drinking water

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EPA to consider setting drinking water standard for perchlorate

Perchlorate , a chemical used in rocket fuel and other explosives, can cause potential health concerns for pregnant women, infants and children, but there is no maximum drinking water standard and no requirement to test for it. That's a problem in New Mexico, where perchlorate has been found in groundwater at Los Alamos National Laboratories, Sandia National Laboratories and White Sands Missile Range, writes Staci Matlock of The New Mexican. The chemical, which also occurs naturally, has been found near drinking wells as well. But the EPA doesn't regulate the chemical in drinking water. Now the agency is reconsidering whether to set a standard that would in turn require drinking water facilities to test for the chemical.

Climate refugees redux: Climate change could tap out Colorado River


[caption id="attachment_1528" align="alignright" width="200" caption=""Lake" Powell, one of the big Colorado River reservoirs threatened by climate change. Photo courtesy University of Colorado."]"Lake" Powell, one of the big Colorado River reservoirs threatened by climate change. Photo courtesy University of Colorado.[/caption]

Climate refugees. There it is again, this notion that large-scale migrations caused by climate change could be in the offing.

When we wrote about this a few months ago based on a climate conference in Seattle, the story got a lot of attention. Today this climate-refugees idea came up again in a story by Bruce Finley of the Denver Post on a new study of climate change's possible effects on the Colorado River.

The study (sorry -- no link; it's not posted to the Web yet) says there's up to a 50-50 chance of seeing Colorado River reservoirs run dry by mid-century, given current management practices, increased demand and the expected drying effects of climate change.

Now, that last one's not something that's easy to quantify in a projection. But lead author Balaji Rajagopalan of the University of Colorado and other researchers simply took a look at what would happen if water in the Colorado River system were reduced 10 percent or 20 percent due to hotter temperatures (which would increase what the water wonks call evapotranspiration, a combination of evaporation and plants' transpiring of water.)

Well, guess what? By mid-century there's about a 50-50 chance of the Colorado River's two major reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, will run dry. That's under the 20 percent reduction scenario.