The Pure Water Occasional for March 2, 2015.
In this early March Occasional, you’ll hear about shocking new fluoride research, the violence caused by water shortage, and sediment that is choking Con0wingo Dam. Hear why water should cost more and the much-waited results from the Berkeley Springs Water Awards. You’ll also hear about the woes of Lake Tahoe, the EPA’s (yet unrealized) fracking studies, plus gruesome photos from the Sao Paulo reservoir, the Welliston pipeline disaster, and learn that there is drought almost everywhere except where there are floods. There is news about Pacific Islanders searching for water, the alarming number of water pollution incidents in Northern Ireland, the marketing of sewage, the first state to regulate Chromium 6, Pure Water Annie’s FAQ on TDS in home RO units, and, as always, there is much, much more.
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.)
Major Study in Great Britain Links Fluoride in Water to Hypothyroidism, and A New US Study Links Fluoride to ADHD in the United States
Gazette Introductory Note: A bad week for promoters of water fluoridation saw two significant research publications. One, from the prestigious British Medical Journal, reported a significant increase in hypothyroidism in fluoridated areas in the UK as compared with unflouoridated; the second, from the journal Environmental Health, revealed a rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in American children exposed to artificial water fluoridation. These studies both received wide press attention at a time when fluoridation is being rejected or discontinued in a growing number of American cities.–Hardly Waite.
A major new fluoridation study was published this week in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health–a British Medical Journal (BMJ) publication—and it has already received major media attention. The study, entitled Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water, is the first study to ever look at fluoridation and hypothyroidism in a large population (in this case, England). The study found a relatively strong and statistically significant effect, with General Practice (GP) areas being 62% more likely to have high rates of diagnosed hypothyroidism if their drinking water fluoride levels were above 0.7ppm compared to areas with fluoride levels below 0.3ppm. This was after researchers had accounted for key variable, which are other factors that influence hypothyroid rates.
In an additional comparison of two large metropolitan regions, one that is artificially fluoridated at a level of about 1.0 ppm (greater Birmingham area), and the other which is nearby and similar demographics but is not artificially fluoridated (greater Manchester), the study found a 94% greater probability that GPs in fluoridated Birmingham would have high hypothyroidism rates compared to Manchester.
For all of England, the prevalence rate of hypothyroidism was almost 10% greater in.those GPs with higher fluoride levels compared to those with lowest levels .
The findings led to the researchers calling for a “rethink of public health policy to fluoridate the water supply,” adding “consideration needs to be given to reducing fluoride exposure, and public dental health interventions should stop [those] reliant on ingested fluoride and switch to topical fluoride-based and non-fluoride-based interventions.”
Additional studies on thyroid and fluoride:
Here are other media articles reporting on the BJJ study:
-The Yorkshire Post, Fluoride in water increases risk of thyroid illness ‘by 30 per cent’
-Boots WebMD (Boots is the largest pharmacy in the UK), Scientists call for rethink on fluoride in water
-The Telegraph, The extent of water fluoridation in the UK
Just when you thought we wouldn’t get any more bombshells this week, a study was published later in the week linking fluoridation to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the United States.
The study entitled, “Exposure to fluoridated water and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States: an ecological association,” was published in the journal Environmental Health. According to the authors:
“State prevalence of artificial water fluoridation in 1992 significantly positively predicted state prevalence of ADHD in 2003, 2007 and 2011, even after controlling for socioeconomic status.
A multivariate regression analysis showed that after socioeconomic status was controlled each 1% increase in artificial fluoridation prevalence in 1992 was associated with approximately 67,000 to 131,000 additional ADHD diagnoses from 2003 to 2011. Overall state water fluoridation prevalence (not distinguishing between fluoridation types) was also significantly positively correlated with state prevalence of ADHD for all but one year examined.
Conclusions: Parents reported higher rates of medically-diagnosed ADHD in their children in states in which a greater proportion of people receive fluoridated water from public water supplies.”
Reference: Fluoride Action Network.
A Thirsty, Violent World
by Michael Specter
Angry protesters filled the streets of Karachi last week, clogging traffic lanes and public squares until police and paratroopers were forced to intervene. That’s not rare in Pakistan, which is often a site of political and religious violence.
But last week’s protests had nothing to do with freedom of expression, drone wars, or Americans. They were about access to water. When Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of Defense, Power, and Water (yes, that is one ministry), warned that the country’s chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable, he was looking on the bright side. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950. As the country’s population rises, that amount is falling fast.
Dozens of other countries face similar situations—not someday, or soon, but now. Rapid climate change, population growth, and a growing demand for meat (and, thus, for the water required to grow feed for livestock) have propelled them into a state of emergency. Millions of words have been written, and scores of urgent meetings have been held, since I last wrote about this issue for the magazine, nearly a decade ago; in that time, things have only grown worse.
The various physical calamities that confront the world are hard to separate, but growing hunger and the struggle to find clean water for billions of people are clearly connected. Each problem fuels others, particularly in the developing world—where the harshest impact of natural catastrophes has always been felt. Yet the water crisis challenges even the richest among us.
California is now in its fourth year of drought, staggering through its worst dry spell in twelve hundred years; farmers have sold their herds, and some have abandoned crops. Cities have begun rationing water. According to the London-based organization Wateraid, water shortages are responsible for more deaths in Nigeria than Boko Haram; there are places in India where hospitals have trouble finding the water required to sterilize surgical tools.
Nowhere, however, is the situation more acute than in Brazil, particularly for the twenty million residents of São Paulo. “You have all the elements for a perfect storm, except that we don’t have water,” a former environmental minister told Lizzie O’Leary, in a recent interview for the syndicated radio show “Marketplace.” The country is bracing for riots. “There is a real risk of social convulsion,” José Galizia Tundisi, a hydrologist with the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, warned in a press conference last week. He said that officials have failed to act with appropriate urgency. “Authorities need to act immediately to avoid the worst.” But people rarely act until the crisis is directly affecting them, and at that point it will be too late.
It is not that we are actually running out of water, because water never technically disappears. When it leaves one place, it goes somewhere else, and the amount of freshwater on earth has not changed significantly for millions of years. But the number of people on the planet has grown exponentially; in just the past century, the population has tripled, and water use has grown sixfold. More than that, we have polluted much of what remains readily available—and climate change has made it significantly more difficult to plan for floods and droughts.
Success is part of the problem, just as it is with the pollution caused by our industrial growth. The standard of living has improved for hundreds of millions of people, and the pace of improvement will quicken. As populations grow more prosperous, vegetarian life styles often yield to a Western diet, with all the disasters that implies. The new middle classes, particularly in India and China, eat more protein than they once did, and that, again, requires more water use. (On average, hundreds of gallons of water are required to produce a single hamburger.)
Feeding a planet with nine billion residents will require at least fifty per cent more water in 2050 than we use today. It is hard to see where that water will come from. Half of the planet already lives in urban areas, and that number will increase along with the pressure to supply clean water.
“Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we are going to face, in terms of the crises, as far as water is concerned,” Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change, said at a conference on water security earlier this month. “If you look at agricultural products, if you look at animal protein, the demand for which is growing—that’s highly water intensive. At the same time, on the supply side, there are going to be several constraints. Firstly because there are going to be profound changes in the water cycle due to climate change.”
Floods will become more common, and so will droughts, according to most assessments of the warming earth. “The twenty-first-century projections make the [previous] mega-droughts seem like quaint walks through the garden of Eden,” Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said recently. At the same time, demands for economic growth in India and other developing nations will necessarily increase pollution of rivers and lakes. That will force people to dig deeper than ever before into the earth for water.
There are ways to replace oil, gas, and coal, though we won’t do that unless economic necessity demands it. But there isn’t a tidy and synthetic invention to replace water. Conservation would help immensely, as would a more rational use of agricultural land—irrigation today consumes seventy per cent of all freshwater.
The result of continued inaction is clear. Development experts, who rarely agree on much, all agree that water wars are on the horizon. That would be nothing new for humanity. After all, the word “rivals” has its roots in battles over water—coming from the Latin, rivalis, for “one taking from the same stream as another.” It would be nice to think that, with our complete knowledge of the physical world, we have moved beyond the limitations our ancestors faced two thousand years ago. But the truth is otherwise; rivals we remain, and the evidence suggests that, until we start dying of thirst, we will stay that way.
Source: The New Yorker.
Water News for the week of March 2, 2015
The Conowingo Dam is 92% Full of Sediment.
The Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River is at about 92 percent capacity for sediment storage according to new U.S. Geological Survey research.
Since the dam’s construction in 1929, sediment and nutrients have been building up behind it, being released periodically downriver and into the Chesapeake Bay, especially during high flow events.
“Storage capacity in Conowingo Reservoir continues to decrease, and ultimately that means more nutrients and sediment will flow into the Bay,” says Mike Langland, a USGS scientist and author of the study. “Understanding the sediments and nutrients flowing into the Bay from the Susquehanna River is critical to monitoring and managing the health of the Bay.”
Previous research has shown that having excess nutrients in the Bay depletes the water of oxygen needed to maintain healthy populations of fish, crabs, and oysters. Additionally, the nutrients, along with sediment, cloud the water, disturbing the habitat of underwater plants crucial for aquatic life and waterfowl.
At full sediment-storage capacity, the Conowingo Reservoir will be about one-half filled with sediment, with the remainder–about 49 billion gallons–flowing water. That amount of sediment could fill approximately 265,000 rail cars, which if lined up would stretch more than 4,000 miles.
The Susquehanna River is the largest tributary to Chesapeake Bay and transports about half of the total freshwater input to the Bay, along with substantial amounts of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus.
Measuring the capacity of the dam to hold sediments and nutrients contributes to an improved understanding of factors that influence the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Facing down drought: We’re in it together. The most dire prediction of a 2012 federal supply-and-demand study of the Colorado River may have been this one: By 2060, the demand shortfall for Colorado River water could reach 1 trillion gallons — enough water to supply 6 million Southwestern households for a year.
Opposition grows to Nicaragua Canal connecting Atlantic and Pacific. The canal would allow passage for the largest ships on the water, but cut through wetlands, forests and the region’s largest freshwater lake – and environmentalists worry about the consequences.
Warm, dry weather threatens way of life at Lake Tahoe. This is the fourth lousy winter season in a row for the ski industry, and it has been economically devastating for the Lake Tahoe area. Some of the smaller resorts are barely hanging on, while larger players are carving out new ways to turn a profit.
Can fracking pollute drinking water? Don’t ask the EPA. The EPA has been unable to collect the data it needs from the multibillion dollar oil and gas sector, which has stymied a five-year federal study.
Sao Paulo’s severe drought: The remnants of reservoirs. Aerial photos illustrate the serious depletion of the giant city’s water supply, a result of the driest summer in 84 years.
Pipeline company didn’t use remote sensors before 3 million gallon leak near Williston. The pipeline that ruptured and spilled nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater, contaminating a nearby creek and two rivers near Williston, could have been monitored remotely but the system wasn’t turned on, a regulator said last week.
Drought in South Africa should ring alarm bells. As frightening as this drought situation is, many people do not seem to be paying attention or engaging about it, as is usually the case with prominent political, economic and social dilemmas.
Tomorrow’s climate refugees struggle to access water today. In fifty years the Pacific Islanders may be climate refugees, but today the more immediate challenge is to harvest enough water to live.
Californians growing more concerned about drought, poll finds.Dread over the water shortage in California has grown to the point that at least half the state’s residents are willing to relax environmental regulations and allow construction of water supply facilities in federal parkland, a statewide Field Poll has revealed.
Supreme Court rules Nebraska must pay Kansas in interstate river battle. The Supreme Court today ruled that Nebraska “recklessly gambled” in taking more water from the Republican River than it was allowed.
Drowning California’s history. The state’s Water Resources Center and Archive has played a crucial role in documenting – and shaping – California water history. Longtime users say it has greatly declined since leaving Berkeley.
Why water should cost a lot more. In today’s markets, the price for water does not follow typical supply and demand considerations and does not reflect water scarcity.
Cambodia PM says work on mega-dam will not start until 2018. Hun Sen’s comments came a day after Spanish activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, who had campaigned against the dam, was deported for overstaying his visa.
It may seem like a healthy dose of rainfall for L.A., but it’s not. When it’s as dry as it has been for three years, a couple of weeks of sporadic rain or a big storm or two in Los Angeles can make it seem as though Southern California is getting a healthy dose of rainfall. But in fact, the city’s rain totals since Oct. 1 show that L.A. is still on pace for a below-average year.
Alarming 2,112 water pollution incidents in one year in Northern Ireland. Fears have been raised over the state of Northern Ireland’s waterways after almost six pollution incidents a day were reported to, or discovered by, inspectors in 2013.
How to turn sewage into a product people want. Can you run a stodgy water utility like a business? Turn sewer water into money? This is the premise behind what’s called the “digester” process at DC Water’s Blue Plains wastewater plant.
California Becomes the First State to Regulate Chromium 6.
It is odorless and tasteless and causes cancer when inhaled. And it’s in the water you drink.
It’s chromium-6, also known as hexavalent chromium, one of three common forms of chromium which is found naturally in the environment.
But there is growing concern over how much is in drinking water.
A proposal introduced in the California Legislature this week would provide a monitoring process for public water systems to work toward compliance with the state’s new drinking water standard for chromium-6.
California is the first state in the nation to adopt a drinking water standard for chromium-6.
The lobby for public water systems says the current timeline provided for compliance does not recognize the complex steps water systems must take to achieve the standard. The steps involved — from designing appropriate treatment systems to securing financing to building and testing new treatment facilities — can take up to five years or more and cost millions of dollars, says the Association of California Water Agencies.
It has come up with legislation, SB 385 being carried by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, that is says would address the challenge by authorizing the State Water Resources Control Board to grant a time-limited variance to public water systems that meet strict conditions and demonstrate they are taking needed steps to comply with the standard by the earliest feasible date.
The variance would not exempt any water systems from compliance or delay steps a water system must take to achieve compliance. The SWRCB oversees the state’s water quality and is responsible for enforcing the chromium-6 standard.
“Unfortunately, some water systems will be deemed out of compliance with the new chromium-6 standard in 2015 even though it was not feasible for them to install appropriate treatment facilities to comply within the very short timeline provided,” says ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn.
He says SB 385 does not seek to weaken the chromium-6 standard or delay its implementation.
“It simply creates a path for water systems to work toward compliance without being deemed in violation as long as strict safeguards are met. This is critical to ensuring that ratepayer funds are spent on needed treatment systems and not on potential enforcement actions and litigation,” says Mr. Quinn.
California’s drinking water standard for chromium-6 took effect on July 1, 2014. The first of its kind in the nation, California’s standard establishes a maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per billion for chromium-6 in drinking water.
Source: Central Valley Business Times.
Winners Announced for Berkeley Springs Academy Awards for Water
“We’ve been calling Berkeley Springs the Academy Awards of Water for years,” said Arthur von Wiesenberger, perennial watermaster of the event. “This year it came true.”
We aren’t reporting full details including the daring gowns and tasteless acceptance speeches for the Berkeley Springs Water Awards, except to say that water superhero Mr. Waterman was one of the ten judges. You can read all about it in the press release.
Here are the winners in the main cateogories:
Best Municipal Water 2015
1st – Hamilton, OH
2nd – Emporia, KS
3rd – Clearbrook, Abbotsford BC, Canada
4th – (three way tie)
5th – Independence, MO
Best Bottled Water 2015
1st – Fengari Platinum, Platinum Class Mineral Water, Athens, Greece
2nd – Castle Rock Water, Dunsmuir, CA
3rd – Halstead Springs Water, Speedwell, TN
4th – Jackson Springs Natural Premium Spring Water, Middlebor, MB, Canada
5th – Capi, Victoria, Australia
Best Sparkling – 2015
1st – Daphne-Ultra Premium Quality Natural Mineral Sparkling, Athens, Greece
2nd. Oaza, Tesanj, Bosnia
3rd – Antipodes, Whakatane, New Zealand (prev gold)
4th – Otakiri, Whakatane, New Zealand
5th – Castle Rock Carbonated Water, Dunsmuir, CA
Best Purified Drinking Water – 2015
1st – Indigo H2O, Elkhart, IN
2nd – Tied:
Bar H2O, Richmond, MI
January Springs, North Haltey QC, Canada.
3rd – Whispering Springs. Pierceton, IN
4th – Le Sage Natural, Le Sage, WV
5th – Mountain Drop, Linthicum, MD bottling famous Berkeley Springs water.
Best Packaging — 2015
1st – Eternal Naturally Alkaline Spring Water, Dandridge, TN
2nd – Nakd Luxury Artesian Water, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
3rd – Waiwera Artesian Water, Auckland, New Zealand
4th – Arisu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
5th – Antipodes Water, Whakatane, New Zealand
You can see pictures and more information at watercitizen.com.
Gazette Technical Wizard Pure Water Annie Takes on the Persistent Questions about TDS Measurement in Home Reverse Osmosis Units
How do I know when to change my RO membrane?
Some sellers say every two years, other say every three. Actually, the only really good way is to own a TDS tester, test the water from the unit once or twice a year, and change the membrane when the meter tells you it’s time. Membranes can last many, many years, and there is no reason ever to change a membrane that is performing well.
What does TDS mean, and what’s a TDS meter?
TDS stands for “Total Dissolved Solids.” It is basically a measurement of all the “solids,” or minerals, dissolved in the water. The “dissolved solids” consist mainly of calcium and magnesium (hardness minerals) and sodium, chloride, and sulfate. A TDS tester for home use is a small electronic tester that measures these solids by passing a weak electrical current through the water and determining how well the water conducts electricity. The higher the dissolved solids content, the more easily the water conducts electricity and the higher the number shown on the meter.
Does my RO unit remove the TDS from the water?
Yes, a healthy RO membrane will normally “reject” 90% or more of the dissolved solids and send them down the drain pipe. RO units and distillers lower dissolved solids. as do “deionizers.” Filters don’t removed dissolved minerals. No matter how many sediment filters or carbon filters you run the water through, the TDS reading will remain the same.
Is TDS bad? How high should it be?
Within the normal range of fresh water, TDS isn’t a big health issue. The EPA sets a limit of 500 parts per million Total Dissolved Solids as a drinking water standard, but many US cities violate that and their citizens do fine. Obviously, there is a point where water starts tasting bad. This varies depending on which minerals are involved. Naturally soft water with a TDS of 500 that’s mainly sodium, for example, can taste very good. There is, of course, a limit: sea water is over 30,000 parts per million and is undrinkable. When water gets over 1000 ppm TDS you normally won’t like the way it tastes.
My local tap water is 250 ppm Total Dissolved Solids. If you’re saying this isn’t “bad for me,” why bother to measure my RO unit’s dissolved solids performance? What does it matter whether the RO unit reduces the TDS or not?
TDS measurement is the standard way of evaluating overall performance of the RO unit. The assumption is that if the unit is making a 90% reduction of calcium and sodium, it’s also reducing arsenic and fluoride with equal effectiveness. As it loses its ability to reduce TDS, it loses its ability to remove chromium. In other words, TDS readings are taken to determine how well the membrane is working.
What does “% rejection” mean?
Percent rejection is a calculation used to express how well the RO unit is working. It is determined as follows:
TDS of the feed water (determined by testing your tap water at the kitchen sink) minus the TDS of the permeate (the water that comes out of the RO unit’s faucet) divided by the TDS of the feed water and multiplied by 100.
So, for example, if your tap water reads 280 and your RO product water reads 15, you determine the percent rejection of the RO unit by subtracting 15 from 280 to get 265, dividing 265 by 280 to get 0.946, then multiplying by 100 to get 94.6% rejection. Your RO unit is running well.
You actually don’t have to work through this whole formula to know if you’re RO unit is running well. If the RO water tests 1/10 or less of the tap water, it’s doing fine.
At what TDS reading should you change the membrane?
That’s a personal choice and there isn’t a specific answer that fits all situations. Consider, for example, that if your tap water TDS is only 65 and your RO unit is testing at 20, you still have some really good water and you might want to cut your membrane some slack and let it go on another year.
Are there factors that affect TDS readings that should be considered?
First, never test your TDS immediately after changing your filters. You’ll get an artificially high reading because of impurities that your eye can’t see being put out by the new post filter. Also, keep in mind that cold water reads lower than warm and a stopped up pre-filter can rob the membrane of pressure and diminish its performance.
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!”
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