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What's In The Water?

A pit lake covers the former Anaconda Copper Mine in Yerington.
Paul Boger
KUNR Public Radio
A pit lake covers the former Anaconda Copper Mine in Yerington.

In the U.S., nearly a quarter of the freshwater we use comes from underground aquifers. That's nearly 80 billion gallons of groundwater every day. As climate change and drought become more prevalent, so does our dependence on groundwater, but what happens when it becomes polluted?

In this episode of Science Distilled, hosts Paul Boger and Kathleen Masterson take a look at groundwater contamination and the impact it can have on communities.

What's in our water? How did it get there? And more importantly, how do we fix the problem? 

The topic was discussed earlier this year at the Science Distilled lecture series produced by the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum and the Desert Research Institute—both in Reno, Nevada. In this episode, we explore a carcinogen called 1,2,3 Tetracholorpropane, which ended up in the water below California's Central Valley. Both Todd Robins, an environmental lawyer at Robins Borghei LLP, as well as hydrogeologist Dr. Rina Schumer from the Desert Research Institute, spoke at the live event about how contamination can move through an aquifer. 

We also hear from John Hadder and Dr. Glenn Miller, with Great Basin Resource Watch, about how some of the groundwater in Nevada became contaminated due to mining operations near Yerington.

Editor's Note: When this podcast was first published, it incorrectly named the chemical found in California's Central Valley as 1,2,3 Tetrachloropropane. In reality, it is 1,2,3 Trichloropropane. 

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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