Posts Tagged 'Awareness'

One Step Closer to Water Conscious Construction

Heard of LEED certified?

It is the standard that house builders try to certify their homes through. It basically means using sustainable and energy conserving products. Really cool stuff.

Locally in Vancouver, the 2010 Olympics have required most of their buildings to be LEED certified, so it is an important standard. But what about water consumption?  Well, recently in North Carolina, the EPA have celebrated the very first water efficient home, built to use 10,000 less gallons than a normal house. Check out the article below, courtesy of our friends at Circle Of Blue.

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — As green builders proliferate across the nation, blue buildings are claiming their fifteen minutes as well. This November U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials celebrate the very first water efficient house in the country.

Certified by EPA’s partner program WaterSense, the Briar Chapel Community home uses 10,000 gallons less water than a conventional abode. With less resource-intensive irrigation, efficient internal plumbing and low consumption appliances, builders say the structure saves water from lawn to laundry.

The accomplishment marks an important step toward increased consumer consciousness concerning resource use in the U.S. According to Water Partners International, the average American uses 100 to 176 gallons of water a day. That equals about 30 times the four to five gallons needed to survive. The average African uses 5 gallons.

Water – Use It Wisely: Join the Cause

Water – Use It Wisely knows the importance of water conservation and they know how to get the message out. This Arizona-based organization has won many state, national and international awards for their innovative water conservation campaigns.

wuiw-logo-colorb

Started in 1999, Water – Use It Wisely was launched to promote awareness of the growing water concern in the state of Arizona. Soon after, their water conservation campaign grew to the many of Arizona’s cities.

Today, Water – Use It Wisely is one of the leading water conservation educational outreach programs in the world, with over 400 towns, cities, states, utilities and public and private organizations having adopted their program. Even more impressive, Lowe’s and Home Depot have been featuring the Water – Use It Wisely campaign within their stores for months.

Water – Use It Wisely has been recognized by prestigious awards including; the Telly Awards, Utility Communicators Awards and the Concordia Awards. They know how to get the word out and they recognize the importance for all of us to get involved.

Check out their website here and you’ll find a fantastic portal to a great deal of water-related information, ways to get involved, 100 methods of conserving water, links to other organizations and companies and many other helpful resources. What makes Water – Use It Wisely unique? They not only want to get the word out about water-related issues, but they give you proactive ways for you to make a difference.

We here at WaterDrop are excited to have formed a partnership with Water – Use It Wisely. Like us, they recognize that water affects us all and that we all can make a difference.

Water for Life

Want to find a way to make an impact on the global water crisis in a hands-on way? Samaritan’s Purse runs a program called “Water for Life” that sends Canadians across the world to implement their Household Water Program in communities that have little or no access to safe water.

The program works closely with local partners within the community to develop the water program. The great thing about the program is that they strongly support a continuing relationship with the local community. Samaritan’s Purse has partnered with the CIDA since 1998 and currently have programs running in 19 countries around the world.

If you’re interested in making an impact with the program. Follow this link.

According to the United Nation’s Water for Life Decade program:

  • 1.1 Billion people lacked access to improved water sources
  • 2.6 billion (42%) of the world population lacked access to basic sanitation
  • Of the 1.1 billion without access to improved water sources, nearly two thirds live in Asia
  • 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries.
  • 80% of the population without access to drinking-water were rural dwellers, but future population growth will be mainly urban.

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.

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

Water and Corporate Social Responsibility

WaterDrop often highlights some of the negative water news going on throughout the world, and this is because in general, most events paint a fairly bleak outlook on the state of water. Droughts, sanitation, pollution, and countless other issues are beginning to break through mainstream media.

But what about the other side of things? What are people and companies doing to make a difference?

GE Goes Blue with a Purification Plant in China

With the latest greenification trends sweeping business and politics, it is sometimes difficult to take companies seriously when their “green” initiatives seem to be aimed at creating an image boost rather than tangible results. But this is not always the case.

General Electric, the giant corporation with businesses ranging from manufacturing jet engines to commercial lending, started up it’s ‘Ecomagination‘ program 3 years ago, and has made significant inroads to being a more sustainable company. Recently, GE has shifted it’s attention on water. It aims to cut its water usage 20 percent by 2012, a move that should reduce its annual operating costs by $15 million to $20 million. Lorraine Bolsinger, vice president of Ecomagination, said in a recent interview to Reuters, “There is going to be a price on water that is going to reflect its scarcity, and today it doesn’t.

Global company Coca-Cola also has saved over 18.6% of its water usage since 2003.

But what about smaller local companies? Is there anything they can do?

Being a water sustainable company can be as simple as adding toilet bags to company toilets, or low flow aerators for taps. If you are business or an individual that has taken water saving intitives, WaterDrop would love to hear from you. Please send us your information as well as your story and we will profile you in an upcoming post.

waterdropmovement@gmail.com

World News: Our Neighbor is High and Dry

Does it feel that serious water issues and droughts are far away in distant lands like Africa? We don’t have to look any further than California. A mere 14 hour drive from Vancouver, B.C.

California, which is an economic behemoth in the United States, is currently under the worst drought in over 20 years. Droughts come and go, but the key difference here is that development is slowing (and ceasing in some areas) because builders are having a difficult time finding long-term water supplies.

Drought In California

Worst Drought in Decades is Sweeping California

Conserving water does not only have an effect on the environment, but it can affect everyone’s pocketbook. A slowing economy due to a lack of water is a serious issue that effects every single person. Why not take advantage of our resources and maintain an attitude of sustainability to prepare for situations that are happening in California?

It would be wise to take heed to the water issue in California. For example, in California, 1,500 new home projects have been delayed indefinitely due to the fact that “the city doesn’t have enough water to adequately serve the development,” according to Paul Hood, the executive officer of the commission that approves the annexations and incorporations of cities in the Los Angeles region. Yes, Vancouver maybe surrounded by water from the ocean, rivers, lakes and the sky, but we have the chance to prevent problems rather than react to them.

The California governor, Mr. Schwarzenegger, has know turned his focus onto developing water conservation and quality improvement programs and has propsed a $11.9 billion dollar bond for water management investments. California is doing something, but is it too late? We won’t know until much later, but this is for certain, let’s act on the water crisis and not react to it.

More info on the drought can be found here and here

World News: Desparate Times In New England

I found an interesting article today about New England opening a desalinization plant despite its seemingly abundant water resources. The full article can be found here

Desalinization Plant

Desalinization Plant in New England

Despite abundant lakes and good rainfall, weak groundwater resources have crimped economic growth in some areas. As a result, the first big New England desalination plant turning brackish (salt water, fresh water mix) into fresh is expected to go online in Massachusetts this month.

That surprises some people, but not Robert Tannenwald, an economist and director of the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Two years ago he did a study showing that New England – contrary to public perceptions – is not at all water-rich region, but one that needs to manage its water supplies more carefully and look for new sources.

“There’s still a general mind-set [in New England] that water as a resource is not in scarce supply – but it is,” Mr. Tannenwald says. “We waste a lot of water. There’s a lot of leaky pipes around here. So economics has to kick in and water has to be priced accordingly for the waste to stop.”

Tannenwald’s statement about the general mind-set of New Englanders, is not just limited to the north eastern United States. Living in the very water rich environment of Vancouver, it is sometimes easy to slip into this mentality. However, with Canada’s fresh water resources limited, it is important to note that Vancouver and Canada as a whole are not impervious to a water scarcity.

Metro-Vancouver is expected to grow 34% to just under 2.9 million people over the next 20 years, and our fresh water supply will have to keep up. In the article, the author points to economic growth as the main motivator for the desalinization plant, as without it, New England’s economy would not be able to expand. It would truly be a shame for Vancouver to have to go through the same scenario, limiting it’s economic potential for a situation as preventable and responsible as water conservation and sustainability.

Water Nation

Who do you think uses the most water in the world? Automatically, most of us here in Canada, as well as the rest of the world will look southward to our neighbor, the United States, which happens to be true. Who do you think comes in second? Canada. That is an answer must of us would not expect.

Water: Quietly overlooked.

Canada is a proactive nation when it comes to conservation. We try to drive less, we turn down our fire places and furnaces, we use energy-conserving light bulbs and many other activities, but one blaring aspect that we overlook is conserving water. The Vancouver public maintains an opinion that since it rains here in abundance, that freshwater is readily available in copious amounts. However, consider the fact that we receive a great deal of our freshwater from glacier run-off and we only receive 40 percent of rain water (the rest drains northward to inaccessible regions). We don’t have as much freshwater as you may think. Canada does have an abundance of fresh water, placing third in the world, but that does not mean that water will not be an issue now and in the near future. Even with the world’s third largest freshwater supply, there are currently water issues all over Canada. Most of Canada’s population is centered around the Great Lakes, which is currently having massive water issues. One in three Canadians live around the Great Lakes and water levels there are at a historic low. The conditions are worsening. Canada is having water issues, yet we keep using more and the population continues to boom.

As we have stated in some of our previous blogs, on average, each Canadian uses 335 litres of water, not just in a week, but every single day. That’s 2,345 in a week, 9,380 in a month and 112,560 in a year. Phew! Hold your breath. That’s 49,683,984,000 litres a year for British Columbia’s population alone. Even more mind-boggling is that Canadians as a whole use double the amount of freshwater than Europeans do. There’s more. Guess where water consumption is decreasing? The United States. Now take a guess who’s water consumption is increasing? Canada. Our water consumption has increased nearly 25 percent in the past decade alone and there are no signs of letting up. Think about it this way, we could be using 25,000,000,000 litres a year. If those Europeans can survive on 170 litres a day, than we can do it.

Check out this article from the Vancouver Sun. It is pretty eye-opening.

UPDATE: June 17-2008. Reader Chris Murphy lets us know about this..

How’s this for Canadian Water preservation: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/16/condemned-lakes.html

Mining companies get big subsides on the back of Canadian fresh water.

Can Water Go Green?

In an article by the New York Times, Fiji water is overhauling their marketing strategy to “Go Green.” Fiji water claims to be the purest of all bottled water . They claim to be artesian water. By definition, this is water that comes from a source deep within the earth. The water is thus protected by many layers of clay and rock. This water source is protected from air, which prevents it from being exposed to environmental pollutants and other contamination.

The world’s purest bottled water company still needs an image-adjustment?

However, with this still in mind, Fiji water is going through a major overhaul to gain an image that they are going green. Admittedly, they are taking steps to lessen their carbon emissions. For example, they are shipping not only to Los Angeles, but to Philadelphia as well, a move that lowered carbon emissions. This re-evaulation stems from media pressure. However, the bottled water industry is still seeing exponential growth annually. Some 3 billion bottles were sold last year. For this year, a 14 percent growth is projected. People just can’t get enough of bottled water, but why are bottled water companies trying to tailor their images to be green? Because they know there is a looming water crisis and having a wasteful image does not bode well for the their financial future.

Check out the article here.


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