Tag Archives: california

Is Desalinaton in our Future?

“The Carlsbad Desalination Project will provide San Diego county with a locally-controlled, drought-proof supply of high-quality water that meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards.”

The quote above comes directly from carlsbaddesal.com,the website for Carlsbad’s new desalinating water plant. The process of desalination includes removing salt and unhealthy minerals from saline water. When discussing the current drought in California, there is often talk of desalination and its potential to increase our freshwater supply. Removing salt and minerals from saline water seems like an obvious solution to the drought and ongoing water scarcity concerns because it is a reliable water source.

Fourteen new desalination plants have been in the works to produce more drinkable water along the California coast. For many, this may seem like an answer to the “exceptional drought”. As consumers, it may also seem like a way to help us avoid making lifestyle changes, such as Governor Jerry Brown’s call for Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. But while desalination may be a reliable option, the answer is much more complicated.

One of the greatest issues with desalination is the cost associated with these projects. A new plant may cost upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars to build (a billion in the case of the Carlsbad facility), plus considerable cost to run the plant.

Beyond the costs to build these facilities, operational costs are substantial and raise concerns over the energy requirements and their impacts. Energy costs make up around a third of total operating costs for a typical desalination plant. In California, there is concern about vulnerability to short-term and long-term energy price increases. During a drought, energy prices tend to increase due to the reduced ability to generate hydropower and the need to replace that hydropower with more expensive energy sources. These costs are often overlooked and not always factored into the total project cost. Long term, energy prices are not static and may increase due to the rising costs of developing renewable alternatives and building and maintaining new and existing infrastructure.

With these high capital and operational costs also comes a higher cost of its product, water. Desalinated water can cost upwards of $1,900 per acre foot, considerably more than other alternatives such as water conservation and efficiency, stormwater capture, and recycled water.

Aside from the costs, there are other potential externalities associated with desalination facilities, including environmental impacts. Seawater intake systems that draw ocean water in through screened pipes impinge marine organisms on the intakes. Smaller organisms able to pass through, such as eggs, larvae, and plankton, are entrained into the plant and killed during the desalination process. Produced water disposal can also have a substantial threat to marine life. The salt is concentrated into a brine that is usually pumped back out to sea for disposal after going through the desalination process. These point sources increase salinity levels and may affect local sea life, depending on the plant’s location and sea currents.

The idea of building seawater desalination plants during a drought is not a new one. In 1991, a desalination plant in Santa Barbara was constructed in response to the 1987-1992 drought. Once the plant was completed, abundant rainfall rendered the plant cost-inefficient, and it shut down in 1992. Currently, costs to restart the plant are being assessed as the technology and infrastructure are dated and would incur new capital investment. Likewise, six seawater desalination plants were built in Australia in response to the Millennium Drought. Today, four out of the six plants are left idle due to the availability of cheaper alternatives. These examples should serve as cautionary tales.

The good news is that we still have cost-effective options readily available. A study by the Pacific Institute and NRDC shows how California’s drought can be managed with better allocation and management of water resources. By implementing water-saving practices, water reuse, and stormwater capture, California can save 5.2 to 7.1 million acre-feet of water each year in our urban areas – equivalent to the output of 125 large desalination plants!

Sustainable water management is best served by creating a comprehensive water management strategy in California, one that captures the most cost-effective options first. California has the ability to bridge the gap between water demand and supply by taking advantage of the existing resources and practices that have yet to be fully and efficiently harnessed.

El Nino is Coming

Wondering if El Nino is really coming for all of us in California? Well look no further, because the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center has answered your questions.

To sum their Aug 13th report up, “There is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 85% chance it will last into early spring 2016.”

How can scientists tell that this is really happening? Atmospheric and oceanic conditions have been portraying El Nino features. Some of these features include increases in sea temperatures, specific movement of Kelvin waves, and exact positions of wind movement. These features emulate those of a former El Nino; the 1997 El Nino ocean temperatures were just as high as those today, and scientists say today’s El Nino may even top that of 1997.

El Nino

So get out your rain jackets, boots, and skis, and prepare for the 2015/2016 El Nino that could help you to have the best shred yet.

Image:

climatecentral.org

Is it better to go cold or hot?

tea

Have you ever wondered what kind of water is best for your body during a meal? We order hot tea when we’re sick but ice cold water after a long day at the beach. Which is best for your overall health? Sorry to upset those ice cold water lovers, but drinking cold water can be harmful, especially if you eat unhealthy. Cold water solidifies oils in your body that you consume after eating and slows digestion. Once the solidified particles react with acids that break down your food, they are absorbed by the intestine faster than solid food. The result is a film that lines the intestine and create fatty deposits that can lead to cancer.

What’s worse, the more oily foods you eat, the more rapidly this process occurs in your body. Eating unhealthily and drinking cold water every time you consume food can lead to other grave health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.

Since it takes energy for your body to cool down low temperature water, that means it takes calories to do so. If you drink warmer water with a meal, like hot soup or tea, all of these risks stated above will be less likely to occur. Take a moment to think about what you’re eating for dinner tonight and pair your meal with a nice green or herbal tea. Or pick a water-based soup like thai coconut or chicken noodle.

All of these steps reduce your risk for illness and diseases. To check out more about heart health, visit http://www.heart.org. To learn more about water, check out filtercon.com or call us at 800-550-1995.

Image:

az-teas.com

End of the Summer Water Safety

kid swimming

It’s the end of the summer, time to squeeze in the last couple of weeks at the beach, on the lake, or at the pool. Although these places are fun, it’s good to remember that water safety is important, especially for children. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of death in children 1 to 14 according to the CDC. So, to keep your family safe at the end of the summer, here are some tips to remember when you’re around water (from Chris McCuiston, co-founder and CEO of Goldfish Swim School in Michigan).

“1) Know that drowning is a “silent killer.” It occurs in a quiet blink, and drowning only takes seconds.

2) Designate a “water watcher” who will avoid cell phones, iPads, books, magazines and anything else that might distract the adult from watching swimming children EVERY SINGLE SECOND. After all, most children who drown are supervised. Have the grown ups take turns in 30 minutes increments. That way a person doesn’t get too tired or zoned out.

3) Enroll your kids in swim lessons, if possible as early as four months old, but if the infant years have passed, any age is fine. Swimming is an essential life-saving skill with numerous physical, mental and intellectual benefits.

4) Get swim lessons for yourself or any other caregiver who cannot swim or is afraid of water. Not only will your water fears rub off on your children, but by not knowing how to swim, you are eliminating a person with the ability to save a child’s life.

5) Invest in latches, fences and sensors if you own a pool. Again, drowning only takes a second.

6) Notify a supervisor if a lifeguard is distracted from doing his or her job. That means no chit-chatting, flirting or “quickly” checking texts. Also, say something if a lifeguard sits at a station more than 30 minutes. They need to rotate to stay alert. Doing these things eliminates complacency.

7) Take first-aid and CPR. Every second counts.

8) Realize that floaties, noodles and plastic inner tubes do NOT protect against drowning. They are created as water toys, not life-saving devices. Life jackets should be designated as U.S. Coast Guard-approved.

9) Stay humble around water. Over-confidence can lead to accidents.”

Have a fun, safe Labor Day weekend!
~Filtercon Technologies

Source:

Kristina Sauerwein. 9 Simple Steps to Prevent Your Child From Drowning. Baby Center Blog. http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/05202015-water-safety-child-drowning-summer/

Image:

brisbanekids.com.au

Climate Change, Sierra Nevadas’ Snowmelt, & the Drought

Lake Sierra Nevada Mnts.

In alpine areas such as the Sierra Nevadas, snow cover is vital to water supply. Mountainous areas like this one provide water for entire watersheds. When snow melts, there can be three different results that occur. The snow can drift off of the surface level of the soil, it can evaporate, or it can replenish groundwater. Groundwater recharge is important because it helps to get underground water levels back up to a healthy level.

Sierra nevada sign

Less snowfall in the Sierra Nevadas has created an effect on humans, wildlife, and the environment. “The lower than historically normal snowfall in recent years is one environmental factor that has contributed to the current drought in California,” says Ryan Webb, a Ph.D. student in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Colorado State University.

Sierra snow depth

^The map above depicts the amount of Sierra Nevada snow depth in inches^

Webb and a group of researchers recently studied the changes in soil wetting and drying in alpine regions packed with snow. The study became published work. It specifically examined groundwater levels and their ability to recharge in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Due to changing climate conditions that have caused extensive change in groundwater levels, in these regions soils do not freeze during the winter and remain wet beneath the snowpack.

Ultimately, Webb and his group’s study will help understand how climate change impacts groundwater supplies, which is a precious resource in drought-stricken areas of the country.

Source:

Melting Snow and Groundwater Levels in Sierra Nevadas. Science Daily. August 20th, 2015.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150820190321.htm

Images:

  1. fineartamerica.com
  2. europeinavan.com
  3. sierranevadaphotos.com

National Geographic’s 5 Ways to Save Yard Water

National Geographic recently posted a wise article on ways to replace your lawn with water-saving plants and other alternatives so that you don’t use as much water during this extreme Californian drought. Here is the list that they created to help you and your family save water in your home… ”

astroturf

  1. Astroturf– Made famous on sports fields, synthetic grass, or astroturf, is becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners, from California to Virginia. A lot of research has gone into the material in recent years, to make it softer underfoot and to reduce the temperature it achieves under intense sun.
  2. Groundcover– Instead of grass, a wide range of ground covers can be used to keep out weeds and reduce erosion, which would otherwise be a problem if people suddenly ripped out their grass. Alternatives include rocks and mulch, some of which can be locally sourced. Crushed shells are popular for properties near a beach. Sand also is an option, particularly for those going for a Zen garden look.
  3. Native plants– Many traditional nurseries offer plants that are native to a local area. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and require little or no watering to thrive, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. [They] also can provide habitat for local birds, mammals, and insects. They typically earn points for green certification systems like LEED or can help homeowners achieve a “wildlife friendly” designation from their state or a nonprofit.
  4. Drought-tolerant grasses & shrubs– In addition to native plants, homeowners also can choose from a wide range of drought-tolerant grasses and shrubs from around the world. Examples include lavender, sage, kangaroo paw, and tea tree.                                           cactusinfo
  5. Desert plants– People can exchange grass for such water-sippers as succulents and cactus. These plants are often widely available at nurseries, and they can be kept in pots and moved indoors during colder months in cooler climates. They can be used in large numbers or as accents.  “

To learn how to save water in your house as well as in your yard, visit Filtercon Technologies‘ website or call us at 800-550-1995.

Source:

5 Water-Saving Ways to Replace Lawns During California’s Drought. National Geographic. May 21, 2015.  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150521-turf-terminators-xeriscape-california-drought-tolerant-lawns-water-savings/

Images:

1) suggestkeyword.com

2) cactusinfo.net

L.A. is Now Using Shade Balls

shade balls

L.A. has come up with a new design to save water moving forward during California’s drought. The main reservoir in Los Angeles has been turned into a giant ball pit. How will this help exactly? Well, the “shade balls” that cover the reservoir are made from black polyethylene and coated with an ultraviolet light-resistant material. They are also filled with water so that they don’t get swept away by wind. The 4-inch balls are supposed to last for 25 years without degradation.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti helped to disperse some of the 96 million balls across the 175-acre reservoir as a sign that L.A. is working to save water during the drought. The reservoir, which is located in Sylmar, holds about 3.3 billion gallons, which would supply the city with drinking water for up to three weeks if need be.

mayor shade ball

“The balls cost 36 cents each, for a total of $34.5 million. The utility has been testing the concept since 2008, reporting that shade balls reduce evaporation by 85 to 90 percent. That should equate to saving nearly 300 million gallons a year, enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people. The balls also inhibit microorganism growth, reducing the treatment the water must undergo through other means, which could save the city $250 million over time. The city says the balls will shade and cool the water, reducing evaporation from the reservoir and making it less susceptible to algae, bacterial growth, and chemical reactions that can produce harmful substances.” (National Geographic)

These shade balls will end up helping Los Angeles to cut its water use by 15 percent over a two-year period.

Source:
Why Did L.A. Drop 96 Million ‘Shade Balls’ Into Its Water?. National Geographic. August 12, 2015. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150812-shade-balls-los-angeles-California-drought-water-environment/

Images:

1) news.discovery.com

2) mashable.com