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Leaking Las Vegas: West’s Biggest Reservoir Nears Critical Threshold

Lake Mead – the West’s largest reservoir – is running dry again and is on track to fall below a critical threshold in 2020, according to a new forecast by the Bureau of Reclamation.

In 2016, Lake Mead water levels drop to new record lows (since it was filled in the 1930s) leaving Las Vegas facing existential threats unless something is done. Las Vegas and its 2 million residents and 40 million tourists a year get almost all their drinking water from the Lake and at levels below 1075ft, the Interior Department will be forced to declare a “shortage,” which will lead to significant cutbacks for Arizona and Nevada.

And now, two years later, the situation appears to be getting worse as The Wall Street Journal reports, in a prediction released Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation, a multistate agency that manages water and power in the West, said there is a 52% probability that water levels will fall below a threshold of 1,075 feet elevation by 2020.

Source

“The very big concern is the perception that water supplies are uncertain,” said Todd Reeve, chief executive officer of Business for Water Stewardship, a nonprofit group in Portland, Ore., that works with businesses on water use nationally.

“So if a water shortage is declared, that would be a huge shot across the bow that, wow, water supplies could be uncertain.”

The Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has been in long-term decline amid what bureau officials call the driest 19-year period in recorded history.

Lake Mead, which serves as the biggest reservoir of the river’s water, resumed its decline this year after the region returned to drought conditions. As of Wednesday, it stood at 1,078 feet, about 150 feet below its peak.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

MIT Computer Model Predicts Dramatic Drop In Quality Of Life Around 2020 And The “End Of Civilization” Around 2040

MIT Computer Model Predicts Dramatic Drop In Quality Of Life Around 2020 And The “End Of Civilization” Around 2040

Is humanity approaching a major turning point?  A computer model that was originally developed in 1973 by a group of scientists at MIT is warning that things are about to dramatically change.  If the computer predictions are accurate, our standard of living will start to decline dramatically around the year 2020, and we will witness the “end of civilization” around the year 2040.  Of course this is not the first time ominous predictions such as this have been made about our future.  For years, experts have been warning that we are heading for severe shortages of water, food and oil as our limited natural resources begin to run out.  For years, experts have been warning that our economic model is not sustainable and that we are heading for a historic collapse.  For years, experts have been warning about the alarming increase in seismic activity all over the planet and about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Society is crumbling all around us, and the elements for a “perfect storm” are definitely coming together.

So maybe this computer model is on to something.

The name of the computer program is “World One”, and it was originally created by Jay Forrester

The prediction came from a programme nicknamed World One, which was developed by a team of MIT researchers and processed by Australia’s largest computer.

It was originally devised by computer pioneer Jay Forrester, after he was tasked by the Club of Rome to develop a model of global sustainability.

However, the shocking result of the computer calculations showed that the level of pollution and population would cause a global collapse by 2040.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Clean Water Isn’t Available, Make it So – With a Sawyer

When Clean Water Isn’t Available, Make it So – With a Sawyer

As you well know, many surface water sources must be treated before drinking because they are repositories for bacteria, viruses, and a slew of parasites both microscopic and/or larger.

I have written several articles for Ready Nutrition about water purification methods, as well as methods for water storage. What we’re doing here is “cutting to the chase” to let you know about a product that will do more than just do in a pinch: it will suffice for a long, long time and work quickly and almost effortlessly.

The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is a compact, portable, three-part “system” that you can stick into a cargo pocket of your pants or shorts with ease. It can be put together and placed over a drinking vessel such as a water bottle, or you can hook up the straw that comes with it and drink directly through the filter itself. It can also be hooked up to a Camelbak water pouch. It comes with a pouch of its own that you can fill up with water and then squeeze through the filter into a bottle or other drinking vessel.

The Sawyer was invented a few years back through experimentation with kidney dialysis equipment, and they came up with a filter that uses a 0.1-micron filter that circulates the water to be filtered through fibrous micro-tubes, for a central collection of filtered water.  It works on protozoans such as giardia, bacteria such as E.coli, cholera, and salmonella, and also on more “difficult” organisms such as Cryptosporidium. Want the “kicker” for this thing?

It filters up to 100,000 gallons

If you drank 2 gallons a day, in 100 years, you would drink about 74,000 gallons. Pretty good, huh? The whole thing weighs less than 2 ounces. Now, JJ’s tips here are simple when you use this thing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Water Harvesting Earthworkds “Design to Reality”. Part 1.

WATER HARVESTING EARTHWORKS “DESIGN TO REALITY”. PART 1

So, you have been contacted by a client and you’ve discussed the client’s brief. You’ve started to look at the contour map, aerial images, whatever data you can find on the site. And with the client brief in mind, always remembering WATER IS LIFE, you set to the task of patterning the landscape using functional forms.

You start to look at what’s the most economical way to hold water in the landscape, move water around the landscape passively and make it perform as many duties as possible before it leaves the site.

Next is to develop the mainframe design theme. A big part of this is looking for high water storage sites. So we take the approach of looking at the contour map to take into account where the highest possible spot is, where water can safely be stored on the site in dams, (always considering how much catchment area is above the potential dam site or if there are any hard-surface run-off areas above the dam site).

Reader’s will understand catchment area, but hard surface run-off areas aren’t so well utilised and it’s just a bit of pattern recognition to identify when you look at a new site.

Identifying hard surface run off areas

Hard surface run-off areas with a bit of design thinking, can brought into our water harvesting systems. At times it doesrequire good observation skills to identify them, but there are generally clues for the observer.

There are many examples of hard surface run-off areas, sometimes called ‘hard-ware’. Your roof, a road, any compacted surface or a rock outcrop are all examples of ‘hard-ware’.

Gravel roads run off 85% of the water that hits the surface. Concrete areas 100% minus whatever evaporates, and your roof 100%.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Erasing Flint’s Water Crisis: Or How to Lie With Statistics

Erasing Flint’s Water Crisis: Or How to Lie With Statistics

Photo by Pete Souza | CC BY 2.0

Mark Twain famously wrote that “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This insight is relevant to examining the apologetics of modern-day academics in the rising neoliberal assault on the public. This subservience to power is evident in efforts to rationalize governmental attacks on the most basic of human needs: access to clean water. In seeking to numb the public to basic facts and reality, the New York Times has published an op-ed analysis piece by Hernán Gómez and Kim Dietrich: “The Children of Flint Were Not Poisoned” (7/22/2018).

On the face of it, many might take the above piece seriously in light of its prestigious source. It was published in the most prominent, influential newspaper in the country – the national “paper of record.” Furthermore, the authors are trained experts in their fields, Gómez an “associate professor” of emergency medicine” at the University of Michigan, Dietrich a “professor of epidemiology and environmental health” at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Furthermore, Gómez’s research on Flint has gone through the peer review process, as seen in the publication of his article, “Blood Lead Levels of Children in Michigan: 2006-2016” in The Journal of Pediatrics. Scholarly peer review is designed to guarantee the highest possible quality of scholarly and medical research, although in this case it appears that the process badly broke down in relation to the study of water in Flint.

Before discussing the New York Time’s claims, it is worth briefly reviewing the history of what happened in Flint, Michigan. In a country where people’s historical memory is notoriously short, many may have forgotten exactly what happened in this tragic case. To provide some context, Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder declared an emergency takeover of Flint’s financial management in November of 2011, citing the city’s fiscal mismanagement and its lack of revenues to provide for basic services.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Jersey To Now Tax Water Supply as Well – Creative Greed of Taxes

Politicians are truly amazing. When they need money, they are never short of ideas of things to tax. New Jersey is proposing to now tax water from the tap. The proposal is being submitted by State Senator Bob Smith D-Middlesex. Of course, Smith is trying to say it’s not actually a tax and calling it a“user fee” even though you already get a water bill. A “user fee” would be a flat rate. He wants 10 cents per 1,000 gallons so it functions more like a tax than a one-time fee like getting a driver’s license. Smith obtained his J.D. in 1981 from the Seton Hall University School of Law. The only thing law teaches you is how to call a pig a cow and get away with it. It is probably inevitable that they will figure out a way to tax the air for making it clean.

They have in a way managed to tax sex as well over the centuries. In Nevada, they have proposed a $5 tax every time a prostitute performs a service. This is nothing new. The Roman Emperor Caligula (37-41AD) inaugurated a tax upon prostitutes per client (the vectigal ex capturis). There was the bachelor tax which was a punitive tax imposed on unmarried men. The Lex Papia Poppaea was introduced in 9 AD by emperor Augustus (27BC-14AD) to encourage marriage. Penalties were therefore imposed on those who were celibate, with an exception granted to Vestal Virgins. (Ulp. Frag. xvii.1). The law also imposed penalties on married persons who had no children from the age of twenty-five to sixty in a man. Women were taxed who had no children from the age of twenty to fifty (Gaius, ii.111)  (Tacit. Ann. xv.19). As strange as that may sound, New Jersey and Michigan proposed a tax on bachelor men to change their behavior.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Lead Poisoning Was Discovered in Flint’s Water

How Lead Poisoning Was Discovered in Flint’s Water

The toxic water supply in Flint, Michigan, which exposed up to 42,000 children under 2 years of age to lead poisoning, was a major media story a few years back. Ingestion of high dosages of lead, particularly among infants, results in cognitive impairment, attention and mood disorders, and aggressive behavior. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s account of that urban man-made disaster reads both as a detective story and as an exposé of government corruption in her book “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.”

She brings the reader along as she uncovers Flint’s calamity within the context of her experience as a Christian Iraqi immigrant living in one of America’s poorest cities. Flint, the eighth-largest “majority-minority” city in the U.S. (57 percent black, 37 percent white), is where a kid born will live 15 years less than one born in the neighboring communities.  As a pediatrician working at Flint’s Hurley Hospital, one of the few public hospitals left in the country, her advocacy was driven by its  “mandate to serve the community above all.”

Although she had been an environmental activist in college, her story reveals how even the most vigilant of us must recognize that “the eyes don’t see what the mind doesn’t know.” She begins her journey blithely comforting her patients’ concerns about the quality of their drinking water: “The tap water is just fine.”

Her concerns only surface when she found out, by chance, that when Flint had to switch its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to lower its costs, government agencies were not properly checking for lead in the water supply. Her fellow health advocate, Marc Edwards, a self-described conservative Republican and civil-engineering professor from Virginia Tech, explained to her that even though the federal law required proper inspections, “The EPA and the states work hand in hand to bury problems.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Military Seizes Control Of Water Supplies As Venezuelan Infrastructure Collapses

If there’s one group that has benefited from Venezuela’s economic collapse, it’s the country’s military, which has been handed control over much of the country’s remaining industry as the collapse has intensified. Venezuela’s army, about 160,000 strong, controls the mineral-rich Arco Minero del Orinoco, and some of its top officers are also serving as executives of Venezuela’s state-run oil company.

VZ

And as the collapse of social services has caused water supplies to dwindle, the military has recently hijacked what spigots remain, transforming access to water into a luxury that most Venezuelans can’t afford. Many of the pipes and reservoirs have fallen into disarray – or seen their supplies drastically diminished – the military is stepping in to take charge of the “equitable distribution” of what little remains. As part of the government’s socialist policy program, the cost of water is supposed to be subsidized – at least in theory. But with the state-owned water utility, known as Hidrocapital, has effectively abdicated its responsibilities, the military is increasingly stepping in, commandeering trucks and vans used by private individuals who have tried to step in and service parts of the capital, according to a Bloomberg report.

Venezuela’s military has come to oversee the desperate and lucrative water trade as reservoirs empty, broken pipes flood neighborhoods and overwhelmed personnel walk out. Seven major access points in the capital of 5.5 million people are now run by soldiers or police, who also took total control of all public and private water trucks.Unofficially, soldiers direct where drivers deliver — and make them give away the goods at favored addresses.

Rigoberto Sanchez, who runs a water tanker that ferries water from the El Paraiso water-filling station in Caracas to an array of customers in the city, says his No. 1 business hazard is being intercepted by the military.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Water Wars: India Facing “Worst Crisis In Its History”

India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage, a government think-tank says.

The Niti Aayog report, which draws on data from 24 of India’s 29 states, says the crisis is “only going to get worse” in the years ahead.

Around 200,000 Indians die every year because they have no access to clean water, according to the report. And as The BBC reports, many end up relying on private water suppliers or tankers paid for the by the government. Winding queues of people waiting to collect water from tankers or public taps is a common sight in Indian slums.

Indian cities and towns regularly run out water in the summer because they lack the infrastructure to deliver piped water to every home.

  • 600 million people face high-to-extreme water stress.
  • 75% of households do not have drinking water on premise. 84% rural households do not have piped water access.
  • 70% of our water is contaminated; India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.

India faces more than one problem – all compounding the nation’s crisis:

Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating severe problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers (~53% of agriculture in India is rainfed17).

When water is available, it is likely to be contaminated (up to 70% of our water supply), resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths each year.

Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance.

And that means massive problems lie ahead…

40% of the Indian population will have no access to drinking water by 2030 with 21 cities running out of groundwater by 2020 – affecting 100 million people which will cut 6% from GDP by 2050.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If You Think the Water Restrictions in California Are Tough, Check Out Cape Town

If You Think the Water Restrictions in California Are Tough, Check Out Cape Town

Remember earlier in the year when the news was abuzz about Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa?  According to the press at the time, the day was looming when the city of 3.74 million people would run completely out of water. First, the date of Day Zero was heralded as April 16th, then May 11th, then June 4th.

Calculating Day Zero took into account maximum evaporation (based on temperature and wind) and existing patterns in agricultural and urban use—an equation that considered both natural and man-made conditions. (source)

Now, they’re saying the disaster has been averted for now, but that it could happen in 2019. And if you think the water restrictions in California are tough, wait until you see what they’re doing in Cape Town.

So how did Cape Town avoid Day Zero?

Day Zero was delayed by a combination of things. Fortunately, there was some rainfall, and citizens went to great effort to reduce their water usage.  There was a public campaign to basically scare Capetonians into compliance with conservation efforts.

Late last year, as the South African government faced the prospect of its largest city running out of water, they took an unprecedented gamble.

The government announced “day zero” – a moment when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off the taps in Cape Town and send people to communal water collection points.

This apocalyptic notion prompted water stockpiling and panic, caused a drop in tourism bookings, and raised the spectre of civil unrest.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

10-Minute Neighborhoods: The Low-Tech Solution to Almost* Everything

10-Minute Neighborhoods: The Low-Tech Solution to Almost* Everything

What if it were possible to make headway on all these issues with simple changes to our neighborhoods?

What if we could cut our medical costs in half? What if we could give the average American an added five years of healthy life? What if we could cut our energy use, our water use, and our greenhouse gas emissions by more than half while improving our happiness and prosperity? What if we could provide affordable housing for millennials staggering under student loan debt? What if we could help elders age gracefully in a connected community, with their mobility and cognition intact? What if we could create communities where children can experience both safety and independence? What if we could cut in half the cost of essential services provided by cities and towns? What if we could prevent prime farmland from becoming suburbs and McMansions? What if we could create biodiverse greenbelts and wildlife corridors around our towns and cities? What if inside our cities we could create calming tree canopies, community vegetable gardens and open spaces for all to benefit from?

All this can be achieved with 10-minute walkable neighborhoods, neighborhoods where everyone can step out their front door and reach a wide array of goods and services within ten minutes by foot. All it takes is enough density within a half-mile radius of a commercial shopping street to allow the businesses and services there to prosper. We’re not talking Hong Kong or Manhattan density, just 16 or so housing units per acre, which can be easily achieved by allowing again the “Missing Middle” of housing that was so common before World War II. What is the Missing Middle?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The toxic price of convenience

The toxic price of convenience

As many as 110 million Americans may be drinking water contaminated by a toxic class of chemicals that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are used in “stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).”

The chemicals, referred to as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, were detected by EPA-mandated testing of U.S. water supplies between 2013 and 2015. The full results of that testing have not been made public. An analysis done by the Environmental Working Group using available data uncovered the widespread contamination. The group’s analysis was released last week.

Firefighting foams are a major source of the contamination, primarily from their release during routine training drills at both civilian and military airports. But the desire of consumers for nonstick pans and stain- and water-repellent clothing and carpets brings direct contact with the toxic chemicals.

The desire to make our lives maintenance-free often creates unintended environmental and health consequences. Every decision to transfer a maintenance task to a chemical substance only complicates the goal of creating a healthy environment. One solution is simply to have fewer things that require maintenance, thus reducing the time we spend on maintenance. Another is to accept that we have a duty to maintain the objects which serve us in a way that does not poison others or ourselves.The response to problem substances is typically to find another chemical to do the same job. We did that after phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), liquids previously used in refrigerators and air conditioners to transfer heat away from refrigerator and building interiors. CFCs were leaking into the atmosphere and destroying the ozone layer which protects living organisms from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s ‘Cadillac Desert’: Is there a substitute for fresh water?

America’s ‘Cadillac Desert’: Is there a substitute for fresh water?

Thirty years after Marc Reisner penned Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water his prophesy is being fulfilled. As the chalky rings which mark previous higher water levels around Colorado River reservoirs grow ever wider, Grist reports that major disputes are now afoot over the remaining water supply.

Modern economists have long told us not to worry about resource scarcity. Higher prices will bring on new supplies whenever resource supplies decline. And, if a resource truly is becoming unobtainable, then we’ll always find a substitute.

When I hear this, I often counter: “There is certainly some truth to what you are saying. But, please tell me what the substitute for potable water will be.” The response is usually to change the subject—for the obvious reason that there is no substitute.

A Scientific American article in 2012 put world freshwater usage at more than 9 trillion cubic meters for per year. Per capita, Americans, not surprisingly, consumed more than twice the world average. Certainly, there is much room for water conservation in America and in the American West.

But what does conservation mean when 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is used for agriculture? Of course, it means that conservation is going to affect food production. At first, it might mean simply making irrigation systems more efficient through, say, drip irrigation.

But once conservation has achieved all that it can achieve, what will we do? It is important to remember that what is normally measured when it comes to water consumption is “freshwater” consumption. The water optimists will point to the vast brackish aquifers still available to us humans, not to mention the almost limitless supply in the oceans. The fact that the U.S. Geological Survey was asked by Congress to survey brackish water availability in the United States is an indicator of how serious the situation has become.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nestlé’s Profits Trump Clean Water in Flint

Nestlé’s Profits Trump Clean Water in Flint

Screw the people of Flint, or so goes the mantra of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which last month approved a controversial permit that will allow Nestlé to pump and bottle 400 gallons of fresh water per minute from the state’s White Pine Springs, near the Osceola Township. Meanwhile, back in Flint, residents still aren’t buying the Governor’s bullshit that their water is safe to drink.

The privatization of the public’s water is only becoming more prevalent as reservoirs dry up around the globe. Bottled water sales have skyrocketed in the last ten years while access to fresh, affordable H20 has decreased. In places like Cape Town, South Africa, which is in the midst of a dire water shortage, it’s not just climate change that’s making the city quench for thirst — the impoverished can’t afford private water but residents with money are able to subsidize their meager rations.

“Many of the rich own water-bottling companies, they can afford to buy water,” Ebrahiem Fourie of the Cape Town Housing Assembly recently told journalist Dahr Jamail. “The available ground water [springs] are usually in affluent areas, which makes them easy to access, and with the current water restrictions the rich have cars to load their water.”

Mega-corporations like Coca-Cola and Nestlé may seem like a nice solution for communities that don’t have access to clean drinking water. Their water is potable, portable and generally safe. However, as we are witnessing in Cape Town, private companies in the water business cater to those with cash. The poor are left out to dry. Deals like Nestlé is scoring in Michigan won’t fix the water problem in Flint — which is one of the poorest communities in the nation — it will likely exacerbate it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Understanding What the ‘New Normal’ Means for Water in the West

Understanding What the ‘New Normal’ Means for Water in the West

After 20 years of drought conditions, some scientists are calling for better terminology to describe the impact of rising temperatures in the region.

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Humphrey’s Peak in Arizona is experiencing one of its lowest runoff years in history.Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

APRIL IS OFTEN a time of abundance in the mountains of the American West, when snowpack is at or near its peak, and forecasters work to determine how much runoff will course through our rivers and fill reservoirs later in the season.

This year, across much of the West, particularly the Southwest, there’s little in the way of abundance. At Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the West, runoff is predicted to be only 43 percent of average. Arizona is looking at one of its lowest runoff years in history. And in New Mexico, stretches of the Rio Grande have already run dry, months ahead of normal.

The only consolation is that last year was a wet year and reservoirs received a boost. While it’s typical in the West to have big swings in precipitation from year to year, what has concerned scientists lately is that even good years are no longer producing the kind of runoff seen historically.

It’s even prompted a group of scientists with the Colorado River Research Group to call for a new language to describe the conditions they’re seeing.

“There’s lots of talk of drought but there’s not enough talk that this is likely the new normal,” said Brad Udall, a member of the group and a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University. “We really need to think in the long term that we are actually going to see less water in the [Colorado River] basin and we’re never going back to the 20th century.”

And in the Southwest, this “new normal” may look more like “aridification” than drought.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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