Saturday, November 22, 2008

Water, water, everywhere ...

And the Albatgore begins to be avenged.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
....................Samuel Taylor Coleridge
....................The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Yesterday was International Toilet Day. There is an advocacy group (what else) who want to stamp out flush toilets as destroying water. If there was ever an advocacy group that displayed its true ignorance to a greater extent, I am not aware of it.*
Water is not destroyed -- except in an occasional high school chemistry class -- by man or nature. Water may carry unpalatable things with it, even pollutants. But it is never irretrievable. Whether in its gaseous, liquid or solid state, it is still water.
The problem is distribution. Three quarters to seven eighths of the earth's surface is water, generally saline. If we need more, we only have to desalinate it. While that requires energy, that is a job best done by solar energy.
If you ever fly into San Francisco, at the south end of San Francisco Bay you will notice large square patterns in the water. These are evaporative salt ponds. They are filled with bay water which is allowed to evaporate to harvest salt. The water is allowed to escape and fall to earth as rain somewhere else. One possibility it to allow ocean water to flow by gravity to areas like the Salton Sea, Death Valley, or the eastern end of the Sahara Desert, or the Gobi and allow open evaporation to increase the rainfall in the downwind area. I can hear the Earth Firsters already -- "You are destroying nature". But the truth is we would not be. For nature has already been there and done that. The problem was that the source of water got blocked and the process ceased. We would merely be setting the earth's clock back and repriming its pump.
To a lessor scale, the evaporative process could be done in a closed loop system of contained evaporative ponds. This would be suitable for places like Dubai, and it would not surprise me to find these passive energy desalinators in use there already. After all, they have an enclosed ski mountain. To them this investment would be child's play. The byproduct salts would be added income.
And finally, there is the Gwinnett water system answer. Little spoken of because of human sensibilities or the lack thereof; but safe nonetheless. Thee sewage effluent is treated and released back into Lake Lanier where it it drawn tempered by fresh water, treated again and sent back to your home.

*With the possible exception of the environmental services person at the school system where I work who fell for my MSDS sheet warning of the dangers of Hydrogen Hydroxide (or as Neal Boortz calls it Di-Hydrogen Monoxide).

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