World Water Day Special! Free Virtual Water App.

The Virtual Water Project. is giving away their Virtual Water app for free all day on Thursday March 22, World Water Day. Sorry, Apple iOS only at this time. You can also order a poster showing the virtual water content of many food products.

Virtual Water Poster & iOS App

If you’re not familiar with the concept of virtual water, read on or visit the Virtual Water Project website (link above).

[excerpt from]
Virtual water content: The virtual-water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced (production-site definition). It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain. The virtual-water content of a product can also be defined as the volume of water that would have been required to produce the product at the place where the product is consumed (consumption-site definition). We recommend to use the production-site definition and to mention it explicitly when the consumption-site definition is used. The adjective ‘virtual’ refers to the fact that most of the water used to produce a product is not contained in the product. The real-water content of products is generally negligible if compared to the virtual-water content. [Read more at]

Irrigation Tips Webinar from the Alliance for Water Efficiency

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is offering a webinar titled Overspray = Overpay: What Your Customers Need to Know about Efficient Irrigation

My colleague Juan Garcia at WaterWise Consulting will be one of the presenters on this webinar. Juan’s a great teacher and really knows his landscape water efficiency. He’s joined by two other very knowledgeable irrigation pros, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from some of the best!

This IRRIGATION EFFICIENCY webinar takes place on March 13. This is intended for water supplier staff to use in educating their water customers on how to save water (and money) in the landscape. AWE members can attend for free. Others pay $50, which is just one good reason to join and support the Alliance.

Register Today here: Alliance for Water Efficiency Webinar Registration

Low Impact Development in the City of Los Angeles

Kudos to the city, which recently passed an ordinance supporting the use of Low Impact Development in the City of Los Angeles. Low Impact Development, or LID “calls for development and redevelopment projects to mitigate runoff in a manner that captures rainwater at its source, while utilizing natural resources including rain barrels, permeable pavement, rainwater storage tanks, infiltration swales or curb bumpouts to contain water. Reports have shown that LID is the most effective and cost-efficient means of managing stormwater and abating water pollution. LID practices are designed to address runoff and pollution at the source. Other low impact development benefits include water conservation, groundwater recharge and greening communities.”

Although mainly known for reducing runoff and pollution, LID is also likely to reduce the need for landscape irrigation, thereby reducing pressure on potable water supplies. It also has the potential to recharge groundwater basins, which are over-drafted in many of California’s urban areas.

LID is just one part of an integrated approach to water management, which looks at ALL available sources of water and matches them to the needs of any given project, seeking an appropriate match between water quantity and quality needed and what is available sustainably. Green building and development should incorporate LID concepts at the earliest stages of site analysis and design, when it is most cost-effective to apply this idea.

An amusing look at life without water.

What would daily life be like if the water stopped flowing in our homes?  Not very pleasant, as this brief video from The Water Channel shows in an amusing way.

In reality things are unlikely to get this bad in the near future, at least in the developed world, but water shortages and even extreme droughts are no joking matter, and are becoming more common all the time.

There’s just as much water in the world as there has always been, but finding fresh clean water where we need it and when we need it is becoming increasingly more difficult, whether due to shifting climate and weather patterns, human impacts on ecosystems, development in arid areas, increasing energy costs or aging infrastructure.  We can learn to use less (conservation behavior and lifestyle), and we can improve our water-using technology to get the same or better service from water while using a lower quantity (efficiency) .

How much water do we really need?  Life, of course, cannot exist without some water.  For humans to survive, we need, at a minimum, water to drink and water to grow food.  Some would say water for hygiene as well, although people CAN (and MANY do) survive without flushing toilets or bathing, unpleasant as the thought might be.

In an article titled Basic Water Requirements for Human Activities: Meeting Basic Needs from the journal Water International, issue 21 (1996) by Peter Gleick, (available here:  the  author advocates for a minimum of 25 liters per person (or about 6.6 gallons) per day, to meet basic human survival and sanitation needs.  This does not include any water for food production, which is an entirely different and complex issue.

For the millions of other plant and animal species with which we share the planet , water is needed for the same functions.  There is a big difference between the dozens of gallons  we need daily for survival, and the hundreds or thousands of gallons we actually use daily.

How much water do YOU need?

Bottled water: Friend or foe?

There are many reasons not to use bottled water. For an excellent and entertaining review of those reasons, see for example “The Story of Bottled Water” (from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project).  But is it possible that bottled water has some redeeming qualities?  The answer, to my surprise,  is “yes”, at least if you can believe a report commissioned by Nestle Waters (Executive Summary « Environmental Life Cycle Assessment).

According to market research cited in the above report, when consumers have the choice of bottled water taken away, about 30% will opt for tap water instead.  The remaining 70% of consumers will choose another bottled beverage rather than drink water at all.  In addition to the negative health impacts of drinking more sugary or caffeine-laden beverages, the environment will also suffer. It appears that other than tap water, alternative bottled beverages involve significantly higher GHG emmissions, energy consumption and water use than bottled water.

So when event organizers, venue managers or even municipalities consider banning bottled water, they may want to consider banning other bottled drinks as well. Otherwise the unintended consequences may outweigh the benefits of this well-meaning gesture.

What do you think?


St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford
April 16-18, 2012

The University of Oxford announces the agenda-setting conference:
Water Security, Risk and Society.

The link for more information and to submit your abstract is available here:

Places are limited and the closing date for abstract submission is 18
November 2011.

This symposium will convene leading scientists and members of industry and
government to advance the water security agenda and build partnerships
across theory, policy and practice.

Keynote speakers will include: Dr Don Blackmore (Member of the Order of
Australia, Former CEO of the Murray Darling Basin Commission), Professor
David Grey (University of Oxford), Professor Jerson Kelman (CEO, Light S.A.
Brazil), Professor Mike Muller (Commissioner, National Planning Commission
of South Africa; University of Witwatersrand), Dr Letitia Obeng (Chair,
Global Water Partnership), Professor Charles Vörösmarty (University of New

A series of panel sessions and presentations, including the open call for
papers, will examine the following themes.

Theme 1: Defining and measuring water security

• Sources of water security;
• Metrics of water security;
• Development impacts of water security;
• Current state of water security around the world.

Theme 2: Pathways to water security

• Managing risk and variability;
• Policy and institutional responses;
• Infrastructure, incentives and financial instruments;
• Information and technology;
• An agenda and timelines for action

Please see our website for further information on the conference.

Apologies for cross-posting.  Please circulate widely.

This message was forwarded from the World Wide Water Commons group.

Recipes from the Low Water Kitchen | Hydrophilia

Recipes from the Low Water Kitchen | Hydrophilia.

I just discovered Hydrophilia recently, and have been enjoying the writing and ideas of author “Water Deva” Wendy J. Pabich. This post is an interesting take on water conservation.  Discussion of water footprints is gaining ground, but still an unknown idea to most people.  This is a very practical application of the concept that makes it very personal and meaningful (at least it does to me).

In the coming years and decades, water conservation will become more critical than ever, and I believe we will need to take more extreme action to deal with it, what I like to call “radical water efficiency”.  Although eating foods with smaller water footprints does conserve water, it isn’t always water that will be available in the immediate area–with our current food supply system, it’s more likely to be halfway around the world somewhere.  Where  food is grown and processed may be just as important as what food is eaten, or how it is grown.

Bon appetit!