In recent months, a maelstrom of change has been rippling through many federal agencies, particularly those tasked with regulations connected to environmental science. Naturally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is no exception, and may be one of the agencies seeing the most change.
With an average rainfall of only 12.5 inches per year and a population that’s growing faster than the country’s, Arizona is a state that faces unique challenges, especially when it comes to clean, safe water. The Water Quality Division of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) protects and enhances public health and the environment by monitoring and regulating drinking water.
You’ve probably heard of the Four Corners region of the United States; that’s where the corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet at one point. These same four states are also part of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), which began to change the face of the American West in 1956, enabling the population explosions in places like Phoenix and Los Angeles to continue thanks to usable water.
Waterborne illnesses are striking the American citizens of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — and healthcare professionals are concerned that these diseases could reach epidemic levels on the island, already devastated by the storm and still without power and drinking water in many places. Several recent fatalities in Puerto Rico died of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that is typically waterborne.
As the dust continues to settle in Flint, Michigan, a town stricken with a human-made public health crisis in the form of poor water quality, researchers around the country are working to find new ways to test water. Right now, most monitoring for water quality takes place at water treatment plants or water supply intake points — not at points of use or along lines of distribution, where the quality matters most.
The Colorado River Basin stretches over approximately 246,000 square miles, snaking through the southwestern “basin states”: Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. From there the river flows into Mexico, a reminder of the connected past — and future — of our countries.
One of the consequences of modern life is urbanized water. As we congregate in cities, the water that flows away as runoff, even after wastewater treatment, is typically rife with a toxic cocktail of chemicals. New research from the Universities of Portsmouth and Barcelona now reveals that these toxic chemicals transform the way that many aquatic animals feed and swim — even when they are present in surprisingly low concentrations.