Circle of Blue WaterNews

Circle Of Blue

Founded in 2000 by leading journalists and scientists, Circle of Blue provides relevant, reliable, and actionable on-the-ground information about the world’s resource crises.

With an intense focus on water and its relationships to food, energy, and health, Circle of Blue has created a breakthrough model of front-line reporting, data collection, design, and convening that has evolved with the world’s need to spur new methodology in science, collaboration, innovation, and response. To document emerging and recognized crises, Circle of Blue collaborates with leading scientists and data experts. Through its partnerships, Circle of Blue then dispatches top journalists to map and define the region where the change is occurring. Making connections from localized occurrences to global trends, Circle of Blue publishes these reports online — free of charge — to inform academics, governments, and the general public, catalyzing participation across disciplines, regions, and cultures.

All Episodes

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: water restrictions in South Africa, flooding in South Sudan, and a tussle over hydropower imports in New England.

Nov 28

4 min 36 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: flooding in Canada, drought in Africa, water cooperation in the Middle East and PFAS regulations in Pennsylvania, U.S. This podcast has been updated to reflect corrections.

Nov 22

6 min 20 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: drought and hunger crisis in Afghanistan, swift lead pipe removal in Newark, and a CoB feature on federal water bill assistance.

Nov 15

14 min 48 sec

Climate Change Grips Trout Streams Across the United States by Circle Of Blue

Nov 8

10 min 11 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: Columbia pledges aggressive timeline to protect land; an Oregon city sues to keep Google's water-use data a secret; and a CoB feature on how climate change is gripping trout streams in the U.S.

Nov 8

13 min 27 sec

In the United States, it’s election week, and Circle of Blue reports on state and local ballot measures related to water. In New York state, voters have a chance to enshrine environmental protections in their state constitution, which could revive a legal movement that flourished in the United States a half-century ago. The state of Maine also has a ballot measure linked to water. This hotly contested referendum is focused on the future of electric power in the region. In Boise, Idaho and in Virginia Beach, Virginia, city officials are asking residents to approve measures for massive public works projects.

Nov 1

9 min 3 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: A COP26 preview, dam negotiations in the Nile basin and a CoB feature on U.S. ballot measures relating to water.

Nov 1

12 min 31 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: India floods, removing invasive trees in Cape Town's watershed, and salmon and tribes in California.

Oct 24

3 min 58 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water, from Circle of Blue. This week: river pollution in South Africa, floods in China, a flood risk study in the US, and an Israel-Jordan water agreement.

Oct 17

4 min 56 sec

Ottawa, Illinois learned how to keep its residents out of harms way. But on the river’s edge, safety has often required sacrifice.

Oct 11

9 min 28 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week: UN Human Rights Office report on water access in Israel and Palestine, and drinking water contamination problems in two Great Lakes communities. Plus a CoB feature on an Illinois town's actions to reduce flood risk.

Oct 10

13 min 15 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on effects of wildfire on water supplies in the American West, U.S. flood insurance premiums are going up, and UN researchers develop a global flood risk map. Plus a CoB feature on Michigan irrigation.

Oct 10

14 min 4 sec

A new narrative about water and irrigation is becoming more significant in Michigan as the century progresses, and water scarcity worsens across much of the rest of the nation. As abundant fresh water and temperate climate become more attractive to out-of-state farm companies, Michigan is experiencing its own early confrontations over water supply and scarcity.

Oct 4

9 min 22 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week: the effects of wildfire on water supplies in the American West, U.S. flood insurance premiums are going up, and UN researchers develop a global flood risk map. Plus a CoB feature on Michigan irrigation.

Oct 4

14 min 4 sec

Circle of Blue reports on key water questions ahead of a crucial UN climate conference.

Sep 27

7 min 30 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week's stories: arsenic from groundwater contaminating the food supply in an Indian state, state data shows little residential water conservation in California, and thousands are sickened after a toxic wastewater spill from an Angolan diamond mine. Plus a CoB feature on water's role in reducing carbon emissions.

Sep 26

11 min 12 sec

This is an excerpt of the September 20, 2021 episode of What's Up With Water. When diplomats and government ministers converge on Glasgow this fall, they hope to rekindle pivotal negotiations on global climate that were dampened during the pandemic. They will confront a world much altered since their last convention. As Covid-19 continues to rampage globally, it has underscored the the contrast between the resources available to the rich and to the poor when dealing with environmental stressors. But further, floods in Germany’s Ahr Valley and wildfires in Greece and the American West prove that no country, rich or poor, is immune to the terrors of a fevered planet, with calamities that were summarized in a recent climate science report from the United Nations. That report, in the technical language of probabilities and scenarios, emphasized the urgency of the moment. It stressed the need to reduce the release of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, and to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Over the past year, torrential floods, exhausting droughts, and deadly heat waves have sharpened focus on the mandate to adapt. Adaptation is moving up the agenda in the weeks preceding the UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference, which runs from October 31 to November 12. Some have taken to calling the Glasgow meeting the “adaptation convention.”

Sep 21

9 min 7 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: a First Nations reserve in Canada gets clean drinking water, environmental activist murders set a new high in 2020, and an NPR investigation finds a federal agency that provides low-income housing is disproportionately selling homes in flood-prone areas. Plus, a CoB feature on on how water fits into the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference.

Sep 19

12 min 42 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: supply chain problems for water treatment chemicals, more of India's poorest households are getting piped water, and editors of medical journals issue a warning about climate change's threat to public health. Plus: a CoB feature on policing water use in California.

Sep 13

13 min 27 sec

This is an excerpt of the August 30, 2021 episode of What's Up With Water. After a year of extreme weather, people in the drylands of northern California and the hurricane-drenched bayous of southern Louisiana are brooding on the same question: should they leave? New global research suggests that one of these two “water shock” scenarios is more likely to result in migration. World Bank researchers found that people are five times as likely to move following drought conditions as they are after floods or periods of excess water. The finding is part of a report on water and migration released last week during World Water Week, an annual conference. The report details the nuanced relationship between changes in water availability and the movement of people.

Aug 30

7 min 24 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on Egypt's desalination ambitions, research into the cause of devastating floods in Germany last month, and a potential nuclear waste site near Lake Huron. Plus a CoB feature on the World Bank's migration report.

Aug 30

11 min 33 sec

This is an excerpt of the August 23, 2021 episode of What's Up With Water. The implications of the drying American Southwest and the limits to the region’s water supply are increasingly apparent. The federal government marked the changing conditions recently, declaring a Tier 1 shortage for the lower Colorado River basin. The shortage declaration will force Arizona and Nevada, as well as Mexico to further reduce their withdrawals from the river in 2022. California, the other lower basin state, is not affected. The declaration also sets the stage for more drastic measures in the near future since Lake Mead is projected to fall another 30 feet over the next two years. Mead and Powell, the basin’s largest reservoirs, are the lowest they have been since they were first filled.

Aug 23

5 min 55 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the unusual way the pandemic is affecting water availability in Orlando, and water pollution from the fashion industry in Africa. This week's CoB feature is on cuts to Colorado River water.

Aug 22

10 min 12 sec

This is an excerpt of the August 16, 2021 episode of What's Up With Water. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of the world’s leading climate scientists, has released its sixth assessment report. The 1,300-page paper is the most comprehensive, up-to-date survey of the physical science of climate change. It synthesizes the findings of thousands of recent publications. The report paints an alarming picture of the future of fresh water. It concludes that man-made contributions to a warming planet are far-reaching.

Aug 18

4 min 22 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water, from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on a broadband-water pipe collaboration in the UK, dry wells in the US, and a massive ice melt in Greenland. Plus a CoB feature on the IPCC report.

Aug 16

8 min 9 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on people moving into flood zones, the Canadian government's settlement with First Nations over clean water funding, and drought update in California. Plus a CoB exclusive on waste-to-energy technology.

Aug 9

11 min 36 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: deadly protests in Iran, low water in Argentina's Parana River restricts farm exports, Saudi Arabia suspends selling a stake in the world's largest desalination plant, and Lake Powell hits a record low.

Aug 2

4 min 24 sec

This is an excerpt from Circle of Blue's July 12, 2021 episode of What's Up With Water. The acceleration of disaster is repeating worldwide, in part because vulnerable people and developments are moving into terrain that is hazardous.  Landslides in the unstable Himalaya mountains in recent years have demolished newly built hydropower stations and killed hundreds. Over 200 were dead or missing this February from the Chamoli disaster there.  But the acceleration is also occurring because a supercharged climate is churning up more powerful hurricanes, more punishing droughts, more oppressive heat waves, and altogether more environmental and water-related risk. António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, emphasized that point last week at a special UN session on water and disasters. He said “Last year, cyclones lashed the shores of many countries that were already grappling with serious liquidity crises and debt burdens, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.” The scenario that Guterres described — cyclone plus debt plus pandemic — is an example of what researchers call “compounding” or “cascading” disasters. These are disasters that build upon one another, their effects rippling across society.

Jul 12

9 min 6 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week: a controversial oil pipeline in Memphis area is cancelled, the Chinese vice premier calls for environmental protections in the Yellow River basin, and an exclusive CoB story on the strain of constant disasters.

Jul 12

11 min 41 sec

This is an excerpt of the June 28, 2021 episode of What's Up With Water. This year, the intensely dry conditions gripping the American West and Upper Midwest are well past the brown hills stage. Nine western states have some form of drought in nearly 90 percent of their area. More than a quarter of the region is considered to be in exceptional drought, which is the worst category in the U.S. Drought Monitor. Signs of widespread dryness are everywhere. Lakes Mead and Powell, the major reservoirs on the Colorado River, are only 35 percent full with a two-year outlook that worsened each month this spring. California officials told vineyards along the Russian River in May that the system is too depleted for irrigation. In April, in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, sailboats were lifted out of receding waters that were too shallow to float them. In the Klamath River that flows between Oregon and California, few juvenile salmon are expected to survive this season. In Arizona, the Rafael Fire, burning in the Prescott National Forest near Flagstaff, grew to 36,000 acres since it was sparked on June 18 by lightning. When water stops flowing, painful days are at hand.

Jun 28

9 min 3 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from "Circle of Blue." This week: The killing of an Indigenous activist in Mexico and unsustainable groundwater use in Arkansas. Plus, an exclusive CoB feature on the widespread consequences of drought.

Jun 28

11 min 54 sec

This is an excerpt of the June 21, 2021 edition of What's Up With Water. On Memorial Day, while many Californians were celebrating the unofficial start to summer, the residents of a house off of County Road 200 were contemplating a loss. That day, the homeowners in northern Glenn County submitted an anonymous report to a state database. It said that their drinking water well was on the verge of sputtering out. The well was shallow, only 75 feet deep, and the flow had slowed to a trickle. It pulled water from its site outside the town of Orland, an agricultural valley some 100 miles north of Sacramento, an area covered by almond, walnut, and olive orchards. The failing well was not an isolated case — and not a quick fix either, as the incident report went on to recount, saying: “Everyone around us and neighbors are having the same problems and with our water table being so low we will have to drill the well deeper but the wait list in Orland and Glenn County is months out and we cannot afford that cost.” In this blistering year in California, drinking water wells are going dry in increasing numbers. It’s rekindling memories of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, when over 2,600 wells across the state stopped producing water. California is not yet to that level of emergency. But a state database for household water supply issues received 38 dry well reports in the first 12 days of June, the most for any month in nearly five years.

Jun 21

7 min 3 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. THis week: a controversial dam in the Nile basin, groundwater depletion in Iran, and drought impacting water supplies in Iowa. Plus, a CoB exclusive on dry wells in California.

Jun 21

10 min 14 sec

This is an excerpt of the June 14, 2021 edition of What's Up With Water. Microscopic phytoplankton, which are the foundation of the marine food chain, are some of the world’s most abundant and ancient organisms. Though essential to ocean life, they produce plenty of drawbacks, too. When they cluster along the coast, certain species paint the nearshore waters in a palette of fiery reds and mossy greens. Other toxin-producing species cause beach closures, kill fish, and lead to restrictions on harvesting clams and oysters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these marine harmful algal blooms are on the rise. But are they really increasing globally? According to a first-ever assessment, the answer is no.

Jun 17

6 min 6 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: an investigation of the deadly Uttarakhand avalanche that happened in February, a Canadian town might get clean water for the first time in 20 years, and PFAS in rain samples in the Great Lakes. Plus, an exclusive CoB feature on a toxic threat to the world’s coastlines.

Jun 14

10 min 5 sec

Circle of Blue reports on a shrinking Lake Mead.

Jun 7

7 min 14 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: oxygen depletion in lakes, China flood risk, and dams located near toxic waste sites. Plus, a CoB exclusive feature on "water savings accounts" in Lake Mead.

Jun 7

10 min 52 sec

This is an excerpt of the May 24, 2021 edition of What's Up With Water. Frank Picozzi, the mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, wants $10 million to replace water and sewer pipes. In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards floated the idea of $300 million for water and sewer infrastructure. Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, meanwhile, is putting $250 million into upgrading his state’s water systems and connecting rural residents to clean drinking water. These potential investments are made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, a coronavirus relief package that includes substantial sums for public works. President Biden is promoting a multitrillion-dollar standalone infrastructure bill — a proposal that includes over 100 billion dollars to remove lead pipes, upgrade rural water systems, and clean up toxic PFAS chemicals. But in the meantime, the American Rescue Plan Act is a windfall of its own. When lawmakers in Congress passed the $1.9 trillion rescue plan in March, they opened the public purse in a bid to stoke the economy and help the country recover from a deadly pandemic. In addition to stimulus checks and support for families with children, the act set aside $350 billion for states, cities, and tribal governments. The act allowed for state and local funds to be spent in several ways, including premium pay to essential workers, aid to businesses and households, and covering expenses incurred during the pandemic. The act also stated that funds can be used for “necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.” But what is a necessary investment?

May 24

6 min 23 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: drought in Taiwan, carbon emissions from dam reservoirs, and dirty water tanks in the US. Plus an exclusive CoB feature on water infrastructure investments from the American Rescue Plan.

May 23

11 min

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on Great Lakes water levels, the deep fingerprints that drought left on Australia's rivers, and failure to plan for climate adaptation. And an exclusive CoB feature on dry conditions in the American West.

May 17

10 min 26 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week - water and sewer utility privatization in Brazil and a legal test of the rights of nature in California. Plus, a CoB exclusive feature on financing innovations that are changing the shape of water, sanitation, and hygiene access around the world.

May 10

11 min 43 sec

This is an excerpt of the May 3, 2021 edition of What's Up With Water. In December, when Congress completed the 2021 budget, lawmakers added more funding to help low- and middle-income Americans withstand the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a second round of stimulus payments, lawmakers included over $600 million for households that were behind on their water bills. It was the first time that Congress had set aside federal funding for that purpose. Little more than two months later, Congress doubled down on the approach, adding another $500 million to what is now officially called the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program. In total, over a billion dollars will be available to relieve households of water debts. That’s where the process has slowed. As of late April, none of those funds has been allocated to the states, let alone distributed to families in need. State allocations, to be set by the Department of Health and Human Services, are based on poverty levels and high housing costs. Recently, the department’s Office of Community Services said that they expect the initial funding to be disbursed to states, tribes, and territories by late May.

May 3

6 min 12 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. Stories this week on financing a canal around Istanbul, how the pandemic reduced the rate of snow melt in South Asia, an unstable glacial lake in Tibet and the threat of historic drought in California. Plus CoB on the status of federal aid for household water debts.

May 3

12 min 58 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: a Gallup poll about drinking water pollution, Louisiana lawmakers wanting to create a report card for drinking water systems, and concerns about dry wells this summer in California. Plus an exclusive CoB story on the risk of dry wells globally.

Apr 26

7 min 20 sec

This is an excerpt of the April 19, 2021 edition of What's Up With Water. Circle of Blue looks at a report on California’s drinking water systems showing that hundreds are below health standards, and hundreds more are at risk. In 2018, when California lawmakers were debating a funding package for clean drinking water, one of things they didn’t know was the extent of the need. The State Water Resources Control Board has released the 2021 Drinking Water Needs Assessment report, so now regulators have a detailed picture of where things stand: how many small water systems are failing or at the brink of failure and what it would cost to bring them up to par. The California needs assessment found over 300 public water systems that consistently fail to provide drinking water that meets state and federal standards. Add to this some 600 public water systems that are at risk of failing. There are also roughly 600 state small systems, those that serve fewer than 25 people, that are at high risk of failing to meet health standards because of their location in aquifers with a high risk of contaminated groundwater.

Apr 19

8 min 44 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: Stories on the volcanic eruption in St. Vincent, drying of Dhanauri wetlands in India, and $205M settlement in Delaware over air and groundwater contamination from a chicken processing plant. Plus a CoB exclusive feature on failing water systems in California.

Apr 19

12 min 17 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: drought in Taiwan, dry conditions in California, and PFAS lawsuits. Plus and exclusive CoB feature on federal study of PFAS exposure and viral illness.

Apr 11

9 min 11 sec

The Biden administration’s historic pitch to remove all lead drinking water pipes is part of a $111 billion proposal for water systems.

Apr 5

6 min 30 sec

Your "need to know" news of the world's water from Circle of Blue. This week: An election in Greenland could affect mining; groundwater as a factor in ocean pollution; and a massive restoration project in Louisiana. Plus a CoB exclusive feature on President Biden’s infrastructure plan and what’s in it for water.

Apr 5

11 min 6 sec

A critical juncture is reached for providing water to state’s rural communities

Apr 1

13 min 30 sec