The Panoche Water District, whose water is so polluted with heavy metals and salts that it must be mixed to be used for irrigation, used a million dollars in state funds to have a solar powered desalinization plant built to improve the quality of its “fresh” water at an estimated cost of $450/acre foot. We wonder how many millions in public funds have already been spent trying to clean up Panoche Water District water and for how few farmers?
If, as the NYTs article suggests, solar powered desal plants can convert west side San Joaquin Valley well water into a vaguely potable liquid, the growers can dispense entirely with the business of agriculture and pump their aquifers until they collapse to provide water at a hefty profit to Southern California or closer destinations -- to anyone who can pay their price.
The Times was silent on the subject of where the toxic brine residue from the “water-cleaning technology” would go. This waste will be added to the toxic waste water from fracking wells in the vicinity. We wonder if the EPA or any other federal or state resource agency has been monitoring the development of this project, paid for by public funds. We wonder what kind of environmental review might be required on private well-site desal plants. The Times probably is not familiar with the environmental record of the west side and so just didn’t stop to think about that aspect of this wonderful new technology.
The company bringing this water cleaning technology boon to Firebaugh is called Water FX, one of a number of firms founded by Aaron Mandell, a global water-tech guy.
Clean Tech Forum/New York
Aaron Mandell, President/CEO Oasys Water
Aaron Mandell is Co-founder and Managing Partner of GreatPoint Ventures and President/CEO of Oasys Water. Mr. Mandell is also a co-founder and member of the Board of Directors of GreatPoint Energy (GPE); a leading technology-driven natural resources company producing clean natural gas from coal, pet coke, biomass and wastes. Mr. Mandell identified the original technology on which GPE was formed and assembled and managed engineering/R&D as the company’s Chief Technology Officer until July 2008. Mr. Mandell is also a founder of Coskata, a leader in next generation fuels, and a co-founder of Altarock, an enhanced geothermal power development company. Previously, Mr. Mandell co-founded and was CTO of Coatue where he was responsible for technology development of the company’s polymer memory chip (acquired by NYSE: AMD in 2004).
Mr. Mandell has a technical background in environmental engineering and conducted his graduate research on groundwater remediation and modeling under a joint fellowship at the University of Vermont and Tel-Aviv University in Israel. During his graduate years he was advised by two world renowned water scientists; Dr. George Pinder, widely regarded as the father of groundwater modeling and Dr. Gideon Dagan, recipient of the 1998 Stockholm Water Prize. Since his early undergraduate years, Mr. Mandell’s passion has always been in the science and engineering of the environment and in the interaction human beings develop with the planet and our natural resources. Mr. Mandell holds a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont and has held visiting scientist appointments at MIT and Tel-Aviv University. Mr. Mandell is a member of the Board of Advisors of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Vermont.
Since we doubt the New York Times had ever heard about the Panoche Water District, we figure Mandell has some juice in the Big Apple and in Sacramento, where the money came from.
With the new water wells this technology could promise plus the new hydraulic fracturing wells starting up in the area, there will be a lot of earthquakes. Maybe all the drilling will awaken the San Andreas Fault. --blj
New York Times
Water-Cleaning Technology Could Help Farmers