Listening Topic: Earth Science – lecture on water projects around the world

A. Listen to the lecture from a conference on global water issues. Number the water projects below in the order they are mentioned.

___ Rain barrels to collect water for gardens

___ Residents who built a water system for their town

___ Large ponds that use algae to clean waste water

B. Listen to the lecture again. Write T for true or F for false for each statement. Correct the false statements. Listen again if necessary.

 They had an old water system in the town of San Elizario.

 A typical family had a bucket of water for each member of the family.

 The water authorities asked the people of the town to help build the water system.

 The townspeople learned as they did the work.

 Other people now want to learn how to do a similar project in their own towns.

 The Calcutta Wetlands are in the center of Calcutta.

 The water in the ponds is clean enough to drink.

 The pond water is cleaned by algae.

 The project in Vancouver is designed to provide water for people’s gardens.

10   The Vancouver project is important because Vancouver doesn’t get much rain.



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 F (They had no water system in the town of San Elizario.)

 F (A typical family might have two buckets of water a day for the whole family.)

 F (The water authorities said they would build the system, but they never did.)



 F (The Calcutta Wetlands are on the edge of Calcutta.)

 F (The water in the ponds is not clean enough to drink, but people can eat the fish that live there.)



10   F (The Vancouver project is important because it makes people more aware of wasteful water practices.)


A = Man, B = Regina Garcia

A:   Good morning and welcome. It’s the final day of our conference on water issues around the world. In the past three days, we’re heard many lectures on water and its effect on all of our lives, the importance of water, issues with water use, problems with availability of water, and so on. There’s been a lot to consider. This morning our speaker is Dr. Regina Garcia. Dr. Garcia has overseen many successful water projects around the world. She is going to tell us about a few interesting projects that are going on right now, and then she will take some of your questions. Welcome, Dr. Garcia.

B:   Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here today. This conference has offered an incredible opportunity for concerned people to meet and exchange ideas on these important issues.

There are many positive water projects in progress around the world. I’m going to start with a quick overview of a few examples and then later we’ll consider them in detail.

The first is here in the United States, near El Paso, Texas in a small town called San Elizario. San Elizario is a very poor town, and until just recently, the residents did not have a water system in the town, so water for drinking, cooking, and toilets was difficult to get. A family might typically have two buckets of water a day to use. This was for the entire family and would be used for both… cooking and washing.

The water authorities had told the town repeatedly that water and sewage systems would be installed, but it never happened. Finally, the women of the town had enough, and they decided to do something about the problem. They got together and built a water system for themselves. Obviously, they had to learn as they went along. But they built things themselves and raised the money throughout the project, and they did it. The lives of the families in San Elizario have changed enormously because they now have enough water for everyday activities. People from nearby towns that still don’t have water systems have visited the town to get ideas about how they might set up something similar. This is a real success story.

Another example of a successful project is in India – in the city of Calcutta. Now, Calcutta is one of the most populated and polluted areas in India, but on the edge of the city there are some large ponds of sparkling water called the Calcutta Wetlands. These wetlands are made from the waste water of the city. The water is not clean enough to drink, but it is clean enough for fish to live in, and the fish provide food for people. The wetlands also offer some natural scenery in the city.

So, how can dirty water, waste from the city, end up as pond water that is healthy enough for fish to live in? Well, it all has to do with algae, you know, seaweed and tiny plants that live in the water. The algae actually eat the waste, so eventually the water is changed into cleaner water that fish can live in.

The person who figured out how this works and developed the project believes that this simple water-cleaning system could be used in other places. There is no expensive technology involved. It’s just a matter of understanding the eco-system and helping it along. So, this fairly simple system of cleaning dirty water could potentially be used anywhere in the world.

The last example is of a simple program in the city of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada. There, the city has designed and manufactured rain barrels for residents of the cit. the residents use the rain barrels to collect water to water their gardens. Now, this may not seem like a particularly important project – Vancouver is a city that gets a lot of rain, after all – but I believe it is indeed important. The main idea behind this program is to try to make people more aware of wasteful water practices. Historically, people didn’t feel that water conservation was important since the city does in fact get a lot of rain. But, people use a lot of water to irrigate their gardens during the summer, so the city hopes that this simple program will make people think a bit more about water use. I think this type of program, where people in places that don’t appear to have major water problems also learn about water conservation, is becoming more important in world-wide education about water use.

Now, I’ll take a minute to answer my questions so far before we go into these programs in detail.

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