As Summer Heats Up, Algae in Lakes Cause Concern

 

As summer temperatures rise, the presence of algae in some surface waters in the US has increased. Not all algae produce toxins that affect public health, but increased growth in recent years of  harmful algal blooms is triggering some concern.  Last August, a major algal bloom in Lake Erie caused the city of Toledo, Ohio, to issue a “do not drink” order for more than 400,000 residents.  The EPA estimated in 2009 that  20 percent of the nation’s lakes are highly impacted by algae, and one-third contains some level of harmful algae.

In response to the rise in harmful algae in lakes, the  EPA determined toxin levels in tap water that are safe for human consumption and offered recommendations for how utilities can monitor and treat drinking water for algal toxins and notify the public if the water exceeds these levels.

Green scum produced by and containing cyanobacteria. (more…)

Editorial: Water conservation becomes the standard, prudent thing to practice

Gazette Introductory Note: It’s good to be reminded now and again that rules and regulations often make sense. It’s our nature to dislike being “regulated,” but surely no one would honestly deny that the onerous restrictions placed upon Americans by the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts have worked wonders to clean up our environment. The terrible burden of auto emissions standards placed upon the auto industry have performed a miracle in cleaning up our air, and contrary to the predictions of crusty regulation-haters,  requiring catalytic converts has not shut down the auto industry or made cars so expensive that no one can afford them. The following editorial from the Vancouver Sun reminds us that even the government sometimes knows what it’s doing.–Hardly Waite.

Every attempt at broad-brush solutions to problems seems accompanied by its black comedy of peculiarities. For example, bring in watering restrictions to deal with the prolonged dry spell that’s running down Metro Vancouver’s drinking water reservoirs and you generate seemingly wacky contradictions.

If you wash your car in the driveway with a hand-held, spring-loaded shut-off nozzle, that’s an offence but if you take it to a commercial car wash where automated robots do it, that’s fine, and you can do it every day if you are so inclined. You can’t refill your spa tub on the back deck but you can go indoors and use the soaker tub with whirlpool jets as often as you like. You can wash artificial turf but watering the natural lawn is a no-no. (more…)

 

 Except in the US, Fluoridated Drinking Water is Hard to Find

Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control boasts that water fluoridation as one of the “top ten public health achievements of the twentieth century,” most of the western world, including the vast majority of western Europe, does not fluoridate its water supply.

At present, 97% of the western European population drinks non-fluoridated water. This includes: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and approximately 90% of both the United Kingdom and Spain. Although some of these countries fluoridate their salt, the majority do not. (The only western European countries that allow salt fluoridation are Austria, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.)

Despite foregoing “one of the top ten public health achievements of the twentieth century,” tooth decay rates have declined in Europe just as fast over the past 50 years as they have in the United States. This raises serious questions about the CDC’s assertion that the decline of tooth decay in the United States since the 1950s is largely attributable to the advent of water fluoridation.

Reference: Fluoride Action Network.

California Drinking Water: Not Just Vanishing, But Also Widely Contaminated

by Tom Philpott

In normal years, California residents get about 30 percent of their drinking water from underground aquifers. And in droughts like the current one—with sources like snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains virtually non-existent—groundwater supplies two-thirds of our most populous state’s water needs. So it’s sobering news that about 20 percent of the groundwater that Californians rely on to keep their taps flowing carries high concentrations of contaminants like arsenic, uranium, and nitrate.

That’s the conclusion of a ten-year US Geological Survey study of 11,000 public-water wells across the state. The researchers tested the wells for a variety of contaminants, looking for levels above thresholds set by the Environmental Protection Agency and/or the California State Water Resources Board.

Interestingly, naturally occurring trace elements like arsenic, manganese, and uranium turned up at high levels much more commonly than did agriculture-related chemicals like nitrate.

In the ag-heavy San Joaquin Valley (the Central Valley’s Southern half), for example, you might expect plenty of nitrate in the water, because of heavy reliance on nitrogen fertilizers. Over the limit of 10 parts per million in water, nitrate can impede the blood’s ability to carry oxygen and has been linked to elevated rates of birth defects and cancers of the ovaries and thyroid. But while 4.9 percent of wells in the San Joaquin turned up over legal nitrate thresholds, arsenic (over legal limits in 11.2 percent of wells) and uranium (7.4 percent)—neither of which are used in farming—were more common. (more…)

 Mark Your Calendar

 

The common garden hose is one 0f life’s treasures that we take for granted.  The hose is pretty amazing, though, when you think of it for what it is–a very inexpensive portable pipe that can bend around corners, roll up for storage,  and carry high volumes of water quickly over great distances. For most, the garden hose also evokes happy memories of childhood and summer days.

The only thing better than a garden hose is a garden hose with a filter.

 

The Pure Water Occasional for July 15, 2015

In this full summer Occasional, you’ll meet Annie Edson Taylor, Arundhati Roy, Sam Patch, Tom Sellek, and Swami Chaitanya.  Hear about Nestle’s plan to sell Columbia Gorge water, teeth of the Romundina fish, Lake Texoma drain sluices, a garden hose assault in Tennessee, and free wastewater in Fresno. Learn what broccoli, cannabis, beef, and almonds have in common. New findings on fluoridation in New Zealand, water terrorism in Kosovo,  a really weird fish in the depths of the Antarctic, and vinyl chloride in Indiana. Hear the truth about peeing in the pool, the top ten women’s water polo schools, and the rank of water among the world’s risks.  B. Sharper reveals stunning facts about bottled water.  On the eve of National Garden Hose Day,  Pure Water Products’ spiffy new garden hose softener hits the market. And as always, there is much, much more.

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

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

You’ll sing better.

 

From the Pure Water Gazette’s Great Water Pictures Series

Annie Edson Taylor and Her Famous Barrel

Annie Edson Taylor (October 24, 1838 – April 29, 1921) was an American adventurer who, on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901, became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. (more…)

 

 The Tide Has Turned.  The Age of Dams Is Over, But Politicians and Bankers Still Love Big Money Projects

Indian Novelist, Political Activist, Essayist, and Film Director Arundhati Roy Is Probably the World’s Most Passionate and Most Famous Opponent of Large Dams. 

 ”What have we done to this beautiful desert, to our wild rivers? All that dam building on the Colorado, across the West, was a big mistake. What in the world were we thinking?”–Senator Barry Goldwater, reflecting late in life on his support of the Glen Canyon Dam Project.

 

Dams are a relic of the Industrial Age, a brute-force solution to water scarcity that sets off a cascade of environmental collapses, from the upstream tip of the reservoir to the river’s mouth and beyond. They’re particularly ill-suited to the era of extremes — heat waves, floods and droughts — that climate change has brought on. High temperatures intensify evaporation from reservoirs. Massive floods threaten dams with overtopping and breaching. Droughts defy the very reason for dams’ existence: They drop reservoir levels, wasting the “capacity” that goes unused, and cause hydroelectric output to dwindle.–Jacques Leslie.

 

To learn “How Not to Fix California’s Water Problems,” please read Jacques Leslies’s piece in the  LA Times.

Bottled Water Facts

Gazette numerical wizard B. Sharper fills in the blanks that Harper’s misses.

Based on Professor POU/POE’s “Bottled Drinking Water” piece in the July 2015 Water Technology.

Percentage of US tap water that is used for drinking and cooking– <1%.

US bottled water sales for 2013, in gallons – >10 billion.

US bottled water sales for 2013 in dollars – >$12.3 billion.

Percentage of bottled water consumed in the US that is imported – 10%.

For comparison, the daily drinking water production (tap water) of the city of Chigago – > 1 billion gallons.

US per capita consumption of bottled water in gallons – 32.

Factor by which Mexico’s per capita bottled water consumtion exceeds US consumption—2.

Percentage of US bottled water consumption is for “still” (non-carbonated) water—90%.

The most popular size bottle for home/office water delivery—5 gallon.

Overall per gallon cost of bottled water–$1.23. (more…)

Man wanted in water hose assault

 

Editorial Note: It is unfortunate that the event reported below happened at all, but it is doubly unfortunate that it took place on the eve of National Garden Hose Day (coming up Aug. 3).  At a time when water hoses are being viewed with suspicion as contributors to water waste from excessive irrigation or recreation (having too much fun), the use of a water hose as a weapon could in today’s volatile political atmosphere lead to talk of banning or limiting garden hose ownership. Since there is no constitutional amendment whose meaning can be bent to protect garden hoses, efforts to restrict or even ban garden hose sales are not out of the question. And while the incident reported below is only a single event, copycat crimes are common, and an outbreak of several weaponized garden hose events could certainly lead to talk of restricting or requiring registration of garden hose ownership. We must resist such efforts. The Gazette urges restraint. A single bad actor should not be allowed to tarnish the names of the millions of  responsible garden hose owners worldwide who water their lawns, wash their cars, and fill their kiddie pools with their garden hose and never even think of beating someone up with it. — Hardly Waite.

A 64-year-old Maryville man is wanted after reportedly attacking his ex-girlfriend Thursday outside an East Lamar Alexander Parkway business.

Maryville Police officers were dispatched to the business at 5:23 p.m. Thursday after a 52-year-old woman reported being attacked by her ex-boyfriend. The man fled in a vehicle as officers responded to the business, according to the police report.

When officers arrived, they found the woman covered in blood, the report said. Officers noted seeing blood in her hair and on her face, neck, chest and arms.

The woman told officers she was outside the business watering flowers when her ex-boyfriend showed up. The two began arguing about their failed relationship, and the woman said she told the man to leave. He refused to go, so she sprayed him with water from her garden hose, she said.

The man reportedly grabbed the garden hose, which had a metal sprinkler attached to the end, and proceeded to hit the woman across the head and face with it. The assault left the woman with a large cut over her eye and several small cuts on her face, police said.

First responders treated the woman at the scene. Officers visited the man’s residence, but did not locate him. Police took out a warrant for his arrest on a charge of aggravated domestic assault.

Article Source:  The Maryville (TN) Daily Times for July 11, 2015.

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Is Weed the New Almond?

by Anna North

Broccolibeef, and perhaps most notably almonds have all come under fire in the past year for sucking up too much of California’s scarce water. Now you can add another crop to the tally of alleged water-guzzlers: marijuana.

A raid last week in California’s Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties targeted marijuana growers not for growing the drug per se but for their illegal water use, reports Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones. Mr. Harkinson also writes that marijuana uses about six gallons of water per day per plant, while the notoriously water-intensive cotton uses just ten gallons per plant for the whole season.

Some have put marijuana’s water consumption lower or higher than the six-gallon figure. According to an analysis by Swami Chaitanya, a member of the Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council, which advocates for sustainable cannabis farming, an eighth of an ounce of marijuana takes 1.875 gallons of water to produce. That’s much less than it takes to produce a pound of beef (1500 gallons, according to Mr. Chaitanya), a bit less than it takes to grow a head of broccoli (5 gallons), and a bit more than it takes to grow a single almond (1 gallon). (more…)