The Power of Water
It is hard to overestimate the power of water in nature. Spring flooding and tornados a mile wide in Oklahoma demonstrate nature’s power. Are these events a result of atmospheric warming creating more energy to fuel super cells and deluges or just natural weather fluctuations we do not understand? Certain aspects of weather we are beginning to understand and be able to predict which is great for people in harm’s way who get precious minutes of notice to get to safety. What impact will these changing weather patterns have on the U. S. and the world?
One of the ironic aspects of this temperature increase is that some geographic areas such as the central plains and Australia are actually getting drier and experiencing drought while others are getting wetter due to shifts in weather patterns. Populations have grown significantly in areas that historically have had scarce water resources and with changing patterns are getting drier. Places like Las Vegas have responded with aggressive water savings programs and San Diego is pursuing water desalination and groundwater recharge as viable alternatives. The Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted and impacting irrigation of farm lands from North Dakota to Texas. Water efficiency is certainly part of the solution, but so is rational national water policy that values water appropriately to drive water efficiency, recycling and reuse. New technology for irrigation, conservation and safe reuse are essential to preserve our water assets and meet whatever are the future water availability challenges.
Rain is a welcome sight in the spring which with warm weather initiates the growing season and rebirth of the earth. Storms are a natural result of this transition from winter to summer since seasonal weather patterns shift establishing fronts where severe rain and tornados can form. Stormwater runoff can create significant water quality and ecological issues. Agricultural concentrated animal feed operations (CAFO) and phosphorus runoff in the Great Lakes is linked to algal blooms in Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay. In many Great Lakes Cities with combined sanitary and storm sewers, storms result in combined sewer overflows that impact water quality. The Detroit Green Task Force Water Subcommittee recently toured the Rouge Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of the largest in the world. It was great to see the dedicated people who operate and manage that plant, the work they are doing to address this problem in their Plant and the plans they have to improve their treatment capacity and implement Green Infrastructure to reduce the amount of water runoff reaching the plant is important. CSO Management takes a combination of technology, infrastructure improvement and containment of stormwater through green or gray systems.
Governor Snyder reminded us this week after the Mackinaw Policy Conference at the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2013 Leadership Summit the important job each of us has in protecting and preserving the Great Lakes. Severe weather drives nonpoint source pollution from parking lots, roadways, industrial, municipal and utility sites. Great Lakes Water quality depends on our cleaning up the existing Areas of Concern (AOC), connecting rivers and wetlands, and reducing the legacy and current runoff sources of pollution. Progress has been made through the Great Lakes Restoration Act, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Army Corps of Engineers, businesses, municipalities and NGO’s, but much more needs to done to reduce this invisible source of lake pollution. Environmental Management Systems in companies, municipalities and utilities are addressing many of these concerns, but we need to educate and raise awareness of nonpoint source contamination impact on the Great Lakes.
Sustainable Water Works is committed to Sustainable Water Development including effective water policy, implementation of best management practices and creation of innovative products and processes to cope with water challenges from both nature and people.
The Power of Water