U.S. Geological Survey releases report on how groundwater pumping affects streamflow

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently released a report which outlines the negative impact of groundwater pumping on the flow of water in connected streams and rivers, according to Water World.

The report – titled "Streamflow Depletion by Wells – Understanding and Managing the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow" -  acknowledges the positive benefits of groundwater development, particularly in providing safe drinking water to populations in rural settings. However, the research also notes that streamflow depletion by wells can have a substantial impact on local ecosystems. According to the news source, pumping wells capture groundwater that would have otherwise been discharged into nearby streams and rivers. By doing so, this diminishes the amount of fresh groundwater that should be replenishing natural bodies of water.

"Groundwater discharge is a critical part of flow in most streams – and the more we pump below the ground, the more we deplete water flowing down the stream," USGS Director Marcia McNutt told the news source. "When viewed over the long term, it is one big zero-sum game."

Other important findings in the report from the USGS include how streamflow depletion can affect water quality in the stream or in the aquifer, according to the news source. Reductions in groundwater discharge to streams as a result of groundwater pumping can substantially warm stream temperatures during the summer and cool stream temperatures in the winter. Doing so affects the ecosystem habitat of the body of water, and its drinking qualities.

Residents that live in an area where streamflow depletion might be a problem should consider investing in bottleless water coolers from Quench. The presence of a five-stage filtration system should deter most of the negative drinking water aspects of streamflow depletion.

Gas drilling brings down home values by affecting drinking water quality

Shale gas development that has spawned the latest drilling boom in the United States may have a severely deleterious effect on the values of homes in communities near shales, according to The Institute for Southern Studies. The data from the recently released study "Shale Gas Development and Property Values: Differences Across Drinking Water Sources," showed concern about groundwater contamination among potential homeowners reduced the property values of some of the homes in these affected areas by as much as 24 percent.

"The perception of how much risk there is of groundwater contamination from fracking is tremendous," Lucija Muehlenbachs, one of the authors of the study from nonprofit group Resources of the Future, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The study, a collaborative effort between the aforementioned nonprofit organization and the economics department at Duke University, examined more than 19,000 homes sold over a five-year period in southwestern Pennsylvania's Washington County, near the rich Marcellus Shale, the news source reports. Despite the fact that no consensus has been reached among experts in the scientific community on the exact impact of fracking on groundwater contamination, the perception and fear was more than sufficient in driving down real property values. Many of these homes relied on drinking water wells.

The authors of the study also examined properties nearby that were connected to public drinking water supply systems, instead of private wells. In these cases, the houses saw an increase in value of over 10 percent.

While fracking has been proven to be a tremendous boon to local economies – in terms of creating jobs and generating income for local residents through land leasing – the potential negative impact on groundwater has also been noted. The process of fracking could severely contaminate drinking water sources. In some cases, according to The Institute for Southern Studies, contamination is caused by faulty well casings or cement leaking into the groundwater sources. In other cases, hydraulic fracturing could occur too close to a drinking water aquifer, leading to methane leaks and other potentially dangerous contaminants.

With home values dropping based on the perception of fear, local real estate agents could help drive perception the other way by creating a safe ideal. Installing bottleless water coolers from Quench around these communities could help grant potential homeowners peace of mind that their drinking water will be treated to ensure cleanliness and safety.

Small drinking water systems in Kentucky eligible for special assistance funding

Small drinking water treatment systems in Kentucky are invited to apply for special financial assistance to upgrade their water treatment capabilities, according to Water World. The announcement, made by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, will be targeting drinking water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 customers.

The funds for the program, known as the Capacity Development Assistance Program for Small Systems, are provided by the Commonwealth of Kentucky through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) capitalization grant, the news source reports. Meanwhile, the operation is cooperatively run by the Kentucky Division of Water and the nonprofit Community Action of Kentucky. The two agencies collaborate primarily to identify small drinking water systems that need assistance, based on factors that are not quantitatively or federally regulated. These include infrastructure planning, staff training and office management.

Additionally, without regulated factors, each small drinking water system takes on a more scrutinized case-by-case basis. Last year, seven water treatment systems received awards ranging from $2,000 to $25,000. The money was earmarked for various improvements such as tank inspection and distribution system mapping.

"Many small water treatment facilities are at a disadvantage because of their budget and personnel limitations, yet they face the same challenges as larger plants that have more money and specialized staff," Jennifer Spradlin, coordinator of the program for the Kentucky Division of Water, told the news source. "The goal of this funding program is to allow the smaller systems to complete critical but non-regulatory projects they might not be able to pursue otherwise."

Consumers at one of the eligible small drinking water systems should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench. Even when tapping into sources that are not state-of-the-art, the bottleless coolers use innovative technologies to ensure a clean and safe drinking water supply.

Contaminants found in San Angelo, Texas, water supply

Officials in San Angelo, Texas, recently received noticed that the drinking water supply in the city contained too many chemical by-products that could potentially  be harmful when consumed, according to the San Angelo Standard-Times. The specific by-products found in the drinking water supply come from a group of chemicals called trihalomethanes. When chlorine is used to disinfect the water, the chemical inadvertently mixes with organic matter found within the water to produce the unwanted by-product.

The acceptable limit for trihalomethanes in drinking water set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is .08 milligrams per liter, the news source reports. According to the public notice issued to the city by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the water in San Angelo contained approximately .096 milligrams per liter.

Although health officials have insisted that the residents of San Angelo are facing no immediate threat from the drinking water and can continue to consume from the city's supply, there are long-term health issues that could develop. According to the news source, heavy consumption of trihalomethanes over time can lead to liver, kidney or central nervous systems problems, as well as an increased risk of getting cancer. People on dialysis are at a higher risk for these medical conditions as well.

"It's not a short-term hazard," TCEQ spokeswoman Andrew morrow told the news source. "It's a long-term health effect. It happens from time to time." She added that contamination can be treated by blending water with another source.

Another way of ensuring a drinking water supply that is fully safe to drink – despite the TCEQ's assurances about the water in San Angelo – is to install bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers take advantage of UV technology to remove most contaminants from water.

Northwestern University introduces ‘nano-velcro’ to detect toxic metals in drinking water

Researchers at Northwestern University, in conjunction with their peers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, recently developed a nanoparticle system to detect trace levels of heavy metals and other toxic elements in drinking water, according to The Earth Times. Details on the system, known as 'nano-Velcro,' were published in the recent Nature Materials journal.

The teams were led by Francesco Stellacci at the EPFL and Bartosz Grzybowski at Northwestern University, according to Gizmag. The research project was undertaken with the intention of developing a cheaper and more efficient way of detecting these potentially dangerous elements, instead of the archaic and expensive methods currently in use.

"The system currently being used to test for mercury and its very toxic derivative, methyl mercury, is a time-intensive process that costs millions of dollars and can only detect quantities at already toxic levels," Grzybowski told The Earth Times. "Ours can detect very small amounts. This is important because if you drink polluted water with low levels of mercury every day, it could add up and possibly lead to diseases later on. With this system, consumers would one day have the ability to test their home tap water for toxic metals."

The system largely consists of a thin strip of glass that is coated by a film of "hairy" nanoparticles, which led to the 'nano-Velcro' nickname, the news source reports. If any positively charged item, known as a metal cation, such as methyl mercury elements comes between two hairs, the hairs will then shut and trap the pollutant. The metal cation would then be able to conduct electricity. A voltage-measuring device is then used to calculate the exact amount of electricity being conducted. If more ions are trapped within the hairs, more voltage will show up on the measuring device, indicating the degree of methyl mercury within.

According to Gizmag, what makes the system particularly accurate and reliable is that methyl mercury contains unique properties among elements. These traits ensure that only the mercury is trapped, ignoring other substances that could potentially throw off the testing results. Recent tests run at Lake Michigan obtained comparably accurate results to conventional techniques used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Along with its accuracy, one of the key selling points of the 'nano-Velcro' is its affordability. The news source reports that the nanoparticle film costs less than $10 to make, while the device to measure the currents costs several hundred dollars. With such affordability, researchers from both universities hope that the technology will be available to consumers to test their drinking water at home soon.

Until that technology is commercially available, residences and offices should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers feature five-stage filtration to remove many of the dangerous elements and chemicals found in most drinking water supplies.

Illinois’ water infrastructure set to undergo $1 billion overhaul

As part of the 40th anniversary of the national Clean Water Act, Illinois Governor PAt Quinn recently launched the $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in a bid to upgrade the state's aging water infrastructure, according to Water World.

As part of the effort to upgrade the archaic water system, Governor Quinn initiated a program by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to expand the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program. The initiative, which makes low-interest loans to communities, was increased to $1 billion at the governor's request.

"On this anniversary of the landmark Clean Water Act, we renew our commitment to this precious, irreplaceable resource," Governor Quinn said in a statement. "Our Clean Water Initiative will preserve this legacy for future generations, improve our drinking water and put thousands of Illinoisans back to work."

The news source reports that there are currently $900 million in proposed projects awaiting review. With the allotment of new funds, dispersed among various local communities, the IEPA will be able to work with agency officials to ensure that some of these projects are met.

Along with upgrading drinking water supply systems – including installing new pipelines, enhancing water sanitization technologies and issuing educational programs – officials in various communities in Illinois should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench. These water coolers feature state-of-the-art UV sanitization and five-stage filtration technologies to ensure the cleanest and safest drinking water supply available to consumers.

High levels of radium found in Pecos County drinking water

Levels of radium that are beyond safe standards for drinking water have been found in water sources in Pecos County, Texas, according to News West 9. Although officials are saying that the levels of radium – a radioactive material that occurs naturally in rocks and soil – is not harmful to humans or animals, residents have expressed concerns.

"We are trying to correct the problem which is by drilling another well, the well has been completed but its not online yet," County Precinct 2 Commissioner Santiago Cantu told the news source. "The community knows that it's not something that's gonna be real harmful or they can't drink it because they are gonna immediately feel something."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Safe Drinking Water Act limits the Maximum Containment Levels (MCL) of radium to 5 picocuries per liter. This amount limits the increased cancer risk to about 2 in 10,000. The EPA's website also notes that there are certain geographic regions in the United States where higher concentrations of radium in water occurs due to geologic sources.

The news source reports that Pecos County Fresh Water has been in violation for the past six months, since the initial discovery of the elevated levels of radium in their drinking water. Officials have continued to downplay any possible threats, while expressing their beliefs that the new well would decrease the levels of radium.

Residents in Pecos County should call for the widespread installation of bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers feature UV technology and five-stage filtration which removes most of the contaminants from drinking water sources to render them safe for consumption.

Iowa implements customer education program to impart lessons on value of water

Iowa American Water (IAW) is continuing its education program to help enlighten its customers on the processes that bring tap water into the their homes, what improvements are needed throughout the system, water efficiency and conservation efforts and the overall value of water, according to Water World. The state's largest investor-owned water utility hopes to not only inform customers of steps they can take to ensure they are receiving all the services they need, but also to highlight some pertinent water issues facing both the company and the industry at large.

"Since most of our infrastructure is underground and not seen, people don't realize what is involved," Randy Moore, the president of Iowa American Water, told the news source. "Through this education initiative, we're hoping to help customers better understand the systems and processes that provide them with reliable water service. As trusted stewards of the water supply, we work hard to treat and deliver high-quality water to our customers, and to make ongoing system improvements that benefit them now and in the future."

The company will be issuing brochures as part of customers' water bills this quarter. Included in the brochures will be a wealth of information on various issues, including an illustration of the state's underground and above ground water system. According to the news source, the company's research has revealed that most consumers rarely, if ever, think about the process of delivering safe drinking water to their homes. The brochure will also feature segments on improvements and investments that Iowa American Water has undertaken in recent years. These include the replacement of water mains and pipes, enhanced treatment capabilities and advanced metering technology that reduce leakages.

Additionally, the company will be expanding its consumer education program through a variety of different channels, the news source reports. These other channels will include community events and social media efforts. Social networks in particular will receive a heavy emphasis, with an updated company Facebook page that provides real-time updates on system improvement projects and customer programs, as well as tips for efficient water use.

One tip that the company could include in its education outreach programs is to recommend using bottleless water coolers from Quench. These water coolers help prevent leaks commonly found in tap sources, as well as provides state-of-the-art filtration technology to ensure the cleanest drinking water available.

Methane found in drinking water raises concerns about hydraulic fracturing

A recent study of drinking water sources revealed that increased levels of methane at locations near hydraulic fracturing wells has raised concerns of residents in the community of Lubbock, Texas that their drinking water was also contaminated, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.

The news source reports that methane has been discovered in drinking water sources around the country, particularly in Pennsylvania. A 2011 study by the National Academy of Sciences examined water sources near several northeastern Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – wells. The increase in methane levels within the underground water sources was attributed to the close proximity to the nearby fracking wells. With a massive deluge of such wells in the state of Texas, members of the Lubbock Board of Health were beginning to voice their concerns.

"New data shows that methane from shale that comes 1,000 feet below drinking water was found to be contaminating drinking water," Board of Health member Anne Epstein told the news source. "This doesn't establish that it will happen in Lubbock, but it does pass down on what we thought was a very reassuring distance between the shale and groundwater. There has been some strong, scientific evidence for groundwater contamination from these studies."

Fracking is a process that is growing in frequency in the United States, as alternative sources of energy are being experimented on. The hydraulic fracturing process is used to release natural gas, with nine out of 10 such gas wells adopting the procedure, the news source reports. By pumping in millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and other chemicals, energy companies and drillers hope to break apart the rock and release the valuable gas trapped within. However, environmental advocates and opponents of the fracking process have cited the numerous causes of environmental degradation attributed to fracking.

According to Clean Water Action, at least eight states – including Texas and Pennsylvania -  have reported some form of surface, ground and drinking water contamination attributed to fracking. Part of the problem is that many of the companies that use fracking fluid have balked at disclosing the specific contents of the mixture. The news source reports that samples from well sites have included such contaminants as formaldehyde, acetic acids and the aforementioned methane. Additionally, some companies have been caught illegally using diesel fuel to pack a more powerful punch in the fracking fluid. Inevitably, many of these contaminants will seep into the groundwater sources that are usually found precariously close to the natural gas wells.

To ensure that their drinking water remains clean and safe from contaminants such as methane, residents of Lubbock should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench around town. These water coolers use five-stage carbon filtration to remove 99.9 percent of contaminants found in drinking water.