Posts tagged water conservation

Silver Lake Reservoir photo by Michael Kansas Sebastian/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Silver Lake Reservoir in happier full capacity times. Photo by Michael Kansas Sebastian/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Recycled Water, Groundwater to Refill Silver Lake Reservoir: A recent AHBE Lab post about the future of the Silver Lake Reservoir pondered where the water to refill and maintain the Reservoir would come from. Now we know: “Recycled wastewater and groundwater will most likely be used to refill Silver Lake Reservoir by this time next year, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials told a community meeting Thursday night.”

Rising Tides: Designing Resilient Amenities for Coastal Cities: “Some developers are making the strategic decision to not purchase on waterfronts or in flood zones, and yet other projects close to water are choosing to demonstrate innovation and lead the way because people love being near the water. Water is a magnet.”

California is backsliding on water conservation. L.A. can’t and won’t follow suit: “…the state’s conservation efforts are already backsliding. Urban water savings dropped significantly in July from last year’s mandatory program. Here in the Southland, the most glaring example of this new freedom to waste comes from Malibu-Topanga area residents, who use an average of 254 gallons of water per day — more than 8% higher than a year ago and more than five times higher than residents in Huntington Park, Paramount and East LA.”

More Developers Kick Parking Lots to the Curb: Bad news for car owners: “Developers in more U.S. cities are reducing the amount of parking spaces included in new projects as local authorities seek to encourage the use of mass transit and free up space for parks, housing or other uses.”

A Glorified Sidewalk, and the Path to Transform Atlanta: “Could this traffic-clogged Southern city, long derided as the epitome of suburban sprawl, really be discovering its walkable, bike-friendly, density-embracing, streetcar-riding, human-scale soul?”

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Using Floating Ecosystems to Clean Waterways: Biomatrix Water use nature’s systems to create floating ecosystems that clean up waterways and create biodiverse and vibrant river environments.

Gov. Brown orders permanent California water conservation due to drought: “Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” said Brown in a statement. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”

Pioneering Asian-American Architects in Los Angeles: “The focus piece is about Asian-Angeleno architects: David Hyun, Eugene Choy, Gilbert Leong, Gin Wong, and Helen Fong, five Asian-American architects who lived in Los Angeles and in a very basic sense contributed to the city’s built environment through their architectural designs. They also paved the way for organizations like the Asian American Architects and Engineers Association and contemporary Asian-Angeleno architects…”

BlacklistLA: “They gather after dark and experience downtown Los Angeles en masse. They are hundreds of joggers who sweep through the center of the city, stop to appreciate L.A. murals, and cross the finish line with a sense of community. Reporter Dija Dowling joined the group called “BlacklistLA” and met Erik Valiente, the young organizer who’s own running habit started with a bet.”

The Benefits of Urban Trees:

Click image for full size image.

Click image for full size image.

If you haven’t noticed, this month at AHBE Lab has been dedicated to water conservation and sustainability – ranging from posts about city and state infrastructure, to those revolving around personal household habits, to offering “how-to” instructions for saving and reusing water. We even brought a little levity to what is a pretty serious challenge. I thought I’d chime in with a diagram illustrating how collecting and using water at home can be utilized for creating a sustainable ecosystem at the residential level.

There are essentially 2 parts to the water collection system shown above: 1. the exterior rain water collection and, 2. the interior grey water system (kitchen, bathroom and laundry). Both systems can be as extensive (adding a new grey water piping system) or as simple (bucketing out clean shower water) as you want to make it. Three steps are required for both interior and exterior systems:

  • Monitoring current water use
  • Developing the infrastructure to use water efficiently
  • Create and implement these new integrated systems into daily habits
Designers everywhere are looking to add water sustainability features into communities, including grey water systems, like this one for Eco Village.

Designers everywhere are looking to add water sustainability features into communities, including grey water systems, like this one for Eco Village.

Our plans above recommend integrating exterior features like permeable paving, rain barrels, and irrigation to maximize water use when availability is limited while also aiding in replenishing local aquifers. Inside, our proposed home is equipped with a grey water system, partnered with biodegradable laundry detergents and soaps which won’t harm soil, alongside buckets strategically placed to capture water at drains and sinks to be reused for gardening or landscaping purposes.

Though these propositions may seem difficult to implement, they do have recent precedent. Other countries like Australia and Israel have already integrated these solutions on a city, state, and country wide basis. There is research being done about the Los Angeles River and urban drainage which may help us use the water normally washed away into the ocean. No matter how small or large, bringing these different ideas to the table can help alleviate many of the water related issues we’re facing as a city and as a state.

Photo: The cracked and parched Lake Hume reservoir bed in Victoria.

Photo: The cracked and parched Lake Hume reservoir bed in Victoria.

Like California, Australia has experienced long periods of drought over the centuries. Australia’s most recent drought was labeled the Millennia Drought, beginning back in 1995 and lasting until 2012, drastically impacting the entire country’s infrastructure and lifestyle.

“It is clear that Australians use less water than Californians, with a similar climate, economy, and culture. If California had the same residential water use rates as Australia, it could have reduced gross urban water use by 2.1 million acre-feet.” – U.C. Davis Comparison of Residential Water Usage between California and Australia

In response to the severity of its long-lasting drought, Australia implemented serious reform at the state government level. For instance, regulators use satellite imagery to identify and impose fines for green lawns. Public government reports are used to reveal household water use, while shaming water-wasting individuals is considered an effective tool for reducing daily water consumption. A cap and trade system allows water and land owners to buy and sell shares of their water allotment. With signs of another drought affecting parts of Victoria and South Australia, the country is better equipped to conserve and manage their precious resource because these strict measures are already enacted.

Although Australia’s response to the latest drought may be considered radical measures by some Californians, it is clear the country has succeeded in significantly reducing their water usage, allowing the population to survive one of the worst droughts in history.

So what is keeping California from adopting similar measures?

Well, for one thing, there’s a reason why our drought is often referred to as an “invisible” problem. Culturally and subconsciously, some Californians have a hard time giving up or cutting back personal freedoms of water usage. And despite our individual efforts to save water, maybe we need radical reform to make the problem visible and the solutions more unified at the state and federal levels. California is not the only state in a drought, and it’s best for all citizens to recognize resources like water are not infinite, whether stricter measures are or not enforced.

George Costanza’s motivations for relieving himself while in shower might be more slovenly and lazy in nature, but our favorite doltish character from the Seinfeld ensemble might have been inadvertently onto something if water conservation is of concern: peeing while in the shower can save 1,157 gallons of water annually per household.


Considering there are 12,542,460 million households in California according to U.S. Census, that roughly equates to 14,511,626,220 billion gallons of water per year saved by multi-tasking. It’s such a significant figure several water conservation groups have used the taboo act in their headline grabbing campaigns to spread water conservation awareness (it’s #gowiththeflow if you want to hashtag your commitment to water conservation). So take relief friends…relieving yourself isn’t shameful, it’s a water-wise decision.

Now Kramer’s dual purpose shower and food waste disposal system designed for washing produce while lathered…now that’s only for the truly California drought committed!