Life With Cisterns – My Great Grandparents were big water recyclers

When I was a young boy in the 1960’s I spent 2 weeks with Edna and Court Lutz, my great grandparents. They were independent hog farmers on a subsistence farm in a rural unincorporated village called New Philadelphia Illinois. It was a subsistence farm which for years had no running water. Part of the roof runoff went into rain barrels, and part of it ran directly into their well. The well was in the back of the house and it had a big 3 foot tall pump on the top it. Court had run a water line from the well into the house in the pantry/sink area off of the kitchen and put in a much smaller hand pump on the edge of the sink. We ate and cooked in the much larger 15 x 15 kitchen area which housed a 6 burner corn cob cook stove a big kitchen table and the refrigerator.



I learned a lot about hard work from those folks, but in many ways they were the original eco friendly folks. I got my first tastes of many things the Christmas before our first summer stay. The Ross side of the family had Christmas dinner at Court and Edna’s  house. After dinner (it was actually late lunch but they called the evening meal supper) Edna said, “Would you boys pump some water for me”. So we rushed into the pantry and proceeded to pump and pump and pump. Finally between the two of us we got the water coming and filled up one of the sinks. But we were tuckered out.

Edna filled up a large kettle to heat water to wash the dishes and then started in on them.


Mabel (my grandmother) decided that she wanted some lemonade and needed a gallon of water to make it. Court offered to go out to the bigger pump and get it. Steve and I said,”Will do it”! Once bundled and outside Court watched amused as we tried to get the pump arm to even move. Both of us at 6 and 7 years couldn’t budge it. Court laughed and said here let me get it started for you and he pumped the handle a couple of mighty pumps. We got water on about the third pump but we filled up the bucket which was way to much water. Damn thing was hard to control. We never asked about the toilets. We were not there long enough to need them. As we were leaving, I asked Court why they had rain barrels on the front gutter downspouts. He said that I would find out soon enough.


We went back the next summer of 1961. We had been prepared somewhat. We had been told what outhouses were and of course because our father was a Biologist we were told how they worked. We had been told about chamberpots and how to deal with them. We had been given a deck of cards and informed that they had no TV. We had been told about their half acre garden and had been given some gloves. Also some advice on dealing with blisters. We had been warned about hogs (they had 5) and that Court got up early in the morning. BUT WE HAD no idea what we were infor. And yes that is all one word.





Little did we know we were about to become water mules. Court got us up at 4:30 in the morning. Gave us coffee. Something that we had never had before, and then took us out to “slop the hogs”. Which involved hauling food scraps and water in 8 gallon pails out to the hog lot. Then we had to “mix the mash” which amounted to us hauling water out to an out building and pouring it in barrels of corn to ferment. Then we hauled already fermented mash out to the hogs. Then we hauled our sad asses into the house for breakfast. Which we ate ravenously. More coffee. Grandma clucked. Then we went to take care of the garden. Which amounted to….you guessed it hauling water in 8 gallon buckets out to the biggest garden I had ever seen. I mean row after row. We hauled it from the rain barrels which were much closer and easier then pumping at the well. Yep that is what water recycling is all about. PHwefff  Sometime I will tell you about the 2 hole outhouse. Nothing left that farm but pigs and people. The pigs mercifully did not come back.


For more info about up close and personal water recycling please see:


Green Roofs – The ultimate water recycler

Green Roofs or the idea that you could grow plants on the roof as a form of insulation and an absorber of water are gaining traction in the US Market. This new, some would say radical, idea is actually not new for people who live in rammed earth homes and underground or planned caves. These structures seed what are their roofs with grass. In the summer they allow the grass to grow tall which adds insulation value to the home. Green Roofs are this idea transferred up in the air.

I think that this idea would work best for low slope roofs with some access to enjoy the greenery. We have a sharply sloped roof so it would not work on our house. We have low sloped roofs on the garage and a very large shed so we could do Green Roofs there. It has the advantage of some carbon sequestration as well, depending on what you do with the green waste.
Find manufacturers of this PATH Technology Inventory item

Green roofs, also called living or planted roofs, are systems of living plants and vegetation installed on the roof of an existing or new structure. The green roof concept is not new. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon constructed around 500 B.C. were perhaps one of the first green roof systems. Planted components of a prevegetated modular green roof system. Photo courtesy of LiveRoof, LLC Terrace structures were built over arched stone beams and waterproofed with layers of reeds and thick tar on which plants and trees were placed in soil.

Popular in Europe for decades, technology has improved upon the ancient systems, making green roofs available in and appropriate for nearly all climates and areas of the United States. All green roof systems consist of four basic components: a waterproofing layer, a drainage layer, a growing medium, and vegetation. Some green roofs also include root retention and irrigation systems, but these are not essential.

Green roof systems are often broken down into two types—extensive and intensive systems. An extensive system features low-lying plants such as succulents, mosses, and grasses. They require relatively thin layers of soil (1-6 inches), and plants usually produce a few inches of foliage. Extensive systems have less of an impact on the roof structure, weighing 10-50 pounds per square foot on average, and are generally accessible only for routine maintenance. Most residential applications are composed of extensive green roof systems. Intensive systems feature deeper soil and can support larger plants including crops, shrubs, and trees. Intensive systems can be harder to maintain, depending on the plants used, and are much heavier than extensive systems—they range from 80 to more than 120 pounds per square foot. Intensive systems are typically designed to be accessible to building inhabitants for relaxation and/or harvesting.


For people who are “doing it” so to speak:

Welcome to the project! We intend to examine the feasibility of green roofs (extensive roof gardens) for residential scale construction. As you know, green roofs are common in Germany, France, Swizerland, and England, and are gaining a foothold in Canada and the U.S.

However, the vast majority of these roofs are commercial scale. The total area of residential roof surface, compared to commercial roof surface, is much larger and has a much more profound impact on the environment. Also, the largest and fastest growing encroachment on open space and riparian waterways is not commercial but residential development.

There are several challenges to developing a residential market:

  • The intial cost of green roofs is higher (however, their life cycle cost is competitive with conventional roofs).
  • Builders and developers want to offer a low sticker price for their product. They are responding to a market that does not frequently calculate life cycle costs.
  • Weight: the 3″ to 6″ of soil plus geotextiles on a roof can require added structure. In seismic zones there is a concern in that more weight is placed higher up in a structure.
  • The simple novelty of green roofs. I remember when the U.S. construction industry was talking about going metric, 35 years ago.



Home Improvement for the Planet

Green roofs or eco roofs are an excellent way to reduce energy costs and reduce urban “heat island” effects that increase atmospheric temperatures. A green roof is a roof that is covered with vegetation. Green roofs are still relatively scarce in the United States today but appeared throughout the Midwest prairie homes of decades gone by. They are common throughout European commercial and residential areas today, covering over 100 million square feet of rooftops.

In both commercial and residential applications, green roofs offer many benefits to property owners. Green roofs reduce energy costs by adding insulation in winter and absorbing heat in summer. Estimates of energy savings range from 6-50% depending on the roof size. When installed in new construction, the incorporation of a green roof into the project’s design allows a reduction in the size of heating and cooling systems needed. This adds an upfront savings s smaller units may be installed for smaller heating and cooling loads. In today’s housing market, energy savings equals increased property value. Some green roof projects are eligible for tax credits and other “green” incentives. Green roofs transform impervious surfaces such as tar and asphalt into useable green space that absorbs solar radiation and carbon dioxide.

Until now, green roofs in residential areas have been outnumbered by commercial coverage because the task of installing a green roof can be overwhelming for individual home owners. In part this is due to expense but also attributed to a lack of knowledge in general about green roofs, their benefits and how to install them. As such an important feature of a home’s structural soundness, the thought of an “outside the norm” roof treatment can be intimidating.


For much more information please go to their sites and thank them for being pioneers.

Should You Be Drinking Cistern Water – I am not sure it’s such a good idea.

Look if the world falls apart, like the survivalists predict. Civilization falls and the barbarians are at the gates. By all means drink any water you can get your hands on. But for day to day useage right now I would not. If you are seriously harvesting rainwater and recycling water your useage would be so low that sipping from the public water supply would be minimal. One of the problems is we so heavily pollute the air that you could never be sure that you were harvesting minute amounts of things like lead and mercury.

But if you must:



In some areas there are attempts to collect rainwater in cisterns. In general, these cistern waters are harder and contain more total solids than rain. This is due to the accumulation of dirt and dust on the surface of the cisterns. One study shows that in 500 household cisterns, hardness ranged from 35 to 150 ppm. Further, cistern waters often have a high bacterial count and noticeable color. While in many cases the organisms found in cisterns are nonpathogenic, it is advisable to chlorinate this water where it is used for drinking purposes.

According to recent news and reports, most tap and well water in the U.S. are not safe for drinking due to heavy industrial and environmental pollution. Toxic bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals routinely penetrate and pollute our natural water sources making people sick while exposing them to long term health consequences such as liver damage, cancer and other serious conditions. We have reached the point where all sources of our drinking water, including municipal water systems, wells, lakes, rivers, and even glaciers, contain some level of contamination. Even some brands of bottled water have been found to contain high levels of contaminants in addition to plastics chemical leaching from the bottle.

A good water filtration system installed in your home is the only way to proactively monitor and ensure the quality and safety of your drinking water. Reverse osmosis water purification systems can remove 90-99% of all contaminants from city and well water to deliver healthy drinking water for you and your family.

Click to see details of Ultra Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System !
Healthy and Convenient! Our Featured Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System



Indeed some claim that it could be real dangerous. If you have a weak stomach quit reading:

Atmospheric Deposition and Roof-Catchment Cistern Water Quality1

Edward S. Young, Jr. and William E. Sharpe2 ABSTRACT

The water quality in 40 roof-catchment cistern systems in rural Clarion and Indiana Counties, Pa. was studied to determine the impact of atmospheric deposition. Roof-catchment cisterns are open to atmospheric contaminants such as the toxic metals Pb and Cd, and corrosive acid components present in acid precipitation.

Bulk precipitation samples failed to meet the drinking water standard for Pb on several occasions and were consistently quite corrosive. Mean Pb, Cd, and Cu concentrations were well below drinking water limits for all cistern water samples. Cistern water was corrosive in all but a few cases, as indicated by the Langelier saturation index, although not as corrosive as the bulk precipitation due to the dissolution of CaCO3 from cistern walls and floors. Vinyl-lined cisterns contained water nearly as corrosive as the incoming precipitation.

Seventy percent of the systems on one or more occasions exhibited cistern bottom sediment/water Pb or Cd concentrations that exceeded the drinking water limits. This indicated that metals deposited on roof catchments were accumulating at the bottom of the cisterns. Standing tap water samples exhibited high Pb and Cu concentrations. Nine of the forty systems studied produced standing tap water Pb concentrations that averaged above the drinking water standard. The mean Pb, Cd, and Cu concentrations of running tap water samples all fell below the drinking water standards. Atmospheric deposition of Pb and its infusion into tap water as a corrosion product pose a significant health threat to users of roof-catchment cistern systems in western Pennsylvania.


On the other hand after proper filtration and clorination these folks seem to think its OK. But I let you read it for yourself:


Gray Water VS Clean Water – OK so the water is in the tank

Now What? The first time you may run into the idea of Gray Water is in discussions of what to do with the water headed for your cistern when it first starts to rain. This is because that water could be polluted with natures by-products like leaves and dirt but more importantly bird poo, pesticides, and degraded gasoline products.


To aid in keeping their collected water clean, most cistern owners install a “shut-off” (or short length of movable pipe) in their systems’ downspouts. Then, during the first few minutes of a rain—when all the soot, bird droppings, etc., that have accumulated on the roof’s surface begin to wash away—the runoff can be diverted away from the cistern. (This tainted water can be shunted to the garden or used in any way you’d use “gray water”.) Shortly afterwards—when it has rained a few minutes and the water flowing through the downspout appears clear and clean—the shut-off can be switched back to direct the remaining portion of the shower or storm into the cistern.

The filter mentioned above is usually nothing more than a concrete enclosure (see diagram) that’s divided into two sections by a partition reaching two-thirds of the way to the chamber’s top. One of the two sections is left empty, while the other is layered full of filtering material(s) . . . usually gravel, fine sand, and/or activated charcoal. The idea is that as water flows from the downspout to the first (i.e., empty) section of the “filter box”, bits of leaves, dirt, etc., will settle out . . . then—as the collected liquid spills over the partition and begins to percolate down through the layers of filtering material—smaller impurities also will be removed. A screen prevents any remaining debris from flowing into the supply line that connects the filter box with the cistern.


Not to get too technical but water is usually divided into Black Water, Grey Water and White or Clean Water. Water is also heavily regulated. It is regulated by people who are interested in drinking water. It is regulated by people who are interested in pollution control. It is regulated by people who are involved in pest and animal control. If you are on an island or in a deeply rural area you only have to worry about your own personal health. If you are in the middle of Chicago, good luck.

But for simple presentations Black Water is what goes down the toilet. Some people use dry chemical toilets and they recycle there own human waste as soil enhancers. This is only for the very hardy right now. Other people use septic tanks to recycle at least the water and some nutrients back into the environment. This can be dicey at times. But hundreds of thousands use these devices. Most people would have to (yes say it) “let that go”.

OK so you have this tank full of rainwater. If you are smart and your storage is up in the air then all you need is a hose attached to it. Then using gravity you can direct that water where you like. If it is stored on the ground you may need a little pump to achieve that end. If your tank is below ground well you need a bigger pump.

Gray water is that water not considered good enough to drink. This is where the legal tussles began. To give an example, some people flush their toilets with spent dish washing water. They use a bucket and pour it in the toilet tank. Other people divert their clothes washing water to their garden by either running a hose there directly or by running the water into a tank. Why do I raise this? Can a person drink the water in your cistern?

For an EXTREMELY spirited discussion of all of this please see:


The Greywater Guerrillas are a collaborative group of educators, designers, builders, and artists who educate and empower people to build sustainable water culture and infrastructure.

We teach about sustainable water use through hand-on workshops and presentations.

We recently published the anthology “Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground” 

Available from 100 Fires. Read more about the book.

The politics of water – as this brilliant anthology makes clear – are the politics of human survival. Read this, and believe me, you’ll never flush with the same equanimity again.”

Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Dead Cities

A sweeping overview of water use issues. Dam Nation is an accessible and energizing resource for the next generation of activists and radical plumbers.

—Art Ludwig, author of Create an Oasis with Greywater

Dam Nation is a people’s history of water—and the water grid; a detailed accounting of  the fallout from a century of Manifest Destiny’s attacks on wild rivers. The book traces how—across five continents—beleaguered commoners block the neoliberal makeover of the world and endeavor to restore balance between humans and watersheds. These strategists and innovators blow open the scarcity myth to show how local democratic control coupled with watershed restoration can provide water for everyone.

Check out dozens of greywater and composting toilet systems.


Water Conservation And The Purpose Of These Posts – Americans have gotten complacent about water

Most people in the US assume and expect when they turn on a facet or flush a toilet that water will magically appear. When it doesn’t they have no idea what to do. The point being that global warming could change all that.


Global Water Shortage

Looms In New Century

When most U.S. citizens think about water shortages — if they think about them at all — they think about a local problem, possibly in their town or city, maybe their state or region. We don’t usually regard such problems as particularly worrisome, sharing confidence that the situation will be readily handled by investment in infrastructure, conservation, or other management strategies. Whatever water feuds arise, e.g., between Arizona and California, we expect to be resolved through negotiations or in the courtroom.

But shift from a local to a global water perspective, and the terms dramatically change. The World Bank reports that 80 countries now have water shortages that threaten health and economies while 40 percent of the world — more than 2 billion people — have no access to clean water or sanitation. In this context, we cannot expect water conflicts to always be amenably resolved.

Consider: More than a dozen nations receive most of their water from rivers that cross borders of neighboring countries viewed as hostile. These include Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Congo, Gambia, the Sudan, and Syria, all of whom receive 75 percent or more of their fresh water from the river flow of often hostile upstream neighbors.

In the Middle East, a region marked by hostility between nations, obtaining adequate water supplies is a high political priority. For example, water has been a contentious issue in recent negotiations between Israel and Syria. In recent years, Iraq, Syria and Turkey have exchanged verbal threats over their use of shared rivers. (It should come as no surprise to learn that the words “river” and “rival” share the same Latin root; a rival is “someone who shares the same stream.”)

More frequently water is being likened to another resource that quickened global tensions when its supplies were threatened. A story in The Financial Times of London began: “Water, like energy in the late 1970s, will probably become the most critical natural resource issue facing most parts of the world by the start of the next century.” This analogy is also reflected in the oft-repeated observation that water will likely replace oil as a future cause of war between nations.



Water Cisterns – Once you have done the little stuff there is so much you can do

LowFlow Showerheads are mandatory but once you start there is serious stuff you can do to save water. Cisterns. It used to be that everyone had them. Some were as simple as a hole in the ground covered with screening. Sometimes they were even built as part of the house. Sort of your own personal water tower. But with the advent of modern drinking water systems they fell by the wayside.


Cisterns are an ancient technology. In the Middle East in 2000 B.C., typical middle-class dwellings stored rainwater in cisterns for use as a domestic supply as well as private- bathing facilities for the wealthy.

The world’s largest cistern may be the Yerebatan Sarayi. On the European side of Istanbul in Turkey, it was constructed under Caesar Justinian (A.D. 527-565) and measures 140 by 70 meters. It can store 80,000 m³ water. The underground structure is based on intersecting vaults. Today, it is a tourist attraction which is visited by boat, drifting through a forest of columns. Another cistern in Istanbul is called Binbirdik, believed by some sources to have been constructed under Caesar Constantine (A.D. 329-337), with a capacity of 50,000 m³. Each cistern served as centralized storage for water collected from roofs and paved streets and featured a sophisticated system of filters that assured clean water.

These municipal underground cisterns may be the only examples of urban centralized rainwater harvesting of their kind. This technique was likely abandoned for two primary reasons: 1) the construction of underground cisterns is considerably more expensive than the construction of dams; 2) there is a danger of accidental pollution through human excrement in dense urban areas and a corresponding risk of epidemics.

Water Classifications

Harvested rainwater is shrouded in confusion. Some jurisdictions consider it reclaimed water and others refer to it as gray water. Actually, it is neither. To clarify, UPC offers the following definitions.

• Black water is toilet waste.

• Gray water is untreated wastewater that has had no contact with toilet waste such as used water from bathtubs, showers, lavatories and water from washing machines. It does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks or dishwashers.

• Reclaimed water is water which, as a result of tertiary treatment of domestic wastewater by a public agency, is suitable for controlled use. The controlled use can be the supply of reclaimed water-to-water closets, urinals and trap seal primers for floor drains and floor sinks. In areas under the jurisdiction of the UPC this system is usually called a “purple pipe” system because the reclaimed water is conveyed in pipe that is purple.

• Harvested rainwater is storm water that is conveyed from a building roof, stored in a cistern and disinfected and filtered before being used for toilet flushing. It can also be used for landscape irrigation.

As noted, Appendix J of the UPC describes reclaimed water, but according to the above definition, rainwater harvesting is not reclaimed water. Plumbing officials who do not know how to classify rainwater-harvesting systems consider them reclaimed water systems and therefore require plumbing engineers to design systems that conform to Appendix J of the UPC. This is because of the lack of guidance in the code. Since these systems are becoming more prevalent in the U.S., both the UPC and the IPC must include a section dedicated to rainwater harvesting.

Rainwater Harvesting Basics

The components of the rainwater-harvesting system include:

Roof. Rainwater should only be collected from a roof and stored in a cistern. Rainwater runoff from parking areas and other outdoor surfaces typically contain harsh chemicals and other contaminants that are undesirable in a rainwater catchment system.

Rainwater conductors. Leaders and gutters or an internally piped roof drainage system that conveys the storm water from the roof to the cistern.

Cistern. A storage tank that allows large particulate matter to settle out of the water.

Overflow from cistern. A pipe that takes overflow from the cistern to the storm drainage system.

Pumping system. Provides the pressure required at the fixture most distant from the tank.

Disinfection system. Various filtration and disinfection systems can be used.

Potable water makeup. Makeup water provided to the tank during dry seasons. Appropriate backflow prevention is required.


But this is to CODE which may or may not apply…First you have to figure out where you are going to put the water.


Rainwater Harvesting

As much as 60,000 gallons of precipitation falls on a 2,000 square foot roof in Mid-Atlantic States each year. BRAE distributes Complete rainwater harvesting system solutions to put this water to beneficial use. Rainwater harvesting systems offset demands on municipal and private water supplies for outdoor watering while conserving valuable drinking water resources.

The concept of collecting and using rainwater is not new.

In addition to the advantages that rainwater is free of charge, it doesn’t have to be treated nor transported over long distances, the two most important arguments supporting the utilization of rainwater are:

1. Supplement drinking water resources
-with the benefit of saving precious potable water
2. protecting water quality by reducing impacts of stormwater runoff
-with the benefit of limiting flooding and degradation of streams and lakes

Thanks to its characteristics the use of rainwater also has positive advantages:
-Ideal for plant growth
-Better washing efficiency -up to 50% less detergent required when compared with hard water
-No calcification of fixtures and washing machines

All projects are not created equal and thus rainwater systems do not conform to a “one size fits all” sales format. There are different systems for two primary types of rainwater systems residential and commercial. Use the following resources to design and select the right system for your project.

Residential systems generally supply rainwater to toilets, washing machines, garden irrigation and hosebibs (ie car washing)


Water storage is the most critical component of a rainwater system. In selecting a water storage tank or cistern, there are several important questions you should ask before selecting the right tank for your project.Ask yourself…

Will I store the water above ground or below ground?
How much storage do I need?
Are there space limitations that restrict the size of water tank I may chose?
What appearance do I want for my tank?
Will the neighbors care?
Are there restrictions regarding water storage tanks?
Is my site accessible or hard to reach with a delivery truck?



An Environmental Funny – Or never take yourself to seriously

I have spent the last 30 or 40 days since we got back from California going on about dire things happening with the planet, ways to save energy in your house, and the crazy commodity prices that I sometimes forget that you have to laugh. Why be on the planet if you don’t. This was brought home to me by a blog that Dan Piraro just posted.

In that Post he talks about going to a school in Indianapolis and talking to some kids. He made a joke which I thought was pretty funny about being loaded when he was there. First he got hopped by locals who thought putting the kids picture on his blog would endanger them somehow. Then they hopped him for saying he was loaded….That really got to me. Part of it was that I had planned to go see him there and had to cancel for a very important event, my inlaws 60th Wedding Anniversery. Such things are irreplaceable and though many plans for the trip had been made…still your 60th Wedding Anniversery is huge. l I felt bad because here Dan had gone and done a nice thing and probably turned on (every pun intended) some youngsters to Art while volunteering his time. But also Dan will probably not come back to Indianapolis again because of his treatment and that is as close as he usually gets to Springfiel, IL.

It might be because another of my favorite funny guys the Sports Writer Mike Nadel got fired by the GateHouse people to save money. I mean GateHouse is like the Tribune, they are what’s wrong with this country. They took on trillions of $$$s in debt to produce an inferior product. He is still being funny here:

So please give him a read and if he ever produces anything accidentally about the environment I might post it here. Then I started thinking about all the funny guys I have been missing,

Lewis Grizzard

Who must be laughing in heaven because his last book came out two years after he died.

Dave Berry (pulizer prize winning Dave Berry I might add)

who was retired and whom championed the Lawn Rangers:

Gary Larson who kinda retired too:

And Berkley Breathed who kinda retired too (pulitzer prize winning):

The point being that this cartoon has languished in a pile oh stuff for ever, because more serious things had to be posted. As penance I put it up on Sunday (when I normally don’t post) this Dan Piraro gem from early December:




Water Consevation And The Home – Saving water saves power

Do not fall asleep here. Half of the power used in the world is for pumps. That is right – moving fluid or gases from one place to another. This is true for your water in your house which may require a dozen pumps during its lifecycle. This is not an intake issue either. When you flush the toilet you better believe there is some pumping going on AFTER that as well. So for the next couple of days we will become plumbers. We will be one with the pipes. We shall commune with the commode …We



Every Drop Counts! Water-Saving Tips and News

There are a number of ways to practice water-saving techniques in the bathroom, and they all start with you! Water Pik, Inc. shares the following tips to help educate consumers about the everyday practical ways to save water, save money, and help the environment – all within your own bathroom at home.

Water-Saving Tips for the Bathroom

Remember, saving water is not just for those areas affected by shortages. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to be part of a water-conscious community. Every drop counts!

  1. Before you lather up, trade up your current shower head to a water-efficient shower head such as the Waterpik® EcoFlow®, which helps reduce water consumption by up to 40%. Water-conserving shower heads are inexpensive, easy to install, and can save a family of four up to 17,000 gallons of water a year.
  2. Avoid letting the water faucet run while you brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave and you can save up to 4 gallons of water a minute. That’s 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  3. Two of the highest uses of water in the house are the shower and toilet. When possible, take showers instead of a bath and consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.
  4. Save water in the shower. Turn off the water while you shampoo and condition your hair and you can save more than 50 gallons a week.
  5. Fix leaking faucets and toilets that flush themselves. Research has shown that an average of 8% (or more) of all home water is wasted through leaks. Fixing a leak can save 500 gallons of water each month.
  6. Check with your local government agencies and utility companies for rebates on water-saving fixtures.

More Water Conservation Tips

Bert the Salmon’s Water Saving Tips

Fun and informative tips from King County, Washington.

100 Water-Saving Tips Based on U.S. Region

Get tips for reducing water usage based on where you live.

Five Key Actions to Save Water at Home

With so many ways to save water, here are the highlights for 5 key actions to help you capture the water savings around your home, from the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

Resources and Additional Information

A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

How to reduce hot water use for energy savings, from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Information for Homeowners, Urban, and Suburban Land Users

Publications and tips from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to prevent soil erosion, keep water clean and plentiful, create and preserve green spaces, and reduce the impacts of floods.


Information for kids about the water cycle, water conservation, and pollution.

Water Resource Fact Sheets

Water Resource Fact Sheets from Colorado State University for consumers, crops, food/nutrition, gardening, livestock and natural resources.

What is Water Conservation?

Water conservation can be defined as practices, techniques, and technologies that improve the efficiency of water use, from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

EPA WaterSense Tips

Watch the WaterSense Green Scene Video from the EPA

Using Water Efficiently: Ideas for Residences

Efficient water use can have major environmental, public health, and economic benefits by helping to improve water quality, maintain aquatic ecosystems, and protect drinking water resources.

Simple Steps to Save Water

Saving water around the home is simple and smart. The average household spends as much as $500 per year on its water and sewer bill, but could save about $170 per year by retrofitting with water-efficient fixtures and incorporating water-saving practices.

WaterSense Pledge

Want to do something to reduce your environmental footprint? Take the WaterSense Pledge to cut down on water waste!

Water Use & Drought

Water is vital to communities in the United States and around the world. Find out more about water use and current drought conditions.

Water Use Backgrounder

In the United States, approximately 340 billion gallons of fresh water are withdrawn every day from rivers, streams, and reservoirs to support residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and recreational activities.

U.S. Drought Monitoring Information

Because there is no single definition for drought, its onset and termination are difficult to determine. We can, however, identify various indicators of drought, and tracking these indicators provides us with a crucial means of monitoring drought.


I know I posted the whole page but it’s Friday and I am seriously considering bringing Weird Bird Fridays back. I need the weekend off.


Energy Consumption And Water Consumption Go Hand In Hand – Throw it away throw it awa….

Only contrary to the new environmental mantra there really is an “away” to water. Once its befouled (I love that word), then un-befouling it is difficult. Take for instaces what is happening to the bulk of the fresh water in the world, the Artic and the Antartic ice sheets. If we are going to melt them off we would be better off trying to transport that water to some storage location like a dried up lake bed(s), than let it melt into the sea. Because then it is really hard to get it to be fresh water again. Same with pollution, once you dump contaminates into water then it is very hard to clean up. We have been doing that in a big way for 300 years.

January 22, 2009

Ecologists warn the planet

is running short of water

A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind’s expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water.

The warnings, in an annual report by the Pacific Institute in California, come as ecologists have begun adopting the term “peak ecological water” — the point where, like the concept of “peak oil”, the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite.

The world is in danger of running out of “sustainably managed water”, according to Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute and a leading authority on global freshwater resources.

Humans — via agriculture, industry and other demands – use about half of the world’s renewable and accessible fresh water. But even at those levels, billions of people live without the most basic water services, Dr Gleick said……..

A glass of orange juice, for example, needs 850 litres of fresh water to produce, according to the Pacific Institute and the Water Footprint Network, while the manufacture of a kilogram of microchips — requiring constant cleaning to remove chemicals — needs about 16,000 litres. A hamburger comes in at 2,400 litres of fresh water, depending on the origin and type of meat used:}


Why Are We Doing All This Home Improvement Anyway – Well to save money of course but..

To save our grandchildren as well..

Antarctica Is Warming:

Climate Picture Clears Up

By Andrea Thompson, Senior Writer

posted: 21 January 2009 01:04 pm ET


Warming temperatures in Antarctica
This illustration depicts the warming that scientists have determined has occurred in West Antarctica during the last 50 years, with the dark red showing the area that has warmed the most. Credit: NASA

The frozen desert interior of Antarctica was thought to be the lone holdout resisting the man-made warming affecting the rest of the globe, with some areas even showing signs of cooling.

Some global warming contrarians liked to point to inner Antarctica as a counter-example. But climate researchers have now turned this notion on its head, with the first study to show that the entire continent is warming, and has been for the past 50 years.

“Antarctica is warming, and it’s warming at the same rate as the rest of the planet,” said study co-author Michael Mann of Penn State University.

This finding, detailed in the Jan. 21 issue of the journal Nature, has implications for estimating ice melt and sea level rise from the continent, which is almost entirely covered by ice that averages about a mile (1.6 kilometers) thick. The revelation also undermines the common use of Antarctica as an argument against global warming by contrarians, Mann said.


For more see the rest of this article and:


Never mind this:

Summer peak,

winter low temperatures now arrive 2 days earlier

| 21 January 2009

Not only has the average global temperature increased in the past 50 years, but the hottest day of the year has shifted nearly two days earlier, according to a new study by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University.

Map of average distribution of global temperatures for JulyFebuary
Map of average distribution of global temperatures for FebruaryThe average distribution of global temperatures for July and February. Because the sun is further north in July, the warm bulge of high temperatures is shifted into the northern hemisphere in that month. In the Northern Hemisphere, warm temperatures extend farther north on land than over ocean in the summer and cold temperatures extend farther south on land than on the ocean in the winter. (Image by Alexander R. Stine/UC Berkeley; data from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia )

Just as human-generated greenhouse gases appear to the be the cause of global warming, human activity may also be the cause of the shift in the cycle of seasons, according to Alexander R. Stine, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science and first author of the report.”We see 100 years where there is a very natural pattern of variability, and then we see a large departure from that pattern at the same time as global mean temperatures start increasing, which makes us suspect that there’s a human role here,” he said.

Although the cause of this seasonal shift – which has occurred over land, but not the ocean – is unclear, the researchers say the shift appears to be related, in part, to a particular pattern of winds that also has been changing over the same time period. This pattern of atmospheric circulation, known as the Northern Annular Mode, is the most important wind pattern for controlling why one winter in the Northern Hemisphere is different from another. The researchers found that the mode also is important in controlling the arrival of the seasons each year.

Whatever the cause, Stine said, current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models do not predict this phase shift in the annual temperature cycle.

Details are published in the Jan. 22 issue of the journal Nature.