What's in my Water ... and Where is it from?

A perspective for southern California
Free tutorial
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 (13 ratings)
417 students
1hr 57min of on-demand video
English [Auto]

Viewers will learn what substances occur naturally in water, and what contaminants and lifeforms may be found in drinking water


  • An interest in learning about water supply and water quality


In this 9 part video series, Dr Hoaglund discusses general water chemistry and what it indicates about the water's origins, also known as its provenance.  He then provides a perspective on water sources for Southern California, and the issues surrounding water management. 

This course was developed as part of the mission of the non-profit Carbon Negative Water and Energy founded by Dr. John Hoaglund. If you have benefitted from the information, please consider making a donation. If you're part of the 98% that can't make a donation, please massively forward the website and this course to your network ... it makes a difference.

Southern California water is supplied from three main sources, the aqueducts, groundwater, and desalination.  The groundwater resource is comprised of "runoff" from the mountains, as well as aqueduct water that is "artificially recharged" into the groundwater system in spreading basins, constructed within the river channels and overflow banks.  Desalination is used to treat waste water into freshwater, which is then put into the groundwater system to form "seawater barriers," raising fresh groundwater levels in a "groundwater mound" that inhibits "saltwater encroachment" from the ocean.  All of the deliveries of water and its management requires energy.  Desalination of seawater has become energetically competitive with aqueduct pumping energy, enough to be cost competitive.  As a result, ocean desalination is becoming an increasing supplier of southern California's potable water needs.

Part I:  Ions

Part II: Dissolved Solids and Biological Considerations

Part III:  Possible Chemical and Radiological Contaminants

Part IV:  Energy in Water?  A Comparison of Water Sources

Part V:  Orange County Groundwater Management

Part VI:  Desalination and Seawater Barriers

Part VII:  An Overview of the Aqueducts

Part VIII:  The Los Angeles Aqueduct

Part IX:  The California and Colorado River Aqueducts and Delivery to Orange County

Who this course is for:

  • General public, especially those in environmental, water utility, and water resource management.


John Hoaglund
  • 4.4 Instructor Rating
  • 57 Reviews
  • 943 Students
  • 5 Courses

John R. Hoaglund, III, Ph.D.

Dr. Hoaglund is a geologist with more than 35 years of experience in environmental research, teaching, and consulting in the private sector, government, and academia. He received his BS (1985) and MS (1987) degrees in geology from the University of Wisconsin, worked in research and consulting in Wichita, Kansas on projects related to ground water supply and contamination, then returned to academics in 1991, receiving his doctoral degree in geological sciences from Michigan State University in 1996. As part of his dissertation, he completed the US Geological Survey (USGS) Regional Aquifer Systems Analysis (RASA) groundwater model of the Michigan Basin, a model used to calculate modern and Pleistocene groundwater and brine discharge to the Great Lakes and rivers in Michigan. He taught hydrogeology, groundwater modeling, environmental geology, and glacial / climate geology at the University of Michigan before joining the Pennsylvania State University research on regional climate-hydrologic models, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and groundwater nitrate studies, funded by the US Department of Agriculture. In 2007, Dr. Hoaglund resumed groundwater consulting, focusing primarily on sites involving perchlorate groundwater contamination in southern California. While reviewing the reactions involved in the manufacture of perchlorate, he recognized the potential for the electrolysis reaction to consume salt waste while producing hydrogen. Later, reviewing DOW documents describing the reasons and methods for the air-tight conditions required for the storage of sodium hydroxide byproducts, he recognized the potential for the aeration reaction to sequester carbon into bicarbonate.

Dr. Hoaglund founded Carbon Negative Water Solutions, LLC in 2010 to pursue the trifecta of desalination, water resource development, hydrogen production, and CO2 sequestration. In addition to continued groundwater consulting, he wrote extensively about the potential for coupling ocean desalination with carbon sequestration, and approached several water and energy companies with the idea to promote mutually beneficial cooperation. He discovered these companies operate in separate universes on projects that are planned over a decade or more, and are reluctant to adopt new technologies over the established and state-approved method for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation: offsetting. In 2015, Dr. Hoaglund relocated to Las Vegas to accept contract work with Navarro Research and Engineering for the Department of Energy, assisting with groundwater characterization and modeling of the Nevada National Security Site (formerly Nevada Test Site), work related to the legacy groundwater contamination associated with historic nuclear testing. In 2019 he transitioned the Carbon Negative Water Solutions LLC to the non-profit Carbon Negative Water and Energy. In addition to the non-profit, he maintains a private research consulting and e-learning service, Provenance Geosciences.

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