Wednesday January 23, 2019
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California Drought: Regulators announce largest water cuts in state’s history

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Caught in one of the worst droughts it has ever encountered, the California state regulators have decided to introduce the largest cuts in the state’s history by ordering farmers and others to reduce their water consumption.

Over 100 water rights holders have been ordered to stop all pumping from three major waterways in one of the country’s prime farm regions by the State Water Resources Control Board.

114 entities, including individual landowners and water districts serving farmers and small communities, with claims dating back to 1914 or before, have been served the curtailment order.

This will force thousands of  water users in the state to tap groundwater, buy it at rising costs, use previously stored water or go dry.

“It’s going to be a different story for each one of them, and a struggle for all of them” acknowledged executive director of the water board Thomas Howard.

Economists and agriculture experts say that the cuts are expected to have little immediate impact on food prices, with the growing of some crops to shift to regions with more  water in the short-term.

“We are now at the point where demand in our system is outstripping supply for even the most senior water rights holders,” said Caren Trgovcich, chief deputy director of the water board.

In order to prevent the board’s action, Jeanne Zolezzi, an attorney for two small irrigation districts serving farmers in the San Joaquin area, has decided to go to court.

“We are not talking about a 25 per cent cut like imposed on urban. This is a 100 per cent cut, no water supplies. A lot of trees would die, and a lot of people would go out of business,” said Zolezzi.

According to Jonas Minton, an advisor at the private Planning and Conservation League environmental group, the droughts of such scale are not unprecedented in California.

“The difference is that the state has grown in population to 38 million and has vast acres of farmland to irrigate, a problem with which the state cannot be blamed”, said Minton

“Today’s curtailments are not being done by choice. They’re a reaction to the reality of the shrinking water supply”, Minton added.

Next Story

New Technology That Can Clean Water Twice As of Now

more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas.

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Novel technology cleans water using bacteria

Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a new technology that can clean water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes, an advance that brings hope for countries like India where clean drinking water is a big issue.

According to a team from the Washington University in St. Louis, more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

The team led by Srikanth Singamaneni, Professor at the varsity, developed an ultrafiltration membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that they found to be highly efficient, long-lasting and environment-friendly.

The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling, or build up of bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms that reduce the flow of water.

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The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling. VOA

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they used bacteria to build such filtering membranes.

The Gluconacetobacter hansenii bacteria is a sugary substance that forms cellulose nanofibres when in water.

The team then incorporated graphene oxide (GO) flakes into the bacterial nanocellulose while it was growing, essentially trapping GO in the membrane to make it stable and durable.

They exposed the membrane to E. coli bacteria, then shone light on the membrane’s surface.

After being irradiated with light for just three minutes, the E. coli bacteria died. The team determined that the membrane quickly heated to above the 70 degrees Celsius required to deteriorate the cell walls of E. coli bacteria.

While the bacteria are killed, the researchers had a pristine membrane with a high quality of nanocellulose fibres that was able to filter water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes under a high operating pressure.

When they did the same experiment on a membrane made from bacterial nanocellulose without the reduced GO, the E. coli bacteria stayed alive.

The new technology is capable of identifying and quantifying different kinds of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, as a threat to shut down water systems when it suddenly proliferates. Pixabay

While the researchers acknowledge that implementing this process in conventional reverse osmosis systems is taxing, they propose a spiral-wound module system, similar to a roll of towels.
Also Read: India Gets Assistance of Rs 3,420 Crore From Japan
It could be equipped with LEDs or a type of nanogenerator that harnesses mechanical energy from the fluid flow to produce light and heat, which would reduce the overall cost.

If the technique were to be scaled up to a large size, it could benefit many developing countries where clean water is scarce, the researchers noted. (IANS)