Some little-known facts about bottled water

Did you know…
That the average price of tap water is $0.0015 per gallon, whereas bottled water is on average $10.00 per gallon.
Over 20% of tested bottled water contained chemicals above health limits.
Tap water is tested for e. coli, and is required to state the source, and provide quality reports. Bottled water isn’t.
17 million barrels of oil are used to produce the World’s supply of bottled drinking water. That is enough oil to fuel 1,000,000 cars for an entire year.
It takes 3 times as much water to create a bottle as it does to fill it. That means it takes 3 gallons of water to make every 1-gallon water jug.
Only one in every five water bottles are ever recycled.
40% of bottled water is taken from municipal water supplies. In other words, 40% of bottled water is bottled tap water. Why pay the difference?
For more information about exciting water issues, please visit
Brian O’Neill

How do aquifers work?

Since a significant portion of the U.S. drinking water is pumped from aquifers, it is important to understand what an aquifer is and how it works. Aquifers are underground basins that hold water. Aquifers are full of sediment such as silt, or larger material such as gravel and rocks. The water in aquifers is what fills the spaces between tiny silt particles or larger gravel pores. Aquifers are similar to bowls of cereal: the aquifer itself is like a giant bowl, that is full of “stuff” (rocks or sediment instead of cereal), with water filling the space between each piece of the sediment.
Aquifers are usually good options for water supplies because in natural systems, the water must first pass through hundreds—sometimes thousands—of feet of dirt and sediment before it enters the aquifer and is usable. Water often cannot be pumped out of the ground until it reaches the aquifers because it is not concentrated enough. In other words, there is not enough water per unit of sediment to efficiently pump it out. However, the water can easily be pumped out once it reaches an aquifer because it saturates the sediment.
The largest aquifer in the continental United States is the Ogalalla Aquifer. It reaches from South Dakota all the way south to Texas. The Ogalalla Aquifer held approximately 3,250 million acre-feet of water in 1980. As a result of over-drafting (pumping out more water than re-enters), the Ogalalla Aquifer has been steadily draining. Consequently, it becomes more energy-intensive to pump out water as the levels drop, and can create other problems such as sinkholes. In some places, the water level in the Ogalalla Aquifer has dropped more than 100 feet. The annual drop in water level from 1980 to 1999 was 3.2 feet. Without implementing water conservation measures, only time will tell how long our natural water sources will last.
Brian O’Neill
For more information, visit

Conserving water while preparing food

Debatably one of the most water-intensive aspects of modern human life is that of food. Food takes massive amounts of water to produce; and even more to prepare for consumption. While the production of food is very water intensive, I am going to focus on the preparation (cooking) of food today.
Three of the most common categories of food preparation are cooking appliances, refrigeration systems, and sanitation systems. Cooking appliances are those used to cook food-such as steamers or other appliances. Refrigeration systems include freezers and refrigerators that use water to function, mainly ice machines. Lastly, sanitation systems are those used to clean cooking items as well as hand washing.
Cooking Appliances:
Steamers use immense amounts of water because of their functioning principles: they heat water until it turns into steam, and then harnesses the steam to cook foods. There are two types of steamers: “standard” steamers with large boilers to convert water into steam as well as connectionless steamers which use very little water to cook the same amount of food. Connectionless steamers are much more efficient that standard steamers because they are not connected to a water supply line. These connectionless food steamers require a portion of water to be added to a small tank before use, and then the unit effectively uses less water to create steam, and cook the same portions of food. These units are also more convenient because they can be moved anywhere-even if there is no plumbed water line.
Chinese ranges or Woks use water to cool the stove unit. As a result of the high heat output, these units must be cooled to prevent damage to themselves. Some units use water at rates as high as 5 to 6 gallons per minute. These units should be replaced with efficient models, or other technologies to significantly reduce the amount of water used.
Refrigeration systems:
The two most common types of refrigeration systems are water-cooled and air-cooled ice machines. Both units are available in energy-efficient models, but only air-cooled ice machines are water efficient. Water-cooled ice machines use water to transport heat away from the refrigeration unit’s inner components used to freeze water into ice; whereas air-cooled ice machines simply use air to complete the same task. Some water-cooled ice machines use as much as 100,000 gallons of water per year more than their air-cooled equivalents.
Sanitation systems:
Two most common sanitation systems are pre-rinse spray valves, and dishwashing units. Pre-rinse spray valves are small units attached to faucets or hoses that clean large particles off of plats and other kitchen components. Dishwashing units are those that automatically sanitize kitchen components such as plates and utensils. These both are available in “standard” and efficient models, but the most crucial thing to consider when sanitizing kitchenware is that you only use units when they are full. For example, it is extremely wasteful to wash one dish at a time. Instead, wait until you can fill the dishwasher with utensils and plates before running the unit.
For more information on water conservation technology, visit
Brian O’Neill

Saving Water Saves Money

Congratulations to David Isaacson, a business development coordinator for WaterWise Consulting, Inc. A recently published author, David’s article “Water Efficiency Audits Can Lead to Environmental, Financial Rewards” provides and in-depth analysis of the benefits of water-use audits, and how they help save both water and money. Published in Green Lodging News, David’s article provides a much needed look into the water conservation industry and more importantly: what you can do.
First of all, why should we save water?
As you likely know, there is a fixed amount of water on Earth. Only about 2%of the Earth’s water is fresh water, and a significant portion of that water is locked up in glaciers and icecaps. Since the amount of fresh water is fixed, increasing populations deplete fresh water sources before they can recharge themselves. This leads to increasing probabilities of drought as well as more dire circumstances when droughts occur.
Why should I be interested?
Although different agencies offer water audits, the main components of water audits are comprised of: an inventory of fixtures, flow rates, and a feasibility of the costs, rebates, and incentives of each fixture-including payback times. Each recommendation typically has information such as flow rates, efficient retrofits, available rebates, and the payback time.
Where can I get a water audit?
Some local water agencies or water purveyors offer water audits. Other companies that may offer water audits are engineering firms, environmental consulting companies, or LEED certification organizations.
What are the results?
On average of 15 sites, there was an average of 42% reduced water usage. Of the total water usage, there is a range from 24 to 83%-this translates to a financial savings from $4,400 to $300,000 annually. The payback ranges from under three months to 1.7 years per recommendation.
To read Davis Isaacson’s original article, visit .
Brian O’Neill

Just one issue of overpopulated prisons

Just about everybody knows about prisons and how overpopulated they are. Some prisons are even being run at double-capacity, unable to sustain themselves without help. As a result of this overcrowding, there is twice as much garbage being produced as well as twice as much human waste. Since the facilities are seldom upgraded to handle the entire prison population, many prisons are forced to “look the other way” while equipment functions above save levels, or as sewage spills over containment systems.
One innovative prison in Kenya is using natural solutions to fix the problems of excess waste. Shimo la Tewa prison in Mombasa, Kenya is implementing a sanitation project to purify and neutralize the inmates’ waste. The prison is creating an artificial wetland to purify the sewage. The resulting products from this sewage treatment could be used to irrigate farms or even create fish farms. This would help the economy by giving inmates tasks to complete; as well as the ability to sell produce in a market and generate income.
Surprisingly enough, artificial wetlands are incredibly cost-effective where viable. In Kenya, the system would cost as little as $110,000-a mere $25 per person served. Sewage-related illnesses cause as many as 4 million man hours to be lost per year. This is approximately $16 billion per year, a number that dwarves the cost of a sanitation system.
On top of the saved money from treatment, these artificial ecosystems are expected to create a large amount of habitat for local species. Income produced by the sewage system is expected to be about $50,000 annually.

How to save water in an industrial environment

One of the most difficult places to save water is the industrial sector. Since a significant portion of the equipment and machinery is highly customized, it is difficult to recommend new ways of saving water. For example, precision equipment that uses water is often one of a kid, and thus the most efficient version available.
Aside from installing completely new equipment, one possible way to save water is by carefully maintaining all equipment and machinery. With any equipment that uses water, it is crucial to maintain properly because every small malfunction can accumulate to waste significant amounts of water. By properly maintaining all equipment by cleaning nozzles, and making sure no hoses are kinked, machines will work more efficiently and save you money.
Another option to reduce your demand on potable water is by connecting to a recycled water pipeline. Recycled water is becoming an excellent option for many industrial sites because it is cheaper than potable water, and works just as well. Additionally, recycled water is more environmentally friendly because it uses less energy to recycle water than re-treat it once the water cycles through natural hydrological cycles.
Please visit to for more information on water conservation.
Brian O’Neill

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