Monday, March 07, 2016

Groundwater Awareness Week 1

For #GroundwaterAwarenessWeek, I'd like to give a shout-out to Christopher Barry's excellent series, The Impacts of Climate Change on Global Groundwater Resources for EGU Blogs.

Part 1 : Introduction and The effects of climate change that relate to groundwater
Part 2:  Saline Intrusion

Excerpt from Saline Intrusion:
Small oceanic islands are particularly vulnerable to saline intrusion because their freshwater lens by buoyancy and the balance between recharge and outflow. The Ghyben-Herzberg relationship demonstrates, by considering buoyancy, that the freshwater lens will extend to a depth below sea level forty times the height by which it stands proud of sea level. Therefore a small rise in sea level will be cause a decrease in the depth of the freshwater lens by approximately forty times its magnitude.
I'd like to point a spotlight at Fiji, which was hit by very hard by Tropical Cyclone Winston in Feb 2016.  Most people in Fiji depend on groundwater from shallow wells.  Storm surges associated with strong storms exacerbate seawater intrusion.  Rising sea levels associated with a warming planet exacerbate seawater intrusion.  Groundwater pumping at faster than replenishment rates exacerbate seawater intrusion.

When I see bottles of Fiji Water, I cringe, thinking about the ecological harm.

From Fiji Water: Spin the Bottle in Mother Jones.
In the early 1990s, Gilmour got wind of a study done by the Fijian government and aid organizations that indicated an enormous aquifer, estimated at more than 17 miles long, near the main island's north coast. He obtained a 99-year lease on land atop the aquifer, brought a former Fijian environment minister on board, and launched an international marketing blitz inviting consumers to sample water preserved since "before the Industrial Revolution." To this day, Fiji Water has nearly exclusive access to the aquifer; the notoriously corrupt and chronically broke government has not been able to come up with the money or infrastructure to tap the water for its people.
Fijians drink water carrying typhus if they can't afford to buy bottled water (at similar to US prices) from their own aquifer! Why? Because they can't afford to drill wells as deep as the ones at the bottling plant.

Why aren't the Resnicks, who bought Fiji Water in 2004 from Gilmour, spending a small fraction of their advertising budget to drill wells and build pipe networks to provide clean water to Fijians? 

Oh, right, they are too busy privatizing Californian taxpayer's water in Kern county while buying naming rights to buildings around LA.
The Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion at LACMA
The corruption in both Fiji and California is just sickening.

Happy #GroundwaterAwarenessWeek!


  1. Am I hearing the snick of the guillotine?

    1. I don't advocate violence. But, I do refer to it as the Robber Baron pavilion when I visit LACMA.


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