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🔬 "Connecting the Dots Between Climate Change and Clean Water"

Solving Water

Photo by Pilar Flores / Unsplash

Host: Amanda Holloway
Guest: Dr. Stephanie Smith | Product Segment Manager, Integrated Services and Systems | Xylem
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[6:22] “[The EPA outlines three ways that climate change threatens global water quality. First,] erosion and sedimentation [that come from] high flows of water through a natural waterway, [which] erodes the soils and carries those soils to a different place. And those soils eventually are going to settle in that new place. And that's the sedimentation part of erosion and sedimentation. […] That's a real problem as we [are] clearing lands for agriculture […], because […] soil is really important [as] the foundation of a lot of plants, plant life, plant growth, wildlife thriving, and so forth. All of that is rooted in our soils quite literally and figuratively. […] The second one they talk about […] is harmful algal blooms. […] And then the third area that the EPA cites that actually is […] stormwater runoff. […] Often we don't think about it until we're thinking about flooding. But […] stormwater runoff from our cities and other types of infrastructure delivers a lot of pollution into our waterways. [which] the EPA says is really directly tied to climate change.”

[9:34] “I would probably add maybe two more things to that list. One of them would be […] reduced ice cover, reduce glaciation, […] the big ice melt issues happening in our polar regions. […] As those water masses start changing, it impacts and feeds into these other issues, especially increased storm and weather patterns that lead to stormwater runoff, sedimentation, and so forth. […] The other thing I would add to that list is […] is drought. […] We're seeing expansion of desert areas, we're seeing more drought that leads to things like wildfires and so forth. How does that relate to water quality? […] [With] drought and water levels start dropping in reservoirs, lakes, rivers, it also declines the quality of that water, because stuff that's dissolved in that water becomes more concentrated, that makes the water harder to treat. […] So it's […] interesting, because sometimes when you think about water quality, people think […] that's separate from drought, because drought is a lack of water. So it almost seems illogical to think drought impacts water quality, when there's no water to impact. But in fact, drought conditions are a really big problem for water quality and water treatment. In general, it makes it really hard to handle and manage your water resources when there's drought.”

[13:23] “Declining water quality really makes it hard to combat a situation like the pandemic. […] One of the things that you really have to have, when you're dealing with any health crisis is clean water. You need it to run your medical facilities, you need it to wash your hands, you need it for sanitary sewage, […] fecal matter is one of the primary transmitters of disease, and you can't manage that properly without a reliable water source. And so, on the one hand, […] water can be a delivery of contaminants and pathogens, but on the other hand, water is the solution to dealing with contaminants and pathogens. So […] water is the problem and the solution. […] It's a vehicle for the pollutants and the contaminants, but carefully curated and treated water is also the solution to the problems that are caused by those contaminants.”

[24:36] “The Watermark Program […] is really important, because it not only educates all of us as individuals, but we have an opportunity to really be more engaged with people who are the most heavily impacted by climate change. […] I mean, let's face it, here in the United States, we have an extraordinarily privileged lifestyle and the people who are paying the heaviest price for climate change are often the poor and the underrepresented populations of the world. […] So I think programs like that are an opportunity for us to participate and educate ourselves and to create more awareness about climate change issues.”

[31:18] “The most important thing I've learned is that in my part of the world, we take water for granted. And we have to stop doing that. […] A lot of parts of the American Midwest have what's called a positive water recharge, [where] we don't worry about water shortages. The water I flush my toilet with his high quality drinking water. That's bizarre, is really bizarre. And so the most important thing I've learned is that we take water for granted. And as a consequence of that, we do not operate in a sustainable fashion.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 34 min | 🗓️ 04/27/2021
✅ Time saved: 32 min

Additional Links:
Article by Dr. Smith: Clean water & climate change