position:civil engineer

  • The future of water infrastructure goes beyond dams and reservoirs — Quartz

    #eau #eau_potable #épuration #eaux_usées #désalinisation #eau_saumâtre

    Treating brackish water is expensive, but it’s getting cheaper as the technology matures. In his work at the University of New Mexico, Hightower, the civil engineering professor, has been collecting data on desalination costs for decades. His research shows that in the US, starting in 2005, treating brackish groundwater from nearby sources has been less expensive on average than piping in fresh water from a remote source—especially if that source is 75 miles or more away, a common solution for arid places as their local supply of freshwater dwindles.

    Texas is on it: the 2017 state water plan set a goal to turn 111,000 acre-feet of brackish groundwater a year into drinking water by 2070.


    Water engineers politely call it “direct potable reuse.” Others call it “toilet-to-tap.” The United Nations calls it a massive untouched resource that could nudge society into a “circular economy,” where economic development is “balanced with the protection of natural resources…and where a cleaner and more sustainable economy has a positive effect on the water quality.”

    In Singapore, an island nation lacking any freshwater resource big enough to sate its growing population (pdf), they’re a bit more direct: “Basically, you drink the water, you go to the toilet, you pee, and we collect it back and clean it,” George Madhavan, ‪a director at Singapore’s public utility, told USA Today in 2015.

    Since 2003, Singapore has been treating sewage to drinking-water standards. For now, most of that water is used for industrial purposes, but the volumes are impressive. About 40% of the nation’s total water needs are met by toilet-to-tap, significantly reducing the pressure on the rest of its freshwater sources—rainwater, desalinated seawater, and imports. In the last few years, the country started handing out bottles of the reclaimed water at events, to get its citizens used to the idea of drinking it directly. Singapore plans to squeeze a full 55% of its water supply from sewage by 2060. By then, they hope, drinking it will be the norm.

    In Namibia, the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the capital city Windhoek has been doing “toilet-to-tap” for so long that several generations of residents don’t bat an eye at drinking the stuff. The city has been turning raw sewage into drinking water for 50 years. Windhoek has never had a single illness attributed to the reclaimed wastewater.

    “Public confidence is that very, very fragile link that keeps the system going,” Pierre van Rensburg, Windhoek’s strategic executive for urban and transport planning, told the American Water Works Association, an international nonprofit, in 2017. “I think if there is ever one incident that could be linked back to the [direct potable reuse] plant, the public would lose all confidence.”

    “It tastes like bottled water, as long as you can psychologically get past the point that it’s recycled urine.”

    The science behind this isn’t new. In fact, a high-tech version of direct potable reuse has been used by American astronauts since humans first left Earth. In space, humans have no choice but to drink their own distilled urine. On the US side of the International Space Station, a high-tech water system collects astronauts’ urine, sweat, shower water, and even the condensate they breathe into the air, and then distills it all to drinking-water standards.

    “It tastes like bottled water, as long as you can psychologically get past the point that it’s recycled urine and condensate,” Layne Carter, who manages the ISS’s water system out of the Marshall Flight Center in Alabama, told Bloomberg Businessweek (paywall) in 2015. The Russian astronauts, however, decline to include their urine in their water-purification system. So the US astronauts go over to the Russian side of the ISS and pick up their urine, bring it back over to the American side, and purify it. Water is precious, after all.

    Back on Earth, the technology is more rudimentary. Whereas in space, urine is spun in a centrifuge-like system until water vapor emerges, is recondensed, then heated, oxidized, and laced with iodine, the process on Earth involves a combination of extracting waste through membrane filters and exposure to UV light to kill bacteria. (And in Namibia, they use waste-eating bacteria before zapping the microorganisms with UV.) To keep up with the ever-expanding number of chemicals and pharmaceuticals that show up in water, these water-reuse will have to keep evolving. Still, it’s proven technology, and cost-effective at scale.

    Outside of a few examples, however, communities have been slow to adopt them as viable solutions to water scarcity, likely because of cultural stigma around drinking filtered sewage water. That’s slowly changing as rising temperatures, dwindling freshwater, and more frequent, more extreme droughts have cities looking around for options.

  • Lucrecia Dalt, Mary Ocher & some farting girls interviews

    With her surrealist experimentations, Colombian musician Lucrecia Dalt draws from a vast wealth of artistic and philosophical influences: from New German Cinema and artificial intelligence to the politics of listening and technological ideas of the future. After working as a civil engineer in Colombia, Lucrecia has since moved from Barcelona to Berlin. She has released five solo albums, collaborated with musical kindred spirit Julia Holter and worked on podcasts for the online radio of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, on sound design installations and performative pieces for institutions such as Reina Sofia Museum and the Maisterravalbuena gallery of Madrid, in collaboration with visual artist Regina de Miguel.

    The Russian Mary Ocher has been persistently creating (...)


  • Merkel stands by Israel even when it kills Germans

    Earlier this year Angela Merkel was awarded Israel’s “presidential medal of distinction.” The German chancellor merited this honor, some journalists dutifully reported, because of her “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

    That “unwavering commitment” might help explain why Merkel does not appear perturbed by what happened to Ibrahim al-Kilani. He had spent twenty years in Germany, qualifying there as a civil engineer, before returning to Gaza in 2001, where he had married and started raising a family. On Monday, Ibrahim, his wife Taghreed and their five children were wiped out in an Israeli attack.

  • MasterAdrian’s Weblog

    Israeli Justice Endorses Continued Abuse of Dirar Abusisi

    Posted: 03 Nov 2012 03:00 PM PDT
    abusisiDirar Abusisi, after losing one-third of his body weight during two years of Israeli detention

    Israeli Mossad agents collaborating with Ukrainian authorities kidnapped Gaza civil engineer Dirar Abusisi on a Ukrainian train nearly two years ago. He was spirited to a Kiev apartment and by some accounts drugged and shipped in a coffin to Israel. There he was imprisoned under sham charges that he was Hamas’ chief “rocket engineer.” He has languished in solitary confinement without trial during that period.

    Over the past months, his Israeli attorney, Tal Linoy has appealed to the Supreme Court demanding the right to see all evidence the State has against his client. He has also appealed his isolation from other Palestinian detainees, which is a punitive response to his refusal to agree to a State offer plea bargain which would force him to admit guilt and confine him to prison for a ten-year sentence.

    The Israeli regional court last month, approved a six month extension of his prison isolation (the third such extension granted) on the grounds that the State’s evidence, which the defense was denied access to, marked the prisoner as someone who poses a danger to the State. It argued that releasing him into the general prison population would endanger state security, an argument patently fraudulent on its face. Will he use his special engineering skills to build hand-made missiles that will be smuggled from prison on Hamas’ behalf? Or perhaps he’ll build an explosive device that will destroy the prison and allow a mass prison break?

    There are those who seek to argue that the Israeli judiciary exists to maintain the rule of law and correct injustices done. Clearly, this claim is unfounded. Israeli justice exists to ratify the worst excesses of the national security state. Keep in mind that what evidence the State has offered has been thoroughly discredited by this blog, a BBC documentary, and an investigative report published in a Kiev newspaper.

    All this comes in the midst of an agreement Israel signed with its Palestinian political prisoners which granted them family visits and prohibited the State from placing them in solitary confinement. This agreement applied to everyone…including Abusisi. Yet now the State chooses to ignore this fact and pretend the agreement doesn’t exist. So far, the Israeli justice system refuses to intervene and uphold the agreement.
    tal linoyTal Linoy, Abusisi’s defense attorney

    The detainee suffers from painful kidney stones, dangerously high blood pressure, anemia, and other serious ailments. A year before his detention he suffered a serious heart attack. The Israeli prison service has refused to allow him to be treated by medical specialists and confined him to taking aspirin. Even the service’s psychiatrist has conceded he is suffering from severe depression, a fact which the Shin Bet denied before the judge. A specialist appointed by the defense, after examining the prisoner, found that his medical treatment fell below standards demanded by Israeli law.

    In any real democracy where there was rule of law, Abusisi could appeal his treatment and demand release. In Israel, even with its vaunted Supreme Court which supposedly upholds society’s democratic values, Abusisi receives little consideration.

    Gaza media note that the Hamas minister for prisoners has appealed to Egypt to adopt Abusisi’s plight and gain his release. Tal Linoy tells me that this appeal is a cynical ploy on the part of Hamas, which has essentially abandoned Abusisi to his fate. The reasons for this are complicated, but were alluded to in Gabriel Gatehouse’s BBC documentary in which a Hamas representative essentially offered Abusisi a cold kiss-off. Hamas’ refusal to support him is evidence alone of the falsity of the Israeli government claims that Abusisi played any role on behalf of the Islamist group. Can you imagine why, for example, in the agreement to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shalit, Hamas refused to include Abusisi among those it sought to release?

    I speculate that Abusisi had been approached while still in Gaza to join Hamas and collaborate with it (he was deputy director of the local power plant at the time). When he refused, he fled Gaza to the Ukraine. To get revenge, Hamas conveyed false information to the Mossad that Abusisi knew the location of Gilad Shalit, who at the time remained imprisoned in Gaza. Thinking they had a sure-fire way to locate Shalit and gain his freedom, they arranged for his kidnapping in Ukraine and forced return to Israel.

    When they discovered that they’d been “had” by Hamas, the Shin Bet could not quietly let the matter drop. Saving face is a critical factor not just in “primitive” Arab culture (as Israelis are wont to claim), but in Israel’s national security state as well. The secret police do not generally admit mistakes unless compelled to do so. In this case, the only ones who know the truth aren’t in a position to threaten the prerogatives of those who made this blunder. So Abusisi languishes for years in an Israeli dungeon, abandoned by Israeli justice and by the rulers of his native Gaza who he “betrayed” by refusing to serve them.

    Dirar Abusisi is a hero, a proud man who refuses to serve two masters, ones in Gaza and now those in Israel. He will not bend. This is the greatest crime he has committed. He has offended the security services, denied their supremacy, and defied them. In the national security state this is a supreme offense. He may suffer permanent damage to his health. He may not see his six children and wife Veronica for many years. But for him honor and dignity are supreme values. He puts his Israeli torturers and tormentors to shame. He puts the Israeli justice system to shame. He puts all those who betrayed him to shame.