Posts Tagged 'water'



Can Water Go Green?

In an article by the New York Times, Fiji water is overhauling their marketing strategy to “Go Green.” Fiji water claims to be the purest of all bottled water . They claim to be artesian water. By definition, this is water that comes from a source deep within the earth. The water is thus protected by many layers of clay and rock. This water source is protected from air, which prevents it from being exposed to environmental pollutants and other contamination.

The world’s purest bottled water company still needs an image-adjustment?

However, with this still in mind, Fiji water is going through a major overhaul to gain an image that they are going green. Admittedly, they are taking steps to lessen their carbon emissions. For example, they are shipping not only to Los Angeles, but to Philadelphia as well, a move that lowered carbon emissions. This re-evaulation stems from media pressure. However, the bottled water industry is still seeing exponential growth annually. Some 3 billion bottles were sold last year. For this year, a 14 percent growth is projected. People just can’t get enough of bottled water, but why are bottled water companies trying to tailor their images to be green? Because they know there is a looming water crisis and having a wasteful image does not bode well for the their financial future.

Check out the article here.

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Water and China – The Effects of Hosting an Olympic Event

With the 2010 Olympics fast approaching here in Vancouver, I began to wonder what effects the games will have on our watershed, what with over 500,000 people estimated to come for the event, alongside 6700 games participants, and 10,000 media correspondents, this makes for very large strain on our water system.

What are Vancouver's Olympic Plans?

Is Vancouver’s Watershed Prepared for the Olympic Strain?

I stumbled upon a post over at watercrunch, that outlines all the efforts China has undertaken to prepare them for the Bejiing Olympics. Here is a list of some of the initiatives the world superpower is undertaking. For a complete list check it out here.

  1. China is building 14 new wastewater treatment facilities, with the goal of increasing waste water treatment to 90 percent in both the city center and surrounding towns.
  2. China had a goal to increase sufficient water treatment for tap water from 42 percent in 2001 to 70 percent in Beijing. The tap water goal has been scaled back to focus only on the Olympic Village, postponing potable tap water for the whole city until after 2008.
  3. The national stadium drinking water project will use pretreatment and reverse osmosis to provide over 500 gallons per minute of drinking water (~500,000 bottles of water per day).
  4. A rainwater recycling project at the national stadium will recycle rainwater using underground pools and water will be re-used for landscaping, fire-fighting, and cleaning ( Capacity is about 80 tons per hour). This is a first for China.
  5. Qinghe Water Reuse Project—the largest municipal wastewater membrane reuse project in China—will supply water for the Olympic lake, landscaping, and non-drinking water applications in the Olympic Village.
  6. More than 150 million cubic meters (39.6 billion gallons) of water are being diverted from the Yellow River through a network of canals stretching across three provinces to refill a lake south of the historically drought-stricken Chinese capital.

As you can see, this is no small undertaking, and it is clearly going to take a huge toll on China’s already drought-strained resources. My question, as a local Vancouverite, is how much impact are the Olympics going to have on our water supply and what are the long term effects?

I am in the process of discovering this information and I will post more once I find out. In any event, it will be interesting to watch the success or failure of China’s water system will be on showcase when millions tune in for the event in 56 days.

Graphical Representation of Fresh Water Scarcity

Here is a great graph from Circle of Blue that highlights Elyse’s earlier post on the minimal amounts of fresh water left on the planet, and helps give a visual to explain why a shortage is imminent despite all of the blue on a globe. Be sure to check out the rest of Circle of Blue as they are a valuable resource for international water news.

Water – Nature’s Abundant Gift?

Water is a mysterious but crucial substance.  Its origins and properties still evoke debate, despite its existence by some accounts dating back 3.8 Billion years.  Its forms alone are worthy of investigation. Water is the only substance whose solid form is less dense than its liquid, carrying tremendous implications for aquatic life.  In any of its forms, it can not be created, destroyed, nor leave the earth.  As such, it exists in a closed cycle known as the hydrosphere.  In the hydrological cycle, water circles through the earths system of reservoirs.  These reservoirs are numerous and well known, including: atmosphere (clouds and rain), oceans, lakes, rivers, ground water, icecaps, saturated soil and subterranean aquifers.  The water moves between these various reservoirs through the process of evapotranspiration, a name used to encompass the processes of evaporation (from oceans), sublimation (from lakes/rivers) and transpiration (from vegetation).

Figure 1. The hydrological cycle. (Trenberth et al. 2006a).

Between the numerous reservoirs, just how much water exists on the earth is a difficult number to determine.  It is impossible to know exactly.  Water trapped below the surface and that locked in ice caps and perma frost can never be measured exactly.  One of the best known estimates comes from Igor Shikloanov from the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg.  His self admittedly crude estimate hits the 1.4 billion cubic km mark.  However, this huge number is misleading if not understood.  To represent that amount that is available for human consumption, more than 97% must be removed because ocean water is too salty to drink or use for irrigation.  A remaining 2.5% , or about 35 million cubic km is found in a freshwater state.  Unfortunately, this figure too requires further reduction.  At any one time, a small percent of the total is in the form of rain, clouds, fog or tied up in the biosphere.  An even more noteworthy chunk occupies 75% of the small freshwater total, locked and unusable in polar ice caps and tundra snow cover. Freshwater lakes and rivers, the renewable source we are concerned about preserving is a mere 90 000 cubic kilometers (a mere .26% of an already small 2.5% source).

A mere 0.26 percent of the water on Earth is drinkable.

Marg De Villers, author of award winning Water, creates a vivid image to make the numbers more manageable.  If all the worlds water was to be held in a 5L container, the usable freshwater source would occupy only a teaspoon.

When we know what we are working with, the need for conservation and proper management becomes overwhelmingly apparent.

Maude Barlow on Water and Ecology

Who Owns Water?

Countless sources point out that water is headed towards a crisis. Little do we know, we are in the midst of a worldwide water crisis.

Is water a human right?

Many believe that water is a renewable resource, that once it is used, more can be manufactured, created, manufactured and so on. This is not true. Corporations believe that water is a commodity. In a study by the Environmental Business Journal, the United States alone generated over 100 billion dollars in revenue from water in 2003. The study also states that the industry is growing by 10 percent every year.

However, is water a commodity? In an article by Kathleen O’Hara of the Toronto Star entitled World Views Collide Over Water, she points to dedicated individuals like the Council of Canadians chair, Maude Barlow (she also wrote the book Blue Covenant: the Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right of Water). O’Hara points out that “on one side, large corporations with, as Barlow points out, the assistance of most First World governments, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and even the United Nations, are trying to promote the concept of water as a commodity, like oil, to be owned, sold and traded.” O’Hara also goes on to quote Barlow that these corporations and organizations “have established an elaborate infrastructure to promote the private control of water, and they work in close tandem with one another.”

On the other side of the fence, there are people that Barlow believes that water is “the common heritage of all humans and other species, as well as a public trust that must not be appropriated for personal profit or denied to anyone because of an inability to pay.”

Which side of the fence would you choose? Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought, sold, packaged, marketed, traded and bartered with? With the dwindling fresh water reserves around the world, do you want someone to control that water in order to make a profit or do you believe that it is something that must be guarded, protected and shared. It’s a simple choice, but a relevant one considering the global water crisis that is underway. We all have one thing in common, from the villager in the smallest African communities to the inhabitant of sprawling metropolitan centres; we need water to live. Do we deserve to own water?

The Message in the Bottle is a Lie

Every time you twist the lid off a cool, supposedly pure and crisp, 250m bottle of water, you spend $1.50. A litre of gas for your car costs, on average, costs $1.35 per litre. A litre of water is $6.00 and a litre of gas is $1.35. You do the math. When did water become more expensive than gas?

Drinking water is the new oil.

We have no idea when we will run out of fossil fuels, but a study by the UN states that two-thirds of the world will lack access to drinkable water. I say why not knock two birds out with one stone. Are we this blind and stupid that we buy water that is pumped right out of our own backyards? 40 percent of bottled water is pumped out of our own taps and resold to us. Wow, do I feel stupid. Secondly, the amount oil used annually to produce and transport bottled water is 17 million barrels a year, or the equivalent of running 1 million cars for a year.

These are all stunning reasons to stop drinking bottled water, but on the financial side, it also makes sense. For example, the suggested amount of water an individual should drink is 8 cups a day. There are 236m in a cup of water. If you apply the fact that a bottle of water contains 250ml of H2O, you almost need 7 or 8 bottle of water a day.

If we were to assume on the extreme end and conclude that you drink 7 to 8 bottles of $1.50 water, That would equal $12 a day, $84 a week, $336 a month and finally…$3,528 to $4,032 dollars a year. I know that we all don’t drink that much water in a day, much less spend $12 a day on bottled water, but a gallon of water from the tap is 250 to 1,000 times cheaper than bottled water. Bottled water companies are only audited for sanitation every three years and city water is checked everyday. Again, you do the math. The idea that bottled water is healthier is a lie. Tap water is just as, or maybe even more pure than bottled water. I don’t even want to get into plastic contaminate issues associated with bottled water.

You can check out a four-year study by the National Resource Defence Council here. They point out all the pros of drinking tap water versus bottle water. You make the choice.

Simply put, if you don’t drink bottled water, you save money, save water and save the earth. That’s a combo that can’t be beat.

 


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