MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations


Sometimes we at SRIC (and many of our long-time supporters and friends) take for granted our understanding of words we use every day that concern environmental issues. Some of these words may not be familiar to all our readers. We are including a glossary in each issue to help all our readers become more familiar with environmental words and phrases. Please let us know if there are other terms you would like explained.

Groundwater; the primary source of potable water in arid and semi-arid areas.
Carrying capacities
BThe population an area will support without undergoing environmental deterioration.
The thorough identification of all organic, inorganic and radiological components of a given waste or a given waste stream.
Spanish for Commission.
To market the buying and selling of water rights from one region to another (e.g. rural water rights to municipalities).
Spanish for Rights.
Groundwater restoration
The act or activity of restoring groundwater to its original condition, or to certain minimum standards established by federal, state or tribal government.
Facilities and services (i.e., roads, power, water/sewer systems, police, fire) needed to sustain industrial, residential, and commercial activities.
Spanish for Grant.
Mixed waste
Wastes having both radiological and chemical properties, or having separate origins in nuclear and chemical processes, that have been mixed or otherwise combined together.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
A class of organic compounds used in a variety of industrial applications, including as insulation fluids in electrical transformers; EPA has classified most PCBs as human carcinogens.
Uranium solution mines
Type of uranium mining that is conducted by injecting chemical solutions through wells into a rock formation to leach, or extract, uranium from its host rock and by pumping out the uranium-laden groundwater for further processing and concentration of the uranium; also called in situ leach (ISL) mining.

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"In Alice in Wonderland, poor Alice was plagued by the problem of regulating her own size. One side of the caterpillar's mushroom made her grow, and the other made her shrink, and Alice was hard put to consume the right stimulus at the right rate to achieve the right size. If she erred on one side, she would swoop into hugeness; if on the other, she would instantly dwindle. Twentieth-century efforts at the management of nature bring Alice's dilemma to mind. The goal is to get humanity's role in nature back to the right size, neither too big or too small, neither too powerful nor too powerless. Like Alice, the manager finds it difficult to regulate the rate of change; a seemingly subtle move will have enormous repercussions; causing humans abruptly to become huge again; and a seemingly forceful and direct move will meet implacable resistance from nature, causing them to appear as creatures of great self-importance and little actual stature. Swinging from huge to tiny, dominant to dominated, humanity's place in nature changes from day to day, hour to hour."
--Patricia Nelson Limerick
The Legacy of Conquest
W.W. Norton & Company
1987, New York, New York

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