Can mushrooms help clean up oil spills? Can oysters filter sewage pollution? Industrial waste is being injected into the planet’s soil and water as a result of human activity. Pioneers in the field of conservation and sustainability are employing nature’s own biological task force to help clean up.
How can we overcome the main challenges we face in our urban wastewater systems today? Are there opportunities to improve sustainability in water treatment systems in US cities to support local food security?
Across the globe, 2 out of 10 people do not have access to safe drinking water, and in the U.S., many states face water shortages and droughts. As the global population continues to grow and climate change results in more water crises, where will we find enough water to meet our needs?
It’s a case of finding a use for what was thought of as waste. Sewage treatment processes produce methane and nitrous oxide, both greenhouse gasses, while leaving undesirably high levels of nitrogen in the discharged water. On their own, all three of these things are harmful to the environment. Stanford University reports that a team has found a way to take those unwanted waste gasses and use them to 1) reduce the amount of nitrogen in the water, 2) produce an alternative energy source and 3) dispose of the nitrous oxide cleanly – by using it as rocket fuel, in fact.
According to the Delaware River Basin Commission, over 15 million people—about five percent of the nation’s population–rely on the Delaware River Basin for “drinking, agricultural, and industrial use.” New York City alone gets half its water from reservoirs located on tributaries of the Delaware. It’s no understatement, then, to suggest that the commission—a regional body [...]
Recent research, according to the New York Times, indicates that urban areas are about to get hotter – much hotter. Not exactly what blistering New Yorkers want to hear after one of the more brutal, record-breaking heat waves in memory. Of course climatologists (and most of the rest of us) have known for a long [...]
A story by Dan Egan in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 6, 2010 pulls together threads of sewage, drinking water, commerce, ecosystem deterioration, politics, health, geography, and Asian carp to create a picture of how big a mess we humans are capable of making for ourselves.
The good news is that the migratory birds and resident marine life of Jamaica Bay may be getting a reprieve. In February, Mayor Bloomberg, the State Environmental Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council announced an agreement that would improve water quality and preserve the wetlands of Jamaica Bay. The Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan commits to restoring degraded marshlands and reducing nitrogen discharge into the bay by 50 percent over the next ten years at a cost of $115 million to the city alone. Federal funds and resources are expected to supplement the project.
I recently took a trip to the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn to visit its infamously polluted (and smelly) canal. After decades of controversy, the Environmental Protection Agency recently named the canal as a Superfund site—one of the few such designations in an inner-urban area. In its report, the EPA found that the Gowanus Canal “has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies,” with contaminants including “PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics.”
The Green Policy and Environmental Policy Discussion Group of the The New York Academy of Science and the Columbia Water Center are sponsoring a panel discussion on The True Cost of Water on May 6. The focus of this panel discussion is the importance of economic optimization of water usage in the present and in the future to establish long-term sustainability of water resources.