Fun Fact Friday: Food Related

Interesting:

  • One apple costs 33.2 gallons of water. Apple Juice costs 301.2 gallons per gallon of Apple Juice, and one glass cost 60 gallons of water.
  • One tomato costs 13.2 gallons.
  • One orange costs 13.2 gallons of water. One Glass of orange juice costs 45 gallons of water

Good News:

  • Organics is the fastest growing food segment, increasing 20% annually.
Bad News:
  • In 1970, the top five beef packers controlled about 25% of the market. Today, the top four control more than 80% of the market.
  • In 1970, there were thousands of slaughterhouses producing the majority of beef sold. Today there are only 13.
  • Prior to renaming itself an agribusiness company, Monsanto was a chemical company that produced, among other things DDT and Agent Orange.
  • In 1996 when Monsanto introduced round-up ready soybeans, the company controlled only 2% of the U.S. soybean market. Now, Over 90% of soybeans in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented gene.
  • In 1972, the FDA conducted 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted only 9,164.
  • During the Bush administration, the head of the FDA, Lester M. Crawford Jr., was the former executive VP of the National Food Processors Association.
  • The average Chicken farmer (with two poultry houses) invests over $500,000 and makes only $18,000 a year.
  • Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney at Monsanto from 1976to1979. After his appointment to the supreme court, Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion in a case that helped Monsanto enforce its seed patents.
  • Approximately 32,000 hogs a day are killed in Smithfield Hog Processing Plant in Tar Heel, N.C, the largest slaughterhouse in the world.
  • The modern supermarket stocks, on average, 47,000 products, most of which are being produced by only a handful of food companies.
  • About 70% of processed foods have some genetically modified ingredients.
  • The SB63 Consumer Right to know measure, requiring all food derived from cloned animals to be labeled as such, passed the California state legislature before being vetoed in 2007 by Governor Schwarzenegger, who said that he couldn’t sign a bill that pre-empted federal law.
  • According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in 3 Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes. Among minorities, the rate will be 1 in 2.

Fun Fact Friday: Water and News Related

News/ Previous Post Related:

  • On October 26, 2012 Treasure Island, California were without water service for 12 hour and then required to boil drinking water until Monday, October 29 when the boiling notice was lifted. It appears that a water main ruptured, the cause was aging. The 18in cast iron water main was likely an original pipe part of the infrastructure built in the 1930’s when the U.S. Navy inhabited the island.
  • New York City, Long Island Impose gas rationing system to curb long lines at gas stations. Drivers with license-plate numbers ending in an odd number to get gas on odd days and even license plates numbers to get gas on even days. License plates ending in letters are considered an odd number.
  • Laos approves a mega dam on the Mekong river. One of 14 new dams proposed for the Mekong river.
  • Four teenage girls in Africa have invented a generator powered by pee. Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen. The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder. The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas. This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator. 
Water Facts:
  • An adult’s body is roughly made up of 70% water. At birth, water accounts for approximately 80% of an infant’s body weight.
  • Water Intoxication: Drinking too much water too quickly can lead to water intoxication. Water intoxication occurs when water dilutes the sodium level in the bloodstream and causes an imbalance of water in the brain
  • The United States uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day. The United States uses nearly 80 percent of its water for irrigation and thermoelectric power.
  • Consumption in the United States: “8.6 billion gallons of bottled water.” There are approximately 300 million people in the U.S., so it works out to about 29 gallons per person per year.
  • Approximately 85 percent of U.S. residents receive their water from public water facilities. The remaining 15 percent supply their water from private wells or other sources.
  • Water leads to increased energy levels. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is mild dehydration.
  • There are more than 2100 known drinking water contaminants that may be present in tap water, including several known poisons.
  • According to the EPA, lead in drinking water contributes to 480,000 cases of learning disorders in children each year in the United States alone.
  • Tap water often contains at least as much, if not more, chlorine than is recommended for use in swimming pools.
    • More chlorine enters the body through dermal absorption and inhalation while showering than through drinking tap water
  • Chlorine is a suspected cause of breast cancer. Women suffering from breast cancer are all found to have 50-60% more chlorine in their breast tissue than healthy women.
  • Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as 3%.
  • Drinking five glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast
    cancer by 79%., and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.
  • A rat can last longer without water than a camel. 
  • The price of bottled water is up to 10,000 times the cost of tap water.
  • Americans spend $4 billion per year on bottled water.

 

Democrat vs Republican Water Views… Whats the better choice for the U.S.?

 

Water is a unique natural resource in that it constantly flows through the hydrologic cycle. Significant amounts of water are diverted and placed to beneficial use, while significant amounts are also left in rivers, lakes and groundwater basins to support future use and other environmental resources, such as wildlife, fisheries, natural landscapes and aesthetics. This is what is thought to be our current water use regime we are far sustainable with our current practice. Both the incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney largely ignored the topic during the presidential campaign, as have the moderators at the three televised debate (everyone is ignoring the huge elephant in the corner). Below are points in which each Presidential Candidate has addressed water.
Democratic: Barak Obama (Lacked a Game Plan)
  • Obama Stated that “We are working to improve water quality, restore rivers, and critical watersheds, and we are making headways in ensuring that our nations water best serve its people.”
    • Democrats will continue to working to ensure the integrity of the waters American’s rely on everyday for drinking, swimming, and fishing by supporting initiative to restore our rivers, oceans, and watershed.
  • Obama’s failed jobs bill proposed to congress included funds for a National Infrastructure Bank. That would provide low interest financing for water, energy, and transportation project. 
  • Increased investments in water conservation and infrastructure 
    • Sustainable infrastructure approach still faces extensive opposition and more often they turn to the traditional grey infrastructure. 
  • Improve access to drinking water for rural areas and poor communities along the U.S.- Mexico border. 
  • International development, Obama hopes to increase the access of clean water (primarily Saharan Africa).
Republican: Mitt Romney (Extensive Action Plan)
  • Wants to improve the out of date water laws so that businesses and communities are shouldering the burden of “excessively costly and inflexible approaches.”
    • Romney views infrastructure networks as a critical for economic growth through international competitiveness and national security
  • Romney’s goal is to modernize federal water law. Through a combination of incentives, market based programs, and cooperative conservation measures will improve the water quality of our lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal environment.
  • Recognized issues with the water- energy-food nexus but did not set out any plans to make a change.
  • The rest of Romney concerns toward water are stated in the Republican Platform
    • Safety and availability of water supply
    • See water as a component of national infrastructure same as roads, bridges, ports, and so on. 
    • Investment areas include: Levees and inland waterways (to renew communities and attract business-> creating jobs.)
    • Commoditizing water rights. However stand with growers and producers in defense of their water rights against attempts by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand Jurisdiction over water. 
    • Making all coastal waters off limits to energy exploration.
    • Reduce air and waterways pollution and return them to the healthier state they were in decades previous.
Other Issues on the Ballot: 
  1. San Francisco, Ca. needs to decide whether the city should draw up plans to end a century-old dispute over the environmental cost of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (which supplies 61% (2.6 million people)of San Francisco’s drinking water).Voters will decide if the city should think about drinking the reservoir to restore the valley. 
    • The financial burden of the cost of the O’Shaughnessy Dam and replacing both its storage capacity and the energy it generate would cost between $3 to $10 Billion, according to estimates by the state of California. This is by far the biggest water related item on any U.S. Ballot but its not the only one. 
    • Voting Yes on Proposition F does not mean that the Dam will be removed, but rather it asks San Francisco voters if the city should spend $8 million to develop a plan to shut it down. (some insight into the reasoning behind this prop.) 
  2. Coastal Californian Residents (Santa Cruz) will be deciding on the future of their water supply. To approve or reject any future plans for a desalination plant. 
  3. Wichita, Kansas will decide whether the city should add fluoride to its water supply.
  4. Aspen, Colorado decides whether or not the city should continue to pursue there hydroelectric project. 
  5. Wauconda, Illinois decides if they should extend  $41 million bond measures and improve the pipeline system to bring in water from Lake Michigan.
  6. Mansfield, Ohio is considering blocking the development of wells that store waste water from hydraulic fracturing.
  7. Ashville, North Carolina voted on a referendum asking if the city should sell or lease it water treatment and distribution system. 
  8. Oklahoma voting on the creation of Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund. Which would authorize up to $300 million in general obligation bonds for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, expanding a program initiated by the state legislature in the 1980’s.
  9. Maine will be voting on a smaller bond program where the state wants to issue $7.9 million in bonds for drinking water and wastewater, which would make them eligible for nearly $40 million in federal grants. 
  10. Infrastructure investments have turned away from the surge of government spending which it received in 1970 following the Clean Water Act and heavily relied on ratepayer dollars. 
    • 2010 Survey from ITT, a manufacturing company based in White Plains, New York, found 85% of voters agreed that federal, state or local governments should invest in water system improvements and 63% were willing to pay 11% more on their water bills to do so. 
    • However last week General Electric revealed 84% of people surveyed thought water resources should be a national priority. 

 

Water and Wine

This weekend, I went to Captain Vineyard to harvest Petite Sirah. Having never harvested wine I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was amazed to find Captain Vineyard is tucked into a residential hillside in Moraga, California. Captain Vineyard contains 3,500 lines that create the following wines:

  • Pinot Noir (600 vines)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (200 vines)
  • Petite Sirah (1,500 vines)
  • Petite Verdot (650 vines)
  • Cabernet Franc (450 vines)
This boutique winery was like no other winery I have been to, being on a hillside and in Moraga, California numerous questions came to mind:
  1. What exactly is dry farming?
  2. How much water does the winery use?
  3. Where does the water come from?
  4. Did the drought impact a winery?
Captain Vineyard is a family business as well as a  green business,  Susan and Salah pride themselves on their unique approach to dry farming. After converting the steep hillside (backyard) into a terraced five acre vineyard, Susan returned to school at UC Davis to further understand Viticulture. She modeled the vineyard on the European hillside style, affording healthy stress and competition between vines. In 2005, the soil was ready for vines and approximately 3,000 vines were planted. The Moraga microclimate provided the ideal microclimate for grape-growing.  In 2007, 500 vines were added to include Cabernet Sauvignon.
What exactly is dry farming?
 
The vines do not benefit from irrigation. The struggle to survive puts stress on the vines and stress, if you ask some folks equals flavor, complexity and balance in wines. The first thing that happens when you stress a vine is the yield of that vine goes down. Fewer grapes are produced, so energy is concentrated on the remaining grapes.  This was extremely beneficial for Captain Vineyard because dry farming not only allowed them to turn their hillside into a vineyard, but the vines provided support for the entire project. Dry farming forces the vines to search for water, probing deeper and deeper into the soil so that they are prepared for drought.  To create this behavior, you must start by digging a hole next to the base of each vine. Whenever the plant begins to wilt, you dig into the hole next to the base of the plant and water the plant. Each time you water the plant you dig the hole deeper and deeper. This way the plant begins to search for future water deeper in the soil.
How much water does the winery use? 

With the use of Dry farming EBMUD praises Captain Vineyards for their smart water use. Traditional grape growers use as much as 20 gallons to make a single gallon of wine. The Captains implemented a spacing method called “5×3” meaning the vine rows are 5 feet apart, and plants are 3 feet apart minimizing water use. The vineyard also uses the drip irrigation and has trained their vines to use less water. Watering less frequently and for  a longer duration trains the root system to go more deeply into the soil, thus improving the water supply capability of the root system. Captain Vineyards saves up to 16,000 gallons of water per acre annually, using 67% less water compared to another vineyard of equal size. To give you a sense of the quantity of water consumed in 2009 the 2.5 acres of vines and only consumed 253,572 gallons. (the average person consumes 50 gallons a day)


Where does the water come from? 

Captain Vineyard is similar to other homes in their neighborhood and has a well that supplies most of their water. However, dry farming refers to the practice of relying only on natural annual rainfall. Therefore, the vineyard primarily relies on rain with very little irrigation.
Did the drought impact their harvest?

Globally the United States has the largest wine market, and California makes up about 90% of that wine market. In 2011, wine sales hit a new high of $32.5 billion for the United States. The recent drought had a limited impact on the quality of the grapes harvested this year. Drought means two things for a winery, quality of the harvest (higher Degrees Brix) increases but the quantity of harvest decreases. The increase in quality is due to the concentration of flavor and sugars within each grape and a reduction in pest/disease within the crop overall.  The Degrees Brix, is a scale that measures the sugar content of an aqueous solution. One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of the solution, and it represents the strength of the solution as a percentage by weight (commonly used in wine, sugar, fruit juice, and honey). Typically in drought-stricken years wineries are known to produce less volume but the product has a higher value due to the high level of quality. This year was unique at the Captain Vineyards because the Degrees Brix was higher than last year’s average and the expected yield for this year was two tons larger than last year. Looks like dry farming and the consistent weather is working in their favor.

True cost ounce by ounce of water in 2012 (Bottled vs. Tap)

Ounce for ounce, water costs more than gasoline, even at today’s high gasoline prices; depending on the brand, it cost 250 to 10,000 times more than tap water. Globally the bottled water industry is now worth $46 billion. More than half of all Americans drink bottled water; about a third of the public consumes it regularly. Sales have tripled in the past ten years, to about $4 billion a year. This sales bonanza has been fueled by ubiquitous ads picturing towering mountains, pristine glaciers, and crystal-clear springs nestled in untouched forests yielding pure water. But is the marketing image of total purity accurate? Also, are rules for bottled water stricter than those for tap water?

Is there a health impact?

The bottled water industry promotes an image of purity, but in fact it is exactly the opposite. Bottled water has been seen to contain chemical contaminants (toxic byproducts of chlorination). According to the Earth Policy Institute, 86% of plastic water bottles in the United States end up in landfills, which has a long-term effect that could impact ground water.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted a study of 10 major bottled water brands. The laboratory test conducted by EWG at one of the countries leading water quality laboratories found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in nine states and the District of Colombia, contained 38 chemical pollutants altogether. With an average of 8 contaminants in each brand, more than one-third of the chemicals found are not regulated in bottled water. The Achieves of Family Medicine, researchers compared bottled water with tap water from Cleveland and found that nearly a quarter of the samples of bottled water had significantly higher levels of bacteria. The NRDC reports, water stored in plastic bottles for ten weeks showed signs of phthalate-leaching. Phthalates block testosterone and other hormones.  One thing to keep in mind  phthalates in tap water are regulated, no such regulation at all for bottled water.

Where is all the Legislation?

In 2007, the State of California passed a law (SB 220) designed to reverse the dearth of basic public data about the quality of bottled water. The law mandates that water bottled after January 1, 2009 and sold in California must be labeled with both source and two ways for consumers to contract the company for the water quality report.  (96 bottled water companies present in California and only 34% complied with SB 220.

The State of California has legal limits for bottled water contaminants. However, unlike tap water, consumers are provided with test results every year of the source contaminants and purity. Bottled water industry is not required to disclose the results of any contaminant testing. Instead, the industry hides behind the claim that bottled water is held to the same safety standard as tap water. But keep in mind both bottled water and tap water suffer from the occasional contamination problem, but tap water is more stringently monitored and tightly regulated than bottled water. For example New, Your City tap water was tested 430,600 times during 2004 alone.

In 2008, more than 100 bottled water facilities were operating within California. Each of those facilities reports the amount of water extracted from groundwater sources to the state Department of Public Health.The Department of Public Health then relays the information to the State Water Board, who tabulates all water inventory of water rights for the state of California.  AB2275 was put in place in California to ensure that the state’s water is responsible allocated in ways that protect our environment, economy and quality of life.

The Food and Drug Administration oversees bottled water, and the U.S. EPA is in charge of tap water. The Safe Drinking Water Act empowers EPA to require water testing by certified laboratories and that violations be reported within a specific time frame. (Public water systems must also provide reports to customers about their water.) The FDA, on the other hand, regulates bottled water as food and cannot require certified lab testing or violation reporting. As a result, the FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how it has been treated or what contaminates it contents.

Economic Perspective:

The water bottle industry has grown to become a $10 billion (2010), doubling in growth over recent years. In 2004, Americans, on average, drank 24 gallons of bottled water, making it second only to carbonated soft drinks in popularity. Bottled water costs 10,000 times more than tap water, and 40% of bottled water comes straight from the tap. Some may say the appearance, odor, flavor, mouth, feel, and aftertaste impact their choice in which type of water they prefer to drink but what cost are they will pay. If you drank the 99-cent bottle today, then took the bottle home and continued to use it, you could refill it every day with tap water until July 3, 2017, before you’d spent 99 cents on the tap water.The NYT article “Bad to the Last Drop” provides a great perspective on the comparison of bottled and tap water.

However, bottled water is undeniably more fashionable and convenient than tap water. The practice of carrying a small bottle, pioneered by supermodels, has become a commonplace.

The ultimate price for water!

An interesting article was published in Cleveland Plain Dealer that described an interesting perspective on revenue generation of water fountains vs. bottled water. When the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an article about the disappearing water fountains halfway through the NBA season, the Cavaliers first said they were following advice from the NBA, that water fountains spread swine flu (the NBA never gave such guidance). The Plain Dealer pointed out that the removal was illegal — public buildings are required by building codes to have water fountains, the number based on capacity. Fans were so angry — once the paper pointed out that the fountains were gone; strange they hadn’t noticed — that the Cavaliers set up temporary water stations around the arena, so those who wanted a drink didn’t have to stand in line.
The Q then scrambled to re-install the fountains. By then, the Cavaliers alone had hosted 29 sold-out home games at the Q — almost 600,000 thirsty fans. If just 10 percent of those fans bought a $4 bottle of water they otherwise wouldn’t have, that’s nearly $10,000 in additional concession revenue, just for water, at each game.

Elimination of Bottled Water:

  1.  Grand Canyon eliminated the sale of bottled water inside the park within 30 days. John Wessel, regional director for the park service stated, ” Our parks should set the standard for resource protection and sustainability, I feel confident that the impact to park concession and partners have been given fair considerations and that this plan can be implemented with minimal impacts to the visiting public.”
  2.  Colleges Ban Bottled Water: The Association for the advancement of Belmont University, Oberlin College, Seattle University, University Ottawa, University Portland, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Ports, Upstate Medical University, Washington University in St. Louis have banned the sale of bottled water on there campuses. Schools on a similar track who have banned plastic bottled water from dining halls include: Gonzaga University, New York University, Stanford University, Stony Brook University, and University of Maryland. Schools where the students are campaigning to ban bottled water include: Brown University, Cornell University, Evergreen State College, Pennsylvania State University, and Vancouver Island University
  3. In April of last year Concord, Ma. banned the sale of Bottled Water, Making international headlines. However when the ban was intended to go into effect in January of 2012 voters at the annual town meeting rejected the proposal and instead proposed to educate citizens about bottled water’s environmental impact.
  4. Well in 2010 a ban on bottled water at all events held on city property was considered but never turned into law. However San Francisco has already done away with bottled water at city meetings.
  5. 19 US cities, 14 states, and 12 countries make an impact to steer away from bottled water.

What is the end game?
More than 2.6 billion people, or more than 40% of the worlds population, lack basic sanitation, and more than one billion people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of all illnesses in the world is due to water-borne diseases, and that at any given time around half of the people in developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water sanitation (killing more than 5 million people annually).

If clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 Billion a year beyond current spending on water projects, according to the International Water Management Institute. Improving sanitation, which is just as important, would cost a further $9.3 billion per year. So I guess at the end of the day society needs to decide what we want for our future and legislation will assist in securing the well being of our resources.

Virtual Water Conference: 60 Active Water Professionals in 60 minutes!!

Dow’s Future of Water: Is a new age educational tool to grasp the attention of not only active water professionals but upcoming students as well. However, this conference was hosted by Dow Chemical Representative to learn about the role the chemistry plays in the global water crisis? The facts listed below were some that were presented in the presentations.
  1.  According to Standard and Poor’s Credit Suisse Water Index, in 1950: fresh water reserves were 17000m3  per capita. In 1995: 7300m. In the period that the world population has doubled, demand for fresh water has quadrupled. 
  2. By 2025, the UN forecasts that demand for fresh water will grow by 29% and supply will grow by 22%.
  3. Water has been announced as being a global problem. However, most of the water problems have regional and local solutions. Because “Water in main is not the same as water in Spain.”
  4. There was a HUGE focus on water Stewardship and water education. The understanding of where your water comes from (water address). Starting to inform youth about everything that we were unaware of growing up begins to develop a platform of understanding that leads to action. 
  5. Water management seems to be extremely segregated into different management techniques and the level of efficiency in each subcategory: Wastewater, freshwater, storm water and rainwater. The fading of the difference in management will overall improve the water management efficiency. 
  6. “Half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with preventable water-related diseases.”
  7. Per day over 600 water mains break in the United States on average. 
  8. Current water infrastructure in the western region of the United States is roughly 80 years old (if not longer) and on average 20% of the water transported within this infrastructure is lost (through leaks, breaks, and seepage). The cost of replacing current infrastructure is estimated to be $335 Billion over the course of the next 20 years. While water is currently being priced at 1/3 of a penny, water prices are expected to tremendously increase. 
  9. Mention of Biochar was a new subject mostly for  sustainable agriculture and to allow for increase soil absorption to improve soil fertility.

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. 

EcoTrip: Cell Phones Impact on the Environment

Sundance Channel’s new television series Eco Trip released a new episode on the Cellphone industries impact on the environment, and it was extremely frightening. Shelia Davis, an expert at Silicone Valley Toxic Coalition, shows how the semiconductor and chip resistors business, as well as underground storage of chemicals, impacts the environment through L.U.S.T. (Leaking Underground Storage Tanks). LUST contaminates not only the site in which these products are developed but the soils beneath them and the water that runs through them. Most of these industries shut down facilities and dismantle the buildings so that other development can move in, little did we know that these locations are Superfund sites. A Superfund site is where these LUST events occur, and there has been clear documentation of the contamination and little to know clean up. The EPA now must take over the clean up of theses sites and rank the site for its impact on water contamination and soil degradation. Many neighborhoods have these contaminated sites, homes, markets, schools, and small businesses are typically exposed. The indicator that the EPA takes into consideration increase in birth defects in comparison to regional standards.

The waste part of cellphones were some of the most shocking information because cell phones (toxic waste) are either incinerated or put in a landfill. These chemicals impact the groundwater beneath these waste sites with 50 different chemicals, and according to EPA they qualify as hazardous waste yet four out of five cell phones end up in waste sites. Cadmium, copper, beryllium, arsenic, lead, mercury, and brominated flame retardants in the cell phones have extreme harmful effects on not only the environment but upon humans as well. Lead accumulates and can cause extensive damage to central and peripheral nervous system, blood systems, and kidneys. Consumer electronics are responsible for 40% of Lead in landfills. When Mercury (used on printed circuit boards) sits in waterways, it can transform into methylated mercury in the sediments which leads to brain damage.  Brominated Flame Retardants used as plastic covers and cables increase the risk of digestive and lymphatic cancers, and it concentrates in food chains. These are just a few of the chemicals used to develop cell phones, we have yet to know the impact to know the impact of the use of cell phones on the human brain. However, earlier studies (not long term studies) done do show and impact on the brain function. 

 

Eco Trip: Bottled Water

Eco Trip a Television Series released in 2009 by the Sundance  Channel hosted by David De Rothschild gives a fresh and exciting perspective on common commodities such as gold rings, t-shirts, Paper Napkins, Cell Phones, and Chocolate. Approaching the perspective from development, environmental impact, consumer understand and scientific relevance these 30 minute episodes will increase your understanding of common daily commodities. 
Bottled water for instance was recent episode which compared Bottled water to Tap water, the impact of bottled water on the environment. In the last year alone bottled water annual sales were consuming 30 million liters of water. Over the last decade, annual sales increased 177%  that is roughly 9 billion gallons per year. 
What you don’t hear from bottled water companies is the difference in water quality and the life cycle of the product. 40% of all bottled water in the United States uses tap water to fill their products. Peter Gleick founder of Pacific Institute was interviewed and discussed that there is no difference in bottled water or tap water taste. Pay no attention to the advertisements on the label, the newspaper aids, and the billboards bottled water and tap water taste alike but are regulated differently. Tap water is more regularly regulated than most bottled water; 90% of US tap water meets EPA Standards for water quality.The Hetch Hetchy reservoir that provides 85% of San Francisco’s water  falls under EPA regulation and is required to completed 487 water samples of the entire source monthly (only source sampling). Bottled water falls under FDA regulation and is required to be tested once a week.
 
8 out of 10 Bottles end up in Landfills or incinerated, 98 million bottles per day and 37 billion bottles per year. Not to mention that each of those bottles takes 500 years to decompose. Most water bottles are sold in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. According to the Pacific Institute, the US water bottle industry requires 17 million barrels of oil per year. Recycling one plastic bottle can save enough energy to power 60 watt light bulb for six hours.  The energy cost associated with bottled water is even more interesting. The Beverage Marketing Corporation noted that the US bottling companies acquired 900,000 tons of PET Plastic last year alone (typically production is associated with natural gas and petroleum). Manufacturing/ production cost releases 2.5 million tons of Carbon Dioxide and requires 3 liters of water to produce on a liter of bottled water. The Plastic Manufacturing industry notes that it takes around 3.4 megajoules of energy to make a typical one liter bottle, cap, and packaging. One gallon of oil can generate 6,000 megajoules of energy. After manufacturing, packaging comes transportation and refrigeration. All energy used in the water bottle industry would consume around 50 billion barrels of oil per year, enough oil to run 3 million vehicles for a year. 
Bottled water is having a huge impact on the environment and ecosystems because it breaks down and contaminates natural environments. Birds (albatross) commonly mistakes plastic caps and wrappers as food and consumes the products and in turn the animal suffers a slow death. The Great Eastern Garbage Patch, is where ocean currents have redirected all of this waste into one area (twice the size of Texas) in the ocean.  Oakland California introduced the Continuous Deflection Separator sewer system that is a catchment design system that uses natural water energy to remove solid waste from waste streams before they can reach the ocean or other bodies of water. Also, Gavin Newson began a campaign at San Francisco City Hall to stop purchasing Bottled Water, and now his campaign has affected 12,000 other city halls across the US.
The financial cost of bottled water is 10,000 times more expensive than tap water; it is under-regulated, not properly labeled and is extremely harmful to the environment. The United States is the largest consumer of Bottled Water, in 2008 water bottles sales exceeded sales of all other beverages except carbonated soft drinks. The water bottle market is heard to stay, that being said we must require a labeling system to decipher the source and quality of the water so that you better understand what your purchasing. 

Flow for the Love of Water

“One of the things that became immediately clear to me was that water is a truly unifying element. We all need it; we all want it and more than anything else in the world it is the one thing that connects us all,” said Irena Salina. Irena Salina director of Flow humanized international water politics by revealing the industry behind water, the discrepancies between public health and private interest unveil issues of scarcity, pollution/contamination, corporate profit and human suffering. Understanding different individual’s relationship with nature’s most critical resource, to encompass the global freshwater crisis.

FLOW chronicles the stories of people fight for their right to water:  following a community of concerned citizens in Michigan as they take on a corporate water-bottling plant; showing the massive protests of the Bolivian people against water privatization; and documenting simple technology implemented across India to cope with water shortages. You may think that China, Bolivia, India, and Lesotho are far away but the issues that each has mentioned hits close to home. The Case of Atrazine usage being banned in Switzerland and used in the United States so only a glimpse into indirect impacts on Freshwater. Atrazine has been proven to cause male frogs to become female ( sperm counts dwindle, and ovaries appear).

Water Quotes

  1. “For each ton of recycled paper you save 7000 gallons of water/ 17 trees/ 4200 Kilowatt-hours of energy/ 40 lbs of nitrogen emissions/ 3 cubic yards of landfill space.”
  2. “A person must consume 2.5 quarts of water per day from all sources (drinking, eating) to maintain health.” US EPA.
  3. “62,600 gallons of water are needed to produce one ton of steel.” US EPA.
  4. “The United States consumes water at twice the rate of other industrialized nations.” National Park Service.
  5. “75% of a living tree is water; 66% of human body is water; 75% of the human brain is water.” US EPA.
  6. “Americans flush 6.8 billion gallons of water down their toilets every day.” National Parks Service.
  7. “Alfalfa consumes almost 25% of California’s irrigation water, more water than any other crop in the state.” Natural Resource Defense Council.
  8. “The average 5-minute showers uses 15-25 gallons of water.” American Water Works Association.
  9. Preliminary estimates show that the total energy used to pump and treat water in California exceeds 15,00 GWH per year, or at least 6.5% of the total electricity used in the State per year.” California Department of Water Resources.
  10. “Leaks account for 12% of an average Californian’s daily water use.” The Pacific Institute.
  11. “Bottled water can cost 240-10,000 times more than tap water and may not be any more safe to drink. Around 25-35% of bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from a city or town’s tap water, sometimes further treated, sometimes note.” Natural Resources Defense Council.
  12. “It takes 39,090 gallons of water on average to manufacture a new car.” EPA
  13. “Agriculture accounts for 87% of all the freshwater consumed each year in the U.S.” Livestock Production: Energy Inputs and the Environment, by David Pimentel.
  14. “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”Benjamin Franklin.
  15. “Water sustains all.” Thales of Miletus, 600B.C