What will happen with Japan’s water?

Spinach and milk from two regions near Japan’s stricken nuclear plant are showing radiation levels above the legal safety limit, a Japanese official said Saturday. Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said a person would have to drink the milk for a year to ingest as much radiation as in a CT scan. A year of the spinach would amount to about one-fifth of a CT scan. “It’s not like if you ate it right away you would be harmed,” Edano told reporters in Tokyo as Japan’s nuclear crisis entered its second week. “It would not be good to continue to eat it for some time.”
Also worrisome were the traces of radioactive iodine detected in tap water in Tokyo, 220 kilometres from the overheating nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture, and in several other prefectures, although again the government played down any safety concern. The iodine in Fukushima tap water tested above safety limits on Thursday, the government said, but had fallen to within legal limits by Saturday.
For more information about radiation in Japan’s water supply, visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110325/wl_time/08599206118300
Brian O’Neill

Landscape Water Conservation

One of the most wasteful areas of water use is irrigation. When irrigation systems malfunction or work improperly, the solution typically is to irrigate for longer durations. Irrigating landscapes for longer durations typically appears to fix the problem, but it is merely a way of masking the real problem: wasted water.
Irrigation systems are designed to provide water based upon plant water needs and the microclimates around them. This is done by creating a hydrozone, or an area of plants with similar water needs. For example; this is done by using irrigation stations for trees, separate stations for planters, and other stations for high water use flowers. By doing this, landscapers can prevent low water use plants from being over-watered.
In order to reduce wastewater in your landscape, it is recommended that you observe your irrigation system while it is running. Here are some of the most common irrigation problems:
Broken sprinkler heads: Broken sprinkler heads are most easily discovered when geysers of water spout up in the landscape. Some broken sprinkler heads are broken at the base, so they are not as dramatic. These broken sprinkler heads cause puddles of water around the sprinkler heads.
Broken pipes: Since nearly all irrigation pipes are run underground, they can be very difficult to detect when broken. However, broken pipes often create large areas of mud or moist dirt. This is caused by water leaking out of the pipe and seeping upwards to the surface.
High pressure: Some irrigation systems function with high pressure. This creates inefficiencies because the high pressure creates smaller droplets to be emitted from sprinkler heads. This is a problem because smaller droplets of water evaporate much more quickly than “normal” droplets. The easiest way to determine if your pressure is too high is by seeing mist blowing while the irrigation system is on.
For more water conservation tips, visit http://www.waterwise-consulting.com
Brian O’Neill

Where does groundwater come from, and where does it go?

Simply put, groundwater is water that is stored underground in aquifers—dirt, sand, and rock. This water is stored between the particles of matter underground. These moist areas can be found close to the Earth’s surface or as many as thousands of feet underground.

Then you discover a spring or other form of water seemingly coming from nowhere, the source is often groundwater. This underground water makes its way into natural lakes and rivers and is often pumped out by wells for drinking and irrigation supply.

Over half of U.S. residents get their drinking water from groundwater.

As more residents populate the United States, more water is pumped out of underground aquifers. One of the problems arise when runoff from agricultural and industrial waste infiltrates and pollutes our groundwater. However, the biggest and most dangerous threat is over-drawing this limited resource.

Over-drawing our groundwater is such a dangerous problem because farmers are given subsidized water at low prices. This in turn negates the push to conserve water and save water. As a result, many farmers use inefficient irrigation techniques simply because they are easier and cheaper than retrofitting their equipment and saving money.
Brian O’Neill

What are some common sources of water pollution?

Although just about any substance can pollute water, there are a few sources of pollution that create the greatest risk—or add the greatest volume of pollutants to our waterways. These sources include: runoff, wastewater, air pollution, and eroded soil and nutrients. Each of these sources contribute different pollutants to our waterways, and they all have differing affects.
Runoff: Runoff can flow from both residential/developed and agricultural or farmlands. This occurs when a pollutant or contaminant gathers on the ground substrate and is carried to nearby waterways by rainwater. Sometimes the sheer volume of pollutant is enough to transport it to waterways, in the case of leaking oil drums or other liquid substance.
Wastewater: This is a growing problem as more industries generate products that require water to be used in the manufacturing process. Wastewater can be anything from water used to cool machinery to chemical and water slurries used to erode metals or other substances in high-tech industries. This is most commonly piped directly into local waterways, where it flows into streams or lakes and has a direct (and usually fast) affect on the surroundings.
Air pollution: This is a threat that is not commonly thought of in terms of water pollution. However, air pollution causes pollutants to enter our waterways. For example, a manufacturing plant can release a certain amount of pollutants into the air, and those pollutants are carried by the wind. Either the pollutants can settle out of the air over time, or rain can hasten the process and carry the pollutants directly into waterways.
Eroded soil and nutrients: Some might ask: “What is the problem of soil entering out waterways? It is naturally found in lakes and other bodies of water.” While this is true, the problem arises when excess soil and nutrients are introduced to our waterways. Natural cycles already incorporate soil and nutrients entering our waterways—over time, these nutrients and soils are either washed away, or they build up and a lake might become a field in time. The problem with too much soil matter is that it causes excess plant growth which takes nutrients away from fish, which are needed to maintain healthy hydrological systems
For more information on water-related issues, visit http://www.waterwise-consulting.com
Brian O’Neill