Are regions actually starting to think about their long-term water supply?

For about 20 million people living in Southern California, water is not something that should be taken for granted. Due to many factors such as climate and geography, Southern California simply does not get enough water to sustain itself. As a result, Southern California agencies and entities must import water from other regions-most commonly Northern California. However, this has created an environmental catastrophe for many aquatic species, such as the Bay Delta Smelt. This small fish struggles to survive in an ecosystem where it used to thrive. This is because the salinity levels (amount of salt in the water) flux with increased and decreased pumping to Southern California. As Southern California’s water supply decreases, more (fresh) water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. As a result, seawater then mixes with the remaining fresh water, and makes it inhospitable for the smelt.
Water purveyors and municipalities do, undoubtedly, try to conserve water. However, these agencies and municipalities tend to push for more water conservation during dry years, and they often relax conservation efforts in years with plenty of rain. This causes a long-term problem because not enough is being done about water conservation. Efforts must be made year-round, rain or shine to make a lasting long-term impact on water conservation. As a result of the fluctuating water conservation efforts, consumers often do not realize how big of an issue water conservation really is. For example, agencies push to conserve water during dry years, and then reduce efforts during wet years. Customers then forget about water conservation during wet years. While this might work short-term, we need to conserve water ALL of the time-rain or shine, regardless of how full our reservoirs and aquifers are.

Brian O’Neill


What is the NHL doing to conserve water?

800,000 Gallons can either grow you one acre of cotton, brew 500 barrels of beer, or supply enough water to support seven NHL playoff games. Since this is such a large amount of water, the NHL wants to reduce their demand on water supplies. The NHL Green is the National Hockey League’s sustainability initiative. This initiative is working together with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation for the NHL Water Restoration Project
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation wants to reduce water usage in the Pacific Northwest and is currently looking to expand to include states such as Washington, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. This organization aims to conserve water by encouraging water certificates. Each of these certificates is “worth” 1,000 gallons of water, and has it’s own serial number. Each certificate is then sold to individuals and businesses for one dollar. The money is then spent to encourage consumers to reduce their water use. The NHL recently incorporated use of these water certificates for their 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, which is the first “water neutral” series in the history of the NHL.
This new program will be used to restore almost one million gallons of water to the Deschutes River, located between Bend, Oregon and Lake Billy Chinook. This is a world-class destination for various sportsmen and tourists. Unfortunately for the aquatic organisms as well as potential recreationalists, a significant volume of the water that would flow down the Deschutes River is diverted for “commercial” and “economic” use. As a result of the excess withdrawals, there has been a significant decrease in water quality as well as the health of aquatic organisms.
The NHL is proud to be the first major sports entity to participate in the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s certificate program, as well as the first such organization to make a large push towards water conservation and sustainability. Many players in the NHL began playing hockey on ice ponds, so they feel the need to promote environmental sustainability or the future generations will only read about ice ponds in books, and hear about them in stories from their parents.
Brian O’Neill

Water Woes

Although there are many misconceptions and fallacies about water, there are two that cause much conflict and debate among concerned parties. These include water as a renewable resource, and water desalination/availability. As a water conservationist, these issues are discussed frequently with many varying viewpoints.
The view of water as a renewable resource is a significant controversy because environmentalists consider it to be a non-renewable resource. A non-renewable resource is one that has a fixed amount and does not regenerate, such as fossil fuels or water. A renewable resource, on the other hand, is one that regenerates itself and can be consumed for a sustained amount of time, such as lumber, and crops. Renewable resources must be used in a sustainable way, otherwise they will not be able to renew themselves fast enough. Water is not a renewable resource because there is a relatively fixed amount of potable water on earth. There is a fixed amount of fresh water in the global hydrological cycle, and thus has a limited supply available for human consumption and use.
Water desalination and availability is another common debate among environmentalists. Desalination is a common “solution” to water availability and conservation issues because it seemingly provides a foolproof solution. What better way to access more water than to take it from the sea, which after all, cover about 70% of Earth’s surface. Problems arise with the cost of constructing and maintaining desalination plants, as well as the excess brine produced in the process. Many cities and institutions have conducted studies pertaining to the cost and effectiveness of these plants. One such study conducted by Singapore found that it would be more cost-effective to treat wastewater than it would be to desalinate saltwater.
Not only do these issues have the potential to reduce our water shortages, but they provide a more environmental solution as well. By building desalination plants along coastlines, many fragile habitats would be effected and possibly destroyed. If we can instead treat our wastewater to drinking water standards, humans could potentially cease depleting aquifers by recycling the water we consume.
To read more about these issues, read Jerard L. Schnoor’s paper, Three Myths about Water which can be found in Environmental Science and Technology published during February of 2010.
Brian O’Neill

Water Woes: Does California Have The Answer?

One thing that most Californian politicians agree on is how much (or how little) water California has. Water fluctuations have caused many problems throughout California. These problems range from droughts in the Central Valley, which result in the loss of thousands of jobs, to burst pipes and overflowing sewage systems. Each of these events cost Californian cities significant amounts of money. Whether it is unemployment, maintenance and construction crews, or fees for releasing raw sewage, California must pay.
One of the most crucial and obvious problems facing California today is the seeming lack of water. However, there is actually no less water than was available years ago. The changing factor is population. Human beings reproduce at a rate inductive to growing populations and expect to always have available resources. Unless scientists find a way to create these resources, this is not possible.
There is a simple solution to this problem. By implementing water efficient fixtures in residences and workplaces, California can significantly reduce its demand for water. Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute, testified in front of Congress and stated that California could save 1 million acre feet of water by implementing efficient fixtures.
WaterWise Consulting, Inc. has recommended the savings of over 1,500 acre feet yearly by implementing water efficient measures in the South San Francisco Bay Area alone. If sites implement the measures recommended by WaterWise Consulting, there would be enough fresh water for 20,000 to 75,000 Californians. This water would not require any more wells being built or more treatment plants. It’s water that Californians are using right now. By retrofitting current water using fixtures, each device will use lest water, thus less water flowing down the drain. If you would like to learn more about how WaterWise Consulting, Inc. has helped to reduce California’s need for water, please visit our website 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

Farmers receive funding for efficient technologies, but where is the water?

The Federal Government recently announced that it would spend $10 million in aid to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. This aid is not just for any San Joaquin Valley farmers, it is meant to help farmers who want to retrofit their irrigation equipment to more efficient technologies.
This should create a great surge in water conservation as well as jobs for irrigation workers. However, some farms already have efficient irrigation systems. This federal aid should significantly decrease water use in the area, depending on how it is allocated.
Recent water allotments were as low as 10% of the amount requested. As a result of this allotment as well as inefficient technologies, the water was not enough to go around. Many farmers were left without any water, a situation which often leads to catastrophes at farms. Without water, there are no crops. Without crops, there is no income.
The Environmental Quality Initiatives Program is accepting applications until April 9, 2010. There was $3 million available last year, and approximately $10 million for this year. While this aid will help spur the movement towards efficient irrigation systems, it is up to farmers to really make a difference.
To read more about this subject, please visit:
Brian O’Neill

Studies show that California has enough water-but where does it go?

Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute wrote an article about the amount of water wasted by California. As you probably know, California now has a mandate to reduce water consumption by at least 20% by the year 2020. While this seems like quite a reach, it is actually very easily attainable.
The way California could meet—and possibly surpass the goal—is by reducing wasted water. For example, over 50% of toilets today are non-efficient versions, wasting up to 2 gallons per flush. Also, more than three quarters of Californian crops are watered by inefficient irrigation systems. By retrofitting these fixtures, water use would be significantly use. The excess water saved by these methods could very easily be diverted and used by other Californian crops, to help boost the economy and provide jobs for the unemployed.
On a related note, building a dam (The Temperance Flat Dam) could cost over $3 billion. The resulting increase in water supply is estimated to be only approximately 200,000 acre-feet of water. The clincher is that it is estimated to cost only $2 billion to retrofit toilets and irrigation systems, with a savings of over 400,000 acre feet. The choice is yours, California. Choose wisely.
Read the original article at:
Brian O’Neill