Water

Map of flood and drought exposure in transboundary river basins

Report Assesses Risks to World’s Shared River Basins

Risks for the world’s Transboundary River Basins are projected to increase in the next 15–30 years, particularly in four hotspot regions: the Middle East, Central Asia, the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin, and the Orange and Limpopo basins in Southern Africa.

Sign protesting the development of the Tia Maria mine in the south of Peru. Thousands of protesters have marched against the mine's approval, with police clashes leading to several deaths over the years. Photo: Madison Condon

Project Calculates the Cost of Social Conflict

The Columbia Water Center is undertaking a three-year project to quantitatively assess mining-related water and environmental risks and their financial implications.

by |April 18, 2016
Chuquicamata, located in the north of Chile, is the largest open pit copper mine in the world by excavated volume. Photo: Madison Condon

When Environmental Oversight Takes a Back Seat

The government of Peru faces significant pressure to encourage growth and investment in the mining sector, but this has also put pressure on the government’s ability to properly assess environmental impacts.

by |April 15, 2016
Jhohora Akhter, 30, of Iruain village, draws water from the family well, which is contaminated with arsenic. Jhohora’s mother Jahanara Begum died of arsenic-related health conditions. Her father suffers from diabetes, an illness associated with chronic arsenic exposure. Her brother Ruhul Amin also suffers arsenic-related health conditions. Photo: © 2016 Atish Saha for Human Rights Watch

Report Charges ‘Nepotism and Neglect’ on Bangladesh Arsenic Poisoning

Two decades after arsenic was found to be contaminating drinking water across Bangladesh, tens of millions of people are still exposed to the deadly chemical. Now a new report from the group Human Rights Watch charges that the Bangladesh government “is failing to adequately respond” to the issue, and that political favoritism and neglect have corrupted the government’s efforts.

by |April 7, 2016
The State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Photo: roamandshoot

Californians Are Ready for Recycled Water

Water reuse is a proven technology that can produce a drought-proof sustainable water supply. Yet historically, there has been some reluctance to adopt it here in the United States. Xylem commissioned a poll to try to better understand perceptions about recycled water in drought-stricken California. And the findings were eye-opening.

by |March 18, 2016
In Porgera, many of the local rivers pass through or near a gold mine. The Kakai River and its tributaries are some of the most heavily impacted. Photo: Joshua Fisher

Drought in Papua New Guinea Heightens Tensions over Gold Mine

In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, tensions between local villagers and a gold mining operation over access to clean water are being heightened by a prolonged drought.

by |March 14, 2016
CWC video 2016

Watch: Building Solutions for Water Challenges

From aging and leaky pipes to pollution and shrinking aquifers, America’s water infrastructure faces a growing set of challenges. A new video describes how the America’s Water Initiative, a program based at the Columbia Water Center, is trying to address those issues.

by |March 8, 2016
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Flint Crisis Opens Door on Water Problems Around U.S.

Experts from the Columbia Water Center, the Earth Institute and affiliates talk about the municipal water crisis in Flint, Mich., the nature of the crisis and what it means for America’s Water.

by |February 15, 2016
American Samoa  Photo: XLCatlinSeaviewSurvey

#100. Taking a Fresh Look at Five Issues

This is the 100th blog I’ve written for the State of the Planet. It seemed like a good occasion to take a look at my five most popular blogs to see what has changed in the years since they were written. Is the news better or worse for seawater greenhouses, plastic pollution, turning wastewater into drinking water, coral reefs and rare earth metals?

by |January 14, 2016
1862 Flooding in California

With El Niño, Be Careful What You Wish for

In Southern California, a strong El Niño usually signals rain. Given that California is now in the throes of a severe drought, it seems like that should be a good thing, even if it comes with risk of floods. But the reality of climate is more complex and counter-intuitive than it first appears.

by |November 16, 2015