Friday, March 16, 2012

Water Meters...A Holistic Approach to Water Conservation

Copyright Plymouth Water
 Quite of few people have been asking for my opinion on the introduction of water meters in Ireland. To be quite honest I am not generally in favour of universal metering simply because of the cost. I would favour a temporary flat rate charge in areas where supplies are not at a critical level, but the introduction of meters in areas where alternative supply side investment is being planned, such as Dublin. However, I feel that the introduction of meters as planned is very crude and that a more integrated approach is needed for water conservation.  A more ambitious plan, which would secure our water supplies for at least the next fifty years, would be to include the householder more directly in this process. I would like to see every household have their supply pipe checked when the meter is installed for leaks, that it is not lead and that the electricity system is not earthed via the pipe. Also, every householder should be given the option to have all their taps and shower heads, and possibly also their toilets replaced with conservation low-flow units at a discounted rate to ensure maximum conservation of water. This installation of meters and household upgrades should be carried out by registered plumbers trained for this task. I would also subsequently like to see all households given the option to buy into some form of service arrangement so that they can have their household system checked regularly for leaks and repaired where necessary for a small annual fee. This would make water conservation savings well in excess of 40% possible as well as ensuring higher quality water. We need to tackle the lead issue, promote the sensible use of water and to reduce leakage on the supply side of the service pipe.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Paper on Co-treatment of Acid Mine Drainage with Domestic Wastewater

In a new paper published by Theresa Hughes of the Water Technology Research Group the concept of treating acid mine drainage with conventional domestic wastewater using activated sludge has been shown to be a viable option. Using a synthetic drainage toxicity tests showed that activated sludge can withstand high proportions of AMD (EC50 19–52% AMD by volume). Laboratory-based sequencing batch reactors were also used to examine the treatability of AMD. Results from OUR inhibition tests on acclimatized activated sludge indicated that over a relatively short timescale (21 days), the activated sludge microbial community can adapt to AMD sufficiently so that shock loads of metals and acidity do not significantly inhibit OUR.
Theresa A. Hughes and N. F. Gray (2012) Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Acid Mine Drainage to the Activated Sludge Process. Mine Water and Environment, 31, 40–52 (DOI 10.1007/s10230-011-0168-y) Link

Friday, March 9, 2012

National Ground Water Awareness Week

With all the attention Irish groundwater has been given over the years by the EPA here in Ireland, and it’s protection being cited as the major driver behind the introduction of septic registration and monitoring; it is surprising that we haven’t adopted the scheme run by the USEPA and organized a Ground Water Awareness Week. Forty-four percent of America's population regularly depends on ground water for its drinking water supply with in excess of 90 % of all public drinking water systems relying on ground water resources. So public awareness and participation in its protection is very important. The USEPA have set up a dedicated site for the event with loads of interesting downloads and activities. I particularly liked the Citizen's Guide to Ground Water Protection which describes how everyone can help to protect supplies and how to build your own aquifer in a cup. Check it out!   Link

National Ground Water Awareness Week runs from  March 11 to 17

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Water Restrictions Could Spread to Ireland

Shower timers can be tradtional egg timer
design or digital alarm systems
I am feeling rather depressed at not being issued with a waterproof four- minute egg timer for use in my shower as a simple tool to conserve water.  These are being issued throughout south-east England in an attempt to conserve supplies. South East and Anglia Water areas are especially at risk as are the midlands, including Birmingham.  However, with hosepipe bans inevitable, it appears that we are heading for a very dry year…as dry as 1975 which I remember very well.  It was the first and only time I have seen lawns and agricultural grassland simply wither and die.  Ireland may also be facing a similar situation this summer and as supplies are always at a critical level in the East, especially in the Greater Dublin area, it is perhaps time to seriously consider conservation measures and issuing waterproof egg timers here as well.