Great long read from on water radium levels increasing as wells are dug deeper 

As communities grow and pump more groundwater, radium from deep bedrock is contaminating dozens of water systems. The city of Waukesha wants to tap into Lake Michigan to solve its radium problem.

Just was pointed to this piece by Deborah Blum: As wells go deeper, radium levels rise in state tap water |  It is a remarkable story of investigation by Mary Kate McCoy.  From the site:

Mary Kate McCoy graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2015. She currently works at Wisconsin Public Radio. Reporters Silke Schmidt and Dee J. Hall contributed to this report. The story was produced as part of journalism classes participating in The Confluence, a collaborative project involving the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The nonprofit Center ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Really impressed with this article and the whole body of work from Wisconsin Watch.  They have a whole project on “Failure at the Faucet” regarding drinking water quality (or lack of it) in Wisconsin.  The focus has been on chemical contamination of water.  I do wonder about microbial levels too, and they have some articles related to this. For example see Project: Murky Waters which I will dig around in and hopefully post more about later.

Anyway – the article on radium levels that I started this post with is very interesting and represents another good case study (to go with the ones coming out about Flint) for the importance of public investigation and reporting on water quality issues.  It is definitely worth a read.


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Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.