Archives : 2013 : September
Galileo said, “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” I say, “Fine water is like fine wine.”
Image via jirihnidek (flickr)
What Is a Water Sommelier?
If you want to get super technical, the definition of a sommelier has historically been reserved for waiters or stewards of wine. Well, water is taking a stand against grape snobbery, and many fine restaurants are enlisting the service of a water sommelier. “What?” You might be asking. “That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard! Wine comes in several varieties; water is just water!” Ah, but truly it is not. Much like how grapes, land, and the vintner affect the flavor of wine, minerals, source, and the processing affects the taste of water. So, yes, water deserves a sommelier – and a little respect – too!
It’s All a Matter of Taste
A water sommelier does seem silly if you look at it only in terms of tap water versus filtered or bottled water. There is a distinctive taste difference recognizable to any palette. This is primarily because when drawing water from the tap, you taste all of the chemicals municipalities use to purify your drinking water – yuck! Filtering tap water, or admittedly buying bottled water, generally removes the chlorine taste that should only be reserved for swimming pools! Now, let’s build on this simple concept to understand why water deserves a sommelier.
Experts of drinking water understand what makes water taste like water, and why water tastes differently throughout the world. You see, water is more than just the chemical mixture of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom that make up H2O. Water is also filled with something us water geeks call TDS, or total dissolved solids . These solids, which are made up of minerals, salt, and metals, give water its taste. Think mineral water for just a second.
Minerals Make a Difference
Have your water tested if you suspect methane gas in your water.
Image via NOAA’s National Ocean Service (flickr)
Methane Gas in Water
Gas is always a hot topic in the news, isn’t it? Gas shortage, gas prices, wars over oil, but I’m not going to talk about that kind of gas in this blog post. I’m going to talk about my passion – water – and gas in our water supplies, which can be a serious concern. Much to their dismay, residents throughout the U.S. have a new gas problem to deal with: methane gas in water. Of particular concern are those whose water supply comes via wells. How does methane gas get into water and what can we do about it?
Q: What is this stuff?
A: Let’s start by discussing what methane gas actually is. The experts at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana State Department of Health explain that methane gas is actually a hydrocarbon that is the chief component in natural gas. It can be found in “coal seams, oil and gas formations, organic rich shale formations, and environments with decaying organic matter such as landfills and swamps.” And, yes, this natural hydrocarbon is one of the baddies that contributes to global warming. But how is it that we are now finding methane gas in well water?
Q: What the frack?
A: You remember my blog post about fracking? Well, many argue that fracking – which sounds like and should be a curse word – is responsible for the methane gas being found in our water supplies. Many gas companies’ frack to extract natural gas from bedrock. High-pressured water and chemicals are used to break up the rock to get to the natural gas, i.e., methane. As with any water-related procedure, fracking produces run-off, and it is argued extensively by environmental specialists that this is one reason why Americans must deal with methane gas in water. Naturally, the gas companies dispute this and, unfortunately, many states and the federal government still allow this natural gas extraction process, despite the fact that methane gas in well water is a common issue for those living near fracking sites.
Turn that water faucet off!
Image via Jenn Durfey (Flickr)
Could Water Scarcity be a National Security Concern in the Future?
September 11, 2013 marks the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and as a New York City resident, this time always makes me think about national security. An attack of this nature is the type of security threat with which most of us are familiar. When we think of national security, we think of terrorist and war-related attacks. However, I want to talk today about another type of national security concern that also needs to be in the forefront of every American’s mind. This national security threat is water scarcity, and believe me, the threat is very real.
I don’t mean to be a “Debbie-Downer” in this post – any discussion related to national security isn’t generally fun – but if you look at the latest water scarcity facts, you’ll see that this is a discussion we need to have. So, here we go! Let’s take a look at some of the issues surrounding our national water crisis.
Water Is Life
You learned it in elementary school: without water, we have no life. We need water to survive, animals need water to survive, and crops need water to grow. If we have no water, we have no means to sustain our existence. This is why water scarcity is a national security concern. In fact, it’s a global security concern, and we need to look at water scarcity solutions before drought becomes an irreparable epidemic on our home soil.
Think about it. Other nations are already starving to death because they do not have enough clean, safe water to grow food and feed themselves. Can you imagine that in the U.S.? Probably not, but that just might be the source of the problem. We’ve had access to clean water for so long, we simply do not think about not having it, and we need to.
This is one way nature filters water.
Image via John Christopher (flickr)
Tapped, Bottled, Filtered: Which is Best
I’m asked this question all the time: Which is better? Tap water, bottled water, or filtered water? Filtered water gets my vote. Filtering your water removes impurities left by municipal and well water treatment and is the most cost-effective way to ensure your home’s water is safe. Let’s take a look at why this option receives my thumbs up!
Water from the Tap
Tap water comes from your local water municipality or water wells, and as I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Water is a breeding ground for algae, bacteria, and parasites. To make water “safe” and “healthy,” municipalities “treat” your water with chemicals such as chlorine and additives such as fluoride.
These treatments produce some nasty side effects: stomach irritation, the infamous shower eye sting, your dry, flaky, irritated skin… all of that can be attributed to your tap water. Plus, where do you think that unused prescription you just flushed down your toilet goes? (Don’t flush your prescriptions folks! There are recycling programs to use instead!) Yikes!
- Drinking Water Contaminants
- The Dangers of Drinking Water by Michael Burgess
- Drinking Water Contaminants
Water from the Bottle