Posts tagged ‘Grey Water Collection’

Water is a valuable resource.

The editors of the Public Library of Science Medicine are worried that “access to clean water, which is essential for health, is under threat,” due to the privatization of the water industry. It’s a little frightening to learn that clean drinking water has become a $500 billion industry three corporations are dominating.

“This model has proven to be a failure,” wrote Maude Barlow, senior advisor on water issues to the UN General Assembly’s president, in an essay published last year. “High water rates, cut-offs to the poor, reduced services, broken promises and pollution have been the legacy of privatization.”

You can read the full article in Wired Science, but in the mean time, think about the kinds of disasters that happen when money becomes the only priority in dealing with natural resources. (Recall how Colorado law prevents the collection of rainwater or grey water, because they don’t own the rights to the water).

UPDATE:
Boing Boing reports that Colorado has reversed their rainbarrel ban, not because it was asinine, but because “A study in 2007 proved crucial to convincing Colorado lawmakers that rain catching would not rob water owners of their rights [to downstream bodies of water].” Cheers.

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July 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Is Your Lawn Worth Someone’s Ability to Live?

How about desert produce?

According to this disturbing article, America’s largest reservoir is drying up. It’s really simple math: the amount of water being removed from Lake Mead every year excedes the amount being fed into it by the Colerado river.
photo by Tim Pearce

In 2008, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography issued a paper titled “When will Lake Mead go dry?” which set the odds of Lake Mead drying up by 2021 at 50-50. No more water, no more electricity, no more pumping power.

This is bad news for the million acres of crops being irrigated by the water source accross the U.S. and Mexico. Oh, and the tens of millions of people who depend upon the reservoir for their water supply, and the half-million homes that are powered by “its mighty Hoover Dam”.

How did this happen?

Well, for starters, there’s the farmers who flood arid farmland with water to grow rice (what?). There’s the fact that we depend on veggies grown in the desert (how much are those California strawberries worth to you?). And then there’s the fact that residents of desert communities maintain beautiful green grass lawns, and “golfers demand courses in areas where the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit”.

Is the status of a green lawn or the convenience of out-of-season food really worth “turning the tap off for 800,000 households”?

At least they’ve started “grass buyback” programs to convince people to consider drought-tolerant landscaping. They’re offering tax incentives to people who use pool covers. Lovely.

Of course, when Las Vegas residents tried to pass a bill to allow homeowners to install graywater systems, Southern Nevada Water Authority blocked it, saying that “legalizing graywater will cause people to use more fresh water and return less dirty water to the reclamation plant”. Sorry? It’s like the laws making rain barrels illegal.

Instead of considering a shift in thinking/lifestyle, the best solutions that the Big Thinkers could come up with for the problem are either to pump water in from eastern states or to de-salt seawater.

The power requirement for either proposal—desalting seawater or transporting water over great distance—is enormous. But if the only other alternative is a mass evacuation from the western United States, what other choice do we have?

Pardon me?

May 7, 2009 at 11:26 am 2 comments


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