Category Archives: Drought

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)

California’s water crisis ~ Alarming prediction!

1-CALIFORNIA WATER CRISIS

These Maps of California’s Water Shortage Are Terrifying

California's water shortage

The following was posted on savethewater.org, by Tom Philpott, Oct. 30, 2014.

Just how bad is California’s water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state’s ongoing and epochal drought:

The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. “California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011,” he writes. That’s “more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”

Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe’s aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.

FARMER IN FIELDMore than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it’s also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.

The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: “Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned.”

The Central Valley boasts some of the globe’s fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe’s largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, “underlie the world’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”

CHART TO CROP

The navy-blue line represents the Ogallala aquifer—a magnificent water resource now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains. Note that it has quietly dropped nearly as much as the Central Valley’s aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in Punjab, India’s breadbasket and the main site of that irrigation-intensive agricultural “miracle” known as the Green Revolution, which industrialized the region’s farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China’s key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the water table there has been dropping steadily for years.

groundwater supplyAll of this is happening with very little forethought or regulation. Unlike underground oil, underground water draws very little research on how much is actually there. We know we’re siphoning it away faster than it can be replaced, but we have little idea of how long we can keep doing so, Famiglietti writes. He adds, though, that if current trends hold, “groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades.” As for regulation, it’s minimal across the globe. In most places, he writes, there’s a “veritable groundwater ‘free for all’: property owners who can afford to drill wells generally have unlimited access to groundwater.”

And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What’s left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. Eventually, “inequity issues arise because only the relatively wealthy can bear the expense of digging deeper wells, paying greater energy costs to pump groundwater from increased depths and treating the lower-quality water that is often found deeper within aquifers,” Famiglietti writes—a situation already playing out in California’s Central Valley, where some low-income residents have seen their wells go dry. In a reporting trip to the southern part of the Central Valley this past summer, I saw salt-caked groves with wan, suffering almond trees—the result of irrigation with salty water pumped from deep in the aquifer.

All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth—so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water. Famiglietti’s piece ends with a set of recommendations for bringing the situation under control: Essentially, let’s carefully measure the globe’s groundwater and treat it like a precious resource, not a delicious milkshake to casually suck down to the dregs. In the meantime, Famiglietti warns, “further declines in groundwater availability may well trigger more civil uprising and international violent conflict in the already water-stressed regions of the world, and new conflict in others.”

http://savethewater.org/maps-californias-water-shortage-terrifying/

Related link ~ http://yournewswire.com/global-collapse-coming-from-groundwater-supply-depletion-nasa/

California Drought Crisis affects U.S. and Canada

HOW BAD IS THIS DROUGHT GRAPHThe Nexus in Crisis – California’s drought is everybody’s problem, by Kerry Freek, is from WaterCanada’s Mar/April 2014 issue

Dangerously low river levels might be a gold prospector’s dream, but California’s drought—gearing up to be the worst in the United States on record this century—is quickly becoming a widespread nightmare.
NOAAAt the end of January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that water levels in all but a few reservoirs in the state were at less than 50 per cent of capacity. DROUGHT MONITORBy February, drought had affected every square inch of the state in some capacity, and the U.S. federal government announced that nearly 15 per cent of the state, and much of the farmland, is experiencing extreme conditions. On February 19, the Chicago Tribune reported that 10 communities were at acute risk of running out of drinking water in 60 days.
WATER COALITIONThis extreme drought is leading to extreme measures. California’s farmers, who receive nearly 80 per cent of the state’s water allocations, are facing significant cutbacks—and, in some cases, they’re losing water delivery completely. In February, Central Valley farmers learned the state’s largest delivery system would provide no water to the area, which produces half of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables in the United States. The California Farm Water Coalition says this means farmers will leave 500,000 acres of land unplanted in the 2014 season.
OBAMAYou can guess what that might mean for the country. “California is our biggest agricultural producer, so what happens here matters to every working American, right down to the cost of food that you put on your table,” said U.S. President Obama in an address in the same month.

SYLVAIN CHARLEBOISCanadians will feel the impact,  too. University of Guelph economics professor Sylvain Charlebois told CTV News the price of food products imported from California could soon increase by as much as 20 per cent.


Beyond just feeling the impact, Canadians also have an active role to play 
in mitigating the effects of this disaster— especially when it comes to energy.

SIGN2According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, almost 14 per cent of the nation’s hydroelectric generating capacity is concentrated in California. Lower river levels hinder the state’s ability to produce energy.
While natural gas can make up much of the difference, the drought increases demand for this resource in a time when much of the United States and Canada is (or, by the time you read this note, was) in a deep freeze.

GAS PRICES SOARThe unprecedented demand for natural gas has impacted fuel supplies, driving the price of the resource skyward. During this time of crisis, Californians are being asked to conserve both water and energy.
SIGNThat’s just the beginning for  California. The effects of the drought will be lasting, especially in the farming sector where many people have lost their livelihoods. Both state and federal governments are directing emergency drought relief funds—$687 million and $200 million, respectively—to help California residents, farm workers, and communities deal with water shortages.
CROPPED SAVE WATER LOGOWhen we talk about water and its influence, the links between it and food, energy, and the economy—call it any kind of nexus, if you prefer—become dangerously apparent. Californians, and now the rest of North America, are learning that lesson the hard way.
The urgent challenge is to move those lessons to policy and action. After significant weather events, drought and flood alike, a country’s economy takes a major hit. Follow the money and, on top of the millions of dollars for aid, these events result in higher prices for things like food, energy, and insurance, not to mention the increased threat to environmental and human health and safety.
SIGNWill this finally be the crisis that spurs us to action? Perhaps now is the time to look at—and actually begin implementing—alternative sources of power, including sewage heat recovery (see “Wasted Potential” by Lynn Mueller in the Mar/Apr issue of WaterCanada). NATURAL DISASTERS SIGNWe must apply what we’ve learned to ensure this crisis doesn’t worsen or persist. We must be open to learning from this and other disasters— and ensure our systems are resilient enough to handle what Mother Nature throws our way.

CAL DROUGHT MONITOR 2014

KERRY FREEKKerry Freek,

Editor-at-large for WaterCanada

 

P.E.I.’S NEW WATER AUDIT PROGRAM

PEI WATER AUDIT

Switching to low-flow shower heads can cut water-use by half and save thousands of dollars from a hotel’s water bill. It’s just one of the suggestions the City of Charlottetown floated to hotels in a recent water audit. Laura Chapin explains in this CBC audio, ‘Conservation, policies and PEI’s water-use laws’, May 16, 2013 ~
http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2013/05/16/conservation-policies-and-peis-water-use-laws/

The following article, Be My Guest ‘Hotels participate in a new water audit program in Prince Edward Island.’ by Clark Kingsbury appears in the May/June issue of WaterCanada magazine.

Charlottetown’s Water and Sewer Utility Department has launched an innovative project aiming to improve water efficiency in the city’s hotels. The Hotel Audit project offers to identify easy, cost-effective way for hotels to reduce water waste by both guests and staff. The project will be executed in partnership with Holland College’s Energy Systems Engineering Technology program. Three hotels are currently involved.

“This pilot supports the tourism industry while also reducing the amount of water used in our city during the busy summer months,” says Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “Involving Holland College in the process allows us access to the expertise of its energy systems engineering technology program managers and provides students with an excellent educational opportunity.” The project requires students to perform the audits with water and sewer utility staff members.

Despite public concern about the amount of water consumed by cruise ships docking in Charlottetown’s harbour, the city’s hotels actually consume more water than the Harbour Authority uses in an entire year.

“It seems lately that the focus has moved from conservation to trying to assign blame to a particular industry for high water usage, but the reality is that it’s not one industry or sector that is to blame,” says the water and sewer utility’s chair, Edward Rice. “Conserving water and finding ways to keep water use down during the summer months is the collective responsibility of all businesses, sectors, and industries, as well as governments and residents.”

The audit includes testing of all water use in the participating facilities, and provides recommendations with payback periods based on anticipated savings on water and energy bills.

 

OKANAGAN BASIN – GAME ABOUT DROUGHT

IMAGE WITH SUN

This article, The Name of the Game is Drought, appeared in the July/Aug. issue of WaterCanada.
The Okanagan Basin Water Board engages regional stakeholders in a tournament of thirst, by Kerry Freek

FACING DROUGHT IS A GROWING NECESSITY

DROUGHT

In the United States, drought ranks second or third of natural disasters, depending on the year, in terms of economic impact. In Canada, dry periods—especially in the western provinces—are becoming more frequent and prolonged. It’s not news that severe water scarcity can devastate unprepared communities. But when people, nature, and economic activities share a watershed’s resources, how should local governments determine a pecking order in the event of an emergency? More importantly, how do they begin the tough process of creating emergency plans in advance?
The answer, some might say, is to make it fun, but keep it meaningful.

DROUGHT1

This past fall, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) kick-started the drought conversation in its region. In partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the organization brought together key players in government, as well as regional water suppliers, and reps from the agriculture, fisheries, and ranching communities to participate in a game about municipal thirst.
As part of the exercise, participants were divided into teams, given a drought scenario, and asked to identify and work through some of the issues anticipated with a drought, such as water reservoir management, the need for water for food production, and water for fish. The teams were given options for managing their water supply, and referees and other teams scored their decisions. Finally, the decisions were entered into a sophisticated computer program, known as the water evaluation and planning tool. With output from this tool, participants could understand and assess how their decisions would play out in a multi-year drought.
Teams quickly learned that any choice would impact water supply land, depending on how the scenarios were managed, they could increase or reduce conflict within the community. They also learned success comes down to collaboration, says Nelson Jatel of OBWB. “In these situations, it’s critical to communicate clearly and work together. The game allowed us to think through some of the complex partnerships that are key to surviving a drought.”
Gaming is gaining in popularity, and is beginning to be seen as a way to work through potential conflicts in the real world. “When we play a game, we tackle tough challenges with more creativity, more determination, more optimism, and we’re more likely to reach out to others for help,” says game designer Jane McGonigal in her June 2012 TED talk video – 

Osooyoos Mayor Stu Wells, who participated in the Okanagan game, believes drought in the region is a matter of when, not if. “To ensure the most positive outcomes, we need to know where the need for water is going to be, and what the consequences and trade offs of our decisions will be. “Our town has a drought management plan, but after this tournament, we need to review it and look at providing more incentives for water conservation. We want to prepare to be as resilient as possible.” The game has continued to improve. AAFC says it is working on a tool kit so people in other Canadian regions—and beyond—can run their own versions and have a bit of fun in the process.