Do as the Romans did - post about water

Posted On: Thursday - January 25th 2018 9:15AM MST
In Topics: 
  Treehuggers  Curmudgeonry  Economics  Environmental Stupidity  Geography

See, this is what I'm talking about. I've been toting the cases of cheap bottled water through and out the grocery store, loading them into the car, unloading them at the front, putting them up, then throwing the 10 or more empty bottles a day into the bin ... In the meantime, there are bottling plants with big machinery that could better be used for making Coke-cola, shrink-wrapping machines for the pallets, pallet jacks and fork lifts, trucks that drive city miles all over with these ~ 25 lb. cases of cheap-ass bottled water. Oh, I forgot for a minute the recycling trucks and the machines over at the transfer station, conveyors, sorters, crushers (all the cool stuff that the kids love) to sort the empty bottles. There's lots of human work involved too.

The customers aren't really paying for the water - they are paying for all that labor and loads of diesel fuel and gasoline to get the stuff onto your shelf. What if we could somehow get this stuff to go directly from the plant over at the river to somewhere in your house? Viola!, or wallah! as the kids tweet now, I got it! Pipes! Pipes, I tell you! Oh ... what? ... You say there is a patent already out for that? ... doing that now? ... wait, what about the Romans? ... [/Bob Newhart mode]

C'mon guys, whatdya need a refresher course? It's all economic geography these days! Peak Stupidity has not written many posts with the geography topic key, but it fits for this. I took an economic geography class a while back, and the Professor did a great job of explaining why towns are where they are, and that sort of thing, which is the point of it. Geography is not all "what's the capital and chief form of terrorism in East Bumfuckistan?". Back to the water, the Coke and other soft drinks get bottled locally for a good reason - it's all basically water - water is HEAVY and water is ALL OVER THE PLACE. There's no reason to ship it from a central Coke-cola plant in Atlanta, Georgia. Well, water is made out of pretty much ... hell it IS water. Same deal.

Why even drive the stuff around town? It was, what, 2,000-odd years ago when the Romans built these aqueducts to move water over great distances.

(True, they didn't have panel trucks and roller-door trailers, so necessity is the mother of invention.)

OK, that was all open-channel flow, same as irrigation canals we have nowadays, but pretty damn impressive. Even in the pressurized-flow regime though (just looked this up) the Romans had lead piping that long ago.

Enough history, though. Seriously here, it's all about minimizing energy use and labor. Pumps at the water plant are the place where energy is expended. After that, water goes up to the elevated tank (or one on a hill) and gravity and Bernoulli's law of fluid conservation of energy takes care of the rest. All we need is some potential energy left at the house (in terms of pressure) and we can pour the stuff.

This is not China where you really don't want to drink the stuff, a subject for a humorous post to come (if I can find the picture). In most American locales, the water's fine - get a filter set-up if need be. This whole damn bottled-water craze over the last 20 years or so is highly inefficient. The treehuggers will talk about the empty bottles and that, but what bothers me is all that effort and wasted energy driving it around and loading and unloading, vs. just a set of pumps at the front end.

Hold on, you hypocritical curmudgeon, the astute reader should be thinking (or yelling at the screen) - why are YOU taking part in this sham? I'll tell you why, I didn't pick this hill to stand on as far as my marriage goes. You've probably heard, or even read "You need to know how to pick your battles.". That's what I'm talking about. Yeah, I don't like this whole deal, but it started with my refusing to buy a bottle of water on our honeymoon! Yep, no kidding - "How about a Coke, juice, that nasty Pepsi, anything?!" An argument ensued ... yeah ... now we're killing the planet day by day. Mother Gaia hates my guts with the passion the Peak Stupidity blog reserves only for the Hildabeast*.

Yeah, the next anticipated question from the reader is one I'm quite prepared to answer: Besides the aqueducts, the lead pipes, the rule of law, and the secret formula for Coke-cola, WHAT HAVE THE ROMANS EVER DONE FOR US!?

* No, that's not really true. She's gotta appreciate the Peak Stupidity blog's exposure of the stupidity of thinking human overpopulation is not a factor in how she gets treated. More here.

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