Category Archives: water efficiency

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?

Ground-breaking new water treatment unveiled in South Africa | Guardian Sustainable Business |

Ground-breaking new water treatment unveiled in South Africa | Guardian Sustainable Business |

Beer brewers and pub owners  seem to be putting more effort into being green and sustainable in recent years.  Since saving water and enjoying fine beer are both favorite activities of mine, I make it a point to follow new developments in water conservation efforts by the brewing industry.  It’s a special pleasure to report on projects like this one in South Africa.

The Pyramid of New Water Sources

Here’s an interesting new tool to use when it comes to thinking about or teaching about water supply and conservation.  It’s called The Pyramid of New Water Sources and comes from  Jerry Yudelson , a noted green building authority and author.  I just found this in a blog post from World Water Day at Jetson Green.

A tool for prioritizing water supply sources by cost & complexity.

The Pyramid of New Water Sources

The Pyramid shows a progression of “new water” sources, ranging from the simple and free/cheap alternatives at the bottom to more complex and expensive at the top (with desalination and new water sources at the top).  Everything below the top level is about efficiency and reuse.  It’s a great reminder that when it comes to finding new supplies of water, using what we’ve already got more efficiently is almost always the most practical and cost-effective approach.