A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Google Ngram & Many Forms of Greywater

Happy Holidays to those suffering through the greywater days in Oregon and much of the west coast which is undergoing the continuing Noachian Deluge. At least some of the southern California groundwater basins are reporting their water levels rising again, though whether that is due to a lack of use or *recharge* remains to be seen. If one wonders what I am referring to, I highly recommend this article *Groundwater: from mystery to management* by visionary groundwater hydrologist T N Narasimhan who describes one of the vexing problems for groundwater managers - lost storage. No, not lost saturated thickness in an aquifer which is what most groundwater managers lose sleep over, but rather damage to the storage characteristics of the aquifer. If the storage is damaged, it is reasonable to assume that less *recharge* would require a concomitant change in water levels. But I digress.

What to do during the rainy holiday? Delve into the questions that many have posed to me over the past year of blogging, and that is which is it - grey water, gray water, greywater, or graywater? The answer is all of them! But what version is most in use? And the answer is that it depends on when you ask the question. Here is the Google nGram, that new gadget from GoogleLabs. It is interesting to see the apparent *morphing* of the two words into one over time, something that Strunk and White in their book *The Elements of Style* acknowledge as the evolution of words (bedroom is a good example; groundwater also finally made it to the list over the past year).

What I found most interesting are the *spikes* in use during the 1980s and then a resurgence in 2000s. Recall that the environmental movement picked up steam in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in the US and passage of environmental laws (EPA created in early 1970s; RCRA passed in the mid 1970s; CERCLA in the early 1980s) by famous environmentalists and presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Perhaps the climb back into popularity has something to do with the renewed emphasis on climate change (I say renewed because I recall some interest in it back in the late 1970s when snowfields started *disappearing* in Wyoming, and were making the news even back then, and more surprisingly, back there). Or, the *periodicity* may be related to the *Environmental Pendulum*, made famous by one of the global leaders in groundwater hydrology, R. Allan Freeze.

Regardless, there you have it. All versions of *greywater* are in common use. Now, if we could only increase the use of greywater across the globe, then the dire water situations might not be as dire as predicted by the popular press.

All the fuss about reusing greywater is FONEY. Support the diversity of the colors of water in your regional water portfolio starting in 2011.

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