Covering Water in a Changing World

Undrinkable water, severe drought or unprecedented flooding; conflicts over water rights ... Water issues touch every aspect of daily life and therefore are relevant to all areas of journalism.
Covering Water in a Changing World, a specialized reporting institute funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, was designed to offer journalists and weather broadcasters who report on water issues and the impact of climate change exposure to key issues.
Participants learned how to move beyond the rhetoric of blame and “water wars” toward helping local audiences understand how water quality and water scarcity problems are affecting them and identify possible solutions.
The workshop and the resources on this page offer guidance in how to communicate the climate-change angles so crucial to water-related issues and how to report about these issues in a way that will engage audiences and help them understand their impact on water.
Resources on this page will enable journalists to meet the challenge of effectively covering the many angles of water, its availability and its scarcity, and the impact of water on all areas of society. These resources are provided as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute, "Covering Water in a Changing World," hosted by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications on Nov. 12-13, 2015. The SRI was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

In the News

Lead poisoning: Sources of exposure, health effects and policy implications: From the Harvard University's Shorenstein Center's Journalist's Resource, Feb. 4, 2016

Find an Expert

Deke Arndt, chief, Monitoring Branch, National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA,

Mary Ann Dickenson, director, Alliance for Water Efficiency, email:; tel.: 773-360-5100

David Zetland, water economist and assistant professor of economics at Leiden University College, the Netherlands, email:

Blogs Worth Reading

Aquanomics by David Zetland of Leiden University College, the Netherlands

AWRA blog, from the American Water Resources Association

The Water Blog by the World Bank

Water Currents: Insights into the World of Freshwater, National Geographic

Additional water-related blogs are linked to the UF SRI resources page

Twitter Tags to Follow

@A4WE, Alliance for Water Efficiency

@aquanomics, David Zetland

@EPAwatersense, a resource for water-saving tips

@FAOAQUASTAT, the FAO's global water information system

@NOAANCEIclimate, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information

Additional water-related Twitter resources are linked to the UF SRI resources page

Key Resources

Resources from the SRI

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications created an outstanding page of Resources for Covering Freshwater, which includes many resources from the SRI and much more.

To access presentations from the SRI, check out this page, also from UF's College of Journalism and Communications: Presentations.

UF's Water Institute gathers talent from across the university to address water issues.

Government and NGO Resources

Aquastat is the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's global water information arm. It collects, analyzes and disseminates data on water resources, usage and management.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Water Laws and Regulations are linked to this Web page.

The International Association of Hydrogeologists is an organization for groundwater scientists, engineers and other professionals working on groundwater resource management and protection.

The International Groundwater Resource Assessment Centre, under the auspices of UNESCO and WMO, promotes sustainable groundwater resource management and utilization.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service compiles massive amounts of data on water and water resources, including flood danger, flood maps, water and climate and more. NOAA's JetStream educational sites offer lessons on Water, Water Everywhere and Sea Water, among others.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources of the United States: USGS's Water division collects and disseminates reliable, impartial, and timely information that is needed to understand American water resources. These include groundwater, streams and lakes. This website offers maps, data and analysis. The Florida Water Science Center specifically focuses on Florida's water resources.

Nonprofits Educating or Advocating on Water-Related Issues

The Alliance for Water Efficiency Headquartered in Chicago, the organization is dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water. It is an advocate for water efficient products and programs. AWE also provides information and assistance on water conservation efforts.

American Water Resources Association, a multidisciplinary association for information exchange, professional development and education about water resources and related issues.

Climate Central, an organization of scientists and journalists who research and report on the changing climate, maintains this website, chock-full of their reports.

The National Ground Water Association is a nonprofit organization whose members are U.S. and international groundwater professionals who aim to provide guidance on the responsible use of groundwater.


Webinar Replays

Covering Water in a Changing World: Originally broadcast on Feb. 11, 2016, this Webinar will teach you the basic scientific background needed to cover complex quality and quantity issues and suggest fresh strategies for getting beyond politics, offering solutions and explaining the climate-change angles.

Tools for Smart Science Journalism: Watch this Webinar replay to get started reporting on science. Learn how to cultivate sources and decode the data and the jargon.

NewsU Self-Directed Courses

Covering Climate Change: No coverage of water issues is complete without a look at the effects of climate change. This self-directed course provides the fundamentals that you'll need to report accurately and completely.

Covering Water Quality: What You Need to Know: A self-directed course that provides background and tips for covering one of the most fundamental resources in human society: water. So much can go wrong: drought, pollution, microbial contamination, malfunctioning treatment plants, sewer overflows, minerals leaching from household pipes, and more. Learn what you need to cover issues around this vital resource.

Environmental Reporting: An Introduction: A self-directed course that guides reporters into the thickets of environmental reporting. Learn how to identify promising stories, translate scientific jargon and find the best sources for your stories.

Whose Truth? Tools for Smart Science Journalism in the Digital Age: A self-directed course for any journalist covering a science-related topic, this course guides you through jargon and data and offers tips for sorting out credible sources from those with a particular agenda.