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Paying the price of water

When you look at the image from space, you’d wonder why anyone living near the Great Lakes in North America was short of water.

Water isn’t usually a significant household expenditure. But in Chicago the cost of water for the average family of four nearly tripled in the last decade.

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UK Regulator industry exam results

Water industry regulator Ofwat has reviewed the 5 year plans offered up by UK water companies for 2020-2025.

Unlike the new 9 – 1 GCSE grades in England, there are only 3 categories when it comes to marking: A*, Must do better, and Fail.

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Drought Contingency Plan

Lake Mead is a reservoir that helps supply water for 25 million people in Nevada, Arizona, and California, and some in Mexico. The dam that created the lake is the Hoover Dam, built in 1936.

It is one of a series of dams in the West of the USA that store water and generate electricity enabling cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix to exist in the desert. The water enables farming as well as supporting habitation.

Increasing population, rising demand and years of drought mean that the reservoirs are running low. Dean Farr’s data and interactive map illustrate the issue beautifully. The challenges and implications get excellent coverage in Vox.

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Toxic brine from desalination plants

A new study has highlighted the problem of brine discharged from desalination plants.

More than half the brine comes from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, with Saudi Arabia alone accounting for 22%. 3 countries - the Maldives, Malta and the Bahamas - meet all their water needs with desalination.

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We only have 12 years to save the earth!

Flash, I love you! But we only have 12 years to save the Earth!

In the film of Flash Gordon, NASA scientists claim the unexpected eclipse and strange hot hail are nothing to worry about.

Not so in our current reality. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has warned that we only have 12 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, after which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

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Summertime and the livin' isn’t easy

The UK Climate Projections 2018 study says that summer temperatures could be 5.4C hotter by 2070.

The chances of having a summer as warm as this year’s summer (2018) is currently 15-20%. That’s going to rise to 50%. In other words, as likely as not.

The warmer summers will also be much drier, with average summer rainfall dropping by 47%.

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Are water firms ready for extreme weather events?

Ofwat, the UK water regulator, is set to take a hard line with water companies this winter if bad weather strikes again.

A spokesperson for the regulator says it expects all companies to “show they have learned lessons and are prepared for whatever the weather brings”.

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Mind the gap

Ari Mahairas is the special agent in charge of the Special Operations and the Cyber Division at the F.B.I.’s New York field office. Peter J. Beshar is the general counsel of the Marsh & McLennan Companies, and has testified frequently before the US Congress on cybersecurity.

The two have written an article in the New York Times pointing to the vulnerability of water companies to attack by cybercriminals.

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Need a dam? Try crowdfunding

Water companies face many challenges. Increasing and urbanising population, more extreme weather events, ageing network infrastructure, an ageing workforce, and customers becoming more demanding. The problem is they don’t have more money to address these challenges.

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Trunk mains

We often talk about ageing infrastructure as one of the challenges facing the water industry.

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