Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Think as You Drink

I came across quite a few good articles today on water that I would like to share with you. The first is the formation of a committee to study water and energy. Great news!!! Outside Loveland, CO there is Flatiron Reservoir and Pinewood Reservoir where they pump water uphill at night during low energy demand and let it flow back down the pipes during demand hours, giving a net demand. This is very unusual in water storage and energy production practice. But getting water places (for example, that water comes from the other side of the Rockies and is transported via tunel under Rocky Mountain National Park) and treating wastes costs a ton. Almost all water treatment costs are electricity. Wastewater treatment costs are the same, giving impetus to cogeneration by anaerobic digestion. That is where raw waste solids are anaerobically decomposed in a digester and the gasses run generators lower the power demand of the waste treatment facility. The waste solids are then normally used for fertilizer that is distributed, Millorganite from Milwaukee is a commercially known brand.

Another has to do with climate change and water in the western states. Believe me, if the rain and snow patterns continue to change in the West, or in the Rockies, Vegas and LA, to say the least of the people in Mexico to whom the US had to guarantee clean water too will be hurting. Yes, The US had to build a plant to desalinate what little flow of the Colorado Rover made it to Mexico. In CA, there have been extreme issues with salmon spawns because of the change in rainfall patterns. and there have been pelican deaths aplenty this year in CA. The following article details many aquatic bird deaths and ties it to global warming.

There is a viscious cycle that has started. It takes a lot of energy to pump water to the deserts of the arid west, making them livable. This includes a geographic area from Arizona, to Vegas to LA. It costs a lot to produce the energy that produces 90% of the world's almonds and over 50% of the US vegetable and fruit crop. Just think of energy required to pump water from Sacramento to San Diego to grow avocados. The annual diversion of water in the California Aqueduct alone is 2.6 million acre feet. An acre foot is roughly 326,000 gallons and a gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, or 8.5 trillion pounds of water. I am really tired, but given a rise of about 4000 feet, and 68% combined motor and electrical efficiency giving you a demand of 1.8 million killowatts, if the water were only pumped once on that journey. It is not and there are two other canals that almost as big. The power usage is at least 8 times that amount, just for pumping. And as fresh water grows more scarce, desalinization looks good, but almost all its costs are electrical. It is very, very expensive. It is far cheaper to treat raw poop to drinking water and far less energy intensive. As long as we rely on fossil fuels to produce energy and it takes enrgy to move water and increased CO2 production leads to more warming, we are in very viscious cycle. Just to keep up the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to requires renewable and nonpolluting energy.

Mr. Cheery couldn't get this narrative the way he wanted because he was too tired, so good night and pleasant dreams.


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