Who`s Water is it Anyway? - Robin Autenrieth

Who’s water is it anyway?
Robin Autenrieth, Ph.D., P.E.
Civil Engineering, TAMU
Environmental & Occupational Health, HSC
"Water and
air, the two
fluids on
which all life
have become
cans" Jacques
There is the same amount of water on Earth
as there was when the Earth was formed. The
water from your faucet could contain
molecules that dinosaurs drank.
Nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or
otherwise undrinkable. Another 2% is locked in ice
caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1% for all of
humanity’s needs — all its agricultural, residential,
manufacturing, community, and personal needs.
The average distance that women in Africa and
Asia walk to collect water is six kilometers.
In many countries, the water problem is the primary reason
people are unable to rise out of poverty. Women and
children bear the burdens disproportionately, often
spending 6 hours or more each day fetching water for their
families and communities.
Some 6,000 children die every day from disease
associated with lack of access to safe drinking water,
inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene - equivalent to 20
jumbo jets crashing every day.
In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more
children than all the people lost to armed conflict
since World War II.
A person can live about a month without
food, but only about a week without water.
The average total home water use for each person
in the U.S. is about 50 gallons a day.
The average cost for water supplied to a home in
the U.S. is about $2.00 for 1,000 gallons, which
equals about 5 gallons for a penny.
We never
know the
worth of
water till the
well is dry.
Water –
• Essential for all life on this planet
• Consider how it is used
– Humans
– Agriculture
– Industry
– ecosystems
A person’s needs
Think of the many
ways you use water
How inconvenient is
it to live without
access to water?
Agricultural needs
Agriculture is a major user of
ground and surface water
in the United States,
accounting for 80% of the
Nation's consumptive
water use and over 90%
in many Western States.
Irrigation - While just 16% of all
harvested cropland is irrigated,
this acreage generates nearly
half the value of all crops sold.
Agriculture accounts for over
80% of water consumed in the
Industrial & Commercial Needs
• Energy use
– Nuclear
– Biofuels
• Industry
• Waterways
– Recreational
– Large vessels
– Oil & gas
Ecosystem needs
• Watersheds
Far from being useless, disease- ridden places, wetlands provide
values that no other ecosystem can, including natural water quality
improvement, flood protection, shoreline erosion control,
opportunities for recreation and aesthetic appreciation, and natural
products for our use at no cost. Wetlands can provide one or more
of these functions.
• Wetlands –
water storage,
water filtration,
biological productivity
• More people, more needs, more water – faster flow
through or shorter detention in nature to clean water
• Connectedness of human activities
• If this precious resources is in limited supply
– Who is going to get what they need?
– Who is going to decide?
Politics and Policy
Globally access is
one of the biggest
• U.S. is seeing the tug
between agriculture
and urban demands
• Moving toward a
Pressures from People
• Urbanization
– Sewage w/drugs – caffeine, antidepressants, antibiotics,
• Otters w/cat scratch fever
– Point sources
– Nonpoint – runoff from cities and highways
• What goes on your yard ends up in your streams
– Stormwater runoff – release of feral butts
• Recreational
– Small boats exhaust into water, stir up sediments
• Shoreline development
– wetland destruction
– HABs, pathogens
Total water withdrawals by category,
Intensity of freshwater withdrawals
Typical municipal wastewater
treatment plant design
Typical industrial
treatment plant
Nature’s services
Emerging Contaminants
Veterinary &Human Antibiotics
Tetracyclines, Fluoroquinolones, Macrolides,
Sulfonamides, others
Human drugs
Prescription ,Non-prescription
Industrial & Household Wastewater Products
Insecticides, PAHs, Plasticizers, Detergent
metabolites, Fire retardants, Antioxidants,
Sex & Steroidal Hormones
Biogenics, pharmaceuticals, sterols
Pharmaceuticals in the
• What are the public health risks? For adults?
Children? Long-term and short-term risks?
– no evidence of adverse human health effects
– health risk from daily exposure to pharmaceuticals in
drinking water are at least hundreds of times lower
than the acceptable daily intakes
• Major sources
– Prescription & over-the-counter therapeutic
drugs; veterinary use; manufacturers; hospitals
– PPCPs have been identified in most places
Pressures from Agriculture
– Eutrophication
– Releases of antibiotics,
hormones, bacteria
• Intensive farming
• Runoff – nonpoint source
• Chemical use
Pressures from
Industrial/Commercial Operations
• Good job on controlling point sources
– Are limits low enough
– How clean is clean?
– Air deposition is an increasing problem
• Need for innovation in design and
– Life cycle analysis
– Minimize discharges of any kind
– Minimize wastes generated
– Sustainable practices
Evidence of environmental effects of
these pressures
• Invasive species
– Intentional and
– Plants, jellyfish,
• Global warming
– Direct effects
– Indirect effects
• Hermaphroditic
• Emergent
• ……to name a few
• Value water
• Water conservation
– Appliances: dishwashers,
washing machines, toilets,
– Target highest water
– Change landscaping
• Drip irrigation, indigenous
plants, rain harvesting, rain
• Reuse water
• Fix the infrastructure
• Smart Building
Grey water harvesting
Typical uses for
recycled/reclaimed water
• Surface irrigation of orchards and
• Landscape impoundments
• Groundwater recharge
• Wetlands, wildlife habitat, stream
• Industrial cooling processes
• Landscape and golf course
• Toilet flushing
• Vehicle washing
• Food crop irrigation
• Potable reuse (typically recharge
of groundwater or surface water to
augment drinking water supplies)
Desalination = removing
dissolved salts from water.
Most common desalination
technologies: thermal and
membrane technologies.
Thermal process heats saline
water to produce water vapor
which is then condensed and
collected as fresh water.
Membrane processes use
permeable membranes to
separate salts from water:
pressure-driven (reverse
osmosis or RO, the most
common method used in
desalination), or voltage-driven
Desalinated brackish water can
cost about $1.50 per 1,000
gallons, whereas desalinated
seawater may cost anywhere
from $2.50 to $3.00 per 1,000
gallons or more.
New technologies for
water purification
Improved irrigation practices
Organic farming
Farming where it makes sense
Protect watersheds
– BMPs
– Control runoff
Recycled water - used for
years to irrigate vineyards
at California wineries, and
this use is growing.
Solutions: Industry
• Reduce consumption
• Recycle
• Life cycle analysis
– Modification of process to
reduce consumption
– New metrics are needed
besides money
• Public perception and
expectations are driving
many changes
• Financial cost forces change
Solutions: Nature
• Watershed protection and effective management
• Need for agreements between states in use and
• BMPs
– Cities – highways
– Lands connect to water
– Nature’s services
• Community planning
– Rain harvesting
– Green spaces
Now is the time for innovation!
• Water purification
Reverse osmosis
Forward osmosis
Ceramic pots
Solar desalination
• Reduced water use
• Water recycling
• Watershed management
– Protection, preservation
• Infrastructure improvements
TAMU Water Research
Impact of hazardous wastes on waterways
Industrial process optimization
Petroleum salt waste technology development
Water purification technologies
GIS and modeling development
Sustainable urban development
Watershed management
Emergent contaminants
Biological processes
Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI)
– Funds research
– Extension service role
– USGS supported
TAMU Water Education
• Large community of students in science and engineering
– Highly interdisciplinary
– Undergraduate and graduate studies
• Degree Programs
– Civil Engineering – Environmental & Water Resources
– Biological & Agricultural Engineering
– Other Engineering Disciplines
– Water Management & Hydrological Sciences
– Ecosystems Science and Management
– Other Science Disciplines
• Institute for Public Health and Water Research (IPWR)
Diverting the Crisis
• Sustainable living
• Incentives
– Economic
– Political
– Populist pressure
You are on the front line
with education
• Water can be part of every STEM
– Physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology
• ….and more
– Politics, social justice, economics, human
• You have the next generation in your
classrooms every day.
• You have the power to change the world!
Spread the word
Thank you!
Additional background
Water – the universal solvent!
It is composed of two elements,
Hydrogen and Oxygen.
2 Hydrogen + 1 Oxygen = H2O
Water-related illnesses are the leading
cause of human sickness and death.
2.2 million people in developing countries,
most of them children, die every year from
diseases associated with lack of access to
safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation
and poor hygiene.
Half of the world's hospital beds are filled
with people suffering from water related
These statistics are generally accepted by United Nation, World Health Organization and Millennium Development
An estimated
25% of people
from cities in
purchase their
water from
vendors at a
higher price
than piped
water. In some
cases, at the
cost of more
than a quarter
of their
• In China, India and Indonesia, twice as many
people are dying from diarrheal diseases as
from HIV/AIDS.
• The average person in the developing world
uses 2.64 gallons of water a day. The average
person in the United Kingdom uses 35.66
gallons of water per day. The average person in
the United States uses between 100 and 175
gallons every day at home.
• In 1998, 308,000 people died from war in Africa,
but more than two million (six times as many)
died from diarrheal disease
Water Borne Diseases
• Waterborne diseases (the consequence of a
combination of lack of clean water supply and
inadequate sanitation) cost the Indian economy
73 million working days per year.
• It is estimated that pneumonia, diarrhea,
tuberculosis and malaria, which account for 20%
of global disease burden, receive <1% of total
public and private funds devoted to health
The Water Cycle
One-in-six people in the world lack safe drinking water.
That would be 1.1 billion people or roughly one-sixth of the
world's population.
Water Crisis – Water-related
• Water-related diseases
– Leading cause of death in the world
– 80% of all sickness in the world
– http://www.water.org/crisis/
• World Health Organization
says that most water projects
in developing countries no
longer work
Water Crisis – Facts
• The average American individual uses 100 to
176 gallons of water at home each day.
• The average African family uses about 5 gallons
of water each day.
World Resources Institute, 1998-99 and 1996-97.
"A Guide to the Global Environment."
• Water quality due to urbanization
– http://www.stormwatercenter.net/Slideshows/i
Water Crisis –
Texas conditions
• Water shortage in Texas –
agriculture (livestock and
crops) suffers along with
• Texas relies on groundwater,
especially in the west
– According to USGS, withdrawals
of groundwater at rates
exceeding those of natural
recharge have reduced supplies http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/fs/FS-043-96/#HDR02
• Conservation is necessary to
ensure sufficient water
amounts for the future
– Suggestions for personal
Good websites
• FAO Water
For teachers
Pharmaceuticals in the water!
What are the public health risks? For adults? Children?
Long-term and short-term risks?
According to the U.S. EPA, "to date, scientists have found no evidence of adverse
human health effects from [pharmaceuticals and personal care products] in the
environment." [www.epa.gov/ppcp/faq.html#ifthereareindeed]
A study expected to be published this summer "indicates that the health risk from
daily exposure to pharmaceuticals in drinking water are at least hundreds of times
lower than the acceptable daily intakes (ADI)." ADI is the amount consumed daily
without appreciable risk to health. The study's conclusion is that " U.S. drinking
water has no health risk and is safe to drink in spite of the detection of trace levels
of pharmaceuticals." [Source: Pharmaceuticals in US Drinking Water and Beyond,
Rengao, Ph.D., Manager of Water Quality and Research, Louisville Water Company,
referring to AwwaRF Study project #3085.]
[Source: www.epa.gov/ppcp/faq.html#quantities]
How did the pharmaceuticals get in the
The major sources of pharmaceuticals are:
– 1) human activity including prescription and over-the-counter therapeutic
– 2) veterinary drug use for both pets and farm animals; and
– 3) residues from pharmaceutical manufacturers and hospitals.
According to the U.S. EPA, "pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)
are found where people or animals are treated with drugs and people use personal
care products. PPCPs are found in any water body influenced by raw or treated
sewage, including rivers, streams, ground water, coastal marine environments, and
many drinking water sources. PPCPs have been identified in most places
sampled. People contribute PPCPs to the environment when:
– medication residues pass out of the body and into sewer lines,
– externally-applied drugs and personal care products they use wash down the
shower drain, and
– unused or expired medications are placed in the trash."
[Source: www.epa.gov/ppcp/faq.html#quantities]
Save water, save energy
American public water supply and treatment facilities
consume about 56 billion kWh/year—enough electricity to
power more than 5 million homes for an entire year. Letting
your faucet run for 5 minutes uses about as much energy as
letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.
By reducing household water use you can not only help
reduce the energy required to supply and treat public water
supplies but also can help address climate change. In fact:
– If one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted with waterefficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of
electricity per year—avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas
emissions. That is equivalent to removing nearly 15,000
automobiles from the road for one year!
– If 1 % of American homes replaced their older, inefficient toilets
with water saving models, the country would save more than
38 million kWh of electricity—enough to supply more than
43,000 households electricity for one month.
We pitch into landfills 38 billion water
bottles a year -- in excess of $1 billion
worth of plastic.
24% of the bottled water we buy is tap
water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi.

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