Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fresh water could present another sustainability issue


The August 2008 Scientific American highlights another sustainability issue: fresh water. The article in print appears on p 46 (S.A. has the most attractive font for numbering pages that I seen since browsing grade school readers). The piece is authored by Peter Rogers, and the title is “Facing the Freshwater Crisis.” There is a sophisticated version online here. There is discussion of buzz words like “green water” “blue water” and “gray water” (which is recycled).

It’s obvious that global warming could reduce mountain snows and endanger water supplies in southwestern U.S., but so could careless growth. The article says that the US could have to invest $1 trillion in water technology in the next couple of decades.

The piece made a particularly interesting point, that in some areas of the world, particularly northern India, fresh water for city use is rationed and limited to a small amount of time a day so that more is left for agricultural irrigation.

I can recall summers in Kipton, Ohio (near Oberlin) where, in the 1950s, houses used cistern water for washing and laundry, and well water for drinking. Pumping the well was a daily chore. On returning home to Arlington, city water would taste richer. The town did not get drinking water service until the 1960s.

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