Archive for the 'wastewater' Category

Water too precious to waste on charity’s campaign, Californian says

Photo retrieved from: www.chicagotribune.com

“The Golden State is experiencing one of its worst droughts on record. Water is like gold out there — it’s extremely valuable and it’s getting more difficult to find.

Nearly 100 percent of California remains in a “severe” drought, the third-harshest on a five-level scale, according to a recent U.S. Drought Monitor report. “Water cops” have begun patrolling the streets in some cities to cite and even fine water wasters up to $500. Wells are drying up and farmers are losing their crops.

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If I, a California native, didn’t feel comfortable asking friends or family there to waste a bucket of water on a viral campaign, then why should I ask anyone else to do it? Why should any of us do it?

Every once in a while we see charities come up with clever campaigns that capture the hearts and checkbooks of people around the country. And you have to commend the minds behind the Ice Bucket Challenge for the idea.

As of Wednesday, the ALS Association had received $31.5 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.9 million during the same period last year.”

Read more: Chicago Tribune

Politics, profits delay action on arsenic in drinking water

Photo retrieved from: www.scpr.org

“Arsenic is nearly synonymous with poison. But most people don’t realize that they consume small amounts of it in the food they eat and the water they drink.

Recent research suggests even small levels of arsenic may be harmful. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been prepared to say since 2008 that arsenic is 17 times more toxic as a carcinogen than the agency now reports.

Women are especially vulnerable. EPA scientists have concluded that if 100,000 women consumed the legal limit of arsenic each day, 730 of them eventually would get lung or bladder cancer.

The EPA, however, hasn’t been able to make its findings official, an action that could trigger stricter drinking water standards. The roadblock: a single paragraph inserted into a committee report by a member of Congress, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found. The paragraph essentially ordered the EPA to halt its evaluation of arsenic and hand over its work to the National Academy of Sciences.

The congressman, Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican, said he was concerned that small communities couldn’t meet tougher drinking water standards and questioned the EPA’s ability to do science. But a lobbyist for two pesticide companies acknowledged to CPI that he was among those who asked for the delay. As a direct result of the delay, a weed killer the EPA was going to ban at the end of 2013 remains on the market.”

Read more: Southern California Public Radio

 

Jerusalem’s water contamination scare hits both Arabs and Jews

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“Residents of Jerusalem were told yesterday to boil their water for two minutes until further notice. High levels of treated sewage water had leaked into the main drinking water system. The neighborhoods affected include Arab and Jewish regions alike: Baka, Abu Tor, Talpiot, Tsur Baher, Silwan, Ras el-Amud, the Old City, Mamilla and Musrara.

Even by this morning the Health Ministry said people should still boil their water and not use water from the tap for brushing teeth or for any matters involving food.

The issue affects an estimated 130,000 people. Early this morning helicopters with missiles attached to them were spotted and cited by Jerusalem residents. One on Facebook connected the sighting to the water contamination and a possible terror attack. Though no comment was made like this in the mainstream news.

Hagihon, the company that tests the water started getting calls on Tuesday, the local newspaper the Jerusalem Post reports.

First samples showed decreased levels of chlorine, pointing the finger at contamination.

The city has taken the issue so seriously that they have set up a situation room, including the mayor’s presence, in order to deal with the problem.

I took a tour of one of Jerusalem’s largest water repositories way back when and it was like looking inside a football field-sized pond covered with cement. With high levels of security, it’s hard to see how infiltrators could get in, but this is always on the minds of the people who protect Israel’s drinking water.”

Read more: Green Prophet

Citarum polluters more than 71 companies: Deputy governor

Photo retrieved from: www.planetforward.ca

“West Java Deputy Governor Deddy Mizwar has said more than 71 companies were thought to be involved in environmental pollution in the Citarum River basin.

“Based on our data, the number of industrial players polluting the Citarum River is far higher than that stated in the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report. The BPK earlier reported there were 17 companies. It’s not 17, it’s more than 71 companies,” said Deddy in Bandung on Wednesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Speaking to journalists after attending a plenary meeting at the West Java Legislative Council (DPRD), Deddy said if only 17 companies were polluting the Citarum as stated in the BPK report on the audit, which was carried out in 2012-2013, damage to the river basin would not be as severe it was.

He acknowledged that the budget allocated by the government to tackle pollution in the Citarum River was quite substantial. “We have spent a lot of money over time, but there have been no significant results,” said Deddy.

In 2013, environmental organization Green Cross Switzerland and international nonprofit organization Blacksmith Institute named the Citarum River among the world’s 10 most polluted places.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

 

States move to limit EPA’s clean water authority

Photo retrieved from: www.msnbc.com

“Florida, Texas and Alaska are nowhere near the Chesapeake Bay. But that hasn’t stopped those states from trying to intervene in the EPA’s cleanup of the mid-Atlantic estuary.

Earlier this month, the attorneys general from those states and 18 others filed an amicus brief [PDF] on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is suing to limit the extent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. The Farm Bureau argues that the EPA exceeded its authority in regulating the amount of pollutants flowing into the bay, which the federal agency says is severely contaminated.

At question is how far the EPA can go in setting limits to ”the maximum amount of pollution a body of water can receive and still meet state water quality standards.” According to the Farm Bureau, the EPA exceeded its legal authority by trying to determine how much individual polluters would have to cut back, instead of just setting an overall so-called “Total Maximum Daily Load” and allowing the states to determine how it would be parceled out.

“These are uniquely local decisions that should be made by local governments,” said Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman in a statement. “That is why this power is specifically withheld from EPA in the Clean Water Act.”

The amicus brief, which was signed by 18 Republican attorneys general and three Democrats, seconds this line of argument. Although all but one of the 21 signatories hail from states which do not border the Chesapeake Bay, they say that the case has national implications. A legal regime which gives the EPA the power to closely regulate pollution in the bay could give it equivalent power in contaminated bodies of water across the United States.”

Read more: MSNBC

 

As Fracking Booms, Growing Concerns About Wastewater

Photo retrieved from: www.e360.yale.edu

“In a study conducted last year, researchers from the environmental consulting firm, Downstream Strategies, attempted to trace fracking water — from water withdrawal to wastewater disposal — at several wells in the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“We just couldn’t do it,” said Downstream Strategies staff scientist Meghan Betcher, citing a lack of good data and the wide range of disposal methods used by the industry. What the study did find was that gas companies use up to 4.3 million gallons of clean water to frack a single well in Pennsylvania, and that more than half of the wastewater is treated and discharged into surface waters such as rivers and streams.

Increasingly, the fracking boom in the Marcellus Shale and across the United States is leaving behind some big water worries — concerns that are only growing as shale gas development continues to expand. Pennsylvania, which has experienced a frenzied half-dozen years of hydraulic fracturing, is now the U.S.’s third-largest producer of natural gas. The Downstream Strategies report noted that from 2005 to 2012, Pennsylvania and West Virginia issued permits for nearly 9,000 natural gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing technology, which pumps a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals, and sand deep into shale formations to extract natural gas.

The vast volume of water needed to extract that natural gas, and the large amounts of wastewater generated during the process, is causing increasing concern among geochemists, biologists, engineers, and toxicologists.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360

West Virginia Creek Runs Black After Catastrophic Coal Slurry Spill

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Waters are running black for roughly six miles in West Virginia’s Fields Creek after more than 100,000 gallons of toxic coal slurry poured into the waterway from a Patriot Coal processing facility Tuesday.

“This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection at a news conference Tuesday evening. “When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

The spill comes just one month after the Elk River disaster, when 10,000 gallons of coal cleaning detergent Crude MCHM leaked into the river, contaminating the water supply for millions of residents living in and around the capital, Charleston.

Emergency officials said Tuesday that a “smaller amount of the slurry” had already traveled from the creek to the Kanawha River near the town of Chesapeake, West Virginia. Chesapeake is situated roughly 13 miles south along the Kanawha River from Charleston.

“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” Huffman said of Tuesday’s spill which occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation.

The spill was reportedly caused by a malfunction of a valve inside the slurry line. And although the valve broke sometime between 2:30 and 5:30 Tuesday morning, Patriot Coal did not call the DEP to alert them of the leak until 7:40 Tuesday morning, the Charleston Gazette quoted Huffman as saying.

There are some conflicting reports as to whether the slurry contains Crude MCHM or another chemical, polyethylene glycol. Regardless, the Gazette reports, the slurry contains a variety of substances and heavy metals such as iron, manganese, aluminum, and selenium that “are likely more toxic” than either Crude MCHM or polyethylene glycol.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Huge Leak of Coal Ash Slows at North Carolina Power Plant

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“From 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal-ash slurry flowed into the Dan after the collapse of a corrugated metal drainpipe only a few feet beneath a 27-acre pond, known as an impoundment. Duke Energy, the utility that owns the impoundment and the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C., which closed in 2012, says that 27 million gallons of contaminated water also leaked into the river. Coal ash, a murky gray sludge that is the residue from burning powdered coal to generate electricity, contains high levels of toxic elements, including lead, mercury, selenium and arsenic.

The state said it began testing the Dan’s waters on Tuesday for the presence of 28 toxic metals. A spokesman for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Jamie Kritzer, said Thursday that the first results would be available by Friday.

The department said that five downstream communities that take drinking water from the river were monitoring and filtering the water and had deemed it safe.”

Read more: New York Times

 

Beyond Pumps and Turbines- Elaborating the Social Nexus

Retrieved from the CPUC

Beyond Pumps and Turbines- Elaborating the Social Nexus

by Miles Ten Brinke

Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is now a 1st year PhD candidate at the University of Manchester Business School  after studying an Energy Policy MSc at the University of Exeter in Cornwall.  He’s now trapped in the Nexus, researching the transition to sustainability of the global water-energy system.

The state of nexus studies today is one of healthy growth, in need of a new direction. Google water-energy nexus or do a search in an academic search engine and you’ll be inundated with results. The concept has been taken up by all kinds of different people, all around the world. Search Energy for Water or Water for Energy and you’ll get an even bigger haul. In the concept of impending climate change (and the need to prepare for adaptation around those new conditions) and rising resource scarcity concentrated in key regions around the world even policymakers are starting to take up the call. It’s part of the larger movement to think more cross-sectionally, to stop considering policy arenas like climate, environment, energy, water, food and land in isolation. There are material and synergistic interconnections all over the place, and elaborating those dynamics is an essential first step to understand what a nexus is and (hopefully) managing it sustainably. All this is promising, but when you dig a bit deeper the terms you can uncover what people are actually meaning in any discussion of a “water-energy nexus”.

There are some very progressive projects out there, but they are unfortunately limited in a very fundamental way. In some places, the powers that be actually do get it. They understand that seemingly disconnected issue areas like climate, water and energy need to be managed together. In California the cross-jurisdictional and multi-agency Climate Action Team has an entire work and research block devoted to the state water energy nexus. I won’t go into any depth yet about whether just being on the agenda has had any impact (but don’t worry it is one of the main things to evaluate about California) but there is a related metric: how the state water-energy nexus is being defined. A recent White Paper from the California Public Utilities Commission is exemplary at this:

The Water Energy Nexus (“Nexus”) is the interaction between water services and energy services where energy services rely on reliable access to water and water delivery services depend on access to energy. This co-dependency is referred to as the Water Energy Nexus.

A very good operational definition, clear delineation and with embedded epistemic/ontological/methodological assumptions you could tease apart throughout the rest of the paper in how its used. The only problem is, this is an extremely limiting definition. It is an exclusively instrumental, functional definition. The ideational, social and even wider environmental-ecological dimensions are completely obfuscated. Though I’ll wait to explicate this in depth for another column, this covers only one small part of the full empirical reality of a “water-energy nexus”, of the operational material flows. It covers only the input of water to produce and consume energy and the input of energy in the same delivery of services. There’s nothing about other flows of resources, especially the full commodity chain impacts on socio-technical systems and ecological cycles. There’s nothing there about the involved institutions or people, not even the major market players.

To get a bit of perspective I’d like here to direct any of you reading through this (here’s to hoping people actually do read the column) to an alternative understanding of what constitutes a nexus. This particular and status quo construction of nexus is all about the operational point of use impacts, links defined by the physical infrastructure involved- how much water is used in cooling systems for electricity generation or to produce biofuels, how much energy gets consumed pumping water from one place to another or to treat wastewater for reuse, etc. Think of this as the ‘Pumps and turbines’ view on water-energy nexuses, and if like me you reject that definition as partial and reductive go check out the work of Professor Christopher A. Scott at the University of Arizona Udall Center and especially his 2011 paper on the policy and institutional nexus dimensions. You’ll find a clear delineation of where the conventional approach breaks down, with an expanded view to include the systemic environmental impacts often and foolishly ignored as externalities and the essential consideration of social forces embedded within energy and water service delivery.

The funny thing is, the work being done by the CPUC, WETCAT and others in California illustrates exactly what Scott and his colleagues have begun to study. It’s a bit ironic that by setting out their definition and excluding the social side of a nexus the CPUC manifests it. To truly understand the water-energy nexus of California you need an empirical search for its socio-institutional system boundaries and trace through all the actors and institutions which determine those boundaries. When the CPUC employs its definition that creates a precise institutional logic its civil servants will follow, recursively reinterpreted and developed in application. But how can you expect to sustainably manage a nexus if you don’t understand the role that you and your organisation play in its development over time, let alone the full breadth of the relevant actors, organisations and institutions involved?

So next when you think of a water-energy nexus don’t forget the people and the environment that shape it. Don’t limit yourself to just Pumps and Turbines,

~Miles On Water

Officials Reveal Second Chemical Spilled in W. Virginia Waters

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“West Virginia officials revealed Tuesday that a second potentially harmful chemical had also spilled into the Elk River contaminating the water supply of over 300,000 area residents.

According to the Charleston Gazette, it wasn’t until 12 days after the Jan. 9 spill that Gary Southern, the President of Freedom Industries—the source of the leak—told the state Department of Environmental Protection emergency response director Mike Dorsey that the 7,500 gallons of Crude MCHM also contained a chemical known as “PPH,” which contains potentially toxic glycol ethers.

The Gazette reports:

A Freedom Industries data sheet on the chemical says it can irritate the eyes and skin and is harmful if swallowed. The sheet lists the material as less lethal than Crude MCHM but also says no data are available on its long-term health effects.

State officials said late Tuesday that they believe the West Virginia American Water utility company would “likely have removed the chemical from drinking water during its normal treatment process,” and are performing additional testing of water samples from the first days after the incident to confirm that.

“We have to go back and confirm things and make sure we’re doing our due diligence for public health,” said Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard.”

Read more: Common Dreams