Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cycle of Insanity: the Real Story of the Water Cycle

About a year ago, the San Diego chapter began working with Surfrider’s California Policy Coordinator, Joe Geever, on a new program: Know Your H20. We wanted to raise awareness of how fresh water management issues create a lot of problems for our oceans and beaches.
One idea we had was to build a website, but because the content of the problem is so overwhelming, and somewhat boring, we decided to build a flash-animated website. The project grew over time, as more folks through-out our California chapters heard about it, and wanted to help.
Naturally, almost all of our CA chapters are faced with the same problem: water is delivered from over thousands of miles away using huge amounts of energy, and at a huge expense. The water is used (often only once,) sent to a waste-water treatment plant, and then dumped in the ocean. And now, we are spending billions of dollars to build ocean desalination factories to pump the water back out of the ocean that we just paid for and transported. To us, it seems like an insane cycle of wasted energy and water resources. We wanted to show people that by conserving, and planting climate appropriate plants that we could in fact use less water, and that by recycling it to drinking standards, we could re-use our water. Both of these solutions would mitigate our need for desal factories which use way more energy than transporting our water thousands of miles, and in the process, contribute to climate change.

Paul Jenkin, at our Ventura chapter, along with Joe, began working with us on the content. We presented the facts to the West LA/Malibu chapter, and they said, “we can help build that flash movie!” Then the South Orange County chapter agreed to help fund, as did Monterrey, and Newport Beach.
We began writing the script, creating story boards, and then our friends at Scripps Institute of Oceanography connected us to the actress, and environmentalist, Zuleikha Robinson from Lost, who agreed to narrate our film. We are still a few months from completion, but because the film is one of the few to offer actual solutions to our water issues, we believe it can have a great impact on our consumers, businesses and agencies.

Right now we need your help securing a grant for the film's website. We have applied for a grant from Free Range Studios, who had 400 applicants. To help them narrow down a winner, we need your vote! Can you go here, and give us all 3 of your votes? We just need to finish in the top 20, and right now, we are at around #23.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ocean Protection Council Is Holding an Informational Panel on Ocean Desalination

The Ocean Protection Council (OPC), after many requests from Surfrider Foundation and our partners in the environmental community, is holding an informational panel on ocean desalination. The meeting is right here in San Diego:

November 30, 2009
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Scripps Seaside Forum
8610 Kennel Way (formerly Discovery Way)
La Jolla, CA

It is our hope this panel presentation and public input will lead to an informed resolution from the OPC to several government agencies that will finally set standards on the best technology and location for ocean desalination. But maybe more importantly, the resolution can identify a set of alternatives to ocean desalination that restore our coast and ocean while meeting our demand for freshwater.

We want to emphasize that ocean desalination, if not done properly, will unnecessarily kill marine life in the seawater intakes and because of it's enormous energy demand will increase the state's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions — undermining the state's efforts to restore healthy marine life populations and reduce climate change and all the threats it creates to our coast and ocean.

Before we race into building massive ocean desalination facilities, we should fully implement water conservation programs that not only lower our demand, but eliminate polluted urban runoff — like our Ocean Friendly Gardens program.

We should also eliminate partially treated sewage discharges to the ocean and purify that water for re-use. Between Ventura and San Diego, we discharge approximately 1.3 billion gallons of water a day from our wastewater treatment plants. Recycling just a fraction of that water would eliminate the need for ocean desalination. And for those of us who care about our coast and ocean, water recycling eliminates a source of pollution and dramatically reduces the current energy demand of importing water to the region. Ocean desal increases both the energy demand "embedded" in water, increases the water we waste by discharging it to the ocean — and kills fish in the process.

Join us in telling the Ocean Protection Council that we want California to prioritize alternatives to our water supply portfolio that are consistent with our goals to restore and protect our coast and ocean. The current so-called "water crisis" is a call for water management reform — not expensive and environmentally damaging "band-aid" fixes like ocean desal that only make the problems we're trying to solve worse.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cape Coral FL reusing all of its wastewater in 2009 - good on ya!

Click Here for the story.

Nothing Cape Coral residents flushed this year went to waste.

The City of Cape Coral this year recycled all of its wastewater, Public Works Supervisor Chuck Pavlos said. The city has come close in the past, but this is the first year the city has reused all of its water.

The city five years ago launched a half-billion dollars worth of water and sewer treatment plant expansions. The facilities treat wastewater and pump it back through the city’s irrigation system.

The system is designed to reuse treated water instead of dumping it into nearby waterways. Beyond protecting the waterways, it assures the city has a reliable water sources all year.

“It’s a very good thing,” said state Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Rhonda Haag. “We’re very proud of them. Their wastewater program is a model for other cities.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dr. Peter Gleick on Carlsbad desal

This guys seems to have it right in my opinion....

"Water Number: $350 million in public subsidies to a private group. Earlier this week, one of the subsidies demanded by Poseidon was granted. The Metropolitan Water Board approved a subsidy of up to $250 per acre foot per year for 25 years, which will make MWD customers pay more for water than they would otherwise have paid, with the profits going to a private company. Up to $350 million over 25 years.

This decision by MWD effectively proves two things: first, that desalination, as envisioned and designed by Poseidon, remains a premature and expensive choice for California. Second, that for all of Southern California's claims of improved efficiency, it is still easier for water agencies to spend $2 (or $3 or $4) to build a water-supply project than to spend $1 to get the same water through water-efficiency programs."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail??blogid=104&entry_id=51464#ixzz0WhHmHSN9

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

EPA tests porous pavement to combat contaminated rain runoff

Wouldn't it be great if we had porous pavement in every town and city in Southern California? Imagine how much cleaner our oceans would be!

Replacing all the old hard surfaces might cost some money, but replacing it would create a few jobs too. Wow - cleaner oceans, rivers and streams, and green jobs!

This is a study we will definitely keep our eyes on.

EPA tests porous pavement to combat contaminated rain runoff
Scientific American-10/30/09
By Larry Greenemeier

In an effort to prevent polluted parking lot rain runoff from contaminating surrounding soil and underground water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it has launched decade-long test of permeable materials to find one that can filter out impurities in rainwater before it flows to its final destination.

Pavement tends to collect grease, oil, antifreeze and other chemicals leaked from the cars that park there. When a heavy rain or snowstorm passes over this area it tends to wash these toxins toward the nearest porous surface. Sometimes this water rushes to a storm drain but other times storm drains are overwhelmed and runoff keeps flowing until it reaches the nearest patch of soil or body of water.

The EPA's first test site is its Edison, N.J., facility, where the agency has replaced a 3,995-square-meter section of parking lot with three different types of permeable pavement—interlocking concrete pavers, porous concrete and porous asphalt—and planted several rain gardens (pdf) with varying vegetation for the study. (Note: Interlocking concrete pavers are often called porous pavers, although the pavers themselves are not porous.)

Researchers will over time evaluate the effectiveness of each pavement type and the rain gardens in removing pollutants from stormwater, and how they help water filter back into the ground, according to the agency.

This long-term porous pavement research is part of the agency's Green Infrastructure Research Program and expected to let the EPA document the performance and capabilities of three porous pavement systems simultaneously at the same site, according to an EPA document describing the study.

Each of the monitored porous pavement parking rows has subsections lined with an impermeable geotextile fabric to collect the infiltrating water as well as sections that infiltrate into the underlying soil. Each impermeable section has a perforated pipe that drains the accumulated runoff through pipes under the roadway to a dedicated collection tank to the side of the lot.

Pollution runoff from hard surfaces remains a complicated problem, an EPA spokesman says. In urban areas, polluted runoff often flows from pavement into storm drains. "When heavy rain events occur, polluted water is often released into rivers, streams and oceans through events called combined sewer overflows," he says. "In rural areas, polluted runoff can flow off of paved areas directly into water bodies or onto land that may be used for farming."