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Rainwater in the news...

Perth groundwater replenishment project gets go-ahead

Posted by raindrop on August 27, 2013

Perth groundwater replenishment project gets go-ahead

 

Groundwater replenishment is an innovative concept where treated wastewater is further treated to drinking water standards and recharged into groundwater supplies. The water is then stored and taken out some time later for further treatment and supply to a drinking water system. The successful completion of the three-year Groundwater Replenishment Trial at the end of 2012 showed conclusively that it is a highly viable option to boost much needed drinking water supplies in Western Australia...MORE


A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water

Posted by raindrop on August 24, 2013

A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water
Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty
    
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.
"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: 'dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."
Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.
Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry's outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.
In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. MORE...


A slow-motion Colorado River disaster

Posted by raindrop on August 24, 2013

A slow-motion Colorado River disaster
It may take federal disaster relief to offset the consequences of water scarcity in the Southwest.
    

The high water mark for Lake Mead is seen on Hoover Dam and its spillway near Boulder City, Nev. After back-to-back driest years in a century on the Colorado River, federal water managers are announcing a historic step to slow the flow of water from a massive reservoir upstream of the Grand Canyon to the huge Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press / April 15, 2013)
    •     Saving the Colorado River -- from us
    •     The drying of the West

Colorado River

By Craig Mackey
August 19, 2013

On Aug. 7, the head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority called for federal disaster relief to address the consequences of water scarcity in the Colorado River system. On Friday, the Bureau of Reclamation announced it would be forced to cut the flow of water into Lake Mead in 2014 to a historic low. Dominoes may now fall from California to Washington, D.C.
A nearly century-old body of agreements and legal decisions known as the Law of the River regulates water distribution from the Colorado River among seven states and Mexico. Two major reservoirs help collect and distribute that water. Lake Mead disburses water to Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico. Mead gets its water from Lake Powell, which collects its water from Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. For the first time, Lake Powell releases will fall below 8.23 million acre-feet of water, to 7.48 million acre-feet, potentially reducing allotments down the line and setting off a cascade of significant consequences.
First, if recent dry weather in the Colorado River basin continues, declining water levels in Lake Powell could cut off power production at Glen Canyon Dam as early as winter 2015, affecting power supply and pricing in six states.
Second, less water coming into Lake Mead from Lake Powell may bring the level in Mead below an intake pipe that delivers water to Las Vegas by spring 2015. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has been racing to construct a deeper intake pipe by the end of 2014.
By winter 2015, Lake Mead also may dip to a level that would result in a major decline in power generation at Hoover Dam. That would affect the supply and cost of power for consumers in Nevada, Arizona and California. Southern California uses below-market-rate power from Hoover Dam to pump water to its cities and farms; if the region was forced to buy market-rate electricity from elsewhere, the price of water for Southern California consumers would surely rise.
These Bureau of Reclamation projections prompted Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, to call for federal disaster relief to mitigate the situation. She wasn't specific about how much money would be needed or how it would be used, but disaster relief could go toward completing Las Vegas' new intake pipe project, or for things like paying farmers to temporarily fallow their fields as a means to get more water in the reservoirs, or to finance a controversial new groundwater project in the region. Mulroy referenced Superstorm Sandy and said: "Does a drought not rise to the same level of a storm? The potential damage is just as bad."
If anything, Mulroy is understating the situation. What's at stake on the Colorado River, in addition to increased power and water costs, is drinking water for 36 million Americans, irrigation water for 15% of our nation's crops and a $26-billion recreation economy that employs a quarter of a million Americans.
"Disaster relief" implies temporary measures, but the drought in the Southwest is not an isolated incident; it is a long-term reality. We need strong measures to head off further disaster, not just aid to help address the aftermath.
Demand on the Colorado River's water exceeds supply. According to a 2012 Bureau of Reclamation study, average river flow could decrease by nearly 10% by mid-century. Carrying on with business as usual by continuing to build new diversions from the river and failing to significantly improve the efficiency with which we use the river's water is akin to rebuilding wiped-out beach homes after a hurricane and then beckoning another storm to come in and destroy those homes again (requiring, of course, another government bailout).
Fortunately, that 2012 Colorado River study determined that urban and agricultural water conservation and recycling, along with market-based measures like water banking, are cost-effective measures that can lead the way to a secure water future for the Southwest. The Department of the Interior has convened a process with the seven Colorado River states and other interests to determine the next steps on water conservation and improving river flows. A report from the group should arrive next year. A robust plan is needed from this process to ensure a successful economic future for the Southwest, or else the dominoes will fall.
Craig Mackey is co-director of Protect the Flows, a network of businesses that advocates for healthy flows in the Colorado River and its tributaries.
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-oe-mackey-colorado-river-drought-20130819,0,2138689.story


Groundwater table likely to go up

Posted by raindrop on August 23, 2013

Groundwater table likely to go up

Jayashree Nandi, TNN Aug 17, 2013, 06.03AM IST

NEW DELHI: Friday's rain may have done more than pose a few traffic hurdles. It's likely to have raised Delhi's groundwater table considerably.


According to a Central Ground Water Board analysis, the 50.8mm of precipitation from Thursday night to Friday afternoon has a recharge potential of about 7 crore litres. This quantity of rainwater can meet the requirements of over one lakh households for a day, considering each household requires about 500 litres of water. That's not all. CGWB officials claim that the potential could be doubled to about 14 crore litres if establishments in Delhi had artificial recharge or rainwater harvesting structures.

CGWB projected the recharge potential based on the extent of open area left in Delhi. "We have made this projection by calculating the amount of water which will seep into the ground in the open areas of Delhi. But recharge can be more than double this amount if Delhi had artificial recharge systems," superintending hydro-geologist A D Rao said.

About 142 sq km of open land out of a total of 1,440 sq km area in the city may have been recharged. "There is huge potential if buildings and establishments have artificial recharge systems installed. But we don't have data on how many establishments have the facility," he added.

Despite falling groundwater levels in various parts of the city, experts say not much progress has been made on ensuring people implement rainwater harvesting. "There is no official data at all on how much is being recharged or how many rainwater harvesting systems are in place," Jyoti Sharma, founder of Forum for Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement, said. As of now only 350 to 400 establishments which include schools, houses and residential colonies have implemented rainwater harvesting.

"We don't know the capacity of these structures. Delhi has a capacity of retaining 350 billion litres of rainwater a year. I don't think even a 100th of that is being recharged now," adds Jyoti.

While it is mandatory for all new constructions with 100 sq m roof area to have rainwater harvesting structures, there is no monitoring of whether it's being done. Jyoti cites the Chennai example where rainwater harvesting is compulsory in both old and new constructions.


Rains or Not, India is Falling Short on Drinkable Water

Posted by raindrop on August 21, 2013

CHERRAPUNJI, India — Almost no place on Earth gets more rain than this small hill town. Nearly 40 feet falls every year , more than 12 times what Seattle gets. Storms often drop more than a foot a day. The monsoon is epic.


Water containers are lined up at a community tap in Cherrapunji. Some people must walk long distances to get water.
But during the dry season from November through March, many in this corner of India struggle to find water. Some are forced to walk long distances to fill jugs in springs or streams. Taps in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya State, spout water for just a few hours a day. And when it arrives, the water is often not drinkable....MORE...