Water Science

(Almost) All Things Water

Water Science Blog

Water Science

A fun and informative blog by Alexandra Lutz

Though this website has come about out of necessity, it has been on on my mind for a long time. I started a WordPress site a number of years ago while doing fieldwork in Niger, West Africa. It was difficult to post from there, but I managed to get a few landscape photos into a gallery. The website is probably still out there somewhere. I never did much more than that, because I needed to finish my dissertation – at least that’s what I convinced myself.

No more excuses! It’s time to sit down and start writing about water. Broad topic, I know. But, there are a lot of things that make this interesting, especially if you live in the Reno/Sparks area of Northern Nevada. Our water supply is the mountain snowpack plus a few reservoirs. This blog will explain why this is important and where you can get more information. If you have questions or comments please get in touch with me.

Latest from the Blog


This past week, an EPA news release stated, “EPA Announces Plan to Update Toxics Release Inventory to Advance Environmental Justice.”  Specifically mentioned under that headline was “reporting requirements for… PFAS.”  What are PFAS and why should we worry about them?  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) belong to a large group of what is often called […]

Drinking Water Treatment

In most places in the US, like here in the Truckee Meadows, you can fill a glass from the tap and drink safe water.  How does this happen?  In short, water is purified by treatment processes before it reaches your tap.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets treatment standards for the 151,000 public systems providing […]

What’s in Your Water?

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act gave the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to set standards for public drinking water supplies in the US.  See a previous blog for more information on the history of drinking water guidelines.  Today the EPA has standards for over 90 contaminants in drinking water.  A quick glance […]

What is a Megadrought?

If drought is explained as imbalance between available and needed water, then megadrought is explained as this imbalance lasting for at least 20 years.  Seems like a long time, doesn’t it?  Children are born, raised, and leave their parents over 20 years.  The same span takes us from youth (me 20 years ago) to mid-life […]

What is Drought?

The term “drought” has been alluded to in a past blog about snowpack and streamflow but I didn’t explain it.  For some, drought means that it hasn’t rained for a few weeks.  For others, it means that the river’s runs dry.  Here in the Truckee Meadows, it could mean reducing water use by some percentage. […]

History of Drinking Water Regulations

When I sat down to write this blog, the title was “What makes water drinkable?”  That is still on the agenda, but it seems best to first explain what public health is, how we got to regulations and guidelines, and what the difference between the two is.  Note that regulations and guidelines for drinking water […]

When it Rains, it Pours, and Floods

When people asked me how long I’ve lived here, it’s an easy answer.  My benchmark is the flood of 1997.  I moved here in fall of 1996, ready for the ski season and -unbeknownst to me- just in time for the 1997 flood.  Let’s back up.  That year, there was much anticipation for El Niño, […]

River’s Up

The previous blog left off with the Mt Rose SNOTEL maximum snow water equivalent (SWE) measured at the end of March and now headed downwards for April.  The sad news was to enjoy the last bit of winter, as the days for skiing, snowshoeing, or sledding are limited.  The good news?  The river’s up! If […]

Snowpack to Streamflow

It’s that time of year when snowpack turns into streamflow.  Sounds like a coach turning into pumpkin but it’s very much the opposite and more important than that.  A previous blog discussed the importance of the April 1st snowpack as measurement of our summer water reservoir.  April 1st is traditionally viewed as the day on […]

Science Returns to EPA

And Could Bring Environmental Justice Along Being buried in what I can only describe as one of the more overwhelming times in my life, I have lost track of… things.  One “anchor” is listening to the 8:00 am morning news on the radio in the car on the way to dropping my older one off […]


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