Tag Archives: Kemptville

Weather Change, Water Crisis, Civil Unrest…Iran fits a pattern

Nigeria, Syria, Somalia, and now Iran. In different ways in each of these 4 countries a water crisis has contributed to civil unrest, migration, insurgency, and even war. As we see the effects of climate change there are lessons here for a great many more countries to learn. Consider the World Resources Institute has let it be known that the rise of water stress on a global scale means that by 2040 33 countries will be facing bleak situations.

Water shortages can spark street protests. Access to water has been a common source of unrest in India. This situation can be used by terrorist groups, as Al Shabab in Somalia has sought to do in vulnerable drought stricken areas. Water shortages can help spur movement from the country side to cities. Young men unable to live off the land, go on the move, and become targets for recruiters of groups like Boka Haram in Nigeria, Chad, and Niger.

Iran is the latest country where a water crisis has fed popular discontent. In what is already on of the most parched areas of the world, farms have turned barren and lakes have become dust bowls. Millions of people hit the road to towns and cities, joblessness has led to mounting discontent among the young. Then came a crippling drought lasting some 14 yrs.

In short a water crisis can be an early warning of trouble ahead, whether this situation is from natural or man-made causes. A panel of retired military officials in the US recently warned that water stress or a shortage of fresh water would emerge as a growing factor in the world’s hot spots. With a growing world population and the impact of climate change the challenges will mount.

Iran is projected to get hotter and drier. A former Iranian agriculture minister, Issa Kalantari, once said the water scarcity, if left unchecked would lead to 50 million Iranians leaving the country.

Water is surely not the reason for the recent civil unrest in Iran…at least not entirely. But the lack of water in the lakes, wells, or taps is a common and visible marker of the Iranian governments failure to deliver a basic human need. Managing water is a most important policy challenge.


Andy the Traveling Tiger Shark

For over a decade researchers have been tagging and tracking sharks in order to study their migratory patterns and more. One shark in particular, Andy, is now the longest ever tracked tiger shark, providing years worth of data for researchers.

Andy was tagged in Bermuda by scientists from Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute in 2014. Since then Andy has traveled some 37,565 miles off the  eastern coast of North America, around Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos. He is now the longest tracked tiger shark on record..and just keeps on going. 1,240 days and counting.

The benefit to us is that by having Andy tracked over several seasons we get to see a track revealing repeated patterns in the shark’s migration between summer and winter. More than 150 sharks of various types have been or are being tracked, with the data collected being used to study the migration patterns of these incredible  creatures. These tagged sharks can be followed online at nova.edu/sharktracking.

By getting to know the movement patterns of the sharks we can better understand their behavior  and habit utilization, giving us better knowledge on managing these apex predators.

What we have found out is that tiger sharks migrations are influenced by a shark’s physical characteristics..size , age..and environmental variations..water temperatures and prey availability. It is revealed that environmental factors drive large migrations of tiger sharks and it is also highlighted that different age groups behave differently. With this information fisheries managers could reevaluate how best to protect this near threatened species.

Road Salt


Winter is here and in Ottawa we love our road salt.. so are deicers safe for the environment and drinking water?

To begin with salt was first used in the USA in New Hampshire in 1938 as an experiment. By the winter of 1941-1942, a total of 5,000 tons of salt was spread on American highways. Between 10-20 million tons are used today. This huge increase in the use of road salt has caused an alarming increase in the salinity of the water. The negative impact on the environment is of concern, as well as the impact on our drinking water.

Road salt or rock salt is sodium chloride. Table salt is exactly the same chemical. The US EPA has set limits for allowable levels of chloride in water, but not sodium. In high amounts both sodium and chloride are harmful to aquatic organisms. Sodium is a primary concern for humans, as it can be harmful to people with high blood pressure.

We do need salt in our diets . Most of us get between 4,000-6,000 mg per day, most of which comes from food. A person on a sodium reduced diet are limited to 1,000-3,000 mg per day. A person drinking 2 liters of water per day should get 100 mg of sodium in his water per day. However , in a water well study 347 mg of sodium was found in a liter of water. This is significant if you are on a sodium reduced diet.

A couple of things to consider are that higher concentrations of sodium and chloride are often found in pockets  of ground water. Secondly, there is a legacy effect of salt in the environment, which means that concentrations in surface and groundwater will increase, perhaps for decades…even if we stop using salt today. So , the average concentration of 48 mg/l we see today could be much higher in the future.

Road salt can also damage metal and concrete, contaminate drinking water, damage road side vegetation, and accumulates in streams lakes , and rivers harming aquatic plants and animals. Trends show that even in our rural areas road salt in increasing in our waterways , and can take decades to wash out of a water shed , increases in concentrations of salt may be seen even after it’s use has stopped.

Safe roads are always important, so what are alternative deicers. Currently , there is no perfect alternative to road salt, but research is ongoing.

Water Canada’s Top Stories of 2017

While we celebrated Canada 150, 2017 was a year of political tension and turmoil when it comes to water. Events occurred that has caused some uncertainty from natural disasters to disruptive technologies , and new world order. 

Positive infrastructure investments got underway across the country and a new Canada Infrastructure Bank hints at greater investments in the future. Quebec and Ontario made good progress in terms of wetland preservation, the Mackenzie River management took steps forward, and national flood plain mapping developed.

Unfortunately not all was good…Trump , NAFTA, and cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative have not been positives.

Uncertainty is still prevalent in First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. Water advisories were lifted in some areas , but added in other areas. Relations with indigenous leaders are being reset as the Ministry of indigenous and Northern Affairs passed over its water responsibilities to the newly created Ministry of Indigenous Services.

@017 was also big with talk of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, that promises to make operators and city officials all-knowing in their optimization and asset management.

Federal and provincial governments provided stimulus for homegrown innovation. In the future we will continue to be an innovative nation pushing to be a world leader.

The Caribbean is stressed out.

Forty percent of the world’s 7.6 billion people live in coastal areas. A team including Smithsonian marine biologists just released 25 years of data about the health of Caribbean coasts. The study provides new insights into the influence of both local and global stressors in the basin, and some hope that the observed changes can be reversed by local environmental management.

The longest and largest program to monitor the health of the coastal ecosystems shows that water quality has decreased at 43% of the monitoring stations. Interestingly  increased water temperatures expected in the case of global warming was not detected across the sites.


Changes in local conditions are seen…like visibility, which is noted in declining water quality and increased presence of people. Significant increase in water temps was not seen, but satellites only measure the surface temps. Underwater temps are much more variable.

More than 25 yrs ago researchers at Institutions across the Caribbean began to set up monitoring stations to gather environmental data on mangroves, sea grass beds, and coral reefs at coastal sites. They began to take weekly measurements of water temperatures, salinity, and visibility at sites that would avoid interference from human activity.  29 sites were involved in Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Colombia, Costa Rico, Florida, Jamaica, Mexico , Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. The gathered information was gathered into a single data set.


Despite attempts to locate monitoring stations in out-of-the-way places, stations are picking up signs of human influence across the Caribbean basin.

One positive note is that people are capable of dealing with local changes by regulating pollution and run off. If the people of the Caribbean nations act quickly we can see the reversal of some of these changes.

How to care for your Christmas Tree

Watering your tree is critical..A fresh cut tree can consume 1 gallon of water in 24hours.

When you first bring your home cut a couple of inches off the bottom. when trees are first cut sap oozes out and seals the pores. Open up those pores and the tree can drink.

Never let the water go below the trees base.

Keep the tree away from heat sources. The lower the temp the better the tree will do.

Some people add aspirin or sugar to the water…can’t really say if this helps one way or another.


Shade Balls

Los Angeles dropped 96 million “Shade Balls”, into the Los Angeles Reservoir in an attempt to cope with California’s severe drought by reducing evaporation and fight algae growth.

Los Angeles has turned it’s main reservoir into a giant ball pit. The reservoir holds 3.3 billion gallons of water, enough o supply the city with drinking water for 3 weeks. Recently the Mayor supervised the addition of more 4 inch black balls, bring the total to 96 million plastic balls over 175 acres.

The city believes the balls will shade and cool the water, reducing evaporation and making it less susceptible to algae. bacteria growth, and chemical reactions that can produce harmful substances.

The Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power is trying to be creative in dealing with long-term drought. The balls cost 36 cents each for a total of $34 million. the shade balls reduce evaporation by 85-90%. This should equal some 300 million gallons per year…providing drinking water for 8,100 people.

The balls inhibit the growth of microorganisms reducing the amount of treatment required. Over time the city projects this will save them $250 million.

Made of black polyethylene, shade balls are made with water so the don’t blow away. A coating resists UV rays and degradation..the balls should last about 25yrs. The shade balls probably won’t release any toxic materials into the water supply.

The Loa Angeles utility is the first to use the shade balls on such a scale. L.A. has cut water use by 15% over the last two years, with the shade balls being part of a larger program of reducing irrigation and other measures.