Environment

As technology advances, many industries are being disrupted by increased automation. But when it comes to managing and protecting the water supply, there are many tasks that still require a combination of people and technology.

That's where reservoir caretakers come in. Some cities and counties employ these workers to live in remote locations and watch over the water supply.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The Paris agreement to curb climate change calls for a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels and the greenhouse gasses they emit, especially carbon dioxide.

S Bence

We, Americans, waste a lot of food. Approximately 40 percent is never eaten. That amounts to 34 million tons of waste annually; most ends up in landfills. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence digs into the problem - starting with her own refrigerator.

"You don’t have to go very far from home to experience food waste. Like inside my refrigerator…has some pretty nasty looking red cabbage, broccoli I thought I would make soup out of. And I don’t know what this mush is, could have been cilantro," she says.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The wastewater treatment plant in Grand Junction, Colo., takes in 8 million gallons of raw sewage — what's flushed down the toilet and sinks.

Processing this sewage produces a lot of methane, which the plant used to just burn off into the air.

The process was "not good for the environment and a waste of a wonderful resource," says Dan Tonello, manager of the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Now, using more infrastructure, the facility refines the methane further to produce natural gas chemically identical to what's drilled from underground.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Last year, snowpack across the Sierra Nevada was just 5 percent of average. Up and down the West Coast in fact, the 2014-2015 season was marked by late openings, early closings and some resorts not opening at all.

This year's strong start will be good news for farms and cities down the mountain later, but it's especially promising right now for people like Andy Wirth, the resort's CEO.

He took over in 2011, a record snowfall year, only to be followed by three dry years and then last year, the driest in 1,200 years.

Oklahoma City residents woke early New Year's Day to a magnitude 4.2 quake. Earlier this week, a magnitude 4.3 quake struck the same area.

The state isn't historically known for earthquakes, but NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce told our Newscast unit that Oklahoma "has recently seen a dramatic rise in seismic activity." Here's more:

We change our minds about purchases a lot in the U.S., especially after the buying binge of the holidays. Returns cost retailers about $260 billion each year. That doesn't include the cost to the environment of all that producing, shipping, and throwing away.

One of the companies on the receiving end of all those returns is trying to reduce the cost to retailers, and the cost to the environment.

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