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Recharge and other solutions for the water supply

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By Roger Snodgrass

Zooming down from a high-angle view of the Earth to one watershed and one facet of a set of interrelated environmental problems, the geologist focused on sustaining clean water in this century.

A supercomputing specialist in hydrological sciences from California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Andrew Tompson painted some of the big-picture symptoms related to fresh water resources in the world and then plunged into the role science played in a tough situation.

Tompson spoke at an Earth and Environmental Sciences Division colloquium Monday in the Physics Auditorium on the campus of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Water supplies in many areas are increasingly tapped out, impaired or polluted. Five million people die in the world each year from water-borne illnesses. By 2025, 2.7 billion people will face water shortages.

“We’re in a red area of physical scarcity,” Tompson said.

What role, then, can science play? What do we need most, new supplies, better treatment technologies or improved operations of natural systems?

The questions are not easy to answer in the Golden State, which Tompson considers a microcosm of the world predicament.

As in many other places in the world and even in New Mexico, urban growth is driving what is becoming an unsupportable demand.


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