10 reasons why the purification of water is important for human health

Purified water is the most important thing for any person in this world, It is used for drinking, cooking and other domestic purposes like bathing, brushing, washing clothes etc. It not just make our life healthy but also important for maintain hygiene around us.

The  tap water which is being supplied in our home might seem clean but possess various sorts of health-affecting bacteria and viruses such as fluorine compounds, chlorine, mercury, lead, pesticides and other types of waste particles.

Consumption of contaminated water can lead to serious health issues, and sometimes the result can be massively harmful. As per the research contaminated water lead the diseases like- diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio, and is estimated to cause 502 000 diarrhea deaths each year.

 

More About Water…

Water is a limited resource on earth which is chemically treated to fight with various types of harmful viruses or bacteria available in it, that makes millions of people ill each year (according to the research) and this is the main reason why water purification is most important.

Since our family’s health is in our hands, we must be extra careful with quality of water we are providing to our family.

Different types of purified water.

Usage of clean water is increasing day to day and there are so many brands are coming up in the market with so many products to meet the consumer demand of clean water. A very common type is bottled drinking water.

Following are the the different options? Let’s check!

Underground Spring Water

Spring water is one of the purest forms of water but actually doesn’t come from the fresh spring. It is basically from different underground resources. However, some research claim that spring water could contains arsenic, phthalates, coliform, and other water contaminants.

Distilled Water

Distilled water is one of the types of purified water which is processed through various filtration stages and involves of condensation and boiling of water. During this process both contaminates and natural minerals at the same time.

Distilled water is a type of purified water that goes through fastidious filtration which involves condensing and boiling. But the overall process kills both contaminants and natural minerals at the same time. So you can have clean water but, with the lack of minerals.

Bottled Water

Packaged or bottled water is only drinkable when you are sure about its quality and authenticity. In case of bottled water there are so many racketeers in India who are actively working and part of scam of duplicity of so many mineral water brands here so sometimes its become very difficult to rely on water quality in public areas.

Let us tell you the 10 main reasons why exactly water purification is important.

WHY YOU NEED WATER PURIFICATION AND WHAT IS ITS IMPORTANCE?

1. Water purification help to Keep The Environment Safe And Clean

If someone use water bottles, it means that person buy them regularly and throw the empty bottles to the garbage which cannot be recycled. Ultimately it means that  through bottled water using clean water and in exchange, and doing several damages to the nature. On the other hand water filters discharge the hazardous waste in correct way, it ultimately helps to keep the environment also safe and protected.

2. Helps To Prevent The Various Cancer Causing Risks

Different type of chemicals and viruses in contaminated water causes different diseases and can increase the chances of some kind of cancer risks. However pure drinking water keep things moving in  digestive tract and helps to push food through and get you the healthy digestion system.

3. Ensurety of Great Water Quality

Since water filters remove all sorts of available contaminants from your water, you can expect to have quality water consumption and can also decay over time. Water is used at our homes in numbers of way, like for bathing, cooking, washing, planting etc… The better quality of water you will use, the better atmosphere you can maintain.

2-4

4. Removes Chlorine From Water And Makes It Healthy For Drinking Purpose.

Generally, chlorine is used in swimming pool water that may result in the tanning but you can’t drink it since chlorine is not food for the health at all. Chlorine can affect your health in various ways. It can be responsible for difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, skin-eye irritation and other sorts of health problems to count a few. Hence, before you drink it, you need to ensure its chlorine free.

5. Water Purifiers At Home Can Help in Saving Money On Water Expenses

Once you have filtered water at your home, you will no longer have to purchase the costly water bottles that may mount up the heavy bill. Water purification system is a one-time investment and works for many more years. While you’ll calculate the amount you are paying for the purchased water, water purifier will be less expensive.

 

6. Filtered Water does not contain Lead Which Is very Harmful For Human health

Water purification machines instantly remove the available lead volume in the water. With this, you can expect to shun your family away from the diseases caused by such toxic. According to the experts, lead is the major cause of affecting the learning disorder among your kids. For the reason, having a water purification is highly recommended for you.

 

7. It makes human digestion system strong.

If you are suffering from constipation issue, start drinking purified water, you will surely get some relief. It can also help to storing the normal bowel movement. The major cause of constipation raises from the stomach, when we consume unhealthy food and contaminated water which is full of heavy chlorine and other harmful elements, it affects our digestion and leads to the severe constipation problems.

8. The Consumption Of purified water will improve skin issues.

With the regular intake of fresh and clean water, you will be cleaned inside and outside. It will add a natural glow to your skin and make it softer, and that’s all because of the absence of chlorine in your water. Not just the chlorine but there are various types of other minerals that poorly affect your skin. If you want to have a glowing and healthy skin and body, make sure you have the purified water in your diet.

9. More Delicious And Healthier Food

Using clean water in washing and cooking your food, help to preserve the natural taste of food items. Whereas the contaminants and other bacteria in unfiltered water may affect the taste of food. If you want to keep your food healthy and tastier, use purified water. Adding a water purification to your kitchen is highly recommended to get the delicious food.

 

10. Filter Water Contributes to the better Air Quality

Though you might not believe it, using clean water at home also affect the air quality around the place. As water also contain several sorts of harmful elements, when you’re using the same at home, you’re ultimately giving it more exposure to spread in the air through evaporation.

Agwaterqualitynw.org is one of the major supplier of stainless steel panel tanks to fulfill the need of storage of purified water to maintain good human health.


5 Benefits That Make Purified Water Necessary To Drink

It is common knowledge that water is essential to life because all life forms depend upon it. In fact, water is an invaluable life-sustaining force that all living things need in order to survive.

For humans, particularly, water is quite necessary because it serves as the fundamental solvent that helps cells transport and use substances such as oxygen and nutrients.

However, first things first, not all types of water are safe to consume. Moreover, water pollution may occur on a case by case basis; such as due to soil pollution; investing in a water purifier in Singapore is always highly recommended. Water purifiers provide clean and safe drinking water by filtering out almost 99.9% of impurities that may contain dangerous chemicals and metals, such as lead, chlorine, and silt.

Furthermore, there are many additional benefits that come with drinking clean and purified water on a daily basis. Continue reading on as we give a list of the main advantages that make the consumption of purified water a necessity.

1. Purified water strengthens the body

Drinking plenty of water is essential in keeping the entire body running.

Since 75% of the human body is made of water, people need to drink water every day in order to maintain the functionality of their muscles. Aside from this, water also helps in the production of the synovial fluid, which is necessary for the lubrication of the joints.

Therefore, to maintain a strong and fit body, people need to consume enough clean and safe purified water. Supplying the body with an adequate amount of purified water is vital in maintaining optimal joint and muscle health.

Moreover, since drinking water keeps a person hydrated, it also significantly minimises the chances of muscle cramps and injury.

2. Purified water is full of essential minerals

The numerous health benefits of purified water primarily stem from the essential minerals that it contains, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, iodine, phosphorus, and many others.

These minerals are necessary for the maintenance of normal body functions. Hence, people would not want these minerals removed from their drinking water.

Fortunately, the purification process of most water purifiers removes impurities and chemicals from the water without washing away the naturally-occurring minerals. This makes purified water the best option when it comes to having safe and healthy water for consumption.

3. Purified water promotes healthy scalp and hair

Hair damage and hair loss are common issues for many people around the world.

More often than not, these hair issues may be caused by the excessive amount of chlorine that is present in the water that people consume. Hence, the type of water that people drink regularly has a significant impact on their scalp and hair health.

To maintain a healthy scalp and hair, people need to be consuming clean and chemical-free purified water. This type of water has no mild mineral that can affect the health of their scalp and hair. Essentially, about a quarter of every hair strand is water weight.

Thus, by drinking enough purified water on a regular basis, people can easily retain their hair strength.

4. Purified water enhances skin health

Not drinking enough water can cause the skin to experience dryness and dehydration.

When the skin is dehydrated, the sebaceous glands are forced to produce more sebum or oil. Too much of this oily substance can result in oily skin that causes clogged pores and acne to occur.

The best way to avoid having dry and dehydrated skin is to drink lots of clean water every day. Increasing the water content of the epidermal layer of the skin is the key to maintaining its plump and fresh look.

To eliminate the harmful toxins in the skin and enhance its overall health, experts recommend that at least 8 cups of water should be consumed on a daily basis. Doing so helps the skin radiate an observable glow and shine.

5. Purified water helps speed up weight loss

Weight loss is a common problem for many people. It takes a healthy diet and an effective workout routine to burn the excess fat of the body.

Aside from this, drinking lots of purified water is quite essential, as it helps boost the body’s metabolism significantly. Having a higher metabolism has been proven to help people lose weight while also giving them more energy.

Apart from enhancing people’s metabolism, consuming purified water can also help suppress their appetite at a healthy level. Generally, purified water is absolutely free of calories. Hence, there is no limitation as to how much one can drink each day, which can be very helpful for those who are trying to restrict their diet.

Conclusion

Drinking purified water has a myriad of health benefits that can have positive impacts on the overall well-being of a person. These days, water pollution has become increasingly prevalent, as plastic and chemical wastes are continuously being dumped into the ocean and freshwater sources. Hence, it is utterly necessary for people to make sure that they consume clean purified water that comes from water purifiers.

At Wells Singapore, we offer a range of state-of-the-art and user-friendly water purifiers that come with several innovative features, such as a tactile wheel touch, safety LED lighting, and passive infrared sensor (PIR). We provide tankless water dispensers to help homeowners keep their kitchens spacious and free. With our award-winning products, we aspire to help homes have safe and healthy water for consumption and use.


4 Methods to Purify Your Water

Purify Your WaterIt’s extremely important to confirm your water has been purified or treated before drinking. If your water is contaminated and you don’t have bottled water, there are various water purification methods that are used today, and each method has its merits and demerits. Filtering is good for basic water tasks such as sediment and chlorine removal, but in the long run reverse osmosis is the best option. At Schultz Soft Water we focus on reverse osmosis units because they require a lot less energy and time required to make water versus distillation.

When reverse osmosis is not available, there are 4 water purification methods that you can use to make your water safe for drinking.

1 – Boiling

Boiling water is the cheapest and safest method of water purification. Water sources and or channels of distribution may render your water unsafe. For example, parasites and germs are things you may not see by bare eyes, but their effects can be life threatening.

In this method, clean water should be brought to boil and left at rolling-boil for 1-3 minutes. For people living in high altitude areas, it is recommended to boil your water for longer than water boiled at lower altitudes. This is because water boils at lower temperatures in higher altitudes. Boiled water should be covered and left to cool before drinking. For water drawn from wells, leave it for compounds to settle before you filter out clean water for use.

2 – Filtration

Filtration is one of the effective ways of purifying water and when using the right multimedia filters it’s effective in ridding water of the compounds. This method uses chemical and physical processes to purify water and make it safe for human consumption. Filtration eliminates both large compounds and small, dangerous contaminants that cause diseases with a simple and quick filtration process.. Since filtration does not deplete all the mineral salts, water that has been filtered is considered healthier compared to water purified using other methods. It’s one of the effective water purification methods that utilize chemical absorption process that effectively removes unwanted compounds from water.

Compared to reverse osmosis, filtration is considered effective when it comes to selective elimination of much smaller molecular compounds such as chlorine and pesticides. The other factor that makes filtration less costly is that it does not require a lot of energy needed in distillation and reverse osmosis. It is an economic method of water purification because little water is lost during purification.

3 – Distillation

Distillation is a water purification method that utilizes heat to collect pure water in the form of vapor. This method is effective by the scientific fact that water has a lower boiling point than other contaminants and disease-causing elements found in water. Water is subjected to a heat source until it attains its boiling point. It is then left at the boiling point until it vaporizes. This vapor is directed into a condenser to cool. Upon cooling, vapor is reversed into liquid water that is clean and safe for drinking. Other substances that have a higher boiling point are left as sediments in the container.

This method is effective in removing bacteria, germs, salts and other heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Distillation is ideal for people who have access to raw, untreated water. This method has both advantages and disadvantages. A notable disadvantage is that it is a slow process of water purification. In addition, it requires a heat source for the purification to work. Although cheap sources of energy are being developed, distillation remains a costly process of purifying water. It is only ideal (effective and least costly) when purifying small quantities of water (It is not ideal for large scale, commercial or industrial purification).

4 – Chlorination

Chlorine is a powerful chemical that has been in use for many years to treat water for home consumption. Chlorine is an effective water purification method that kills germs, parasites and other disease-causing organisms found in ground or tap water. Water can be purified using chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine. As an off-the-shelf water purification product, chlorine is cheap and effective. However, caution should be taken when using chlorine liquid or tablets to treat drinking water. For example, people suffering from thyroid problems should talk to a medical practitioner before using this product. When using chlorine tablets, it is important to apply them in heated water, as they dissolve well in water that is at 21 degree Celsius or higher. Chlorine tablets kill all bacteria leaving your water clean and safe.

If you are looking for the best ways of treating your water, Schultz Soft Water is your best source of advice on best water purification methods and custom solutions to your water purification needs. Reverse osmosis is the best option, whereas filtering is good for basic water tasks such as sediment and chlorine removal. Reverse osmosis covers a larger spectrum of contaminant removal.

Contact our team of experienced water purification experts to give you the best water treatment solutions. We will help achieve better health for you, your family and guests.


Five reasons why you should purify your drinking water

There are many good reasons for wanting to purify your drinking water. Clean water is essential for every human being and by using a water purification system, you can ensure that the water in your home is always safe, sustainable, and free from unpleasant taste and odor.

Even though access to clean drinking water should be a basic human right, an increasing number of regions face challenges with a lack of drinking water resources. The challenge of enabling access to clean and safe water is not limited to developing countries – the United States and Europe also face challenges when it comes to drinking water, such as health concerns, contaminants, taste, environmental issues, and odor.

The good news is that a household water purification system can help you overcome these challenges and ensure clean drinking water right from the tap. In this article, we explain five reasons why you might want to purify your drinking water.

1 Add an extra layer of security

In most industrialized countries, municipal water treatment systems are usually quite effective. However public water treatment is not infallible.  There is an increasing number of incidents where contaminants from pollution, lead from outdated or faulty water pipes, or residue from the use of pesticides have found their way into the tap water. Extraordinary weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, can also put a strain on municipal water treatment facilities.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to want an extra layer of security to supplement your local or municipal water treatment. You can do this by using a household water purification which can remove a wide range of impurities from the water and will help ensure that you will not end up drinking unsafe water.

2 Remove unwanted contaminants

Lead, pesticides, bacteria, viruses, and many more physical, chemical, biological, and radiological compounds and substances, find their way into the water supply. It is virtually impossible to remove all traces of contaminants from your water, so the local water authorities regulate how much of a specific substance it is acceptable for the water to contain.

While water that lives up to these standards is usually considered safe to drink, you may have your own preference for how high a level of contaminants you feel comfortable having your drinking water contain. A private water purification lets you set your own limits.

 3 Protect your health

Drinking water containing bacteria and viruses can lead to serious health issues and diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and dysentery. If you live in an area where such diseases are a risk, the most effective way to protect yourself is by using reverse osmosis water purification.

The pore size of the membranes used for reverse osmosis is measured in a nanometer, which is small enough to stop both virus and bacteria. In addition, reverse osmosis also removes common chemical contaminants, such as sodium, chloride, copper, and lead.

 4 Cut back on plastic to protect the environment

The annual consumption of bottled water worldwide can be counted in the millions. 35 percent of Europeans (50 million households) do not drink their tap water, and the use of bottled water has grown by more than 10 percent a year over the last decade. In general, bottled water is considered convenient because it is portable. But that convenience comes with problems and a high environmental cost. Costs such as pollution associated with the manufacturing of plastic, energy, and transportation, as well as extra water use, makes bottled water an unsustainable choice for drinking water.

Drinking tap water is not only cheap but also environmentally friendly. According to the European Commission, access to better quality water can reduce bottled water consumption by 17%. By installing a home water purification system, consumers can access clean drinking water directly in the home in an environmentally friendly way.

5 Improve the taste and odor of your tap water

Being able to drink fresh and clear water with a refreshing taste and no unpleasant odor can have a big impact on your wellbeing and quality of life. One of the most common complaints about tap water taste involves chlorine, which is an essential disinfectant used around the world.  When it comes to odor the most irritating is that of hydrogen sulfide. It smells like rotten eggs.

Water purification can not only help remove harmful containment but also improve the taste, smell, and visual appearance of your drinking water. It reduces the amount of chlorine, soil residue, and organic and inorganic substances.

All in all, water purification is an investment in your health, the environment and a smart way to reduce how much you are spending on bottled water.

Want to learn more about types of water purification solutions? 

Check out the pros and cons of popular purification solutions or download our e-book ‘The reseller’s guide to water purification by clicking on the banner below.


The Importance of Water Filtration

We all know that access to clean, freshwater is fundamental to our health and wellbeing, and filtering our water ensures that this is achieved. Most water filters remove harmful chemicals and bacteria, which if consumed can cause diseases and general ill-health. There are many other benefits of filtered water, including a better taste, and being more cost-effective and environmentally friendly when compared to buying bottled water.

Water Quality in Australia

Although the Australian government is required to provide us with safe drinking water, we are still at risk of temporary contaminants such as chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria, and so on. A resident of an outback town recently found that the chlorine levels in her drinking water were consistent with those in her swimming pool – read the full story here. Chlorine is used in waterways to eliminate harmful micro-organisms, but this can be detrimental to our health when over-contamination and resulting consumption occurs. For this reason, along with many others, it’s important to filter your water.

What Some Water Filters don’t do…

While water filters remove the majority of contaminates, it’s important to be aware that different filters have different results. Some filters don’t stop all harmful bacteria and chemicals. If you are supplied by tank water and have a water filtration system and aren’t sure if you’re fully protected, the simplest and most effective way of ensuring that your water is safe and clean is by combining it with water disinfectant product. Our CleanOxide water sanitization tablets are great for use in water tanks – view here. We also provide testing kits to ensure your water is safe to drink, you can view these here.

UltraStream Water Filter & Hydrogen Rich Water Ionizer

The UltraStream is the world’s most advanced Water filter unit. It purifies, alkalizes, ionizes, and infuses the water with molecular hydrogen. And… it’s extremely affordable!

 If you don’t have a water filtration system currently installed in your home, we recommend using the new UltraStream Hydrogen Rich Water Ionizer. Simply put, it is a better, simpler, far more affordable way to alkalize, ionize and purify water. Benefits of this system include:

  • Removes Fluoride, Chlorine, Chloramines, Heavy Metals, and much more
  • Adds Beneficial Alkaline Minerals
  • Produces Alkaline Ionized Water
  • Molecular hydrogen production
  • Tested for the life of the filter
  • Fits most kitchen taps or can be installed under the sink with the under-sink conversion kit
  • Designed in Australia and tested for Australian water conditions
  • 3 Year Warranty

Ecosystem health indicators

Ecosystem health indicators assess how an ecosystem functions.

Environmental indicators have been defined as physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic measures that best represent the key elements of a complex ecosystem or environmental issue. An indicator is embedded in a well developed interpretative framework and has meaning beyond the measure it represents.

For an indicator to be effective it must provide a true measure of a component of the ecosystem. Selection of effective indicators is best achieved by developing conceptual models of the ecosystem and using these to pinpoint indicators that provide the required information. Examples of conceptual models can be viewed at:

As well as being effective, indicators must also be efficient. The cost and effort to measure them should be reasonable, and preferably not require highly specialised skills. This means that some effective indicators cannot be used routinely. Often, the selected indicators will need to be a compromise between effectiveness and efficiency.

It is highly desirable to put significant effort into selecting indicators. However, for aquatic ecosystems there are a range of generally accepted indicators that are commonly used in most monitoring programs.

Aquatic ecosystem health indicators can be broadly divided into four categories:

Physico-chemical indicators

Physico-chemical indicators are the traditional ‘water quality’ indicators that most people are familiar with. They include dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). They also include measures of toxicants such as insecticides, herbicides and metals. Physico-chemical indicators provide information on what is impacting on the system. For example, is it an organic waste that affects dissolved oxygen, or is it some type of toxicant? Although physico-chemical indicators can identify the cause of the problem, they only provide limited information on the extent that pollutants are actually impacting on fauna and flora. To assess this, we need to assess the biological indicators.

Biological indicators

Biological indicators are direct measures of the health of the fauna and flora in the waterway. Commonly used biological indicators in freshwater include various measures of macroinvertebrate or fish diversity, benthic algal growth and benthic oxygen demand. The SEQ Report Card(external link) website has more information on these indicators.

For estuaries, biological indicators are less developed. The only commonly used biological indicator in estuaries is chlorophyll-a, which is a measure of phytoplankton population density. In coastal embayments, indicators such as seagrass condition or condition of fringing coral reefs are sometimes used.

In many aquatic ecosystems, the key influences on aquatic ecosystem health can be factors other than water quality, including habitat degradation and changes to natural flow patterns. Therefore, it is important to include indicators of these factors in monitoring programs.

Habitat indicators

Habitat indicators include both fringing (riparian) habitat and instream habitats. Indicators of riparian habitat include the width, continuity, extent of shading and species composition. Indicators of instream habitat include measures of the extent of scouring and bank erosion and the presence of woody debris (fallen trees, etc) that provide important habitat for many species.

Flow indicators

In freshwater, changes to flow are often the main cause of aquatic ecosystem health degradation; the Murray-Darling system is an example of this. Assessing the changes is therefore important. Changes to natural flow caused by humans are varied and include changes to peak flows, base flows, no flow periods and seasonality of flows. To assess these different changes, a number of indicators are required. Unfortunately, nearly all of these indicators rely on the existence of good flow data for both current and pre-disturbance conditions. This type of data is often not available. In this situation, less precise indicators of flow change can be sourced from assessments of the amount of flow captured in storages or abstracted for agricultural or urban use. These are detailed in water plans.


How Industrial Agriculture Affects Our Water

Water pollution from industrial agriculture, including CAFOs, causes public health problems and huge environmental impacts.

Industrial agriculture is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the United States. 1 According to the 2017 National Water Quality Inventory of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 46 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams are in “poor biological condition,” and 21 percent of lakes are “hypereutrophic” (meaning that high levels of nutrients and algae are degrading water quality). 2 Water pollution from industrial agriculture can have many negative effects on both people and the environment.How Industrial Agriculture Causes Water Pollution - FoodPrint

High levels of “nutrients,” such as phosphorus and nitrogen (both components of synthetic fertilizer as well as byproducts of animal waste) threaten the health and biological diversity of waterways, which can result in loss of aquatic life and their habitats, shellfish contamination, and seasonal dead zones. 3 Polluted water also impacts the quality of life and incomes of nearby residents, posing a threat to public health. Beaches may close due to algal blooms, and fishing activities may be severely limited. Excessive nutrient runoff in waterways can impact drinking water supplies and, in some cases, cause severe health problems. 45

What Are the Sources of Water Pollution from Agriculture?

Industrial Animal Agriculture

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms, typically house thousands of animals, generating millions if not billions of gallons of animal waste per year. For example, North Carolina alone generates almost 10 billion gallons of animal waste per year. 6 Livestock and poultry on the largest CAFOs generated 369 million tons of waste in 2012. 7 Animal waste is stored either in pits or in open ponds, called lagoons. Such waste-containment areas often leak and, during large storms, can rupture. 89 To dispose of the waste, CAFOs spray this manure onto farm fields. The environmental damage from spraying and from leaking, ruptured lagoons can be devastating. Surface and groundwater contamination (serious threats to aquatic ecosystems) and excessive nitrates in drinking water (serious threats to public health) stem from CAFO pollution. 1011 Animal waste can also include pharmaceutical residues, heavy metals (like copper and zinc), and harmful bacteria, which can leach into water supplies. 121314

Chicken manure is especially high in both phosphorus and nitrogen. Many chicken farmers spread huge quantities of chicken waste onto cropland to dispose of it; far more is spread than can be absorbed, and often more than is legally allowed. 15 When it rains, the excess nutrients and drug residues run off fields into streams and rivers, seeping into groundwater. Chicken waste is also high in ammonia: when dissolved in water, ammonia is not only highly toxic to fish but can also be chemically converted into dangerous nitrates through bacterial action. 16

Industrial Crop Production

Nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, are two of the main macronutrients in fertilizer that promote plant growth. Synthetic fertilizers containing both nitrogen and phosphorus are applied imprecisely to farm fields, often at rates far higher than what the plants need or what the soil can absorb. The excess nutrients from fertilizer leech into surface and groundwater, causing algal blooms and nitrate contamination, impacting drinking water, recreational activities (such as swimming and boating), fishing/shellfishing, and marine and aquatic ecology.

What Are the Negative Effects of Water Pollution from Agriculture?

Algal Blooms, Dead Zones, and Acidification

High quantities of nutrients in the water from industrial crop fertilizers and animal waste cause excessive aquatic plant growth — a process known as “eutrophication,” which, in turn, causes “hypoxia,” or water that is low in oxygen. 17 Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when aquatic algae grow rapidly out of control. 18 Some types of HABs produce biotoxins, which can kill fish and other aquatic life and cause human illnesses, while others use up the oxygen in the water producing “dead zones,” where aquatic creatures cannot live. 19

Nitrogen fertilizer applied in the farm fields of the Midwest eventually makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico; this, along with runoff from animal waste, is one of the leading causes of the so-called Gulf “Dead Zone,” an oxygen-deprived area 8,000 square miles in size, in which no fish can survive. 2021 In places like the Eastern Shore of Maryland, home to thousands of chicken broiler houses, rivers have phosphorous concentrations that are among the highest in the nation, which is linked to the estimated 228,000 tons of excess chicken waste spread in the state. 22 The Chesapeake Bay, which receives runoff from the many chicken houses on the Delmarva Peninsula (parts of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia), experiences regular toxic algae blooms and dead zones. 23

Ammonia from agricultural runoff can also degrade ecosystems by acidifying waterways, which can affect the ecology of streams and rivers. 24

Heavy Metal Contamination

In CAFOs, excessive amounts of heavy metals like copper and zinc are fed as supplements to pigs and chickens, to promote growth and prevent disease. 25 Other metals present in animal waste can include cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic. 26 These metals accumulate in soil when animal waste is sprayed on farm fields and can contaminate water supplies. 272829 In humans, copper toxicity can cause gastrointestinal and liver disorders, as well as other health problems. 30 Copper can also damage the environment, negatively affecting soil microbial activity and plant growth, which can be toxic to fish and aquatic life in waterways. 31 Zinc pollution can also cause fish kills and damage to algae, crustaceans, and salmon. 32

Nitrates and Other Contaminants in Drinking Water

Elevated nitrate levels in drinking water can be dangerous to humans, causing low oxygen levels in infants (known as “blue-baby syndrome”) and low birth weight. 33 Elevated levels of nitrates in drinking water may also be an indicator of other agricultural-related contaminants in the water supply, such as pesticides. 34

While the EPA itself says that nitrate levels above three milligrams per liter of water indicate “contamination” and levels above one milligram per liter indicate contamination due to human activity, the EPA sets nitrate contamination standards at 10 milligrams per liter to prevent the blue baby syndrome. 35 In a survey of state nitrate groundwater pollution (indicated as greater than five mg/L), 53 percent of Delaware’s groundwater was polluted with greater than five mg/L of nitrates, as well as 28 percent of Maryland’s and 10 percent of California’s. 36 Each of these states has a large number of factory farm concentrations. 37

Chemical pollution of drinking water from agriculture is also a problem. As many as one million Californians, for example, mostly living in the farming communities of the Central Valley, have dangerous levels of unregulated chemicals linked to cancer in their drinking water, according to California’s State Water Board. 38

Pathogen Contamination and Disease Outbreaks

Animal waste contains a high level of pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms). Swine waste, for example, can contain more than 100 pathogens that cause human diseases. 39 When factory farm lagoons leak, contaminated water can end up in waterways and in groundwater. Pathogens can survive after being sprayed onto farm fields, leaching into groundwater, or being transported to surface water due to runoff. 4041 People can become sick simply by ingesting water during recreational activities (e.g., swimming or boating) or by consuming contaminated drinking water. 4243

Federal Regulations About Water Pollution and Agriculture

The original Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule addressing CAFO waste under the Clean Water Act was finalized in 2003. This rule regulated all factory farms as point source polluters or identifiable sources of pollution. 44 All CAFOs were required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, under the presumption that CAFOs have the potential to discharge pollutants into waterways. 45 The NPDES permit limits what can be discharged, sets an acceptable level for pollutants (e.g., sets the permitted level for bacteria), and specifies monitoring and reporting requirements. 46

The original rule has since been updated several times because of lawsuits, most recently from the National Pork Producers Council. The rule now states that only large operations that discharge manure directly into waterways are required to obtain a federal NPDES permit. Facilities that plan to manage waste in lagoons and dispose of it by spreading or spraying it on cropland need no permit. This is despite the reality of leaks, spills, and runoff from such facilities. Pollutant-filled water that runs off during rain or due to over-application falls into the category of agricultural stormwater, which is regulated as a nonpoint source and does not require a permit. 47

CAFOs, Water Pollution and Environmental Justice

In recent years, lax regulations and government inaction about water pollution from CAFOs have meant that locals are increasingly using lawsuits to act to protect local waterways and drinking water. 48 However, local and state lawmakers, often working with the “Big Meat” companies, have countered this movement by passing laws that make it easier for CAFOs and processors to operate in local communities, even when there is community opposition. 49 50 Further, in many cases, as in North Carolina, CAFOs operate in poorer areas that are disproportionately inhabited by minorities. 51 This has, in part, given rise to a robust environmental justice movement in these areas to drive the fight against CAFO pollution. 52

Well Water, Pollution, and Regulation

Although much of the water used in the US is obtained from surface water sources, many families continue to draw well water from the ground. According to the EPA, 13 million households rely on private wells for drinking water. While public drinking water systems are regulated by the EPA, private drinking water wells are unregulated and do not need to meet EPA clean water standards. 53 Unlike public water systems, private wells aren’t required to undergo routine testing, either. Thus, families that rely upon private drinking water wells are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of water pollution from factory farms and other forms of industrial agriculture and must test their own drinking water to avoid health problems. 54

Water Usage in Agriculture

Agriculture accounts for 80 percent (in Western states, up to 90 percent) of all freshwater use in the US. 55 Most US farms in the Midwest use center-pivot irrigation: long overhead sprinklers that rotate around a central axis. Center-pivot irrigation and similar methods encourage the use of large quantities of water, draining underground aquifers. The Ogallala Aquifer, which stretches from Wyoming and South Dakota to the Texas panhandle and supports nearly one-fifth of US wheat, corn, and beef cattle, has already run dry in some places and is reduced by as much as 60 percent in others. Comments Off on How Industrial Agriculture Affects Our Water InDefault

Why you should care about water quality

Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and groundwater are valuable public resources. In addition to being powerful symbols of our state, they provide drinking water, recreational and tourism opportunities, wildlife habitat, water for agriculture and industrial uses, and more. Protecting our water resources will also protect human health, our ecosystems, and Minnesota’s economy.

Is Water Quality Important?

Potential or existing impacts of poor water quality in Minnesota

Human and animal health

Minnesotans get their drinking water from both surface glasses of water and groundwater. Though it is treated before we consume it, some types of contamination are still a challenge. Some communities in southern and central Minnesota are finding excess nitrates in their water from polluted runoff. Such water is unhealthy to drink, particularly for babies. Elsewhere, chemicals spilled or dumped at old industrial sites have seeped into groundwater at sites around the state.

Harmful algae blooms are also a common issue in Minnesota lakes during calm, sunny summer weather. People can become sick from contact with toxic blue-green algae, by swallowing or having skin contact with water or by breathing in tiny droplets of water in the air. Dogs are at particular risk because they’re more willing to wade into lakes with algal scum; several have died from blue-green algae exposure. Harmful algae are the result of excess nutrient pollution in the water.

Poor water quality has its most direct impact on aquatic wildlife, particularly fish, bugs, and plants. Excess nutrients, sediment, road salt, and other contaminants can reduce the variety and hardiness of organisms living in the state’s waters.

Our economy

Many industries in Minnesota are dependent on clean and abundant water, including agriculture, tourism, food processing facilities, power plants, and pulp and paper mills. Poor water quality can even affect real estate values for those who own waterfront properties.

Costs to taxpayers

Urgent Action Needed to Maintain Good Water Quality

Municipalities, counties, and other local units of government often bear the cost of trying to improve water quality. City wastewater and drinking water plants must ensure clean drinking water is reaching residents, and that wastewater is thoroughly treated before being discharged into lakes or streams. Soil and water conservation districts and other local partners implement conservation and water quality-improvement practices. If water quality declines, even more resources will be needed to restore it to acceptable conditions.

Transferring the burden

Minnesota is a headwaters state. We send water south in the Mississippi River, north in the Red and Rainy rivers, and east from the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. If our waters are contaminated, we are contributing to the water quality problems of our neighbors, too. In addition, we are leaving a pollution legacy that our children and grandchildren will have to address. It takes years and years to improve water quality once it has degraded.

Water Quality and Why It's Important to Humans | Rhodes Pumps


Improving water-efficient irrigation: Prospects and difficulties of innovative practices

1. Introduction

Irrigation systems have been under pressure to produce more with lower supplies of water. Various innovative practices can gain an economic advantage while also reducing environmental burdens such as water abstraction, energy use, pollutants, etc. (Faurès and Svendsen, 2007). Farmers can better use technological systems already installed, adopt extra technologies, enhance their skills in soil and water management, tailor cropping patterns to lower water demand and usage, reduce agrochemical inputs, etc. Water-efficient practices potentially enhance the economic viability and environmental sustainability of irrigated agriculture, without necessarily reducing water usage. To inform such practices, experts have developed various models of water efficiency, yet these are little used by farmers.

Through two case studies in the EU context, this paper will address the following questions:Why All Farms Don't Use Drip Irrigation - Water Footprint Calculator

When an IRR

igation area invests in innovative technology, how can its operation help

 farmers to achieve the full potential benefits together, e.g. an economic advantage, greater water-use efficiency, and lower resource burdens?

Why are innovative technologies often applied in ways which miss the full potential benefits?

What tensions arise among various objectives and potential benefits?

How can these difficulties be addressed?

The paper first surveys analytical perspectives on irrigation efficiency – especially the means, incentives, and limitations – as a basis to analyze two cases and draw general conclusions.

2. Innovative irrigation practices: Analytical perspectives

Innovative irrigation technology is generally promoted as raising water-use efficiency along with multiple benefits, but these remain elusive in practice, as outlined in the first sub-section below. The limitations have fundamental reasons, as outlined in Section 2.2. To address these issues, our case studies are introduced in Section 2.3.

2.1. Practical limitations of water-efficient irrigation technology

EU policy frameworks place great expectations upon technologies to improve water efficiency. The European Commission emphasizes ‘technological innovation in the field of water, given that water efficiency will be an increasingly important factor for competitiveness’ (CEC, 2008). According to the European Parliament, solutions should be found in ‘clean technologies that facilitate the efficient use of water’ (EP, 2008).

Such technological expectations arise in expert reports on agricultural water use:

Water-efficient irrigation, irrigation on demand and irrigation using brackish water are technologies that will enable the better husbandry of more scarce freshwater resources. Technological developments in respect of irrigation will encompass sensors and communication, intelligent watering systems and high-efficiency delivery mechanisms for water and nutrients, as well as the means of incorporating all of these elements into irrigation ‘packages’ (EIO, 2011: 25).

Likewise water efficiency can be enhanced by better using current installations and/or by adopting new equipment (WssTP, 2012: 9).

The main European farmers’ organisation has likewise advocated technological means to increase water efficiency. In particular, this needs ‘investments in more efficient irrigation systems, use of new technologies (e.g. soil moisture and canopy sensors) to better match irrigation with plant needs, and good agricultural practices’, such as conservation tillage, management of soil fertility, and water retention capacity, and scheduling of irrigation during the night to reduce evaporation (COPA-COGECA, 2007: 4). The basis for improvement is described as follows:

… water efficiency measures that provide complementary benefits, such as reduced energy needs or other environmental benefits, will also deliver better results. In many Member States, efforts are being made to increase the water storage capacity of soil under agricultural land use. The modernisation of irrigation systems has steadily progressed and water productivity has also improved considerably (COPA-COGECA, 2013: 3)

As indicated above, greater water-use efficiency depends on better agricultural practices alongside extra technology. Yet companies generally promote irrigation technology as if it inherently brings all the benefits (interview, COPA-COGECA, 08.07.13). Improperly managed ‘hi-tech’ systems can be as wasteful and unproductive as poorly managed traditional systems (Perry et al., 2009). When incorrectly applied, irrigation technology ‘can cause losses arising on investments made by farmers, thus decreasing the economic water productivity index and the overall sustainability’ (Battilani, 2012).

Beyond a problem-diagnosis of inefficiency, moreover, intensive farming practices can degrade soil and water resources, especially through more input-intensive farming in crops such as maize, vegetables, orchard, and vine cultivation:

Intensive arable production is partly responsible for poor soil structure, soil erosion, loss of soil OM [organic matter] and pollution from fertilisers and pesticides…. The expansion of maize cropping and the move to growing winter cereals in particular have contributed to soil erosion even further (Miller, 2007: 44–45).

Such harmful practices have been driven and supported by EU policies. In past decades CAP subsidies have tended to favour crops with high water demands, such as maize, thus increasing the risk of water shortages under climate-uncertain conditions (Garcia-Vila and Fereres, 2012). Either as price-support or area-based, CAP subsidies likewise have ensured the profitability of some water-intensive crops such as cotton which otherwise would be phased out under a market-orientated scenario; likewise water-price subsidies.

In some cases, water-price increases have induced farmers to adopt technology and appropriate practices for conserving water (Caswell and Zilberman, 1985). Yet water-pricing policies often have been ineffective means to reduce water demand (Molle and Berkoff, 2007Molle, 2008). Farmers experience rising water prices as an extra penalty. Rather than higher water prices, administrative water allocation or re-allocation lowering the supply often has led farmers to adopt water-efficiency practices (Molden et al., 2010). If agricultural water demand is inelastic, then policies which encourage changes in cropping patterns can be more effective than higher prices (Fraiture and Perry, 2007Iglesias and Blanco, 2008Kampas, 2012).

Inelastic water demand results from farmers’ perspectives on water benefits. Water-use efficiency (WUE) and water productivity (WP) are often used interchangeably but have different meanings. WUE specifically means the ratio of biomass produced per unit of irrigation water used, i.e. the sum of transpiration by the crop and evaporation from the soil (Sinclair et al., 1984). By contrast, WP means the ratio of above-ground biomass per unit of water transpired by the crop (Steduto, 2007). Both terms have relevance to farmers’ economic goals. WUE interests mainly the water districts or management agencies, while WP interests more farmers and research community. WP better speaks to perspectives linking water usage with production levels and economic benefit (interview, COPA-COGECA, 08.07.13).

Yet even WP remains distant from farmers’ perspectives. They generally perceive ‘irrigation efficiency’ as maximising net revenue rather than saving water (Knox et al., 2012). Policies seek to lower water usage, and river basin managers try to allocate limited supplies, yet water-saving is not a priority for most farmers (Luquet et al., 2005). They manage labour and other inputs to get better economic gains (Molden et al., 2010). Towards that economic aim, most growers make irrigation decisions by relying on subjective judgements, based only on their practical experience and observation (Knox et al., 2012). Consequently, there have been limited benefits from irrigation technology, as well documented in the technical literature; the following examples compare various techniques.

For example, mobile-laboratory evaluations compared the distribution uniformity and irrigation efficiency of various irrigation systems in California. Although micro irrigation systems are seen as ‘efficient technologies’, they were performing less well than traditional surface irrigation methods such as furrows and borders. To gain the extra benefits of such technology, most important is adequate system design, alongside proper installation, operation and maintenance, regardless of the irrigation method used (Hanson et al., 1995).

Howell (2003) and Irmak et al. (2011) reported the attainable application efficiencies for different irrigation methods, assuming irrigations are applied to meet the crops’ water needs. Microirrigation has the potential to achieve the highest uniformity (90%) in water applied to each plant, yet poor uniformity and application efficiency can result from various causes, e.g., inadequate maintenance, low inlet pressure or pressure fluctuations, emitter clogging, and inadequate system design (Hsiao et al., 2007). Consequently, micro irrigation technology has on-farm efficiencies varying from 0.7 to 0.95 (Howell, 2003).

As another example, a Spanish study compared various irrigation methods via the annual relative irrigation supply index (ARIS), i.e. a ratio of water applied versus water required. It found a greater efficiency of solid-set and drip than surface irrigation. But average annual figures conceal great variations in water applied to a given crop and irrigation efficiency at farm level, partly for lack of adequate knowledge. A remedy would be ‘actions to improve farmers’ water management via a combination of irrigation advisory services and policy measures’ (Salvador et al., 2011: 586).

2.2. Reasons for those limitations and ways to overcome them

Given the above water-efficiency limitations in applying irrigation technology, the literature has outlined some fundamental reasons. They include the following: irrigation equipment is promoted as if the technology per se brings various benefits, farmers seek to maximize net income rather than water productivity per se, innovative technologies can achieve the full potential benefits only through appropriate technical advice, and farmers lack a knowledge-system for anticipating effects of specific irrigation practices or for retrospectively evaluating their irrigation efficiency.

Although research has developed technical scheduling procedures to improve agricultural water management, these have been little adopted, for many reasons.

The one most frequently mentioned by growers is the lack of perceived [financial] benefits relative to their current practices, which they consider adequate. Ease of use and the expenses involved are also important grower considerations (FAO, 2012).

Technical advice on irrigation scheduling is little used at farm level; at most, it helps retrospectively to evaluate seasonal approaches (ibid.).

One obstacle is inadequate knowledge about proper irrigation levels and scheduling over a growing season. Farmers generally lack adequate assistance to develop and adopt better approaches for environmental sustainability, while also maintaining their financial and social objectives (Pereira et al., 2012: 39). For example, sub-surface moisture sensors can improve knowledge about a crop’s need for water. But the technology has limitations, so farmers need technical advice to interpret the measurements; for example, ‘soil humidity sensors are still neither easy to handle nor reliable’ (WssTP, 2012: 33). Moreover, these sensors are not well adapted to all soil types; their installation and maintenance requires the employment of specialised technical staff. The same is true for the canopy sensors, whose proper application is limited to some crops and during specific growing stages, periods of day and climatic conditions.

Improvements in irrigation practices depend on quantitative knowledge of farmers’ current practices in relation to actual and potential crop water use:

Any effort to improve water use efficiency needs to start with the assessment of the actual and attainable efficiencies for the given situation, as quantitatively as possible. This information is fundamental for making rational improvements aiming at raising the overall efficiency to the attainable level (Hsiao et al., 2007: 228, 218).

But such information is rarely available to farmers.

Such difficulties arise for water-management improvements through expert systems. Decision Support Systems (DSS) have aimed to improve crop water use efficiency at farm and water basin scale, but few are widely applied, given the necessary specialised skills. For a DSS to be successful, the key elements have been: giving farmers a simple, timely, user-friendly, free-of-charge, informative system helpful to decide how much to irrigate in everyday practice; tailoring the tools for a large number of crops; calculating the irrigation profitability; and assessing the economic benefit, especially its relevance to the next irrigation. Such benefits have been demonstrated by the Irrinet project in Italy’s Emilia Romagna (Battilani, 2012). Thus more reliable information systems and expert capacity are necessary to guide farmers in using water more efficiently (Battilani, 2013). This exemplifies the broader need for farmer training and education in order to improve modern irrigation management.

As a way forward in the UK, expert support has been recently linking farmers’ responsibility, economic benefits and practical knowledge. A ‘pathway to efficiency’ improves the irrigation network, alongside better practices of soil and water management, e.g. by monitoring whether the right amounts are used at the right place and time. ‘Using financial criteria for water efficiency rather than an engineering one appears a sensible approach when assessing irrigation performance at the farm level since any managerial (e.g. scheduling) and operational (e.g. equipment) inefficiencies associated with irrigation are implicitly included in the assessment’ (Knox et al., 2012: 3). In particular, ‘On-farm water auditing and benchmarking have the potential to provide useful information to farmer decision making, with respect to identifying operational and management changes to improve irrigation system performance and water productivity, and evaluating potential investments in new technology (and advanced practices) or infrastructures’ (ibid: 7).

Such approaches have addressed various obstacles to water-efficiency measures. To exploit the full technological potential requires a broader dissemination of their benefits, specific training of farmers, and coupling properly-designed technological solutions with more precise operational practices to benefit farm economic performance (e.g. Tollefson and Wahab, 1994). In particular, advisory-extension services have enhanced irrigation practices which better fulfil potential benefits of irrigation technology (Hergert et al., 1994Benham et al., 2000Ahearn et al., 2003Genius et al., 2014Parker et al., 2000Gold et al., 2013).

Beyond the farm level, greater resource efficiency also depends on shared responsibility among stakeholders, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development:

Business undoubtedly has many opportunities to increase its eco-efficient performance and thereby to help de-couple use of nature from overall economic growth… Establishing framework conditions which foster innovation and transparency and which allow sharing responsibility among stakeholders will amplify eco-efficiency for the entire economy and deliver progress toward sustainability (WBCSD, 2000: 6–7).

Analogous issues arise for service-oriented irrigation schemes, designed so that farmers can flexibly obtain water at their convenience, e.g. through on-demand delivery schedules. Here responsibility has institutional complexities. For example, a water users’ organisation (WUO) bears largely fixed costs, as well as somewhat variable energy costs from drainage, excess water application, reuse, disposal, etc. If a WUO or water district relies on gravity-fed water conveyance and delivery systems, then its costs do not vary according to water-volume delivery. In such contexts, if farmers decrease water use, then the WUO must increase water prices to recover its fixed costs. Facing higher water prices, farmers may increase groundwater pumping, thus abstracting more water from aquifers, while distancing their individual practices from any group responsibility. Paradoxically, fostering greater water-use efficiency can generate a financial, environmental and institutional problem.

Given those difficulties for water-efficient techniques, their effective adoption depends on several enabling conditions, especially a policy and institutional context aligning incentives of producers, resource managers and society. Significant synergistic effects can emerge when water-efficiency practices are combined with other agronomic practices such as maintaining soil health and fertility, controlling weeds and avoiding diseases (Molden et al., 2010).

2.3. Methods and sources: EcoWater project

The above issues and earlier questions have been explored through two case studies of service-oriented irrigation schemes within a larger EU-funded research project, EcoWater (see Acknowledgements). It develops a methodology for assessing eco-efficiency at the meso level. The latter is defined as interactions among heterogeneous actors, e.g. between water-service users and providers. As generally understood, eco-efficiency means a ratio between economic advantage and resource burdens, as a basis to evaluate past or potential changes in a system.

The project uses eco-efficiency indicators to evaluate potential innovative practices including technology adoption. The project aims to: assess various options for innovative practices within a specific system; analyse the factors influencing decisions to adopt such practices; and improve understanding of the socio-technical dynamics that influence such decisions.

In the project’s two agricultural case studies, farmers and/or their organisations have already invested in water-efficient technology, going beyond state subsidy alone. The irrigation distribution systems were designed for on-demand water delivery. SCADA technology at hydrants allow farmers to abstract water on demand any time and charges them according to a volumetric tiered water pricing. Each case-study area has strong stimuli for farmers to improve water efficiency, yet the full potential benefits of the technology investment were not being realised, for reasons analysed in the next two sections.

3. Sinistra Ofanto case

Dating from the 1980s, the Sinistra Ofanto irrigation scheme is among the largest multi-cropped irrigated areas in Italy. It is located in south-eastern Foggia province within the Apulia region. Irrigation is crucial for the region’s agricultural production and income, but it also generates resource burdens. Nearly 18.5% of Apulia’s agricultural area is under irrigation; consequently, irrigated crops have contributed 69% of the total value of regional agricultural production, recently quantified as 3.8bn Euros (Fabiani, 2010). The entire study area is characterised by a high number of small land-holdings with intensive, market-oriented practices. The main crops are vineyards, olives, vegetables and fruit orchards (in descending order). The pedo-climatic conditions are favourable for intensive cropping, but profitable farming is strongly dependent on irrigation, due to the scant rainfall and its uneven distribution across the year.

The Sinistra Ofanto system commands an area of 40,500 ha stretching along the left side of the Ofanto River, of which 38,815 ha are irrigable lands and 28,165 ha are serviced with irrigation distribution. Designed and constructed for pressurised on-demand delivery schedule, the irrigation system is managed by a large water users’ organisation (WUO), the Consorzio per la Bonifica della Capitanata (CBC, 1984Altieri, 1995). The system diverts water from the Ofanto River and supplies it to growers both by gravity and lifting/pumping, ensuring a pressure head of at least 2 bar at each hydrant to enable farmers using micro-irrigation methods.

The system is already equipped with modern technologies to deliver and use water efficiently. From the diversion structure on the Ofanto River, water is conveyed to the Capacciotti reservoir through concrete-lined canals and pipe conduits, along which the flow regulation devices are downstream-controlled, thus manually or automatically adjusted through calibrated control devices enabling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). The Capacciotti reservoir, supplies seven concrete-lined storage and compensation reservoirs equipped with downstream-control flow regulation devices that adjust inflows and outflows to feed the district’s piped distribution networks based on the downstream water demand.

PVC buried pipes comprise the open-branched distribution networks. Each sector’s inlet has a control unit, equipped with flow and pressure metering-control devices. Water is supplied to farms on demand by means of multi-users electronically-fed hydrants that control and regulate the deliveries, as well as the discharges demanded and thus flowing in the pipe distribution network. These technologies installed along the main infrastructure help keeping conveyance and distribution losses within 5–10% of the total water abstracted from the Ofanto River, as reported by the WUO’s engineering staff.

Although the main water supply is surface water, during recurrent water shortages farmers pump groundwater from medium-depth (100–150 m) aquifers, especially since the late 1990s (Portoghese et al., 2013). Furthermore, studies found qualitative degradation of groundwater resources, most likely resulting from seawater intrusion into the coastal aquifer and to deep percolation of pollutants, such as fertilisers and pesticides, from intensive farming activities. Given the urgent need to assess these processes and to avoid their adverse environmental impacts, what are the prospects for water-efficiency improvements of irrigated agriculture in the Sinistra Ofanto area?

3.1. Irrigation patterns and resource burdens

The water users organisation (WUO), Consorzio per la Bonifica della Capitanata (henceforth the CBC), is the main irrigation management agency. It is responsible for all the sequential steps along the agriculture water supply chain, i.e. abstraction, conveyance, storage, distribution and final water delivery to farm gates. Established in 1933 by national law of public interest, the CBC is by statute a non-profit organization; it bears all the costs for performing its functions, and these costs are recovered through the water tariffs paid by farmers.

The CBC enforces the principle of solidarity among the different service areas. Even though the costs for supplying irrigation water differ significantly among areas supplied by gravity and by pumping, the tariff structure does not make such a distinction. Rather, as a tool to manage water use, water fees vary according to demand: volumetric tiered water tariffs progressively increase with the seasonal cumulative volumes withdrawn by each farmer. This structure is enforced through individual water metering at the delivery points; all farm hydrants are equipped with an electro-mechanical delivery device allowing the supply of water only to authorised users and storing information of each irrigation event. Besides simplifying the network operations, this technology proved to be very useful for accurate monitoring and control of water distribution, and for achieving better understanding of the irrigation management practices followed by farmers, especially through the possibility to retrieve and analyse historical data series (Zaccaria et al., 2013).

As an irrigation service provider, the CBC is composed of irrigation service users, i.e. farmers. In performing its daily activities, the CBC attempts to reconcile objectives which may be in conflict. Its technical and administrative choices aim to achieve high water-distribution efficiency in order to maximise the economic benefit to farmers. It aims to improve water distribution and use—at the farm level, through an effective operation of the delivery network, and at field and crop level through the technical support to growers aiming at improved water management skills (ibid). Technical support to farmers was effective in the 1980s–1990s but has declined in the last decade, due to WUO budget constraints and lower revenues from Italy’s farm activities.

Irrigation water demand is driven mainly by farmers’ perceptions, by the climatic conditions, and by the economic value of crop yields and production factors. Even beyond periods of water shortage, in some areas farmers pump groundwater in order to avoid the following problems: (i) the restricted-flow demand delivery-schedule that prevents the quick completion of irrigation cycles in medium-large farms, (ii) the restricted-frequency demand-delivery often imposed by the CBC during water shortage periods, (iii) the need to arrange water withdrawals with neighbour farmers supplied by the same hydrants, or (iv) the tiered water fees enforced by the CBC. Also, many farmers still perceive groundwater pumping as somewhat cheaper than water supplied by the CBC, even though the contrary was shown by economic analyses (e.g. Portoghese et al., 2013).

As a more fundamental problem, both the farmers’ perception and the CBC’s analyses ignore the ecological costs of groundwater degradation and remediation. The CBC accepts no responsibility for water-management practices beyond the farm gate. From the growers’ standpoint, groundwater pumping aims to increase and/or stabilise the economic benefits of farming activities. Often farmers combine surface water and groundwater for various reasons such as to maximise crop yields and farm net benefit, or to minimise the seasonal water fees payable to the CBC, or to prevent yield reduction arising from high salinity in the groundwater during peak-demand periods. However, this conjunctive use of surface and groundwater is based solely on farmers’ economic and technical considerations, regardless of environmental burdens such as aquifer depletion and degradation. Furthermore, fields close to the river banks are often irrigated by growers with water pumped out the river. In all these situations, return flows may result from run-off through the drainage networks, as well as from percolation through the soil profile, finally reaching the downstream reaches of the river, wetlands or the aquifer.

Farm activities generate various pressures on land and water resources, including quantitative depletion and qualitative degradation, especially biodiversity loss in farmland and in the natural environment. This harm has several sources: (i) intensive farming and tillage practices, (ii) fertilizers and pesticides application on cultivated fields, (iii) water abstraction from the Ofanto River, (iv) return flows of degraded water to downstream wetlands and aquifers, (v) over-drafting of groundwater, (vi) salinity build-up in cultivated soils, (vii) energy consumption for water pumping, and (viii) increased CO2 emissions from the energy usage related to pumping, transport, machinery, etc.

Relative to those ecological problems, much greater impetus for innovative practices comes from recurrent scarcity of water supply and the prospect of even greater future scarcity and uncertainty. Those problems in turn result from high water-demanding crops and from irrigation scheduling practices. Such decisions are often based solely on farmers’ perceptions; their systems and practices are not monitored to assess the actual performance and efficiency achievements. No systematic technical support is available to growers for their daily or seasonal irrigation planning and scheduling.

Moreover there is detailed evidence of water-use inefficiency at farm level. According to a study of farmers’ irrigation practices in a nearby irrigated area with similar features, there were often mis-matches between crops’ water demand and irrigation applications on several occasions during the season. Although the overall seasonal applied irrigation depths may match a crop’s water demand, farmers often under-irrigate during the early crop stages and over-irrigate during later stages; many choose inadequate timings and application depths. Such inadequate applications may be combined with uneven in-field water distribution, often due to the average low uniformity of irrigation systems—especially when not properly designed, evaluated and maintained; consequently, the farm may have up to 20% lower crop yields and income, along with inefficiencies between 20 and 40% due to excessive water applications (Zaccaria et al., 2010). As the main reason for the mismatch, irrigation scheduling practices are based only on farmers’ perceptions and experiences; missing is status monitoring of soil or plant water, use of ET-based irrigation scheduling, or any other quantitative techniques (ibid). This study confirms a general problem of water-inefficient practices, as also found in the wider technical literature (e.g. Hanson et al., 1995Hanson et al., 1996Burt, 2004Salvador et al., 2011; see Section 1).

3.2. Innovative practices for stakeholders’ consideration

Resource-efficiency could be enhanced by properly utilising several innovative technologies and practices. As listed in Table 1, several feasible options are already installed and implemented in the Sinistra Ofanto area, i.e. along the water conveyance and distribution system or on some progressive farms, but require either some refinements or significant operational improvements to gain their full economic and environmental benefits.


Science-Based Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

The human body comprises around 60% water.

It’s commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Although there’s little science behind this specific rule, staying hydrated is important.

Here are 7 evidence-based health benefits of drinking plenty of water.

1. Helps maximize physical performance

If you don’t stay hydrated, your physical performance can suffer.

This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat.

Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water content. However, it isn’t uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 6–10% of their water weight via sweat (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally (3).

Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and it may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise. This isn’t surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water (4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

If you exercise intensely and tend to sweat, staying hydrated can help you perform at your absolute best.

SUMMARYLosing as little as 2% of your body’s water content can significantly impair your physical performance.

2. Significantly affects energy levels and brain function

Your brain is strongly influenced by your hydration status.

Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function.

In a study in young women, researchers found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches (6Trusted Source).

Many members of this same research team conducted a similar study on young men. They found that fluid loss of 1.6% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue (7).

A fluid loss of 1–3% equals about 1.5–4.5 pounds (0.5–2 kg) of body weight loss for a person weighing 150 pounds (68 kg). This can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.

Many other studies, with subjects ranging from children to older adults, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance (89Trusted Source1011Trusted Source1213).

SUMMARYMild dehydration (fluid loss of 1–3%) can impair energy levels, impair mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.

3. May help prevent and treat headaches

Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraine in some individuals (14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).

Research has shown that a headache is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. For example, a study in 393 people found that 40% of the participants experienced a headache as a result of dehydration (14Trusted Source).

What’s more, some studies have shown that drinking water can help relieve headaches in those who experience frequent headaches.

A study in 102 men found that drinking an additional 50.7 ounces (1.5 liters) of water per day resulted in significant improvements on the Migraine-Specific Quality of Life Scale, a scoring system for migraine symptoms (16).

Plus, 47% of the men who drank more water reported headache improvement, while only 25% of the men in the control group reported this effect (16).

However, not all studies agree, and researchers have concluded that because of the lack of high-quality studies, more research is needed to confirm how increasing hydration may help improve headache symptoms and decrease headache frequency (17Trusted Source).

Does Drinking Water By Chugfuls Help Your Workout? – WaterFilters.NET

SUMMARYDrinking water may help reduce headaches and headache symptoms. However, more high quality research is needed to confirm this potential benefit.

4. May help relieve constipation

Constipation is a common problem that’s characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool.

Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as a part of the treatment protocol, and there’s some evidence to back this up.

Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both younger and older individuals (18Trusted Source19Trusted Source).

Increasing hydration may help decrease constipation.

Mineral water may be a particularly beneficial beverage for those with constipation.

Studies have shown that mineral water that’s rich in magnesium and sodium improves bowel movement frequency and consistency in people with constipation (20Trusted Source21).

SUMMARYDrinking plenty of water may help prevent and relieve constipation, especially in people who generally don’t drink enough water.

5. May help treat kidney stones

Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystals that form in the urinary system.

The most common form is kidney stones, which form in the kidneys.

There’s limited evidence that water intake can help prevent recurrence in people who have previously gotten kidney stones (2223).

Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys. This dilutes the concentration of minerals, so they’re less likely to crystallize and form clumps.

Water may also help prevent the initial formation of stones, but studies are required to confirm this.

SUMMARYIncreased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stone formation.

6. Helps prevent hangovers

A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration (2425Trusted Source26Trusted Source).

Although dehydration isn’t the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth.

Good ways to reduce hangovers are to drink a glass of water between drinks and have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.

SUMMARYHangovers are partly caused by dehydration, and drinking water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers.

7. Can aid weight loss
16 Reasons Why Water Is Important to Human Health

Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight.

This is because water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate.

Some evidence suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.

A 2013 study in 50 young women with overweight demonstrated that drinking an additional 16.9 ounces (500 mL) of water 3 times per day before meals for 8 weeks led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared with their pre-study measurements (27Trusted Source).

The timing is important too. Drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full so that you eat fewer calories (28Trusted Source29Trusted Source).

In one study, dieters who drank 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks than dieters who didn’t drink water before meals (30Trusted Source).

The bottom line

Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically.

Make sure that you get enough water each day, whether your personal goal is 64 ounces (1.9 liters) or a different amount. It’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health.