» Water

National Geographic: Freshwater

Freshwater ecosystems–lakes, rivers, and the smaller ponds and streams–make up only two percent of Earth’s water resources, and only one percent remains drinkable. Learn more about the planet’s freshwater and how you can protect what’s left. Read More

EPA Nonpoint Source Success Stories

This Nonpoint Source Success Stories web site features stories about primarily nonpoint source-impaired waterbodies where restoration efforts have led to documented water quality improvements. Waterbodies are separated into three categories of stories, depending on the type of water quality improvement achieved: Type 1. Stories about partially or fully restored waterbodies Type 2. Stories that show progress toward achieving water quality goals Type 3. Stories about ecological restoration Read More

Technology and Environmental Decision-Making: Nonpoint Source Water Contamination

Thirsty? Turn on a faucet or twist the lid from a bottle nearly anywhere in the United States. Most of us take it for granted that water is there when we need it or want it. But will it always be? And will it be clean? What is clean? How clean is clean enough? If it’s not clean enough, then what? If we accomplish the monumental task of answering these questions to our own satisfaction, then we will have necessarily learned that the quality of our local water supplies is inextricably linked to the quality of regional and even global water supply systems—that we’re all living next to Aldo Leopold’s “Round River.” Particularly in industrialized societies, we are constantly exposed to the evidence of the interconnectedness of our human systems—evidence that is manifested daily through information technology, politics, and economic activity. And more than ever before, the global interaction and interdependence of natural systems are being studied and recognized in the scientific community. Read More

Plastic Debris in 29 Great Lakes Tributaries: Relations to Watershed Attributes and Hydrology

Plastic debris is a growing contaminant of concern in freshwater environments, yet sources, transport, and fate remain unclear. This study characterized the quantity and morphology of floating micro- and macroplastics in 29 Great Lakes tributaries in six states under different land covers, wastewater effluent contributions, population densities, and hydrologic conditions. Tributaries were sampled three or four times each using a 333 μm mesh neuston net. Plastic particles were sorted by size, counted, and categorized as fibers/lines, pellets/beads, foams, films, and fragments. Plastics were found in all 107 samples, with a maximum concentration of 32 particles/m3 and a median of 1.9 particles/m3. Ninety-eight percent of sampled plastic particles were less than 4.75 mm in diameter and therefore considered microplastics. Fragments, films, foams, and pellets/beads were positively correlated with urban-related watershed attributes and were found at greater concentrations during runoff-event conditions. Fibers, the most frequently detected particle type, were not associated with urban-related watershed attributes, wastewater effluent contribution, or hydrologic condition. Results from this study add to the body of information currently available on microplastics in different environmental compartments, including unique contributions to quantify their occurrence and variability in rivers with a wide variety of different land-use characteristics while highlighting differences between surface samples from rivers compared with lakes. Read More

Using Graywater and Stormwater to Enhance Local Water Supplies: An Assessment of Risks, Costs, and Benefits (2016)

Chronic and episodic water shortages are becoming common in many regions of the United States, and population growth in water-scarce regions further compounds the challenges. Increasingly, alternative water sources such as graywater (untreated wastewater that does not include water from the toilet but generally includes water from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs, clothes washers, and laundry sinks) and stormwater (water from rainfall or snow that can be measured downstream in a pipe, culvert, or stream shortly after the precipitation event) are being viewed as resources to supplement scarce water supplies rather than as waste to be discharged as rapidly as possible. Graywater and stormwater can serve a range of non-potable uses, including irrigation, toilet flushing, washing, and cooling, although treatment may be needed. Stormwater may also be used to recharge groundwater, which may ultimately be tapped for potable use. In addition to providing additional sources of local water supply, harvesting stormwater has many potential benefits, including energy savings, pollution prevention, and reducing the impacts of urban development on urban streams. Similarly, the reuse of graywater can enhance water supply reliability and extend the capacity of existing wastewater systems in growing cities. Read More

EPA Water Research

Water research conducted at EPA provides the science and tools necessary to develop sustainable solutions to 21st century water resource problems, ensuring water quality and availability in order to protect human and ecosystem health. Read More

Assessing the significance of climate and community factors on urban water demand

Ensuring adequate water supply to urban areas is a challenging task due to factors such as rapid urban growth, increasing water demand and climate change. In developing a sustainable water supply system, it is important to identify the dominant water demand factors for any given water supply scheme. This paper applies principal components analysis to identify the factors that dominate residential water demand using the Blue Mountains Water Supply System in Australia as a case study. The results show that the influence of community intervention factors (e.g. use of water efficient appliances and rainwater tanks) on water demand are among the most significant. The result also confirmed that the community intervention programmes and water pricing policy together can play a noticeable role in reducing the overall water demand. On the other hand, the influence of rainfall on water demand is found to be very limited, while temperature shows some degree of correlation with water demand. The results of this study would help water authorities to plan for effective water demand management strategies and to develop a water demand forecasting model with appropriate climatic factors to achieve sustainable water resources management. The methodology developed in this paper can be adapted to other water supply systems to identify the influential factors in water demand modeling and to devise an effective demand management strategy. Read More

USDA Water Quality Information Center (WQIC)

Water Quality Information Center (WQIC) provides electronic access to information on water quality and agriculture. The center collects, organizes, and communicates the scientific findings, educational methodologies, and public policy issues related to water quality and agriculture. Read More

NOAA Education Resources: Freshwater

Although NOAA is known for its work in marine habitats, the agency has resource management, stewardship, research, and monitoring responsibilities for many freshwater ecosystems. NOAA satellites monitor the water supply for the planet, mapping snow and ice fields and providing predictions of where, when, and in what volume water for drinking and agriculture will be available. River level forecasts are a key component of the agency’s mission to protect life and property as well as manage navigability of waterways. Monitoring and managing the freshwater habitats of anadramous fish like the Pacific Salmon in partnership with local agencies is another key role in freshwater environments. NOAA’s presence in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. represents one of the largest agency operations dealing with freshwater. Great Lake coastal zone issues, historic and ecosystem sanctuaries, freshwater estuaries, environmental monitoring, and fishery management research are all part of NOAA’s operations. The collections in this thematic area are designed to assist the educator in teaching concepts and processes related to freshwater environments and to increase stewardship of these important resources. Read More

U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Read More


EERL's mission is to be the best possible online collection of environmental and energy sustainability resources for community college educators and for their students. The resources are also available for practitioners and the public.


EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

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