Friday, April 24, 2015

News You Can't Use: San Francisco Using Drinking Water To Heat City Hall, Other Buildings

It's been a good week for terrible days. There's lotus-eating human derelict day, Earth Day and the upcoming one week anniversary of the Edmonton Oilers getting the first overall pick. We could celebrate by "responsibly" inhaling plant fumes, remembering the worst environmental alarmism, or in our case tucking into some exciting drought hypocrisy. To give you the full disclosure and transparency, when I read the headline I really wondered how "drinking water" can heat buildings. Do you hold it in your mouth until it gets to 98.6 and then spit it out or something? It turns out that's not right. Don't worry, it's explained in excruciating detail.

The people who want us to use less water are part of a system that could be among the biggest water wasters in San Francisco. That system is in hot water, because of hot water.

The most corrupt and wasteful people might be corrupt and wasteful. The irony. Then the pain of sentence number two. The reflexive property doesn't always create top quality journalistic prose, as hard as that is to believe.

“After the water is heated up, the condensated water is then discharged into the sewer system,” said Tyrone Jue of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “This is drinking water that is being used for the steam loop.”

It's like the hydrological cycle, but with more outrage and sewers standing in for clouds.

Water is heated to make steam to heat City Hall and 170 other nearby buildings. Although City Hall reuses most of its portion, a quarter million gallons a day goes wasted. Good drinking water ends up in the sewer. It’s a system that is more than 80 years old.

A rambling stream of thought narrative explains what's going down. It heats structures. Some is reused, some not. I could drink that sewer water, if it wasn't in the sewer. It's eight decades in the making.

“This system has been set up in the city for many decades, as far as this steam loop. It doesn’t rely on fossil fuels or natural gas to heat these buildings. So in that sense it’s good,” Jue said.

Or you could just wear a jacket or sweater, so in a sense it's bad.

But times have changed. Water is a much more precious commodity now than in the 1930s when steam heat seemed to be a good idea.

I know, it's hard to believe in today's enlightened age that we were such fools. Those naive maniacs that played with the properties of water with all the care and concern of a five-year-old who finds a loaded gun in a drawer.

“This station has had a problem with water intrusion since it opened in the mid-1970s. And so we’ve been pumping it out and trying to get rid of it since then,” said Taylor Huckaby of BART.

I think I'll put Water Intrusion on the "maybe" list for that metal band name.

Now 65 million gallons of ground water under BART goes into the sewer each year. The idea is to get that water, not good for drinking, into the heating system to replace the good drinking stuff.

When I'm talking about that good drinking stuff it isn't H2O, if you know what I'm saying.


The company says there are no firm plans and it will be expensive.

"We've got some vague plans we came up with while lying on the hood of a car and looking at the night sky."

"First I better warm up somehow."

But in this era of drought, priorities are changing and saving good drinking water is now at the top of the list.

We'll do it this weekend. Maybe. If there's time.

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Komment Korner  

i think i'll take a hour long hot shower.

These pigs use millions of gallons an hour.

The energy code in the municipality where I run my steam plant requires us to have a robust condensate return system

Heat it up with a mid sized nuke or two.

Gov. Moon Beam just up to his old tricks.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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