Tag Archive for 'water quality'

Ottawa committed to improving water quality for Canadians: minister

“The federal government is tackling Canada’s water concerns by developing several programs and regulations that will help with water quality monitoring, restoring lakes and treating waste water, Environment Minister Peter Kent said at a news conference Thursday.

 ”Despite projected cuts to several environmental initiatives, Kent promised that “significant investments” will be made so that officials can carry out monitoring and clean up in problem areas while new regulations will protect fresh water resources.

“”We take the issue of water so seriously we are trying to ensure we are among one of the leaders when it comes to monitoring water quality,” Kent said at the end of a week-long Canadian Water Network conference on creating a global approach to maintaining the resource. About 300 scientists and policy-makers from around the world met in Canada for the event.

“”We are committed to making (water) a priority for individual Canadian households. Every drop counts,” he said.”

Read more:  The Vancouver Sun

How to Read Your Water Quality Report

“From coast to coast, the news has been awash with reports of consumers kicking the bottled water habit and taking back the tap. People are catching on to the industry‚ marketing con job. They now know that bottled water is an overpriced rip-off that‚ no more pure or healthful than tap water. Furthermore, its production and transportation gobbles energy and spews pollution and climate-changing gases into our atmosphere.

“If youre among the growing mass of people making the move to tap water, perhaps you have questions about the quality of your city or town‚ water supply. Although most municipal water beats the stuff in the bottle, learning more about it makes sense.

“We all have the right to know what‚ in our drinking water. Congress codified this principle in 1996 with amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The changes greatly improve public access to information about drinking water quality.

“The Safe Drinking Water Act, passed in 1976, authorized EPA to set drinking water standards for all public water systems. Water utilities monitor and treat drinking water to abide by these federal standards. The 1996 amendments added a requirement for utilities to notify the public about any detected regulated contaminant and any water quality violation.

“The centerpiece of these right-to-know provisions is the annual water quality report. Although these reports are intended to help consumers make informed choices about their drinking water, they can be confusing and full of jargon. This guide is intended to help you understand what your water quality report is and how to interpret what it tells you.”

read more: Food and Water Watch

Mobile Lab with Bio-Chip Tests Water Quality

Mobile Lab with Bio-Chip Tests Water Quality

“The demonstration unit the size of a laptop identifies up to 25 substances and their concentrations within 30 minutes. The mobile laboratory could test quality during humanitarian missions, for example, or monitor hospital wastewater. Water treatment plants monitor the pollutant content in drinking water by regularly subjecting samples to high-precision tests in the laboratory. There are smaller devices for these tests, but they frequently work with optical methods. The portable system from Siemens uses electrochemical reactions to make a rapid assessment on site. This offers the advantage that the systems can be built to be small, robust, and cost-effective.

“The demonstration unit can currently detect the pesticide atrazine, for example, in concentrations of just a few millionths of a gram per liter, which is already very close to the statutory threshold. The system is still not sensitive enough to monitor drinking water for bacteria, for which the standards are even more strict. One hundred milliliters of water may not contain even a single coliform . In the future, filtration technologies will extract the germs from the sample in order to concentrate them in smaller volumes of water and then detect them.”

read more: Physorg

Underground “Fossil Water” Running Out

Pipes from the The Libyan Great Man-Made River project.

“This story is part of a special series that explores the global water crisis. For more clean water news, photos, and information, visit National Geographic’s Freshwater website.

“In the world’s driest places, “fossil water” is becoming as valuable as fossil fuel, experts say.

“This ancient freshwater was created eons ago and trapped underground in huge reservoirs, or aquifers. And like oil, no one knows how much there is—but experts do know that when it’s gone, it’s gone. (See a map of the world’s freshwater in National Geographic magazine.)

“You can apply the economics of mining because you are depleting a finite resource,” said Mike Edmunds, a hydrogeologist at Oxford University in the Great Britain.

“In the meantime, though, paleowater is the only option in many water-strapped nations. For instance, Libya is habitable because of aquifers—some of them 75,000 years old—discovered under the Sahara’s sands during 1950s oil explorations.

“The North African country receives little rain, and its population is concentrated on the coasts, where groundwater reserves are becoming increasingly brackish and nearing depletion.

“Since Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi launched his Great Man-Made River Project in the 1980s, an epic system of pipes, reservoirs, and engineering infrastructure is being built. It will be able to pump from some 1,300 paleowater wells and move 230 million cubic feet (6.5 million cubic meters) of H2O every day.

“But while fossil water can fill critical needs, experts warn, it’s ultimately just a temporary measure until conservation measures and technologies become status quo.

[...]

Radioactive Worries

“But the project has encountered an unexpected stumbling block. The Disi’s fossil water was recently found to contain 20 times the radiation levels considered safe for drinking. The water is contaminated naturally by sandstone, which has slowly leached radioactive contaminants over the eons.

“Geochemist and water-quality expert Avner Vengosh of Duke University, one of the scientists who first discovered the problem, said the Disi’s situation is not unusual.

“Radiation contamination has been found in Israel, Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and Libya, Vengosh said.

“Fortunately, radiation contamination can be fixed through a simple water-softening process, though it does cost money and creates radioactive waste that must be disposed of properly, he noted.”

read more: National Geographic

Bottled and Sold: What’s really in our bottled water

See full size image

“Water Number: More than 100. After months of requests and two Freedom of Information Act requests to the US Food and Drug Administration (which regulates some bottled waters), I got a list of recalls of bottled waters in the U.S. Combined with other research, I ultimately compiled a list of more than 100 bottled water recalls, affecting millions of bottles of water.

“This list (which I will soon post online) includes a remarkable list of contaminants. In addition to the benzene found in Perrier, bottled water has been found to contain mold, sodium hydroxide, kerosene, styrene, algae, yeast, tetrahydrofuran, sand, fecal coliforms and other forms of bacteria, elevated chlorine, “filth,” glass particles, sanitizer, and in my very favorite example, crickets.”

Read more: SF Gate

A New Shade of Green

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“We humans with our big cars and our big factories and our big cities were discharging terrible stuff into the air and water, and it had to be stopped or we would soon make our nest uninhabitable. The public was growing increasingly outraged. Every night on color television, we saw yellow sludge flowing into blue rivers; every day as we drove to work, we saw black smudges against the barely visible blue sky. We knew that our indiscriminate use of pesticides and toxic substances was threatening wildlife and public health.”

“But we didn’t do much about it. Until 1970, most regulation of industry was done by the states, which competed so strongly for plants and jobs that regulating companies to protect public health was beyond them.

“Environmentally, it was a race to the bottom.”

read more: Wall Street Journal