How is water valued? It’s not the amount we pay our water providers to deliver water to our homes. That’s the price, which economists separate from value. And it’s not the amount spent by our water providers acquiring, treating, and delivering the water. That would be the cost, and because many water projects in this country have been built as public works by government agencies, the current cost of water to U.S. consumers does not necessarily reflect its value. Consequently, water’s worth, its value, is harder to pin down. But as our populations and industries consume ever more water, we need to consider just what water is worth to us. Read More
As our cities age and technology advances, massive investment is needed in our water infrastructure. What technologies, policies. financing options, and paradigm shifts will close the gap between what is needed and what is available? Read More
As water demand increases, water supply management requires change
Over the last few decades water stress has been increasing both due to an increase in water demand and reduced water supply. Water leakage reduction in public water systems is a crucial part of water demand management.
Leakage is usually the largest component of distribution loss yet it is not subject to regulation other than management decision by utilities. Leakage in public water supply systems results in loss of purified drinking water but also means wasting the energy and material resources used in abstraction, transportation and treatment. It results in secondary economic loss as well, in the form of, damage to the pipe network, public health concerns as it increases the risk of bacterial contamination of water resources in cities for human consumption, and can increase pollution loads into the environment.
The American Water Works Association published a 2012 report entitled “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge” that calls into action an era of infrastructure replacement. One million miles of pipes beneath our streets need to be replaced because as pipes age, the problems of infiltration and exfiltration due to leaks increase in sewer pipes and can lead to potential problems such as the collapse of a pipeline or damages to nearby assets.
[aside]SEE ALSO: The Growing Blue® Tool: Designed to help find solutions to our water issues now.
As the population continues to grow and lifestyles continue to change and demand more water, both domestic and business water consumers will need to encourage infrastructure maintenance projects to reduce water leakages. Click below to see how 22 major US cities perform in terms of percent (%) of water that is lost in water distribution systems because of leakages.
Providing a Safe and Convenient Alternative for the Disposal of Pharmaceuticals
The federal government does not require testing for drugs in water supplies, yet over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%. The most commonly used types of pharmaceuticals include: asthma medicines for children, central nervous system stimulants for adolescents, antidepressants for middle-aged adults, and cholesterol lowering drugs for older Americans; this does not include hormones, caffeine, nicotine, personal care products such as cosmetics and fragrances, and other chemical compounds that form part of one’s everyday life. While treatment facilities are designed to target and minimize the prevalence of nitrates, phosphates and organic carbon, when humans take medications, or use and dispose of certain products these chemical contaminants end up in a city's wastewater.
In California's San Mateo County, a Pharmaceutical Disposal Program was developed which provides disposal sites at law enforcement agencies. This serves as a convenient, environmentally sound way for citizens to dispose of human and veterinary pharmaceuticals. This is an improvement over the advocated method of flushing unused pharmaceuticals down the toilet and into the water system. Within its first two years, the County safely disposed of 14,500 pounds of pharmaceuticals and has received numerous awards. The County is promoting the mission to produce positive and measurable results before pharmaceuticals enter and contaminate the water.
[aside]SEE ALSO: The Value of Water in the U.S.: Improving Water Infrastructure is Imperative
There has been rising concern over the potential impacts of pharmaceuticals released into the environment through wastewater systems. Small concentrations of drugs and medications are already found in waterways nationwide, the result of improperly disposing pills and medicinal liquids, but also by human excretion. While there is more evidence on the risks for aquatic life, research shows there may be reason for concern for infants in the womb. San Mateo County’s Pharmaceutical Disposal Program provides a preemptive alternative they hope to extend state-wide and nation-wide.
There is growing concern over the current state of infrastructure in the United States. Numerous reports detail the tremendous investment needed to renovate and expand the country’s existing infrastructure systems – transportation, energy, and our critical water and wastewater systems. Read More
Economists classify water uses into four categories – private good, club good, common pool good or public good – depending on who has access to the water and how it’s consumed. These categories make it easier to understand how we should manage water, but we don’t always follow that recommendation. Read More
In a time when elected officials are making many difficult and painful decisions on how to allocate precious funds, it is increasingly clear that more resources need to flow into water infrastructure investment. Read More
A survey of leaders at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos revealed that, for the first time, water-related risks are among the top 5 concerns when considering the likelihood and impact of all major global risks. Only the impact of a major, systemic financial failure concerns them more. Read More
Unconventional oil & gas and modern EOR techniques are extremely thirsty. U.S. groundwater supplies are stressed and becoming increasingly volatile. Energy prices are unstable. As the U.S. ramps up domestic production, the industry must manage complex supply and demand issues in its upstream operations. Read More