Water! In my recent search for a country home to retire towards, I found a dreamy, antique house in Connecticut that essentially had no water. The home was set high on a ridge, water cascading everywhere from a recent storm, but the well test ran dry after 20 minutes! This is a profound thing to witness. I learned that water was in short supply on that ridge. A new well would potentially reduce water from a neighbor’s well and in the case of this particular well it needed to be 5 X deeper. Multiple wells were drilled on each of the properties in the area and more developers were coming in to take advantage of the views and the closeness to New York City.
Our water issue is intimidating.
Water is a permanent and inseparable element to human life. As climate change affects our water supplies, and our population continues to grow and shift, it becomes increasingly important to develop and implement innovative, long-term strategies for making sure we have enough clean water when and where we need it.
March 22, 2016 was United Nations World Water Day. In conjunction, the Obama Administration hosted a White House Water Summit to raise awareness of water issues in America, find potential solutions, discuss ideas and catalyze actions through innovative science and technology that can help us build a sustainable and secure water future.
Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival by Michael Webber is a good place to start gaining an understanding of the issues. He is the Director of the Energy Institute @ the University of Texas, Austin and he recently wrote an article for the New York Times titled, Our Water System: What a Waste.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure for providing safe, clean water is seriously challenged. Repairing our water and wastewater systems will cost more than $1.3 trillion.
We need breakthroughs in water treatment technology that would enable larger-scale recycling and reuse of storm water, treated water, desalination, aquifer storage and recovery.
We also have to fix our data gaps. These gaps create blind decision making on a nationwide scale perpetuating waste and inefficiencies on how best to use the water we have. Compared to the energy sector, where solid statistics on prices, production and consumption are generated weekly, critical information on water use and supply is published only once every five years. That means the latest survey completed in 2014 gave the statistics for 2009. http://www.usgs.gov/water/
Creating a Water Information Administration, to collect, curate and maintain up-to-date, publicly available water data could inform policy makers and the markets in a timely manner.
As with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, government-backed research and development could help prompt a wave of innovation and investment towards our water future.
David Sedlak, author, Professor and Director of the Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley, has developed cost-effective, safe and sustainable systems to manage water resources in California. His four “tap” approach is presented in his TED Talk presentation. https://www.ted.com/talks/david_sedlak_4_ways_we_can_avoid_a_catastrophic_drought?language=en
How You Can Help:
- Support and encourage your local authorities to upgrade your water infrastructure.
- Water needs to be conserved. Become aware of how much water you use and try new ways to reduce. Your clothes probably don’t need washed after one wear. https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/indoor.html
- Update and maintain your household water systems.
- Water in plastic bottles is not the answer. Protect and use your tap. If your tap water is not safe, you can save a lot of money and resources buying water in 10 gallon jugs.
- Look what a few people in Oregon are able to accomplish!!