Keeping It Clean: 21st Century Water Management

It’s a given: As human beings, we are all utterly dependent on the availability of fresh, clear, potable water for our survival. As a result, the preservation of aquatic resources of all types is an interest in which all people should share. At the same time, however, the supply of potable water is so reliable in our society that most people scarcely give it a thought beyond being annoyed by growing water bills.

I bring this up because seemingly everywhere I turn these days I run into stories about contaminated runoff, pollution of groundwater resources and various threats to key aquifers and water supplies. As one of the better-informed human beings about these issues, I find myself wondering at times whether the future of watershaping might even be at stake – and if we or our kids might face a time when the very availability of potable water will be at risk.
This is why I’ve long felt that, as professionals working in an industry focused on the enjoyment and creative use of a portion of the world’s potable water, we have a sublime need to focus on this basic resource and a collective responsibility to do all we can to protect, defend and extend it.

On April 27, my curiosity was engaged when the federal government released “Clean Water: Foundation of Healthy Communities and a Healthy Environment.” In a nutshell, this 19-page document outlines a set of national objectives aimed at ensuring the future of our waterways, public water supplies and overall water resources.

The document mainly represents a philosophical updating of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and contains what seem to me to be sensible extensions of that 40-year-old mandate by including specific discussions of sustainability, the need for restoration of urban water systems and the development of incentives to encourage water conservation in agricultural and industrial settings.

I was particularly interested to note that the new framework specifically endorses restoration and better management of a range of iconic waterways, including Chesapeake Bay, the river deltas feeding San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes, the Everglades and even the immensity of the Gulf of Mexico.

The framework calls more generally on policymakers, consumers, farmers and business operators to protect their interests by saving water (and therefore money) through pursuit of 21st century approaches to water technology and management.

In general, I personally like the idea of preserving and enhancing access to aquatic environments. It also makes sense to me to call on both the government and the private sector to work together to preserve our water resources. In reading this government document, it becomes clear that the framework is not about starry-eyed environmentalism, but rather is aimed at helping us make smarter decisions regarding the management of this crucial resource.

I’d love to know what you think.

Eric Herman

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3 Responses to Keeping It Clean: 21st Century Water Management

  1. Susan Kappel says:

    I see you mention pollution of aquifers as a concern- is there a role for the watershaping/ landscaping industry in the current debate on the ‘fracking’ method of oil and natural gas extraction?

  2. I want to be part of this cause. I and my colleagues are inventors of patents that treat water in an eco-friendly way. I’ve been a pool contractor for the last twenty fives years as well. We’ve had the only 100% non-chlorine, -metal or -manmade chemical sanitizer in use for over seven years and are now pursuing wastewater treatment plants as well.

    Andy A Preiss

  3. Ouch! It hurts when you mention all of these items in a single article. It hurts even more because it hits home, my home , at the source. I live at 9000 ft in the Eastern Sierra’s where Mr Mullholland aqcuired all of the water rights for Southern California.
    Lets see, we have water rationing. Last year we had an unbelievable 700 inches of snowfall. The most recorded by Mammoth Mountain and the Los Angeles DWP. and yet I am not entitled to use the same amount that falls on my own propery without penalty.
    The DWP is entitled to ” Harvest” this water at the cost of the environment from the highest elevations, rob our eco-system. deplete the aquafierers from the Nevada boarder all the way to los Angeles. Completely deplete several “natural lakes”, create one of the top 10 most pollution causing problems in America while skirting any responsibility. It goes on and on ad nauseum.
    Owens Lake, AKA “Owens Dry Lake” is on the top 10 EPA list. The health risks are documented with the air stream depositing pollutants down to the Mexican boarder over 350 miles away. The L.A DWP has incurred fines in excess of $10,00.00 PER DAY for failure to re-water the lake. Their response among others is to set up a pipeline from the lake back up the valley to Bishop. Mandated parameters from lawsuits require that the DWP maintain a precise flow of water through the original Owens river. These were designed to re-water the lake and bring it back up to acceptable levels. DWP has eliminated this possibility by recycling the same water.
    For us here locally it’s an everyday item in the press. Ironically there are succeses coming from some real bizzar angles.
    The local American Indian Tribe of the Piutes have had some success in throwing a wrench in the machine by pressing their enheirited “rights”. TOUCH’E… there have been some small victories as a result, they do set a precident.
    Another is cattle ranching close to waters edge. The local joke is to call Crowley lake ” cow leak lake” ever so slowly we are making progress with this. together with the DWP we also must fight the BLM.
    You think the EPA is on our side? Then you hear that they successfully shut down a private aquaculture ie fish hatchery, due to pollution of the Owens river. Yet they say nothing of the ranchers down stream, the nitrates and algae coming from the aquaduct or the Edison dams and reseviours further up in the Sierra’s.
    Toss in another very bizaar twist. Being volcanic in nature, this area of the Sierra’s has natural pollutants as well. Cyanide, yep, naturally occuring in our groundwater. Nitrates, nitrites, sulphur, many heavy metals, including of course gold , silver manganeese, magneseuim on and on.
    Being involved in watershaping/water treatment for 30 years and counting I am personally a big fish in a small bowl. What I proffess and teach locally is using the technology that is most effective at the local level and that will also trickle on down to Cow Leak Lake and ultimately L. A. where they can consume what we leave.
    I have a multi faceted approach dealing at the resort pool and spa level. Educating not only the local technicians, second homeowners, homeowner associations but also the local Health Department and City and County officials as well. Primarily, I try and focus on efficiency, across the board from water maintenance to heating and equipment replacement. Design wise, I stress shallow pools specifically designed for purpose. Stone rules over tile, tile before plaster and coatings of any type dead last. Safety covers coupled with winter covers and solar. Yeah dude, solar with 700 inches of snow, it’s like going to the sun at night. Ever get sunburned at 9000′ in the middle of winter on a clear day. You will remember it!
    One very small item that dictates a huge return on investment and environment is the installation of Ozone technology. I am not talking mega bucks high end commercial units. I am speaking of small units like a Del EC 1 thru 4 on a condominium project.
    My experience and in the field use has revealed that this one unit can save thousands of dollars per year in operating expences, chemicals and equipment replacement.
    A quick example is the elimination of dumping a spa once a week due to abuse. extending this proceedure to every 2 weeks or 1 x per month is huge. At 9000 ft you loose 25% of your btu’s in the average pool heater. Dumping 100 degree water and replacing it with 45 degree water is several hundred dollars each time. not to mention chemicals and labor the strain on the sewage treatment plant…
    another is installing Sand filters with enhanced media like Zeobrite. YOUR wrong, sand filters save water money and chemicals. Did you forget that what we dump into the aquafier at 9000′ gets recycled at least 6 times before it reaches L.A. and every time it gets processed through a sewage treatment plant and natures sand filter process. We have one more ace, it also travels through the local geothermal plant and gets used to cool down the exchangers. Most of the already “treated water” is turned to steam, condensed and put back into the system.
    ORP sytems for chemical dispersement. Why even second guess.
    I could go on and on about our local water system, it’s challenges and what impact it has on all of us. Yes the small guy can do plenty, at the watershapes side or a consumers side.
    Where I live has been called Gods Country, I am fortunate to live here. I try and protect it the best I can, am I irrisponsible, yes, do I care, Yes. Does it hurt to see it abused, you betcha.
    We can’t give up, but, you can quit.. Quit the old technology, report the abuse, stop pissing and flushing, repair the leaky pool or spa, design with pride, educate the end user, make them aware. Grow a beard. Hairy legs are warm in the winter, we never see them here anyway. Beavers need water but not to shave, does yours 🙂

    Good health, safe travels.

    Stan Zielinski
    Zee’s WaterWorks

    FYI predictions of another heavy winter are forcast for the Sierra’s this year.
    There are 4 promentent seasons here. All are spectacular in thier own right.
    Check out Jim McCloskies blog on Yosemite. from Mammoth Lakes it’s just a mere 40 miles away a short 3 1/2 hour drive. Tioga Pass only open in the summer.
    LAX to here is 45 minutes and about $150.00 r/t
    L.A. to here via car 5 hrs
    Need some inspiration? R&R? geologists from around the world come here to teach and study.
    Lowest elevation to the highest in the U.S in 100 miles. Not too dramatic.

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