TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 18 – 24 July 2015

July 24, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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The picture below has achieved urban legend status in Albuquerque, NM. Yes, that’s the city to which the caption refers and whose ‘skyline’ (c. 1960s) you can see on the ‘shore’. The foothills of the Sandia Mountains, east of the city, provide the backdrop.

Abq

This graphic was part of a promotional campaign in the 1969s and 1970s by boosters to lure businesses and others (read: wealthy retirees) to the Land of Enchantment’s largest city.The picture and some text (I assume) was published in media in the eastern and midwestern USA.

The ‘lake’ alluded to is none other that the aquifer system underlying Albuquerque, which provided abundant good-quality water to the city and environs. Groundwater was the city’s sole source of M&I water at the time, a condition that existed until the past few years when the Rio Grande was utilized for some (about 40%) of the water supply. The change was motivated by a seminal study in the early 1990s that demonstrated that the aquifer system was not nearly as extensive or productive as once believed. Some land subsidence was also detected and arsenic in the groundwater also became an issue.

Read more about Albuquerque’s water supply here.

Click here for the weekly water news summary!

“Give me a one-handed economist. All my economists say, ‘On the one hand…on the other hand’.” - Harry Truman [Note: if Harry were alive today, he might want to substitute 'scientist' or any number of occupations.]

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 11 – 17 July 2015

July 17, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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What with all the water news this wee, what event Tn-p_lorri_fullframe_bwtakes priority?NASA’s Pluto (left) flyby and the remarkable pictures taken of the erstwhile planet and its largest moon, Charon (rightnh-charon).

Perhaps there will be a renewed campaign to restore Pluto to its ‘planet’ status.

And maybe it has water!

If that’s not enough for NASA, consider that the agency  produced new estimates of the global water budget. 

Good week!

Click here for the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

“There are three life stages: 1) Youth; 2) Middle Age; and 3) ‘Hey, man, you’re lookin’ good!” - Unknown

nasabalancesThe following message from Tammy Belcher of RTI (Research Triangle institute), a Department of Labor contractor, is directed to all of you who consider yourselves groundwater or surface water hydrologists:

Hydrologists:  Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; and study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.

RTI and USDOL request your assistance to ensure that ‘hydrologist’ is defined accurately. Please consider participating in this important program. I will.

Read below or download one of the following.

Word: Download Volunteer_Request_for_Hydrologist

PDF: Download Volunteer_Request_for_Hydrologist 

Please forward to your colleagues.

Thank. you!

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Dear Colleagues:

The O*NET Data Collection Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is seeking the input of expert Hydrologists. As the nation’s most comprehensive source of occupational data, O*NET is a free resource for millions of job seekers, employers, veterans, educators, and students at www.onetonline.org.

You have the opportunity to participate in this important initiative as it will help ensure that the complexities of your profession are described accurately in the O*NET Database for the American public for career exploration and job analysis.

Hydrologists:  Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; and study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.

You are considered an Occupation Expert if you meet the following criteria:

  • At least 5 years of experience with the occupation of Hydrologists. Includes those who are now supervising, teaching, or training IF you have at least one year of practice during your career.
  • Currently active in the occupation of Hydrologists (practicing, supervising, teaching and/or training) and based in the U.S.

If you meet these criteria and are interested in participating as an occupation expert, please email or call Tammy Belcher at the O*NET Operations Center at RTI International (the O*NET data collection contractor) 877-233-7348 ext. 119 or tbelcher@onet.rti.org by 17 August 2015 and provide the following:

  • Name/ # years of experience
  • Address with city and state
  • Daytime phone number
  • Email address
  • Do you have at least one year of practice in the occupation and are you still active?

Process and Participation Incentive: 
A random sample of experts responding to this request will be invited to complete a set of questionnaires (paper or online versions available). $40.00 in cash and a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Department of Labor will be included with the questionnaires.

We encourage you to consider helping to keep information about your profession accurate and current for the benefit of our colleagues and the nation. Thank you very much for your support of DOL’s O*NET program.

Tammy Belcher
RTI

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“Water is the driving force of all nature.” - Leonardo da Vinci

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 4 – 10 July 2015

July 10, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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callWe can all breathe more easily now. Why? A nuclear (unclear?) agreement between the US and Iran? Settlement of the Greek debt crisis?  Removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds in South Carolina?

No, something much bigger than the above has finally been resolved without bloodshed or acrimony. The water theft spat Tom-selleck-water-theft-lawsuit-3e6c3181ee91dcaabetween Tom Selleck and the Calleguas Municipal Water District has apparently been settled to the satisfaction of all involved, subject to approval by the District’s board next week.

Still waiting for the standard statement from the publicist: “If I have hurt anyone or broken the law, I apologize. I did not know that I did not own the water and that filling up a tanker truck from a fire hydrant and transporting said water across District lines was not allowed. Settlement of this unfortunate misunderstanding will allow me to spend more time with my family…”

Read about it here and here.

And click here to access the weekly water news summary.

“There’s no system foolproof enough to defeat a sufficiently great fool.’ - Edward Teller

Disclosure Notice: the publisherMcDonald & Woodwardsent me a review copy. I’ve since purchased an additional copy.

Caveat Emptor: In early 2014 a publisher’s representative told me that if a paperback copy has a brown margin on the back cover instead of a green one, then that book is from the first printing and has a lot of typos. My copy from Amazon.com was a brown one, and they swapped it for a green one. Since the book has been out for two years I doubt this is still a problem.

UntitledIntroduction
John A. Conners, fellow New Yorker (Syracuse area) has done us all a great service: he’s written a general-purpose groundwater book, Groundwater for the 21st Century: A Primer for Citizens of Planet Earth,without differential equations! In other words, it’s a book for the great unwashed (a joke, gentle readers) who are not hydrogeologists or groundwater professionals but who want or need to know a little bit about groundwater.

Writing such a book is indeed a daunting task that few have attempted, especially on this scale. With groundwater one is trying to describe something unseen, so it is far too easy to say ‘I need to explain this concept in more detail’ again and again until the book is encyclopedic. Yes, like Conners’ book: 634 pages in paperback (but only about $30 on Amazon.com as of today). The closest book to  Conners’ book is Michael Price’s excellent Introducing Groundwater.

But Conners’ tome does not deal exclusively with the ‘secret, occult’ world of ‘underground aquifers’ or ‘subterranean groundwater’ (as some experts are wont to say). In 634 pages he takes us over, under, around and through Earth science, defined very broadly (okay, there is no ocean science or paleontology): rocks and minerals; geomorphology (his specialty, I believe), hydrology, plate tectonics, structural geology, geochemistry, and more.

As usual, what follows is my usual stream-of-consciousness approach to reviewing which is why I don’t write books.

What I Really Liked
What I really liked, in no particular order:

1) Graphics – lots of photos and diagrams

2) Aphorisms galore!

3) Thumbnail sketches of each chapter

4) References – hundreds! Not just publications, but websites, blogs, organizations, resources, etc.

5) Great index and appendices with conversions, EPA MCLs

6) Boxes with case studies and numerical problems

7) Contamination and pollution are differentiated (p. 42)

8) Broad coverage, not just of groundwater, but of ancillary topics

9) Good writing, few typos

10) Unexpected chapters on Contemporary Groundwater Supply IssuesFacing the Challenge and Perspectives on Tomorrow

11) I learned what a ‘beheaded aquifer’ is – Figure 6.8, p. 165

 

Several Things I Did Not Like and Suggestions
1) Number all equations. Makes it easier to refer to them.

2) Use MLT [mass-length-time] or FLT [force-length-time] system to indicate dimensions. For example, velocity has dimensions of [L/T], the hydraulic gradient has dimensions of [L/L] or [1]. Using this convention might entail more text (fodder for an appendix) but it would be useful for non-professionals, who need to have some exposure to this stuff. As an aside, I have found that even science/engineering undergrads and even graduate students can be pretty ignorant of units and dimensions.

3) The parameter k is the permeability, also called the intrinsic or specific permeability; K is the hydraulic conductivity. It reflects the properties of the medium and the fluid. It has dimensions of [L/T], like velocity, but it is not a velocity. In the old days, we used units of [gpd/ft**2]. If you break that unit down dimensionally, you have L***3/T(L**2) = L/T, or a velocity dimension Conners sometimes (p. 195) calls it permeability. The bullets on page 176 might lead some to think it’s a velocity or a volume. Some clarification might be wise here. The meinzer can be removed; it’s archaic.

4) Conners does something that I don’t like, but it is a necessary evil. He knowingly alternates between SI and English units, because, well, both are used today. He eschews the use of using both units at once and putting one in ( ) because he states that ‘…an abundance of parentheses tends to impair readability’ (page x). That might be true.

5) On page 481, he states ‘ Groundwater in particular continues to be treated as private property in most Western states.’ That’s misleading if he is referring to ownership. Most Western states treat groundwater as being owned by the state or its citizens. Texas and California are exceptions. In fact, groundwater is more likely to be treated as private property in the Eastern states. However, the right to water is essentially a property right.

6) There is some confusion when it comes to groundwater flow. Groundwater does not necessarily flow from high to low pressure [page 101], nor from high to low elevation.  It flows from high to low hydraulic head, where hydraulic head is the sum of elevation head (height of the measuring point relative to an arbitrary horizontal datum, such as mean sea level) and pressure head (in a piezometer or well, the height of the column of water above the measuring point). All three heads are expressed in units of length [L], and represent potential energy per unit weight of fluid. Kinetic energy is often neglected in groundwater, because of low velocities. And the hydraulic head is not important in determining flow; it’s the change in hydraulic head with distance (the gradient, sometimes designated as ‘i’) that drives flow.

7) Changes in head should be designated as ?h (or ?H). That avoids confusion about whether it should be ?h/L ( = i) or just h/L (head divided by a length). See the two equations on p. 195: one has (h), then below that it becomes (?H). Also, in the box on pages 188-189: ?h/L = i, which is correct. The correct designation for i is shown on p. 181, then below that it reverts to i =h/L. Also: h is sometimes head (p. 186) but sometimes it is used as a change in head (p. 182).

8) On page 181 at the top there is confusion about hydraulic head and pressure. a few lines later it is stated ‘The change in elevation from one location to another is the hydraulic gradient.‘ That’s untrue. A few lines down, Conners says ‘This equation represents Darcy’s Law.’ The equation above that is not Darcy’s Law, but an equation for the hydraulic gradient.

9) Minor – ‘Thiem’ is misspelled on p. 240 and in the index; The Table of Contents should have the subheadings. A List of Figures would be helpful.


A Primer for Whom?
The title and length of the book beg the questions: 1) is this book a primer? 2) who is the audience?

A 634-page book is not a primer. I think A Sourcebook on Groundwater might have been a more descriptive title. But the size of the book is a plus, IMHO. Others might be intimidated.

So who’s the audience? I see several:

1) People who need to know something about groundwater but don’t need all the real quantitative stuff: planners; economists; journalists; politicians/legislators and their staffs; environmental organizations; NGO, INGO, and GO folks; attorneys; policy types; water and wastewater managers and other water professionals who don’t deal directly with groundwater;

2) Students without heavy-duty math and physics but who want or need an introductory groundwater course. This book would be perfect for our OSU water resources policy and management grad students who want to know some groundwater but don’t need the equations.

3) Those (me!) who want a reference or source book.

4) Intelligent laypersons who wish to know something about groundwater or are just curious about it.

John told me that the publisher did not want to market it as a textbook. I actually think that was a mistake. It is hard to imagine that the ‘ordinary’ person who wants to know a bit about groundwater would purchase a copy.

Bonus
Here is a review by Tara L. Root from the September-October 2014 issue of Groundwater Download Root-2014-Groundwater

Summary and Recommendation – Buy It!
I liked the book a lot and heartily recommend it. Most of the complaints above are not serious and are due to carelessness, not incompetence. Groundwater cognoscenti will understand what Conners is trying to say, but neophytes will get confused or worse. In a revision careful attention should be paid to Sections 6.6 and 6.7.

Practitioners will be pleasantly surprised – great source book.

“Humans build their settlements around consumption of fossil water long buried in the Earth, and these societies, being based on temporary resources, face the problem of being temporary themselves.” - Charles Bowden, 1977 (from the reviewed book, p. 457)

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 27 June – 3 July 2015

July 3, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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DofIHere in western Oregon we have drought, fireworks, 100 degree temperatures, 4th of July weekend, and newly-legalized marijuana. A recipe for …celebration? We’ll see.

In the meantime, curl up with your favorite beverage and read the Declaration of Independence - even if you’re not a US citizen. It’s fewer than 1500 words and what’s there might surprise you.

Download Usdeclar

Regardless of your nationality, have a great weekend and travel safely.

Click here to read the weekly water news summary.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Second sentence, US Declaration of Independence, 1776. 

 

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 20 – 26 June 2015

June 26, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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SharknadoYet another shark-shaped cloud - this one apparently eating smaller clouds – has been Sharksighted. Methinks it’s a promo for the looming Sharknado 3Can a movie starring Mark Cuban and Ann Coulter as the President and Vice President, respectively,  be all that bad?

Apparently, yes.

Click here for the weekly water news summary.

“To be intoxicated is to feel sophisticated but be unable to say it.” - George Carlin

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 13 – 19 June 2015

June 19, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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First day of summer/winter this Sunday and Father’s Day, too! diagram

Today is Juneteenth here in the USA.

I like to include a graphic in this space. The one shown here should keep you busy for a while. It is titled  ’Theoretical dynamics of a water poverty trap’ and is Figure 3 from a recent GWP -OECD publication.

Click on the graphic to enlarge it.

Click here for the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” - James Baldwin

Book Review: ‘Rain – A Natural and Cultural History’

June 18, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Disclosure notice: Cynthia Barnett is a friend and she sent me a free copy of her book in April 2015. As usual, this is one of my ‘stream-of-consciousness’ reviews, so quit now if you are expecting something different.

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It’s been two months since I received a copy of Cynthia Barnett’s newest water book: Rain: A Love Story - oops, I mean Rain: A Natural and Cultural History. That period of time seems to be about my normal residence time for reviewing books, although I am way over for a few more.

Rain-300pxLet me attempt to explain the ‘title’ Rain: A Love Story. I can’t recall its origin, although it might have been Cynthia’s original working title, you know, like Paul McCartney’s Scrambled Eggs working title for Yesterday. But that ‘original title’ is how I think of the book: it’s a love story by Cynthia, in which she expresses her love for rain, and I suspect, an affection that is reciprocated in some anthropomorphic fashion. [Note added on 19 June 2015: cheek out Cynthia’s comment below, in which she explains her original title.]

This book strikes me as a logical extension of her previous two water books: Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.  (which some lame reviewer renamed Cadillac Swampland) and Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis. I say ‘extension’ because in this book, she lays bare her soul and admits to the love of her life (sorry, Aaron)she loves rain. She’s having an affair with rain! No BS. No PR. No nada. Pure and simple, Cynthia is a rain junkie. Dare I say ‘rain groupie’?

Cynthia_BarnettAs a WaterWonk, I love rain, but mainly because it and its overarching relative precipitation provide inputs to the terrestrial hydrologic cycle. Its offspring, infiltration, provides groundwater recharge. I don’t mind rain, but I can think of better things to do than to take a walk in the rain. That feeling was perhaps different when I lived in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada,  but I now live in an area that averages over a meter of precipitation per year. I love rain mainly for what it does, not for what it is. She loves it for what it is, what it does, what it represents to a variety of people and cultures, and so much more.

So what do you do when you love something or someone? You tell the whole world, right? That is what Cynthia does. Everything about rain is brought to our attention. What it looks like. What it smalls like. How it forms. What it is made of. Why it occurs where it does. What it does – yes, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The inspiration it provides. What links Kurt Cobain and Emily Dickinson? Everyone knows that Seattle and Portland, OR, are among the wettest cities in the USA, right? Guess again! And raindrops are shaped like classic ‘water drops’, right? Uh-huh…..

She starts in Seattle and ends in Cherrapunji, India. In between, she covers it all. I learned more about the ‘science of rain’ than I knew existed. And lots of other stuff, too. Why is rain so special? Who wrote about rain? Who sang about rain? Who worships it? Who documented it? Who makes clothes to protect us from rain?

Like the journalist she is, Cynthia documents extremely well: almost 40 pages of notes with almost 300 individual entries, and a 21-page index. 355 pages!

And she writes, like, well, a writer. Beautiful. What can I say – poetic, lyrical, musical, magical? She is a writer and a chronicler. She is the best water/environmental book writer around, bar none.Regardless of what your background, beliefs, or political party are, you will learn from and love this book.

What I like best about Cynthia Barnett is that she is a true believer. She’s written three remarkable water books. But she’s not just following a checklist, you know:  ’Today – wrote water book – check. Tomorrow: write book on  the garment industry – check’…. She focuses on water and related environmental issues because she believes in them and wants to provide her readers with her insight, passion, joy, and wisdom.

I will use this in my classes just like I use Blue Revolution.

Her next book? Maybe Mud: Rain’s Best Friend?

I cannot conclude without listing my my favorite ‘rain’ song. Although it doesn’t express my sentiments about rain, it’s gotta be I Can’t Stand the Rain, with a slight preference for  the version by Precious Wilson and Eruption instead of the original by Ann PeeblesAsk me tomorrow and I’ll give you another answerMaybe Rain by the Beatles. You can see Cynthia’s Top 25 Rain Songs on Spotify.

Summing up: Cynthia Barnett loves rain and I love Cynthia Barnett. READ THIS BOOK!

I can’t stand the rain
Against my window
Bringing back sweet memories

Hey window pane
Do you remember
How sweet it used to be
When we walk together

Everything was so grand
Now that we’ve parted
I know there’s one thing
That I just can’t stand

I can’t stand the rain

Against my window
Bringing back sweet memoriesI can’t stand the rain
Against my window
Cause he ain’t here with me


Alone with the pillow

Where his head used to lay, yeah
I know you’ve got some sweet memories
But like a window you ain’t got nothin’ to say

I can’t stand the rain

Against my window
Bringing back sweet memories
I can’t stand the rain
I Can’t Stand the Rain  by Ann Peebles, Don Bryant & Bernie Miller

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 6 – 12 June 2015

June 12, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Are you serving as an unpaid board member of a water district, nonprofit, or a similar organization? Here is a cautionary tale from Texas.

And how about the work from IUCN- Water? Nature’s water infrastructure is valued at $29 trillion per year! Check out this infographic.

Now click here for the week’s water news summary.

‘If God had wanted us to use the metric system, Jesus would have had 10 apostles.’ - Jesse Helms

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