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Dam on Ethiopia’s Omo River Causing Hunger and Conflict

In the lower Omo River Valley of southern Ethiopia, a spreading humanitarian emergency that threatens to spawn conflicts in the region is largely being met with silence from both the Ethiopian government and the international community. The filling of the reservoir behind Gibe III Dam on the Omo River is holding back the flows needed…

Dam Ideology

When it comes to water, concrete trumps common sense. That was the take-home message Wednesday evening from Daniel P. Beard, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, who spoke at Old Town Farm in Albuquerque on his swing through New Mexico to promote his book, Deadbeat Dams. Our political leaders “appear to be ostriches…

Drawing Out a City: The Basics.

Whether documenting or depicting, we make certain assumptions, even if only temporarily. To draw a city–to construct a city over time–essential structural elements are often the starting point. Places for public gathering, resource and transportation hubs, and (most often) natural elements–rivers, lakes, oceans, and mountains– lay the framework for the city. These points, nodes, or primary…

Painting Her Way Down the Missouri and Mississippi

In July, six paddlers set off to follow the water for 3,500 miles. The group began their adventure at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park, following snowmelt, small creeks and cold water springs to the Missouri River. From the Missouri, they will continue to the Mississippi and then on to the Gulf of Mexico.

Farm Water Management Lessons from the Desert

MARICOPA, AZ — In this patchwork quilt of irrigated green farms tucked into a vast expanse of desert, cacti and mesquite, it seems improbable that water-loving vegetables could be sustainably produced on a large scale. Yet Arizona is second only to California as the country’s largest grower of lettuce, spinach, melon and other such crops.…

Groundbreaking State Law Tested in Colorado Headwaters Stream

Sandra Postel and Todd Reeve The infamous use-it-or lose-it rule is arguably the biggest barrier to water conservation and river-flow restoration in the western United States. It basically says that if anyone holding water rights does not put them to full use, the unused portion can be taken away and allocated to serve the needs…

New Hope for the Salton Sea

By Michael Cohen, Senior Associate, Pacific Institute The Salton Sea, a vast saltwater lake in remote southeastern California providing crucial habitat for birds and wildlife, is quickly approaching a tipping point. Yet several recent actions give hope the lake could turn a corner in the near future. Just yesterday, California announced the appointment of Bruce…

A World Without Rivers

 I was looking at a river bed And the story it told of a river that flowed Made me sad to think it was dead (From the song “A Horse with No Name” by America) Some of my favorite photographic images are those of the Earth filmed from satellites in space. In those breathtakingly beautiful…

Sustainable Food Production Would End Lake Erie Dead Zones

By Suzy Friedman

Summer fun should include diving into refreshing, clear oceans and lakes. But for communities around the western side of Lake Erie, the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, this tradition is likely to yet again be disrupted by a severe algae bloom. Fortunately, there is good news, and a real change is underway. One of the most exciting solutions isn’t coming from the government, but from our food system itself.

New film captures beauty, mystery of Georgia’s Flint River

“I’m trying to reconnect to something that is older than what we know…It’s just like any wild thing, when you get close to it, it moves away — doesn’t want to be caught, doesn’t want to be dissected. There’s a certain amount of mystery that you need to leave intact.” So says Jimmy Miller in…

As the Gold King Spill Reminds Us, We All Live Downstream

Around this time last year, I was walking the banks of the Animas River in Durango, the southwestern Colorado town blindsided last week when the river turned a sickly yellow-orange from a colossal spill of toxic mine drainage upstream near Silverton. It’s hard to imagine a river more central to a town than the Animas…

What the River Knows: Bagmati River, Nepal

The Bagmati River at Pushupatinath Temple, Katmandu, Nepal

I am clogged with human ash and bits of bone. Garlands of marigolds float on my body as an old monkey watches. I have always borne the remains of the dead, who are taken to the Pashupatinath Temple on my banks near Kathmandu, Nepal, placed on pyres, ignited, and blessed in Hindu ceremonies. The cremated are swept into my murky waters to plod along toward the confluence with the great mother Ganga as I join other tributaries downstream.

Solar Desalination Could be a Game Changer for California Farms

Let’s be clear from the outset: I’m no fan of conventional desalination. The idea of using climate-altering fossil fuels to drive an energy-intensive de-salting process that threatens coastal environments in order to produce drinking water that, in most cases, could be secured more cheaply through conservation and efficiency improvements, simply fails to pass the bar…

How can you eat, eat, eat–and stay healthy? Ask a blind cavefish.

Barbecues and clambakes. Ice cream and berry pies. Summer is the season of food, food and more food. Is there a way to binge and still stay healthy? For answers, look far underground, say scientists, to the denizens of darkness: blind cavefish. Biologists studied blind cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, living in freshwater pools in deep caves…

Water and Climate Change: Solutions on Washington’s Yakima River

Daily headlines are driving home the fact that climate change is hitting rivers and water supplies first and worst. But too often, the narrative devolves into a debate over the false choice of “fish vs farms,” highlighted in this recent NPR interview.  So where is the path forward?  How do we meet all of our…