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Videos tell Loyalist students about the risk to water supply

David Sedlak speaking at a TED Talk in Marin County, Calif., about how to avoid a drought. Photo courtesy of TED Talks.

By David Mallory [1]

BELLEVILLE – A small audience of students came to Loyalist College [2]‘s screening room during the college’s Universal Break Wednesday to watch a series of TED Talks [3] videos about water.

The main topic was how to avoid being in a catastrophic drought. One idea that was mentioned several times in the videos was desalinating seawater – desalination being the process of removing salt and minerals from seawater to make it drinkable.

But each speaker had their own ideas about why or why not to use desalination. One, David Sedlak [4], said that the process uses a lot of oil: “Among the different choices we have, it’s probably the most energy-intensive and potentially environmentally damaging of the options to create a local water supply.”

However, Fahad Al-Attiya [5], who was the host of the first video, said there is a way to desalinate water without using a great amount of oil. We need a form of renewable energy, like solar pumps, to desalinate the water and then be able to give the water to farmers so they can water their crops and grow more food, he said.

Later, in a video that seemed to intrigue the audience the most, Michael Pritchard [6] showed off a product that he proved was able to turn contaminated water into drinkable water. He placed some dirty water in a Lifesaver filter bottle [7], then pumped it and poured the water into a cup and drank it on stage.

Sedlak ended his video by saying that we need to figure out a water system that will be able to prevent rivers and streams from drying up and save future generations.

“Let’s create a water system that’s consistent with our environmental values. And let’s do it for our children and our grandchildren.”