Thirst for Clean Drinking Water…. Charles Fishman

Great fact-packed NPR interview of Charles Fishman, author of “The Big Thrust.” Below are some of the fun facts that opened the interview that caught my eye

  • Launch space shuttle: water on the take off platform absorbs sound so that the sound does not rip apart the space shuttle.
  • Microwave oven spins water molecules to about a billion per second to heat food (why microwave pizzas are soggy)
  • Power plants use five times as much water as all residents. The electricity used in homes is about 250 gallons per day while  individual water consumption is only 99 gallons a day. Roughly 10 gallons of water per 1 hour of coal-based energy. 1/6 liters of water goes to leakage
Sin City Case Study:
Patricia Mulroy took control of Las Vegas water usage after having to see that its main source of water was from Lake Mead, is restricted by federal law to extract 300,000 acre-feet of water (lowering Lake Meade by 2-3 feet). Therefore she attempted to change the culture of the inhabitants in Las Vegas by) replacing lawns with zero-scape, making it illegal to let your sprinkler spray on a sidewalk and made it illegal to drain your swimming pool or hot tub into a storm drain. Las Vegas will even pay you $40,000 an acre to remove your lawn (depending on scale). Incentivizing zero-scape (desert landscaping use little to know the water. As a result, Las Vegas has been able to recapture almost all of its water (94% water recycling returning water back to Lake Meade). Las Vegas uses the same amount of water today as it did in 2000 despite a 50% increase in size. The golf course now have water budgets (600 million gallon and decreased by 50%) but still each whole of golf with the new regulations requires 139 gallons of water in Las Vegas.
Turning Point:
Similar quantities of money are spent on bottled (questionable) water ($21 billion annually) as is on maintaining water systems ($29 billion annually). Orlando Florida (Orange County) 25 years ago implemented a grey water system (purple pipe system) for lawn watering, athletic fields, and construction sites. The City has grown by two percent, and the water consumption of water has not had to increase water use. 
Changing Company Mindsets:
IBM now uses water efficiency as a business tool. Ultra pure water uses a tremendous amount of water (12 steps of filtration past desalination) 2 million gallons of ultra-pure water is used per day in an IBM computer chip plant. Reconstructed their water usage in their plants and over ten years they reduced water consumption by a third but in that same period they increased chip production by a third. “The Big Thrust” is on my “to do” list just to see what other solutions and situations Charles Fishman has come across in his research on water. 

2 thoughts on “Thirst for Clean Drinking Water…. Charles Fishman

  1. This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

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