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Human activities harm water quality, raise treatment costs

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

Julie-PadowskiPULLMAN, Wash. – Julie Padowski, clinical assistant professor at Washington State University, has found that the loss of land cover around cities has increased pollution and raised the cost of water treatment.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she and coauthors say 90 percent of large cities around the world have lost natural land cover to agriculture and development since 1900.

The degradation of watersheds has affected water-treatment costs for nearly one-third of the more than 300 cities in the study. The affected cities saw operation and maintenance costs rise by more than half.

Padowski does research in the Water Research Center and Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach at WSU.

Leading the study was Robert McDonald, a scientist for the Nature Conservancy. His colleagues are Padowski and Katherine Weber of Yale University.

An abstract of the paper is available here. The Washington Post writes about the research here.


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