Thursday, March 26, 2009

Water Infrastructure

Some of the stimulus money in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is dedicated to construction and maintenance of water infrastructure.

Over the next decade, the US will need to rethink where we obtain and how we process potable drinking water or many areas of the country may run dry. Areas of lower rainfall like Arizona are considering such wild-eyed solutions as pumping water from the Mississippi River, over a thousand miles away, to meet the fast-growing demand for clean water.

How we deal with waste water, storm water, energy generation, and food production dramatically impacts the demand for clean water.

Infrastructure, when it comes to water, does not just refer to man-made systems. The health of natural water infrastructure - wetlands, headwaters, riparian corridors, etc. - dramatically impacts the availability of clean water and the cost of processing water to potable standards.

A few water facts:

One third of America's processed potable water is used to flush toilets.
It takes as much as 2500 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.
In some areas, up to 25 percent of processed water is used for cooling power plants.
Farming, mostly with low-efficiency flood irrigation systems, siphons off as much as 80 percent of some local water supplies.

There's an informative discussion on water infrastructure in a recent segment of the Diane Rehm show. From this interview, I learned a new term - Hydrostitute. Hydrostitutes are hydrologists who manipulate water models to conform to political will.

The link:

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