Water

WATER

Our warming climate has affected water on earth in profoundly interconnected ways — as the oceans heat and the glaciers and ice shelves melt, they all contribute to sea level rise. Global warming also increases water vapor in the atmosphere, which leads to more frequent heavy rain and snowstorms — all of which leads to heavier flooding. Additionally, a warmer and more moist atmosphere over the oceans makes it likely that the strongest hurricanes will be more intense, produce more rainfall, and possibly be larger.

Since tracking began in 1980, the top four most economically costly US weather and climate disasters are water-related:

  • tropical cyclones (hurricanes) at $997.3 billion
  • droughts at $258.9 billion
  • severe storms at $286.3 billion
  • inland flooding at $151.0 billion

There are also the threats to groundwater as critical reservoirs and aquifers are emptied at a rate far outpacing their natural replenishment, in part due to agriculture (about 70%), but cities play their part as well.

Maybe time to visit these 10 incredible places before they vanish — all due to climate change-related water issues.

More to learn about water here.

CURRENT NEWS

Future of food production hinges on water

By Ayurella Horn-Muller 05/17/23
A team of 40+ USDA scientists has listed the most significant looming challenges facing water resources and agricultural production nationwide. Why it matters: Their newly-released plan unlocks a 30-year roadmap for mitigating some of the…
Read more

‘It’s gotten really ugly.’ A community of freedom-lovers squares off against climate change in the Arizona desert

By Osha Davidson 04/26/23
When I arrived at Karen Nabity’s place in Arizona’s Rio Verde Foothills on a spring afternoon, she opened the door and flashed a big smile. “Oh good!” she said, laughing as she ushered me inside.…
Read more

Biden vetoes congressional bid to undo his water regulations

By Rachel Frazin 04/06/23
President Biden on Thursday vetoed an attempt by Congress to undo waterway pollution regulations put forward by his administration — marking the second veto of his presidency and effectively killing the attempt to nullify the…
Read more

The Promises—and Perils—of Ocean Desalination

By Molly Taft 04/06/23
Sean Bothwell can understand why people think desalination is a silver bullet. When he was a kid living in California’s Orange County, the ocean was always close by. It didn’t make sense to him that…
Read more

‘Nature gave us a lifeline’: Southern California refills largest reservoir in dramatic fashion

By Hayley Smith 03/29/23
Following a series of winter storms that eased drought conditions across the state, Southern Californians celebrated a sight nobody has seen for several punishing years: water rushing into Diamond Valley Lake.
Read more

It’s not just oceans that are rising. Groundwater is, too.

By Julia Kane, Lina Tran, & Diana Kruzman 03/29/23
Beneath our feet there is an invisible ocean. Within the cracks of rock slabs, sand, and soil, this water sinks, swells, and flows — sometimes just a few feet under the surface, sometimes 30,000 feet…
Read more

UN conference hears litany of water disasters linked to climate crisis

By Nina Lakhani and Oliver Milman 03/23/23
Accounts of global impact of floods, droughts and storms at New York meeting add to pressure to make water central to Cop28Water is at the heart of the climate crisis, with an increasingly dire carousel…
Read more

Highlights and images for 23 March 2023

03/23/23
The significance of the UN 2023 Water Conference was apparent as large numbers of participants streamed into the official meetings and numerous side events. The general debate in plenary took place throughout the day and…
Read more
CNN

Wall Street is thirsty for its next big investment opportunity: The West’s vanishing water

By Lucy Kafanov 03/22/23
Situated in the Sonoran Desert near the Arizona-California border is the tiny rural town of Cibola – home to roughly 300 people, depending on the season.
Read more
CNN

Global water crisis could ‘spiral out of control’ due to overconsumption and climate change, UN report warns

By Sana Noor Haq 03/22/23
The world is facing a looming global water crisis that threatens to “spiral out of control” as increased demand for water and the intensifying impacts of the climate crisis put huge pressure on water resources,…
Read more

Global fresh water demand will outstrip supply by 40% by 2030

By Fiona Harvey 03/17/23
Landmark report urges overhaul of wasteful water practices around world on eve of crucial UN summitThe world is facing an imminent water crisis, with demand expected to outstrip the supply of fresh water by 40%…
Read more

House GOP votes to overturn Biden rule on water protections

By Matthew Daly and Michael Phillis 03/09/23
The House on Thursday.........
Read more

KEY RESOURCES

Water Action Agenda

03/30/23
In March 2023 the world will come together during the UN 2023 Water Conference convened by the UN General Assembly. The parameters of the outcomes of the UN 2023 Water Conference are described in General…

Circle of Blue

02/04/22
Award-winning nonprofit journalism from the frontlines of water, food, and energy in the changing climate.

How we drained California dry

12/16/21
The wind finally blew the other way last night and kicked out the smoke from the burning Sierra. Down here in the flatland of California, we used to regard the granite mountain as a place…

State Of The Beach Report

10/31/21
Greta is known for her famous speeches before world leaders. She recently spoke at COP 26 where delegates from around the world are charged with fulfilling goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework…

Where in the World is the Water?

11/19/20
Water is the defining feature of this planet and fundamental to life as we know it. Most everyone knows that. Of course my special focus is the rise of sea level, primarily as a result of…

Science Empowering Communities In The Face Of Flooding

10/06/20
Surging Waters: Science Empowering Communities in the Face of Flooding is a report produced by AGU, a global not-for-profit scientific society dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity.

Water: A human and business priority

08/14/20
Water is the lifeblood of humanity. With it, communities thrive. But, when the supply and demand of fresh water are misaligned, the delicate environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we all rely are at…

How Is Climate Change Impacting The Water Cycle?

06/25/20
Find out how rising global temperatures affect the water cycle in our latest infographic.

Acid rain, explained

06/25/20
Acid rain describes any form of precipitation that contains high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. It can also occur in the form of snow, fog, and tiny bits of dry material that settle to…

Water for People or Nature is a False Choice

06/10/20
When the first photo of Earth was taken from Apollo 17 in 1972, few could understand the cultural impact it would have. The Blue Marble, this singular sphere floating in deep space, was the perfect…

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT H2O?

02/20/20
There’s so much to know about our H2O! Where does it come from and how does it get into our homes? How is it cleaned before we drink it? Which laws protect it? What other…

Ocean Facts

02/06/20
Get the facts about our ocean and coasts.
EWG

EWG’s Tap Water Data Base

01/01/20
Since 2012, water utilities' testing has found pollutants in Americans' tap water, according to an EWG drinking water quality analysis of 32 million state water records.

MORE NEWS

High seas treaty: historic deal to protect international waters finally reached at UN

By Karen McVeigh   03/05/23  
After almost 20 years of talks, United Nations member states agree on legal framework for parts of the ocean outside national boundaries
Read more

First look: Clean water for Texas colonias

By Ayurella Horn - Muller   01/25/23  
A new pilot initiative is tapping into solar-powered tech as a solution to the water crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people living in colonias along the U.S. and Mexico border. Driving the news: SOURCE…
Read more

The State of Green Business 2023

By Joel Makower   01/23/23  
Stay the course." That may be the key message coming out of the convulsing, confounding year that was 2022. For all that those 12 months threw at us — a still-raging pandemic, a global economic…
Read more

The New York Harbor now teems with life. Thank the Clean Water Act.

By John Waldman   12/30/22  
Dr. Waldman is a professor of biology at Queens College and the author of “Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor.”
Read more

Arizona Is in a Race to the Bottom of Its Water Wells, With Saudi Arabia’s Help

By Natalie Koch   12/26/22  
Arizona’s water is running worryingly low. Amid the worst drought in more than a millennium, which has left communities across the state with barren wells, the state is depleting what remains of its precious groundwater.…
Read more

Recently Passed Federal Funding Package Makes Investments in Natural Climate Solutions

By National Audubon Society   12/23/22  
The Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill includes important wins for climate and conservation, though fails to include important legislation that would greatly benefit wildlife.
Read more

Water as Part of the Climate Solution

By Charlie Miller   11/28/22  
A study from Sweden summarizes the enormous role water plays in climate mitigation, from wetlands that take up carbon to untreated wastewater that emits methane.
Read more

In Hunt to Solve ‘Fairy Circle’ Mystery, One Suspect Is Dismissed

By Rachel Nuwer   11/01/22  
The strange, barren spots pepper the vast Namib Desert, which stretches from southern Angola to northern South Africa. They are known as “fairy circles,” and for a natural phenomenon with such a whimsical name, scientific…
Read more

Supreme Court to hear high-stakes challenge to Clean Water Act

By Maxine Joselow and Vanessa Montalbano   09/30/22  
Monday marks the first day of the Supreme Court's new term, and the justices are wasting no time in weighing another challenge to one of the nation's bedrock environmental laws.
Read more

Wildfires are burning higher in the West, threatening water supplies

By Joshua Partlow   09/22/22  
Two years ago, a wildfire started burning in Colorado’s Arapaho National Forest. Fanned by high winds and parched conditions, the East Troublesome fire raced up the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, at one point crossing…
Read more

Jackson’s Water Crisis Is a Climate Justice Wake-Up Call

By Alajandro De La Garza   09/15/22  
n Jackson, Miss., residents were already boiling their water for a month before their taps ran dry at the end of August. That’s when floodwaters from heavy rain overwhelmed the city’s fragile water treatment system,…
Read more

Disconnected and ‘dehumanized’: How thousands across Phoenix survive without running water

By Zayna Syed   09/11/22  
Tim Wiedman caught COVID-19 last December. A few days later, he developed bronchitis. A double whammy, he called it. The illnesses sapped his energy so much that, for six weeks, he could barely get off…
Read more

Racism Robbed This Historically Black California Town of Its Water. Now, They’re Developing Water of Their Own

By Teresa Cotsirilos   09/09/22  
Valeria Contreras’ phone started ringing on a bustling Saturday last February, when she was driving past almond and pistachio orchards on an errand run. Some callers sounded panicked. Others were just upset. "Where’s the water?"…
Read more

Facing ‘dead pool’ risk, California braces for painful water cuts from Colorado River

By Ian James   09/04/22  
California water districts are under growing pressure to shoulder substantial water cutbacks as the federal government pushes for urgent solutions to prevent the Colorado River’s badly depleted reservoirs from reaching dangerously low levels.
Read more

California is throwing some shade at its water crisis

By Alex Fitzpatrick   09/01/22  
An innovative plan to conserve water by covering aqueducts with solar panels is about to undergo testing in drought-stricken California. Why it matters: Water is becoming more precious by the day in the Golden State…
Read more

Mississippi Crisis Highlights Climate Threat to Drinking Water Nationwide

By Christopher Flavelle and Others   09/01/22  
Flash floods, wildfires and hurricanes are easy to recognize as ravages of a fast-changing climate. But now, climate change has also emerged as a growing threat to clean, safe drinking water across the country.
Read more

The Fight Over The Colorado River’s Water Is A Symbol Of The Larger Climate Crisis

By Alejandro De La Garza   08/29/22  
There’s something familiar about the high stakes water use drama playing out in the U.S. Southwest. The mighty Colorado River serves as an economic artery of the region, powering massive hydroelectric dams and supplying water…
Read more

Ranchers told to stop diverting water in drought-hit area

08/24/22  
California has warned a group of farmers and ranchers near the Oregon state line to stop diverting water from an area already wracked by extreme drought and a wildfire that killed tens of thousands of…
Read more

Feds cut Colorado River allocation to Arizona, Nevada as talks fail

By Ground News   08/16/22  
The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people across seven states in the American West as well as Mexico. Cities and farms across the region are anxiously awaiting official hydrology projections of future water…
Read more

A New Round of Colorado River Cuts Is Announced

By Henry Fountain   08/16/22  
With water levels in the Colorado River near their lowest point ever, Arizona and Nevada on Tuesday faced new restrictions on the amount of water they can pump out of the river, the most important…
Read more

In America’s fastest-growing metro, a rising fear water will run out

By Karin Brulliard   08/15/22  
A century after her grandfather arrived to eke a living out of the hot, red dirt here, Susan Savage still structures her life around the groundwater. Twice daily, she checks the well her family’s pasturelands,…
Read more

With California expected to lose 10% of its water within 20 years, Newsom calls for urgent action

By Ian James   08/11/22  
With California enduring historic drought amplified by global warming, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a new plan to adapt to the state’s hotter, drier future by capturing and storing more water, recycling more wastewater…
Read more

As Drought Hits Farms, Investors Lay Claim to Colorado Water

By Jennifer Oldham   08/10/22  
Michael Jones ducked under an idle sprinkler and strode across the sandy soil where he planned to plant drought-resistant crops, hoping to save water amid the driest period in more than 1,200 years. For the…
Read more

Saltwater toilets, desperate wildlife: Water-starved Catalina Island battles against drought

By Hayley Smith   08/05/22  
Island-dweller Lori Snell grimaced as she tallied her bill recently at the Avalon Laundry — nearly $50 for three large loads. “It’s always an adventure to live in Catalina,” said Snell, 64. “It’s a joy,…
Read more

See How Far Water Levels in Lake Mead Have Fallen

By Winston Choi-Schagrin   07/22/22  
In 2000, Lake Mead was full of deep, midnight-blue water that flooded the banks of the rivers that fed it. But 20 years later, it has shrunken drastically. And its basins are lighter, too, almost…
Read more

Revealed: US water likely contains more ‘forever chemicals’ than EPA tests show

By Tom Perkins   07/06/22  
A Guardian analysis of water samples from around the United States shows that the type of water testing relied on by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so limited in scope that it is…
Read more

As the Great Salt Lake dries up, Utah faces an ‘environmental nuclear bomb’

By Christopher Flavelle   06/07/22  
Climate change and rapid population growth are shrinking the lake, creating a bowl of toxic dust that could poison the air around Salt Lake City.
Read more

Colorado River: Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest”

06/03/22  
Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” and one of the most heavily regulated rivers in the world, the Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland…
Read more

Megadrought causes perilously low water levels at Lake Mead

06/03/22  
The megadrought currently choking the western United States is the worst drought in the region in more than 1,000 years. It's having an enormous impact across many states and on several major reservoirs including Lake…
Read more

Why a Global Price on Freshwater Might be Needed in the Climate Change Era

By Ciara Nugent   05/31/22  
Do you pay for the water you use? The answer may seem like an obvious “yes”—you probably get a water bill every month, charging you a cent or two for every gallon that comes out…
Read more

As pollution worsens on Cape Cod, some are investing hopes in a new type of septic system

By David Abel   05/17/22  
For years, pollution from septic systems has spawned algae blooms, toxic bacteria, and a putrid scum coating the waters of Cape Cod, destroying vital ecosystems, contributing to coastal erosion, and harming tourism.
Read more

The Colorado River is in crisis, and it’s getting worse every day

By Erin Patrick O'Connor   05/14/22  
It is a powerhouse: a 1,450-mile waterway that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, serving 40 million people in seven U.S. states, 30 federally recognized tribes and Mexico. It hydrates 5…
Read more

Far from Lake Powell, drought punishes another Western dam

By Sammy Roth   05/12/22  
Water is flowing through two of three hydropower turbines in a blockish building at the base of Flaming Gorge Dam, so I can feel the floor buzzing — vibrations pulsating through my body — as…
Read more

Colorado River drought may be the ‘new normal’ and living with it will be costly, leaders say

By Brandon Loomis   05/07/22  
Arizona needs to rapidly invest in both water conservation and new supplies to offset losses from a shrinking Colorado River, the state’s top water officials warned Friday.
Read more

As drought crisis deepens, government will release less water from Colorado River reservoir

By Ian James   05/03/22  
After years of severe drought compounded by climate change, the water level in Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir on the Colorado River, has dropped to just 24% of full capacity and is continuing to decline…
Read more

California declares historic water emergency measures amid drought

By Kasha Patel and Jason Samenow   04/27/22  
The historically severe drought in Southern California has compelled one of its water suppliers to implement “emergency” conservation measures for the first time that will affect about 6 million people.
Read more

Climate Change Is Intensifying the Global Water Cycle

By Theo Nicitopoulos   03/25/22  
Human-induced climate change is warming the planet and, in turn, enabling our atmosphere to hold more moisture. The magnitude and extent of this shift are challenging to see on a global scale, but its effects…
Read more

As Lake Powell Hits Landmark Low, Arizona Looks to a $1 Billion Investment and Mexican Seawater to Slake its Thirst

By Aydali Campa   03/23/22  
During his last year in office, Gov. Doug Ducey is trying to create a legacy of water security in drought-stricken Arizona. But his most ambitious effort in that quest could end up being in Mexico.
Read more

Where Rising Seas Threaten Drinking Water, Scientists Look for Affordable Solutions

By Daniel Cusick   03/17/22  
Rising oceans bring more than high tides and nuisance flooding to coastal zones. They also carry salt water into inland aquifers where dissolved salts can spoil drinking water.
Read more
EPA

EPA Releases New Memo Outlining Strategy to Equitably Deliver Clean Water Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

03/08/22  
Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum to guide collaborative implementation with state, local, and Tribal partners of $43 billion in water infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. President Biden, with…
Read more

The Top Water Takeaways From the IPCC Report

By Kate Zerrenner   03/04/22  
Climate and water are inextricably linked. Yet conversations and reporting about the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability tend to hide it in the findings. A closer…
Read more

US west ‘megadrought’ is worst in at least 1,200 years, new study says

By Gabrielle Canon   02/15/22  
The American west has spent the last two decades in what scientists are now saying is the most extreme megadrought in at least 1,200 years. In a new study, published on Monday, researchers also noted…
Read more
NPR

Study finds Western megadrought is the worst in 1,200 years

By Nathan Rott   02/14/22  
Shrunk reservoirs. Depleted aquifers. Low rivers. Raging wildfires. It's no secret that the Western U.S. is in a severe drought. New research published Monday shows just how extreme the situation has become...
Read more

Why climate change talk must focus on water, not just carbon

By Mridula Ramesh   02/13/22  
Nothing works like clarity in getting things done. And the world needs to get down its carbon emissions to keep it habitable for most of us in the not-too-distant future. Naturally, then, most climate conversations…
Read more

A bitter feud centers on source of Arrowhead bottled water

By Ian James   01/20/22  
High in the San Bernardino Mountains, water seeps from the ground and trickles down the mountainside among granite boulders and bay laurel trees.Near this dribbling spring, water gushes through a system of tunnels and boreholes,…
Read more

A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry

By Maria L. La Ganga, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee and Ian James   12/16/21  
Vicki McDowell woke up on a Saturday morning in May, thinking about what she would make her son for breakfast. He was visiting from Hayward, and she wanted to whip up something special. Biscuits and…
Read more

Up to 1 million gallons of water … a night? That’s par for some desert golf courses

By Steve Lopez   10/09/21  
Doug Thompson couldn’t believe what he’d just been told. His wife, a botanist, was advising a Coachella Valley country club on drought-resistant landscaping, and Thompson, who got to talking with the groundskeeper, asked how much…
Read more

Water Shortages Threaten the Economy and Our Food Supply

By Fiona Burlig, Louis Preonas, Matt Woerman   10/04/21  
This summer, around the world, we didn’t just read about climate change; we lived it. Extreme heat baked the usually temperate Pacific Northwest. Wildfires raged in the Western United States, Canada, the Mediterranean, and Siberia.…
Read more

Desalination can make saltwater drinkable — but it won’t solve the U.S. water crisis

By Michael Birnbaum   09/28/21  
Anybody with a 5-year-old’s knowledge of geography might come up against this conundrum: There’s a water shortage in the Western United States. Right next door, there’s the Pacific Ocean. Why can’t we take some of…
Read more

Water Crisis In The West, v5.0 — The Colorado River Story

By Arthur Keith   08/25/21  
Well, folks, it happened, but it comes as no surprise. The Federal Government has officially declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time in history.
Read more