Concerns about power disruptions and communications shut downs
in 2012 are frightening enough but most people do not realize
that a melt down of the power grid can affect public water
systems.

“When I was young, no one gave much thought to having drinking water available. There was no bottled water as we know it and little concern for the quality of water coming from our taps. Gradually we have been indoctrinated into relying on bottled water and questioning the quality of water everywhere and in most cases for good reasons.

Many are aware of potential problems of having access to potable water. Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters have heightened our awareness of this potential problem. However, most people are not aware of the impact of power outages on public water systems. We have a false sense of security about our ability to get the power back on fast.

This article will hopefully provide a reality check.

“It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn’t create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that.”

“The projections of just how catastrophic make chilling reading. “We’re moving closer and closer to the edge of a possible disaster,” says Daniel Baker, a space weather expert based at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and chair of the NAS committee responsible for the report.”

“The second problem is the grid’s interdependence with the systems that support our lives: water and sewage treatment, supermarket delivery infrastructures, power station controls, financial markets and many others all rely on electricity. Put the two together, and it is clear that a repeat of the Carrington event could produce a catastrophe the likes of which the world has never seen. “It’s just the opposite of how we usually think of natural disasters,” says John Kappenman, a power industry analyst with the Metatech Corporation of Goleta, California, and an advisor to the NAS committee that produced the report. “Usually the less developed regions of the world are most vulnerable, not the highly sophisticated technological regions.”

According to the NAS report, a severe space weather event in the US could induce ground currents that would knock out 300 key transformers within about 90 seconds, cutting off the power for more than 130 million people (see map). From that moment, the clock is ticking for America.

First to go – immediately for some people – is drinkable water. Anyone living in a high-rise apartment, where water has to be pumped to reach them, would be cut off straight away. For the rest, drinking water will still come through the taps for maybe half a day. With no electricity to pump water from reservoirs, there is no more after that.””….Read more