Monthly Archives: November 2016

Coral Die Off on Great Barrier Reef

coral3This year the Great Barrier Reef suffered the greatest mass bleaching event ever seen. Record warm temperatures turned large areas of the reef, a once vibrant 1400 km habitat, into a white boneyard.

Australian researchers have just shown that in the shallow water northern section 67% of the coral has died. Better news comes from the southern and central sections which show a 1% and 6 % coral mortality rate. The areas worst hit may need 10-15 yrs to recover…but with global warming it is possible we will see another bleaching event causing increased devastation in the hardest hit areas.coral7

The importance of the corals reefs of the world is that they are comparable to the rain forests on land. The reefs cover only .1% of the sea floor , but house 25% of marine species. The y protect the land from storms, sustain food for half a billion people , and make for great diving and tourism spots. coral5

Coral reefs are vulnerable to temperature changes, thriving within a narrow temperature range. In normal times coral polyps form a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, a colorful algae that synthesizes sunlight and carbon dioxide to create nutrients for the reef. If the temperature gets too warm the algae goes into overdrive and produces toxins. The coral polyps then expel the algae from their tissue leaving the coral with that bleached look. Weakened, the coral is now susceptible to various diseases.


From January to March 2016 there were record high ocean temps thanks to global warming and El Nino causing mass bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. Bleaching does not kill right away…if ocean temps drop the zooxanthellae will come back. If temps stay high for an extended period the coral will die from malnutrition and disease. When the coral dies the entire ecosystem is affected.coral

The good news is that even with a mass die off the coral can recover. The trick is that it takes years..10 , 15 , or even more yrs in higher stressed areas. With the current pace of global warming the reefs may not have time to recover before they get hit with a warming again. There is even a line of thought that believes that the Great Barrier Reef may lose it’s ability to bounce back as global warming continues. coral2

Another issue is the amount of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere…the oceans are becoming more acidic making the corals more sensitive to bleaching. To assist the corals we can also limit the amount of fertilizer and sewage runoff as these damage the corals as well. The key for us is the carbon dioxide emissions… global warming is a massive threat. I f we go past the 2 degrees Celsius mark we stand a good chance of losing half the world’s coral reefs.


Coke achieves water neutrality

coca-colaCoca Cola recognizes that water is fundamental to the communities in which they operate…so water stewardship is a focal point for their water sustainability efforts.

In 2007 Coca Cola announced the intention to replenish 100% of the water they use for their products and become water neutral by 2020. They have achieved this goal 5 yrs early, in so doing have become the first Fortune 500 company to do so. They have accomplished this in two ways..through community water partnership projects (watershed restoration) and waste water treatment. watershed-ret

In their bottling facilities around the world Coke conducts regular source water audits. This helps them to understand the environmental, infrastructural, and quality risks and to reduce those where possible.

Coca Cola uses water in their products but also in their packaging process, and to ensure their physical space is clean and safe. To continue to respect the water they use they continue to invest to use less water…which means new technologies and processes. 2 billion litres of water has been conserved since 2010 and they are on track to meet their 2020 goal.


In Canada Coke has worked in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and other government partners. in developing and protecting the wetlands , wildlife has good habitats, and water quality in the surrounding area is improved.

Congratulations to Coca Cola for their efforts.

Swimming the Dead Sea

dead_sea_sunset25 swimmers from around the world swam the soupy , salty waters of the Dead Sea to draw attention to environmental degradation. For the seven hour swim the swimmers required protective snorkels and masks to protect themselves from the effects of the salty waters which can be painful on the eyes and deadly to ingest.

The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth at 423 metres below sea level and it is shrinking. Environmentalists blame unsustainable water management and over exploitation of the lakes minerals.  The water level has dropped by 25 metres over the last three decades.

Of the 25 swimmers who started only three did not finish, 2 had dehydration , one had the chills. As they faster swimmers approached the finish they stopped and waited for the others so they would all finish together.

Who knows if we are not careful they will soon be having foot races across the salt flats.

Desert Fog Catchers

fogWe woke up to a very foggy morning in Ottawa…so we have this story.

In Marrakesh , Morocco on the edge of the Sahara large nets catch the moisture in the foggy air and turn it into drinking water. The fine mesh on the nets mimics the process that causes water to be formed on pine trees or redwoods to make up for rainfall.


They have the world’s largest fog collecting project. The pilot project now provides clean drinking water to 500 people in five villages in the region, an area that has been subject to drought.fog1

Fog harvesting began some years ago in South America, and there are now active projects in several areas of the world. For this particular project in Morocco the nets are set up at 4000 ft above sea level and collect an average of 6,000 liters of water a day, which is filtered and piped to the villagers.  The moisture is pushed by the ocean winds and trapped in the mountains and therefore relatively easy to harvest as the mountains are draped in fog 140 days a yr. fog2

Before the nets made tap water available, villagers would have to walk 3 hours a day to get water from wells….sometimes the wells would be dry with the only alternative would be to pay for water to be trucked in.

The nets work well but the system is not maintenance free. as the high winds can damage the nets. A Canadian NGO called Fogquest has a new version called CloudFisher which promises to be maintenance free and can catch twice the water.

Having access to clean water has made a huge difference to the locals lives. I will look at fog a bit differently now.

David Suzuki on his “last great fight”

david-suzuki-wordfest-2015-june-16David Suzuki , one of Canada’s leading voices on environmental issues over the lat 50 yrs, says he is engaged in the “last great fight of his life”. The goal is to have environmental rights for all Canadians enshrined in the Constitution. by being committed to the Constitution environmental policies can not be overturned by the hottest political flavor…for example we look to the present situation in the U.S.


Donald Trump has said climate change is a myth, or that it was a concept started by the Chinese to make american manufacturing less competative. In Canada much legislation had been developed since the 1960’s on navigable waters, environmental assessments, and indeed much progressive environmental legislation was overturned…almost overnight by the Harper government.

A change has to be made permanent in our charter of rights and freedoms.

David is hopeful the our current Prime Minister will overturn those changes made by the Harper government. Trudeau is saying good things, and supports the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. However, this talk of pipelines means more burning of fossil fuels, especially tar sand fossil fuel. The problem in Mr. Suzuki’s eyes is that if Justin is serious about the Paris Agreement the tar sands and the pipelines” has got to be off the agenda”.

Certainly Justin has a tough balancing act to try to get things done.

The global climate agreement calls for limiting the temperature rise since the industrial revolution to below 2 degrees Celsius. At present the UN weather agency considers we are at 1.2 degrees above preindustrial times…we are close to the tipping point. This underscores why we must quickly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other green house gases.

At 80 yrs old David is considering what kind of world he and his generation will be leaving to their grandchildren. “We need clean air, clean water , and clean food to survive. Kids know that, but a lot of adults have forgotten that”


If interested in finding out more check out the David Suzuki Foundation and the Blue Dot movement.

1.5 Billion Year Old Water Found in Canada

old-waterResearchers from Canada and the United Kingdom have discovered ancient water pockets deep underground in Ontario. In  their story published in Nature magazine they state that the water could be some of the oldest on earth and may even contain life. Interestingly there is a similarity between the rocks where it was found and rocks found on Mars. Perhaps water is trapped in this similar rocks on the red planet.

The water was found to be rich in dissolved gases such as helium, neon , argon, and xenon. There appears to be as much hydrogen in the water as there is around hydrothermal vents found deep in the ocean, many which team with life. hydrogen and methane come from the interaction between the rock and the water. These gases could provide energy to microscopic life that has not seen the light of day for a very long time.

The crystalline rocks in which the water was found are thought to be 2.7 billion yrs old….and using cutting edge science have determined the water to be at least 1.5 billion yrs old.


The finding is hugely interesting to researchers who want to understand how microbes develope in isolation, is central to the question as to the origin of life, the sustainability of life, life in extreme situations , and life on other planets.


Water Quality?

Canada, BugaboosWhat is water quality?  I was asked the other day this question , so what is the answer?

what is in it?

what is in it?

Water quality is defined in terms of the chemical, physical, and biological content of water. Water quality is affected in many ways, often caused by natures own patterns. The water quality of rivers and lakes changes with the seasons and geographic areas, even when there is no pollution present.

It is interesting to note that changes in water quality can be purely a natural occurence and not just affected by human activity. This is a very good reason for you to test your water regularly, especially if you are on a well.solution


If you are having questions or concerns about your water quality call  Eternally Pure Water Systems at 613-742-0058. We would be happy to ease your water quality concerns.

Fuel From Sewage

biocrudeThanks to research ordinary sewage can be turned into biocrude oil. Sounds like science fiction , but is a real possibility at waste water treatment plants across the USA, and maybe Canada. Hydrothermal Liquifaction is a process that mimics the geological conditions Earth uses in creating crude oil ,  high pressure and temperature  achieve in minutes what Mother Nature needs millions on yrs to do. biocrude1

From the Dept. of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory using Hydrothermal Liquifaction a biocrude has been produced that is similar to what is pumped out of the ground, with a small amount of water and oxygen mixed in. This biocrude can then be refined.

(The following videos do not show the exact process that the Pacific Northwest National Lab used , but are for information purposes only.)


Waste water treatment plants treat 34 billion gallons of sewage every day. This could produce around 30 million barrels of oil every year. it is estimated that a single person can generate 2-3 gallons of  biocrude per year.

This Hydrothermal Liquifaction process involves taking the sewage sludge and subjecting it to 3,000 lbs per square inch…then it goes into a reactor that burns at 660 degrees fahrenheit. the heat and pressure cause the cells to break down and presto…biocrude.


Interestingly for Canada , is that the city of Vancouver is interested in building a demonstration plant, start up 2018. If this emerging technology is successful Vancouver’s waste water operation may be able to meet it’s sustainability objectives of zero net energy, zero odors , and zero residuals.

The RBC Canadian Water Attitudes study

WATER HUMAN RIGHT TO CROPThe 9th Annual RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study is out and it reveals 21% of respondents rank climate change as the number one threat to Canada’s fresh water supply…but 3/4 of Canadians don’t believe they live in an area prone to drought or flood.


Study Highlights…

Canadians see freshwater as the country’s most important natural resource. About half of us rank freshwater as Canada’s most important natural resource, ahead of oil and gas, agricultural land, forests, and base metals and fisheries.

One in four Canadians have experienced a boil water advisory. 83% are very or somewhat concerned about drinking water quality on first Nations reserves. 84% of Canadians report having confidence in the quality of their homes tap water.

Infrastructure investment is a priority to protect water quality. Increased government funding for infrastructure improvements is seen as a priority, with respondents identifying water treatment systems, drinking water supply, sewage collection and treatment, and upgrades to existing infrastructure as being among the most important.

RBC has been polling Canadians about their attitudes towards water since 2008. Want to learn more…you can download this year’s full complimentary report or view past reports at .

Thank you to the RBC Blue Water Project.