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Water - April 25

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How a fast-growing Alberta town manages its water as if it were liquid gold

Craig Saunders, Globe & Mail
Dawn Heffernan faces a big challenge. Her southern Alberta town will max out its water supply this year. Since there is no prospect of getting more, there is only one solution: conservation.

Ms. Heffernan is the environment and sustainability co-ordinator for Okotoks, and a big part of her job is getting people to use less water. Like all towns in dry southern Alberta, hers has a cap on the amount of water it can use.

"There's still a gaping hole of awareness about the scarcity situation," she says.

With population growth and climate change, water is likely to become the world's dominant political issue. Scarcity has long been a problem in many parts of Africa and the Middle East and is a growing concern in the western United States. Canada is widely seen as a water-rich country, but water isn't universally available and towns like Okotoks are the first to feel the pinch.
(22 April 2009)




What Percentage of Water that Goes Down the Drain is Actually Lost Forever?

Sarah Kuck and Julia Levitt, WorldChanging

It's always considered a major no-no to waste water. But how is water used in a household wasted? Isn't it all just processed and reused?

I understand that there is energy spent in processing and there are possible chemical issues in the cleaning process but I'm really just interested in the whole concept of "wasting water".

What percentage of water that goes down the drain is actually lost forever?

-- Jakebot

Great question, Jake. We want to answer this question for you in two parts: simple and not so simple. First, the simple answer to your question is zero. Zero percent of water that goes down the drain is actually lost forever because, according to the law of conservation of mass, matter cannot be created or destroyed.

But what you want to know, then, is, 'why is wasting water is such a big no-no?' The answer to that is cost and location. In the United States, most people get their water from wells or from municipal systems. Once they've used it, most people send their "waste" water down the drain to either the wastewater treatment plant or to a septic system. It is costly -- in terms of both money and energy -- to transport water from its source to our houses, and to treat it once it leaves our houses.

Location is a big deal when it comes to water. If you live in Seattle, like we do, it's plentiful enough that we don't need to worry too much about wasting it because there is always enough for all of us to use as we please. But in most places, water still goes through a natural cycle -- either evaporating or soaking into the ground -- before being taken back into the municipal system.
(22 April 2009)
Energy is intimately connected with water consumption. It takes water to generate electricity (e.g. to cool nuclear power plants) and it takes energy to purify, store and trasnport water. -BA



Recession slowing water investment to a drip

Nichola Groom, Reuters
Water scarcity means big growth for companies that purify, transport, and distribute the world's most essential resource, but a global recession that has halted new projects and put off price hikes means water investors will have to wait for the boom years.

Water, cheap and indispensable, has long been prized as a stable investment in both good and bad times.
(15 April 2009)



Palestinian Water Crisis Deepens

BBC News
A World Bank report blames Palestinian mismanagement and Israeli restrictions for severe water shortages in Palestinian areas.

The existing problems effect not just daily supply but the development of water resources, water uses and wastewater management.

"Water related humanitarian crisis are in fact chronic in Gaza and parts of the West Bank," says the report.

For their water Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are completely depended on scarce resources controlled by Israel.

This has led to "systematic and severe constraints on Palestinian development of water resources", says the report.

But the Palestinian Authority (PA) too gets part of the blame. It is struggling to establish even a basic water infrastructure and management, concludes the report.
(20 April 2009)

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