Tag Archives: energy

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.

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

Exercising in the Heat

prevent-heat-illness-art

Summer is here. We all want to have those great bikini or board short bodies, but a lot of us exercise outside and it gets hot in the summer. So what should we do?

Well, let’s learn about what happens to us when exercising in the heat. When running in hotter weather (when the temperature is above 75 degrees Farenheight), our bodies spend about 70% of the energy that they normally would be using towards our workout to just cool down. Only 30% goes to moving our arms and legs and breathing. What’s more, the heat, humidity, and UV rays all have a negative effect on us because we aren’t used to putting our bodies to work in such harsh environments. The heat makes us sweat, the humidity doesn’t allow our cooling processes to occur as effectively, and UV rays burn our skin which makes our core temperature higher.

But the good news is that after 1-2 weeks of working out in hotter weather, your body starts to acclimate. John Woo, M.D., a clinical associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine says, “Your body will expect circulating plasma volume and become more efficient in sweating, and, psychologically, you just start dealing with the heat better.” To help this process occur safely, start out by cutting your workout in the heat in half and add 5% every day or 10% every couple of days or so. You can even finish the rest of your workout inside (do core work, lift weights, do a yoga routine) until you get back up to 100% of your workout in the heat. Other things you should be doing to help this process occur safely are: drink 8 glasses of water throughout the day, make sure to get enough electrolytes, and use sunscreen.

If you follow these simple steps to working out in the heat, your body will thank you. To learn more about the body and effects of water on the body, check out our other blog posts or visit our website (www.filtercon.com) to learn about why it’s important to filter your water at home.

Source:

What Running in the Heat Does to Your Body. SHAPE Fitness. 7 July 2015. http://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/what-running-heat-does-your-body

Image:
http://www.fitbe.com

Water Fracking Can Harm Water Wells

frack.water_-638x420Photo Credit: Shutterstock

PITTSBURGH — Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.

The Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday posted online links to the documents after the agency conducted a “thorough review” of paper files stored among its regional offices. The Associated Press and other news outlets have filed lawsuits and numerous open-records requests over the last several years seeking records of the DEP’s investigations into gas-drilling complaints.

Pennsylvania’s auditor general said in a report last month that DEP’s system for handling complaints “was woefully inadequate” and that investigators could not even determine whether all complaints were actually entered into a reporting system.

DEP didn’t immediately issue a statement with the online release, but posted the links on the same day that seven environmental groups sent a letter urging the agency to heed the auditor general’s 29 recommendations for improvement.

“I guess this is a step in the right direction,” Thomas Au of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club chapter said of the public release of documents on drinking well problems. “But this is something that should have been made public a long time ago.”

The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it wasn’t clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are still being investigated.

The gas-rich Marcellus Shale lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio. A drilling boom that took off in 2008 has made the Marcellus the most productive natural gas field in the nation, and more than 6,000 shale gas wells have been drilled. That has led to billions of dollars in revenue for companies and landowners, but also to complaints from homeowners about ruined water supplies.

Extracting fuel from shale formations requires pumping millions of gallons of water, along with sand and chemicals, into the ground to break apart rock and free the gas. Some of that water, along with other heavy metals and contaminants, returns to the surface.

The documents released Thursday listed drilling-related water well problems in 22 counties, with most of the cases in Susquehanna, Tioga, Lycoming, and Bradford counties in the northeast portion of the state.

Some energy companies have dismissed or downplayed the issue of water well contamination, suggesting that it rarely or never happens.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the main industry group, suggested that geology and Pennsylvania’s lack of standards for water well construction were partly to blame.

Coalition president Dave Spigelmyer said in statement Thursday that Pennsylvania “has longstanding water well-related challenges, a function of our region’s unique geology — where stray methane gas is frequently present in and around shallow aquifers.” He said many of the problems were related to surface spills, not drilling.

“Our industry works closely and tirelessly with regulators and others to ensure that we protect our environment, striving for zero incidents,” Spigelmyer said.

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Online: http://bit.ly/1lyMfGG

by Rubinkam of the Associate Press