Posts Tagged 'water'

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.

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?

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!

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: 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.


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