Celebrating World Water Day With a Fresh New Blog

By Tasha Eichenseher | March 22, 2013 11:49 am

Happy World Water Day and welcome to Water Works — a blog about the deep and shallow aspects of our planet’s lakes, rivers, and seemingly vast stores of underground water. Earth’s water supply works for us in thousands of ways — we employ it to fuel energy production; we harness it to make cement and computers; and of all of the freshwater flowing on the planet, we divert a whopping 70 percent through increasingly elaborate irrigation systems to grow food and other crops.

I’ve spent the last few years taking fieldtrips of sorts with farmers, engineers, chemists, fishermen, and a whole host of wildlife to see how we capture, treat, and distribute this critical resource. Water Works will be a way to share some of those stories, as well as comment on water-related news — from droughts and fracking to river restoration and new nanotechnology filters. The blog will keep you updated on relevant reports, projects, and peer-reviewed research that reflect and help shape the way we perceive and interact with the fresh elements of the hydrosphere.


WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: Two NASA satellite photos from the agency’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) project show how the Qadisiyah Reservoir in Iraq is shrinking. The reservoir, along the Euphrates River, and in the “cradle of civilization” — where irrigated agriculture emerged nearly 8,000 years ago — lost 117 million acre feet of water (enough water to cover 117 million football fields a foot deep) between 2003 and 2009, according to researchers. This was due, in part, to aggressive groundwater pumping for agriculture. As in most watersheds, aquifers in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley are connected through the water table to surface waters. The United Nations has devoted this years’ World Water Day to discussion of cooperation, instead of conflict and potential water wars. There are few places where the line between the two is more fragile. The Tigris and the Euphrates originate as snowmelt in the highlands of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, before running hundreds of miles to the Persian Gulf. Countries in the basin, including Syria, are scrambling to secure limited resources, as populations grow and climates dry out. Despite a series of attempts at international water management agreements in the region over the course of almost 70 years, Turkey maintains the upper hand, continuing to build massive upstream dams that threaten to withhold precious supplies from downstream neighbors.

You have no doubt heard about the global water crisis. Scarcity and pollution present debilitating obstacles to human and environmental health (according to the World Health Organization 780 million people lack access to clean water). In an effort to cover these issues without driving readers into depression, Water Works will be more about the journey from source to tap. It will focus on landscapes and solutions, ingenuity, and the resilience of freshwater ecosystems. It will try to capture the culture of water. I’ll take a deep dive into debates about water management, but also post examples of remarkable and quirky water-inspired photography, art, and infrastructure; interview experts and authors; and revisit interesting milestones in the history of water, and civilization. I also look forward to hearing from readers who have their own field reports on the state of the world’s water.

Together we will stay afloat. Stay tuned for more…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Drought, Select, Water, World Water Day
  • https://delicious.com/robertford Robert Ford

    sucks that the animals are effected by this. I couldn’t care less about the people tho

    • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.silvers.90 Stacey Silvers

      Just imagine what you could accomplish if you put that angry energy into educating more people about the responsibility we all have to water? With love in your heart…..

  • http://twitter.com/TexCIS Becky Hunter
  • Blade Avuari

    I find it unnerving that I could only read about half of what the page said… The information displayed on the image is off the screen on the mobile site. Oh, and I hope this new sectionblog will be successful.

    • Breanna Draxler

      Hey, Blade. Unfortunately this is a result of your mobile device deciding where to cut the image off, and its caption goes with it. We’re looking into the issue, but this doesn’t appear to be something that we, at DISCOVER, have control over. We’ll try to keep the content in the post itself rather than the captions so this auto-cropping won’t prevent you from getting all the info in the future. Thanks for letting us know about the problem, and happy reading!

  • http://www.cfpphysiciansgroup.com/our-doctors-staff/ Family Medicine Doctors

    Water make your life, from morning to evening its keeps you alive,

  • evolveordie

    Having just returned from 4 years in the Middle East and consuming almost entirely desalinated water, I find the most depressing aspect to global freshwater shortages to be the total lack of any interest in managing human populations. In spite of having to desalinate 60% (and growing) of the water that they use, they continue to have babies at such a high rate that their population is growing at 2% per year. That will double the population in 35 years. Most of the other countries of the area are the doing the same but without the wealth that Saudi Arabia commands. Syria was already losing it’s farming capability because of lack of water and the poverty was increasing fast even before the current conflict. Glad I am back to the West Coast of Canada.

  • SusanC

    As a high school science teacher married to a farmer who uses reservoir water to irrigate crops in the semi-arid Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, I look forward to more on this blog. Coming from the eastern edge of the Ozark mountains where everyone I knew as a child used natural spring water for household use (and growing up only 30 miles from the world’s second largest cold water spring) I had no idea that there were places where water was so precious as it is here in the intermountain west. The water cycle is one that I spend a lost of time teaching in biology, since all students here know what an issue water is, living with its scarcity one year and abundance the next. We as a society must learn to conserve water. I wish the climate and energy debates would also include more water related issues, since no one can live more than a few days without it!


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Water Works

Water Works is a forum for telling stories about where our drinking water and food come from. It traces tap water back to its source, demystifies tales of pollution, dissects infrastructure, digs into soil quality, explores efficient farming, touches on energy and climate issues, and gets to the root of predicted food and water security problems.

About Tasha Eichenseher

Tasha Eichenseher is a senior editor at Discover magazine, where she produces print and digital stories and manages the Discover blogging network . With more than a decade of science journalism experience, Tasha has spent the last few years focused on writing and editing content about water. Before moving back to Wisconsin, she helped to launch National Geographic's freshwater initiative, website, and news series, and blogged for Water Currents. In 2011 and 2012, she studied water law, wastewater treatment and aquatic ecosystems as a Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellow at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She takes her water with whiskey.


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