature changes than surface water, the researchers point out.

We rely on rain to keep groundwater stocked up, which means areas seeing hotter weather and less rainfall are going to be lighting the fuse for a future 'timebomb' in which water supplies can't keep up with demand. The time delay potentially makes these 'hidden' shortages even more dangerous.

"Our research shows that groundwater systems take a lot longer to respond to climate change than surface water, with only half of the world's groundwater flows responding fully within 'human' timescales of 100 years," says one of the team, Mark Cuthbert from Cardiff University in the UK.

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Colorado River water supply on the cliff of a precipice - On the Water-Starved Colorado River, Drought Is the New Normal by Jim Robbins/Photography by Ted Wood, Jan 22, 2019

January 23, 2019

With the Southwest locked in a 19-year drought and climate change making the region increasingly drier, water managers and users along the Colorado River are facing a troubling question: Are we in a new, more arid era when there will never be enough water?

In the basement of the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, the fragrant smell of pine hangs in the air as researchers comb through the stacks of tree slabs to find a round, 2-inch-thick piece of Douglas fir.

They point out an anomaly in the slab — an unusually wide set of rings that represent the years 1905 to 1922. Those rings mean it was a pluvial period — precipitation was well above average — and so the trees grew far more than other years.

“In 1905, the gates opened and it was very wet and stayed very wet until the 1920s,” said David Meko, a hydrologist at the lab who studies past climate and stream flow based on tree rings. “It guided their planning and how much water they thought was available.”

The planning was that of the states that share the water of the Colorado River. Worried that a burgeoning California would take most of the water before it was fairly divvied up, representatives from the other Colorado River Basin states, presided over by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, came together in 1922 to develop an equitable apportionment. They looked at flow measurements and figured that the river contained an average of 15 million acre-feet. They divided the Colorado River states into two divisions – the upper basin and the lower basin, with the dividing line in northern Arizona near the Utah border. The upper basin states — Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico — agreed not to take more than a total of 7.5 million acre-feet and to allow the other half to flow south to the lower basin. The agreement they signed was called the 1922 Colorado River Compact, also known as the Law of the River.


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Scientists reveal substantial water loss in global landlocked regions, Source: Kansas State University

December 3, 2018

Along with a warming climate and intensified human activities, recent water storage in global landlocked basins has undergone a widespread decline. A new study reveals this decline has aggravated local water stress and caused potential sea level rise.

The study, "Recent Global Decline in Endorheic Basin Water Storage," was carried out by a team of scientists from six countries and appears in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

"Water resources are extremely limited in the continental hinterlands where streamflow does not reach the ocean. Scientifically, these regions are called endorheic basins," said Jida Wang, a Kansas State University geographer and the study's lead author.

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Water Risk: The real liquidity crisis BY MONIKA FREYMAN, IPE Real Assets, Nov/Dec 2018

November 26, 2018

With cities like Cape Town facing ‘day zero’ crises, Monika Freyman explains why investors need to be alive to water risks

Harvard’s $37bn (€32.5bn) endowment took a $1.1bn write-down last year after withering criticism about its farmland acquisitions and water-use practices in Brazil, California and other resource-sensitive regions. More mining projects in South America are being put on hold due to local water supply concerns. Large infrastructure projects in Africa are also under a microscope as the effects of drought deepen.

All of these examples highlight why investors need to focus on water risks and other sustainability concerns during due diligence. With climate and natural-resource pressures mounting, investors need to understand where future problems could arise and how they can reduce their exposure before making big investments.

Private-equity analysts Marc Robert, chief operating officer at Water Asset Management, and Jason Scott, managing partner of Encourage Capital were among a group of institutional investors who collaborated with Ceres to create the Private Equity Water Due Diligence Tree, a guide within the Investor Water Toolkit, to help investors determine whether there are ‘red flags’ related to water issues in a region or for a specific project.

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The solution to cities’ water problems has been hiding in rural areas this whole time David Sedlak By David Sedlak, Co-director of the Berkley Water Center

November 14, 2018

This story is part of What Happens Next, our complete guide to understanding the future. Read more predictions about the Future of Water.

When the ancient Romans built their first aqueduct, they set into motion an enduring idea: A modern city needs to build infrastructure that pumps water over, through, and around mountain ranges. Most of today’s cities route this water through massive treatment plants before distributing it to our homes through a maze of underground pipes. When we’re done using it, we pipe wastewater to treatment plants that release so much liquid into our rivers that treated sewage frequently accounts for the majority of the flow.

The water infrastructure that modern cities rely upon is not cheap. City leaders in North America, Europe, and Australia are scraping together funds needed to renovate aging mid-20th-century water systems; public utilities in the US spend nearly $110 billion a year on water and wastewater services. Meanwhile, their counterparts in the developing world are contemplating plans to replicate the infrastructure of the world’s wealthy cities, which they too may not be able to maintain in the long run.





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India is suffering the 'worst water crisis in its history' by Anuradha Nagaraj Correspondent , Reuters - World Economic Forum

November 12, 2018

When the thousands of water lorry drivers who shore up parched Chennai's overtaxed water delivery system went on strike for three days last month, to protest a ruling restricting their access to groundwater, a water crisis ensued.

Hotels and malls shut. Taps ran dry in residential districts of the city.

"My phone rang incessantly," remembers Sarvanan Parthasarthy, the owner of Jai water supply, one of the striking private water tanker firms.

"A resident called and even threatened suicide if I didn't send a water tanker. Water is like that. We can't live without it," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

India is suffering "the worst water crisis in its history", according to a June report by government policy think tank NITI Aayog.

Worsening water shortages - for farmers, households and industry - threaten the lives and incomes of hundreds of millions of Indians, and the economic growth of the country, the report said.

An estimated 163 million people out of India's population of 1.3 billion - or more than one in 10 - lack access to clean water close to their home, according to a 2018 report by WaterAid, an international water charity.

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Crisis at Lake Powell Looms Large as Long-Term Drought Reaches Upstream, by Matt Weiser, News Deeply Water Deeply

September 12, 2018

LIKE RUST SLOWLY consuming the body of a car, drought has spread upstream on the Colorado River.

The river’s Upper Basin – generally north of Lake Powell – has been largely insulated from the 19-year drought afflicting the giant watershed, thanks to the region’s relatively small water demand and heavy snows that bury Colorado’s 14,000ft peaks each winter. But this year, there was no salvation in the snowpack.

Several major Colorado River tributaries – the Dolores, San Juan and Gunnison rivers – saw record-low snowpack this winter. Others, including the Yampa River and the headwaters of the Colorado itself, did not break records but saw snowpack shrink to 70 percent or less of average.

As a result, many reservoirs on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains have shrunk to mud puddles. In August, the resort city of Aspen, Colorado, imposed mandatory watering restrictions on its residents and visitors for the first time in its history. And in another first, the state of Colorado curtailed water rights on the Yampa River – which flows through Steamboat Springs – forcing some water users to stop extracting water to protect higher-priority users and aquatic life in the river.

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Lingering Colorado River Drought Could Lead to Water Shortages by By John Fialka, E&E News

September 6, 2018

The Colorado River system’s ongoing 19-year drought could trigger unprecedented water rationing among its southern states by mid-2020, a new study warns.


The river, which supplies 40 million people, is going through the longest dry spell in recorded history and one of the driest in the past 1,200 years, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.  


Over this summer, Reclamation said the chance of a water shortage in the river’s lower basin rose from 52 percent to 57 percent by 2020, based on computer model projections that look ahead five years. The shortages could affect Arizona, California and five other southern states.

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Agency Says Lake Mead Could Drop Below Critical Threshold by Jim Carlton, WSJ, August 15, 2018

August 16, 2018

Nevada’s Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in the West, is on track to fall below a critical threshold in 2020, according to a new forecast by the Bureau of Reclamation.

In a prediction released Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation, a multistate agency that manages water and power in the West, said there is a 52% probability that water levels will fall below a threshold of 1,075 feet elevation by 2020. If Lake Mead’s water levels fall below that threshold, it could trigger the first ever federal shortage declaration on the Colorado River—which experts say could undermine the Southwest’s economy.

“The very big concern is the perception that water supplies are uncertain,” said Todd Reeve, chief executive officer of Business for Water Stewardship, a nonprofit group in Portland, Ore., that works with businesses on water use nationally. “So if a water shortage is declared, that would be a huge shot across the bow that, wow, water supplies could be uncertain.”

This isn’t the first time the agency has predicted a shortage. In 2015, it forecast a high probability for a shortfall in 2017. But that was averted when the Southwest was hit with unusually heavy rain and snow.


The Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has been in long-term decline amid what bureau officials call the driest 19-year period in recorded history.

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Falling Lake Mead Water Levels Prompt Detente in Arizona Feud by Jim Carlton, WSJ

July 7, 2018

At issue are falling water levels at the West’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead. Having already dropped by more than 150 feet over the past two decades to 1,077 feet, the Nevada reservoir is two feet shy of falling below a federal threshold that can trigger mandatory cutbacks by U.S. officials.
Nevada, California—and Mexico—have mostly agreed to a regional Drought Contingency Plan that would adopt more reductions in the amount of water drawn from the river. But bureaucratic infighting between two Arizona agencies had delayed adoption of the plan.
The Central Arizona Project, which manages most of the state’s river water, and Arizona Department of Water Resources have been in a year-long dispute over the plan, and in May the two agencies pledged to work together.
“The risk is real, and the time for action is now,” Terry Fulp, regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region, said in a recent public meeting on the issue in Tempe, Ariz.
The Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has been gripped in the driest 19-year period on record, according to officials from the Bureau of Reclamation, a multistate agency that manages water and power in the West. With low snowpack and warm conditions again, runoff from the river this year is only about 40% of the long-term average, prompting renewed concerns over the water level in Lake Mead.

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How Pennsylvania's Failing Water System is Hurting You by Wallace McKelvey, Tapped Out

June 26, 2018

A cascade of failures mean that Pennsylvanians can no longer take clean water, a right so important it's enshrined in the state constitution, for granted.
Utilities across the state struggle to maintain aging water delivery and treatment systems that need at least $16.8 billion in upgrades over the next two decades. Meanwhile, a decade of budget cuts handed down by successive governors and legislatures gutted the state Department of Environmental Protection. That, in turn, led to systemic failures to adequately inspect those systems and to ensure problems are corrected.
“There are so many problems, there isn’t one fix,” said one drinking water inspector, “and with water quality the plain truth is we don’t know what we don’t know.”
Six current and former inspectors spoke to PennLive on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment publicly or feared professional reprisal if they did.
They told similar stories of reduced oversight, increased risk and the frustration that comes with their dawning realization that protecting public health was no longer a priority.
Why does this matter?  In Pennsylvania, five people died and 38 others were sickened as a result of waterborne disease outbreaks directly linked to drinking water between 2009 and 2014, according to the CDC, although such incidents—like virtually all public health data—are underreported. Other health risks, such as exposure to lead and carcinogens, may not become apparent for years or decades.

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Time for action' to avert Colorado River crisis, federal official says By Ian James, The Desert Sun

May 27, 2018

The Colorado River has for years been locked in a pattern of chronic overuse, with much more water doled out to cities and farmlands than what’s flowing into its reservoirs.

The river basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, has been drying out during what scientists say is one of the driest 19-year periods in the past 1,200 years.

Its largest reservoir, Lake Mead, now stands just 39 percent full. And the federal government has warned that the likelihood of the reservoir dropping to critical shortage levels is growing.

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Drought Returns to Huge Swaths of U.S., Fueling Fears of a Thirsty Future by By David Montgomery, The Pew Charitable Trusts

April 18, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas — Less than eight months after Hurricane Harvey pelted the Texas Gulf Coast with torrential rainfall, drought has returned to Texas and other parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast, rekindling old worries for residents who dealt with earlier waves of dry spells and once again forcing state governments to reckon with how to keep the water flowing.

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Understanding What the ‘New Normal’ Means for Water in the West by Tara Lohan, News Deeply

April 11, 2018

The New “Normal” for Water in the West, "  After 20 years of drought conditions, some scientists are calling for better terminology to describe the impact of rising temperatures in the region. 

APRIL IS OFTEN a time of abundance in the mountains of the American West, when snowpack is at or near its peak, and forecasters work to determine how much runoff will course through our rivers and fill reservoirs later in the season.

This year, across much of the West, particularly the Southwest, there’s little in the way of abundance. At Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the West, runoff is predicted to be only 43 percent of average. Arizona is looking at one of its lowest runoff years in history. And in New Mexico, stretches of the Rio Grande have already run dry, months ahead of normal.

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Making Every Drop Count - An HLPW Outcome Report, March 14, 2018

March 13, 2018

A March 2018 UN report on water risks concludes that water needs to be properly valued, measured and managed. 

The United Nations and World Bank Group convened a High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) to provide leadership in tackling one of the world’s most pressing challenges – an approaching global water crisis. As leaders of organizations, the challenge put before the Panel was to identify ways in which the world could accelerate progress towards ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6) as well as to contribute to the achievement of the multiple SDGs that also depend on the development and adequate management of our planet’s water resources and thereby achieve the 20301 Agenda

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Save the Snowpack, Save the Water Supply Even the way snow is falling and melting is changing by Daniel Rothberg January 18, 2018, Bloomberg

January 18, 2018

Between droughts and floods, the last decade has offered water managers in the southwest a preview of how climate change could impact a supply largely dependent on winter snow. This year’s disappointing snowpack has them worried again. 
"Water and climate change are joined at the hip,” said Brad Udall, a researcher at Colorado State University who published a paper earlier this year showing how climate change has reduced flows in the Colorado River. “One of the primary impacts of a warming atmosphere are changes to our water cycle."
Snowpack is 50% lower than the average at this point in the winter at dozens of basins in the region. It’s a major concern in a region with a growing population where water supplies are often pushed to their limits, even in good years. In addition to fueling the West's winter tourism industry, the snow provides a steady supply of water for the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people spread from Denver to Los Angeles.

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Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern By SOMINI SENGUPTA, JAN. 18, 2018, New York Times

January 18, 2018

UNITED NATIONS — Nigeria. Syria. Somalia. And now Iran.  In each country, in different ways, a water crisis has triggered some combination of civil unrest, mass migration, insurgency or even full-scale war.
In the era of climate change, their experiences hold lessons for a great many other countries. The World Resources Institute warned this month of the rise of water stress globally, “with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040.”
A water shortage can spark street protests: Access to water has been a common source of unrest in India. It can be exploited by terrorist groups: The Shabab has sought to take advantage of the most vulnerable drought-stricken communities in Somalia. Water shortages can prompt an exodus from the countryside to crowded cities: Across the arid Sahel, young men unable to live off the land are on the move. And it can feed into insurgencies: Boko Haram stepped into this breach in Nigeria, Chad and Niger.
Iran is the latest example of a country where a water crisis, long in the making, has fed popular discontent. That is particularly true in small towns and cities in what is already one of the most parched regions of the world. Farms turned barren, lakes became dust bowls. Millions moved to provincial towns and cities, and joblessness led to mounting discontent among the young. Then came a crippling drought, lasting roughly 14 years.

U.S. Geological Survey shows Colorado River flows decreased 7% by temperature changes.- Rising temperatures sucking water out of the Colorado River by Emily Guerin, KPCC, October 31, 2017

November 1, 2017

Rising temperatures are undermining the source of one third of Southern California’s drinking water: the Colorado River.
A new study by the US Geological Survey finds the river’s flow has shrunk by about seven percent over the past 30 years. As air temperature rises due to increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, more water is sucked into the atmosphere from the snowpack and the river itself instead of flowing downstream. The amount that has evaporated is equal to approximately 24 percent of the total amount of California’s annual Colorado River allocation.

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Order from Chaos - Stealing Water by Vanda Felbab-Brown, Brookings, March 23, 2017

March 22, 2017

Fresh water is vital for human survival and health, the production of food and energy, industrial activity, and the functioning of the entire global economy, as well as for the survival of other animals, plants, and natural ecosystems. Water scarcity, whatever its cause–natural catastrophes, pollution, poor water management, or theft and smuggling—can have grave consequences.

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Water Infrastructure Spending Positive for U.S. Job Creation. Report: Closing investment gap would create jobs, spur economy by by WF&M Staff, March 22, 2017

March 21, 2017

In a new report released Wednesday by the Value of Water Campaign, an economic impact analysis examines how investments in the nation’s water infrastructure affect economic growth and employment. The report, “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure” was shared for the first time as part of a World Water Day briefing on Capitol Hill.

Among the findings in the report, the analysis found that closing the investment gap in water infrastructure would create 1.3 million jobs, and stimulate $220 billion in economic activity. Contrary to addressing the funding gap, the report found that water infrastructure failure would mean big problems for businesses, as one day of water service disruption could cost 43.5 billion in lost sales and 22.5 billion lost in the GDP.

The analysis, conducted by Hatch, falls against a national backdrop of aging infrastructure. Many of the nation’s water and wastewater systems have operated for a century or more. As pipes, pumps, and plants reach the end of their expected lifespans, water infrastructure capital needs are growing rapidly. But, as the report noted, the federal government’s contribution to water infrastructure capital spending has fallen from 63 percent of total capital spending in 1977 to just nine percent of total capital spending in 2014.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently estimated that over the next decade, the US needs to invest an additional $82 billion per year in water infrastructure at all levels of government, and all over the country. The Value of Water Campaign analysis released today showed capital needs distributed throughout the nation with 23 percent of needs reported in the Midwest, 20 percent in the Northeast, 23 percent in the West, and 34 percent in the South.

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Water Security as a Top Global Risk—In Search of More Comprehensive Approaches by The World Bank

September 26, 2016

  • In the 21st century, water availability in many regions can no longer be taken for granted, and water security has emerged as a key catalyst of sustainable development.
  • To better reflect the salience of water security and be more responsive to rapidly changing contexts, water economists and development practitioners need to identify the linkages to other sectors and issues, and incorporate these into their work.
  • This emerged as a major theme during a conference hosted by the World Bank that brought together water economists and development practitioners from around the world.

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Great Cities Must Watch Their Watersheds By Mark Buchanan, BloombergView

August 15, 2016

Cities need to safeguard water sources

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Recipe For War: Remove Water and Food, Add Ethnic Strife—Then Stir By Eric Roston, Bloomberg, July 26, 2016

July 25, 2016

The question is no longer just whether climate change will kill us, but also whether climate change will make us kill each other.

Almost 25 percent of armed conflicts in ethnically divided countries occur around the same time as climate-related disasters. This is the main take-away of a new study by researchers that adds crucial data to a debate that's been simmering for several years: Is there evidence (PDF) that ties war and civil unrest to the changing climate? Another finding directly applies to this and humanity's key climate change choke points: food and water. Over the three decades ending in 2010, 9 percent of wars took place in the wake of heat waves or droughts.

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California Water Drought Here to Stay - California needs to conserve water like the drought is here to stay by The Times Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

June 30, 2016

The water level in Lake Shasta, California’s largest reservoir, had plunged to less than a third of normal by the end of last year. Then came the El Niño rainfall, which by April had tripled the volume of water in the lake. The story is similar in Trinity Lake, part of the same network of federal projects in the far northern portion of the state that regulate the flow of water to the Sacramento River on its journey south toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay.

In the northern Sierra, water levels were also perilously low in the state’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville on the Feather River. But snowmelt in that region has revived the lake and given some relief to the State Water Project, which also controls the water that eventually finds its way down the Sacramento River – and into the delta and the California Aqueduct, down the San Joaquin Valley, over the Tehachapi Mountains and into Southern California. If only it were that simple.

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Water supply issues for the lower Colorado getting worse despite perception that Western water drought is improving. Lake Mead hits new record low by Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review-Journal

May 18, 2016

For the next two months, the news from Lake Mead could sound like a broken record.

The nation’s largest man-made reservoir slipped to a new record low sometime after 7 p.m. Wednesday, and forecasters from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect see its surface drop another 2 feet through the end of June.

The latest dip into record-low territory comes as officials in Nevada, Arizona and California consider a new deal to prop up the declining lake by giving up some of their Colorado River water.

But some river advocates argue that those voluntary cuts could be rendered meaningless by proposed water developments that will further sap the overdrawn and drought-stricken river before it ever reaches Lake Mead.

Gary Wockner is executive director of Save the Colorado, a nonprofit conservation group based in Fort Collins, Colorado. He said the first round of cuts proposed by Nevada and Arizona would leave an extra 200,000 acre-feet of water in the lake, while the river system as a whole stands to lose approximately 250,000 acre-feet under new diversion projects being planned in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

“At the same time the agencies in the lower basin are discussing cuts, the agencies in the upper basin are working to suck more water out of the river,” Wockner said. “It’s a zero-sum game.”

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Looming infrastructure demands will require a new educated technical workface to replace the current largely retirement age workforce. Looming infrastructure demands will require a new educated technical workface to replace the current largely retirement age workforce. Infrastructure skills: Knowledge, tools, and training to increase opportunity by Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer, Brookings

May 12, 2016

As the U.S. labor market continues to gain momentum, concerns over wage stagnation and income inequality persist, especially at a regional level. In response, many public, private, and civic leaders across a variety of metropolitan areas are forging new collaborations and launching innovative strategies to support greater economic opportunity. Infrastructure investment represents a key priority in this respect, whether aimed at boosting transportation access, increasing broadband adoption, strengthening freight connectivity, or improving water quality

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World Bank sees up to 6% negative GDP impact if water scarcity issues are not addressed - High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy - report by World Bank, Washington, DC.

May 11, 2016

The impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle, with consequences that could be large and uneven across the globe. Water-related climate risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. Growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will converge upon a world where the demand for water rises exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain. They will jeopardize growth prospects in the regions worst affected and in some of the poorest countries. These challenges are not insurmountable, however, and smart policies that induce water-use efficiency, align incentives across regional and trading partners, and invest in adaptive technologies can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating these negative effects.

America still woefully behind on water and waste water investment. ASCE estimates that a failure to invest in U.S. water infrastructure will cost 500,000 jobs by 2025 and 965,000 jobs by 2040. - Failure to act closing the infrastructure investment gap for America's Economic Future By Economic Development Research Group, Inc.

May 11, 2016

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which grades the current state of national infrastructure categories on a scale of A through F. Since 1998, America’s infrastructure has earned persistent D averages, and the failure to close the investment gap with needed maintenance and improvements has continued. When the next Report Card for America’s Infrastructure is released in 2017, it will provide an updated look at the state of our infrastructure conditions, but the larger question at stake is the implication of D+ infrastructure on America’s economic future.  The Failure to Act report series answers this key question — how does the nation’s failure to act to improve the condition of U.S. infrastructure systems affect the nation’s economic performance? 

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Arizona, California and Nevada Discussing Reductions in Colorado River Water Deliveries - Big CAP cuts coming as 3-state water agreement nears by Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, Aril 24, 2016

April 24, 2016

Arizona, California and Nevada negotiators are moving toward a major agreement triggering cuts in Colorado River water deliveries to Southern and Central Arizona to avert much more severe cuts in the future.

As state water officials now envision the agreement, it would also ultimately require California to cut its use of river water. That’s despite a 48-year-old law that says the Central Arizona Project must relinquish all its supply during shortages before California loses any

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El Nino does not put a dent in Western U.S. water risks. - Is the California drought America's water wake-up call? By Jay Famiglietti, The New York Times,

April 15, 2016

The California drought is not over. The great hope for major replenishment of California's surface and groundwater supplies — the “Godzilla” El Niño — has failed thus far to live up to its super-sized hype, delivering only average amounts of rain and snow, primarily to the northern half of the state.

Average, however, is welcome. Average means that snowpack is visible atop the Sierra, water levels are rising in many reservoirs and a drought-fatigued public is getting a little emotional relief after enduring one “hottest-ever, driest ever” winter after another.


Average also means the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, California's two major north-south water transfer aqueducts, can increase surface water deliveries to farmers and to Southern California cities in 2016, which will reduce groundwater pumping across the state in the months to come.

But, unfortunately, average is no drought-buster.

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California Agricultural Water Use Ripe for Better Allocation Incentives - Obsolete California water system lets farmers grow hay in drought by Christopher Thornberg, San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 2016

April 12, 2016

El Niño has brought much-needed rain back to California, but this doesn’t mean we should stop talking about water policy as the state can quickly veer back into drier conditions. Dealing with the problem that lies at the heart of the water crisis now will help ensure the state is able to prosper through the toughest times, because the state has plenty of water — it just uses it in very wasteful ways.

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High risk' of severe water stresses in Asia by 2050: Study by Robert Ferris, CNBC

March 29, 2016

Some 1 billion people in Asia could be without water by 2050, according to new research.  

A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says there is a "high risk of severe water stress" across large patches of Asia, home to a big chunk of the world's population.

The primary driver of this water stress will not necessarily be climate change, according to the study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One.

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U.S. Infrastructure Needs a New Approach To repair crumbling roads and bridges and other things, the first task is to make them more efficient by Thomas G. Dunlan, Barron's

March 25, 2016

It’s infrastructure season: Every candidate in America deplores the country’s “crumbling” highways, bridges, railroads, mass transit, electrical grid, drinking-water systems, sewage-treatment plants, waterways, and seaports.

It sometimes sounds like potholes are the only growth sector in the U.S. economy. The American Society of Civil Engineers—representing the men and women who plan, design, and build highways, bridges, tunnels, and other projects—gives U.S. infrastructure a D+. The engineers say we should add $300 billion a year to current state, local, and federal spending, just to get to “mediocre.”

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World Water Day 2016: 12 Facts And Things To Know by Alex Garofalo, IBT

March 21, 2016

Tuesday is World Water Day, an annual celebration started as part of a United Nations campaign to raise awareness about water scarcity and safety issues around the world. But while water covers almost three-fourths of the Earth’s surface, it makes up a small portion of the global conversation.

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Solving the Twin Crises of Energy and Water Scarcity by Kevin Moss and Debora Frodl, Harvard Business Review

January 24, 2016

Few people realize the important role water plays in our daily energy use, or the energy required to heat, treat, and supply water. Powering one 60-watt bulb for 12 hours a day over the course of a year can require 3,000 to 6,000 gallons of water — enough to fill a large tanker truck. Meanwhile, the electricity used for water treatment can be as much as one-third of a city’s energy bill.

Most companies’ value chains are heavily dependent on water and energy resources. Automobile manufacturers, for example, create products that rely on metals, chemicals, oil, and gas, which are among the most energy- and water-intensive industries. Others, including technology and telecommunications companies, are major customers of — and suppliers to — those industries. Almost everyone has some skin in this game.

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Colorado College poll finds many in west worry more about water than economy by Ryan Maye Handy, the Gazette.

January 10, 2016

For many westerners, concerns over the future of water are as important as the economy and unemployment, according to results from Colorado College's 2016 Conservation in the West poll.

The sixth annual State of the Rockies Project poll of thousands of residents in seven western states shows many people fear for the future of water in the West. The sentiment might come from a change in national economics and a rash of news about drought, said Eric Perramond, the director of CC's State of the Rockies.

"I would say that the concerns for water use now equal and just barely exceed concern about unemployment. And that's not unexpected given the economic recovery," Perramond said. "(And) like most Americans, we tend to pay more attention when something is in our face."

Conducted through phone calls to 2,800 people, the poll also gauged public opinion on federal public lands, another hot topic in the West where a Sagebrush-style rebellion in Oregon broke out in protest of federal ownership. The poll indicated public opinion seems to favor certain public lands remaining under federal oversight.

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California Needs More Water Storage; California Wants to Store Water for Farmers, but Struggles Over How to Do It by Justin Jiles, New York Times

December 20, 2015

FRIANT, Calif. — Californians suffering through the fourth year of a punishing drought have a new worry. With fierce storms predicted for the winter, they are bracing for floods by stockpiling sandbags and rushing to buy insurance.

Yet those who need water the most, farmers, are in a poor position to take advantage of any deluge. If El Niño floods pour into the Central Valley, the farmers will inevitably watch millions of gallons of water flow to the sea.

This state, forward-looking on other environmental issues, has been stymied for decades over how to upgrade its plumbing system, an immense but aging network of reservoirs and canals that move water from the mountainous north to the drier south.

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Why Storing Water for the Future Means Looking Underground Conventional dams and reservoirs work against nature. It’s time to work with it. by Lauran Bliss, The Atlantic CITYLAB

December 8, 2015


Whatever the conclusion of COP21, adapting to climate change will only become more urgent, as its impacts become harsher. These impacts are, and will be, felt primarily through water: rising sea-levels, dwindling snowpack, droughts, and floods. 

As countries all over the world grapple with these challenges, there’s been a lot of talk about innovative water-saving approaches, such as desalination, recycling, novel irrigation systems for farmers, and conservation tools for homes. But there’s another variable in the equation when its comes to adapting water use to climate change, and that’s storage—how we hold onto water when it’s available, so that supplies meet demand in unsteady times.

More big dams?

Building more dams and reservoirs is probably the first solution that comes to mind. Especially in the last century, they’ve been the primary way that the U.S.—and many other countries like China, India, and South Africa—have collected water. By providing a steady stream of water and electricity to cities and farmers, dams and reservoirs have buttressed economic and population growth all over the world.

But that’s once they’re already built. Penning up rivers for human gain comes at tremendous costs. Dams interfere with the natural direction of waterbodies and often devastate the wildlife dependent on those flow. And especially when compared to their enormous financial burden, the capacity of dams to supply humans with water is often pretty limited.

El Niño rains forecast to reach far into Northern California, where they're most needed by Ron Lin, Matt Stevens, and Raoul Rañoa, Los Angeles Times

October 15, 2015

Few places would benefit more from a winter of El Niño-driven rainstorms than this massive, rapidly depleting reservoir in the desert 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

On Thursday, a new federal forecast said El Niño is continuing to strengthen, with experts saying it's on track to produce potentially record rainfall.

The new forecast is particularly significant because it shows the increased rain reaching far into Northern California to the mountain ranges and system of reservoirs that provide the state with huge amounts of its water. Earlier forecasts showed El Niño providing rain mainly to Southern California.

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Owens Lake - California Drought by Abby Aguirre, Vogue

September 30, 2015

The Owens lake bed lies between the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Inyo Mountains to the east. Spanning 110 square miles, the bed is vast enough that, observed from a helicopter, you cannot make out its shape. (In satellite images, its form looks something like the outline of South America, if South America were melting in the desert heat.) As you fly clockwise around the perimeter, a grid of sorts begins in the north, an ad hoc mosaic that runs the eastern length of the bed and wraps around its southern end. Many of the mosaic pieces are trapezoids, and most are gray plains of dried, cracked earth.

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Future of Water: Can California's arcane water rights system change? by Molly Peterson, KPCC

September 16, 2015

All week, we've been looking at how our relationship to water will likely change in the hotter, drier, more populous California of the year 2040. Today, we look at water rights; who can use water and how much. Much of California's arcane system of water rights stretches back to the Gold Rush. Basically, people who first claimed access to a water source have the first right to use it. It's a seniority based system: older claims trump younger ones when water is scarce.

But can a 19th Century approach to water allocation survive in the 21st Century? 

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Spread of deserts costs trillions, spurs migrants: study by Alister Doyle, Reuters U.S. Edition

September 15, 2015

Land degradation, such as a spread of deserts in parts of Africa, costs the world economy trillions of dollars a year and may drive tens of millions of people from their homes, a U.N.-backed study said on Tuesday.

Worldwide, about 52 percent of farmland is already damaged, according to the report by The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD), compiled by 30 research groups around the world.

It estimated that land degradation worldwide cost between $6.3 trillion and $10.6 trillion a year in lost benefits such as production of food, timber, medicines, fresh water, cycling of nutrients or absorption of greenhouse gases.

"One third of the world is vulnerable to land degradation; one third of Africa is threatened by desertification," it said.

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How Much Water Does U.S. Fracking Really Use? By Tim Lucas, Duke University

September 14, 2015

Water used in fracking makes up less than 1 percent of total industrial water use nationwide, study finds

Durham, NC - Energy companies used nearly 250 billion gallons of water to extract unconventional shale gas and oil from hydraulically fractured wells in the United States between 2005 and 2014, a new Duke University study finds.

During the same period, the fracked wells generated about 210 billion gallons of wastewater.

Large though those numbers seem, the study calculates that the water used in fracking makes up less than 1 percent of total industrial water use nationwide.

While fracking an unconventional shale gas or oil well takes much more water than drilling a conventional oil or gas well, the study finds that compared to other energy extraction methods, fracking is less water-intensive in the long run. 

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Middle East Faces Water Shortages for the Next 25 Years By John Vidal, The Guardian

September 6, 2015

Water supplies across the Middle East will deteriorate over 25 years, threatening economic growth and national security and forcing more people to move to already overcrowded cities, a new analysis suggests.

As the region, which is home to over 350 million people, begins to recover from a series of deadly heatwaves which have seen temperatures rise to record levels for weeks at a time, the World Resources Institute (WRI) claims water shortages were a key factor in the 2011 Syria civil war.

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Losing Water, California Tries to Stay Atop Economic Wave by Adam Nagourney, New York Times

August 18, 2015

FOLSOM, Calif. — Evert W. Palmer has a vision for this city famous for its state prison: 10,200 new homes spread across the rolling hills to the south, bringing in a flood of new jobs, new business and 25,000 more people.

Yes, Mr. Palmer, the city manager, is well aware that Folsom Lake, the sole source of water for this Gold Rush outpost near Sacramento, is close to historically low levels, and stands as one of the most disturbing symbols of the four-year drought that has gripped this state. And that Folsom is under orders to reduce its water consumption by 32 percent as part of mandatory statewide urban cutbacks.

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Water Board Set to OK $4 Billion in Projects by Kiah Collier, Texas Tribune

July 22, 2015

The Texas Water Development Board is poised to approve nearly $4 billion in financing for dozens of projects to increase water supplies across the state, and a handful to promote conservation. But even environmental groups are praising the board for embracing every conservation project that sought state help, which they hope will inspire even more local water utilities to dip into a new pool of state money for water-related projects. 

From pipelines to a seawater desalination plant feasibility study, the agency's staff is asking the board to approve financing for 32 water-related projects Thursday, doling out $1 billion within the next year and another $2.9 billion over the next decade. Cities as small as Marfa and as large as Houston are on the list, and several entities are slated to receive help with multiple projects.

The plans will be the first round of many that receive money from the revolving water fund Texas voters overwhelmingly approved in 2013 with the passage of Proposition 6 — when half the state was in drought. Awards likely will be made annually, according to water board staff.

Bech Bruun, the newly appointed board chairman, said the initial wave of projects — if approved — would be “a big step” toward leveraging the $2 billion the board received into $27 billion of low-interest loans and other financing over the next 50 years to implement the state water plan, a blueprint that spans half a century.The Texas Water Development Board is poised to approve nearly $4 billion in financing for dozens of projects to increase water supplies across the state, and a handful to promote conservation.

But even environmental groups are praising the board for embracing every conservation project that sought state help, which they hope will inspire even more local water utilities to dip into a new pool of state money for water-related projects. 

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IMF Warns Underpricing Water Is Fostering Shortages By Ian Tally, The Wall Street Journal

June 8, 2015

IMF Warns that water is underpriced globally, fostering shortages.

The International Monetary Fund has already declared the world isn’t paying enough to emit greenhouse gases and energy consumption.  Now it is worried that water isn’t priced right either.

Governments should be charging consumers higher prices to encourage more sustainable water use and improve access for the poor, the IMF says in its latest staff discussion note. The IMF typically steers clear of issues its sister institution, the World Bank, manages as part of its development mandate. But the world’s emergency lender said the issue is worth the IMF wading into because water challenges affect economic growth and public finances, particularly as amid shortages.

“The IMF can—and should—play a helpful role in ensuring that macroeconomic policies are conducive to sound water management,” the fund economists argue. And, as California’s drought has highlighted in recent months, water isn’t just a developing-country issue.

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California drought: No rain, but 'the sky is not falling' by Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times

June 6, 2015

The Santa Ana River is a robust and beautiful sight these days. Five miles west of the Prado Dam in Yorba Linda, the water has cut a narrow channel in a sandy bed and courses briskly over submerged rocks and tree limbs.

The water is a complicated cocktail that comes from many sources. As it flows 96 miles from its headwaters to the ocean, it provides a glimpse of the future: a picture of water management set into place nearly 50 years ago that can be seen as a model for California's long effort to keep the state from withering away.

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Where the River Runs Dry, The Colorado and America’s water crisis by David Owen, The New Yorker, May 25, 2015

May 24, 2015

Our pilot, David Kunkel, asked me to retrieve his oxygen bottle from under my seat, and when I handed it to him he gripped the plastic breathing tube with his teeth and opened the valve. We had taken off from Boulder that morning, and were flying over Rocky Mountain National Park, about thirty miles to the northwest. We were in a Maule M-7, a single-engine “backcountry” plane, and Kunkel was navigating with the help of an iPad Mini, which was resting on his legs. “People don’t usually think altitude is affecting them,” he said. “But if you ask them to count backward from a hundred by sevens they have trouble.” What struck me at that moment was not how high we were but how low: a little earlier, we had flown within what seemed like hailing distance of the sheer east face of Longs Peak, and now, as Kunkel banked steeply to the right to give a better view of a stream at the bottom of a narrow valley, his wingtip appeared to pass just feet from the jagged declivity beneath. Snow had fallen in the mountains during the night, and I half expected it to swirl up in the plane’s wake.

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Water Pricing in Two Thirsty Cities: In One, Guzzlers Pay More, and Use Less by Nelson D. Schwartz, May 6, 2015 , New York Times

May 5, 2015

FRESNO, Calif. — When residents of this parched California city opened their water bills for April, they got what Mayor Ashley Swearengin called “a shock to the system.”

The city had imposed a long-delayed, modest rate increase — less than the cost of one medium latte from Starbucks for the typical household, and still leaving the price of water in Fresno among the lowest across the entire Western United States. But it was more than enough to risk what the mayor bluntly admits could be political suicide.

It wasn’t that long ago,” Ms. Swearengin said, “that people here were fighting the installation of water meters.”

Nearly 15 years ago and 1,000 miles away in Santa Fe, N.M., officials faced a similarly dire predicament when a drought came within a few thousand gallons of leaving the city without enough water to fight fires. But Santa Fe’s response was far more audacious

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Water Pricing, Not Engineering, Will Ease Looming Water Shortages By Scott Moore, WSJ, The Opinion Pages

March 30, 2015

Authorities in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, recently announced that if current drought conditions persisted, they would be forced to restrict water availability for the city of 20 million to only two days per week. The economic and social implications of such a decision are staggering. One senior water official admitted that residents might have to “get out of São Paulo” in order to bathe.

California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now? By Jay Famiglietti, Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2015

March 11, 2015

Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California's winter was as well.

As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too.

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States population growth expected to outstrip water conservation in coming years by Matt Weiser and Phillip Reesemweiser, The Sacramento Bee, February 15, 2015

February 18, 2015

California water agencies are on track to satisfy a state mandate to reduce water consumption 20 percent by 2020. But according to their own projections, that savings won’t be enough to keep up with population growth just a decade later.

A 2009 state law requires urban water agencies to reduce per-capita water consumption 20 percent by 2020, compared with use at the start of the century. Most agencies are on track to reach that goal, and have made even more progress thanks to emergency cuts over the past year triggered by the ongoing drought.

However, by 2030, the data show, these savings will be more than erased by anticipated population growth. According to projections by the water agencies themselves, their total water deliveries will increase 16 percent by 2030 compared to their estimates for 2015.

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Aging water mains a $1-billion headache for DWP By Ben Poston and Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 16, 2015

February 15, 2015

The water main break that flooded Nowita Place in 2013 wasn't the kind of spectacle that brought TV cameras. Water sprayed a foot in the air through a hole in the buckled asphalt, leaving residents in the Venice neighborhood without water service for hours.

But the break fit an increasingly common pattern for L.A.'s aging waterworks: The pipe was more than 80 years old. It was rusted out. And it was buried in corrosive soil.

About one-fifth of the city's water pipes were installed before 1931 and nearly all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 15 years. They are responsible for close to half of all water main leaks, and replacing them is a looming, $1-billion problem for the city.

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Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis By SALMAN MASOOD,, February 12, 2015

February 12, 2015

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Energy-starved Pakistanis, their economy battered by chronic fuel and electricity shortages, may soon have to contend with a new resource crisis: major water shortages, the Pakistani government warned this week.  A combination of global climate change and local waste and mismanagement have led to an alarmingly rapid depletion of Pakistan’s water supply, said the minister for water and energy, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.  “Under the present situation, in the next six to seven years, Pakistan can be a water-starved country,” Mr. Asif said in an interview, echoing a warning that he first issued at a news conference in Lahore this week. The prospect of a major water crisis in Pakistan, even if several years distant, offers a stark reminder of a growing challenge in other poor and densely populated countries that are vulnerable to global climate change.

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Smart cities secure water supplies while global risks loom by Grundfos,, Dec 11, 2014

December 10, 2014

Around the world cities are creating dramatic water savings with water metres, pressure management, groundwater conservation and more. But is it enough? 

From fixing leaks in Johannesburg, to topping up groundwater in Salisbury, to flushing toilets with seawater in Hong Kong, municipalities around the world are working to save water and make their distribution systems more efficient.

The need for action to secure future water supplies is clear enough.

“The issue of water is paramount, and the pressure on cities is increasing,” says Seth Schultz, director of research of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a global network of cities taking action to reduce carbon emissions and climate risks.

Among other things, he cites a recent C40 survey of major cities around the world in which 65% of these municipalities are expecting “substantive risks” to their water supplies. These risks include water scarcity, declining water quality, flooding and an inadequate or ageing water infrastructure.

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The Threats to Our Drinking Water by David S. Beckman, New York Times, August 6, 2014

August 7, 2014

THOSE of us who live in the United States are fortunate; generally we don’t have to give a lot of thought to the safety of our tap water. This makes our collective experience with water very different from that of hundreds of millions of people across the globe who lack access to clean water.

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A world without water by Pilita Clark, Financial Times July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

In the first installment of a series on the threat of water scarcity, Pilita Clark describes the cost to companies.  The river Nar, a minor waterway is barely known and at first glance it is hard to understand why anyone would want to have anything to do with it.

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Arizona Cities Could Face Cutbacks in Water From Colorado River, Officials Say by Michael Wines, New York Times, June 17, 2014

June 16, 2014

Arizona could be forced to cut water deliveries to its two largest cities unless states that tap the dwindling Colorado River find ways to reduce water consumption and deal with a crippling drought, officials of the state’s canal network said Tuesday. The warning comes as the federal Bureau of Reclamation forecasts that Lake Mead, a Colorado River reservoir that is the network’s sole water source, will fall next month to a level not seen since the lake was first filled in 1938.  Officials of the Central Arizona Project, which manages the 336-mile water system, say the two cities, Phoenix and Tucson, could replace the lost water, at least in the short term, by tapping groundwater supplies, lakes and rivers. If they do not reduce consumption, the cuts could be necessary by as early as 2019, according to an analysis by the water project, and officials said that depending on drought conditions, the chances of water cutbacks by 2026 could be as high as 29 percent.

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Water Lecture Series: Water Scarcity Solutions from Texas A&M School of Law Presentation

May 5, 2014

According to Professor Mike Young of Adelaide Australia.  Young was the keynote speaker at a luncheon hosted at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth April 25, sponsored by Water Asset Management, LLC. Young holds a Research Chair in Water and Environmental Policy at the University of Adelaide, and for the past academic year, served as the Gough Whitlam and Malcom Fraser Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University.  

He spoke on Australia’s response to severe water scarcity in his presentation “Is Texas Missing and Opportunity? Lessons From Australia.” The presentation was part of the School of Law’s Water Lecture Series: Perspectives on Law and Policy. Young gave a related presentation April 28 at Texas A&M University in College Station entitled “Allocating and Sharing Water: Lessons From Australia.”

Young described the water entitlement and allocation regime in Australia as akin to holding shares in a corporation. Like shares, water entitlements can be traded within basins and a regulated market helps determine best uses. Moreover, the environment is an equal participant in the Australian system and similarly is allotted shares that are used as deemed appropriate by environmental managers. Young encouraged Texas to understand its water scarcity situation and learn how water can be an investment leading to community prosperity. “Water is so critical to so many Texas businesses. If you get it right, people will come here and prosper,” Young said. 

As part of the School of Law and Texas A&M University Water Management and Hydrological Sciences Program’s pursuit of a better water future, this joint series is intended to increase awareness of water challenges facing our state, explore similar challenges plaguing other communities and nations and consider various water management, allocation and conservation strategies from around the world.

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Boom Time in Texas: Jobs, Traffic, Water Worries by Nathan Koppel and Ana Campoy, Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2014

April 30, 2014

Americans have flocked to Texas in search of a piece of the state's booming economy as much of the rest of the country struggled. Now, the state's largest cities are seeing crowded highways, strained water supplies and other pressures that have come with the growth. And Texas politicians—protective of the small-government, low-tax policies many of them believe are at the root of the state's success—are grappling with how to pay the price of prosperity.

Aided by the promise of plentiful employment and a low cost of living, Texas added 1.3 million people from 2010 to 2013, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Lone Star State's population has pushed past 26 million and is projected to reach 40 million by 2050.

Half of the 10 American cities with the largest population increases in the 12 months ended July 1, 2012, were in Texas, according to the Census Bureau. Houston, the nation's fourth-biggest city with about 2.2 million people, added 34,625 residents, second only to New York. Austin added 25,395 and now has some 843,000 residents, more than San Francisco.

The state's outsize growth is a matter of pride for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has touted the "Texas Miracle" as proof that its lower taxes and lighter regulations are effective job creators. Texans paid 7.5% of their income in state and local taxes in 2011, compared with 11.4% in California and 9.2% in Florida, according to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, a research organization. 

But the size and pace of the population spurt is becoming more difficult to manage, presenting public officials with a challenge: How to beef up public infrastructure without straying from their small-government philosophy.

"We are already straining our systems for water, power, schools and roads," says Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter, appointed by Mr. Perry in 2010. "And they'll continue to be stressed unless we invest more heavily."

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What is water worth? by By Brian Dumaine, senior editor-at-large, Fortune, May 1, 2014

April 30, 2014

Farmland is parched. Companies are worried. The global demand for water will soon outstrip supply. What's the solution? Simple, say some business leaders and economists: Make people pay more for the most precious commodity on earth.  

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American Aqueduct: The Great California Water Saga by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, February 24, 2014

February 23, 2014

Hood, California, is a farming town of 200 souls, crammed up against a levee that protects it from the Sacramento River. The eastern approach from I-5 and the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove is bucolic. Cows graze. An abandoned railroad track sits atop a narrow embankment. Cross it, and the town comes into view: a fire station, five streets, a tiny park. The last three utility poles on Hood-Franklin Road before it dead-ends into town bear American flags.

I've come here because this little patch of land is the key location in Governor Jerry Brown's proposed $25 billion plan to fix California's troubled water transport system. Hood sits at the northern tip of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a network of manmade islands and channels constructed on the ruins of the largest estuary from Patagonia to Alaska. Since the 1950s, the Delta has served as the great hydraulic tie between northern and southern California: a network of rivers, tributaries, and canals deliver runoff from the Sierra Mountain Range's snowpack to massive pumps at the southern end of the Delta. From there, the water travels through aqueducts to the great farms of the San Joaquin Valley and to the massive coastal cities. The Delta, then, is not only a 700,000-acre place where people live and work, but some of the most important plumbing in the world. Without this crucial nexus point, the current level of agricultural production in the southern San Joaquin Valley could not be sustained, and many cities, including the three largest on the West Coast—Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose—would have to come up with radical new water-supply solutions.

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The drying of the West, Drought is forcing westerners to consider wasting less water - Lake Mead, Nevada, The Economist (print edition) February 22, 2014

February 20, 2014

THE first rule for staying alive in a desert is not to pour the contents of your water flask into the sand. Yet that, bizarrely, is what the government has encouraged farmers to do in the drought-afflicted south-west. Agriculture accounts for 80% of water consumption in California, for example, but only 2% of economic activity. Farmers flood the land to grow rice, alfalfa and other thirsty crops. By one account, over the years they have paid just 15% of the capital costs of the federal system that delivers much of their irrigation water. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that they would waste far less of it, and the effects of California’s drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe.

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Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States By Michael Wines, New York Times, January 5, 2014

January 4, 2014

LAKE MEAD, Nev. — The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years.

The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle. Reservoirs have shrunk to less than half their capacities, the canyon walls around them ringed with white mineral deposits where water once lapped. Seeking to stretch their allotments of the river, regional water agencies are recycling sewage effluent, offering rebates to tear up grass lawns and subsidizing less thirsty appliances from dishwashers to shower heads.

But many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished.

Faced with the shortage, federal authorities this year will for the first time decrease the amount of water that flows into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, from Lake Powell 180 miles upstream. That will reduce even more the level of Lake Mead, a crucial source of water for cities from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and for millions of acres of farmland.

Reclamation officials say there is a 50-50 chance that by 2015, Lake Mead’s water will be rationed to states downstream. That, too, has never happened before.

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California Stretched by Worsening Drought by Jim Carlton, The Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2014

January 1, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Record-low precipitation in 2013 has worsened California's drought, draining reservoirs, forcing farmers to keep fallow thousands of acres of fields and leaving some ski resorts high and dry during the busy holiday season.Urban and agricultural customers, including Southern California's huge Metropolitan Water District, have been told by the state to expect to receive this year, on average, just 5% of the water they historically request, after a year in which rainfall totals hit record lows in many parts of the state. Last year, customers received 35% of requested supply, on average.

It is also mobilizing emergency drought plans to convey water from places that have more abundant supplies to those in need.A drought emergency could be called by Gov. Jerry Brown early in the new year, officials said, following an unusually dry start to the state's rainy season—which usually begins in late October—in addition to two years of drought.

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Decade of Drought Threatens West by Jim Carlton, The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2013

August 18, 2013

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the nation, is shrinking drastically—with consequences that could ripple across the West.

More than a decade into a drought that has plagued the Southwest, federal officials for the first time plan a sharp cut in the amount of Colorado River water that flows 360 miles from Lake Powell into Lake Mead. In the year starting Oct. 1, officials at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Friday, that supply will drop by nearly 10%—roughly equivalent to the annual water usage of about 700,000 families.

The cut will translate into a reduction in hydroelectric power generation in some areas served by the reservoir—Nevada, Arizona and California—and brings the reservoir level close to a federal declaration of a water shortage. Such a declaration would mean that Nevada and Arizona would face having their water allocations cut.

"This drought continues and we can't really tell when it's going to end," said Terry Fulp, director of the bureau's lower Colorado region. "It points out we have to be cautious with all of our water use."

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Bureau of Reclamation Chief sees the lowest level in the over 100-year historical record for the Colorado River - Statement of Michael L. Connor, Commissioner. Bureau of Reclamation. U.S. Department of the Interior before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water and Power, U.S. Senate, July, 2013

July 15, 2013

Chairman Udall and members of the Subcommittee, I am Michael Connor, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) at the Department of the Interior (Department). Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee today regarding the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study (Study). The Colorado River Basin (Basin) is one of the most critical sources of water in the West. The River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, for irrigation of nearly 5.5 million acres of land, and also it represents the lifeblood for at least 22 federally recognized Indian tribes (tribes), seven National Wildlife Refuges, four National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks. Hydropower facilities along the Colorado River provide more than 4,200 megawatts of generating capacity, helping to meet the power needs of the West and offsetting the use of fossil fuels. The Colorado River is also a vital component in fulfilling Mexico’s agricultural and municipal water needs in Baja California and Sonora. Today, the Colorado River is facing a record drought.

Global threat to food supply as water wells dry up, warns top environment expert by John Vidal, The Observer, July 6, 2013

July 5, 2013

Lester Brown says grain harvests are already shrinking as US, India and China come close to 'peak water'

Wells are drying up and underwater tables falling so fast in the Middle East and parts of India, China and the US that food supplies are seriously threatened, one of the world's leading resource analysts has warned.

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The Real Threat to Our Future is Peak Water by Lester Brown, The Observer, July 6, 2013

July 5, 2013

As population rises, overpumping means some nations have reached peak water, which threatens food supply, says Lester Brown

Peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water. There are substitutes for oil, but not for water. We can produce food without oil, but not without water.

We drink on average four quarts (4.5 litres) of water per day, in one form or another, but the food we eat each day requires 2,000 quarts of water to produce, or 500 times as much. Getting enough water to drink is relatively easy, but finding enough to produce the ever-growing quantities of grain the world consumes is another matter.

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Getting Serious About a Texas-Size Drought By Kate Galbraith, New York Times, April 7, 2013

April 5, 2013


SOMETHING odd happened here last week. It rained.

But the relief, an answer to desperate prayers, is likely to be short-lived. The drought that has gripped much of Texas since the fall of 2010 shows few signs of abating soon. The latest forecasts say that parched West and South Texas will remain dry, and that the state is likely to see above-average temperatures this spring, increasing evaporation from already strained reservoirs. The conditions could lead to severe water restrictions in some parts of the state.

The implications have finally sunk in among lawmakers and business leaders here, who like to boast about the economic appeal of Texas’s low taxes and relaxed regulatory environment: no water equals no business. In a state fabled for its everything-is-bigger mentality, the idea of conserving resources is beginning to take hold. They are even turning sewage into drinking water.

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Water: Emerging Risks & Opportunities, February 10, 2013

February 9, 2013

On February 8, 2013, Goldman Sachs (GS), General Electric (GE), and World Resources Institute (WRI) convened a summit on "Water: Emerging Risks & Opportunities."

More than 250 representatives from private sector companies; local, state and federal agencies; investors; as well as non-governmental organizations participated to help address key questions related to the intersection of capital, technology, and policy in meeting the U.S. water challenge.

The event coincided with the Northeast blizzard, Nemo, which brought home the acute impact of weather extremes. Despite the significant undertaking of addressing our nation’s water infrastructure deficit and the considerable economic consequences of extreme drought that has affected more than half the continental U.S., the discussion throughout the day was notably optimistic and highlighted a number of significant opportunities.

Fingers Crossed: 15th Annual Municipal Survey By Robert Carpenter, Editor Underground Construction, October, 2012

October 16, 2012

After several years of the Great Recession, America’s underground infrastructure – already stretched thin before the economic crash – is rapidly approaching crisis levels, say city respondents to the 15th Annual Underground Construction Municipal Sewer & Water Survey. However, a majority of the survey participants believe that their city’s financial woes bottomed out in 2011 and anticipate the beginning of a slow turnaround late in 2012.

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$38bn Water Gap Pits Vines against Mines - The New Age , October 16, 2012

October 15, 2012

Concrete patches on the canals snaking through Nico Greeff’s vineyards betray constant repairs to an outmoded irrigation system that’s the lifeblood of farming in South Africa’s arid west.

“The water infrastructure is about 60 years old and the lifespan of a surfaced canal is about 40 years,” Greeff, 55, said on his farm near Vredendal, north of Cape Town. “Sometimes there are breakages on the canal system, which interrupts supplies. We can have a lot of damage to our crops.”

Crumbling canals, dams and pipelines and a lack of funds to expand, replace and maintain them threatens to stymie economic growth and efforts to tackle a 25% unemployment rate in Africa’s biggest economy.

Water infrastructure requires investment of R670bn ($76 billion) over the next decade, the Department of Water Affairs said in an Aug. 17 study. That’s almost double the available funding, leaving a gap of R338bn. The report says businesses need to anticipate supply disruptions, higher bills and more regulation in a country that gets less rain than neighbors Namibia and Botswana, famed for their deserts.

South Africa’s platinum and coal industries, two of the country’s top four exporters, are already struggling to secure water supplies for new projects.

“Water is certainly one of the major risks that we look at,” said Paul Skivington, group executive for strategy and risk at Impala Platinum Holdings, the world’s second- largest producer of the precious metal. “It’s not something you can generate. It’s either there or it’s not.”

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Hundred-Year Forecast: Drought - By Christopher R. Schwalm, Christopher A. Williams and Kevin Schaefer - New York Times, August 11, 2012

August 10, 2012

BY many measurements, this summer’s drought is one for the record books. But so was last year’s drought in the South Central states. And it has been only a decade since an extreme five-year drought hit the American West. Widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the “new normal.”
Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.

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Resource depletion: Opportunity or looming catastrophe? by By Richard Anderson - BBC News, June 12, 2012

June 11, 2012

As predicted by many the coming decades not only are we running short of resources but the warming of the globe will cause even more shortages and migrations of huge populations for survival!

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Deloitte report sees crucial energy role for water management - Oil and Gas Journal, May 2012

May 21, 2012

Water management will play an increasingly crucial role in energy globally as well as in the US, experts at Deloitte LLP’s 2012 Washington area energy conference forecast on May 21. Their assessments came as the financial services firm released a report, "No water, no energy, No energy, no water." as the conference got under way at National Harbor outside Washington, DC.

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The Other Arab Spring - New York Times, April 8, 2012

May 2, 2012

Isn’t it interesting that the Arab awakening began in Tunisia with a fruit vendor who was harassed by police for not having a permit to sell food — just at the moment when world food prices hit record highs? And that it began in Syria with farmers in the southern village of Dara’a, who were demanding the right to buy and sell land near the border, without having to get permission from corrupt security officials? And that it was spurred on in Yemen — the first country in the world expected to run out of water — by a list of grievances against an incompetent government, among the biggest of which was that top officials were digging water wells in their own backyards at a time when the government was supposed to be preventing such water wildcatting?

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Vegas asking state for rights to more rural water - Associated Press, March 1, 2012

February 29, 2012

With a crucial water rights decision already pending, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is asking the state to let it increase by almost 80 percent the amount of groundwater it can draw from rural areas north of Las Vegas.

Wasting the Wastewater - NY Times, January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012

The reuse of municipal wastewater will be important to meeting future demand for freshwater in the United States, a new report from the National Academy of Sciences says.

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Water Wars Split Western States - Scientific American, January, 2012

January 10, 2012

Dependable water remains a mirage. The facts of the dispute are not comforting.

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Storehouses for Solar Energy Can Step In When the Sun Goes Down - NY Times, January 3, 2012

January 2, 2012

If solar energy is eventually going to matter — that is, generate a significant portion of the nation’s electricity — the industry must overcome a major stumbling block, experts say: finding a way to store it for use when the sun isn’t shining.

That challenge seems to be creating an opening for a different form of power, solar thermal, which makes electricity by using the sun’s heat to boil water. The water can be used to heat salt that stores the energy until later, when the sun dips and households power up their appliances and air-conditioning at peak demand hours in the summer.

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American Water CEO Says National Report Highlights Critical Need to Invest in Water Systems - American Water Press Release, December 15, 2011

December 19, 2011

Jeff Sterba, President and CEO of American Water (NYSE: AWK), the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater company, cited the American Society of Civil Engineers' newest report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure as further evidence that public and private sectors must come together to address water challenges in the U.S.


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Billions needed for Texas Water Projects - NY Times, December 16, 2011

December 19, 2011

Jeff Sterba, President and CEO of American Water (NYSE: AWK), the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater company, cited the American Society of Civil Engineers' newest report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure as further evidence that public and private sectors must come together to address water challenges in the U.S.


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City Inaugurates Costly Plan to Replace Aged Water Mains - NY Times, December 18, 2011

December 19, 2011

Chicago Mayor Emanuel launches 10-year effort to replace 900 miles of century-old water pipe, a water-main-modernization that he promised would be the largest public-works initiative by any city in the country.

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Melting Glaciers Lead to Trouble for Water Supplies - National Geographic, December, 11, 2011

December 19, 2011

This story is part of a special National Geographic News series on global water issues.
Glaciers like those on Vulture Peak in Montana's Glacier National Park are receding around the world, putting critical water supplies at risk.

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Water and Wastewater Construction: Continued Gloom or Future Boom? - WaterWorld, December, 2011

December 19, 2011

The state of water and wastewater infrastructure in the United States is a much discussed and lamented topic these days. With funding needs estimated in the ballpark of $600 billion over the next 20 years, coupled with the economic downturn and reduced federal funding, the task of repairing our aging infrastructure seems daunting if not insurmountable.

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Levi Strauss Tries to Minimize Water Use - Forbes, November 2, 2011

November 6, 2011

From the cotton field in rural India to the local rag bin, a typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, Levi Strauss & Company says, or enough to fill about 15 spa-size bathtubs. It fears that water shortages caused by climate change may jeopardize the company’s very existence in the coming decades by making cotton too expensive or scarce.

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Water for Life - September 2011 - Alumni Bulletin - Harvard Business School , September, 2011

October 26, 2011

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Harvard MBA ’87) helped to transform Manila’s rundown metropolitan water system from an inefficient public utility into a model public-private partnership

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Empty Fields Fill Urban Basins and Farmers Pockets - NY Times, October 24, 2011

October 25, 2011

California farmers share water - the challenges and benefits.

Three generations of Al Kalin’s family have worked their 2,000 acres of carrots and sugar beets, wheat and alfalfa for almost a century in the Imperial Valley, a scorching swath of Southern California desert that was unfit for farming until water from the Colorado River was diverted here in 1901. 

But now Mr. Kalin and his brother can continue to farm their land, or they can stop farming some of it and earn more than $500 an acre -- more than the market value of a crop like alfalfa -- simply by not using the water needed to nourish those crops. Water saved is sent on to thirsty cities and suburbs to the west: San Diego, Los Angeles and Palm Springs.

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China Takes a Loss to Get Ahead in the Business of Fresh Water - NY Times, October 26, 2011

October 25, 2011

The Chinese government hopes to become a force in yet another environment-related industry: supplying the world with desalinated water. 

There are large-scale desalination projects centralized all up and down the east coast of China,” ERI’s chief executive officer, Thomas S. Rooney Jr., said in an interview. “Our company has the most advanced technology in the entire desalination industry. And one of the beautiful things about China is that they like to adopt the most advanced technologies.”

“You can either fight them or join them, and our philosophy is that China likely is going to be the next big desalination market,” he added. “I would rather develop technology for China in China and take a more open approach than play the secrets game.

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Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs, Greening the Environment - Green for All, October 7, 2011

October 6, 2011

This report estimates the economic and job creation impact of a major investment in water infrastructure in the U.S. An investment of $188.4 billion --is the amount necessary, as estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency, to manage stormwater and preserve water quality. The $188.4 billion investment, spread equally over the next five years, would generate $265.6 billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million direct and indirect jobs and result in 568,000 additional jobs from increased spending.

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Charting Our Water Future -McKinsey Water Report , September, 2011

September 18, 2011

The report analyzes the nature and scale of the global water challenge and proposes solutions to close the demand/supply gap. It ranks the solutions on the basis of cost, and produces a "water cost curve," that can be used by policy makers as well as investors, to arrive at low-cost solutions to water security.  In-depth studies were conducted in four countries/regions facing challenges in the water sector - China, India, South Africa and Brazil - and in each country, the potential measures to close the gap between demand and supply was evaluated.

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Water vs. Energy - IEEE Spectrum, September, 2011

September 18, 2011

Special Report.   This paper discusses the impact of water resources in every type of power plant and describes the different aspects of the water-energy nexus.

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Can Jeremy Grantham Profit From Ecological Mayhem? - NY Times Magazine August, 2011

August 17, 2011

The 72 year-old, financial analyst  Jeremy Grantham, has been noticed for what some call economic doomsday predictions, typically in open letters to investors.  He argues that the late-18th-century doomsayer Thomas Malthus was pretty much right but just had bad timing with his predictions about unsustainable population growth on the eve of the hydrocarbon-fueled Industrial Revolution.  Grantham is saying the same thing that both economists and scientists have been saying for decades and basically reaching the same conclusions, with updated numbers.

Grantham asserts that this already overpopulated world will vie increasingly for scarce resources over the next century. Further, capitalism, he says, is ill-equipped to deal with its impact on the earth.  The contest over the world’s commodities is just beginning, Grantham says, and a Malthusian, run-out-of-resources economics could eventually take hold.

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Water is a geopolitical Issue...

China-India: Revisiting the ‘Water Wars’ Narrative

By Zhang Hongzhou, June 30, 2015, The Diplomat.

With China’s late-2014 completion of the Zangmu dam, the largest hydropower dam on the Brahmaputra River (known in Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River), many Indian and international security experts have been warning of the coming of “water wars” between the two countries.

Those who worry about this scenario have three major arguments. First, China will face serious water shortages in the future and so will begin to divert water flow from the Brahmaputra River to its dry north. Second, this would be catastrophic for downstream countries. Third, China’s unwillingness to sign any binding agreement with downstream countries over trans-boundary rivers is evidence of Beijing’s insistence on absolute sovereignty over water, to the significant detriment of downstream countries.

While water issues could well emerge as one of the major threats to Sino-India relations given rapidly rising demand, competing water usage, and threats from climate change, the water wars narrative still seems to be premature. Read More