Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heroes in a time of drought

Brook Sarson: 

Brook Sarson, a San Diego resident, is doing her part to decrease human impact on Earth's ever-decreasing water supply. Sarson has a 1,300 gallon rainwater tank in her backyard for her family's water needs and uses greywater from her laundry machine and shower to hydrate her enviable backyard garden. Sarson reports that she uses about twenty gallons a day per family member from her rainwater tank and since using the tank her water bills have been cut in half. In addition to cutting down on water usage and saving money, Sarson's garden has produced ten times more food since beginning her water-harvesting endeavors. She claims that not only is her backyard for her and her children, it is also a symbol of how things should be. For information on Brooke Sarson's water harvesting company, H2OME, email or call 619.964.4838

Tom Warner:

Tom Warner, a Talmadge resident, let his green lawn die when the unending drought and ever-increasing water bills forced him to stop watering grass. He states that, "unless you have a dog or children, you don't necessarily need a lawn". That is why Warner turned to rockscapes. He purchased Mediterranean and tropical drought-tolerant plants for $300 and collected rocks from his friend's yard for free and, voila, a low-hassle, low-cost, guilt-free front yard. Warner will turn off his irrigation from winter to spring. Then, Dockery suggests watering deep and allowing soil to dry up before the next sprinkling. Roots learn to search out water below the surface, he explains.

“Our kind of feeling about plants is push them a little bit,” agreed Marty Eberhardt, executive director of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College. “Try the low end and then give it a little bit more water instead of giving it so much everyday.” Eberhardt says low-flow toilet rebates have been around for years, but there’s been little emphasis on outdoor landscape - which consumes 50 to 70 percent of San Diego’s dwindling and largely imported water supply.

Warner leaves us with a personal mantra, "Where there is a rock, you don't have to water". 

Joe Randazzo

"It's the best move I've ever made," says Joe Randazzo of investing in AstroTurf to replace his natural-grass front lawn. Tired of the maintenance of a grass lawn and plagued by increasing water bills from watering, Randazzo decided to switch to the polyethelene synthetic grass. According to him, people don't even know the grass is synthetic! By installing the AstroTurf and landscaping simply with water-wise planters, Randazzo has cut costs by saying goodbye to gas for the lawnmower, the entire sprinkler system, fertilizer, and half of the water bill. Now, instead of caring for the lawn, his formerly least favorite chore, he now only waters the planters by hand every couple of weeks. 

There are certain drawbacks to having a synthetic front lawn, though. First of all, the artificial grass is made using petroleum, which is a finite resource like water.  Also, the instillation of a artificial lawn can be quite pricey, costing a homeowner up to $6,000 for a 20x30 yard. Furthermore, barbecues and other gas-operated machinery should be steered clear of. Lastly, the grass can get very hot so you must keep that in mind if you picture children playing on the lawn.

Randazzo doesn't play on his front lawn, though, and claims that the high cost of the lawn will pay for itself in the way of no water bills or maintenance fees. Randazzo points out that he certainly doesn't want to run out of water because, "without water, we run out of everything". This mentality should be shared by all of us on Earth because of the effects of wasteful water practices. 

Ken Muehleman

Like an child ready to play, Ken Muehleman is eager to share the area nearest to his heart: a 400-square-foot organic vegetable garden, smack alongside busy Catalina Boulevard. The electrical engineer harvests a bounty of greens from oregano to arugala, snow peas to swiss chard. “Gardening is the prime motivator,” said Ken gesturing to the crop of spring vegetables. “But the challenge is to do it in the most efficient way, to get the most while not wasting water.”

Here’s how he does it: soaker hoses and drip irrigation concentrate moisture where it’s needed most, laying newspaper and wood chips over the dirt reduces evaporation, and vetch groundcover enriches soil and saves water. Conserving, composting, even his worm bed are all part of being a global citizen, Ken figures, especially in a place that is warming and drying.

“They talk about people watering only two or three times a week. I find that very hard to take,” Ken gestures to his heart as he talks of the county mandates. “We like to see if we can water once a week and grow decent vegetables.”

Not a New Problem

Southern California has always had a problem with water- a problem getting the water from where it was to where the people that needed it lived. In San Diego, they solved the problem by building a dam, and building six miles of aqueduct to get it to the Mission Valley area. This happened in 1769. The problem is exactly the same today as it was then — getting the water to the people who need it.
Of course, the problem is compounded by the fact there are several million people who need the water, and that the water is now in very short supply. The bigger problem, though, is the fact that fully 90 percent of the water people need is not six miles away, but hundreds of miles away — in Northern California and in the Colorado River.
How did San Diego get into this fix? Click on the link below to read about the history of water supply issues in San Diego...

One Small Sip for Man and a Giant Gulp of Recycled Urine For Mankind

Wednesday, May 20th made history as the day that NASA astronauts took their first drink of water recycled from their urine, sweat, and water that is condensed when air is exhaled. Astronaut Michael Barratt claims that, "the taste is great". While the American side of the space station is drinking water made from urine, sweat, and exhaled air, the Russian side of the station is only producing water from the last of the three. 

The urine recycling system is used at outposts on the moon and on Mars. This innovative system will save NASA money on water transportation to space and will allow crews on the space station to consist of six people instead of three. How, you may ask, is drinkable water created from urine? Well, it's quite simple, actually. The new system takes the combined urine of the crew from the toilet, moves it to a big tank, where the water is boiled off, and the vapor collected. The rest of contaminants — the yucky brine in the urine — is thrown away, said Marybeth Edeen, the space station's national lab manager who was in charge of the system. The water vapor is mixed with water from air condensation, then it goes through filters, much like those put on home taps, Edeen said. When six crew members are at the space station, they can make about six gallons of urine in about six hours.

Edeen also points out that the drinking of recycled urine also occurs on Earth, although with more time between urine and the tap. In space the process only takes about one week. This system has already been used for quick water purification after the 2004 Asian tsunami. While this technology has only been embraced by those floating in space thus far, it is still a glimmer of hope for us Earthlings. With this kind of technology, waste water can be reused, reducing our impact on the world's natural water supply. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Irresponsible Fear-Mongering Advertisement from Rescue Rooter

I received this irresponsible fear-mongering from "Rescue Rooter" just the other day. I'm angered to see such an irresponsible advertising campaign. Tertiary reclaimed water is safe to drink and a great option. Please let "Rescue Rooter" know that you disapprove of this marketing strategy by boycotting their services.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Shout-Out On The Drought by Larry Himmel

a clever take on our water situation from CBS reporter Larry Himmel...

Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
Squandered when we wash the car, wasted in the kitchen sink.
Too much agua on the lawn and in the garden too
We need to make some changes, and it's up to me and you.

You know it wasn't that long ago when folks used to say
To be healthy we had to drink at least eight glasses a day.
And we all carried gallon jugs, it became of trendy fashion.
It now appears that eight glasses will become our monthly ration.

There will be mandatory rationing until we change our ways.
Unless you're rich enough to water your grass with Perriers.
And the city will hand out fines, if our water use does increase.
You could be handcuffed and rubber hose-whipped by the water police.

Now I'm not being flippant, this comes from the heart.
We're all in this together, so let's just play it smart.
Water at a later hour for a shorter amount of time.
Sprinkle just three days a week and soon will all be fine.

Now I'm not suggesting that we take a backwards path.
And return to the days when folks only took a Saturday night bath.
Or limit your total hygiene to a toothbrush and a sponge
And turn America's Finest City into the city of the grunge.

Soon it will be mandatory to save every precious drop.
And change the way we live after the rationing will stop.
But I'll ask the city and county with all of my silly poems
If we live in the parched desert, why do we keeping building homes?

But let's all roll up our hoses and plant for xeroscape.
Wash the car after 6, until were out of our current scrape.
If we don't change our ways, soon we'll be a fruitless plain.
Heed the warning, turn off the tap and then let's pray for rain.

Click Here
for the video.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Does Rehoboth Beach DE Know It's H2O?

The City of Rehoboth Beach has to decide what to do with it's wastewater now that it has to stop dumping into the canal by 2011 and Surfrider enthusiastically supports LBA. LBA or spray irrigation is a universally accepted method for treating and reclaiming waste water into irrigation water for farmers, whereas an ocean outfall is a pipe leading out into the ocean which discharges treated effluent from a sewage treatment plant. Each year billions of gallons of fresh water are lost from effluent discharge into water bodies.

Please click the link below, sign the petition and send it to your friends and family.

From the action alert: "Spray irrigation will help Delaware agriculture, recharge groundwater aquifers, keep water in the watershed, not the ocean; create sustainable farming, maintain open space for farming & recreation, and is an economically proven and permissible technology. Spray irrigation helps replenish our diminishing ground water aquifers while an ocean outfall puts all waste water in the ocean and none goes to Delaware agriculture. An ocean outfall empties billions of gallons of freshwater into the ocean each year, which cannot be reclaimed or recycled into the ground water. With the population growth causing an increasing demand on Delaware's water supply and waste water capacity, we need a system which will be able to process more waste water while preserving precious fresh water for the future."