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Articles on Water shortage

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The Carlsbad Desalination Plant in Southern California is the largest such plant in the Western Hemisphere, providing 50 million gallons of desalinated seawater per day.​ Reed Kaestner via Getty Images

Desalinating seawater sounds easy, but there are cheaper and more sustainable ways to meet people’s water needs

Nearly 97% of the world’s water is in the oceans, but desalination is no magic bullet for water-stressed coastal cities.
Portugal has seen little rain since October 2021. By the end of January, 45 per cent of the country was enduring ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ drought conditions. (AP Photo/Sergio Azenha)

The window of opportunity to address increasing drought and expanding drylands is vanishing

If the world overshoots its climate targets, drought could cause dryland areas to expand by a quarter and encompass half the Earth’s land area, threatening lives and livelihoods.
Homes overlook a forest in the wildland-urban interface in Arizona. Marius von Essen

The fastest population growth in the West’s wildland-urban interface is in areas most vulnerable to wildfires

A new study maps vegetation’s fire risk across the West and shows where population in the highest-risk areas from California to Texas is booming.
Some of North America’s groundwater is so old, it fell as rain before humans arrived here thousands of years ago. Maria Fuchs via Getty Images

Ancient groundwater: Why the water you’re drinking may be thousands of years old

As surface water diminishes in the Western US, people are drilling deeper wells – and tapping into older groundwater that can take thousands of years to replenish naturally.
In some drought-stricken parts of the Southwest, water arrives by truck. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Avoiding water bankruptcy in the drought-troubled Southwest: What the US and Iran can learn from each other

Cities and farmers in the Southwest are resorting to unsustainable strategies to pull in more water. Iran has tried many of these strategies and shows how they can go wrong.
New technologies that can clean salty or polluted water could help meet growing water needs. Science Photo Library/Getty Images

A new way to remove salts and toxic metals from water

Desalination can help meet growing water needs globally. But toxic wastewater and inefficiency hamper current techniques. A new approach uses custom membranes to clean water more easily.
An orchard near Kettleman City in California’s San Joaquin Valley on April 2, 2021. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Water wells are at risk of going dry in the US and worldwide

The US has one of the highest groundwater use rates in the world. When wells run dry, households may opt to conserve water, find new sources or sell and move.
Futures won’t affect whether there’s water in the hose. Bettmann/Getty Images

Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway

The world’s first futures market for water launched in California in December. Two commodities experts explain how it works, what the potential problems are and why there’s no reason to freak out.

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