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Special Report: Possible Solutions to the Drought

Some out-of-the box solutions to the drought.
     There's a few wild and extreme ideas that could help us survive the drought, or perhaps even thrive when mother nature leaves us high and dry.
     Fresno's Wastewater Treatment Facility takes in up to 80 million gallons of liquid waste every day.
     "That's a lot of water. that will fill up bulldog stadium a number of times," said Stephen Hogg with Fresno Wastewater Management.
      Hogg says many cities are already turning sewage back into drinking water.
      "Recycled water is really a valuable resource. it's a very drought-resistant, drought-tolerant water supply," he said.
       Fresno's already recycling nearly all the water that comes into the wastewater treatment plant. This water here comes right out the back. ten percent of the water is used to water crops for food for animals or for fiber like cotton.
        The rest is pooled in ponds where it percolates into the ground. this not only recharges the water table but provides an economical final cleansing.
        But construction will soon begin on a new, advanced stage of treatment at the plant.
        After processing, this water will be piped back into Fresno for reuse through a separate water system for landscaping and industry.
        What about harvesting water from valley fog?
        Collecting water from fog is an ancient practice. today, it's still used in many parts of the world.
        One collector made of mesh netting was built by Fogquest, a charity that helps set up the relatively inexpensive devices in developing countries.
        CSU Monterry Bay Science and Environmental Policy professor Daniel Fernandez experiments with such fog nets in California.
        "From one square meter this is in the Big Sur area which gets a lot of fog and a lot of wind I've collected about 39 liters in one day," said Fernandez.
        That's more than ten gallons of water pulled from the air.
        But Fernandez said there's a problem that may keep it from working in the Valley too little wind to push the moist air through.
        "There's typically less wind... the droplet sizes are a lot smaller so i would expect that the liquid water per cubic meter is probably a lot less than along the coastal areas," he said.
        Meaning although it's possible to collect water from our tule fog, it won't be very much.
        "It's certainly something worth trying. i think the idea of it is really neat. maybe you can set up a fog net and get a fog garden going. ... and see what you get," he said.
        So what about the idea of building a canal from one side of the country to the other? or a pipeline?  Well, construction of a pipeline can cost about twenty five dollars a foot at least multiply that base by the diameter, six thousand a foot. 5,280 feet in a mile... 31 million dollars... 2000 miles from the Midwest... the cost - 67 billion dollars. Not to talk about design, not to talk about the immense amount of electricity it takes to pump the water up the mountains and control it falling back down again.
        As conditions change, wild solutions like recycling wastewater into drinking water may start to appear less extreme and more mainstream.
and who knows? The next off-the-wall idea might just be crazy enough to work.

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Fresno, CA

  • High: 102°F
  • Low: 72°F
  • Sunrise: 6:31 AM PDT
  • Sunset: 7:25 PM PDT
  • Feels Like: 102°F
  • Wind Chill: 102°F
  • Visibility: 10 mi.
  • Dew Point: 42°
  • Relative Humidity: 13%