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OOSKAnews Correspondent: This Week, from the United States of America - South and West Roundup; Trump Latest; A Bit of Science, Etc.


US Military Must Do More To Clean Up Facilities

A US federal watchdog has found most military bases have caught up on reporting about concerns of water contamination, but plenty of work remains to have more bases come into compliance and end future fears of water pollution (Stars and Stripes). The findings from the U.S. Government Accountability Office come in the wake of reports earlier this year that contamination was found in water in or at dozens of military bases.SXWXSW Water (New Mexico, California, Texas: This Week’s Roundup)

Two southeastern New Mexico companies are suing Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn over a policy that governs how much water oil and gas producers can pump from a regional aquifer for their operations (KQRE News 13). Loco Hills Water Solutions, LLC and Steve Carter, Inc. argue that Dunn has overstepped his authority and is compromising more than $15 million in recent investments in water wells and pipelines.

Also in New Mexico, US News and World Report, er, reports that three members of a powerful New Mexico commission charged with protecting, conserving and developing water resources across the arid state have resigned, the result of what critics describe as a simmering conflict with the state's top water regulator. One expressed great concern for what he called the lack of direction from State Engineer Tom Blaine and adherence to state staff.

Further insights into the New Mexico water mess are offered here in a local blog which, OOSKAnews recognizes, quotes anonymous sources.

Some Texas state lawmakers have described recent Hurricane Harvey as a missed opportunity to prepare for the next drought (Texas Tribune). State lawmaker Lyle Larson described the storm as “not only a tragedy but also a wasted opportunity”, offering an estimation that the amount of rain the storm dropped on the state could meet all its water needs — household, agricultural and otherwise — for at least eight years. Larsen and colleagues are “re-upping” calls for state support of "aquifer storage and recovery" projects in which water is pumped into underground reservoirs and stored for future use.

In California, Santa Clara Valley, Silicon Valley’s largest water agency on Tuesday rejected the state governor Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (The Mercury News).

Also in California, the Trump administration has given the go-ahead for a project to siphon millions of gallons of water from an underground aquifer in the Mojave Desert and sell it to Southern California water districts according to Court House News and other media outlets. Cadiz, the company in charge of building the 43-mile pipeline across federal land, hailed the decision while environmentalists are concerned that the scope of the project could have “devastating effects on the fragile and relatively pristine ecosystem of the Mojave”, according to reports.

“It’s no surprise the Trump administration is willing to look the other way while Cadiz drains a vital desert aquifer,” local US Senator Feinstein said in a statement. “California must now step up to protect the Mojave Desert from Cadiz and its friends in the administration.”

Elsewhere In Trump News

US Lawmaker Bennie Thompson is among representatives who have called on the country’s Department of Homeland Security to look into a report that residents of Puerto Rico are drinking water that may be contaminated (The Hill and others). The request comes after reports that some Puerto Rico residents are turning to hazardous waste sites for drinking water as the island continues to reel from Hurricane Maria.

Meantime beleaguered President Donald Trump has defended the US federal government's response to the disaster in Puerto Rico, and contended that difficulty accessing food and water was due to shortcomings on local distribution (CNN and others). "We have delivered tremendous amounts of water, and then what you have to do is you have to have distribution of the water by the people on the island." Trump noted the military is on the ground helping with distribution efforts -- which he argued shouldn't be their job.

Micro Seisisms in Lakes – Who Knew?

Unlike seas and oceans, lakes are closed water bodies but they still have waves on their surfaces, albeit these waves are nowhere close in ferocity to the several-feet-high waves that are common in open water bodies. However, waves in both types of water bodies are caused by wind, and more significantly, the water movement in both kinds of water bodies causes tiny seismic waves in the ground beneath. International Business Times reports the research from the University of Utah.

Internet of Water Proposed

Researchers from Duke University and the Aspen Institute argue for a shared, open “internet of water” (Tech Crunch). Where does the water coming out of your tap come from? How is it filtered and purified? How much does it cost the city and state per gallon to deliver? How can they improve that? A hypothetical “internet of water,” would be a clearinghouse for water data of all kinds, from all municipalities. “Everyone from curious citizens to government data scientists and app developers would be able to access it”.

Isotopes To Measure Subglacial Storage

In other research, we know that normally, scientists use dyes to determine how long water is stored in a glacier. They put the dye on the surface of a glacier during the melt season and measure how long it takes for it to show up in the stream below. However, this method…only shows transit time – how long water can take to move from the surface of a glacier to the bottom – it doesn't address subglacial storage.

New research led by Cari Arendt of North Carolina State University with colleagues from University of Wyoming and University of Michigan proposes improved measurement of subglacial water storage times by measuring decay of uranium isotopes (Phys.org).

Brockovich Tips

American environmental activist Erin Brockovich, urges “be aware, be informed, be vigilant, be proactive, that's the best way to protect your health and welfare if you are uncertain about your water condition”, in a video produced for Business Insider UK.