Air Wells, Fog Fences & Dew Ponds Methods for Recovery of Atmospheric Humidity

Note from Friend Nature: Water is a world concern. I am building a small fog screen and locating it next to my vegetable garden. I am currently watering my garden with recycled water, but I am implementing this design for a time when we might not have any water in California to recycle.

By Robert A. Nelson    Copyright 2003

 Fog Fences (El Tofu Mountain) Chungongo, Chili

Today nearly two people in ten have no source of safe drinking water according to the U.N. Millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene each year. But in some desert areas, where there is very little rain, fog and dew are abundant sources of humidity that are being harvested to produce fresh water.

Fog or dew collection is an ancient practice. Archaeologists have found evidence in Israel of low circular walls that were built around plants and vines to collect moisture from condensation. In South America’s Atacama Desert and in Egypt, piles of stones were arranged so that condensation could trickle down the inside walls where it was collected and then stored. by

Since the late 1980s there has been considerable research and development of fog collectors around the world, pioneered by Dr Robert Schemenauer and Prof. Pilar Cereceda (Univ. of Chile). The Canadian organization FogQuest ( is the international leader in this admirable effort; Dr Schemenauer now serves as a research scientist with the organization.

Prof. Pilar Cereceda:

Fog contains from 0.05 gram of water per cubic meter, up to 3 grams. The droplets are 1 to 40 microns in diameter. Fog has a very low settling rate, and it is carried by the wind wherever it may go. Fog collectors therefore require a vertical screen surface positioned at right angles to the prevailing wind. The collector must be a mesh because wind will flow around a solid wall and take the fog with it. A fog collector captures about half of the water passing through it. The efficiency of fog collectors depends on the size of fog droplets, wind speed, and the size of mesh (about 1 mm is optimal), which should fill up to 70% of the area. Two layers of ultraviolet-protected mesh, erected so as to rub together, cause the minute droplets to join and drain into PVC pipes attached to the bottom of the nets. The lifetime of the mesh is about 10 years. It costs about 25 cents or more per square meter.


(Photo source:

            The ideal location for fog collectors are arid or semi-arid coastal regions with cold offshore currents and a mountain range within 15 miles of the coast, rising 1,500 to 3,000 feet above sea level. Collection varies with the topography and the density of the fog. Ocean or lowland fog usually lacks sufficient water or wind speed to yield a substantial amount of water, so careful evaluation studies must be made to determine the suitability of any particular microclimate. This is done by monitoring a number of 1 m2 collectors for a period of months.

Fog fences have the advantages of being passive, requiring no artificial energy input for operation. They  are simple to design and can be constructed quickly and easily with little skill. The system is modular, easy to maintain, and can be expanded as demand increases or money allows. Investment costs are low — much less than conventional sources in the areas where this technology can be applied. The water quality usually is good, though some treatment may be necessary for human consumption.

Mesh fog collectors are limited by the local conditions of climate and topography. The yield is affected by season and weather, included macro-systems such as El Nino and La Nina. Dust can cause high levels of metals and low pH. High humidity can promote the growth of microflora, and other sources of contamination (i.e., insects and birds) must be considered. Unless the collectors are close to the consumers, the system requires uneconomical pipelines that also present hydraulic problems. The site must be easily accessible and have clear ownership. Site security also may be an issue. Management of the water distribution must be fair, efficient, and self-sufficient.

A very successful pilot project was established at Chungungo, Chile in 1987. Over a period of 5 years, 94 fog collectors were constructed atop 2,600 ft. El Tofo Mountain, collecting up to 2,000 gallons daily (mean yield: 3 liters/m2/day).  The villagers call it “harvesting the clouds”. Walter Canto, regional director of Chile’s National Forest Corporation, said:

“We’re not only giving Chungongo all the water it needs, but we have enough water to start forests around the area that within 5 or 6 years will be totally self-sustaining.”

The fog collectors on El Tofo have fallen into a sad state of disrepair. In 2002, only 9 collectors remained of the 94 that once shrouded the mountaintop.

The success of the fog collectors at Chungongo actually contributed to the failure of the project. The new supply of water stimulated local development that tripled the population to 900 inhabitants while reducing the amount of water available to each family. It would have been a simple matter to increase the number of fog collectors, but a political decision was made to construct a pipeline (costing ~ US$1M) to bring water from Los Choros. Dr Schemenauer, who directed the original project, said that 400 collectors (many more than enough to meet the need) could be built on the mountain at a much lower cost than that of the pipeline. But the villagers were not significantly involved in the original project, so they had little understanding of water economics and what was required to maintain the collectors over a period of years; they were taken for granted.

The International Development Research Center (IDRC) that sponsored the original project reported that local officials “regard water from fog as an unreliable, irregular, and insufficient source for providing drinking water for Chungongo”.

Dr Schemenauer maintains that the original project was not designed to supply water to the community. It was intended to perfect the technology and use the water for a reforestation project on the mountain. The local community lobbied to divert water to the village instead, and it was done. The obvious lesson is that the local people must be involved and committed to long-term maintenance and development, adding more fog collectors if the need arises.

Another 21 sites (1,000 acres total) in Chile and on the Pacific coast of Latin America also have fog collectors that continue to provide water for agricultural and forestry projects. Some of the locations have become self-sufficient because the trees have become large enough to collect fog for themselves, just as the ecosystem did before settlers disrupted it. Precarious “lomas” fog-forest ecosystems survive on droplets of water collected by their leaves. Some such forests, surrounded by deserts, have been sustained by fog for millennia. Very little cutting is necessary to initiate gradual but complete destruction.

In the past few years, FogQuest has conducted several successful projects in Yemen, Guatemala (Lake Atitlan), and Haiti (Salignac Plateau). More are being planned in the sultanate of Oman, Ethiopia, and Nepal. The Yemen project is in the mountains near Hajja, where there is virtually no rainfall in the winter months. There is, however, sufficient fog to justify the construction of large fog collectors. The best sites produce about 4.5 liters/m2/day.  The yield at the best sites in Haiti is about 5.5 liters/m2day. In other words, each square meter of mesh produces about 165 liters/month. A large collector (50 m2) would produce about 175 liters daily, which is sufficient to supply the needs of nine people.

Fog collectors in the Sultanate of Oman have yielded as much as 70 liters/sq meter/day! A 48 m2 collector there yields over 3000 liters/day. Each village requires 30 to 80 collectors (cost: ~ US$400 each) to provide its needs.

The many forms of atmospheric dehumidifiers offer real hope for thirsty humanity. Countless lives can be saved and improved by this elegant technology. The quantity of water thus produced may even meet the needs of large-scale agriculture if used in a conservative manner, such as drip-feeding.




Link to a YouTube Video about Dr. Schemenauer’s project in Ecuador.
Published on Sep 10, 2013

With an ingeniously simple technology, Dr. Bob Schemenauer extracts fresh clean drinking water from fog for remote villages in Ecuador, replacing the thick brown water from polluted aquifers — literally, a life saver.


US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health


Microsoft Word - Fog_resubmission_AMBIO

Three mesh types for fog collection. The Raschel mesh (35% shading, left panel, has been successfully applied for many years in 35 countries in five continents. It is used double layered in SFC and LFC (only one layer is shown here). The middle panel shows a robust material with a stainless mesh, co-knitted with poly material (, which has been employed in South Africa. The right panel shows a newly proposed design of a three-dimensional net structure (1-cm thickness) of poly material ( Note that no overall comparison of mesh collection rates and technical performance has been conducted yet. The edge lengths of mesh sections shown are 6.5 cm



California Oil Wells Pumped Waste Into Aquifers

California State shuts 12 oil company wells that pumped waste into aquifers By David R. BakerMarch 3, 2015 Updated: March 3, 2015 8:54pm

California State shuts 12 oil company wells that pumped waste into aquifers
By David R. BakerMarch 3, 2015 Updated: March 3, 2015 8:54pm

Photo: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

State shuts 12 oil company wells that pumped waste into aquifers

March 3, 2015 Updated: March 3, 2015 8:54pm

State officials have ordered oil companies to shut 12 more wells that injected oil-field wastewater into drinkable aquifers beneath California’s drought-stricken Central Valley, regulators reported Tuesday.The wells, used to dispose of water left over from oil production, are clustered in Kern County, the heart of the state’s petroleum industry. All have pumped water laced with oil and trace chemicals into aquifers that could be used for drinking or irrigation in the valley’s fields and orchards.

They are the result of three decades of bureaucratic confusion among state and federal regulators that allowed oil companies to drill hundreds of disposal wells into aquifers that were supposed to be protected by law. The problem was the subject of a Chronicle investigation in February.

Each of the 12 wells recently ordered closed was found to be injecting wastewater within a lateral mile and 500 vertical feet of a drinking-water well, prompting the shutdown order from the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.


File – This Jan. 16, 2015, file photo shows pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, Calif. California is proposing broad changes in the way it protects underground water sources from oil and gas operations, after finding 2,500 instances in which the state authorized oil and gas operations in protected water aquifers. State oil and gas regulators on Monday, Feb. 9, released a plan they sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week for bringing the state back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, file) State pledges to stop oil firms from tainting aquifers Aletha, center, and Tom Frantz, right, and family friend Judy Reed, left, plant new almond trees as P.D., the dog, wanders by Jan. 29, 2015 on Frantz’s land in Shafter, Calif. Frantz is a fourth generation farmer who recently inherited his father’s land and currently has 4,000 almond trees. Frantz is concerned about the quality of his future water supply. State let oil companies taint drinkable water in Central Valley
‘A significant step’

“As we’ve said before, the protection of California’s groundwater resources — as well as public health — is paramount, particularly in this time of extreme drought,” said Steven Bohlen, the division’s supervisor. “Halting injection into these wells is a significant step toward that goal.”

So far, no drinking wells have been found to be contaminated by the underground wastewater injections.

“We intend to keep it that way,” Bohlen said.

The companies that own 10 of the injection wells voluntarily relinquished their well permits, Bohlen said. The division has filed cease-and-desist orders against the two companies that own the two other wells, demanding that injections stop within 24 hours. All of the companies will be required to test water quality in the affected aquifers and check for contamination in nearby drinking-water wells.

Eight other injection wells shut down by the state last year remain closed.

California produces more oil than any state other than Texas and North Dakota, and its petroleum reservoirs hold far more water than crude. Last year, oil companies extracted 205.3 million barrels of petroleum from the ground, along with 3.3 billion barrels of salty water, according to the division. Once it has been separated from the oil, most of the water is pumped back underground, sometimes into the same formation it came from, sometimes elsewhere — including usable aquifers.

A Chronicle review in February found 171 cases in which the division allowed oil companies to inject “produced water” into high-quality aquifers that were supposed to be protected under federal law. Another 253 injection wells went into aquifers whose water could have been used with more extensive treatment.

In addition, the division improperly issued permits for 2,021 other wells that are injecting water or steam into aquifers that also contain oil, usually as a way of squeezing more petroleum out of the ground.

The wells recently ordered closed are owned by California Resources Corp., Chevron U.S.A., E&B Natural Resources Management, Linn Operating Inc., Modus Inc. and Western States International Inc. Modus and Western States received cease-and-desist orders from the division.

“It’s encouraging to see them take immediate action when they see a threat,” said Andrew Grinberg, oil and gas program manager with the Clean Water Action environmental group. “Obviously we have concerns about all the wells that remain open.”

Series of foul-ups

The problem dates to 1982, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the division authority to enforce the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in California’s oil fields. Through a tangled series of snafus, the two agencies developed different lists of aquifers that were considered suitable for wastewater disposal. As a result, the division started issuing injection permits for some aquifers that should have been protected, a problem that persisted undiscovered until 2011.

According to a report issued Tuesday by state environmental regulators, the federal EPA and the division adopted two agreements on which aquifers to use, one in 1982 and the other the following year. But the signature page of the second agreement, including the date, was photocopied from the first, adding to the confusion.

3 shut wells reopened

The problem first sprang into public view last year when the division abruptly shut down 11 injection wells in Kern County, fearing that they had breached aquifers already used for drinking or irrigation. The owners of three of those wells were later allowed to resume pumping after they proved to state officials that their wells had not accessed drinking-water aquifers after all.

The division is now examining all of the disputed injection wells and has warned oil companies that injections into potentially drinkable aquifers must stop by Oct. 15.

David R. Baker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @DavidBakerSF

David R. Baker
David R. Baker
Business Reporter

The Beauty of Change, the Basics for Survival, Earth Unplugged

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Basics for Survival, Earth Unplugged

The Beauty of Change, Essay 1, the Basic Steps…

Simple Steps for Improving Your Life:

  1. Cherish what you have. Appreciate your life, family, friends, and your blessings given by our planet and ‘Mother Nature.’  Everything comes from Nature. Every material object in your life came from our Earth, at a great cost. The planet cannot keep up with our consumption. Give back to Nature, recycle what you do not need, it is made from precious material. Watch what you throw away, are you really giving back to Nature by dumping into her earth and water what you have consumed and no longer want?
  2. Recognize that you have what you need. If you have a home, food, water, you have enough. Everything else is a want. The First World (us) has taken too much from a finite planet (the only one we have). We are stripping our planet of its resources for our pleasure, leaving little for the rest of humanity. We choose not to see what our selfishness has caused, and the suffering of the Third World, who is starving and thirsty. I know we can do better.
  3.  Simplify your life. Having less material objects creates a space that you will enjoy more. Give away or sell what you do not need, someone else can use it. Eating less and more healthy simple foods will increase your enjoyment also. Growing your own organic foods gives pleasure, knowing that you are working with, and in nature. Your body is part of Nature, give it simple good food, and it will reward you with good health. Learn to recognize what will enhance your diet, and create good health. Eat less high resource foods: meat, out of season fruits and vegetables (they have probably traveled more that you have), factory created foods (processed, and dead, also well traveled).

What Easy Improvements I Made to Enjoy My Life More:

  • I sold my large house, and downsized (2003)…AND use way less power. Easier to clean, more time to spend outside in Nature
  • I became a vegetarian (1995)…I grow my own food, and my protein is from fruits and vegetables, legumes, and eggs from my chicken, AND have great health. I eat less and enjoy it more. I don’t eat GMO corn or soy products (they are hidden in packaged food).
  • I use less energy in my new home, replace your light bulbs with more energy efficient CFL’s…Check your appliance efficiency. My heater is on a low setting, so I dress warm.
  • Gave up TV (1995)…The new flat screen TV’s use 2x to 4x the energy of the old tube ones. Again, I am outside in Nature, or reading, or painting.
  • Unplug what you are not using, standby mode uses electricity….
  • I sold my super cool Black & Silver Dodge Ram truck, and bought a small Toyota pickup, now I have downsized again, being given a free car that has great gas mileage.
  • I found something useful to do, and am getting a teaching credential, AND blogging about climate change.
  • I stopped buying what I do not need. Yes, even Christmas presents, I bought everyone socks for Christmas! I make my own beer and wine (another blog), and gave as Christmas presents).
  • I recycle everything. I have a compost pile, recycle cans, jars, plastic, etc., I have very little trash to send back into the Earth.
Starting the Garden
Starting the Garden
Growing the Garden
Growing the Garden
Eating the Garden
Eating the Garden
Mother Nature

Mother Nature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


D. A. Hartley:

Yayoi Kusama, my hero also.

Originally posted on chutianzhong:

Yayoi Kusama has always been my favorite artists that I’m not only fascinated by her repeated patterns but also inspired by her personal experience and how she relates them into her work of arts. According to Wikipedia, Kusama has worked in a wide variety of media, including painting, collage, sculpture, performance art and environmental installations which all features her iconic psychedelic use of colors, repetition of patterns (especially dots) and also genital objects. She is also a precursor of the Pop Art, minimalist, and feminist art movement. Personally I was desperate to go to her exhibition last year in New York but somehow I missed it. Eventually I had the opportunity and went to the one in Shanghai that was absolutely mind-blowing and inspiring. The exhibition was divided into several sections which includes her early period paintings, flower and dog sculptures, the pumpkins and of course the “Mirror Room”.

View original 342 more words

BBC Program on Fracking, featuring Professor Iain Stewart.

ReBlogged from Lack of Environment:


Professor Iain Stewart


Letter written to Professor Stewart by Lack of Environment, author Martin Lack:

Herewith appended below is an email I sent today to Professor Iain Stewart (and copied to all those named in it).

Dear Professor Stewart,

I wanted to express my appreciation for the sensitive way in which you handled the issues in last night’s Horizon programme and for all the facts, figures and research findings it contained.  I was particularly interested in the evidence that shale gas has escaped from poorly-constructed wells in the USA.  Even if the UK can improve on the 6 to 7% failure rate in the USA, 100% success (i.e. no failures) is highly improbable.  Therefore, if fracking must be pursued (for whatever reason), this would make it imperative that the BGS establish baseline monitoring for methane as soon as possible. Would it be possible to get a copy of the transcript of the programme (or a list of References)?

Given my geological background and my MA in Environmental Politics, I have written a great deal about Fracking and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) on my blog.  However, having started out very much opposed to both Fracking and CCS, my position has evolved as a consequence of ‘exchanges of views’ I had last year with Professor Peter Styles (Keele) and with Professor Robert Mair (Cambridge/Royal Society).  As a result of these exchanges – summarised or linked to here on my blog – I would agree with Peter that we probably need shale gas.  However, I believe Peter also agrees with me that we probably cannot afford it*.  I also understand that the remit of the Royal Society specifically excluded the long-term sustainability implications of pursuing fracking.

Nevertheless, this leaves me wondering whether you could encourage the BBC to do a second programme to address the consequences of humans burning all the Earth’s fossil fuels simply because they are there; and/or the need for ‘Western’ per capita energy consumption to be drastically reduced?  Having read David MacKay’s book, Sustainable Energy: Without The Hot Air, I think our biggest problem is that most people do not think holistically about the problems we face or, even worse, they seem to think concepts such as ‘ecological carrying capacity’ are just eco-Marxist propaganda.  However, although it would seem that CCS is now going to be essential in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), I think it is also the biggest obstacle to getting politicians to take decisive action to decarbonise our power generation systems.

Even if such a second Horizon programme is not likely, I remain very appreciative of all you have done – and are doing – to raise the profile of ACD as an Earth Science issue that should be of concern to all.

Kind regards, [etc]

ReBlogged from Lack of Environment:

* If fracking becomes the new energy boom, it is very hard to see how CCS will ever be able to be rolled-out on a global scale to keep pace with unabated CO2 emissions.

“Let Fury Have The Hour”, film by Antonio D’Ambrosio. Artist’s Unite!

YouTube Link:  $3.99

A documentary that chronicles how a generation of artists, thinkers, and activists used their creativity as a response to the reactionary politics that came to define our culture in the 1980s.

Director Antonino D’Ambrosio took seven years interviewing various artists who discuss how their work stems in large part from reactions to the conservative politics of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They explain how their creative responses to what they felt were dehumanizing social changes allow them to find a way to affect the world. Among the many interviewees are Chuck D, Tom MorelloJohn Sayles, and Eve Ensler.


Shepard Fairey, Obey Giant Room - The Creek So...

Shepard Fairey, Obey Giant Room – The Creek South Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan greet Prime Min...

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan greet Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Denis Thatcher of the United Kingdom for the State Dinner at the North portico of the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World Bank: What Climate Change Means for Africa, Asia and the Coastal Poor

  • A new climate report looks at likely impacts of present day, 2°C, and 4°C warming across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia.
  • It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia.
  • Turn Down the Heat warns that poor communities will be the most vulnerable to climate change.

As the coastal cities of Africa and Asia expand, many of their poorest residents are being pushed to the edges of livable land and into the most dangerous zones for climate change. Their informal settlements cling to riverbanks and cluster in low-lying areas with poor drainage, few public services, and no protection from storm surges, sea-level rise, and flooding.

These communities – the poor in coastal cities and on low-lying islands – are among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change and the least able to marshal the resources to adapt, a new report finds. They face a world where climate change will increasingly threaten the food supplies of Sub-Saharan Africa and the farm fields and water resources of South Asia and South East Asia within the next three decades, while extreme weather puts their homes and lives at risk.

A new scientific report commissioned by the World Bank and released on June 19 explores the risks to lives and livelihoods in these three highly vulnerable regions. Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience (Read it in IssuuScribdOpen Knowledge Repository) takes the climate discussion to the next level, building on a 2012 World Bank report that concluded from a global perspective that without a clear mitigation strategy and effort, the world is headed for average temperatures 4 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times by the end of this century.

Small number, big problem

Communities around the world are already feeling the impacts of climate change today, with the planet only 0.8 ºC warmer than in pre-industrial times. Many of us could experience the harsher impacts of a 2ºC warmer world within our lifetimes – 20 to 30 years from now – and  4ºC is likely by the end of the century without global action.

The report lays out what these temperature increases will look like, degree-by-degree, in each targeted region and the damage anticipated for agricultural production, coastal cities, and water resources.

“The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.”

The report, based on scientific analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, uses advanced computer simulations to paint the clearest picture of each region’s vulnerabilities. It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia that can lead to flooding in some areas and water scarcity in others, as well as affecting power supply.

“The second phase of this report truly reiterates our need to bring global attention to the tasks necessary to hold warming to 2ºC,” said Rachel Kyte, the Bank’s vice president for sustainable development. “Our ideas at the World Bank have already been put into practice as we move forward to assist those whose lives are particularly affected by extreme weather events.”

Open Quotes

The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. Close Quotes

Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank Group