The weekly wash-up (May 6th)

River and water news – May 6th, 2014

Commission in the firing line  The National Water Commission could be axed in the upcoming Federal Budget. The decade-old commission is an independent statutory authority which advises the Commonwealth on water policy and also monitors and audits programs like the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The commission is important because of its independent status. Environmentalists have warned against scrapping the commission citing the renewed push to agriculturally develop the north. While a cap on water extraction has been agreed to in the Murray-Darling (after years of conflict), the commission as an independent umpire, could prevent similar conflicts over water occurring in the north.

Urine-tinged water diverted to another reservoir   The city of Portland has decided not to flush 35 million gallons of drinking water that might have been tainted by a teenager who urinated at a reservoir (see last wash-up). In an equally bizarre move, the water has been diverted to an empty reservoir to determine how long its quality can last as a public water feature.

In contrast……

Drought stricken town to become first in US to drink recycled water   Wichita Falls, a Texas city of more than 104,000,  is about to become the first place in the U.S. to treat sewage and pump it directly back to residents. The town is suffering the worst drought on record but some of the townsfolk don’t like the idea of drinking recycled water. (Hardly surprising when the media describes it as “drinking toilet water”…)

The alligator snapping turtle is actually three species. Photo by N. Nagel.

The alligator snapping turtle is actually three species. Photo by N. Nagel.

 Two new river turtle species described    Researchers have discovered that the alligator snapping turtle is not one species — but three. By examining museum specimens and wild turtles, the scientists uncovered deep evolutionary divisions in the largest river turtle in North America that lives almost a century.

Pollution and climate change: why what we eat matters   A new report quantifies for the first time how much our food choices affect nitrogen emissions, climate change and land-use across Europe. It shows how much cutting down on meat and dairy in our diets would reduce nitrogen air and water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, while freeing up large areas of farmland for other purposes such as food export or bioenergy.

China’s water glass more than half polluted   An annual  government report has found nearly three-fifths of China’s water to be either moderately or seriously polluted. That’s a slight increase from 2012 despite massive government spending on water conservation in recent years.




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