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Earth Day Water News Roundup

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 12:43:32 PM EST

The problem of water scarcity is a growing worldwide phenomenon. Net renewable water resources per capita have declined dramatically over a single generation, and in little less than 20 years from now will reach dangerously low levels. Water scarcity already affects every single continent and four of every ten people in the world. The situation is getting worse due to population growth, urbanization and the increase in domestic and industrial water use. By 2025, nearly 2 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water shortage, where water resources per person fall well below the recommended level of 500 cubic meters per year (this is the amount of water a person needs for a healthy and hygienic living).

Poor water quality increases the risk of diarrhoeal diseases including cholera, typhoid fever, salmonellosis, other gastrointestinal viruses, and dysentery. Water scarcity may also lead to diseases such as trachoma, plague and typhus. Everyone needs water and everyone needs to take responsibility. Actively support governments, non-governmental organizations and private foundations which are making it a priority to deliver affordable good quality water to people. In short, do your part by conserving, recycling and protecting water more efficiently. Here are the news:


First, as an avid reader of all things published in pdf format, here's an interesting one on water scarcity, commissioned by the UN and published in 2005, a good, interesting read and still relevant today.

Spain plans pipeline to avert Catalan water crisis:

Spain - Spain's national government in Madrid, after much wrangling with the drought-stricken region of Catalunya (Catalonia), announced that a pipeline would be built to pump water from the Ebro River to the regional capital, Barcelona. It's a reversal of Madrid's former position, but Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega conceded that the situation was an emergency, since Barcelona will run out of drinking water by October. (Source: SignOnSanDiego by Martin Roberts and Sonya Dowsett)

Lake Albert rescue begins:

Australia - Earthmoving machinery is building a wall between Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina in the Australian state of South Australia prior to the pumping of water from Alexandrina into its dried-out neighbor. Andrew Beal of the government's technical working group explained that artificially recharging Lake Albert was the only way to prevent falling water levels from exposing the lakebed and raising the concentration of sulfuric acid in the water. This would, in turn, threaten ecological collapse, he said. (Source: ABC News Online)

Four people killed in tribal clashes in Yemen:

Yemen - Four people were killed and five others wounded during clashes between two tribes in Yemen's Dalei Province, reported national security officials. The dispute arose over the digging of a well. (Source: Saudi Press Agency)

Gila River on List of Most Endangered Rivers:

New Mexico - The Gila River, shared by New Mexico and Arizona, has appeared on American Rivers' annual list of the country's most endangered waterways. The environmental group pointed to a proposed water-diversion project on the upper Gila as a threat to both that river and its tributary, the San Francisco. In 2004, Congress approved the Arizona Water Settlements Act, which affirmed New Mexico's right to take about 14,000 acre-feet of water from the two rivers. (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

Mauritius: The seawater desalination project is underway:

Mauritius - Preliminary work is underway to construct two seawater desalination plants at Pointe-Venus and Songes on the island of Mauritius (Ile Maurice). Commissioner Louis-Ange Perrine of Agriculture and Water Resources said that the projects will cost a total of 34 million rupees. Together, they'll produce 1000 cubic meters of potable water per day and are scheduled for completion by the end of May. (Source: allAfrica.com by Anil Ramessur)

Govt rules speculators out of water trading:

Australia - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Australia's Northern Territory announced that it would monitor the state's fledgling water market carefully to be sure that out-of-state speculators didn't jump in. Katherine farmers will be able to trade their irrigation licenses for the first time later this year. (Source: ABC News Online)

80% of groundwater in Sindh not fit for consumption:

Pakistan - Professor Muhammad Yar Khuhawar, project director of Sindh University's High-Tech Resources Central Laboratories in Jamshoro, Sindh, Pakistan, revealed that 80% of the groundwater in the province is either too saline to be fit for human consumption or impregnated with arsenic. (Source: The News)

Not all bad news: West Africa - Hope revives thanks to Eau Vive

Burkina Faso - The French-based non-governmental organization Eau Vive, in partnership with the Regional Council of Sahel Unions (CRUS), launched three nutrition and water projects in Dori, Seno Province, Burkina Faso, on 12 April. They're designed to alleviate potable water shortages and a lack of sanitation infrastructure in the rural communes of Mansila and Tankougounadie; to bolster food security in the area; and to build public latrines and a sewage treatment facility in Dori itself. (Source: allAfrica.com by Lassina Fabrice Sanou)

Melting Mountains A "Time Bomb" For Water Shortages:

Austria - Hydrologist Wouter Buytaert of Bristol University in England told a meeting of geoscientists in Vienna, Austria that global warming was melting glaciers and snowcaps earlier each year, creating "a time bomb" for the world's water supplies. The sooner snowmelt runs off, the less is available during the summer when rainfall is lower and people need it the most, she said, adding that small glaciers could vanish in 30-50 years. (Source: New York Times)

Feds not addressing drugs in water:

Washington, D.C. - In Washington DC, a government task force responsible for devising a Federal plan to deal with pharmaceuticals in drinking water missed its deadline and failed to produce mandated reports and recommendations. White House spokeswoman Kristin Scuderi said that task force agendas and minutes were classified as internal documents and couldn't be released at this time. (Source: Denver Post Online by Martha Mendoza)

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Happy Earth Day!
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 02:39:19 PM EST
It feels like celebrating the birthday of someone who has just learned they have 2 months to live.  All I can think is, it's going to die anyway... :(

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 02:44:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that it has anything to do with Earth Day, or with Europe, but a nice thing about Colorado Springs is that we have really good drinking water.

Thanks to the rich original colonists here (only a century ago), CS has first water rights to a bunch of mountain streams. A set of canals and tunnels and aquaducts carry the water down to our city water system (through three small hydroelectric plants). No problems with antibiotics or hormones here, and turning on a faucet is just like drinking out of a fresh snowmelt creek!

Since we're a "low taxes uber alles" crowd, we have sort of cheaped out on our sewage treatment system. This causes some friction with the next downstream city, Pueblo, where the people for some reason object to drinking our partially treated wastewater. Tough for them, I say!

But what really makes them mad is that we have, according to the wierd water ownership rules in the western part of the U.S., rights to Arkansas River water that flows down through the middle of their downtown water park. So we're in the process of getting permissions in place to suck some of the clean water from the Arkansas upstream of Pueblo, then dumping the effluent back into the stream that leads back to their water park. Boy, does that get them going!  :-)

http://www.sdswater.org/

by asdf on Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 10:51:12 PM EST
Snow melt water ? Isn't that a recipe for undermineralization ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 05:47:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but there is also the residual effect of mining in the same area as the water comes from, with the predictable associated mineralization. The Arkansas river flows through areas that have been heavily placer mined. So the bottom line is that we have really good water, but the water quality people do work hard to get it that way.
by asdf on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 07:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know this an old article but I wonder if much has changed or improved since...http://www.planning.org/25anniversary/planning/1987dec.htm
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 11:07:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "Buffalo Commons" idea was soundly rejected by the people living in the area, but the population density there continues to decline...
by asdf on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 01:58:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since we're a "low taxes uber alles" crowd, we have sort of cheaped out on our sewage treatment system. This causes some friction with the next downstream city, Pueblo, where the people for some reason object to drinking our partially treated wastewater. Tough for them, I say!
How can you in the same breath celebrate the quality of your spring water and then the fact that you don't treat your waste water?

These kinds of things are part of the reason why I believe unless you have some sort of political unit encompassing all the regions upriver of a given point there will be frictions.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 25th, 2008 at 02:35:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"How can you in the same breath celebrate the quality of your spring water and then the fact that you don't treat your waste water?"

Well, there was a certain amount of sarcasm in that post about Colorado Springs water. We do have good water, and we do get it from near the headwaters of the mountain streams, and we do have low levels of hormones and stuff that isn't taken out by conventional treatment plants. Conversely, many of the mountain watersheds in Colorado are seriously polluted due to mining waste, so the supply is not perfect.

The issue of waste treatment is exactly as you say, it depends which side of the plant you are on. Colorado Springs does treat its effluent before putting it into the river that goes on towards Pueblo, and CS meets the minimum EPA requirements. But there have been a lot of spills due to poorly maintained sewers, which puts a higher burden on the downstream inlet treatment plants. Pueblo would like to see distilled water coming in, CS would like to dump raw sewage, and the reality is somewhere in between.

Your main point about needing a regional approach is exactly correct. The sins of Colorado Springs--from the view of Pueblo--are similar to the sins of Pueblo--from the view of La Junta. But instead of taking a coordinated approach to the water quality issue, each city tries to optimize its own cost and benefit without concern for the others.

This is in stark contrast to the situation in the region around Las Vegas, Nevada, where the water supply issue is a much, much bigger problem. Some years ago they developed a regional approach that is based on cooperation amongst a number of local authorities. When the problem gets really, really bad, sometimes people do end up cooperating!

by asdf on Fri Apr 25th, 2008 at 04:38:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Compare to this map of population density:

And finally:

Water scarcity, high population, and low income feed-off each other as a high population density restricts the amount of land available per family, lack of water means the land is marginal for food production, the lack of income mean they can't do anything about it.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 01:49:00 AM EST
As demonstrated on the Colbert Report (2008.04.15):

Also, see this Business 2.0 interview from 2006.

A language is a dialect with an army and navy.

by marco on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 07:51:00 AM EST
Spain's national government in Madrid, after much wrangling with the drought-stricken region of Catalunya (Catalonia), announced that a pipeline would be built to pump water from the Ebro River to the regional capital, Barcelona. It's a reversal of Madrid's former position, but Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega conceded that the situation was an emergency, since Barcelona will run out of drinking water by October.
The claim is that this will just extend an existing pipeline taking water from the Ebro to nearby Tarragona, and that only the excess capacity not used by agriculture will be diverted to Barcelona. A short TV report on Spanish TV last weekend showed a rice (yes, rice) farmer flooding his field near Tarragona with water from the existing pipeline and explaining that, were they to lose their additional water in favour of Barcelona, the "rise of the water table" will make the land salty and barren. I immediately thought it was time to stop farming rice...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 25th, 2008 at 02:30:38 AM EST
Do you know where one can find data on net renewable water resources per capita, by country or region?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 25th, 2008 at 02:37:30 AM EST
"Do you know where one can find data on net renewable water resources per capita, by country or region?"

In the U.S., water resources are managed by the USGS. For example, http://water.usgs.gov/

by asdf on Fri Apr 25th, 2008 at 04:41:00 AM EST
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