Tag Archives: drought

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.

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

Wall Street Gushes Over Gray Water

gray water

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article about gray water. This type of recycling takes used water from bathtubs, showers, and sinks for lawn irrigation purposes. It filters the water after use and repurposes it to help lawns, gardens, and trees grow without using more water.

Californians have started to adopt this method of saving water in their homes. Businesses who sell and install gray water systems have increased their sales by 200%.  The only downfall to these systems is that they can cost anywhere from $100 to $10,000 hard-earned dollars (or more).

But to some, the cost is worth it to save our environment. Ever since the drought started to effect the West Coast 4 years ago, Californians have been finding ways to save water and cut back on consumption. Sustainable water technology has also grown exponentially. Now there are many ways to save water in your home.

An alternative to using gray water is buying a water filter system for your entire home that reuses backwash water. If your filter recycles your water before it goes through your house, you’ll be preemptively saving water and preventing your family from using tap water (which has chemicals and contaminants).

To learn more about home water filter systems, check out this site. To learn more about gray water and how it’s starting to sweep California, visit the link below for the Wall Street Journal article.

Source & Image:

Wall Street Journal. Gray Water Brings Lush Lawns Without the Guilt. 13 August 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/gray-water-brings-lush-lawns-without-the-guilt-1439474433

Staying Hydrated During a Drought

Woman drinking water

As we all know, there’s a drought going on in Southern California. Local water monitors come through residential neighborhoods looking for culprits, boat owners can’t put in local lakes due to their shallowness, and signs are up everywhere pleading people to cut back on their water use. But humans need water to live, it’s a fact. So how do you drink enough water to stay hydrated while also contributing to lessen your water use during this drought? Here are a few tips to doing just that.

  1. Buy a filtering water bottle and stop buying bottled water. Firstly, some bottles leak chemicals from plastics, so you don’t really know what’s in your water. Secondly, the actual water itself can come from many different sources, so you don’t know what you’re putting in your body. And lastly, buying bottled water is not eco-friendly. 100 bottles= more trash than 1 BPA-free bottle re-used 100 times. It’ll also help you to drink more water if you carry a bottle everywhere.
  2. Drink a glass or two of water with every meal. Experts say that most of the time when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty/dehydrated. So use that filtered water bottle you’re about to buy and fill it up a couple times before, during, and after your meal.
  3. Make sure you hydrate properly before, during, and after a workout. It’s hot out, and if you’re running outside you’re going to need to drink enough water to replenish your body’s 70% H2O makeup. It’s also a fact that drinking water helps to flush out the lactic acid in your muscles after a workout. So grab some water and drink up so that you aren’t as sore tomorrow.

Filtercon Technologies provides you with two great ways to save water and money while staying hydrated during this drought. Firstly, we have two different filtering water bottles that you can carry with you anywhere. One is from BPA-free and includes a carbon filter that takes out chlorine. The other is a stainless steel bottle that filters out bacteria. The other way that you can save money, water, and help your family stay healthy is to buy a whole house water filtration system for your home. It feeds filtered water to all of the pipes in your house while also re-using the water it backwashes with.

To find out more information, visit our website at http://www.filtercon.com or call our office at our toll-free number (800)-550-1995.

Your Ecological Footprint

footprint

Sustainability is becoming more and more popular in our culture today. The term sustainability as defined by the Bruntland Report in 1987 (the first definition) is, “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since 1987, we have developed far from just having a definition of sustainability. We have the resources and technology to measure and predict our use of nonrenewable resources. We also have the means to understand that humans are destroying our Earth at a rate so quickly that it cannot keep up or even recover.

Each human creates an ecological footprint that determines how our waste and energy use impacts the earth. There are so many ways that humans create their footprint without even recognizing it; by eating more meat, by buying new clothes regularly, by owning a home that has running water… these are just a few ways that we impact the Earth. If you’d like to see your individual impact on the Earth by figuring out your ecological footprint, check out the Global Footprint Network’s footprint calculator at http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/.

Here are some tips to reducing your ecological footprint:

1) Eat less meat and buy more produce from local farmers

2) Use less water in your home and buy water-saving products

3) Use more public transportation and carpool often

4) Dispose of trash properly and recycle all reusable materials

5) Look into supporting your home with renewable energy like solar power

One way that you can reduce your water use is to buy a whole-house filtration system that doesn’t waste water. Filtercon Technologies has created a revolutionary system that reuses backwash to recycle water. Check it out at http://www.filtercon.com or call 800-550-1995 for more information.

Source:

http://www.footprintnetwork.org

Image:

chargerbulletin.come

The Cost of Saving Water in California

What happens when we start saving more water during this seemingly never-ending drought? Rates for water increase. In a fixed-cost industry, the price of water increases when low supply equals high demand. “If you want to buy water on the market this year, the price is 10 times higher,” says Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

But the districts, who are selling the water directly to these households and businesses, have no choice but to do so. The Union Tribune explains it like this, “If you sell less of something, you must cut costs, boost prices, or do both to balance the budget.” This cut hurts during a time when business and homeowners are working hard to use less H2O. Water consumers in San Diego County (and the rest of the state) have been not only meeting, but exceeding state-mandated water reductions. Some residents believe that the price increase is unfair and that officials should find a way to keep them down.

And the increase in prices won’t stop here. Next year, San Diego county officials proposed to raise prices 17%. In San Diego, the monthly price for a family of four using 50 gallons of water per person per day is $49. So this price will go up about $8 for a family in this situation, making their water bill $58 a month. To make matters worse, San Diego residents get higher bills due to the fact that California gets most of its water from pipelines and aqueducts in Northern California and the Colorado River. The longer the distance for water to travel, the more it costs due to delivery costs and vulnerability to water deliveries.

Although it’s frustrating to save water at a time like this, there’s not much we can do. To help save water, you should buy a water-saving filtration system for your home. To find out more, visit http://www.filtercon.com or call us at 800-550-1995.

Sources:

Higher Water Bills Likely. San Diego Union Tribune. 27 July 2015. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/jul/27/tp-higher-water-bills-likely/

Image- waterwealthproject.com