Word is getting around that the world is hurtling toward a future with dwindling water resources and the news is all gloom and doom. The number of lives threatened is staggering and the available solutions limited.

This state of affairs is nearly impossible to imagine for people who have only to turn a knob to receive a flood of cool, crisp and clean water. So, perhaps putting a name and a cultural face to the problem can help.

Note: There is a difference between a country that has little water but enough resources to buy all it needs, and an undeveloped country that has neither. Gulf nations like Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait top the list in the ratio of available local resources per person, but these countries are capable of trading one precious liquid for another or financing desalination efforts.

Below we take a look at the five countries most threatened by severe water shortages that do not have the money to purchase it.

1. Libya

Libya’s troubles are twofold in that it is undergoing a period of political upheaval while also suffering from lack of water and other resources.

Libya’s local water resources have never been reliable, but the added stresses of regime change have acted to cut off water for much of the country’s population, including the capital of Tripoli. Violence and unrest typically rule news about Libya, but the broader fact is that the country goes through frequent and severe stretches without fuel, food and water.

2. Western Sahara

Often described as the “Disputed Territory of Western Sahara,” the colony is home to thousands of Sahrawi refugees who suffer constant food and water shortages due to a decades-long struggle for control between Morocco and the Sahrawi tribal group known as the Polisario Front.

The conflict is unlikely to end due to natural resources located in the area and the possibility of offshore oil, which means the people will continue to go thirsty.

3. Yemen

Yemen is a hotbed of conflict and a waypoint for terrorists traveling through the Middle East, and as such it is often in a weakened position to receive aid that includes fresh water.

The country has little natural fresh water to use and relies heavily on water from other sources. Political strife in the region often prevents the people from receiving many necessities and water is chief among them. Some experts project the county’s capital of Sanaa will be the first major city in the world to run out of water.

4. Djibouti

Eastern Africa has long been the target of humanitarian aid from familiar acronyms like UNICEF and UNHCR, and Djibouti’s legacy as a refugee corridor and strategic military position has always made it a stress point for adequate water supply.

An arid climate that is prone to drought and poor infrastructure does not help, and frequently leaves millions without reliable access to fresh water.

5. Jordan

Jordan is in the unfortunate position of being located in the arid and politically divided Middle East while lacking the access to valuable natural resources that its equally waterless neighbors enjoy.

This means that it must rely heavily on its own natural water resources, namely the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. Increased desertification and a growing population are acting together to decimate the water supply, and a plan for alternate sources has not been formulated.

Remember …

A water shortage is not only about a physical lack of water. If that were the case many parts of the U.S. would be in the same position as many of these countries. It is often more about economic resources, which is what makes it so important to understand that the global water crisis is a human problem rather than a series of isolated geographical inconveniences.

5 US Cities Suffering Droughts in 2012

by admin on July 25, 2012

5 US Cities Suffering from DroughtDrought is a word typically associated with places that have more radical climate swings than the U.S., like the windswept expanses of the Middle East or the dry, cracked earth found in the Outback.

Unfortunately, though, the U.S. also experiences its share of rainless days and some places suffer more than others. While isolated areas among the Plains States and the far-flung towns in the wilds of Texas are some of the driest imaginable, this article focuses on drought-prone metropolitan areas.

Here we take a look at five U.S. cities experiencing droughts based on data provided in the U.S. Drought Monitor as of July 10, 2012, which means these places are experiencing droughts currently and is irrespective of historical susceptibility (although many of these cities routinely experience severe droughts).

1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

It’s no secret that all of Colorado is being ravaged by drought and wildfires, but Colorado Springs is the metropolitan area nearest one of the most extreme areas of drought.

The problem of drought in the region is being exacerbated by the heat of the wildfires, which is creating ash and clogging what water resources are still flowing. Relief is needed before an even greater threat to the city’s water supplies occurs.

2. Little Rock, Arkansas

The farmers in Little Rock attempted to outsmart the heat by selling what they could before it was scorched in the field and prices went down, but now that the available produce is gone prices are going up – and staying up.

Of course, that’s just one problem out of many that is being caused by the drought. The searing heat and lack of water is wreaking havoc on livestock and making life unbearable for Arkansas residents.

3. Reno, Nevada

Las Vegas is usually the big name in the news when it comes to drought and it’s true that nearly the entire state is now under an advisory for severe drought, but Reno is under threat of extreme conditions.

The good news is that Nevada’s winter was a good one and the reservoirs are full and new technologies are helping to protect corn crops, so aside from the heat most people in the state are faring relatively well.

4. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis is approaching nearly one full month of temperatures above 90 degrees and the combined lack of precipitation has pushed the region to extreme-drought conditions.

Meteorologists say the area would have to get between 12 and 15 inches of rainfall to begin a return to normal saturation levels. The city is just one of many to be swept up in sprawling drought conditions that have not been so widespread since 1956.

5. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, yet another desert town that grew into a city despite not having enough local water resources to support the expansion, is always in need of more water. This year’s drought, however, is leaving it thirstier than usual.

Arizona meteorologists and residents alike are looking forward to a wet summer monsoon season that is anticipated to end the current drought, and all hope this year’s storms are wetter than usual considering the state’s light winter rains and seemingly unending heat.

We made this infographic to showcase the disparity between the water rich nations versus the water poor nations which hopefully will encourage changes in personal choices to conserve water around the world. Please feel free to share this infographic on your blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest to help increase awareness of this important issue. View Wide Version

Infographic Water Rich Vs Poor

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water faucetIt’s the beginning of summer and that means three things: Father’s Day, graduation and, for many parts of the country (and the world), greatly increased water use.

People are out washing cars, watering lawns and gardens, slicking up Slip ‘n’ Slides and filling up pools. These are activities that make for great summers, but it also puts greater strain on municipal water supplies, which makes it an especially useful time to think about water conservation gifts for all those dads and grads out there.

Below we take a look at some gift ideas that can save water while still sweetening up somebody’s special day.

1. Waterless Car Wash Products

The waterless car wash is no longer the stuff of fiction: it comes in a bottle, is relatively inexpensive and is better for the environment than conventional car washing in more ways than one.

These products get cars clean by lifting dirt and grime away with powerful – yet environmentally safe – surfactants that are usually biodegradable, non-toxic and phosphate-free. What’s more, you do not use any water, although it’s so unconventional you’ll probably be tempted.

Manufacturers estimate you can save 20-100 gallons of water per wash, and the awesome thing is that you can wash your car anywhere. Grads and dads waiting for mom to find the perfect place setting for the celebration dinner can wash their cars in the store parking lot. Bam!

2. Water Filter Bottles

Perhaps not as radical as water-free car washing (but definitely just as cool) is the newest generation of water bottles that contain filters inside. This means no more transferring water from your filter jug at home into your to-go bottle, then refilling the jug, etc. etc. Just fill up the bottle and go.

The best part about this is that it’ll curb any lingering habit you may have of buying bottled water, which should be a no-no in any conservationist’s playbook. Bottled water is little more than a marketing gimmick (at least in the U.S.), and water from the tap is just as healthy.

Even so, these bottles can also remove “funny” odors and tastes that sometime come out of the tap, usually from chlorine.

3. Drip Irrigation Kits

Drip irrigation is a great way to save water while still getting your plants what they need. It works by releasing just the right amount of water at the root so less is wasted by runoff and evaporation. These systems can also be automated, which can help save even more water.

One may think that drip irrigation sounds too complicated to be worth the trouble, but that’s what makes the kits great. You can design your own kit or get help, and with a few clicks of a button you can have exactly what you need based on your soil type, plants and other factors to get you on your way to more environmentally sound watering. It’ll lower your water bill in the long run and can also be more finely calibrated to ensure your plants aren’t getting too little or too much water.

4. Water Conservation Books

As nerdy as it may sound, knowledge is often the best gift you can give a person. Sure, it may be true that the last thing a college grad wants to see is another book, but that feeling will pass eventually, especially if they end up surfing on a couch while they wait to discover their dream!

There are lots of great books out there, from how-to help books to the history of water, and on to the future of water resources in the world. This latter area of study could prove very helpful to anyone who wants to know what they can do now to alleviate the stresses of the global water crisis before irreparable harm comes to the planet’s most precious natural resource.

5. Memberships and Donations

There is a vast array of non-profits out there fighting the war on water scarcity, and they all need more help. From Project WET to Water for People, these organizations use science and technology along with expert networking to fund water projects at home and abroad for those who need it most.

Many groups offer hands-on opportunities as well if a donation seems a little too disconnected for people who really want to get involved. Some non-profits organize trips to help the world’s most water poor, or ask volunteers to contribute in their own communities through fundraisers, river cleanup projects and other activities.

So congrats to all those grads, and thanks to all those dads, and here’s to enjoying doing a little bit more to save the planet.

farmer water conservation toolsSimply put, farmers are the true stewards of the nation’s water supply.

Agribusiness places some of the greatest demands on fresh water in the U.S. and around the world. According to the latest statistics provided by the United States Geological Survey, farmers use 138.92 billion gallons of water a day for irrigation, livestock care and aquaculture.

The importance of farmers’ role in using the world’s most vital natural resource as responsibly as possible cannot be overstated. As the population grows and more food is required, better water management will become as critical as the water itself.

Below, we take a look at five helpful water conservation resources for farmers.

1. More Efficient Irrigation Equipment

Irrigation equipment upgrades can be costly, but there is no question that it will be worth it in the long run. The reality of an ever-shrinking water supply in the face of growing needs will become more evident, and eventually the true cost of water will emerge.

The most efficient irrigation system will depend on the type of crop, the type of soil, area climate and other factors. Gravity-flow systems and irrigation systems are just two examples of possible solutions for more efficient water use. Using water flow meters can help measure and control the amount of water being used in irrigation.

2. Weather Apps

Some farmers may be inclined to set an automated irrigation schedule and let it run regardless of the weather. Adjusting irrigation systems to work in better harmony with natural precipitation takes more work, but it is an inarguable way to save significant amounts of water.

There are numerous weather apps available that provide up-to-the-second precipitation reports. Using these along with irrigation systems can help save water, which will save farmers money and reduce wear and tear on systems.

3. Soil Management

Proper soil management is a key to conserving water. It is the soil that absorbs, transmits and holds the water for crops to use and there is much a farmer can do to manipulate the nature of soil, and is especially helpful if the soil quality is compromised.

Various techniques farmers may consider include conservation tillage, using compost and utilizing cover for crops. Again, what works the best to conserve water will depend on what kind of soil is being managed.

4. Water Recycling

Avoiding or mitigating runoff can save millions of gallons of water over the course of a growing season. Runoff can occur due to overwatering, poor soil and other factors, and in any case is a natural result of irrigation to some degree.

Recycling runoff not only helps save water, it helps save entire ecosystems. Agricultural runoff typically contains large amounts of chemicals that can seep into groundwater and pollute rivers, streams and other bodies of water. The costs are significant, but so are the benefits.

5. Organic Farming Methods

Water recycling is far less expensive when a farmer doesn’t have to treat the water before reusing it. Organic farming methods that reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals are yet another way for farmers to conserve water by taking out a costly step in the recycling process.

Using organic farming methods can arguably also lower the water-use footprint by preserving the quality of water that would otherwise be negatively affected by polluted runoff. That said, not all organic farming methods reduce the amount of water used, so conservation-minded farmers should carefully consider the options.

Do you have additional suggestions for farming water conservation tools? Please share them in the comments below.

Stock Photo by Shutterstock

Video: Seametrics Flow Meter Hot Tap Removal

by Karin Grinzel on April 10, 2012

There is a huge benefit to having the ability to install and/or maintain a flow meter on a system without having to bear the expense of a complete system shut down. Hot Tapping is the ability to safely tie into a pressurized system, by drilling or cutting, while it is on stream and under pressure. Seametrics manufactures flow meters with this functionality. To see hot-tapping in action, watch this instructional video:

farm water conservationLong past are the days when the American farmer relied solely on experience, the advice of friends and the latest Almanac to make decisions about how to produce the biggest yield. The Digital Age has arrived, and farmers are more in the know now than at any other time in the history of agriculture.

Given the history of agriculture, that is really saying something. Many anthropologists attribute the very growth of humanity as it is seen today to advances in agriculture. Ironically, it is this very growth that is now putting a strain on agriculture, and making it necessary for farmers to produce food even more efficiently and with better use of vital natural resources.

Doing that means farmers must be informed about agricultural best practices, new methods, news, technology, laws and regulations – and particularly water conservation.

Below are five recommended water conservation websites for farmers.

1. University of California Center for Water Resources

California often acts as an incubator for new farming technologies and methods due to its more progressive legal system and enormous agribusiness economy. As such, it also frequently serves as a bellwether for processes that are adopted later by other states.

This makes the UC Center for Water Resources an exceptional resource for farmers in any locations despite differences in hydrology, soil and other factors. It’s a website that provides comprehensive information on the latest developments in water sustainability and policy.

2. USDA National Agricultural Library

The Soil and Water Management section of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library is an essential resource for farmers who want to increase their yields with efficient water use while remaining in federal compliance.

Two sections in particular – Water Conservation and Water-saving Irrigation Techniques – will be useful for large commercial farmers who consume significant quantities of water. That said, an operation of any size could benefit from the many resources that are contained in this library.

3. National Water Program

The unique thing about the National Water Program (NWP) website is that it breaks down water management into eight regions on a clickable map, and when clicked the user is taken to a list of resources suited specifically to that area and reflecting the vast differences in regional water data.

The NWP has a larger focus than just agricultural water management, but it does not weaken the information because researchers can see how water conservation in farming relates to all other water use, which is important to know when making decisions about how to save water.

4. Internal Revenue Service

This is a rare instance wherein someone can actually benefit by getting to know a little more about the IRS. For those who feel that water conservation in agriculture is nothing more than a policy burden and a means to appease environmentalists who have no experience in water management, they may be happy to know farmers can deduct expenses for water conservation.

More information can be found in Publication 225, otherwise known as the Farmer’s Tax Guide, but the short story is that expenses incurred for soil and water conservation can be deducted if the plan has been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The deduction cannot exceed 25% of the gross income from farming, but it is nevertheless a generous deduction.

5. National Water Management Center

The National Water Management Center (NWMC) is a subdivision of the aforementioned Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which in turn is a department of the USDA. Acronym confusion aside, the NWMC website is a good place to go for top-level information on federal policy as it pertains to watersheds, irrigation and other critical water conservation issues.

Specific areas in which the NWMC specializes are environmental compliance, watershed management and water quality. It also provides free access to numerous publications that can keep farmers up-to-date on trending water conservation topics.

Stock photo courtesy of Shutterstock

We created this infographic that provides interesting facts about the tremendous amount of water used globally for agriculture while emphasizing the great importance of conserving the world’s water supply to feed the 9 billion population expected in 2050. Please feel free to share this infographic on your blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to help increase awareness of this important issue. View Wide Version

infographic farm water

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Infographic: Why Water Conservation Matters

by admin on January 31, 2012

We put together an infographic that presents surprising facts about the importance of water conservation including the massive number of deaths caused by inadequate access to clean water and the incredible amounts of water needed to produce the food to feed our rapidly growing global population. We encourage you to republish this infographic on your site or share it through social media to raise awareness of this important issue (See Wide View Version).

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10 Great Agriculture Infographics

by Charles on January 10, 2012

Infographics have grown leaps and bounds beyond the PowerPoint SmartArt of yesteryear. Charts and bubbles have given way to dynamic representations that can distill reams of data into one easy-to-understand picture.

They are a great way to get information fast, and listed below are 10 of the best, most relevant infographics pertaining to the agricultural industry.

1. Farming First: “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy

This award-winning infographic is actually a series of 17 graphics that are combined to tell the story of how agriculture can contribute to a green economy in America. It poses six questions to readers in a progressive drop-down format that addresses issues like sustainable supply chains, reducing poverty through green agriculture and answering the food needs of future generations.

2. FarmBillHack: “Consolidation of the Meat Industry”

This infographic published by Food + Tech Connect and winner of its Farm Bill Hackathon contest takes a sharp look at the farm bill as it relates to what is happening in the meat industry. The illustration argues that the consolidation is ruining the market for U.S. beef by putting ranchers and workers out of business and ultimately raising the price of meat.

3. LiveScience: “Green Acres

Ross Toro provides a quick snapshot of American farming in 2011 in this infographic. Readers are invited to consider how many farmers there are in America and how many of their fellow Americans they feed, as well as how many people they employ and how much of their food is used for export.

Today's GoFigure looks at agriculture in America.

4. ONE, Living Proof and GOOD: “The Agricultural Multiplier Effect

The dynamic infographic created through a partnership of three different companies that promote environmental stewardship and healthy living demonstrates how smart agricultural investments can improve crop yields while also bettering the protection of the environment.

See full infographic

5. Frugal Dad: “The Consolidation of American Food

Industry consolidation is a big issue in American agriculture, and this infographic takes a more tongue-in-cheek approach to these concerns. The piece begins by using the fact that 30% of all turkeys consumed this Thanksgiving (2011) were produced by Butterball and then proceeds to apply this measurement to other top food producers.

Conglomerate American Food Infographic

Source: Frugal dad

6. International Food Policy Research Institute: “Global Hunger Index 2011 by Severity”

The pervasiveness of starvation around the globe is crystallized in this effective infographic from the IFPRI. As made evident by the red and orange areas on the map, Africa leads the world in its need for food.

See full infographic

7. Food Service Warehouse: “Visualizing the World’s Food Consumption

This interactive infographic was ostensibly created to demonstrate the differences in food consumption around the world. As pertaining to agriculture, however, it also provided detailed information on how much income is spent on food in different areas, revealing the differentiation between food cost and availability.

See full infographic

8. USAID: “The Global State of Agriculture”

The U.S. humanitarian assistance organization provides this infographic to illustrate the need for increased food production by emphasizing the boom in the global population. The planet now supports 7 billion people, and USAID estimates food production must increase 70% by 2050 to meet the growing need.

9. EcoPolitology: “Cornfields vs. Oilfields

The message in this infographic is that the increased use of ethanol is a viable, cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to gasoline for use in America’s vehicles. The benefit of the analysis is that it illustrates the pros and cons of the plan in a way that is balanced and clearly represents both sides of the issue.

Cornfields vs. Oilfields

10. Public Health Program: “The Two Sides of the Food Crisis

This is yet another in-depth look at the challenges agriculture will face in the coming years. It predicts agricultural production will slow in the near term, food prices will rise due to lower supply, higher demand and more production costs associated with adapting to climate change, farm encroachment and other factors that will impact the industry.

The Food Crisis
Created by: Public Health Degree