Water

A domestic rainwater harvesting system from Atlantis, an international company that engineers systems to capture rainfall and runoff, and other “green” infrastructure.

An Ancient Tool Holds Promise for Modern Water Problems

The potential effectiveness of harvesting rainwater to bolster water supply and reduce potentially polluting runoff varies greatly from place to place, even within a particular city or neighborhood. Now researchers at the Columbia Water Center have developed a tool to assess the potential of rainwater harvesting throughout the United States.

by |March 22, 2017
A worker walks down the damaged roadway near the Oroville Dam emergency spillway. The California Department of Water Resources continues to examine and repair the erosion with more than 125 construction crews working around the clock. Photo: Brian Baer/ California Department of Water Resources

Oroville Dam Crisis is a Call to Action on U.S. Water Infrastructure

Columbia Water Center director Upmanu Lall suggests that we see the Oroville crisis as a call to action to evaluate and address the challenges facing the nation’s dam infrastructure.

by |February 20, 2017
Lead-In-School-Water

The Importance of Regulating Lead in Drinking Water

Many schools are being tested for lead in their water. But what about the libraries, hospitals, offices and old apartment buildings? As I observe the new president and his EPA designee, I worry about the adverse effect deregulating environmental protection would have on our families. There is more work to do if we are to truly understand the impact of human technology on the environment and public health.

by |February 6, 2017
The Animas River between Silverton and Durango in Colorado, USA, within 24 hours of the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. Photo: Riverhugger/Creative Commons

Why Are Mines Still Polluting? The Money’s Not There

Across the nation, abandoned mine sites continue to pollute the environment for decades as acid mine drainage flows into rivers and streams. A 1980 law was supposed to fix that, but lack of funding and enforcement have left the public stuck with the bill.

by |December 20, 2016

Earth Institute 2017 Calendar Now Available

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we asked members of the Earth Institute community to submit photographs for a 2017 wall calendar highlighting our work. Watch a slide show of some of the submissions. Donate $25 or more and we’ll send you the calendar.

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Spy Satellites Reveal the Himalayas’ Changing Glaciers – in 3D

Declassified spy satellite images are beginning to provide the first consistent look at how glaciers across the Himalayas are changing and what future water supplies might look like for millions of people.

by |December 12, 2016

Sustainable Development Fall 2016 Workshop Briefings

By Chandler Precht On December 9, 2016, students in the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development presented practical solutions to sustainability issues and challenges faced by real world clients. Under the guidance of Professor Stuart Gaffin and Professor Radley Horton, the Capstone Workshop offers students a chance to convey the knowledge and theories gained throughout their time in the… read more

by |December 10, 2016
Photo: Luis LuCheng / flickr

Water Quality Concerns Extend Well Beyond Flint

Researchers at the Columbia Water Center have been analyzing trends in drinking water quality violations. A critical lesson is that water quality violations extend well beyond the problem of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

by |November 2, 2016
Hoover Dam. Photo: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Dammed Funding for U.S. Dams

Across the nation, large-scale water infrastructure such as dams have provided a multitude of services, from electric power and water reservoirs to flood control and containment of pollution. But federal investments in large water infrastructure projects have largely been curtailed over the past few decades.

by |October 12, 2016
Scientists test the water at Lake Tear of the Clouds, high in the Adirondacks of New York. Their testing at the source of the mighty Hudson River in August 2016 was part of a full-river health check from its headwaters to the ocean. Photo: Andy Juhl/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

How Safe is the Hudson? Scientists Test the River, Adirondacks to Ocean

A team of scientists conducted an unprecedented health check of the entire Hudson River system, from its source to New York Harbor. This is what they found.

by |August 31, 2016