Friday, July 19, 2013

Interesting views on Water

Caught the ending of this BBC radio program with the grim statistic that currently, 40% of people living in urban areas have no piped water to their accommodation

So for those of you too unable to listen to the half-hour discussion, here's a summary and some food for thought:
Currently 50% of the world's population live in urban areas, and with a projected further 2 billion people by the year 2050, the projected percent of the world's population living in urban areas is reckoned to rise to 75%.
Currently only 2.5% of the world's water is freshwater, of which 70%  is locked into the Arctic, Anarchic and mountainous areas, which is inaccessible for consumption and means that currently 40% of the world's population are living in a water-scarce area.
So to control/manage this resource, one can reduce Demand and/or increase Supply.

People begin to be antsy if they are the ones being controlled , so efficiency can be increased by controlling leakage-- this problem bigger than you think!-- reducing demand and/or changing behaviour.
The latent right-winger in me nods when they said that increasing the price would reduce demand but then the Brazilians rioted the other day when their Government tried to increase bus fares and the Venezuelan government dare not increase fuel prices from ridiculous.  So the panel discussed the introduction of meters as a way to change people's attitude to waste-- if their pockets feel it then they would be more inclined to change their behaviour. Education plays a part in changing behaviour also but not as effective as making people pay-- where Australia found a 15-20% reduction in demand by introducing 'block charges', presumably following vertical equity principles.
Leakage is a big source of wastage, about a quarter being wasted in Europe and 10% in efficient Singapore. Tokyo and Amsterdam claim 5% wastage.  Unfortunately the cost of fixing the leaks is about the cost of savings so far as many pipes need to be dug up to replace fittings. One way is the reduce the water pressure but again the pesky consumers might object,  water pressure can be varied according to demand so that people wouldn't notice as much in off-peak hours.

The other solution is to increase Supply. The cost of desalination has been reduced considerably in the past fifteen years and is common in Australia and the Middle East and gaining popularity in Portugal and Spain, however it is quite energy intensive but with the introduction of better solar power maybe that can be balanced off.

Recycling is the other option in conservation but the difficulty is persuading people not to contaminate by adding hydro-carbons like waste oil: one drop of motor oil can contaminate 50 litre of water!  Canada's Vancouver has a sensible water system separating recyclable water directly in the drainage system from the houses-- very smart.See pgs 3 +4 of

Can only hope the Guyana Government incorporates some sensible ideas out there-- however bearing in mind the uneducated population I wouldn't hold my breath! They run the risk of increased vector-borne diseases in the long-run apart from the side-effects of a polluted water supply like in Madhia.
Finally to end, a email petition in Florida to discontinue the addition of compounds to add fluoride to the water as the people thought the compounds were waste products from industry and the tooth-cavity delaying stuff is better accessed from foods; also the addition of fluoride compounds in iodine-poor areas can have a the effect of causing further childhood development.... just some food for thought!
Check out:
Also important are the comments-- asking for the sources and scientific/literature reviews like this one:;year=2009;volume=20;issue=3;spage=350;epage=355;aulast=Dhar

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