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TWU Magazine’s Article on WaterDrop

WaterDrop has recently been featured in an article in Trinity Western University Magazine. You can check out the article here. Thanks to everyone at TWU Magazine for helping us get the word out!

Canada’s own Maude Barlow named senior UN water advisor

Maude Barlow, a world-renowned water activist and Canadian, has been named the senior water advisor for the United Nations. She will be working closely with Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the 63rd session of the United Nations, to bring the water issue into a global light.

She is attempting to work with the United Nations to introduce a three-pronged plan.

Three goals: Use the incredible talent, research and resources that exist at the UN and give it direction, a vision and cohesion. Second: To shift the power balance around water from institutions like the World Bank and World Water Forum and give them transparency at the UN General Assembly. And third, he is supportive of the principle of the universal right to water. We will be unveiling a plan on Dec. 10, which is the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Maude Barlow.

Check out the full article here. It’s a great article with Ms. Barlow expressing great concern on the growing global water crisis. Not only does she talk about the water of the world at large, but the impact Canada has on the world’s water supply. Why don’t we prevent a problem before it begins? Canada is not impervious to water problems, there are growing water scarcities all over the country.

You can check out a documentary on water that recently came out here. The film is called “Flow” and has  been featured in film festivals all across the world (with Sundance being one of them). Maude Barlow is featured heavily in this film. The documentary asks us a vital question: can anyone really own water?

Saving Water = Saving Money

In an article by Canwest News Service, Canadians are slowly (yet surely) taking up the mentality to save water and energy. According to a study by Statistics Canada pointed out by the article, the percentage of Canadians who have installed low-flow toilets increased from 15 percent in 1996 to 27 percent in 2004. Low flow shower-head use increased from 44 percent to 57 percent as well.

Save a drop, save a cent

Canadians consume on average 329 litres of water per day, second to only the United States. Flushing toilets and showering accounts for slightly more than half the daily water use.

Canada also happens to have the highest per capita supply of freshwater of industrial countries, accounting for 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but seven per cent of the globe’s total renewable water flow.

More and more Canadians are also making efforts to lessen their energy consumption. For example, by turning down the thermostat while people in the household are asleep. Canada still have a long way to go before it can truly be called a water sustainable nation, but its citizens are making active steps as illustrated by the statistics.

With so much renewable water flow, Canada is (or will be) the envy of the world. With that much fresh water, we have the responsibility to use it wisely and invest for the future. Not only for our sake, but for the sake of other nations and future generations.

Canada’s Blue Gold

Canada contains 21 percent of the 0.8 percent of total freshwater in the world. In an article by the Ottawa Citizen, they dub water as the 21st century’s “Blue Gold.” Luckily for Canada, it is one of its most abundant resources. Unluckily for Canada, the statistics are deceiving.

However, with the increasing number of countries worldwide facing water shortages and droughts, the only water that really matters is renewable water resources such as rainfall and snow melt. Canada has less than 10 percent of the world’s renewable water.

Most of this freshwater comes from the Great Lakes, which is already in danger of “over-pumping.” According to the article, even though many people and media sources revile bottled water as wasteful water use (which it is), more H2O is used to create milk, soft drinks, beer and products. Many fear that water is being wasted in the industrial sector, but according to figures, most water drawn from the Great Lakes are used to run hydro electric plants or to cooling resources for industrial processes and immediately returned to the source.

Pollution and invasive creatures threaten the Great Lakes as well. Because large shipping boats dump their ballasts into the lake, they also release hundreds of volatile and invasive creatures, further polluting the water. Frankly, there are also heavy signs of simple pollution from domestic dishwashers and agricultural processes.

With all this in mind, it goes to show that water is building steam (no pun intended) as we lunge head first into this new century. Oil is on everyone’s mind these days, but humanity can survive without oil, we can’t last three days without water. Wasting water is easy, conserving water is easier. You do the math.

Read the entire article here.

California Government Takes the Reigns on Water Conservation

The fires in California continue to rage, but a larger issue looms for the most populous state in the Union: the impending water crisis. The state has been in a drought for two years now and if it continues for another year, it will be the worst drought in California history.

Fire and Water 

The state of California largely depends on water from three primary sources. First, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the Colorado River and finally the current water-storage system. Each of these sources are facing impending crises.

Here are some facts from an LA Times article By Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dianne Feinstein.

The snowpack, which was measured at only 67% of normal in May, has become dangerously unreliable because of global warming. It is estimated that climate change will cause the state’s snowpack to drop by 25% to 40% by 2050.

The Colorado River Basin just experienced an eight-year drought, and the amount of water that California is allowed to take from the river has dropped by 18% from 2003.

Reservoirs are dangerously low statewide. Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest storage reservoir, will end this year with its lowest amount of water in more than 30 years. Shasta Reservoir, the state’s largest, is at 48% of capacity.

At the same time that our water reserves are low, the courts have ordered restrictions on how much water can be pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, reducing water supplies by 20% to 30%. Just last week, a judge ordered state and federal regulators to come up with a plan to provide more water for salmon in the delta. This interim plan likely will require more reductions in pumping this winter.

The California population is expected to grow to 50 million within the next decade. The California government is attempting to enact legislation to store water in wet years for use in the dry years. However, Governor Schwarzenegger has admitted “clearly, the state is in crisis. Yet, to this point, we’ve been unable to forge a common path forward.” He knows the issue is one that must be acted upon swiftly. It all starts with a choice and we have the power to make an immediate impact, regardless of location, age, race, sex and occupation.

World News: China Relocates Population Due to Water Crisis

Just six weeks before Beijing launches the 2008 Summer Olympics, the city is facing a massive water crisis that might force residents to move to surrounding cities. In the coming decades, the city will start resettling it’s residents to nearby cities with adequate water supplies.

 

Beijing may be headed towards an economic collapse due to the current water crisis.

According to Grainne Ryder, policy director with the Canadian-based Probe International, predicts that Beijing could run out of water in five to ten years. Ryder also warns that along with running out of water, the city will be forced into an economic collapse.

More alarming is that Beijing is now relying on groundwater for the city’s sustanance because the local rivers and reseviors are drying up. The groundwater was originally slated to be used during emergencies such as natural disasters or wars.

For the full article, please click here

Interview With the City of Vancouver’s Water Conservation Manager

WaterDrop was pleased to interview the City of Vancouver’s Water Conservation Manager, Jennifer Bailey last week about Vancouver and it’s water conservation efforts. As you can see from the interview below, Vancouver has seen some great progress over the years and is on a trend towards greater sustainability. Check out the entire interview, there is tons of helpful information and tips!

City of Vancovuer

1.Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for the City of Vancouver.

Water Conservation Program Manager.  Promote water conservation through public engagement of indoor and outdoor water use; manage incentive programs (water efficiency kits and rain barrels); provide education on the lawn sprinkling and, when required, enforcement of regulations; support City Farmer waterwise demonstration garden; administer elementary school plays on water conservation (see http://www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/watersewers/environment/AtoZ.htm)

2.How important to you is water conservation?

Water conservation just makes sense.  It is about sustainable use of water to ensure affordable and equitable supply of drinking water into the future.  We are in the enviable position of having protected source waters, supplying us with high-quality water at the turn of the tap.  However, with a growing population, the demand on this resource is increasing.  Becoming “water wise” through simple things such as retrofitting with water efficient fixtures and turning water guzzling lawns into gardens of drought-resistant plants, are great small steps for delaying costly expansions of our drinking water system.

3.What is your take on the global water crisis on a global, national and local level?

Access to a clean supply of water is essential for life.  In Canada, we are fortunate to have about 6.5% of the world supply of fresh water.  However, a need for sustainable water use on a national level within this seeming abundance, is supported by Canadians ranked as one of the largest per capita waters users (next to the US), supply by region (certain regions in Canada already have water shortages), and the relationship between water (storage, treatment, transport, and waste water treatment) and energy output and associated GHG emissions.

On a local level, we are seeing the average per-capita consumption drop, yet an overall increase in demand due to population growth.  Per capita water use in all categories, residential through industrial, in the City of Vancouver has dropped to 542 litres per day in 2007 from 583 litres in 2006 and 764 litres in 1986.  Contributing factors are the installation of more water efficient fixtures (replacing the old 20 litre toilets with low-flow six litre toilets, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, water-efficient washing machines), lawn sprinkling restrictions, and a shift towards more people living in smaller and more water efficient housing options.  Thus, the focus of the water conservation program is demand side management to reduce customer usage, through behaviour-based education and plumbing code modifications, as a means to delay costly water system infrastructure expansions.

4.How long have Vancouver’s water conservation and sustainability efforts been in place?

The City has taken a proactive approach to water conservation by implementing a variety of education and incentive programs in the early 90’s and amending the Vancouver Building by-law to require low flow fixtures on all new development.  A brief timeline of the City’s water conversation initiatives is found below:

· 1993: lawn sprinkling regulations introduced; elementary school play on water conservation called “A2Z of H2O” was written and performed in all Vancouver  (program has since expanded into other Metro Vancouver municipalities); and the replacement of an inclining block rate structure (where high volume users get price break) with a uniform rate for metered customers

· 1995: Ultra-low flow toilets, showerheads, aerating faucets, recirculating cooling systems and ornamental fountains mandated in new building construction; subsidized rain barrel program

· 1997: promotion of waterwise gardening through City Farmer

· 2002: Campaign on natural lawn care, “Grow Natural” Program

· 2005: Indoor water saving kit introduced

· 2006: Outdoor water saving kit introduced

· 2007: Lawn sprinkling door-to-door contact pilot; low flow spray valve installed in 750 restaurants; Vancouver Green Building Strategy being developed;

· 2008: Waterwise landscape guideline currently being developed

5. What do you think Vancouver’s role is in water conservation and sustainability on a national level?

City of Vancouver is a supporter Canadian Water and Wastewater Association and active member.  The City also supports National initiatives that are appropriate for our local environment.

6. What is Vancouver currently doing to be a water sustainable city?

· Green Building Strategy – promoting energy and water efficiency in buildings.

· Green Homes Program – proposing building by-law changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase in-building water efficiency. http://www.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/CBOFFICIAL/greenbuildings/greenhomes/

· Promoting waterwise gardening – establishing waterwise guidelines for use by developers and property owners doing landscape work.

Sewers separation program – separating sanitary systems from storm water to avoid combined system overflow events, and reduce stress on wastewater treatment facilities.

Rain water management – treating rain water runoff as a resource through integration into rain gardens, vegetated swales, and providing opportunities for rain water to naturally percolate into the ground to recharge ground water. (http://www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/watersewers/environment/integratedDrain.htm)

7.What do you think of the state of awareness of water conservation efforts in Vancouver?

People have been very supportive of the City’s water conservation efforts.  Some good indicators of this are: no opposition to low-flow fixtures mandated in new development, excellent uptake of incentive programs, and success of sprinkling regulations.  In the City of Vancouver alone, the sprinkling regulation demand side management measure has resulted in saving excess of $10 million through the avoidance of transmission capacity upgrades.

8.Where would you like to see Vancouver in the future? What are Vancouver’s goals?

Water goals: to ensure long term reliable supply of water for a growing customer base through water loss management (controlling leakage) and working with customers on demand side management programs.   The key drivers for conservation programs are water use reductions that allow for the deferral of costly supply and storage capacity increasing infrastructure projects, and reduced impact on the environment from supply increasing infrastructure construction work and less energy consumed by pump stations.

9.What are some good resources for people to find out more about saving water?

Vancouver.ca/water

gvrd.bc.ca/water

10.What can people do to be more water conscious and get involved with this initiative?

Take advantage of City’s incentive programs – indoor and outdoor water saving kits, and rain barrels.

If you have a lawn, let it go dormant in the summer, or if you must water, once a week (2.5 cm of water) is all you need for a healthy lawn.

Fix leaking toilets and faucets.  A leaking toilet can waste 150 litres a day.

 

Thanks to Jennifer and the City of Vancouver for the interview!


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