Water has been in the news this week: especially regarding how we’ll deal with insufficient quantities of it where we need it most—water is heavy and costly to transport—in a world that continues to rapidly warm and with a population that keeps growing.
After my Good Nature Travel post on Tuesday, some readers asked if desalination might be a viable solution for California’s impending scarcity of potable water. According to a recent article in The New York Times, San Diego County is testing out that possibility. The county is building a desalination plant. Unfortunately, however, it’s estimated that the plant will use a huge amount of electricity, thus increasing carbon dioxide emissions, which add to global warming and further strain water supplies.
Desalination of ocean water could also substantially impact sea life, both with the intake of saltwater and the disposal of excess salt into the ocean. Sucking in huge amounts of seawater, for example, can kill billions of fish eggs and larvae. While technical solutions exist, they can increase costs, and it’s not known how diligent regulators will be with desalination plant developers.
Too, some look upon desalination as a salve for our failure to manage freshwater properly—which is what we should have been doing all along. They say we should focus on more aggressively conserving and managing the world’s water. According to a 2009 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, for the most part, we use water treated to meet drinking standards to flush toilets, water lawns and wash dishes, clothes and cars. In fact, 50-70 percent of home water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nearly 14 percent of the water a typical homeowner pays for is never even used—it leaks down the drain.
The video below, produced by Hound Studio for General Electric, could be considered Water Facts 101. In three minutes, you’ll be able to learn a lot about the world’s water.
There’s one fact, though, that’s not contained in the video but which I find pretty astounding. There is no “new” water: there is just as much on Earth today as there was when the planet began. Whether the source of your clean water is a lake, river, spring, stream or well, you are using the same water a dinosaur stopped to lap up millions of years ago.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,