To celebrate today – World Water Day – UNICEF has released Tap Project Radio. I was going to wait to tell you this in my formal post regarding World Water Day, but it’s too terrific to wait.
Tune your computer dial to Tap Project Radio to listen to chill music and make a donation that will help the one billion people in the world without access to clean drinking water. This internet radio station will be broadcasting today through World Water Week from March 22-28, 2009.
The Tap Project is a movement sponsored by UNICEF to gather donations and teach others about water and sanitation problems worldwide. The Tap Project raises money during World Water Week by encouraging restaurants to sell tap water for one dollar instead of bottled water and engaging in print and media campaigns. Each dollar raised will provide a child with drinking water for 40 days.
Tap Project Radio will be broadcasting 24-hours a day featuring celebrity DJ’s and interviews. Check out the schedule for more information. So far, I’ve listened to Sublime, The Clash, Dylan, and Death Cab for Cutie. Now, I’m totally in the mood to write a post for World Water Day.
A friend sent along these great videos of a coffer dam being breached in super-fast speed. This video has since circulated the Internet extensively, but in case you haven’t seen it yet…
Marmot Dam Removal – ‘largest dam removal in Oregon’
This video shows the intentional breaching of a coffer dam, the final phase in a process to return the Sandy River to a free-flowing state.
Just like the Marmot Dam, most dams are finally demolished because of significant upkeep costs and concerns for fish.
So, what is the shelf-life of a dam?
Many dams constructed in the early 20th century are beginning to age and show signs of disrepair. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) is keeping a watchful eye over the dams in America. With over 79,000 dams in the United States, the ASDSO supposes there are thousands (3,316 to be exact) of dams susceptible to collapse.
“…the number of dams identified as unsafe is increasing at a faster rate than those being repaired.”
An estimated three hundred and four million of them across the globe, and yet researchers are noticing many inland lakes are beginning to dry. In Siberia, Central Asia, East Africa, and North America – the results are the same – lakes simply cannot compete with man-made alterations to the environment. These are not just small lakes, some of the lakes with dropping water levels are gigantic in size.
There are 122 large lakes in the world each over 1000 square kilometers (386 square miles). Lake Victoria, in Africa, is the largest tropical lake in the world at 68,800 square kilometers (26,560 square miles). Mounting water-level decline in this lake is slowly eroding the livelihood of local fisherman and ranchers, agricultural producers, and industrial water users near the lake. A lack of suitable drinking water or dependable power supply is also becoming more common in the region.
Sometimes occasional fluctuations of water levels in lakes are natural, but the current rate that many lakes are beginning to go dry throughout the world is not. Humans alter the natural environment near lakes and water levels decline. We build dams, over-pump rivers, over-use groundwater, put roads and parking lots in natural recharge areas, build industries in locations without enough water, over-irrigate our crops, and, often, we use too much water in our homes. Not to mention the effect of a changing climate on water supply sources.
But, some things that could help ‘decline’ at least some of this water-level decline include: conservation, conservation, conservation – grow crops in regions they are acclimated (low-water crops) – alternative water supply sources such as rainwater harvesting systems – pursue green “water conservative” development techniques – reduce the pavement – rethink industrial production – low impact living – conservation, conservation, conservation.
A few other lakes around the world with dropping water levels–
Purna Bahadur Vaidya is a Newar Poet from Nepal with a collection of “84 poems refracted through water” in the language of Nepal Bhasa called LA LA KHA (WATER IS WATER).
Wayne Amtzis (photographer and writer himself) sat down with the author to translate the poems into English. He has so graciously given permission for some of these translations to be featured on the Cultural Earth page on Water for the Ages. His translations have also appeared in The Drunken Boat, a web magazine of international works.
In addition, the Library of Congress has recorded Purna Vaidya reciting portions of LA LA KHA in his native language of Nepal Bhasa.
Photo above courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Mount Everest is the peak with the clouds to the left. Ama Dablam is the peak to the far right.
One man claims an idea that will deter damages of rising seawater influenced by climate change and produce biofuels capable of powering your vehicle without one drop of freshwater. Sound to good to be true? You be the judge.
Atmospheric scientist Carl Hodges of the Seawater Foundation has two novel ideas: absorb rising seawater through recharge of defunct aquifers with seawater and saltwater farming of Salicornia bigelovii for biofuel production. When speaking of farming of salicornia during a public radio interview on MarketPlace:
They pack as much high-quality vegetable oil as soybeans, making salicornia an ideal biofuel crop — and a highly profitable one. Especially if the fertile effluent from those shrimp farms we saw from the air is used as the irrigation source.
TheCalifornia Colloquium on Water is a lecture-series presented by the Water Resources Center Archives (WRCA) at the University of California – Berkley. They have made available presentations from 2001 to 2007 in video format on-line.
While many of the presentations focus on regional specific water resource issues, several topics are relevant in the international arena of watershed studies such as groundwater, water re-use, desalination, dams, and drought.
In this brief Earth and Sky radio short, the topic is India and the severe drop in groundwater tables. As researcher from Columbia Casey Brown states, the primary reason for the decrease in groundwater supplies is the widespread use of water for agricultural purposes. 90% of India’s water supplies to be exact.
Above Photo: Waiting for drinking water in India. Rupert Taylor-Price on flickr.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization maintains AQUASTAT, an extensive online database for global agriculture and water information. The FAO map below shows the extent of water withdrawn for agricultural uses (over 2/3 of global water supplies). The FAO map also provides detailed country specific information, see an overview of India’s agricultural economy here.
India has the second largest irrigated area in the world, but due to the rapid expansion of irrigation with its emphasis on new construction, irrigation performance and the sector’s increasing management needs have not received adequate attention. The development impact of irrigation has been well below its potential, and deficiencies in implementation have accumulated over time.
– Food and Agriculture Organization
The above-quote indicates, at that time, India’s agriculture was well below potential. However, groundwater pumping has become popular over the last two decades in India. With groundwater tables dropping as they are, this does not seem a dependable resource to sustain current agricultural activities.