California Is Sinking

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Joseph Poland of the U.S. Geological Survey used a utility pole to document where a farmer would have been standing in 1925, 1955 and where Poland was then standing in 1977 after land in the San Joaquin Valley had sunk nearly 30 feet.

In the 1930s, scientists noticed that the land in the fertile San Joaquin Valley was sinking. The cause was a mystery. No one blamed corporate farmers who in the 1920s had begun massive pumping of groundwater to support the growth of highly profitable but very thirsty crops. (more…)

Bathing in Well Water With Arsenic

by Gene Franks

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Is it safe to shower in water that is contaminated with arsenic?

Dr. Kelly A. Reynolds in a December 2016 Water Conditioning and Purificication article on arsenic got my attention in her beginning  paragraph: “Exposure to arsenic via inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption can lead to cancers of the lung, bladder and skin.” I took note because I have been advising our customers for some time that arsenic in well water is mainly a drinking water issue and that there is little or no evidence that exposure to arsenic through bathing in water that is a few parts per billion over the current recommended limit of 10 parts per billion has any serious health consequences. Consequently, when a well water  customer calls or writes with an arsenic issue, we usually recommend taking care of the drinking water, which is easy and not too expensive, and forgoing the much more costly, complicated and often unreliable whole house treatments for arsenic.

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Are US Dams Safe?

Editor’s Note. The piece below is excerpted and adapted from a Circle of Blue article by Brett Walton.

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If you live downstream from a dam, you hope that someone is maintaining it and monitoring its safety. This is not always the case. In Alabama, for example, all but 10% of the state’s dams are privately owned and regulatory oversight is minimal.

The universe of American dams is expansive. There are tailings dams that hold back a slurry of mine wastes, stock ponds for irrigation or watering cattle, and artificial lakes for sailing and speedboats. There are dams to detain flood waters and dams to filter debris. Then there are the hydropower behemoths such as Grand Coulee and Hoover, symbols of 20th-century engineering might. Though iconic, these canyon-bridging concrete plugs are the minority. Most dams are small structures less than 25 feet tall made of packed dirt and rock and built more than 50 years ago.

Surprisingly little is known about why individual dams fail. Few states do autopsies to learn precisely what went wrong. That is why a Stanford University professor founded the National Performance of Dams Program in 1994. The program’s goal is to learn from past failures so that managers can identify problems before they become tragedies. The program’s researchers have found that the U.S. dam industry is far behind the nuclear power and oil and gas pipeline industries in the amount of data it collects. (more…)

Hyponatremia, or Water Intoxication

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Drinking too much water left a woman with a urinary tract infection seriously ill, and doctors said water intoxication can kill you. The case in point is a 59-year-old London woman who, in an attempt to “flush out her system,” drank water so copiously that she developed hyponatremia, also called water intoxication.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. Sodium is an electrolyte, and it helps regulate the amount of water that’s in and around your cells.

In hyponatremia, one or more factors — ranging from an underlying medical condition to drinking too much water during endurance sports — causes the sodium in your body to become diluted. When this happens, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to life-threatening. (more…)

Not Afraid to Look

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Since April, 2016 thousands of demonstrators have been camping out at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. These peaceful water protectors—representing more than 200 Native-American tribes, plus many nonnative allies—are demanding a halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the water and sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux. Tensions are escalating—on the night of Nov. 20, North Dakota law enforcement deployed water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets against the unarmed group in subfreezing temperatures. (more…)

Trump’s Pledge to ‘Open Up the Water’ for Valley Farms: Easier Said Than Done

by Craig Miller

“We’re gonna solve your water problems.” –Donald Trump.

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California Drought Expected to End After January Inauguration

President-elect Donald Trump might have trouble living up to one of his more sweeping campaign promises in California.

On the stump in Fresno last May, he made headlines for declaring, “There is no drought” here.

It’s a bit unclear from his remarks whether he was voicing an opinion or simply reporting what some farmers told him at a pre-rally gathering. Either way, he was badly mistaken.

Though conditions have improved over much of the state since then, about 73 percent of California remains in some level drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and nearly 43 percent is still classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, including much of the San Joaquin Valley. (more…)

Water Treatments that Work and Those that Don’t

by Gene Franks

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The eminent water treatment specialist Peter S. Cartwright, a man of long experience and unchallenged expertise in the field, recently published a two part article in Water Conditioning and Purification magazine (October and November 2016) that concentrates on some of the shady areas of water treatment. Mr. Cartrwright skips the obvious health-related humbugs like “alkalizers” and concentrates on the technical aspects of genuine water treatment issues like scale prevention, TDS reduction, and removal or inactivation of bacteria and cysts. (more…)

The Emergence of “Emerging Contaminants”

The EPA in 2006 made a deal with eight American companies that make or use perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) to stop doing so. These chemicals are parts of a larger class of chemicals  known as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which in turn falls under the larger group heading of “emerging contaminants.” Emerging contaminants are defined as materials having “a perceived, potential, or real threat to human health or the environment.”

The companies say that they have complied, but the EPA has made little progress in setting up any real standards or guidelines about the dangers of lifetime exposure to the chemicals.

There is a need for such determinatation, since these man-made chemicals have been linked to a disturbing array of health effects, including obesity in children, reproductive problems and cancers. Used as a surface-active agent in a slew of products from coating additives – like Teflon – to cleaning products, these compounds don’t break down under typical conditions and are extremely persistent in the environment, says the EPA. (more…)

Drug Take-Back Program Aims at Protecting People and Water from the Outrageous Amounts of Leftover Drugs

 

Cook County, Ill., adopted an ordinance that will provide more than 5 million residents with convenient access to safe drug disposal. The ordinance makes Cook County the largest jurisdiction in the U.S. to require drug companies to safely dispose of unwanted medications, and adds to the two states, nine counties and two cities in the U.S. with similar drug take-back laws.

More than $1 billion in leftover drugs are thrown in the trash, flushed or consigned to medicine cabinets each year. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S., and nearly 70% of people who begin using prescription drugs non-medically get them from a family member or friend, often from medicine cabinets. Drugs left in the home also put seniors, children and pets at risk for accidental poisoning. When flushed or put in the trash, over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can contaminate drinking water and harm aquatic species.

Source: Water Quality Products.

Water News

October, 2016

Now, link free for your reading pleasure.

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Police from five states were brought in to protect pipeline interests from unruly water protectors group pictured above sitting in a prayer circle in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A Texas state legislator is proposing a vast underground water storage system that would keep the state in water during a drought of up to seven years. (more…)