Weekend reads: David Sedlak on the fourth water revolution; Preservation is a flawed mitigation strategy, says commentary; and water bag transport vs. desal: closer than you might think!

good reads sliderboxDavid Sedlak: Delivering the fourth water revolution

The 2014 Clarke Prize winner shares his vision for creating sustainable urban water infrastructure

The complex system developed over the past two millennia to provide cities with water and dispose of wastes is currently under stress from the effects of climate change, population growth, and a confluence of other factors. Urban water systems have responded to these kinds of acute problems three previous times through technological advances and institutional reforms. If water professionals hope to bring about another round of change before our water infrastructure once again reaches a state of crisis, they will need to acknowledge the underlying causes of the problems, develop sound technological solutions, and work within a complex and conservative institutional system to ensure changes are adopted. This lecture draws upon recent experiences in the development and diffusion of water supply technologies to illustrate ways in which water professionals, civic leaders, and members of the public can work together to deliver the fourth revolution in urban water.”

Read David Sedlak’s lecture and/or watch his presentation here: Delivering the fourth water revolution

Legal commentary: Preservation is a flawed mitigation strategy

Preservation unlikely to compensate for the loss in ecological function from wetlands destruction, says commentary; urges Corp to eliminate preservation as mitigation and improve accountability mechanisms

From the Ecological Law Quarterly:

Jessica Owley writes:

The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. To help achieve that objective, the Act limits the ability to dredge or fill a wetland. To do so, one must first obtain a section 404 permit. These permits, which the Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) issues with coordination and oversight from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), require project proponents to avoid, minimize, and compensate the harms of any wetland destruction or modification. Compensatory mitigation is a troubling concept in wetlands regulation because it acknowledges that wetland destruction will occur. Thus, instead of preventing wetland conversion, developers in this scenario compensate for wetlands lost. Compensatory mitigation can come in the form of restoration, creation, enhancement, and/or preservation of wetlands and other aquatic resources. Wetlands are preserved by prohibiting their conversion, often through property encumbrances like conservation easements and deed restrictions. This scenario exchanges preservation of certain wetlands for a right to degrade or destroy other wetlands. …

Continue reading this article at the Ecological Law Quarterly here:  Preservation is a flawed mitigation strategy

Journal article: The Economics of Bulk Water Transport in Southern California

Study says water bag transport of water to Southern California can be less expensive than desalination

From the Resources Journal:

Study authored by Andrew Hodges, Kristiana Hansen, and Donald McLeod,Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wyoming, Laramie

Abstract: “Municipalities often face increasing demand for limited water supplies with few available alternative sources. Under some circumstances, bulk water transport may offer a viable alternative. This case study documents a hypothetical transfer between a water utility district in northern California and urban communities located on the coast of central and southern California. We compare bulk water transport costs to those of constructing a new desalination facility, which is the current plan of many communities for increasing supplies. We find that using water bags to transport fresh water between northern and southern California is in some instances a low-cost alternative to desalination. The choice is constrained, however, by concerns about reliability and, thus, risk. Case-study results demonstrate the challenges of water supply augmentation in water-constrained regions.

Continue reading this article at the Resources Journal here:  The Economics of Bulk Water Transport in Southern California


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