Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘water

Selling your water supply to the highest bidder

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Business, in search of profits, takes the shortest possible view and ignores (and, if challenged, denies or minimizes) the long-range costs. Latest example:

Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens is about to make a killing by selling water he doesn’t own. As he does it, it will be praised as a planet-friendly wind project. After he pulls it off, the media will deride it as craven capitalism. In truth, it is one the most audacious examples of politics for profit, showing how big government helps the biggest business steal from the rest of us. The plotline behind Pickens’ water-and-wind scheme is almost too rich to believe. If it were a movie script, reviewers would dismiss it as over-the-top.

The basic story amounts to this: Pickens, thanks to favors from state lawmakers whose campaigns he funded, has created a new government whose only voters are two of his employers; this has empowered Pickens to more cheaply pump water from an aquifer and, by use of eminent domain, seize land across 11 counties in order to pipe the water to Dallas. To win environmentalist approval of this hardly “sustainable” practice, he has piggybacked this water project onto a windmill project pitched as an alternative to oil.

Pickens’ scheme is a perfect demonstration of why it’s worth asking cui bono — who benefits? — from regulatory and environmental initiatives. Last week, this column pointed out that Pickens, before his current lobbying blitz for increased federal support of wind power, built the largest wind farm in the world. …

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Written by Leisureguy

26 August 2008 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government

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Climate change and fresh water

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Although noted climatologist Dana Perino believes that global warming will have many benefits (for example, stress from cold weather could drop), there do seem to be some drawbacks. For example:

As sea levels rise, coastal communities could lose up to 50 percent more of their fresh water supplies than previously thought, according to a new study from Ohio State University.

Hydrologists here have simulated how saltwater will intrude into fresh water aquifers, given the sea level rise predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC has concluded that within the next 100 years, sea level could rise as much as 23 inches, flooding coasts worldwide.

Scientists previously assumed that, as saltwater moved inland, it would penetrate underground only as far as it did above ground.

But this new research shows that when saltwater and fresh water meet, they mix in complex ways, depending on the texture of the sand along the coastline. In some cases, a zone of mixed, or brackish, water can extend 50 percent further inland underground than it does above ground.

Like saltwater, brackish water is not safe to drink because it causes dehydration. Water that contains less than 250 milligrams of salt per liter is considered fresh water and safe to drink.

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Written by Leisureguy

7 November 2007 at 12:11 pm

The mystery: selling tap water in bottles

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How does that work? Now that I refill (not landfill) my water bottles at my tap (filtered, I admit, with a Brita filter), I can’t understand the folly of my fellows. How quickly we forget!

So the emperor really isn’t wearing any clothes. Last week PepsiCo announced that the label on its Aquafina brand of bottled water will soon carry the words “public water source”, instead of simply the innocent looking “P.W.S.”. That’s right: Aquafina is to all intents and purposes tap water. Coca-Cola is under pressure to follow suit with its Dasani brand, though so far it is refusing to do so. “We don’t believe that consumers are confused about the source of Dasani water,” Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said. “The label clearly states that it is purified water.”

No doubt Coca-Cola still remembers what happened in Britain in 2004, when the press made a stink over the fact that Dasani was simply filtered tap water. The company became a laughing stock, as readers were reminded of an episode of a popular TV comedy, “Only Fools and Horses”. In it Del Boy, a decidedly dodgy businessman, decides to bottle tap water, selling it as “Peckham Spring”, named after the unprepossessing inner-London borough. No sooner had the initial furore died down than Coca-Cola discovered that some of the water had been contaminated betwixt tap and bottle, and decided to admit defeat. Dasani was axed in Britain a mere five weeks after it was launched.

Will Pepsi’s new label have a similarly disastrous impact on sales of Aquafina, which is now the market leader in bottled waters in America? It is by no means inevitable.

The success of bottled water is in many ways one of capitalism’s greatest mysteries. Studies show consistently that tap water is purer than many bottled waters—not including those that contain only tap water, which by some estimates is 40% of the total by volume. The health benefits that are claimed for some bottled waters are unproven, at best. By volume, bottled water often costs 1,000 times the price of tap water. Indeed, even with oil prices sky high, a litre of bottled water can cost more than a litre of petrol. And on top of that, there are the environmental costs of transporting bottled water and of manufacturing and disposing of the bottles.

Yet sales of bottled water have been booming. In 2006 Americans spent nearly $11 billion buying 8.25 billion gallons (31.2 billion litres) of the stuff, an increase in volume of 9.5% on a year earlier. The average American drank 27.6 gallons of bottled water last year, up from 16.7 gallons in 2000.

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Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2007 at 9:53 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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Water shortages

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It looks bad. Check out this post. Some facts from that post:

Some U.S. Water Shortage Facts/Stats:

  • An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions
  • Florida doesn’t have nearly enough water for its expected population boom
  • In the West, the Sierra Nevada snow-pack is melting faster each year
  • The Great Lakes are shrinking
  • Upstate New York’s reservoirs have dropped to record lows
  • The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess.

Some Global Water Shortage Facts/Stats:

  • Australia is in the midst of a 30-year dry spell
  • Population growth in urban centers of sub-Saharan Africa is straining resources
  • Asia has 60% of the world’s population, but only about 30% of its freshwater (this stat cries — dry tears, no doubt — “investing opportunity!”)

About California and Florida, from the cited Yahoo article:

“Coastal states like Florida and California face a water crisis not only from increased demand, but also from rising temperatures that are causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. Higher temperatures mean more water lost to evaporation. And rising seas could push saltwater into underground sources of freshwater.”

Some General Worldwide Water Facts/Stats:

  • 97% of the world’s water is in the oceans, so only 3% is fresh
  • Of the 3% fresh water, 2/3rds is locked in glaciers and polar ice caps
  • Of the remaining 1%, about 1/2 is located beneath the earth’s surface
  • Rivers and lakes contain only about 1/50th of 1% of the earth’s water
  • Of the 3% fresh water, a significant portion is severely polluted or biologically contaminated
  • On any given day, more than 50% of the world’s human population is ill, with the majority of these cases caused by waterborne contaminants
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of this illness is caused by contaminated drinking water

Price Tag for Upgrading U.S. Water System?

“Experts estimate that just upgrading pipes to handle new supplies could cost…$300 billion over 30 years.”

Bottom-line?

As per a utility director quoted in the article,“NOT GOING TO BE ANY MORE CHEAP WATER.”

Written by Leisureguy

29 October 2007 at 11:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Global warming, Government

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More denial of drought

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A friend once commented that, in any group trying to make a decision on what to do, one person will inevitably say, “One thing we can do is to do nothing,” and look around with a smug smile as if a pearl of great wisdom had just been placed on the table.

That’s the person who seems to be charge of finding a response to the drought in the Southeast:

It’s not even real grass.

But in the midst of what may be the worst drought ever in North Carolina, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are watering the synthetic turfs used by their field hockey teams.

The International Hockey Federation insists.

The universities are not breaking any rules. But like clockwork, as residents in Durham and Chapel Hill see their plants and lawns wither, the sprinklers go on at the UNC-CH Francis E. Henry Stadium and at Duke’s Williams Field.

Brad Schnurr, a Chapel Hill contractor who does work in Durham, saw the sprinklers go on one afternoon recently at Duke and drove around the block to make sure he was not seeing things.

“Sprinklers aren’t even the right term, they’re like fire hoses,” Schnurr said. “I was like, ‘What is that? What is that?’ I couldn’t believe it.”

The International Hockey Federation requires the college teams to saturate the synthetic turfs before each practice and all games.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2007 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Daily life, Global warming, Government

Tagged with ,

Ignoring a coming crisis doesn’t seem to work

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Though they sure gave it a good try in Georgia. I don’t see much planning or action in the Southwest on what they will do when the water runs out. I suppose the idea is, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Perhaps people think that water can be created just by passing some legislation. The government has ignored global warming and its likely effects for a long, long time, and now time is running out.

ATLANTA, Oct. 22 — For more than five months, the lake that provides drinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away in a withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud. Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists have warned of impending disaster.

And life has, for the most part, gone on just as before.

The response to the worst drought on record in the Southeast has unfolded in ultra-slow motion. All summer, more than a year after the drought began, fountains blithely sprayed, football fields were watered, prisoners got two showers a day and Coca-Cola’s bottling plants chugged along at full strength. In early October, on an 81-degree day, an outdoor theme park began to manufacture what was intended to be a 1.2-million gallon mountain of snow.

In late September, with Lake Lanier forecast to dip into the dregs of “dead storage” in less than four months, the state imposed a ban on outdoor water use. Gov. Sonny Perdue declared October “Take a Shorter Shower Month.”

On Saturday, he declared a state of emergency for more than half the state and asked for federal assistance, though the state has not yet restricted indoor water use or cut back on major commercial and industrial users, a step that could cause a significant loss of jobs.

These last-minute measures belie a history of inaction in Georgia and across the South when it comes to managing and conserving water, even in the face of rapid growth. Between 1990 and 2000, Georgia’s water use increased by 30 percent. But the state has not yet come up with an estimate of how much water is available during periods of normal rainfall, much less a plan to handle the worst-case scenario of dry faucets.

“We have made it clear to the planners and executive management of this state for years that we may very well be on the verge of a system-wide emergency,” said Mark Crisp, a water expert in the Atlanta office of the engineering firm C. H. Guernsey.

The sense of urgency has been slow to take hold. Last year, a bill to require low-flow water devices be installed in older houses prior to resale died in the Legislature. Most golf courses are classified as “agricultural.” Water permits are still approved on a first-come, first-served basis.

And Georgia is not at the back of the pack; Alabama, where severe drought is more widespread, has not passed legislation calling for a management plan.

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Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2007 at 3:36 pm

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