Drilling for Water in Drought-Stricken California?
Does bottled water ever make sense?
There’s a time and a place for bottled water. In my green diva opinion, I think it’s great in emergencies like earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters that shut down access to clean water. Or, if your tap water is suddenly tainted and you a) get thirsty before you’re able to install a water filtration system or b) truly can’t afford a filtration system (please choose large jugs of water to reduce the environmental impact when possible! It’s also cheaper this way. Also, consider refilling jugs from kind neighbors’ taps. Offer to pay them a small amount for the inconvenience.).
If you’re stranded in the middle of the desert or a deserted island with no water in sight and stumble across a bottle of water, grab it. If you think it’s possible you’ll be stranded, have a reusable water bottle on you at all times. Bringing a carload of bottled water to your kid’s soccer game because it’s easier? I think you know the answer.
Listen to my latest Green Divas myEARTH360 Report, which focuses on perplexing bottled water stuff—like why the heck is draught-ridden California letting big water bottling companies continue to drain the remaining water supply—and other water-related and environmental news.
Here’s a recent emergency deeming bottled water a short-term necessity…
An algae bloom in Lake Erie recently meant 500,000 Toledo residents were without safe water for two days.
The water was contaminated with a toxin that’s produced by the algae microcystis. The toxin can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, numbness and liver problems. It can also kill wildlife and pets. Hence, unsafe water.
What’s microcystis algae bloom, you ask? It’s primarily phosphorus from farm fertilizer runoff. The nitrogen in fertilizer affects the size and composition of the annual bloom. In other words, microcystis algae blooms are fed by modern agriculture, which is mean to feed people and animals, which, of course, need water. And… are you seeing the same vicious circle I am?
Boiling water doesn’t remove the toxin. Just hours after the alert went out bottled water (helpful in emergency situations like this) couldn’t be found within about a 100-mile radius.
Organizations including Alliance for the Great Lakes, American Rivers, National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club urged swift action to reduce nutrient pollution and protect the Great Lakes. In a recent letter, Alliance for the Great Lakes CEO Joel Brammeier said:
Unfortunately, Lake Erie and other parts of the Great Lakes are in jeopardy again. It is unacceptable that our region has polluted a lake so significantly that drinking water for approximately 11 million Americans and Canadians is at risk. A changing climate and a legacy of damage to Lake Erie make the job of cleanup complicated. But we know this pollution is a clear danger not only to our drinking water, but to our way of life and our region’s economic vitality.
This problem is not out of our control. It is preventable. We can change this.
We need swift commitments from the governors of the Great Lakes states and the premier of Ontario to implement measurable reductions in nutrient pollution, particularly phosphorus, on a clear timetable to protect our region’s health, economy and quality of life.
(Joel will be on The Green Divas Show in the coming months to give us an update! So stay tuned…)
A bottled water situation that makes me want to scream…
Even though California is experiencing their third driest year on record—with 82 percent of the state experiencing “extreme or exceptional” drought conditions—water is still be extracted for bottled water.
It’s hard to believe companies are allowed to continue sucking the state drier, especially considering water is used not just to fill the bottles, but to process them. Coca-Cola bottling plants that produce Dasani use 1.63 liters of water for every liter of beverage produced in California. (According to TheWaterProject.org, it can take three liters of water to produce just one liter of water).
Turns out that California is the only western state without groundwater regulation… if you happen to be a water company and you drill and discover water, it’s yours.
Do you know where your bottled water comes from? Dasani, Aquafina, Arrowhead and Crystal Geyser all use water from California.
A representative from Arrowhead said something very profound: “You have to remember this is a 120 year old brand. Some of these sources have long, long been associated with the brand.” As if that matters. I mean, California is in a drought. That same person agreed that from an environmental perspective “tap water is always the winner.”
The fact is… tap water and using reusable water bottles is the better choice. Certainly there are the instances like in Toledo where getting water from other sources is the only option. But U.S. tap water is better regulated than bottled.
Making matters worse in California…
Not only are bottled water companies extracting water, the water-intensive fracking (also known as hydraulic fracturing, the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth) continues in California.
Fractivists are asking Gov Jerry Brown to stop fracking in The Golden State, which is in a drought. Could fracking be making the drought worse? Food & Water Watch Adam Scow calls it a “triple threat to the water.” Here’s why…
1. It requires 140,000 to 150,00 gallons of water out of the water cycle for every frack job. According to the U.S. Energy Administration, oil companies could drill as many as 25,000 fracking wells in California—each one using nearly 10 times more water than a typical California family in one year.
2. The fracking fluid could leach into underground acquirers and the toxic waste water left over has to be disposed of.
3. The oil and gas produced from fracking will contribute to global warming, of course, which can exacerbate droughts.
Fracking isn’t just a problem in California. A new study says that hardly any toxicity information is available for one-third of the 190 commonly used fracking fluid compounds. Another eight are proven to be toxic to mammals. (Last I checked, I’m a mammal. Are you? Then you should be concerned).
Written by Green Diva Lynn Hasselberger | images via shutterstock