Water. Turn on the faucet and it’s always there. Without it we perish. But how safe is our tap water? In this special report narrated by Joe Morton, NOVA investigates what happened in Flint, Michigan, when local officials changed the city’s water source to save money, but overlooked a critical treatment process. As the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the community—including thousands of children—to dangerous levels of poison. NOVA uncovers the science behind this manmade disaster— from the intricacies of water chemistry to the biology of lead poisoning to the misuse of science itself. NOVA follows ordinary citizens and independent scientists who exposed the danger lurking in Flint’s water and confronted those who turned a blind eye. And discover the disturbing truth that reaches far beyond Flint—water systems across the country are similarly vulnerable. How can we protect ourselves from poisoned water?
November 1, 1836: Birth of Hiram Francis Mills. “Born in Bangor, Maine, in the year 1836 and receiving his early schooling there, the young Hiram Mills moved on to the newly-established Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute to be graduated before he was twenty. When he was in his middle thirties he was appointed Chief Engineer of the […]
March 7, 1912: Municipal Journal article. Some Principles of Sewerage Design. “The report of the Sewerage Commission upon the problem presented by the city of Milwaukee, the general conclusions of which were referred to in our issue of Feb. 29, contains a number of features among its details which are of considerable interest. One of […]
Scientists working with data from NASA’s Aquarius instrument have released worldwide maps of soil moisture, showing how the wetness of the land fluctuates with the seasons and weather phenomena.
Soil moisture, the water contained within soil particles, is an important player in Earth’s water cycle. It is essential for plant life and influences weather and climate. Satellite readings of soil moisture will help scientists better understand the climate system and have potential for a wide range of applications, from advancing climate models, weather forecasts, drought monitoring and flood prediction to informing water management decisions and aiding in predictions of agricultural productivity.
Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentinian spacecraft Aquarius/Satélite de Aplicaciones Científicas (SAC)-D, Aquarius was built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. The new soil wetness measurements were not in the mission’s primary science objectives, but a NASA-funded team led by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers has developed a method to retrieve soil moisture data from the instrument’s microwave radiometer.
Cyanobacteria, Nutrients, and Land Use
In warmer months, lakes and ponds often go green. This is most likely the result of an algae bloom which, increasingly, contain many cyanobacteria. Also known as “blue-green algae,” some species of these tiny, photosynthetic aquatic organisms produce toxins. The impacts of these harmful algal blooms can be significant. They can range from respiratory and gastrointestinal problems in people to the death of animals, even the family pet.
Blooms like these are becoming a more frequent occurrence and are having greater impacts than ever before. Researchers want to better understand how these blooms impact human health, identify the toxicity of the cyanobacteria, predict the probability of bloom occurrence, and share that information widely.