The Pure Water Occasional for September 1, 2014

In this Labor Day Occasional, you’ll hear about a serious accident at the Zoom Flume, today’s Kee Boon Mein Kaa Labor Day Pow Wow Women’s Water Walk, and the upcoming water lily festival in San Angelo.   Learn about the takeover of the Mediterranean sea by plastics, Turkey’s shutdown of the Euphrates, Israel’s ban on water fluoridation, the severe drought in Central America, and the rising-sea-level woes of the Swinomish tribe. Plus California’s continuing drought, the state’s considered ban on private well drilling, and additional water problems caused by the Napa earthquake.  Learn why you should not take up underwater welding,  and hear about the leak in “America’s water tower.”  New evidence of arsenic in North Texas wells caused by fracking,  the reemergence of the brain eating amoeba in Louisiana, the ongoing civil rights discussion centering on water shutoffs in Detroit, how to prevent iron stains on sidewalks and buildings, how to sing better,  and, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website,  please go here.  (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)


You’ll sing better. (more…)

People are swimming in a plastic sea


by John Cordina


No part of the Mediterranean Sea is immune to plastic pollution, and area to the east of Malta hosts a particularly high concentration of such debris, a research expedition has discovered.

The research expedition, Tara Méditerranée, is the tenth expedition being organised by French non-profit organisation Tara Expeditions, which was established in 2003 by fashion designer agnès b and her son Étienne Bourgois. The expeditions are carried out through the non-profit’s schooner – the Tara.

The seven-month expedition, which began in May and which is being carried out under the patronage of the EU’s Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, aims to carry out a scientific study concerning plastic pollution, as well as promote awareness of environmental challenges in the Mediterranean region.

The Tara arrived in Malta on Thursday and set sail once more yesterday, a visit which helped fulfil the expedition’s educational aims though an exhibition called “Our Ocean Planet” in St George’s Square, Valletta, the screening of the documentary Planet Ocean and press briefings.

In comments to The Malta Independent, the expedition’s scientific director Gabriel Gorsky – the head of the Oceanology Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is part of the Paris-based Pierre-et-Marie Curie University – explained that as the Tara sails around the Mediterranean, the scientists on board are quantifying the plastic fragments they come across, measuring their size and weight and identifying the types of plastic found at sea.

Dr Gorsky added that the team is also analysing the organic pollutants which adhere to these plastic fragments, as well as the microorganisms which colonise them. (more…)

Study shows potentially unhealthy levels of arsenic in water wells across area

 30 August 2014
Editor’s Note:  The article below, from our local newspaper, is one of many that have been in national news recently because of local resistance to fracking. A local vote on fracking is upcoming.  The piece below adds a dimension to the fracking controversy, suggesting that arsenic and heavy metals get into well water because of the severe vibration caused by hydraulic fracturing.  I’ve added an interesting reader’s comment to this article from the Denton Record-Chronicle website, since it address the vibration issue not only as regards fracking but in regard to water contamination on and near military bases as well. — Hardly Waite.

University of Texas at Arlington researchers have unveiled a study that found potentially unhealthy levels of arsenic in water wells scattered throughout North Texas.

The study, conducted last year, involved 100 water wells across the Barnett Shale, 10 of them in Denton County. An 11-member team of UTA scientists found that 30 percent of wells within 1.8 miles of active natural gas drilling showed an increase in heavy metals, including arsenic.

“To find that high of arsenic concentrations was alarming,” said Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand, a UTA biochemist. “This is indirect evidence that drilling does affect the water.”

Researchers compared their results with previous water tests conducted in the same area before the Barnett Shale gas boom exploded across the region 10 years ago. They believe the vibration from drilling or hydraulic fracturing operations shakes the pipes in nearby wells, causing arsenic-contaminated rust to fall into fresh water. The scientists referred to those vibrations as “pressure waves from drilling activity.”

Alex Mills, the head of an oil and gas industry trade association, said he doubts the study’s findings. (more…)

Iron Stains from Irrigation Wells: A Water Treatment Challenge

One of the big problems of water treatment is how to deal with iron in water used for irrigation.


When well water with iron is used for watering landscaping, it leaves stains on buildings, sidewalks, and driveways. Although homeowners often try to cure the problem with conventional iron filters, this approach is seldom satisfactory. The problem is that iron filters have a limited capacity between regeneration sessions. If used for water inside the home, an iron filter only has to process a few hundred gallons of water per day at a moderate flow rate. The filter has time to backwash and renew itself at night. With irrigation applications, however, the filter might be required to process thousands of gallons per day at a high flow rate. Iron filters used for significant irrigation jobs work only when they are sized very large, and usually multiple filters are required so that one can be regenerated while others are in service. (more…)

Israel Has Officially Banned Fluoridation of Its Drinking Water


by Douglas Main

On Tuesday of this week (Aug. 26), Israel officially stopped adding fluoride to its water supplies. The decision has “been lauded by various rights groups, but criticized by many in the medical and dental communities as a serious mistake,” as the Times of Israel put it.

The tasteless, colorless chemical is put into water for the purpose of reducing cavities, but critics say that it amounts to mass medication, and forces people to consume the substance whether they want to or not.

By law, fluoride had been added to public drinking water supplies of large Israeli towns since the 1970s, and until this week about 70 percent of the country was fluoridated. (For comparison, 67 percent of Americans receive fluoridated tap water.)

Health Minister Yael German announced last year that she planned to end the practice, but faced a wave of backlash. Undeterred, she said earlier this month that she had nevertheless decided to end the process effective Aug. 26, and to not even allow optional fluoridation in communities that support it. (more…)

Check water periodically for bacteria, nitrate


by JoAnn Alumbaugh


Bacteria and nitrate are widespread in the environment, so every water-well owner should regularly test the water to make sure no health risks exist, recommends the National Ground Water Association.

While most bacteria found in water do not cause disease, disease-causing pathogens can exist in well water given the right circumstances. Nitrate is not uncommon in rural areas due to its use in fertilizers and because it is sometimes linked to animal or human waste.

“We recommend that well owners test their water annually for bacteria and nitrate because of their widespread presence,” says Cliff Treyens, NGWA public awareness director. “Knowing whether or not you have a problem with bacteria or nitrate through valid laboratory testing is key to keeping your water safe.” (more…)



The Pure Water Occasional for August 25, 2014

In this end-of-summer back-to-school Occasional, you’ll hear about a California town that’s out of water, a city in Brazil that’s low on water, the low-water crisis of the Great Salt Lake, and evidence of huge water losses in the American west. Drought and more drought. Then there’s the economic failure of big dams, what  life is like beneath the ice in Antarctica’s lakes, how oil affects fishing in Ghana, and how fracking affects the San Antonio River. More about the Detroit water crisis, big sewage spills in Detroit and Baltimore, and excessive fluoride in wells in Maine and New Hampshire. Find out what to do with your abandoned swimming pool, learn how backwashing water filters work,   and, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website, please go here.  (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)


Drought leaves California homes without water

 Nearly 1,000 people in East Porterville, CA  whose wells have gone dry due to drought received an emergency allotment of bottled water August 22, 2014. (more…)

Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost 

by Jacques Leslie

Introductory Note:  The dam is a perfect example of the many things in our lives that are “mixed blessings.”  That’s why dams are always controversial.

In one of my favorite novels, Paradox, Rey by Pio Baroja, progressive Europeans bent on saving the world go to Africa to build a dam. Among people and animals there are mixed reactions. The dam helps some and hurts others:  the frogs love it, but the snakes hate it; poor people who are promised cheap electricity love it, but poor people who lose their homes hate it.  The dam provides water for irrigation, but it covers up much valuable farmland.  It provides water for some cities, but it forces abandonment of other cities.  It helps one species of fish but hastens extinction of another.

If we are allowed to generalize, we can say that dams are mainly an advantage to the rich and a burden for the poor.  But there are exceptions even to that, as the editorial reprinted below shows. 

Dams are not permanent.  They eventually die, choked by the sediment they have collected,  and have to be removed.  Sometimes they are an advantage to the generations that benefit from their use but they are always a burden to the generations that pay for building them and tearing them down.–Gene Franks.


Dams have pros can cons, but in most ways they are losers for the builder and the displaced population.

THAYER SCUDDER, the world’s leading authority on the impact of dams on poor people, has changed his mind about dams.

A frequent consultant on large dam projects, Mr. Scudder held out hope through most of his 58-year career that the poverty relief delivered by a properly constructed and managed dam would outweigh the social and environmental damage it caused. Now, at age 84, he has concluded that large dams not only aren’t worth their cost, but that many currently under construction “will have disastrous environmental and socio-economic consequences,” as he wrote in a recent email. (more…)

Drought leaves California homes without water

 Nearly 1,000 people in East Porterville, CA  whose wells have gone dry due to drought received an emergency allotment of bottled water August 22, 2014.

PORTERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of rural San Joaquin Valley residents no longer can get drinking water from their home faucets because California’s extreme drought has dried up their individual wells, government officials and community groups said.

The situation has become so dire that the Tulare County Office of Emergency Serviceshad 12-gallon-per person rations of bottled water delivered on Friday in East Porterville, where at least 182 of the 1,400 households have reported having no or not enough water, according to the Porterville Recorder.  (more…)

Water rights of Ireland and Jordan


 Here is a cautionary tale of two very different countries which once shared a similar water use philosophy and usage patterns. The right photo is in Jordan’s Wadi-Rum desert. The forest on the left is in Ireland.

Parts of this country receive up to 4 meters of rain each year. But Ireland was running out of water so its government recently brought in water charges. Here is why.

Jordan is one of the world’s driest countries, with desert comprising 75 percent of its land area. The entire country averages only about 160mm of annual rainfall and 41 percent of its land receives fewer than 50mm of rain each year.

Ireland receives an average of 1000mm of annual rainfall and parts of its Atlantic coastline receive nearly 4000mm (4 meters) of rain each year. Ireland’s driest recorded year was 1887 when only 356.6 mm of rain fell, more than twice Jordan’s average rainfall. With such a plentiful source of freshwater, Ireland never had to pay for huge reservoirsdesalinization plants, waste-water reclamation systems or Red to Dead sea projects.

In fact, in 1997, the government of Ireland decided that water should be a basic human right. So domestic water charges were abolished. Ireland did this thirteen years before the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 64/292 in July 2010 which also “Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

Water, they argued, shouldn’t be a commodity. Water should be a human right. (more…)