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Get That Water Above the Pollution Line it Can't Be That Difficult!

A legendary halfbakery idea, revisited
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(+13, -11)
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Two years ago or so, before the Halfbakery crash, I posted a legendary idea (yes, yes, no need to be humble here). Some of you may remember it.

It was about a way to tackle the problem of drinking water pollution in China. Back then, reports showed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese are dieing each year of cancers caused by drinking polluted water. Then, a few days ago, the entire world witnessed the water scare in Harbin, a city of millions, whose water supply was polluted by a leak in a benzene production plant. So the idea popped up in my head again, and here it is.

1. Most Chinese cities take their drinking water from heavily polluted rivers.

2. It costs a lot to clean it up, and studies show that it's not being done properly.

3. Now many of these rivers start somewhere, high up North, where there are no industrial cities whose factories just dump their toxic waste into them. Here, at the source, the water is clean.

4. So if there was a way to capture that water, *before* it passes the polluting cities, and transport it downstream, then you would be solving a major problem.

5. The idea is to use big rubber or neoprene tankers, which you fill with water above the pollution line. Then you simply tug these floating bags with a small tug downstream, to the cities who need the drinking water. Gravity does a lot of the pulling.

6. Once you arrive at the city, you unload the clean water, fold up the big bag, and speed upstream again with your tug, to fill up the bag again.

That's it. Really simple. Much easier than cleaning up polluted water. Much simpler than dieing from cancer!

django, Nov 26 2005

Mad River Proposal http://www.wildcali...a.org/pages/page-73
An Alaskan company's bid to buy Mad River water and ship it south - In Bags [stestagg, Nov 28 2005]

Who would be naive enough to believe it? http://www.snopes.c...ess/names/evian.asp
[angel, Nov 30 2005]

UPDATE: Pollution risks Yangtze's 'death' http://news.bbc.co....pacific/5029136.stm
The water bag idea is more needed than ever before! [django, May 30 2006]


       We've had a bunch of ideas moving water (or oil, in some cases) by bag, and indeed, some have been mooted in the real world. I don't recall if yours was one of the legendary ones.   

       I think China also has a big problem with groundwater pollution.
DrCurry, Nov 26 2005

       River's are said to have a source, but in reality, a river is just a naturally formed drainage conduit into which surplus groundwater channels as it falls on the land around it.   

       Which means that finding a supply upstream that will satisfy all the demand further downstream is going to be extremely difficult.   

       Legendary idea or not, I think it's based on a false premise.
zen_tom, Nov 26 2005

       The reception for this idea seems to be proving that you can't enter the same water twice. :)
theircompetitor, Nov 26 2005

       I stand corrected: the idea itself was not legendary, the discussion about it by Halfbakers was ;-)
django, Nov 26 2005

       This is a fairly baked idea, I remember a picture of some guy standing on a like 1000 tonne bag of water used to carry fresh water through the sea. Because the sea is a more friendly transport environment, they used polythene to make the bags IIRC. When I find a link, i'll post it.
stestagg, Nov 28 2005

       How many living in Harbin?   

       Take 5 million and multiply by 10 conservative gallons per day and you got 50 million gallons every stinkin day! Not simple.   

       Maybe you could write a couple of verses of scripture about pure water from the heavens and it would make more sense.
dora, Nov 29 2005

       I think that it's laughable that you imagine that the river source waters far above the population centers will be navigable for tugs towing huge rubber or neoprene tankers. I can't think of very many places in the world with navigable rivers that don't support substantial populations (and all of their polluting activities) the length of their riverbanks. The primary reason that headwaters tend to remain relatively clean is, in fact, because they tend to be difficult and/or costly to reach with large equipment.   

       On the other hand, it's not at all unusual for large bottled water companies like Arrowhead ( a Nestle company) to create a borehead at the source of mountain springs and separately transport high-quality product water by pipeline or truck to packaging centers to be sold in small containers at a significant profit.   

       So, as perhaps Marie Antoinette might have said to the residents of Harbin, "Let them drink Evian."
jurist, Nov 29 2005

lurch, Nov 29 2005

       What [lurch] said.
DesertFox, Nov 29 2005

       What [DesertFox] repeated.
hidden truths, Nov 29 2005

       Pipe schmipe! Canal! Just dig a canal to take that water to those cities. One could dig it parallel to the river, or put it in the river itself.
bungston, Nov 29 2005

       <rants> reverse osmosis means letting water evaporate, then collecting the resulting pure water. It's more expensive so water companies started mixing pure water created with reverse osmosis with filtered water. They marketed it just right, and now no one knows what pure water is anymore.   


       Two frenchmen wanted to sell tap water. They were talking about it and one said, but who would pay for tap water? the other said, let's sell it to the Americans; they'll buy anything. So they did. They named it Naive spelled backwards. -FACT   

Voice, Nov 29 2005

       Why not have a machine on a mountain river, which fills normal sized water balloons with mountain water. When they are full they are released into the river. Each town has a net to capture, burst, and collect the fresh water from these balloons. Thousands of baloons per day would be required to supply all of the towns with water.
Minimal, Nov 30 2005

       //They named it Naive spelled backwards. -FACT//
Falsehood (linky).
angel, Nov 30 2005

       //Pipe schmipe! Canal! Just dig a canal to take that water to those cities.//
Or even better! Just not pollute the river in the first place.

       //reverse osmosis means letting water evaporate//
No, that would be distilled water.
Reverse osmosis means using pressure to force water molecules through a filter, leaving larger molecules behind.
Loris, Nov 30 2005

       I thought something smelled fishy with that.   

       How about a huge flock of carrier pidgeons with lego handbaskets for distributing water? The whole thing would run on a free energy wireless network run by volunteers, and funded by advertising flavours in the water!   

       ...custard filled network hubs (almost forgot).
not_only_but_also, Dec 02 2005

       Not so sure it's simpler than dying of cancer...preferable though.
fridge duck, Dec 02 2005

       Update: my brilliant idea still stands. Chinese authorities now officially call the Yangtze a 'cancerous' river, and 200 huge cities who get their drinking water from it are threatened. [See link]. Before the halfbakery crash, the water bag idea got lots of croissants and lots of fishbones, so go ahead, leave a comment and do vote. The idea is too important to let it disappear into the archives just like that!
django, May 30 2006

       What about if you'd turn things around and use the boats/bags to carry the *pollution* over the river, transporting it to where it can't harm someone? Alternatively, use pipes or parallel canals for this.   

       It would attack the source of the problem. And I like clean rivers.
Forthur, May 30 2006

       Forthur, that's genius! Just don't piss in your river in the first place.   

       Having re-read the comments, I'm gawping at dora from 2005, who apparently drinks 10 gallons a day - at a conservative estimate. My calculations indicate that this would keep me going for about two and a half weeks.
Loris, May 07 2009

       Not drinking, but using. In the West, 10 gallons gets you 1 round of the dishwasher; 2-3 toilet flushes; or about half a shower. The average person in Ghana or Nigeria gets by with dora's conservative estimate; the average Chinese uses more than twice that.
jutta, May 07 2009

       In that case, dora obviously didn't read the idea properly. Ha ha, I scorn dora's reading ability, safe in the knowledge that even if she tries to read this she won't get it.
Loris, May 08 2009


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