Waterblogged.info’s New Year’s Resolutions!

Like the “Fifty things to do before you die” lists, New Year’s resolutions are driven by a nagging, narcissistic dissatisfaction that feels an awful lot like guilt. But the “fifty things” lists are more ambitious than the typical beginning-of-the-year vows to go to the gym five times a week and organize your iTunes library. They’re usually based on the premise that you’re, if not affluent, at least comfortably middle-class, and are convinced that no life is well lived until one has, for example, scaled K2, jammed on a violin over the Hungarian minor scale with a blown-away Yo Yo Ma, taught English to the grateful inhabitants of Lesotho, made perfect soft-boiled eggs at several different altitudes, and impressed residents of Beijing with flawless Mandarin.

Of course, the must-do lists of the billion or so poor of the planet are no doubt less ambitious but more immediate: Get access to clean water before I die, eat before I die, get decent medical care before I die, etc. Everything’s relative.

This year, I’ve decided to come up with a hybrid of the two sorts of list, water related of course: Ten New Year’s Resolutions to Do Before I Die. Rather than just bore the reader with my self-involved and possibly grandiose goals, I’ve linked each item to a compelling–and in some cases fascinating–bit of information about everyone’s favorite sugar-free beverage.

  1. Collaborate with Dr. Peter Gleick to put a stop to the gargantuan, insane, destined-to-fail desalination project moving relentlessly forward in Southern California.
  2. Help Matt Damon move mountains.
  3. Get myself appointed Obama’s special peace envoy to broker settlements to supposedly imminent water wars.
  4. Work feverishly with NASA scientists to figure out how to efficiently transport moon water to Earth.
  5. Save the salmon!
  6. Fish for Asian carp in the Great Lakes.
  7. Work with Willie Nelson to develop an iPhone app version of his home water-from-air system.
  8. Jet-ski the Golden Age Lake!
  9. Join up with Food & Water Watch. (This may be the only attainable goal on this list.)
  10. Not go for months without posting.

Breaking news: Company that builds desalination plants defends desalination!

[Below, following this absurdly long note, is a comment on Waterblogged.info’s 3/16/09 post, Desalination: No silver bullet in the Middle East, which links to a National Geographic story that is essentially a skeptical–and reasonable–look at desalination as the solution to the constant droughts and the shortage and maldistribution of water in the Middle East. The email address of the person who left the comment indicates that he/she works for Water Consultants, Inc–a company that can hardly be considered a disinterested party when it comes to debating the pros and cons of industrial-scale desalination.

The editor in chief of Waterblogged.info realized that our response was so incisive, informative, wise, and witty–not to mention self-important, defensive, derogatory, snide, and judgmental–that it could easily be repurposed as a Waterblogged.info entry! Cut and paste and take the rest of the day off! See end of post for more exciting desal info!]

Thanks to the Pacific Institute, http://www.pacinst.org/

Thanks to the Pacific Institute, http://www.pacinst.org/

The corporate shill says:

Your link to the referenced NatGeo article is broken. Pity I would have loved to read who the so-called “experts” were that think that way about desalination plants. Most desalination plants are good environmental citizens, properly regulated and diligently operated where ever they are needed to be a valuable asset to a communities balanced portfolio of water supply options.

Thanks to the PR flak from Water Consultants International, Inc–a company whose business is, per its site, “planning, design and implementation of advanced water treatment (AWT), and membrane and thermal desalination projects”–for pointing out the broken link, which I fixed.

Thanks also for the breathtakingly perfect example of corporate-speak–marred only by garbled syntax, a misspelling, and at least one punctuation and one grammatical error. Not bad for 60 words.

It would be fair to take Waterblogged.info or any other blog to task for referring to “experts” without citing anyone specific. But, National Geographic? Cut me a break.

Hey dude, you want “experts” without the quotation marks? Well, I’ll give you experts without the quotation marks: the fine folk at the Pacific Institute (PI), headed up by Peter Gleick,  one of the nation’s foremost authorities on water. In the institute’s recent report, Desalination, With a Grain of Salt: A California Perspective, the researchers’ take a moderate and cautious position on desalination, one most likely held by the experts dismissed by our pen-pal from WCI. From PI’s site:

The potential benefits of ocean desalination are great, but the economic, cultural, and environmental costs of wide commercialization remain high. In many parts of the world, alternatives can provide the same freshwater benefits of ocean desalination at far lower economic and environmental costs. These alternatives include treating low-quality local water sources, encouraging regional water transfers, improving conservation and efficiency, accelerating wastewater recycling and reuse, and implementing smart land-use planning.

For a humongous amount of information on desal–both fer and agin’–go to Waterblogged.info’s page Getting serious with Waterblogged.info: desalination. There you will find links to papers, articles, videos, and pdfs, that will help you be the center of attention at the next beer-bash when desalination inevitably comes up. A good beginning is a mutimedia presentation by journalist and water expert, Cynthia Barnett, A Tour of Tampa Bay’s Desalination Plant.

Waterblogged.info’s summer reading list! Part 1

All titles are linked to Powell’s Books of Portland, Oregon. Powell’s listings have a synopsis of each book.

Every Drop for Sale by Jeffrey Rothfeder–Excellently researched, passionately written. A great introduction to the global water crisis. We’ve referenced it in It’s a drought, stupid! pt. 3: Georgia and the Chattahoochee River and Controlled Fury.

When the Rivers Run Dry
by Fred Pearce–Another fine and passionate introduction to global water woes and worries by a noted expert. We cited it in our second post Ten not-so-fun facts about water, The amazing disappearing lakes, pt. 2: The Aral Sea, Dam Demolition Derby: three down, 74,997 to go, and Desalination back in the day.

The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin–All, (maybe more than you need) to know about the Great Lakes. From the synopsis: Will we divert water from the Great Lakes, causing them to end up like Central Asia’s Aral Sea, which has lost 90 percent of its surface area and 75 percent of its volume since 1960? We’ve cited it in numerous posts, most directly in The Great Lakes Water Wars!, wherein we discuss the dubious practice of referring to water disputes as wars.

To the Last Drop: A Novel of Water, Oppression, and Rebellion
by Andrew Wice–Texas invades New Mexico in this prolific young author’s fictional account of a fiercely fought water war in the Southwest. Those who like fun and facts mixed with their fiction will definitely not be disappointed. Download Pt. 1 from the book’s site.

Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. by Cynthia Barnett–Barnett is a noted journalist and water expert. From the publisher’s comments in Powell’s synopsis:”With lively prose and a journalist’s eye for a good story, Cynthia Barnett offers a sobering account of water scarcity problems facing Florida–one of our wettest states–and the rest of the East Coast.”

Waterblogged.info: A mini-desalination unit for your tears

Herein, sorely vexed by the fact that an entire hour has been stolen from our lives by a magical process called daylight saving, we sullenly and lazily provide links to a lot of bad news about water, complete with peevish commentary.

Water makes US troop in Iraq sick.
images.jpgThanks to Dick Cheney (Where is he now, anyway? We should never let him out of our sight.), G.I.’s in Iraq are exposed to water so contaminated that it makes them sick after using it for personal hygiene or laundry.


California farmers planning to sell “their” water.
farmer-duck.jpgFrom the economics blog, The Bayesian Heresy:

With water becoming increasingly precious in California, a rising number of farmers figure they can make more money by selling their water than by actually growing something.

Yes, we know, WTF?? Rather than toiling in their fields, many California farmers will soon be spending their days sipping avocado gimlets on their spacious redwood patios overlooking their fallow acres, iPhones to their ears, entertaining competing bids for their subsidized water from drought-panicked Southern California municipalities.

The water is subsidized so the indolent hayseeds can raise crops at competitive prices, not so they can become languorous water magnates. It’s not “their” goddamn water to do with as they please. If it’s more money they want, why can’t they grow marijuana or opium poppies like other struggling farmers around the world?

California avocado growers forced to restrict crops.
avocado-friend-or-foe.jpgAn avocado shortage could cause riots in California. The money graf (at least in respect to why Southern California should quickly be put under martial law):

The tree cutting comes as residents in Los Angeles, San Diego and most other area cities are still getting 100 percent of the water they need, with most of it going for lawns and landscaping.

“People need to know that in Southern California, water is a precious resource. But they’d rather water their lawns and cut off the farmers,” said Laura Blank, executive director of the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau.

Tri-state water war heats up!
wildsling.jpg Because states are run by developers and their elected minions, water disputes are not settled in a rational manner beneficial to the states’ residents. They are instead fought out in court in an endless series of expensive lawsuits and counter-suits on the taxpayer’s dime solely to determine which group of snorting water hogs will have first dibs at the trough. If you think any of this water war business has anything to do with anything but screwing the many for the benefit of a very few, well, we over here at Waterblogged.info—where today’s motto is A tool and his pool are soon parted—just don’t know what to tell you.

Kansas City resident finds water on the bottom of her dishwasher between washings!
967-handy_andy_ho_0449f_03-09-2008_qcl9267embeddedprod_affiliate81.jpg Plumbing advice columnist Andy, of Andy’s Pipe Dream in nearby Lenexa, urges bringing in a professional to handle the problem! Waterblogged.info smells a conflict of interest coming up from that drain.

Southeastern Water War: Tennessee blinks, sends capitulatory water to Georgia

“Too little, too late,” snarls Governor Sonny Perdue. “We want the Tennessee River’s water, and by golly gumdrops, we’re gonna have it!”

Actually, Perdue didn’t say that, but he could have, because, like the members of the Georgia legislature, he’s a shameless idiot who should be removed from office. The state’s newest solution to rifleman.jpgpersistent drought and the imminent drying up of Atlanta? Why, revive a centuries’ old border dispute between the Water Hog State and Tennessee, and move Geogia’s border approximately 1-1/2 miles to the north to include a portion of the Tennessee River. This would give Georgia’s real-estate developers—the state’s true rulers—access to that flow’s prodigious waters, and would make thousands of Tennesseans instant pissed-off citizens of Georgia in the process. (This just in: Perdue has indicated that Georgia would declare Tennesseans caught up in the land grab illegal aliens and deport them.)

No really, all of that is true. Well, we made up the Perdue quote and the illegal alien stuff, but there are things that you can’t make up, no matter how much Jack Daniels you drink.

Tennesseans have responded predictably, as the linked article states, “with humor, anger and defiance.” (And, as in any beautiful spring dispute, a Southern man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of gun play: “Us good Tennesseeans (sic) will take our long rifles up to Lookout Mountain and fire when ready,” said Justin Wilson, a Nashville attorney and former deputy governor.)

Mayor Ron Littlefield of Chattanooga, now arguably America’s funniest mayor, took the humor high road and made a creative gesture of peace, conciliation, and wicked shame to Georgia by proclaiming February 27 “Give Our Georgia Friends a Drink Day” and delivering a truckload of bottled water to the legislators—driven mad, proclaimed Littlefield, by thirst. The proclamation follows in its entertaining entirety.

WHEREAS, it has come to pass that the heavens are shut up and a drought of Biblical proportions has been visited upon the Southern United States, and

WHEREAS, the parched and dry conditions have weighed heavily upon the State of Georgia and sorely afflicted those who inhabit the Great City of Atlanta, and

WHEREAS, the leaders of Georgia have assembled like the Children of Israel in the desert, grumbled among themselves and have begun to cast longing eyes toward the north, coveting their neighbor’s assets, and

WHEREAS, the lack of water has led some misguided souls to seek more potent refreshment or for other reasons has resulted in irrational and outrageous actions seeking to move a long established and peaceful boundary, and

WHEREAS, it is deemed better to light a candle than curse the darkness, and better to offer a cool, wet kiss of friendship rather than face a hot and angry legislator gone mad from thirst, and

WHEREAS, it is feared that if today they come for our river, tomorrow they might come for our Jack Daniels or George Dickel,

NOW THEREFORE, In the interest of brotherly love, peace, friendship, mutual prosperity, citywide self promotion, political grandstanding and all that

I Ron Littlefield, Mayor of the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee,
Do hereby Proclaim that Wednesday, February 27, 2008 shall be known as

“Give Our Georgia Friends a Drink Day”