Why Efficiency Won’t Solve Our Water Problems

Source: triplepundit.com The drought of 2012 has reminded us that water is a scarce resource, even though we pay fractions of a penny per gallon for it and expect that it’ll be there every time we turn on the tap. We depend on it not only for our drinking and washing and especially for the food we eat, but also for generating the electric power on which our economy depends. There’s no doubt that we can use water more efficiently and that this would be socially and ecologically desirable. But this week, as I’ve being participating in the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Portland, I’ve started to doubt whether efficiency will really solve our drought and water problems. The reason is that for another vital resource — the land — efficiency doesn’t seem to be enough. The hypothesis that using land to produce food more efficiently — that is, increasing agricultural yields — will “save” more land for nature, is called “land sparing” and is often associated with the famous crop …

Pepsi Water Efficiency Wins Plaudits

Source: Environmentalleader.com PepsiCo’s more than 20 percent improvement in global water efficiency since 2006 has won it the Stockholm Industry Water Award during World Water Week. Pepsi received the award for its water conservation efforts including: Conserving about 16 billion liters of water in 2011, from a 2006 baseline, by using water-saving equipment and technologies, creative recycling and re-use, and by deploying a water management system throughout its manufacturing facilities. Reducing water- and energy-related costs by more than $45 million in 2011, compared to 2006. Implementing agricultural practices and technologies around the world designed to reduce water use in farming through new irrigation techniques, and introducing tools that help farmers deliver fertilizer and water to their crops at the most efficient time. Providing access to safe water for more than 1 million people with the PepsiCo Foundation and other partners. Pepsi has reduced its water and energy use through a series of water management practices including direct seeding in India and its web-based farming tool i-crop. Initial i-crop trials, which ran from …

Worrying water footprint

Source: Thehindubusinessline.com Water footprint varies from country to country, depending on each region’s consumption. It also depends on the climatic conditions and water usage in areas where consumer goods are produced. The water footprint is an indicator of both the direct and indirect use of water by a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community. Let us analyse the water footprint in India and the challenges around it. The country’s water footprint was 987 billion cu metres a year during 1997-2001, which means 980 cu metres a year per capita (Source: Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2008). POOR ACCESS TO FRESHWATER Water supply and sanitation remain inadequate, despite longstanding corrective efforts at various levels of government and community. Investment in water and sanitation is very low in India, compared to international standards. However, compared to the past, access to water has increased significantly. For instance, in …

Report from Stockholm – World Water Week

Source: sustainability.com Last week I was in Stockholm once again for World Water Week. This is the second year in a row that I have attended the mega-conference at the request of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to moderate a session covering various water management tools. The theme of this year’s conference was Feeding a Thirsty World, focusing on water and food security. A publication developed for the conference The Water and Food Nexus: Trends and Development of the Research Landscape begins with a succinct, simple set of statistics regarding the food/water challenge: 70% of all fresh water use is for irrigation About 20% of the world’s cropland is irrigated, yet irrigated agriculture supports 40% of all food production Drought is the no.1 threat to food supply in high-population developing countries By 2050, the planet could have nearly 3 billion additional people to feed, with virtually no new cropland and no new sources of water Add to those compelling facts that nearly one billion people currently suffer from hunger or malnutrition, and you …

Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days

Source: Guardian.co.uk Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in “dramatic changes” signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region. With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the record – currently set in 2007 – within days. “Unless something really unusual happens we will see the record broken in the next few days. It might happen this weekend, almost certainly next week,” Julienne Stroeve, a scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, told the Guardian. “In the last few days it has been losing 100,000 sq km a day, a record in itself for August. A storm has spread the ice pack out, opening up water, bringing up warmer water. Things are definitely changing quickly.” Because ice thickness, …

The true cost of food

Source: greenbiz.com Trucost analyzed three common food products: breakfast cereal, fruit juice and cheese. We examined the stages of production from farm and orchard to the supermarket shelf. The embedded carbon, water, waste and pollution were calculated for generic products in each category. (No brand has been harmed in the generation of these metrics!) Trucost then calculated the “natural capital” cost of each of these. For carbon we used the social cost. For water, a local issue, we correlated the volume of water required to produce the raw materials with local scarcity by gathering data on the location of production and pricing water accordingly. To view the full analysis, click on the image below. The percentages show each item’s share of the product’s total environmental impact. Our analysis indicates that, on average, the true cost of a block of cheese should be 18 percent higher than the retail price, breakfast cereal should be 16 percent more expensive and fruit juice 6 percent more. Water is the most significant natural capital dependency for all …

Can Coca-Cola’s new water system be a game changer?

Source: Greenbiz The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) says it has developed a first-of-its-kind beverage process water recovery system that can cut its water use by 35 percent. According to the beverage giant, the new system meets or exceeds drinking water standards for use in non-product activities and is used for clean-in-place and bottle washing. Coca-Cola said the system takes highly treated process water and further treats it by using a combination of membrane bioreactor, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, ozonation, and ultraviolet disinfection. The Atlanta-based company said it believes that its system stands out from current treatment processes used in its business sector. “While we and other members of the food and beverage industry have recycled and reused water for various processes for many years, this pilot is a first-of-its-kind beverage process water recovery system,” said Greg Koch, director of global water stewardship for the Coca-Cola Company. Koch said the benefit of the system could potentially be enormous. “By reusing cleaned and treated water for non-product applications, the new system could potentially lessen …

Thirsty South Asia’s river rifts threaten “water wars”

Source: blogs.reuters As the silver waters of the Kishanganga rush through this north Kashmir valley, Indian labourers are hard at work on a hydropower project that will dam the river just before it flows across one of the world’s most militarised borders into Pakistan. The loud hum of excavators echoes through the pine-covered valley, clearing masses of soil and boulders. The 330-MW dam shows India’s growing focus on hydropower but also highlights how water is a growing source of tension with downstream Pakistan, which depends on the snow-fed Himalayan rivers for everything from drinking water to agriculture. Islamabad has complained to an international court that the dam in the Gurez valley, one of dozens planned by India, will affect river flows and is illegal. The court has halted any permanent work on the river for the moment, although India can still continue tunneling and other associated projects. In the years since their partition from British India in 1947, land disputes have led the two nuclear-armed neighbours to two of their three …

First nationwide water quality survey from Oct

Source: Deccanherald he Union government plans to conduct the survey in two phases – from October 2012 till January 2013 to collect pre-monsoon data and again from March 2013 till May 2013 for post-monsoon data. The nationwide exercise is aimed at gathering ‘authentic data’ on drinking water quality both at source and in households. T M Vijay Bhaskar, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, stated that samples would be collected from about 67,000 households across all the districts in the country as well as from drinking water sources. In a communiqué to state principal secretaries overseeing rural drinking water schemes, he stressed on adherence to “highest standards” during the first ever water quality sample survey to ensure credibility and reliability of the data to be collated. The survey would cover on an average 110 households from about five-six villages in each district. Out of 16,64,186 habitations, 2,16,968 had been identified in April 2005 as ones with poor quality of water. The number of the poor water …

India’s blackout exposes choice between water & electricity

Source: Gigaom Let’s take a snapshot of India right now. In India, there is a drought. This year’s poor monsoon is likely to lead to the third drought in 10 years. But two-thirds of the water India receives is wasted because of inadequate storage and management. India just had a power outage affecting 650 million people, a population twice as large at the U.S.  Most cities in the state of Punjab faced an acute water shortage due to lack of proper co-ordination between the power and the municipal corporations. Water tensions are increasing between countries like India and Pakistan. Before the power grid outage India was “staring at a water drinking shortage.” There is a race to tap India’s coal resources to fuel a whopping 519 GW – nearly 500 power plants – leaving behind massive deforestation and water contamination that could have a ripple effect on the environment and health inside the world’s second most-populous country and neighboring Bangladesh.  Despite places like coal mining in the Jaintia Hills of India being one of the wettest …

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