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.

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 Services had 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. 

Many people in the unincorporated community about 52 miles north of Bakersfield also have been relying on a county-supplied 5,000-gallon water tank filled with non-potable water for bathing and flushing toilets, The Recorder said.

Emergency services manager Andrew Lockman, said the supplies of bottled water distributed by firefighters, the Red Cross and volunteer groups on Friday cost the county $30,000 and were designed to last about three weeks but are only a temporary fix. To get future deliveries, officials are asking low-income residents to apply for aid and for companies to make bottled water donations like the one a local casino made a few weeks ago.

“Right now we’re trying to provide immediate relief,” Lockman said. “This is conceived as an emergency plan right now.”

Officials said the problem is partly due to the shallowness of some residential wells in East Porterville that are replenished by groundwater from the Tule River, the Fresno Bee said. But river flows are way down due to the ongoing drought, leaving some wells dry.

East Porterville resident Angelica Gallegos fought back tears as she described being without water for four months in the home she shares with her husband,, three children and two other adults.

“It’s hard,” she told The Bee. “I can’t shower the children like I used to.”

Farmworker Oliva Sanchez said she still gets a trickle from her tap, but dirt started coming out with the water about a week ago.

“I try to use the least possible. I’ll move if I have to,” she said.

Along with experiencing inconvenience and thirst, some residents have been reluctant to speak up about being waterless because they are afraid their landlords will evict them or social workers will take their children away, The Recorder reported.

“We want to make it abundantly clear we are not going to make this harder for anyone,” Lockman stressed. “These lists aren’t going anywhere. (Child Welfare Services) isn’t getting a list. They (CWS) made it abundantly clear they are not going to remove children because of no water. We just want to help the people.”

Source: SF Gate. 

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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 Times 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 both 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.

Mr. Scudder, an emeritus anthropology professor at the California Institute of Technology, describes his disillusionment with dams as gradual. He was a dam proponent when he began his first research project in 1956, documenting the impact of forced resettlement on 57,000 Tonga people in the Gwembe Valley of present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe. Construction of the Kariba Dam, which relied on what was then the largest loan in the World Bank’s history, required the Tonga to move from their ancestral homes along the Zambezi River to infertile land downstream. Mr. Scudder has been tracking their disintegration ever since.

Once cohesive and self-sufficient, the Tonga are troubled by intermittent hunger, rampant alcoholism and astronomical unemployment. Desperate for income, some have resorted to illegal drug cultivation and smuggling, elephant poaching, pimping and prostitution. Villagers still lack electricity.

Mr. Scudder’s most recent stint as a consultant, on the Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos, delivered his final disappointment. He and two fellow advisers supported the project because it required the dam’s funders to carry out programs that would leave people displaced by the dam in better shape than before the project started. But the dam was finished in 2010, and the programs’ goals remain unmet. Meanwhile, the dam’s three owners are considering turning over all responsibilities to the Laotian government — “too soon,” Mr. Scudder said in an interview. “The government wants to build 60 dams over the next 20 or 30 years, and at the moment it doesn’t have the capacity to deal with environmental and social impacts for any single one of them.

“Nam Theun 2 confirmed my longstanding suspicion that the task of building a large dam is just too complex and too damaging to priceless natural resources,” he said. He now thinks his most significant accomplishment was not improving a dam, but stopping one: He led a 1992 study that helped prevent construction of a dam that would have harmed Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one of the world’s last great wetlands.

Part of what moved Mr. Scudder to go public with his revised assessment was the corroboration he found in a stunning Oxford University study published in March in Energy Policy. The study, by Atif Ansar, Bent Flyvbjerg, Alexander Budzier and Daniel Lunn, draws upon cost statistics for 245 large dams built between 1934 and 2007. Without even taking into account social and environmental impacts, which are almost invariably negative and frequently vast, the study finds that “the actual construction costs of large dams are too high to yield a positive return.”

The study’s authors — three management scholars and a statistician — say planners are systematically biased toward excessive optimism, which dam promoters exploit with deception or blatant corruption. The study finds that actual dam expenses on average were nearly double pre-building estimates, and several times greater than overruns of other kinds of infrastructure construction, including roads, railroads, bridges and tunnels. On average, dam construction took 8.6 years, 44 percent longer than predicted — so much time, the authors say, that large dams are “ineffective in resolving urgent energy crises.”

DAMS typically consume large chunks of developing countries’ financial resources, as dam planners underestimate the impact of inflation and currency depreciation. Many of the funds that support large dams arrive as loans to the host countries, and must eventually be paid off in hard currency. But most dam revenue comes from electricity sales in local currencies. When local currencies fall against the dollar, as often happens, the burden of those loans grows.

One reason this dynamic has been overlooked is that earlier studies evaluated dams’ economic performance by considering whether international lenders like the World Bank recovered their loans — and in most cases, they did. But the economic impact on host countries was often debilitating. Dam projects are so huge that beginning in the 1980s, dam overruns became major components of debt crises in Turkey, Brazil, Mexico and the former Yugoslavia. “For many countries, the national economy is so fragile that the debt from just one mega-dam can completely negatively affect the national economy,” Mr. Flyvbjerg, the study’s lead investigator, told me.

To underline its point, the study singles out the massive Diamer-Bhasha Dam, now under construction in Pakistan across the Indus River. It is projected to cost $12.7 billion (in 2008 dollars) and finish construction by 2021. But the study suggests that it won’t be completed until 2027, by which time it could cost $35 billion (again, in 2008 dollars) — a quarter of Pakistan’s gross domestic product that year.

Using the study’s criteria, most of the world’s planned mega-dams would be deemed cost-ineffective. That’s unquestionably true of the gargantuan Inga complex of eight dams intended to span the Congo River — its first two projects have produced huge cost overruns — and Brazil’s purported $14 billion Belo Monte Dam, which will replace a swath of Amazonian rain forest with the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam.

Instead of building enormous, one-of-a-kind edifices like large dams, the study’s authors recommend “agile energy alternatives” like wind, solar and mini-hydropower facilities. “We’re stuck in a 1950s mode where everything was done in a very bespoke, manual way,” Mr. Ansar said over the phone. “We need things that are more easily standardized, things that fit inside a container and can be easily transported.”

All this runs directly contrary to the current international dam-building boom. Chinese, Brazilian and Indian construction companies are building hundreds of dams around the world, and the World Bank announced a year ago that it was reviving a moribund strategy to fund mega-dams. The biggest ones look so seductive, so dazzling, that it has taken us generations to notice: They’re brute-force, Industrial Age artifacts that rarely deliver what they promise.

 

Jacques Leslie is the author, most recently, of “Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment.”

 

Source: New York Times Sunday Review

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Water News of the Week

Water crisis threatens thirsty São Paulo. São Paulo is thirsty. A severe drought is hitting Brazil’s largest city and thriving economic capital with no end in sight, threatening the municipal water supply to millions of people.

Does Ghana’s oil boom spell the end for its fishing industry? Fishermen in Ghana say the foreign firms exploring for oil and gas are forcing them out of the waters they have trawled for centuries.

Metro Detroit treatment plants released 4.5B gallons of sewage into rivers after storm. Metro Detroit treatment plants released about 4.5 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into local streams and rivers as a result of last week’s massive rainstorm, according to a preliminary report from the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Ice Bucket Challenge in drought-stricken California? Use dirt, men say. Most everyone by now has heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, but two men in drought-stricken California are trying to push a message of water conservation by using dirt instead. As in, dumping a bucket of dirt on their heads.

August downpour results in sewage overflow of 12 million gallons in Baltimore. Baltimore city officials belatedly disclosed Friday that sewage overflows topped 12 million gallons during last week’s downpour, four times what had previously been acknowledged.

San Antonio River in frack impact study. A recently published U.S. Geological Survey study looked at the San Antonio River Basin for compounds associated with hydraulic fracturing and produced water – the first of its kind for the river, which flows through some of the busiest areas for Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas drilling.

Microbes thrive below Antarctic ice.

Researchers who drilled deep into the ice below Antarctica  put a camera down the borehole.  This is what it looks like on the icy lake bottom.

The discovery of bacteria in an ice-bound lake bolsters the case that similar life could exist elsewhere in the solar system. But on Earth, the find raises the prospect that Antarctic melting will release greenhouse gases.

Researchers have uncovered a thriving community of microbes in a lake some 2,600 feet below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the first direct evidence of life in such lakes and the first window on the ecosystem the microbes occupy.

Genetic evidence extracted from samples of lake water indicates that the lake teems with a wide variety of microbes that make up a complete food chain, with those at the bottom drawing their energy from chemicals in rocks and sediment in the lake bed.

In essence, the community is a frosty variation on the microbial communities that form the bottom of the food chain around hydrothermal vents in the lightless depths of the ocean floor.

 

The discovery proves the dark, cold bottom of Antarctica is not a sterile domain.

The key significance of the study is not the confirmation that life exists under the ice sheet, but that those organisms will persist in their cold surroundings far from any light energy.

The Occasional has previously featured two stories about similar Russian findings about Lake Vostok.

In Detroit, Water Crisis Symbolizes Decline, and Hope

Nearly 19,500 Detroiters have had their water service interrupted since March 1. The Water and Sewerage Department, under pressure to reduce more than $90 million in bad debt, ordered shutoffs for customers who owed at least $150 or had fallen at least two months behind on their bills. The decision to take such drastic measures, done with little warning, ignited a controversy that prompted protests and arrests, more bad publicity for the struggling city, global dismay, and a warning from the United Nations.

As unusual as it is for the U.N. to raise public health concerns in a country like the United States, these are unusual times in Detroit. The fortunes of this once-prosperous home of the auto industry have plummeted so far that last year it became the largest city ever to file for bankruptcy. The population has dropped from nearly 1.8 million a half century ago to fewer than 700,000 today. Democratic rule was suspended last year when Michigan’s governor appointed an emergency manager to take control.

 Water levels in Great Salt Lake approach record low .

 

GPS Devices Find Huge Water Loss in Western US

 About 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost to drought in the western United States, enough to blanket the region with 4 inches of water, according to a study published Thursday.

Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, arrived at the conclusion by measuring the level of the earth’s crust with a network of GPS stations that is normally used to predict earthquakes.

When water is lost because of a lack of rain and snow, the earth’s crust rises. The sensors show that the earth’s crust has risen an average of 4 millimeters in the western United States since last year and as much as 15 millimeters in the California mountains.

Wondering what to do with that unused swimming pool in your back yard?

When Dennis and Danielle McClung bought a foreclosed home in Mesa, Ariz., in 2009, their new yard featured a broken, empty swimming pool. Instead of spending a small fortune to repair and fill it, Dennis had a far more prescient idea: He built a plastic cap over it and started growing things inside. Details in Grist.

Is Fluoride in Private Wells Causing an IQ Decline?

Excess fluoride, which may damage both brain and bone, is leaching out of granite and into Maine’s drinking water—and potentially other New England states

by Dina Fine Maron

Locals call it the “Switzerland of Maine” for its breathtaking mountains and picturesque waters, yet Dedham is just one of a cadre of communities in The Pine Tree State where tap water may not be as safe as it appears.

Like the majority of the state, many of Dedham’s denizens rely on private wells for the water they drink, bathe in and perhaps use to make infant milk formula. But the water trickling from the tap—unlike water from its public water sources—goes untested and is not subject to any state or federal guidelines. And although homeowners are encouraged to get their water regularly tested to ensure that worrisome levels of bacteria or naturally occurring minerals have not crept in, many residents do not follow that advice.

Yet newly available data, released in recent months, indicates that in some 10 communities in the state wells harbor dangerously high levels of fluoride. In some cases, the wells contain more than double the level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed the acceptable maximum exposure level.

In small quantities fluoride is known for helping to tamp down the blight of tooth decay; most municipalities in the U.S. add it to their water supplies as a public health measure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes water fluoridation as one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

But at higher levels, fluoride can lead to pitted teeth and discoloration. It also makes bones brittle and more prone to fractures. And recent studies have also linked high levels of fluoride exposure with IQ deficits. A 2012 review article examined some two dozen relevant studies performed outside the U.S.—mostly in China but also a couple in Iran—and found that high fluoride exposures reduce children’s IQs by an average of about seven points. (The studies did not all account for exposures to other potentially harmful substances such as lead, but the sheer volume of them does raise concerns about this association.)

Mainers may be sipping similar amounts of fluoride. “The sort of levels we’re talking about that are high in China are the sort of levels we see in some private wells,” says Andrew Smith, Maine state toxicologist.

In Dedham, for example, data from 37 wells indicates that 37.8 percent of that water is above the state’s maximum exposure guideline for fluoride. Dedham is not alone: in Surry, Prospect, Franklin, Sedgwick, Penobscot, York, Harrison and Stockton Springs, more than 10 percent of the wells appear to have fluoride levels higher than the state cutoff. The level of potential fluoride exposure encountered by residents may be even higher when factoring in fluoride exposures from dental rinses and toothpaste.

The new data on fluoride levels in Maine water is not from a random sampling of homes in Maine nor is it complete. The data comes from homeowners who voluntarily sent water samples into state labs for testing, which potentially skews the sample. But it does provide the first snapshot of what may prove to be a larger problem.

The state’s suggested limit of two milligrams per liter is half of the EPA limit but many public health advocates argue that limit is far too high. The agency is currently considering lowering its cutoff for fluoride exposure, although it does not expect to have completed its review of the issue until 2016. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed adding fluoride to water in concentrations no greater than 0.7 milligram per liter to avoid any unwanted health effects.

 

 

 

 

Why are the Maine levels so high? Geology. Granite—especially certain kinds such as alkali and peraluminous granites—contains high levels of fluoride, boosting the chances of wells drawing it from that water. Certain other New England states such as New Hampshire (known as “The Granite State”) and Rhode Island may also have private wells at risk because they, too, sport large amounts of the potentially problematic rock.

People living in areas with high fluoride concentrations can take steps to mitigate the problem—but it is an open question whether they will. Countertop filters like Brita pitchers are not effective but advanced technology such as reverse osmosis systems (which may start around $150 per unit) will capture much of the fluoride.

Unfortunately even people whose water is contaminated with far more harmful chemicals frequently take no action. Researchers recently surveyed residents of central Maine whose well water contains high levels of arsenic—an odorless, tasteless element that can cause maladies including cancer, blindness and numbness in hands and feet. They reported that 27 percent of those Mainers did nothing about it. When asked why not, people reported a lack of concern about arsenic and reluctance to pay for any mitigating action.

The potential health concerns around arsenic are so much better publicized than fluoride, suggesting that fewer people will protect themselves from excessive fluoride concentrations. Yet Mainers should. “The studies of high fluoride should be taken seriously,” says Harvard University environmental health professor David Bellinger. “We have a long history of first identifying adverse effects at high levels and then, with further and better studies, discovering that there are adverse effects [milder] at levels that we thought were okay.”

Source: Scientific American.

Editor’s Note:  Both arsenic and fluoride are easily managed by reverse osmosis.

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How Backwashing Filters Work

Backwashing water filters are large tank-style filters that get their name from the fact that they clean and renew themselves by backwashing. Backwashing consists of reversing the flow of water so that it enters from the bottom of the filter bed, lifts and rinses the bed, then exits through the top of the filter tank.

The filter bed itself is a granular substance that is usually referred to as the filter medium. Media (media is plural, medium is singular) are numerous and varied. Common media are granular carbon, sand, garnet, anthracite, zeolite, granular manganese dioxide, and greensand. Many media are known by their brand names of the leading product in the category: Centaur, Filox, Birm, Filter Ag, and KDF, for example.

The picture above shows the filter in “service” position. This is how it works when it is doing the job it is designed to do. The unfiltered water enters from the left and is routed by the control valve into the filter tank. The water then filters slowly through the medium until it reaches the bottom of the tank where it is collected through a specially-designed sieved “basket” at the bottom of the center tube seen in the picture. The filtered water then passes up through the center tube, called a “riser” or a “dip tube,” passes through the control valve, and exits the right side of the filter.

Note that there’s a drain line in the picture, but no water goes through it during the filter’s “service” function.

The Backwash

As the filter operates in the service mode, it traps and holds particles in the filter bed. Also, since water’s nature is to follow the path of least resistance, after a time it begins to cut channels through the medium. As channels or holes in the media bed form, water begins to flow around rather than through the medium. This process is called “channeling,” and it can reduce the effectiveness of the filter considerably.

At a preset time, the control valve initiates a “backwash” to clean the medium of collected particles and to resettle the bed and eliminate channels that have formed.

The backwash is accomplished by sending water down the riser tube from which it enters the filter tank at the bottom. The force of the water is such that it actually lifts the media bed, swirling and tossing the granular medium. The water leaves the filter tank through the control valve, which routes it through the filter’s drain line. Particles that were being held in the bed are washed to drain.

The backwash is an intense rinsing and tossing of the medium that lasts for several minutes. In a standard residential filter, a typical backwash lasts about ten minutes.

After the backwash, the control valve initiates a “rinse” of the bed during which water flows downward through the medium, up through the riser tube, and out the drain. The purpose of this rinse is to rinse and settle the bed and prepare it for return to service flow.

To read the full article about how backwashing filters work, go to the Occasional’s website.

For information from our main website about backwashing filters, here are some places to look:

Backwashing Filter Basics

General Media Guide : Properties of the most common filter media.

Backwash & Flow Characteristics of Filter Media

Backwashing Filter Selection Page for Fleck Filters : Includes a variety of filter sizes. All filters have Fleck control valves.

Fleck Control Valves

5600 Backwashing Filters

Parts for 5600 & Control Valves

Mineral Tanks

Filter Media

 

 

 Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.  We also have dedicated parts pages for countertop water filters, undersink filters, and aeration equipment.  We stock parts for everything we sell.

Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.

Garden Hose Filters.  Don’t be the last on your block to own one.

Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”

Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

Pure Water Occasional Archive: April 2013 to present.

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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…)

Is Fluoride in Private Wells Causing an IQ Decline?

Excess fluoride, which may damage both brain and bone, is leaching out of granite and into Maine’s drinking water—and potentially other New England states

 

by Dina Fine Maron

ocals call it the “Switzerland of Maine” for its breathtaking mountains and picturesque waters, yet Dedham is just one of a cadre of communities in The Pine Tree State where tap water may not be as safe as it appears.

Like the majority of the state, many of Dedham’s denizens rely on private wells for the water they drink, bathe in and perhaps use to make infant milk formula. But the water trickling from the tap—unlike water from its public water sources—goes untested and is not subject to any state or federal guidelines. And although homeowners are encouraged to get their water regularly tested to ensure that worrisome levels of bacteria or naturally occurring minerals have not crept in, many residents do not follow that advice.

Yet newly available data, released in recent months, indicates that in some 10 communities in the state wells harbor dangerously high levels of fluoride. In some cases, the wells contain more than double the level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed the acceptable maximum exposure level.

In small quantities fluoride is known for helping to tamp down the blight of tooth decay; most municipalities in the U.S. add it to their water supplies as a public health measure. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes water fluoridation as one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. (more…)

Man-made wetlands could help reduce nitrate levels in drinking water

 

 A central Illinois city that has struggled with nitrate levels in its public drinking water supply is turning to farmers for help, whose fertilizer-laden fields helped create the problem.Superintendent of water purification Rick Twait is working with others to reduce nitrates in Bloomington’s drinking water supply by focusing on the 72,000 acres of watersheds that feeds Bloomington’s existing reservoirs.

The Nature Conservancy, with the help of the University of Illinois and others, worked to place wetlands in farming fields with the goal of reducing nitrates in the water by 50 percent.  A decade later, researchers are saying that the numbers are encouraging.

The idea of using wetlands to produce cleaner drinking water is not unique to Illinois, as a man-made wetlands system in Texas is being used to clean 65,000 gallons of water for local water supplies.

 

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The Pure Water Occasional for August 18, 2014

In this mid-August Occasional, you’ll hear a lot about the familiar “F” words (fracking, flooding, and fertilizer). You’ll learn about eating iguanas and living in a home that’s regularly knee-deep in water.  There’s news of a proposed canal across Nicaragua, driving tips for flooded roadways, a protest against Slide the City, and a beautiful pictorial essay about the mighty Ganges. The virtues of graywater and walking not on but in water. New products with catchy names like Mur-lok, Aquasorb, Katalox, and Filtrex. 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.)

 

Nicaraguans told to eat iguanas as drought threatens food crisis

Lizard diet ridiculed but Central America’s poorest country is facing hunger because of poor harvests and rising food prices

by Sam Jones

Nicaraguans struggling to afford meat as the country suffers its worst drought in 32 years should consider raising and eating iguanas, a government expert has suggested.

The advice comes amid warnings that Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador could require levels of humanitarian aid not seen since the aftermath of hurricane Mitch 16 years ago, as poor harvests and rapid increases in the prices of staple items threaten a food crisis.

“Breeding iguanas brings two benefits,” said Guillermo Membreño, a land management expert. “Not only does it supply dietary protein, it also offers a commercial use for the animals.”

A boy holds up an iguana for sale on the highway in the north of Managua. Nicaraguans are being encouraged to eat the reptiles as a nutritious alternative to more conventional meat.

Iguanas, he added, contained 24% protein compared with 18% in chicken.

Although Nicaragua’s environmental laws forbid the hunting of iguanas between 1 January and 30 April each year, the lizards can be kept for food and even exported under certain circumstances.

“Farming iguanas – and not hunting them in forests – is a good way to deal with the food shortages caused by the prolonged drought,” Membreño told the government-run online newspaper La Voz del Sandinismo.

“Even if you’ve only got 10 iguanas, you’ve got something that offers food – and cash if you sell the iguanas for their meat, their skins or as pets.”

He also suggested people grow moringa trees, which require little water and the leaves of which can be used as a highly nutritious animal feed.

survey conducted by another Nicaraguan newspaper found that the cost of 15 of the 19 basic items in the average shopping basket – including such staples as beans, corn, tomatoes and peppers – had risen over the past week.

However, the government’s suggestions met with a mix of scorn and ridicule from some Nicaraguans.

I was going to have an iguana for breakfast, but it ran away. I was going to have beans, but they’re up to 37 [Nicaraguan córdobas] a pound today,” tweeted one.

Another, mocking the Sandinista government’s motto – Christian, socialist, caring – posted a picture of an iguana with the caption:“Anyone fancy a caring mini-Godzilla?”

Despite the humour, the situation in Central America’s poorest country is growing increasingly serious. According to the national livestock commission, Conagan, the drought saw 2,500 cattle starve to death last month, while a further 600,000 of Nicaragua’s 4.1m livestock are on the verge of starvation.

On Monday the drought’s effect on crops and food prices ledNicaragua’s central bank to cut its economic growth outlook and raise its inflation forecast. The bank said it expected growth in gross domestic product to be between 4% and 4.5% this year, down from the 4.5% to 5% it forecast in the spring.

A day later the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) released an alert highlighting the risk of widespread food shortages in the region next year.

“As a result of projected poor harvests in 2014, the reduction in coffee-sector income for day labourers, and a more rapid than usual increase in the prices of some staple foods, extremely poor households across large areas of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador will experience a rapid deterioration in their food security in early 2015,” it said.

With the drought and the forthcoming El Niño affecting both the livestock and fishing industries – and coffee rust disease ravaging the crop on which the region is heavily dependent – Fewsnet warned that “atypically high” levels of human assistance would probably be needed to avert a food crisis.

“Depending on the performance of rainfall and markets over the coming months, the number of people in need of assistance could be the largest since hurricane Mitch in 1998,” it said. “Governments and their partners should begin response planning immediately to protect livelihoods and household consumption over the coming year.”

Source: The Guardian

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Stirring Portraits of People Forced to Live in Flooded Homes

by Jakob Schiller

 

Every year, from June through October, Jashim Salam’s house in Chittagong, Bangladesh, floods. Not once, or twice, but five or six times—per month. It’s like that throughout the city, where several million people live alongside the sea. The water flows in from the Karnaphuli River, pushed beyond its banks by the rising tide of the Bay of Bengal.

This is a recent phenomenon, one many blame on climate change and rising seas coupled with the annual monsoon season. Residents have had to adapt and adjust to the enormous hardships of a life too often lived under water. Salam has been documenting just what it’s like for him and his neighbors. The photographer has produced two series about the flooding. Water World offers an intimate look at life in his neighborhood during a flood. Water World 2 is a powerful series of portraits of people standing in their homes, or in the streets of their communities, surrounded by water.

The portraits are meant to show just how absurd life has become. But it also offers a timeline of sorts. He’s photographed children who have grown up with the flooding and consider it, if not normal, than at least a regular thing. But subjects his age—Salam is 35—and older appreciate how radically their lives and communities have changed. His portraits are both beautiful and shocking. For most, the idea of living knee-deep in water for days on end is incomprehensible.

“It’s very annoying and the people are very fed up,” he says.

To cope, Salam raised the floors on his ground-level home and built walls and other barriers to keep the water at bay. Even so, it always finds a way in. It’s ruined his furniture, shut down his bathroom, and polluted his well, forcing him to boil his water or buy bottled water. Even with these precautions, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter were sickened by the last flood.

“I have been living here for almost 35 years and even my parents have never seen this kind of water level in the city,” Salam says. “If it goes on like this and the water level increase for the next couple of years, maybe I have to shift my own home because I can’t fight every day with flooding water.”

Still, Salam insists he’s luckier than some because he could afford beds tall enough to keep his family off the floor. Less fortunate families sleep on the ground, so when the water comes in they have nowhere to rest at night.

Although the photographer concedes he’s never run across a study directly linking the flooding to climate change, he cites a World Bank study that says Bangladesh will be among the countries most affected by rising temperatures and dwindling polar ice. People will have to contend with higher temperatures, stronger cyclones and rising seas that could wipe out 40 percent of the usable land in Southern Bangladesh by the 2080s. Salam discusses these issues with the people he photographs, hoping to raise awareness of the issue. Most people tend to blame the flooding on poor urban planning, which plays a role in the problem. But he wants them to know there are larger factors in play.

Eventually, Salam hopes to publish his work in a book and exhibit it internationally, perhaps in conjunction with similar projects. He knows the problems facing Bangladesh aren’t unique to the country, and wants to contribute to a growing conversation about how to prevent disasters like this in the future.

“We’re fed up with the flooding,” he says. “We can’t stay like this forever.”

Source: Wired.  See the original for more pictures of perpetually flooded homes.

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Water News for the week of August 18, 2014

There’s still a lot we don’t know about fracking chemicals. A new study, presented Wednesday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, says that out of 190 commonly used compounds, hardly any toxicity information is available for a whopping one-third of them. In addition, another eight fracking fluid compounds, the researchers found, are proved to be toxic to mammals.

Water in the West: The west gets thirstier as water supplies dwindle. The Colorado River Basin is facing a battle of sorts as Colorado works to create a water plan. It’s a battle against time and against competing water needs, both here in Colorado and in lower basin states including Nevada, Arizona and California. The article features a good explanation of the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and explains the relationship between drought and energy costs.

New York town gets entire summer’s worth of rain. A storm dumped an entire summer’s worth of rain on parts of Long Island, leading to a fatal crash Wednesday and stranding drivers on roads flooded with door-handle-high water.

Delhi to take foreign specialists help to solve water paucity. As the city grapples with water scarcity, Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on Friday said that the Delhi Government will take technical help from specialists from across the globe to set up a 40 MGD water treatment plant.

189 drought maps reveal just how thirsty California has become. More than 80% of California is in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the state’s condition isn’t expected to improve. The Drought Monitor has shown an increasingly red California since 2011, the last time the drought map was clear.

Farm fertilizers contaminate watershed that supplies Columbus’ drinking-water. The headwaters of Big Walnut Creek, the namesake of the watershed that supplies drinking water to more than half of Columbus customers, including suburban residents, begin here, between cornfields and trees. Farm runoff has become a key issue in Ohio during the past few weeks.

Ineffective Regulation Leads to Major Water Pollution

More than 1 million gallons of manure flowed from a small farm for months, say Marathon County officials, quickly filling a storage tank the size of a small basement, then trickling into a wetland and eventually entering the Little Eau Pleine River on the far western edge of the county.

The fine? $464.10.

In 18 other environmental cases involving farms since 2008, forfeitures levied by the Department of Natural Resources have often exceeded $30,000. In 2009, one farm paid forfeitures and other penalties totaling $85,000, according to DNR records of cases tracked for farms under 700 milking cows.

The farm is owned by Patrick Willcome and his brother Damian of Spencer. According to records in the case, the farm has 115 milking cows and other cattle.

Officials say there have been no reported fish kills in the case. Manure can contaminate waterways with bacteria and introduce excessive levels of nutrients, such as phosphorus, that can produce algae blooms and consume oxygen that is needed by aquatic life.

Phosphorus pollution has emerged as one of the state’s most challenging water pollution problems, and in the most extreme cases, such as in Green Bay and Lake Winnebago, excessive nutrients have created “dead zones,” bereft of oxygen.

Environmental groups have complained about weaker environmental enforcement under Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. Enforcement by the DNR under Walker was lower in the first three years of his term compared to other administrations going back to 2000.

Read the rest in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nicaragua’s canal project pushes forward despite economic, environmental questions. It’s a centuries-old dream that may finally become reality: a trans-oceanic waterway across Nicaragua, which could redefine the future of the Western Hemisphere’s second-poorest country. But if this possibility has Nicaragua’s leaders already tallying the potential benefits, not everyone is celebrating.

 

In face of drought, critics say ‘Slide the City’ doesn’t hold water. More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition to stop “Slide the City” from setting up on Olive Avenue on Sept. 27, saying it is “extremely irresponsible” for any city in California to allow an event featuring a giant water slide to take place given the record dryness being felt across the state.

Beware of Rushing Water

According to the National Weather Service, more deaths result from drowning due to flooding than any other severe weather event. That’s because rushing water is a tricky thing — is it 1 inch or 1 foot? Is there debris being deposited in the road that can damage the car or the tires? How powerful is the rushing water? There’s no way to know until it’s too late.

Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles, causing the loss of steering and control; 1 foot of water will cause most vehicles to float; and 2 feet of rushing water can sweep away almost all noncommercial vehicles — including sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

Now add in reduced visibility from the storm and slick road conditions, and trying to cross a flooded roadway is a recipe for disaster.

Despite the number of rainy days, the ground remains very dry and is not absorbing rain as quickly as we might expect. The result is runoff coming off the mountain and across roadways. The nice thing about rainy days, besides giving us a short respite from the heat, is there is an easy way to handle rushing water on the roadway — don’t drive through it.

Excerpted from The East Arizona Courier.

A dog trapped in the Richmond, CA water treatment plant has been rescued.

A new exercise program that is based on walking in water has been shown to be more successful than any other in helping patients with osteoarthritis. The program his resulted in significant lowering of pain and improvements in balance and mobility. Details were published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

This week the Water Quality Association of America released a not-very-informative statement on Cyanotoxins.

Water in the West: Conservation measures take center stage. The agriculture industry in Colorado has a bull’s-eye on it as the state creates its Water Plan. Municipalities want to buy up senior agriculture water rights to secure supplies that can meet the demands of population growth — it’s known as “buy and dry” — and being that the agriculture industry uses more water than any other, it has found itself at the center of the discussion.

In Haridwar, Hindus come to the banks of the holy Ganges daily to perform aarti rituals with song, flames, and prayer

In northern India, there is a river with over a hundred names. It starts in the Garhwal Himalaya and drops over 14,000 feet from the terminus of the Gangotri Glacier before marching some 1,550 miles to the Bay of Bengal. For nearly a billion Hindus in India and beyond, it is more than a river. It is the extension of the divine—Lord Shiva. Not only does it transport the prayers of believers visiting its waters, but it also provides sustenance for hundreds of millions of people, vast industry, agriculture, and endangered wildlife like the Bengal tiger and the susu, a blind freshwater dolphin. For Indians it is most commonly known as Ma Ganga—Mother Ganga. For Westerners, it is the Ganges, one of the most sacred of the world’s rivers. Read National Geographic’s beautiful presentation of the Ganges, 

 

Graywater — how does it fit?

 Excerpted from an article by Doug Pushard 

 

What is graywater? It is the water that has been used by a household, except water from the kitchen sink and toilets. Water from these two sources is called black water and requires special treatment. The state publishes a terrific graywater guide that covers graywater uses and provides some wonderful diagrams of its capture and use. It can be found atwww.nmenv.state.nm.us/p2_web/gray_water.pdf

It is legal in New Mexico to use graywater on your landscaping. No permit is required if the graywater produced is less than 250 gallons per day and certain guidelines are followed. At this time, it is neither legal nor recommended that you mix graywater and rainwater storage. It can be done with a permit, and the graywater will need to be filtered prior to storage. For most residences, this is apt to prove too expensive, but for commercial entities that produce a lot of graywater, it should be evaluated.

Graywater is better for our landscapes than regular drinking water. It has little to none of the chlorine left in it and is rich in nutrients. Graywater use on plants can also eliminate the need for fertilizers, thereby saving you money on both your water bill and gardening costs.

Graywater definitely needs to be part of our water conservation. Unlike rainwater, graywater is very consistent. It is generated every day and usually in a very consistent amount. The city of Santa Fe estimates that graywater accounts for about 40 percent of the water used inside the house.

If every household in Santa Fe could use graywater for irrigation, it would cut our summer water demand by nearly 20 percent!

Of course this is not possible. For existing houses, it would be difficult or prohibitively expensive to capture and reuse all 40 percent. However, if it were required for all new construction, then over time it would begin to have an impact on our water demand. If it was incentivized by the state, county or city for remodels, then even if only 10 percent of Santa Fe remodels captured 50 percent of the graywater from the houses, it would still have a significant impact on our potable water use for outside irrigation.

Graywater reuse is one of the alternatives being implemented in cities across the country, most notably in Tucson, Ariz. In that city, graywater reuse is required in all new homes.

Graywater use is one of several strategies necessary to maintain our future water security. Together with rainwater harvesting and moving to more drought-tolerant plants, we can go a long way toward having a secure water supply for generations to come.

Doug Pushard, founder of the website www.Harvest H2o.com, has designed and installed residential rainwater systems for more than a decade. He is a member of the Santa Fe Water Conservation Committee, a lifetime member of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association and an EPA WaterSense Partner.

Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

New Products from Pure Water Products

 Mur-lok fittings have two O-rings.  (Actual Mur-lok fittings are black and white. The transparent housing was made only to illustrate the double O-ring configuration. We’ve been using Mur-loks for several years on products that we build and service locally.)

We’ve been using Mur-lok quick-connect fittings for several years on our own products, although our website has sold only “name brand” John Guest connectors.  Now we’re offering Mur-loks in both white and UV-resistant black in popular configurations in 1/4″ and 3/8″ and a few in 1/2″ fittings. Mur-loks are unique double-o-ring fittings that are virtually leak proof.  And, as a reminder, we stock replacement o rings and collets for quick connect fittings.  The parts on the o ring page areMur-lok parts but they fit both John Guest and Mur-lok.

We’ve recently added Filtrex coconut shell carbon blocks in popular standard sizes, from drinking water to “whole house” applications. We have both the CloraGuard (high chloramine reduction) and  FX-VOC Greenblock (low cost coconut shell block for general purposes) series.  The 4.5″ X 20″ FX-VOC is rated for whole chlorine reduction of 55,000 gallons at 7 gpm, making it an excellent choice for whole house residential city water applications.

 

We have added two new high quality filter media to backwashing  filter offerings.

Jacobi coconut shell catalytic activated carbon (branded Aquasorb-CX-MCA) is a premium product for treatment of hydrogen sulfide and iron in well water as well as chloramine in city water. (It can be substituted upon request for Centaur coal-based catalytic, our standard product for chloramine and hydrogen sulfide applications.) Jacobi carbon is clean and durable. Very hard coconut shell carbon can be expected to have a longer service life than coal-based carbon.  We added Aquasorb-CX-MCA because of customer requests.

Katalox Light is a high activity medium for treatment of iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide in well water.  Relatively light, it is a more versatile performer than Birm, and it is easier to backwash and maintain than Filox. We’ve added it to our offerings in standard unsupported iron filters as well as our premium iron/hydrogen sulfide products, the  single tank aerators and  AerMax units.  (Katalox Light is available now, but it isn’t yet on our website.)

Coming soon: Enpress cartridge tanks.

Sprite Shower Filters.  You’ll sing better.

 

 

 Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.  We also have dedicated parts pages for countertop water filters, undersink filters, and aeration equipment.  We stock parts for everything we sell.

Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.

Garden Hose Filters.  Don’t be the last on your block to own one.

Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”

Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

Pure Water Occasional Archive: April 2013 to present.

Write to the Gazette or the Occasional:   pwp@purewaterproducts.com

Fair Use Statement

Please Visit

The Pure Water Gazette – now now with an up-to-the-minute feed of the latest water news.

The Pure Water Occasional

Pure Water Products 

Graywater — how does it fit?

 

 Excerpted from an article by Doug Pushard 

 

What is graywater? It is the water that has been used by a household, except water from the kitchen sink and toilets. Water from these two sources is called black water and requires special treatment. The state publishes a terrific graywater guide that covers graywater uses and provides some wonderful diagrams of its capture and use. It can be found atwww.nmenv.state.nm.us/p2_web/gray_water.pdf

It is legal in New Mexico to use graywater on your landscaping. No permit is required if the graywater produced is less than 250 gallons per day and certain guidelines are followed. At this time, it is neither legal nor recommended that you mix graywater and rainwater storage. It can be done with a permit, and the graywater will need to be filtered prior to storage. For most residences, this is apt to prove too expensive, but for commercial entities that produce a lot of graywater, it should be evaluated.

Graywater is better for our landscapes than regular drinking water. It has little to none of the chlorine left in it and is rich in nutrients. Graywater use on plants can also eliminate the need for fertilizers, thereby saving you money on both your water bill and gardening costs.

Graywater definitely needs to be part of our water conservation. Unlike rainwater, graywater is very consistent. It is generated every day and usually in a very consistent amount. The city of Santa Fe estimates that graywater accounts for about 40 percent of the water used inside the house. (more…)

Stirring Portraits of People Forced to Live in Flooded Homes

 

by Jakob Schiller

 

Every year, from June through October, Jashim Salam’s house in Chittagong, Bangladesh, floods. Not once, or twice, but five or six times—per month. It’s like that throughout the city, where several million people live alongside the sea. The water flows in from the Karnaphuli River, pushed beyond its banks by the rising tide of the Bay of Bengal.

This is a recent phenomenon, one many blame on climate change and rising seas coupled with the annual monsoon season. Residents have had to adapt and adjust to the enormous hardships of a life too often lived under water. Salam has been documenting just what it’s like for him and his neighbors. The photographer has produced two series about the flooding. Water World offers an intimate look at life in his neighborhood during a flood. Water World 2 is a powerful series of portraits of people standing in their homes, or in the streets of their communities, surrounded by water. (more…)

Nicaraguans told to eat iguanas as drought threatens food crisis

Lizard diet ridiculed but Central America’s poorest country is facing hunger because of poor harvests and rising food prices

by Sam Jones

Nicaraguans struggling to afford meat as the country suffers its worst drought in 32 years should consider raising and eating iguanas, a government expert has suggested.

The advice comes amid warnings that Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador could require levels of humanitarian aid not seen since the aftermath of hurricane Mitch 16 years ago, as poor harvests and rapid increases in the prices of staple items threaten a food crisis.

“Breeding iguanas brings two benefits,” said Guillermo Membreño, a land management expert. “Not only does it supply dietary protein, it also offers a commercial use for the animals.”

A boy holds up an iguana for sale on the highway in the north of Managua. Nicaraguans are being encouraged to eat the reptiles as a nutritious alternative to more conventional meat.

Iguanas, he added, contained 24% protein compared with 18% in chicken. (more…)