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Water Water Everywhere, and We Waste SO MUCH Of it!

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posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 03:17 PM
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Introduction to the Problem



The title forms the topic and this is a bit of a long one. I came across this overall issue recently and actually while fact checking a video seen during a course at the school. The video turned out to be ...questionable on facts... at best, but what it lead me to stumble across was enough to cause, literally, a sea change in my world view on environmental topics. Especially, on water related ones.

We are, as a nation and society overall, across the world, wasting the very quantities of water that are making it largely unsustainable for the use vs. 'recharge' necessary to maintain aquifers or other sources we have to draw from now.

We waste this water, not as you might first think or are regularly told. It's not from evil high flow toilets, where they may still be found...and it's not from watering lawns or washing cars. Those things aren't helpful when taken on national scales. However, they do not cause the largest problem by any means.

Wasted water in those more common forms doesn't actually waste it, as it does flow back into the air by evaporation, feed greenery that helps keep us alive as Co2 scrubbers in all their varieties, and run off to lakes, rivers or the ocean.

The most wasteful and most serious threat comes from within the very infrastructure itself. This comes as water supplies grow more difficult to find and use, and as the politics and the self-interest of collecting, processing and distributing the water that IS flowing grows stronger and more heated.

You see, it's not in the city water plant that the largest waste comes. It's not at the home, either. It's between those two points, and this waste is largely unseen, largely not talked about relative to more 'sexy' causes to highlight, and has absolutely NO easy fix

........while it MUST BE FIXED.




Continued. . .




posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 03:17 PM
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What is water usage and how much is a lot?



This is the first question to look at, because the leakage figures you'll see simply have no context in normal thinking terms. The numbers are too large. It takes seeing known and easily thought about comparisons for any meaning at all. So lets see a few to get started.

#1. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reports in fiscal year 2010/11, they had 168 Billion Gallons purchased by customers. It's stored across 114 tanks and flows through 7,221 miles of pipe to accomplish that distribution. Some of that water currently comes from as far as 330+ miles and the Mono Basin. In citing L.A., it's also important to note that they've been among the most aggressive in the world for green and conservation solutions, in one of the most water pressured markets to look at over the long term.

#2. In another example, the City of Phoenix shows their stats for 1990 - 2007, which are quite impressive to see. Despite a very strong rise in population, the use of water has been stable and actually dropped at times over the last 10 years. Despite this, the latest year on their chart with 2006, shows a level between 325,000 and 350,000 acre feet used. That translates to a bit over 100 Billion gallons of water.

#3. New York City is a large and diverse city of millions. They're as good an example to use as any, and they public their statistics for usage as well. In 2009, they reported a use rate of 1007.2 Million gallons per day. That comes to roughly 367 Billion gallons per year for that year. To their credit, you can see a steady drop in usage level there as well. How that's accomplished may be as interesting as the fact it's shown, but that's for another thread.

The combined total of the above 3 major cities is roughly 635 Billion gallons per year. Now this is rough figuring and not intended to be exact. Obviously it's taken from different years out of necessity of statistics available. The above is to give numbers some context.

Continued. . .



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 03:17 PM
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They Measure This...Really!



In fact, they do measure water loss. They cannot necessarily say where the water all goes, which is the problem of course, but they can put precise figures to how much is pumped vs. how much is recorded flowing through the system and finally how much is flowing through end point connections to homes and businesses. From that, they can say a given area loses this % or that % of water to systemic leakage from pipes and mains.

In a recent Guardian article, some interesting facts were presented on this that shed light on the enormity of the problem. While the Guardian is focusing on international issues, this will come back to the US.


I wrote my first news article about water leaks back in 1980 for a long-forgotten magazine called Municipal Engineering. A study published then – I still have it – put the national water leakage rate at 24%. And nothing has changed. The latest statistics for the four biggest English water utilities show Severn Trent losing 27%, Thames Water and United Utilities (supplier to northwest England) 26%, and Yorkshire Water 25%. In the case of Thames Water, which serves drought-plagued London, that is almost 200 litres, per customer, per day.
Source

This next comes from the California Department of Natural Resources and describes their own states loss rates.


How much water is lost to leaks?

Answer: A detailed water audit and leak detection program of 47 California water utilities found an average loss of 10 percent and a range of 30 percent to less than 5 percent of the total water supplied by the utilities. The July 1997 Journal American Water Works Association cites examples of more than 45 percent leakage.

Do leaks get bigger with age?

Answer: Yes. Leaks invariably get larger with time. A small leak this year will grow to become a large leak next year, all the while losing water and causing greater damage to infrastructure and property.

Does water from leaks always rise to the surface?

Answer: No, leaks are often unseen at the surface. Nonvisible leaks include leaks that percolate into the surrounding ground, leaks that enter other conveyance facilities, such as storm drains, sewers, stream channels, or old abandoned pipes. DWR estimates that up to 700,000 acre-feet of leakage occurs in California each year from nonvisible leaks.
Source (Emphasis Added)

A local San Diego news source had this to say, and made mention of the US national average as well...


The U-T’s recent front-page story about water-main breaks – “Water Main Breaks Plague City,” Feb. 27 – warrants a response to set the record straight.

Buried in the 19th paragraph – beneath the breathless reporting about “tens of thousands of leaks” that have cost the city “360 million gallons of water” and “at least $10 million” in settlement claims – is this key fact: The city’s water-loss rate is 9.3 percent, compared to the national average of 14 percent.
Source

San Diego is mentioned along with Singapore at a staggeringly low 5% in relative comparison, as among the best for statistics in tackling this problem. Still, the problem in even these areas is just incredible to consider.

Continued. . .



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 03:17 PM
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Bottom Lines and Conclusions....



This is a 0 sum game, and God...nature...fate...Ghia or whatever we want to call the order and system in the world around us, does not care and does not award for effort or good intentions. It doesn't care how hard we tried. The world around us has physical realities. Among them, are a given amount of physical water in given locations that regenerate at a given and known or measurable rate.

When we are within or below those rates of regeneration for things like the National Aquifers, we're good to go. When we run outside them, we are headed to self destruction of an area or region, if not more.

OVER TWO TRILLION GALLONS....wasted every year. As I've shown, that is the US, alone. The US, for it's sheer age, being among the better in the world on this. You know how else you can visualize and think of 2 TRILLION gallons?

Wisconsin Uses Over 2 Trillion Gallons of Water a Year

We fail to fix it, despite spending trillions elsewhere, for a declared lack of money. Almost 800 billion dollars was expended in the 2009/2010 Stimulus bill. A tiny fractoin of it was given toward potable water infrastructure.

We're not running out of water for misuse....but for lack of addressing outright, chronic and institutional ABUSE of it. Lost in a million little spots, 10's of thousands of pipe sections or junctions....into soil it simply fades into. Lost. Gone. Wasted.


Quite a look at one resource and the problems we face in keeping a supply of it, eh?

*This doesn't even touch the declining health of the Great Lakes, Lake Victoria or other fresh water sources we're losing by outright pollution, while this thread simply describes the ongoing loss of what is taken from what's left.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 04:11 PM
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I must be missing something here. I've read the entire post but can't understand where the "wasted" water goes if not back into the ground and eventually to the aquifer. If it leaks from the pipes---doesn't it go back into the ground and eventually make its way back to the aquifer? ---or at least some aquifer, if not the one it was pulled from?
I'm not trying to be snarky here, it's just that I've had to explain this many times to people who have told me I'm "wasting" water when I wash my car or water my gardens.
I have a well. It is supplied by an aquifer that is located approximately 40' below the surface. I pump water out of that well and into my house or onto my yard/gardens. The water that goes into the house gets cycled through the septic system and eventually ends up back in the aquifer. The water used outdoors goes directly into the dirt and if it isn't used by plants, it goes back to the aquifer. Now, even if I have a leakage of water between the well and the house, the water simply follows the laws of gravity and makes its way downward. Or did I miss something?



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 04:31 PM
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reply to post by diggindirt
 


It's a good question.

If you think of the Earth as a closed system (which, for the most part, it is) then the water doesn't vanish. No. It's still there and over time....as in geologic timeframes..it'll all likely come together in usable quantities again.

At the moment, places like Mono Lake in California or the Aral Sea have become what they are today by the use, radical overdraw and by what is seen in what I posted in this thread, the water lost within the infrastructure itself.

Aral Sea for Perspective...and that's near gone now.

That shows what sources start as, and those far below our feet are easy to think of in other ways but the aquifers are like big lakes being drawn down as well. When it's lost to bad pipes, it's the difference of dispersing it in a mist vs. pouring it into a bucket where it's still collecting in quantities worth recording and useful to man or nature. Either one.

Lost beneath literal slabs of concrete and pavement, in large part, it serves nothing. It's too widely dispersed by random leaking to run off anywhere. I'd say it causes some nasty sinkholes occasionally when larger leaks develop though. One of the more visible signs of seeing them get too big. It's gone for anything to talk about, as the problem and where the word waste comes in.

* In reference to losses that have some value and those which are just gone for our useful thinking on this...I had seriously considered another section on the open California and other Aqueduct systems for the staggering losses to evaporation. However, in thinking about that, your very point is what makes those examples different. The humidity level of the California High Desert has literally changed over time, and it's from a variety of things...but evaporation of water from man made lakes or the river which forms the aqueduct is part of it. All cycled back into the environment though, so not technically wasted either.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 04:50 PM
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Fixing leaks is a cost. Big business does not like costs so they avoid them.

The problem is not so much a lack of water, it is a lack of water where we want it to be. Spending all the resources to move water from point a to point b and then wasting so much of it due to fixable leaks is really silly.

Some leaked water returns to the aquifer in time but some gets into storm water drains and other channels that lead directly to the ocean. All leaks work against the very system that they leak from.

The obvious answer is to force big business to fix the leaks but that brings up the other problem. The whole system was designed with only one thing in mind, that is, to charge the consumer. Therefore flow is only monitored at pumping stations and at the users property. The system was never designed to locate leaks. How do you locate a leak in a pipe buried deep into the ground?

P



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 05:03 PM
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reply to post by pheonix358
 


A quick side note on this. In the U.S., anyway, water distribution on these 40-100 year old pipe networks is carried by Municipal utilities. L.A. is the Department of Water and Power, for instance, and a Utility. It's an interesting designation they have as a "Utility"


What is MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT (MUD)?

Providing utility-related services such as water, sewage, and drainage services is the job of this specific type of political entity. Enacted by state law and funded by special assessment bonds. One’s property value and the current tax assessed on individuals comes from living in a municipal utility district.
Source

In reading and by some of what I linked, I can see in England and France for example, it is very much private and entirely for profit companies running the pipes and mains beneath the major cities. That may be the case in places in the US too, I don't know but would be interested if people know of some in major cities.

For the most part though, it's the public/political organization controlling the local water treatment, distribution, sewerage and then final treatment out the other end of the cycle. Some are Public/Private partnerships too, to blur the lines a bit more.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 05:08 PM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


How much do you pay for water.

In South Australia we pay up to 1.31 cents per gallon plus some hefty quarterly supply charges. This is so we use it sparingly. The price goes up in a drought and of course never comes down. This is good for us, so we are told.

P



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 05:32 PM
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Good subject Mr wabbit


Where I live in the uk you could watch the most colossal leak you could ever imagine!

There are three rivers that carry good clean fresh water. Every day when the tide goes out they open up huge gates on all three rivers and zillions of gallons of good clean fresh water is flushed out into the ocean!

This happens twice evry day!

Its a very flat area where I live and it would be so easy to dig out reserviors and store some of that water! But they dont, they flush it all away. Then when the summer dry period comes along they tell us to use less and bumb the prices up!

In areas such as where I live, those responsible for this MASSIVE waste ought to be publicly shamed!



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 05:43 PM
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Great post Wrabbit. And certainly not a USA only problem. Its late and I cant find the stats right now but a year back it was pointed out the UK had the same problems. Leaks everywhere. Cause of all the flooding the issue seems to have been forgoten but a year ago the UK was faceing a drought and possible water rationing and this exact same issue popped up.

Guess its cheaper for big business to blame us than fix the problem.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 06:00 PM
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pheonix358
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


How much do you pay for water.


I haven't looked at a utility bill in so long I had to go find one. My other half is bill paying while I'm in college so I don't have the stress of both at once. A sweetheart...but I digress...

City Utilities, as it's called here, charges per CCF (Which I found an easy definition to here, but it comes to 748 Gallons per 1 CCF). Last month showed 8 CCF or 5,984 gallons used and that cost us $31.09.

I guess we're not doing too bad since the EPA here says a family of 4 should max out at 12,000 gallons a month for top usage and we're a family of 3 with others staying over often enough to consider.

** Oh.. to be fair, I need to count the other end of that, I suppose.. Sewer cost is just a formula based on CCF number, assuming everything in comes out one way or another ...and it ran $27.89. So $58.98 all told. Well...isn't that just something when looked at that way, eh? $58.98 for 5984 gallons. (sigh)
edit on 23-2-2014 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 06:18 PM
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crazyewok
Great post Wrabbit. And certainly not a USA only problem. Its late and I cant find the stats right now but a year back it was pointed out the UK had the same problems. Leaks everywhere. Cause of all the flooding the issue seems to have been forgoten but a year ago the UK was faceing a drought and possible water rationing and this exact same issue popped up.

Guess its cheaper for big business to blame us than fix the problem.


RE my post above.
There's a huge river near you that discharges its good water into the ocean too! and plenty of places to build reservoirs.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 06:20 PM
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The water leaks are a big part of this. We waste water a lot of ways though. Just add up the water consumption of every car wash and every person washing their cars in the country. Add up all the gallons used by people to make their yards green. Add up all the water used from people taking showers every day. Throw all of this into the souppot and see how many trillions of gallons could be saved by just using practical conservation projects.

Sooner or later we will use up all the reserves of water. One way or another. Out towns here have spent a lot on fixing leaks over the years, now we are having some major freezing of water lines again. The frost level is at 87 inches deep now, over half the lines are less than that.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 07:12 PM
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reply to post by rickymouse
 





Just add up the water consumption of every car wash and every person washing their cars in the country. Add up all the gallons used by people to make their yards green. Add up all the water used from people taking showers every day. Throw all of this into the souppot and see how many trillions of gallons could be saved by just using practical conservation projects.


Taking a shower is not wasting water!

I wash my car on the lawn so that I use the water twice.

Keeping that garden green also helps the plants in said garden generate oxygen for us to breathe.

If you are allowed to by the idiots in charge, almost all of the water used inside a house could be discharged into the garden.

Using water and wasting water are two entirely different things.

You want to see where your water is being wasted, just look to heavy industry. Start with fracking and mining.

P



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 08:50 PM
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pheonix358
reply to post by rickymouse
 





Just add up the water consumption of every car wash and every person washing their cars in the country. Add up all the gallons used by people to make their yards green. Add up all the water used from people taking showers every day. Throw all of this into the souppot and see how many trillions of gallons could be saved by just using practical conservation projects.


Taking a shower is not wasting water!

I wash my car on the lawn so that I use the water twice.

Keeping that garden green also helps the plants in said garden generate oxygen for us to breathe.

If you are allowed to by the idiots in charge, almost all of the water used inside a house could be discharged into the garden.

Using water and wasting water are two entirely different things.

You want to see where your water is being wasted, just look to heavy industry. Start with fracking and mining.

P


Some of the underground water we are extracting from reservoirs has been buried since the ice age. When we deplete these reservoirs, the water is gone. Some of these aquifers are crystalline aquifers which are very widespread under the earth.

If a person washes their car once every month, no problem. I do know quite a few people who wash their car every week. The water is contaminated by the soaps and is not really good for the grass. There are some car soaps that are not harmful, but I have not found one yet...even though I have looked. Same with the chemicals we use in the house, the sewage is not acceptable to send into the environment. Back fifty years ago everything was more natural, but not nowadays. I try to buy a lot of natural things now, I have a septic system and drainfield. Down the hill from the drainfield the trees were dying. It hasn't gotten worse in the last five years since we started to use more environmentally friendly soaps and chemicals. I can't bring the trees back but at least they aren't getting worse. It will take years for the trees to fully recover I suppose. Some of that stuff is really bad on the environment. Even the grass above the drainfield was dying, now it has stabalized. What caused this? I have no clue, maybe the laundry detergents or the automatic dishwasher detergents. Maybe a combination of a lot of things. Now we use all septic safe soaps and chemicals.

It isn't even good for a person to take a shower everyday. It is all right to rinse every day in water but not use soaps everyday. Three times a week is probably ok. There is a lot of research backing this all over the place.



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 09:09 PM
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reply to post by rickymouse
 


I am always careful with cleaning products and in fact will always go with steam rather than chemicals. My last abode was on septic tank and I never had a problem.

The biggest problem is that houses are not designed with water re-use as a priority. They should be, especially in areas where water is scarce. Unfortunately Government wants to pass useless law after law so we can't re-use this sometimes precious commodity. It sucks.

P



posted on Feb, 23 2014 @ 11:30 PM
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pheonix358
reply to post by rickymouse
 


I am always careful with cleaning products and in fact will always go with steam rather than chemicals. My last abode was on septic tank and I never had a problem.

The biggest problem is that houses are not designed with water re-use as a priority. They should be, especially in areas where water is scarce. Unfortunately Government wants to pass useless law after law so we can't re-use this sometimes precious commodity. It sucks.

P


If they would just make soaps that were more environmentally friendly, we could use our water from the clothes washers to water the grass. Even if it was just the rinse water. There are ways to fix all of this yet as you have said, there are regulations that get in the way. A very good fertilizer can be made from ashes from a woodstove mixed with human urine. It grows things well. The urine neutralizes the lime in the ashes and supplies nitrogen. But we have to go out and buy fertilizer. Human poop is not a good fertilizer though because of the toxins from the chemicals in foods and possible bad bacteria in it. If you were to live organically, it might be different. I don't know about that. We should use only poop from animals that are mostly vegetarians.



posted on Feb, 24 2014 @ 03:44 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Cutting down on the amount of water people use is pure Agenda 21. Notice how the focus is always on householders not busienss. The only people who waste water are householders. One day having a shower no more than 3 times a week in Australia will become he only socially acceptable standard for the massess. (dont talk about the wealthy with their bores and extensive lawns"

Everyone knows that the water from the shower should be recycled back through the toilet is common sense but the powers that be have no intention of doing that. Moreover, they are rubbing our noses in it through their intent on recycling toilet back through the householder



posted on Feb, 27 2014 @ 09:46 AM
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learnatic
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Cutting down on the amount of water people use is pure Agenda 21. Notice how the focus is always on householders not busienss. The only people who waste water are householders. One day having a shower no more than 3 times a week in Australia will become he only socially acceptable standard for the massess. (dont talk about the wealthy with their bores and extensive lawns"

Everyone knows that the water from the shower should be recycled back through the toilet is common sense but the powers that be have no intention of doing that. Moreover, they are rubbing our noses in it through their intent on recycling toilet back through the householder



Out of curiosity, can you link to the Agenda 21 page that references cutting down on the amount of water? I agree people should be conscious of how much water they consume/use. How much do you and others use a month?

Agreed that businesses and to the point of this thread - water providers - should also bear the burden of "water loss" on the pipelines, and perhaps the sinkholes which could be attributed to their services and lack of maintenance.

People everywhere should be more conscious on their water use. When you have millions upon millions of people wasting water it does add up. And the same goes for corporations I agree. Why irrigate/water crops during the daytime for some farms? There are some water mitigation cities/regions, and people do need water.

One reason cities can exist is because of powered centralized water proliferation. If people had to traditionally "fetch", carry, and store their water in containers for later use... Then people would think twice about washing their car or watering their gardens.. and Prioritize water like money in their lives



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