Alaskan water to slake Mumbai's thirst?

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Company plans to ship Alaskan water to Asia
A tiny company has a big plan to ship billions of gallons of water from Sitka, a town of 8,500 located on Baranof Island off the southeast coast of Alaska, to a port south of Mumbai on India’s west coast. 

 Alaska Resource Management was formed by S2C Global Systems and True Alaska Bottling, which holds the right to 2.9 billion gallons a year of water from Sitka’s Blue Lake Reservoir for a penny per gallon. An S2C press release claims that the joint partnership will be distributing water in India within six to eight months. The water will move from Blue Lake Reservoir through an already-complete pipeline to the True Alaska facility in Sitka. From there, it will be loaded onto Suezmax vessels capable of holding 41 million gallons of liquids. After being transloaded into holding tanks, the water will be distributed in office-cooler sized bottles. 

The development was first reported by Circle of Blue, a journalistic outfit covering global water issues affiliated with the Pacific Institute, a non-profit think tank.
–The Atlantic 

DNR merger of water functions proceeds
The state Department of Natural Resources is merging two of its divisions, a change the agency says will result in better protection for the states lakes and rivers. 

The DNR is combining the divisions of waters and ecological resources into one as yet unnamed division that will focus on water quality.

Ecological Resources Division Director Steve Hirsch said the state is changing in terms of climate, population and development pressure. The DNR needs to be more responsive to those changes, he said.
–Minnesota Public Radio

 EPA begins water conservation campaign
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program is kicking off its national “We’re for Water” campaign to encourage Americans to make simple choices that save water. The program, in collaboration with its partner, American Water, will spread the word about saving water by traveling cross-country, stopping at national landmarks and educating consumers about WaterSense labeled products. 

WaterSense products use about 20 percent less water than standard models.

Consumers can start saving water today with three simple steps: check, twist and replace. 

  • Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank; if the color shows up in the bowl indicating a leak, fixing it may be as simple as replacing the toilet’s flapper.
  • Twist on a WaterSense labeled bathroom faucet aerator to use 30 percent less water without a noticeable difference in flow.
  • Replace a showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model that uses less water and energy, but still has all the power of a water-hogging model.

–EPA News Release 

Great Lakes states press for action on carp
Federal officials are not moving swiftly enough to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, say critics of the Obama administration’s plan to ensure the invasive species, recently found near Lake Michigan, is stopped. 

 “At some point we need to have a permanent solution,” said US Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) of Michigan at a subcommittee hearing on water and power. 

Senator Stabenow acknowledged that President Obama’s framework to fortify entryways to the Great Lakes systems is providing valuable information on the Asian carp’s movement, but she and other Great Lake lawmakers want a more sure-fire plan for keeping the fish, an aggressive eater known to devour local species, from harming local fisheries and thus damaging area economies. 

“Obviously, the fish are not going to wait for us. This is something we have to act on as quickly as humanly possible,” she said.
–The Christian Science Monitor

Saving water on the National Mall
The National Park Service released final plans for a makeover of the National Mall in Washington that includes new buildings, landscaping and a number of measures aimed at conserving energy and water. 

The $700 million plan is aimed at guiding long-term management of the mall, a 2-mile-long swath of lawns and walking paths that link the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and serve as the front yard to some of the nation’s most famous and most heavily visited museums and monuments. 

Sustainability is a theme for the plan, which includes measures for reducing water use at the Reflecting Pool, which has been described as a “giant bathtub” between the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial. Park Service spokesman Bill Line said the agency is proposing replumbing the pool with a system that would circulate, filter and recycle water to ease the strain on the District of Columbia’s water supply.
–The New York Times

EPA reviews dioxin limits
The Environmental Protection Agency is holding public hearings to review a proposed safe exposure limit for dioxin, a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor produced as a common industrial byproduct. 

It’s all but impossible to avoid exposure to dioxin. Research done by the Environmental Working Group has shown that adults are exposed to 1,200 times more dioxin than the EPA is calling safe — mostly through eating meat, dairy and shellfish — and mothers pass it on to babies in the womb and in breast milk. A nursing infant ingests an amount 77 times higher than what the EPA has proposed as safe exposure. (Formula is also widely contaminated with the stuff.)

Because dioxin is such a common pollutant — it’s a waste product of incineration, smelting, chlorine bleaching and pesticide manufacturing — its health effects are well documented. Fifties-era research linked high-level exposure to cancer and disease outbreaks. Newer studies have shown that ongoing low-level exposure can result in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, endometriosis, early menopause and reduced testosterone and thyroid hormones.
–The San Francisco Chronicle

Natural gas ‘fracking’ raises worries
American politicians often extol natural gas as abundant, cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels, and domestically produced, unlike Middle Eastern oil. But the process of extracting it is raising concerns among people with wells in their backyards. 

Anger and fear were on display at a public meeting convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Forth Worth, a gas-drilling hub. Dozens of local residents took turns at the microphone to voice concerns about potential contamination of drinking water. 

A film called “Gasland,” released on the cable channel HBO, showed people in drilling areas lighting their tap water on fire, as gas found its way into their water supply. 

At issue is a procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been adopted widely in the United States over the past 10 years to extract gas trapped in shale formations. It is just starting to spread to other parts of the world, including Europe, China and Australia.
–The New York Times

 San Diego water conservation is working
Mayor Jerry Sanders said that San Diego residents cut their water use by 11 percent during fiscal year 2010, exceeding the goal of 8 percent. 

“A year ago, I urged all San Diegans to make water conservation a conscious part of their everyday lives,” Sanders said. “They’ve clearly listened.” 

The numbers are significant because they show 12 consecutive months under heightened water restrictions.
–The San Diego Union-Tribune