> Washing across North Carolina, from tiny streams that trickle down the western mountains to the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers that roll through the eastern half of the state, water has been vital to the state’s growth for centuries.
> A short distance from the dam where Falls Lake empties into the Neuse River, a box of sensors glides up and down between the surface and the lakebed, collecting water-quality data around the clock.
> Downpours often pollute North Carolina’s waterways when stormwater washes oil, gravel, pollen, and other debris off the pavement into nearby streams. One inch of rain on a one-acre parking lot can send 27,000 gallons of water gushing into storm drains.
> When Dr. Detlef Knappe saw the news in headlines last year that traces of prescription and over-the-counter drugs were found in the water supplies of dozens of U.S. metropolitan areas, he knew that issue was the proverbial drop in the bucket.
> Aerial photos of Falls Lake during the height of the 2007-08 drought show Raleigh’s primary reservoir reduced to rivulets amid expanses of cracked, dry earth. Dr. Sankar Arumugam, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE), says seasonal climate forecasts could help ensure that reservoirs like Falls Lake never drop to critically low levels in future droughts.
> Wetlands and streams—pieces of North Carolina’s natural landscape—have been lost over time as land across the state has been cultivated for farming, paved for transportation, or built into residential and commercial property.
> Beneath its sparkling waters off the Louisiana coast, part of the Gulf of Mexico is dying. Nutrients washed into the gulf by the Mississippi River have promoted excessive algae growth, sucking the oxygen out of the water over an area roughly the size of New Jersey and killing off or driving away many plants and animals.
> When asked about her professional interest in feces, Dr. Alexandria Graves lets out a hearty laugh and recalls the time a man checking out her research poster at a microbiology conference told her she really knew her, ahem, stuff.
> During the record-setting 2007-08 drought in North Carolina, when the governor called water conservation everyone’s patriotic duty, a brown lawn was a badge of honor instead of a neighborhood blight. But even before the drought began, NC State researchers were studying ways to use less water in outdoor irrigation, which could make green yards honorable during future dry spells.
> Unlike the late Paul Newman, who bottled his special-recipe salad dressing and sold it in supermarkets, Dr. Robert Borden simply mixes up his own “dressing” and pumps it into the ground.
> Micah Reyes never imagined he would have to go snorkeling in the Neuse River to earn his master’s degree. But the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS) graduate student’s plunges into the river southeast of Raleigh have helped solve a riddle that has stumped environmental officials in recent years.