A Rare Agreement in the Middle East, Over Water

by Keith B Published 2.6.2014

Over the last 20 years, we have read predictions that the next great war will be fought over water and not riches, oil or geography. Some think water scarcity all over the world will bring on conflict between nations. In my blog entitled “Water Issues' Effect on Conflict and Civil Unrest” I discussed how water scarcity and changes have caused civil unrest and conflicts, but in a recent article published by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, we read of water being the driving force behind an agreement between Israel, Jordan and Palestine. These nations are not known for their cooperation and peaceful relations; however, fresh water scarcity and changes brought on by attempts to address this scarcity have moved them to an agreement.

It turns out the water level of the Dead Sea, known and visited by tourists for its high salt content, has been dropping by more than 3 feet a year. This has primarily been caused by Jordan, Israel and Syria diverting the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main feeder, to meet increasing needs for irrigation and/or domestic use. This change in the Dead Sea coupled with increasing water scarcity in several areas of these countries, has brought about some unique solutions to these problems. A new desalination plant—using reverse osmosis technology—will be built in Aqaba, Jordan, taking its source from the Red Sea and the highly saline reject stream will be piped across Jordan to the Dead Sea to add back volume. Normally the reject stream produced by a desalination plant is an unwanted byproduct of the process, but in this case it may become part of a win-win solution. There are still some environmental concerns over the salt make up of the reject and how it will affect the differing salt content of the Dead Sea, but those issues will be monitored and reviewed.

An illustrated map of the Dead Sea showing its reduction over time

This application reminds us that many of the technologies used in water treatment are really “separation” technologies—technologies that effectively separate something from water. Reverse Osmosis (RO) membranes are most commonly used to separate unwanted ions and/or contaminants from water. The water that passes through the membrane (permeate) is “pure,” and is generally the desired product of such a system. In some cases, however, it is the concentrated solution that has the value, not the permeate. An example of this is using membranes for the concentration and production of maple syrup. In the case of the desalination plant being built at Aqaba, both the permeate and concentrate are going to have value, making it unique.

I can’t help but think about how this, on a grand scale, is another example of man beginning to get involved in areas we long took for granted, to think about sustainability. In our homes, towns and cities, we will have to find uses for all of our “reject streams.” Maybe some of them can find end uses that benefit all of us rather than creating more problems. Certainly we can find a water more suitable than drinking water to flush our toilets, water our lawns, or wash or cars…right?

Drink Local. Drink Tap.: Bringing Safe Drinking Water to Uganda

by Guest Bloggers Published 8.5.2013

Erin Huber is the founder and executive director of Drink Local. Drink Tap., Inc.™ a non-profit organization focused on creatively reconnecting people to local water. She inspires people to become better stewards of water through education and awareness in the west and she designs and implements sustainable water projects in the east (Africa). Huber’s passion for safe drinking water is supported by more than a decade of volunteer work and awards, a B.S. of Environmental Science and an M.S. of Urban Studies from Cleveland State University, emphasizing sustainability policy and new economics.

When I last wrote, Drink Local. Drink Tap. had just returned from drilling 180 foot deep borehole (new water source) in Uganda for St. Bonaventure Primary School. Previously, children had been walking miles each day to collect water they did not know was even safe to drink. We’ve learned a lot in the past few years and made a positive impact in the world thanks to Kinetico, all of our sponsors, volunteers, Wavemaker Program students and you.

This year, we plan to build three sustainable water projects in Uganda at two orphan schools so that children and their community can be healthy, experience a better education and stay safe. In late 2013, we will install a tap system for the children at St. Bonaventure. This phase of the project will help students hydrate, wash, complete chores, cook, grow food, get a better education and experience even less sickness and death. In Masindi, Uganda, we will build a two part project at Family Spirit AIDS Orphanage. A shallow borehole and gravity fed farm irrigation system will be built for the children in order to remove the cumbersome walk for water and increase sustainable food production. This will help the orphan school save funds, improve health and increase nutrition for the already vulnerable children. Just this summer two children have died from HIV and TB; we cannot leave them to continue to worry about death from dirty water too.

We are excited to get back to Uganda, but we can only help others with your help. Youth and adults everywhere are getting inspired and involved, especially the students involved in our Wavemaker Program for schools. We have already worked directly with 30 classrooms this year and can reach another 20 in the fall thanks to recent support from Kinetico Incorporated. The students in our Wavemaker Program take action to care for our water locally, but understand that all water is connected and it’s important to help other students in need of access to safe water. They have been raising funds to help build our safe water projects, volunteering at beach and river cleanups, conserving water and reducing their plastic waste to become positive wave makers in the world.

We’ve also had the help of individuals and organizations to raise money and spread awareness for our next three water projects. In the spring of 2013, David Christof ran and biked from Prague to Morocco (Africa) 3,000 kilometers in 63 days to support phase three at St. Bonaventure. We celebrated World Water Day at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium with Wavemaker Program students and also hosted a private documentary screening event.

It can be overwhelming to think about all of the pollution in the world, the one billion people without access to safe drinking water or the fact that more people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. But, if we work together to make positive change, we can truly impact those unimaginable statistics- we’ve proved it and will continue to work hard, with you, to save our water and save lives.

Ways to get involved:

  • We are able to offer our Wavemaker Program to a number of schools this fall because of the generous support of Kinetico Incorporated. Send us an email at info@drinklocaldrinktap.org if you’d like us to work with your school.
  • Additionally, you can help by hosting a fundraiser or a documentary screening. You can also donate directly. For information on these fundraising programs, to donate or to read about our recent or upcoming events and projects please visit the Drink Local. Drink Tap. website at drinklocaldrinktap.org.

Flash Flood Sure, But Flash Drought?

by Ed R Published 7.20.2012

This year’s mild winter, low soil moisture and an early June heat wave have created the perfect “heat storm”. In their June “Global Analysis Report” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has determined that this June was the warmest in U.S. history since 1880, and was the warmest month on record for the entire northern hemisphere.

Illustration of popcorn popping right off the stalkA new term has been coined by the NOAA. If you are encountering a condition where there is a sudden unexpected, lingering burst of high temperatures (90+), low humidity and lots of sunshine (not a cloud in the sky), then you are in a “flash drought”.

This condition is occurring in many parts of the Midwestern United States. Hardest hit is the Corn Belt, Missouri in particular. According to the Drought Monitor (a weekly report of drought conditions throughout the United States), approximately two thirds of the Midwest is in some stage of drought.

Affected are the major staple crops such as corn and soybeans. The drought hit when the young plants were most susceptible. This has lead to decreased corn production. Forbes reports that grain prices have risen approximately 47% since mid-June on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Water Districts throughout the Midwest have asked their customers to use water wisely and implement voluntary water conservation measures. If this continues then mandatory measures won’t be far behind.

Here in Northeast Ohio, June wasn’t so bad, but July is getting nasty. Most all of the lawns are some shade of brown, and on the home front (my backyard) despite my best efforts, the zucchini are pretty much toast and the cucumbers are withering away before really bearing much fruit. The tomatoes and especially the peppers however are growing through the roof. Win some lose some I guess.


Contact Ed R.

Water: Understand it, Value it, Respect it. Learn more about life’s most vital resource.

Search The Blog