The Pure Water Occasional for February 10, 2014


In this pre-Valentine Day Occasional, y0u'll hear about Asian carp, single tank aeration,  the water price dilemma, World Plumbing Day, and the politics of global water shortage. News about the coal ash spill in North Carolina and the pollution of the Genesee River.  Israel's greatly successful desalination project, California's dying wine industry, and Great Britain's continuing misery caused by overabundant water. And, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.


To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette's website, please go here.


World Plumbing Day


Every person on the planet is affected by the availability of clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

World Plumbing Day is March 11, only a month away. According to a press release:

Clean water is not a luxury; safe clear drinking water and sanitation is possible in any nation, big or small, when simple, sound plumbing practices are adopted. The two major trends of the 20th century, population growth and urbanization, coupled with increasing globalization of the 21st century, pose some real challenges to our global communities in ensuring the integrity of plumbing systems. Whatever the technology, locality or culture involved, quality water supply and sanitation are constant fundamentals of a healthy human society in both the built and natural environments. Technology may change, and cultures may evolve but this fact of life will not. To live together in the world, humans need plumbing...and of course plumbers!

Full information about World Plumbing Day, including events and contests, can be found on The World Plumbing Day website.

Texans Answer Call to Save Water, Only to Face Higher Rates

By Neena Satija

Gazette's Introductory Note:  This piece underlines one of the ironies of conservation: as consumption goes down, cost per unit goes up.  Water utilities are faced with the unpleasant task of asking their customers to use less of their cash product. It's like asking a service station to conserve energy by selling less gasoline. This is one of the strongest arguments for publicly owned water supplies.  It is for the common good to conserve water, and the public as a whole can absorb the cost.  It is unreasonable to expect a for-profit owner of a privatized water utility to voluntarily give up its profits to conserve water.--Hardly Waite. 

The drought-stricken city of Wichita Falls could soon give its residents more bad news.

Even though the 100,000 residents of this northwest Texas city have substantially cut their water use, their dry lawns may no longer continue to save them money on their water bills. Instead, they will be asked to pay more; the city lost $4.5 million in water sales last year because of the conservation efforts.

“It’s tough to tell the consumer that ‘Yeah, well, you guys did a great job out there conserving water, but lo and behold, we got hurt financially, so we’ve got to raise your rates,’ ” the assistant city manager, Jim Dockery, said.

Wichita Falls, whose total rainfall over the last three years was 33 inches below normal, is not alone in its water conservation conundrum. Several Texas cities have collectively lost tens of millions of dollars by restricting outdoor water use, which has been a main source of revenue. At the same time, most of their expenses, like paying off debt and infrastructure maintenance, have increased, forcing utilities to raise rates for everyone, regardless of their water use.

The losses have prompted credit ratings agencies to look closer at the finances of public utilities in Texas. One agency, Fitch, downgraded some of Fort Worth’s water and sewer debt last year, and last week the firm downgraded the debt of the city’s wholesale water supplier. Fort Worth lost $11 million last year because of water conservation.

“This business is extremely weather-dependent,” said Mary Gugliuzza, the Fort Worth water utility’s spokeswoman. Rainy summers can also hurt a city’s bottom line because residents do not need to water their lawns as much.

Fort Worth’s goal, like that of many other cities in Texas, is to change its rate structure to avoid such ups and downs. Today, about 17 percent of the utility’s revenue comes from fixed monthly charges that all water customers pay regardless of how much they use; by 2018, Ms. Gugliuzza said, 25 percent of its revenue will come from such charges. Mr. Dockery said Wichita Falls is considering a similar transition.

Still, the changes will be hard to swallow politically. Consumers have underpaid for water for decades, said Sharlene Leurig, a program director at Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy group with which many Texas cities have consulted on water rate structures.

“People truly don’t understand that the cost of having reliable water is not the cost of the water itself,” Ms. Leurig said. “It’s the cost of all the infrastructure you have to put in place to provide that water reliably and safely.”

Wichita Falls is spending about a million dollars on a pipeline that will deliver treated wastewater to a large manufacturing company, and the city will lose an additional $100,000 a year by selling the reused water at a discount.

“We’re paying to save water, is what we’re doing,” Mr. Dockery said. He added that the city has had to defer important maintenance projects because of the lost revenue.

Cities across Texas hope that utility revenues will bounce back once the rain returns. But even if the drought lifts, officials know that water users’ habits have changed. They will never be the water-guzzlers they might have once been.

While that is good news for conservationists, the phenomenon that credit ratings agencies call a “drought shadow” will result in higher costs for all users, even the most water-conscious.

Source:  Texas Tribune (New York Times).

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Why global water shortages pose threat of terror and war

From California to the Middle East, huge areas of the world are drying up and a billion people have no access to safe drinking water. US intelligence is warning of the dangers of shrinking resources and experts say the world is 'standing on a precipice'

by Suzanne Goldenberg

On 17 January, scientists downloaded fresh data from a pair of Nasa satellites and distributed the findings among the small group of researchers who track the world's water reserves. At the University of California, Irvine, hydrologist James Famiglietti looked over the data from the gravity-sensing Grace satellites with a rising sense of dread.

Drought in Egypt

The data, released last week, showed California on the verge of an epic drought, with its backup systems of groundwater reserves so run down that the losses could be picked up by satellites orbiting 400km above the Earth's surface.

"It was definitely an 'oh my gosh moment'," Famiglietti said. "The groundwater is our strategic reserve. It's our backup, and so where do you go when the backup is gone?"

That same day, the state governor, Jerry Brown, declared a drought emergency and appealed to Californians to cut their water use by 20%. "Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing," he said.

Seventeen rural communities are in danger of running out of water within 60 days and that number is expected to rise, after the main municipal water distribution system announced it did not have enough supplies and would have to turn off the taps to local agencies.

There are other shock moments ahead – and not just for California – in a world where water is increasingly in short supply because of growing demands from agriculture, an expanding population, energy production and climate change.

Already a billion people, or one in seven people on the planet, lack access to safe drinking water. Britain, of course, is currently at the other extreme. Great swaths of the country are drowning in misery, after a series of Atlantic storms off the south-western coast. But that too is part of the picture that has been coming into sharper focus over 12 years of the Grace satellite record. Countries at northern latitudes and in the tropics are getting wetter. But those countries at mid-latitude are running increasingly low on water.

"What we see is very much a picture of the wet areas of the Earth getting wetter," Famiglietti said. "Those would be the high latitudes like the Arctic and the lower latitudes like the tropics. The middle latitudes in between, those are already the arid and semi-arid parts of the world and they are getting drier."

On the satellite images the biggest losses were denoted by red hotspots, he said. And those red spots largely matched the locations of groundwater reserves.

"Almost all of those red hotspots correspond to major aquifers of the world. What Grace shows us is that groundwater depletion is happening at a very rapid rate in almost all of the major aquifers in the arid and semi-arid parts of the world."

The Middle East, north Africa and south Asia are all projected to experience water shortages over the coming years because of decades of bad management and overuse.

Watering crops, slaking thirst in expanding cities, cooling power plants, fracking oil and gas wells – all take water from the same diminishing supply. Add to that climate change – which is projected to intensify dry spells in the coming years – and the world is going to be forced to think a lot more about water than it ever did before.

The losses of water reserves are staggering. In seven years, beginning in 2003, parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers lost 144 cubic kilometres of stored freshwater – or about the same amount of water in the Dead Sea, according to data compiled by the Grace mission and released last year.

A small portion of the water loss was due to soil drying up because of a 2007 drought and to a poor snowpack. Another share was lost to evaporation from lakes and reservoirs. But the majority of the water lost, 90km3, or about 60%, was due to reductions in groundwater.

Farmers, facing drought, resorted to pumping out groundwater – at times on a massive scale. The Iraqi government drilled about 1,000 wells to weather the 2007 drought, all drawing from the same stressed supply.

In south Asia, the losses of groundwater over the last decade were even higher. About 600 million people live on the 2,000km swath that extends from eastern Pakistan, across the hot dry plains of northern India and into Bangladesh, and the land is the most intensely irrigated in the world. Up to 75% of farmers rely on pumped groundwater to water their crops, and water use is intensifying.

Over the last decade, groundwater was pumped out 70% faster than in the 1990s. Satellite measurements showed a staggering loss of 54km3 of groundwater a year. Indian farmers were pumping their way into a water crisis.

The US security establishment is already warning of potential conflicts – including terror attacks – over water. In a 2012 report, the US director of national intelligence warned that overuse of water – as in India and other countries – was a source of conflict that could potentially compromise US national security.

The report focused on water basins critical to the US security regime – the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra and Amu Darya. It concluded: "During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will experience water problems – shortages, poor water quality, or floods – that will risk instability and state failure, increase regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States."

Water, on its own, was unlikely to bring down governments. But the report warned that shortages could threaten food production and energy supply and put additional stress on governments struggling with poverty and social tensions.

Some of those tensions are already apparent on the ground. The Pacific Institute, which studies issues of water and global security, found a fourfold increase in violent confrontations over water over the last decade. "I think the risk of conflicts over water is growing – not shrinking – because of increased competition, because of bad management and, ultimately, because of the impacts of climate change," said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute.

There are dozens of potential flashpoints, spanning the globe. In the Middle East, Iranian officials are making contingency plans for water rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million people.

Egypt has demanded Ethiopia stop construction of a mega-dam on the Nile, vowing to protect its historical rights to the river at "any cost". The Egyptian authorities have called for a study into whether the project would reduce the river's flow.

Jordan, which has the third lowest reserves in the region, is struggling with an influx of Syrian refugees. The country is undergoing power cuts because of water shortages. Last week, Prince Hassan, the uncle of King Abdullah, warned that a war over water and energy could be even bloodier than the Arab spring.

The United Arab Emirates, faced with a growing population, has invested in desalination projects and is harvesting rainwater. At an international water conference in Abu Dhabi last year, Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said: "For us, water is [now] more important than oil."

The chances of countries going to war over water were slim – at least over the next decade, the national intelligence report said. But it warned ominously: "As water shortages become more acute beyond the next 10 years, water in shared basins will increasingly be used as leverage; the use of water as a weapon or to further terrorist objectives will become more likely beyond 10 years."

Gleick predicted such conflicts would take other trajectories. He expected water tensions would erupt on a more local scale.

"I think the biggest worry today is sub-national conflicts – conflicts between farmers and cities, between ethnic groups, between pastoralists and farmers in Africa, between upstream users and downstream users on the same river." said Gleick.

"We have more tools at the international level to resolve disputes between nations. We have diplomats. We have treaties. We have international organisations that reduce the risk that India and Pakistan will go to war over water but we have far fewer tools at the sub-national level."

And new fault lines are emerging with energy production. America's oil and gas rush is putting growing demands on a water supply already under pressure from drought and growing populations.

More than half the nearly 40,000 wells drilled since 2011 were in drought-stricken areas, a report from the Ceres green investment network found last week.  About 36% of those wells were in areas already experiencing groundwater depletion.

How governments manage those water problems – and protect their groundwater reserves – will be critical. When California emerged from its last prolonged dry spell, in 2010, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins were badly depleted. The two river basins lost 10km3 of freshwater each year in 2012 and 2013, dropping the total volume of snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater to the lowest levels in nearly a decade.

Without rain, those reservoirs are projected to drop even further during this drought. State officials are already preparing to drill additional wells to draw on groundwater. Famiglietti said that would be a mistake.

"We are standing on a cliff looking over the edge and we have to decide what we are going to do," he said.

"Are we just going to plunge into this next epic drought and tremendous, never-before-seen rates of groundwater depletion, or are we going to buckle down and start thinking of managing critical reserve for the long term? We are standing on a precipice here."

Source:  The Guardian

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Water News

Dying on the vine. Wine growers in California are facing a massive challenge: keeping their vines alive without water. Wine growers across the state are choosing to forego some or even all of their grape production this season by clipping the new buds before they have a chance to develop.

Bulk of $15 billion plan not directly tied to stopping Asian carp. The bulk of the Army Corps' $15 billion-plus estimate to restore the natural separation between the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River watersheds is yoked to projects that critics contend have little to do with directly stopping invasive species.

North Carolina authorities say river has elevated arsenic from coal ash spill. North Carolina's environmental agency says it was wrong to declare the arsenic levels in the Dan River safe for people after a massive coal ash spill. An environmental group had said Friday that its tests indicated the water's chemical levels were high.

Cancer-causing chemical PCE contaminates Colorado soil, water and homes. Spills releasing PCE, the cancer-causing chemical used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing, have produced at least 86 underground plumes across Colorado that are poisoning soil and water and fouling air inside buildings.

 Sorek, the world's largest seawater reverse osmosis plant, meets 20 percent of Israel's urban water needs.

Israel is creating a water surplus using desalination. In the land of milk and honey, water has always been in short supply. Researchers here have linked temperature rise and drought to migration patterns across this arid region dating back to biblical times. Now, for the first time in its history, Israel is on track to experience a water surplus.

With school water issues ongoing, health link denied in West Virginia. In the midst of several days of water issues in Kanawha County schools, including students and staff reporting sickness, government and water company officials continue to say there is no clear link between the chemical detected at the schools and the reported maladies.

Hundreds wade through murky water to salvage what little they have left while 80 mph gales prolong Britain's misery. Devastating storms continued to cause misery in Britain yesterday, forcing hundreds of people to be evacuated from their homes, while forecasters warned the bad weather could continue into next week. (Dozens of excellent pictures of the UK flooding.)

Duke Energy: We apologize. Duke Energy officials met with members of Danville City Council and the public Friday to talk about the company's response to the coal ash spill at the closed Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C., that has polluted the Dan River.

Hydraulic fracking in regions experiencing low water supply poses risks for investors, according to Ceres. Energy providers chasing the shale boom are getting thirsty for water as some of the most popular areas to drill and hydraulically fracture are increasingly the driest, according to a recent report by Ceres.

Study IDs Genesee River pollutants. An unusually precise research study has, for the first time, determined the sources of pollutants in the Genesee River — and a Rochester-area organization is convening an open workshop Thursday for people who want to do something about it.

Cancer-causing chemical PCE contaminates Colorado soil, water and homes. Spills releasing PCE, the cancer-causing chemical used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing, have produced at least 86 underground plumes across Colorado that are poisoning soil and water and fouling air inside buildings.

Record bitumen seepage in Alberta continues unabated. For nearly a year now, more than 12,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with water have seeped through several long cracks (some as long as 100 metres) in the forest floor near four wells owned by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) in the Cold Lake region of Alberta.

Air is our favorite oxidizer for iron and hydrogen sulfide. It requires no chemical additives and adds nothing objectionable to the water.

Closed-tank aeration is a long established method for preparing iron, hydrogen sulfide, and manganese for removal by filtration. Closed tank aeration systems have until recently consisted of two parts. Air is introduced into the water in a treatment tank, then filtration of the “oxidized”

A New Page, but Not a New Product. Our Single-Tank Aeration Systems for Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide in Well Water

by Gene Franks

Air is our favorite oxidizer for iron and hydrogen sulfide. It requires no chemical additives and adds nothing objectionable to the water.

Closed-tank aeration is a long established method for preparing iron, hydrogen sulfide, and manganese for removal by filtration. Closed tank aeration systems have until recently consisted of two parts. Air is introduced into the water in a treatment tank, then filtration of the “oxidized” particles is carried out in the second tank that functions like an ordinary backwashing filter. (Sometimes a simple cartridge filter is needed if only hydrogen sulfide is being treated.)

A more recently developed treatment style performs both functions, aeration and filtration, in a single tank. These systems use the filter tank itself to perform the aeration. They use no external venturi and no air pump. They have essentially only one part—the unit itself—and require no special electrical wiring. They are, therefore, easier to install and easier to maintain.

Although two-tank systems are very effective, they have drawbacks. Simple venturi valve systems—closed air systems that rely on a small venturi installed in the water pipe to draw air in—restrict water flow considerably, so they're best used only on small residential applications. Aggressive air pump systems can be very effective and can treat large concentrations of contaminants, but they are also fairly elaborate to set up. They require electricity both to power the air pump, and in some systems, to control the venting system. As two-tank systems, they also require more space and more plumbing connections.

With a single tank aeration/filtration system, no air pump or external venturi is used. Instead, air is drawn into the treatment tank with a water-powered induction system similar to the one used by water softeners to draw in brine. This air draw system does not restrict service water flow. During the nightly regeneration phase, air is pulled into the tank and all water is expelled. As the tank refills, the air is compressed into a tight pocket that sits above the filter media. Water entering the tank sprays down through the air pocket, oxidizing contaminants and preparing them for removal by the filter media in the bottom 2/3 of the tank. With these systems, the entire tank becomes an oxygen rich atmosphere favorable to optimal performance by the filter media.

Single-tank units will treat higher concentrations of iron and hydrogen sulfide than simple oxidizing filters. Using standard media like birm for iron and catalytic carbon for hydrogen sulfide, a single tank unit can handle up to 7 or 8 ppm of iron or hydrogen sulfide. For amounts larger than this, we recommend a pump-driven aerator.

While our website offers only birm and catalytic carbon versions, single tank units are very versatile. They can be used with other media or media combinations to great advantage. We have made units for customers with birm/catalytic carbon blends, with Filox (the absolute king of iron/sulfide media, which is a natural companion to aeration), with calcite to aerate and raise pH in a single tank as a pretreatment for a filter that follows, with Filter Ag or Chemsorb, to treat water with iron and heavy sediment, and more.

Fleck 2510 AIO 

Our new webpage, in other words, is just a starting point. For customers with special problems, we can make single tank units with a variety of media. We also sell the systems without media, for those who want to create with their own media. We can create single tank units with dome holes for easy addition of expendable media like calcite and corosex, and we even have bottom-drain tanks for summer-only homes and hunting cabins.

We have been selling single tank aerators for almost four years now. We initially sold a ready-made version from one of our suppliers, but are now buying parts and building what we believe is the best single tank system on the market.

Here are some high points:

We use the factory-built version of the Fleck AIO control. We offer it in both Fleck 2510 and 5600 formats.

We use Vortech tanks on all units in popular residential sizes up to 13” X 54” tanks. Vortech saves water, provides a more efficient backwash, and needs no gravel underbed. All single tank units are built in almond tanks which allow visual inspection of the aeration function.

Please visit our new webpage or call 940 382 3814 for more information.



Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories.

Thank you for reading.  Please come back next week.

Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime

Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”

Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”

An Alphabetical Index to Water Treatment Products

Our famous whole house Chloramine Catcher

Pure Water Occasional Archive: Sept. 2009-April 2013.

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