19 January 2014

This Week in Water

The major domestic water news this week centered on the Elk River upstream of the city of Charleston in the U.S. state of West Virginia and the chemical company Freedom Industries, Inc., P.O. Box 713, Charleston, WV 25323 - Phone (304) 720-8065 - FAX (304) 343-0028. On January 9, 2014, up to 7500 U.S. gallons (28,000 litres) of crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), a chemical used in cleaning coal, was released into the Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, which itself flows into the Ohio River. Nine counties containing some 300,000 people (approx. one-quarter of the population of the state) were instructed not to use their public utility's water system, except for toilet flushing, because the chemical had penetrated the area's uptake systems. The chemical spill, it is widely believed, originated from one of 14 storage tanks in Freedom Industries's facility. Neither the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection nor the federal EPA had inspected the facility and its tanks since 1991. The 'do not use' advisory was lifted 5 days after the spill. The effects of the chemical, MCHM, on human health and aquatic systems is not well known. On January 17, as the bolus of potentially harmful chemical made its way downstream to larger population centers such as Cincinnati and Louisville, Freedom Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Generally speaking, state regulation of the coal industry and its subsidiary industries in West Virginia is next to non-existant. Such spills occur there with some frequency, though the Elk River spill is the most high-profile.

In other spillage news, Fukushima continues to look like nothing other than a slow motion nuclear meltdown into the Pacific Ocean.

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency in the state of California. Rain- and snow-fall levels are at near all-time lows and reservoir levels are dangerously low.

China's wetlands have shrunk by nearly 9% since 2003, aggravating an already stressed water scarcity situation.

Necessity being the mother, etc., etc., 60 M-100 Chlorine Generators are being used by WaterStep, a Kentucky-based aid organization, in the Philippines to help filter water for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. A single football-sized device can produce up to 10,000 gallons of potable water per day.

In case you missed it before, here's the site for Sweden's Orbital Systems's Shower Concept which cleans and recycles shower water. The company claims you can save over $1000 per year on your water bill, using only 1.5 gallons of water for a 10-minute shower.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

People don't like no gubmint regulamentation here in W.V., no how.

Course, the no water thing is a bummer. Maybe they'll learn something?

Jim H. said...

Hope you're not growing a third ear on your forehead or something! Let us know. Maybe post a selfie.