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Peak Water, or Peak Water Withdrawals?

A US Geological Survey (USGS) report released last month, “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010,” surprised many of us in the water research community. According to the report, about 355 billion gallons of water per day were withdrawn for use during 2010, which represented a 13 percent decrease relative to 2005 […]

Land Conservation and Sea Level Rise—Florida Edition

If you’re a fan of crime fiction with a dash of humor, you might have read some of Carl Hiaasen’s books—Skinny Dip, Nature Girl, Paradise Screwed, to name three. If so, you’ve probably noticed Hiaasen’s love of nature, specifically the wild and woolly swamps and back woods of south Florida. In early November, Hiaasen wrote […]

Should we all take a bit of lithium?!

You might have seen the September 13, 2014, New York Times op-ed titled “Should we all take a bit of lithium?” which was the Times‘ 7th most emailed story of the 30 days following its publication. It came to our attention about a week after it was published, when we found a Times-reading friend squeezing […]

Ecosystem Services in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

In 1990, the Acid Rain Program introduced market-based environmental policy on the largest scale ever attempted. The program capped the total level of acid rain–causing sulfur dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector and allowed utilities to trade under that fixed cap—a so-called cap-and-trade system. Ironically, though much of the original motivation for that program […]

Exporting the Cost of Dams

Last year, former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi proclaimed: “We will defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary.” He was referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that Ethiopia is constructing, which may affect the flow of the Nile River into Egypt. A year later, talks between the two nations still have […]

Getting Past the “Yuck” Factor: Challenges for Public Acceptance of Recycled Water

A recent article in Slate ran with the attention-grabbing title “Thirsty West: Why Californians Will Soon be Drinking their Own Pee.”  The article was motivated by the planned $142 million expansion of a water reuse facility in Orange County, which will increase the local district’s capacity to take wastewater and convert it into sterile, drinking-quality […]

Conservation Return on Investment Analysis: Three Case Studies

An increasing number of conservation projects designed to address ecological management, protection, and restoration are being judged based on the investment returns they are able to produce. The costs, benefits, and risks of these projects can all be assessed using conservation return on investment (ROI) analysis, a method to help conservancies prioritize possible programs based […]

Managing Shoreline Retreat in the United States: A Three-Part Strategy

Sea-level rise will increasingly threaten coastal communities. Responses to the issue have generally been grouped into three broad categories: protect, accommodate, and retreat. All three of these strategies will be needed and deployed to varying degrees around the United States. Highly developed areas—think New York City—will require some structural protection. Certain facilities that need to […]

Valuing Conservation in the Context of Climate Change

In the twentieth century, flooding caused more deaths and property damage in the United States than any other natural disaster. Most climate models predict that flooding will worsen in the future, a prospect that is leading a growing number of communities to explore the use of natural areas as protection against extreme events. These areas […]

Using Satellites to Understand Drought

A recent article in The Atlantic Cities highlighted a research paper published in Science by Jay Famiglietti, a professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, and Matt Rodell, Chief of the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  Famiglietti and Rodell use data from a new generation of Earth observing […]