WE Editor's Blog
Elizabeth Cutright is the Editor of Water Efficiency Magazine
Tuesday, September 03, 2013 1:47 PM
We can all think of experiences when “business as usual” ends up meaning, “despite the adverse effects of tradition, there is no plan to change current procedures.” How often do you think this kind of thinking impairs our ability to manage our water resources wisely? Breaking the mold on confronting years of indoctrinated thinking can be difficult, but as technological innovation continues to improve, the arguments against change—particularly in terms of cost-benefit analysis—are starting to weaken. Now... More...
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 2:19 PM
At first glance, it seems like an unlikely duo: The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) paired with AT&T to promote water efficiency. What could these two entities possibly have in common in terms of resource management and economic policy? A lot, it turns out. Over at the EDF’s business section , there’s a breakdown of the collaboration, an attempt to “provide a framework for you to develop your own building-related water efficiency plan.” Aimed at the private sector, the EDF and AT&T effort is de... More...
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 11:59 AM
A few weeks back, I proposed a “water scarcity road trip” to visit the nine cities that, according to 24/7 Wall St. , were in danger of running out of water. Last week, I wondered how long it would take for the powers-that-be to realize our dwindling reservoirs are equivalent to a climate change canary-in-a-coalmine. This week, I’d hoped to cover something a little more upbeat—infrastructure funding, perhaps. Or recent developments in water treatment technology. Perhaps an overview of the la... More...
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:33 AM
About a 15- to 20-minute drive from Water Efficiency headquarters lays Lake Cachuma. Nestled within the Los Padres National Forest, this 60-year-old reservoir provides water to many communities just down the hill and over the mountain. It is both a popular recreation site, and a barometer of the region’s drought status—most locals who’ve recently driven along San Marcos Pass will relate just how much of the lakeshore is showing, and then everyone shakes their heads as the threat of catastrophic drought ... More...
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 11:36 AM
Summer’s almost over; time to take that annual August road trip. While traditional routes like Route 66 and the Deep South beckon, I’d like to propose a new course this year: let’s travel through the Southwest and beyond and visit the nine cities that, according to 24/7Wall St , are “running out of water.” From New Mexico to Texas to Colorado, the cities called out by 24/7 Wall St. have several common denominators: arid climates, expanding populations, and crisis indicators as identified by the US... More...
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 4:44 PM
In a lyrical piece written for The Nation, author William deBuys ( A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest ) describes his time spent rafting down the Colorado River. As he details the changing landscape and the effects climate change and demand management (or mismanagement) have on this interstate tributary, deBuys also manages to address one of the most pressing issues facing water resource management today: the water-energy nexus. The Colorado is “a tidal river” expl... More...
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 12:43 PM
It can be hard sometimes, when you spend your days focused on one particular topic or issue, to realize that not everyone in the world shares your insights or perspectives. In fact, we often become so entrenched in our own little bubbles that we forget that not everyone is privy to the same facts and figures, the same experiences, or the same common sense. While I know better, it’s hard sometimes to avoid glancing at the comments that usually appear at the end of a blog post of news story. I’m well awar... More...
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:22 PM
Here’s another angle to the NSA citizen-spying story you may have not considered—the amount of resources devoted to this mass surveillance project. In order to keep tabs on all those website visits, e-mails, and Google searches, the NSA needs data centers packed with servers. Lots and lots of servers... And while racks and racks of computer processors require a lot of energy, the water-demand component cannot be ignored. So how much is the NSA’s water footprint? As reported online by the website G... More...
Tuesday, July 09, 2013 12:22 PM
A few weeks ago , I delved into the deep waters of inefficient agricultural irrigation declaring, “many water efficiency professionals know that when it comes to water resources management, the water that goes to the fields and the orchards is often off limits and out of bounds. And because many farmers find themselves in a “use-it-or-lose-it” allocation system, concerted water conservation and water efficiency is often hard to implement or sustain within the realm of ag irrigation.” So how does 50% les... More...
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:18 PM
Graphically depicting the current state of affairs in a nation already battling the effects of extreme weather and climate change, in his June 25th remarks on climate change (delivered in the Rose Garden), President Barack Obama declared, “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. And that’s why today, I'm announcing a new national climate action plan, and I'm here to enlist your generation’s help in keeping the United States of America a leader—a ... More...
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:08 PM
It’s a familiar Catch-22 for many water utilities, as demand management practices succeed, water use reductions result in reduced revenues at a time when the expenses associated with essential infrastructure rehabilitation and repair continue to rise. As a result, consumers accustomed to quality water at bargain basement prices are using less, but paying more. And this all leads to suspicion and increased scrutiny of water resource management practices at state and local levels. In the meantime, politic... More...
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 1:09 PM
“Policies aimed at reducing water applications can actually increase water depletions.” – Researchers at New Mexico State University (2008) It’s the persona non grata...the elephant in the room…the “he who shall not be named.” It’s agricultural water use, and many water efficiency professionals know that when it comes to water resources management, the water that goes to the fields and the orchards is often off limits and out of bounds. And because many farmers find themselves in a “use-it-or-lose-it” a... More...
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:10 AM
Once again, I’ll be hitting the road to attend the AWWA annual conference, ACE 2013 in Denver, CO. As most you already know, ACE 2013 is an opportunity for water resource management professionals from all over the globe to attend a week’s worth of presentations and exhibits, while also rubbing shoulders colleagues and cohorts in water efficiency. Expect a grand wrap up next week when I will undoubtedly return to Water Efficiency headquarters full of inspiration and information. In the meantime, I’... More...
Tuesday, June 04, 2013 1:26 PM
We all know there’s a crisis underfoot. Every day, a pipe springs a leak; a water main experiences a catastrophic failure; a city goes on a boil water notice, and a sewer line backs up. This is our infrastructure reality. And unless we commit to some big changes and monumental action, our future is only going to get worse. So what will it take to get our infrastructure back on its feet? According to EPA, it starts with $384 billion in funding for our drinking water infrastructure over the next 15 or so ... More...
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 11:08 AM
Forester University will be hosting the Get Smart about SMART Irrigation webinar tomorrow . Click here for more details . Here's a look back at my blog on Smart Irrigation Month The Irrigation Association (IA) designated July as Smart Irrigation Month in order to raise awareness about smart irrigation and water efficiency for outdoor water use. The IA’s Smart Irrigation Month Committee, which oversees the program, is committed to a three-prong attack that involves developin... More...
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:30 PM
What do bridges and water resource management have in common (besides their obvious partnership helping citizens travel from one riverbank to another)? They’re members of an elite squad known as...infrastructure. As Memorial Day began, the news across the country was dominated by the devastation of the Oklahoma tornadoes. Politicians, talking heads, and community leaders took to the airwaves and the front pages, calling for immediate action and help with rebuilding efforts. In Moore, OK, infrastructure ... More...
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:16 PM
We’re all familiar with the rating systems... Green Roads Energy Star Water Sense LEED But for many of us in the water resource management profession, it’s been hard to get a clear cut consensus on exactly which rating systems works best depending on the situation. Add local regulations and regional guidelines, and what you end up with is a hodge-podge of benchmarks, goal posts, and bottom lines. The Envision system developed by the APWA proposed to change all that. In an effort to do away with the conf... More...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 1:16 PM
I’ll be in San Diego this week attending the “ Sustainability in Public Works ” conference hosted by the American Public Works Association (APWA). One of the nation’s largest and oldest organizations focused on public works, the APWA “exists to develop and support the people, agencies, and organizations that plan, build, maintain, and improve our communities.” This year, the Summit will focus on how the “day-to-day” choices of public works professionals “influence energy use, air and watershed quality, ... More...
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 11:11 AM
May 6 th kicks off Drinking Water Week, and the AWWA is asking, “What do you know about H 2 O?” “Drinking Water Week provides an excellent time to focus on the role we all play in understanding and caring for our water supplies and systems,” said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance. “Let’s use this opportunity to help protect all of our communities’ health and vitality by learning more about how we maintain a safe and sustainable supply of drinking water.” As part of the organization’s effort to... More...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 12:54 PM
Let’s cut to the chase, this has been a great week for water. As both the US and Japan struggle to contain catastrophe, both the East Coast and the West Coast are staring down the barrel of compromised water sources and pollution fallout. The first bit of news comes out of Japan, a country still struggling to contain the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown that occurred over two years ago. As the New York Times reports , an army of workers is struggling to contain a radioactive wastewater streaming o... More...
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:28 PM
Stating “USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America,” the agency took advantage of this week’s Earth Day commemorations to announce a new set of funding for projects designed to improve water and wastewater services in rural areas throughout the country. In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reiterate... More...
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 1:00 PM
According to a new report released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, businesses and private enterprise can play a key role in sustainable water resource management. “For businesses, local participation in collective management of water will be key to ensuring long-term access to the resource in the context of competing demands,” states the report. Amongst the key actions businesses should take: developing partnerships and focusing on watershed solutions that go “beyond the ‘fenc... More...
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:25 PM
The details are still fuzzy, and answers won’t be forthcoming until the end of the week, but any information or explanation will be small comfort to the residents of a Colorado subdivision who’ve spent the last week surviving on a 62-gallon-per-day water allocation. According to a report posted online by KKTV , 97 homes located in a subdivision east of Pueblo, CO, were alerted during a community meeting last week that their water about new, tighter water restriction implemented by their water utility. W... More...
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 2:46 PM
Decreasing revenues ... Diminished supply ...Rising Costs ... Increased Demand For US water providers, these factors are an everyday concern, and balancing needs against resources is a complicated process fraught with challenges both expected and unexpected. And, on top of all that, you have to worry about funding. For many water (and sewer) utilities, investors must be wooed, financial documentation must be in order, and information about potential risks must be forthcoming. As Ceres explains in the in... More...
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 3:43 PM
One of the biggest challenges communities face when promoting agricultural water conservation is the effect use reduction could have on water rights. In a majority of situations, if a water user reduces the amount of water diverted for agricultural use, that action could impact historical consumptive use calculations and jeopardize future water rights. It’s a basic “use-it-or-lose-it” scenario, and it runs counter to every effort to encourage water efficiency, smart water use, and resource protection an... More...
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:36 PM
As reported by the Redlands Patch , two major metropolitan newspapers got into a tiff this week over which city can claim the titl e of least water efficient. In the end, both the Los Angeles Times and the Arizona Republic raise some interesting points about water resource management, scarcity, and urban planning. It all began with an op-ed piece that surfaced last week in the Los Angeles Times . Titled, “ Phoenix’s Too Hot Future ”, the piece—by author William deBuys ( A Great Aridness: Climate C... More...
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 3:37 PM
Earlier this month, a coalition of water agencies—The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF)—released a jointly crafted report titled “The Water Resources Utility of the Future: A Blueprint for Action.” As the authors state in the Forward of the report, the initial inspiration from the study evolved from a “a shared realization that the challenges (and opportunities) faced by wastewater agencies a... More...
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 12:27 PM
Drought, pollution, climate change . . . all these challenges, and more, threaten our water supplies, forcing m any communities to seek out new water sources, including reuse, desalination, and rainwater catchment. But what if we already had enough water to meet our needs? What if it’s our needs that need to be studied and recalibrated? That’s the theory posited by a group of panelists who recently presented their finding at a discussion hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences. The panelists, includi... More...
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 12:54 PM
The Fertile Crescent is a term most of us haven’t heard outside of a history class. As students, we learned the Fertile Crescent encompassed some of the most important cities and locales of early civilization: Mesopotamia, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and—of course—the Nile. The area is also known as “the Cradle of Civilization” and is not only the birthplace of several ancient kingdoms, but also the breeding ground of many early technological innovations, including writing, glass, and the wheel. Su... More...
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:54 AM
“We’ve got to continue relying on technology, on better plans that use less water, on better equipment, and we have to be smarter in the way we use water.” That’s the response of former Texas state representative and water conservation manager (Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District) Gary Walker. Walker recently answered a series of questions posed by the Avalanche-Journal about Texas’s water needs and how the state can maintain and support water resources for future generations.  ... More...
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:39 PM
In recognition of dwindling water supplies on a global scale, back in 2010 the United Nations Generally assembly announced that 2013 would be the “International Year of Water Cooperation” (IYWC). The hope is that “given the intrinsic nature of water as a transversal and universal element,” the United Nation’s IYWC could incorporate all aspects of UNESCO’s water policy, including a “multidisciplinary approach which blends the natural and social sciences, education, culture, and communication.” The ... More...
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 11:10 AM
In Mexico City, water conveyance systems cannot keep up with demand. A population explosion combined with an already over-burdened underground aquifer has created a fragile infrastructure incapable of supplying city residents with enough water. And so those residents (along with some enterprising entrepreneurs) are searching for alternative sources. Their solution . . . rainwater catchment. As reported by Public Radio International (PRI), “faced with chronic water shortages, many residents of Mexico Cit... More...
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 10:17 AM
This week I’m in San Diego, CA, attending the DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition. While the conference’s primary focus is distributed generation and the power industry, there’s also a strong emphasis on the water industry. For the last several years, conference planners have been working to build a strong water-centric platform at the event that includes “the latest information on water utility management systems, equipment, and technologies.” Among the topics covered: automatic meter reading, custo... More...
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:25 AM
“Is there water enough for US to frack its way to energy independence?” That’s the question asked by Jeff Rubin in a special report writing for the Globe and Mail . It’s a question many proponents of US energy independence should be asking. And the answer is definitely not what hydraulic fracking proponents (like Forbes’ David Blackmon— click here for a summary of his views in this week’s Distributed Energy blog) want to hear. Because the answer not only evokes the warnings and worries of environmentali... More...
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 11:12 AM
What cost are you willing to pay for energy independence? Is it enough to invest in pricier light bulbs to increase your energy efficiency and reduce your energy bill? What about our natural resources? Does it make sense to sacrifice our water quality to achieve a lower price at the pump? According to a recent survey released by the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI) in conjunction with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), most Americans are not willing to trade energy independence for clean wate... More...
Tuesday, January 08, 2013 1:18 PM
In 2005, when the idea of Water Efficiency magazine first began to germinate at Forester Media headquarters, infrastructure investment seemed like a no-brainer. For years the warning bells had been announcing the beginning edges of an impending catastrophe. More and more communities began battling with busted pipes, downed mains, sputtering pumps, and a messy quilt of cross-stitched conveyance systems desperately in need of repair and rehabilitation. But the large-scale investment never arrived. O... More...
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 11:54 AM
Last week , I highlighted Leon Kaye’s top list of water-related news stories for 2012. As I’ve previously noted, while not all of Kaye’s topics were extensively covered by Water Efficiency magazine, they are all relevant to the overall discussion of water resource management as it currently stands and how it can evolve over the next 12 months. Below, the rest of Kaye’s list. Fracking There’s still plenty of controversy, and predicted and unforeseen costs, associated with fracking. Neverthe... More...
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 12:30 PM
The year is coming to a close, and now’s the time when we get inundated with “top ten” lists covering just about every topic—from movies to politics, to, apparently, water. And, while I must admit a certain affection for these year-end summaries, I think that they can offer a valuable service beyond mere entertainment and nostalgia. Cataloging the high points of the past 12 months can help track past mistakes and successes and set up an action plan for the future. Over at the Triple Pundit , Leon Kaye—e... More...
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:22 PM
Forgive this Californian for being skeptical. But, growing up in a state where every five year old knows that water is scarce and waste is taboo, it’s difficult for me to applaud the latest scheme to transport water across hundreds of miles in order to hydrate the arid west. Southern California has relied on the Bay Delta to supplement local water supplies for decades, and that tenuous relationship has not come without controversy, environmental impacts, and questions about demand management and conserv... More...
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:19 AM
There are many sides to the global water crisis. There’s ongoing drought, for example, which affects not only food production, but local and global economics, housing, and even human health and safety. But the global water crisis is large enough to include erratic weather, flooding, rising sea levels, and superstorms like October’s Hurricane Sandy. And then there are all the other factors that contribute to growing demand—increased food production, rising populations, megacities, sanitation services, en... More...
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:43 AM
What do broken water mains, 100-year-old water companies, and the stock market have in common? Sustainability. But not the sustainability you might be familiar with—the one that’s normally associated with water efficiency and reuse. In order to be classified as “sustainable,” a person, place, or business must be able to be maintained and kept in balance. And while sustainability is a term most closely associated with environmentalism, it can also be applied to business. And in the words of one business ... More...
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10:13 AM
Just in time for World Toilet Day (read more about it at our sister site, All One Water ) GigaOm is reporting the news that a nearby wastewater treatment plant will power Microsoft’s new “clean powered” data center building. In a perfect marriage that invokes the water-energy nexus, Microsoft’s experimental micro data center will be constructed onsite at a Wyoming wastewater treatment plant. The hope is that this concept project will set the stage for similar clean power data centers on a la... More...
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:54 AM
Climate change is on everyone’s mind these days—Hurricane Sandy made sure of that—but the focus has been mostly on how we may deal with similar superstorms in the future, and how our behaviors (including an overdependence on fossil fuels) could be impacting our environment and causing, or at least exacerbating, the situation. But what about our water resources? After all, it makes sense that rising sea levels and unpredictable rain patters could deplete resources, impact food supplies, and make parts of... More...
Tuesday, November 06, 2012 11:20 AM
Here at Water Efficiency our water resource management coverage tends to focus on water scarcity, drought, and demand management. But for many communities, flooding—and the impact uncontrolled waters have on infrastructure—is just as important a concern. As the East Coast continues to dig itself out of aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, coastal erosion, stormwater, and a battered and beleaguered infrastructure will be on everyone’s mind. So what does flooding have to do with water resource management? The qu... More...
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 1:10 PM
If you live anywhere within the Hurricane Sandy impact zone, get ready for service interruptions and boil water notices. And as power outages start to extend into tomorrow and (perhaps) the rest of the week in some areas, not only will water conveyance systems struggle to stay up and running, but water quality monitoring and wastewater treatment facilities will also strain to stay up and running. While we don’t have the final damage estimates, it’s clear that Hurricane Sandy will leave a costly aftermat... More...
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:21 AM
A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (sponsored by Oracle Utilities) reveals that if water utilities plan on meeting water supply, large-scale infrastructure investments must be made—or else demand will outstrip supply by 2030. The study, entitled “ Water for All? ”, compared the water resource management strategies of 10 countries—the US, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Spain, Brazil, Russia, India, and China—and surveyed 244 water utility managers and executives, including 20 “in-dep... More...
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:10 PM
A surging economy…a population that’s doubled in size…expanded access to potable drinking water…and a per capita water use increase of 38%. In some ways, the above scenario is the “good news” cap on the end of a hundred-year saga. South Africa, a land that’s struggled to redefine itself after the end of apartheid, has experienced resurgence, reinvention, and rebirth. South Africa has reemerged from its troubled past with a focus on equality, opportunity, and economic expansion. But there’s a darke... More...
Tuesday, October 09, 2012 2:15 PM
This month the Clean Water Act (CWA) turns 40 years old. And as Wm. Robert Irvin points out over at the Huffington Post , “By making any discharges into the nation’s waters illegal without a permit and establishing protective water quality standards, the Act fundamentally revolutionized the way we address water pollution.” Passed in 1972, the CWA was drafted in response to the public’s call for water protection legislation in the face of rampant water pollution. A bipartisan effort, the CWA was envision... More...
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 10:48 AM
Sometimes it might feel like we toil in the shadows—fixing leaks, preventing pollution, promoting conservation—our water resource management efforts largely unheralded and unknown. Which is why it’s exciting to see water efficiency covered in a national newspaper—above the fold with a big, splashy photo and a compelling quote. “I don’t know how they expect people to keep paying more for water . . . everything else is going up.” –Jacquelyn Monerief, Philadelphia, as quoted in USA Today Last Friday, the m... More...
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 10:16 AM
“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” That oft-repeated cry of the Ancient Mariner succinctly describes the relationship between local water resource management and desalination. For many water-scarce communities, desalination may feel like viable solution, but the high-energy costs and questionable environmental impacts of building new plants and treating and delivering the final product to consumers have stalled major projects throughout the country. And ultimately, price becomes th... More...
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:21 AM
Here at Water Efficiency , we are committed to bringing you up-to-date information on the latest technologies and programs relevant to water resource management. As a water purveyor or water efficiency professional, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and tools. Which is why I’m pleased to announce a series of seminars hosted by Forester University focused on “exploring the challenges and opportunities in water conservation.” This Water Conservation Master Class will be hosted by... More...
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 10:55 AM
This week—as reported by Reuters and the Chicago Tribune —a study released by the InterAction Council recommends that the UN Security Council make water scarcity “a top concern.” “The future political impact of water scarcity may be devastating,” former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said of the study, which was issued by a consortium of former world leaders, including Nelson Mandela and US President Bill Clinton, and backed by the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment, and Healt... More...
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 3:55 PM
We all know the heavy demands associated with agricultural irrigation. In California, where water rights are fiercely fought and water travels across deserts and over mountains to reach millions of thirsty citizens, agricultural irrigation plays a significant role in both water use and energy demands for the state. Which is why it was exciting to learn earlier this month, during my tour of the Houweling’s Tomatoes greenhouse and packaging facility, that, in addition to generating more than 14 MW of powe... More...
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 12:14 PM
Last week, the 2012 World Water Week opened in Stockholm. This year’s event will focus on “Water and Food Security,” and global leaders attending the event will mingle and interact with politicians, CEOs, scientists, and “leaders of international organizations from more than 100 nations” ( PDF ). As part of the event, the Stockholm International Water Institute released a paper titled “Large-scale water storage in the water, energy and food nexus: Perspectives on benefits, risks and best practice.” The ... More...
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 1:00 PM
As an editor, I sympathize. What could be worse than a $500 million typo? Unfortunately for the Santa Clara Water District, a mistake in ballot language could result in the loss of almost half a billion dollars in funding. As reported by the Mercury News , the purpose of the ballot measure—the Safe, Clean Water Program—was to insure water quality for the Santa Clara Water District while also protecting the local water supply against pollution and contamination. The measure provided funding for these imp... More...
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:13 AM
What if we could change the paradigm? What if instead of compartmentalizing our water resources—wastewater here, portable water there . . . some allocated for irrigation, other for drinking, manufacturing, or medical/technological pursuits—we created a more holistic approach? The water cycle is not so much split into sections, as it is a mere evolution of water from one state to another. What would it look like if we took nature as an inspiration and treated all of our water resources as part of one lar... More...
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:10 AM
We’ve talked a lot about the distance between our water infrastructure needs and the funding available to rehabilitate, repair, and replace our conveyance systems. It’s estimated that our water infrastructure needs top out at over $9 billion per year, while federal funding for that infrastructure is tapped out at a little over $1 billion. Local and state governments and communities large and small all have shouldered this $8-billion-dollar discrepancy—but how much longer can these water purveyors carry ... More...
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 10:27 AM
Earlier this week, over 370 million Indian citizens found themselves without power for several hours in what’s been described as “a massive electrical grid failure.”* Throughout most of the day on Monday, transit systems were in disarray—stranding commuters and causing traffic gridlocks—while hospitals and airports switched over to backup power. But one critical public service was left in the lurch as water utilities and water treatment plants braced themselves for a disruption in service as the grid fa... More...
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 5:11 PM
For all of you hoping for some light at the end of the tunnel, I have some bad news: We’re not out of the woods yet. Not even close. And with months of dry weather and hot temperatures still to come for many of us, the situation is about to get a whole lot worse. I’m speaking, of course, about drought conditions throughout the US. Last week, ongoing drought conditions compelled Agriculture Secretary Tom Vislack to declare another 39 counties as disaster areas. According to Vislack , the expansion of the... More...
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:15 AM
Hello and welcome to the eve of fire season. A preview of what much of the West and Southwest can expect is already on display in Colorado and New Mexico, and if climate models and weather predictions are to be believed, many of us are within firing range. In the aftermath of any wildfire, watersheds and water resources are particularly vulnerable, and many communities struggle to protect themselves against post-fire erosion, debris flows, and flooding hazards. That’s when it’s time to call in the profe... More...
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 3:06 PM
When sources have been tapped out, and demand keeps rising, one of the oldest tricks in the water conveyance professional’s handbook is matching price to usage. This can work in one of two ways—through incentives or penalization. Most rate structures are designed to penalize big water users (and wasters). Your bill goes up—sometimes hitting designated pricing tiers—as your consumption increases. It’s a familiar tug-of-war and can be an effective deterrent to rampant water waste. Of course, there will al... More...
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:09 PM
On Monday, the US Supreme Court handed Georgia a victory in the ongoing battle for the right to use water from Lake Lanier to supplement Atlanta’s water supply. By declining to hear appeals of an 11 th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for continuing negotiations between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over each state’s claim to water from Lake Lanier. More importantly, the ruling stays the three-year countdown clock initiated by the federal judge who initially heard... More...
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:31 AM
This week, the UN announced that 45 multinational companies—responsible for everything from jeans to soft drinks—have signed on to the organization’s Global Compact for improved water resource management practices. According to a statement issued by the UN, this compact is considered “the world’s biggest organization backing sustainability measures.” “Water is a critical issue,” Deputy Director of the UN Global Gavin Power is quoted as saying in Bloomberg Businessweek . “Most companies are doing nothing... More...
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 4:15 PM
All this week I'll be in Dallas,TX, for ACE 2012 , AWWA’s annual conference that draws participants from around the country and around the globe for a week’s worth of presentations, exhibits, and chances to rub shoulders with experienced and innovative water resource management professionals. Expect a grand wrap up next week when I will undoubtedly return to Water Efficiency headquarters full of inspiration and information. In the meantime, I’ll be posting updates from the convention floor on via Twitte... More...
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 12:15 PM
Are you ready to hit the road? Next week, the great state of Texas will host the America Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition (AWWA ACE) in Dallas. The conference, with its 18 distinctive tracks and over 100 sessions, will take place at the Dallas Convention Center from June 10–14. With keynote speakers including Dr. Brian Fagan (author of Elixir: Humans and the History of Water ) and Richard B Holes (deputy general manager of engineering and operations for the Southern), as... More...
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:26 PM
This month, India announced that it plans to become the first nation to certify “blue ratings” for commercial and industrial water use. The “blue rating” was conceived as a partner to the green labels and carbon footprint ratings that have become increasingly common as commercial and industrial agencies come to terms with the importance of appearing to conscientiously manage the natural resources essential to the products and services they deliver to their customers. Acting on a request by the Union Min... More...
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 10:07 AM
Last month, in my blog , “Drought Runs Amok”, I asked, “are we doing enough to reduce demand and eliminate water waste?” A supplemental question to that query could simply be, “are we being proactive enough about drought?” We all know from experience that water resource management can often feel like a game of “whack a mole.” A pipe bursts, and we rush to fix it. A storm rolls in, and the runoff and catchment discussions begin anew. Drought rears its ugly head, and new restrictions kick in. But what if ... More...
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 10:37 AM
It’s probably safe to say that, for many, the words “rural water resource management” conjure up images of agricultural irrigation. But the truth while agriculture laps up the lion’s share of resources—there’s upwards of 30,000 rural water utilities spread out throughout the country, in unincorporated hamlets and across county lines ( www.nrwa.org ). And all of those customers expect access to clean, (relatively) inexpensive drinking water. Unfortunately, many rural communities struggle with water quali... More...
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 10:32 AM
In the past few weeks , I’ve been focusing a lot on international water resource management and the problems of global water scarcity. But if you think it’s all smooth sailing in our own backyard, think again. Many of the problems being experienced in the developing world (and many industrialized nations) can be found lurking not just in our rural byways and backwaters, but in major metropolitan areas as well. For example, did you know that 117 million US citizens currently lack access to safe drinking ... More...
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 11:15 AM
In last week’s blog, Scarcity on a Global Scale , I talked about the water scarcity challenges impacting every corner of the world—from developing nations to international powerhouses like China and India. We all know the decisions made by our neighbors, allies, and competitors in adjacent continents or half a world a way will inevitably impact our own, local water resource management plans and decisions. And when it comes to China—a country we’ve been watching with a wary eye for several years now—wate... More...
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 1:02 PM
It’s not an unfamiliar statistic: according to the World Water Council , one of out of every six people on the planet (1.1 billion) lack access to clean drinking water, and 2 out of every six (2.6 billion) lack access to adequate sanitation. By some estimates, the world’s population is expected to increase by 50% over the next 50 years—and all those extra souls will need water. Unfortunately, as a whole, we are not keeping up with demand, now or in the future. According to the 2012 UN-Water Global Analy... More...
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 2:49 PM
First it was Georgia , with Governor Sonny Purdue holding prayer meetings in attempt to incur divine intervention. Then it was Texas , with uncontrolled wildfires outside of Austin and water shipped on the back of tankers instead of flowing out of faucets. And as recently as last year, the southern United States has been left reeling from over $10 billion in agriculture losses. And there’s no end in sight. In the March/April issue of Water Efficiency , I discussed the US Drought Monitor that revealed, “... More...
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 11:14 AM
In this era of prolonged drought, extreme weather, and political unrest, there’s been one bright spot on the world stage—the expanding ranks of the middle class in the developing world. In fact, just last week former Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo declared that, by 2020, Asia’s middle class will reach two billion. As Javier Santiso, Director, OECD Development Center, writes in the preface to the 2010 OECD paper, titled The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries , “Over the last twenty years... More...
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 12:36 PM
Information is power. We all know this is especially true when it comes to water resource management. Here at Water Efficiency , we’ve focused a lot on the importance of data integration and the value of reliable and accurate water use statistics. Whether it’s AMR and AMI, GIS and SCADA, or a combination of all the different tools available to the water purveyor, the bottom line is that you “can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So what happens when you’ve got the facts and figures, but ... More...
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:39 AM
On the heels of World Water Day, a new report by Frost and Sullivan reveals that amidst “growing global concern about water quality and scarcity,” the reduction of water footprints at the corporate and industrial level is “emerging as a competitive tool for food and beverage manufacturers” Water Quality and Scarcity -- Challenges and Opportunities for the Global Food and Beverage Industry . Frost and Sullivan also reports that “increasing focus to reduce water footprint will drive” both the global food ... More...
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 12:59 PM
This Thursday (March 22) marks the 20th anniversary of World Water Day . Created by the United Nations in 1992, the purpose of World Water Day is to heighten public awareness of water scarcity and quality issues. This year the theme of World Water Day is Water and Food Safety , and the campaign will focus primarily on tools and methods that help make the average citizen become more aware of the consequences of their food choices, and encourage more eco-friendly behaviors. The official brochure and poste... More...
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 12:20 PM
While that annoying drip-drip-drip keeping you up all night is certainly worth attacking, the truth is that the real devil lies beneath, amidst the pipes that twist and turn underneath our feet. In fact, nonrevenue water costs water utilities worldwide about $14 billion per year ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-revenue_water ). Nevertheless, those tiny drips and drops add up: according to the EPA , “more than 1 trillion of gallons of water leak from US homes” per year. Not only that, the average... More...
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 10:09 AM
“Water that is ‘saved’, where is it saved? Is it in a tank for us to use later? No, it’s not. It’s just not used.” –Courtenay Councillor Jon Ambler So have we been getting it wrong all along? Is it true that water saved is wasted by not being put to good use? And if so, then in areas where water resources are abundant, does it make sense to reduce demand? The truth is I’m not sure what to make of the statements of Courtenay, British Columbia, Council member Jon Amber, who also happens to sit on the Como... More...
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 11:22 AM
Chalk this up in the “old news” column, according to a new report by Standard and Poor (S&P), US public-water systems are in dire need of repair and rehabilitation, and those repairs won’t come cheap. As reported by Bloomberg News , the S&P’s report indicates, “water systems will need to spend about $335 billion over the next two decades to comply with regulations.” We’ve known for some time that our water infrastructure is in crisis, but it seems as if the evidence keeps piling up: everyone’s w... More...
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 11:55 AM
We’ve asked this question many times before—when it comes to water resource management, does centralized regulation make sense, or is local control the way to go? Of course, in the US, our water resources are widespread and varied, and a complex matrix of regional, state, and federal laws and policies determines how our water is collected, treated, and delivered. But in smaller countries, like Israel ( www.waterefficiency.net/WE/Blogs/1160.aspx ), sometimes a single decree combined with separate distric... More...
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3:53 PM
As far back as 2008, congressmen have been trying to get HR 1189: Clean Water Affordability Act of 2011 out of committee and into law. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in order to “assist municipalities that would experience a significant hardship raising the revenue necessary to finance projects and activities for the construction of wastewater works” ( http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-1189 ). The Federal Water Pollution Control Act “authoriz... More...
Tuesday, February 07, 2012 8:00 AM
Imagine water arriving to your home not silently and effortlessly through your faucet, but rumbling into town on the backs of tanker trucks delivering gallons collected miles away. In parts of Texas, this scenario is already a reality as many small communities find themselves on the verge of running out of water. In Spicewood, TX , for example, an 8,000-gallon truck delivery was the clearest indication that the village’s wells could no longer supply the regions 1,100 residents. As Texas continues into y... More...
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10:54 AM
In our sister publication, Distributed Energy , we’ve explored the contrast between domestic investment in technology by the US government as compared to its Chinese counterpart. The truth is, clean technology and renewable energy startups in the US are struggling to compete in a global market that’s dominated by foreign industries that receive funding from their own governments. It’s called the Valley of Death, and it’s been charged with curtailing US innovation and domination in the global energy marke... More...
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:46 AM
What do you do when your major metropolitan areas also happen to sit along a “drought belt?” According to the US Drought Monitor Map , released last week by South Dakota State University, many American cities—including Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City—are situated smack dab in the middle of severe-to-extreme drought conditions, and they aren’t alone. A second map , this one from the World Resource Institute, shows many of the largest cities in the developed (and some in the developing world a... More...
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 6:25 AM
Sackett v. EPA (10-1062) : A short name for a case with rather large implications. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments about the scope and reach of administrative compliance orders in relation to environmental enforcement actions undertaken by EPA. The Court’s final decision could determine whether or not EPA will continue to be the sole arbiter in regards to environmental regulations, or if individuals and corporations running afoul of the Agency’s decisions will have recourse in federa... More...
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 11:26 AM
It’s the end of the world as we know it, right? At least that’s what all the 2012 doomsday cultists would have us believe. And while I find it unlikely that ancient Mayan calendars or magical crystal skulls will have any impact whatsoever on the future health and viability of the planet and its 1 billion+ inhabitants, our global water scarcity crisis continues unabated—and it’s starting to look rather grim. This week, a new survey from the industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce a... More...
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 3:05 PM
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So warned Spanish-born American philosopher, poet and humanist George Santayana . His cautions seem apropos in light of a recent report from Live Science , that indicates that it was drought—rather than war or land overexploitation—that led to the demise of the ancient city of Angkor. Established in Cambodia during the 9th century, the city of Angkor—the capital of the Khmer Empire—was one of the most powerful urban centers in Southeast Asia... More...
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 11:41 AM
Last month, we talked about the US Forest Service’s program “ Forests to Faucets ”, which is designed to raise awareness about the relationship between watersheds and environmental hazards. As I explained in my previous blog , the Forests to Faucets project uses GIS modeling and mapping to create an interactive map that illustrates the locations of watersheds throughout the country in an attempt to highlight “the role forests play in protecting these areas, and the extent to which these forests a... More...
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 12:49 PM
Water scarcity. Peak water. Drought. Demand outstripping supply. Those of us tasked with water resource management have known for a long time that while the rest of the world fiddled over climate change, fossil fuel dependence and a host of other distractions both legitimate and ephemeral, water was continuing to slip through the cracks and down the drain. Water is imbedded in just about every aspect of our lives—from basic living requirements to the products and services we’ve grown accustomed to, to t... More...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 12:40 PM
While we’ve discussed the thriving market for sustainable water solutions before , a recent article from Reuters further promotes the idea that when it comes to water resource management, economic opportunities abound. As Bill Brennan, portfolio manager for Summit Global Management, explains, “The water business is an ideal investment for endowments, family offices, and people that have a long-term horizon and understand the underlying growth metrics in the business and are looking for those expected re... More...
Tuesday, December 06, 2011 12:41 PM
Are extreme droughts the new reality? According to an article in Salon, the Southwest has experienced one of its driest years on record and, “as of summer’s end, 2011 was the driest year in 117 years of record keeping for New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, and the second driest for Oklahoma.” The result of these extreme droughts: rising temps, record heat, and lots and lots of wildfires. So are we on our way towards a second coming of the Dust Bowl? Well, it’s certainly looking grim. As author William De... More...
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:41 PM
We’ve talked a lot about water scarcity and the impact of the water crisis; including food shortages and increasingly violent confrontations over natural resources . . . and the news is only getting grimmer. According to a report released this week by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) entitled “The State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW),” the trifecta of population growth, climate change, and degradation of resources are “posing a profoun... More...
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 12:42 PM
( Update: The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security announced that they “found no evidence of a cyber intrusion” into the Illinois utility’s SCADA system.) Earlier this month, an Illinois water utility was the victim of a foreign cyber attack. On November 8, the water utility’s pump system was hacked by cyber criminals who used the intrusion to access the utility’s network and shut it down remotely. According to a report in the Daily Tech , “it is believed to be the first recognized foreign cyber ... More...
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:43 PM
We all know that the water that comes out of our faucet has an origin well beyond our front door, or even our Main Street. More often than not, the “out of sight, out of mind” nature the relationship between source and use means that it’s easy to forget the clean, cheap, potable water we enjoy often travels hundreds of miles to get to us, and that its point of origin is not only far way, but most likely located in a fragile, threatened environment. The US Forest Service’s program “ Forests to Faucets ” ... More...
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 12:43 PM
According to a recent press release from PR Newswire , “The market for sustainable water solutions in the US is expected to triple from $4 billion to $15 billion by 2020.” And because of ever-rising population totals (7 billion at last check) and increasing industrialization and urban migration, the need for water resource management technologies will only continue to grow. According to PR Newswire’s report, Germany is leading the march towards the monetization of water efficient practices and protocols... More...
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 12:45 PM
Last week , I talked about my initial impressions of the first annual SXSW Eco in Austin, TX. While I sat in on a number of interesting discussions and presentations about the future of the green movement and the need for energy efficiency and sustainable business practices, overall there was very little discussion on the relationship between water resource management and energy efficiency and sustainability. At my last stop on the first day of the conference—the dual presentation “Texas and China: Non-... More...
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 12:44 PM
Earlier this year, the Economist Intelligence Unit released “ The US and Canada Green City Index ,” a research project that involved an extensive survey of 27 cities in the US and Canada, in an attempt to nail down exactly what makes a city “green.” Why this focus on green urban spaces—because it’s often in the cities that real innovation and problem solving emerges. As the introduction to the report explains, “It is well known that city life can exacerbate problems such as harmful greenhouse gas emissi... More...
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 12:45 PM
As you know, a couple of weeks ago, I was attended the first annual SXSW Eco in Austin, TX. While roaming the halls of the Hilton Austin, meeting fellow attendees, and planning out my schedule for the event, I decided to stop in on a panel discussion focusing on “tools and techniques that will enable businesses to understand and control their energy and utility costs” to see if water resource management would be on the agenda. After glancing at the conference schedule, I wasn’t too optimistic. Although ... More...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:46 PM
I’m currently in Chicago, IL, attending the 34 th annual WORLD ENERGY ENGINEERING CONGRESS (WEEC) , a three-day conference for end users and energy professionals designed to shine a light on how various economic and market forces—as well as new technologies, regulatory developments, and industry trends—all merge to shape the critical decisions on about the energy and economic future of a variety of commercial, industrial, and federal organizations and entities. Every year, the Association of Energy Engi... More...
Tuesday, October 04, 2011 12:47 PM
I’m currently in Austin, TX, attending the first annual SXSW Eco , a three-day conference focusing on “the need for a concerted approach across the public, private, and academic sectors to solving the recognized challenges facing the environment, the economy, and civil society.” Included among the speakers and presenters are some of the top names in clean tech, environmentalism, sustainability, and resource management. I’m looking forward to hearing from a variety of voices, and I’ll be tweeting all the... More...
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:47 PM
Back in August 2006, Asit Biswas, head of the Third World Centre for Water Management, stated , “There is no shortage of water in the world . . . what it is facing is a crisis of bad water management.” Considered a bold statement at the time, Biswas’s assertion has never gained much traction in a world where “the prevailing wisdom upholds the notion that the disparity between the water we need and the water we have can be blamed on diminishing supply.” A new study released Monday at the World Water Cong... More...
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:48 PM
Last week, while attending the 12 th Annual WateReuse Symposium in Phoenix, AZ, I sat in on a series of presentations grouped under the heading “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” The presenters included Don Vandertulip (CDM), Andrew Salveson (Carollo Engineers), Paul Fesko (City of Calgary) and Ryujiro Tsuchihashi, (AECOM), and all of them spoke about the standards, schemes, and strategies associated with integrating water reuse into a community water resource plan. In a presentation entitled “Can We Support ... More...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:49 PM
I’m currently in Phoenix attending the 26 th annual WateReuse Symposium. While I flit from presentation to presentation and gather up a canvas bag full of information on the latest and most successful water reuse projects and technologies, let’s pause and take a look back at some of the water recycling stories that we ran in the magazine in the last year: Safeguarding Scarce Resources Learning Self Sufficiency Epitome of Efficiency Organic Growth--in a Manner of Speaking Purple-Colored Conservation I’ll... More...
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:50 PM
Over the weekend, the big news was—of course—Hurricane Irene. Prognosticators, weathermen, and news anchors looking to fill hours of live coverage conspired to predict the worst: flooding, deaths, power outages, and billions of dollars in damage. And while Vermont in particular—and much of the eastern seaboard in general—is still dealing with widespread flooding, it seems like, for the most part, Hurricane Irene was the disaster that didn’t happen. Nevertheless, when facing widespread disruption of esse... More...
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 12:51 PM
The megacity . . . 10 to 20 million inhabitants residing within the walls of an urban über metropolis where resources are scarce and clean water is a luxury. The UN estimates that within the next two decades, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in an urban environment—most in the developing world—and many will call one of the world’s 39 megacities home. As I’ve said before , Megacities are the perfect test case for water resource management issues because the sheer numbers amplify the issues ... More...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:51 PM
Water security . . . it’s a term that encompasses—and in some way expands—water resource management. To be “water secure” means that your city, state, country, or community has enough potable water to meet the needs of the population. And as we all know, every day our water security is threatened by population growth, drought, urbanization, pollution, and overuse and over-utilization of water sources. And as demand continues to increase, tensions between upstream, and downstream users will mount. It's a... More...
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 12:52 PM
In 1948, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father, declared that the new nation’s goal was to make the desert bloom. More than 60 years later, Israel has made good on this promise, creating and managing an efficient, innovative water system that has helped this desert nation meet domestic demands, while allowing water intensive industries—including agriculture—to thrive. As I mentioned last week, in July I was lucky enough to participate in the WATEC Exhibition Press Tour hosted by NewTech; Israel’s M... More...
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 1:02 PM
We all know that when it comes to urban water resource management, water purveyors must contend with ever-growing demand while also complying with water-quality standards and customer expectations. Add security and energy issues, and the task can, at times, seem insurmountable. But never underestimate ingenuity and common sense—armed with the right tools and the right information, any urban water utility can design a plan and implement a framework to enable efficient, safe, and economical water manageme... More...
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 1:11 PM
It’s high summer, and across the country folks are slipping on those suits and dipping in those toes while frolicking in lakes, rivers, oceans, and local community pools. Here in California, we know to keep on eye on beach closures and bacteria counts, all in an effort to keep ourselves healthy, and our water clean. But can we trust the information we’re receiving? Maybe not. According to a new report released last week by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), many states across the country are... More...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 1:12 PM
So, do you like it low-flow or HET? How about dual-flush? Or is a brick in the tank all you need? When it comes to water conservation, toilets are always big news. In fact, one of the “most searched terms” on the Water Efficiency website is … you guessed it … toilet. And all of you who’ve downloaded Waterprint know that one toilet flush in the US equals almost a day’s worth of water use in the developing world. The typical American uses an average of 100 gallons of water a day at home—and 30% of that wa... More...
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1:13 PM
Late last year, the Carbon Disclosure project released its first report under its new program, CDP Water Disclosure. The report details the impact water scarcity is having on the multinational corporations across the globe. The findings highlighted a reality that many of the world’s largest corporations are already experiencing firsthand—that water resource management is not just a public policy issue, it’s a corporate and commercial issue as well. The report was compiled from the results of responses g... More...
Tuesday, July 05, 2011 1:13 PM
Last week, at dinner with friends, I was asked, “are people really aware of water?” I looked around the table, at untouched—and unasked for—water glasses filled to the brim and covered with condensation, and gave them my best answer…. “No.” When you’re knee-deep in a profession, it’s easy to forget that the concerns and crisis that you deal with on a daily basis are virtually invisible to the rest of the world. Sure, everyone knows water is precious and scarce. Some people know it can be expensive or de... More...
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:14 PM
Good news for the Southwest and those cities and rural communities whose water supplies depend upon the Colorado River. According to a recent report released by the Pacific Institute, entitled “Municipal Deliveries of Colorado River Basin Water” , while the populations in and around the Colorado River basin have increased by more than 10 million since 1990, the “overall per capita water use declined by an average of at least one percent per year from 1990 to 2008.” This reduction in water use is due pri... More...
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:15 PM
Coming soon to a senate hearing near you—the Energy-Water Integration Act of 2011 . The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) released a copy of the bill, which provides an analysis of the impact of energy development and production on the water resources of the US. While the proposal mostly reiterates issues originally discussed in Title 1, Subtitle D of S. 1462 of last Congress’s energy bill, it goes further into the foundation and influence of that old familiar relationship: the water energy nexus. The... More...
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 1:16 PM
All this week I'll be in Washington DC for ACE 11, the AWWA’s annual conference that draws participants from around the country and around the globe for a week’s worth of presentations, exhibits, and chances to rub shoulders with experienced and innovative water resource management professionals. Expect a grand wrap up next week when I will undoubtedly return to Water Efficiency headquarters full of inspiration and information. In the mean time, I’ll be posting updates from the convention floor on Twitt... More...
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 1:17 PM
This week, the Bureau of Reclamation released a report entitled “Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand,” and the news is not good. The Colorado River, which supplies water to seven states and a number of large, metropolitan areas (including Los Angeles and Phoenix), was selected as one of the first three basin studies approved by the Bureau in 2009. The report was prepared in order to “better define options for future water management of the Colorado River Basin, where climate change, record drought, p... More...
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 1:17 PM
Should businesses get involved in water efficiency initiatives, projects, and programs? What if, by assessing the impact of their operations on regional water resources and global water use, the companies and private interests that rely heavily on water can alter their operations in order to have a positive—rather than negative—impact on water use and local supply? While utilities are charged with collecting, treating, and delivering water, isn’t it really the water user (especially the big water user) ... More...
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 1:18 PM
It’s a familiar refrain—often repeated in the pages of Water Efficiency —Water and Energy are two forces, forever bound together. In fact, I’ve stated many times that I believe that the very nature of the relationship between energy and water requires that water efficiency must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with energy efficiency in the national dialogue. Despite this complicated relationship between energy and water, their respective communities have not always worked together; instead, both water and ene... More...
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 1:19 PM
We’ve been keeping a wary eye on D.C. as budget negotiations at the federal level have threatened to adversely impact funding for water infrastructure and source protection. But, this week, we finally heard some good news, as lawmakers rallied to introduce an alternative infrastructure-finance bill: The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act ( S. 939 ). Introduced by US Senators Robert Menendez (D–NJ) and Mike Crapo (R–ID), and US Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D–NJ) and Geoffrey Davis (R–... More...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 1:19 PM
Co-Op City touts itself as the “largest residential development in the United States.” Located in The Bronx (New York), Co-Op City includes 15,372 residential units spread out over 35 high-rise buildings and seven clusters of townhouses on 320 acres. Complete in 1973, Co-Op City is also home to eight parking garages, three shopping centers, a 25-acre educational park (including six schools ranging from grammar to high school), a power plant, a firehouse, and 40 professional offices—all of which sits on ... More...
Monday, May 02, 2011 8:00 PM
Earlier this year, panelists and presenters addressed the twin threats of climate change and diminishing resources at a seminar entitled, “Climate Risk and Resilience: Securing the Region’s Future.” The seminar, which took place at ADB’s 44th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in Hanoi, Vietnam, specifically examined how reduced acc More...
Monday, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM
With the continued deterioration of our water infrastructure and a funding gap that’s making improvements and rehabilitation almost impossible for most utilities, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to go off the (water) grid. This week, the AP reports on a spate of onsite water treatment projects that may be the beginning of a decentral More...
Monday, April 18, 2011 8:00 PM
Last week, a letter—signed by 172 members of Congress—was sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, expressing congressional concern that the EPA’s “Clean Water Protection Guidance” (written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers) was designed to circumvent proper regulatory processes while simultaneously expanding federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Although the guidance prima More...
Monday, April 11, 2011 8:00 PM
Remember the good old days? Back around 2006–2007, when “Green Building” was taking off—riding on the coattails of America’s real estate bubble and a round of clean tech investor speculation similar to Silicon Valley in its heyday—and all around us were signs of a brighter, greener future? Hopes were high, and every couple of days there was a new story about “smart buildings” and predictions that rooftops solar panels would soon blanket the nation. And with More...
Monday, April 04, 2011 8:00 PM
We’ve all been keeping a wary eye on Washington DC as of late—fully aware that when a final budget is approved, we can expect to find ourselves on the receiving end of some serious cuts to public works funding. In fact, President Barack Obama has already included cuts to water infrastructure spending at the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers as part of his proposed a $3.72-trillion budget for fiscal 2012.
While the proposed 2012 budget reduces funding for the EPA by 13% More...
Monday, March 28, 2011 8:00 PM
We know all about the water/energy nexus. And by now we are all equally aware of imbedded water and the concept of water footprints (www.waterprint.net). This week, these worlds collide—with happy results—in a blog post by Timothy Hurst entitled, “In a Water-Scarce World, Wind Power Shrugs”.
In his post, Hurst More...
Monday, March 21, 2011 8:00 PM
Today is “World Water Day,” and international effort is focused on highlighting sustainable resource management. World Water Day was initially conceived in 1992 as part of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. By 1993, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution designating March 22nd as “World Day for Water.” Each year a different theme is highlighted: More...
Monday, March 14, 2011 8:00 PM
Did you know that one household leak could amount to 90 gallons per day in nonrevenue water? According the EPA (WaterSense, USEPA), up to 6 billion gallons of water per day are lost to leaks and damaged conveyance systems. To put that in perspective, that same amount of water would be more than enough to satisfy the thirst of 10 of the country’s largest urban centers. It’s the antithesis of effic More...
Monday, March 07, 2011 7:00 PM
To me, visits to the grocery store have always felt a bit like running the gauntlet—and as many of you know, that gauntlet has now becoming an increasingly pricey experience. Yesterday, while waiting for the cashier to ring up my purchases, I heard an elderly lady exclaim in surprise as her bill was totaled up. When she asked the grocery store clerk why her “same old purchases” were suddenly much more expensive, he gave her what I thought was a pretty well-informed answer: rising fuel c More...
Monday, February 28, 2011 7:00 PM
Last week I highlighted the plight of a Washington family who found themselves staring down the barrel of a $2,600 repair bill for a broken water main on their neighbor’s property. At the end of my blog I asked, “If the consumer is not accountable for the water loss, where will the utility find the funding for these costly repairs,” and I wondered—should we brace ourselves fo More...
Monday, February 21, 2011 7:00 PM
Last week, I highlighted the NACWA (The National Association of Clean Water Agencies) statement about proposed budget cuts to the Clean Water Act. At issue was the effect of such a proposal: The NACWA believes that these cuts will ultimately help balance one budget by transferring the costs of compliance to the municipalities, who will likely tap their ratepayers to make up the difference. As we know, municipalities are themselves struggling to meet cos More...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 7:00 PM
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has just reviewed the EPA and Congress’s budget proposals, and the organization is not happy with what it sees. In a statement released this week, the NACWA comes out strongly against budget cuts to the Clean Water Act (CWA) that “ignore the very real financial constraints of states and municipalities to implement a growing array of increasingly costly CWA requirements.” In other More...
Monday, February 07, 2011 7:00 PM
While most of the country continued to dig itself out after a series of snowstorms, I spent last week in sunny San Diego, CA, at Distributech. Some of you may be familiar with Distributech, an annual conference that focuses primarily on power utility topics ranging from automation and demand response to advanced metering and the smart grid. In the last few years, Distributech has expanded its reach beyond electric utilities to include an entire t More...
Monday, January 31, 2011 7:00 PM
Unaccounted for water, also known as the leak . . . that scourge of the water purveyor; that water-bill gremlin hiding in the homeowner’s monthly bill; that cumulative cancer that rusts pipes, trashes water pressure, and accounts to 7 billion gallons of water lost per day in the US. When we lose enough water to supply 70 million people a day with drinking water, when the US experiences 240,000 water main breaks a year and only one in four leaks ever reaches the earth’s surface, you have to wo More...
Monday, January 24, 2011 7:00 PM
While centralization and mandates delivered from one empowered source can sometimes make sense, it is equally true that on more than one occasion better results occur when local control takes precedence. A national standard can make sense out of chaos and create an equal playing field—it lets consumers, purveyors, and manufacturers know exactly where they stand. On the other hand, when it comes to water resource management, different regions are charged with managing supply and demand on their own More...
Monday, January 17, 2011 7:00 PM
Now that we’re a few weeks into the New Year, let’s shake things up with an interactive Water Efficiency editor’s blog. In light of a recent story out of Tennessee about a disputed water bill, an alleged leak, and an angry customer, I am interested to hear what you think about advanced metering technology (AMR/AMI) as a tool for leak detection and customer outreach.
Here are the facts as reported by the More...
Monday, January 10, 2011 7:00 PM
In 2008, for the first time in human history, more people lived in urban areas than in rural locations. That’s according to a report released by the UN two years ago (The 2007 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects), which predicted that by the end of the year, more than half of the world’s 6.8 billion people would call the big city their home. The report also More...
Monday, January 03, 2011 7:00 PM
In many parts of the country, 2010 wrapped up under gray days and record rain and snow totals. Here in California, our cloudy skies unleashed enough water to restock our Sierra snowpack and fill our reservoirs. As I traversed city streets and rural roads the last few weeks, dodging puddles and ducking under an assortment of umbrellas and raincoats, I couldn’t help but think about all that rainwater jettisoned down drains and gutters and flowing helplessly out to sea. And I began to wonder, again, w More...
Monday, December 20, 2010 7:00 PM
Last week, the same judge that initially ruled in favor of stricter pumping requirements for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta seemed to reverse that decision by ruling that the initial information on the endangered Delta smelt was “sloppy science.” He went on to say that the current pumping restrictions are “unidirectional prescriptions that ignore California’s water needs.” In other words, US District Judge Oliver Wanger has decided to take a second look, and that mak More...
Monday, December 13, 2010 7:00 PM
When winter comes knocking, bringing with it blankets of snow, sleet, and rain, it’s tough to imagine that—come summer—the landscape will dry itself out and, in some places, the parched thirsty soil will cry out for just one drop of water that seemed so plentiful just a few months earlier. But the truth is, drought and water resource management should always be on our minds, particularly during the seasons when we can harness the abundance for future needs.
Right now, many par More...
Monday, December 06, 2010 7:00 PM
When the real estate market began to crumble and the housing bubble burst, it looked like the end for wide-scale adoption of green building standards. Without new commercial projects and residential developments, the market for sustainable structures seemed to be rapidly disappearing. Now, two years later, green building has come back with a vengeance as opportunities in retrofits for existing buildings and government mandates have ignited a second wave of environmentally focused construction and buildin More...
Monday, November 29, 2010 7:00 PM
We all know that there’s the potential for great water efficiency—and equally great water squandering—in agricultural irrigation. After all, anyone who’s been following our coverage on water footprints (or downloaded our free iPhone/iPad app—Waterprint) is aware of that the amount of water needed to grow our fruits and vegetables can vary wildly; from 25 gallons of water for a pound of eggplants to 379 gallons for a po More...
Sunday, November 21, 2010 7:00 PM
Earlier this year, the Orange County Water District (OCWD) was recognized for “superb financial accountability and reporting of its fiscal year” by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). This latest accolade is yet another in a long list of awards racked up by OCWD, including being named the Public Water Agency of the Year at the 2008 International Desalination Association/Global Water Intelligence conference in London and Public Water Agency of the Year by the International Priv More...
Monday, November 15, 2010 7:00 PM
With the state of the economy on everyone’s mind, it makes sense that lately we’ve been talking a lot about the financial side of water resource management. The trend continues this week with the announcement that the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has released the preliminary results of its first annual Water Disclosure program survey. The CDP’s water use questionnaire—sent out to over 300 of the world’s largest corporations—was designed to record the possible impact More...
Monday, November 08, 2010 7:00 PM
Last month, in my blog entitled “Big Bucks and Blog Action”, I talked about the money-making opportunities to be had as a result of our global water crisis. Now, thanks to some anticipatory calculations conducted by equity investors, you can add irrigation to the list of “tech startups, engineers, investors, and creative people” posed to capitalize on our water shortages. According More...
Monday, November 01, 2010 8:00 PM
Low-flow showerheads? Check!
HET toilets? Check!
Smart Irrigation? Check!
Reduced demand? Check!
So, what’s the next step once you’ve done everything “right”—hit all your water conservation high notes—but still need more water than you’ve got? While many communities are still in the throes of low-flow rebates programs and smart irrigation and xeriscaping campaigns, in some parts of the country conservation techniques have hit their More...
Sunday, October 24, 2010 8:00 PM
We often talk about the true cost of water (www.waterprint.net), but those calculations tend to focus on current and historical water use and existing supply. What if, instead of focusing on the past, we tried to see into the future? What would our supply/demand matrix look like in the next decade? Can speculative prognostication help us adjust our current course so that we can prepare for what lies ahead? And can knowing the risks—not just t More...
Sunday, October 17, 2010 8:00 PM
What’s really behind our global water crisis? Who stands to gain from the continued threat to global water resources? And how can we, as water efficiency professionals, make a difference?
Last week, Blog Action Day rounded up thousands of posts from all across the world focusing on one topic: water. During the first two weeks of October, over 1,600 bloggers from 100 countries registered to participate in Blog Action Day by posting content focusing on the varied aspects of our world water More...
Sunday, October 10, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, the EPA announced it’s 2010 WaterSense Partners of the Year. In next month’s issue of Water Efficiency, the EPA’s Alicia Marrs goes into detail about each of the 2010 partners, but in the meantime, here’s a basic summary via the EPA’s October 6 press announcement.
For making “great strides in increasing water efficiency and awareness of the WaterSense label across the country” the 2010 WaterSense Partners of the year are: More...
Sunday, October 03, 2010 8:00 PM
You’ll forgive this native Californian for feeling like she’s stuck in a time warp. When the local news is not advising customers to conserve water or reporting on stringent water use regulations being implemented throughout southern California, the November elections are littering the airwaves with political ads involving Jerry Brown. For the uninitiated, in 1977, Brown served as California’s governor during a time when National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Ric More...
Monday, September 27, 2010 8:00 PM
In the Southwest, the beginning of Fall usually marks the beginning of summer weather, the start of fire season, and, overall, the driest part of the year. For those of us in southern California, Labor Day usually marks the beginning of our water rationing rituals: short showers, nighttime watering, empty pools, and dusty cars. It’s during this time of the year that we are most aware that a majority of our water comes from the desert—courtesy of the Colorado River.
This week, I̵ More...
Sunday, September 19, 2010 8:00 PM
The last few weeks I’ve been focused on—perhaps even indulging in—water resource management on the international stage. And while my blogs have been full of keywords and catchphrases like “megacities” and “water wars”, I’ve yet to discuss the real human toll associated with water resource mismanagement. And while we are all very much aware of the toll compromised water supplies can have on the health and welfare of underserved communities, knowing what the More...
Sunday, September 12, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week I asked, “can we practice water resource management in a vacuum?” I posed the question after pondering the problem of international riparian rights and the impact one country’s water resource management can have on another country’s ability to supply its people with a sustainable amount of water. We should always keep an eye on our neighbors when it comes to water—a substance that blissfully crosses borders and abuts international coastlines—but equally impor More...
Monday, September 06, 2010 8:00 PM
Can we practice water resource management in a vacuum? Should we? These are the questions I pondered after viewing Water Wars, a recently released documentary written and directed by Jim Burroughs. Taking Bangladesh as a test case, the documentary makes the case that what’s happening in one region of the world can happen—and, in fact, is happening—anywhere and everywhere. And what’s happening in Banglad More...
Sunday, August 29, 2010 8:00 PM
In last week’s blog, I discussed the skills gap currently looming over several trade industries, including the construction and water infrastructure industries. At the end of my blog, I posed some questions about how this gap might affect the water efficiency industry and the plumbers, contractors, and landscape professionals that are such an integral part to water resource management. Almost in answer to my ques More...
Sunday, August 22, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week I had the chance to sit in on a teleconference with Mike Rowe, the creator and star of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and founder of mikeroweWORKS.com. Hosted by Caterpillar, the purpose of the teleconference was to explain the new partnership between the company and Rowe—a partnership with the goal of highlighting the types of important, “dirty jobs” that are performed every day throughout the nation. Jobs that, like it or not, have lost some of their post-war era l More...
Sunday, August 15, 2010 8:00 PM
Starting this week, students all across the country will load up those backpacks and head back to school.… Which got me thinking about education and its place in water efficiency and resource management. Most of the time, when we discuss water efficiency, we’re focused on collecting, treating, and distributing water. And while there’s a healthy amount of time spent on analyzing and managing demand, how often do we really sit down and discuss public outreach and consumer education? While it’s hard to arg... More...
Sunday, August 08, 2010 8:00 PM
A new report released last month by Western Resources Advocates, entitled “Protecting the West: How Climate and Clean Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water” takes a look at the future of water resource management in the Southwest based on energy demand and water supply. The Western Resource Advocates are a nonprofit organization with a focus on environmental law and policy. The organization’s recent report is intended to shed some light on the relationship between water and energy in the More...
Sunday, August 01, 2010 8:00 PM
Are you a water conservation leader? That’s a good question, but how exactly do you measure leadership when it comes to water resource management? Should the metric be gallons saved per year? How about best use of resources available? Should we count an engaged consumer base and a successful public information campaign? Or should most leaks detected and pipes fixed be the standard for success?
The Institute for Local Government has put together a More...
Sunday, July 25, 2010 8:00 PM
As a native Californian, I’m familiar with water shortages—Malibu mudslides aside, my state never seems to have enough water. In fact, in many parts of the country—from Arizona to Georgia—water resource management involves finding a way to match ever-increasing demand with ever-decreasing supply.
But what if the problem is too much water?
When your supply exceeds your demand—in fact, exceeds your management capabilities—conservat More...
Sunday, July 11, 2010 8:00 PM
Last year, I was lucky enough to sit in on the EPA’s WaterSense Commercial and Institutional Sector Stakeholder Meeting Summary. The purpose of the meeting was to “obtain feedback on information presented in EPA’s white paper, “Water Efficiency in the Commercial and Institutional Sector: Considerations for a WaterSense Program” (August 20, 2009).
Although there were many valuable disc More...
Monday, July 05, 2010 8:00 PM
Tell me, did you take a moment today to marvel at the ease in which you have access to clean, inexpensive water? Do you have an idea of how much water you use in a day—bathing, preparing meals, cleaning? (www.waterprint.net) Could you go without water for a couple of hours? A day? A week?
There’s an old saying—courtesy Benjamin Franklin—that “when the well’s dry we know the worth of wat More...
Monday, June 28, 2010 8:00 PM
Having recently returned from the AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (“ACE”) in Chicago, I’m pondering the meaning of membership. Membership, according to Webster’s dictionary, can refer to the status of “being a member” or a body of members within an organization with a large membership. If you’re a “member” you’re part of a select group—but what does it mean to belong?
When it comes to water, the actions of one commu More...
Sunday, June 20, 2010 8:00 PM
I’m in Chicago this week attending the AWWA’s annual conference and exposition (ACE 2010). The conference is aimed at water professionals, and every year it draws an international crowd anxious to keep abreast of all that’s new in all areas of water resource management. Over the next few days, I hope to meet the folks that are leading the way in water efficiency, and when there’s time I’ll pop into a technical session or two. Stay tuned next week for a full report of all I s More...
Monday, June 14, 2010 8:00 PM
Let’s talk about the American Power Act. It has come to my attention, via a blog post by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Jon Devine, that this latest attempt at federal climate change legislation abandons water provisions included in previous bills. Devine hopes that the omission is an oversight and not an indication o More...
Sunday, June 06, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, I discussed some positive changes in the green building movement—specifically USGB’s decision to expand the water efficiency requirements under its LEED certification program. As I see it, whenever there is an acknowledgement of the interdependent relationship between water and energy, we all win.
This week, Slate.com’s Daniel Gross posted an article on “ More...
Monday, May 31, 2010 8:00 PM
In our March 2008 Elements issue, I lamented the sad state of water efficiency standards in the USGB’s LEED certification program. In an editorial entitled “Green Fever Blues”, I discussed how the current LEED point system marginalized water efficiency. While other categories—from energy to design—accounted for 10 or more points, water efficiency, with a mere five points, was at the bottom of th More...
Monday, May 24, 2010 8:00 PM
As summer creeps around the corner, beach days and bbqs are on everyone’s mind—and the last thing any of us is thinking about is snow. And yet, for many parts of the country, the water that gets us through these dry months comes from a snowpack built up slowly over the winter months. Of course, even when that snow is falling, it’s sometimes hard to make the connection between the white stuff on the ground and the water that flows out of your tap.
Even when snowflakes pile up o More...
Monday, May 17, 2010 8:00 PM
We all know that water and energy are linked—and now the water cost of energy usage is finally getting some much-needed attention. According to a report conducted last year by River Network entitled “The Carbon Footprint of Water”, 13% of the country’s energy consumption is used on collecting, treating, and distributing water. More startling than that statistic (which, let’s be honest, is not a More...
Sunday, May 09, 2010 8:00 PM
We’ve all been keeping a close eye on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which started April 20 and, so far, has resulted in the release of over 4 million gallons of oil and cost BP over $350 million in cleanup costs. As we round out 19 days, authorities say that there is “no end in sight” as the oil continues to leak into the gulf, threatening delicate habitats, and 200 miles of coastline. And we all know, this catastrophe will not just devastate the businesses and communitie More...
Sunday, May 02, 2010 8:00 PM
Out of sight out of mind—a familiar saying that can easily be applied to our water infrastructure. With many conveyance systems conveniently buried below our feet, it’s easy to avoid thinking about how clean, safe water gets to the tap—until, of course, something goes wrong….
Over the weekend, two million or so Boston residents found themselves on the receiving end of a failed pipeline “worst-case scenario”—one leak in one run-of-the-mill mainline that More...
Monday, April 26, 2010 8:00 PM
If you’ve gotten the chance to take our iPhone app—Waterprint—for a spin, you are probably aware that many of your favorite foods and beverages have rather large water footprints: due, in part, to the amount of water required for agricultural irrigation. Case in point: wine.
As you may or may not know, our homebase of Santa Barbara neighbors one of California’s most-celebrated wine regions: the Santa Ynez Valley. Vintners in the valley must make judicious use of the limi More...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend The Intelligent Use of Water Summit: State of the Union, in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Rain Bird, the event included six panelists discussing best practices for outdoor water conservation. As part of the summit, we were treated to a short tour of the Smithsonian’s own smart irrigation system - click here for a slide show.
Sunday, April 11, 2010 8:00 PM
The first comprehensive study of American industrial water use was recently conducted by a team of scientists (led by Chris Hendrickson) at Carnegie Mellon University. Using computer models to analyze industrial water use, the scientists were able to estimate how much water is used by 400 different industrial sectors. The study was published in the American Chemical Society’s journal, Environmental Science and Technology.
Those of you who’ve been following our coverage of w More...
Sunday, April 04, 2010 8:00 PM
This week, southern California was once again rattled by Mother Nature, as a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit south of the border near Mexicali, Mexico. As is usually the case, the potential for disaster has provoked a lot of navel gazing about earthquake preparedness and the status of the state’s emergency infrastructure.
For those of us concerned with water resource management, the possibility of a catastrophic event narrows our focus to the state of our conveyance systems. How well do you More...
Sunday, March 28, 2010 8:00 PM
According to the Law of Unintended Consequences, “any intervention in a complex system may or may not have the intended result, but will inevitably create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes.” In other words, the outcome of a certain action or set of actions does not necessarily dovetail with the original intent and can often lead to unforeseen—and detrimental—results.
Monday, March 22, 2010 8:00 PM
For those of you who don’t know, this week kicks off with World Water Day, an international day of observance designed to ready awareness of the world’s water crisis and to focus on the water quality, supply, and demand solutions that are available locally and around the world. As we’ve discussed many times before, for many developed countries, it’s water use (a More...
Monday, March 15, 2010 8:00 PM
If you've had a chance to play around with our new iPhone app—Waterprint—then perhaps you already know that it takes approximately 16.5 gallons of water to produce one 12-oz bottle of beer. And while it’s important for the consumer to be aware of their water footprint so that they can make educated choices designed to reduce their overall impact on water resources, for the maker of those products, getting a handle on imbedded water co More...
Monday, March 08, 2010 7:00 PM
I’m currently in San Diego attending the 2010 WateReuse California Annual Conference. While I flit from presentation to presentation and gather up a canvas bag full of information on the latest and most successful water reuse projects and technologies, let’s pause and take a look back at some of the water recycling stories that we ran in the magazine in the last year: Gold, Silver, Platinum ...Green Recycling for Sustenance Two Constraints, One Solution Using Water More Than Once A Conservation and Cost... More...
Sunday, February 28, 2010 7:00 PM
As you all know by now, last week Water Efficiency and Forester Media Inc. unveiled Waterprint , our first iPhone application. Waterprint is intended to be a fun and educational tool designed to make users aware of the virtual water imbedded in the products and behaviors typical of daily life in the developed world. We plan on continually updating the application, and part of the process involves you, the user. In fact, many of the comments I’ve received have revolved around the “household” section of t... More...
Sunday, February 21, 2010 7:00 PM
Did you know that it takes 30 gallons of water to produce one cup of coffee? And that half-pound steak you had for dinner required 774 gallons of water to get from the ranch to your table. Where do these numbers come from, and what do they mean? These total refer to water footprints, and the totals themselves are calculated by adding up the total amount of freshwater used to create a particular item or support a specific activity.
The idea of a water footprint was first introduced by A.Y. More...
Sunday, February 14, 2010 7:00 PM
As we all know, agricultural irrigation commands a majority of community water allocations in many parts of the country. In California for example, agricultural irrigation accounts for 41% of all water use, and about 30% of that water is supplied by groundwater extraction, with the remaining 20% coming from the state’s extensive conveyance system that involves a series of dams, canals, and pumping plants. Pe More...
Sunday, February 07, 2010 7:00 PM
Last month, Dr. Peter Gleick (President, Pacific Institute) discussed California’s water problems, including the state’s need to come up with an additional 1 million acre-feet of water to fulfill current and future demand. In an article that originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Gleick does a wonderful job of discussing both California’s successes (25 yea More...
Sunday, January 31, 2010 7:00 PM
A few weeks back, after a week-long set of storms soaked California, I wondered if urban rainwater catchment was getting enough attention. I asked, “Should cities take up the call, or should we fall back on the old mantra of individual responsibility?”
In Los Angeles, the answer is clear—it’s city government that should take the first necessary steps towards promoting More...
Sunday, January 24, 2010 7:00 PM
Interesting news from the World Resources Institute (WRI) this week. According to an article entitled “Betting on Water” by Piet Klop, WRI is partnering with Goldman Sachs and General Electric to develop a “Water Index.” The index will be created using “publicly available data on water quality and water scarcity” in order to create a series of map overlays that combine and compare vari More...
Sunday, January 17, 2010 7:00 PM
Here in California, we’re bracing for a fortnight of winter storms that, while arriving late in the season, promise to inundate the state with several inches of rain over the next several days. As I watch trees bent and lashed by the wet weather, I think it’s perhaps the perfect time to look back on some of the rainwater harvesting articles we’ve covered in the magazine.
In “Acing t More...
Sunday, January 10, 2010 7:00 PM
In the “news you may have missed” category, I submit the WaterSense specifications announced by the EPA on December 10, 2009. While the rest of us were gearing up for the holidays, the EPA released its final specifications for new single-family homes—and the specifics are certainly worth reviewing as we head into a new year.
This new set of WaterSense specifications, three years in the making and incorporating input by a variety of stakeholders, was designed to dovetail More...
Sunday, January 03, 2010 7:00 PM
With all the talk these days about impending water wars, it’s heartening to hear about how three states are working together to solve their water supply and demand issues. As reported by the Yuma Sun, the Central Arizona Project, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority are all splitting the $172 million cost associated with the a new storage res More...
Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:00 PM
We’ve talked a lot about the connection between energy and water, but here’s another perspective courtesy of Telegraph UK. In a commentary posted in the Finance section, Commodities Editor Garry White discusses the possibility that switching to nuclear energy could help solve our water crisis. White points to the Middle East as an example of how cou More...
Monday, December 14, 2009 7:00 PM
We’re all aware that we are smack dab in the middle of an infrastructure crisis, and those in the know are constantly warning us that, without proper funding and implementation of large-scale repair and rehabilitation of our conveyance systems, we are all headed towards a water resource management Armageddon. There have been some high-profile examples of what can happen when water conveyance systems start to fail, including a series of water main breaks that peppered Los Angeles earlier this year. More...
Sunday, December 06, 2009 7:00 PM
Earlier this year, California’s Department of Water Resources released its Pre-Final Draft of California’s Water Plan Update 2009. While the California Water Plan itself has been around since 1957, this latest version is intended to be viewed as an all-encompassing framework designed to efficiently manage California’s water resources. The 2009 plan builds u More...
Monday, November 30, 2009 7:00 PM
Water and Energy—two forces forever bound together … it’s a relationship we’ve discussed many times. Because of the delicate balance between these two elements, conservation of one ultimately leads to conservation of the other (usually with the added bonus of reduced operational costs). But when there’s disturbance in this interplay, inefficiency takes hold, and we are left with a costly and wasteful delivery system. At other times, a surplus at one end of the spectrum can s More...
Sunday, November 22, 2009 7:00 PM
A few weeks back, I asked, “What’s your standard?”. In exploring the vagaries of water use, water needs, and water waste, I discussed the challenges inherent in any attempt to standardize efficiency measurements. In particular, any attempt to create a cohesive measurement system (and we all know, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”), must depend on verifiable data More...
Sunday, November 15, 2009 7:00 PM
In my first blog, “Titans of Industry — Should Big Business Control the Tap?” (waterefficiency.net/blogs/we-editors-blog/titans-of-industry--should-big-business-control-the-tap-14795.aspx), I discussed the privatization of water delivery systems around the world. About 75% of water utilities in the US are public, and although their customers certainly can fin More...
Monday, November 09, 2009 7:00 PM
It’s an oft-repeated phrase: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the realm of water efficiency—how can you know if you’re effectively allocating your resources if you don’t have an accurate assessment of what those resources are? But there’s another side to this equation that’s a little more problematic: How do you determine the methodology behind your measurements and—perhaps more importantly—how do yo More...
Sunday, November 01, 2009 7:00 PM
The numbers are in, and the news is good: American’s are using less water. According to a report released by USGS, water use in the US is the lowest it’s been since the 1950s. In fact, in the last 30 or so years, the change in water use in the US has been nothing short of amazing: Today our nation consumes less water than it did 30 years ago, and per capita use is down nearly 30% from what it was in 1975. This is what all of us in t More...
Sunday, October 25, 2009 8:00 PM
Every day lately, it seems like news comes out of Los Angeles about yet another sinkhole appearance or water main failure. In fact, on just one Tuesday in October, the city experienced the following calamities (source: Los Angeles Times)
* The rupture of a 12-inch steel water main on Mulholland Drive, that sent water gushing onto surrounding streets and homes
Sunday, October 18, 2009 8:00 PM
Last year, in my editorial entitled “The Perfect Storm”, I discussed the Southeast’s “killer” drought and the role water waste played in the current supply crisis in Georgia and its neighbors. Specifically, I postulated “while water shortages like those faced in Georgia are the result of a variety of factors, water inefficiency can be placed squarely near the top of the list.” In More...
Sunday, October 11, 2009 8:00 PM
(Dispatch from WaterSmart Innovations 2009)
Dan Bena, Director of Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment for PepsiCo delivered the opening keynote at WaterSmart Innovations 2009. The EPA recently named PepsiCo one their 2008 Water Efficiency Leaders, and in the May/June issue of Water Efficiency, we highlighted PepsiCo’s water conservation and sustainability efforts. (“ More...
Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:00 PM
In my April editorial “Divining Rods”, I stated, “With a finite amount of water available, it’s important that we use what we have wisely, but it’s equally important to find untapped sources that can supplement our current supplies and allow us to efficiently meet growing demand.” In Philadelphia, PA, that search for new sources has hit pay dirt in the form of stormwater control. A More...
Sunday, September 20, 2009 8:00 PM
This week, the online edition of the Desert Sun (www.mydesert.com) ran a news item on a surprise announcement by the Imperial Irrigation District and the Coachella Valley Water District—two of California’s biggest users of Colorado River water allotments. Turns out, both districts estimate that they will be need a significantly smaller amount of water this year than originally projected—the smallest amount, in fact, since they were r More...
Sunday, September 13, 2009 8:00 PM
This week I’m in Denver, CO, attending the Utilimetrics Smart Metering Conference and Exposition, aka Autovation. The conference covers metering primarily in the electric utility industry, but there’s plenty of discussion on the role AMR and AMI play in the quest for efficient water resource management.
As you know, automatic meter reading (AMR) involves the automatic collection of data from meters (water, gas, and electric). Once the data is collected, it is transferred to a centra More...
Monday, September 07, 2009 8:00 PM
As editor of Water Efficiency’s sister publication, Distributed Energy, I’ve heard a lot about the “smart grid” and its potential to shift our energy infrastructure into a modern—and more efficient—incarnation. No wonder then, that an article posted this week on CNET news caught my eye. Entitled “IBM Dives into ‘smart grid for water,’ More...
Sunday, August 30, 2009 8:00 PM
This week, Los Angeles, CA, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that, due to concerted efforts on the part of private homeowners and government agencies, the city of Los Angeles had managed to reduce its water consumption by 17%, in July of this year. While multi-family residences measured the smallest reduction (8%), private homes achieved a 20% reduction, as government buildings drop More...
Sunday, August 23, 2009 8:00 PM
When it comes to unintended consequences, there is no greater example of good intentions gone wrong than the complicated relationship between renewable energy and water. Many of you are probably aware that biofuels can be water intensive, depending on the source. In general, it takes about 4 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of biofuel, but it can take upwards of 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. But fuels are not the only water-intensive renewable power source.
Of cours More...
Sunday, August 16, 2009 8:00 PM
weeks back, a friend of mine asked my opinion on desalination, specifically a
proposed desalination plant in his hometown of San Diego, CA. As he said in his
message, “I am
not sold on this being the answer or even one of the answers to solving southern
California’s water problems.”
I responded that, at the moment,
the “cons” still outweigh the
“pros” when it comes to desalination as a solution for water scarcity. First
Sunday, August 09, 2009 8:00 PM
my July blog for Water Efficiency’s sister publication, Distributed
Energy, I appropriated the age old question of a tree falling in the woods
by asking “if
a green building stands empty, is it still “sustainable?”
After reviewing some of today’s water headlines, I’m beginning to wonder if the
same holds true for conveyanc More...
Monday, August 03, 2009 8:00 PM
interesting article by Shaun McKinnon (“Rural Areas Face Challenge to Find Next
Water Source”), in Monday’s Arizona Republic details how some
rural areas near the Colorado river are dealing not with the 100-year question
that plagues many urban centers—how to guarantee that over the next century
there will be enough water to supply the needs of their community—but with a
much more immediate issue: how to guarantee they will have enough water a ye More...
Sunday, July 26, 2009 8:00 PM
you run that tap or flush that toilet, you may be able to estimate how many
gallons you’re using, but how many kilowatts are going down the drain? The
question is not far-fetched when you consider that, by most estimates, 3% of the
nation’s energy resources are tied up to water. And that 3% is based on a narrow
focus: the water-use cycle of collection, treatment, and delivery. When the
water cycle is adjusted to include consumer usage, you get a total energy demand
Sunday, July 19, 2009 8:00 PM
Over the weekend, I spent some time
frolicking in the Nevada desert just south of Las Vegas. Okay … frolicking might
not be the right word, considering the temperature got as high as 122 degrees.
In that kind of extreme environment, any patch of blue or green is a miracle to
behold and the winding Colorado River—sparkling blue under a cloudless
sky—almost mocks you with its apparent abundance as thousands of gallons of
water rush by on their way to thirsty southern Califor More...
Sunday, July 05, 2009 8:00 PM
I stated in my April 2009 editorial,
due to increased interest in water conservation and
rainwater catchment is “poised to become not just an interesting side note, but
also a powerful tool for water-strapped cities and states.”
(Divining Rods, Elements 2010)
Known as either
rainwater catchment or harvesting, the process is quite simple and can More...
Sunday, June 28, 2009 8:00 PM
On June 24, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6–3 decision that the discharge of 210,000 gallons of mining waste did not violate the Clean Water Act (CWA). On the surface, the decision sounds counterintuitive. After all, how could dumping a couple hundred gallons of potentially toxic mining waste into a 23-acre lake outside Juneau, Alaska, not impact water quality and thus run counter to the intent of the CWA? After all, according the EPA’s own Web site, the CWA is “the cornerstone of surface water quality p... More...
Monday, June 22, 2009 8:00 PM
With all the staid news about rising water rates and the need
for increased water quality vigilance, I couldn’t help but take a time-out to
read about a new—and potentially deadly—drought hazard in the middle east: Dead
Sea sink holes.
According to a story by the Associated Press,
an extreme water shortage in and around the Dead
Sea has created underground craters that R More...
Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:00 PM
in San Diego, CA this week, attending the AWWA’s annual Conference and
Exposition (ACE 09). Interestingly enough, the conference program includes a
welcome letter from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who heads a state
all too familiar with the challenges and hardships associated with ever
increasing demand in the face of diminishing water supplies.
is not the only governor dealing with water resource management issues and
concerns. This Su More...
Sunday, June 07, 2009 8:00 PM
A recent headline over at
Bloomberg News—“Water Fights, Wandering
Homeless Are Planet’s Future”—brought to mind the first editorial I wrote for Water
Efficiency. Writing under the title, “Can Melting Ice Caps Inspire
Sabotage?” I summarized the 2007 London
conference entitled “Climate Change: The Global Security Impact,” where experts
warned global warming could exacerbate refugee issues as more of the world’s
poor found More...
Sunday, May 31, 2009 8:00 PM
July is Smart Irrigation Month, southern California is jumping the gun with a
series of strict restriction on outdoor water usage. In Los Angeles, June 1
marks the beginning of mandatory conservation restrictions designed to reduce
city water use by 15%. For those who love their green lawns, these restrictions
mean that their sprinklers can only run Mondays and Thursdays, with enforcement
to be handled by the city’s “drought police.”
Monday, May 25, 2009 8:00 PM
mother has a favorite saying, “We all make our own hell.” Of course, what she
means is that we are all ultimately accountable
for the situation we find ourselves in, and it’s up to each of us to find our
own solutions. When it comes to water resource management, we’re lucky to have so many options,
from infrastructure improvements to leak detection, to resource management via
AMR/AMI and data integration. But what if those options weren’t available? Or,
Monday, May 18, 2009 8:00 PM
It’s a dilemma that faces many water purveyors: how to
balance urban and agricultural water needs, while protecting and maintaining
environmentally delicate water sources.
One need only
look to northern California’s Sacramento Delta for a real-world example
of just how difficult it is to manage competing demands while protecting a
In California, there has long been tension between the
relatively water-rich north and the arid south. Surrounded by More...
Sunday, May 10, 2009 8:00 PM
There’s nothing like watching a water-dropping helicopter
attack a seemingly impenetrable wall of fire blazing up in your own backyard to
make you understand the power and fragility of water. Last week, drought
conditions conspired with high winds to create a wildfire monster that
threatened almost every corner of Santa Barbara—my and Water Efficiency’s
hometown. As always, fire season in California—which officially starts this
week—highlights the prec More...
Sunday, May 03, 2009 8:00 PM
One of the most important tools for the water conservation
professional is public outreach. By motivating your community to be water
conscious and proactive in conservation and efficiency, not only can you reduce
demand but, also, you inspire smart water choices and conscientious resource
management. In that vein, the first part of the month—May 3 through 9—has been
designated as National Drinking Water Week.
the country, cities, states, and local utilities have j More...
Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:00 PM
The role of the water
purveyor—also known as any public
utility, mutual water company, county water district, or municipality that
delivers drinking water to customers—involves
a variety of responsibilities. Not only do water agencies control and manage
supply and delivery, but they must also handle everything from stormwater and
flood control to wastewater and water quality, habitat protection, and other
environmental concerns. As a result, the water purveyor is the ultimate More...
Sunday, April 19, 2009 8:00 PM
to an investigation by the Associated Press, “US manufacturers, including major
drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals
into waterways that often provide drinking water.” While we’ve focused a bit on
water treatment—especially in relation to reuse and reclamation—we haven’t spent
much time talking about water quality. Yet, the whole point of water efficiency
and conservation is to protect our water resour More...
Monday, April 13, 2009 8:00 PM
There’s a long history of
attempting to impact human behavior via economic incentives and penalties,
although the latter tends to take precedence: We often utilize additional “vice
taxes” to commodities and activities deemed unsavory (i.e. levies on alcohol and
tobacco purchases). But awarding positive action can be just as effective. Case
in point: cap and trade. While cap and trade is getting a lot of buzz as of
late—due to the Obama administration’s decision More...
Sunday, April 05, 2009 8:00 PM
Whether it was watching the four
horsemen of the apocalypse marching across the screen during the keynote
address, or holding the end of a 27-foot-long plastic pipe in Gary Klein’s
Plumbing for Water and Energy Efficiency—WaterEC
surprised me at every turn.
along, our goal with WaterEC was to host an international water efficiency
conference where different voices and perspectives could mingle under one
Sunday, March 29, 2009 8:00 PM
Earlier this year
I asked, “Can smart
water resource management really have a positive impact on a global scale? I
think it can, but only if we move beyond hoping for change by actively pursuing
real-world solutions.” This
week, I’ll be attending WaterEC—the first annual Water Efficiency
Conference & Exposition—where I’m excited to interact with the Water
Efficiency audience while learning first hand about some of the & More...
Sunday, March 22, 2009 8:00 PM
Regardless of how tech savvy you are, it’s likely that you’ve
noticed the rise of social networking from a niche, college-based pastime to a
full-fledged cultural phenomenon.
It seems like nowadays everyone from your 12-year-old niece to your
retired parents can be found blogging or tweeting, and there’s no doubt that,
while a lot of this online activity can be categorized as pure entertainment,
the complex web of contacts and status updates can be a valuable tool.&n More...
Sunday, March 15, 2009 8:00 PM
been a lot of talk lately about the role of government
regulation within a
capitalist system. Can oversight
strict accountability coexist with a laissez-fair market? And should a
balance be struck between
private enterprise and public good?
Those are tricky questions that beg complex answers, but what if we
switch the subject of the discussion from economics to natural
specifically, what if the shorage wasn’t dollars, More...
Sunday, March 08, 2009 8:00 PM
Is China changing its tune? In August of last year, I discussed water use (and misuse) in China. Drowning the Dragon At the time, the Olympics were just around the corner, and all the preparation and fanfare surrounding the event had focused on China’s efforts to host a “green Olympics,” but very little attention—relatively speaking—had been paid to long-term effects of all this development. Specifically, how the radical rearrangement of Beijing’s urban landscape was adversely ef... More...
Sunday, March 01, 2009 7:00 PM
February 26, President Barack Obama unveiled
his first federal budget
proposal. With a tally of around
$3.6 trillion for the fiscal year (beginning October 1), you might wonder how
exactly this money will be spent.
For those of us concerned with water efficiency and conservation, there’s
good news—several billion dollars have been set aside for resource management on
every level, from source protection to treatment, and from delivery to end
use. The bu More...
Sunday, February 22, 2009 7:00 PM
After months of anticipation, last
week President Obama finally signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act. Known colloquially as the
“stimulus package,” the Act promises to deliver $787 billion in funds with the
purpose of shoring up our weakened economy through job creation and a variety of
other incentives and government programs.
For a country anxious about the
future and hungry for solutions, the hope is that the Act can breath new life
Sunday, February 15, 2009 7:00 PM
returning from a much-needed vacation only to find your house flooded due to an
unchecked leak or water main break.
What if the damage were not immediately apparent, and a smaller leak
resulted in an astronomical water bill during the exact period you were away
from home? Without visual
confirmation, could you trust your water utility?
In October 2008, I
wrote abo More...
Monday, February 09, 2009 7:00 PM
It’s been a rainy couple of days here in Santa Barbara, just enough
to fill up a few puddles and trigger a few freeway fender benders. Spring, or perhaps “pre-spring,” showers
in southern California always serve to highlight a few
normally dormant concerns: mudslides in last season’s burn areas, flooding as a
result of clogged storm drains, and beach contamination due to runoff. But as I watched the rain splash along
the street and heard it tripping down the gut More...
Sunday, February 01, 2009 7:00 PM
San Diego, CA, right now, preparing to attend Distributech, a conference and
exhibition focused on automation and control systems, including AMR and AMI for
electric and water utilities. Automatic
meter reading (AMR) involves the automatic collection of data from meters
(water, gas, and electric). Once the data is collected, it is transferred to a
central database for analysis and metering. Of greatest benefit to a water
utility is the possibility of measuring actual consumpt More...
Sunday, January 25, 2009 7:00 PM
Finally, it appears relief is on the way. The new House version of the economic
recovery bill that passed earlier this month includes $19 billion in funding for
water and environmental projects nationwide. With hopes of a windfall that could make
previously impossible public works projects feasible, everyone from the State
government level on down is priming the pump to make sure they receive their
Some potential projects revealed so far include a reverse
Sunday, January 18, 2009 7:00 PM
of my favorite stories this week is the news out of Tampa that the Southwest
Florida Water Management District plans to pull about 3.8 million gallons of
water a day for a month out of a small sinkhole. The hope is that these
supplemental gallons will be able to mitigate some of the drought-heightened
demand for water in the area.
Additionally, there are hopes that the infusion of millions of gallons of
freshwater will reduce the salinity of the downstream from the Hillsboroug More...
Sunday, January 11, 2009 7:00 PM
The new year always ushers in a slate of new laws and 2009 is no exception, but this year, the rules include standards, orders, and regulations designed to promote water conservation and efficiency.
In California, three new laws involve water quality monitoring, source protection, and water efficiency. The state’s new bottled water labeling law requires bottled water providers to list the source of their water on the bottle and supply consumers with online reports on the quality of the source More...
Tuesday, January 06, 2009 7:00 PM
of you following the Delta-smelt decision in California and the resulting water
shortages are aware of the contentious relationship between the northern and
southern parts of the state when it comes to the management of local water
resources. A recent panel
recommendation seems designed to stir up the drama by proposing that the state
begin construction of a canal to divert water from the Sacramento River as soon
panel is not alone in its recommen More...
Sunday, December 28, 2008 7:00 PM
At the annual Sourcing USA Summit (a biannual meeting,
jointly hosted by Cotton Council International and Cotton Inc., that “gathers
global leaders along the cotton supply chain for an open exchange of ideas”),
Senior Vice President, Center
for Strategic and International Studies gave a presentation
“Outlook for Global Water: Can We Stay Above the
Why do cotton growers
care about water supplies, and why ar More...
Sunday, December 21, 2008 7:00 PM
It’s that time of year when lists reign supreme – wish lists
for the ubiquitous Mr. Claus, shopping lists for your holiday feasts, and
everyone’s favorite, your list of new year’s resolutions. Of course all lists are created equal,
but there’s something about the dawn of a new 12-month cycle that adds extra
weight and power to those efforts to tabulate and number your wants, needs, and
Ask and ye shall receive – that’s the spirits More...
Sunday, December 14, 2008 7:00 PM
It’s a rainy Monday here in California, and the morning began
with the kind of steady downpour that fills the gutters to the brim and almost
banishes the reality of water as a finite resource. Almost. A quick look at the front page of the
newspaper tells a different story.
In Los Angeles County, homeowners on the outskirts of Lancaster are
caught in a bind: what was billed as an up and coming gated community has in
fact turned into a water-short ghost town, complete More...
Sunday, December 07, 2008 7:00 PM
I’ve just returned from a trip to Spain, a country that’s
certainly seen its share of water woes.
has suffered a water shortage for almost two years, and by spring of 2008 it had
only received a third of the average seasonal rainfall. With reservoirs less than half full, the
country is gripped in its worst drought since the 1940s. And in Catalonia the situation is even
worse: Reservoirs are less than a fifth full, and, in April, Barcelona – a More...
Sunday, November 30, 2008 7:00 PM
Discussing imbedded water costs and the influence of free
trade and a global economy -
Let’s talk about “virtual water.” Defined as “imbedded water costs,” the
idea behind virtual water is that any product – be it food or commercial goods”
– requires a certain amount of water to be produced. Once a water scarce region identifies
goods that come with a high virtual water cost, they can develop regional More...
Sunday, November 23, 2008 7:00 PM
“Whiskey is for
drinking. Water is for fighting
over.” – Mark
As with any scarce resource, water is valued – and fought
over – throughout the world. With
exponential population growth, an ever-increasing consumerist class (and all
their attendant demands and requirements), and longer, dryer droughts deviling
every continent, those fights over water are only going to get more and more
Monday, November 17, 2008 7:00 PM
offices are located in Santa Barbara, CA, a city of some 80,000 inhabitants that
has made it into the national news for the fifth time in less that two years
with yet another serious fire.
Named the “Tea
Fire” because of its birth in an abandoned but oft-trespassed tea
house in the foothills of neighboring Montecito, as of today (November
18th) the blaze is close to full containment after burning some 2,000
acres,destroying 210 residences, and da More...
Sunday, November 16, 2008 7:00 PM
the editor of Onsite Water Treatment (a sister publication that is still
available online ), I began to see how decentralization and efficiency are two sides of the same
coin: both offer solutions for reducing demand and controlling waste. Adding water reuse into the mix further
transforms decentralized water treatment into a powerful water conservation
a mentioned in a previous blog, decentralized wate More...
Sunday, November 09, 2008 7:00 PM
are the pros and cons of turf replacement programs? It’s an important question. After all, a majority of water use (and
a good portion of water waste) happens outside. As a result, modifying traditional
landscaping to reduce demand has become a major conservation tactic for
communities throughout the country.
a discussed in a previous blog, Las Vegas has a very successful turf replacement
program that has spawned imitations in other water-sta More...
Sunday, November 02, 2008 7:00 PM
All along, Water Efficiency has been banging the drum of smart water resource management. All of our stories as well as the many technologies, products and services we have highlighted over the last 18 months have focused on one central theme: the efficient administration and conservation of water resources. And now it’s time to take it to the next level… WaterEC aims to bring the objectives and philosophies of the magazine to life in a forum where anyone and everyone who fits under the twin umbre... More...
Sunday, October 26, 2008 8:00 PM
On October 22, 2008,
American Rivers released its report on the Southeast’s water crisis. Entitled “Hidden Reservoir: Why Water
Efficiency Is the Best Solution for the Southeast.” The report essentially states that
improvements in water efficiency—demand reduction, pipe and pump rehabilitation,
low-flow fixtures, and smart irrigation—will result in a bigger retu More...
Sunday, October 19, 2008 8:00 PM
While attending one of my first conferences as the editor of
Water Efficiency, I wandered into a presentation about the importance of
public outreach and marketing for small water utilities. Truth be told, I was hopelessly lost and
had actually intended sit in on a panel about automatic meter reading. But the speaker had already begun by the
time I realized my mistake, and so I stayed put – convinced that whatever I was
going to hear would have little to do with water More...
Sunday, October 12, 2008 8:00 PM
I spent a lot of time on the road last week, traversing the
great state of Nevada from its Northern tip to its Southern valley. I spent five consecutive days
inside planes and cars, in hotel rooms and conference halls—even wandering
around a casino or two. Desperate
for sunlight and fresh air, I eventually braved the heat and wind of Las Vegas
to spend some downtime at the hotel pool.
From the inside it beckoned, a glittering oasis of cool blue water and
Sunday, October 05, 2008 8:00 PM
If you didn’t get a chance to read about the almost-$10,000
water bill issued to an Ogden, Utah man, it’s well worth taking a look. (For the
full story, go here.)
In August, Rick Baur was billed $9,700 for the alleged use of
1.4 million gallons of water. Baur does not run a car wash or own a large farm,
nor does he live on a large piece of landscaped property (by his own
calculations, he irriga More...
Sunday, September 28, 2008 8:00 PM
story #1: Due to the collapse of the US housing market, mayors
in many parts of Florida have been warned that their municipal tax base will
likely shrink by $1.5 trillion this year.
story #2: Last week, Buffalo, NY’s comptroller’s office confirmed that rising
interest rates on the variable
rate bonds used to finance improvements to the municipal water system have cost
the city an additional
$90,000 in borrowing costs.
all k More...
Sunday, September 21, 2008 8:00 PM
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the American
Rainwater Catchment Systems Association’s (ARCSA) annual conference in Santa
Monica, CA. The theme of the conference was “Water – The New California Gold
Rush,” and a variety of professional voices presented ideas great and small
regarding the justification for and the installation of rainwater catchment
systems not only in California, but also throughout the country.
Some fun facts:
Sunday, September 14, 2008 8:00 PM
In our latest issue, we focus on Bullhead City, AZ’s decision
to switch from decentralized wastewater treatment to a centralized system that
incorporates water reuse. (Taking
the Bull by the Horns ) As the article points
out, among the many benefits resulting form this infrastructure overhaul is the
added protection to the increasingly threatened Colorado River basin.
Sometimes dit More...
Sunday, September 07, 2008 8:00 PM
Whether you like it or not, we are in the middle of a water
crisis. You can blame it on climate
change or aging infrastructure or green-lawn addicts, but whichever devil you
choose the outcome is still the same: a diminishing supply struggling to meet an
Decentralized water systems (both treatment and delivery) can
attack the problem of a shrinking water supply in two ways. First, advances in water reuse now allow
for pristine, potable-qua More...
Tuesday, September 02, 2008 8:00 PM
It’s an age-old argument: How much should we be held
accountable for as individuals, and at what point should the government step in
to help? When it comes to water conservation and efficiency, the question
becomes even more complex: Can public outreach and a call to action be enough to
inspire change, or will real results happen only after rules and regulations are
enacted and enforced?
We’ve highlighted several successful public outreach programs
in the magazine. Commu More...
Thursday, August 21, 2008 8:00 PM
This week, my
coworkers and I spent the afternoon touring the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in
order to learn more about their new, state-of-the-art irrigation system.
of Horticulture for the Garden, demonstrated their computer interface system,
the capabilities of which were mind-boggling. (The system can handle up to 1,000
individual irrigation programs, and can communicate with both EV sensors and the
Garden’s weather system.) Once we had a handle on the More...
Thursday, August 14, 2008 8:00 PM
Prayers for rain, water cops on the beat, artificial turf blanketing large swathes of outdoor space…welcome to drought in the good ol’ USA. Throughout the country, communities finding themselves in the grips of a water crisis are exploring all manner of water conservation and efficiency tactics. Some work better than others, but, so far, widespread panic seems to have been averted. But if you’re wondering just how bad it can get, look no further than Australia. Southeastern Australia has been battling a... More...
Sunday, August 10, 2008 8:00 PM
Much has been made of 2008 being the
year of the “green Olympics.” In fact, for the past few years, China in general
and Beijing in particular have touted a variety of projects designed to mitigate
the environmental impact not only of the games—and the estimated 3 million
foreign and domestic visitors—but of a country and its people who are in the
process of shedding some ancient ideas and practices for a new set of modern
ideals and concerns.
On the eve of t More...
Sunday, August 03, 2008 8:00 PM
At the AWWA’s
training seminar Water Demand and Conservation Management: Planning, Policy,
and Rates in April of 2007, participants were encouraged to speak up about
the issues and problems they faced.
I will never forget the frustrations described by the water utility
manager of an affluent New England community. He told us all about his utilities’ many
failures: the pleas for conservation that fell on deaf ears, the tiered-rate
schemes that did nothing t More...
Sunday, July 27, 2008 8:00 PM
the last several years, the Southern Nevada Water Association (SNWA) has
experienced great success with its turf replacement program. Under the program, SNWA pays property
owners $1.50 per square foot for grass removed and replaced with a
water-efficient landscape, including artificial turf. According to its Web site, SNWA estimates that by replacing thirsty lawns
with “water-smart” alternatives, the average property owner can save thousands
of gallons per year.& More...
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:00 PM
At the AWWA’s
training seminar Water Demand and Conservation Management: Planning, Policy,
and Rates in April of 2007, participants were encouraged to speak up about
the issues and problems they faced.
I will never forget the frustrations described by the water utility
manager of an affluent New England community. He told us all about his utilities’ many
failures: the pleas for conservation that fell on deaf ears, the tiered-rate
schemes that did nothing t More...
Thursday, July 10, 2008 8:00 PM
In many parts of the country, water utilities depend on
tiered rate structures to promote water conservation: the idea being that as the gallons
increase, the cost goes up and the water usage will decline. This works…sometimes. There will always be that one customer
who cherishes his lawn and is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep his jewel
In the United States,
3/4ths of water systems are public, which affords us the luxury of using water
rates t More...
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 8:00 PM
Welcome to Water Efficiency's new Web site. If you’re
reading this, you’re one of the first to experience our beta site, and we’re
glad to have you on board to help us test the waters, try out the site’s new
features, and let us know what you think. We’ve always made the content of the
magazine available online, but now it’ll be much easier for you to find current
articles as well as browse and search through past issues to find exactly what
you need. Yo More...