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In my little corner of the world...


By Lori


the water-supply I take for granted is now a source of concern.

All it has taken was a short decade of altered rainfall patterns, and we are all worried about the declining water table.
It lead me to do some research and using The National Geographic Society, in the U.S., I found plenty of reading on the subject of global water usage and the state of the large aquifers, world wide.

Here in Canada, with more lakes and fresh water than any other political entity on earth, the burden of increasing demand by ever increasing population is beginning to be felt. The pipelines of the future will not transport petrochemicals…it will be water which is valuable.
The thoughtful people of the past, educators, mostly, have told us repeatedly how our “footprints” may remain long after we are gone…and that we should “conserve”, renew, reuse…etc. Few of us ever thought of our supply of water as finite. Petrochemicals, yes…but water???
Sadly we are seeing now that fresh potable water is a commodity. We have to deal with all the plastic bottles used to market it! We all see a source of water as a very basic human right!
Imagine, please, the demands of just the centres of concentrated human population…cities like New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Rome, London, Hong Kong, and consider how much water is used just to flush away human waste!
One valuable aspect of our water supply is it’s quality. There are instances of polluted ground water…or depleted ground water…dried up wells, etc. Here in Canada where water is plentiful it is used by industry (petrochemical) in a process called “fracking”. In parts of the world which are naturally dry governments are building and using desalination plants to supply the needs of the population…we’ve finally got around to tapping the seemingly endless oceans. ..polluted as they are!
Rather than trying to encapsulate all the info I’ve found on global water usage and Canadian industrial water usage I decided to include two websites with more in depth information, should you be interested. I hope you are!

The second site is a bio of Sandra Postel.
Excellent reading…connected to Nat. Geographic, her articles are posted on the NG site as well.
May seem like a very round about way of getting to my own personal strategy for water conservation but I’ve decided to look into a composting toilet. Just realized how much water we flush away every year. The water we’ve used could have been used for irrigation in times like these..rather than going back into the ground filled with toxins, fungi and waste, because part of the problem of water supply is water treatment.

This is my way of thinking globally and acting locally!
Water, water…everywhere….
for our children’s children’s children.

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Hi Lori, interesting blog. Here in the UK we have had a strange year to say the least! I live on the south coast of England, although we have had a rather wet summer, we haven't had any real rain for about 2 months now. My water butts are almost empty now and this year for the first time ever, i have refrained from watering my lawn.

At the beginning of the year most of us in the UK were facing a hosepipe ban but almost as soon as that was announced it never stopped raining! The ground around here is now almost dust! Our forecast this weekend is for good rain fall, fingers crossed.

We are an island surrounded by sea, why oh why in this day and age, can we not treat it and USE IT!!! The government keep saying we need more housing and tell us we need to save water!! Don't know how we do both.

With global warming the oceans are supposed to be rising, is the answer to all our water problems all around us? The mind boggles!!!

21 Sep, 2012


Thats very good r right.
Long time a go where in childhood I bent to a tap for a couple of gulps. Nowadays water in the same pipelines doesnt seem to be the same.

21 Sep, 2012


we feed off and underground stream Lori and it has made us all water conscious. small things make a big difference . we all turn the tap off when we are brushing our teeth...sounds like a tiny pointless exercise but if u multiply that by a few million people thats so much saved water. our water flow slows down in a hot summer..(no problem there this so bedding plants and hanging baskets are out of the question. even with out climate change ...population growth means we have to use less...less of everything

21 Sep, 2012


what you mean sandra with bedding plants and hanging baskets out of the question?

21 Sep, 2012


A couple of points...
Statistics for England and Wales show that about 30% of our treated and safe-to-drink water is flushed down the toilet.
Desalination of seawater takes enormous amounts of energy and creates highly-polluting wastewater.

21 Sep, 2012


Notvita, how can sea water be more polluted after it has had some treatment before entering our water supply?

My wife comes from Hong Kong and tells me they have been doing this for years and has never heard of this argument!

21 Sep, 2012


Bik....pots of bedding but especially hanging baskets are very water unfriendly. baskets take gallons of water a day most of which drips onto the floor below...pots are not so bad as you can stand them in a bowl so the water dosent run away..i have a nursery and use gallons a day. most of my stock are on water mats that retain the water allowing the plants to take up the surplus later in the day.

21 Sep, 2012


Because if you remove the salt from the seawater in order to make 'fresh' water, the salty residue has to be disposed of - usually into the sea, with environmental consequences.

21 Sep, 2012


We had a hosepipe ban this year in the Fens, driest county on our island. I garden a 1/3 of an acre, all of it apart from a couple of lawns is veg & fruit. I put 11 water butts into action (there is a blog) & am still useing the collected rain water but they are getting low now. The irony is our potato crops have suffered too much rain & have rotted creating a price hike. 'Self sufficiency' & 'conservation' are now becoming less of a swear-word due to the problems we are creating but as long as we keep spreading ourselves out all over the planet it will only get worse. There is a wise saying, "When the last tree is felled & the last fish has gone will we realise that we cannot eat money"
Interesting blog Lori, thanks for starting it up, I'll do more reading later. Food for thought.

21 Sep, 2012


We have had rain, rain and more rain for most of the summer here in West Wales. But I never leave the tap running when cleaning my teeth or when rinsing the washing up (no we don't use a dishwasher) I use two buckets of water and not a hosepipe to wash the car (one with detergent and one for rinsing). Water's our most precious resource and its frightening how much is wasted, especially when you think about the poor women in some countries who spend a large part of their day walking miles for a potful of polluted water that they know will make their children ill. (Look at WaterAid's website!)

21 Sep, 2012


Thanks to all for the thoughtful and informed comments...
LOL..nobody commented on my idea for a composting toilet though!
On one of the sites I saw a map of the global aquifers and was worried by the notations of "over usage"...areas where they have overdrawn from the sources and depleated their "supply"...must admit to a bit of anxiety about it. Our concern should be for the future generations. This summer's shortage has made me aware of this like nothing else ever has.
Melting glaciers..loss of ice in the arctic..yet diminishing fresh water aquifers...something is out of whack, on a huge scale.
In the geological time scale...the last 500 years are a short warming trend!! but the escalation of events in the last decade has to be studied and explained.
Water salinity, solar warmed water at the equator and it's affect on ocean currents , the erratic patterns of precipitation...areas of drought and excess in close proximity...???

22 Sep, 2012


It's a problem. They've drowned enough of Wales to make resevoirs, but we do get plenty of rain.
I save water by never washing the car. It's filthy, but it runs just the same ... and we get so much rain, that helps to clean it lol.

As for a composting toilet ... I don't know what to say about that. I have heard of them but don't like the thought of one myself. Maybe it's because I'm not used to them.

What would happen if you were sick or had diarrhea ? Would those be composted aswell .... I don't like the thought of that :o(

22 Sep, 2012


There is a composting toilet in a Youth Hostel up north Hywel. Might be worth a visit to inspect ? It was shown on Countryfile. You could have it in the old toilet where you store your Fuchsias !
A new school being built here has meant the road covered in builder's dust for months. Fed up with washing my car with washing up water. Now buy cheapie furniture polish, and use cotton waste. Easy !
Old compost bin bags cut up make excellent hanging basket and balcony basket liners, retaining water. No drips.
Tomato tray under greenhouse plants means no water wasted. All container plants have a large saucer.
Bowl in bathroom sink means all waste water flushes the toilet some of the time.
It pays off in reduced Water Bills if metered.

22 Sep, 2012


i have used a few compost toilets...and as long as there is enough sawdust to cover whatever is in it then theres no smell. we even had to use them for our daughters wedding although we did bring in a couple of portaloos for the faint hearted...i tried to have them on my campsite...but as it built an very rocky ground there was no exit for the liquids. there are some amazing contraptions out there Lori well worth a look..
love the low water usage on your car Hywel...we adopt the same no car washing here

22 Sep, 2012


appreciate your concerns about that aspect of compost toilets, looking about for all the info I can find...and most importantly for the input of people who already use the composting toilets. They are a bit expensive to install...and require a good supply of compost medium.. you mentioned sawdust, Sandra. I know some models aren't strictly compost...they involve incineration and that involves use of another type of energy!...still looking and will report when I find my toilet! LOL....
We have beaucoup de l'eau here...we talk about paying our "Hydro bills" every much of our electricity is produced by hydro-electric generation. The scale of water use in Canada is massive! It is hard not to waste what is so plentiful most of the time.
This summer I have used some of your methods, Diane.
People need to act individually. It's hard to do when others are observed being wasteful...we have to take the high road! Unfortunately for some..water conservation is mandatory.
Hywel mentioned reservoirs! they've made a few over here too...and one of the side effects of making reservoirs is that the submerged soil and plants produce their own pollution for the first 5-10 years after ward. It takes a while for nature to produce the organic out of our mechanically produced structures.

22 Sep, 2012


Hywel: will be asking some questions about your concern. Health...can't overlook our health.

22 Sep, 2012


Yes that's what conserns me about them ... if you have an infection and it gives you the runs, or makes you sick ... I don't know if I'd like to make compost out of infectious stuff like that :o(
Sometimes we just have to use water.

22 Sep, 2012


I use a couple of hanging baskets but just above beding plants so the drains from baskets water the bed.
because of the dry summer here in greece I dont use lown. Just left the wids grow and use them as a lown matter. They are more tough and dont neet much water even in the hotest days of the summer.

22 Sep, 2012


The compost from any human waste source would not be useable on a garden which was to produce food. If I do buy a composting toilet I will never use the compost directly on anything. I would re-compost it and use it sparingly only on decorative plants or lawn and be very careful of water around it.
We had a horrible outbreak of bacterial pollution in a small town water supply caused by heavy rains which accumulated in a cattle feedlot and the runoff made it's way into the water supply. People died of E. coli pollution in Walkerton, Ontario. It is found in the gut of people and animals and can be spread by hands or by polluted water. It's always wise to wash everything you consume, even if it is labelled as washed, i.e. lettuce..and salad greens. Testing of well water is mandatory when property is sold. And I was concerned about using the water from our little stream on my garden because it was downstream from the piggies. But we still buy distilled water and use it for drinking and cooking...and brushing our teeth! lol.

23 Sep, 2012


It's been almost a year and a half since I made the last comment and I have to report that T. and I are still thinking very seriously about installing a composting toilet. With our current septic system a lot of water just runs from the well to the tank, by way of a leaky shutoff valve in the toilet tank! Discovered that not long ago, and it was frustrating to think that I've been skimping on other water usage while it was running like that!
Have one of the new low water usage washers and I HATE it...nothing is properly rinsed and I must use a High Efficiency liquid detergent...It's just NOT a GOOD thing~another of the pseudo environmental (green) so-called conservation technologies. In fairness, I should say that if you live in an urban setting it may be a very good thing to try...but out here, using water from a well, it's not working out well at all. This spring I will install a clothes line and put the other energy saving appliance on hiatus for a while!
"The best things in life are free!" and that's so true of wind and solar power. Granted, we have to buy or accumulate the parts and build, the new technologies. Recently saw a Youtube video of a Venturi wind collector for a wind turbine...(an automotive alternator) positioned in a tube beneath a funny looking wind collector which will produce electricity from winds as light as 2 miles per hour...(or so they have proved.) They could be used on top of buildings in a city...or beside the barn on the farm! Let's all hope that the schemes are not diverted by vested petroleum industries..and things like that can become available to the average home owner.

18 Feb, 2014

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