‘Weather whiplash’ triggered by changing climate will degrade Midwest’s drinking water
‘Weather whiplash’ triggered by changing climate will degrade Midwest’s drinking water.
Now, researchers at the University of Kansas have published findings in the journal Biogeochemistry showing weather whiplash in the American Midwest’s agricultural regions will drive the deterioration of water quality, forcing municipalities to seek costly remedies to provide safe drinking water to residents.
"As rainfall patterns change with climate change, it’s predicted there will be more times of drought, and more times of excessive rainfall — really big storms," said Terry Loecke, assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Kansas and lead author of the new investigation.
"Farmers put on their normal amount of fertilizer, but when we have a drought, plants don’t grow as big and don’t take up as much nitrogen," Loecke said.
But when floods occur, nitrogen is washed into surface waters such as tributaries that feed into rivers.
"But as soon as you wet it, like when you wring a sponge, the nitrogen can flood into the rivers."
"The drinking water is a real problem, especially in Des Moines," Burgin said.
"The average person will pay more to have clean drinking water, like in the city of Des Moines," Loecke said.
"A city can’t predict how many days they’ll have to run a nitrate-removal facility.
According to analysis by the Des Moines Register, 30 percent of them will have this problem — and most don’t have the tax bases to support huge nitrate-removal facilities."