Category Archives: SOLUTIONS

Solutions that solve the issues involving water.

EPA’s Strategy to Protect America’s Waters

Water World

The US Environmental Protection Agency plans to complete a full assessment of US water resources to establish a baseline for tracking progress as part of its recently released strategy for protecting America’s water resources. In “Coming Together for Clean Water,” EPA outlines a basic framework for how its water program will address the nation’s clean water challenges in the next few years.

EPA’s strategy includes working to protect healthy waters, restore waters that are already impaired, expand actions to keep all waters clean, and continue to build projects and programs that support environmental sustainability, economic growth, and meet a wide range of community needs.

While carrying out the actions outlined in its plan EPA said it will rely on the rule of law and seek creative and more effective ways to implement the Clean Water Act. The agency said it will also rely on “robust science and cutting-edge technologies,” particularly in emerging areas such as climate adaptation, agricultural manure treatment, ecosystem services, integrated watershed approaches, and emerging pollutants.

Developing a Baseline

EPA and other agencies have already begun the process of developing a baseline assessment of US water systems. The National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) have provided information on the condition of inland and coastal waters using direct measures of aquatic life and ranking chemical and physical stressors. These surveys provide a baseline for the state of water quality across the nation against which statistically significant changes can be tracked at the national and regional scales.

An EPA/state “Monitoring and Assessment Partnership” is working to identify opportunities to further enhance the NARS program to support state and tribal water management needs, and identify and track healthy, threatened, and impaired waters. EPA will complete the first set of five Aquatic Resource Surveys to provide a complete picture of the condition of all waterbody types across the nation by 2012, and begin implementing a second set of surveys to track changes in water quality.

Protection of Healthy Waters

EPA will implement a range of actions to ensure that healthy waters are protected and prevent further pollution of lakes, rivers and streams. The agency will explore, develop, and make available more effective methods for ecological assessment, and the classification and identification of healthy watersheds. In partnership with state and local governments and stakeholders, the agency will also develop outreach and education materials targeting public awareness.

Finally, EPA will use CWA tools to better protect high quality waters. That could include revising regulations for water quality standards to strengthen antidegradation provisions, and protect headwaters that are threatened by resource extraction activities.

Restore Waters

In addition to the work underway in the Chesapeake Bay as part of the President’s recent Executive Order 13508, EPA will work toward the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.

In the wake of the Deepwater BP oil spill, the agency will lead efforts to restore and improve the ecological health of the Gulf of Mexico, working with state, tribal, non-governmental, and academic partners to ensure that the Gulf’s waters are restored and protected.

EPA also is leading a multi-agency effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In other parts of the nation, focus will remain on nutrient pollution, which threatens the long-term health of important ecosystems such as the Mississippi River Basin.

Reducing the amount of nutrient pollution reaching waters is a top priority for EPA. The agency said it will work in close partnership with federal, state and local stakeholders using the best available peer-reviewed science along with regulatory and voluntary tools to achieve the desired goals. The agency said it recognizes that states need room to innovate and respond to local water quality needs, so a one-size-fits-all approach to nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is neither desirable nor necessary.

Action items include determining needed nutrient load reduction targets to restore and maintain water quality, and development of numeric nutrient water quality standards. As an added step, the agency said it would advance an open dialogue between USDA, states, and local stakeholders/landowners to determine how all parties can best cooperate to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from agricultural nonpoint sources.

Reduce Pollution from Discrete Sources

EPA said it will increase protection of U.S. waters from pollution by reducing current loadings and preparing for substantial predicted increases associated with development, urbanization, climate change and other factors. EPA will strengthen regulatory and enforcement actions to address water quality challenges and strategically undertake necessary modifications to current regulations to make them clear and enforceable.

The agency also plans to address increasing concerns about the potential for public health and environmental impacts in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing and other resource extraction operations by relying on the best available science and statutory authority to ensure a balanced approach that helps the U.S. meet its energy needs in a sustainable and cost effective way.

The Office of Research and Development is currently examining the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and water resources. Based on the results of that study, EPA will work with federal partners and stakeholders to clarify CWA requirements for hydraulic fracturing wastewaters.

The agency also plans to strengthen the NPDES program to reduce pollution from point sources, including developing NPDES permit requirements to control pesticide discharges, information gathering for CAFOS, reducing pollution from sewage treatment plants, and developing effluent guidelines for key sectors such as steam electric, etc.

EPA will also promote the use of green infrastructure in combined sewer overflow (CSO) and municipal separate sanitary sewer system (MS4s) control plans as a complement or as an alternative to traditional grey infrastructure solutions. It will establish performance standards for stormwater discharges for new and redevelopment that will facilitate the use of green infrastructure to reduce pollutant discharges and realize other community and environmental benefits.

Sustainable Practices

EPA said it plans to develop and implement a renewed strategy on green infrastructure and innovative technologies to promote sustainable and cost effective practices. The agency will also support integrated water management at the state and local level, and will encourage solutions that reduce infrastructure costs and promote more efficient, regionally coordinated resource use.

Urban Waters is an interagency effort lead by EPA to work with local communities and cities to transform urban waterways into centerpieces of urban revitalization. This effort targets underserved areas and brings together state, tribal, federal, and local partners in an effort to foster understanding, public access, and enhanced stewardship of our urban water commons. A number of pilot projects are now under way.

Key actions include developing a systematic strategy to make green infrastructure an available tool for meeting CWA requirements. The agency will also develop policies and help direct attention toward more sustainable water management practices that better integrate water quantity, quality, energy requirements, carbon emissions, development, and land use at the watershed and aquifer levels.

To that end, the agency will encourage states to use the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF) for projects that are consistent with EPA’s new Clean Water and Drinking Water Sustainability Policy. EPA will continue to work with states to ensure that all CWSRF programs meet the mandated requirement to use at least 20 percent of FY 2011 appropriated funds for green projects such as green infrastructure, water efficiency projects, energy efficiency projects, and other innovative approaches.

To read the full strategy, “Coming Together for Clean Water,” visit


A Carbon Footprint Begets a Water Footprint


Becoming water wise.

Photo courtesy of Britt Udesen (aka Idaho Squatcher).  See her videos on YouTube.

If you have a carbon footprint, you also have a water footprint.  While the idea of calculating your carbon footprint has caught on and carbon calculators are all the rage (for good reason), few are paying attention to their water footprints.  We all know that as Americans, we are the Sasquatch of the planet, rapaciously consuming vast quantities of raw materials, animal products, energy, water, you name it.  But, did you know that every time you turn on the light switch, not only are you consuming energy and adding to your carbon footprint, you are also adding to your water footprint?  The volume of water required to produce power depends upon the energy source, and varies from zero for wind energy to a whopping 70 m3/GJ for biomass energy.  Thus, powering one home for a year on electricity produced from oil implies a water footprint of some 9,500 gallons of water (assuming one home requires 36 GJ power per year).  Everywhere we see a carbon footprint – in the fertilizer, gasoline, electricity and other inputs required to raise, process, transport and refrigerate our food; in the mining and processing of raw materials for electronics; or in the production of cotton for and manufacturing of clothing; we see a concurrent water footprint, the largest portion of which is often directly connected to energy use.

Primary energy carriers Global average water footprint (m3/GJ)
Non-renewable Natural gas 0.11
Coal 0.16
Crude oil 1.06
Uranium 0.09
Renewable Wind energy 0.00
Solar thermal energy 0.27
Hydropower 22
Biomass energy 70 (range: 10-250)

Source: Water Footprint Network

So, when you pause to decide whether or not to turn that light off, you might think about how you’ll be donating some water to the Chinook salmon fry in the nearest river.  Turn it off.  (During Earth Hour this past weekend (March 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm), people across the planet did just that as a stand against climate change.  See what you can do to Go Beyond the Hour.)

Coolest Water Fountain


This spacey looking device is a real working public rain water filtering system called SKYWATER, developed in South Korea. Rain is collected from the ring and sent to holding tanks underground. When the flexible house is manipulated, water is sent back up thru the filtration system and out comes fresh drinking water. I have no idea why it looks the way it does but aesthetics aside, this is about the coolest water fountain I’ve ever seen.

Designer: Ji-youn Kim

Yanko Design


























The Hydroleaf

A Solar-Powered Rainwater Purification System and Drinking Fountain

By Katherine Gloede on January 12, 2011

Mostafa Bonakdar
, a design student from Tehran, recently launched a design for a solar powered rainwater catchment system. The Hydroleaf is a unique device that collects rainwater, then uses solar energy to power a water purification system which supplies a fountain on the same device.

The public hydration station features a photovoltaic solar canopy at the top of the structure that uses solar energy to power a water purification system. Rainwater is collected at the top of the structure and funneled through the purification system. A drinking fountain on the bottom of the Hydroleaf supplies the public with the purified water. The container is able to store up to approximately 60 liters of filtered water. The solar panels also offer a small shelter, perfect for covering a park bench or acting a bus stop.

The Hydroleaf has come with some critique including possible impracticality of the device due its high energy use. The ability for the structure to withstand harsh winter weather or high wind has also been called into question. The design has also merited much praise as it is a self-contained system that utilizes clean energy for water purification. Should the design prove efficient and practical, the Hydroleaf might someday provide safe drinking water to the masses, greatly reducing dependence on plastic water bottles and giving more people access to clean drinking water. We hope to see these in cities everywhere in the future.

IARA Water Purifier System With Rolling System

Future Technology Design News


January 11, 2011 Filed Under: Home Appliance

Purifying water for daily need can be done with several way and device. Here is innovative water purifier entitled IARA System Collect by Brazil based industrial designer Baita Design Studio. This innovative water purifier IARA System collect is very eco friendly and user friendly to collect rain water and purify it, then the purified water will be transported in far-off location which need the pure water. This amazing water purifier IARA System features 5 bottles for dirty water, the empty bottle at the center for purified water and also equipped with the condensation processes and evaporation for purifying the unhygienic water. IARA water purifier and collector also has rolling system with ergonomic handle for carrying hygienic water from one location to another in easier way.

So Much Rain! Why Not Put It To Work?

Exasperated that our wet winters turn into water-scarce summers?              Get your own 1000-gallon rain barrel.

By Christopher Pollon, 24 Mar 2011,

DANGER: Drinking this toilet water could be hazardous to your health.

That’s the message required above every rainwater-flushing toilet installed at Vancouver’s Olympic Village, where water is collected from the roof, stored in a giant holding tank, and pumped as needed for each flush.

The sign is necessary, because bringing rain indoors breaches a fundamental orthodoxy of the North American plumbing world: behind the walls, pipes carrying potable municipal water mingle with those carrying potentially unsanitary rain. On paper, building codes for Vancouver and elsewhere in B.C. do not currently allow the practice of indoor rain water plumbing. In a post-Walkerton regulatory environment, there is immense discomfort on the part of building inspectors at the prospect of mixing private and public water supplies. (See sidebar.)

In spite of this, there are about 25,000 rain water capture systems operating across B.C. today — used to water lawns and crops, flush toilets and provide drinking water for people and livestock. There are about 5,000 rain systems on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands alone, in areas where seasonal droughts and dodgy well water make it a necessity.

As municipalities and cities explore ways to work with the deluge of water that falls from the sky (more than a metre of rain typically falls annually in Vancouver), the most promising use will be for irrigation of lawns and gardens in the near future. This could be good and bad.

“I have a worry that rainwater is starting to get trendy,” says Bob Burgess, a B.C. rainwater harvesting pioneer and founder of The Rainwater Connection which designs and builds all sorts of rain capture systems. “More and more people are doing it, and doing terrible jobs of it. It may not be too long before we have our little Walkerton for rainwater.”

Looking to the skies

A basic rain harvesting system captures water from a roof and channels it to a storage tank, where it is then pumped to where it is needed. Along the way, the rain undergoes any number of different filters and cleaning methods depending on the end use: to make it potable for drinking, it will require filtration and any combination of UV sanitizing and chlorine-injection; water strictly for watering plants will be cleaned less.

Big municipal fleets are among the early adopters: White Rock currently washes some of its trucks with rain, as does Vancouver; the Regional District of Nanaimo captures rain off two large Parksville recycling transfer buildings and uses it to wash their interior concrete floors.

Commercial greenhouses in places like Delta and Langley have already taken rainwater recycling to a high art: many operations capture and use rain for watering, then continually recapture from the soil, filter and reuse.

Toilet flushing with rain is more complicated, often requiring a separate indoor plumbing system to move it within the building, as well as time-consuming consultations with municipal building officials to get approval. (See sidebar.) Such projects often occur in big “green” building developments like the Olympic Village. Developers often earn points toward LEED certification for such water conservation measures, providing the incentive to go through all the trouble.

Then there are those who use rain water out of dire necessity — usually for drinking. As early as the 1960s, farmers in theLower Fraser Valley and on Vancouver Island started to notice their groundwater was being contaminated by synthetic fertilizers and manure. Burgess still gets regular calls from farmers looking for cleaner sources of water for their cattle, horses, and families.

Many rainwater drinkers started out like Burgess himself: he retired to a piece of land served by a bad well (he lives and works on Thetis Island in the Gulf Islands) — and looked to the sky for solutions.

He says 75 per cent of the people currently using rain for potable water in B.C. have no choice; another 25 per cent have the option of drilling a well (with no guarantee of success), but choose rainwater. There is also a tiny but growing number of people who want to conserve water for the sake of conservation — a move that also provides more control over the contents of the water. (See sidebar for ballpark rain system costs, including potable.)

A barrel of possibilities

Burgess says using rain for irrigation holds the greatest promise in changing how residential consumers and many municipalities consume and conserve water.

Each summer, the demand for treated water almost doubles across the Lower Mainland, due almost entirely to lawn watering, at the very time when rainfall is lowest. Peak summer water demand typically occurs sometime in July each year, when the masses are soaking their lawns to keep their grass green. It is this peak demand that drives the costs of our entire water system — everything from budgeting water needs to determining the size of our pipes.

“The single best thing municipalities could be doing is providing the means for Mr. And Mrs. Smith to have a 1,000 gallon rain barrel full of water in July,” says Burgess. He says ubiquitous rain watering systems, fitted with a simple fixture to allow rain tanks to be topped up with municipal water as needed at night, would solve the costs and strains of meeting this peak demand.

A high quality rain irrigation system: rain travels down the roof, through a black debris box (which filters out fir needles and organics) into the 520 (imperial) gallon tank. The tank has an overflow to storm water drain, and a first flush diverter pipe (to same drain) to flush away the initial water that comes off the roof during a rain — which is the most polluted water.

Many others agree. As lawn sprinkling rules get moreonerous, rain harvesting is going to start making more sense, says Bruce Hemstock, a principle at Vancouver landscape architects PWL Partnership — which designed the Vancouver Convention Centre’s 2.4-hectare “living roof.” “Summers are starting to get a little longer and drier, and we’ll get to a point where we won’t be watering our lawns [with potable water] at all.”

What needs to change?

Kenneth Chow says rainwater irrigation has a bright future, and he should know. Chow is a “building code consultant” with Pioneer Consultants — basically an enabler who helped Olympic Village developers earn the “equivalencies” required to get rain water toilets installed and approved. He says using rain for irrigation is much simpler, cheaper and safer than trying to put it in toilets — and you don’t have to post those silly hazard signs either.

“If we use rain harvesting for irrigation, it’s very low risk, and much easier to control the hygenics of the water… if there’s a mistake, the consequences are minimal. A plant might get a little water with bacteria in it, but there’s already lots of bacteria in the soil.”

He says regulatory agencies need to sit down with experts and “publish” the basic rules that will govern how rain water systems are designed and built — instead of evaluating each system on a case-by-case basis, and forcing developers and other aspiring rain harvesters to devise custom “solutions” every time.

Discussions to this end are already happening: last year the City of Vancouver engaged in talks with Metro Vancouver, industry and neighbouring municipalities exploring sanitation standards for rainwater. This includes adding chlorine to stored rainwater to protect municipal potable water supply — in the same way we currently use chlorine to treat water for swimming pools.

Burgess has practical suggestions of his own. “Allow the use of [rain storage] tanks as tall as the legislated fence height, (like this one) and make it so they can go anywhere within a foot of the property line. That one little change would take away a whole bunch of hassles for people.” [Tyee]


EPA Launches Green Infrastructure Drive

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched an initiative to promote the use of “green infrastructure” by cities and towns, in an effort to reduce stormwater runoff.

The agency says it will partner with local governments and other bodies in 10 cities that use such environmental tools as green roofs, permeable street materials and increased tree cover to “encourage and support” the cities’ expanded use of such infrastructure.

The 10 cities are: Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Puyallup, Wash.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Washington, D.C. and some neighboring communities.

According to the EPA, stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of polluted stormwater degrade rivers, lakes and aquatic habitats and contribute to downstream flooding, the agency says. Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems.

In addition to protecting the public’s health by decreasing water pollution, green infrastructure provides many community benefits including increased economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings and increased recreational and green space, the EPA says.

Energy savings are one of the greatest benefits of green infrastructure. For example, green roofs can reduce a building’s energy costs by 10 to 15 percent, and an additional 10 percent of urban tree canopy can provide 5 to 10 percent energy savings from shading and through blocking wind, the agency says. Green infrastructure also conserves energy by reducing the amount of stormwater entering combined collection and treatment systems, which reduces the amount of wastewater processed at treatment plants.

“Through this agenda, we’ll help cities and towns across the nation clean up their waters and strengthen their communities by supporting and expanding green infrastructure,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Green infrastructure changes improve the health of our waters while creating local jobs, saving communities money and making them healthier and more prosperous places to raise a family and start a business.”

A report out at the start of April showed that the square footage of green roofs in the U.S. grew by 28.5 percent in 2010.

Washington, D.C. – one of the EPA’s partner cities in the strategy announced today – is the U.S. city with the second-most green roofing, according to the survey. Chicago topped the poll.

4/29/11 environmental Leader


UNHRC Resolution A/HRC/15/L.14, September 30, 2010

22 March 2011

The UN Human Rights Council affirms the human right to safe drinking water.1 Now is the time for the world’s governments to contribute to the provision of a regular supply of safe, accessible and affordable drinking water in sufficient quantity for 884 million more people.

On World Water Day 2011, the undersigned organizations wish to strongly advocate for the use of rainwater: it must be considered as an important tool in efforts to minimize the water related problems that already exist.

• Rainwater is a valuable resource that is underutilized. Its capture and use can alleviate challenges related to potable, non-potable, storm water and energy.

• Local rainwater harvesting solutions enhance water security and provide important relief to households and communities. All around the world, rainwater infiltration, collection and storage

offers benefits for the environment, wildlife and humans, and improves water availability for industry and agriculture.

• It is time for rainwater catchment to be included in the development plans of all governmental agencies as part of their integrated water resource management strategies.

• Introduction of the concept of rainwater management – maximizing rain’s benefits as a vital resource while minimizing potential rain hazards – to curricula of technical schools and universities will bring future benefits to urban planning, architectural and agricultural projects.


American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA)

International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA)

International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (IRCSA)

Southern and Eastern Africa Rainwater Network (SearNet)

Ingénieurs du Monde

Safe Water International

Consortium Across the Community to Harvest Water

University of Arizona

Watershed Organisation Trust

Rain Harvesting Pty Ltd


Association pour un environnement CONstruit VIvant et VErt

Rain for All

Integrated Rainwater Management Systems Project for the Ethiopian Highlands

Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association

Dundee UNESCO Centre, University of Dundee

Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association

NGO Forum for Urban Water and Sanitation

Rainwater Harvesting Implementation Network

Groupements pour la Promotion et l’Exploitation des Ressources de l’Environnement (GROPERE)


Kenya Rainwater Association

RainWater Cambodia

Combined Harvesters Ltd.

Watershed Management Group

Ontario Parks Association

The Cabell Brand Center


RainWater Harvesting Ltd.

Rainwater Services

Conseil de gouvernance de l’eau des bassins versants de la rivière Saint-François

Europe Rainwater Catchment Association

Save Our Life – Ghana Foundation


Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago

Green Cross International

Oasis Aquatic Gardens

Rainwater Club

iMAP Africa


Rainwater Collection Solutions, Inc ~ The Original Rainwater Pillow

IWA Rainwater Harvesting and Management Specialist Group

Additional Signatures