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 council agrees to finish skateboard park

Will cost taxpayers about $30,000 to complete project

Core funding to boost spending on tourism services for Rossland

Resort Municipalities grants will pay for a public washroom, better signage, and shuttle services

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Third cannabis store in Greater Trail opens next week

The City of Trail has had six applications from non-medical pot retailers to date

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read