The public health risks from Hurricane Florence rise with every inch of floodwater. Floods are notorious conduits for filth, indiscriminately sweeping away the flotsam and jetsam of civilization: raw sewage and “solids” from municipal water treatment plants, industrial solvents and potent chemicals, garbage and debris, and the carcasses of wild animals trapped by rising floodwaters.
According to data reported by the island’s water systems between January 2015 and March 2018, 97 percent of Puerto Rico’s population is served by a local drinking water system with at least one recent violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s lead and copper testing requirements. That is far higher than any U.S. state.
Right now, New Mexico’s largest reservoir is at about three percent capacity, with just 62,573 acre feet of water in storage as of September 20. Elephant Butte Reservoir’s low levels offer a glimpse of the past, as well as insight into the future. Over the past few decades, southwestern states like New Mexico have on average experienced warmer temperatures, earlier springs and less snowpack in the mountains.
With El Niño conditions brewing in the eastern Pacific Ocean, meteorologists are leaning toward a warm and wet forecast for Arizona this winter. However, one source of weather predictions is painting a very different picture. The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s weather map for winter 2018-19 has the words “cold, snowy” emblazoned over the southern half of Arizona.
Aerial photographs show widespread devastation to farms and industrial sites in eastern North Carolina, with tell-tale trails of rainbow-colored sheen indicating potential contamination visible on top of the black floodwaters.
Monsoon storms in the desert Southwest are vital for recharging groundwater – but it now appears likely this recharge effect may be compromised by climate change. The major cities of the Southwest – Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Las Vegas – currently get most of their freshwater from the Colorado River or its tributaries. That river, however, is experiencing its 19th straight drought year, suggesting a new permanent dry state is gripping the giant watershed.
Colorado’s ongoing climate shift toward lower flows in river headwaters is spurring countless quick adaptations, most recently a gubernatorial intervention to allow taller stacks of hay on trucks rolling into the state.
I [John Fleck] went on a bike ride this morning to get a look at the Rio Grande through Albuquerque. Flows dropped below 100 cubic feet per second Thursday evening for just the second time since we moved here in 1990. Flows this low are hard to measure – we didn’t get a numerical picture of just how bad things are until the USGS river measurement people calibrated their Central Avenue gauge Friday morning.
Devastating flooding in North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence has raised concerns about whether dams across the state, some of them already in poor condition, will be able to hold up under the strain.
When toxins from algae made Salem’s drinking water potentially hazardous earlier this year, the city was unprepared to deal with both the public relations fallout from the breach and the more concrete matter of helping citizens access clean water. Those are two central conclusions from a third-party assessment of a crisis that roiled Oregon’s capital city this summer, and led the state to enact almost unprecedented new drinking water regulations.
As New Mexico state agencies move forward with plans to study reusing wastewater from oil and gas drilling, some environmental and community groups want the administration to slow down. They’re concerned about the quick schedule and lack of transparency thus far on an issue they say demands careful study.
As rain from Florence continued to lash the Carolinas, the region’s swollen rivers were beginning to swamp coal ash dumps and low-lying hog farms Sunday, raising pollution concerns. Duke Energy said the collapse of a coal ash landfill at the L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington, North Carolina, is an “on-going situation,” with an unknown amount of potentially contaminated storm water flowing into a nearby lake.
Drinking water has been shut off at all Detroit public school buildings following the discovery of elevated levels of lead or copper in several schools. This spring, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) superintendent Nikolai Vitti ordered water testing in the district’s 106 buildings.
Honolulu officials said a dam holding 21 million gallons (80 million liters) of water was not in danger of collapsing Thursday, but still warned nearly 10,000 residents downstream that they might need to evacuate after a tropical storm caused water levels to rise in the reservoir. Water levels in the dam rose 4-to-5 feet (nearly 1.5 meters) overnight as heavy rains from Tropical Storm Olivia dumped 7.3 inches (18 centimeters) of rain in the area.
Whipping winds and surging ocean waters won’t be the only threats from Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall in North Carolina on Friday. Rain and rising floodwaters could swamp coal ash basins and hog waste lagoons, washing the byproduct of the state’s industries into rivers and lakes. Environmentalists warn of toxic chemicals, bacteria and other dangers.
During election years in Colorado, it’s routine for candidates for statewide office to address the summer convention of the politically powerful Colorado Water Congress. … And so the ritual was repeated last week as about 350 self-proclaimed “water buffaloes” gathered at the Hotel Talisa in Vail and heard from the Republican and Democratic candidates for the 3rd Congressional District, governor and attorney general.
Hurricane Florence threatens to kill thousands of farm animals and trigger catastrophic spills of waste as it bears down on a Carolina coastal region dotted with sewage treatment plants, hog waste lagoons, poultry farms and coal ash ponds. … Hurricane Florence is so large it is certain to cause pollution releases in the Carolinas and Virginia, especially in urban areas that have combined sewer and storm-water systems.
Up on the Uncompahgre Plateau, the snow is long gone and a hot wind rattles brittle stalks. It’s too early for the snow to be gone, he [John Harold] said on July 11, the second day of his month-long corn harvest. He’s running low on water. But after 32 years as Colorado’s king of corn, he knows not to worry too hard about things beyond his control.
Five years ago flood waters caused immense damage along Colorado’s northern Front Range and foothills, killing nine people, upending the lives of thousands of others. And just as the raging water left a lasting imprint in the minds of those who lived through it, it did the same to the land itself.