Saturday, March 26, 2011

Did You Turn Off a Light Tonight?

Hello All,

Since tonight from 8:30-9:30 has been deemed this years 'Earth Hour' by the forces that be, I thought I might take the time to write a quick post about the water conservation that can be achieved through this event.

Well, I found some numbers from our friend the internet, and the answer is that like almost everything else, producing and supplying electricity to society uses a lot of water. It differs depending on the source of electricity. Here are some numbers that were found by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center (Source: Water Dependancy of Energy Production an Power Generation Systems by Tamim Younos, Rachelle Hill and Heather Poole. Available at:

To take these numbers and make them a bit more usable we'll have to do some math. Let's say that you use a regular incandescent 100 W light bulb. Over the period of 1 hour it will consume 100 watts per hour. Divide this by 1000 and we are left with the usage of 0.1 kilowatts per hour (kWh). Doing a bit more math, we can determine how much water is saved over one hour for use source of electricity:

Note: I realize I don't have any numbers here for wind-generated power. I haven't been able to find a source with that information as of yet, will post if I find some!

So, kudos of you out there that turned off a light, tv, computer or anything else for an hour today! This is only the information for one light bulb, you've probably conserved a lot more water than you think.

Ta-ta for now, will be writing a post discussing the different water-footprint site within the next couple days. There are a lot more than I realized, this research might prove to be a bit more daunting than previously thought!

Much love for the Water Warrior,


Friday, March 25, 2011

Some Water Facts for Your Interest!

Hello again!

This weekend I'm planning on starting some more official research on water footprint calculators and which one I'm going to use. For now, here are some interesting water facts that I pulled from the United Nations Water site:

How the world uses freshwater:
• about 70 percent for irrigation
• about 22 percent for industry
• about 8 percent for domestic use
Source: United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

The daily drinking water requirement per person is 2-4 litres, but it takes 2 000 to 5 000 litres of water to produce one person's daily food.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
The UN suggests that each person needs 20-50 litres of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Source: World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

More than one in six people worldwide - 894 million - don't have access to this amount of safe freshwater.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP)

19 basins involve five or more different countries:
- The Danube River basin is shared by 18 riparian nations.
- Five basins are shared between 9 and 11 countries.
- Thirteen basins have between 5 and 8 riparian nations
Source: The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

There have been 1,831 interactions (both conflictual and cooperative) over the last fifty years involving transboundary water basins.
- 7 disputes have involved violence, and 507 conflictive events have occurred
- Approximately 200 treaties have been signed, with a total of 1,228 cooperative events.
Source: The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

And here are some more frightening statistics/predictions:

Water withdrawals are predicted to increase by 50 percent by 2025 in developing countries, and 18 per cent in developed countries.
Source: Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4)

Over 1.4 billion people currently live in river basins where the use of water exceeds minimum recharge levels, leading to the desiccation of rivers and depletion of groundwater.
Source: Human Development Report 2006

In 60 percent of European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished.
Source: World Business Counicl For Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

By 2025, 1 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.
Source: Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4)

Water is at the heart of many issues including (but absolutely not limited to): disease, food scarcity and international conflict. This is why I feel this is such an important endeavor. Learning how we can reduce our water use now will (optimistically) help us in the future. I don't mean to be an idealist, but I try to stay positive when faced such terrifying predictions.

What's that you say? Most of us readers in North America... and you don't have to worry about water? Think again.

The United States is by far the world's largest consumer of water and its water use cannot be supported. The residents of United States is now absolutely dependent on non-renewable groundwater resources for roughly 50% (that's right, half) of their daily water usage. Within approximately 5 years, 36 states will likely face a water crisis similar to the situation in California.
Source: Blue Covenant: the global water crisis and the coming battle for the right to water by Maude Barlow

And Canada isn't doing any better. The average Canadian uses 335 liters of water per day. This is more than double the water use of the average European. And as over developing nations are striving to lower their water usage (the United States water use has actually declined in the past 20 years), the average Canadian is using more than 25% more water per day than they did 20 years ago.
Source: On Guard for Thee? Water (Ab)uses and Management in Canada by Dan Shrubsole and Dianne Draper

This is a bit of a lazy post, but I had to write something and I'm on a bit of a time-crunch!

Take care and keeping spreading the word!

Your Water Warrior,


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let Me Introduce Myself!

Hello (so far nonexistent) Readers!

My name is Erin Garbett. I'm an Environmental Sciences student at the University of Guelph, and am very passionate about conserving water. We've all heard that "water is going to be the next oil" and that "the next wars are going to be fought over water". Although alarming, these statements give us very little in way of a time frame, or exactly how much water is left. Although I can't give you those answers, I'm going to try my best to give you some other information. Over the course of my summer (May-August) I'm embarking on an adventure to use as little water as possible.

My plan in theory is simple and consists of 4 easy steps.

Step 1. Find out how much water I use in a regular week.

Step 2. Learn about ways of conserving water.

Step 3. Use these methods to save water and record how much water I save over 4 months.

Step 4. Publish these results as they occur.

In practice this plan will likely not be so simple but I'm very excited to get started! As I go along I will also be posting articles, videos and anything else about water conservation, as well as posts that settle questions such as:

- Should I fill the sink up with water to wash dishes or let the water run a bit for each one?
- Can't we just desalinate water from the ocean?
- What water-saving technologies actually work?
- How much water is used to make a pint of beer?

All in all it should be an exciting and challenging summer! Currently I'm doing research about what information I'll need to record each week to determine my water usage, as well as exactly how I'll be able to save water over the summer.

Approximate start date: April 24. Until then I will be posting some articles for your interest.

Take care and spread the word!

The Water Warrior,