The Pure Water Occasional for May 31, 2015
In this Memorial Day Occasional from soggy Texas, you’ll hear about the world’s largest animal, the Kalamazoo River, Duke Energy, and the daring Kayactivists of Puget Sound. Learn how the Aral Sea was destroyed by Joseph Stalin’s cotton plantation, how Texas has banned the banning of fracking, and how bacteria are creating drugs in wastewater. The encouraging recovery of sea grass in Tampa Bay, the advantages of tap water over bottled water, the terrible water quality of English beaches, the water woes of Las Vegas and Flint, Michigan, the flooding of recently drought-ridden Texas, plastic beads in American lakes, and “megadroughts” of the past. Read about Pure Water Products’ new aeration offerings and our new garden hose water softener. Pure Water Annie explains chlorine burns, B. Sharper tells you all about safe swimming, 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.)
Fracking to resume in Texas city that banned fracking after state steps in
Texas Bans Bans on Fracking
DENTON, Texas — A North Texas city whose fracking ban prompted state lawmakers to limit such local power says a driller has revealed plans to resume fracking gas wells in the city.
According to documents obtained through an open records request, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports Vantage Energy notified the city early Tuesday of its plans to begin fracking on Denton’s west side, beginning next Wednesday. The notice came the morning after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Monday afternoon that limits local authority to restrict fracking.
During last November’s election, Denton voters banned fracking within the borders of the city of about 125,000 residents, eliciting immediate vows by oil and gas drillers to topple that ban. The state and the drillers filed lawsuits, and the Legislature fulfilled the drillers’ vows last week.
The Denton ban remains on the books, but Mayor Chris Watts says the new state law likely renders it unenforceable and would probably stymie any effort to block Vantage plans to finish its gas wells.
“It’s my understanding we don’t plan on seeking an injunction,” Watts told the Record-Chronicle. As for the lawsuits still on the court dockets, city officials will be discussing those soon, Watts said.
“Where we go from here hasn’t been determined,” he said.
A call and email to a Vantage energy spokeswoman by The Associated Press were not returned.
As for the grass-roots fight in Denton against fracking, Frack Free Denton President Adam Briggle said that will continue.
“We cannot say how this story will unfold, but we do know this dark chapter shall not be the last one written,” he said.
Source: New Orleans Times Picayune.
California town named and shamed as biggest water guzzler
Bermuda Dunes, once the home of Clark Gable, tops the list of places using too much water in the drought-plagued Golden State
by Nick Allen
Golfers on the Bermuda Dune Country Club course.
A wealthy town of 6,000 people has been named the worst offender in California for guzzling water as the state tries to crack down on wastefuless during a crippling four-year drought.
Bermuda Dunes, an oasis in the Coachella Valley 120 miles east of Los Angeles, uses 343 gallons of water per head per day.
That compares to 139 gallons in Los Angeles, which itself uses twice as much as the average city in Europe.
Bermuda Dunes, which sprang up out of the desert in the 1960s, has 354 days of sunshine a year and receives less than three-and-a-half inches of rain annually.
It is home to the lush Bermuda Dunes Country Club, has its own airport, and Hollywood star Clark Gable once lived in one of its large homes.
Conservationists have called the use of water in the area a “crime” and “unsustainable” and the situation could become worse as summer approaches.
Under plans recently announced by California governor Jerry Brown the state is trying to reduce water consumption by 25 per cent.
The 400 water companies in California have been ranked on how much water is being used by their customers, and different levels of cuts have been imposed.
Myoma Dunes Mutual Water Company, which supplies Bermuda Dunes, ranked number one, and was told to make the maximum 35 per cent cut.
Two other much bigger water companies which supply larger towns in the Coachella Valley, were also in the top 10 of California’s per capita water users, and were issued with 35 per cent targets.
The state has the power to fine those who don’t meet the targets up to $10,000 a day.
In the Coachella Valley, within striking distance of Bermuda Dunes, there are more than 120 golf courses which attract players from around the world.
Their artificial lakes and green fairways use a quarter of the water being taken from rapidly depleting wells.
Other offenders are the sprinklers used to maintain residential lawns.
According to residents there is still overflow water from sprinklers running down roadside gutters.
Richard O’Donnell, a retired architecture professor who has got rid of his own lawn in Bermuda Dunes, told The Desert Sun newspaper: “The use is obscene. People just don’t have the consciousness of the water and where it comes from. There’s so much apathy about the use of water.”
Water companies have argued that up to a third of their customers own holiday homes in the area, and are only there seasonally, but many leave their sprinklers on while they are away.
The identification of Bermuda Dunes as the biggest per head user of water is part of a new trend in California known as “drought shaming” in which neighbours use social media to criticise water wasters.
Last week the trend extended to celebrities as the New York Post published aerial photographs of their lawns.
A representative for Barbra Streisand, whose lawn in Malibu was featured, said she had already cut water usage by over 50 per cent and “is going to take further steps to conserve water”.
Source: The Telegraph.
Rain in North Texas
At Denton’s Farmer’s Market, May 23, 2015, PWP employees, from left, Kristen Lewis, Katey Shannon, Kacy Ewing, and Theresia Munywoki, are pictured just before a rainstorm cut the event short. Click picture for larger view.
Those praying for rain in North Texas have perhaps overdone it. We’re getting flash floods and the wettest May in many years. Locally, our May rainfall is over four times last May’s. To the south of us, areas that were very dry are now experiencing the flooding of the San Marcos and Blanco Rivers. Parts of the area have received more than 1-1/2 feet (46 cm)of rain since May 1, six times what it typically receives in all of May
Flooded San Marcos River, May 24, 2015. Click for larger view.
Water News Stories
The Largest Animal in the World
Blue whales are the largest baleen whale species–in fact they are the largest animal in the world.
Blue whales can grow to be about 100 feet (30.5 meters) in length and may weigh around 160 tons. They are mottled bluish gray, with broad flat heads and a small dorsal fin located in the last forth of the body. Newborn blue whales are about 23 feet (7 meters) long and roughly 30 tons and can add 200 pounds a day!
- Blue whales are the largest animals to have ever lived on Earth with some individuals reaching lengths of nearly 100 feet (30.5 meters). Yes, they are even larger than dinosaurs!
- A blue whale heart is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle and pumps 10 tons of blood through the massive blue whale body. A blue whale aorta (the main blood vessel) alone is large enough for a human to crawl through.
- Blue whale blows, also called spouts, consist of air and water and rise about 30 feet (9.1 meters) high.
The Politics of Water: The New EPA Water Rule
In April 1989, a Michigan developer named John Rapanos dumped fill on 54 acres of wetlands he owned to make way for a shopping center. He did not have a permit, and when the state told him to stop, he refused. Courts found him in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Prosecutors wanted to send him to prison.
Rapanos took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that the wetlands on his property, about 20 miles from a river that drained into Lake Huron, did not fall under the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction over discharges into “navigable waters.”
Rapanos became something of a celebrity among property rights advocates, but the ruling raised as many questions as it answered. Although the court upheld federal protections for wetlands and streams when they connected with navigable waters, it left unclear what constituted a connection.
Now, nearly a decade later, the Obama administration is seeking to clarify those ambiguities, and the effort is causing controversy of its own. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a new rule to protect a significantly larger percentage of streams and wetlands that provide habitat for wildlife and sources of drinking water.
The move is another example of President Obama taking executive action on environmental and climate issues regardless of whether he has the support of Congress. The administration has already protected millions of acres from oil and gas development and is expected to set aside more, even as it has allowed the expansion of oil and gas drilling elsewhere. It plans to issue new rules this summer to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
Lake Mead hits a record low of 1,078 feet. Former Las Vegas water boss Patricia Mulroy made numerous deals to keep water flowing from Lake Mead to her city and installed two water intakes deep in the reservoir. During her quarter-century tenure, the nation’s once-largest reservoir plummeted drastically, but never hit 1,075 feet, the level that triggers mandatory water-delivery cutbacks for Arizona and Nevada.
The drinking water woes of Flint, MI continue as citizens wait for a new pipeline.
White foam in the water of NE Pennsylvania has been linked with Marcellus Shale gas wells.
Bacteria at water treatment plants, it appears, actually increase the amount of certain drugs in wastewater.
State officials say the settlement reached with Enbridge Energy over 2010’s Kalamazoo River oil spill is the largest of its kind in Michigan history.
A Whirlpool Corp. official told Fort Smith city directors Tuesday that 49 residents in a neighborhood contaminated with a hazardous chemical from past plant operations by the company have reached a settlement agreement with it.
Duke Energy Pleads Guilty
Three subsidiaries of North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corporation, the largest utility in the United States, pleaded guilty this month to nine criminal violations of the Clean Water Act at several of its North Carolina facilities and agreed to pay a $68 million criminal fine and spend $34 million on environmental projects and land conservation to benefit rivers and wetlands in North Carolina and Virginia. Four of the charges are the direct result of the massive coal ash spill from the Dan River steam station into the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina, in February 2014. The remaining violations were discovered as the scope of the investigation broadened based on allegations of historical violations at the companies’ other facilities. Full article from the EPA website.
A record number of English beaches are expected to fail water quality requirements.
More than 99% of English beaches passed last year’s tests, but this is forecast to drop by 6%, with the water of 25 beaches possibly classed as “poor”. Full BBC report.
Tampa Bay sea grass beds herald environmental recovery. Tampa Bay’s sea grass beds, a critical component of a healthy estuary, have rebounded to such a remarkable degree that their health is as robust as it was 60 years ago, water resource scientists and environmentalists say .
House votes to block EPA regulation of streams, wetlands. House Republicans voted this month to block government rules that would clarify which streams, tributaries and wetlands should be protected from pollution and development under the Clean Water Act.
Click image for larger view.
The 1922 agreement that divvied up water from the Colorado River was forged during one of the wettest periods in the last millennia. At the time, people assumed droughts would occur, but they didn’t assume droughts would get off-the-charts terrible.
Water users are, essentially, hoping for wet years and future surpluses.
That’s increasingly looking like a bad bet. Scientists have uncovered evidence that decades- or even centuries-long “megadroughts” have occurred in the distant past, and could well occur again in the Southwest going forward. And even if that doomsday scenario doesn’t come to pass, climate models still expect droughts to get more frequent and severe in the American Southwest if global warming continues apace. There could very well be less water to share in the future.
Despite all this, Lake Mead’s users have been overdrawing water in recent years — essentially assuming that there will be wet years in the future to provide surplus water and recharge the system.
Read the full article: It’s not just California: the whole Southwest is facing a growing water crunch.
For millennia the Aral Sea reigned as one of the planet’s largest inland bodies of water, straddling what is now Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Today its decline serves as a cautionary tale.
Read, “The Sins of the Aral Sea,” National Geographic’s compelling account of how Stalin’s cotton farm irrigation destroyed the mighty Aral Sea.
Michigan Legislators Seeking Ban on Tiny Plastic Particles in Lakes
Michigan lawmakers are targeting millions of itty-bitty pieces of plastic used in toothpastes and facial cleansers that are showing up in the nation’s largest inland lakes in relatively high concentrations.
Scientists are concerned because the synthetic microparticles, often called microbeads, are consumed by fish and other wildlife and may be entering the food chain. Toxic pollutants already in the Great Lakes tend to bind to the plastics, increasing the potential to harm aquatic organisms and those who consume them. Read the rest in Detroit News.
Kayaktivists made their objections clear — and made for a pretty spectacle against the blue-gray background of Puget Sound.
A well organized protest against Shell’s new drilling venture took place in May. Details and lots of pictures from Grist.
A company claims that its new solar distillation device can produce 15 liters per day of top quality drinking water from any water, including sea water, and the cost is less than $1,000. Details.
New from Pure Water Products
AerMax–More Options, and An Improved Presentation
A revised and expanded version of our AerMax page has just gone up on our main website. AerMax has been one of our favorite products for years, and we’ve just improved the page, adding a “Deluxe” version of the installation hardware, an improved pump-control timer that simplifies installation and improves performance, plus an entire new page of filters that we suggest to accompany the aeration product.
Our new Deluxe version of AerMax allows a more compact installation with the air pump mounted on top of the aeration tank itself.
To meet request for a larger portable softener that can be used with a garden hose, we’re now offering a 10,000 grain softener that regenerates with ordinary table salt and requires only occasional backwashing. The product is designed to provide an easily installed source of soft water for car washers, window washers, solar panel cleaners, RVs, washing machines, and more. See full details on our main website.
In Praise of Tap Water
From the press release announcing American Water’s 125th Anniversary celebration:
“The seemingly small decision to drink tap water rather than bottled water can have a major impact on the environment,” commented Dr. Mark LeChevallier, director of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship for American Water. “Disposable plastic bottles are burdening our landfills and increasing fuel consumption through their production and delivery.” More than 1.5 million gallons of oil are used each year to produce the disposable plastic water bottles consumed in the U.S., and significant amounts of fuel are required to transport the bottles, as well.
Additionally, consumers can realize significant savings by relying less on disposable water bottles and more on tap water in refillable bottles. Tap water is typically available from the faucet for less than a penny a gallon as a national average. Depending on the brand, bottled water costs 250 to 10,000 times more than tap water. Consumers drinking their recommended eight glasses of water a day from the tap, may spend approximately $3.65 (based on a glass of water being 8 ounces) a year. Purchasing the same amount in bottled water can add up to $1,400 annually. Ounce-for-ounce, bottled water can cost more than gasoline or even milk.
The Occasional’s Comment: Assuming even a five to one usage ratio, home-produced reverse osmosis water would cost (according to American Water’s figures) about $18 per year vs. $1,400 for bottled water. This puts all the “RO wastes water” concerns in a different perspective. From the environmental point of view, saying “I don’t want to waste water with a home RO unit, so I’ll drink bottled water,” ignores the water and energy used in producing the bottled water and the bottle, plus the large energy expenditure for transporting it to the consumer. Long live tap water, but make it better than bottled water by treating it in your home with a point-of-use drinking water filter or reverse osmosis unit.
What Are Chlorine Burns?
by Pure Water Annie
Gazette technical wizard Pure Water Annie addresses the perplexing questions about water treatment.
Once a year, usually in spring, water suppliers that normally disinfect their product with chloramine, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, perform a cleaning procedure known as a “chlorine burn.” The purpose is simply to clean out the pipes, ridding the distribution system of film and debris that has built up.
The clean-out is accomplished by simply switching disinfectants from chloramine to straight chlorine for a time, and usually upping the dosage a bit to speed things along. Compared with chlorine, chloramine is a rather weak disinfectant. Its weak performance allows sludge and scum, bacterial film, to build up in pipe walls and crevices. The yearly purge, or “burn,” with straight chlorine cleans things out.
Chloramine is substituted for chlorine as the regular disinfectant in an increasing number of city water systems. The switch from chlorine to chloramine has been going on over a number of years as suppliers seek ways to stay in compliance with EPA standards for DBPs, disinfection by-products, that are produced as a consequence of chlorination. Some DBPs are known carcinogens, and EPA requires suppliers to monitor them. Chloramine, a weaker disinfectant, does not produce DBPs.
Are chlorine burns a good idea? Good or bad, they are necessary, since without a periodic cleanout, buildup in pipes would create significant problems for the water system. The practice does call into question, however, the wisdom of using chloramine rather than chlorine in the first place, since, as many argue, the burn and subsequent purging of pipes creates elevated levels of disinfection by-products in the system and higher than normal chlorine discharge into lakes and streams. In other words, for a short time we get concentrated doses of disinfectants and byproducts, which may be worse than what we would have with chlorine as the regular disinfectant.
The moral: With a good carbon filtration system in your home, you won’t even know when the burn takes place. The elevated chlorine levels, murky water, and dislodged sediment that your neighbors are complaining about, you won’t even notice.
Bea Sharper on Swimming
With Swimming Season at Hand, Gazette Numerical Wizard Bee Sharper Lays Out the Numerical Facts About Swimming that Harper’s Missed
Percentage of swimming worldwide that involves water — 100%.
Percentage of Americans who are afraid of swimming pools — around 50%.
Approximate number of drowning deaths that occur each year — 3800.
Approximate number of these drowning deaths that occur in pools –700.
Approximate number of pool-related emergency department treated injuries that occur each year — 5700.
Percentage of Americans who are afraid of deep, open bodies of water, like lakes — around 66%.
Percentage of Americans who are afraid of the deep end of a swimming pool — 46%.
Percentage of American men who say that they are unable to swim — 21%.
Percentage of American women who say that they are unable to swim — 51%.
Percentage of Americans who say that they are unable to swim — 37%.
Percentage of African Americans who say that they are unable to swim — 62%.
Percentage of Caucasian Americans who say that they are unable to swim — 32%.
Percentage of Asian Americans who say that they are unable to swim — 47%.
Percentage of Hispanic Americans who say that they are unable to swim — 44%.
Percentage of canine Americans who say that they are unable to swim — 0%.
Rank of drowning as cause of unintentional injury and death in children 1 to 19 — 2.
Factor by which 5 to 19 year old African American children are more likely to drown in a swimming pool than their peers — 6 times.
Percentage reduction in drowning of 1 to 4 year old children which can be attributed to formal swimming lessons –88%.
Reference Source: “More Swimmers Will Result in a Healthier Society, Fewer Drownings and Reduced Healthcare Costs, ” by Thomas Lachocki, Ph. D.. Paper commissioned by the National Swimming Pool Foundation and reprinted in Water Conditioning and Purification Magazine, August, 2012.
Editor’s Note: B. Sharper, a big swimming pool fan, wasn’t bothered that most of the numerical facts for this piece came from the National Swimming Pool Foundation, but the whole thing seemed awkward to me. The point being made, if I understood the article, is that you should get yourself a swimming pool so you can learn to swim so you won’t drown in a swimming pool. Or that African Americans especially should get a pool because their children are six times more likely than “their peers” to drown in a pool. Isn’t this a little like saying you should get your child a gun so he will learn how to handle it and will be less likely to kill himself with a gun? And as for the 46% of Americans who are afraid of the deep end of a swimming pool, they need to put in a pool so they can overcome their fear of the deep end of the pool. There’s a lesson here somewhere. –Hardly Waite, Pure Water Gazette.
Bea Sharper’s piece on swimming first appeared on the Pure Water Gazette’s website in August, 2012.
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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