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WATER WORLD
Massive pumping of groundwater for cities said raising arsenic risks
by Staff Writers
New York (UPI) Sep 11, 2013


Kenya says newly discovered aquifer could supply water for 70 years
Nairobi, Kenya (UPI) Sep 11, 2013 - Kenya's government says a huge water source has been discovered in the arid northern Turkana region that could supply the country for 70 years.

The confirmation of two aquifers is significant for the drought-hit region, Kenyan Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu said in a Twitter posting.

"This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole," she later told a meeting of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Satellites and radar were used to find the aquifers in the Turkana Basin and the Lotikipi Basin, with test drilling confirming the presence of water beneath the arid earth, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Turkana, one of the hottest, driest and poorest parts of Kenya, suffered a drought last year that was particularly hard on the region's nomadic herders.

The aquifers are estimated to contain around 325 billion cubic yards of water; Kenya currently uses about 4 billion cubic yards a year, Wakhungu said.

"We must now work to further explore these resources responsibly and safeguard them for future generations," she said.

Massive pumping of groundwater from a clean aquifer in Vietnam is drawing naturally occurring but poisonous arsenic into water supplies, scientists say.

Natural arsenic pollutes wells across the world, especially in south and southeast Asia, where an estimated 100 million people are exposed to levels that can cause heart, liver and kidney problems, diabetes and cancer, scientists at the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York reported Wednesday.

A study near the Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi confirms suspicions that booming water usage there and elsewhere could eventually threaten millions more people in south Asian and beyond, the researchers said.

"This is the first time we have been able to show that a previously clean aquifer has been contaminated," lead author and geochemist Alexander van Geen said. "The amount of water being pumped really dominates the system. Arsenic is moving."

There is some good news, he said: "It is not moving as fast as we had feared it might."

This could give water managers time -- perhaps decades -- to find ways to deal with the problem, he said.

Researchers said they've linked natural arsenic pollution in south Asia to vast amounts of sediment eroding off the Himalayan plateau into basins below, from Pakistan and India to China and Vietnam.

The Hanoi pumping constitutes "a huge, unintended experiment," study co-author Michael Berg at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology said, noting similar processes may be under way in other areas such as the megacities of Dhaka and Beijing and widespread farming areas of Asia, along with parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and South and North America, where irrigation and municipal pumping are sucking aquifers dry.

"We are altering systems all over the world," he said.

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WATER WORLD
Kenya says newly discovered aquifer could supply water for 70 years
Nairobi, Kenya (UPI) Sep 11, 2013
Kenya's government says a huge water source has been discovered in the arid northern Turkana region that could supply the country for 70 years. The confirmation of two aquifers is significant for the drought-hit region, Kenyan Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu said in a Twitter posting. "This newly found wealth of water opens a door to a more prosperous future for the people of ... read more


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