Site Needed for a Permitted Greywater System in San Francisco

Site Needed for a Permitted Greywater System in San Francisco.

If you live in San Francisco, this could be your chance to make history.  Help to usher in the age of greywater reuse by participating in this demonstration project.  Send your laundry water to the garden to keep plants lush with less use of clean drinking water.  Act now!

Happy Smart Irrigation Month!

July, the month of highest water demand, is now Smart Irrigation month. This will hopefully reduce the peak water demand, lower water bills, protect water supplies, and minimize needed investments in infrastructure. According to the Irrigation Association, there are many ways that average consumers can reduce their demand for water.
One of the most water-intensive practices and wasteful use is irrigation, since many plants have extraordinary water needs. By creating efficient irrigation systems, you will minimize the risk of over-watering your plants, use every drop of water you pay for, as well as make yard maintenance easier and more convenient.
Some methods you can use to create an efficient irrigation system are:
Be smart when planting in your garden. By creating the healthiest possible micro-ecosystem in your yard, you will have healthy plants with very little maintenance. Start by selecting plants that do not need lots of water-visit a native nursery for the best selection. Then, make sure you have healthy soil with plenty of drainage and organic matter. You can improve drainage in clay soils by mixing in sand or perilite. Add compost to your soil to increase the organic matter, and add beneficial minerals to your soil.
Install an irrigation system that will be able to suit your needs. Instead of watering all of your plants by hand, install a weather-based irrigation controller that will take all of the guess work out of watering. These irrigation controllers automatically tailor the irrigation schedule to match your plant’s needs on a daily basis.
Service your irrigation system on a periodic basis. By periodically checking your irrigation system, you will find any major problems such as broken pipes or leaking sprinkler heads. Also, sprinkler often get bumped out of alignment and waste water. Misaligned sprinkler heads can also often cause liability because they sometimes wet sidewalks or other surfaces and make them slippery.
Work with an irrigation professional. By working with a professional, you will be able to create an irrigation system that meets all of your needs. They will be able to help you design an irrigation system to deliver just the right amount of water in just the right places.
For more information, visit
Brian O’Neill

Cities pass water conservation guidelines

A recent survey funded by the Association of California Water Agencies and state Department of Water Resources provided insight regarding the public’s opinion on California’s water crisis. Out of 1,200 survey participants, the overwhelming majority (81%) stated that they felt California is suffering an ongoing shortage, even if we receive normal amounts of rainfall. Slightly more than 25% considered this to be a “crisis” while just over half of the survey participants said that this is a significant problem.
The survey participants were from a range of geographic locations including Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The $468,000 funding from the Association of California Water Agencies and state Department of Water Resources will go towards public outreach and education, by showing how every-day people can conserve water. Some cities, such as Santa Cruz, California are taking matters into their own hands by passing more strict measures in terms of irrigation or landscaping. Instead of installing an inefficient irrigation system, people are suggested (and sometimes required) to install efficient versions-such as drip emitters.
Also, in an attempt to lower water needs, many water districts and other related agencies have been promoting the installation of water efficient landscaping. Some water districts even provide rebate funding for removing high water use plants, such as lawn or turf grass, and replacing it with native plants that use significantly less water.
Other factors included in these water conservation measures include geographic locations where certain plants are prohibited. For example, some cities have banned grasses from being planted on any slopes greater than 5% in new housing developments. Not only does this prevent water runoff, but it also helps reduce the amount of contaminants that enter our waterways. For more information regarding water conservation programs in your area, contact your local water district or water purveyor.
Brian O’Neill

The Three R’s of Water

Everybody has heard the environmental slogan of “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” in terms of garbage and recycling, but how does this apply to water usage? This slogan is actually just as pertinent to water usage as it is to garbage and recycling. The Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle slogan is often referred to as “The Three R’s” for short. Here are some ways that The Three R’s apply to water conservation and consumption:
By reducing the amount of water we consume, we will lessen the amount of water that needs to be pumped out of the ground or moved from one location to another. After all, about 20% of the energy used in California goes directly to pumping water. California should also have more public funds available if our dependency on water transportation projects such as the Aqueduct was reduced. You can reduce your water usage by:
Retrofitting any inefficient fixtures in your home with efficient versions, such as showerheads, toilets, faucet aerators, dishwashing machines, and clothes washers.
Programming your irrigation timer to water only when needed. You can manually change your irrigation schedule or buy a weather-based irrigation controller which automatically adjusts your water budget to suit the current climatic conditions.
Fix all leaks-indoor and outdoor. Common locations for leaks include, but are not limited to dripping faucets, leaking toilets, and dripping hose bibs outdoors. You can check for leaks in your home by turning off all water using fixtures, and then looking at your water meter. If it is moving, you have a leak somewhere on your property.
We can reuse the water that we consume by implementing “grey water” systems in our homes. Grey water systems capture water from devices such as faucets and shower drains. These systems do not connect to toilets because of sanitary issues. The grey water systems filter the water so that it can be re-used to wash hands, fill toilets, or even water your garden. However because of health issues, it is not recommended to shower or drink grey water.
Although recycling water may seem very similar to reusing it, recycling is the act of converting used materials into forms that can be re-used as a new product. For example, waste water can be recycled and used as “fresh” water. Many treatment plants do not filter water to consumption-standards, so it cannot be reused as potable water. Recycled water is often being used to irrigate landscaping because it is cheaper than potable water. The technology exists to treat waste water to drinking water standards, but it is not often used because of the social stigma that you are consuming “sewage water.” The interesting fact is that some of these treatment plants actually make the water safer than bottled water!
Watch a video on the water cycle to learn more at:
Brian O’Neill

Fantastic new resource for water information

Please join WaterWise in welcoming this new online resource for water data. Wholly H2O is a non-profit dedicated to encouraging water reuse and conservation in California, particularly in the San Francsico Bay area. Read the intro from Wholly H2O founder Elizabeth Dougherty below.

Wholly H2o’s mission is to equip Californians with the information and skills necessary to normalize water conservation and efficiency, as well as the adoption of rainwater, graywater, stormwater and black water reuse/recycling in the residential, commercial/institutional, industrial and agricultural sectors.

With that in mind, we are proud to announce the soft launch of the comprehensive information website

This site is a comprehensive information center for efficiency, rainwater, graywater, stormwater and black water management, capture and reuse. You can find Products and Services from around the state and country, links to Rebates and Incentives, a Calendar of statewide water events, Tips, Best Practices, Demonstration Projects, Films, Blogs, an Art Gallery, and much more.

While we fill in content over the next several months, begin benefitting now by perusing all the useful information, particularly those found in “Resources”. Of course, we’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions. Feel free to subscribe to the announcement list, and submit your company’s information to be included in Products and Services.

Let the “getting more informed” about integrated water management begin!

Elizabeth Dougherty
Wholly H2o’s mission is to equip Californians with the information and skills necessary to normalize water conservation and efficiency, as well as rainwater, graywater, stormwater and black water reuse/recycling. The purpose is to mitigate the currently unsustainable demands on California water supplies, and corresponding environmental degradation to California’s natural water systems. The goal is to use our water in the most appropriate manner possible given our realtime existing conditions.
Our secondary mission is to provide the information and training necessary to expand the water-related green jobs market throughout the state of California.
If you would prefer not to receive announcement from Wholly H2o, please unsubscribe here.

Fiscal Sponsor
Trust for Conservation Innovation
423 Washington Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

Texas residents struggle to save pipes and water

Over the past week, many Texas residents have struggled to keep their pipes from freezing. Central Texas farmers have been fortunate enough to avoid the freeze in most places, but some were not so fortunate. There were over 1,000 phone calls placed to the Austin Fire Department, and about 600 phone calls to the Austin Water Utility. Many workers were forced to work 12-hour shifts over the weekend to repair the broken water lines.
Although many areas throughout the United States experience below-freezing temperatures, there are many solutions to prevent pipes from bursting. For example, homeowners or maintenance personnel can easily wrap pipe with pipe insulation, or heat tape to prevent freezing.
Pipe insulation is one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods of preventing pipes from freezing. This solution works for both indoor as well as outdoor plumbing. Since the insulation can be left on year-round, it requires almost no maintenance once installed. The only recommended maintenance is to inspect the insulation to make sure it has not been pulled off of the pipes. This can be found at almost any hardware store. Here is an example:
Other methods such as wrapping pipe with heat tape are also very effective. Heat tape, however, requires a small electrical current to heat and thus can cause problems if wet. This can also cause liability risks, so it should only be installed by qualified electricians. This should only be installed if it complies with all codes in your area. Here is an example of heat tape:
Brian O’Neill

Native plants do more than just save water in your garden.

Originally posted in the BeWaterwise group discussion forum on LinkedIn.  Reposted here with permission of Reginald I.Durant, Director of Restoration/Executive Director at Back to Natives Restoration, Inc. 

Are you aware that the use of locally Native plants in landscaping saves much more than just water?  We hope requirements for water conservation will encourage more home owners and business to use LOCALLY native plants, not drought tolerant non native species. Many species used today that are listed or touted as drought tolerant cost the state and federal governments millions of dollars each year in habitat restoration and weed eradication projects. Back to Natives Restoration teaches the USFS & Back to Natives Restoration Training Program for the Trabuco Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest. The majority of the species we teach our students how to remove are included in recommended planting lists for water saving in the garden including Olive species, Pepper Trees, Palm Trees, Fountain Grassso called sterile and non sterile varieties are found throughout our wildlands and currently seeded by CALTRANS along our freeways and many more. Please see the book “Invasive Plants of California Wildlands” to see how many California Friendly Plants are not so friendly after all! The use of Locally Native California plants reduces the amount of water used in landscaping, reduces chemical use in the garden as they are adapted to local pests, provides longer flowering seasons if planted appropriately, and reduces the likelihood of our Ornamental Plants escaping and invading local wilderness areas thereby costing non profits and public agencies millions of dollars per year. Last year BTN alone had over 950 volunteers work more than 3500 hours removing non native plants and seeding or planting natives!

 Visit the Back to Natives website here: