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require costly power for pumping, moving, treat- ing and distributing at each stage.

Some planners and policymakers are eyeing desalination as a silver bullet solution to potential water shortages. But they miss—or dismiss—the perverse irony: by burn- ing more fossil fuels and by making local water supplies more and more dependent on increasingly

The United States withdraws more fresh water per capita than any other country, much of which we could save. The vast majority of demand does not require drinkable water.

Source: Pacific Institute

expensive energy, desalination creates more problems than it solves. Producing one cubic meter of drinkable water from salt water requires about two kilowatt-hours of electricity, us- ing present technology.

Water for People and Nature

Thus, a vanguard of citizens, communities, farmers and corporations are thinking about water in a new way. They’re asking what we really need the water for, and whether we can meet that need with less. The result of this shift in think- ing is a new movement in water management that focuses on ingenuity and ecological intelligence instead of big pumps, pipelines, dams and canals. These solutions tend to work with nature, rather than against it, making effective use of the “ecosystem services” provided by healthy watersheds and wetlands. Through better technologies and informed choices, they seek to raise water productivity and make every drop count.

Communities are finding that protecting watersheds is an effective way to make sure water supplies are clean and reliable; plus, they can do the work of a water treatment plant in filtering out pollutants at a lower cost. New York City is investing $1.5 billion to restore and protect the Catskill-Del- aware Watershed, which supplies 90 percent of its drinking water, in lieu of constructing a $10 billion filtration plant that would cost an additional $300 million a year to operate. Re- search published in Natural Resources Forum further shows that a number of other U.S. cities—from tiny Auburn, Maine, to Seattle—have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in capi- tal and operating costs of filtration plants by instead opting for watershed protection.

Communities facing increased flood threats are achiev- ing cost-effective protection by restoring rivers. After endur- ing 19 floods between 1961 and 1997, Napa, California, opted for this approach over the conventional route of channeling and building levees. In partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a $366 million project is recon- necting the Napa River with its historic floodplain, moving homes and businesses out of harm’s way, revitalizing wet- lands and marshlands and constructing levees and bypass channels in strategic locations. Napa residents will benefit

The Importance of Purified,

Balanced Tap Water by Mary Moscarello


he issue of drinking-water quality has had some seri- ous attention these days. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz devoted an entire episode of his TV show recently to the subject of drinking water. He focused on levels of lead and other harmful toxins, such as perchlorate (a rocket fuel ingredient) and chromium-6 in the public water supply. Since environ- mentally aware folks know that bottled water is not a good alternative, what’s the answer?

“While you may have to help it along, pure water is no farther away than your tap,” says Mizar Turdiu, executive vice president of PUR2o, a water-filtration-system manufac- turer based in Morristown. “The first step is to know what you’re up against.”

To get educated about the water supply, Turdiu directs homeowners, health practitioners and business owners to the Environmental Working Group’s website,, where an interactive report can be generated using a zip code and name of a water company to detail municipal water supply contaminants.

Many water-specialist companies, such as PUR2o, con- duct in-home testing as well. Often they recommend reverse osmosis (RO) technology to ensure complete removal of contaminants. But, Turdiu cautions, this is only part of the purification process for tap water. It’s important to start with RO technology but not to stop there, she says, because it removes beneficial minerals along with contaminants. “Ideal drinking water is filtered, then purified, and has essential minerals added back, such as calcium, magnesium and po- tassium, to achieve an alkaline pH level,” she says. Alkaline water offers health benefits in much the same way that an alkaline diet creates an internal environment that resists disease. Drinking alkaline water neutralizes stored acids and toxins in the body caused by stress, improper diet and environmental factors. Cooking with alkaline water can also improve the flavor of foods and allow the body to better absorb nutrients. More and more nutritionists and wellness professionals advise their clients to strive for an alkaline diet, citing lab tests that show cancer cells cannot thrive in that environment.

But Turdiu warns against selecting systems that jump to ionizing the water before filtration. “These systems use elec- trolysis to ionize the water, without first properly filtering out unwanted impurities,” she explains. “That means every particle in the water is ionized, including every contaminant present.” No matter what filtration system you decide to use in your home, you can be certain that restoring purity and alka- linity to your water will benefit your health, your pocketbook and even tonight’s dinner.

Mary Moscarello is a freelance writer in Clifton who writes about health, wellness, relationships and environmental issues. For more information on the Environmental Working Group, visit For more information on PUR2o, visit

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