Tag Archives: environment

The Latest: Unclear When Boil-Water Advisory Will Lift

  • By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Oct 9, 2015, 12:35 PM ET

The latest on the rainstorm that pounded parts of the East Coast (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

While Columbia officials are confident they will not lose water service, they can’t say when most of the city’s 375,000 customers will be able to stop boiling water before they drink it.

Assistant City Manager Missy Gentry says Columbia is trucking in water and laying pipes from two nearby rivers to make sure water remains in the Columbia Canal, which is the chief source for drinking water.

An advisory telling people to boil water was issued during Sunday’s rainstorm, and Columbia Utilities Director Joey Jaco says he can’t say when that may be lifted. He says crews must finish repairing numerous breaks in the system first.

The advisory has left thousands scrambling for bottled water and businesses shut down. Restaurants that are open are serving meals off paper plates and drinks from cans.

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The largest hospital in Columbia shut down its water supply for 12 hours as it set up an alternative source of water.

Palmetto Health Richland Hospital shut down its water system at 6 p.m. Thursday, restoring service at 6 a.m. Friday.

Hospital officials said they acted because the city of Columbia does not know when it will be able to provide safe drinking water.

Hospital spokeswoman Tammie Epps says the U.S. Army has provided a reverse osmosis system to purify the water so it can be used. Epps says the system was flushed and cleaned during the 12-hour shutdown. She says the water from the Army system is being tested for 24 hours before it can be relied upon.

The hospital is continuing to use the un-filtered, city-provided water for its air conditioning and certain other equipment.

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Read more

Link to emergency filtration…

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.

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

Drinking Water and Weight Loss

Weight Loss

With summer comes so many delicious things to eat and drink; hot dogs and hamburgers at barbecues, ice cream from your favorite shoppe, and fruity frozen drinks with tiny umbrellas. Although these are wonderful every once in a while, they’re not the healthiest foods. If you’re trying to get back on track after one too many chili dogs, then you should at least consider this easy way to help with weight loss: drink more water!

WebMD describes a study done that followed people who changed their daily diets to include 8 glasses of water/day. The results showed that these people felt more full and did not eat as much. Their metabolisms increased by 30% within 30-40 of drinking 17 oz of water. For men, metabolic rate increased because of fat burn. In women, metabolic rate rose due to the increase in the breakdown of carbohydrates.

Woman drinking water

Researchers estimated that over a year, more than 17,000 calories were saved due to the increase in water consumption. That equaled to the study participants being about 5 lbs lighter throughout the year. In actuality, almost half of the calories burned from drinking water was due to the body’s attempt to heat the ingested water.

No matter if you’re trying to lose weight or just trying to be more healthy, you should always try to drink as close to 8 glasses a day as possible. Water is not only 70% of your body’s makeup, it fuels your brain and organs to keep your processes running smoothly. The best kind of water for your body is water that has no contaminants, chlorine, heavy metals, etc. You can make sure that you’re getting pure water by buying a filtration system for the tap water that goes through your pipes. To learn more, visit http://www.filtercon.com or call Filtercon Technologies at 800-550-1995.

Source:
Drinking Water May Speed Weight Loss. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/20040105/drinking-water-may-speed-weight-loss

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