Climate change acidifies and pollutes drinking water and alpine ecosystems

Garrett Lou grew up in central Colorado by fly fishing. We often hiked along streams that seemed to borrow those colors, surrounded by amber and maroon mountains. From time to time he cast in search of native trout and didn’t bring anything back. Because there was nothing to catch. Then he began listening to people in the nearby mountain community who couldn’t drink his water. He began to wonder. “These streams have problems supporting the ecosystem and cannot be used for drinking. What’s happening?”

Rue, a PhD scientist currently studying waterways at the Arctic Alpine Research Institute at the University of Colorado, said Rue was rusty red or orange for iron oxide, white for aluminum, and yellow for manganese. I know how to read the color code for river ecology. Such colors reveal the presence of minerals that wash away the hillsides. As a result, it can be hostile to local aquatic organisms and endanger the drinking water system. Some mineralization and acidification occur naturally. However, decades of research have shown that it is also the result of historic excavations and waste disposal in gold, silver and other mines, which are common in mountainous areas. Climate change now seems to be speeding up the process.

Chemistry began in high mountain valleys, many of which have long functioned as the world’s natural water towers. Climate change raises temperatures in the high-altitude alpine environment where mines are usually located, increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts. More and more research is linking these hotter and dry conditions to increasingly acidic water. This allows the rock to flush more minerals into the waterways. And the list of things in those areas continues to grow. These trends can compromise water quality in watersheds around the world, where mountains, from the Rocky Mountains to the Himalayas and the Andes, contain high levels of minerals.

The study, co-authored by Rue, is one of the latest entries in this area and one of the first to link rising temperatures with increased concentrations of dissolved rare earth elements in mountain streams.These metallic elements use NS Polish and color glass to make batteries and magnets that power ubiquitous cell phones, televisions and cars. Rue describes his findings, published in August, as follows: Environmental science and technology , It can have even more implications for the safety of surface water used for drinking and for the long-term health of the ecosystems supplied by these streams. Mine drainage leaving Natalie-The entrance to the Occidental Mine, the main source of acidity and metal for Cement Creek’s South Fork in the historic mining district near Silverton, Colorado Credit: Garrett Rue The rare earth elements identified by Rue are relatively new people studying water quality concerns.The impact of these factors on human health, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Drinking water regulations Do not specify those thresholds. They are usually found in water at a rate of one trillionth, but are often undetectably low. With samples collected between 2012 and 2019 at Snake River Basin in […]

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