After the fire: Blazes pose hidden threat to the West’s drinking water

photo: Tubbs wildfire destroyed homes, may release chemical contaminants

Photo: The ruins of houses destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on Oct. 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. David McNew / Getty Images file

At least 65 percent of the public water supply in the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas, and wildfires can taint water with toxins and parasites.

Gerald and Serene Buhrz were among the lucky ones.

When they fled their home at 2:00 a.m. on Oct. 8, … [more…]

A permanent solution to California’s water woes — seawater

photo: workin on pipes at world's largest desalination plant (Carlsbad, San Diego County, California)

Workers move a pipe in front of the 2000 pressure vessels that will be used to convert seawater into fresh water through reverse osmosis in the western hemisphere’s largest desalination plant in Carlsbad (San Diego County). Long ignored as too costly and environmentally dubious, desalination is returning to the public discussion of how to address California’s water woes. Photo: Gregory Bull / Associated Press 2015

“During the dry years, the

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‘Like a Terror Movie’: How Climate Change Will Cause More Simultaneous Disasters

photo: disaster areas and climate change

Photo: A seaside neighborhood in Mexico Beach, Fla., devastated by Hurricane Michael this year. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Global warming is posing such wide-ranging risks to humanity, involving so many types of phenomena, that by the end of this century some parts of the world could face as many as six climate-related crises at the same time, researchers say.

This chilling prospect is described in a paper published Monday in Nature [more…]

Diverse forests are stronger against drought

photo: Aspens affected by drought. Credit: William Anderegg

Photo: Aspens affected by drought. Credit: William Anderegg

Resilient forests host trees with a diversity of water-use strategies

Diversity is strength, even among forests. In a paper published in Nature, researchers led by University of Utah biologist William Anderegg report that forests with trees that employ a high diversity of traits related to water use suffer less of an impact from drought. The results, which expand on previous work … [more…]

Utah copes with drying streams, dying animals as drought tightens its grip

photo: Sam Plumb in Emigration Canyon. Utah copes with drying streams, dying animals as drought tightens its grip — with no relief in sight

(Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune) Sam Plumb inspects the dry creek bed on his family’s property in Emigration Canyon.

…with no relief in sight

After one of the hottest and driest summers on record, Utah’s water supplies are so low that agricultural water deliveries have been cut short, stream gauges need to be repositioned to measure paltry flows, young deer and elk are dying and ranchers are liquidating their

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