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Navajo president presses Congress for more time, money, for water project by Lillie Boudreaux, 12 July 2023, Cronkite News

Make your own drinking water with these new hydropanels for your home by Talib Visram, 06 June 2023, FASTCompany 

Arizona, California, Nevada agree on cuts to Colorado River water use. By Liam Coates, 22 May 2023, Cronkite News

COP15 PROVES TO BE MOST IMPORTANT UN CONFERENCE FOR PLANET EARTH, by Alan Betts, Atmospheric Research, published at: Green Energy Times,  27 January 2023

After long fight, tribal water bills get primary OK; still far from final. By Ryan Knappenberger, 16 November 2022, Cronkite News

Historian Pulls Back the Veil on Nuclear Power’s Safety. By Mike L Ford, Newser Staff, 20 August 2022.

Could this tiny floating leaf decarbonise some of the world’s biggest polluters? By Charlotte Elton, updated 19 August 2022, Euronews.

Ants could replace harmful pesticides and save the bees, scientists say. By Charlotte Elton,, updated 18 August 2022

A Uranium Ghost Town in the Making. By Mark Olalde and Maya Miller, video by Mauricio Rodriguez Pons and Ed Ou, photography by Ed Ou, ProPublica, 8 August 2022

Pascua Yaqui win water funds, first of $150 million for Arizona projects by Sarah Oven/Cronkite News, published 26

“Water is sacred to a lot of tribes and a lot of Arizonans. For us, it’s a blessing,” Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio said at a news conference announcing the funding. “We started looking at this and we said, ‘This will help us now and in the future.’” They were talking about $900,000 in federal funds that will be used to bring non-potable water to the tribe’s lands for irrigation purposes, thus, preserving drinking water resources. Read more here.

Upper Colorado River Drought Plan Triggered For First Time by Published by KUNC on January 20, 2021 at 3:28 PM MST

“As exceptional drought conditions expanded to more than 65% of the watershed’s total land area in 2020, operational forecasts for the Colorado River have worsened dramatically.” For the first time ever, increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have prompted the Bureau of Reclamation to put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan.

Water officials in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming, were instructed to identify point persons to take part in monthly planning calls. Read more here.

Mountain West Tribes Score Rare Victories Against Corporate Polluters byPublished by KUNM on January 15, 2021 at 5:52 PM MST

The Shoshone-Bannock Trribes and the Navajo Nation recently reached separate resolutions in two long standing environmental disputes. These victories could signal a shift toward greater accountability for corporate polluters operating on tribal lands. Read more here.

New York State Just Set a New Standard for Fossil Fuel Divestment by Brian Kahn, published 8 December on

After an eight-year fight to get New York to divest its $226 billion pension fund from fossil fuels, activists have won a major victory. On Wednesday, New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced the state will take a systematic approach to ensure the third-largest pension fund in the U.S. divests from fossil fuels by 2025.” Read more here.

Wall Street’s New Water Market is the Latest Sign We’re Headed Toward a Mad Max Future by Dharna Noor, Published 7 December on

“This week, with the launch of $1.1 billion contracts tied to water prices in California, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange will launch the country’s first water market. It will allow farmers, hedge funds, and municipalities to essentially make wagers on the price of water and likelihood of water scarcity. Water will be a commodity, like gold or oil.”

“..incentives set up by the water futures market are dangerous.” Read more at

The World Will be Nearly 6 Degrees Hotter Unless It Invests in a Green Recover by Dharna Noor, published 8 December one

Many governments have continued bailing out oil, gas, coal and aviation companies in their economic relief packages. United Nations Scientists have issued their Production Gap Report 2020 which looks at how conditions have changed in the last year and how governments could prioritize sustainable measures instead. Read more here.

Trump Administration Refuses to Update Soot Rule, Condemning Thousands to Death by Dharna Noor, Published 7 December 2020 on

“The EPA is required to review its National Ambient Air Quality Standards regulations every five years. The rule currently caps companies’ emissions of fine particulate pollution, also known as PM2.5 or soot, at 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air each year. In a draft report last year, the agency’s own staff scientists said that lowering that standard to 9 micrograms per cubic meter could save roughly 12,200 lives a year that are lost to the health impacts of pollution. But on Monday, EPA administrator (and former coal lobbyist) Andrew Wheeler announced that the agency won’t be touching the rule, because apparently it’s fine as it is even though it’s deadly.” Read the entire article at

2020 Delivers Setbacks for Some Long-Planned Western Water Projects by Luke Runyon, published 9 November 2020 on KUNC

Ongoing aridification, record-breaking hot and dry conditions over the last 20 years, and less federal financial support for large water projects increases pressure to oppose projects that attempt to divert water to fast-growing communities and to slow the purchase of agricultural water supplies. Environmental groups have cheered the setbacks; but it’s still unclear whether these projects have truly hit dead ends or are simply waiting in the wings. Read more or listen at KUNC radio.

How to accelerate solar adoption for the underserved by DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published 9 November 2020

In a new study published in Nature Energy, Berkeley Lab researchers found that three of the five policy and business models they studied increase adoption of solar photovoltaics (PV) among low-and middle-income households, thus increasing adoption equity (the degree to which adopter incomes reflect the incomes of the general population).

Their study, “The impact of policies and business models on income equity in rooftop solar adoption,” concluded solar adoption does not have to be the domain of high-income households. Read more at DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Water-Energy Nanogrid Provides Solution for Rural Communities Lacking Basic Amenities by Vandanna Suresh, Texas A&M University College of Engineering, 4 November 2020

Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a standalone water-energy nanogrid consisting of a purification system that uses solar energy to decontaminate water. They say the setup is mathematically tuned to use solar energy optimally so that the water filtration is not affected by the fluctuations of solar energy during the course of the day.

The researchers have described their technology in the journal Applied Energy.

The problem with plastics: Production outpacing efforts to keep it out of rivers, oceans by Alison Cutler, published on Cronkite News Arizona PBS, 27 Oct 2020.

Researchers conclude the production of plastic worldwide continues to drastically outpace efforts to reduce it. “Even with ambitious and rigorous global standards of recycling, managing and reducing waste, the amount of plastic produced around the world could grow to six times the current amount by 2030, the researchers found.”

Scientists are exploring a new combination of enzymes that breaks down plastic at six times the rate of an enzyme previously used and may help get rid of plastic filling our landfills. However, to make any headway, we must focus on reducing the amount of plastic being produced. Read more here

For the West’s drinking water, wildfire concerns linger long after smoke clears  y Luke Runyon, KUNC, published 16 October 2020, Cronkite News Arizona PBS

2020’s record-breaking wildfires have reduced forests to burnt trees and heaps of ash. Climate change has dried out forests, lessened snowpack, and extended fire seasons. Unfortunately, wildfires not only cause problems while they’re burning but municipal drinking water systems are effected for years afterwards. Read more here

Dakota Access Pipeline Update by Trisha Burke for Voices of Indian Country on Native Hope website, published July 17, 2020

“On July 6, 2020, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers, a suit filed in August of 2016. The lawsuit alleges “that the Corps had failed to consult tribe members adequately before approving the pipeline, and had violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it effectively authorized its construction without provisions to ensure against destruction of culturally important sites.” Read more here

South pole warming three times faster than rest of the world by Kyle Clem, published on, 29 June 2020.

“Over the past 30 years, the south pole has been one of the fastest-changing places on Earth. A new study reveals extreme and abrupt climate shifts in Antartica’s interior that are likely to continue… a result of effects from tropical variability working together with increasing greenhouse gases.” Read more here.

Climate change is altering terrestrial water availability by Michael Keller, ETH Zurich /, June 30, 2020

“The amount and location of available terrestrial water is changing worldwide. An international research team let by ETH Zurich has now proved for the first time that human-induced climate change is responsible for the changes observed in available terrestrial water. Read the entire article here.

The Arctic is on fire. Climate crisis pummels tundra decades earlier than expected, alarming scientists. by Isabelle Khurshudyan, Andrew Freemand, and Brady Dennis / The Washington Post, July 3, 2020 at 5:26 PM

In Siberia and across much of the Arctic, profound changes are unfolding more rapidly than scientists anticipated only a few years ago. Shifts that once seemed decades away are happening now, with potentially global implications.” Read the entire article here.

Plan to ‘revive’ uranium mining called unneeded, unwanted by advocates by Jessica Myers/Cronkite News, 

‘Borrowing from the future’: What an emerging megadrought means for the Southwest by Madison Staten/Cronkite News, 

EPA weakens protections for streams and wetlands bUpdated 3:03 PM ET, Thu January 23, 2020

Globe had its 2nd-hottest October and year to date on record

Arctic sea ice coverage also shrank to a record low last month

Published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, November 18, 2019.

“Planet Earth continued to sweat in unrelenting heat last month making October 2019 the second-hottest October recorded, just behind 2015.” 

“It was also the second-hottest year to date (January through October) on record for the globe. Continuing its melting trend, Arctic sea ice coverage shrank to its smallest size yet for October.”

Read more highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly global climate report here

New study claims 43 states expose millions to dangerous chemical in drinking wate by Steve Carmody, published by on April 25, 2019

“It’s still common to see claims on social media that Flint still doesn’t have clean water. However, tests have shown Flint’s tap water has improved greatly since the depths of the water crisis. Now, it’s well within federal and state standards for lead, even better than many other cities.”

However, he goes on to say:”Later this year, the city hopes to inspect the last of nearly 30,000 pipes connecting homes to city water mains. Crews are replacing old lead and galvanized service lines with new copper pipes. But residents are still advised to use filters on their taps as the pipe replacements continue.”

Read the entire article here

House, Senate OK Colorado River drought plan, capping years of debate by Andrew Howard/ Cronkite News,

National Governments Urged to Step Up Climate Action by 2020 at end of landmark summit

“The meeting of leaders from states and regions, cities, business, investors and civil society at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) underlined the transformational action they are already pursuing.”

Some highlights include:

“An alliance of more than 60 state/regional, city governments and multinational businesses are now committed to a 100% zero emission targets through the ZEV Challenge.”

“Business is stepping-forward with 23 multinational companies in EV100, with revenue of over $470 billion, committed to taking fleets zero emission.”

“Almost 400 global companies along with health care providers, cities, states and regions now have 100% renewable energy targets. 488 companies from 38 countries have adopted emission reduction pathways in line with the science of the Paris Agreement—up nearly 40 per cent from last year.”

“Over 70 big cities, home to some 425 million citizens, are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, including Accra, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mexico City. A further 9,100 cities representing 800 million citizens are now committed to city-wide climate action plans.”

Read the entire press release here

Leaking Las Vegas: West’s Biggest Reservoir Nears Critical Threshold by Tyler Durden, August 18, 2018

Lake Mead – the West’s largest reservoir – is running dry again and is on track to fall below a critical threshold in 2020, according to a new forecast by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Read more here 

Humans are pushing the Earth closer to a climate cliff, published by The Guardian, August 15, 2018

“A new study examines potential climate feedbacks that could push Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state.

Read more here 

Puerto Rico energy company says all its customers have electricity nearly one year after Hurricane Maria, published by Independent, August 16, 2018

Read more here 

Puerto Rican Government Acknowledges Hurricane Death Toll of 1,427, published by The New York Times, August 9, 2018

Read more here 

Hurricane Maria death toll may be more than 4,600 in Puerto Rico

Article written by John D. Sutter and Leyla Santiago, CNN: updated Tuesday 29 May 2018, San Juan, Puerto Rico (CNN)

An estimated 4,645 people died in Hurricane Maria and its aftermath in Puerto Rico, according to an academic report published Tuesday in a prestigious medical journal. That figure dwarfs Puerto Rico’s official death toll of 64, which the article’s authors called a “substantial underestimate” of Hurricane Maria’s death toll…

Read the entire article here 

Anti-pipeline campaigners found not guilty by judge because ‘protest against climate change crisis’ was legal ‘necessity’

Article written by Andrew Buncombe, New York: published Tuesday 27 March 2018

More than a dozen protesters who clambered into holes dug for a high pressure gas pipeline said they had been found not responsible by a judge after hearing them argue their actions to try and stop climate change were a legal “necessity”. 

Read the entire article at Independent news

Lead crisis: Flint braces as Michigan shuts down free bottled water sites

Excerpt of article written by Erik Ortiz; published April 9, 2018 at 3:01 PM on NBC News.

…”The state’s decision to close the four remaining bottled water stations comes as Gov. Rick Snyder said Friday that strides have been made to reverse the high levels of lead that were found in the water supply…”

“Direct access to clean water, meanwhile, remains a serious concern.”

“Over the past few weeks, residents of Flint have been expressing their great anxiety over the potential end to the supply of bottled water,” Mayor Karen Weaver wrote in a letter to state officials on Thursday”…

Read the entire article at NBC News.

Tens of millions of Americans exposed to unsafe drinking water each year

Written by Matt Weiser, published Jan. 22, 2018 on Water Deeply:

California’s sweeping effort to regulate groundwater extraction is still in its infancy. But many community groups are already concerned that too little is being done to involve low-income and disadvantaged residents in managing aquifers dominated by agriculture.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, adopted in 2014, was a Herculean achievement f California. Until that time, it was the only Western state with virtually no regulations on groundwater use. The new law requires critically overdrafted groundwater basins to adopt plans by 2020 to sustainably manage their aquifers. Basins identified as medium and high priority have an additional two years.

Sustainability, however, is a loose term under the law. Each newly formed groundwater sustainability agency can define it for themselves, depending on local needs. The stakes inherent in defining that term are huge. If “sustainability” considers only agricultural interests, for example, small water users with shallow wells could get short-changed.

For this reason, involvement by low-income groups, Native American tribes and domestic well owners is critical as the groundwater sustainability agencies are getting organized, said Jennifer Clary, California water programs manager at Clean Water Action, a nonprofit. Waiting to involve these groups until the groundwater sustainability plan is developed is too late, she said.

But that seems to be what’s happening in many situations.

“In disadvantaged communities, one of the reasons they are in the situation they’re in is because they’ve never had power and influence,” she said. “I think we see that pattern continuing. Smaller water users could end up losing out again.”

A total of 266 groundwater sustainability agencies have been formed across the state so far. Of these, 117 are in areas designated as critically overdrafted, primarily in the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys.

Clary said many groundwater sustainability agencies are fixated on meeting the 2020 deadline to complete their groundwater sustainability plans. It’s a monumental task that requires gathering data on groundwater volume in each basin, measuring recharge and extraction rates and assessing effects on nearby streams and other surface water, among other things.

This work often requires hiring consultants, installing water meters on wells and, in some cases, drilling new monitoring wells. To pay for this work, many groundwater sustainability agencies are assessing fees on property owners, which requires a special election under the state’s Proposition 218 tax law. The groundwater sustainability agency would conduct the election and every property owner within the mapped boundaries of the agency would get to vote in the election. And according to Prop. 218, their votes are weighted according to how much land they own (large landowners get more votes).

Caught up in all that work, some have put off reaching out to disadvantaged communities that rely on groundwater, private well owners who extract water for their own household use and even small domestic water utilities. All these groups have a role in achieving groundwater sustainability, but might know nothing of the process and its complexity.

“A lot of groundwater sustainability agencies are feeling pressure, and they’re nervous about being able to produce an adequate plan in time,” said Adriana Renteria, regional water management coordinator at Community Water Center, a nonprofit based in Visalia. “But that’s not an excuse for a complete lack of inclusion of all beneficial users of water. They are very much taking a hands-off approach in terms of engagement.”

That could become a serious problem down the road, because the groundwater sustainability agency may not have complete information on well status as it develops its sustainability plan.

For example, Renteria said, irrigation wells are typically much deeper than domestic wells. So defining sustainable groundwater elevation based on agricultural wells could leave domestic wells high and dry.

“Having those diverse perspectives in the room will help you have more sustainable plans,” said Renteria, who is working with a number of groundwater sustainability agencies to involve community members. “If people are not voicing their concern early on, there might be legal disputes they have to deal with once their plans are complete.”

Each groundwater sustainability agency is managed by a board of directors, which tends to be dominated by the largest water users in each basin: farmers and the irrigation districts that serve them. They are accustomed to managing canals and pumps and responding to orders for irrigation water from their customers. But working hand-in-hand with disadvantaged communities on water issues is not part of their historical skillset.

“Trying to bring these different perspectives together and form an agency out of those is obviously a challenge,” said Eric Osterling, water resources manager for the Kings River Conservation District, which helps manage water supplies and flood control in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties.

Osterling’s district was hired as program administrator for two new groundwater sustainability agencies in critically overdrafted areas: the South Fork and North Fork Kings River groundwater basins.

In the process, he has worked closely with nonprofits like Community Water Center, Self-Help Enterprises and the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, which have helped reach out to people who rely on groundwater to keep their towns vibrant, to bathe their children and grow their own food. He has also worked to get informational materials translated for Hmong and Punjabi radio stations, and translations are in the works for Spanish radio.

He has made evening meetings a priority so that residents can attend after work. Unfortunately, he said, that’s not the usual practice among many groundwater sustainability agencies. Instead, many groundwater sustainability agencies meet during the day because that’s when farm managers and irrigation district employees are on the clock anyway.

Clary said approaches like Osterling’s are more the exception than the rule, at least so far.

The state’s regulations don’t require disadvantaged communities to be represented on groundwater sustainability agency boards, said Trevor Joseph, a sustainable groundwater management agency manager at the state Department of Water Resources. But they do require groundwater sustainability agencies to engage with low-income communities, small well owners and Native American tribes and to prepare a communication strategy for doing so.

He said sustainability plans that are lacking these components are unlikely to be approved.

“It’s an important provision that should not be taken lightly,” Joseph said. “The regulations are very clear that these stakeholder interests need to be considered. The practical reality is, you’re not going to reach sustainability in many of these basins without inclusion of these entities.”

The Department of Water Resources offers “facilitation services” to help groundwater sustainability agencies reach out to small and low-income groundwater users. And the department even offers to provide professional facilitators – at no charge – to help manage community meetings and encourage constructive dialogue.

However, only 10 groundwater groups have sought the help of these free facilitators, according to the Department of Water Resources, and only six of these are in critically overdrafted basins.

Another concern in many areas is water quality. Aquifers in many areas are severely degraded by decades of intensive farming, resulting in heavy concentrations of pesticides and nitrates in groundwater that can harm human health.

In the Salinas Valley, hundreds of small domestic water systems are plagued by high nitrate concentrations linked to farming. It remains to be seen if the new groundwater sustainability agencies in the region will do anything about contamination issues

Amezquita said there are at least 35 other communities and 300 small water systems in the region with similar problems.

“There’s a lot of information that is missing,” he said. “And I don’t think the new groundwater sustainability agency is going to do that. They’re more concerned on the quantity (of water) and they’re talking very little on the quality. In reality, nobody is facing the problem.”

Horacio Amezquita isn’t hopeful. He is general manager of the San Jerardo Cooperative, which provides water and other services to one community of 350 people – mostly farmworkers and their families – in the Salinas Valley. High nitrate levels in the town’s groundwater made residents sick for years, until Monterey County agreed to connect the community to a new water source 2 miles away.

This article originally appeared on Water Deeply. You can find the original here

10/20/2016: Earth Water Alliance has been exploring the water shortages of the Navajo Nation. Join us on this journey as we learn about their water challenges.

The Navajo Nation comprises a total land area of 27,425 square miles, spanning parts of three states (Arizona, New Mexico and Utah). This area is roughly equivalent to the state of West Virginia, and is larger than ten of the smallest states in the US. It has the largest area of any other tribal reservation in the country. Most of it is in one contiguous area with small isolated portions in New Mexico referred to as “the checkerboard”. Other tribes which surround the Navajo Nation include the Ute to the north, Jicailla Apache in the east, Hualapai to the west, and the Zuni and White Mountain Apache to the south. The contiguous Navajo lands completely surround the Hopi Indian Reservation. About 175,000 Navajo Nation members, plus a small minority of non-members, live within the borders of the Navajo Nation, and almost as many members live outside of that territory. All of the territory is in the Colorado Plateau with elevations that range from 5,000 feet to 11,000 feet. The Continental Divide goes through the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation. Much of the territory consists of arid desert, but also includes alpine forests, mountains, mesas and high plateaus.

The Navajo Nation began with a much smaller core granted to the Navajo people by the treaty of 1868, and has since increased in area through various additions. Its capital is in Window Rock, Arizona, established in the early 1930’s.

Membership in the Navajo Nation requires at least one quarter Navajo blood and currently numbers over 300,000 individuals. It is uncertain whether the Navajo or the Cherokee are the most populous tribe, but it is difficult to judge as the Cherokee define membership in different and less strict terms. There are no urban centers within the Navajo Nation and paved roads are in the minority. Most of the employed population make their living from small-scale farming and ranching, oil, or mining of uranium or coal. About 40 to 45% are unemployed and the number of those living in poverty is high as well. A portion of the population eek out a subsistence living with small farms and animal husbandry. The Navajo language is surviving relatively well with almost three quarters of Navajo members living on the reservation speaking it as their first language.

The EPA estimates that up to 30% of the Navajo population (approximately 54,000 people) are not served by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority’s public water systems. As a result, it is estimated that the Navajo are approximately 60 times more likely than other Americans to live without access to clean running water or a toilet. Primary reasons include:

  • Nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands from 1944 to 1986. Today, the mines are closed, but a legacy of uranium contamination remains, including over 500 abandoned uranium mines.
  • Groundwater drinking sources have elevated levels of radiation, possibly due to dust from uranium abandoned mines and waste piles.
  • The groundwater is typically very deep and the cost of drilling is exorbitantly expensive due to the difficulty of getting drilling equipment into this remote location over rough roads and the risk of drilling into uranium veins.
  • Radioactive building materials leach into the soil and groundwater.
  • Many residences do not have electricity to pump water if a well was drilled.
  • Drilling a shared well is not always practical because the area is sparsely populated and there are great distances between houses.
  • There is too little rainfall to make on-going rainwater catchment practical.

Currently, many homes on the reservation are getting by on seven gallons of water a day. If you want to help fund water delivery to isolated residences on the Navajo reservation, we encourage you to designate “Navajo Water Project” when making your donation to Earth Water Alliance.

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency, Wikipedia, various public domain documents, St. Bonaventure Indian School and Mission, and Navajo Population Profile 2010 U.S. Census (December 2013), Hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 23, 2007 serial no. 110-97.

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