Fog in Rossland.

Fog harvesting not recommended solution for Rossland dry season

Dr. Robert Schemenauer, an expert in fog harvesting, doesn't recommend it as a source of water for Rossland‬ during the dry season.

After last year’s dry summer and water restrictions, there have been some concerns in Rossland about maintaining reservoir levels. But Rossland’s dry season is nothing compared to desert areas in countries like Nepal and Chile, where researchers have come up with an innovative way of supplying communities with water.

Fog harvesting is the process of collecting fog in a large, vertical polyethyleen mesh net. The fog is captured in the net and drips down to the bottom where it’s captured in a trough that connects to a pipe. The pipe can lead either to a storage tank or can flow downhill to a nearby village.

It takes 10 million microscopic droplets of fog to make one drop of water “the size of a match head,” but in the right areas, a large fog collector (LFC) can collect an average of 200 litres a day.

“Each fog collector the panel on it is about 4m high by 10m long on the average will collect 200 litres a day. So some days it might collect nothing, some days it might collect 500 litres,” said Dr. Robert Schemenauer, co-founder of FogQuest.

FogQuest is a charity based out of Kamloops that constructs LFCs in communities of developing countries with seasonal or year-round dry conditions.

Schemenauer has a PhD in cloud physics and a broad background in the atmospheric sciences. He first started working on fog collecting around 1985 when he was working for Environment Canada as a research scientist.

“I was asked to go to Chile by an agency in the Canadian government called the International Development Research Centre to see whether fog might be a reliable source of water for people living in the dessert of northern Chile, which is the driest place on earth,” he explains.

Schemenauer’s work in Chile turned into a multi-year project that resulted in the development of LFCs. After her retired from Environment Canada, he went on to co-found FoqQuest, which was registered as a charity in 2000.

So far, fog collecting has only been done for research purposes in Canada. Schemenauer says fog harvesting is only recommended in places where there are no other options for accessing water.

“People are curious because they do have fog and they do have periods without rain, so people do investigations,” he says. “[But] in this country where we’re wealthy and we have access to water maybe with a little bit of effort, I don’t think it’s really going to be something that’s adapted.”

LFCs cost $1500 USD to construct, which isn’t bad considering the amount of water they produce, the low maintenance they require and their ten-year lifespan. But setting up the LFCs first requires taking the time to experiment with location and placement, which is done using 1m2 standard fog collectors. Ultimately it’s not worth the effort if there are other ready sources of water.

Schemenauer doesn’t recommend fog collecting for Rossland, as we do have other options for accessing water. That being said, fog collection is already a natural part of our water cycle.

“Fog collected by the trees, whether it’s in the summertime when it’s liquid droplets hitting and dripping off, or whether it’s fog in the winter time, it’s again liquid droplets and they freeze forming rime ice, together that source of water from fog is probably around 20 per cent of all of the water that’s available in the area around Rossland,” he says. This is known as occult precipitation.

One area in BC that may try fog harvesting is the Gulf Islands.

“Surprisingly some of those locations are extremely dry for many months of the year. They’re very rocky, so they don’t really have access to wells or ground water,” says Schemenauer.

But for Rossland, occult precipitation is probably the closest we will get to fog harvesting.

 

Just Posted

Rossland’s farmer’s market is wilting, but organizers hope to spur new growth

12-year-old market considered taking a year off, says manager

Police investigating man’s death in Winlaw

Foul play not established, but major crimes unit is investigating

Rossland Legion supports Skool Aid

Skool Aid assists low-income families in the Lower Columbia

Bilingual child care spaces coming to Castlegar

New daycare opening this summer will teach kids French and English

Motion calls on Rossland city council to recognize ‘climate crisis’

Andy Morel wants to raise awareness of urgent need for action by higher levels of government

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Kootenay man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

GALLERY: First responders in Fernie return baby owl to its nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

Most Read