New Device Lets Plants Talk (I’m thirsty!)

Here’s an excerpt from an article in the online journal IEEE Spectrum about using technology to save water AND energy in agricultural irrigation.  Will our houseplants be Tweeting next?

New Device Lets Plants Talk. Smart sensors let crops text-message growers for more water.

BY Willie Jones // May 2009

Although technology has benefited agriculture in a number of ways, there are some things that growers still do the old-fashioned way. Among them is putting their hands and other measuring devices in the dirt and judging, based on how moist the soil is, whether their crops need water and how much should be added. But AgriHouse, an agricultural technology firm based in Berthoud, Colo., says it is marketing a new device that can eliminate irrigation guesswork by letting plants call growers via cellular networks to indicate when they need a drink. To be specific, the plants send text messages alerting growers if their water uptake is too little, too much, or just right.

via IEEE Spectrum: New Device Lets Plants Talk.

The water footprint of pizza?

How much water does it take to produce one pizza?  The answer amazed me- according to a recent report published by the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, it takes 1200 liters* (~317 gallons) of water to produce one pizza margherita.  Gulp!

What exactly does this mean?  What is a water footprint?

The water footprint is an indicator of water use that includes both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. [From the Water Footprint Network website]

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

The relation between consumption and water use

“The interest in the water footprint is rooted in the recognition that human impacts on freshwater systems can ultimately be linked to human consumption, and that issues like water shortages and pollution can be better understood and addressed by considering production and supply chains as a whole,” says Professor Arjen Y. Hoekstra, creator of the water footprint concept and scientific director of the Water Footprint Network.

*Please note that the figure of 1200 liters for one pizza applies specifically to a pizza in Italy, with grain, tomatoes and cheese produced in Italy.  Your local pizza will have its own footprint and may be higher or lower depending on ingredients and where they are produced among other factors.


New Water System Grant Bill May Go to House Floor on Friday

Here’s some exciting news for water conservation fans…

A federal bill that would establish a grant program at the EPA to help water agencies plan for and adapt to climate change by offering competitive grants for water conservation and efficiency efforts could be considered by the House of Representatives Friday. HR 2969, the Water Systems Adaptation Partnerships Act of 2009, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-23). California Reps. Jim Costa (D-20), Doris Matsui (D-5), George Miller (D-7) and Grace Napolitano (D-38) joined Capps in introducing the bill. Besides establishing a grant program for water conservation efforts, the bill recognizes the link between water and energy use and promotes energy efficiency measures and the use and generation of renewable energy in water treatment and distribution systems.

From the ACWA e-News for June 24, 2009

LADWP talks about drought on KIIS FM

I was listening to KIIS FM earlier and I heard a commercial, sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. The commercial mentions the drought that California is currently experiencing and how people can help.

The commercial urges listeners to water lawns only twice a week, Monday and Wednesday, before 9 AM or after 4 PM. This is sufficient water for the grass and it also conserves a lot more.

The commercial asks listeners to be mindful of the drought and use their water wisely.

I previously talked about the bus stop poster and street banner advertising for water conservation, but radio is definitely a step up. KIIS FM is a popular station and it’s nice to see them airing simple reminders about saving water.

For more information about water conservation, visit LADWP’s Website.

Our Green Is Blue. Global awareness campaign to benefit the WateReuse Foundation

Here’s an innovative approach to raising funds for a water non-profit, the WateReuse Foundation. If you go to the Our Green Is Blue website, and sign up with your name and email address, the sponsoring company will donate $1 to the foundation.  The mission of the WateReuse Foundation is to conduct and promote applied research on the reclamation, recycling, reuse, and desalination of water.

Here’s a copy of the email sent to me by the foundation asking for support for this campaign:

New Awareness Campaign to Benefit WateReuse Foundation

 Aqua-Aerobic Systems, Inc. recently announced the Our Green Is Blue global awareness campaign, which will provide support for the WateReuse Foundation’s research program while spreading the Our Green is Blue message. In times when water is becoming scarcer in the U.S. and around the world, clean, renewable, and reusable water becomes ever more critical. At the same time, economic factors such as reducing costs and energy are key in sustaining our world’s #1 resource…water.  

 Visit the website to learn more about why Our Green Is Blue, read success stories, and obtain the most up-to-date information on government legislation and research. 

 For every person who joins the cause (free of charge) at, Aqua-Aerobic Systems will donate $1.00 on their behalf to the WateReuse Foundation. Please add your name to the list of supporters. Aqua-Aerobic Systems’ goal is to present the WateReuse Foundation with $10,000 in October, 2009.

 By passing this newsletter on to your colleagues, you will help us spread the word that staying “blue” is essential to genuinely being “green”.

 Thank you in advance for your support of Our Green Is Blue, becoming a supporter of the cause, and helping with a global mission to keep it “Blue”.

Water risks ripple through the beverage industry Reuters | Financial News

Water risks ripple through the beverage industry Reuters | Financial News.

This article explores the water-related issues facing the global beverage industry, from battles over bottled water, to negative consumer perceptions of Coca Cola’s water use in India, to the very real “water footprint” of beverages like beer (it can take up to 150 liters of water to make one liter of beer).

Contact WaterWise Consulting for advice on making your business more water efficient and be better prepared for future shortages, price increases and restictions.