Beverage Companies Adopt Water-Saving Practices

Upon realizing the implications that climate change could have on their industry due to a growing global water shortage, several beverage companies have invested their money and effort into conserving water around the world. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group has dedicated $1.1 million to the Nature Conservancy, and is now working to conserve a pristine field outside of Houston. The coastal area is so large that it could hold 300 football fields, and is ripe for development – but Dr Pepper is fighting to keep it undeveloped and wild in order to preserve the environment and conserve water.

The money it has invested in the Nature Conservancy will go towards conserving five watersheds in Texas (where the Dr Pepper Snapple Group sources the water in its beverages from) and re-seeding grass in the coastal prairie area to restore the ecosystem to its natural state.

The company, which also bottles several other popular beverage brands including Sunkist, 7-UP, A&W root beer, Nantucket Nectars, and Hawaiian Punch, says that a deficiency of water would hurt their business, as water is the main ingredient in their drinks.

Other global beverage companies, such as Coca-Cola and MillerCoors, have stated that a lack of water is a concern for their businesses. These and other soft drink and brewing companies formed the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) in 2006 to address problems regarding low water supply, energy, and other topics that are central to the beverage industry’s prosperity. The group has invested an estimated $500 million in water conservation projects since its inception, bringing clean and ample water to people in India, China, and Africa and renovating their own factories to include water-efficient processing equipment and technology that has saved millions of gallons of water and dollars.

Laura Huffman, Texas state director for the Nature Conservancy, said, “If there’s not fresh water, there’s no business — it’s just that simple. It is their number one infrastructure concern. … Water tops the list, above roads, above energy, above all else, because if you don’t get water right, you’re not making anything.”

Future expansion plans have also given beverage companies an incentive to conserve water, as many of these companies hope to establish a presence in developing countries. These nations are the most likely to be the most severely affected by the effects of climate change, including drought, and without a sufficient water supply, beverage companies will not be able to operate in these countries.

These companies have committed to reaching concrete and attainable goals to save water, including cleaning bottles with air rather than water, reducing water consumption and waste, and preserving waterways worldwide. Their efforts have paid off: BIER companies as a whole have reduced their water use by 9 percent and 10.3 billion gallons; Dr Pepper is on its way to reducing water use and waste by 10 percent per gallon of finished beverage; Coca-Cola has decreased water use by 20 percent, given 35 percent of water used back to the environment, and plans to achieve water neutrality; and Pepsi Co. has also raised its water efficiency by 20 percent, projecting a water savings of $17 million in the next five years. With its initiative to provide access to clean drinking water to rural areas of developing countries and its partnership with environmental groups, Pepsi hopes to reduce the number of hours – currently estimated at 200 million every day – that people spend delivering water to dry areas, and therefore enable people to work more (and buy more Pepsi products).

While the beverage industry has made great strides and an impact on the world’s supply of water, it still faces the issue of plastic, as most of its products are bottled in plastic containers that aren’t recycled. 

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/toprankblog/2978925649

Australia to Enforce World’s Largest Marine Reserves

The Australian government announced plans to construct the largest network of marine reserves in the world, more than doubling the number of coastal reserves to 60 from its existing 27. The new regulations will limit fishing and oil and gas drilling in waters off of the country’s eastern coast, including the vulnerable and endangered Great Barrier Reef and the northeastern Coral Sea. The Australian government expanded the marine reserve system in order to preserve its marine life and balance environmental protections with the needs of its economy, and the new laws will go into effect later this year. Australia is the first country in the world to take such a comprehensive and concerted effort to protect its natural environment and preserve marine biodiversity.

Australian coral reefs and marine ecosystems, particularly the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Great Barrier Reef, are facing extremely high threats due to climate change and ocean acidification. Coral is very sensitive to ocean temperatures, and even a slight fluctuation can cause levels of beneficial algae to wane, levels of toxic algae to rise and cover the coral, eventually suffocating it, and corals to die. Irresponsible fishing methods, which often use explosives or harsh chemicals to kill or stun fish, destroy coral reefs by literally blowing them apart. Destruction of coral reefs is a widespread and serious problem that increases as pollution levels, overfishing, and other human-created factors affect the ocean environment more and more.

Although the Great Barrier Reef is not officially listed as endangered, it is suffering from major threats and its population and health have experience a steep decline in recent years. A spectacular example of biodiversity and the world’s largest coral reef, it spans 133,000 square miles and is home to thousands of species of sea turtles, fish, whales, dolphins, plants, coral, and other marine life.

The Coral Sea borders Australia and several small Pacific islands, including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. Besides coral, it hosts sea anemones, crabs, sea sponges, and lobsters. 

The New York Times reported that Tony Burke said in a statement, “The maps I have released today are most comprehensive network of marine protected areas in the world and represent the largest addition to the conservation estate in Australia’s history,” Mr. Burke said in a statement. “This new network of marine reserves will help ensure that Australia’s diverse marine environment, and the life it supports, remain healthy, productive and resilient for future generations.” Burke is the Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Because the new reserves, which will cover a total of 3.1 million square kilometers (approximately 1.2 million square miles), will significantly impact fishing in the area, the Australian government will pay its fishing industry $99.3 million ($100 million in Australian dollars) as a consolation prize.

The New York Times said that the protected region houses “45 of the world’s 78 whale and dolphin species” and “six of the seven known species of marine turtle.”

Some environmental groups, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, say the new reserves don’t protect enough of Australia’s waters, and would like the protections to extend to the oil-rich western coast of the continent. The foundation’s executive director Don Henry said, “With Australia’s magnificent natural endowment of unique marine biodiversity comes a responsibility to protect our oceans from the risks of bottom trawling and oil and gas exploration.”

Others have lauded the initiative for its wide reach and ambition. The World Wildlife Fund said the plan is significant and inspirational on a national and global level, and expects it to make a great contribution to marine conservation.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/babasteve/5432661883

Down the Drain and Back

 


The thought of filling a cup with water that was once used to flush the toilet alone is enough to make many people nauseated. However recycling waste water for human consumption is no longer a rejected, last resort idea, many cities in the US are exploring or implementing this option as a cost-saving water conservation method.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), recycled waste water is defined as treated waste water for beneficial uses.

Recycled wastewater is distinguished according to different levels of treatment and end uses. Gray water is wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial bathroom sinks, bath tub shower drains and clothes washing equipment drains. The water is typically disinfected and filtered before returning for local landscape irrigation.  Recycled waste water with very advanced chemical treatment, filtration and disinfection can be used to replenish groundwater aquifers and surface water aquifers destined for human consumption. Water used in cooling processes at industrial facilities can be recaptured and reused for the same purpose again.  Unplanned recycled waste water is treated waste water from a city upstream that has entered into a downstream city’s water source. Water upstream may be used, treated and reused few to many times before ending up downstream.

According to a recent study by the National Research Council, the health risks associated with using recycled waste water is no more than that of existing fresh water supplies. This is a complete turn around from the previous study by the same group in 1998, which concluded that recycled waste water should be “an option of last resort” for human consumption. The study compared pathogen and chemical contaminant levels between water from a conventional source and water from aquifers partially recharged with treated sewage and founded no difference in health risks between the two and, in the case of pathogen levels, may be lower.

 
Recently, a research team at the University of Southern Maine surveyed about 2,700 individials across 5 cities in the US about their willingness to drink water recycled from waste waters. 38% were willing, while 13% were not willing and 50% were unsure. Despite the lack of support, participants of the survey were more willing to drink the recycled water if it had been stored in aquifer than if it had been directly supplied from the treatment plant.

For years, many water-strapped cities and towns in Western US have been implementing water recycling technologies and policies to get the most out of their water supply and to meet future water demand.

– Las Vegas, Nevada currently discharges its treated wastewater into Lake Mead, which also supplies water for Southern California and much of the Southwest.

– Los Angeles, California boasts two waste water treatment plants that provide recycled waste water for beneficial uses within the City. The Glendale Water Reclamation Plant treats over 20 million gallons of water every day, while the Donald C. Tillman Reclamation Plan treats about 40 million gallons of water per day. Both supplies irrigation water for City-managed golf courses, parks and landscaped areas.

– Last year, while facing a prolonged drought with no end in sight, Big Spring, Texas, begun constructing a water treatment plant that will treat and redistribute about 2 million gallons of water back to Big Spring and three nearby cities for residents to use.
– In 2008, Tucson, Arizona adopted an ordinance that requires all new single family or duplex residential units to install water piping features that allow or can allow for the recapture and reuse of gray water.

– In 2008, Inglewood, California completed construction of 2,700 water piping to and from Ashland Park, landscaped areas of the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) buildings and the water source. After retrofitting was completed in 2009, water expelled from municipal uses has been diverted for landscape irrigation of the Park and landscaping at the CalTrans buildings.

– In late 2007, the Orange County Water District of Orange County, California began treating the region’s municipal waste wasters with an intense mix of ultraviolet light, filters, screens and chemicals. The recycled product is injected underground to form a barrier against seawater intruding into groundwater and to replenish aquifers that supply water for the region’s residents.

– During the same year in San Diego, California, the City Council, anticipating future water demand, approved a proposal to incorporate treated waste water to replenish the city’s reservoir, but it was rejected by the mayor. The reasons being high costs and personal aversion to the idea.

The recent trends in water management across states in Western U.S. show that cities are pursuing alternative water conservation strategies more progressively and openly. Although it is likely that no one will ever feel completely at ease with drinking perfectly drinkable recycled waste water, protecting our precious water supply is more important than protecting our feelings.

 


Photo Credit:
blog.epa.gov/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/toddler-toilet-2.jpg

Works Cited:
Archibold, Randal C. “From Sewage, Added Water for Drinking.” 27 November 2007: The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/27/us/27conserve.html. Last Accessed 10 February 2012.

Boxall Bettina. “Report Backs Greater Use of Recycled Wastewater.” 2012 January 11: Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/print/2012/jan/11/local/la-me-water-reuse-20120111. Last Accessed 10 February 2012.

City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. “Water Reclamation.” http://wsoweb.ladwp.com/Aqueduct/historyoflaa/reclamation.htm Last Accessed 10 February 2012.

Rettner Rachael. “Would You Drink Recycled Sewage? Why It Grosses Us Out.” 8 September 2011: Live Science. http://www.livescience.com/15955-recycled-water-sewage-psychology.html. Last Accessed 10 February 2012.

Stepney, Chloe. “More Western Towns Adopt “Toilet to Tap” Strategy to Water Conservation.” 22 August 2011: The Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0822/More-Western-towns-adopt-toilet-to-tap-strategy-to-water-conservation. Last Accessed 10 Feb 2012.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Water Recycling and Reuse: The Environmental Benefits.” 20 January 2012. http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/recycling/#uses. Last Accessed 10 February 2012.

West Basin Municipal Water District. “Harbor/South Bay Water Recycling Project.” http://www.westbasin.org/water-reliability-2020/recycled-water/current-projects. Last Accessed 10 Feb 2012.

Efforts to Protect the Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea, located within the North Atlantic Ocean, is the only sea on the planet that is not bound by coastlines. Instead, it is defined by ocean currents stemming from the North Atlantic sub-gyre and it is an entirely open-water ecosystem. The sea is named for its large mats of sargassum, which is a bright brownish algae that coats the top of the water, making it both a natural wonder and valuable part of the ocean’s wildlife.

This floating seaweed was once described by famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle as “the golden rainforest of the ocean” as it “provides habitats, spawning areas, migration pathways and feeding grounds to a diverse assortments of flora and fauna, including endemic, endangered, and commercially important species.”

What makes this area so special, however, also lends itself to its currently damaged state. Without land boundaries, it lies beyond any one country’s legal jurisdiction. For instance, every coastal country has claim on waters that extend 200 nautical miles off their coasts, making it said country’s responsibility.  All other bodies of water (the Sargasso Sea, as an example) are considered open water and are, based on a 1982 UN Law of Sea Convention, available to all nations for such things as laying submarine cables and pipelines, the construction of artificial islands, as well as open fishing and scientific research.  In other words, areas like the Sargasso Sea are afforded the least amount of protection.  Additionally, the Sargasso’s location is the perfect area for the accumulation of pollution barges in the middle of the ocean. 

Efforts have been made to protect large areas of sea in the same way national parks are protected on land.  Zones know as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been popping up all over the word—the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian islands and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, to name just a couple. However, while 12 percent of land is protected as National Parks (still, a small number), only about 1 percent of oceans are protected in the same way.

Leading the charge to give the Sargasso Sea the status of MPA is Dr. Sylvia Earle and her SEAlliance.  “With the looming threat of dramatic global environmental change it is clear that the nations of the world must unite to protect vulnerable ecosystems,” explains Earle.  “With so few areas of the world’s oceans being protected, this is an important cause and one with which Bermuda is proud to be associated.”

The government of Bermuda is diving into the Sargasso project head on.  Already the nation has taken steps in the right direction as they lean towards sustainable-fisheries management and have already created “inshore protected areas” in addition to placing a ban on fish-potting.

With a history that stretches back to the days of Columbus, the Sargasso Sea has all the makings of a proper MPA.  If groups like the SEAlliance, the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN), Marine Conservation of Biology Institute, and the government of Bermuda (to name a small few) succeed in turning the Sargasso Sea into a full-fledged MPA, it would pave the way for ocean-wide protection.

By granting the Sargasso Sea the same protection as other Marine Protected Areas, we begin to help ensure the well-being of all oceans.  To lend your voice to the matter, sign this petition that hopes to get the support of world leaders in protecting the Sargasso Sea.  

Photo Credit: 4.bp.blogspot.com/_Japc3z5MDbA/TS9QokcRjCI/AAAAAAAAGeM/0TiK2L-o6MQ/s1600/Kip+702+jackmackeral.jpg

Surfers Unite to Protect the Ocean

Surfing-OceanIf there’s any universal advice a surfer can give, it’s to never turn your back on the ocean. Surfers around the world, who dip into the water every day to experience the thrill and excitement of riding a wave, know that by turning your back on the ocean, you become vulnerable to the powerful waves and majestic force of nature. While the phrase is said to protect people from the water, surfers are highly knowledgeable of how important it is to protect the water from people. With the natural beauty of oceans around the world continuously under strain and threatened by pollution, surfers have come together to form positive foundations and events that spread the awareness of ocean conservation. When the environment needs help, a surfer can never turn his back on the ocean. 

June 20, 2011 marks the 7th year anniversary of International Surfing Day. A worldwide event which is celebrated in over 25 countries, International Surfing Day is a designated day where surfers around the world celebrate the aquatic sport and come together to truly appreciate the environment from which its roots are deeply set in. Not only are surfers able to continue riding crisp waves, paddling out into the sea that brings them natural moments of adrenaline rushes, many of them take the time to give back to the beaches and shores they frequent. There are over 200 events available world wide, which gives surfers from the United States to Australia, and everywhere in between, a chance to make their mark on the ocean in a positive way. 

Up and down the hundreds of miles of California coastline, surfers will spend the day paddling out and cleaning up. The Surfrider Foundation Mendocino County Chapter and South Orange County Chapter are organizing clean up events, where volunteers can collect unwanted trash and pollution on the beach. Cardiff State beach will be hosting free surfing lessons, introducing newcomers to the natural powers of the ocean, as well as teach novices how to protect the water while enjoying it. The Santa Cruz Chapter, along with many others, will have day long festivities full of food, music, and drinks. Contests for surfers will be running throughout the day, all the way up and down the west coast from California to Oregon and Washington. 

The Hawaiian Islands is popularly known as the epicenter of the sport and surf culture, and is taking part in International Surfing Day in a big way. The Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter is hosting its events a day early on June 19, right in time for Father’s day. The family friendly events are also eco friendly and educational for surfers and non surfers alike. Volunteers who come down to the Kanaha Beach Park will be able to help clean the beach, as well as enjoy free food, yoga classes, and a day long of entertainment. The Kauai Chapter at Keoneloa Bay will be cleaning up not only the beach but also remove unwanted fishing nets that have caused harm to the fish in their natural habitat. 

Other events to help with the ongoing conservation of the ocean will be happening in places such as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Venezuela. Regardless of the location during International Surfing Day, the mission of improving the quality of the ocean for animals and humans is universally the same.

Although International Surfing Day only happens once a year, surfing foundations have been created to keep the preservation of the ocean going year round. The Surfrider Foundation, which is responsible for putting together International Surfing Day, has been an active force in ocean preservation for the past 25 years. Founded in Malibu, California, the foundation takes pride in representing people from all walks of life who have the common goal of protecting beaches and the ocean. Through on going beach clean ups and a wide awareness of threats to the natural environment, the foundation has given people volunteer and educational opportunities to make a positive difference that can impact the waters they surf in. Soul Surfers, another environmentally friendly foundation, promotes their message through their simple motto of “Ride With Care”. The foundation believes a true soul surfer is a person who has a passion for riding waves, in combination with treating the environment well and continuously learning about other surf cultures around the world. A project of Soul Surfers, called WAVES for development, has been helping the coastline of Peru for years. The acronym name stands for water, adventure, voluntourism, education, and sustainability, which is a prime explantation of all the important components surfers take to heart every time they ride a wave.

Surfing foundations have common core values of ocean conservation, from the beaches they soak up the sun on to the waters they shred their boards with. Many surfers on an international level have a similar passion for maintaining the beauty of the environment, because without it their sport would disappear.

Photo credit: loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/images/surfer.jpg

Celebrate the Ocean on World Oceans Day

Ocean

An international celebration of oceans around the globe will be taking place on June 8, 2011. Designated as World Oceans Day, the annual celebration marks the day in which people from all different countries and cultures can pay tribute to one of the most magnificent components of nature. Oceans have served as passageways for travel for centuries, along with a constant food supply and in recent times for many recreational activities. The purposes of the world’s oceans are diverse, and for one day people can celebrate all the positives that the vast oceans bring.

There are many oceans that spread out across the world, which include the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian, and Southern oceans. Oceans reach the coasts of all continents, touching the lives of a numerous amount of countries and millions of people. The lives of people around the world may depend on the ocean for daily transportation, income, and food. Oceans also help create much of the oxygen we use to breath, and is a natural source of life for diverse marine ecosystems. The drinking water we consume daily is cleaner with the help of the ocean, and the vast waters help to regulate the climate. Scientists have also used the benefits of the ocean for medicinal purposes. With all that the oceans can do for us, World Oceans Day strives to make sure we give back to the oceans. 

The ongoing conservation and protection of the world’s oceans is key to the survival of humans as well as aquatic wildlife. World Oceans Day encourages both children and adults to learn more about the rich diversity found under the water’s surface, to get a clearer understanding of how the daily lives of people have an impact on the natural environment of these animals. World Oceans Day supporters believe that with a higher understanding of how people and marine wildlife are continuously connected, the better the conservation efforts will turn out. In support of the celebration, people are encouraged to “wear blue, tell two”. This campaign hopes to increase conservation awareness by showing support through wearing blue clothing and spreading the word to others who may not understand the importance of keeping the oceans clean and away from danger.

The world’s oceans are constantly being threatened by daily human activities. Because oceans are a great source of food, fishermen have been using the water’s supply for their own benefit. Unfortunately, this has created harmful fishing tactics which has led to a considerable decrease in the amount of sea life available. Coral reefs, which support the natural habitats of countless types of fish and other marine animals, are threatened by global warming and change. Without natural protection, these animals are losing their homes and suffering without their habitats.

World Ocean Day promotes the idea that people can change their attitude towards ocean preservation with education and lifestyle change. The organizers of the annual celebration have come up with the Seven C’s Pledge, a short list of simple conservation steps that anyone can implement into daily life. The steps include commitment to making a difference, conserving at home, consuming consciously, communicating interests and concerns, challenging yourself daily, and connecting to you community. 

Over 300 events were held on World Oceans Day in 2010, across 45 countries. For this year’s celebratory day, there will also be hundreds of events worldwide. Popular events in the United States will include educational experiences for children at museums and aquariums, organized beach clean ups, live concerts, public discussions on conservation efforts, and interactive entertainment. Both children and adults have many options to celebrate the fun of World Oceans Day, while giving back and playing a role in the preservation of one of the world’s largest resource.

Photo credit: research.gov/common/images/PublicAffairs/13167_CoralReef–rgov-800width.jpg

Haiti’s Coral Reefs Surveyed: Reefs Could Provide a Stable Food Source

Non-profit organization Reef Check recently surveyed coral reefs in Haitian waters.  Emphases on improving reef health globally, lead the group to comprise the first comprehensive survey for Haiti waters.  Preliminary findings released early February revealed severe overfishing has destabilized the coral reef eco-system.  Reef Check and other non-profit groups hope to establish a Coral Reef Project to protect the reefs along with providing vital protein to Haitian residents. 

Haiti is considered one of the most populated and poorest countries in the western hemisphere.  The cramp Caribbean island houses 8 million – 10 million people, making up 25% of the total Caribbean population.  With widespread unemployment, around 76% of Haitians live on $2 a day.  Low unemployment rates coupled with low wages produces a formula of an under-nourished population.  Children eating salted mud-cakes are frequently told.  With such statistics it is no wonder people turn to fishing to provide food for their families.

Coastal fishing provides 50% of Haiti’s protein consumption.  Estimates of 30,000 fishermen and their families rely on coastal resources for their livelihood.  Heavy exploitation and poor water management, along with factors such as pollution and destructive use, are considered the primary reasons for the reef’s severe degradation.  Overfishing of Caribbean reefs has resulted in a lower abundance of mature fish.  Continued fishing by Haitians mean fish cannot develop to mature size to spawn.

After January 12, 2010’s tragic 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated much of the island, marine biologist were surprised to find little damage to the island’s coral reef.  Surveying the Arcadine Islands north of Port au Prince and reefs off Jacmel on the south coast biologist found clear waters.  In Jacmel, where coastal hotels were destroyed or badly damaged, reefs remained stable with 80% living coral.

According to an article on greenliving, “healthy coral reefs can provide up to 35 metric tons of fish per square kilometer.”  Currently, overfished reefs in Haiti provide around one-tenth the amount of other healthy, Caribbean coral.  Even before 2010’s massive earthquake, Haiti’s reefs were being overfished.  Experts in marine biology say overfishing is easy to do since reef fish grow slow, mature late and can change sex.    

Reef Check believes re-establishment of coral can provide an appropriate food source for Haitian people, but also stabilize underwater ecosystem.  Reef Check and other non-profits dedicated to the health of coral reefs, think education is the key to helping both the Haiti people and the reefs develop into a stronger, healthier livelihood.  Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregory Hodgson stated he doesn’t understand why international relief agencies focus on soil solutions when the country is an island surrounded by coral reefs.  He feels the agencies neglect potential solutions, which could improve living conditions all around. Biologists are proposing an area of coral be set aside to allow for mature development of fish.  Proper management of the coral reefs will allow reef fish to grow and mature spawning millions of young fish yearly.  Haiti’s fish supply would significantly increase providing a more appropriate food source for the island people. 

Plans to create a network of protected marine areas are underway with high hopes the areas will increase fish stock.  Emphasis on education about the value of reefs and the benefits of reef conservation along with regular monitoring of reef status will be at the forefront of protected areas.  Scientist acknowledge food sources for Haiti would not be solved, but the effort would provide help to the malnourished country.       

Photo source