The Pure Water Occasional for October 31, 2015
In this Halloween/Day of the Dead Occasional, you’ll hear about Nestle’s great water grab, the 1899 sinking of London, soda politics, and waterboarding (with scary pictures). Then there’s fluorosilicic acid, pervaporation, “Sponge,” infrastructure-caused flooding, midge fly larvae, Bolivia’s bold UN declaration, and the flowering of the Atacama Desert. Hear about California’s leading water guzzlers, the driest and hottest places on earth, the Water Tower of the Year and the Stupidest Idea of the Year Awards. You’ll hear about Kumarakulasingam Suriyakumar, the Prior Lake swim team. Also, there’s flash droughts in Texas, backwashing water filters, and yet another collection of life’s most interesting numbers put together by Gazette columnist Bee Sharper. 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.)
Slipshod oversight allows millions of gallons of water to be taken off public lands
by Cassie MacDuff
Nestle takes millions of gallons of virtually free water from public lands, and leaves behind:
The government is urging people to let their lawns die and to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth because of California’s extreme drought.
And people are cooperating.
So it’s galling to learn that federal officials have allowed a bottled-water company to extract more than 25 million gallons a year from the San Bernardino National Forest on a permit that expired 27 years ago.
Three public-interest groups last week filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Riverside against the U.S. Forest Service, accusing it of failing to enforce its own environmental rules.
The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Story of Stuff Project and the Courage Campaign Initiative, asks a judge to shut down the water-taking by Nestlé Waters North America Inc., bottler of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water.
Nestlé is not the target of the suit, although environmental groups have been asking the company to stop taking the water from Strawberry Creek, east of the famous arrowhead landmark above San Bernardino.
The company has declined, because, why should it, unless the federal government tells it to? The company is making millions selling the water it extracts for a mere $524 a year. That’s right: $524.
The Forest Service has enabled the company – and its predecessors (there have been a series bottling Arrowhead water over the years) – to operate on expired permit, even during the state’s four-year drought.
Until the groups started pressuring the service, no work was done on re-issuing the permit until late last year. And even now, the effort is just getting underway.
An investigation by the Office of Inspector General in 2011 uncovered the reason why expired permits are rampant in national forests: the Forest Service doesn’t have enough personnel to do the job.
The service is sitting on more than 4,500 expired permits, including around 1,200 that involve water, because it doesn’t have enough funding to review and renew them.
The Inspector General also found that six of the nine Forest Service regions – including the one that oversees the San Bernardino National Forest – haven’t updated their fees to reflect fair market values nor adjusted them for inflation. The government failed to collect $5.4 million as a result, it said.
Region 5, which encompasses California, hadn’t done a market survey or adjusted for inflation since 1988 – the year the Arrowhead permit expired.
So a multinational food-and-beverage company like Nestlé pays a pittance for California’s precious water, and the government allows the squandering of a scarce public resource because it can’t afford to process permits.
Who wouldn’t like to pay 1988 prices? If you could buy groceries and gasoline at 1988 prices today, you’d have a lot more money in your wallet. Right?
But the problem here is not just how little Nestlé is paying. It’s that the Forest Service hasn’t examined whether extracting 25 million gallons a year is harming the forest around Strawberry Creek.
Source: The Press Enterprise.
Gazette Famous Water Picture Series — The Mysterious Lowering of London
Is London Sinking?
From the waterways of Piccadilly Circus to moorings outside St Paul’s Cathedral, these remarkable illustrations imagine what London would look like if its streets were to become the canals of Venice.
The superimposed images, created by hand for a spoof feature in The Harmsworth Magazine in 1899, show the city’s roads filled with former taxi drivers navigating gondolas through bustling water traffic, rather than Victorian horse and carts.
The black-and-white pictures show iconic sites including Regent Street, Horse Guards Parade and Hyde Park Corner submerged in water, while major landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral sit on the banks of canals.
The historic photo project was prompted by news reports at the turn of the 19th century which described how London had lowered by 68 feet in 500 years, sparking speculation that the metropolis would eventually sink below the River Thames.
These pictures were accompanied by an imagined future tour of London’s newly-submerged landmarks.
Piccadilly Circus in a sunken London.
Source: The Daily Mail. Take the link for more pictures from the 1899 collection.
Fluoridation Chemical Company Mosaic Fertilizer Fined $2 Billion
The company that gets rid of highly toxic wastes by selling them as a “product” to municipal water departments across the country as cheap fluoridation chemicals has been fined $2 billion for gross violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, is one of the largest sellers of a toxic fluoride chemical, “fluorosilicic acid”, that cities add to public drinking water. Fluorosilicic acid is described by EPA in the Consent Decrees as a “hazardous waste” produced at Mosaic’s fertilizer plants. More than 200 million Americans drink these wastes every day.
For decades Mosaic has been selling fluoridation chemicals to public drinking water systems across the U.S. This Kafkaesque scheme, approved by EPA, benefits the polluter in the belief that it helps the teeth of the poor, according to FAN.
The fine was levied on October 1st by the EPA and U.S. Department of Justice. These wastes are produced at Mosaic’s six phosphate fertilizer plants in Florida and two in Louisiana.
“It’s outrageous that Mosaic is allowed to sell an EPA ‘hazardous waste’ to dump into the drinking water used in most major U.S. cities,” says FAN scientist Dr. Neil Carman.
Dr. William Hirzy, also with FAN, added, “This loophole needs to be closed by the EPA. It was not addressed in the Consent Decrees which allow Mosaic to continue selling a hazardous waste to the public disguised as a way to boost fluoride in drinking water.”
The RCRA laws govern the storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. Mosaic’s 60 billion pounds of improperly handled hazardous waste cited by EPA is the largest amount ever covered by a RCRA settlement. Mosaic’s wastes have also caused huge local environmental problems, due largely to their high fluoride levels. The fluoride, not captured in pollution control devices and sold for water fluoridation, ends up in their liquid and solid wastes. Other toxic constituents include arsenic, lead, cadmium, uranium and radium. Enormous quantities of these wastes have been stored for years in so-called gypsum stacks. They will never become non-toxic, and these open hazardous waste piles have regularly leaked into rivers and groundwater causing huge fish kills and other problems.
Source: PR Newswire.
Chile’s Atacama Desert is regarded as the driest place on the planet
The ‘driest place on Earth’ is covered in pink flowers after a crazy year of rain
The Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest place on Earth, is awash with color after a year’s worth of extreme rainfall.
In an average year, this desert is a very dry place. Arica, Chile, in the northern Atacama holds the world record for the longest dry streak, having gone 173 months without a drop of rain in the early 20th century. In another Atacama neighbor to the south of Arica, the average annual rainfall in the city of Antofagasta is just 0.07 inches.
But strong El Niño years can be a rainy boom for the region, located just to the east of the warmest ocean water on the globe. In March, heavy thunderstorms brought 0.96 inches of rain in one day to parts of the Atacama Desert. This doesn’t seem like that much, but it was a huge rainfall event for the desert — over 14 years of rain in one day. The torrent caused the typically dry Copiapo River to swell far beyond its banks. Flooding killed at least nine people that day.
As El Niño strengthens, so does the rainfall increases across South America. As areas of low pressure swing east into the Andes Mountains, the usually warm waters off the coast provide more than enough water vapor to fuel extreme rainfall events.
Malva (or mallow) flowers on the floor of the Atacama desert bloom every five to seven years, usually coinciding with El Nino. But they have been taking advantage of this year’s particularly rainy conditions, leading to the “most spectacular blossoming of the past 18 years.”
Interestingly, Death Valley has also been overflowing this month. The official weather station at Death Valley National Park recorded 0.55 inches of rain on Oct. 5. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s a bucket-load for the world’s hottest location — enough to tie the wettest 24-hour period on record in the month of October.
“A series of unusual storms in October caused large amounts of damage throughout Death Valley National Park,” park officials wrote on Facebook. “Flash floods destroyed significant portions of multiple roads and heavily damaged several historic structures at Scotty’s Castle and deposited debris in Devils Hole.”
The Death Valley National Historic Association has set up a fund to help restore some of these damaged historic locations.
See original Washington Post article for pictures of flowers growing on “the driest place on earth.”
A Halloween Horror Story: Waterboarding
Some American politicians endorsed the use of the fearful torture technique known as waterboarding during the dark early days of the “War on Terror”
Waterboarding is a form of water torture in which water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the individual to experience the sensation of drowning. Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage, and death. Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.
In the most common method of waterboarding, the captive’s face is covered with cloth or some other thin material, and the subject is immobilized on his/her back at an incline of 10 to 20 degrees. Torturers pour water onto the face over the breathing passages, causing an almost immediate gag reflex and creating a drowning sensation for the captive. Vomitus travels up the esophagus, which may then be inhaled. Victims of waterboarding are at extreme risk of sudden death due to the aspiration of vomitus.
The term water board torture appeared in press reports as early as 1976. In late 2007, it was widely reported that the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was using waterboarding on extrajudicial prisoners and that the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, had authorized the procedure among enhanced interrogation techniques. Senator John McCain noted that the United States military hanged Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war during World War II. The CIA confirmed having used waterboarding on three Al-Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.
In August 2002 and March 2003, in its war on terror, the George W. Bush administration issued what became known as the Torture Memos after being leaked in 2004. These legal opinions argued for a narrow definition of torture under US law. The first three were addressed to the CIA, which took them as authority to use the described enhanced interrogation techniques (more generally classified as torture) on detainees classified as enemy combatants.
The state of California has levied fines against four urban water suppliers, including Beverley Hills, for failure to comply with the state’s water conservation standards. Details.
Villa Grove, IL has had to shut down its water plant because of contamination by midge fly larvae.
“Pervaporation” studied for low-cost desalination in Egypt
About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but unfortunately most of that liquid nourishment isn’t suitable for drinking because it’s salt water found in the oceans. Removing salt from water is not an easy process, either. Current desalination technology requires a high amount of energy, making it prohibitively expensive — especially in developing nations. But don’t worry: a team of researchers at Alexandria University in Egypt have bypassed these power-hungry methods and created a simple filtration technique; the details of which are described in a research paper published last month in Water Science and Technology.
To remove salt from water with minimal power, the researchers use the process of pervaporation, in which salt water is first filtered though a membrane to remove larger particles. These filters contain cellulose acetate powder that, along with other components, will bind the salt particles as they pass through the membrane. Made from materials common to Egypt and surrounding countries, the filters are affordable and can easily be produced in a laboratory setting.
Once filtered, the water is vaporized under heat in a second purification step. The vapor, containing pure water, is then condensed and collected for drinking purposes. This method reportedly works with sea water, even the highly-salinized water of the Red Sea. It also purifies water that’s been contaminated with sewage and/or dirt, which makes it beneficial for use in developing nations. Because it uses ingredients available locally and does not require lot of energy, desalination via pervaporation is a relatively inexpensive process. “Using pervaporation eliminates the need for electricity that is used in classic desalination processes, thus cutting costs significantly,” says said Ahmed El-Shafei, an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering in Alexandria University.
The method of pervaporation has been in use since the early 1990s and is being used in waste water treatment to separate organic solvents from industrial waste water. The team hopes to scale up production of the saline-removing membrane, printing it off in sheets that can be cut down for individual use. It also is working on a pilot desalination unit to test out the method on a larger scale.
A recent study by Oceana found that 41% of the salmon being sold in supermarkets was mislabeled as “wild” or “Pacific” when it was in reality farmed Atlantic salmon.
Dominions of fizz. “Soda Politics” addresses carbonated beverages as an emblem of modern wars focused on food, politics, policy, personal choice and culture. The single most stunning and appalling revelation was that between 340 and 620 litres of water are used for every litre of soft drink produced, about 20% of that related to packaging.
Bolivia issued a stirring decree at the UN calling for “adoption of a new model of civilization in a world without consumerism, commercialism, and warmongering, a world without capitalism.” High on the country’s list of 10 “structural solutions to the climate crisis” was “public implementation of the human right to water.” More.
“Flash Drought” in Central Texas: Despite wettest month on record last May
While Austin saw its wettest May in history, a 50-day dry streak this summer and below-normal rain is drying things up fast.
It’s what some meteorologists are calling a flash drought, because rather than developing gradually, it came quick.
“It’s always something to be kept in the back of your mind, to conserve,” said Justin Camp, a Hydrogeologic Technician. “To understand that this is Texas, and this is a land of perpetual drought.”
Camp checks drought monitor wells for the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. Year-round he calculates the water levels underground. “The trend right now is a lot of things are lowering,” said Camp. “Between July and August, we didn’t get any rain.”
A tool he uses measures the water every hour. He checks each well about four times a year.
While the state is experiencing drought, the aquifers in Camp’s district are mostly full – for now. “They call drought the natural disaster in slow motion, and that really is what it is,” said John Dupnik, General Manager of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. “Because it takes time for these drying conditions to accumulate and for the reservoirs to feel the effects of the drying conditions, and ultimately for the ground water to feel those effects.”
But Dupnik says if we continue to stay dry, aquifer levels will continue to drop.
“Why we should care, is we rely on this for drinking water supply. Water is life, you have to have it.”
Dupnik says the time to conserve is now, and forever.
Top Water Guzzlers Named
California’s East Bay Municipal Utility District published a list of the top 1,000 water guzzlers, a list which included names of many of the rich and famous. Topping the thousand-name list, the second to be released this month by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, was businessman Kumarakulasingam Suriyakumar, of Diablo, who used 9,612 gallons a day. He paid a two-month basic water bill of about $5,103, plus $1,382 in excess-use penalties, officials estimated. More from the San Jose Mercury News.
A material created by University of California, Riverside engineers is the key component of a swimsuit that won an international design competition for its ability to clean water as a person swims. It also wins the Occasional’s coveted Stupidest Idea of the Year award.
The reusable material, which they call Sponge, is derived from heated sucrose, a form of sugar. It has a highly porous structure that is super hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, but also absorbs harmful contaminants. Full story.
Our Daily Dose, a film by Jeremy Seifert, an excellent short film about fluoridation, is available on You Tube. Highly recommended.
In Girls Swimming, the Lake Prior Lakers Glided Easily Past Eagan
The Prior Lake girls swimming team churned out another South Suburban Conference win Oct. 22.
The Lakers swept all three relays en route to a 96-84 home win over Eagan to improve to 7-1 in their conference. Full story from the Lake Prior American.
A massive water main break flooded a busy street in Queens. This is one of many stories this month about urban flooding caused by water main breaks.
Aging infrastructure makes waterwaste flooding common in the Mexican capital.
Going local to solve Mexico City′s water crisis. Mexico City’s creaking water infrastructure is a public health hazard and environmental disaster. Flooding and water shortages are commonplace. But grassroots movements are harnessing rainwater to ease the crisis.
Cocoa Florida’s water tower beat out 200 other contestants to with the coveted 2015 “Water Tower of the Year” award.
A study conducted at the University of Vermont has shown that fracking can cause underground leaks that allow methane to enter abandoned wells and eventually escape to the atmosphere.
Why Pure Water Products’ Backwashing Filters Are the Very Best in the World
Gene Franks, Pure Water Products
To start with, we have invented a superior new filter medium that removes all known contaminants from water, never wears out, and is very inexpensive.
We also have created a new filter control valve that lasts for 40 years, runs without electricity, and can be programmed by thought.
Finally, in response to customer demand, we have created a unique space-saving mineral tank that is over twice as large on the inside as it is on the outside.
I really wish I could tell you all of that is true, but, alas, I have to tell you that we mainly use the same old stuff that’s available to everyone else in the industry for making filters. Nevertheless, I can confidently say that our backwashing filters are the best on the market and that it doesn’t worry us that some other internet sites seem to be selling comparable filters at a slightly lower price.
Here are some reasons:
100% Vortech. We now use Vortech mineral tanks exclusively for all residential-sized filters (up to 13”). Vortech tanks cost more and they are harder to get, but they don’t need gravel underbeds, and compared with conventional tanks, they save at least 20% of regeneration water used by the filter. They save water day after day, year after year. We now use Vortech tanks even for dome hole applications (for calcite filters) and bottom drain tanks (for vacation homes that require draining for winter).
We use all Fleck controls. These tried and proven performers are easy to program, easy to maintain, economical to operate. We offer standard timer models, SXT electronic upgrades, and even non-electric manual Fleck units, plus the AIO electronic air-draw control in two control valve styles for problem well water.
We program all control valves before the filter is shipped. Plug it in, set the time of day, and you’re ready to go. If you want to change the programming, it’s easy.
We provide a complete “Setup Sheet” for all filters that lets you know at a glance the type and quantity of the media your filter has, the regeneration time, the backwash and rinse duration, and the drain line flow control size. Plus, we keep this information on file so if you call or email we’ll know exactly what you need for your filter.
We pay shipping. Keep this in mind if you’re comparing prices. Backwashing filters are large and the media that goes in the tank are heavy.
We build filters every day, so we have everything in stock and can normally ship the filter the day you order it. This means also that we always have parts in stock if you need them.
We support installation and service by both email and phone. If you call us, or if your plumber calls us, we’re happy to help.
The most important thing about buying a backwashing filter is getting what is needed for your specific water issue. We offer help in diagnosing water issues and in selecting and sizing equipment. You can contact us by phone or email for help. We offer a dozen different media choices that cover most city or well water issues. We also sell and supply any supporting equipment needed, such as sediment pre-filters, chlorine or aeration pre-treatment, or pH amendment. We also offer free testing to help determine what you need (or don’t need).
What others offer as options, come as standard equipment with our filters. All of our filters come with such standard equipment as a stainless steel bypass valve, drain tubing, pre-installed flow control for regeneration, a media funnel, and a clear-bowl media trap. We’ve just added the media trap as a standard feature to protect your home against media intrusion in home services lines. The bypass, funnel, drain tubing, and media trap when sold as options cost over $100.
Our Fleck 2510 filters come with either traditional timer or advanced SXT control.
Liters of water needed to produce one liter of soda – 340 to 620.
Portion of US citizens who now say that they “avoid” sodas – 2/3.
Gallons of water per year that Nestle currently extracts from federally controlled Strawberry Creek in drought-stricken Califronia – 25 million.
Year in which its permit to extract this water legally expired – 1988.
Amount Nestle currently pays US taxpayers each year for the right to extract the water that it sells for millions of dollars – $524.
Depth of water in a flooded roadway that will reach the bottom most passenger cars and cause loss of control and possible stalling – 6 inches.
Depth of water necessary to float most passenger cars – 1 foot.
Depth of flowing water that can carry away most passenger vehicles, includings SUVs and pickups – 2 feet.
Percentage of the Earth’s surface that is covered by water – 71%.
Percentage of Pure Water Products’ backwashing filters that are now made with Vortech tanks – 100%.
Rank of Chile’s Atacama Desert among the Earth’s driest places – #1.
Number of months without rain on the Atacama recorded in a dry streak early in the early 20th century – 173.
Gallon per day usage for the home of Kumarakulasingam Suriyakumar, who was number one on a recent water guzzler list in San Jose, California – 9,612.
Number of times you’ll need to click this link to learn about Pure Water Products’ highest quality backwashing filter parts — 1.
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!”
Write to the Gazette or the Occasional: firstname.lastname@example.org
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