Tag Archive for: Water Stewardship

Locus at 25 Years: A Long-Term Vision for Environmental Stewardship

Over the longer term, we envision a world where we can use shared environmental data to take a more concerted approach to our collective environmental stewardship. We consider the work at Locus an essential step in addressing a monumental global problem.

The conversation about the environmental landscape has evolved drastically over the last 50 years as we continue to understand how human activity has affected the planet. The 21st century’s environmental challenges are manifold as shortages of drinkable water; the impact of various pollutants that enter our atmosphere, including greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater, radioactive materials, and other hazardous materials; the strains of our ever-increasing population on limited resources, and threatened ecosystems; and climate change causing extreme weather conditions to push more and more of the population into a precarious situation.

Companies and society need a collective and holistic understanding of the problems we face. The only way to understand the whole picture and act meaningfully on a global level is for all companies to understand the impact of their activities. It’s impossible to mitigate the risks and effects of those activities on the planet when we do not have the data to characterize the problem and see a complete picture of what we face.

This whole picture will require us to monitor an unprecedented quantity of data, and with this massive data explosion, Locus’s current efforts come into play. We are working to ensure that we are prepared for this ever-increasing data tsunami by laying the groundwork with the companies and government agencies Locus works with daily. They are already tracking increased data, analyzing their activities, finding ways to operate more efficiently, producing fewer emissions and less wastewater, and improving their environmental footprints. Locus would like to see the scale of those mitigation efforts increase a thousand-fold over the next ten years and for our efforts to yield clear improvements in our collective environmental impacts.

While someday we may have environmental data sharing among all public and private organizations, the regulatory bodies that govern them, and the scientific community, which will provide us with an even more complete picture of our environmental activities, any coordinated effort is years in the making. In the meantime, Locus ensures we are ready to help tackle the problem.

This is the final post highlighting the evolution of Locus Technologies over the past 25 years. The previous post can be found here.

Become Water Positive with Locus

Becoming water positive is a more difficult task than becoming carbon positive. Both in practice and in tracking complex water data. Less than a decade ago, experts questioned if it was even feasible to have a net-positive impact when it comes to water. Perhaps the biggest reason for the difficulty with water is a relative volatility when compared with carbon. Seasonal environmental changes in rainfall, as well as droughts and floods, effectively make water consumption a non-zero-sum game. And with water, quality is more important than volume. Today, companies and organizations are believing that goal a more attainable one.

Locus Mobile for Water Quality

Organizations are now shooting for a goal that will create a net-positive impact on volume and quality. Recently, Microsoft announced their goal of becoming water positive by 2030. Their goal is not only impressive, but it is complex and multi-faceted. They plan to achieve more freshwater collection, lower consumption, working with various agencies and NGOs on regulatory changes, and perhaps most importantly digitizing their water data.

Why is this goal so important? Almost a third of the world’s population, over 2.2 billion individuals, lack access to safe and clean water. With potential chronic shortages becoming more common and increased demand being more likely, the need for fresh water will be more drastic as time goes on. Organizations aiming for water positivity will lessen the momentum of water becoming less available.

Screenshot of EIM water utility dashboard and mobile app for locations

Where does Locus come in? We can’t solve a problem that we can’t understand. With Locus software, companies and organizations can accurately track and report complex ground and surface water data. Our calculation engine can deliver real-time estimates of supply and demand and our water quality software can manage sample planning and configure notifications for late or missing samples or exceedances in pre-defined limits. Our water quality solutions, long used by utilities like San Jose Water Company and Santa Clara Valley Water, can also help businesses achieve a greater perspective on their water consumption, providing the tools to allow them to become water positive.

Contact us today to start down the path of water positivity


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    Shape of Water: Cape Town running out of drinking water

    The city cut daily water use limits first to 87 liters and then 50 in a bid to avert shutting off supplies.

    The city had set a 50-liter daily limit and had told citizens “Day Zero” was approaching when people would have to queue at standpipes.
    But water-saving efforts in the South African city have seen the day pushed back from April to 27 August. Seasonal rains should mean that date is now averted, the city said. The shortages follow three years of low rainfall. The city had resorted to increasingly drastic measures to clamp down on water usage, including “naming and shaming” the 100 addresses using the most water and fining residents who failed to comply with the 50 liters (13 gallons) limit per person.

    By comparison, the average California consumer uses some 322 liters (85 gallons) of water per day. Water use in California was highest in the summer months of June through September, where it averaged 412 liters per person per day. By comparison, during the cooler and wetter months of January through March of 2016, average per capita water use was only 242 liters per person per day.

    Although the risk that piped water supplies will be shut off this year has receded, politicians and environmentalists warn that the water crisis is there to stay in Cape Town, as year-on-year rainfall levels dwindle.

    From the foundations of Rome to global carbon emissions reduction

    Does the solution for over 5% of world CO2 emissions lie in the 2000-year-old concrete-making technology from ancient Rome?

    Concrete is the second most consumed substance on Earth after water.  Overall, humanity produces more than 10 billion tons (about 4 billion cubic meters) of concrete and cement per year.  That’s about 1.3 tons for every person on the planet— more than any other material, including oil and coal.  The consumption of concrete exceeds that of all other construction materials combined. The process of making modern cement and concrete has a heavy environmental penalty, being responsible for roughly 5% of global emissions of CO2.

    Scientists explain ancient Rome’s long-lasting concrete

    So could the greater understanding of the ancient Roman concrete mixture lead to greener building materials? That is what scientists may have discovered and published in a 2017 study, led by Marie Jackson of the University of Utah.  Their study uncovered the Roman secrets for formulating some of the most long-lasting concrete yet discovered.  Our ability to unlock the secrets of ancient concrete formulas is dependent upon interdisciplinary analytical approaches utilized by the Jackson heat group and could lead to further discoveries that would reduce cement-based carbon emissions.

    Unlike the modern concrete mixture which erodes over time, the Roman concrete-like substance seemed to gain strength, particularly from exposure to sea water.  And most importantly, the process generates fewer CO2 emissions and uses less energy and water than “modern”, Portland cement-based concrete.

    [sc_icon icon=”chevron-right” shape=”circle” color=”#52a6ea” size=”small” link_target=”_self”] Read the full article here.

    California Lawmakers Approve Ban on Plastic Microbeads to Protect Water

    California approves AB888, an important bill to prohibit the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products for sale in California by 2020. When someone uses a product – like a face wash, for example – that has microbeads, several things happen. First – they get a unique kind of cleanse in their face that beauty companies suggest they can’t get any other way. Second – the microbeads (tiny pieces of plastic) are washed down the drain with water. These microbeads do not get recycled. They do not get caught in filters before they hit the sea. They pollute.

    With two just-released studies showing overwhelming levels of plastic pollution in San Francisco Bay and in Half Moon Bay’s marine life, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this bill will have a huge impact on the health of California’s waterways — and its people. Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington also tried and failed this year to enact bans on manufacture and sale, while Oregon’s legislature is considering similar bans.

    Studies found that San Francisco bay is contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic in greater concentrations than other U.S. bodies of water — at least 3.9 million pieces every day. Many of those plastic particles are tiny microbeads, less than one millimeter in diameter, which can be found in personal care products like shower gels, facial scrubs and toothpaste.

    AB888 will ban the beads by 2020. Product manufacturers can use other exfoliants that aren’t as environmentally destructive, and increasingly, states are demanding that they do so. Six other states have already passed legislation that bans or restricts their use.

    In addition to the plastic polluting our waterways — there are 471 million microbeads released into the bay every day from wastewater treatment facilities, Gordon said — they also contaminate the fish that we eat. A recent study in the publication Scientific Reports found “anthropogenic debris” in 25 percent of the fish sampled at markets in California.

    Metals and Mining Companies must Work Ahead to Manage Water Risks

    According to analysis from Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Eurizon Capital, metals and mining companies that take action now to manage their water risks will be much better off financially in the future.

    The research findings state that water stress is the most reported risk to operations- being identified as so by more than two-thirds of the sample. The majority of participating businesses were severely hit by water-related issues in the past five years, and almost half of the companies expect water stress to affect their businesses in the next five years. Also, with these negative water impacts comes increased spending.

    However, the CDP report also finds that companies that manage and report on these water issues are also the ones that experience better financial returns. Companies that properly plan for the future get to avoid the increased operating costs, lower revenues, and decreased shareholder value that comes along with poor water stewardship.

    An inadequate volume or quality of water can significantly decrease access to commodity reserves that are essential to the business operations of mining and metals companies. With such an important resource, it is obviously critical that it be properly managed and reported on. Luckily, there are tools that exist today, such as Locus’ robust environmental management software systems, that can help these companies effectively manage their water risks.

    EPA Researches Possible Impacts of Hydrofracking on Drinking Water

    Thanks to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, the U.S. now has access to immense reserves of natural gas. While the proper development of this resource offers numerous benefits for our country, it has also become clear that as the use of hydrofracking has gone up, so has the concern about its possible health and environmental impacts, particularly on drinking water.

    I recently came across the report that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in December 2012 in response to this concern, Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. Its purpose is to determine and examine the possible impacts of hydrofracking on our drinking water, and to identify what exactly causes these impacts.

    The EPA’s research set out to answer questions that focus on the five stages of the hydrofracking water cycle: water acquisition, chemical mixing, well injection, flowback and produced water, and wastewater treatment and waste disposal. The report describes the progress made as of September 2012 on 18 research projects, and covers research activities such as laboratory studies, toxicity assessments, and case studies.

    With drinking water being at the top of the list of precious resources, this is yet another reminder that hydrofracking must be engaged in responsibly, and that it is important for energy companies to be transparent in the management of their data. For that reason, Locus has developed a special functionality within its award-winning SaaS application EIM to help upstream divisions of oil and gas companies better manage and account for their data associated with hydrofracking.