Iowan Greg Huff and his family launched the nonprofit ICanSaveLives (, which raises money by collecting empty soda cans, recycling them, and using the money raised to provide water purification and filtration systems, hand washing stations, sanitary sewers or latrines, and hygiene education to villages, hospitals, schools and other small public facilities in developing nations. Photo courtesy

Dropping lake mead

Water levels in Lake Mead have plummeted more than 110 feet since 2002. The top ‘bathtub ring’ marks elevation 1,220 feet (that’s not the lake’s depth, but its elevation above sea level). This 2003 picture shows the lake at elevation 1,142 feet. As of the end of February 2011, it had dropped almost another 50 feet, to 1,095 feet. At elevation 1,050 feet, Lake Mead becomes a ‘dead pool,’ when the water level is below the intake for Hoover Dam, and power generation stops. Lake Mead is the primary water supply for the city of Las Vegas. Photo courtesy Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Dropping Lake Superior

Earth’s largest freshwater lake system in the world is not immune from dropping water levels. In April 2007, mud bottom is exposed at Duluth’s Superior Harbor Park Point. The lake hit record lows in August that year. Photo by Jeff Gunderson/Minnesota Sea Grant.

Receding Grinnel Glacier

Then you saw it; now you don’t. The view of Grinnel Glacier in 1910 looked very different from the same view in 2008. Photos courtesy of USGS Repeat Photography Project.

Imagine a watershed

The tarp covering this swimming pool illustrates what happens in a watershed--debris (pollutants) and water drain to the lowest point. Photo courtesy USGS.

The Shrinking Aral Sea

These images from Landsat satellites show the shrinking Aral Sea 1973 to 2000. The freshwater lake used to be the size of Lake Erie, but no more. Photos courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Humuston Iowa pipe 4.1

Would you want to drink water from this pipe? This section of a water pipe from rural Iowa looks as if it’s been in the sea for hundreds of years instead of underground for less than 50. The build-up is indicative of what’s happened to many of the nation’s old and worn out underground water-delivery systems. It’s no wonder the daily news is filled with stories of water main breaks across the country. Photo courtesy of Iowa Rural Water Association.

Water cycle

An artist’s rendering of Earth’s Water Cycle, the natural process by which the planet replenishes its water supplies. Courtesy USGS.

Conventional Pavement

One approach to helping cut down on water runoff is the use of pervious pavement, paving material that is porous and allows rainwater to soak into the ground instead of run off and away. The difference between conventional and pervious pavement is dramatic. Photos courtesy National Ready Mix Concrete Association

Swing Vote pix

As snowmelts occur earlier, areas of the country that rely on snowmelt to feed rivers and replenish water supplies may come up short. Photo courtesy Swing Vote Magazine (