China is scheduled to spend $9 billion on reservoirs

As part of China’s efforts to reinforce water conservation initiatives and battle natural disasters, the Chinese Government has decided to spend 63 billion yuan ($9.3 billion). The funding will go to repair preexisting reservoirs as well as build new ones.
By 2012, 24.4 billion yuan will be spent to repair over 5,000 small reservoirs with a maximum capacity between 1 million cubic meters and 10 million cubic meters.
Another 16,000 reservoirs with a maximum capacity of over 200,000 cubic meters will be retrofit by 2013 with an investment of around 38 billion yuan. The remaining 25,000 reservoirs will be improved with funding from local governments before the end of 2015. The spending plan is part of the country’s efforts to reinforce water conservation initiatives and combat natural disasters, such as floods and droughts.
China has been suffering from a severe drought since October. More than 6 million hectares of farmland has been affected in the country’s eight wheat producing provinces.
Compounding the issue, more than 60 percent of the country’s small and medium-sized rivers do not meet national flood control standards and over 32,000 small reservoirs are flawed, according to the ministry of water resources.
Brian O’Neill

California bill aims to legalize rainwater capture

While rainwater collection is a hot topic issue in some areas, California is looking to make it a little easier to use your rain barrels as a water source. This week, AB 275, the Rainwater Capture Act of 2011 was introduced into the California State Assembly, a bill that would allow landowners to install rain barrel systems and not only capture water for outdoor use, but also for indoor use.
The NRDC reports: “The bill would also authorize landowners to install systems to capture rainwater for use, with proper treatment, in indoor non-potable applications, such as toilet or urinal flushing. Allowing rainwater to be used for indoor applications would greatly expand the opportunities to capture and use rainwater in the state. The more uses rainwater can be directed to, the faster storage tanks can be emptied, and the more water can be captured.”
With a growing population and water sources capped out, especially in the face of long-lasting droughts, California needs to use whatever water it has. The refreshing burst of rain the state has experienced in the last couple months with an improved policy on rainwater catchment can help alleviate the strain on other sources, such as the Sierra snowpack and the Colorado River. It’s a way to utilize all that rain that simply falls on rooftops and streets, only to be swooshed away into stormwater systems rather than back into groundwater supplies.
Brian O’Neill

Water Catchment Systems

It is without doubt that Americans must reduce their demand on natural water sources. Our population is increasing every second, but our water sources are not. As a matter of fact, some water sources are actually shrinking on a daily basis. So, how can we get the most out of our water? What if your house or business already has efficient fixtures? To answer this problem, we will look at the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. You reduce consumption by implementing efficient fixtures, such as showerheads, faucet aerators, and toilets.
In order to reuse water, we must figure out ways to capture water after we use it once, and harness it again to use a second¬¬ or even third time. Luckily engineers and environmental advocates have been working on this problem for many years. There are water catchment systems available that capture water once it has been used, and contain it for use at a later time.
For example, some people have small water containment systems under their sink that hold water from hand-washing , and pump it into toilets for a second use. Other systems may be significantly larger-they can be connected to shower drains, washing machines, and even dishwashers. As a result, these systems must have much larger tanks and sometimes pumps depending on the location.
These devices essentially are a large bin or tank in the plumbing line that contain water before it flows out to the sewer. Depending on the location, some of these systems are zero-energy systems; meaning they use gravity to push water into other locations or devices. The most common systems are under-sink systems that pump water into toilets, and larger versions to contain shower and washing machine water. Often these systems are connected to a series of large barrels to contain large amounts of water. This stored water can then be used to water landscape or fill toilets, etc.
However, it must be noted that special biodegradable soaps and detergents must be used if the water will be used to irrigate plants. Traditional soaps and detergents are typically chemical-based and are very harmful to plants. Biodegradable soaps are easily decomposed and broken down by microbes and bacteria in the soil.
To read more about innovative ways you can save water, visit
Brian O’Neill

How to prevent your pipes from freezing

A few simple steps can help prepare your home plumbing for the bitter cold temperatures recent storms have brought. During cold weather, water pipes need special care to keep from freezing, so homeowners should take reasonable precautions to help protect their property from damage. Weatherproofing a home against the cold will help protect plumbing against the threat of breaks.

Act now by:

* Knowing what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
* Eliminating sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
* Knowing where your main water shutoff valve is. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
* Protecting your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.

If temperatures fall below zero:

* If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low (about a penny per gallon) compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
* Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures and to help keep them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze:

* Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
* Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it. Be sure to avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
* Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

For more information, visit
Brian O’Neill