Clear Definition of “Climate Change” Needed for Productive Discussions to Occur

Equivocation on the word “Climate Change” has contributed greatly to the angst and disputes over “climate change” and “anthropogenic global warming”. Reaching a consensus before the science has been considered is certainly the opposite of the way good policy discussion should proceed. To some readers the call for clear definitions might sound obfiscatory but indeed it is very important. Meaningful progress cannot be made unless it is clear what exactly is being discussed.

“From the start, Richard Lindzen, former professor of meteorology at MIT, said about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis: The consensus was reached before the research had even begun. The IPCC virtually ignored evidence that showed the hypothesis wrong, including failed predictions. Instead of revisiting their science, they moved the goal posts from global warming to climate change and recently climate disruption. Mainstream media have aided and abetted them with misleading and often completely scientifically incorrect stories. These are usually a reflection of their political bias.” Click here for a good review by Dr. Tim Ball.

A Life-Cycle Approach to Urban Water Scarcity Pricing

O Sahin, RA Stewart, MG Porter. Water security through scarcity pricing and reverse osmosis: a system dynamics approach.  In Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, Journal of Cleaner Production 2015-02-01 88:160-171

Water supply and demand planning is often conducted independently of social and economic strategies. There are presently no comprehensive life-cycle approaches to modelling urban water balances that incorporate economic feedbacks, such as tariff adjustment, which can in turn create a financing capacity for investment responses to low reservoir levels. This paper addresses this gap, and presents a system dynamics model that augments the usual water utility representation of the physical linkages of water grids, by adding inter-connected feedback loops in tariff structures, demand levels and financing capacity. The model, applied in the south-east Queensland region in Australia, enables simulation of alternatives and analysis of stocks and flows around a grid or portfolio of bulk supplies including an increasing proportion of rain-independent desalination plants. Such rain-independent water production plants complement the rain-dependent sources in the region and can potentially offer indefinite water security at a price. The study also shows how an alternative temporary drought pricing regime not only defers costly bulk supply infrastructure but actually generates greater price stability than traditional pricing approaches. The model has implications for water supply planners seeking to pro-actively plan, justify and finance portfolios of rain-dependent and rain-independent bulk water supply infrastructure. Interestingly, the modelling showed that a temporary drought pricing regime not only lowers the frequency and severity of water insecurity events but also reduces the long-run marginal cost of water supply for the region when compared to traditional reactive planning approaches that focus on restrictions to affect demand in scarcity periods.

Arsenic and Fluoride are Removed by Aluminum Hydroxide

R Liu, L Zhu, L Zana, L Huachuna, H Liu, J Qu.Simultaneous removal of arsenic and fluoride by freshly-prepared aluminum hydroxideIn Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects 2015-02-05 466:147-153

The coexistence of arsenic (As) and fluoride (F) in some underground waters creates challenges in the simultaneous removal of these two toxic elements. This study investigates the effect of fluoride at different molar ratios of fluoride to arsenic (As) (RF:As) on the removal of arsenic [i.e., arsenite (As(III), arsenate (As(V)] by freshly-prepared aluminum hydroxide (AlOxHy), and that of arsenic at different molar ratios of arsenic to fluoride (RAs:F) on fluoride removal. In single pollutant solutions, the removal of neutral As(III) is independent on pH at RAs(III):Al≤0.70:1 and is much lower than that of As(V). The optimum As(V) removal is at weak acidic pH of 5 and 6 whereas that of fluoride is at pH 7 and 8. Fluoride at RF:As(V)>35:1 significantly impairs the removal of As(V) with more significant inhibition at elevated pH. The negatively-charged As(V) inhibits fluoride removal to a larger extent than the neutral As(III) does. The adverse effect of fluoride on As(V) removal is mainly attributed to the lowered ζ-potential, which is controlled by the combined effects of pH and RF:As(V). In relative terms, the removal of fluoride is highly pH dependent, although RAs(V):F does show some effects. The oxidation of As(III) to As(V) and the adjustment of pH to weak acidic range is well preferred to achieve the simultaneous removal of As and F by AlOxHy adsorption.

Paper is here (fee).

Household Water Treatment Effectiveness Found to be Inconsistent

Rosa G, Huaylinos ML, Gil A, Lanata C, Clasen T. Assessing the Consistency and Microbiological Effectiveness of Household Water Treatment Practices by Urban and Rural Populations Claiming to Treat Their Water at Home: A Case Study in Peru. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 18;9(12):e114997. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114997.

BACKGROUND: Household water treatment (HWT) can improve drinking water quality and prevent disease if used correctly and consistently by vulnerable populations. Over 1.1 billion people report treating their water prior to drinking it. These estimates, however, are based on responses to household surveys that may exaggerate the consistency and microbiological performance of the practice-key factors for reducing pathogen exposure and achieving health benefits. The objective of this study was to examine how HWT practices are actually performed by households identified as HWT users, according to international monitoring standards.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a 6-month case study in urban (n = 117 households) and rural (n = 115 households) Peru, a country in which 82.8% of households report treating their water at home. We used direct observation, in-depth interviews, surveys, spot-checks, and water sampling to assess water treatment practices among households that claimed to treat their drinking water at home. While consistency of reported practices was high in both urban (94.8%) and rural (85.3%) settings, availability of treated water (based on self-report) at time of collection was low, with 67.1% and 23.0% of urban and rural households having treated water at all three sampling visits. Self-reported consumption of untreated water in the home among adults and children <5 was common and this was corroborated during home observations. Drinking water of self-reported users was significantly better than source water in the urban setting and negligible but significantly better in the rural setting. However, only 46.3% and 31.6% of households had drinking water <1 CFU/100 mL at all follow-up visits.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results raise questions about the usefulness of current international monitoring of HWT practices and their usefulness as a proxy indicator for drinking water quality. The lack of consistency and sub-optimal microbiological effectiveness also raises questions about the potential of HWT to prevent waterborne diseases.

Click here for article (Open Access).

Volcanic Eruptions “Force” Changes in Climate

“Mount Gamalama in North Maluku province of Indonesia erupted at 13:41 UTC on Thursday, December 18, 2014, sending ash and rocks 2 km into the sky and forcing the authorities to close an airport and issue warnings to planes. Nine people were injured while running to escape the eruption. One person is still unaccounted for, authorities said.” article here

Review of USEPA Secondary Drinking Water Standards

Dietrich AM, Burlingame GA. Critical Review and Rethinking of USEPA Secondary Standards for Maintaining Organoleptic Quality of Drinking Water. Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Dec 17.

Consumers assess their tap water primarily by its taste, odor and appearance. Starting in 1979, USEPA promulgated Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (SMCLs) as guidance for contaminants with organoleptic effects and also to maintain consumers’ confidence in tap water. This review assesses the basis for the 15 SMCLs (aluminum, chloride, color, copper, corrosivity, fluoride, foaming agents, iron, manganese, odor, pH, silver, sulfate, total dissolved solids, zinc) and summarizes advances in scientific knowledge since their promulgation. SMCLs for aluminum, color, pH, silver, sulfate, total dissolved solids, and zinc are appropriate at current values and remain consistent with sensory science literature. Recent advances in sensory and health sciences indicate that SMCLs for chloride, copper, fluoride, iron, and manganese are too high to minimize organoleptic effects. The SMCLs for corrosivity and foaming agents may be outdated. The SMCL for odor requires rethinking as the test does not correlate with consumer complaints. Since current stresses on source and treated waters include chemical spills, algal blooms, and increased salinization, organoleptic episodes that negatively impact consumer confidence and perception of tap water still occur and may increase. Thus, adherence to SMCLs can help maintain production of palatable water along with consumers’ confidence in their water providers.

Click here for paper (fee).

Water Quality of Rainwater Runoff from Green Roofs

Kena Gong, Qing Wu, Sen Peng, Xinhua Zhao, Xiaochen Wang Research on the characteristics of the water quality of rainwater runoff from green roofs. Water Science & Technology; 2014, Vol. 70 Issue 7, p1205-1210

This paper investigates the water quality characteristics of rainwater runoff from dual-substrate-layer green roofs in Tianjin, China. The data were collected from four different assemblies and three types of simulated rains. The storm-water runoff quality was monitored from early June through late October 2012 and from July through late November 2013. The results revealed that the runoff water quality would be improved to some extent with the ageing of green roofs and that the quality retention rate better reflected the pollutant retention capacity of the green roof than the pollutant concentration in the runoff water. The investigation clearly demonstrated that green roofs also effectively reduced the chemical oxygen demand and turbidity value and neutralised acid rain to stabilise the pH of the runoff.