Friday, March 22, 2013

International Water Day

It's International Water Day, and  World Walks for Water events are happening all over the world to make people conscious of the fact that in many many parts of the world, people, mostly women, have to walk for kilometers every day to get water. It's a time to contact representatives and demand action to make safe water available to everyone, no matter who they are or where they live.
In the US this applies also. Contact your Congressional or Senate representative and express your concern that everyone in the United States should have access to safe water and sanitation.

Friday, March 15, 2013


According to a study by the Association of General Contractors,  ( the sequester mandating mandatory reduction across the board to discretionary spending will remove over 100 million dollars from rural water and waste-water funds.

These funds take the form of state loans to small utilities trying to make their water and waste-water systems meet federal regulations. Taking the funds away makes rural citizens less safe from the threat of water borne disease.

The EPA, in establishing rules such as the total coliform rule and the surface water treatment rule as well as supporting research into affordable water and waste-water treatment technologies, has attempted to address the discrepancy between access to safe drinking water for rural citizens on par with residents of cities.
Even for small systems, a rural water treatment system to ensure potability can easily cost over $100,000. In these days of almost impossible loan availability, these small systems have had only one recourse, repayable loans from the states. The sequester takes that availability for many communities off the table, denying them access to necessary improvements and upgrades.

It's very disappointing that there are elected officials in Congress willing to put these rural citizens at risk because of a political agenda.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The perfect is the enemy of the good- Voltaire

I  cringe whenever I read about somebody talking about or promising “pure” water. Pure water, H2O with nothing else in it, is hard to make. it requires lots of energy, usually chemicals, usually has a waste stream, or in the case of solar distillation, requires lots of real estate. Pure water is necessary for a few chemical processes, some industrial applications where any contamination is a problem. Drinking water? No. I repeat, no. Our bodies do just fine with some calcium, some magnesium even many other things commonly found in water. What we don’t want are pathogenic organisms and certain specific compounds that we know to be dangerous. 
So what is wrong with producing “pure” water? It can only be good right?, Well, no. Here is the problem. Most developing country communities, and in fact most rural communities in the US, don’t have the resources, either human or financial to operate the complex systems required for “pure” water. So when we tell these people we think they should aspire to “pure” water, we are in essence telling them they can have nothing at all, because “pure” water systems are beyond their reach.
We should be assessing their abilities both financial and human and suggest water and wastewater treatment that meets their needs, not our expectations or neurotic fantasies about purity and perfection.  In this way, we give them service- safe water that they can maintain and afford. This is not compromise. This is relating to the world that is.