Southern California environment news and trends

Eco-March Madness: California colleges advance to the “Environmental Eight”

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Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

With the 2012 NCAA basketball playoffs whittled down to this weekend’s Final Four matchups pitting Ohio State against Kansas and Louisville versus Kentucky, the first-ever March Madness tournament of Environmental Studies has tightened up as well.

As we reported earlier this month, the “Sustainable 16” American colleges and universities had been selected to compete for the title of National Champion of Environmental Studies. This week, program sponsors Environmental Leader and Enviance, Inc announced the “Environmental Eight” schools chosen to advance to the next round. Both schools representing California in the "Sustainable 16" — UC Davis and Humboldt State University — have made the cut. They will be pitted against Colby College, Colorado State University, Ohio State, Purdue, Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Texas at Arlington.

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Water contamination plagues California farm regions

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Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images

A sobering new UC Davis study reports that nitrate contamination is prevalent in California’s Central Valley and neighboring areas like Salinas, with the problem likely to get worse in the years and even decades to come.

According to Epoch Times, as much as 10 percent of the people living in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valleys are drinking water contaminated with nitrates, with the potential of four out of five area residents dealing with the physical and financial fallout over the next 40 years. The contamination is primarily a result of fertilizers and animal waste from the bustling agricultural activity throughout the region.

As reported by MSNBC, increased nitrate levels have been connected to a series of health issues including cancer, skin rashes and “blue baby syndrome,” a blood disease that can lead to infant death.

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