All things freshwater: news, analysis, humor, reviews, and commentary from Michael E. 'Aquadoc' Campana, hydrogeologist, hydrophilanthropist, Professor of Hydrogeology and Water Resources Management in the Geography Program of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) at Oregon State University, Emeritus Professor of Hydrogeology at the University of New Mexico, Past President of the American Water Resources Association and Past Chair of the Scientists & Engineers Division of the National Ground Water Association. He is founder and president of the nonprofit Ann Campana Judge Foundation, an organization involved with WaSH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) in Central America. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership (GWP). CYA statement: the opinions expressed herein are solely those of Michael E. Campana and not those of CEOAS, Oregon State University, ACJF, AWRA, NGWA, GWP, my spouse Mary Frances, or any other person or organization.
Texas Agriculture Law Blog Don't let the name fool you - there are lots of water issues in agriculture and Tiffany Dowell of Texas A&M University does a fabulous job with this important Internet resource. Give it a read - I do every day!
The Way of Water Oregon State University Geography PhD Student, Jennifer Veilleux, records her fieldwork, research, and thoughts about transboundary water resources development in the Nile River and Mekong River basins. Particular attention is given to Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Laos' Xayaburi Dam projects.
Thirsty in Suburbia Gayle Leonard documents things from the world of water that make us smile: particularly funny, amusing and weird items on bottled water, water towers, water marketing, recycling, the art-water nexus and working.
This Day in Water History Michael J. 'Mike' McGuire, engineer extraordinaire, NAE member, and author of 'The Chlorine Revolution', blogs about historical happenings in the fields of drinking water and wastewater keyed to calendar dates.
WaSH Resources New publications, web sites and multi-media on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
Water 50/50 From Jay Famiglietti at UC-Irvine. Fifty lectures in fifty weeks: The 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lectureship. A global lecture tour delivering the message about our changing water cycle, groundwater depletion, and the future of freshwater availability.
Watering the Desert Aptly-titled blog by CJ Brooks, a lawyer-hydrologist-geologist from Tucson, AZ.
Watershed Moments: Thoughts from the Hydrosphere From Sarah Boon - rediscovering her writing and editing roots after 13 years, primarily as an environmental scientist. Her writing centres around creative non-fiction, specifically memoir and nature writing. The landscapes of western Canada are her main inspiration.
WaterWired All things fresh water: news, comment, and analysis from hydrogeologist Michael E. Campana, Professor at Oregon State University.
Watery Foundation Tom Swihart, formerly of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, tells all about water management in the Sunshine State.
Western Water Blog The 'mystery blog' about Western USA water issues. What more can I say?
Wisdom in Water, Please... Kate Wilkins-Wells , who manages the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4, provides her wisdom on water issues.
xAnalytical Doug Walker's xAnalytical blog:Turning Data and Information into Knowledge
It shows information that you normally don't see. I especially like the part about 3 billion people not having access to drinking water that is REALLY SAFE (left panel). It used to be that we spoke of having access to an 'improved' source, which could be as simple as a pipe shoved into a hillside to tap groundwater. Does that mean the water is safe? Of course not! Most of the cities I visit in the developing world have so-called 'improved' water systems. Do I drink it? No way - it is unsafe!
You can click on the graphic below to expand it, but you may want to go to the original site to see a larger image (and then click on it).
The Issue Because of São Paulo's water woes I've seen several blog posts and comments about Brazil having 12% or one-eighth of Earth's freshwater. The posts generally refer to the irony of Sao Paulo's situation given all the freshwater Brazil has.
Brazilian river basins hold some 12 percent of the world’s fresh water — a resource essential to sustain biodiversity, food production and power generation in the country. Brazil’s rivers link many of the nation’s distant geographies, proving that activities in one region can have significant benefits — or consequences — for places downstream.
I'll be the first to admit that the mighty Amazon River has about 18-20% of all Earth's river discharge to the oceans. No argument there. Number 2 is the Congo, less than one-fifth of the Amazon's discharge. And the mighty Mississippi is under one-tenth.
But 12% of Earth's freshwater in Brazil? No way.
So Where is Earth's Freshwater? Most of Earth's freshwater - about 70% - is tied up in Earth's glaciers and permanent icecaps. So you're saying, 'Wait a minute. they're talking about liquid freshwater.'. Okay, let's consider liquid water. Turns out most of Earth's liquid freshwater is groundwater. Check this out from the USGS freshwater page:
Let's say that you want to neglect groundwater, as many so-called experts are wont to do these days. Under that assumption, where is most of Earth's liquid freshwater? It's in freshwater lakes, which have about 40 times the amount of water in rivers or about 3 times the amount of freshwater contained in rivers, marshes and swamps, and in the soil.
Still with me?
So most of Earth's liquid freshwater, excluding groundwater, is contained in freshwater lakes by a factor of over 3. Think of the huge freshwater lakes (by volume) - the North American Great Lakes, Lake Baikal (holds 20% of all lake volume all by itself), Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, etc. Do you see a large freshwater lake in Brazil (no), or even in South America (yes - two)? Largest artificial lakes? Not one is even close to natural lakes in terms of volume.
Since most of Earth's liquid freshwater is contained in large lakes, and since Brazil has no large lakes, how can Brazil have 12% of Earth's freshwater? Answer: it can't and it doesn't.
Origin of the 12% Figure So what is the source of the '12% figure'. It's based on renewable freshwater flows. In fact, this recent postby Sandra Postel gets it (pretty much) correct:
Unlike Los Angeles, São Paulo is not a desert city. Whereas LA averages just 15 inches (381 millimeters) of rain a year, São Paulo averages 57.3 inches (1455 mm). With more than 12% of the world’s renewable freshwater, Brazil is sometimes called the “Saudi Arabia of water.”
See Chapter 3 of the FAO reportfor more information on how these country numbers were calculated. Note that the volume unit used - cubic kilometer - equals 811,000 acre-feet.
Of Earth's total renewable water resources of 43 750 km3/year, Brazil has 5,418 km3/year - 12.4% or 12%, about 1/8 - of internal renewable water resources. Groundwater recharge is not explicitly counted because it is assumed that it eventually shows up a baseflow to the streams, so it's already being counted as streamflow (see the 'Internal Resources: Overlap' column). That's not entirely true, since some groundwater may be lost to evapotranspiration.
Note that these figures are expressed as flows, not stocks. That's typical for people interested in renewability or sustainability. It neglects the huge stocks of groundwater (or even surface water - think lakes) that may be available for use. In fact, Brazil sits atop about 62% (surface area, not volume) of the Guarani Aquifer System, which may contain as much as 30,000 cubic kilometers of water. The blue area on the Brazil map above shows the aquifer's extent. It's definitely a storage-dominated system.
My Ten Cents Brazil has 12% of Earth's renewable surface freshwater flows - that's the correct way to say it. For the ultra-fussy, put liquid' in front of 'surface'. The ice types will say, 'Hey - glaciers flow!'
“I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind..." - Lord Kelvin(William Thomson)
Today we celebrate World Water Day, and if you know anything about me, it's that I'm normally disinclined to celebrate special 'days'. Every day is WWD to me.
But this is not just your regular WWD - it's a special World Water Day. We here at Oregon State University, along with our friends at UNESCO-IHE (the Netherlands) and the University for Peace(Costa Rica) are celebrating the roll-out of our new joint Master's programme in Water Cooperation and Peace (there will be a more formal event at the upcoming World Water Forum).
Water management is conflict management. Regardless of the scale, ensuring that the needs of the people and ecosystems that rely on this critical resource are met effectively requires comprehensive understanding of both water science and water diplomacy, including dispute mitigation, management, and resolution. To address these needs, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, the University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica, and Oregon State University (OSU) in the USA, have embarked on a joint education programme in Water Coooperation and Peace. The goal of this new initiative is to broaden the scope of approach to conflict and peace, provide a more theoretical dimension to conflict, engage multi-level scales of conflict dimensions and strengthen skills through highly experiential learning opportunities.
With a launch slated for summer 2015, the programme will provide tools and training in an international setting, with a unique opportunity to undertake coursework and hands-on experiences in Costa Rica, The Netherlands and the United States. Participants will be exposed to case studies involving diverse challenges and contexts at different scales.
Key strengths of the programme include the following:
Exposure to theory followed by practical exposure to contemporary issues through field work at different scales
Strong theoretical foundation in peace and conflict studies
Particular emphasis on conflict from different points of view
Foundation in how to understand the nexus of environment and development: how to integrate
water-related issues in a broader environment and development framework
Focus on practical skills-training for actual dispute resolution processes
Collaborative and interdisciplinary project work
Field experience in both the Global South and Global North contexts
Extended networking opportunities from different but complementary fields (water-oriented experts, and peace and conflict experts)
Students will be able to choose from a project and thesis option, with further opportunities to specialize based on skills and future career goals. Students will be awarded an MA and an MSc in Water Cooperation and Peace, and have the option to continue on at the University of Oregon for a Juris Doctor or Master of Law.
Zaki Shubber - Z.Shubber@unesco-ihe.org Thomas Klompmaker - firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Dowd-Uribe - email@example.com Mary Santelmann - Mary.Santelmann@oregonstate.edu
This will be fun - I am looking forward to it. I will be responsible for the OSU summer field course. It'll be taught this summer, but the international students won't take it until 2016 so I will offer it to our OSU students who will help me develop it. We'll likely work in our natural laboratory, the binational and interstate Columbia River basin.
Circle of Blue Circle of Blue uses journalism, scientific research, and conversations from around the world to bring the story of the global freshwater crisis to life. Here you’ll find new water reports, news headlines, and hear from leading scientists.
Drink Water For Life The idea is simple. Drink water or other cheap beverages instead of expensive lattes, sodas, and bottled water for a set period of time. A day, a week, a month, Lent, Ramadan, Passover, or some other holiday period.
eFlowNet Newsletter From the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) this newsletter has lots of information about environmental flows and related issues.
Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Since 2002, the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) has brought together federal, state, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors to advance our understanding of the nation’s water resources and to develop tools for their sustainable management.