Since 1993, the United Nations has designated March 22nd of each year as World Water Day, a day dedicated to celebrating water. This year’s theme is “Water and Sustainable Development.” As the world continues to grow and the demand for water rises, the management of water and water systems is becoming ever more critical. This Sunday, take the opportunity to learn more about water’s place in the world and how we as engineers and thoughtful citizens make an impact.
On Sunday, June 26th, a Chinese freighter became the first ship to pass through the recently completed Panama Canal expansion. The expansion went over budget reaching 5.25 billion dollars and was two years behind schedule, but it has finally been completed and it is expected to handle a greater volume of shipping traffic and bring a large increase in revenue to Panama.
The City of Santa Barbara is turning its sights on an old seawater desalination plant to tackle California’s worsening drought and limited water supply. According to Mayor Helene Schneider, the city is willing to spend more than $40 million to reactivate a mothballed seawater desalination plant that opened in 1992 and shut down after just three months of operation. Desalination is the “very last resort,” says Schneider. "We know it's a very big decision to take—and yet at the same time we've done everything we could with our other water supply options."
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, is currently flushing water to keep the reactors' temperature low enough in an effort to avoid radioactive releases. Radioactivity of the used water is reduced through a special treatment procedure, however current technology cannot remove a relatively harmless radioactive isotope called tritium. Tepco now wants to evaporate huge amounts of that water, raising concerns over the particular practice.