April 2012: Buried No Longer – America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge

Buried No Longer: Report on America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge

American Water Works Association (AWWA) has issued a report, Buried No Longer: America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge, intended to bring the conversation about water infrastructure- the network of aging pipes through which U.S. household water is distributed – above ground.

Read the report: Buried No Longer: America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge.
After compiling a comprehensive picture of the nation’s water pipe inventory, AWWA has created an in-depth analysis of the nation’s water infrastructure renewal needs. And they’ve assigned a $1 trillion dollar plus price tag to it for the next 25 years.

Here’s a summary of what they’ve found:

1. The Needs Are Large.

2. Household Water Bills Will Go Up.

3. There Are Important Regional Differences.

4. There Are Important Differences Based on System Size.

5. The Costs Keep Coming.

6. Postponing Investment Only Makes the Problem Worse.

While the AWWA’s report offers data-filled analysis showing the extent of maintenance and repair necessary to maintain the U.S. water system, they stop short of offering solutions for financing these infrastructure investments.

So, how might one pay for a national investment of such scale?

We suggest a revisit to the report on financing sustainable water solutions, which offers a glass half-full perspective with tangible ideas on dealing with the cost of a leaky water system that loses six billion gallons of water each day. Find a summary in our March edition.

Read the report: Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure.

February 2012: NRDC Releases New Report on Rooftop Rainwater Capture

The National Resources Defense Council
Capturing Rainwater from Rooftops

The National Resources Defense Council has released a 25-page report on Capturing Rainwater from Rooftops. The report finds, “Rooftop rainwater capture is a simple, cost-effective approach for supplying water that promotes sustainable water management.”

Benefits of rainwater harvesting include:

  • Inexpensive, on-site supply of water that can be used for outdoor non-potable uses with little, if any, treatment, or for a variety of additional uses including potable supply with appropriately higher levels of treatment
  • Reduced (or no) energy and economic costs associated with treating and delivering potable water to end users because capture systems often use low-volume, non-pressurized, gravity fed systems or require only the use of a low power pump for supply
  • Reduced strain on existing water supply sources
  • Reduced runoff that would otherwise contribute to stormwater flows, a leading cause of surface water pollution and urban flooding

Some statistics from the report:

  • 270 billion gallons of water are used each week—a significant portion of it potable—to water 23 million acres of lawn in the United States. This watering bill costs $40 billion annually.
  • One study shows that the total annual volume of rainwater falling on rooftops in eight U.S. cities, if captured in its entirety, would be enough to meet the water supply needs of between 21% and 75% of that city’s population each year.

November 2011: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

Every Little Drop Hose Meter

Every Little Drop
is a company with a goal. That goal is to develop practical water-saving products for household use, from their soon-to-debut shower meter and multi-irrigation program meter, to the now available hose meter. Their ethos is water conservation, their method is simple: offer devices that meter water usage to promote awareness of how much is used in the home. The Every Little Drop Hose Meter starts with the garden.

Why is it beautiful? This new water-saving device, with robust plastic parts and intuitive technology, attaches directly to the hose to help monitor water usage. The hose meter displays the current volume of water used, the total volume used (up to 99,000 gallons or liters), and daily water consumption. This user-friendly, durable and water-wise tool sounds mighty fine to us.

Why is it useful? The hose meter takes the guesswork out of watering the lawn. No more keeping the hose on for 20 minutes and hoping the plants get enough water. By tracking water usage by volume, the battery-operated device shows when the lawn or garden has reached saturation point.

Why is it green?
Every drop counts. Research shows that when people see how much water they are using, they use less. Tools like the hose meter combine accessible technology and common sense to promote water conservation in the garden and at the household level.

To find out more about the Every Little Drop Hose Meter, click here.

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. Designs.


B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

October 2011

2011 Solar Decathlon
Maryland University’s “WaterShed”

Our in-house design guru, Sally Dominguez writes, “Even before we started making HOGS in the USA, we had our first Solar Decathlon customers when Cornell University bought HOGs for their 2007 Decathlon entry. Teams apply to the US Department of Energy with their proposals for a zero energy house. Grants are given to the top 19 entries to enable their teams to realize the designs in Washington DC. It’s a terrific initiative to demonstrate new and proven sustainable energy and water management strategies. This year’s winner, Maryland University’s “WaterShed” is near to our hearts for its comprehensive water collection and reuse strategies. See the engineering behind the “WaterShed” here.

©Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat
Maryland University’s “WaterShed” wins the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

Why is it beautiful? “Inspired by the rich, complex ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” the architecture distills its parts into an elegantly simple language. It’s a house that delivers beautiful design with its impressive sustainability achievements.

Why is it useful? The use of vegetation to filter wastewater is terrific but nothing beats the soon-to-be-patented “liquid desiccant waterfalls for humidity control” – a brilliant piece of biomimicry.

Why is it green?
Well, it’s covered with lush vegetation for a start!  The vegetation not only collects and filters the rainwater but provides thermal mass to regulate the temperatures inside the house.

Check out Sally’s blog for more BUG Designs.