We all can do our part for the planet

Water Re-Use Proposes Huge Gains for California Water Reserves

California’s use of recycled wastewater has increased since 2009, rising by nearly 45,000 acre-feet. The increase has been so substantial in fact, that in 2015, recycled water yield surpassed 700,000 acre-feet – an impressive amount of growth over a period of just six years. 

For some people, especially the many water recycling and reuse advocates, these numbers are disappointing. Some had hoped that the yield and the subsequent growth would have been much higher than was has transpired. Fortunately, the projection for future forward growth is estimated to exceed one million acre-feet of water in the coming years. This substantial yield is targeted to enhance the supply of drinking water as well as mitigate the need to use clean, potable water, to meet irrigation needs of agriculture and industry demands. 

Much to the pleasure of water recycling and reuse advocates, some information reflected in the less than anticipated water yield results survey may have been misrepresented. Taking into consideration all of the components reflects that California’s recent droughts and water conservation initiatives may have heavily skewed the reflection of the capabilities of the water recycling and reuse industry over the course of years past.

For instance, the recycling and reuse of water was measured during the years in which California suffered immense drought. The government mandated water conservation caused water usage to be reduced by an impressive 25%. However, the reduction of water use subsequently caused a reduction in the availability and supply of wastewater, thus reducing the overall possible yield of recycled wastewater inevitably. 

Also, a major factor in the halt of substantial growth in recycled water yield is due to the economic challenges the state faces. While water initiatives are well supported socially and from an environmental standpoint, financially the funds just haven’t been available to move forward. The support of the community and the knowledge for implementation will only take a project so far – eventually, the potential for growth and the final outcome is dependent upon the availability of finances sufficient to support the initiative. 

With the majority of water recycling and reuse projects taking place in seasonal irrigation efforts, the capabilities aren’t being used to their full potential – and water authorities and conservation advocates are aware. Taking main focus for future conservation endeavors is treatment and reuse of household potable water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene practice. Such usage is steady year-round, lending more potential to increase reuse yields. 

With initiatives for water conservation as valuable as they are to California’s future, one thing is certain: water recycling will become a common household practice. With sufficient funding and the community’s continued support, water recycling and reuse will secure a more solid and sustainable future for California for the foreseeable future and generations to come.  

Interested in learning more about advanced water treatment technologies that can help sustain water conservation efforts? Contact us today. 
 

Learn More

[Read More …]

Water Re-Use Proposes Huge Gains for California Water Reserves

California’s use of recycled wastewater has increased since 2009, rising by nearly 45,000 acre-feet. The increase has been so substantial in fact, that in 2015, recycled water yield surpassed 700,000 acre-feet – an impressive amount of growth over a period of just six years. 

For some people, especially the many water recycling and reuse advocates, these numbers are disappointing. Some had hoped that the yield and the subsequent growth would have been much higher than was has transpired. Fortunately, the projection for future forward growth is estimated to exceed one million acre-feet of water in the coming years. This substantial yield is targeted to enhance the supply of drinking water as well as mitigate the need to use clean, potable water, to meet irrigation needs of agriculture and industry demands. 

Much to the pleasure of water recycling and reuse advocates, some information reflected in the less than anticipated water yield results survey may have been misrepresented. Taking into consideration all of the components reflects that California’s recent droughts and water conservation initiatives may have heavily skewed the reflection of the capabilities of the water recycling and reuse industry over the course of years past.

For instance, the recycling and reuse of water was measured during the years in which California suffered immense drought. The government mandated water conservation caused water usage to be reduced by an impressive 25%. However, the reduction of water use subsequently caused a reduction in the availability and supply of wastewater, thus reducing the overall possible yield of recycled wastewater inevitably. 

Also, a major factor in the halt of substantial growth in recycled water yield is due to the economic challenges the state faces. While water initiatives are well supported socially and from an environmental standpoint, financially the funds just haven’t been available to move forward. The support of the community and the knowledge for implementation will only take a project so far – eventually, the potential for growth and the final outcome is dependent upon the availability of finances sufficient to support the initiative. 

With the majority of water recycling and reuse projects taking place in seasonal irrigation efforts, the capabilities aren’t being used to their full potential – and water authorities and conservation advocates are aware. Taking main focus for future conservation endeavors is treatment and reuse of household potable water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene practice. Such usage is steady year-round, lending more potential to increase reuse yields. 

With initiatives for water conservation as valuable as they are to California’s future, one thing is certain: water recycling will become a common household practice. With sufficient funding and the community’s continued support, water recycling and reuse will secure a more solid and sustainable future for California for the foreseeable future and generations to come.  

Interested in learning more about advanced water treatment technologies that can help sustain water conservation efforts? Contact us today. 
 

Learn More

[Read More …]

Managing water better is central to attaining our development goals

Rainwater harvesting for drip irrigation, Lake Victoria, Tanzania.
Photo credit: Wisions.net

Everybody depends on it; there is no substitute for it if we run out; in some places, it’s more valuable than oil. Freshwater is at the very core of human development: it is inextricably linked to food security, economic growth, and poverty reduction.

At face value, water use for food production today largely occurs at the expense of ecosystems, which is the number one reason for their rapid degradation. Already, a quarter of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the ocean.

According to a new study published by Nature Communications, about 40% of global irrigation water is used unsustainably and violates life-supporting environmental flows of rivers. To achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, these water volumes need to be re-allocated to the ecosystem, which puts a heavy strain on current agricultural water use: food production would drop by at least 10% on half of all irrigated land, with losses of 20-30% at the country level, especially in Central and South Asia.

At the same time, SDG 2 is dedicated to food security, and aims at doubling agricultural productivity. This twin challenge of reconciling water and food targets is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was brought to the highest political level earlier this month through the Hamburg G20 Leaders´ Declaration: “Towards Food Security [and] Water Sustainability : we are committed to increase agricultural productivity and resilience in a sustainable manner, while aiming to protect, manage, and use efficiently water and water-related ecosystems”.

Irrigation is central to feeding the world but often is plagued by excessive and leaky water use. On average, about 50% of irrigation water is lost in transfer and application. The new study also demonstrates that the transition to more efficient systems can substantially reduce water consumption per unit of crop growth, especially in countries with large-scale surface irrigation systems and unlined canals, like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, or Bangladesh. In Tajikistan, environmental flow constraints imply a 15% loss of food production, but a change from surface to sprinkler systems could compensate for such losses.

While irrigation can be improved, rainwater management is the largest untapped opportunity to tackle the water-food security challenge. Smallholder farmers still produce more than half of the world’s food; often it is not the total volume, but the unreliable and erratic rainfall that poses the greatest problems. Water harvesting, for instance, is an effective traditional, yet widely underexplored measure to collect and store excess rainwater for supplemental irrigation during dry spells. Conservation tillage and mulching – crop residues or plastic films covering the soil surface – are additional rainwater management techniques that help alleviate soil evaporation.

In semi-arid farming systems, such simple interventions can prevent crop failure, sustainably double crop yields, and strengthen climate resilience, directly improving livelihoods of the poor. While these traditional and affordable farming practices are sporadically applied – for instance in the African Sahel – they can be scaled up, particularly in regions where both population and food demand is growing fast.

Drip irrigation lines being installed for lettuce in the
Salinas Valley, California, US.
Photo credit: Tim Hartz, UC Cooperative Extension

In summary, the paper presents data showing that better irrigation systems can compensate for food production losses. Combined with optimizing the use of rainwater, food production can even see a 10% global net gain — with regional gains often over 20% — suggesting that the potential of farm water management interventions is well beyond what we expected.

In the context of the SDG discussion, however, these strategies remain largely unexplored and certainly merit higher political attention. In fact, farm water management turns out to be a pivotal target in supporting the implementation of the ambitious yet conflicting SDG agenda.

After all, water management alone will not suffice to attain both SDG 2 and 6. But mainstreaming simple water management measures can have sizeable effects, and the 2030 Agenda could start to fall into place without relying on future technology fixes.

Article: Jägermeyr, J., Pastor, A., Biemans, H. and Gerten, D. (2017): Reconciling irrigated food production with environmental flows for Sustainable Development Goals implementation. Nature Communications.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Bank.

[Read More …]

Managing water better is central to attaining our development goals

Rainwater harvesting for drip irrigation, Lake Victoria, Tanzania.
Photo credit: Wisions.net

Everybody depends on it; there is no substitute for it if we run out; in some places, it’s more valuable than oil. Freshwater is at the very core of human development: it is inextricably linked to food security, economic growth, and poverty reduction.

At face value, water use for food production today largely occurs at the expense of ecosystems, which is the number one reason for their rapid degradation. Already, a quarter of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the ocean.

According to a new study published by Nature Communications, about 40% of global irrigation water is used unsustainably and violates life-supporting environmental flows of rivers. To achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, these water volumes need to be re-allocated to the ecosystem, which puts a heavy strain on current agricultural water use: food production would drop by at least 10% on half of all irrigated land, with losses of 20-30% at the country level, especially in Central and South Asia.

At the same time, SDG 2 is dedicated to food security, and aims at doubling agricultural productivity. This twin challenge of reconciling water and food targets is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was brought to the highest political level earlier this month through the Hamburg G20 Leaders´ Declaration: “Towards Food Security [and] Water Sustainability : we are committed to increase agricultural productivity and resilience in a sustainable manner, while aiming to protect, manage, and use efficiently water and water-related ecosystems”.

Irrigation is central to feeding the world but often is plagued by excessive and leaky water use. On average, about 50% of irrigation water is lost in transfer and application. The new study also demonstrates that the transition to more efficient systems can substantially reduce water consumption per unit of crop growth, especially in countries with large-scale surface irrigation systems and unlined canals, like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, or Bangladesh. In Tajikistan, environmental flow constraints imply a 15% loss of food production, but a change from surface to sprinkler systems could compensate for such losses.

While irrigation can be improved, rainwater management is the largest untapped opportunity to tackle the water-food security challenge. Smallholder farmers still produce more than half of the world’s food; often it is not the total volume, but the unreliable and erratic rainfall that poses the greatest problems. Water harvesting, for instance, is an effective traditional, yet widely underexplored measure to collect and store excess rainwater for supplemental irrigation during dry spells. Conservation tillage and mulching – crop residues or plastic films covering the soil surface – are additional rainwater management techniques that help alleviate soil evaporation.

In semi-arid farming systems, such simple interventions can prevent crop failure, sustainably double crop yields, and strengthen climate resilience, directly improving livelihoods of the poor. While these traditional and affordable farming practices are sporadically applied – for instance in the African Sahel – they can be scaled up, particularly in regions where both population and food demand is growing fast.

Drip irrigation lines being installed for lettuce in the
Salinas Valley, California, US.
Photo credit: Tim Hartz, UC Cooperative Extension

In summary, the paper presents data showing that better irrigation systems can compensate for food production losses. Combined with optimizing the use of rainwater, food production can even see a 10% global net gain — with regional gains often over 20% — suggesting that the potential of farm water management interventions is well beyond what we expected.

In the context of the SDG discussion, however, these strategies remain largely unexplored and certainly merit higher political attention. In fact, farm water management turns out to be a pivotal target in supporting the implementation of the ambitious yet conflicting SDG agenda.

After all, water management alone will not suffice to attain both SDG 2 and 6. But mainstreaming simple water management measures can have sizeable effects, and the 2030 Agenda could start to fall into place without relying on future technology fixes.

Article: Jägermeyr, J., Pastor, A., Biemans, H. and Gerten, D. (2017): Reconciling irrigated food production with environmental flows for Sustainable Development Goals implementation. Nature Communications.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Bank.

[Read More …]

Managing water better is central to attaining our development goals

Rainwater harvesting for drip irrigation, Lake Victoria, Tanzania.
Photo credit: Wisions.net

Everybody depends on it; there is no substitute for it if we run out; in some places, it’s more valuable than oil. Freshwater is at the very core of human development: it is inextricably linked to food security, economic growth, and poverty reduction.

At face value, water use for food production today largely occurs at the expense of ecosystems, which is the number one reason for their rapid degradation. Already, a quarter of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the ocean.

According to a new study published by Nature Communications, about 40% of global irrigation water is used unsustainably and violates life-supporting environmental flows of rivers. To achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, these water volumes need to be re-allocated to the ecosystem, which puts a heavy strain on current agricultural water use: food production would drop by at least 10% on half of all irrigated land, with losses of 20-30% at the country level, especially in Central and South Asia.

At the same time, SDG 2 is dedicated to food security, and aims at doubling agricultural productivity. This twin challenge of reconciling water and food targets is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was brought to the highest political level earlier this month through the Hamburg G20 Leaders´ Declaration: “Towards Food Security [and] Water Sustainability : we are committed to increase agricultural productivity and resilience in a sustainable manner, while aiming to protect, manage, and use efficiently water and water-related ecosystems”.

Irrigation is central to feeding the world but often is plagued by excessive and leaky water use. On average, about 50% of irrigation water is lost in transfer and application. The new study also demonstrates that the transition to more efficient systems can substantially reduce water consumption per unit of crop growth, especially in countries with large-scale surface irrigation systems and unlined canals, like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, or Bangladesh. In Tajikistan, environmental flow constraints imply a 15% loss of food production, but a change from surface to sprinkler systems could compensate for such losses.

While irrigation can be improved, rainwater management is the largest untapped opportunity to tackle the water-food security challenge. Smallholder farmers still produce more than half of the world’s food; often it is not the total volume, but the unreliable and erratic rainfall that poses the greatest problems. Water harvesting, for instance, is an effective traditional, yet widely underexplored measure to collect and store excess rainwater for supplemental irrigation during dry spells. Conservation tillage and mulching – crop residues or plastic films covering the soil surface – are additional rainwater management techniques that help alleviate soil evaporation.

In semi-arid farming systems, such simple interventions can prevent crop failure, sustainably double crop yields, and strengthen climate resilience, directly improving livelihoods of the poor. While these traditional and affordable farming practices are sporadically applied – for instance in the African Sahel – they can be scaled up, particularly in regions where both population and food demand is growing fast.

Drip irrigation lines being installed for lettuce in the
Salinas Valley, California, US.
Photo credit: Tim Hartz, UC Cooperative Extension

In summary, the paper presents data showing that better irrigation systems can compensate for food production losses. Combined with optimizing the use of rainwater, food production can even see a 10% global net gain — with regional gains often over 20% — suggesting that the potential of farm water management interventions is well beyond what we expected.

In the context of the SDG discussion, however, these strategies remain largely unexplored and certainly merit higher political attention. In fact, farm water management turns out to be a pivotal target in supporting the implementation of the ambitious yet conflicting SDG agenda.

After all, water management alone will not suffice to attain both SDG 2 and 6. But mainstreaming simple water management measures can have sizeable effects, and the 2030 Agenda could start to fall into place without relying on future technology fixes.

Article: Jägermeyr, J., Pastor, A., Biemans, H. and Gerten, D. (2017): Reconciling irrigated food production with environmental flows for Sustainable Development Goals implementation. Nature Communications.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Bank.

[Read More …]

Reduce and Reuse: Surprising insights from UC Berkeley Professor Sedlak on what makes a city more water resilient

Cities are becoming thirstier  a 50 percent increase in urban water demands is anticipated within the next 30 years. Rapid urban population growth, economic expansion, and competing demands are increasing thirst and tightening the availability of water in areas where water scarcity is already a reality.
 
In a bid to develop concrete solutions for a water scarce future, the World Bank launched the Water Scarce Cities Initiative (WSC), to bolster awareness of integrated and innovative approaches to managing water resources and service delivery.     

Professor David Sedlak

Here, Professor David Sedlak, co-director of Berkeley Water Center at the University of California at Berkeley and Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), shares his thoughts on the initiative. Dr. Sedlak brings a wealth of experience spanning water quality, urban water issues, and environmental chemistry (learn more about his research and experience). He will continue the conversation on water-resilient futures alongside other experts and practitioners during the upcoming Water Scarce Cities panel discussion at Stockholm World Water Week.

 
Can you tell us about your background, including your experience with water and where it all began?
 
Sedlak: Growing up in New York and being educated in New York, Wisconsin and Switzerland, I had little experience with water scarcity prior to my arrival in California 23 years ago.  I immediately discovered that in California, every drop of water belongs to someone.  I also learned that California’s cities were pursuing innovative approaches for managing the water cycle: recycling wastewater, harvesting urban stormwater and pushing water use efficiency to new limits.  As a researcher interested in water quality and the development of more effective treatment systems, I was fascinated by the challenge of turning sewage and urban runoff into drinking water.  Within two years of arriving at UC Berkeley, I was studying new classes of drinking water contaminants that are unique to water reuse and working with forward-looking utilities to develop ways to ensure that potable water reuse systems would be safe.
 
How are you involved with Water Scarce Cities?
 
Sedlak: Over the last two decades, we have learned a lot about how cities can transition from the old model, in which cities invest in expensive, new sources of imported water, to a more resilient and sustainable approach.  For the past seven years, I have been part of the efforts of the US National Science Foundation’s ReNUWIt research center to translate the lessons learned in California’s cities to other parts of the United States.  Given the tremendous international needs, we have joined the Water Scarce Cities Initiative to share our experiences and learn from others who are struggling with water security. 
 
What have been the most surprising findings of your research?
 
Sedlak: When we started working on potable water recycling [converting sewage into drinking water], I thought that it was a niche approach to water supply that would not be widely adopted outside of Southern California in the foreseeable future.  But as more cities struggled with expensive or unreliable water supply projects just as the pioneering projects in California proved to be successful, interest in potable water recycling has grown.  In the United States, potable water reuse is emerging as one of the main options for securing reliable water supplies.  Our research has shown that we have the technological ability to reliably and safely convert sewage into drinking water.  Going forward, if we hope to expand beyond the world’s wealthiest coastal cities, we will need to figure out how to reduce the cost of the process while maintaining its reliability and safety.   
 
What is the one important piece of advice you would like to share with global Water Scarce Cities?
 
Sedlak: Creating sustainable water supplies that can meet the challenges of the 21st Century will require a change in mindset.  Our water institutions evolved during a period when water supply, urban drainage, and wastewater collection and treatment were handled separately and with little interaction with the community.  If we hope to take advantage of the latest technologies for enhancing water security, we need to rethink all aspects of urban water management.
 
What key challenges have you encountered in your work with urban water scarcity?
 
Sedlak: Among the many challenges that we have faced in our work on urban water systems, the fact that no two situations are exactly alike is probably the greatest challenge.  For example, a treatment wetland that is effective in one city cannot be built in another because the land is too expensive.  Or a reverse osmosis treatment process that was cost-effective in a coastal city is impractical 100 km inland because there it is too expensive to treat and dispose of the concentrate produced in the treatment process.  These technical challenges combined with the idiosyncratic differences among the institutions responsible for water management means that every project poses different challenges and requires the sharing of knowledge and experience.
 
What will you be discussing at the upcoming Water Scarce Cities panel in Stockholm?
 
Sedlak:  In Stockholm, I will discuss three distinctly different approaches to water reuse and urban drainage that we have studied.  After examining some of their strengths and weaknesses, I hope to initiate a conversation about how these might be applied to rapidly developing cities struggling to simultaneously address water, sanitation, and urban drainage needs.
 
How do you envision the future of Water Scarce Cities, and how do you think the Water Scarce Cities initiative contributes to global challenges? 
 
Sedlak: I am hopeful that the WSC Initiative will initiate an era of sharing and discovery that will facilitate the transition to more secure and sustainable water systems worldwide.  The world’s rapidly growing cities are going to make massive investments in water infrastructure over the next three decades.  With this Initiative, we have an opportunity to make sure that we build the infrastructure and institutions that we need for our future.
 
In your opinion, what role can experts like yourself play in working with water scarce cities in addressing the challenges they face?
 
Sedlak: In addition to sharing their experiences, experts can provide advice on proposed projects, enhance credibility, and assist in capacity building.  Increasingly, water professionals are recognizing that they are part of a global community.  By experiencing the challenges, successes, and failures that take place all over the world, we all play an important role in advancing new ideas.

Join the Water Scarce Cities panel discussion at Stockholm World Water Week!


Editor’s Note:
To learn more about how the innovative management of water scarcity in places like Malta can serve WB client countries, read more about WSC in Las Vegas and MaltaMarrakeshOrange County, and about the overall Water Scarce Cities Initiative and its events.

[Read More …]

Reduce and Reuse: Surprising insights from UC Berkeley Professor Sedlak on what makes a city more water resilient

Cities are becoming thirstier  a 50 percent increase in urban water demands is anticipated within the next 30 years. Rapid urban population growth, economic expansion, and competing demands are increasing thirst and tightening the availability of water in areas where water scarcity is already a reality.
 
In a bid to develop concrete solutions for a water scarce future, the World Bank launched the Water Scarce Cities Initiative (WSC), to bolster awareness of integrated and innovative approaches to managing water resources and service delivery.     

Professor David Sedlak

Here, Professor David Sedlak, co-director of Berkeley Water Center at the University of California at Berkeley and Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), shares his thoughts on the initiative. Dr. Sedlak brings a wealth of experience spanning water quality, urban water issues, and environmental chemistry (learn more about his research and experience). He will continue the conversation on water-resilient futures alongside other experts and practitioners during the upcoming Water Scarce Cities panel discussion at Stockholm World Water Week.

 
Can you tell us about your background, including your experience with water and where it all began?
 
Sedlak: Growing up in New York and being educated in New York, Wisconsin and Switzerland, I had little experience with water scarcity prior to my arrival in California 23 years ago.  I immediately discovered that in California, every drop of water belongs to someone.  I also learned that California’s cities were pursuing innovative approaches for managing the water cycle: recycling wastewater, harvesting urban stormwater and pushing water use efficiency to new limits.  As a researcher interested in water quality and the development of more effective treatment systems, I was fascinated by the challenge of turning sewage and urban runoff into drinking water.  Within two years of arriving at UC Berkeley, I was studying new classes of drinking water contaminants that are unique to water reuse and working with forward-looking utilities to develop ways to ensure that potable water reuse systems would be safe.
 
How are you involved with Water Scarce Cities?
 
Sedlak: Over the last two decades, we have learned a lot about how cities can transition from the old model, in which cities invest in expensive, new sources of imported water, to a more resilient and sustainable approach.  For the past seven years, I have been part of the efforts of the US National Science Foundation’s ReNUWIt research center to translate the lessons learned in California’s cities to other parts of the United States.  Given the tremendous international needs, we have joined the Water Scarce Cities Initiative to share our experiences and learn from others who are struggling with water security. 
 
What have been the most surprising findings of your research?
 
Sedlak: When we started working on potable water recycling [converting sewage into drinking water], I thought that it was a niche approach to water supply that would not be widely adopted outside of Southern California in the foreseeable future.  But as more cities struggled with expensive or unreliable water supply projects just as the pioneering projects in California proved to be successful, interest in potable water recycling has grown.  In the United States, potable water reuse is emerging as one of the main options for securing reliable water supplies.  Our research has shown that we have the technological ability to reliably and safely convert sewage into drinking water.  Going forward, if we hope to expand beyond the world’s wealthiest coastal cities, we will need to figure out how to reduce the cost of the process while maintaining its reliability and safety.   
 
What is the one important piece of advice you would like to share with global Water Scarce Cities?
 
Sedlak: Creating sustainable water supplies that can meet the challenges of the 21st Century will require a change in mindset.  Our water institutions evolved during a period when water supply, urban drainage, and wastewater collection and treatment were handled separately and with little interaction with the community.  If we hope to take advantage of the latest technologies for enhancing water security, we need to rethink all aspects of urban water management.
 
What key challenges have you encountered in your work with urban water scarcity?
 
Sedlak: Among the many challenges that we have faced in our work on urban water systems, the fact that no two situations are exactly alike is probably the greatest challenge.  For example, a treatment wetland that is effective in one city cannot be built in another because the land is too expensive.  Or a reverse osmosis treatment process that was cost-effective in a coastal city is impractical 100 km inland because there it is too expensive to treat and dispose of the concentrate produced in the treatment process.  These technical challenges combined with the idiosyncratic differences among the institutions responsible for water management means that every project poses different challenges and requires the sharing of knowledge and experience.
 
What will you be discussing at the upcoming Water Scarce Cities panel in Stockholm?
 
Sedlak:  In Stockholm, I will discuss three distinctly different approaches to water reuse and urban drainage that we have studied.  After examining some of their strengths and weaknesses, I hope to initiate a conversation about how these might be applied to rapidly developing cities struggling to simultaneously address water, sanitation, and urban drainage needs.
 
How do you envision the future of Water Scarce Cities, and how do you think the Water Scarce Cities initiative contributes to global challenges? 
 
Sedlak: I am hopeful that the WSC Initiative will initiate an era of sharing and discovery that will facilitate the transition to more secure and sustainable water systems worldwide.  The world’s rapidly growing cities are going to make massive investments in water infrastructure over the next three decades.  With this Initiative, we have an opportunity to make sure that we build the infrastructure and institutions that we need for our future.
 
In your opinion, what role can experts like yourself play in working with water scarce cities in addressing the challenges they face?
 
Sedlak: In addition to sharing their experiences, experts can provide advice on proposed projects, enhance credibility, and assist in capacity building.  Increasingly, water professionals are recognizing that they are part of a global community.  By experiencing the challenges, successes, and failures that take place all over the world, we all play an important role in advancing new ideas.

Join the Water Scarce Cities panel discussion at Stockholm World Water Week!


Editor’s Note:
To learn more about how the innovative management of water scarcity in places like Malta can serve WB client countries, read more about WSC in Las Vegas and MaltaMarrakeshOrange County, and about the overall Water Scarce Cities Initiative and its events.

[Read More …]

New Block. Now What?

If you’re in the exciting situation of having just purchased a block of land, we know you’ve got a lot on your mind. Your thoughts are racing ahead to building a family home, landscaping, adopting pets, having your family over for barbecues, afternoons spent on the verandah—BUT WAIT. There’s one thing you should consider before

[Read More …]

New Block. Now What?

If you’re in the exciting situation of having just purchased a block of land, we know you’ve got a lot on your mind. Your thoughts are racing ahead to building a family home, landscaping, adopting pets, having your family over for barbecues, afternoons spent on the verandah—BUT WAIT. There’s one thing you should consider before

[Read More …]

Release of 2017 EJSCREEN Update

By Matthew Tejada

One of the best parts about working for environmental justice at EPA is that we constantly have the opportunity to engage with people from all walks of life across the United States. We hear from county commissioners, road builders, city planners, elected officials, professors, tribal leaders, and of course we hear from community members and community based organizations on a whole host of issues impacting their health, their environment and their quality of life. Over the years, it has been heartening to hear what communities have learned, and could achieve, when they used EJSCREEN.

EJSCREEN was released to the public to provide a common starting point for engagement and mutual understanding when discussing environmental justice issues. It provides people with a tool to consider impacts, to ask better questions, and to bring a deeper level of transparency to important data. EJSCREEN’s use has continually grown since it was publicly released. In two years, it has been used over 200,000 times, and we have constantly worked to make sure that the tool evolves to meet the needs of its ever-expanding user base.

I am excited to announce that EJSCREEN has some important new enhancements.

  • We improved our water indicator to show water bodies potentially impacted by toxicity and water pollution.
  • At the request of many of our local government and planning users, we have added municipal level boundaries.
  • We have included new and improved layers on schools and public housing.

And we have of course updated all of the tool’s environmental and demographic indicators with the most recently available data.

Over the past year, we have focused on expanding the ways we engage with our users. We completed an in-depth user survey to gain greater insight for improving EJSCREEN in the future. We are also generating case studies so users can learn how others use the tool in their work.

The range of uses is impressive. In New Jersey, transportation agencies are using EJSCREEN to inform initial planning for new road projects. A North Carolina-based community group used EJSCREEN to identify air-quality concerns and potential environmental threats to adjacent neighborhoods. And EJSCREEN helped Coeur D’Alene, Idaho identify vulnerable areas for greater outreach and consideration. These examples point to why environmental justice is important and how making good data transparent puts environmental justice into action.

To help our many users understand the tool and its updates, we will be hosting a series of webinars with EPA EJSCREEN experts on August 21, September 7 and September 14.

We hope that you will test out EJSCREEN to see how it can serve your needs and provide us feedback on how we can continue to improve it. You can also subscribe to the Environmental Justice ListServ so that you can receive updates on our upcoming EJSCREEN activities.

We look forward to hearing from you – and in the meantime, we hope you find the new version of EJSCREEN as useful as we do!

About the Author: Matthew Tejada is the Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice.

[Read More …]