The Global Water Challenge
How Atlanta Outsmarted Its Drought
Drought has been called the "creeping disaster" for its tendency to arrive unnoticed but with full force. Earlier warning of drought could help water managers cut water use and redirect water to the most crucial uses. A drought-monitoring system in Georgia helped the state do just that during its latest drought, from 2005 to 2009. Meet three women--an engineering professor, a water manager and an industry advocate--who played a role in outsmarting Atlanta's drought.
Mopping Up the Purest Water
It takes approximately 10 gallons of some of the purest water on Earth to create one computer chip. A single manufacturing plant can use as much water as a medium-sized town. And many of those plants are located in water-strapped cities of the Southwest U.S. That all has chip manufacturers very interested in cutting back their water use--both to green their plants and to save some green.
Tucson Spins Sewage Into Gold
The philosophy of America's water systems is, treat everything to be drinkable. But there are lots of uses for water that don't need such high standards. Tucson is one of many southwestern cities that have turned to recycled water--partially treated wastewater--for irrigation. As Tucson continues to grow, its groundwater levels drop further. Now some researchers are considering what it would take to bring recycled water to toilets and fire hydrants in the city, and give water a second swirl.
When Water Systems Crumble
America's drinking water systems are almost failing. The 2009 Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S. drinking water infrastructure a D-minus. The report estimates the U.S. is facing an annual shortfall of 11 billion dollars needed to replace aging facilities. How do we move forward? Improving water planning and technology are part of the solution--and changing our attitudes about water is the other part.