Yesterday (March 22, 2012) marked the 20th annual World Water Day, and we're taking the opportunity to think about some water issues today. With the economic problems we've faced in our local cities and municipalities in the past few years and with the strain of tightened budgets, it's easy to loose sight of how blessed we are to be working with the advanced water and wastewater systems we have. When we turn on the tap, we can feel confident that we can drink that water. When we flush the toilet, we know that the wastewater will be recycled and returned to an reusable state. We understand the processes and we work hard every day in water and wastewater treatment plants to ensure that the systems keep working.
But worldwide, these simple things aren't so simple. In fact, 1/8 people worldwide lacks safe drinking water and 2/5 people lack adequate sanitation (source). In water-stressed areas, getting water daily is the primary occupation: "millions of women and girls walk for hours every day to collect water for their households, and some of them put their very lives and physical safety at risk" (source). By 2025, the UN expects that 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with "absolute water scarcity" and 2/3 of the world's population could be living under water-stressed conditions (source). This water scarcity and lack of access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation leads to two million deaths a year, with more than 5,000 people (or four people a minute) dying each day from "causes linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene" (source). Most distressing, children, because of their more vulnerable position, make up large portion of the deaths.
While the crisis is real, the good news is that we can solve this situation. Unlike incurable diseases and intractable human conflicts, we have the technology and knowledge that would help many communities improve their access to safe water and sanitation. Things like freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters - nothing groundbreaking, just lifechanging. And we are making strides; "in the past 20 years, the UN Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of people living without access to clean, safe water has been reached, transforming the lives of two billion people" (source).
And if improving the everyday life of millions of people isn't enough, there is an economic incentive: every $1 invested in water, sanitation, and hygiene programs yields an average of $8 in increased economic productivity and averted healthcare costs (source). "Laurentine Yaméogo from Burkina Faso is proof of that. The extra time and energy she has since her village received clean water mean she can earn a living, making soap and growing peanuts to sell. “We used to get water from a steep pond,” she says. “We were afraid to collect the water because of the crocodiles. We had lots of illness, especially stomach problems. Often my children couldn’t go to school. Since the well was rehabilitated, we haven’t had these illnesses”" (source).
What can we do personally? This year the UN is focusing on reducing food waste (nearly 30% of all food is wasted!) because of the immense amount of water used to produce food. The CDC suggests that we do the following (source):
- Learn how much water is used to make the foods we eat every day and consume less water-intensive products.
- Be mindful of food waste – 30 percent of all food produced worldwide is never consumed.
- Encourage food producers to use less water in their food.
That's a great place to start. As professionals in water treatment, we might take it a step further. We can use our knowledge and experiences to help spread information about the importance of both water conservation and treatment. We can expand our view from our localized water system to the worldwide water system. Because after all, in the words of Leonardo da Vinci, "water is the driving force of all nature."
Have you seen the video The Story of Bottled Water? I remember watching it when it came out in school, and I just came across it again. With Water Day coming up this next week, I thought I'd share it. It's fantastic. Check it out!
Water treatment plants for the win!
With warm weather in sight, we are really gearing up for the warmer weather. Besides all the fishing that is bound to get done around here, we've got a ton of exciting projects planned for the next few months. We're ready to jump right in, and with an early and warm spring (that's not asking to much, right?) we're getting started. But this isn't just a season for big outdoor projects, but for lots of little work we do every year. Some of the things might be little, but it's important. This time of year, we're calibrating lots of equipment - flow meters, DO analyzers, gas detection systems, pH meters, ORP meters, scales, thermometers, and more. Calibrations, backflow preventer tests, lift station checks and pump checks may be routine, but they're valuable! Even when your meters are just slightly out of calibration, that can make a big difference in other areas, especially if you're using the meters for billing. A gas detection system out of calibration or with bad sensors that are often caught during calibrations can make for a very dangerous working environment. Lift station and pump checks are an important piece of preventative maintenance. In your lesser used stations, you may not even know something is wrong with a pump or the controls. Case in point: this week we did pump checks for a small customer with just two lift stations. The station was running and the pumps were pumping, but there was something wrong with the controller. Without getting to specific, the pumps were running way too much, and as a result experiencing way more wear and tear than necessary - a great way to shorten the life of your pumps! For small systems like this one, they didn't realize what was going on until we came out and did the check. By catching and fixing the problem now, a potential emergency situation that would have been both costly and stressful was averted. A couple things to note about our company. Our rates are very competitive and affordable, and we keep them that way. If we can, we really try to loop different systems up together to save time and money. Only want us to do calibrations? No problem. We'll work with you in whatever capacity you're interested in. We try to be as full service as you want. Really like a certain brand of equipment? We're able to work on everything, and we'll stick to what you have if you like it. There's no selling you something your not interested in. Our goal is to do a good job for you and leave you happy. Give me a call and get those routine things scheduled, so you can enjoy this season without worries.
This year the North Central Region had their annual winter operators meeting on Leap Day. For those of us who could make it through the great amounts of rain/sleet/snow (depending on where you were in the the state) we were receiving, it was a great day! The meeting was packed full of great presentations.You can check out the full synopsis of the meeting here. Something new that we're doing in the region is that we'll be making an effort to get out the presentations through the WWOA Published Papers website. This is going to be a great benefit to us all, whether you were there and wanted to review something, if you weren't able to make it but were interested in a topic, or whether you're scoping out ideas for future presenters. So check it out and let us know if it's useful to you! Here are the presentations that have been posted so far (you can click on the title to be taken to the presentation):
I had a great time and hope everyone was able to make it home safely. Rich, Lyle, and the rest of the crew at Plover did a fantastic job with everything. By the end of the day, there were rumors of 36 inches of snow way up north and it was still coming down! That was less than a week ago, and now they're calling for 50s this week! I think we're all ready for that!