Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The conveniently located Upper West Side Trader Joe's sells milk that is not Fairway's grassfed milk (Q: what, exactly, does the carton mean when it says the organic milk contained within is "produced with milk from local family farmers"?)

The store also offers its own brand of natural mountain spring water, from Benton, Tenn., possibly Peacock Spring.

Wouldn't it be super groovy cool if Trader Joe's

1) stopped selling bottled water in plastic bottles and set up a San Francisco-airport style water station (note: because NYC tap water tastes so good, people from out of town have been known to actually fill jugs to bring it "back with them")


2) looked west to the Okanogan Highlands Bottling Company, and figured out a way to make more of their own bottles ?


The word transboundary did not announce itself in the middle of a grocery outpost, however.  It appears in a November 19 piece, "A Global Treaty on Rivers: Key to True Water Security," by Fred Pearce, in Yale environment360. The catalyst for the piece: Two global river treaties are close to being approved – a UN agreement adopted in 1997 looks to be on the verge of being ratified, and European nations are close to ratifying their own river treaty. Mr. Pearce writes,

"More than 40 percent of the world’s people live in 263 river basins that straddle international borders. The Danube, Rhine, Congo, Nile, Niger, and Zambezi rivers all pass through nine or more countries. Transboundary rivers contain 60 percent of the world’s river flows — for two-thirds of them, there are no agreements on water sharing."

The article is about the possibility (in time for the 2013 U.N.'s International Year of Water Cooperation) for a global agreement on sharing international rivers. It sounds as though the outcome of a Rome meeting of the Helsinki convention set for November 28-30 will determine the way forward for an agreement.

"The Rome meeting of the Helsinki convention is also likely to extend its purview to drawing up rules for sharing underground water reserves," Mr. Pearce writes. "It could, for instance, help save the ancient water beneath Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which the two countries are currently racing to pump out before the other does. Likewise, it could manage the Nubian aquifer beneath Libya, Egypt, Sudan and Chad, which is currently being tapped by Libya; and the Guarani aquifer that straddles the borders between Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina."

Mr. Pearce describes China as "the water tower of Asia."

Canadian Geographic has a glossary which defines transboundary as "Crossing a provincial, territorial or national boundary or border." Note that the definition relies on a suface model, not a, let's say, hydrogeologic one.

Here in New York State we are facing some boundary issues, having to do with concrete casings, hazardous waste laws, sewage treatment plants, and money. New York City and every other county that will be affected by activities in the state's Southern Tier are having our own transboundary time of it, thanks to the advent of high-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing and its imminent long-term visitation upon to the Empire State. 

Sometimes I think about China's Three Gorges Dam and "the wobble" and its supposed 15-day fill period; other times I think about what is going on here in New York State, and about the simple offer of an ordinary glass of tap water at a restaurant, and as a New York City resident I think--seriously--about the choices one will have if this technology really comes to stay. 

Water takes the shape of its container. 

What is its container? Some say it's Earth.

 [credit: Daily Mail, Oct 15 2008]

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