China – South North Water Transfer project under construction. A second major portion of the line opened in 2014. ©Aaron Jaffe/Circle of BluePhoto 8. Algal Blooms Foul Water Worldwide
Decades of research and billions of dollars spent to understand the causes of toxic algae blooms and oxygen-starved aquatic dead zones around the world have produced more scientific knowledge but achieved few results to solve two of the most dangerous threats to the world’s oceans and fresh water reserves. In fact, according to a growing body of scientific evidence, algae blooms and near-shore ocean dead zones are growing larger and more numerous while endangering important fisheries and drinking water consumed by millions of people. 9. Water-Saving Renewable Energy Technologies Become Mainstream
The Energy Information Administration reported that for the first time solar, wind, and geothermal power sources overtook hydropower in 2014 as the largest sources of renewable electricity in the United States. Wind and solar, which typically require little or no water per unit energy produced, also competed with natural gas as the largest new sources of electrical generating capacity in the United States. Through November, half the new generating capacity came from natural gas while solar and wind accounted for 44 percent, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The transition to water-saving renewable energy is accelerating. Less than a decade ago, U.S. hydropower plants accounted for three times as much generation as non-hydro sources. In 2014, said the EIA, wind, solar, and geothermal energy accounted for just over 6.6 percent of U.S. electricity generation and hydropower accounted for just under 6.6 percent. “By 2040,” said the EIA, “nonhydro renewables are projected to provide more than twice as much generation as hydropower.” 10. Water Shutoffs in Detroit Are Factor in Largest U.S. Municipal Bankruptcy
Thousands of residents of Detroit — a city under emergency management that is reeling from decades of deindustrialization and neighborhood decay — were cut off from drinking watersupplies last year. Roughly 17,000 residences were shut off between March and August because of overdue bills. Residents pushed back, taking water from fire hydrants to drink, cook, bathe, and flush their toilets, and community leaders organized emergency water deliveries. Meanwhile the accountants, lawyers, and traders collected tens of millions of dollars in fees to complete the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The problem in Detroit raised questions about whether the shutoff of water violates the UN-declared human right to water, which requires delivery of a basic amount of water independent of ability to pay.