Desalination: As If Corals Didn’t Have Enough to Worry About Already

Clean, safe drinking water is a basic human need. However, for many areas around the globe, freshwater is becoming scarce. Desalination is increasingly used to provide drinking water in some coastal regions, but the waste products – brine and antiscalants – are discharged back into the ocean with unknown consequences. A recent study by Karen Lykkebo Petersen (University of California Santa Cruz) and colleagues sought to simulate happens to coral reefs as they are increasingly exposed to desalination discharge.

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Sweet Science: Artificial sweeteners can help track septic effluent

Some homes treat waste onsite using what is called a septic system. These systems release treated water (effluent) into the ground where it eventually combines with natural groundwater. Septic effluent is a concern because it could contaminate groundwater that is used as drinking water. As a result, researchers have been searching for ways to track septic effluent in groundwater. The scientists in this study examined whether artificial sweeteners could do the trick.

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