06 June 2012

Green News: Water Edition

It's time for another roundup of articles, this time focused on water. The bad news? We're running out. The good news? Researchers and policymakers are on the case, with five of the six links below relating to positive developments in this area.

Low-flow toilets. New technologies and new challenges as manufacturers design increasingly efficient toilets. A Fort Worth company makes one that uses just 0.8 gallon per flush -- half the standard (since 1996) of 1.6 gallons!

Graywater systems legalized in Oklahoma. "Graywater" refers to water from sinks (other than the kitchen sink) and from the washing machine that is reused for irrigation and/or toilet flushing (as opposed to "black" water from toilets). Graywater systems are slowly gaining acceptance across the country. (We had looked into installing one when we built but were scared off by its unclear legal status.) Oklahoma's new law legalizing graywater seems to be for irrigation only, not for toilets.

"Cap and trade" for water? This article refers to such a proposal by researchers who are seeking to apply the concept, original designed with carbon dioxide emissions in mind, to interstate transfers of water in the Colorado River.

Smart water metering gaining momentum. As water becomes increasingly scarce, municipalities are turning to smart meters to better measure water use and to help residents conserve. Like smart meters for electricity, it's going to boil down to how well cities use the information -- and share it with residents -- but it's a step in the right direction.

Austin residents drill wells in response to drought. Folks in my neighborhood are replacing lawn with xeriscaping, but folks in fancier parts of town are turning to well drillers to get around watering restrictions and save money on their water bills (but at what cost to the rest of us?).

Recycled wastewater. As water shortages become more prevalent, the possibility of purifying effluent (wastewater) becomes increasingly appealing (not that it will ever really be appealing). One town in Texas is already out of water and on the verge of taking this step. But public opposition remains strong, since "drinking sewage" sounds gross. (Never mind that virtually all of our drinking water is ultimately just purified wastewater already -- we just cycle it through one or two more "natural" steps (lakes, etc.) before sending it back to our faucets.) This New York Times article and accompanying video explore the "ick" factor and how we can get over it to free up 27% more water for our cities.

1 comment:

  1. The really bad news? The Texas Legislature is in charge of the budget for said water (largely). God help us.