Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Drinking water’

SpiroFlo covers how much water it takes to grow various crops.

I’ve long since raged on the U.S.’ agricultural use of water, especially since we grow most of our food in the desert (California)—a plan that would cause you to lose in “Sim City.” But I recently stumbled across this infographic from Business Insider:

waterforcrops_final

Okay, once I got over the water vacuum horror of oranges, I thought about how teeny one little nut is and how many there are in a bag (call it 16 ounces):

Take walnuts: You get 7 walnuts per ounce (14 if you’re going with halves, because I can do elementary math). That’s 112 walnuts per bag, so nearly 550 gallons of water is needed to grow the crops for one bag of walnuts.

Then look at almonds: Sure, they’re less than 20% of the water used to make walnuts, but they’re much smaller. You get 23 almonds per ounce—so 368 almonds per bag, making for nearly 405 gallons of water needed to grow the crops for one bag of almonds.

Good for maybe a small handful of walnuts...

Good for maybe a small handful of walnuts…

With droughts continuing (California is in year four of their current stretch by the way, and even a wetter El Niño season won’t reverse the dry trend), am I the only one who seriously questions how we continue to grow food?

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo summarizes the (to date) two-year saga of Flint’s water crisis and the need for clean water technologies.

Flint Water

LeeAnne Walters displays tap water samples at a public meeting in January 2015. Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press/ZUMA

If you’ve heard of one water story in 2016 it’s the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. If you aren’t familiar, here are the highlights:

  • In April 2014, Flint changes its water source from Detroit Water (which is treated from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. Although residents complain about the water—its appearance, odor, and flavor—they are assured by city officials that the water is fine (a trend that will continue in the months following). These issues will later be tied to Flint River water being highly corrosive to the aging pipes, leaching unsafe levels of lead into the tap water supply.
  • By August 2014, coliform bacteria (which indicates disease-causing organisms in water) are detected in Flint tap water, prompting city officials to issue a boil advisory. A couple of months later, a General Motors plant ceases using Flint’s municipal water, saying it corrodes their car parts.
  • In January 2015, Detroit Water essentially acknowledges the problem when they offer to switch the city of Flint back without the $4 million reconnection fee. However, Flint’s state appointed emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose, declines the offer and, again, state officials downplay the problem.
  • In February 2015, a Flint resident, LeeAnne Walters, conducts a home water test prompted by her children experiencing hair loss, rashes, and stunted growth. Results show 104 parts per billion of lead in the drinking water and, despite there being no safe level for lead in water, the EPA requires action at lead levels of 15 parts per billion, as elevated of levels of lead in blood can lead to permanent brain damage.
  • In the months following, consultants and state officials insist Flint’s water meets state and federal standards. Meanwhile, the EPA keeps finding high lead levels in Flint water. In August 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality tells Flint to optimize corrosion control (while still denying conclusions drawn by water experts on the harm caused by Flint’s water).
  • In October 2015, Flint city officials begin acknowledging the depth of the problem, urging residents to stop drinking their water. They expand recommendations, distribution of filters, and testing of both the water and people’s blood. The same month, Dan Wyant, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, reports that his staff mistakenly used water testing steps for a city half the size of Flint, prompting independent review.
  • In December 2015, Flint declares a state of emergency. President Obama does the same in January 2016, providing the National Guard (to hand out bottled water, filters, and testing kits in the worst-hit neighborhoods) and up to $5+ million in aid. However, Flint officials will later state that the cost of fixing this could be up to $1.5 billion.

Since that time, it’s all been criticisms and finger-pointing. Outside of an apology and an urging for the state to spend $28 million on fixes, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been quiet on what he knew, but protesters have marched outside his home and called for his resignation and arrest. Some believe Flint’s failures are exacerbated by an ongoing disinterest in this largely poor, majority-black city (and poor areas as a whole). There are class action lawsuits and potential manslaughter charges. There are celebrity concerns, with Beyoncé, Cher, the Detroit Lions, the Game, Mark Wahlberg, Pearl Jam, P. Diddy and others sending donations and water bottles to Flint.

And yes, even the ultimate gauge of social awareness, our Twitter feed (@useh2o), has been largely focused on the Flint water crisis these last chunk of months.

However, others note that this water crisis goes far deeper: Environmental activist, Erin Brockovich believes Flint’s water issue could be a national problem. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore put up a letter on his website, noting that people cannot help undo the damage caused to these children, their parents, and life in Flint as a result. Instead of sending bottled water—which will take 20.4 million 16 oz. bottles per day for the next two years (that’s 14,892,000,000 bottles of water for those of you counting along at home)—he recommends revolt.

What I will say is that this tragedy may finally—finally—get Americans to care about water issues. Although current concerns are rightfully on the health of Flint’s residents, the environmental impact will go far beyond potentially 14.9 trillion plastic water bottles. Since 2006. SpiroFlo has worked to reduce the amount of water used and to improve the quality of what’s left in various industries. Water is one of earth’s finest resources and a cornerstone for our survival. Once tainted, we see the ramifications, and once it’s gone it’s gone. Yet even in clean tech circles, there has been little interest in saving and purifying water. While seemingly everything else—wind, solar, nanotechnology, and for some reason, even healthcare software—has had its turn as the environmental buzzword, the importance of clean, available water now has an unfortunate unavoidable example right here in the USA.

Here’s to this awareness prompting change for the good of the world’s water supply and our health.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo reviews the recent pollution of the Animas River and why the Environmental Protection Agency is unable to respond quickly.

The big environmental story this week is the Gold King Mine wastewater spill in the Animas River. If you aren’t familiar with the story:

  • The Animas River—named by a Spanish explorer as the “River of Souls”—is part of the Colorado River System. At 126 miles long, the river begins in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and flows into New Mexico.
  • Silverton, Colorado was a gold mine town (until the last mine closed in 1991). On August 5th, while working on the Gold King Mine near Silverton, an EPA-contracted company accidentally broke the dam holding back a tailing pond (a somewhat neutral term for a pond full of metals and waste from mining). Their intended task was to pump out and treat the contaminated mine water.
  • Over 3,000,000 gallons of this wastewater and tailings (the non-revenue materials/minerals from mining) flooded the Animas River. As of August 11th—six days after the initial breach—acidic water drainage from the metal mine continued to flow out at a rate of 500-700 gallons per minute. The pollution rates were updated (for the worse) and will likely continue to be so as the story progresses.
  • The wastewater spill affected waterways in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and parts of the Navajo Nation (in those areas).

As a result of the spill, the Animus River, which usually looks like this…

AnimasNormal

…turned orange within 24 hours…

AnimasOrange

…and later turned green:

AnimasGreen

Although the EPA has taken responsibility for the environmental disaster, they have been criticized for waiting a day before telling anyone. Other criticisms include giving inaccurate information (it’s usually the EPA who releases the numbers on spills like this—they’re just usually not also responsible, thereby creating a conflict of interest).

At first, there was no testing of the river contents. Some say this came about due to the changing water conditions; others noted that problems such as lead poisoning can be hard to detect. What we do know is that lead poisoning is linked to slowing child development and increasing learning disabilities (there are good reasons why lead paint got banned from homes). Given what’s in a gold mine, heavy metals are a guarantee—the kind of minerals that the EPA rightfully regulates away from air, earth, and water.

The Denver Post reported that, when river water was tested 15 miles downstream from Durango, Colorado, iron levels were 326 times the domestic water limit allowed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Iron levels were recorded at 100 times above the limit. CNN noted these iron levels as being 12,000 times higher than normal. CNN also noted the Animas River had “extremely high levels of arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and mercury. It also contained zinc, iron and copper.”

As a result of this, several people are deciding whether to sue the EPA. However, many believe this course of legal action won’t even be possible. Some have labeled the EPA the Environmental Pollution Agency and believe that if a private corporation had done that they’ve done, they’d have the CEO’s picture posted everywhere as a villain, and the EPA would be pushing for punitive justice. Now that the EPA is responsible, that pursuit of justice is a lot more leisurely.

Farmington, New Mexico has 90 days’ worth of drinking water before they have to pump in from elsewhere. However, some claim that, even within a week, water toxicity levels around the Durango area were back to pre-catastrophe levels. Brings to mind that old slogan “Dilution is the solution.” Regardless, many believe the impact of this polluted water won’t be fully seen for months, and that the EPA is moving too slow in the clean-up process.

So why does this clean up seem to be taking so long? There are two main reasons:

  • Bureaucracy: I know it’s a term that’s thrown around often, but when you’re dealing with a government agency that usually has to wait to go through public hearings and approval processes (all while some believe they wind up promoting their greased palm connections anyway), it makes it hard to respond to emergencies. You would think there would be an emergency protocol, and even if there is, that’s subject to abuse, too. Suddenly every project is an emergency…
  • Any private company that helps with the clean up becomes liable for its success. That’s right: While the EPA will likely not be held liable for the mess they made, if your company helps clean it up, you could be held responsible for the mess you didn’t make. While I understand there must be some standards for any company that’s signing up for a lot of important work, you can understand why plenty of viable technology companies would say no thanks. The EPA might as well put up a sign that reads “Now hiring scapegoats.”

The really scary thing is, thanks to several industries, there are hundreds of thousands of retaining ponds just like this (which the EPA were trying to fix), usually in pristine areas. The SpiroFlo series of companies has solutions for spinning these toxic minerals out of water, but we’re not looking to break into the scapegoat business. Sorry.

*     *     *

As always, sources are in the comments.

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo reports on California’s recent commentary regarding the state’s water shortage.

Admittedly, when I see people legitimately sharing serious information on April Fools’ Day I get squinting real good, but this commentary from Californian water officials popped up before that marker:

On March 13th, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jay Famiglietti, wrote an article for the LA Times where he hypothesized that California’s state reservoirs only have one year of water remaining.

Not surprisingly, your Average Joe took this to mean that California will run out of water in a year, but Famiglietti denied that he made that statement. He clarified that A) reservoirs are not the only source of water to the state (there’s still groundwater); and B) reservoirs are designed to only hold a few years’ worth of water anyway.

The big problem is that the title of Famiglietti’s op-ed was “California has about one year of water stored. Will you ration now?” It didn’t matter that the content had a different tone. The article was titled as clickbait and it spread rapidly. However, maybe it’s the effect of The Onion in our modern media consumption, but people took in punchline of the title, not the full story of the text.

Thus came a wave of defenses from California state officials, letting people know that California will not run out of water in 2016. I’m sure some took this to mean that there’s no drought issue whatsoever (but that joke still sucks the other 364 days of the year).

While I can appreciate that some of this has to do with the sad truth that the speed of media travels faster than the speed of truth these days (get your article out before anyone else, fact checking be damned), there are some unfortunate truths that haven’t got the clickbait titles they deserve:

California is now in its fourth year of drought. This has led to overpumping of groundwater reserves (now a decade strong) and it’s getting costlier to get the water out the deeper they have to go.

CA groundwater

In addition:

The Department of Water Resources did not have a readily available estimate of the total water supply in California or the amount expected to be used over the next year.

Just because California is not exhausting its water supply “doesn’t mean we’re not in a crisis,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of the Water in the West program at Stanford University, who called the state’s snowpack, at 12% of average, “both bad for this year but also a troubling sign for the future.”

Then there’s that whole bit of growing the nation’s food supply in the desert…

While some believe that people will police their own water use (unlikely) and that the government will step in before the point of water getting shut off in homes (hopefully), no matter the headline, it’s an ugly road ahead. No matter where you look, there’s a critical water shortage looming. California is just highlighting the issue.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Mt_Tabor_Park_reservoir_-_Portland_OregonSpiroFlo covers Portland’s decision to drain 38 million gallons of water after a teenager urinated in the reservoir.

Place your hands on your stomach.

You, my friend, are holding a biological weapon—enough to disrupt a year’s worth of drinking water for over 655,000 people.* We know this because a 19-year-old teenager recently peed in the Portland reservoir and the city has decided to drain all 38 million gallons from Reservoir 5 at Mt. Tabor Park:

The risk to the public would have been slight if the urination had gone unnoticed, but water bureau administrator David Shaff said the water bureau “won’t serve purposely tainted drinking water to the public.”

“Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns,” Shaff said in a statement.

While “the solution to pollution is dilution” is not a statement I’m a fan of, it does apply here. I get it; it’s gross some idiot peed in there, but let’s face it, this isn’t the first person to pee into Mt. Tabor Park. Hey look, it isn’t: in 2011, they drained nearly 8 million gallons of drinking water over the same thing. While we’re dealing with the reality of a critical water shortage in 2020, they can’t wait on a water test coming back as good enough.

EDIT: A commenter noted that they water was scheduled to be drained and the reservoir cleaned in three weeks anyway. 

What do I mean by good enough? Is now a bad time to mention:

  • Wildlife poops in the water!
  • Bugs die in the water!
  • Fish have sex in the water! Crazy gross fish sex!
  • And we’re still learning about this ickyness

All this is to say, most sane people recognize why this is a bad idea, but whatever. Enjoy your safe, poopy, dead bug, fish sex water.

*     *     *

*38 million gallons divided by the 54 gallons of water a year average consumed per person.

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Some of the damage done to Jamestown, CO

SpiroFlo looks at the how much impact the 2013 Colorado flood had on drought levels in the area.

It’s a bit of a strange time in Colorado. We were supposed to have the two driest years on record, Denver Water was enforcing water restrictions for the stage-two drought, and there were record-breaking highs over the summer.

And then it rained. A lot. As in a whole year’s worth in one week a lot.

Schools shut down; homes and businesses flooded out. It became easier to take a canoe around certain towns and people had to call and ask, likely for the first time, “Do I have flood insurance?” Odds are most did not, as insurance companies aren’t even allowed to provide flood insurance to places that aren’t normally at risk of flooding—you know, like a land-locked state that was about 14 years into its latest drought.

The hard numbers (as of today): 19,000 homes damaged (1,500 destroyed), 11,000 people evacuated, six confirmed dead, and 500 still unaccounted for (though not necessarily considered missing). If it were a snow storm, it would’ve been a 15-foot event (and I’ve seen this state shut down and struggle with three).

So what happened? While I’m sure there was the occasional climate Nostradamus who saw it coming, there wasn’t a widely noted, credible source that figured a thousand-year flood would bust on into this year. I’ve seen a couple of recent articles debunking climate change (again) and there will likely be a swift series of rebuttals again (again), but regardless of what some on both sides want you to believe, the evidence for or against climate change is not so open and shut (though the phrase ‘global warming’ has fallen out of favor).

Still, I’m not sure what to think here. Can you argue that the heavy drought and the heavy rainfall both come from climate change? I’m sure some will, whereas others will likely focus on an anomaly like a thousand-year flood being just that—a data point not normally found on the chart. Does it make it less valid—I mean, we apparently have a term for it because it’s happened before—or simply far more limited in relevance?

Here’s something to think about: It’s been so dry that the Colorado River hasn’t reached the ocean in years. Lakes Mead and Powell—they’ve been at half-capacity for a long while, 100 feet below what they should be (thanks to a dry period from 2000-2009 and drought issues stemming back to the eighties). The lakes have mostly sat below the drought line and are continuing to etch closer to the critical shortage line with our growing population consuming water at a rate that will exhaust the reserves. This critical shortage is that line where hydropower falls apart and they stop giving water to states like Nevada.

Oh yeah, this critical shortage is scheduled for 2020—less than seven years from now.

Surely the flood must have helped there, right? Want to place your bets on how many feet the flood restored to that 100-foot drop?

Two.

Here’s the thing: simply because we had a flood, that doesn’t mean the water went in the right area. It’s not as if Colorado is a glass that water has slowly been evaporating out of for years and then someone casually came and filled it back up. This rainfall was more like a toddler trying to aim a wild fire hose. Even if the water was in the general area, that doesn’t mean it was going where it should, and the consensus is that the rain fell on the wrong side of the Rockies. Even when it did fall on the right areas, it was too much, and everything was essentially on drain mode to prevent flood damage.

Lake Mead: July 2009

So two of 100 feet have been restored. That means it’d have to flood like this for nearly a year to restore the drought loss to Lakes Mead and Powell. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but you can’t restore decades’ worth of damage from one mad week of rain (and one big snow season won’t help either). This would mean anomalies like this thousand-year flood do get to stand as is, because they’re overwhelmed by all the dry years that leave us still facing that critical shortage in 2020. You can predict critical shortage dates for other parts of the world, too, but it’s the same story—with our growing population, we’re consuming water at a rate that will exhaust the reserves.

This means that my interest in what’s to blame—climate change damage or not—is vastly overshadowed by the reality that this water crisis (which is still far undervalued) is not our grandchildren’s problem, but ours.

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

SpiroFlo shares about the University of Engineering and Technology at Peru creating a billboard that provides clean drinking water to a desert area.

Lima, Peru is set on the driest desert in the world and has issues getting clean drinking water. People pull water from a well, but as it’s polluted and (unregulated) private water delivery trucks have a huge markup, the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) decided to build a billboard to help provide drinking water for the community.

Wait… what?

Lima gets a half-inch of rain a year, but with 98% humidity, UTEC created a technology “that captures air humidity and turns it into drinking water.” Basically, a series of generators capture the air humidity, then it goes through a water purification (reverse osmosis) system. Stored in a big tank, the water comes out a faucet at the bottom of the billboard stand. Finally, the billboard surrounding the system in the sky advertises that yes, there is clean water here.

It’s not electricity free—there are generators after all—but it provides 26 gallons a day of clean water. While there’s only one billboard so far, UTEC hopes to put billboards all over Lima and beyond.

More in the video below:

*     *     *

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »