07 January 2014

This Week in Water

Happy New Year, all! Lots to report, so let's get down to it:

What were the most compelling water stories of 2013? Well, you could click on my "This Week in Water" label below this post or over on the right side of the page and read through my posts and make your own judgment, or you could go over to H2Oscore.blog here and get their take. Their list of five is as follows: (1) the launch of the ObsSys Recycling Shower, (2) The world's first zero-emission desalination plant in Perth, AUS, (3) the discovery of water on Mars(!!), (4) the increase of fracking in the U.S. and its impact on clean water sources, and (5) the on-going, record-setting drought in California (Texas, too).

Here's a story that might make the 2014 list: Australian scientists have discovered the existence of vast freshwater reserves trapped beneath the ocean floor which could provide sufficient potable water for future generations. “The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” said the lead researcher. (Link to Nature article abstract.). The problem, obviously, is how to extract it without contaminating it with inflows of seawater.

Speaking of deep water, the dramatic temperature differences between water below 3000 feet and surface water can be harnessed to create a nearly unlimited supply of energy. Said one NOAA scientist: "The oceans are the biggest solar collector on Earth, and there's enough energy in them to supply a thousand times the world's needs. If you want to depend on nature, the oceans are the only energy source big enough to tap." [This is a great article over at Wired magazine. A highly recommended read.]

Modelling suggests water scarcity could be intensified by 40% worldwide as a result of climate change. This is in addition to the spread of scarcity resulting from population growth.

Here's an article examining the current state and possible future of our global water supply. One word: scarcity.

Water scarcity does not necessarily have to lead to strife. In fact, it could unite us in our common humanity. A new diplomatic agreement between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestine Authority could show the way.

These 10 U.S. cities face acute freshwater shortages and may deplete their aquifers: El Paso, San Jose, Miami, Lincoln, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta.

California snowpack levels are at potentially drastically low levels for this time of year. Though Colorado appears to be ahead of schedule.

The capture and recycling of rainwater, one of the purest sources of fresh water, can aid in a sustainable future.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart have developed microengines that actively degrade organic pollutants in water.

Scientists have discovered a cobalt oxide nanoparticle photocatalyst that can quickly split water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms using natural sunlight.

Inexpensive, locally sourced clay pot filtration systems are helping to provide reliable, sustainable, safe drinking water to thousands of rural, impoverished people.

Draff, the residue of barley husks used in brewing whisky, can act as a cleansing agent for removing arsenic from groundwater.

The beginning of the sand wars: Coastal communities in New England are squabbling over the scarce resource needed to rebuild eroding coastlines.

Here's a cool map of what the U.S. might look like if its states' boundaries had been drawn along its watershed lines instead of railroad corporation-inspired political lines.

United States of Aquifer-ica


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The Future of our Water Supply

...bought up by Goldman, Sachs and the like.

Frances Madeson said...

Jim, Re the devastating spill in West Virginia that happened post your post, I read this in the Christian Science Monitor: "The West Virginia chemical spill occurred when a compound called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from a hole in the bottom of a storage tank, Thomas Aluise, a WVAW spokesman told the New York Times. The liquid then filled a container designed to contain leaks before flowing into the Elk River, about a mile north of a water treatment plant."

So they realize leaks can occur, they plan for it, and then what...? There's no alarm or monitoring system in the overfill tank, so that when it fills up it just pours whatever foulness into the river?

Do you happen to know if this vulnerability exist in other places where coal is processed?

And FYI, also post your post, we had these bulletins locally:






Randal Graves said...

Invaders to Mars!