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

KEY RESOURCES

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

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…

A New Round of Colorado River Cuts Is Announced

By Henry Fountain  Photo: caitlin Ochs, Reuters   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…

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

By Karin Brulliard  Photo: Bridget Bennett, The Washington Post   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,…

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…

As Drought Hits Farms, Investors Lay Claim to Colorado Water

By Jennifer Oldham  Photo: Sarah Gilman   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…

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

By Hayley Smith  Photo: Francine Orr   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,…

See How Far Water Levels in Lake Mead Have Fallen

By Winston Choi-Schagrin  Photo: David Becker, Reuters   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…

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

By Tom Perkins  Photo: Massimo Percossi/EPA   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…

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

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Bryan Tarnowski   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.

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…

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…

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

By Ciara Nugent  Photo: Natalie Behring , Getty Images   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…

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

By David Abel  Photo: Jonathan Wiggs , Globe Staff   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.

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

By Erin Patrick O'Connor  Photo: Matt McClain   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…

Far from Lake Powell, drought punishes another Western dam

By Sammy Roth  Photo: Robert Gauthier , Los Angeles Times   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…

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

By Brandon Loomis  Photo: Mark Henle   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.

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

By Ian James  Photo : Luis Sinco , Los Angeles Times   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…

California declares historic water emergency measures amid drought

By Kasha Patel and Jason Samenow  Photo: Nathan Howard , AP   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.

Climate Change Is Intensifying the Global Water Cycle

By Theo Nicitopoulos  Photo: Donvictorio , Shutterstock   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…

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

By Aydali Campa  Photo: David McNew/Getty Images   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.

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

By Daniel Cusick  Photo: Patrick T. Fallon , Getty Images   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.
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…

The Top Water Takeaways From the IPCC Report

By Kate Zerrenner  Photo: Fabio Santaniello Bruun and Nathan Dumlao   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…

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

By Gabrielle Canon  Photo: Patrick T Fallon/Getty Images   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…
NPR

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

By Nathan Rott  Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR   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...

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

By Mridula Ramesh  Photo: Shutterstock   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…

A bitter feud centers on source of Arrowhead bottled water

By Ian James  Photo: Allen J. Schaben   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,…

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

By Maria L. La Ganga, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee and Ian James  Photo: Irfan Khan   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…

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

By Steve Lopez  Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times   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…

Water Shortages Threaten the Economy and Our Food Supply

By Fiona Burlig, Louis Preonas, Matt Woerman  Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images   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.…

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

By Michael Birnbaum  Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis/Getty Images   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…

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

By Arthur Keith  Photo: Ricardo Frantz   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.
ICF

How nature-based infrastructure builds climate resiliency

By Susan Asam and others   08/25/21  
Here's how to use nature-based solutions to build climate resiliency into infrastructure, and take advantage of anticipated new funding sources. In recognition of the worsening climate crisis, President Biden and Congress are negotiating a deal…

Tennessee floods show a pressing climate danger across America: ‘Walls of water’

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/AP   08/23/21  
Then the weekend happened. More than 17 inches of rain fell in a single day on Saturday, overtopping the region’s many rivers and submerging places not previously considered floodplains within a matter of hours. Rice’s…

With drought worsening, should California have much tougher water restrictions?

By Ari Plachta  Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times   07/15/21  
When Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to voluntarily conserve water last week as he stood in front of the retreating shoreline at Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County, some must have had déjà vu. It was…

Another ‘red tide’ left 15 tons of dead fish on Tampa Bay’s shore, and experts warn of more destruction

By Julian Mark  Photo: Martha Asencio-Rhine   07/12/21  
The dead fish have been washing up on the shores of Tampa Bay in West Central Florida since at least early June, thanks to a natural phenomenon known as “red tide” — large “blooms” of…
WSJ

Panama Canal Tackles Climate-Change Puzzle: Too Little Rainwater or Too Much

By Santiago Perez   06/28/21  
The Panama Canal faces a creeping threat from climate change, including droughts so intense that ships sometimes reduce their cargo so as not to run aground, and giant storms that almost overwhelm its dams and…

Explosive Growth of Toxic Algae Threatens Water Supplies Across US

By Leanna First-Arai  Photo: Zbigniew Bzdak   06/28/21  
With a vast portion of the United States coping with exceptional drought this summer, conditions are ripe in many places for harmful algal blooms, bringing additional threats to already-stressed water systems and increased health risks…

The American West: Long on People, Short on Water

By Arthur Keith  Photo: Arthur Keith   06/26/21  
Have you ever been in the midst of writing (or reading) a story where the context changes so fast you constantly have to revise or question the data? Climate change is one of those topics.…

Wildfires Threaten Urban Water Supplies, Long After the Flames Are Out

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen   06/25/21  
Wrangling a 25-foot-long tube of straw up a steep hillside studded with charred pine trees, three volunteer workers placed it in a shallow trench that had been dug along the slope. Locked in place with…

Satellites capture startling images of depleting reservoirs that serve nearly 75 million Americans

By Stacy Liberatore  Photo: Getty Images   06/14/21  
New satellite images reveal how badly western US reservoirs have been depleted as a result of the mega-drought plaguing much of that region, impacting millions. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite captured alarming images…

Our Love of Living Near Water Persists Despite the Dangers

By Mark Ellwood  Photo: Christopher Capozziello   06/09/21  
When Jaqui Lividini saw the house, she was instantly smitten: A cottage built in 1901, it was one of just three on the peninsula of Haycock Point on Long Island Sound in Connecticut, just east…

International Cutting-Edge SWOT Satellite to Survey the World’s Water

05/06/21  
How much water sloshes around in Earth’s lakes, rivers, and oceans? And how does that figure change over time? The upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission plans to find out. Targeting a late-2022…

Crisis in Jackson Shows Why Water Investments Are Needed Now

By Kate Zerrenner   03/22/21  
Last week, more than a month after storms crippled the water system in the city, Jackson, Mississippi lifted its boil water notice. What on the surface appear to be a precautionary measure takes on a…
NPR

Known For Its Floods, Louisiana Is Running Dangerously Short Of Groundwater

By Tegan Wendland and Austin R. Ramsey  Photo: Austin R. Ramsey   03/19/21  
Louisiana is known for its losing battle against rising seas and increasingly frequent floods. It can sometimes seem like the state has too much water. But the aquifers deep beneath its swampy landscape face a…

Climate Change is Worsening Water Scarcity: How Business Can Help

By Kate Zerrenner   03/18/21  
About 4 billion people live in water-stressed areas and face severe water scarcity during at least one month each year. Over a billion more — including 1 in 4 children — will live in areas…

Scientists see stronger evidence of slowing Atlantic Ocean circulation, an ‘Achilles’ heel’ of the climate

By Chris Mooney and Andrew Freedman  Photo by Maja Hitij   02/25/21  
A growing body of evidence suggests that a massive change is underway in the sensitive circulation system of the Atlantic Ocean, a group of scientists said Thursday. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a system…

How this proposed constitutional amendment — Amendment D — protects water users

By Brian Maffly  Photo by Rick Bowme   10/22/20  
For decades, some of Utah’s larger cities have been in the retail water delivery business, building service areas that stretch far outside their municipal boundaries.

Ohio’s Beaches Get ‘F’ Grade On New Report

By Chris Mosby  Photo by Rick Uldricks   10/21/20  
Ohio's stretch of Great Lakes beaches received an "F" grade in a new report. The Surfrider Foundation's annual State of the Beach report issues letter grades (like a school report card) to beaches across the…

Deadly bacteria lurk in coastal waters. Climate change increases the risks

Illustration: Joanna Eberts   10/20/20  
Health workers see Vibrio as a rare danger, if they’ve heard of it at all. But it’s already causing more cases of flesh-eating disease. And it’s poised to get worse.