2014-11-25

Hotspot III: 60 percent of the Middle-East wastewater is discharged to Sea
(report)

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Approximately 40 to 60 percent of the region’s waste water is discharged into the sea when it could be stored and reused for other purposes, according to ARCADIS’ 2014 Middle East Aquifer Recharge report.“The region should use treated sewage effluent (TSE) as the precious resource it is and stop thinking of it as waste or a useless by-product,” said Titia De Mes, Water for Industry Leader, Middle East at ARCADIS. “TSE can and should be recycled, but this requires a change in thinking from being a choice and a cost to a necessity and investment – the optimal choice for the Middle East is aquifer recharge and recovery.”
The report reveals that merely 60 percent of TSE could be stored in the aquifer and used at a later time through various approaches, highlighting three different methods to aquifer recharge – aquifer storage and recovery; aquifer storage transfer and recovery and aquifer recharge and recovery. The different techniques involve water that is re-injected back into the aquifer for later recovery whether it is used by a single well, stored for a prolonged period and pumped through another well, enabling natural treatment or built with infrastructure or an existing landscape, such as a wadi, to enhance groundwater infiltration, also enabling natural treatment.
Furthermore, the report highlights the key discrepancy of TSE planning and implementation across the GCC countries. Abu Dhabi and Doha are currently pumping excess desalinated water in the aquifer to act as emergency storage whereas other key cities are still in the middle of research for the use of TSE.
De Mes continues, “The outcomes of aquifer recharge are good for countries economically and environmentally – saving costs, reducing the carbon footprint and improving the environment. Whilst the region is progressing, there is still an essential requirement for overcoming constraints – the next step involves engaging the regional water community, government bureaus and ministries and associated industries in a conversation that can lead to implementing rules and regulations.”
The Middle East has a large amount of prospects in the water space, especially when it comes to optimising TSE utilisation.  It is the duty of industry experts to drive environmental change, local development and ultimately create sustainable solutions. Read the entire report... and download the recent issue of the Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management.

2014-11-18

Change: Africa the forthcoming Leader in sustainable Energy Supply?

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The ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report, produced collaboratively by REN21 and ECREEE with lead authorship from the Worldwatch Institute, provides a regional perspective on the renewable energy and energy efficiency market and industry development in West Africa.
Launched on November 10, 2014, the report concludes that renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies have rapidly become cost effective solutions for overcoming the diverse energy challenges facing the ECOWAS region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo).
"It is clear that the ECOWAS Member States acknowledge the enormous potential that renewables and energy efficiency bring to accelerating energy access and meeting the region's energy needs," says Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21. "Through their commitment to developing renewable energy and energy efficiency across the region, ECOWAS Member States have taken a proactive role in ensuring their ability to address current energy sector challenges through the uptake of renewables, while simultaneously building a resilient system that prepares the region to effectively meet future energy needs and ensures sustainable energy access for all."
The Executive Director of ECREEE, Mahama Kappiah, says that non-availability of reliable and up-to-date energy information in West African countries constrains opportunities for investments in the energy sector. The ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report is therefore a "tool to make information on these activities in the ECOWAS region readily available to different stakeholders, as well as to local and global investors, developers, and project promoters by showcasing the ECOWAS region as one of the most active regions in Africa for the promotion of renewables and energy efficiency."
"This report presents countries undergoing rapid change, including in the energy sector," says Alexander Ochs, Director of the Worldwatch Institute's Climate and Energy Program. "While we are witnessing important projects throughout the region, most ECOWAS countries are just starting to make use of the enormous renewable energy potentials at their doorsteps-and on their roofs, too. With national policies and regional cooperation just taking shape, the big renewable energy boom in West Africa is yet to come. An economically, socially, and environmentally prosperous Africa can only be built on the foundation of a sustainable energy system."
The ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report, covers recent developments and trends in the energy sector in the ECOWAS region. It uses up-to-date renewable energy data, provided by network of contributors from and around West Africa, and is targeted at policymakers, industry, investors and civil society to enable them to make informed decisions about the diffusion of renewable energy. By design, the report does not provide any analysis or forecasts.

Some Key Findings

As of early 2014, the ECOWAS region had an installed capacity of 39 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected renewable electricity (excluding hydropower). The total installed renewable capacity, including hydro, was 4.8 gigawatts (GW).
Renewable energy technologies account for an estimated 28.8 percent of the region's total installed capacity of grid-connected electricity.
Regional new investment in renewable power and fuels from six leading ECOWAS Member States (Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) was USD 29.7 million in 2013, down significantly from the peak of USD 370 million in 2011.
Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, and Sierra Leone are regional leaders in the contribution of renewables to their final energy consumption-at 30.3 percent, 22.4 percent, and 19 percent, respectively, in early 2014-largely as a result of their use of modern biomass. Read on...

2014-11-13

Hot Spot II: Importing Drinking Water
Experiences from the US, South Africa and Australia

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Of all the clean water that our cities consume, roughly half of it flows down our sewers to sewage treatment plants where it is treated and released back to the environment. Conventional sewage treatment plants are designed to clean this water to a degree that can be discharged to rivers or the ocean without major environmental or public health impacts. In many parts of the world, sufficient fresh water supplies are increasingly difficult to source. Water stressed cities now import water, pumped over large distances at a considerable energy cost. Los Angeles, for example, imports 8.9bn litres of water a day to meet the city’s needs. Other cities, such as Ashkelon in Israel, are investing in seawater desalination to produce drinkable water. But this process is also highly energy intensive and its application limited to coastal locations. An alternative opportunity is to reclaim the water that we discharge from sewage treatment plants and treat that to a quality suitable for safe human consumption.
Reusing highly treated municipal sewage effluent is not a new idea. It has traditionally been achieved by a process known as indirect potable reuse (IPR). Examples of unplanned IPR exist throughout the world, such as in Adelaide. In such cases, conventional sewage treatment plants discharge effluents to rivers (in Adelaide’s case into the Murray-Darling Rivers), which are then used as drinking water sources for cities downstream. Alternatively, planned IPR usually involves treating the sewage effluents to a very high degree by advanced water treatment processes before releasing the purified water to a lake or groundwater system used for drinking water supply. While planned IPR has been an important water supply strategy for a number of decades, an alternative approach, known as direct potable reuse (DPR) is now rapidly gaining favour in countries including the US, South Africa and Australia. This process refers to taking treated municipal wastewater from a sewage treatment plant and, after further treating it to a level suitable for drinking, re-depositing it directly back into a drinking water distribution system. It differs from IPR by not discharging the water back to an environmental system, such as a river, lake or aquifer, prior to re-extracting and reusing it for drinking water supply. Until very recently, we used to point to the only one DPR scheme in the world, which has been operating in Namibia since 1968. But since 2011, new schemes have come online in the US at Cloudcroft (New Mexico), Big Spring (Texas) and Wichita Falls (Texas).
More significantly, a number of very large Californian cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento are now all actively considering the development of DPR schemes as a major contributor to future water supplies. Major changes to regulation (such as the California Water Code) have been implemented to facilitate these potential projects. This has been accompanied by significant research efforts on the part of the US water industry to address a number of key issues including enhanced treatment process reliability, regulatory requirements and issues related to public perception and acceptance. Read on... and download the latest Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management.

2014-11-07

Chinas Big Blue Challenge - Water

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A crisis is developing beneath China’s thirsty farms and cities, but  no one knows its full extent. With about 20% of the world’s population but only about 5–7% of global freshwater resources, China draws heavily on groundwater. Those reserves are being depleted at an alarming rate in some regions and are badly polluted in many others,  warned experts last week at the International Groundwater Forum 2010 conference in Beijing. The scientists also warned that confronting the crisis will require dealing with other short - ages: of knowledge and regulation. They say that a nationwide network to monitor ground - water levels is urgently needed, and that the government should  improve data sharing, cut water waste and help farming become more efficient. “The water crisis is not unique to China,” says Frank  Schwartz, a hydrologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, who was  at the meeting. “But the problem here is orders of magnitude bigger  than anywhere else.” Groundwater is used to irrigate more than 40% of  China’s farmland, and for about 70% of the drinking water in the dry northern and northwestern regions. According to Opportunities and Challenges in the Chinese Groundwater Science, a 2009 report  sponsored by China’s National Natural Science Foundation and China  Geological Survey (CGS), part of the Ministry of Land and Resources  (MOLR), the past few decades have seen groundwater extraction  increasing by about 2.5 billion cubic metres per year to meet these needs. Consequently, groundwater levels of the arid North China Plain have dropped as fast as 1 metre a year between 1974 and 2000, forcing people to dig hundreds of metres to access fresh water, according to research presented by Bridget Scanlon, a hydrogeologist at the  University of Texas at Austin. Already, water is scarce for two-thirds of China’s 660 cities, according to a survey by the Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR). And as China’s economy expands, so will  its demand for water. The country will consume 750 billion cubic metres of water a year by 2030, about 90% of the total amount of usable water resources in the country, projects the MOWR. Read on.... You may also download the recent issue of the Quarterly Notes on Sustainable Water Management - Q02/2014.

2014-10-24

_moneytalks IV
How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West

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The American West has a long tradition of conflict over water. But after fifteen years of drought across the region, it is no longer simply conflict: it is crisis. In the face of unprecedented declines in reservoir storage and groundwater reserves throughout the West, we focus in this discussion paper on a set of policies that could contribute to a lasting solution: using market forces to facilitate the movement of water resources and to mitigate the risk of water shortages. 
We begin by reviewing key dimensions of this problem: the challenges of population and economic growth, the environmental stresses from overuse of common water resources, the risk of increasing water-supply volatility, and the historical disjunction that has developed between and among rural and urban water users regarding the amount we consume and the price we pay for water. We then turn to five proposals to encourage the broader establishment and use of market institutions to encourage reallocation of water resources and to provide new tools for risk mitigation. Each of the five proposals offers a means of building
resilience into our water management systems. 
Many aspects of Western water law impose significant obstacles to water transactions that, given the substantial and diverse interests at stake, will take many years to reform. However, Western states can take an immediate step to enable more-flexible use of water resources by allowing simple, short-term water transactions. First, sensible water policy should allow someone who needs water to pay someone else to forgo her use of water or to invest in water conservation and, in return, to obtain access to the saved water. As a second step, state and local governments should facilitate these transactions by establishing essential market institutions, such as water banks, that can serve as brokers, clearinghouses, and facilitators of trade.
Third, water managers should support and encourage the use of market-driven risk management strategies to address growing variability and uncertainty in water supplies. These strategies include the use of dry-year options to provide for water sharing in the face of shortages, and water trusts to protect environmental values. New reservoir management strategies that allow for sophisticated, market-driven use of storage could build additional resilience into water distribution. 
Fourth, states should better regulate the use of groundwater to ensure sustainability and to bring groundwater under the umbrella of water trading opportunities. Groundwater reserves are an important environmental resource and provide strategic reserves against drought, but proper management of groundwater is also critical to the development of markets. Markets cannot work effectively if users can delay facing the realities of local water scarcity through the unsustainable use of an open-access resource.
Finally, strong federal leadership will be necessary to promote interstate and interagency cooperation in water management, as well as to coordinate essential state-level gathering of data on water supplies and water use. In particular, the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior plays a central role in water projects across the West, and its actions will be essential in confronting the crisis. Read on...

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2014-10-23

_moneytalks III: water-quality trading may reduce river pollution
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Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at lower cost than requiring the facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, a new Duke University-led study finds. The scale and type of the trading programs, though critical, may matter less than just getting them started. "Our analysis shows that water-quality trading of any kind can significantly lower the costs of achieving Clean Water Act goals," said Martin W. Doyle, professor of river science and policy at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "All other things being equal, regulators should allow trading to occur at the river basin scale as an appropriate first step. Larger spatial scales may be needed later if abatement costs increase," said Doyle, who also serves as director of the water policy program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The new study was published this month in the journal Water Resources Research. It comes at a time when regulators are debating the optimal scales and types of trading programs to reduce water pollution in some of the nation's largest and most troubled watershed systems, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which spans 64,000 square miles in parts of six states. In water-quality trading programs, facilities facing higher pollution control costs are allowed to meet their regulatory obligations by purchasing pollution reduction credits from other polluters in their trading market. The end result—improved water quality—is the same, but the time and money needed to achieve it is less. New programs are often delayed because regulators want to get as many things right up front as they can. Concerns include how big or small a trading market should be, whether it should include interstate trading, and whether it should be based on one-for-one trades or trading ratios. Getting these details right is vital, Doyle said, but it's also important not to let them bog down a program's launch. "Our research very clearly shows that while achieving an optimal scale is best, any approach will yield gains over no trading at all," he said. "So the point is to allow trading." To conduct their analysis, Doyle and his team developed a coupled hydrologic-economic model that measured the impacts of one-for-one trading and trading ratios among wastewater treatment plants in river basins draining into North Carolina's Albemarle-Pamlico Sound, the nation's second largest estuary. They assessed the pros and cons of each program type over the entire length of the basins, not just downriver or in the estuary. They also looked at how costs were affected when market scale was expanded from sub-basin to basin-wide, and then to a larger area that included adjacent basins extending into Virginia. "As the markets got larger, facilities had more opportunities to find suitably sized trading partners who could help them reduce compliance costs," Doyle said. "But as we exceeded the basin scale, we reached a tipping point where risks increased so that pollution from many sources could end up in just a few places, creating pollution hotspots." The study found only modest differences in the effectiveness of programs allowing one-for-one trading versus trading ratios. The optimal scales of markets remained the same under either scenario. Read on...


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2014-10-15

_smoke on the Water: Freshwater Shortage Will Double Climate
Change’s Impact on Agriculture (Study)

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_Experts expect global warming to have a negative impact on crop yields, but shortages of water for irrigation could make for double the trouble, according to a study published yesterday.

As described in ScienceDaily, “given the present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural models estimate that climate change will directly reduce food production from maize, soybeans, wheat and rice by as much as 43 percent by the end of the 21st century. But hydrological models looking at the effect of warming climate on freshwater supplies project further agricultural losses, due to the reversion of 20 to 60 million hectares of currently irrigated fields back to rain-fed crops.”

The study’s lead author, Joshua Elliot, said the analysis is the first of its kind to feature an in-depth comparison of agricultural and hydrological models, which resulted in dramatically different results from other research.
“It’s a huge effect, and an effect that’s basically on the same order of magnitude as the direct effect of climate change,” Elliott, a research scientist with the Computation Institute’s Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP), Argonne National Laboratory, is quoted as saying. “So the effect of limited irrigation availability in some regions could end up doubling the effect of climate change.”
The “good” news, if any, is that some areas will most likely see more precipitation, which could mitigate some of the effects of shortages, the study says. Read on ...

2014-10-07

Hot Spot I: China's Water Scarcity is Virtual

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Water footprints and virtual water flows have been promoted as important indicators to characterize human-induced water consumption. However, environmental impacts associated with water consumption are largely neglected in these analyses. Incorporating water scarcity into water consumption allows better understanding of what is causing water scarcity and which regions are suffering from it. In this study, we incorporate water scarcity and ecosystem impacts into multiregional input-output analysis to assess virtual water flows and associated impacts among 30 provinces in China. China, in particular its water-scarce regions, are facing a serious water crisis driven by rapid economic growth. Our findings show that inter-regional flows of virtual water reveal additional insights when water scarcity is taken into account. Consumption in highly developed coastal provinces is largely relying on water resources in the water-scarce northern provinces, such as Xinjiang, Hebei, and Inner Mongolia, thus  significantly contributing to the water scarcity in these regions. In addition, many highly developed but water scarce regions, such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin, are already large importers of net virtual water at the expense of water resource depletion in other water scarce provinces. Thus, increasingly importing water-intensive goods from other water-scarce regions may just shift the pressure to other regions, but the overall water problems may still remain. Using the water footprint as a policy tool to alleviate water shortage may only work when water scarcity is taken into account and virtual water flows from water-poor regions are identified. Read on... and read also...

2014-09-25

Shared Water Resources in Western Asia: an Inventory Approach

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The sharing of water resources has been an influential feature affecting life, society and development in the Arabian Peninsula, the Mashrek and Mesopotamia for millennia. Historically, communities living in these arid and semi-arid regions always shared the water of rivers, springs and wadis, although this was more out of necessity than idealism. Water resources were traditionally managed at the local level, with tensions emerging between Bedouins, shepherds, pastoralists and
growing urban centres. Water management and irrigation schemes – such as the underground aqueducts or falaj networks found in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – sustained different communal needs for dozens of centuries, while the marshes of Mesopotamia, the Tigris floodplain and the Jordan River Valley were cultivated and sustained successive civilizations since earliest of times. Hillside terraces from Lebanon to Yemen meanwhile demonstrated the early integration between water and land resources management schemes and local efforts to safeguard water for productive purposes. With the expansion of empires and the changing patterns of commerce between east and west, tradesmen tried to tame the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers for navigation purposes prior to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, albeit with limited success. Following the creation of modern nation states in Western Asia starting in the first half of the 20th century, most of the region’s major rivers and many aquifer systems were found to cross political borders.

However, their management did not emerge as a major problem until increasing freshwater scarcity exposed dependencies on internationally shared water resources. During the second half of the 20th century, technological transformations, demographic changes, natural resource extraction, ethnosectarian
conflicts and development needs fundamentally altered the way that water resources were managed internally and addressed in international relations. Largescale irrigation projects boosted investments in and socio-economic dependencies on the water and agricultural sectors. The damming of major rivers for hydropower generation and the expansion of irrigation networks created new economic opportunities upstream, while causingnegative impacts on downstream water users and ecosystems in neighbouring countries, especially during the filling of reservoirs. Smallscale dams on tributaries and in catchment areas also impacted downstream flows, and affected the availability and seasonality of water in intermittent streams. Political conflicts and the occupation of Arab lands also prevented access to surface and groundwater resources, which had traditionally sustained the livelihoods of rural communities. Meanwhile, changing development paradigms and political uncertainties prompted the adoption of national policies to pursue food security through food self-sufficiency in many Western Asian countries, which led to the further extraction of surface and groundwater resources through the subsidization and centralization of largeand small-scale agricultural production.

Considerable quantities of surface water were thus abstracted and increasingly diverted out-of-basin, while return flows from waterintensive agricultural projects polluted rivers and groundwater reserves. Water quality deteriorated, most notably through increased salinity, further affecting domestic and agricultural users downstream. In addition, exponential population growth rates throughout the region caused a sharp rise in demand. Concurrently, agricultural production flourished with the introduction of groundwater pumps in the 1960s and 1970s, which resulted in the intensive development of groundwater resources. However, the arid climate and low rainfall levels meant that groundwater abstraction quickly exceeded recharge, which in turn led to the drying up of springs, streams and shallow groundwater bodies, some of which had flowed across national borders. Further advances in drilling and pumping technology allowed for the exploitation of deep groundwater reserves in the Arabian Peninsula, which were created thousands of years ago and are nonrenewable under current climatic conditions. These deep fossil aquifers are often highly productive and constitute a unique kind of shared water resource in the region. Today, water scarcity levels regionally are well below the water poverty level of 1,000 m3 per capita. However, population growth rates and rural-to-urban migration patterns continue to fuel the expansion of the industrial and service sectors and to increase demand for freshwater resources, as well as water supply and sanitation services. Political unrest and the Arab-Israeli conflict also impede opportunities for constructive dialogue on shared water resources. Meanwhile, the agricultural sector remains the largest consumer of freshwater resources and shared water resources in the region. Climate variability and climate change evidenced by droughts and flash floods, in addition to the unsustainable abstraction of groundwater resources have affected agricultural productivity and further fuelledsocial unrest.

Some states in the Western Asia region have been able to adapt to this condition by increasing investments in desalination, dams, diversions and non-conventional water resources to enhance supply in the face of increasing demand. However, these supply side interventions have often been pursued unilaterally with limited consultation or coordination with downstream users within a shared basin. Water use efficiency improvements have also been pursued, but only to a moderate extent, despite the shared benefits that could be generated by reducing freshwater consumption. As such, dependency on shared surface and groundwater resources persists in the face of growing water scarcity and will continue to be a dominant influence on development policy and inter-state relations in Western Asia. Read on...

2014-09-22

_silenced
Setbacks in Sustainability Communication.

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This is the two hundredth _kt75 | post since February 2010 and with a daily hit rate between 100 and 200 unique visitors the _kt75 | mirror appears to be a well-accepted source of information in a rather narrow niche: sustainable development with a focus on water management. However, even reliable entities like the _kt75 | mirror seem to be subject to some kind of censor-ship. Just recently the LinkedIN channel of the _kt75 | mirror was temporarily shut-down because of the following baseless accusations:
  • phishing
  • multiple contacting
  • spamming
Phishing was never done via _kt75 | mirror, neither multiple contacting. Remains 'spamming'.
Now, it might be worth to clarify that the _kt75 | mirror is operated without any kind of (3rd party) advertisement. The only service _kt75 | mirror offers (free of charge) is information supply. This effort is performed with highest dedication and accuracy. The intention is to provide reasonable, in-depth insights at the right time.
In this context it might be worth to buttress the seriosity of _kt75 | mirror with a few figurer, accordingly
That the LinkedIN channel of the _kt75 | mirror was subject to a temporary shut-down because of the above accusations is also perceived as a bad sign, a setback in free and liberal sustainability communication. If there is someone around not satisfied with something then this should be addressed directly. Accusations as the above can easily lead to some sort of censorship can definitely help preventing the dissemination of important information. Even more - free and liberal debates ask for sound ethics, accusations cannot be part of this.

Despite of the above accusations, the _kt75 | mirror will be operated as before and interested stakeholders are very welcome to explore its services. This might, however, imply that the the LinkedIN channel of the _kt75 | mirror will be shut-down definitely. In this case you are very welcome to sign-up for the _kt75 | first reader and/or join the platform Sustainability2.0.
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