Drinking Water Not Tested For Tens Of Thousands Of Chemicals

Drinking Water Not Tested For Tens Of Thousands Of Chemicals
January 24, 2014
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/01/24/265520673/drinking-water-not-tested-for-tens-of-thousands-of-chemicals

The fact that a second contaminant in West Virginia’s drinking water eluded detection for nearly two weeks — despite intense testing of the water — reveals an important truth about how companies test drinking water: In most cases, they only find the contaminants they’re looking for.

Freedom Industries earlier this week revealed it had spilled two chemicals, not just one. The second chemical is PPH, a mixture of polygycol ethers. It was combined with first contaminant — 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or MCHM — a chemical that washes coal.

there’s an important takeaway here for water companies that face chemical spills in the future: “Learn to not take the information that you’re given at face value.”

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California’s Drought

Despite California’s Drought, Taps Still Flowing In LA County
July 20, 2014
http://www.npr.org/2014/07/20/333019977/despite-californias-drought-taps-still-flowing-in-la-county

This January, after the driest calendar year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. He called on residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent.

But downtown Los Angeles doesn’t look like a city devastated by the state’s worst drought in decades.
The city is green with landscaping, and fountains are running. People still water their lawns, wash their cars and fill their pools.

Earlier this week, Gov. Brown announced that, compared to last year, water use this May actually went up in some parts of the state — including in coastal Southern California, the region including LA, where water use rose 8 percent. The state has responded by voting to fine water-wasters up to $500.

“Have-nots, for water, are in El Dorado County,” a rural area east of Sacramento: “They’re taking bucket showers.”

Why Cleaned Wastewater Stays Dirty In Our Minds

Why Cleaned Wastewater Stays Dirty In Our Minds
August 16, 2011
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/16/139642271/why-cleaned-wastewater-stays-dirty-in-our-minds

About 14 years ago, … a number of California’s local water agencies were proposing a different approach to the state’s perennial water problems. They wanted to build plants that would clean local wastewater — aka sewage water — and after that cleaning, make it available as drinking water.
But, says Haddad, these proposals were consistently shot down by an unwilling public.

“The public wasn’t really examinin g the science involved,” Haddad says. “They were just saying no.” This infuriated the water engineers, who thought the public’s response was fundamentally irrational

“A scientific answer is not going to satisfy someone who is feeling revulsion,” says Haddad. “You have to approach it in a different way.”

Psychological Contagion
Carol Nemeroff is one of the psychologists Haddad recruited to help him with his research.
She works at the University of Southern Maine and studies psychological contagion.
The term refers to the habit we all have of thinking — consciously or not — that once something has had contact with another thing, their parts are in some way joined.

“It’s a very broad feature of human thinking,” Nemeroff explains. “Everywhere we look, you can see contagion thinking.”

Contagion thinking isn’t always negative. Often, we think it is some essence of goodness that has somehow been transmitted to an object — think of a holy relic or a piece of family jewelry.

Nemeroff offers one example: “If I have my grandmother’s ring versus an exact replica of my grandmother’s ring, my grandmother’s ring is actually better because she was in contact with it — she wore it. So we act like objects — their history is part of the object.”

And according to Nemeroff, there are very good reasons why people think like this. As a basic rule of thumb for making decisions, when we’re uncertain about realities in the world, contagion thinking has probably served us well. “If it’s icky, don’t touch it,” says Nemeroff.

The conclusion?
“It is quite difficult to get the cognitive sewage out of the water, even after the real sewage is gone,” Nemeroff says.

Around 60 percent of people are unwilling to drink water that has had direct contact with sewage, according to their research.

But as Nemeroff points out, there is a certain irony to this position, at least when viewed from the perspective of a water engineer. You see, we are all already basically drinking water that has at one point been sewage.
After all, “we are all downstream from someone else,” as Nemeroff says. “And even the nice fresh pure spring water? Birds and fish poop in it. So there is no water that has not been pooped in somewhere.”

Here, Drink A Nice Glass Of Sparkling Clear Wastewater

Here, Drink A Nice Glass Of Sparkling Clear Wastewater
November 07, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/11/07/243711364/here-drink-a-nice-glass-of-sparkling-clean-wastewater

With freshwater becoming more scarce in many parts of the country, the public may have to overcome its aversion to water recycling.

Ah, The Stench Of Drinking Water

the brand-new $68 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San Jose.

Then, the water passes through filters that get rid of the tiniest of contaminants, like viruses or pharmaceuticals, by a process of reverse osmosis.

Finally, the water gets zapped by ultraviolet rays, which scramble the DNA of anything that might be living in it.

“The Department of Health has acknowledged that we are removing 99.99 percent of all pathogens,” Yezman says.

You have to break the memory, or the line of history, of the water,” explains Brent Haddad of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This is not an engineering challenge, he says. It’s a psychological challenge.
Water managers, he says, need to rewrite the history of the water to help people forget the part about sewage.

One way to do this is to take recycled water and put it back into a natural setting, like a river.

Just look at the Mississippi River — it’s full of treated sewage water that people downstream clean and then drink.

The irony, of course, is that when you put recycled water back into the ecosystem, it actually gets dirtier and has to be treated again.
How does it feel to put that beautiful, clean water into a hole in the ground?
“Frustrated,” Markus says.

related:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/07/20/424571389/drought-stricken-california-farmers-look-to-tap-urban-wastewater

Eutrophication

Lago de Pátzcuaro during a cyanobacterial bloom

Eutrophication: Causes, Consequences, and Controls in Aquatic Ecosystems.
Nature Education Knowledge, 2013, 4(4):10
http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/eutrophication-causes-consequences-and-controls-in-aquatic-102364466

Eutrophication is a leading cause of impairment of many freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems in the world.
Why should we worry about eutrophication and how is this problem managed?

Some algal blooms pose an additional threat because they produce noxious toxins (e.g., microcystin and anatoxin-a.
Over the past century, harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been linked with
(1) degradation of water quality,
(2) destruction of economically important fisheries, and
(3) public health risks (Morris 1999).
Within freshwater ecosystems, cyanobacteria are the most important phytoplankton associated with HABs. Toxigenic cyanobacteria, including Anabaena, Cylindrospermopsis, Microcystis, and Oscillatoria (Planktothrix), tend to dominate nutrient-rich, freshwater systems due to their superior competitive abilities under high nutrient concentrations, low nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratios, low light levels, reduced mixing, and high temperatures.
Poisonings of domestic animals, wildlife, and even humans by blooms of toxic cyanobacteria have been documented throughout the world and date back to Francis’ (1878) first observation of dead livestock associated with a bloom of cyanobacteria.
Furthermore, cyanobacteria are responsible for several off-flavor compounds (e.g., methylisoborneal and geosmin) found in municipal drinking water systems

related:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/08/338936920/lake-eries-toxic-bloom-has-ohio-famers-on-the-defensive

Drought Forces Restrictions On Colorado River Water Releases

Drought Forces Restrictions On Colorado River Water Releases
August 16, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/08/16/212527903/drought-forces-restrictions-on-colorado-river-water-releases

Relentless drought will force the government to cut back on water releases between Glen Canyon and Lake Mead.
It’s the first time that’s happened since dams were built on the Colorado River.
Reduction starts next year, and the announcement gives the 40 million water users in the Southwest time to plan.

… it’s a warning for nearly 40-million people, from Denver to San Diego, who depend on Colorado River water.

see also:
https://franzcalvo.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/change-the-course-help-save-the-colorado-river

Plant a rainscape

For a Greener Yard, Lose the Lawn
August 16, 2013
http://www.npr.org/2013/08/16/212613889/for-a-greener-yard-lose-the-lawn

Across the Southwest, cities are banning water-thirsty front lawns.
Cado Daily of the University of Arizona’s Water Wise Program views that as an opportunity to plant a “rainscape” — a yard with drought-friendly native plants that she says can look as lush as a lawn, and lure wildlife back, too.

see also:
RainScape Rewards Program
City of Clayton, Missouri
http://www.claytonmo.gov/Resident/Sustainability/RainScape_Rewards_Program.htm