Sunday, April 27, 2008

Heavy Rain In Waukesha Got Me Thinking

True story:

I was caught in Waukesha during Friday's downpour, and all that rain got me thinking: in that water-hungry area, and elsewhere for that matter, why haven't the water supply folks long ago called for the installation of water catchment systems to collect, store and apply rainwater in any number of uses?

Such devices were routine in rural areas, some still exist and rain barrels are being distributed by the MMSD in large numbers, so the concept is still alive.

Sophisticated systems are in place in plenty of areas worldwide: even the toniest homes in upscale Bermudian neighbors have them because there is precious little potable groundwater in Bermuda, but certainly plenty of rain falling on the island - - free for the collection.

There are voices in our region calling for capturing rainwater and using it where reasonable.

Longtime Waukesha County conservation activist Lisa Conley is a member of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission's water advisory study committee,

One of two women on the 31-member committee, and the sole designated representative of the environmental community (industry and government, of course, have more), Conley has more than once pitched catchment systems as worthy of serious inclusion in the study committee's recommendations due out at the end of the year.

As low-cost, reasonable and practical are Conley's proposals, I wouldn't expect to see them given great weight in the probable committee's final recommendations wherein water conservation plans will be a supplement, a side dish, if you will, to the preferred main course:

Diverted Lake Michigan water widely piped to many communities in the region.

That recommendation will be made easier to implement when the state legislature adopts the Great Lakes Compact next week along with a crucial companion bill that will make some diversions easier to achieve for the next several years, at a minimum.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Heavy Rain In Waukesha Got Me Thinking"
"Manure-To-Biogas Conversion Systems At Work In Wis..."

If there is an underlying theme here it is harnessing the natural, distributed processes of the planet. (In smart ways, of course.) In other words, the only true lasting power source is the Sun, in terms of the quantities we seek to use. (Sure, perhaps volcanic, geothermal energy activity might be enough for the genesis of life... but let's stick to one divisive issue at a time.)

The verdict is still out for me regarding ethanol. I just hope there isn't an over-reaction in the press (which there seems to be as of late) to the use of ethanol. Keep in mind, I'm advocating its use for just farming, not for powering SUVs, etc. (For transportation, the bicycle and linear light rail is the answer. Rid cities of obnoxious cars and bicycling will be very enjoyable.)

Regarding ethanol, it is hard to devise a fuel source as clean that has the necessary energy release rate required to power large vehicles. Using, say, nuclear energy (fission or fusion) to create hydrogen has its drawbacks.

Science and engineering are a trial-and-error processes that takes a while to find the right balance or niche for a technology. Can try a well-regulated ethanol micro/macro economy. If it fails to be sustainable, then dump the idea. I understand the green-house gas equations may not be exactly what one would want, but it does at least consume some green house gases in its production. Atmospheric thermodynamics isn't completely understood either, so where exactly it falls in terms of viability may not exactly be known.

It would be nice to have a "free" fuel source in the world, but there isn't one unfortunately. Again, the really big problem in this country is the quantity of energy we consume.