The Pure Water Occasional for October 6, 2014
In this classy early October Occasional you’ll hear about BPA, butyl, Banamichi, polypropylene, Porterville, and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine Monument. Find out about the water-energy nexus, the world sand shortage, the “final barrier,” and the tragic demise of the Aral sea. Hear about cod fishing in Newfoundland, E. coli on Mercer Island, TCE in New Jersey, and fluoride/arsenic poisoning in India. Then learn how much water is needed to grow avocados, peaches, and lettuce, how much electricity is used per capita in Haiti and Iceland, how to measure water on Mars, and who leads the world in per capita water consumption. Read Bee Sharper’s startling numerical revelations, Pure Water Annie’s crystal clear explanation of the final barrier concept, 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.)
The Water-Energy Nexus
Click image for larger view.
Editor’s Note: This piece is adapted from CleanTechnica.com. Go to the source for a more complete version and additional references. –Hardly Waite.
Did you know that it takes 3,000-6,300 gallons of water per year to power just one 60W incandescent light bulb? Now, I know that that must sound a little farfetched, but unfortunately it’s true. But how can this be, don’t light bulbs use electricity? In short, yes, but what most people don’t know is that we use large amounts of water to produce electricity. You see, electricity and water are connected through what is known as the energy-water nexus, and while that phrase may not mean anything to you at the moment, it will by the end of this article. So what exactly is the energy-water nexus, and why should you care?
The water-energy nexus is best understood as a connection between water and energy, however it goes much deeper than that. First, let’s look at the connection between the production of energy and water. The three most common ways we produce power today are coal, natural gas and nuclear power and all three of these require the use of water. Essentially these systems heat fresh water and turn it into steam, and that steam spins a turbine which creates energy. Curious just how much water these systems use? Click on the image below to see just how much water each of these systems needs to produce just 1 kWh of energy:
As you can see, supplying power to our homes requires a ton of water, but what about supplying them with water? Well, in short, it requires a ton of energy. You see, before water reaches your home it’s passed through a water treatment plant which ensures that it’s safe to drink and use in your home. After its been treated a series of electrical pumps will bring the water to your home where it will be used and then pumped back to another waste water treatment facility to be re-treated and sent back out. All the while, using energy which requires water to create it. So what does this mean to you as both an energy and water consumer? Take a look at your latest water bill, odds are you’ll find an electrical charge listed under your current charges. This is to cover the cost of the electricity required to pump the water to your home.
As you can see water and energy a far more than just connected, and by conserving one we can directly conserve the other.
The Aral Sea’s Disappearing Act
by Anna Nemptsova
Satellite photos show how the depredations of dictators have turned the world’s fourth largest inland sea into a poisonous desert.
The vanishing sea is a warning: a harbinger of the long feared war over water in Central Asia.
If the pictures are new, the news of the Aral Sea shrinking is old. The story goes back to a Soviet desire to create a new breadbasket, far from southern Russia and Ukraine and possible Western invasion, where, indeed, war rages today.
The giant irrigation projects began in the 1960s in the dry lands of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. To irrigate cotton fields in Central Asia, Soviet workers built 45 dams diverting the twin rivers of Central Asia’s “little Mesopotamia,” the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, into the so-called “virgin lands.” By the late 1990s the sea level dropped by 16 meters, leaving fishing boats and ships resting on the sandy and salty bottom.
As a result, disaster struck dozens of villages and small towns. In vain, fishermen waited for the sea to come back: there were no fish, there was no money for their families. The wind blew dry, salty air from the former seabed far to the south and east. The air mixed with fertilizers and pesticides that for decades were washed from the fields into the sea by irrigation water. The noxious winds poisoned the local population.
The final chapter began in 2005, when the World Bank gave Kazakhstan the first $68 million credit to build a 13-kilometer-long dam to split the Aral Sea into halves: the Northern Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and the Southern Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. The dam prevented water from Kazakhstan’s Syr Darya from flowing into Uzbekistan’s half of the sea.
By 2008, Kazakhstan had managed to completely take control over the Syr Darya water, reviving 68 percent of the northern sea, reducing the salinity by half, and once again developing the fishing industry.
On the southern, Uzbek side, however, the sea dried up that much faster. Uzbekistan, largely dependent on cotton, the industry of white gold, could not afford to re-channel water to its half. Also, with the water vanishing, the Russian oil company Lukoil found a silver lining in the disaster, setting out in 2006 to explore for oil and gas on the bottom of the Aral Sea in the Uzbek sector.
In the last couple of years, neighboring Central Asian countries have had tense disputes about their water, which is so vital to their prosperity.
The construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Kyrgyzstan, which has border skirmishes from time to time with Uzbekistan, threatened the future independence of cotton farmers there. Each year their fields need at least 53 billion cubic meters of water for irrigation. Once, in 2013, Kyrgyzstan halted water for its reservoirs, and at least 11 regions of Uzbekistan suffered shortages.
In the past decade both Russian and Western ecologists expressed concerns about the worsening environment for millions of local people exposed to the salty wind. But that is not the only risk posed by the ghost of this vanishing sea.
An abandoned Soviet military base sits on Renaissance, or Vozrozhdenie, island, and was a test site for the Soviet biological weapons program. Rumors persist that the weapons were buried there. Where better to test cultures of anthrax, typhoid, plague and tularemia than on an island in a sea in the middle of the desert? No longer on an island, the site is now left exposed to anybody willing to walk across the drying sands.
Article Source: The Daily Beast
Water News for the Week Ending October 6, 2014
America’s newest national park is twice the size of Texas. The announcement came in September that 470,000 square miles of ocean around a couple of remote Pacific islands will be formally set aside as a national marine monument — aptly named the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument.
Four new substances added to list of carcinogens. Four new substances have been added to a list of chemicals that may cause cancer compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
With dry taps and toilets, California drought turns desperate. Now in its third year, the state’s record-breaking drought is being felt in many ways. But nowhere is the situation as dire as in East Porterville, a small rural community in Tulare County. Residents cannot flush a toilet, fill a drinking glass or even rinse their hands without reaching for a bottle of water.
It takes HOW much water to grow an avocado?! We’ve heard a lot about how the boom in almond and other nut production is straining California’s dwindling water supplies amid the state’s worst-ever drought. But what about the avocado, another trendy commodity that grows on trees and delivers all-the-rage healthy fats?
U.S. Creates Largest Protected Area in the World, 3X Larger Than California. This is a beautiful National Geographic presentation of the new National Marine Monument.
Water contaminant linked to children’s IQs. Babies born to mothers with high levels of perchlorate during their first trimester are more likely to have lower IQs later in life, according to a new study.
Two million people in one Indian province face threat from fluoride, arsenic. The State is facing a grave water quality problem, which is threatening the future of a large section of its upcoming generations. It has been found that 19 districts of the State have areas affected by arsenic and nine districts have high fluoride in many pockets, including greater Guwahati.
In some places, one in every three persons is affected by non-curable fluorosis. And this is creating a deep social desolation begetting the burden of the State’s society. Children get affected more from these problems as arsenic, fluoride, lead are neurotoxins for them and now even some babies are born with fluorosis, the experts said.
Spill threatens life on Mexican river. Everything in Banámichi, Mexico, comes from the river. Lydia Díaz had a good life here. The river provided her family’s cows with water to drink and grass to eat, offering her four teenage children their fill of milk every day — a whole liter at a time if they wanted that much. But all of that is gone, because of a spill from a copper mine.
Judge says no to Detroit water shutoff moratorium. Advocates pledged to keep fighting against water shutoffs in Detroit despite a federal judge’s ruling Monday that he lacked authority to issue a restraining order against ending service to delinquent water customers.
How a fishery that was once ‘a marvel of the world’ died. The demise of Newfoundland’s cod bears a message that should be included in the debate over climate change. Years of indiscriminate overfishing by packs of factory ships from a half-dozen nations pushed cod populations to the brink, leaving them too vulnerable to withstand sudden, quirky shocks to their environment.
South Texas drilling country saying no to waste. Paul Baumann and his neighbors are fighting to keep out of their town a 143-acre oil and gas waste plant that would except truckloads of waste from the surrounding Eagle Ford Shale and hold millions of gallons of toxic sludge from drilling and fracking.
The Aral Sea, almost dry. It was once the fourth largest lake in the world, but what used to be an expanse of water in the basin of the Kyzylkum Desert now lies almost completely dry. See the NASA photos in this excellent article from The Independent.
‘Sand Is Like Oil, It Is Finite’
The sand thieves: World’s beaches become victims of construction boom. Sand is becoming so scarce that stealing it has become an attractive business model. With residential towers rising ever higher and development continuing apace in Asia and Africa, demand for the finite resource is insatiable.
Never before has Earth been graced with the prosperity we are seeing today, with countries like China, India and Brazil booming. But that also means that demand for sand has never been so great. It is used in the production of computer chips, plates and mobile phones. More than anything, though, it is used to make cement. You can find it in the skyscrapers in Shanghai, the artificial islands of Dubai and in Germany’s autobahns.
Mercer Island baffled as E. coli is found again in water supply. For the second time in less than a week, restaurants on Mercer Island were closed Thursday and the city’s 23,000 residents were warned to boil their tap water because of bacterial contamination. Since the water is chlorinated, it’s hard to understand how E. coli, which is extremely sensitive to the chemical, has been able to survive.
Chemical contaminants found in Clifton, New Jersey, soil, water. Chemical contaminants infiltrated soil as well as groundwater beneath a bankrupt Clifton metal-finishing facility and settled under the homes in a neighboring downtown community, revealed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Extremely high levels” of trichloroethene (TCE) have been found.
Septic systems, fertilizers among targets in Sudbury’s source water protection plan. After years of research and study, Sudbury has an official plan to better protect drinking water sources. The need for a plan stems from the Walkerton, Ontario, tragedy in 2000 where seven people died and thousands got sick after drinking municipal water contaminated with a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria that leached into a town well from a nearby farm.
Are humans causing the drought? In a controversial study, Stanford University scientists on Monday linked California’s historic drought with atmospheric conditions caused by human-induced climate change.
Water Polo Results from the Jesuit Tournament
The Lodi Flames went 1-1 on the first day of the Jesuit Tournament on Friday. The Flames beat Bella Vista 10-7. Jack Gillespie netted five goals and George Bria, Hayden Lewis and Brosnan Elrod each had two. Ryan Culver had four blocks in the cage and Adam Tayor added two.
Other water polo results: 7-5, 4-2, 6-1, 6-3.
The drought goes on in California, and Porterville, which we featured in an earlier issue, is still without water.
PORTERVILLE, Calif. — After a nine-hour day working at a citrus packing plant, her body covered in a sheen of fruit wax and dust, there is nothing Angelica Gallegos wants more than a hot shower, with steam to help clear her throat and lungs.
“I can just picture it, that feeling of finally being clean — really refreshed and clean,” Ms. Gallegos, 37, said one recent evening. But she has not had running water for more than five months — nor is there any tap water in her near future — because of a punishing and relentless drought in California. In the Gallegos household and more than 500 others in Tulare County, residents cannot flush a toilet, fill a drinking glass, wash dishes or clothes, or even rinse their hands without reaching for a bottle or bucket.
Unlike the Okies who came here fleeing the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the people now living on this parched land are stuck. “We don’t have the money to move, and who would buy this house without water?” said Ms. Gallegos, who grew up in the area and shares a tidy mobile home with her husband and two daughters. “When you wake up in the middle of the night sick to your stomach, you have to think about where the water bottle is before you can use the toilet.” Read the rest in the New York Times.
Gazette Numerical Wizard Bea Sharper brings you up to date on the current water news in numbers.
Number of people worldwide who now lack access to improved sanitation facilities — 2.5 billion.
According to the World Bank, the total percentage of diseases in the developing world that are caused by drinking unsafe water — 88%.
Number of people in southern Africa who lack access to basic latrines — 174,000,000.
Children who die annually in southern Africa from diarrhea caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation — 120,000.
Rank of the US in per capita water use worldwide — 6.
Rank of Australia — 19.
Rank of Turkmenistan — 1.
Percentage of Turkmenistan’s land that has become desert since the 1960s– 70%.
Factor by which a citizen of Turkmenistan uses more water than a US citizen — 4.
Factor by which a citizen of Turkmenistan uses more water than a Chinese citizen — 13.
Rank of agriculture among the reasons why Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries are the world’s top per capita water consumers — #1.
Amount of water required to produce the energy to power a single 60W incandescent light bulb — 3,000 to 6,300 gallons.
Percentage of total US fresh water that is required to cool thermo electric power generation — 39%.
Per capita monthly k Wh usage of Haiti — 2.
Per capita monthly k Wh usage of Iceland — 4, 172.
Percentage of the water treated by municipalities that is actually consumed by people — 1%.
Percentage that is “working water” (water for toilets, lawns, laundry, etc.) — 99%.
Gallons of irrigation water needed to grow one pound of avocados in the United States — 74.1.
To grow one pound of peaches — 42.1.
To grow one pound of lettuce — 5.5.
US per capita avocado production in 1999 — 1.1 lbs.
US per capita avocado production in 2011 — 4.5 lbs.
Percentage of avocado’s consumed in the United States that are imported — 70%.
Should you worry about BPA in reverse osmosis tanks?
Because of the widely publicized presence of BPA in some plastic products, the public has developed a general suspicion of all plastics as a source BPA. Actually, the plastic products that contain BPA are mainly the hard, shatter-resistant, usually clear water bottles as well as baby bottles and a few other plastic containers. You normally will not find BPA in plastics like polypropylene and polyethylene. BPA is not one of the materials used in preparing these plastics.
If a product is NSF certified (certified to ANSI/NSF standard 58), the certifying agency has scanned the product for BPA. If the product contains BPA, it will fail the extraction test and not be certified.
The materials in high quality RO tanks that touch the water are stainless steel (the spout only), polypropylene (the liner in the chamber that holds the water), and butyl (the bladder that holds air and pushes the water out of the tank). The butyl (aka chlorobutyl) bladder material in high quality tanks is specially cured so that it will not put out bad tastes or contaminants.
There are lots of things that contaminate food and water that we should worry about, but reverse osmosis tanks aren’t one of them.
Final Barrier: A Concept that Makes Sense
by Pure Water Annie
Pure Water Gazette technical writer Pure Water Annie explains the concept of “final barrier.”
The Water Quality Association of America uses the term “final barrier” to describe the practice of doing water treatment at the point where water is actually used. In the case of drinking water, this means providing a “final barrier” of defense at the point where the water is consumed–the kitchen sink, in most homes–rather than attempting to prepare perfect drinking water at a distant water treatment and send it through miles of piping to the point of use.
Only about 1% of the water that leaves the water treatment plant is actually consumed by people; the other 99% is classed as “working water” that waters lawns, washes automobiles, flushes toilets and performs dozens of other tasks that require good quality but not perfect water.
According to the WQA, ” treating 100% of the water in a municipal system to ‘drinking water quality’ and then wasting 99% of that quality through leakage, flushing toilets, watering lawns, fighting fires, is an unsustainable strategy for the future .”
Municipal water departments in advanced countries do an incredible job of turning millions of gallons per day of water from lakes, rivers, and wells into aesthetically acceptable and microbiologically safe water, But to get to the end user, the treated water has to pass through miles of often ancient and always questionable infrastructure where it is subject to ruptured pipes, accidental backflow contamination, corroding metal, and contaminants that are leached from the pipes themselves.
The practical solution is to threat the water immediately before human consumption with a “final barrier” device.
Final barrier devices are by now familiar objects. The most common and reliable are reverse osmosis units, ion exchange devices, carbon filters, and, to an increasing extent, small ultraviolet purifiers.
A high quality undersink filter or reverse osmosis unit can turn tap water into exceptionally high quality drinking water.
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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