Wednesday, March 02, 2011

"Peak Water" - we are there

Durham is in a precarious location in relation to our aquifer (Piedmont). 
Large scale Rain water Harvesting systems must be implemented to meet agricultural and development demand.We get 48" average rainfall which is fairly significant in terms of return to capture.
We know the amount of water we remove from the aquifer in acre feet, we need to replace it. We need to practice urban and rural Aquifer Management (AM). 
In the agricultural sector we need to tie AM into and monitor evapotranspiration rates, chill units, fruit phenology, IPM, weather and soil data. Farms and each of the universities in the NC system feed information on a shared data base system. Data must be constant on a day to day basis so farms know when to water and how much. A Rain Water Harvesting system and Sustainable Orchard or Crop management program is then available that would in turn reduce inputs while advancing greater yields. IN this system there is a sustainable economic factor (jobs) as well as a sustainable agricultural management component. In addition there is an educational piece that also cannot be ignored.
Agriculture and development are the biggest draw and storm water runoff the biggest waste. Pivot irrigation is a waste. North Carolina farms will not have the option to be saved or passed on to the next generation if they don't have water.
Durham is barely on an aquifer to manage geographically
The sedimentary rocks in the Piedmont Province consist of sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, shale, and local conglomerate.We are in a weird spot. The four southernmost basins (Durham) contain water sufficient only for domestic supplies in the upper 300 feet. The rocks are similar in composition but are more compact and cemented, than those in the basins to the north. They do not yield sufficient quantities of water to be considered a principal aquifer.
Durham, Sanford, Wadesboro and Davie are all in this area and in the same circumstance.
If we want water long term for our children we have got to address Peak water" and the answer falls from the sky and harvestable. 
Durham especially needs to consider its real circumstance given our geographic location and supply compared to development and agricultural use. We are not as fortunate as areas in a less precarious position with better access.
  • Rain barrels help, make sure you understand the source (roof = petrochemicals, or tin = lead). Answer to that is a flush.
  • Roads require an elaborate NASA level filter system that requires maintenance but doable.
  • Managing storm water? This is the largest waste of rain water inner city. We have a storm water management answer that is an awesome product using existing infrastructure and almost no containment. The answer to this is simply complex and allusive.
Large scale removal demands a large scale answer.
We need, environmentally sound, ecologically placed capture areas with conveyance to containment and direct recharge capability designed using state of the art engineering software that is tied into a computer system that monitors the water usage rate so recharge can be controlled.
All of these systems exist. No wheel needs to be invented. No elaborate and expensive systems need to be developed. They only need to be elaborate in size to meet demand using existing infrastructure in an environmentally sound way.

Jeff Ensminger