And the leak goes on and on and on!

Readers may recall a story posted in February 2010 wherein I attempted to bring attention to the challenges of Asheville’s aging Asheville water distribution system infrastructure. The story focused on a particular section of large diameter iron pipe with lead packed joint seals. This pipe is part of the primary water distribution system that transmits water from the North Fork and or Bee Tree reservoirs to Asheville and beyond.

In my previous reporting the visible water leak from this pipe was calculated at approximately 200,000 gallons per year. During my most recent inspection, on September 5th 2011, I again found a leak, considerably worse than I had seen during any of my prior inspections. The current rate of leak was measures at approximately 650,000 gallons per year or 1780 gallons per 24 hour period. On September 4th 2011, I measured the rate of leak at approximately 630,000 gallons per year.  The leak shown in this video is worsening on a daily basis. Keep in mind the rate of leakage increase as water usage diminishes at night which and pressure builds within the system.

Asheville’s water maintenance department has again been alerted of the condition and they will certainly act to address the leak. The effort will likely be no more than previous, which is to re-pack the existing lead seal, rather than replace the failing pipe joint. During the 8 years that I have been monitoring the section of piping, this routine has played out several times, and each time the leak has resumed worse than the previous. This type of repair is a temporary fix and will not last; the leak will reoccur with a couple months. Sections of Asheville’s antiquated system can not accommodate the pressures necessary to meet growing consumer demands.

As this system continues to age, the risk of catastrophic failure rises. If we take into consideration the added potential stresses caused by recent movements in Eastern fault lines that have been quite for decades, our worry is even greater. Asheville’s 10 year strategic plan does not include replacement of this failing water distribution infrastructure. Surely Asheville has this in their Planned Obsolescence Strategy? Even if this necessary upgrade were in their plan, current financial conditions would almost certainly prevent implementation for many years to come. Catastrophic failure is likely to be the catalyst that will bring about upgrading Asheville’s failing water system.

I wonder if they are better prepared for such an occurrence than they were when flooding of Asheville occurred in September 2004. The severity of the flooding that occurred in 2004 was due to the failure of a primary transmission line that draws from the North Fork reservoir. Emergency release of water from the reservoir washed away a section of this very old pipe. As I recall the majority of Asheville residents were without water for a more than week. The reason it took so long to repair the pipe was due to a lack of available materials due to its age. Does Asheville have a stock of materials to make emergency repairs to this section of piping when we have the next catastrophic failure?










Should Asheville Continue Flouridation of Drinking Water?

The debate over the pro’s & con’s of flouridating drinking water is about to get some new life. The Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the US Department of Health and Human Services have announced a re-assessment of policy on this highly controversial subject.The agency’s will recommend a new standard for recommended levels that will, in most cases be lower than the national average. The recommendation will be for a maximum level of 0.7 milligrams per liter vs the current acceptable “range” standard of 0.7-1.2 milligram.

Asheville’s 2009 Water Quality Report shows fluoride levels of between 0.7 & 1.0 ppm depending on the source; I.E. Mills River Station or the North Fork station.It also indicates an acceptable level of as much as 4ppm which is well above levels that will cause negative health effects. Flourosis is known to occur at levels of 1.0 or greater.

One thing is certain, the announcement will be fuel for both side of the health risks vs health benefits debate. Proponents will surely argue this as evidence for fluoridation while opponents will surely see it as an action taken to lower potential of known risks and thereby lend justification to there point of view.

Which side of the fence are you on?

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Asheville has great water; doesn’t it?

Are you thankful for that daily hot shower, or drink of cold clean water whenever you want one? I couldn’t imagine life without these simple everyday things that we take for granted. 

It’s important that we take time, even during what we see as “hard times” to be thankful for the luxuries and conveniences we have. There is almost one billion people living everyday without what we expect to have as US citizens.

Here’s a reality check for ya; the problem of poor sanitation and lack of safe water is closer to home than you may want to believe. Indeed you don’t have to look very far in our own community to discover what is often overlooked. It could be as close as your neighbor, coworker or the school friend your child plays with everyday. There are citizens in our community that suffer the burdens of unsafe water; and many of them don’t even know their at risk. Did you know that Madison County in North Carolina has the highest rate per capita of “strait piped sewers” in the nation? “Strait piped” means strait from the toilet to the nearest creek, river or lake! Make you wonder whats in your water? 

Sometimes the simplest actions have the most profound impact towards improving situations that need improving. You can do something, for free, to help save millions of lives each year. Petition our government to make clean water and sanitation for everyone a priority.

If you do only this one thing; you will have done something useful and important to help bring others the luxury you take for granted at the twist of a faucet handle. Statistics published by UNICEF show that 1.5 million children die each year from unsafe water! Please help make a difference. 

By the way did I mention that it doesn’t cost anything?
Yeah I think I did; just wanted to be sure you got that part.

Petitions by|Start a Petition »


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Asheville has great water; but will this always be the case!

41 country’s abstain from safe water

The United States abstains from declaring safe water and sanitation as a basic human right under UN resolution. To much to loose?

Asheville has has some of the healthiest fresh water reservoirs in the country and we take for granted that this will always be the case. Don’t be so certain! 
Today is a day worth noting in human history. A non-binding UN resolution was passed today that proclaims safe water and sanitation as basic human rights. I have long been an advocate for declaring safe water as a basic human right; along with the other two necessities for sustaining life- safe food & safe air. It’s the trinity of survival; Air, Water, Food; everything else is non-essential. I believe that this trinity of survival should be an inalienable right for all human beings; regardless of cost or degree of challenge. 
41 county’s including the United States chose to abstain. I am eager to hear the reasoning behind the decisions. I would venture to make an educated guess and preempt the coming disclosures as being politically motivated on behalf of the citizens. They will proclaim inadequacies and lack of clearly defined rolls and responsibilities governments. The reasons will be relative to potential liabilities, costs and burdens. What you won’t hear is how they don’t want to loose their rights to sell water or relinquish control of it for profit and power. UN record of vote Introducing a draft resolution on the human right to water and sanitation (document A/64/L.63/Rev.1), the representative of Bolivia said that human right had not been fully recognized: read more

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AERC of Asheville; Creating Champions of Conservation

There is a new breed of soldier taking the frontlines in the battle to protect our natural resources. These well trained, highly skilled soldiers are armed with the latest technological advancements. They demonstrate an unyielding commitment to their cause and a lifelong dedication to protect the communities they serve. They seek no personal glorification for their actions and take great pride in their place within our society. These foot soldiers are not strangers to hard work. They have chosen a path of little glory and are often under-appreciated until called upon in times of urgent need. They are our neighbors and our friends. They are men and women of all colors, creeds, religions and nationalities; off all ages and from all walks of life. They are here to serve and protect. They are the new frontlines of consumer environmental education. There is a name for these braves Champions of Conservation; they are called “GreenPlumbers”.

We are approaching a new horizon for an industry that generally gets little attention and has received little recognition for its contributions to success and advancement of our nation. Indeed a new age is dawning and with it the rise of a new breed of environmental champion, a new hope for the preservation of precious resources;
The GreenPlumber

The AERC of Asheville is a certified regional training facility for GreenPlumbers USA; an internationally recognized accreditation and licensing non-profit organization.
The AERC has partnered with GreenPlumbers USA and will offer core curriculum accreditation courses at their facility in West Asheville beginning in July 2010. The core curriculum training includes advanced technical training in 5 categories of environmental stewardship.

– Caring For Our Water
– Climate Care
– Solar Thermal Technology
– Water Efficient Technology
– Inspection Report Services

The course has been added to the fall AB Tech colander as part of the Community Colleges Technical & Industrial Advancement Curriculum.

For additional information on summer 2010 enrollment opportunities contact:
Aqua Environmental Resource Center

Phone: 828-236-5980


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