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Thursday, September 23, 2010

CBC News - Technology & Science - Water supply won't dry up: Canadian scientist

Photo:Edmonton's water treatment plant in Rossdale

To read an article which discusses the fact that Canadians should not be worried
about our country running out of water, but "rather we should be concerned about the fact about  the vast amounts of energy used to treat water and pump it to  our taps," please click on the following link:

CBC News - Technology & Science - Water supply won't dry up: Canadian scientist

I found the following facts about Canada's water supply online:

"On an average annual basis, Canadian rivers discharge close to 7% of the world's renewable water supply. This water is vital to navigation, recreation, fish and wildlife support, and waste dilution, and so sustains the lifestyles of large and small communities across Canada."

(source: )

According to the website: ,

" It may come as a surprise to some within the water industry, but the practice of water reuse and recycling has been around for about a century.  
Reclaimed water is former effluent water such as stormwater, greywater, and domestic wastewater that would have traditionally been disposed of, but instead is treated (at varying degrees, depending on the location) and reused for varying purposes (depending on the level of treatment)."
"Water reuse generally refers to the beneficial use of reclaimed water. Oftentimes, reclaimed water is used for irrigation purposes, but in some locations the treatment of reclaimed water produces better-quality water that can be used as potable water."
"Water recycling means treating water and returning it back into the same process. Industrial water recycling is fairly common in Canada with many industries recirculating cooling water and boiler feed. It has been estimated that industry accounts for 80 per cent of Canada’s total water intake. Of this intake, approximately 40 per cent is typically recycled."
"The reuse of water has become commonplace for some countries and cities in the world due to the freshwater scarcity. The greatest use of reclaimed water is found in the Middle East, Australia, the Mediterranean, and the southwestern United States. "
"In Canada, there are some locations where the need for water has outstripped the freshwater supply. Some municipalities, such as those in Southern Alberta, experience shortages and are faced with the task of providing water to a growing population and meeting the demands of industry and the agricultural sector.
 Although there are dozens of possible uses for reclaimed water, the more popular ones include agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial reuse, groundwater recharge, and recreational/environmental. The popularity of water reuse is the inverse if there’s the possibility of public contact and use."

 "Using reclaimed water for agriculture is well established in Western Canada. One of the oldest water reclamation projects in Canada can be found in the City of Vernon, British Columbia. For over 30 years, treated water from the City’s wastewater treatment plant has been pumped seven kilometres to a reservoir. The water in the reservoir is subsequently used to irrigate 970 hectares of agricultural and recreational lands."

 "The oil and gas industry is a leader in Canada with respect to research and development of water reuse. In the Alberta oilsands, up to four barrels of water is required to process one barrel of oil. There is intensive public, political, and environmental pressure on the industry to reduce this ratio."

 "Municipalities and industries that reclaim water generally do so for practical reasons. The added benefit of the practice is that it promotes environmental sustainability and protects receiving waters from potential contaminants."
This is good news that we have an abundance of water in our country. And now that experts are aware that experts are aware of the fact that too much energy is being used to treat our water and to pump it in our taps, these experts can set out to create solutions to these two problems.  One possible solution I read about online is to use solar energy to treat our water.

According to the document:

"It is it interesting to note that one of the largest uses of water in Canada is electricity production. Water is used in thermal, nuclear,and hydroelectric power generation. To produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity requires 140
litres of water for fossil fuels and 205 litres for nuclear power plants . Every year almost two-thirds of generated power in Canada is produced via hydroelectric generation.This electricity is then used to treat, pump, move, and heat water (among other things). Thus, the nexus comes full circle; water is used to produce the electricity which is used to consume water."

"Canadians consume more water than most other countries: Americans ranking first and Canadians ranking fourth highest consumers of water out of 29 countries in the Organisation for Economic overall residential water use increased by 21% during the 1990s [11]. In part, this is because of demographics: our growing population places steadily increasing demands on water supplies, even if per-capita
consumption is stable or decreases."
"Based on the example set by European countries, it is possible to have a high standard of living and consume less water. The average Dane uses eight times less water than a Canadian . And yet we chronically over-use water."

"Canada has a long held the belief that it is a water abundant nation, and therefore does not need to worry about consumption rates. This is reflected in Canadian policy and consequently supply-side driven management of water
resources. However, we are finally beginning to realize that we can no longer afford such careless attitudes towards our resource use."

 "One in four communities in Canada experienced water shortages in 2002.
If the demand for water can be reduced, then energy used to pump and treat water will decrease.Additionally, if we can limit the amount of waste water that flows to treatment plants, this will further reduce the energy requirements Canada’s energy production, which is primarily hydro-electric will be impacted particularly as precipitation, and consequently river flows, decrease due to climate change, ultimately increasing energy costs."

In Canada, the largest uses of municipal water are residential (52%) and leakages (13%). Thus, tackling these uses would target 65% of water use, and the incumbent energy use. Many low-cost, easily implemented technologies have been developed in the past two decades. Of the global water available, 70% is used in agriculture . Generally, agricultural use of water is perceived as very inefficient and is often under scrutiny as it competes with other sectors . Irrigated land makes up 2% of Canada’s total cultivated land and 13% of the USA’s .Over 70% of irrigation in Canada occurs in the Prairie provinces  where precipitation is
expected to fall with impending climate change . As water resources dwindle and energy costs rise, farmers will feel the pressure to adopt more efficient water use practices."

"Our use of water, and consequently energy, makes our lives more comfortable in the short-term,but is causing a great deal of harm in the long-term. Not only are we degrading the quality of our water resources and drawing-down aquifers, we are also destroying valuable habits. Furthermore, due to our reliance on electricity to treat, move, pump, and heat the water we use, we are mining non-renewable fossil fuels and contributing to climate change via greenhouse gas emissions. The
energy-water nexus perpetuates wasteful use of natural resources. We are creating the challenges that are limiting our access to water and energy resources. Change is needed."

"While much of this change can take the form of water conservation in the home or more efficient practices in the agricultural and industrial sector, new policies from governments are needed to incite the adoption of these options."

It is great to learn that Canada has enough water for all of the needs of our residents. As individuals we have an obligation I feel to learn about ways we can conserve water in our daily life activities, and in doing so we will cut down on the need to use non-renewable fossil fuels, and reduce Canada's production of greenhouse gases!   

"Canadians use an average of 329 litres of water each day for household and gardening purposes.
  • Only 10% of our home water supply is used in the kitchen for drinking, cooking and washing dishes.
  • About 65% of indoor home use occurs in the bathrooms.
  • Toilets use 40% more water than needed.
  • The greatest water use occurs in the summer when about half to three quarters of treated water is sprayed on lawns." (source: )

Canadians need to cut down our use of water in our bathrooms and on our lawns!

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.