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Focus: Impacts of Humans and Their Economy on the Environment Last Updated on 2009-02-27 21:45:49 The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a Dear Colleague Letter to the scientific community ". . . encouraging increased research . . . on the links among environment, society and the economy." Image Above: NSF is supporting research on climate change and Earth's environment, society and economy. Credit: Department of Sustainability and Environment, State of Victoria, Australia More »
Improving freshwater management in Africa Last Updated on 2008-08-25 00:00:00 Fika Phatso Dam in the eastern Free State, South Africa. In recent years there has been a dramatic fall in water levels due to, among other factors, overutilization. (Source: A. Mohamed) An improved legal and institutional context with enhanced transparency and accountability could contribute to more effective resource management, and at the same time maximize available opportunities and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of benefits. This would have positive spinoffs at multiple levels, including for human well-being and in particular health and nutrition, livelihoods and economic development. An improved governance framework will need to address: Basic principles, such as equity and efficiency in water allocation and distribution, the need for integrated management approaches using the catchment and basin as basic units, and the need to balance the different water... More »
Clean Water Act, United States Last Updated on 2008-07-21 00:00:00 Increasing public interest in protecting America‚Äôs waters from pollution pushed Congress to enact the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, popularly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), in 1972. As amended in 1977, this law became commonly known as the Clean Water Act. The Act established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. Its principle intent was to ". . .restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters" (Section 101). To accomplish that objective, the act aimed to attain a level of water quality that "provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife, and provides for recreation in and on the water" by 1983 and to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985. The CWA gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to... More »
Governance of water resources in Africa Last Updated on 2008-06-18 00:00:00 Governance is the central issue for water resources, especially in the light of water scarcity and environmental change, and is critical for maximizing available opportunities. Threats to good management and regional cooperation include climate variability (with droughts over the past 30 years) because it results in a decrease in water availability and an increase in competition over water, political instability, and low priority given to water and sanitation in terms of investment in infrastructure and maintenance. The high rates of population growth and subsequent increased demand from the agricultural and domestic sectors for freshwater resources, have increased the pressure on the resources, even in areas like Central Africa with its relative abundance of water resources. There is the possibility that increasing water scarcity may lead to water-related conflicts. IWRM... More »
Perspectives of hydrology Last Updated on 2007-09-12 00:00:00 Hydrology and water use are considered from a variety of perspectives including social, economic, legal, scientific, and environmental to determine how differing viewpoints affect the quality and quantity of water supplies. Researchers study pollution carried by water, which includes oceans, rivers, streams, rain, snow, and ice, and devise methods to clean and control it. Some study weather-related problems such as flood forecasting, drought management, acid rain, and global warming. Others manage water resources so that the goals of all water users are achieved efficiently while protecting the environment. In order to adequately extenuate and manage water quality issues, they must be dealt with from all perspectives. Some water quality problems that can be common to entire regions include toxic contamination from industry, waste disposal, and eutrophication from human sewage. Bacterial... More »