Monthly Archives: March 2017

Fist Fight for Clean Water

Out of New Zealand we have an environmentalist, Greg Byrnes, general manager of the Te Kohaka o Tuhaltara conservation trust, challenging the New Zealand Environmental Minister Nick Smith to a fist fight. Greg has asked the Minister to meet him in Christchurch for a boxing match with “Queensberry Rules.  The loser will have to “frolic in a local swimming hole the Greg says is no longer fit for swimming.

At the heart of the matter is the government’s new water pollution policy, which aims to classify 90% of the countries waterways as “swimmable”, by 2040. What “swimmable” actually means is a matter for debate. Critics argue that to reach its target the government appears to be shifting the goal posts. Previously, the measure for safe water no more than 260 E. coli units per 100 millilitres. The new guidelines safe, swimmable water can have up to 540 parts E. coli per 10 millilitres 80% of the time…in which a person has a 20% chance of picking up an infection.

It appears that by putting pen to paper the government can make the water cleaner. It is just not that easy.

The Minister appears to not want to respond to his challenger.

A Wearable Lifesaver

Spring is here and before you know it the beaches and pools will be open. Water safety for everyone should go without saying. Here is a device that is new on the market or maybe it is the first time I have become aware of it. The Kingii Wearable is for everyone who loves the water.

Kingii is the new wristband for everyone who spends time in and around the water. If you need help to stay afloat, pull the lever, and an inflation bag will take you to the surface. It is a tiny life-preserver, light weight, and can be worn in and around water.

It is reliable and reuseable. After the bag is deployed replace the CO2 cartridge and it will be good to go.

It is not to replace a life vest , but to provide additional buoyancy. A new way to go out and be safe on the water.

World Water Day, was yesterday.

Did anybody notice that World Water day was yesterday, Wednesday, March 22. This year’s theme was /is Waste Water.


5 thoughts on waste water from World Water Day.

Over 80% of all waste water is not used again. According to the U.N. recycling waste water could help ease water shortages. With treatment and technology this used water can become new again.

Modern urban wastewater treatment plant.

70% of all water withdrawals are from agriculture. Irrigation systems are responsible for the most water withdrawls world-wide. As the use of technology in farming drops, there is an increase in the use of this raw resource. This is a problem because in underdeveloped countries there can be a more problematic access to water, and the amount of water needed for agriculture can go as high as 90% of what is available.

Leaking taps lose up to 5,500 liters of water a year.


Less than 3% of the world’s water is drinkable…and most of that is trapped as ice in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Over 20% of all fresh water fish species are in danger or extinct. Our use of freshwater has a significant impact on our fish populations. it is just not about us.

Planet Reconciliation/ Blue Ecology

Water is moving through the global water cycle more quickly and more disruptively thanks to the warming of the planet’s atmosphere. Extreme weather events are becoming the norm. Human activities are magnifying the impact of these events. We have arrived at an intersection , which path will we take.

We can look at water and water sheds through a narrow technical lens, but the risks of error great. Perhaps we can look at the situation through a whole systems approach…even re-visiting our relationship with nature.

Let us consider Blue Ecology which is defined as the interweaving of western science and traditional First Nations teaching and local knowledge. Blue Ecology has 5 guiding principles and aligns with the whole system, water balance approach– Spirit, Harmony, Respect, Unity, and Balance. To make the right choices we must understand how and where the rhythms of water are changing. then we apply ecosystem based understanding to adapt our practices to suit a changing climate.



Atmospheric rivers have recently been identified as a narrow corridor of concentrated water vapor aloft. These can be great rivers, perhaps the best known is the “pineapple express”. This river in the air periodically crosses the Pacific from Hawaii dropping rains on the west coast of North America..sometimes the water is much-needed , sometimes it can cause serious flooding devastating communities in its path. With the warming of the atmosphere the more moisture can be held aloft. We need to consider stabilizing the Earth’s atmosphere or face the likelihood of more flooding and serious economic damage. The idea of sustainability and adaptive resilience become a moving target.


Success depends on embracing a water first approach. Water is a core human value upon which we can build a cross cultural climate change strategy. Indigenous societies believe that water is a living entity, a sacred centre from which all other activities radiate. The Blue Ecology frame provides a holistic cultural context to enhance Western sciences knowledge of the water cycle for the benefit of hydrologists and water managers.


The Sliver Carp is on the move.

The invasive silver carp famous for leaping out of the water to the peril of boaters has been caught on the St. Croix river bordering Minnesota and Wisconsin. These are some of the most pristine water to be found in America, so the find is disappointing but not unexpected.

A commercial fisherman caught the 13 lb fish close to where the St. Croix meets the Mississippi. 2 other silver carp were caught in the area in 2014, as well as another invasive species the big-headed carp.

The silver carp, big head carp , and other invasive species escaped into the Mississippi in the 70″s and have been working their way upstream since. The danger is that these are a large aggressive fish that can take over an ecosystem at the loss of the native species.

Where these fish have been caught are popular areas where several species of fish overwinter. It is not thought that a breeding population has been established as yet. it is possible that these fish will move back into the Mississippi river as spring temps warm up the river. Once the ice thaws a more in-depth search will be conducted to try to establish the true extent of the issue near Prescott, Wisconsin.

Various techniques have been used to try to stop the spread of these invasive species like closing dams in their path, fences, even installing acoustic speakers.



The Cassava Bag

Over time we have done a few blogs looking at the amount of plastic we have floating around the oceans of the world. There are several groups coming up with some great ideas as to how we can help out the oceans by clearing out the churn or debris. Here is a different take on plastic for you to consider…the cassava bag…but first what is cassava?

Kevin Kumala has created a bag made out of cassava starch, it is 100% biodegradable and even edible. Watch as Kevin tears off a piece of the bag, dissolves it in lukewarm water and the drinks it. Absolutely brilliant!



Why are we still using petroleum products to make our bags?

Pink tap water…Yikes!

On Monday residents of Onoway, Alberta complained to the town office when the water from their taps was running pink. In a statement the Mayor Dale Crasnow said there was no public health risk, but better communication could have been helpful.

The Mayor said the pink water is a normal side effect of a common water treatment chemical..potassium permanganate. Commonly used to remove iron and hydrogen sulphide from water, it got into the town’s reservoir when a valve malfunctioned during normal line flushing and filter back washing

The reservoir was drained, but some of the chemical managed to make it into the distribution system. The chemical can cause skin irritation, but there were no reports of this effect.

The townspeople were a bit miffed about not being informed in a timely manner. I can imagine that this valve malfunction was quite possibly caused by human error. Someone is embarrassed, but no harm done.





World’s First Ship Tunnel

Norway has given the go ahead to the Stad Ship Tunnel, the world’s first full scale ship tunnel, bypassing one of the most dangerous areas for vessels along the Norwegian coast. 

The tunnel will be blasted through 1.7 kilometres of rock at the narrowest point of the Stad Peninsula. The route is actually not expected to save that much time, but is intended to allow for a more safe navigation of the Stadhavet Sea, where the North and Norwegian Seas meet. This area is considered to be one of the most exposed and dangerous areas for vessels to sail along the Norwegian Coast. There is a dangerous combination of wind, currents, waves, and more than 100 storms per year. Since the end of WWII some 33 people have lost their lives in this area. 

The Norwegian Government has approved the full funding of the project of 2.7 billion NOK, lasting until 2029. Construction will involve conventional blasting using underground drilling rigs and pallet rigs, used to remove approx 3million cubic meters of solid rock. When completed the tunnel will be 1.7 k long, 37 m high, and 26.5 meters wide. 

The Stad Ship Tunnel will serve as a safe route for ships, but also should also be a popular tourist attraction with potential overhead viewing areas open to the public.

Russian Water Industry at a Crossroads

russia3With over 10 million Russians lacking clean drinking water and with 30 % of water pipelines in need of repair or replacement serious efforts will be required to bring the infrastructure up to an acceptable level.russia

Chistaya Voda or Clean Water is a Russian project to provide better water to the citizens of the country. It’s fate is up in the air due to conflicts between its supporters, opponents, and the huge state funds required for its implementation. A large-scale reform of the Russian water system is required whether the Clean Water project goes through or not.russia1

According to Russian regulatory bodies 35% to 60% of total reserves of drinking water do not meet sanitary standards, while 40% of surface water and 17% of underground water is considered not potable. The level of pollution in Russian rivers and lakes from agriculture and industrial waste exceeds all minimal standards. Nearly 11 million people in Russia do not have access to good drinking water, and 50 million more drink water with high iron levels. With 30 % of their pipes needing to be upgraded the pace of repair is only that 1.5% get replaced each year..they are falling behind. If the volume of repair works was to be increased by several times they would still not meets the needs of the population. Constant budget investments  are required to just maintain what they have. Local experts think that most of the pipes are in an emergency position and need replacing within the next 2 to 3 years. Not very realistic scenario so they are turning to modern technologies to help boost water supply.




Enter scientist Viktor Petrick who has developed a water filter based on carbon mixture of high relativity and nanotechnologies. If fully approved Petrick’s filters could be installed in all public and social institutions across Russia.russia4

In 2006 the Clean Water project was launched by Boris Gryzlov, head of the Russian State Duma. Initially slated to be completed by 2025 at a cost of 576 billion US dollars…the costs have spiralled up. The new project is multi faceted involving upgrades to both water supply and sewage, changes in legislation to help protect water sources, stimulate the production of equipment , and establish a Russian brand drinking water to challenge some of the best bottled water in the world.

Gryzlov says the Clean Water project is based on 3 principles, to promote the drinking of a quality water product, continue scientific research into water technologies, and develop special technical regulations with respect to the quality of water.  Another initiator of the program says the main goal is to provide clean water at a reasonable cost. This is to be done by installing water filtration units in peoples homes and apts across the country.




There is push back from the Russian scientific community that disagrees with the Clean Water project. The end goal of clean water is wanted , but scepticism over these filters is rife. Replacing piping is still considered the way to go , but to replace the metal pipes with longer lasting plastic analogues.



It looks to me like they have a problem. The Russians have let the water infrastructure deteriorate to the point where they have a real emergency on their hands or just around the corner. As with North America the costs of replacing and repair are huge. The idea of putting filters on every drinking water outlet in the country sounds like a band-aid or at worse a get rich scheme for someone.

Water is never a problem until it is a problem, and then it can be a big problem.

Videos linked directly to the Clean Water Program in Russia were not found or are unavailable.