Category Archives: Water conservation

Universal Water Access ~ “Muddled Policy…”

The following article, “Is Water A Right, Commodity, Or Service?”, Sara Jeromewritten by Sara Jerome, is taken from Water Online, posted June 12, 2015

faucet.reg

Is water a commodity, a service, or a right? Recently, the debate has raged.

Daniel Van Abs, a water policy professor at Rutgers University,raised that question in a recent editorial published in NJ Spotlight. Van Abs is a water policy professor at Rutgers University who served as senior director for planning and science with the New Jersey Highlands Council, a water-protection implementation body. He has since retired from state government.

VAN ABS TO CROPVan Abs posed this question in his post: “Is water, as the U.N. states, a fundamental human right? Or is it a commodity that must be purchased at the going rate? Or is it a public service, in which the focus is on satisfying a social goal for provision of general needs?”

WATER HUMAN RIGHT TO CROP“Our history shows us that water supply has aspects of all three, which makes for a muddled policy setting. What do we do when basic water services exceed a customer’s ability to pay? As water rates rise to address the costs of system rehabilitation, enhanced drinking-water treatment, and source-water protection, we need to make sense of this mess,” he continued.Image result for Detroit water service
DETROITDetroit officials sparked protests last year by shutting off water service for thousands of delinquent customers, a move that prompted questions about whether shutoffs violate human rights. “The city, which continues to close as many as 400 accounts a day, has been widely criticized for its actions,” CBS News reported. United Nations advisers have argued that Detroit violated human rights during a frenzy of water shutoffs.

Image result for Detroit water serviceCities other than Detroit have also used water shutoffs to handle ratepayer delinquency. “In Michigan, Hamtramck, Warren, Pontiac, Eastpointe, Romulus and other cities have shut off delinquent customers as a way to improve collections. Elsewhere, so have other big cities such as Baltimore and St. Louis,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

Van Abs noted that New Jersey is no stranger to ratepayer delinquency. “New Jersey has areas of high poverty that have lost most of their industrial water customers. And much of the state’s water-supply infrastructure is old, if not decrepit,” he wrote.

Maude Barlow: “Water a right, not a commodity”, uploaded on Mar 18, 2009 – Canadian water activist Maude Barlow, leading protesters at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, says access to water is a fundamental human right.

To Van Abs, there are problems with calling water a guaranteed public service. “The costs could be handled like many other public services (such as police or courts), through the property tax, with local governments paying the water utility to provide the service. Doing so would remove incentives for efficient water use, unless provisions are made to limit the service by household to only what is necessary. Just imagine the problems with this approach. Government would have to track the number of people per household to ensure that a single-person household and a five-person household are provided for equitably,” he said.

There are also problems with calling water a commodity, since it means water shutoffs if customers cannot pay. “Clearly, this approach is not socially acceptable for those of limited means,” Van Abs writes.

Image result for water a guaranteed public serviceWhat if water were treated as a basic human right? For utilities to be empowered to treat service as such, policy changes would be needed in many places, including New Jersey.

“The problem is that New Jersey has no routine system for helping poor households afford water (and sewer) services. For residential energy, the NJ Board of Public Utilities regulates essentially all providers, and New Jersey has established several programs for temporary and long-term assistance. The same is not true of water supply utilities, since there are hundreds of government and privately owned water utilities in New Jersey. Establishing a unique household assistance program in each of these utilities would be an administrative nightmare, and some are too small or serve too poor an area to provide this aid,” Van Abs wrote.

“A broader approach is needed. New Jersey needs to take a hard look at how its poorest households will maintain access to water utility services as water and sewer rates increase. We shouldn’t allow the Detroit question to become the New Jersey problem,” Van Abs wrote.

Image credit: “running faucet,” Steve Johnson © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

WATER DROPLET HAPPY ICON GIMPCROPPED

This is a very serious universal topic – one that affects each and everyone of us.  Let’s make it a priority to be pro-active – do research, access local resources, attend meetings, lobby your Members of Parliament. There is a plethora of related videos on Youtube – well worth viewing!  

http://www.wateronline.com/doc/is-water-a-right-commodity-or-service-0001?

Canadian water/wastewater sectors need climate change planning

“No Time to Lose – Canadian water and wastewater sectors must
adapt to climate change” by Hiran Sandanayake appeared in watercanada’s July / Aug 2014 issue

CWWAA few years ago, Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA ) staff asked its members a simple question: “How prepared are the Canadian water and wastewater sectors for climate change and extreme events?”

The following creative Youtube video, “Water and climate change : let’s adapt!”, published on Jul 30, 2014, mentions many vital concerns:

On the World Environment Day 2014, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency launched an animated film on adaptation to climate change in the water sector.  Climate change is here. Let’s adapt! The French Government, the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water agency, the regions of Franche-Comté, Burgundy, Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur have engaged in a plan to adapt to change climate. Making the ground permeable again to allow water to infiltrate, reducing water waste, preserving wetlands and biodiversity… the plan proposes a range of measures to reduce the vulnerability of territories.

 After discussions, meetings, and a poll, the CWWA developed a quick snapshot. There was some good news: some municipalities saw climate change as a risk worth addressing. Some of them were establishing climate-change policies and strategies, quantifying climate-change risk, and developing adaptation programs for climate change and extreme events.

Unfortunately, there were warning signs, too. There appeared to be a wide range in levels of preparedness across the country. As the national voice for the water and wastewater sector, CWWA felt it urgent to advocate for climate-change adaptation and provide guidance.
CWWA created a new national technical committee for climate change. Since then, it has been bringing early adaptation adopters and champions together to spark a dialogue, learn from each other’s experiences, and learn about data and technical tools available for water and wastewater managers and utilities.

Another short video published Oct. 14, 2013 dealing with this topic is,”Preparing Great Lakes Cities for Climate Change: Adapting to Change and Building Resilience”, emphasizing collaboration between Canada and the USA regarding these concerns.

For communities in the Great Lakes region climate change poses unique challenges and creates intriguing opportunities. While many regions of the country face catastrophic threats of sea level rise or tragic outbreaks of wildfires, climate change impacts in the Great Lakes region create more subtle and insidious stresses on the way we live, work and play in our communities. At the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute, we are working to address these impacts and develop strategies for building more resilient cities.

Through my role as chair of the climate-change committee, I have had the privilege of learning from and working with a broad range of professionals from water and wastewater utilities, the private sector, government departments, and academia. During this time, some themes have become apparent to me:
• Adaptation to climate change often requires multi-disciplinary approaches.
• Climate-change planning is founded on many existing municipal planning processes.
• Incremental approaches to climate-change adaptation may not be sufficient.
• Local climate-change risk assessments and proper data are critical to making informed decisions. Without these, proposed solutions may result in monies not being spent on the true priorities or, worse,
may result in maladaption (unintentional exacerbation of vulnerabilities).
• Applying a true climate-change lens to water and wastewater planning may result in different solutions; place new emphasis on non-traditional or non-infrastructure intensive approaches to water management and protection during extreme events; force us to re-examine traditional approaches to uncertainty, risk, vulnerability, and level of service; and require changes now to increase resiliency.
Lessons from extreme events can be instructive for climate-change planning. These events sometimes highlight linkages not readily apparent during normal operations (for example, the limitations of municipal human resources, municipal cash flow/financing, public preparedness, et cetera). In some cases, the lack of mandates and efforts coordinated between jurisdictions can also further complicate adaptation efforts.
Funding for climate-change adaptation is needed, not only by the municipal utilities but also by the regional, provincial, and federal departments that are providing research, technical guidance, and coordination.

Though we have already seen successes in climate change adaptation and collaboration, we are still in the early days of this process. For our part, the CWWA climate-change committee will be Image result for CWWA climate-changepolling municipalities to get an updated survey of the state of climate-change adaptation. We are also creating an electronic resource databank and have other technical and coordination initiatives in the early planning stages.

The time is now to begin the adaptation process. Quantifying local risks and increasing resiliency now is the best and most cost-effective strategy.

HIRANHiran Sandanayake, P.Eng., is a senior water resources engineer with the City of Ottawa and chair of the CWWA ’s climate-change committee.

Interesting related article ~ 
http://www.horizons.gc.ca/eng/book/export/html/1888

California’s water crisis ~ Alarming prediction!

1-CALIFORNIA WATER CRISIS

These Maps of California’s Water Shortage Are Terrifying

California's water shortage

The following was posted on savethewater.org, by Tom Philpott, Oct. 30, 2014.

Just how bad is California’s water shortage? Really, really bad, according to these new maps, which represent groundwater withdrawals in California during the first three years of the state’s ongoing and epochal drought:

The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. “California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011,” he writes. That’s “more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley.”

Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe’s aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper.

FARMER IN FIELDMore than 2 billion people rely on water pumped from aquifers as their primary water source, Famiglietti writes. Known as groundwater (as opposed to surface water, the stuff that settles in lakes and flows in streams and rivers), it’s also the source of at least half the irrigation water we rely on to grow our food. When drought hits, of course, farmers rely on groundwater even more, because less rain and snow means less water flowing above ground.

The lesson Famiglietti draws from satellite data is chilling: “Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned.”

The Central Valley boasts some of the globe’s fastest-depleting aquifers—but by no means the fastest overall. Indeed, it has a rival here in the United States. The below graphic represents depletion rates at some of the globe’s largest aquifers, nearly all of which Famiglietti notes, “underlie the world’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”

CHART TO CROP

The navy-blue line represents the Ogallala aquifer—a magnificent water resource now being sucked dry to grow corn in the US high plains. Note that it has quietly dropped nearly as much as the Central Valley’s aquifers (yellow line) over the past decade. The plunging light-blue line represents the falling water table in Punjab, India’s breadbasket and the main site of that irrigation-intensive agricultural “miracle” known as the Green Revolution, which industrialized the region’s farm fields starting in the 1960s. The light-green line represents China’s key growing region, the north plain. Its relatively gentle fall may look comforting, but the water table there has been dropping steadily for years.

groundwater supplyAll of this is happening with very little forethought or regulation. Unlike underground oil, underground water draws very little research on how much is actually there. We know we’re siphoning it away faster than it can be replaced, but we have little idea of how long we can keep doing so, Famiglietti writes. He adds, though, that if current trends hold, “groundwater supplies in some major aquifers will be depleted in a matter of decades.” As for regulation, it’s minimal across the globe. In most places, he writes, there’s a “veritable groundwater ‘free for all': property owners who can afford to drill wells generally have unlimited access to groundwater.”

And the more we pump, the worse things get. As water tables drop, wells have to go deeper into the earth, increasing pumping costs. What’s left tends to be high in salts, which inhibit crop yields and can eventually cause soil to lose productivity altogether. Eventually, “inequity issues arise because only the relatively wealthy can bear the expense of digging deeper wells, paying greater energy costs to pump groundwater from increased depths and treating the lower-quality water that is often found deeper within aquifers,” Famiglietti writes—a situation already playing out in California’s Central Valley, where some low-income residents have seen their wells go dry. In a reporting trip to the southern part of the Central Valley this past summer, I saw salt-caked groves with wan, suffering almond trees—the result of irrigation with salty water pumped from deep in the aquifer.

All of this is taking place in a scenario of rapid climate change and steady population growth—so we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water. Famiglietti’s piece ends with a set of recommendations for bringing the situation under control: Essentially, let’s carefully measure the globe’s groundwater and treat it like a precious resource, not a delicious milkshake to casually suck down to the dregs. In the meantime, Famiglietti warns, “further declines in groundwater availability may well trigger more civil uprising and international violent conflict in the already water-stressed regions of the world, and new conflict in others.”

http://savethewater.org/maps-californias-water-shortage-terrifying/

Related link ~ http://yournewswire.com/global-collapse-coming-from-groundwater-supply-depletion-nasa/

“The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis” by Gary Wockner

The following article, “The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis” by Gary Wockner and Youtube video, “WKA Peoples Climate March Video 8 19 14″ was posted to Ecowatch.com on Sept. 15, 2014

We’ve seen near-record wildfires, rain, drought, flooding and snowpack in the last 5 years in the watersheds along the Front Range of Colorado. In the same 12 months that record rain has occurred in one part of the Southwest U.S.’ Colorado River basin, record heat and drought has occurred in another.

Climate change is real, is happening now, and the climate crisis is a water crisis.

WATER CRISIS

On Sept. 20 as a part of the People’s Climate March in New York City, I and other colleagues from the international Waterkeeper Alliance we be holding a teach-in, The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis. We will come from all over the U.S. to tell a story about the link between climate and water, and we will offer our observations and recommendations on the next steps forward.

Here in the Southwest U.S, we must do everything we can to stop from making climate change worse. Unfortunately in Colorado and across the region, our public policies are going the wrong direction—we are drilling, fracking and mining fossil fuels faster than ever before, and we are burning them at record rates. Colorado’s frack-happy politicians and policies only seem to be rivaled by Utah’s deep dive (“carbon bomb”) into oil shale and tar sands mining. We must stop and head the other direction.

We also need to be better prepared to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We will likely see more extreme weather variability, we may see more extreme droughts in the Southwest U.S., and California’s extreme heat and drought going on right now may become a “new normal.”…

Taken from Gary’s post, “Waterkeepers March!” on Ecowatch, Sept. 21, 2014

WATERKEEPERS MARCH

“It was euphoric!

Never in my life have I been in such a mass of humanity as I was today in New York City in the largest climate march in world history. Joining me were 100 members of Waterkeeper Alliance as we marched along with more than 300,000 people through the streets of Manhattan. The march was three times bigger than anyone expected. The day was simply amazing…”

Gary Wockner, PhD, is Waterkeeper for the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins, Colorado, and directs the Save The Colorado River Campaign. You can reach Gary at Gary@GaryWockner.com.

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Canadians flushing huge energy source down the drain

1-WASTED POTENTIAL The following article, “Wasted Potential – Canadians may be flushing a huge source of energy down the drain” by Lynn Mueller was published in the March/April issue of WaterCanada magazine. DOWN THE DRAINIt has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy that Americans flush 350 billion kilowatt-hours of energy into sewers each year. This wasted energy would be enough to supply 30 million homes. In fact, the typical North American pours 75 litres of hot water down the drain every day. WATER EXPENSEFor a regular household, this can cost homeowners hundreds of dollars per year since water heating is the second highest source of energy demand in a home. But unbeknownst to some, it is now possible to capture 95 per cent of this wasted heat and recycle it back into our buildings using sewage heat recovery, which means the heat energy flowing down our drains never has to leave the building. Unlike solar or wind power, this technology doesn’t require a quantum shift in the way we live or the way we think—it can simply be plugged into our existing infrastructure. municipal systemWater enters heat recovery captures the heat in water leaving the building and uses it to reheat our hot-water tanks and the building itself. This technology is not complicated. First, a filter is used to separate out solids which make up about two to three percent of sewage. Then, with the help of a heat exchanger, the heat is transferred into clean water, and this warm, clean water is sent back into the building. At the end of the cycle, the clear sewer water picks up the solids extracted at the start and flushes it back into the municipal sewer system. The following Youtube video, “SHARC Energy Systems Launch Film”, was published on Jun 9, 2014 In the summer, buildings with sewage heat recovery systems can reverse their heat pumps and use the wastewater to reduce a building’s air-conditioning costs. In this scenario, the pumps extract heat from the building and transfer it through the exchanger into the sewer water. The potential reusable heat in wastewater has largely been ignored because sewage has “dirty” and negative associations. But today’s sewage heat recovery systems are hermetically sealed, meaning there is no associated smell. They are also designed to be clog-proof with an automatic back flush to filter sewage simply and effectively. Moreover, a monitoring system will flag any potential problems long before they become an issue. Sewage heat recovery is gaining in popularity with operations underway in Norway, Japan, and China’s Beijing South Railway Station. North American cities are now waking up to the fact that there is a valuable energy resource currently flowing under the city streets. Vancouver, Seattle, and Philadelphia have all started experimenting with sewage heat recovery systems. IWS LOGOIn Vancouver, International Wastewater Systems has already installed sewage heat recovery systems, called SHARCs, into several public and private buildings, including the Gateway Theater in Richmond. The Gateway installation will be the first application in Canada that will use raw wastewater directly from the municipal sewer rather than the wastewater coming out of the building. SEWAGE HEAT DISCOVERY SYSTEMAlthough sewage heat recovery systems are applicable to any building, they work best with residential buildings of greater than 200 units or with institutional buildings like hospitals and prisons that have exceptional hot water usage. The most cost-effective time to introduce a heat recovery system into a building is while doing other energy upgrades or retrofits. SEWAGE HEAT DISCOVERYThe option of using sewage heat recovery on a district-wide scale is also being explored worldwide. District energy systems are large-scale, multi-building heating projects that can supply energy over a large area using either recovered energy from other buildings, industrial sources, waste, or by burning carbon-neutral fuels. Sewage heat recovery could easily plug in to district energy infrastructure. FUEL CELL BEST  While sewage may not be as exciting as fuel cells or tidal energy, the fact that it has a payback period of two to five years makes it perhaps the most cost-effective renewable energy system currently available. Sewage heat recovery systems also work at 500 to 600 per cent efficiency, meaning that for every dollar spent on operational costs, $5 of heat is recovered. Moreover, current systems are demonstrating consistent energy saving performance of 76 per cent.

MUELLER TO CROPLynn Mueller is president of International Wastewater Systems in Vancouver.

Award Winning Film – A Must See! Iceland’s Water “Vatn”

1-ICELAND VATN_WATER

I posted my 437th blog this past Tuesday and thought I’d have a look at our most viewed blogs and re-post some of them again for you from time to time (save you from scrolling though our lengthy archives). I’ve added a photo and a brief bio excerpt of Enrique Pacheco.

What a magnificent, stunning and profound result of E. Pacheco’s approach to viewing water conservationpersonify and give water a voice!!!

Your friends from Rainsoft Ottawa know you will certainly enjoy this unique video presentation!

Photographer and filmmaker Enrique Pacheco‘s most recent short film, “Vatn” (the Icelandic word for water), offers stunning views of Iceland’s oceans, rivers and waterfalls…

Shot and edited over a 6-month period, the film employs an interesting narrative structure that personifies water and makes it the film’s protagonist. “Human beings are the antagonists,” Pacheco said of the film, in an interview published on his Web site.

“We are changing the life cycle of water. This film is for water conservation. Instead of talking about water, I decided to personify water, give it voice, so we can hear it.”

ENRIQUE PACHECOEnrique Pacheco is a professional cinematographer from Spain. He has been working in video production for more than 10 years, but Enrique’s career changed when he moved to Iceland. There he started to specialize on time-lapse and DSLR cameras, exploring the raw landscape of Iceland and shooting some of nature’s most volatile subjects, such as active volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and the traditional culture of Iceland. Some of his latest short films have been very successful in Vimeo. “Winter in Hell”, “Raw Lightscapes”, “Made on Earth”, “The Maghreb and “Vatn” are all long-term self-productions made with great effort and passion. – See more at: http://www.enriquepacheco.com/about-me#sthash.RqRYUffa.dpuf 

Great tips to save $$$ on water bills

SAVE ON WATER BILLS

Article from digitaltrends.com – CUT DOWN YOUR MONTHLY WATER BILL WITH THESE HANDY TIPS by Emily Schiola — February 1, 2014

SAVE EARTHWhether you are doing it to save the earth or simply to free up more BEER MONEYbeer money each month, there are numerous ways to reduce a water bill. Of course, there are methods we’ve all heard about, such as taking shorter showers, turning off the tap while brushing teeth, and if it’s yellow, let it mellow. These options aren’t as catchy as that last one, but they are easy and they will save you money. There are more methods than these age-old standbys, however. Here’s our list of methods to reduce that pesky water bill.

WATER IN FRIDGE1. Keep bottles of drinking water in the fridge so you don’t have to run the tap to get it cold. Or put it in the freezer and let it melt. Or better yet, use ice. The ice you put in your gin and tonics can also be used to cool water.

2. Likewise, heat up water for washing dishes in theBOIL WATER microwave or on the stove. This can be tricky for a couple reasons. You don’t want to heat it too much or you will burn yourself and sometimes it is hard to know how much water it will take, so it might take some patience.

LEAKY FAUCET3. Fix leaks. This might seem obvious, but sometimes it is hard to tell that a faucet is leaking, especially if it doesn’t make a sound. It is good to replace washers in faucets every few years, especially if you live in an older place.

DISHWASHER4. Use your dishwasher. It takes less water to run a full load — the key here is full — of dishes than it is to hand wash them. You’re welcome, lazy people.

INSULATE PIPES5. Insulate water pipes. Go to a hardware store and get some foam that is already cut in the shape of a pipe. Tape that to the pipes. This will help heat up your water faster, so you won’t lose as much while you’re waiting for it to heat.


MELLOW YELLOW AND BRICK IN TANK6. MacGuyver your toilet to use less water. There are a few ways to do this. You can install a low pressure toilet, similar to those popular in Europe. You can also fill two water bottles with an inch or two of sand or gravel and put them in the tank of the toilet. This will raise the water in the tank and trick it into using less per flush. See, we still are smarter than the machines.


SINK DISPOSER7. Use your disposal sparingly. Yes it is handy not to walk two feet to the trash when rinsing dishes, but disposals use water, so only use it as needed.


COLD WATER WASH8. Wash clothes in cold water. It will get your clothes just as clean as hot water, it will preserve colors better, and it will save water and energy. There are no downsides to this tip. In fact, there are no downsides to conserving water, so just do it.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/reduce-water-bill/

Here are a couple of Youtube videos that apply to saving money on your water bills –