Environmental Issues: Water

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All Documents in Water

Brewers for Clean Water
Overview
Clean water is essential to great-tasting beer. Even more, it's critical for public health and the health of a wide range of industries. That's why the Natural Resources Defense Council is teaming up with craft brewing companies to stand up for clean water and to enforce the Clean Water Act.
Restoring the San Joaquin River
Revitalizing communities, resurrecting salmon populations, and catalyzing change in California water management

News
In the 1940s, a giant dam nearly killed California's San Joaquin River and its legendary salmon run. A court ruling could bring the river back to life, restoring the salmon fishery, providing clean irrigation water for farms and improving drinking water quality for millions of Californians.
Advancing America’s Clean Water Legacy
The Administration is strengthening clean water protections.

Analysis
The Administration should continue to move forward to strengthen protection for the waters that so many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, fishing and economic activity.
Regional Water Supply Solutions Generally More Cost-Effective than New Dams and Reservoirs
Fact Sheet
Investments in water conservation and regional water supplies (Integrated Regional Water Management, or IRWM) have consistently been far more cost effective and less environmentally damaging than investments in new, large reservoir projects in California.
Waste Less, Pollute Less: Using Urban Water Conservation to Advance Clean Water Act Compliance
Issue Brief
In many parts of the United States, cities and suburbs -- and the wastewater and stormwater utilities that serve them -- are among the largest sources of water pollution. They need hundreds of billions of dollars to repair, maintain, and improve their infrastructure to comply with Clean Water Act standards that protect public health and the environment.
The Untapped Potential of California's Water Supply
Efficiency, Reuse, and Stormwater

Issue Brief
California is suffering from a third year of drought, with near-record-low reservoirs, mountain snowpack, soil moisture, and river runoff. As a direct result, far less water than usual is available for cities, farms, and natural ecosystems. There are far-reaching effects that will intensify if dry conditions persist. Several response strategies are available that will provide both near-term relief and long-term benefits.
Power Plant Cooling and Associated Impacts
The Need to Modernize U.S. Power Plants and Protect Our Water Resources and Aquatic Ecosystems

Issue Brief
Water withdrawals for thermoelectric power generation were estimated in 2005 to be 201 billion gallons per day -- the highest use of any industry. A clear, consistent national policy is needed to ensure that the U.S. electricity sector is moving toward a cleaner and more water-smart future by replacing antiquated and environmentally destructive once-through cooling systems with modern, less water-intensive technologies.
California Snowpack and the Drought
Fact Sheet
Snowpack, vital to California's water supply, has long replenished the state's reservoirs naturally in advance of the dry summer and fall months. Snowpack normally provides one-third of the water used by California's cities and farms each year. But if drought conditions persist, 2014's April snowpack measurements could be among the lowest since state snow surveys began in 1930.
Saving Water and Energy through Clothes Washer Replacement
Overview
Clothes washers use significant amounts of water for washing -- they represent up to 20 percent of a typical household's indoor water usage. The good news is that they have become much more efficient in the past two decades. Between 1987 and 2010, the average energy use of clothes washers has declined by 75 percent.
The Green Edge
How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value

Report
Green infrastructure has been proven to help solve major urban stormwater problems and improve the health and livability of neighborhoods. Cities and others have promoted these practices to commercial property owners as a way to improve stormwater management and, in some communities, to reduce stormwater utility bills. But there is a wider range of benefits that these practices, when used on private property, can provide to commercial property owners and their tenants.
Rooftops to Rivers II
Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows

Report
This November 2011 report is a policy guide for decision makers looking to implement green stormwater strategies to stop water pollution at its source. It includes case studies of cities that have successfully used green infrastructure techniques to reduce runoff and combined sewer overflow (CSO) pollution to create a healthier urban environment.
Implementation of the Agricultural Water Management Planning Act
70% of California’s Irrigation Districts Fail to Complete Required Agricultural Water Management Plans

Issue Paper
Irrigated agriculture is important to California, and draws upon roughly 80 percent of the state's developed water supplies. The industry produces diverse and important commodities, and employs thousands of people across a broad swath of the state. In recognition of its importance, the Agricultural Water Management Planning Act requires large irrigation districts to create comprehensive plans for their water futures.
Soil Matters
How the Federal Crop Insurance Program should be reformed to encourage low-risk farming methods with high-reward environmental outcomes

Issue Paper
The Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) is meant to protect farmers in times of weather-related devastation. As climate changes and the harsh realities of extreme weather slam the countryside, federal crop insurance, intended to alleviate risk for farmers, actually drives the agricultural community toward riskier methods and creates less resilient land by encouraging a narrow set of farm practices.
Your Soil Matters
Overview
Most farmers carry Federal Crop Insurance, yet this program does little to help prepare farmers for the challenges of climate change. When farmers lose their crops, your federal taxes help pay for part of farmers' insurance claims. Unless farmers become more resilient to increasing weather pressures, this already large federal program is primed to spiral out of control.
Bottled Water
Pure Drink or Pure Hype?

Report
A petition to the FDA and attached report on the results of NRDC's four-year study of the bottled water industry, including its bacterial and chemical contamination problems. The petition and report find major gaps in bottled water regulation and conclude that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water.
The Scariest Things in the Water
Overview
The lakes, rivers, and beaches where we swim, fish, and boat depend on healthy streams and wetlands upstream. But right now, many of them are threatened with unregulated pollution or outright destruction. Bush administration policies plus court decisions undermined Clean Water Act protection for millions of miles of streams, millions of acres of wetlands, and other waters.
Tackling Water Scarcity
Five Southern California Water Agencies Lead the Way to a More Sustainable Tomorrow

Issue Brief
Water scarcity has long been a fact of life across much of the southwestern United States. Changing climate patterns, growing populations, and over-tapped aquifer and river systems call for bold strategies to meet water supply needs for this region.
Getting Climate Smart
A Water Preparedness Guide for State Action

Issue Paper
As climate change continues to alter historical temperature and precipitation patterns, it is critical that states develop comprehensive plans to address its challenges. NRDC's Getting Climate Smart: A Water Preparedness Guide for State Action is a guide to assist water managers and state governments as they ready themselves for wide-ranging changes for their communities and ecosystems.
A Major Opportunity: Preventing Runoff Pollution and Flooding
Fact Sheet
Runoff from streets and parking lots after it rains is a significant cause of flooding and a leading cause of pollution to our streams, rivers, and lakes nationwide. Communities across the country have proved that there are cost-effective solutions for ensuring clean water: green infrastructure has emerged as the most reliable and cost-effective path toward achieving clean water while providing multiple community benefits.
Creating Private Markets for Green Stormwater Infrastructure
Report
To turn back the tides of polluted stormwater, many cities are launching ambitious plans to develop green infrastructure -- effectively unpaving city land and using practices that help rain absorb and be better used near where it falls.
Between a Rock and a Dry Place
The Impact of Oil Shale Development and Climate Change on the Colorado River Basin Water Supply

Report
The re-emergence of a prospective oil shale industry as a potentially significant provider of hydrocarbon energy raises a host of challenges. This report explores one of those challenges -- oil shale development requires large quantities of water.
Cleaning Up the Anacostia River
After more than a century of abuse, plans are being made to bring Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia River back to life.

Overview
After more than a century of abuse, plans are being made to bring Washington, D.C.'s "Forgotten River" back to life.
Climate Change and Water Resource Management
Adaptation Strategies for Protecting People and the Environment

Fact Sheet
From urban and agricultural water supplies to flood management and aquatic ecosystem protection, global warming is affecting all aspects of water resource management in the United States. Rising temperatures, loss of snowpack, escalating size and frequency of flood events, and rising sea levels are just some of the impacts of climate change that have broad implications for the management of water resources. Reducing the global warming pollution that causes climate change is a critical step we must take, but water resource managers and elected officials must act now to prepare for the impacts of the warming that have already occurred or are unavoidable. Get document in pdf.
Facts about Pollution from Livestock Farms
Overview
Facts and figures about pollution from factory farms, which produce staggering amounts of animal wastes that pollute the environment and do serious harm to humans, fish and ecosystems.
In Hot Water: Water Management Strategies to Weather the Effects of Global Warming
Water Management Strategies to Weather the Effects of Global Warming

Report
Drought and dry conditions withering the western United States are likely to persist and intensify, jeapordizing the region's water supply and water quality, compromising the health of rivers and lakes, and increasing the risk of flooding for Western communities. This NRDC report breaks new ground by analyzing the effects of global warming on a full range of water management tools and offering recommendations to meet the challenge.
Out of the Gutter
Reducing Polluted Runoff in the District of Columbia

Report
Every time it rains, Washington, D.C., like most major cities, is plagued by stormwater runoff, which has gravely contaminated the city's three major rivers. To clean up the pollution, the city's Water and Sewer Authority is relying on costly and outdated stormwater management practices. In this July 2002 report, NRDC recommends instead that WASA adopt low-impact development, as well as other measures to encourage water conservation and the protection of sensitive lands. 
Pipe Dreams: Water Supply and Pipeline Projects in the West
Report
New water management strategies are needed in the West, and water managers face increasing challenges locating reliable water supplies. Some water managers are looking to water supply pipelines to meet the water demands. But these large-scale pipelines present challenges that should be carefully considered.
Pollution from Giant Livestock Farms Threatens Public Health
Waste lagoons and manure sprayfields -- two widespread and environmentally hazardous technologies -- are poorly regulated.

News
Factory farms -- giant livestock farms that house thousands of cows, chickens or pigs -- produce staggering amounts of animal wastes. These wastes are often stored and used in ways that expose people to dangerous bacteria, toxic gases and other hazardous substances, and punish the natural environment.
Thirsty for Answers
Preparing for the Water-related Impacts of Climate Change in American Cities

Guide
Cities across the United States should anticipate significant water-related vulnerabilities based on current carbon emission trends because of climate change, ranging from water shortages to more intense storms and floods to sea level rise.
Seizing a Watershed Opportunity in the Chesapeake Bay
NRDC’s Plan to Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay and Its Beaches

Issue Paper
As the largest estuary in the United States, and the third largest in the world, the Chesapeake Bay is home to a wide range of wildlife and an important resource for millions of people who live, play, and work in the region. On the heels of reports from seven federal agencies commissioned by President Obama to clean up this national treasure, this paper delves into the sources of pollution that undermine the health of the Bay and provides recommendations for mitigating them.
California Water: Is Your City Planning for the Future?
Overview
Is our water clean enough for our children to drink? Does it contain fertilizers or other dangerous chemicals? What if someday we turned on the tap and nothing came out? Some sources of California water are safe and sustainable. Some create significant health and environmental challenges.
How to Clean Up Our Water
Ten Simple Ways You Can Help Reduce Pollution and Runoff

Guide
Sewage overflows and runoff from farms and city streets close thousands of miles of beaches each year and poison our food supply and drinking water. The good news is that there are many things you can do to help. Here are 10 simple actions to help stem the tide of polluted runoff -- and clean up and conserve our waters.
Hydraulic Fracturing Can Potentially Contaminate Drinking Water Sources
Fact Sheet
Communities across the country are concerned about the risks that oil and gas production using fracking poses to drinking water sources, and scientists and environmentalists are increasingly concerned about groundwater and surface water contamination that may be associated directly or indirectly with fracking. NRDC opposes expanded fracking until effective safeguards are in place.
Sources of Beachwater Pollution
Fact Sheet
Most beach closings and advisories are issued because beachwater monitoring has detected bacteria that indicate the presence of pathogens -- microscopic organisms from human and animal wastes that pose a threat to human health. The key known contributors of these contaminants are stormwater runoff, untreated or partially treated discharges from sewage treatment systems, discharges from sanitary sewers and septic systems, and wildlife. Get document in pdf.
The Impacts of Beach Pollution
Fact Sheet
Polluted beachwater makes swimmers sick and hurts coastal economies. Illnesses associated with polluted beachwater include conditions such as stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis. In addition to the health risks from polluted beachwater, economists have estimated that a typical swimming day is worth approximately $35 to each individual, so depending on the number of potential visitors to a beach, the "consumer surplus" loss on a day that the beach is closed or under advisory for water quality problems can be quite significant. Get document in pdf.
Looking Up: How Green Roofs and Cool Roofs Can Reduce Energy Use in Southern California
Report
This June 2012 report explores the ways green roofs and cool roofs can be used to address threats like runoff, water pollution, poor air quality and the heat island effect and to improve the sustainability of urban areas in Southern California.
Poisoning the Great Lakes
Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants In the Great Lakes Region

Report
Mercury emitted into the air from coal-fired power plants is by far the leading man-made source of mercury in the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams of the region. The report analyzed pollution data to determine the top 25 mercury emitting power plants in the Great Lakes states, and the top three in each state.
In Fracking's Wake
New Rules are Needed to Protect Our Health and Environment from Contaminated Wastewater

Issue Paper
Natural gas development has exploded, fueled by advances in an extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Unfortunately, federal and state safeguards to protect people and the environment from the hazards of fracking have not kept pace.
Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning
Overview
As global warming pollution continues to affect our environment, risks to our water supply will only increase, posing grave challenges to our nation’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
More Water, Less Waste
Improving Global Sanitation and Freshwater Access with Waterless Toilets and Rainwater Harvesting

Fact Sheet
Around the world, temperatures are rising and sources of freshwater are becoming increasingly unpredictable. Two and a half billion people already lack access to basic sanitation, and nearly one billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Adding to the problem, global warming is expected to lead to more floods and more droughts, both of which reduce the availability of safe, clean freshwater for drinking, sanitation, irrigation and other basic needs. Fortunately, there are technologies such as waterless toilets and rainwater harvesting that can be deployed immediately -- and cost-effectively -- to improve sanitation, protect existing supplies of freshwater, and create new sources of safe water. Get document in pdf.
Safe Water in Peril
Addressing the Effects of Global Warming on Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

Fact Sheet
Nearly eight hundred million people do not have access to safe drinking water, and two and a half billion people live without adequate sanitation. These dire conditions already pose the greatest worldwide threat to environmental health, and global warming is making matters worse. More frequent, severe droughts and floods are increasing water shortages and causing widespread contamination and sanitation challenges. To avoid an outright global water catastrophe, local, national, and international leaders must urgently pursue a two-part strategy of reducing pollution to minimize further climate change and prepare vulnerable communities to deal with the changes in climate already in progress. Get document in pdf.
Water for the World
Solving the World’s Most Pressing Environmental Health Problem

Fact Sheet
For the nearly one billion people who don't have access to it, clean water is the world's most pressing problem. Lack of safe drinking water and sanitation is the single largest cause of illness in the world, contributing to the deaths of 2 million people a year, the majority of which are children. The solutions to this global public health crisis are well-known and cost-effective, yet more than 780 million people are without clean drinking water, and approximately 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation.2 In 2005, recognizing the urgency of the crisis, the United States passed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, landmark legislation designed to address the need for global affordable and equitable access to safe water and sanitation. Get document in pdf.
Financing Stormwater Retrofits in Philadelphia and Beyond
Report
Philadelphia encourages property owners to install green infrastructure techniques with a flagship stormwater billing structure. This report -- a joint product of NRDC's Water Program and Center for Market Innovation -- uses Philadelphia as a test case to explore how cities can attract billions of dollars in private investment in stormwater retrofits, saving on public infrastructure costs while cleaning waterways and greening communities.
Clean Water Saves Lives
Fact Sheet
Every day in the United States, most people walk a few feet to a clean and private bathroom, and turn on the tap: a flow of fresh, clean drinking water gushes out. At the same time, there are women and girls all around the globe who are not as fortunate. Women and girls are often responsible for collecting water for their families, a task that takes hours each day and can limit time for other things, such as school. Instead of turning on the tap, they have to make a dangerous trek of more than three and a half miles, on average, to gather water for their families. The water they collect, while desperately needed, is not always clean or safe for human consumption. When they need to use the bathroom, they often retreat to the forest or bush because there is no toilet available, which then contaminates the very water they are drinking. Get document in pdf.
Ready or Not: How Water-Ready is Your State or City?
Report
As climate change affects communities across the U.S., some states are leading the way in preparing for the impacts on water resources. These states are reducing carbon pollution and planning for climate change impacts. Yet many states are not acting and remain woefully unprepared. NRDC's first-of-its-kind state-by-state analysis examines climate preparedness levels in all states, revealing nation's best and worst.
Volumetric Wastewater Pricing
Volumetric pricing for sanitary sewer service in California would save water and money

Fact Sheet
Volumetric sewer pricing is the simple concept of billing a customer for the volume of water discharged to the sewer based on the water meter reading -- water the customer actually uses as opposed to a flat charge. The less water a customer uses, the less the bill will be.
Capturing Rainwater from Rooftops
An Efficient Water Resource Management Strategy that Increases Supply and Reduces Pollution

Report
Many communities in the United States face serious threats to a safe, steady supply of water, including the reliance on centralized water delivery systems, the unnecessary use of potable water for non-potable uses, and increasing areas of impervious surfaces that allow stormwater runoff to carry pollution into waterways. Although the problems of water supply and water pollution can be complex, practical solutions are available now.
Rooftops to Rivers
Green Strategies for Controlling Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows

Report
This May 2006 report is a policy guide for decision makers looking to implement green stormwater strategies to stop water pollution at its source. It includes nine case studies of cities that have successfully used green infrastructure techniques to reduce runoff and combined sewer overflow (CSO) pollution to create a healthier urban environment.
Stormwater Runoff
Challenges and Solutions for American Communities

Overview
Water from rain and melting snow runs off roofs and roads into our rivers, picking up toxic chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carrying organisms on its way. But there are ways to control it.
NRDC Testimony for NYS senate Public Hearing on Sewage Water Pollution Notification Procedures
Testimony
Written testimony for Lawrence Levine before the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation public hearing on notification procedures related to sewage and other pollutants released into our water, held on October 14, 2011. Get document in pdf.
After the Storm
How Green Infrastructure Can Effectively Manage Stormwater Runoff from Roads and Highways

Report
Stormwater runoff from roads and highways pollutes and erodes our nation's water bodies, imposing health, financial, and environmental costs on local communities. These costs can be avoided or significantly reduced by ensuring that our roadways incorporate runoff controls that retain stormwater onsite. Green infrastructure, in particular, is an especially effective method for retaining stormwater that also generates a wide range of economic and social benefits beyond improved water quality. To ensure that these benefits are enjoyed by communities across the United States, legislative and administrative decision makers at the federal and state levels should provide incentives and requirements for these controls to be implemented at all road and highway facilities.
Protecting a Shared Future
Assessing and Advancing the Sustainable Management of the Great Lakes through Water Conservation and Efficiency

Issue Paper
The Great Lakes form the largest surface freshwater system on the Earth, containing nearly 20 percent of the world's and 96 percent of the United States’ total supply of fresh surface water. More than 40 million people depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, fishing, recreation, and commerce, and more than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the region. Although the waters of the Great Lakes are vast, they are not inexhaustible.
Power Plant Cooling Water and Clean Water Act Section 316(b)
The Need to Modernize U.S. Power Plants and Protect our Water Resources

Fact Sheet
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of issuing standards for the use of cooling water at existing U.S. power plants. A draft rule was issued on March 28, 2011. A final rule will be issued by July 27, 2012. The country is long overdue for a clear, consistent national policy that protects waterways and helps move the nation toward cleaner, more modern and more efficient energy production by phasing out the environmentally destructive once-through cooling systems. Without national standards, the EPA remains in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and states continue to lack the political will, resources, and clout to impose use of better technologies on the power industry.
Get document in pdf.
Re-Envisioning the Chicago River
Adopting Comprehensive Regional Solutions to the Invasive Species Crisis

Fact Sheet
In response to a public health emergency more than 100 years ago, engineers reversed the Chicago River and built the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to carry wastewater away from Lake Michigan, the city’s source of drinking water. The canal also provides a shipping link between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, opening navigation not only to recreational boats and commercial barges, but also to invasive species, and it diverts massive amounts of water from Lake Michigan. The unfolding Asian carp crisis reveals more than just the challenges faced by local, state, and federal agencies in stopping invasive species from entering the Great Lakes. It also exposes critical infrastructure deficiencies in the region’s wastewater, stormwater, and transportation systems.
Get document in pdf.
Climate Change, Water, and Risk
Current Water Demands Are Not Sustainable

Fact Sheet
Climate change will have a significant impact on the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades. An analysis performed by consulting firm Tetra Tech for NRDC examined the effects of global warming on water supply and demand in the contiguous United States. The study found that more than 1,100 counties -- one-third of all counties in the lower 48 -- will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming.
Tracking Oil Washing Ashore on Beaches
Find out which beaches are unaffected by the Gulf oil disaster, and what to do if you encounter spilled oil.

Guide
Find out which beaches are unaffected by the Gulf oil disaster, and what to do if you encounter spilled oil.
Rising Tide of Illness: How Global Warming Could Increase the Threat of Waterborne Diseases
Fact Sheet
Although there is little public discussion of the problem, disease outbreaks caused by contaminated water occur regularly. Researchers estimate that, including unreported cases, between 4 and 33 million waterborne gastrointestinal illnesses occur each year in the United States. Global warming is projected to increase the risk of more frequent and more widespread outbreaks of waterborne illnesses, due to higher temperatures and more severe weather events. To help prevent increased occurrence of water-related illnesses, the CDC should improve surveillance of waterborne disease outbreaks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should improve water quality regulations, and Congress should act to limit emissions of global warming pollutants. We need to act now to protect public health today while preparing for the impacts of climate change.
Get document in pdf.
Water Saving Solutions
Stopping Pollution at its Source with Low Impact Development

Fact Sheet
America's urban landscape is affecting our cities' water supply and water quality. Runoff from urban areas is a leading cause of water pollution in the United States, and in many areas people are using water faster than it can be replenished. More than 100 million acres of land have been developed in the United States, and with development and sprawl increasing faster than population growth, the risks to water supply and quality are growing. Low impact development, or LID, is a simple and cost-effective green development strategy that can help cities, states, and even individuals meet the water supply challenge, clean up our existing water resources, and, in many places in the West, curb global warming pollution by reducing the amount of electricity used to supply water. Get document in pdf.
A Clear Blue Future
How Greening California Cities Can Address Water Resources and Climate Challenges in the 21st Century

Issue Paper
This NRDC and UCSB analysis shows that implementing low impact development, or LID,  practices at new and redeveloped residential and commercial properties in parts of California can increase water supplies by billions of gallons each year, providing an effective and much-needed way to mitigate global warming’s impact on California.
Clearing the Waters
From the Chesapeake to California, NRDC is fighting to restore America’s threatened waterways

Overview
The United States has made significant progress cleaning up the nation's waterways since Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, but much more remains to be done. Although some of the most obvious signs of contamination have disappeared, other sources of pollution persist, and water resources are frequently overtaxed, particularly in the West.
Making Every Drop Work
Increasing Water Efficiency in California’s Commercial, Industrial and Institutional (CII) Sector

Issue Paper
Across the nation, water shortages are triggering growing concern and an acceleration of efforts to increase water use efficiency. In this May 2009 issue paper, NRDC recommends a number of available and cost-effective measures that can help stretch limited water supplies, save businesses money, reduce energy consumption, improve water quality, and protect local, regional, and statewide ecosystems.
Testimony Concerning Efforts to Address Urban Stormwater Runoff
Testimony
Testimony of Nancy Stoner, co-director of NRDC's Water Program, before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment on the barriers to full, effective implementation of green infrastructure as an integral part of water and wastewater resources management in communities across the country, March 19, 2009. Get document in pdf.
Water Efficiency Saves Energy
Reducing Global Warming Through Water Use Strategies

Fact Sheet
The collection, distribution, and treatment of drinking water and wastewater nationwide consume tremendous amounts of energy and release approximately 116 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year -- as much global warming pollution each year as 10 million cars. The energywater connection is particularly strong in the driest regions of the United States, such as the Southwest, where significant amounts of energy are used to import water. Solutions exist to cut both water and energy use. Through water efficiency measures, we can help to protect dry areas from drought, lower consumers' utility bills, and reduce global warming pollution. Get document in pdf.
21st Century Water Planning: The Importance of a Coordinated Approach
Testimony
Testimony of Nancy K. Stoner, co-director of NRDC's water program before the House Science Committee, March 4, 2009. Get document in pdf.
Arsenic in Drinking Water
FAQ
Answers to questions including: How can I find out whether my drinking water contains arsenic? Can I buy a filter that will remove arsenic from my water? I drink bottled water -- do I have to worry about arsenic?
Deepest Cuts
Repairing Health Monitoring Programs Slashed Under the Bush Administration

Issue Paper
For decades, federal agencies charged with safeguarding health and the environment have tracked pollution, required industry reporting, and monitored disease rates, providing the foundation for all health and environmental protection. This December 2008 issue paper shows that the Bush Administration dangerously slashed federal environmental and health monitoring programs.
The 35th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act: Successes and Future Challenges
Testimony
Testimony of Peter Lehner, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council, before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, House of Representatives on October 18, 2007.
Missing Protection
Polluting the Mississippi River Basin's Small Streams and Wetlands

Report
Our nation's rivers, streams, and small bodies of water are in danger because of recent interpretations of the Clean Water Act that suggest that many waters historically protected from pollution can now be polluted or destroyed without a permitting process to limit the environmental impact of discharges into the waters. This October 2008 issue paper discusses the changes in relation to the problem of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin.
Testimony of Mae Wu on Bottled Water
Testimony
NRDC Attorney Mae Wu testifies before a Senate subcommittee that the bottled water that millions of Americans drink each day is allowed to contain more toxic chemicals than tap water. Wu calls for testing bottled water and labels that would let the public know what they're actually drinking.
Fish Out of Water
How Water Management in the Bay-Delta Threatens the Future of California's Salmon Fishery

Issue Paper
This July 2008 issue paper examines the operation of water management projects in California as one of the most significant -- and reversible -- causes of fishery collapse and provides comprehensive policy recommendations for restoring and sustaining this treasured resource.
Bottled Water
FAQ
Answers to questions including: Is bottled water safer than tap water? How can I find out where my bottled water comes from? If I drink tap water should I use a filter and what types of filters are most effective?
Bringing Safe Water to the World
Environmental stewardship can help eliminate the world's biggest health risk -- dirty water.

News
One billion people around the world don't have access to clean, safe water. Developed countries have essentially eradicated diseases such as cholera, typhoid and malaria, but in developing nations, these and other waterborne illnesses kill 5 million people each year -- 6,000 children every day.
Hotter and Drier
The West's Changed Climate

Report
Human activities are already changing the climate of the American West. This report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows how the West is being affected more by a changed climate than any other part of the United States outside of Alaska. Embracing available solutions at all levels of government is critical to minimizing further disruption of this region’s climate and economy.
What’s Coming Out of the Tap?
How to Ensure That Your Family’s Drinking Water Is Safe

Fact Sheet
Despite the many sources of pollution that can affect drinking water, with a little research, proper testing, and treatment (if necessary) you can help to ensure that the water you and your family drink is safe. NRDC is joining with local communities to keep drinking water clean and to curb pollution long before it reaches your tap. Get document in pdf.
Historic Hudson River Cleanup to Begin After Years of Delay, But Will GE Finish the Job?
Under the EPA's unusual agreement with General Electric, the company could escape full responsibility for cleaning up the toxic mess it made in the Hudson River.

History
Under the EPA's unusual agreement with General Electric, the company could escape full responsibility for cleaning up the toxic mess it made in the Hudson River.
Keeping Our Waters Clean in the Monterey Bay Region
How Smaller Communities Can Prevent Toxic Runoff

Fact Sheet
Stormwater runoff is a leading source of coastal pollution in California, damaging the environment and threatening public health. NRDC developed a three-part strategy of prevention, monitoring and enforcement that can help smaller and midsized cities deal with this toxic stormwater runoff before it pollutes local waterways and puts public health at risk. This effective and straightforward plan has already been adopted, and once fully implemented, will successfully manage runoff in coastal communities along the Monterey Peninsula in California.
Morro Bay-Cayucos Sewage Treatment Plant and Sea Otter Habitat
Fact Sheet
The Morro Bay/Cayucos sewage plant in California has dumped pollutants into the ocean for more than two decades -- directly into bay waters that are a hotspot for deaths among the threatened California sea otter.  Officials at the Morro Bay sewage plant do not intend to complete an upgrade to meet basic federal standards until March 2014, even as the plant's own documents show that a faster, more efficient, less expensive upgrade is possible.
Consumer Guide to Water Filters
How to find the right water filter for your home.

Guide
Some filters aim to produce clearer, better-tasting water, while others work to remove contaminants that could affect your health. This guide will help you determine what type of filter might be right for your home.
Tap Water Quality and Safety
Questions and answers based on NRDC's report grading the quality of drinking water in U.S. cities.

FAQ
Answers to questions including: How can I find out about the quality of my tap water? What can I do to protect the drinking water in my town? What filter will best protect my family from getting sick?
Pollution Unchecked: A Case Study of Greene County, Pennsylvania
Report
Southwestern Pennsylvania's Greene County suffers from serious air and water pollution, and cancer rates in the predominantly low-income Appalachian community are substantially higher than state and national averages. This December 2004 report finds that despite the obvious health risks county residents face, state and federal officials have made no significant effort to collect data on possible health effects linked to pollution in Greene County.
Swimming in Sewage
The Growing Problem of Sewage Pollution and How the Bush Administration Is Putting Our Health and Environment at Risk

Report
This February 2004 report from NRDC and the Environmental Integrity Project describes the emerging environmental and public health crisis resulting from our nation's failure to effectively treat sewage, presents seven case studies from around the country that illustrate how exposure to sewage pollution has killed or seriously injured people and harmed local economies, and recommends solutions to America's sewage problem.
What's On Tap?
Grading Drinking Water in U.S. Cities

Report
This June 2003 NRDC study of drinking water quality in 19 U.S. cities finds that pollution and deteriorating, outdated plumbing are sometimes delivering drinking water that might pose health risks to some residents, and unless steps are taken now, tap water will get worse. The report issues grades to each municipal water system studied in water quality and compliance, source water protection, and right-to-know compliance, and outlines a plan for protecting the nation's drinking water supply.
Clean Water at Risk: An Assessment of Bush Administration Water Protection Rollbacks
Report
An October 2002 NRDC report -- issued on the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act -- that assesses the impact this landmark environmental law has had on the safety and environmental health of the nation’s waterways and documents the Bush administration's sustained attack on clean water protections.
Stormwater Strategies: Community Responses to Runoff Pollution
Report
This report documents some of the most effective strategies being employed by communities around the country to control urban runoff pollution, which is among the top sources of water contamination today. The collection of 100 case studies is intended to serve as a guide for local decisionmakers, municipal officials, and environmental activists; it is also a resource for citizens concerned about the quality of their local environment.
Cesspools of Shame
How Factory Farm Lagoons and Sprayfields Threaten Environmental and Public Health

Report
This July 2001 report from NRDC and the Clean Water Network documents how animal waste from factory farms threatens human health and our nation's rivers. Most factory farms store animal waste in open lagoons as large as several football fields. Lagoons routinely burst, sending millions of gallons of manure into waterways and spreading microbes that can cause gastroenteritis, fevers, kidney failure, and death.
California's Contaminated Groundwater
Is the State Minding the Store?

Report
Despite the importance of groundwater to its population and economy -- and ample evidence of dangerous groundwater-contamination problems that will be expensive to address -- California does not effectively monitor or protect its groundwater supplies. This April 2001 report documents the lapses in the state's data gathering, monitoring, and protection of this vital resource, and makes recommendations for reforms.
Land of Little Rivers: Fly Fishing in the Catskills
Photo Album
Fly fishing enthusiasts are among the most ardent advocates for clean and healthy rivers. These photos illustrate fly fishing on the rivers and streams of the Catskill mountains, including the still undammed Beaverkill River, one of the country's best known and most beloved trout streams.
Urban Stormwater Solutions
News
Cities, developers, corporations and schools are beginning to find new ways of reducing stormwater pollution, as illustrated in these case studies.
Cost-effective Pollution Prevention in an Industrial Setting
An unlikely partnership between environmentalists and Dow Chemical achieves major pollution reductions.

News
An unlikely partnership between environmentalists and Dow Chemical achieves major pollution reductions.
Preventing Industrial Pollution at its Source
A Final Report of the Michigan Source Reduction Initiative

Report
This report details a project undertaken by NRDC, Dow Chemical, and a group of five community activists to reduce waste and emissions at Dow's Midland, Michigan, chemical manufacturing plant. The project, begun in late 1996 and completed in April 1999, aimed to achieve reductions in pollution emission through pollution prevention -- manufacturing process improvements that decrease waste before it is generated.
Summary Findings of NRDC's 1999 Bottled Water Report
While bottled water marketing conveys images of purity, inadequate regulations offer no assurance.

News
Sales of bottled water have exploded in recent years, largely because of a public perception of purity. But bottled water sold in the United States is not necessarily cleaner or safer than most tap water, according to an NRDC study. There are actions that those who are particularly concerned about the quality of their tap water can take.
Under Attack: New York's Kensico and West Branch Reservoirs Confront Intensified Development
Report
A report finding that encroaching development and inadequate protection by city and state officials threaten New York City's two most important reservoirs.
America's Animal Factories
How States Fail to Prevent Pollution from Livestock Waste

Report
A report examining the environmental and health consequences of pollution from industrial livestock farms in 30 states, as well as the widely varying efforts to curtail it.

For additional policy documents, see the NRDC Document Bank.
For older publications available only in print, click here.
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