You and storm water: A major source of pollution

How would you feel if you knew that you and your neighbors are the biggest source of water pollution in the U.S.? Well, it’s true.

It’s generally not intentional, but each day we all do things that add up to one big problem.

Storm water runoff is just what it sounds like: water from rain or snowmelt that flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, streets and parking lots prevent storm water from being absorbed into the ground, contributing to the flow of runoff.

Storm water flows downhill to the nearest storm drain. What most people don’t understand is that anything that enters a storm drain flows untreated into a nearby creek, river or lake. These rivers and lakes are the source of drinking water to 85 percent of Americans and a valued resource for swimming, boating or fishing for all of us.

Our lifestyles contribute to many sources of pollution that end up in storm water runoff.

Litter is one way we pollute our water. Yes, it’s unsightly but it can also harm or kill aquatic life such as fish, turtles, ducks and birds. All of these creatures contribute to maintaining a healthy eco-system.

Excess nutrients are a major source of contamination. When we use too much fertilizer on our lawn and garden or apply it right before a heavy rain, the excess is picked up by storm water runoff and dumped into our waterways. The over-load of nutrients causes algae to bloom. These so called ‘algae blooms’ remove needed oxygen from the water, choking the life from vital water creatures that help maintain the quality of that waterway.

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Celebrate World Water Day: Watch “The Story of Bottled Water”

Annie Leonard, creator of the hit internet film “The Story of Stuff” has done it again — she’s put together another great film about the “Story of Bottled Water,” which couldn’t be more useful right now. Today is World Water Day — time to stop and think about the billions without safe drinking water and adequate sanitation — and the hypocrisy of rich nations’ addiction to bottled water, when we have clean water for virtually nothing.

Instead of putting our money in the pockets to multinational water bottlers, let’s put our resources toward helping to provide the infrastructure and funding necessary to provide clean, affordable water for everyone.

Watch Leonard’s video and you can see why this is a necessity now:

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Kutztown students learn planting trees helps keep drinking water clean

Dozens of students from the Kutztown School District learned about their local watershed Thursday while getting their hands dirty, too.
The students took part in a tree-planting day held by the Berks County Conservancy at the Kutztown Borough Farm, which serves as the source for the borough’s drinking water.

The conservancy expects to plant 442 trees on the site to reduce soil runoff entering the Sacony Creek.

Last year the conservancy, with the help of Kutztown school kids, planted 860 trees on the property.

After the tree planting, students were given a tour of the borough’s water treatment plant to help them understand where their water comes from.

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Water Quality, Scarcity Increasingly Becoming Business Risks

Water has been predicted as “the next big thing” in environmental issues for a while now, and the prediction looks to be coming true.

Amid concerns that climate change and a growing global population are putting pressure on an already scarce resource, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) announced this week that it is calling on companies to begin reporting on their water use as well as their carbon emissions.

As is the case with CDP’s work on greenhouse gas emissions, the call for reporting comes not from the organization itself but from the hundreds of investors it works with worldwide, which means water has become not just an environmental issue but also a business risk.

It’s a point that echoes the results of a report issued earlier this year by the investor network Ceres. Entitled “Water Scarcity and Climate Change,” the report highlights the business risks associated with water scarcity in general and pinpoints a handful of particularly vulnerable industries, namely the electric, agriculture, beverage and high tech industries

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Dirty Water Kills A Child Every 20 Seconds

Monday the 22nd, World Water Day, marked the launch of World Water Week 2010 – not a bad time to check in on the liquid state of things here on planet earth. Established during the United Nations Environment Programme’s 1992 conference in Rio de Janeiro, World Water Day takes a different theme each year. Last year’s was “transboundary waters: sharing water, sharing opportunities.” Before that (2008) was “sanitation,” and before that (2007) was “copinng with water scarcity.” This year, the UN decided to return to a 2008-reminiscent, sanitation-related theme, with “clean water for a healthy world.”

The UN has chosen to quasi-return to a just-used theme because the situation is so dire: more people are losing their lives today to dirty water than to war and violence, and every 20 seconds, a child dies from water contamination and poor access to clean water.

“Day after day,” read UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s statement on Monday, “we pour millions of tons of untreated sewage and industrial and agricultural wastes into the world’s water systems. Clean water has become scarce and will become even scarcer with the onset of climate change. And the poor continue to suffer first and most from pollution, water shortages and the lack of adequate sanitation.”

And water contamination isn’t just a third world issue. Earlier this month, about 117 million Americans may have seen the glasses of (relatively) clean drinking water swiped right out of their hands. The Clean Water Act, one of our country’s most important pieces of environmental legislation, had just been debilitated by a terrifying Supreme Court decision – the court had undermined the EPA’s power to regulate where major polluting companies can and can’t dump their industrial byproduct and sludge. It was a major step backwards in American environmental legislation, and does not bode well for the future of drinking water quality across our nation. Industrial sludge in drinking water won’t take a life as quickly as will a fatal case of diarrhea acquired in Kibera slum, Nairobi, but it can certainly set the wheels in motion.

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Survey Finds Americans Rank Polluted Drinking Water as Top Environmental Concern

There is not as much red-hot interest in global warming as you might think.

When it comes to the environment, Americans are most concerned about water, according to a new Gallup survey. But it is also interesting that Americans are generally less worried about all environmental issues than they were a year ago. Gallup said that for some environmental issues, the percentage of Americans who “worry a great deal” has dropped to a 20-year low. You can click here to see a breakdown of people’s environmental concerns.

Of the eight environmental issues mentioned, water-related issues were the top three; global warming was at the bottom. Gallup said it could be that economic issues have squeezed environmental issues out of our list of things to worry about for now.

Generally, Gallup said, Americans believe the environment is improving. The No. 1 concern about water for the last 20 years has been pollution of drinking water.

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Bottled Water or Tap? Which is Better for You?

Clean, fresh water is essential in our lives – something that we often take for granted. In fact, up to 70% of our body is water! There are many different types of water. When you walk into any grocery store, there are different brands of bottled waters lined up in the refrigerators. Yikes! How to tell them apart? Speaking of bottled water, a popular debate amongst everyone is whether bottled water or tap water has more benefits.

Okay, ready for the different types of water?

1. Spring Water refers to water collected from a spring, or in other words “an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth”. A popular brand of spring water is the Poland Spring Water.

2. Sparkling Water is the fizzy kind – the kind that fizzles in your mouth!! The reason it fizzles is because sparkling water contains the same amount of carbon dioxide in the water as when it first emerged from its source. How fun! Perrier is a brand of sparkling water.

3. Artesian Water refers to water that came from a well in which its water level is above the aquifer. It’s underground and bears layer of rock or sand. Confused? Well, an example of artesian water is the Fiji Natural Artesian Water, where it’s taken from an aquifer beneath volcanic highlands on the main island of Viti Levu.

4. Mineral Water refers to water that contains no less than 250ppm of dissolved minerals. In addition, the proportions of mineral and trace elements are constant and relatively proportional at the point of emergence of the source. In other words, no additional minerals were added to the water. A brand of mineral water is Highland Spring Natural Mineral Water.

5. Purified Water is water that had its bacteria and “dissolved solids” removed by some process such as distillation, deionization, or reverse osmosis – thus, purifying it. Aquafina® by PepsiCo is a brand of purified water.

6. Municipal Water is not bottled water. It’s basically water piped into your home. Municipal water must meet the strict standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It can then be filtered at home.

Now, which one is better? Bottled water or filtered water? Some people argued bottled water is better because they see it as “safer”. Also, bottled water is a preferred choice if filtered tap water carries with it some off-flavors or odors. However, tap water that’s tested by the Environmental Protection Agency is safe in terms of chemical or bacteriological safety. According to the Earth Policy Institute, it costs about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles. Did you know that’s enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year? Yikes! Also, nearly 80% of the water bottles are not recycled, leading to the clogging up of landfills. If you think about it another way, if the average cost of a water bottle is around $1, and an average American drinks an average of around 160 bottles a year, you can save $160 if you filter your water!!! Then you can use that $160 to relax at the spa, go on a big shopping spree, etc.

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Dirty water kills more people than war: UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon challenged world leaders Monday to ensure that all people have access to safe drinking water, saying more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.

“Clean water has become scarce and will become even scarcer with the onset of climate change,” the U.N. chief warned in a message coinciding with World Water Day.

Every day, millions of tons of untreated sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are poured into the world’s water systems, and it is the poor who “continue to suffer first and most from pollution, water shortages and the lack of adequate sanitation,” Ban said.–dirty-water-kills-more-people-than-war-un

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Water Shortages Continue to Threaten the World’s Growing Population

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The lack of clean drinking water is a major problem worldwide.  The World Health Organization says more than one billion people live in areas where renewable water resources are not available. The problem is especially serious in Asia and the Pacific. A United Nations report says water availability in that area is the second lowest in the world, after Africa.

Nearly seven hundred thousand people in Asia and the Pacific lack safe drinking water. The U.N. report notes that the world’s poorest countries are also the ones that use the most water for agriculture. Agriculture uses about eighty percent of the water in the Asia-Pacific area.  There has also been an increase in water used for industry. China and India more than tripled their industrial water use between nineteen ninety-two and two thousand two.

The lack of clean drinking water around the world forces millions of people to drink unsafe water. This leads to an increase in diseases like diarrhea, the second leading cause of death in children under five. Floods, droughts, pollution and climate change have created even more problems.

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EPA administrator announces new policies for safe drinking water

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced Monday that the agency is making several changes to current drinking water policies in an effort to reduce water contamination.

The new strategy seeks to promote cost-effective technologies to meet the needs of rural, urban and other water-stressed communities, according to a press release.

“To confront emerging health threats, strained budgets and increased needs — today’s and tomorrow’s drinking water challenges — we must use the law more effectively and promote new technologies,” Jackson said in a release. “That means fostering innovation that can increase cost-effective protection. It means finding win-win-win solutions for our health our environment and our economy. And it means broad collaboration. To make our drinking water systems work harder, we have to work smarter.”

While the EPA’s current approach to drinking water evaluates contaminants one at a time, the new policy seeks to create a more cost-effective approach and address pollutants as a group. Other components of the strategy include:

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