Tag Archives: water use

California groundwater article

Here’s an article from the New York Times today: “Beneath California’s Crops, Groundwater Crisis Grows.

This might make a subject for a blog post.  As well as the specifics of the CA situation, think about the metaphors that the NYT feels it appropriate to use to explain stock-flow ideas to its intended audience.

See also this blog post from Andy Rivkin, which has lots of references for further reading.


PSIEE Water Symposium

I received this announcement from PSIEE (Penn State Institute for Energy and the Environment), and thought it might be interesting to those who want to follow up on last week’s topic.





Join the Penn State community this Earth Day, April 22, 2015, as we highlight and celebrate the wealth of water research and study at the university. We are planning a full day of interdisciplinary presentations in the HUB. Limited space is available, so RSVP as soon as possible.

Speakers, research posters, art pieces, performance, or other exhibits/presentations related to water are welcome. Please see attached flyer for details, and you can RSVP directly here: http://psiee.psu.edu/support/rsvp_water_symposium.asp

Campus departments or organizations that would like to participate on a larger level can email psiee@psu.edu to inquire about opportunities.

Please forward to anyone you feel appropriate. For questions, contact psiee@psu.edu.

Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment, Land & Water Research Building, 1A.  Ph. (814) 863-0291

Article about water supplies to Los Angeles

I didn’t get as far as showing this map in class yesterday:

Picture1It shows the level of water stress in various parts of the USA.  The source is CIRES, an institute for research in environmental studies at the University of Colorado.

You’ll see that the southern part of California is an area of high water stress.  In the New York Times yesterday was an interesting article about the ongoing “water wars” related to Los Angeles’ water supply.

Blogging theme, week 2

The blogging theme for this week is Water.   A brief reminder about blogging requirements: you may post on anything related to the course (the “theme” for the week is only a suggestion), and your postings will be graded according to the rubric that appears in the syllabus,  The rubric involves five grading elements: frequency of posting, mathematical content, thematic content, organization and presentation, references and connections.

Because from now on we will be looking for actual mathematics, you may want to review this post which explains how to include mathematical expressions like

[ 5.7 times 10^{11}, qquad y = mx + c, qquad frac{1 – r^{n+1}}{1-r} ]

in your posts.

Suggestions (possible starting points) related to the theme.

  • Find examples of water waste, either in the US or abroad.  You could focus on agricultural, industrial, or domestic use.  Make suggestions for reducing the level of waste, and quantify the amount of water that could be saved by implementing them.
  • Carry out an Internet search on the term “water pricing”.  Give examples of apparently irrational pricing or of conflicts over water prices.  Does it make sense to speak of a single “price of water”?
  • Think about bottled water.  How many disposable drinking-water bottles are used every year on the University Park campus?   Estimate how much oil is used to make these bottles and to ship the water here.  Compare with the energy costs of delivering water by pipe.   Why is bottled water so popular? Is the bottled water industry sustainable?
  • Learn about the concept of “virtual water”, that is, water that is embodied in other products that we consume.   Give some calculations of the amount of virtual water in various consumables.  On a “virtual water” basis, where does most of our water consumption come from?
  • The Greenland ice sheet is roughly 600,000 square miles in area, and on average is over a mile thick.   If all that ice were to melt and end up in the ocean, by how much (on average) would global sea levels rise?  Show how you do the calculation.
  • Write about groundwater supplies in the southwestern US.  (This article by Jay Famiglietti, Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a good place to start.)

How Much Water Does it Take to Make a Pair of Jeans?

Water rights and accessibility is no doubt a global issue. Despite it being in the news, day to day when we wash our face or dishes we rarely think about how much we are wasting. However even if you are water conscious at home its more likely that you do not think about how much water is being wasted when you buy products.

Indirectly we can waste water, whether its buying agriculture from fields which do not have a efficient irrigation systems, or from buying a pair of jeans.  ” It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of regular ol’ blue jeans.” That’s more water than it takes to make a ton of cement or a barrel of beer (although I’m sure some of you do not consume this yet).  And that’s just in terms of growing cotton, when you take into account the dye process as well as the machine wash almost 9,982 gallons of water are used.

How can we fix this?

1. stop purchasing so many jeans

2.  Buy levis, they are built to last, and its strongly recommended to not machine wash them. They suggest freezing them instead, it kills all the germs. however, if  there is a grass stain that you would like to get off all it takes is a sponge and a cup of water opposed to 40 gallons ( a typical machine wash).


sources: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/how-many-gallons-of-water-does-it-take-to-make.html

Is Urinating in the Shower the Next Big Green Idea?

Yes, you read that right.  From Inside Higher Education:

Students at the University of East Anglia are encouraging their fellow students to skip their first trip to the toilet in the morning and to, instead, urinate in the shower, the BBC reported. The idea is to save water by avoiding the first flush of the day, and student materials (see below) suggest significant water savings could be achieved. Students are being encouraged to pledge their participation with the #gowiththeflow hashtag on Twitter.

See https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2014/10/10/urinating-shower-next-big-green-idea for more.

Apart from the gross-out factor, how does the math work here?  You could for instance compare the water amounts involved in one flush versus one extra minute of shower time.  How do these compare with one person’s total daily water use?