Category Archives: water supply

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 waterfootprint.org]
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 waterfootprint.org]

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.  http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=4&video_id=750

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:  http://www.emro.who.int/ceha/pdf/Basic.pdf)  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?

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Nearest Drinking Fountain? There’s An App For That « CBS San Francisco. Thirsty?  Don’t want to hit the bottle to get a drink? (And contribute to plastic pollution, the Pacific garbage patch, global climate change, etc.)  Soon you will have … Continue reading

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.