Shade Balls: Preventing Algae and Evaporation Amidst California’s Drought

A recent New York Times article by Katie Rogers talks about an odd solution to California’s dwindling water supply. LA county is using small black balls that float on the surface of reservoir water to block UV and heat. This prevents both evaporation and algae growth from occurring. With California’s drought persistently eating away at our …

Microbial biofilms in water meters

Here is your song to go with this post: Something in the water by Carrie Underwood. When we drink tap water, we usually don’t really think about the bacteria that might be in there. The quality of drinking water in the US is regulated by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and monitored by regularly testing the water …

Linking fecal bacteria in rivers to leaky septic tanks

This article on the website of Michigan Radio had an intriguing title. Detective work traces bacteria in Michigan rivers back to leaky septic tanks – Rebecca Williams – Michigan Radio This is a nice story illustrating how the detection of marker bacteria can be used to track contamination of rivers and other environments with fecal matter, …

What microbes do when you change the water in an aquarium

A new paper from Van Bonn et al studies the effect of a water change on the bacterial community of an aquarium. Unfortunately, only the abstract is available openly, but it seems pretty cool: The bacterial community composition and structure of water from an established teleost fish system was examined before, during and after a major water change …

Will Microbes Clean our Water?

A recent publication in Environmental Science & Technology and subsequent review on Phys.org gave a lot of promise for the technology of using microbes to clean up waterways. The study suggested that harnessing microbes is an environmentally sustainable solution to breaking down pollutants in water. I think ‘breakthrough’ is a bit strong of an accolade …

“Wrinkly coating can shimmy off bacteria” – Press release from Duke University

Short post here about a cool-sounding advance in materials science related to microbes in the built environment.    A research group at Duke University is working on a material that deforms in response to an electric current, thereby dislodging established biofilms (e.g. on the underside of a boat).   Hard to tell how likely this is since …