Welcome to the winter 2016 newsletter
Just in time for the oh-so-short Chrig and New Year break as practised so assiduously in the UK. Those of you reading this abroad will still be beavering away at your respective day jobs. Here, we will no doubt get a slew of out of office messages as soon as we press ‘send’. H2O H2O H2O as we say at ech2o (nicked from Dominic at London Solar mind you) As ever we hope you all enjoy it, find the contents useful, inspirational or just plain fun and keep those comments, suggestions, messages etc. coming in.
Flamingo shopping corner
Thanks to Neil from Watermatic who sent us a cute little flamingo badge and to Jon from SBS who informed us that sales of flamingo related items increased by 200% in 2016. So why not buy the mysterious case of the sinking flamingo and see what all the fuss is about. Now on a DVD too.
Centralised water softening
Back in spring 2015 Cath wrote her water column on how the Netherlands centrally soften their water and asked whether the UK should follow their example. (You can read it here
if you missed it first time around.)
Michele Barkley promptly replied and we, in turn, promptly lost her comments. Eighteen months later we found them again! So here they are.
I read your interesting article on water softening, and I thought I would pass on some feedback from my own experience of owning a softener. It was in the house when my husband and I bought. I had never considered having one, but now I would not be without one in a hard water area. The original machine reached the end of its life, and I had a new one which is much more efficient in charging, as you say.
However, you do not cover some of the other advantages – firstly, I really do not need soap (apart from hands) when I wash, and only use it in the shower about once a week – all the hard skin on feet, elbows, etc., is dissolved by a daily shower with soft water and a flannel, and I no longer have dry skin and need to use body moisturiser as I did when using soap regularly. Also, I use less powder in the washing machine, and the washing machine and dishwasher are still the originals that were in the house when I moved in 15 years ago. The gas water boiler is the original that was installed in the house in 1970. I think the embodied energy (and costs) saved by the extended life of all appliances through lack of scale should also be taken into account
An issue you do not cover, regarding centralised softeners, is that the softener is deliberately not connected to the incoming cold water kitchen tap, as hard drinking water is supposed to be better for health.
We asked Cath about the latter point and she said it’s true she didn’t mention that in her article but explained that the water in the Netherlands is not softened so much that it would be harmful to human health.
Free water workshops for London schools! And what the pupils think about us!
Thames Water’s fabulous Water Efficiency in Schools Programme is now in its third year. Read more about it here and if you would like your school to be involved just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org . First come, first served and limited availability so don’t delay. We now only have two places left for primary schools and five for secondary schools, and got some great quotes from some 8 and 9 year olds at Enfield Heights Academy recently after their class decided they wanted to give Cath and Trevon some Christmas cards! Along with loads of thank yous and happy Christmas messages we also got the following (faithfully reproduced without editing for spelling and grammar)
Kuba said: ‘Thanks for all are presents and teaching us all about how to be water smart and about soowez’
Nyashia said: ‘Thanks for telling us all about water its very interesting and funny. PS My mom uses thames water when we have a blocked drain pipe’
Joseph said: ‘Thank you for teaching us all about water have a nice toilet’
Kids… aren’t they just the best thing ever?
Two new WatEf blogs about water, people and communities. Chad Staddon blogs about direct wastewater re-use (aka from toilet to tap) and whether consumers can bypass the so-called ‘yuck factor’. And Daniela Flor writes a funny and clever blog called ‘A Love story with water’. Great parallels between first dates, a failing relationship and water efficiency with a bit of non-monogamy thrown in. (I may have made up that last bit!) Check them out here
, as usual.
Bottled water madness
We have added a whole pile of links on our website, now that it is so easy for us to do. This is a fascinating (and long) article about the bottled water industry. Some great facts and figures in it and the lengths that different bottled water suppliers go to create ‘brand awareness’.
Talking about brand awareness we love this cartoon from @xkdcComic. Tap water just so desperately needs some blue sky, push the envelope, think outside the box, blah blah marketing input…
Leaky Loos – a solution?
There are valves available in the US (thanks to Warren Liebold from the Big Apple for the info) that guard against constant refilling by ensuring that a leaking WC cistern is only refilled when someone flushes the toilet. If the valve leaks, they will allow the tank to drain and will ensure that the tank remains empty, rather than constantly refilling. The next time someone uses the toilet they will have to flush twice; once to refill the tank and a second time to flush the toilet. Fluidmaster’s ‘Leak Sentry Pro 400LS”
and the “HydroClean” (shown left with its crazy cleans the cistern as it refills spreader USP) are both examples of these types of fill valves. Not available in the UK. Definitely needed.
Toilet corner -1
Happy (belated) World Toilet day! (For November the 19th)
Check out this brilliant video
Take the poo to the loo. Giant disco toilet saves the world from open defecation!
Fresh Water Transfer Allocation Agreements or… balloons to Barbados
Based on the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) standards the cumulative annual renewable freshwater availability requirement for Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti and St Kitts amounts to 18.7 billion m3, whilst they currently have
just 14.2 billion m3. Aquifers are drying out and becoming salinated and this deficit of 4.5 billion m3 is set to increase as climate change impacts manifest, water intensity of lifestyles increase, population growth continues and integrated water resource management measures remain absent.
Suriname, on the other hand, has 228,000 per capita m3 of renewable freshwater resources annually, and 151 billion m3 of freshwater that is flowing into the ocean every year, which could potentially be used to fill gaps of renewable freshwater availability in the Caribbean islands.
According to Suriname Water, one innovative and arguably increasingly logical way to alleviate freshwater stress is through the mechanism of Fresh Water Transfer Allocation Agreements (FTAAs), basically a freshwater trading market between highly water abundant and high water scarcity economies, which would be done by utilising a secure water transfer infrastructure that will enable freshwater transfer at an agreed-to place, quantity, quality and price. To that end, they are doing a trail run of towing a massive balloon filled with water 1,000 miles across the Caribbean to Barbados. The trial balloon will be 65m long by 4.5 m diameter and will sit 94% below the top of the sea making the load more stable. If the trail is successful they will use balloons 650 m long. I think water conservation methods should be pursued first but if it comes down to a choice between desalination and water transfer across relatively short seas, then maybe the latter makes more environmental sense. Read more here.
Toilet corner 2 - Cath does stand-up
Toilet twinning.org is a charity that enables you to twin your toilet with any other toilet in the world and is a way to support safe and secure sanitation to the two billion people who don’t yet have that basic right. This is an issue dear to our heart in the ech2o office and last year we twinned with a latrine in Bihar, India. (We’d also like to say belated thanks to Steve and Lucy who both told us about this site ages ago).
This year we are doing the same thing but with a twist cos we are doing it by supporting Cath in her crazy stand-up gig triumph/disaster. She has chosen the alter ego Cath-rhymes-with-bath-Hassell so if it is a disaster no-one will know it was her (well I assume that’s the plan). So, if you’d like to, please sponsor her here
If you live in London and have nothing to do on the 16th
Jan you can go and see her. Tickets cost £6. Details of the gig are here
. Ignore the fact they have called her an engineer (that’s just for funding purposes), Cath is only on for nine minutes and the guy who comperes it is very funny so it’ll be good even if she bombs.
Saudi Arabia’s water crisis
It’s not just California that is experiencing severe water shortages. Saudi Arabia sits on one of the world’s biggest and oldest aquifers. But a (what is now recognised as) flawed agricultural policy in the late 1970s and '80s, when a programme of food self-sufficiency was pursued has led to its virtual depletion.
This means that the country has become increasingly reliant on desalination plants for its water supply. Saudi Arabia is by far the world’s biggest user of desalination technology, with more than 30 plants on the coast processing millions of gallons of water each day, then piping it hundreds of kilometres to Riyadh and other population centres.
Over-dependence on desalination creates several problems. It’s expensive, requires large amounts of energy, produces correspondingly large amounts of CO2 emissions and the discharge of large amounts of salt brine into the sea has resulted in increased salinity in Gulf waters, threatening fish stocks.
We got this story from Water Demand Management Bulletin, which is a quarterly newsletter from the Environment Agency. Phillip Turton has just stopped editing it after 23 years. Hopefully the new team will live up to the brilliant standard he set, which was a highly informative and wide ranging newsletter. Archived volumes of WDMB can be found here. And the whole Saudi Arabia article is here.
Ways to get adolescents out of the shower quicker – the Shower Manager
Cath really likes the sound of this. It works by providing a full flow of water for a pre-set period of time set by the user (5, 8 or 11 Minutes) and then cuts the flow by two-thirds when that time is up. Before the time expires, there is an audible warning beep signalling that the water flow is about to pretty much become a dribble yet still allows for a final rinse.
The hot water and soap conundrum
Richard from Ecotoilets called to say that an unnamed (by us) Local Council near Leicester are insisting on hot water and soap for a compost toilet in a quarry site when other councils have accepted anti-bacterial hand wash. he’d read my article
on exactly this subject and wondered if I knew of a piece of legislation that he could use to get them to change their mind. Unfortunately there isn’t anything concrete yet so we have to rely on common sense which is sometimes in short supply. I’m not a big fan of these hand washes but they have their place and this is definitely one of them!
A year of showering variously - the best blog about showering in the world
In October Cath asked how often do you shower
explaining how the amount of time is often linked to cultural norms and making a frankly hilarious anti Aussie cricket team jibe, which has now come back to bite her in the bum given England’s recent 4-0 drubbing by India in the test. In November
, she was still
not showering at the office even after she crunched the numbers and found that most days of the year the Air Source Heat Pump at the office would be slightly more carbon efficient at heating her shower than her gas boiler is when she showers at home. And in December
she inadvertently started lying to school kids, felt bad about it, discovered Alexander Kira and is now seriously considering continuing the slight deception in the name of artistic licence. Watch this space …
Water around the world
No new blogs. Though lots of promises, including two from a US father and daughter combo – yep that’s you and your dad Corina!
If you want to write about any aspect of water supply, use or sanitation in your own country (UK included) just drop an email to email@example.com
with a brief synopsis about what you want to write about and we will get back to you. Or better still just send us a blog right here right now! .
The mysterious case of the sinking flamingo - more news
Frankie in the Wirral
Frankie chills out having had a fab time up in a school in West Kirby thanks to Aqualogic
and Wirral Schools library services. See more, much more, including Frankie by a Combined Sewer Overflow, when Frankie goes oop north
Frankie and family
Frankie meets her American cousin who apparently works for the Mafia and has the hat to prove it!
We do like this video of the Dudley Resan WC and what happens when you swing a metal ball into a bog standard ceramic WC.
We also like this amazing footage of dancing flamingos!.
WatEf Reading festival video
This is an interesting behind the scenes look
at what it means when 90,000 people descend onto a filed and you have to provide water and sanitation facilities for them. Lots of great images of teeth cleaning and washing with flannels and queues for refilling water bottles, showing just how water efficient your average punter can be when there is no other choice. My one issue is with the figures that are quoted, ergo “2.5 million litres of water for 90,000 people equates to 200,000 litres of tankered water.”
Crunching the numbers works out at 28 litres/festival goer across the whole five days!!! So something wrong somewhere. But still worth watching.
A book review…
‘Septic Tank Options and Alternatives’ by Feidhlim Harty. As she says, ‘This is a fascinating, clearly written and highly informative book on a very important topic, namely, how to deal with your poo if you are off mains drainage’.
@CathHassell – Follow Cath on Twitter
As she says in her twitter blurb: Likes: plumbing, cycling, cricket and India. Will only tweet about water and toilets though. She has pretty much kept to that promise if you count all plumbing as either water or toilets. If you want to see what you missed go here
or start to follow her. Or just go to our new website
(did we mention the new website yet?) and Cath’s most recent tweets scroll along the bottom of our home page. Modern technology and all that!
Last but not least
If this is the first time you are reading one of our newsletters, don’t forget that all earlier versions are available here
. Full of links to technical downloads as well as random water stuff.