6 reasons technology alone can’t solve water scarcity

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainably addressing water scarcity will require technology solutions both conventional and innovative — both the “hard path for water” and the soft path for water. The conventional “hard path for water” is characterized by centralized infrastructure and decision-making using technology and institutions developed in the 19th and 20th centuries: large dams and reservoirs, pipelines and treatment plants, public water departments and agencies and private companies.

The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up

Read the full story from the BBC.

A container filled with millions of Lego pieces fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997. But instead of remaining at the bottom of the ocean, they are still washing up on Cornish beaches today – offering an insight into the mysterious world of oceans and tides.

Should Nestle Be Bottling California Water In The Middle Of The State’s Record-Breaking Drought?

Read the full story at Fast Company.

California is in a deep drought. 2013 was the driest year on record in the state. The State Water Resources Control Board went so far this month as to impose harsh restrictions on outdoor water use. (Using potable water in an ornamental fountain? That’ll be a $500 fine.) And somehow, in the middle of all this, Nestle is bottling California’s scarce water and selling it.

Wasting water in California will now cost you $500

Read the full story at Grist.

Here’s a list of things that could now get you fined up to $500 a day in California, where a multi-year drought is sucking reservoirs and snowpacks dry:

  • Spraying so much water on your lawn or garden that excess water flows onto non-planted areas, walkways, parking lots, or neighboring property.
  • Washing your car with a hose that doesn’t have an automatic shut-off device.
  • Spraying water on a driveway, a sidewalk, asphalt, or any other hard surface.
  • Using fresh water in a water fountain — unless the water recirculates.

Those stern emergency regulations were adopted Tuesday by a unanimous vote of the State Water Resources Control Board – part of an effort to crack down on the profligate use of water during critically lean times.

How to brew beer better: Less water, less energy, more innovation

In the latest P2 Impact column for GreenBiz, Paula Del Giudice highlights the changes that breweries are making to reduce their environmental footprint.

You can view previous P2 Impact columns here.


Prioritizing Waterbodies To Balance Agricultural Production and Environmental Outcomes

Donnacha G. Doody, Paul J. A. Withers, and Rachael M. Dils (2014). “Prioritizing Waterbodies To Balance Agricultural Production and Environmental Outcomes.” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (14), 7697-7699. Online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es5024509.

Summary: The enrichment of aquatic ecosystems with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) is a widespread environmental problem. Although a wide range of anthropogenic activities contribute to the poor chemical and ecological status of waterbodies, the role of agriculture in this “wicked” problem has received significant attention. This has resulted in a plethora of voluntary, incentivized, and regulatory strategies aimed at reducing nutrient exports to threshold values considered necessary for protecting human health or aquatic ecosystems. However, it is increasingly evident that achieving water quality objectives in certain areas may be unrealistic without impacting agricultural production and rural livelihoods. Here, we present the scientific arguments to support the concept of prioritization of waterbodies as a rationale approach to balancing agronomic and environmental objectives.

Reducing the Discharge of Micropollutants in the Aquatic Environment: The Benefits of Upgrading Wastewater Treatment Plants

Rik I. L. Eggen, Juliane Hollender, Adriano Joss, Michael Schärer, and Christian Stamm (2014). “Reducing the Discharge of Micropollutants in the Aquatic Environment: The Benefits of Upgrading Wastewater Treatment Plants.” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (14), 7683-7689. Online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es500907n.

Abstract: Micropollutants (MPs) as individual compounds or in complex mixtures are relevant for water quality and may trigger unwanted ecological effects. MPs originate from different point and diffuse sources and enter water bodies via different flow paths. Effluents from conventional wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), in which various MPs are not or not completely removed, is one major source. To improve the water quality and avoid potential negative ecological effects by micropollutants, various measures to reduce the discharge should be taken. In this feature we discuss one of these measures; the benefits of upgrading WWTPs toward reduced MP loads and toxicities from wastewater effluents, using the recently decided Swiss strategy as an example. Based on (i) full-scale case studies using ozonation or powder activated carbon treatment, showing substantial reduction of MP discharges and concomitant reduced toxicities, (ii) social and political acceptance, (iii) technical feasibility and sufficient cost-effectiveness, the Swiss authorities recently decided to implement additional wastewater treatment steps as mitigation strategy to improve water quality. Since MPs are of growing global concern, the concepts and considerations behind the Swiss strategy are explained in this feature, which could be of use for other countries as well. It should be realized that upgrading WWTPs is not the only solution to reduce the discharge of MPs entering the environment, but is part of a broader, multipronged mitigation strategy.

Getting a charge out of water droplets

Read the full story from MIT.

Last year, MIT researchers discovered that when water droplets spontaneously jump away from superhydrophobic surfaces during condensation, they can gain electric charge in the process. Now, the same team has demonstrated that this process can generate small amounts of electricity that might be used to power electronic devices.

The new findings, by postdoc Nenad Miljkovic, associate professor of mechanical engineering Evelyn Wang, and two others, are published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Michigan DEQ Water Quality Monitoring Grant Application Package, Fiscal Year 2015

Water quality monitoring grants are offered under the Clean Michigan Initiative – Clean Water Fund (CMI-CWF).  Information contained in this Request for Proposals (RFP) is based on existing Water Resources Division guidance as well as administrative rules [Rule 8 (R 324.8808) of Part 88, Water Pollution and Environmental Protection Act, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA)] promulgated for the CMI-CWF grants.  Approximately $300,000 is available for two-year water quality monitoring projects for the 2015 fiscal year. Proposals due by August 29, 2014.

Of particular interest to ENB readers are the RFP’s section on water quality monitoring grants:

The water quality monitoring grants are meant to fund water quality monitoring activities to address local issues of concern and to identify new  chemicals/issues that may be impacting the quality of Michigan’s surface waters. Monitoring activities must support the Water Resources Division’s Monitoring Strategy (available at www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/wb-swas-strategyupdate_254121_7.pdf?20131121152010) and are limited to surface waters (i.e., rivers, streams, public access lakes, wetlands, the Great Lakes) and may include ambient chemical, biological, or physical monitoring activities, as well as the development of tools to help with the assessment of such data.

One example of such a project would be monitoring of surface waters for PAH from coal tar sealers.

FY2015 RFP

Required Grant Application Forms

Additional Information