Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org
September 2013: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has released a report titled 'Free Flow. Reaching Water Security through Cooperation,' which was published in the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation. The report brings together a range of water professionals and stakeholders to share their knowledge and experiences in water cooperation.
Washington, D.C. - Thursday, October 3, 2013 — As federal policy makers decide on rules for fracking on public lands, a new report calculates the toll of this dirty drilling on our environment, including 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated by fracking in 2012.
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, "Fracking by the Numbers," is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date.
“The numbers don't lie — fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If this dirty drilling continues unchecked, these numbers will only get worse,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America.
“At health clinics, we’re seeing nearby residents experiencing nausea, headaches and other symptoms linked to fracking pollution,” said David Brown, a toxicologist who has reviewed health data from Pennsylvania. “With billions of gallons of toxic waste coming each year, we’re just seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of health risks.”
The “Fracking by the Numbers” report measured key indicators of fracking threats across the country, including:
• 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated in 2012,
• 450,000 tons of air pollution produced in one year,
• 250 billion gallons of fresh water used since 2005,
• 360,000 acres of land degraded since 2005,
• 100 million metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005.
Fracking also inflicts other damage not quantified in the report — ranging from contamination of residential wells to ruined roads to earthquakes at disposal sites.
Reviewing the totality of this fracking damage, the report’s authors conclude:
Given the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts, constructing a regulatory regime sufficient to protect the environment and public health from dirty drilling — much less enforcing such safeguards at more than 80,000 wells, plus processing and waste disposal sites across the country — seems implausible. In states where fracking is already underway, an immediate moratorium is in order. In all other states, banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.
At the federal level, the report’s data on land destroyed by fracking operations comes as the Obama administration considers a rule for fracking on public lands, and as the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking to several places which help provide drinking water for millions of Americans — including the White River National Forest in Colorado and the Delaware River basin, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million Americans.
Along with the new numbers in today’s report, Environment America’s John Rumpler added one more: the more than 1 million public comments submitted this summer to the Obama administration rejecting its proposed rule for fracking on public lands as far too weak. Environment America is urging President Obama to follow the recommendation of his administration’s advisory panel on fracking to keep sensitive areas as off-limits to fracking.
“We need decisive action from Washington to protect our communities,” said John Fenton, a rancher from Pavillion, Wyoming who last week appealed to federal officials to re-open an investigation into contamination of drinking water there.
“The bottom line is this: The numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said Rumpler. “For our environment and for public health, we need to put a stop to fracking.”
Of particular concern are the billions of gallons of toxic waste created from fracking, which threaten the environment, public health and drinking water. Environment America is calling on federal officials to close the loophole that exempts this waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17) has introduced the CLEANER Act, H.R. 2825, to close that loophole.
“The data from today’s report shows that fracking is taking a dirty and destructive toll on our environment and health,” said Rumpler. “It’s time for our federal officials to step up; they can start by keeping fracking out of our forests and away from our parks, and closing the loophole exempting toxic fracking waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law.” More
Sunflowers, sunbeams, and dry fields. The sun is shining and the fields need watering, what’s a farmer to do? Use his tired old back pumping water? Worse yet, use that smelly diesel fuel or petrol to pump some water?
No, there is an alternative! Use the sunshine to pump the water. It just goes hand in hand — sunshine and watering are two parts of the same work day. When the fields need watering, there is plenty of sunshine. Renewable energy is ever-present.
Futurepump, the Sunflower’s creator, explains: “The Sunflower is the result of over twenty years R&D to develop an affordable way of doing this.”
Cheaper, no smell, no hard labor, this solar-powered pump is rather simple after all.
The Sunflower uses a solar collector that generates steam to drive a simple engine pump. It can lift 12,000 litres/day from a 7.5m well (more at shallower depths) which can irrigate around 1/2 acre. It is so cost-effective — with No fuel costs, (and no noxioussmell) — that the initial investment of around $400 can be recouped in 1-2 years compared to the ongoing running costs of diesel or petrol engines.
Futurepump built this baby to last. It is designed with the intent of low maintenance, a kind consideration. It has no electronics. As Sunflower’s creators suggest, if you understand how a bicycle operates, you will be able to understand this.
It comes as a kit. We farmers love the do-it-yourself kit, don’t we? The only thing we love more is those lady bugs and bees. It is easily serviced with spare parts always available at low cost. There are three main parts to the Sunflower:
In the video above, Nick, Futurepump’s field director, introduces the Sunflower Mark 2 in action in a test compound in Bolgatanga, Ghana in June 2013.
“The design is built around principles of appropriate technology — in other words it is low-cost, simple to operate and easy to maintain and repair locally.”
The solar collector concentrates sunlight onto the water-filled boiler, producing steam which is piped to the engine. A cam attached to the flywheel shaft opens an inlet valve. Steam enters the cylinder and the pressure pushes the diaphragm piston forward activating the water pump and rotating the flywheel. The inlet valve closes, the exhaust valve opens and as the pressure drops and the flywheel inertia pushes the piston to the top of the cylinder and the cycle repeats. More details on the design here.
The new design is simpler with more standardized parts. The flow capacity has also been improved with a potential daily output of over 10,000 litres from 10m water depth. The Ghana field testing is being conducted byiDE.
Cairo, Egypt -The hazy desert that extends from the outskirts of Cairo has become the unlikely scene of another revolution that has the potential to transform Egypt - and it is green.
Inhospitable, yellowed wasteland is now yielding up ripe red tomatoes, fresh kale and schools of fish in a bold experiment fuelled by the country's most precious resource: water.
This surprising harvest illustrates how Egypt is witnessing a slow transformation in attitudes towards the environment driven by groups such as Greenpeace and Nawaya alongside an innovative young sustainability movement.
In the vanguard of this movement is Faris Farrag, an Egyptian banker inspired by a love of growing plants and fishing, who has embraced the revolutionary technique of aquaponics at his unassuming farm outside Cairo called "Bustan" (Arabic for orchard).
"As the price of water soars, as the price of petrol soars, and when the subsidies on farming disappear, this model makes sense," says Farrag.
Reviving ancient techniques
Aquaponics, an ancient form of cultivation that originated with the Aztecs, enables farmers to increase yields by growing plants and farming fish in the same closed freshwater system.
Farrag studied the technique under Dr James Rakocy at the University of the Virgin Islands, whose sustainable farming method grew in popularity in the 1980s and is now gaining mainstream acceptance in developing nations.
Enterprising farmers have implemented the system in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen to save water and increase output.
As the price of water soars, as the price of petrol soars, and when the subsidies on farming disappear, this model makes sense
Farris Farrag, former banker
At Bustan, the first commercial aquaponics farm in Egypt, olive trees flank the growing areas sprouting from what seems to be sandy ground, and dusty mesh screens are the only barriers protecting delicate young plants from the expansive tracts of sand.
Water circulates from tanks hosting schools of fleshy Nile tilapia through hydroponic trays which grow vegetables including cucumber, basil, lettuce, kale, peppers and tomatoes on floating foam beds with run-off flushed out to irrigate the trees.
It is an ingenious solution to an old problem in a country dominated by unforgiving deserts where access to fresh water is a luxury in many areas.
The Nile supplies Egypt with almost all its water, 85 percent of which goes to agriculture - but the country has long outgrown agreements with neighbours on its share of this resource as its population has soared to 85 million, and is pressing to renegotiate terms.
Earlier this year the most populous Arab nation made global headlines in an angry disagreement over plans to dam the Blue Nile, denouncing Ethiopia's attempts to reroute the river.
Need for environmental policies
Compounding problems of access to water is pollution, and visitors only have to peer at the Nile's swirling eddies and water catchments to notice the gunk and assorted rubbish that confirm the low priority afforded environmentalism.
Most of the population lives on the 2.9 percent of land that is arable and use the only source of fresh water as an industrial, human and agricultural dump, undeterred by laws that prohibit the throwing of waste into the Nile.
Compounding water pollution, Egypt's annual "black cloud" caused by the burning of agricultural waste costs an estimated $6bn in damage to natural resources and a further $2bn in associated health effects, according to date compiled by the American University in Cairo.
These challenges are a bleak reminder of how desperately Egypt needs environmental policies to protect its fragile agricultural resources.
From Cairo's unremitting expansion into fertile areas to the mountains of garbage strewn on the city's streets, incessant congestion, and misuse of the water supply, there are precious few examples of sustainability.
Which is where Farrag believes aquaponics comes in - Bustan uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods in Egypt.
He argues that his model is economically viable and scalable, producing between 6-8 tonnes of fish per year and potentially yielding 45,000 heads of lettuce if it were to grow just a single type of vegetable.
Sustainability underpins the whole operation, he says. Bustan is not land-intensive and Farrag also uses biological pest control methods, such as ladybirds to kill aphids, in order to avoid chemical inputs.
The project also employs two locals, Abdul Rasul Hassanain and his wife Amal, who live on a nearby plot of land and have dramatically increased their role in running the farm.
Dr Ashraf Ghanem, a professor of water engineering at Cairo University, is a strong advocate of the system.
He recently told journalists about the potential benefits of these farms in the Middle East.
A local non-governmental organisation, Nawaya, is taking a leading role in supporting sustainable farming and has brought locals to visit Farrag's farm in a bid to help them swap traditional irrigation techniques for sustainable methods.
But that transition does not come cheap. Inside Bustan, the hum of pumps to ensure the fish are raised in pools with properly filtered water is constant, raising concerns about costs - and posing questions about whether sustainable farming can only be a novelty for the wealthy. More
Californians say the state's water supply system has serious problems that require improvement, but they are unwilling to spend billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer funds on the task, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.
The results suggest an uphill fight for proponents of a state water bond and for a proposal to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the transfer point for Northern California supplies delivered to the San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California.
Reluctance to pay for big public works projects was reflected throughout the survey, which also questioned voters on the California prison system and the high-speed rail project.
"On all three of these issues voters have very clear concerns and want to see something done — until they see the price tag," said Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
In initial questioning, 60% of those polled said they would favor a bond to finance statewide water improvements such as levee repair and groundwater cleanup. But when told the bond would require the state to borrow $5 billion to $6 billion, support plunged to 36%.
Slightly more than half, 51%, of those surveyed said they favored the delta proposal — until they learned it would cost $25 billion in ratepayer and government funds. Then only 36% said they would support it.
Pollsters said the flip in support demonstrated two things: Voters continue to have serious pocketbook concerns as the state crawls out of recession, and most Californians don't think the state's water problems are urgent.
"You turn on your faucet and the water comes out. They don't see an immediate problem," said David Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, the Republican half of a bipartisan pair of polling firms that conducted the survey for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times.
A statewide vote on the water bond, which was originally set at $11 billion, has been postponed several times as legislators whittle down the amount and wait for the economy to improve. They are still drafting the latest version, which is scheduled to go on the ballot next year and is expected to be about half its initial size.
The delta proposal, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, is for a smaller, subterranean version of the peripheral canal that voters quashed in 1982. It calls for the long-term restoration of more than 100,000 acres of delta habitat and construction of a new, north delta diversion point on the Sacramento River that would feed two 30-mile tunnels carrying water to existing export facilities in the south delta.
San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California say the project is necessary to halt cuts in water deliveries that have been imposed to protect imperiled native fish in the delta. More