Water Conservation - Essay Example

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The water supply conditions representing a drought for users in a certain location do not represent a drought for California because of defining drought should contain water users in a different part of California or for users with different water supplies; those individual users may use supplies such as rainfall, runoff, water in storage, or supplies from water sellers to characterize their water supply conditions…
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Water Conservation
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IX. Subtopic 5: Water Conservation Background         Drought can be considered as a condition of water shortage for specific user in a specific location. The water supply conditions representing a drought for users in a certain location do not represent a drought for California because of defining drought should contain water users in a different part of California or for users with different water supplies; those individual users may use supplies such as rainfall, runoff, water in storage, or supplies from water sellers to characterize their water supply conditions.
        Drought is a slow occurrence and it differs from typical emergency cases. While most natural disasters, like tsunami, happen comparatively fast that there is little time to prepare, droughts occur relatively slowly over a period of time. No single universal word can define when a drought begins or ends. However, the influences of drought can be initially felt by the amount of annual rainfall. Spontaneously, the impacts of drought increase with the time of a drought as supplies in lakes and groundwater are depleted.
California has experienced a severe drought for four years now. The drought is characterized by very high temperatures and very low precipitation. With a high population and a deepening drought problem, competition for water between nature, farms and cities in California is acute. A future El Nino prospect presents opportunities for California to shore up its water security. Harvesting of El Nino rain water is necessary so as to ensure that California is water secure. Currently, water conservation is a priority for California residents because the state cannot afford any water wastage owing to its acute severe drought situation.
Reduction of Use
The severe California drought has impacted water use and the government is also striving to overcome the drought situation. The state government has been at the forefront of encouraging residents to cut back on their water use. In April 2015, Governor Jerry Brown ordered urban residents to cut their water use by 25 percent. Communities that record high per capita use are most affected as government authorities are forcing them to reduce their daily water use by as much as 36 percent. Residents are required to slash their water consumption and households that defy the order run the risk of being fined by state authorities (, 2015). Cutting back on residential water use has been boosted by changing lifestyles of residents.
An average residential household uses approximately 180,000 gallons of water per year. Around 50% of total household water is used for landscape irrigation and the other is used indoors. The Figure 4. shows the typical household water used indoor for different purposes. Clothes washer, toilets, showers and faucets are the top water consumption sources. In order to reduce the wastes, the residents are responsive to the campaign encouraging them to replace lawn grass with drought-tolerant landscaping, take shorter showers and utilize water-efficient appliances in their households (, 2015). Also, water consumption is being slashed through quick discovery and fixing of water leaks. These are sacrifices that can help more residents get through the prolonged severe drought.
Figure 4. Typical household water use ( ELCO Water District.)
To estimate the potential for potable water savings in the residential sector, it is useful to consider the reuse of graywater and how it can be matched with water requirements. Light graywater can be used for laundry water and shower water. Also, heavy graywater can be used for dishwasher and faucets water. Obviously, recycling and reusing of light graywater would be adequate for outdoor activity uses. Using heavy graywater would meet up to 41% of water that is used in toilet but this heavy graywater should be sufficiently purified before applied. The estimated residential per capita potable water savings range from 16% - 40% for graywater uses. (Cohen, 2013)
Depending on the public participation in using recycled graywater uses and practicing at the community level, the total savings of 2,400 millions of gallons per day (MGD) are expected (Cohen, 2013). Also, the reuse of graywater can result in the potential pros that a lower cost would be expected than for centralized graywater treatment and distribution systems.
California has very productive land is often considered the fruit and vegetable basket of the nation. In fact California is the only producer of products such as almonds, arichokes, dates, raisins, kiwi fruits etc ( Department of Water Resources, 2015). California’s economy depends a lot on agricultural exports for example in 2013 its agricultural exports touched $21.24 billion (California Department of Food and Agriculture, 2015). 805 of California’s water supply is used for agricultural practices (Cooley, 2015). Thus, being in the fourth year of drought, farms and ranches in California are facing huge problems especially keeping up their productivity and also battling unemployment. In the graph below it is clearly indicated that the usage of water for agricultural practice is far higher than that allotted for urban and household purpose.
Figure 5: Shows water use in California from 1960-2010 for Urban and for Agricultural purpose (Cooley, 2015).
The USDA farm Service Agency besides helping farmers and other agricultural stake holder with loans, commodity price relief and disaster assistance also helps them adopt conservation practices.
In 2014 the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program that had been adopted which sanctioned almost $10 million to assist drought affected farmers. However in addition to this conservation practices are also being adopted since decreasing agricultural water use may be difficult. The Department of Water resources has both in-farm and state level water conservation methods. The in-farm conservation methods include scheduling of irrigation, improvements in the irrigation system and use of tail water return systems. AT the individual level some farmers have switched to drip irrigation and higher value crops to minimize water usage and maximize outputs. At the district level canal structure improvement and proper lining and using remote sensing to monitor water and control its use (Department of water resources, 2015) These changes and proper management is necessary to battle the drought but at the same time keep up the yield and the standards of production.
Water reduction requirements for California’s industries are captured in California’s Water Conservation Act of 2009. This action is to support the commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sectors efforts to enhance water use efficiency and support California’s sustainability in regarding to water supply. It is also to provide the CII sectors with information on water-saving technologies and best management practices (BMPs) applicable in the CII sectors. The industrial sector has a high potential to reduce water consumption through recycling and reuse. General options that the industrial sector can follow so as to slash water consumption include installing water-efficient equipment, reducing water flow, water recycling, and reuse and changing to waterless processes (, 2015).
Figure 6. Recycled Water and Alternative Supplies (, 2015).
Industries should also be encouraged to use non-potable water in their processes. Non-potable water is water that is not of drinking water quality, but it may still be utilized, depending on its quality, for many other applications. Non-potable water includes rainwater, steam condensate and water from the cooling towers. Recycled Water and Alternative Supplies Key issues in the CII Task Force Report state how non-potable water sources can be obtained and incorporated into CII applications. These comprehensive recommendations contain legislative, financial, regulatory, and operational mechanisms for increasing non-potable water use. The following actions are recommended to inspire more aggressive use of recycled water and alternative water supplies by CII businesses.
Cooling Tower
Increasing cooling tower efficiency is a good example of using non-potable water for water conservation. The purpose of a model cooling tower is to preserve water by reusing it via the cooled condenser. A volatilized cooling tower is a heat spurn appliance that rejects heat to the atmosphere by chilling water stream to a nether temperature. The tower takes the heat from water stream and spurns it to the air stream and chilling is moderately attained via the evaporation of a part of the water. The heat that moved increases the air temperature and relative humidity, and this air goes into the atmosphere where it vanishes. The chilled water is collected and cascaded back via the process to absorb more heat.
Figure 7. How cooling tower works(Hamon Group.)
Cooling towers differ in their cost, magnitude and complexity (Feeley et al. 142). Costs associated with this process of water conservation include the initial cost of installing the coolers, the fixed factory costs, makeup water costs and power costs among others. There are some that are small in energy and water consumption (kW and kL per week) and some that are very sizable in energy and water uptake and are distinguished (MW and ML per day), meaning they are cost attractive.
Improvement in regulatory and statutory requirements is essential in order to conquer barriers to potable and nonpotable recycled water use so that good public health and water quality are guaranteed. Also, plumbing should be updated periodically as well as industries should find alternative water supplies. In addition, government should assist industries financially and technically so that recycled water and alternative supplies can be used more frequently. The California Energy Commission (CEC) should consider the use of recycled water at power plants. Improving cooling tower efficiency and replacing water-cooled equipment are also important to reduce water consumption in the industrial sector. Thus, there are various possibilities to save water consumption in the industrial sector.
Elsewhere, agricultural production in California is wholly dependent on irrigation. California’s agricultural sector should adopt management strategies and technologies that contribute to water conservation and free up more water for environmental and urban uses. Conservation methods include irrigation scheduling, irrigation systems improvements and installing tailwater return systems.
Residential, agricultural and industrial rights
The severe drought being experienced in California necessitates responsible water use and adoption of efforts that will result in meaningful water conservation. Water is a resource that should be used sparingly and efficiently to ensure constant water security. California residents have a right to a constant supply of safe water but cutting back on their consumption volumes ensures the desired constant supply. Also, the agricultural sector has a right to access high quantities of water so as to realize higher yields and maintain production standards. However, the sector has potential to conserve water through the adoption of efficient strategies and technologies so as to make more water available for environmental and urban uses. Processors and manufacturers of materials also require huge quantities of water to ensure efficient production. However, industrial water processes avail numerous opportunities for water recycling and reuse thereby saving water. Therefore, agriculture, industry, and residential rights can be balanced with responsible water use and sustained conservation to ensure that California has a constant and dependable water supply.
Ethical issues concerning water conservation
Water needed for consumption, cooking and general cleanness is as the basis for survival must be available even for those who cannot afford to pay for it. Companies or industries that can conserve water are not supposed to sell it to the public because water is a gift. In contrast to many other rights, there should be limits concerning water as a public good. Water used in leisure activities like in swimming pools or car wash should not be given free as these activities are for commercial purposes. Water for such purposes should be a commercial good and should help in raising some of the costs incurred in the conservation of that water. This water should not be free. Obviously, no Court of Human Rights would oppose to municipal water schemes refusing the supply of water in swimming pools if there is a scarcity of water or when enough water for consumption is not available. Water acts as a source of human health, spiritual and moral living (Feeley et al. 324).  Water is also a channel of disease transmission. It is the basic fluid in the body that aids blood circulation and transmission of nutrients in the body. As such, clean and hygienic water should be available for people to consume.
The World Health Organization states that each person requires 15 litres of water for consumption, cooking and general hygiene.  Nevertheless, most people face numerous water shortages despite the fact that the world has more than sufficient water reservoirs. The problem therefore not water shortage of water, but poor management and should be well managed (Feeley et al. 490).
Although chilling towers are effective to heat spurning devices, they are culpable for the use of immense volumes of potable water and can take up to a half the total usage of a building or a site. The cooling towers of large industrial buildings and complex industrial processes can guzzle huge volumes of drinkable water over time. With the inflating cost of water and increasing concern respecting its future meagerness, cooling tower water uptake should and must be well managed and minimized where possible. Read More
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