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Apr 19
2010

Warm and Dry - Summer 2010 Weather Prediction Thus Far

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

After two years of wet, cool and grey summer (2008 and 2009), senior climatologist David Phillips with Environment Canada has said that the region should be returning to seasonably hot, hazy, humid and dry days this June, July and August.

The official forecast doesn't come out until June 1st but indications at this time are that it will be a dry summer compared to the last 2 years.

Jul 21
2009

Bottled Water - Share Your Thoughts

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , General

Geoff Jones

The discussion on bottled water certainly generates a lot of different and very strong opinions.  I think the best way to form an opinion is to gather as much information and as many viewpoints as possible.  Only after we have shared our views and listened objectively to the opinions and views of others can we truly work toward a better solution.

 

Let’s talk about it a bit today and get some more input.

Jun 04
2009

Rainwater Harvesting Can Help Protect Our Water

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

Many people look to Rainwater Harvesting primarily due to the benefits it provides in helping to meet irrigation demand and reduce dependency on municipal or well water supplies primarly during the summer months when outdoor water use increases. It also allows people to continue to irrigate there plants, shrubs, gardens, vegetables etc. during drought when watering bans are in place. These are all great benefits that we can all realize by using rainwater harvesting but there is another benefit that is often overlooked that I want to touch on today just to make you aware of it.

Rainwater Harvesting can help to reduce and manage stormwater flows.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is basically the water that flows from parking lots, roof tops, driveways, roads, lawns, fields etc. that is not absorbed into the ground during a rainfall event. This stormwater is typically redirected through storm sewers back out to lakes and rivers. Although some people might assume it is, stormwater is not treated before it is discharged into these surface water areas.

Jun 02
2009

Save Water & Money with a Low-Flow Showerhead

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

We often talk about many more advanced technologies in the water conservation area but it is certainly worth repeating that there are some simple solutions that can also have a significant impact on how much water we use.   The low-flow showerhead is one of those technologies. 

 

Shower heads before 1992 used approximately 5gpm (19 L/m) or more.  In 1992 laws were passed (like the Federal Energy Policy Act in the US) which restricted all faucet fixtures manufactured in the US to a maximum flow rate at or below 2.5gpm at 80psi or 2.2gpm at 60psi.  So along came the low flow showerhead.  The maximum flow of a low-flow showerhead should be 2.5gpm (9.5L/m) and they have been around for almost 2 decades in N.A.  Surprisingly, however, there are still hundreds of thousands of homes that are still using the older water wasting showerheads. 

May 29
2009

Outdoor Water Use Restrictions and Programs

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , General

Geoff Jones

Outdoor watering restrictions are becoming more and more common place for many regions in Ontario, particularly those dependant (although not exclusively) on ground and surface water. 

 

Watering restrictions have had a significant reduction on water demand during hot summer months over the past years.  Did you know that to put 1" of water on a 10ft x 10ft section of grass you need about 235L of water (assuming 100% efficiency).  For a relatively small 20x30ft yard this would be about 1400L each week, almost 30,000L of water for a typical 20 week summer season.  Imagine this additional demand accross say 50,000 homes in an region; that would be almost 1.5 billion liters (1,410,000,000L) of water demand just for irrigating lawns alone.

May 06
2009

City of Guelph Greywater Pilot Project

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , Greywater Recycling

Geoff Jones

The City of Guelph, located in southern Ontario, has officially launched its Greywater Pilot Project to evaluate greywater systems in residential applications.  The program is designed to allow the City to gather data for analysis of greywater recycling as a key technology to help reduce water demand and wastewater flows.

 

ECOShift has been working closely with the City of Guelph since inception of the project to help define a greywater project which will provide valuable feedback on day to day use of greywater technology in homes with families just like yours.  The program will allow the City to gather important information on water and wastewater savings through the use of greywater recycling technology by installing 30 units in both new construction and select retrofit residential applications.   

Feb 17
2009

Above vs. Below Ground Rainwater Systems

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , Rainwater Harvesting

Geoff Jones

One question that is asked quite often is in regard to above ground rainwater systems vs. below ground rainwater systems. As a result of the number of inquiries we have had on this topic it seemed appropriate to discuss some of the situations or considerations associated with the 2 different types of systems. It certainly isn't about one being better than the other, they just have different points that should be looked at when trying to make the decision of why to choose one system or the another.

There are a few points we will discuss in this regard to try and give you some insight into a comparison of the 2 types of systems. We are definitely not going to touch on all the considerations necessary when looking at the 2 types of systems but let's at least look at a few for starters.

Climate

One key factor in choosing a rainwater system is the climate in the area in which you live. For those located in more southern areas where temperatures seldom, or never, reach 0 degrees Celsius (32F) an above ground system can operate all year round. However, many people live in areas where for many months during the year an above ground system would be at risk of freezing. Any connections to/from the system could freeze, the pump system could freeze, and the water stored within the tank could freeze. This is obviously an issue as freezing water can cause significant damage to equipment. If you use, or want to use your rainwater system for applications that require year round operation then making sure your system is appropriately protected from colder temperatures. Buried tanks are installed below the frost line to avoid freezing in colder climates.

Aug 21
2008

Greywater System Savings Analysis

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , Greywater Recycling

Geoff Jones

Overview 

We all know the statistics surrounding water usage in the home.  If you are not familiar with them take a look at the pie chart below which outlines water usage in the home by end use. 

pie-chart-horizontal.jpg
Environment Canada has gone to great lengths to evaluate and determine these average water usage statistics.  Not to dispute these numbers but there will always be those who want to see some practical numbers to confirm the data.  So let's take a look at a real application here in Cambridge, Ontario. The greywater system installed in our home was installed March 18, 2008 and went online that evening.  So, how has it affected our water consumption so far?  We'll, let's take a look and do some analysis of the data so far to see how it's performing.

The Data 

Below are the usage numbers from our water bills for the past 24 months for easy comparison.  Billing is based on a 2 month period.  The table below shows the Total Consumption in cubic meters for each billing period starting from July 28, 2006 until July 30, 2008.  The table also shows the Average Daily usage based on the number of days per period.

Period

May 03
2008

Indoor and Outdoor Water Efficiency Tips

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

Efficient use of water can play a significant role in benefiting the environment, public health, and economics by helping to improve water quality, protect drinking water resources, maintain aquatic ecosystems, and ensure water supply for the future and today. By using water more efficiently we can also help mitigate the effects of drought and water shortages which are occurring more and more frequently around the world and in many parts of North America. Being water efficient is not only good for the environment but can also save you money on you water and energy bills.  Below you will find some tips to help you be more water efficient.

Indoor Tips - The Bathroom — over 65% of household water is used here:
  • Low Flow Showerhead.jpgInstall a low flow shower head and save about 50-60% of the water you use to shower.
  • Install low flow aerators on all your taps.
  • Don't let the water run while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • Take showers instead of baths. 
  • If you must use a tub, or just like to bath once in a while to relax, don't fill the tub before you get in.  If you fill the tub while you are in it you can save 50-70 liters of water per bath. 
  • Bathe small children together or one after another.
  • Never use your toilet as a waste basket.
  • Repair all leaks. To detect leaks in the toilet, add food coloring to the tank water. If the colored water appears in the bowl, the toilet is leaking. 
  • Repair all faucet leaks.  A single drip per second can waste around 7000 liters annually.
  • If you have a old 13.25 liter toilet, get it replaced with a new more efficient ultra low flush 6L toilet or a dual flush toilet (3L/6L).
  • Install a greywater recycling system to completely eliminate toilet water from your household water demand.  Click {ln:Brac Grey Water Systems 'here} to learn more.
  
Indoor Tips - Kitchen and Laundry - About 30% of household water is used here:
  • leaky faucet 3.jpgKeep drinking water in the refrigerator or use ice cubs instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Install an aerator to reduce water usage.
  • Do not use water to defrost frozen foods; thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Scrape your dishes prior to washing them in the dishwasher and only wash full loads.
  • If you need to replace your dishwasher look for a more efficient machine.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
  • Consider replacing your old top load washing machine with a more efficient front load machine when the time comes to replace it. New machines can save over 50% on water and energy use. 
  • Repair all faucet leaks.  A single drip per second can waste around 7000 liters annually.
  
Outdoor Tips - During the summer months many municipalities see water usage increase as much as 50% due to outdoor water use:
  • Rain Barrel - Color - Terracotta.jpgDetect and repair all leaks in irrigation system.
  • Use properly treated wastewater for irrigation where available.
  • Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best). Do not water on windy days.
  • Water trees and shrubs, which have deep root systems, longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants that require smaller amounts of water more often. Check with a local irrigation expert for advice on watering.
  • Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and cut down on weed growth.
  • Set your sprinklers to water the lawn and/or garden only.  You won't make your driveway or sidewalk grow by watering it.
  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems which deliver water more directly to the roots for trees and shrubs.
  • Install smart watering technology which use moisture sensors on sprinkler systems.
  • Better yet, choose drought tolerant plant species which require little or no watering.
  • Remove thatch and aerate turf to encourage movement of water to the root zone.
  • Raise your lawn mower cutting height – longer grass blades help shade each other, reduce evaporation, and inhibit weed growth.
  • Choose drought tolerant grasses to avoid the need to water grasses designed for wet climates.
  • Consider a complete nature scape that is designed for your climate and will require little to no maintenance and irrigation. 
  • Use rainbarrels or a larger rainwater harvesting system to provide part or all of the water you need for irrigation.
  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Wash the car with water from a bucket, a pressure washer, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • When using a hose, control the flow with an automatic shut-off nozzle.  
  • Never let your hose run when you put it down. 
  • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation when the pool is not being used.
May 03
2008

Toilet Technology - A Quick Overview

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

Toilet technology has changed a lot in the past 30 years. Even though the basic function and purposeof a typical household toilet hasn't changed much there have been some significant improvements in the design of toilets. The key result of these changes is that toilets today perform better than toilets from 30 years ago, but use about 1/3 to 1/4 of the water to accomplish the same task.Now you might think to yourself, so, does it really matter? Let's just take a quick look at what this means.

Statistically the average person flushes between 5 and 7 times a day.Back inthe 60's and 70's a typical toiletwould flush upwards of18-20 liters of water per flush. Today, a similar toilet can flushjust as effectively with only 6L and some newer toilets around today as littleas 4.8 liters (Watersense approved).So this means thatduring a single day in the 70's the average person would flushbetween 90 and 125 liters down the toilet. That same person todaycan use as little as 24 to 34 liters to accomplish the same task. That means that over the course of one year using today's technology a single person would save between 25,000 and 34,000 liters of water.

Although there are many toilet design technologies that employ assistance tohelp a toilet flush (i.e. Pressure orVaccuum assisted models) we'll focus on looking at basic gravitytoilets as these are most common and probably what you have installed in your home today.

Feb 17
2008

Benefits Of Grey Water Recycling

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , Greywater Recycling

Geoff Jones

Introduction

First, let's take a quick look at why it's important to even care about the benefits of something like greywater recycling.  With water being so easily accessible in our homes today it's easy to forget about conservation and why we should care about something like reusing greywater within our homes.  However, although water is very easily accessible for many people around the world, it's not so easily accessible for a very large number of people.  According to WHO/UNICEF 2005, over 1.1 billion people (yes that's BILLION) do not have access to safe drinking water.  Hard to believe isn't it?  Something that we sometimes take for granted and is one of the most precious resources for sustaining life is clearly not taken for granted all over the world.  And to think, we use drinking water to flush our toilets. 

Closer to home (for those of us in N.A.) we should also consider a few more facts about water.  Even though approximately 70% of the world is covered with water only 2.5% of that water is actually fresh water.  Fresh water is the water that is suitable for drinking and bathing etc.  Of that 2.5% of fresh water more than 1.5% of it is locked in glaciers which leaves less than 1% of the water in the world accessible through lakes, streams, rivers and ground water sources.

Freshwater Statistics.jpg

In N.A. the Great Lakes supply water to more than 33 million people (approx. 9 million Canadians and 24 million Americans) yet only 1% of the waters of the great lakes are replenished each year by rain and snow melt.  Consider also the fact that without water there is no life, human or otherwise, and it should be quite clear that water, and the responsible use of water, should be on everyone's mind. 

Dec 30
2007

Reverse Osmosis System Efficiency

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

RO System 2.jpgThere are many options for the average consumer today to address their drinking water needs.  You can purchase from the various bottled water options, drink straight from your tap, or install a home filtration system to improve the quality of water you drink, and for some people, cook with.

From an efficiency standpoint it might be surprising for you to know that the most popular in home filtration system on the market, although very effective at removing impurities in water, is not so effective when considered from a water efficiency standpoint.  To understand why this is let's first take a very quick look at the basic process of purification as done in a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system.

The primary principle of Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems is to push water through a special membrane that will not allow impurities in the water to pass through.  This is accomplished via pressure so no direct electrical force is required to produce purified water in an RO system.  Many RO systems will contain pre and post filtering as well.  The purpose of the pre-filter is to help remove larger contaminants from the water and to prolong the life of the membrane which is the key "cleansing" step in generating pure water in an RO system.  By using pre-filtration the life of the primary membrane can be extended.  Sometimes pure water is considered by some to taste flat.  This is due to the elimination of all the contaminants (minerals etc.) that ultimately help give water its taste.  By using a charcoal filter in the post-filtration stage the water is "polished" to take away the "flatness" and give it a more appealing taste. 

Dec 08
2007

Rain Barrels - A Simple Rainwater System

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , Rainwater Harvesting

Geoff Jones

Rain Barrel - Color - Terracotta.jpgOne of the most basic forms of rainwater harvesting is the Rain Barrel.  In Southern Ontario, ever increasing water demands due to explosive population and industrial growth are putting more and more stress on our water systems.  In the summer months the additional demand for water due to irrigation and other outdoor uses is pushing some water treatment facilities, and ground water sources, to their limits.  This is apparent when we take a look at how many municipalities issue watering bans and restrictions during the summer months to help reduce the load on our water systems, and our water supplies.

One very simple approach to helping reduce the demand on our systems, and draw on ground water sources, is to use a rain barrel.  One of the simplest forms of rainwater harvesting, rain barrels can eliminate the need for any municipal water to maintain a healthy and flourishing garden.   Many people invest a significant amount of money and time in shrubs, plants, flowers and vegetables around their home.  Each may have a different purpose (i.e. food, visual appeal, privacy etc.) but to the homeowner, each is important.  By using a rain barrel (or multiple barrels) you can sustain all of these plants, or at least significantly reduce your potable water use depending on the rainfall in your area. Rain barrels are also a very low cost appraoch to getting introduced to rainwater harvesting and helping to create awareness of it's benefits.

How Much Water Can I Collect? 

Let's take a look at this for a minute.  Although it may not rain everyday, or even every week when we go through a dry spell, you might be surprised by how much water can be captured from your roof during a short, but good rainfall.  The basic formula is tha for every 1 inch of rainfall you can collect about 620 Gallons or 2250 Liters from a 1000sqft roof surface.

Dec 08
2007

Rainwater Harvesting, An Old Approach

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water , Rainwater Harvesting

Geoff Jones

Palace of Knossos - East Bastion.jpgRainwater harvesting and storage is not really a new concept or technology. There is evidence of rainwater collection systems that date back as far as 1000-2000 BC.  Although a very effective and relatively simple system for capturing and storing water, rainwater cisterns lost momentum in favour of centralized systems like we have today in our local municipalities and cities.  There are, I'm sure, many reason that rainwater harvesting lost popularity in certain areas. One reason could be increased urbanization, and demands on water supply by growing industry.  In addition, a focus on dams and groundwater sources as well as the convenience of piped water and centralized treatment may have taken away from some of the focus on rainwater harvesting.  Nobody is saying these things are bad but they, and many other factors  may have reduced the perceived need for and/or benefit of rainwater harvesting in certain areas of the world.  However, it would seem that once again we are realizing the value of systems used in the past as we begin to understand the impact of urbanization and a "never run out" mentality.  With the cost of maintaining aging water distribution systems, population explosion, as well as the need for conservation and management of storm water, rainwater harvesting is getting a lot of attention again. 

Rainwater collection and storage systems have been found in many places such as the island of Crete at the Palace of Knossos (approx. 1700BC).  The embedded picture shows and example of a water run-off channel which would channel rainwater. The ancient Romans were also masters in rainwater harvesting and in the construction of reservoirs.  Homes would have an atrium with uncovered catchment areas (pools) for collection of domestic water.  Later, as water demands increased covered cisterns were constructed to gather excess water that could not be stored in these shallow reservoirs and to further protect the water from contamination. 

One of the largest cisterns in the world is the Yerebatan Sarayi which is located on the European side of Instanbul Turkey,  constructed under Caesar Justinian (527-565 AD).  This cistern measures approximately 140 x 70 meters and can store around 80,000m³ (80 million liters).  The cistern ceiling is 8 meters high and is supported by 336 pillars with Corinthian capitals.  Yerebatan Sarayı means Sunken Cistern, but it is also called Yerebatan Sarnıçı, which means Sunken Palace. It is also often known as the Basilica Cistern.  As a quick point of interest this location was used in the James Bond movie, From Russia With Love.  See picture below.

Nov 21
2007

Global Water Crisis

Posted by Geoff Jones in Water

Geoff Jones

aral-sea.gifThe Global Water Crisis

Of all the water in the world, only 3% is fresh. Less than a third of 1% of this is available to humans. The rest is frozen in glaciers or polar ice caps, or is deep within the earth, beyond our reach. To put it another way, if 100 litres represents the world's water, little more than half a tablespoon of it is fresh water available for our use.

However, fresh water is essential to our existence, it allows us to produce food, manufacture goods and sustain our health. In fact, about 70% of our body is comprised of water.

Global water consumption has risen almost tenfold since 1900, and many parts of the world are now reaching the limits of their supply. World population is expected to increase by 45% in the next thirty years, while freshwater runoff is expected to increase by 10%. UNESCO has predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious worldwide problem.


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