Category Archives: Water

Pouring Water From The Air – Award Winning Invention

This is a re-post of one of our popular blogs. 

SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR OUR ‘TECHIE’ FOLLOWERS – AN AWARD WINNING INVENTION FOR COUNTRIES FACING

WATER SHORTAGES:

For those facing water shortages, there is much to be thankful for when it comes to the inventive spirit. Thanks to young Australian inventor Edward Linacre, there may one day be no such thing as a water shortage for Australian farmers.

He recently won the £10,000 international James Dyson Award for a “low-tech” device – the Airdrop – that can draw water from the air, besting the work of 500 other inventors.

Linacre, a graduate of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, says he wanted to solve the drought problem afflicting farmers in parts of Australia suffering from drought conditions. His solution, Airdrop, can harvest 11.5 milliliters of water for every cubic meter of air in the driest deserts such as the Negev in Israel, which has an average relative air humidity of 64 percent. A small-scale prototype Linacre installed at his parents’ house created about a liter of water a day. Linacre will use his prize money for further testing on increasing the yield.

As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, instead of using complex, energy-intensive methods such as desalination, Airdrop’s source of water is abundant – the air – and so it can be used anywhere in the world.

Linacre’s Airdrop delivers water to the roots of crops in dry areas by pushing air through a network of underground pipes, cooling it down to the point where water condenses. The water can then be pumped to the roots of plants using drip irrigation methods.

This video interview,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cXe-4XE2QVI

posted by gizmag, helps explain the invention and the sound reasoning behind it. Linacre say he was inspired by the Namib beetle, which survives in landscapes that get just half an inch of rain per year by consuming the dew it collects on the hydrophilic skin of its back. Similarly, the desert rhubarb can harvest 16 times the amount of water than other plants in its region by using deep water channeling cavities in its leaves.

James Dyson, whose charity sponsors the award, said that the device is a low-tech solution that could be installed and maintained by the farmers themselves; it powers itself using solar panels. Dyson offered this insight into the clever invention:

“Biomimicry is a powerful weapon in an engineer’s armory. We chose Edward’s project because it was a very good and original solution to what has become a real problem.”

In addition to Linacre’s cash prize, a further £10,000 has been awarded to Swinburne University. Linacre said without the university’s help he would never have got his idea off the ground.

The James Dyson Award is run by the James Dyson Foundation and each year students of product design, industrial design or design engineering from around the world are invited to enter.

 
Image: James Dyson Awards

Source: EcoLocalizer (http://s.tt/15ngo)

Universal Water Access ~ “Muddled Policy…”

The following article, “Is Water A Right, Commodity, Or Service?”, Sara Jeromewritten by Sara Jerome, is taken from Water Online, posted June 12, 2015

faucet.reg

Is water a commodity, a service, or a right? Recently, the debate has raged.

Daniel Van Abs, a water policy professor at Rutgers University,raised that question in a recent editorial published in NJ Spotlight. Van Abs is a water policy professor at Rutgers University who served as senior director for planning and science with the New Jersey Highlands Council, a water-protection implementation body. He has since retired from state government.

VAN ABS TO CROPVan Abs posed this question in his post: “Is water, as the U.N. states, a fundamental human right? Or is it a commodity that must be purchased at the going rate? Or is it a public service, in which the focus is on satisfying a social goal for provision of general needs?”

WATER HUMAN RIGHT TO CROP“Our history shows us that water supply has aspects of all three, which makes for a muddled policy setting. What do we do when basic water services exceed a customer’s ability to pay? As water rates rise to address the costs of system rehabilitation, enhanced drinking-water treatment, and source-water protection, we need to make sense of this mess,” he continued.Image result for Detroit water service
DETROITDetroit officials sparked protests last year by shutting off water service for thousands of delinquent customers, a move that prompted questions about whether shutoffs violate human rights. “The city, which continues to close as many as 400 accounts a day, has been widely criticized for its actions,” CBS News reported. United Nations advisers have argued that Detroit violated human rights during a frenzy of water shutoffs.

Image result for Detroit water serviceCities other than Detroit have also used water shutoffs to handle ratepayer delinquency. “In Michigan, Hamtramck, Warren, Pontiac, Eastpointe, Romulus and other cities have shut off delinquent customers as a way to improve collections. Elsewhere, so have other big cities such as Baltimore and St. Louis,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

Van Abs noted that New Jersey is no stranger to ratepayer delinquency. “New Jersey has areas of high poverty that have lost most of their industrial water customers. And much of the state’s water-supply infrastructure is old, if not decrepit,” he wrote.

Maude Barlow: “Water a right, not a commodity”, uploaded on Mar 18, 2009 – Canadian water activist Maude Barlow, leading protesters at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, says access to water is a fundamental human right.

To Van Abs, there are problems with calling water a guaranteed public service. “The costs could be handled like many other public services (such as police or courts), through the property tax, with local governments paying the water utility to provide the service. Doing so would remove incentives for efficient water use, unless provisions are made to limit the service by household to only what is necessary. Just imagine the problems with this approach. Government would have to track the number of people per household to ensure that a single-person household and a five-person household are provided for equitably,” he said.

There are also problems with calling water a commodity, since it means water shutoffs if customers cannot pay. “Clearly, this approach is not socially acceptable for those of limited means,” Van Abs writes.

Image result for water a guaranteed public serviceWhat if water were treated as a basic human right? For utilities to be empowered to treat service as such, policy changes would be needed in many places, including New Jersey.

“The problem is that New Jersey has no routine system for helping poor households afford water (and sewer) services. For residential energy, the NJ Board of Public Utilities regulates essentially all providers, and New Jersey has established several programs for temporary and long-term assistance. The same is not true of water supply utilities, since there are hundreds of government and privately owned water utilities in New Jersey. Establishing a unique household assistance program in each of these utilities would be an administrative nightmare, and some are too small or serve too poor an area to provide this aid,” Van Abs wrote.

“A broader approach is needed. New Jersey needs to take a hard look at how its poorest households will maintain access to water utility services as water and sewer rates increase. We shouldn’t allow the Detroit question to become the New Jersey problem,” Van Abs wrote.

Image credit: “running faucet,” Steve Johnson © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPED

This is a very serious universal topic – one that affects each and everyone of us.  Let’s make it a priority to be pro-active – do research, access local resources, attend meetings, lobby your Members of Parliament. There is a plethora of related videos on Youtube – well worth viewing!  

http://www.wateronline.com/doc/is-water-a-right-commodity-or-service-0001?

World Oceans Day 2015 ~ Must See Videos

ocean dayThe following article, “4 Must-See Videos on World Oceans Day” was posted yesterday on EcoWatch 
The PEW Charitable Trusts | June 8, 2015

The ocean covers nearly three-fourths of the globe and is home to nearly half of the world’s known species—with countless yet to be discovered. It helps support more than 250 million people who depend directly or indirectly on fishing for their livelihoods. Still, human activities increasingly threaten its health. Although 72 percent of the world is covered by the ocean, less than 2 percent of these waters are fully protected.

Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners, works with local communities, governments, and scientists around the world to protect and conserve some of our most important and unspoiled ocean environments. These efforts have helped double the amount of protected marine habitat worldwide over the last nine years. That includes two recent achievements: expansion of the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in September 2014 and the British government’s announcement in March 2015 that it will create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

Research shows that large, fully protected marine reserves are essential to rebuilding species abundance and diversity and protecting overall ocean health. To commemorate World Oceans Day on June 8, we invite you to watch four videos that highlight why fully protected marine reserves are critical to safeguarding these waters and the broader environment.


Caring for the environment has long been an important element of Palau’s culture. For centuries, chiefs have acted to protect these Pacific waters through the traditional “bul,” a moratorium on catching key species or fishing on reefs that provide critical habitat. Commonly referred to as “one of the seven underwater wonders of the world,” Palau’s ecosystems contain remarkable biodiversity, including more than 1,300 species of fish, more than 700 species of hard and soft coral, seven of the world’s nine types of giant clam, and non-stinging jellyfish. Pew was invited by Palau’s president to help create a large fully protected marine reserve in the island nation’s exclusive economic zone.


Located in the southeastern Pacific nearly 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) from mainland Chile, Easter Island has a rich cultural and environmental heritage. The island’s monumental sculpted heads have stood sentinel over this natural wonder, known as Rapa Nui in local Polynesian language, for centuries. Ancient Polynesians traveled through Easter Island’s waters for thousands of years using only the stars and the ocean for navigation. While largely unexplored, these seas are known to contain geological hot spots and areas of rare biodiversity that sustain highly migratory fish species. They also are known for ancient seamounts, 8.4 million to 13.1 million years old. Pew is working with the Rapa Nui community and the Chilean government to protect these ecologically important waters.


In March 2015, the British government announced its commitment to create the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the waters surrounding the Pitcairn Islands. A small U.K. overseas territory in the South Pacific, Pitcairn has one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world. Within these waters lies one of the best-preserved ecosystems, a complex community of hard and soft corals that is home to hundreds of species of fish, including two found nowhere else on Earth. Pew, on behalf of the Global Ocean Legacy campaign partners, is working with the British government and the Pitcairn Island community to implement the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve to safeguard this important habitat for future generations.


The Kermadec region, a remote area between New Zealand’s North Island and Tonga, includes some of the most geologically active and biologically unusual features on Earth. Extending in places to a depth of more than 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), the Kermadec-Tonga Trench is the deepest in the Southern Hemisphere, five times deeper than the Grand Canyon. The waters are teeming with birds, whales, dolphins, fish, turtles, and many unique sea creatures, some that exist only there. The area provides important habitat for deep-diving mammals such as sperm whales. Half of the known beaked whales—at least 10 species—are thought to inhabit these waters, perhaps the world’s richest habitat for these rare and elusive animals.

http://ecowatch.com/2015/06/08/videos-world-oceans-day/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=bbecb54128-Top_News_6_8_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-bbecb54128-85936497

Lake Vanishes Every Summer ~ Awesome!

1-LOST LAKEAll The Water In This Lake Vanishes Down a Hole Every Summer May 6, 2015 | by Janet Fang of IFLSCIENCE

photo credit: A screenshot of the lava tube draining Lost Lake from a youtube video by Ryan Brennecke for The Bulletin

In the mountains of Oregon, there’s a shallow lake just off the highway that disappears once a year during the dry summer months, then reappears during the wetter seasons. It’s called Lost Lake, and its magical vanishing act is thanks to a lava tube.

These geographic features form when streaming lava cools and hardens at the top while the hot insides beneath the surface continue to flow downhill. The tunnel that’s left behind may open up a hole after an eruption or through erosion. Lava tubes ranging from trash-can-sized little guys to subway-tunnel-sized ones you can walk through are scattered across the volcanic terrain of Central Oregon and the Cascade Range.

Several small streams flow into the 0.34-square-kilometer (0.13-square-mile) Lost Lake, and they all drain into one (possibly two) of these large holes on the north side of the lake. Water starts pouring in during the late fall, and it continues throughout the rain and snowstorms. “It fills up in the winter, when input exceeds the rate of draining, and then it goes dry and it’s a meadow,” Willamette National Forest spokeswoman Jude McHugh tells The Bulletin of Bend, Oregon. The hole has been there as long as anyone can remember.

Here’s a very cool video from The Bulletin of Lost Lake funneling down the lava tube drain hole, the lake’s only known outlet:

Published on Apr 23, 2015 – Water from Lost Lake drains down one of the many lava tubes scattered throughout the Central Oregon Cascades. The water is most likely seeping into the subsurface below and refilling the massive aquifer that feeds springs on both sides of the Cascades. The story: j.mp/1aXYVBU.

Lost Lake probably formed about 3,000 years ago, when lava flowing from a volcanic vent blocked a river channel to create a lake, McHugh tells Live Science. It sits atop 12,000-year-old volcanic rock that was filled with bubbles back when it was forming. When the gas escaped into the atmosphere, it left behind pores alongside various cracks and fissures throughout landscape.

We don’t know if the water flowing into the hole travels to an outlet, though McHugh thinks that it likely seeps into the porous subsurface below—recharging the aquifer that feeds the springs on either side of the Cascades. It can take a decade for the water to filter down through all those holes and cracks.

“Here in western Oregon, it pops out at the valley floor and supplies drinking water and important habitat for humans, fish and all kinds of species,” she adds. “That water that fell today, there’s some kid that’s going to be born tomorrow that’s going to be drinking it when he’s 10.” [Via Live Science, The Bulletin]

NYC Water Tank Project ~ Fabulous Results!

ICON
Launching summer 2014, The Water Tank Project will transform the New York City skyline.  Look up! Some 300 water tanks around NYC are getting artsy makeovers all in the name of water conservation.

Run by Word Above the Street, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and water conservation through art, the Water Tank Project looks like it will be a gushing success.water-tank-project-new-york-2.jpg

Art gets wrapped around NYC water tanks | ZoomIN

The Water Tank Project is the inaugural initiative of Word Above the Street, a non-profit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and social advocacy through art. The incredible Water Tank Project will see approximately 100 local artists, including NYC public school students and internationally acclaimed artists such as Laurie Simmons and Odili Donald Odita, wrapping their artwork around selected city tanks. JORDI FORNIESArtwork by acclaimed artists and New York City public school students will be wrapped around rooftop water tanks throughout the city, celebrating the talents of established and emerging artists, and calling attention to the global water crisis. IMAGE3The Water Tank Project is part art exhibition, part awareness campaign. For the duration of the project, art above will be complemented by action on the ground through educational programs, public tours, social media activities and a symposium dedicated to inspiring fresh views on global water issues. 

For the duration of the city-wide event, tanks from Staten Island to the Bronx will be wrapped in vibrant artwork in hopes of bringing much-needed attention to global water issues. Often overlooked as rooftop eyesores, some of the 17,000 water tanks in Manhattan date back as far as the Industrial Revolution. While some may consider the rusty relics a thing of the past today, the Water Tank Project brings an important environmental purpose to the large iconic barrels.

IMAGE2 DOG

If you happen to be at Union Square, look up at the water tower above the Burlington Coat Factory. There’s a picture of a surfing dog on it, taken by fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Part of the Water Tank Project, this is one of several water towers around the city that will be wrapped in artwork to raise awareness about the global water crisis.
“I once had a dog named Palomino. He was an English Golden Retriever who loved nothing more than freewheeling like a hot dog surfer on the level of Kelly Slater. Whether on water or on land, with Palomino life was always an adventure”
. Bruce Weber, “Palomino Takes a Wave”.

ODILI DONALD ODITA
This painting called “Current” by Odili Odeta  – 282 11th Ave  (Chelsea) can be seen in the skyline to the left of Laurie Simmons’ Love Doll .

SWIMMER LAURIE SIMMONSSince I moved to New York many years ago I’ve wondered what it would be like to swim in a water tank. The Love Doll gets to enact this fantasy for me.” Laurie Simmons 

BACTERIA“Despite the fact that Georgia, the country where I was born, has numerous rivers, in the days of the Soviet Empire, when nothing was working well, there were many hours a day when we were without water. During my life I have lived in different countries, countries where water only runs during certain hours of the day. For my work for the water tank, “Bacteria”, my thoughts were focused on the contamination of water. Water can cause health problems; that made me think of the bacteria in water. We associate water with purity, cleanliness, and well-being. In many areas of the world, this is not the case. I imagined water bacteria in my painting for The Water Tank Project to raise awareness.” — Eteri Chkadua

SIGRID CALON

The Sigrid Calon tank at 530 West 25th St. in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood.

FEMALE FIGURE LORENZO PETRANTONIWater Means Life – Lorenzo Petrantoni – 393 W Broadway (SoHo) 

GUSH As you stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan, look to the South to view Marilyn Minter’s Gush atop 264 Water Street. SCOTT CHRISTOPHERTessa Traeger – 110 Fulton Street Tessa Traeger (Financial District)

IMAGE1Our aim is to produce art as social intervention, to inspire awe and joy, to educate, and to alter attitudes and habits among those who experience The Water Tank Project, ultimately creating meaningful and long-lasting change.

POTTERYThe organizers of the event hope that by decorating the tanks, the artsy initiative will inspire awe and joy as well as educate and alter everyday attitudes and habits towards water conservation. In addition to the water tank makeovers, the organization is planning tours, parties, educational programs and multiple forums discussing global water issues.

seen from Union SquareInterestingly, the printed wraps are installed on the tanks by Isseks Brothers, a family-owned NYC business established in the late 1800s. Isseks is one of only two companies in New York City that build and maintain water tanks. 

Tragic! Ocean choking on 8 million metric tons plastic per year

 

Episode 6 Ocean Requiem, uploaded on Jun 30, 2009.  This is a rather slow moving video but the end is very touching. This is a good relaxing video with a message so enjoy and visit seashephard.org to see how you can help. 

February 13, 2015
Plastic in oceanPromo image Lindsay Robinson/University of Georgia
As Maggie recently wrote about, there’s a lot of plastic crap in Earth’s oceans; The latest estimate was that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our seas, weighing over 250,000 tons. That’s about 700 pieces of plastic for every human on earth.

Image result for Jenna Jambeck university of GeorgiaBut a new study paints an even more alarming picture of the situation. Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the University of Georgia found that an incredibly large amount of plastic waste is mismanaged by the populations living in coastal area, and that even a conservative estimate of how much ends up in the sea puts adds up to between 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic. Per year. (8 million is the mid-point of the estimate).

Part of the problem is that some of the countries with the largest coastal populations – mostly in Asia – are also developing nations with inadequate infrastructure to deal with all the waste that they generate.

Here one of the authors of the study explains the methodology behind the numbers and also gives a warning about the future if we don’t clean up our act on waste management:

Image result for From there, we looked at what percent of that waste is plasticOur methods for this estimate were to look at per person waste generation rates in 2010 from 192 countries with a coastline in the world. Because people’s activities nearest the coast are responsible for most of the plastic going into the water, we limited our analysis to a 50km strip of the coastline. From there, we looked at what percent of that waste is plastic, and what percentage of THAT is mismanaged waste (which means litter or when waste is not captured and dumped on the land). From there we had three scenarios of input into the ocean: low, mid and high. Our 8 million metric ton estimate is that mid-range scenario. 8 million metric tons of plastic is equal to 5 bags filled with plastic going into the ocean along every foot of coastline in the world. That… is HUGE.

And it can get worse. If we assume a business as usual projection with growing populations, increasing plastic consumption and increased waste generation, by 2025, this number doubles – we may be adding 17.5 million metric tons of plastic per year. If that happens, then our cumulative input over time from 2010 to 2025 is projected to be 155 million metric tons.

The solutions to this plastic pollution problem are known, we just need to actually do it. We need to cut back on plastic production in the first place, so there’s less of it in the system. Then whatever is left needs to all be captured and managed properly. This requires not only better infrastructure (especially in poorer areas of the world), but also social and cultural changes. People need to be educated on what needs to be done with their trash in general, and plastic specifically.

 

Canadian water/wastewater sectors need climate change planning

“No Time to Lose – Canadian water and wastewater sectors must
adapt to climate change” by Hiran Sandanayake appeared in watercanada’s July / Aug 2014 issue

CWWAA few years ago, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA ) staff asked its members a simple question: “How prepared are the Canadian water and wastewater sectors for climate change and extreme events?”

The following creative Youtube video, “Water and climate change : let’s adapt!”, published on Jul 30, 2014, mentions many vital concerns:

On the World Environment Day 2014, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency launched an animated film on adaptation to climate change in the water sector.  Climate change is here. Let’s adapt! The French Government, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency, the regions of Franche-Comté, Burgundy, Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur have engaged in a plan to adapt to change climate. Making the ground permeable again to allow water to infiltrate, reducing water waste, preserving wetlands and biodiversity… the plan proposes a range of measures to reduce the vulnerability of territories.

 After discussions, meetings, and a poll, the CWWA developed a quick snapshot. There was some good news: some municipalities saw climate change as a risk worth addressing. Some of them were establishing climate-change policies and strategies, quantifying climate-change risk, and developing adaptation programs for climate change and extreme events.

Unfortunately, there were warning signs, too. There appeared to be a wide range in levels of preparedness across the country. As the national voice for the water and wastewater sector, CWWA felt it urgent to advocate for climate-change adaptation and provide guidance.
CWWA created a new national technical committee for climate change. Since then, it has been bringing early adaptation adopters and champions together to spark a dialogue, learn from each other’s experiences, and learn about data and technical tools available for water and wastewater managers and utilities.

Another short video published Oct. 14, 2013 dealing with this topic is,”Preparing Great Lakes Cities for Climate Change: Adapting to Change and Building Resilience”, emphasizing collaboration between Canada and the USA regarding these concerns.

For communities in the Great Lakes region climate change poses unique challenges and creates intriguing opportunities. While many regions of the country face catastrophic threats of sea level rise or tragic outbreaks of wildfires, climate change impacts in the Great Lakes region create more subtle and insidious stresses on the way we live, work and play in our communities. At the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute, we are working to address these impacts and develop strategies for building more resilient cities.

Through my role as chair of the climate-change committee, I have had the privilege of learning from and working with a broad range of professionals from water and wastewater utilities, the private sector, government departments, and academia. During this time, some themes have become apparent to me:
• Adaptation to climate change often requires multi-disciplinary approaches.
• Climate-change planning is founded on many existing municipal planning processes.
• Incremental approaches to climate-change adaptation may not be sufficient.
• Local climate-change risk assessments and proper data are critical to making informed decisions. Without these, proposed solutions may result in monies not being spent on the true priorities or, worse,
may result in maladaption (unintentional exacerbation of vulnerabilities).
• Applying a true climate-change lens to water and wastewater planning may result in different solutions; place new emphasis on non-traditional or non-infrastructure intensive approaches to water management and protection during extreme events; force us to re-examine traditional approaches to uncertainty, risk, vulnerability, and level of service; and require changes now to increase resiliency.
Lessons from extreme events can be instructive for climate-change planning. These events sometimes highlight linkages not readily apparent during normal operations (for example, the limitations of municipal human resources, municipal cash flow/financing, public preparedness, et cetera). In some cases, the lack of mandates and efforts coordinated between jurisdictions can also further complicate adaptation efforts.
Funding for climate-change adaptation is needed, not only by the municipal utilities but also by the regional, provincial, and federal departments that are providing research, technical guidance, and coordination.

Though we have already seen successes in climate change adaptation and collaboration, we are still in the early days of this process. For our part, the CWWA climate-change committee will be Image result for CWWA climate-changepolling municipalities to get an updated survey of the state of climate-change adaptation. We are also creating an electronic resource databank and have other technical and coordination initiatives in the early planning stages.

The time is now to begin the adaptation process. Quantifying local risks and increasing resiliency now is the best and most cost-effective strategy.

HIRANHiran Sandanayake, P.Eng., is a senior water resources engineer with the City of Ottawa and chair of the CWWA ’s climate-change committee.

Interesting related article ~ 
http://www.horizons.gc.ca/eng/book/export/html/1888