Atlanta Georgia drought and the future
Why Atlanta should care now
The great drought of 2007 has eased for the Atlanta area so much of the public attention has abated. The reality is that Atlanta and several other southern cities are living beyond their water budget. They face economic decline if new housing and development falls so they are strongly motivated to continue development even if it is clear that they do not have water resources necessary to meet their long term demands.
Large businesses have already been forced to shut down factories and reduce production due to water shortages. These work stoppages cost money sometimes millions of dollars per day. CEO’s are getting smarter about water dependencies and are much less likely to locate their next major facility in an area that can not guarantee adequate water. This means that failure to adequately plan a water supply that can keep industry working even during the worst drought will cost people jobs as CEO’s choose other cities.
The water shortage will ultimately rise again during the next drought and each time it will become more expensive. The citizens may not even know how many thousands of jobs are lost due to the reputation of a region for not being able to deliver water. Large scale water systems of any type require time and massive amounts of capital. That means that by the time a drought hits it will be too late to implement these infrastructure projects. They must be started 3 to 10 years ahead of need if they are to help offset the impact of the next drought.
A2WH is emerging technology that could ultimately address this issue and make Atlanta more immune to drought. It is only 1 technology of many but it can be an important component of an overall solution. The challenge is that emergent technologies must be proved at scale in the region before they can be considered for large scale deployment. This takes even more time so you can not wait until the next drought.
How A2WH can save the Economic Future for Atlanta GA
Our A2WH Solar Thermal system that extracts water from air would need about 4.7 sq miles to produce 17 million gallons of water per day. The humidity around Atlanta is high and sunshine is plentiful so the A2WH system would work great. The system is immune to droughts and consumes no electricity or fuel.Wikipedia shows the City of Atlanta at 132.4 sq miles and the metropolitan area at 8,376 sq miles so we would only need 4% of the city space or less than 0.06% of the urban space to deliver the water.
This could be placed uphill from the city and generate power on the way down. It would almost certainly be cheaper trucking water in for any length of time. It would provide a better ROI than mothballing the city or loosing the industry.
The estimated cost would be about $3.4 billion USD (not including the land). The Brookings Institution shows Atlanta’s 2005 GDP worth $242B so a 3% drop in the local GDP driven by a water shortage would yield a GDP drop of 7.26 billion per year or 108.9 billion over 15 years. The real cost is in jobs lost and decreased property values but a 10% loss of tax revenue based on the lost GDP would cost local and state government enough to pay for the A2WH system 3 times over.
In an era of 100 billion dollar bailouts to save financial institutions it seems like a 3.4 billion investment to protect the economic viability of a region like Atlanta would be a good investment.
Desalination Double Wammy
During the 2007 drought multiple nuclear power plants came very close to shutting down due to a lack of power. Even coal based power plants consume water. According to a recent report published by the DOE the best thermal electric plants consume 0.3 gallons per KWh produced with some nuclear plants consuming many times more. Desalination plants consume large amounts of power and simply can not run without it. Desalination plants are normally only cost effective when the can be built right next to the power plants so they can obtain cheap power and re-use the power plants outflow pipes. The issue occurs when water shortages shut down power plants it also creates a crisis for the power so the same drought that shuts down the power plant can also prevent the desalination plan from operating.
The net result is that a sufficient drought may prevent the desalination plants from receiving adequate power to operate. Those power plants which use sea water for cooling are generally immune to this but in Georgia there where 3 nuclear plants at risk from the 2007 drought. If they shut down all the power consumers in Georgia are going to be competing with the coastal desalt plants for power from the coastal power facilities. As a result the Georgia citizens may be making a hard decision between running a light bulb or having something to drink.
A2WH runs without any grid power. If it is installed in the mountains above cities it can even generate power as the water flows downhill to the cities. It will be delivering water and power long after the desalt plants are idled because their power sources have insufficient water to operate.
- A solution to water shortage By TERRY DICKSON, The Times-Union
- Active Water Shortage
- Peanut Gallery by Kevin Seamon wrote
- Macon mayor suggests selling water to Atlanta airport By The Associated Press
- Atlanta water shortage blog
- Map shows all the current projects going on in the greater Atlanta area
Thanks Joe Ellsworth
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