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Title: Net Zero Water for Army installations : considerations for policy and technology
Authors: Jenicek, Elisabeth M.
Curvey, Laura E.
Stumpf, Annette L.
Fishman, Kelly.
Keywords: Water--Management
Military bases--United States
Publisher: Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (U.S.)
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Abstract: Introduction: Fresh water is a fundamental requirement of life on earth. Though 70 percent of the planet’s surface is covered in water, less than 3 percent is fresh; the rest is undrinkable seawater. Most of this fresh water is contained in glaciers and ice caps. The uneven global distribution of fresh water leaves one in six (1.1 billion) people without access to this necessity (WHO/UNICEF 2005). Water is such a critical resource that it was included in Millennium Development Goal 7, which is to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” (United Nations 2000). As world population grows —estimated to become more than 8 billion by 2030— so too will the urgency of water security. Increasing demand, degraded supply, uneven distribution, and aging infrastructure are a few of the issues affecting water security—the capacity of a population to ensure that they continue to have access to potable water. Global climate change is projected to affect both water supply and distribution. Most large non-renewable reserves of groundwater are shared by neighboring nations and almost half of the Earth’s land surface lies within international river basins (UNESCO 2010 and UNEP 2002). The world’s water is a collective resource and the potential for conflict is real. The US Army is vulnerable to the same issues of water supply and demand that jeopardize global water security. Providing the required amount of clean fresh water where it is needed is increasingly difficult. The conditions that threaten water availability are the aging state of water infrastructure, generalized population growth (especially in regions containing key Army installations), increased water demands for energy, and uncertain, but generally agreed upon regional effects of global climate change. The complexity of water compacts, treaties, and agreements is another challenge for installations. In the coming years, the effects of water scarcity will be more severe in certain locations and this will be reflected in increasing costs. These global drivers of water security have driven increasing interest in preserving this finite resource. On the Federal level, legislation and executive orders with increasingly rigorous water conservation requirements have emerged over the last decade. The Army has promulgated these requirements through policy and regulation and taken it a step further in establishing challenging targets for installations to achieve “Net Zero Water” (NZW). NZW is an emerging concept that is analogous to net zero energy, simply stated: “The net zero water strategy balances water availability and use to ensure sustainable water supply for years to come” (US Army ASA IE&E] 2011). In many cases, Army installation staff have already implemented easy fixes—the “low hanging fruit” of state-of-the-shelf technologies. Large reductions in water use will require taking a holistic approach that includes policy, technology, education, partnering with others, and strong command emphasis. Integrated water management toward achieving NZW can help meet Army water reduction goals with additional benefits of conserving highly treated drinking water, providing a locally-controlled water supply, decreasing diversion of water from sensitive ecosystems, decreasing wastewater discharges, and reducing and preventing pollution. Implementation of interior water-saving technologies alone can cut overall water consumption by 30 percent or more, with payback periods as short as 3 years with certain technologies. Treating water to non-potable, versus potable, standards uses less energy and usually produces fewer waste products that must be disposed of. Additional benefits include relieving stress on water infrastructure by reducing water volumes; regulatory mandates and incentives, such as water rate and tax subsidies; and shifting expectations toward sustainability. Army installations in water-stressed regions compete with local communities for resources; therefore, best practices in water use also benefit the Army by fostering good community relations.
Description: Technical Note
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