The Pure Water Occasional for October 28, 2013
With articles about the prices oil companies pay for water used in fracking, the popularity of bottled water vs. sodas, the holding capacity of reverse osmosis tanks, and much and varied news of what happened this week in the world of water. And, as always, there is much, much more.
Water prices a fracking big deal
by Dan Fumano
“For companies using B.C.’s water for fracking, the highest water rental fee paid to the province is $1.10 per 1,000 cubic metres. That’s less than $3 for enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool.”
Critics are raising alarms that oil and gas companies are getting a “free ride” from the provincial government for the billions of litres of water used in fracking operations every year.
Fracking not only pollutes water. It also requires vast amounts.
Last week, the B.C. government released a proposal for the new Water Sustainability Act, which would update and replace B.C.’s century-old Water Act. Experts have said the proposal is a welcome, if long overdue, sign the government is taking water resources more seriously — but they say the gifting of free or very cheap fresh water to industrial users is an issue that requires attention.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a process of injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground at very high pressure, in order to fracture rock formations and release natural gas. Fracking is one of the main methods for extracting liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which has been promoted by Premier Christy Clark as the biggest economic opportunity B.C. has had in a century.
In Clark’s Speech from the Throne this year, she said the LNG industry could produce royalty revenues of more than $100 billion for the province, and tens of thousands of jobs. But the practice has also been the subject of controversy for its ecological impacts.
For companies using B.C.’s water for fracking, the highest water rental fee paid to the province is $1.10 per 1,000 cubic metres. That’s less than $3 for enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool.
A ‘FREE RIDE’
“They’re getting a free ride, absolutely,” said Ben Parfitt, a resource analyst for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “I think that charge is egregiously low, and I think that there is a real opportunity for the government, having taken a significant step in the right direction in introducing this proposed legislation, for it to … deal with the whole issue of water pricing.”
If B.C. continues to expand LNG production as expected, Parfitt said, it would bring “an unprecedented rush on water,” and make the issue of water price and use all the more vital.
“We need to send the signal now, before that activity ramps up, that … companies are going to have to pay a reasonable dollar for that water. If we don’t do that, then basically we’re sending the signal that this is a resource that we in British Columbia just take for granted,” he said.
Parfitt said he was encouraged to see the public concern over the lack of groundwater regulation in the wake of The Province’s reports on Nestlé and bottled water companies taking BC’s fresh water without paying anything to the government.
“I think the Nestlé issue really highlights that. People feel very strongly that multinational companies should not be getting our water for free,” he said.
FRACKING DEMAND MORE THAN BOTTLED WATER
But, he said, the volume of fresh water used by oil and gas companies in fracking operations around the province dwarfs the amount used by bottled water companies.
According to a B.C. Oil and Gas Commission annual report, “In 2012, a total of 7,054,704 m3 of water was used for hydraulic fracturing.” That’s about 2,800 Olympic swimming pools.
Nestlé’s total water withdrawals last year in B.C. — 265 million litres — would make up a little less than four per cent of the total water used for fracking in B.C.
FRACKING WATER PRICE ‘AN INSULT’
The current going price for water used for fracking is “an insult,” said Eoin Madden, a campaigner from the Vancouver-based national conservation group Wilderness Committee.
“Our message to the provincial government is, if you’re going to price water, be serious about it. You don’t joke around with our most important resource, the one thing you can’t live without.”
The current fee structure is more about “optics” than about assigning a value to the resource, Madden said. “It’s a nominal fee that makes people believe it’s being taxed, it’s being regulated. And it’s not. That amount of money, it’s pointless.”
A spokesman from the Ministry of Environment said Friday that the government is “contemplating changes to both the pricing structure and rates for water.”
The Water Sustainability Act proposal is up for public engagement and discussion until Nov. 15.
Source: The Province.
Bottled Water Sales Rising as Soda Ebbs
Few things are more American than Coca-Cola.
But bottled water is washing away the palate trained to drain a bubbly soda. By the end of this decade, if not sooner, sales of bottled water are expected to surpass those of carbonated soft drinks, according to Michael C. Bellas, chief executive of the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Mr. Bellas, who has watched water’s rise in the industry since the 1980s.
Sales of water in standard lightweight plastic bottles grew at a rate of more than 20 percent every quarter from 1993 to 2005, he said. The growth has continued since, but now it has settled into percentages within the high single digits.
If the estimated drinking of water from the household tap is included, water consumption began exceeding that of soda in the mid-2000s.
That significant shift has posed a tough challenge for the Coca-Cola Company and rival PepsiCo in recent years. While both companies sell bottled water lines, Dasani for Coke and Aquafina for Pepsi, they have had trouble establishing dominance in the more profitable business of so-called enhanced waters — including flavored and carbonated waters and those with added vitamins and minerals — where a horde of new beverage companies like TalkingRain, Hint water and Fruit2O are giving them a run for the money.
“Given where pricing has gone, I would assume that on the average 24 pack of bottled water, Coke and Pepsi are selling at break-even at best,” said John Faucher, who tracks the beverage and household products businesses at JPMorgan Chase. “The one thing keeping them in plain, old bottled water is that both have a very large and highly profitable single-serve business in it.”
Plain bottled waters are little more than purified tap water with a sprinkle of minerals tossed in, which makes the business one of producing bottles and filling them.
Factors as varied as innovations in bottling technology that have helped drive down the price of water as well as continuing concern about obesity and related diseases are also driving the trend. A recent study by North Dakota State University, for instance, used dietary intake data collected by the federal government to draw correlations between decreased consumption of soda from 1999 through 2010 and improvements in the biomarkers that indicated cholesterol and other chronic diseases.
A study by Coca-Cola asserted that the government’s data, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, was flawed, but that had not stopped public health officials from encouraging greater consumption of beverages with less sugar.
Last month, Michelle Obama heavily endorsed water, teaming up with Coke, Pepsi and Nestlé Waters, among others, to persuade Americans to drink more of it. Health advocates complained that Mrs. Obama had capitulated to corporate partners by not explaining the benefits of water over the sodas they sell and that her initiative promoted even greater use of plastic bottles when she could have just recommended turning on the tap.
Bottled water has also grown cheaper, adding to its attraction. Cases of 24 half-liter bottles of store-brand water can be had for $2, or about 8 cents a bottle, and some grocery store chains even are using waters as loss leaders to attract customers, teeing up shopping carts with a case already on board.
Companies like Niagara Water, a privately held company that is the largest private-label water bottler in the country, have a fully integrated, highly automated production system that starts with plastic pellets that are made into bottles and goes all the way through to filling the bottles, making caps and screwing them on.
This poses a problem for the big beverage companies selling branded waters. “Coke and Pepsi can compete in convenience stores where water is being sold one bottle at a time, but they can’t make money on selling cases at $1.99 apiece,” said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest.
In a conference call with analysts last week, PepsiCo’s chief financial officer, Hugh F. Johnston, said that the company had no plans to invest in increasing its bottled water offerings. “We don’t think it creates value over time,” Mr. Johnston said.
Some of the things that have made Pepsi and Coke formidable competitors in the soda business work against them in water. The companies, for instance, stock grocery store shelves directly off their trucks. That gives them more extensive and timely information about how their products are doing and greater control over marketing, but it also is much more expensive than the distribution system used by companies like Niagara and Nestlé Waters, which has a private label business in addition to marketing brands like Poland Spring and Ozarka.
Those companies let retailers handle stocking, shipping pallets of their waters to warehouses.
Coke sold 5.8 billion liters of waters abroad and 253 million liters in the United States and Canada from 2007 to 2012. Pepsi’s water sales in North America actually declined by 636 million liters over that period, but it still sold 4.7 billion liters overseas, according to Euromonitor.
Both companies’ soda sales fell in North America over that time but grew internationally. Volume sales of soda, however, may be deceptive. “The volume growth is there, but when we’re talking about international markets like China, India and Latin America — prices are lower,” said Jonas Feliciano, an industry analyst at Euromonitor.
The TalkingRain Beverage Company, a bottled water business that started in the Pacific Northwest, is getting out of the plain water business altogether because the economics are so bad. “The water business has become very commoditized,” said Kevin Klock, its chief executive. “Folks in that business have to produce high quantities at fast speed in very light bottles, and it requires a huge investment to be in that game.”
TalkingRain makes Sparkling ICE, a bubbly water that comes in flavors like kiwi strawberry and blackberry with no calories and “vitamins and antioxidants.” The brand had developed strong consumer loyalty in the company’s back yard, consistently generating about $10 million in sales a year when Mr. Klock decided to bet big on it after taking the helm in 2010.
Last year, TalkingRain sold $200 million worth of Sparkling ICE, and sales this year are on track to exceed $400 million, Mr. Klock said. “There’s a large market out there that wants something sparkling, something flavored, something without a controversial sweetener, and we hit that market,” he said.
Now Pepsi and Coke are scrambling to dip their toes into it, too. They are fighting back with investments in flavored and enhanced waters and, in Coke’s case, packaging. Dasani, Coke’s primary water business, comes in the company’s PlantBottle, at least 30 percent of which is made from plant materials.
“First, consumers who purchase Dasani are looking for a high quality product that delivers a high quality taste time and time again,” said Geoff Henry, brand director of Dasani. “Beyond what the brand stands for, we are looking to lead in packaging and sustainability because those things also matter to our consumers.”
On Thursday, Coke introduced its first sparkling Dasani drinks in four flavors, and Pepsi is expected to take the wraps off a premium bottled water product called OM this year, according to Beverage Digest.
Coca-Cola has also been successful with Smartwater, which was part of its $4.1 billion purchase of Glaceau, the maker of Vitaminwater. Smartwater is little more than distilled water with added electrolytes, but volume sales were up by 16.2 percent in the first half of this year, according to Beverage Digest.
Dasani also has introduced Dasani Drops, with flavors like cherry pomegranate and pink lemonade, which consumers add to the drink to fit their taste, a quality especially prized by millennials.
A bumper crop of flavor drops has been coming onto the market ever since Kraft introduced Mio in 2011. SweetLeaf and Stur, for instance, are Stevia-based sweeteners for water that impart flavor. Pepsi recently began selling Aquafina FlavorSplash drops.
Sales of most branded enhanced water, however, were down in the first half of 2013, and whether giving consumers the option to flavor plain water will change that equation remains to be seen. Vitaminwater’s volume sales slid 17.3 percent, for instance, while SoBe Lifewater, a line of flavored waters owned by PepsiCo, dropped 30.3 percent, according to Beverage Digest.
On the other hand, Nestlé and bottlers like Niagara, which carry lower prices, saw sharp increases in volume sales of their enhanced waters.
“Is it a great idea? Not necessarily,” Mr. Faucher said of the big companies’ push into enhanced waters. “Do they have much of a choice? Not necessarily. People want variety and so Coke and Pepsi are going where the opportunity is. There aren’t a lot of other options.”
Source: New York Times.
World Water News
First, the good news: Disney Cruise improved its ocean pollution record and the Malibu Sharks remain undefeated in boys water polo. The bad news: Cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of raw sewage into the oceans last year, Gaza is starving for drinking water, algae may cause Lou Gehrig’s disease, there were many unreported oil spills in ND while in MD the water keeps rising, there are new allegations of pollution at Love Canal, industrial dumping plagues parts of Africa, Asian carp are taking over US waters, Lake Pontchartrain is being dumped on, a water terrorist was arrested in MO, and more.
Gaza drinking water dilemma is critical. 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza currently live without clean drinking water. Not fit for human consumption, their water is causing chronic health problems and contributing to high rates of child mortality.
Another reason to control runoff to lakes. Researchers suspect that blue green algae may be the cause of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
North Dakota recorded 300 oil spills in two years without notifying the public. North Dakota, the nation’s No2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public.
Acidification of oceans threatens to change entire marine ecosystem. Ocean acidification due to excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is threatening to produce large-scale changes to the marine ecosystem affecting all levels of the food chain, a University of British Columbia marine biologist warned Friday.
Protected areas in the ocean now exceed size of Europe. Nearly three percent of the world’s oceans – an area slightly larger than Europe – now lies within designated marine protected areas, according to new data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, many of the new protected zones may be of little value in terms of conservation.
Maryland town beats back a rising Chesapeake Bay. The first emergency call to the Crisfield Fire Department came before noon Monday, Oct. 29, a year ago: The mail truck was reported floating past the Church of God.
Arctic temperatures highest in at least 44,000 years. Plenty of studies have shown that the Arctic is warming and that the ice caps are melting, but how does it compare to the past, and how serious is it?
Water fluoridation issue resurfaces, this time in St. Peters. A decades-old nationwide debate over fluoridating drinking water to prevent tooth decay has resurfaced in St. Peters. A city advisory committee on health and wellness is considering recommending that St. Peters stop adding fluoride to water produced by the city’s wells.
Climate-change disconnect is baffling. We are currently experiencing a slow-motion catastrophe. The dye is cast. We have emitted enough carbon into the atmosphere to guarantee climate change and rising sea levels. Some of our most precious real estate, our commercial capital and destination beaches, are doomed.
Love hurts. On the 35th anniversary of America’s most notorious environmental disaster, there are new allegations of pollution at Love Canal.
Dumping damns Philippi wetland in South Africa. Construction and demolition companies have been dumping rubble in South Africa’s Philippi wetland for several years. The biggest, Ross Demolition, is being charged by the National Prosecuting Authority with contravening national environmental and water legislation for dumping there.
The fish that didn’t get away. In the 1960s, scientists in China artificially spawned Asian carp. Now the fish poses a threat to the US fish ecosystem as well as commercial fishing and recreational water activities.
Missouri man charged in water threat. A 69-year-old man was charged this month with trying to extort $10,000 from the FBI in exchange for averting what a federal prosecutor called an “imaginary plot” to contaminate public water supplies in four Kansas and Missouri cities.
Sewer problems persist in New Orleans suburb. Lake Pontchartrain water quality specialists are working with the state Department of Health and Hospitals and Department of Environmental Quality to identify homeowners and businesses whose sewage treatment systems are polluting rivers and creeks in Hammond and other parts of Tangipahoa Parish.
Disney gets top grade on cruise ship pollution report. For the first time, Friends of the Earth has awarded an A grade to a cruise line for three key environmental practices. Now for the bad news: Cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of raw sewage into the oceans last year, says the environmental group in issuing its fourth Cruise Ship Report Card in five years.
Malibu boys water polo team remains undefeated. Jack Thompson made nine saves and the Malibu Sharks held Oaks Christian scoreless for a period of nearly 13 minutes covering the end of the first quarter until the 1:46 mark in the third on their way to a 12-5 victory.
How Much Does A Reverse Osmosis Tank Hold?
We once had a call from a local customer who complained that her reverse osmosis storage tank took up too much space under the sink but didn’t hold enough water. We promised to look for a tank that was larger on the inside than on the outside, but we still haven’t found it.
The only thing certain about RO (reverse osmosis) storage tanks is that they never hold as much as the stated size. RO tanks contain a thick butyl bladder as well as a pocket of air. The actual holding capacity of the tank — the amount of water that you actually have to use when you empty a full tank — depends on many variables.
- The pressure of the air charge inside the tank.
- The pressure of your feed water going into the unit.
- The shutoff pressure of your RO unit. — Most standard RO units stop filling the tank when tank pressure reaches about 2/3 of the incoming feed pressure. Tanks used with very large reverse osmosis units are usually controlled by a pressure switch like the switches used on wells. Typically, the latter would be shut off when the pressure inside the tank reaches 50 psi or so.
Therefore, the tank on your undersink unit holds more water if you have a permeate pump or a booster pump on the unit, or if you decrease the air pressure inside the tank. It holds less if you put too much air in the storage tank or when your household water pressure goes down while your lawn sprinkler is on. The amount it holds can vary according to the season. If you have a well, the amount of water in the tank of your undersink Ro unit can vary considerably depending on the pressure in your well tank when the RO tank is being filled.
So there really isn’t an exact answer to the question, “How much does the tank hold?”
Here’s one manufacturer’s estimate of what you might expect in terms of real water delivery from each state tank size. These are averages, not promises.
Assumed Capacity, on Average
2 gallon tank
3 gallon tank
4 gallon white tank
4 gallon blue tank
11 gallon tank
14 gallon tank
*(Not really. After extensive testing we’ve concluded that blue and white tanks hold approximately the same.)
In our opinion, even these estimates are a bit high for most customers. Our rule of thumb is to assume about half the manufacturer’s stated size. If you need two gallons, get a four gallon tank.
Another point to consider is that you usually don’t need as much water as you think you will at one time. If you draw a gallon from your “four gallon”; tank, the RO unit begins at once to replace it.
Also, if you need more than the standard tank holds, it’s usually easier and more economical to add a second small tank rather than replace the original tank with a larger one. Hooking two tanks together is easy.
You can add storage capacity to your RO unit by simply teeing two standard tanks together. They don’t have to be the same size.
For really large RO tanks, in the twenty gallon and upward range, please contact us for more information at (940) 382-3814.
We don’t guarantee capacity. There are just too many things that affect capacity that are beyond our control.
This article is reprinted from purewaterproducts.com.
Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.
Thank you for reading. Please come back next week.
Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime
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
The Pure Water Gazette – now in an easier to navigate format.