Easy Repair for Fleck 5600 Controls: Pistons, Seals, and Spacers

Seals and Spacers

The Fleck 5600 control valve for water softeners and filters is a fairly easy “do it yourself” job that can save you the expense of professional service and the inconvenience of waiting for repair to be done.


Seals,  spacers, and pistons are the control valve parts that eventually need replacement.  They may wear out in a few months or last for many years, their longevity depending mainly on the use the filter or softener gets. Logically, the most fragile valve parts will need more frequent replacement on a well-water iron filter than on a chlorine removal filter running on clean city water,


Whatever the usage, the common symptoms of piston and seal/spacer problems are the control valve’s inability to complete the regeneration cycle because it hangs up in backwash or rinse position. If the filter runs water to drain when it should be in service position and running water only to the home, the problem is almost always seals and spacers. This is a serious problem that not only wastes water and energy, but for well users excess water drain to leach fields and septic systems and lead to very expensive repairs.

Filter Piston


Although seals, spacers and piston are inner parts of the control valve, they’re easy to get to and the repair can in most cases be done without removing the control unit from the filter or softener.


Parts needed for 5600 Seal, Spacer, Piston replacement are


BW537 — 5600 Filter Piston — $44

BW616 — 5600 Softener Piston — $44

BW517 – 5600 Seal and Spacer Kit — $21

Mike’s Easy Ten-Step Method for Replacing Piston, Seals and Spacers in 5600 Filters and Softeners


For a parts list and illustration, see pp. 16.-17 of the 5600 Service Manual.


1. Turn off the incoming water and relieve pressure by putting the unit in bypass or by opening a faucet downstream. If the unit has a bypass valve, you can simply put it in bypass. If there is a meter, pull out the cable to disconnect it.


2. Remove the back cover of the control valve.


3. Remove the screw and washer from the drive yoke, then remove the timer mounting screws and the entire timer assembly will lift off easily. Remove the end plug retainer plate.


4. Pull upward on piston yoke to remove the piston from the valve.


5. If you are replacing only the seals and spacers, or the seals and spacers as well as the piston, remove the seals and spacers at this time.  Usually you can pull them out with your fingers, but in dirty filters some brute force may be needed. A screwdriver is a good tool. To replace the seals and spacers, the order is seal, spacer, seal, spacer, etc. Both the top and bottom items will be seals.


6. When the seals and spacers are either inspected or replaced, push the piston into the valve by means of the end plug. Twist the yoke carefully in a CLOCKWISE direction to align it properly with the drive gear.


7. Replace the end plug retainer plate.


8. Replace the timer on top of the valve, making sure that the drive pin engages the slot in the drive yoke. Rotate the control knob if necessary.


9. Replace the timer mounting screws and the screw and washer in the drive yoke.


10. Return the valve to service and check for leaks.

What is your well’s flow rate capability?

The flow rate capability of your well should be measured accurately because many backwashing water filters require a flow rate that is adequate to keep the media clean. Timing how long it takes to fill up a measured bucket is an inaccurate method of attaining flow rates unless you have a “constant pressure” well that delivers water at a more or less fixed rate.  For conventional pressure tank wells, the single-shot bucket method is not accurate.

The proper well water flow rate is determined by counting the gallons drawn down and the time between cut in and cut off cycle of the well pump. To do this, you’ll need some kind of timing device, like a stop watch, plus a container of known size to catch water in.

  1. Allow the well pump to build to full pressure, the shut off the main water valve to the building to assure that no water is being used.
  2.  Then, open a spigot below the pressure tank, capture the water, and measure the number of gallons drawn down from the pressure tank until the well pump turns on. You can measure in a small bucket, because it’s OK to turn the water off while the bucket is being empties.
  3. When the pump turns on, immediately close the spigot and time the period it takes for the well pump to recover, that is, see how much time lapses between when the pump turns on and when it turns off.

When you have this information, the formula for determining the flow rate is gallons drawn down that were measured above, divided by the seconds required for recovery, then multiplied by 60. (Gallons / Seconds) x 60 = Gallons per Minute (gpm) flow. For example, if 16 gallons are drawn down and it takes 90 seconds to build pressure back up, then: 16 divided by 90 = .177. Consequently, .177 x 60 = 10.6 gallons per minute flow rate.

What you are calculating is the sustained flow rate of the well–the gpm rate that the well can put out over the time necessary to backwash a filter. This can differ considerably from the “first bucket out” rate taken when the pressure tank is full.

Backwashing filters need sustained flow for several minutes to complete their cycle, and a filter should not be installed on a well that will not supply enough gpm flow to backwash it.

Trees Save Children’s Lives

Posted October 11th, 2017

More trees help water sanitation, reduce child deaths: study

by Lin Taylor

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More trees at water sources improve sanitation and lead to fewer children dying from diarrhea in poor countries, a global study said on Monday.

The study examined the health of 300,000 children and the quality of watersheds across 35 countries including Bangladesh, Nigeria and Colombia, and found that having more trees upstream led to healthier children.

“This shows, very clearly, how healthy ecosystems can directly support human health and welfare,” said co-author of the study, Brendan Fisher, a researcher at the University of Vermont in the United States.

“This suggests that protecting watersheds, in the right circumstances, can double as a public health investment,” he said in a statement.

The study, which analyzed U.S. foreign aid data spanning three decades, said increasing the number of trees by a third near the source of watersheds in rural areas could improve water sanitation as effectively as installing indoor plumbing or toilets.

“These findings clearly show that forests and other natural systems can complement traditional water sanitation systems, and help compensate for a lack of infrastructure,” said Diego Herrera, lead author of the study which was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Diarrheal disease, which is preventable, kills more than half a million children under five each year, and is one of the leading causes of death in children along with malaria and pneumonia, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Lack of sanitation and clean water result in nearly 1.7 billion cases of childhood diarrheal disease every year, the WHO says.

 Source: Reuters

Leaves and Water

Posted September 28th, 2017

To Rake or Not To Rake

by Gene Franks

October’s leaves were dancing ’round

like angels dressed in robes of Red and Gold

but November’s come and gone now

and they’re lying in the gutter out along the road

They’re gonna make their way out to the ditch or someday to the sea,

they’ll get to where they’re going without the help of you or me

and if each life is just a grain of sand

I’m telling you man, this grain of sand is mine.

Iris DeMent, “The Way I Should.”


Serious water issues from cyanobacterial blooms to dead spots in the ocean are regularly blamed on excessive nutrients, specifically nitrogen and phosphorous, that humans put into the water. These result mainly from fertilizers, animal manure (both from feedlots and companion animals), and overflows from sewage treatment plants.

But now comes a report by the U.S. Geological Survey telling us that failure to remove leaves from areas where they can be swept into stormwater collection systems can spike stormwater with phosphorus and nitrogen and greatly compromise water quality.  In fact, leaf removal studies performed in Madison, WI, seemed to show that, at least during the time of year when leaves are most abundant,  “. . .timely leaf removal reduced total phosphorous loads by 84 percent and nitrogen loads by 74 percent.” The conclusion was that phosphorous in wastewater could be greatly reduced if the city would collect leaves and clean streets weekly and before “rain events” between early September and mid-November.

Clearly, the Madison experiment is about big-time leaf harvesting by city crews, not about requiring individual tree owners to clean up after their trees the way that pet owners are now supposed to pick up after their dogs.  At least, as a confirmed non-raker, that’s what I hope it means.

The issue seems to be that, as one writer puts it, “. . .when water managers have run out of other levers to pull, [leaf removal] is an effort that should be prioritized.” I would put it more bluntly: Since we can’t get profit-driven corporate farmers to adopt saner and more earth-friendly growing methods, and we can’t expect people to cut back on the meat and dairy diet that is burying us in animal feces, and we can’t ask people to give up their pets, and since we certainly can’t ask people to pay a bit more for water or to agree to increase their taxes so that our ancient sewage treatment plants can be upgraded, we should concentrate our efforts on picking up leaves.

While we have to applaud any effort to keep water clean, leaf management seems like a pretty tricky business.  For example, if leaf collecting becomes a national nutrient reduction strategy, what are we going to do with all the leaves we collect? Landfills are already bulging. Are we going to inject them into deep wells, like fracking waste, or haul them to leaf disposal sites in the desert? Will we eventually try to genetically engineer leafless trees, or trees whose leaves are permanently attached?

Keeping the streets clean is an essential part of wastewater management. It is certainly better to sweep up contaminants before they get into the water than to remove them from the water later. But on the broader leaf issue, I’m still a non-raker. As Iris DeMent says in her great anthem to personal freedom, leaves should be left to “get to where they’re going without the help of you and me.”

So there!

Reference: The Fall of Water Quality: Blame It on the Leaves.

See also: Street Sweepers Clean More Than the Streets.





Houston Breaks Ground On World’s Largest Water Treatment Plant

By Peter Chawaga

Well before Hurricane Harvey brought torrential winds and stormwater into Houston, the city had a reputation for ambitious construction and sprawling development.

In a project that demonstrates this city’s spirit, Houston will soon be home to the world’s largest water purification facility, which broke ground earlier this month.

“The Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion is currently the largest water treatment project on the planet — not just in the State of Texas, not just in the United States, but on the planet,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Can you imagine this plant just a couple of weeks ago was submerged under water, yet we are still here today?”

The city invested nearly $1.5 billion in the project, which includes the building of a high service pump station, ground storage tanks, and treatment facilities. It is expected to increase treated water capacity in the area to 320 MGD.

“The project includes the design and construction of a new raw water facility, which includes an advanced three-level intake, pumping, and conveyance to withdraw water from Lake Houston and deliver it through two new 108” pipelines to the treatment facilities located about 1.5 miles from Lake Houston,” per Construction Equipment. “The undertaking involves moving water three miles over a ridge and into a 23-mile canal that will feed Lake Houston, then pumped through 17 miles of pipe large enough to drive a car through.”

The ambitious project is expected to meet a growing need for clean drinking water in the area.

“The Greater Houston Water Department says that by 2025, surface water — rather than groundwater — must supply at least 60 percent of the water used by the area,” Construction Equipment reported. “That percentage will rise to 80 percent by 2035. The reason is that with the rapid expansion of the Houston area, groundwater being pumped in Harris, Galveston, and Fort Bend counties has reached a point where the ground has sunk several feet, causing flooding. Some wells in the area have hit salty water and other have hit water that smells like sulfur.”

The project is expected to be complete by 2024.

Source: Water Online.


Tap Water Problems Found To Be More Prevalent In Poor, Minority Communities

by Sara Jerome

Tap water problems and shoddy water infrastructure are rampant in poor African-American communities, according to a report published by the Center for Public Integrity.

Campti, LA, is one example.

“Like many poor African-American communities, Campti’s poverty is a significant impediment to making crucial improvements to the town’s infrastructure — including its old water system,” the report said.

More than half of Campti’s population lives in poverty, and the median income is under $16,000 the report said.

Lifelong resident Leroy Hayes said the water often smells like bleach or takes on a brown hue.

“The water system in Campti is more than 50 years old, according to an audit from the Louisiana legislative auditor. Near the end of 2016, the water tank sprang several holes, some of which were temporarily plugged with sticks. A new tank was built in March, but residents still don’t trust that the water is safe,” the report said.

Former Campti Mayor Judy Daniels explained that local water problems “get worse after a storm or power outage because the water pump does not have a backup generator,” the report paraphrased.

Uniontown, AL, is another example.

“Black residents blame a swell of gastrointestinal complications on the waste from a nearby catfish farm they say pollutes their drinking water. In parts of North Carolina, impoverished African-Americans sometimes rely on contaminated wells for drinking water — though public water systems run just a few feet from their homes,” the report said.

Jacqueline Patterson, the director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, said communities of color are “disproportionately affected by polluting industries because they are more likely to be located near low-income neighborhoods.”

The recent report by News21 noted that water violations occur at systems in every part of the country. But there are clean patterns governing which areas are hardest hit, the report said.

“Drinking water quality is often dependent on the wealth and racial makeup of communities, according to News21’s analysis. Small, poor communities and neglected urban areas are sometimes left to fend for themselves with little help from state and federal governments,” the report said.

Manuel Teodoro, a researcher at Texas A&M University, cited a “bias” when it comes to water safety.

“These are not isolated incidences, the Flints of the world or the Corpus Christis or the East Chicagos,” Teodoro said. “These incidents are getting media attention in a way that they didn’t a few years ago, but the patterns that we see in the data suggest that problems with drinking water quality are not just randomly distributed in the population — that there is a systemic bias out there.”

The crisis in Flint, MI, helped highlight the problem of lead contamination. Mother Jones reported that the problem is a particular threat to minority communities.

“Economically and politically vulnerable black and Hispanic children, many of whom inhabit dilapidated older housing, still suffer disproportionately from the devastating effects of the toxin. This is the meaning of institutional racism in action today,” the report said.

Source: WaterOnline.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Carbon Filters Galore

We just counted.  In the “Cartridge Menu” at purewaterproducts.com there are more than fifty separate carbon filter cartridges, and that’s just in the four standard sizes.  These range from carbon blocks to granular carbons, many with specialty additives like calcite and KDF.  There are coconut shell carbons, bituminous carbons, and lignite carbons; there are carbon filters enhanced to remove lead and cysts, to prevent scale buildup, to inhibit bacterial growth, to remove fluoride, to reduce tannins, to raise pH. There are carbon filters that target VOCs and others that offer fantastically long and effective chlorine reduction.

In addition, there are “proprietary” carbon filters for a number of brands (Microline, Hydrotech, or example), inline carbons (from Pentair and Omnipure), aftermarket knock-offs (Multipure), and several ceramic candles with carbon cores.

Filter carbon is the central core of most modern water filtration systems. For some 90% of the water contaminants monitored by the EPA, carbon filtration is the preferred treatment. We hope you’ll look over our carbon collection. Our “Cartridge Menu” offers extensive information on all the carbon filters that we sell, including pictures, performance summaries, and links to manufacturers’ brochures.



We’ve established a new archiving system for old Pure Water Occasional issues.  Email issues going back to mid-2006 now link from the Pure Water Gazette site. They’re listed chronologically. We haven’t counted them, but there are a bunch.

Pure Water Occasional email newsletters: 2006 to present.

The Occasional is the offspring of the original Pure Water Gazette  which began as a mail-out paper newsletter in 1986. The paper Gazette issues were discontinued in 1997, morphed into an online publication which started emailing as the Occasional sometime in the early 2000s. It has existed since then as an online publication with “occasional” email issues.

Below is a list of partially indexed back Occasionals that may also be of interest.  These are archived on the Pure Water Occasional website:

Special Product-Specific Issues, 2010 to 2013

November 15, 2010. Undersink Water Filters.

December 15, 2010. Cartridge-Style Whole House Filters.

January 15, 2011. Multi-Pure Solid Carbon Block Filters.

February 15, 2011. Water Treatment with Aeration.

March 15, 2011. Pure Water Annie’s Concise Guide to Pumps.

April 15, 2011. Garden Hose Filters.

May 15, 2011. Water Filters for Emergencies.

June 15, 2011. Backwashing Water Filters.

July 15, 2011. Countertop Reverse Osmosis.

August 15, 2011. Whole House Reverse Osmosis.

September 15, 2011. Sediment Filters.

October 15, 2011. Tank-Style City Water Filters.

November 15, 2011. The Amazing Permeate Pump.

December 15, 2011. Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC).

January 15, 2012. Electro-Adhesion Filtration Technology: NanoCeram Filters.

February 15, 2012. Information About Information: How To Find Things on Our Websites.

March 15, 2012. Water Filter Cartridges. Featuring Our Recent Cartridge Page Revision.

April 15, 2012. Undersink Installation in Tight Places. Low Water Backwashing Filter.

May 15, 2012. Chloramines: Myth and Reality.

June 15, 2012. Whole House RO. San Angelo Water Treatment Dilemma.

July 15, 2012. Water Testing. Sand Trap.

August 15, 2012. Our New Water Test Page. Taking Care of A Water Well.

September 15, 2012. Ultrafiltration. Birthday of the EPA and Model 77.

October 15, 2012. Installing Undersink Filters and Reverse Osmosis Units.

November 15, 2012. Water Softeners and TAC units.

December 15, 2012. Twin Tank Water Softeners.

January 15, 2013. Standard-Sized Filter Cartridges.

February 15, 2013. Chemical Feed Pumps.

March 15, 2013. Countertop Reverse Osmosis.

General Issues, 2009 to 2013


September 2009. “Meshes and Microns: The Measurements of Water Treatment,” by Gene Franks. “Numerical water facts from B. Bee Sharper.”

October 2009. “Providing Water for Emergencies.” by Gene Franks. “Humming is Good for You,” by Hardly Waite.

November 2009. “How Much Water Should You Drink?” by Dr. Mauro Di Pascuale. “Numerical Facts about Animal Manure,” by B. Bee Sharper.

December 2009. “The New York Times Great Water Article,” by Hardly Waite. “Numerical Facts,” by B Bea Sharper.

January 2010. “What Carbon Does and What It Doesn’t,” by Gene Franks. “Numerical Facts,” by Bee B. Sharper. “Acidic Water.”

February 2010. “Fluoridation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part I,” by C. F. “Chubb” Michaud.

March 2010. “Fluoridation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part II,” by C. F. “Chubb” Michaud.

April 2010. NSF/ANSI. What Is It All About? by Gene Franks. Dr. Douglas on bath pharmaceuticals. B. B. Sharper. Radium.

May 2010. “The Ceiling is Up and the Floor is Down: The Alamo Engineering Handbook,” by Gene Franks. Steve Maxwell on “Why Water Should Cost More.” Iron.

June 2010. “All About Water Softeners,” Occasional Staff Article. “Gulf Oil Spill: A Hole in the World,” by Naomi Klein (Guardian). B. Bee Sharper, “On Prescription Drugs.” Hardness.

July 2010. “Raising the pH of Acidic Waters,” by Pure Water Annie. “Arsenic,” with a long cut from National Geographic News, New Products from Pure Water Products.

August 2010. “Winterize Your Lawn,” Model 77’s 21’s Birthday, Pure Water Annie on Servicing Model 77, MTBE.

September 2010. “Getting a Perspective on Water Use,” by Gene Franks. The Permeate Pump and How to Add a Permeate Pump to Your RO Unit. “Nickel.” B. B. Sharper on Groundwater Usage.

October 2010. “Air and Carbon,” by Gene Franks. Pure Water Annie on Airgap Faucet Installation. New EPA rule on dental mercury. “Chloride.” The Dead Sea. B. Bea Sharper on Billions.

November 2010. “How to Fix Leaks in Quick Connect Fittings,” by Pure Water Annie. “A Simmering Water War,” by Jim Hightower, “Is Your Faucet Making you Sick?” by Doug Linney, B. Bea Sharper on Water, “Radium and Uranium,” and Lead (contaminant of the month).

December 2010. “Probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium found in drinking water in 31 U. S. Cities,” by Lyndsey Layton. “Most of the time no one is watching most of the water for most of the contaminants, “by Hardly Waite. “How to remove Hexvalent Chromium,” and “How Static Mixers Work,” by Pure Water Annie.

January 2011. How Much Sodium Does a Softener Add to Water?, Water Treatment for Rainwater, Fluoride Allowable in City Water Lowered, UnTruth in Advertising, Pure Water Annie’s Whole House Filter Sizing Chart.

February 2011. More about Hexavalent Chromium, Ten Things You Should Know About Water, “What Carbon Does, What Carbon Doesn’t,” by Gene Franks, The Ups and Downs of Filter Cartridges (Which End Goes Up), by Pure Water Annie. B. Bea Sharper on Dams and other issues.

March 2011. Hardly Waite on National Water Security Rankings, Pure Water Annie on Finding Parts for Your Water Filter, and Introducing the Emily Reverse Osmosis Unit.

April 2011. Rain Barrels, Plastics, Introducing The Eliminator, A New Website Address. “In Praise of Tap Water.”

May 2011. UV 101 by Gene Franks, Rain Gardens, Water Content of Trees, Fiberglass Mineral Tanks.

June 2011. Sizing Water Softeners by Pure Water Annie, Meshes and Microns by Gene Franks, Swimming Pool Leaks, Saving A Cell Phone from Water.

July 2011. Sizing Water Softeners Part 2, by Pure Water Annie. Dr. Mercola on Nitrosamines, Choramine, and Shampoo Ingredients. B. B. Sharper.

August 2011. The Best Water for Coffee and Tea. Multiple Filter Designs. Tiger Tom Explains How UV Works.

September 2011. The Power and Water Nexus. Pure Water Annie explains “The Peroxide Number.”

October 2011, Pure Water Annie’s Glossary of Water Treatment Abbreviations, Chloramines and Fish, The EPA, Water and Coal.

November 2011. Pure Water Annie on Pipe Threads. Gene Franks and Hardly Waite on Christmas Gifts. The Origins of Fluoride.

December 2011. Pure Water Annie on Well Pumps. Top Water News Stories of the Year.

January 2012, Pure Water Annie on Chlorine. Arsenic. Texas Drought. Texas Water.

February 2012. Pure Water Annie on Benzene. Lake Vostok. Banning Bottled Water.

March 2012. Pure Water Annie on Copepods. B. Bea Sharper on plastic bags. Fluoride in Food.

April 2012. Pure Water Annie on Booster Pumps. B. Bea Sharper on dog manure. USA Today on Dog Excrement. New Easiest Ever Filter. Arsenic.

May 2012. Pure Water Annie on Treating Water with Sodis and Salt, Hardly Waite on “fracking” and water treatment profits, B. B. Sharper on Animal Manure.

June 2012. Pure Water Annie on In/Out Filters. New “Sand Trap.”

July 2012. Pure Water Annie Explains How Undersink Reverse Osmosis Works. The Economy RO Unit.

August 2012. Chlorine, Cholesterol, and Chickens.

September 2012. Reverse Osmosis and Refrigerators. The New Contaminant Index. Meat and Water Consumption. B. Bea Sharper.

October 2012. Bypass Valves, Watts UV, New Green Filters, Decaffeination.

November 2012. Septic Tanks, Whole House Filters, Calcium Scaling, How Softeners Work.

December 2012. Mercury in Tuna, Rainwater Runoff (Ocean Pollution), How To Sanitize An RO Tank, Winter Swimming, B. Sharper.

January 2013. Green Water Management. Pure Water Annie on Microbe Control. Camp Lejeune’s Shameful Water Scandal.

February 2013. Hardness, Pharmaceuticals and Fish, Pure Water Annie on “Pressure, Flow Rate, and Delta P.”

March 2013. Alum, Sinkholes, pH, Multi-Pure.




Dams, reservoirs, canals and safe drinking water matter for absolutely everyone

By Sean W. Fleming

Gazette’s Introductory Note: We strongly support President Trump’s frequently stated plan to spend heavily on national infrastructure. Nothing could be more important, and such a project is long overdue. We’re way behind on fixing bridges, pipes,  and drainage networks. There are estimated to be over 55,000 US bridges that are badly in need of repair or replacement. We hope that these items can take precedence over walls and jails. The Scientific American article that follows suggests some directions that the president’s plan could take.

Cars are seen in the water as a span of highway bridge sits in the Skagit River May 24, 2013 after collapsing near the town of Mt Vernon, Washington late Thursday. REUTERS/Cliff DesPeaux

What implications will Trump administration policies have for America’s rivers?

When I was first asked this, I felt like a school kid caught daydreaming in class by the teacher. It was during the Q&A following a public talk I’d given at the Smithsonian a few months ago on the science of rivers, and I didn’t have a ready answer. I’m a science geek, not a policy wonk. The talk had been about things like why rivers run where they do, how the same river can experience drought one year and spill its banks the next, and how the amazing universality of mathematics leads to the same equations being used for operational flood forecasting and Wall Street derivative pricing models.

I also felt wary about speaking to political issues on behalf of all science, especially at a time when folks are unusually polarized, sensitive, and ornery; the credibility and influence that science holds with leaders and the public relies on scientists being seen as neutral third-party technical experts. But then again, water resource science isn’t quantum loop gravity. We’re practical people engaged in a practical science, and it’s not like my colleagues and I never contemplated the intersection between hydrologic science and society.

So I offered the audience this fundamental, if vague, response: if we want to maintain forward momentum irrespective of whichever party wins any given election, it’s important we build a wide base of support by rejecting the increasingly common—and false—notion that there can only be two ways of viewing the world, one which is protective of water, rivers, and the environment, and the other not.

I also posited that this should not be too hard to accomplish, because while there are different ideas on how to best manage water, just about everyone agrees it’s important, regardless of whether you live in the city or the country, on the coasts or in the interior of the continent, in a blue state or a red state.

But if I was asked that question again today, I’d add this key corollary: the Trump administration;s drive to renew America’s infrastructure offers powerful, if perhaps unexpected, synergies with pushing water resource science forward. At first glance, infrastructure renewal may seem less about science and more about the tough but wise decision to allocate funds for long-term investments that in most years don’t seem like an immediate priority. But if we’re going to repair America’s increasingly rickety water infrastructure, let’s do it right, making focused investments in the applied scientific R&D needed to ensure a new generation of infrastructure is designed to support the needs of the American people and the American economy for another hundred years.

Rivers and their infrastructure, like dams, reservoirs, and canals, matter for absolutely everyone. Examples range from the obvious to the surprising. Rivers deliver drinking water, irrigation water for growing food and brewing beer, and the large amounts of water required for industrial processes ranging from building cars to building computers. Rivers drive hydroelectric turbines, keeping the lights on and the economy in motion. Flood control infrastructure keeps us safe, and healthy rivers generate recreational, tourism, and fisheries dollars.

Rivers provided the transportation pathways by which early America was explored and through which it developed its own unique culture: think of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Mississippi gambling steamboats, and Huckleberry Finn. Even victory in WWII and the ensuing Cold War owed much to river infrastructure: aluminum used to build fighting aircraft, and uranium and plutonium in the first atomic bombs at White Sands and over Imperial Japan and subsequently in the growing US nuclear arsenal, were produced using copious hydroelectric power generated by Columbia River dams in the west and the Tennessee Valley Authority in the east. Harnessing and effectively managing water has been, and will continue to be, central to the economy, defense, and psyche of America.

While tremendous technical prowess and monetary investments went into our current water systems when they were first built–think of marvels like the Hoover Dam–today, much of our water infrastructure is old and either failing or otherwise not performing at the level America requires in the 21st century. The Oroville Dam incident and associated evacuation last winter is a potent reminder. There are many other examples: silting up and end-of-design-life for many dams nationwide; difficulties with fish passage and aquatic habitat, with implications to ecological health and therefore recreation, tourism, and commercial fisheries dollars; the ongoing saga of flooding in New Orleans, tied in part to Mississippi flows and the sometimes controversial control structures on it; and above all, the insufficient capacity to match the water and power needs of growing populations and economies, especially in the west. Cleary, renewing America’s rivers is a fantastic direction for the infrastructure investments President Trump wants to make.

To do this right, we need not only concrete and pipe but also a focused, goal-oriented investment in developing the science and engineering knowledge needed to ensure these rejuvenated systems do their job effectively and safely for a long time to come. We need to better understand both the natural and human-induced hydroclimatic variability of river systems so that infrastructure and associated decision support systems can be designed to better handle both flood and drought. We need to develop and test new principles for water infrastructure and river management that return the natural ecological functioning so important for tourism, fishing, and other industries. We need to discover new approaches that minimize the future maintenance budgets required for that infrastructure, and to invest in technologies that contribute to water conservation, ranging from fixing and updating leaky water distribution lines to promoting water-efficient manufacturing and agricultural processes.

We must enhance flood and water supply forecasting systems to further improve the efficiency of reservoir planning and management. Diversify the water portfolio; innovative work with desalinization plants and groundwater production from brine aquifers in California and Texas may provide an example. Ensure that every city in America has the infrastructure it needs to provide its citizens with a clean and safe drinking water supply; don’t let Flint happen again. And following the established pattern of history-making federal government-led successes, from the Apollo program to winning the Cold War, spread these investments in innovation across organizations and sectors, including academia, government, NGOs, and the private sector.

So, what will be the implications of the new administration for America’s rivers? That depends. If President Trump plays his cards right with his planned infrastructure investments, he could leave a tremendously positive long-term legacy around rivers, science and the economy.

Source: Scientific American.

Water Used in Food Production

Posted August 29th, 2017

How Much Water Is Really Used In Food And Beverage Production?

People concerned about their water footprint often make an effort to turn the faucet off quickly, take shorter showers, and cut back on watering the lawn.

While these efforts are important, they ignore one of the biggest water-use culprits found in virtually every household: food and beverages.

The production of food and beverages is a water-intensive process. According to the Water Footprint Network, a single apple requires an average of 33 gallons of water to grow. Here’s what other common food and beverage products cost in terms of water consumption according to the Water Footprint Network.

Beef: Beef is one of the biggest water-use culprits in the food industry, and is one of largest amongst meat products, utilizing an average of 1,845 gallons of water per pound of beef produced. Ninety-nine percent of the water used is for animal feed, with the remaining 1 percent coming from drinking and service water.

Coffee: Another big hitter for water use in the food and beverage industry is coffee.

To create one pound of coffee beans it requires 2,264 gallons of water. This means that the average cup of coffee, using .24 ounces of coffee beans, requires 34 gallons of water to produce.

Pork: The production of meat from pigs uses a global average of 717 gallons of water per pound. From 1996 to 2005 the global water footprint for pigs accounted for 19 percent of the total water footprint of animal production in the world.

Wine & Beer: To produce one gallon of wine requires 870 gallons of water. When looking at this fact from a standard serving size perspective, 34 gallons of water are needed for 5 fluid ounces of wine.  In France, Italy, and Spain, the largest wine producing countries in the world, the average water footprint of wine is 24, 24, and 52 gallons per glass of wine, respectively.

However when beer production uses 296 gallons of water per gallon of beer, requiring an average of 28 gallons of water for 12 fluid ounces of beer.

Bread: Bread created from wheat flour has a global average footprint of 218 gallons of water per pound. Most of that water use, about 80 percent, is due to the flour that is derived from the wheat, so the exact water footprint of bread depends on the origin of the wheat and how it was grown. From 1996 to 2005, global wheat production contributed 15 percent to the total water footprint of crop production in the world.

Citrus and Stone Fruits: On average the global water footprint per pound are as follows: 67 gal./lb for oranges, 61 gal./lb for grapefruit, and 77 gal./lb for lemons.  A single orange requires approximately 21 gallons of water to produce. Orange juice comes at a higher water cost, utilizing 122 gallons of water to produce one gallon of orange juice.
Plums require 261 gal./lb, apricots 154 gal./lb. and peaches 109 gal./lb. Apples, bananas, grapes, and kiwis all take less than 100 gal./lb. Strawberries, pineapple, and watermelon require less than 50 gallons of water per pound of fruit.

Potato: The global average water footprint of a potato is 34 gallons per pound. China, the largest potato producing country in the world, contributed 22 percent to the total water footprint of potato production in the world.

Source: KLa Systems

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