Category Archives: Water

Self-Watering Container Garden

I met an urban gardener from New York City via Twitter not long ago, an avid balcony (and fire escape and yard) gardener and blogger. I checked out CanarsieBK’s blog and found some great info, including but not limited to these wicked self-watering containers.

It’s now official, “I’m not here to water” is no longer a legit excuse not to garden. Check out this clever concept and watch the how-to video at Urban Organic Gardener.

I hope more people adopt the Local Delicious philosophy that every little bit counts. Well said, CanarsieBK (a.k.a. Mike Lieberman):

“Most people think that living sustainably and making eco-friendly decisions are difficult and can’t be done. That it’s an all or nothing type game. Through my sites and writing, I want to show you that it’s simple to make these decisions. Some or all of these steps can easily be done in your daily lives without any disruption, and I would like to show you how to do them.” – CanarsieBK/Mike Lieberman

Soaker Hose Saves Water

The Bumbling Gardener’s garden has recently been outfitted with a sleek set of soaker hoses. As a complement to the rain barrel, which does not provide enough pressure to reach to the end of the soaker hose, we’ll water on a weekly basis and supplement with the rain barrel, on the assumption that we’ll get enough rain during the season to do so.

new-soaker-hose(I now actually hope for the occasional rainy, summer day. This is VERY odd.)

A quick search of the Internet turned up numerous sites that explain how to use a soaker hose, most making it much more complicated that it needs to be, with timers and pressure gauges, etc. In a nutshell:

  • Wrap the hoses around your garden
  • Feel free to cover them with dirt or mulch
  • They have about a 12″ – 18″ reach
  • Soak less frequently for longer so the water goes deep and so do the plant roots

My favourite thing is, you save about 70% of the water you’d use if you watered with a sprinkler and none of it evaporates into the air. I thought the claims were a bit far-fetched, but site after site says the same thing — and what do I know, anyway?

A few notes…

The first hose I bought promptly cracked at the nozzle end, but it came with a 4 year guarantee and the store happily exchanged it.

When I first laid out the hose it was pretty stiff and unwieldy, so I held it in place with lengths of trimmed tree branches from the compost pile, sunk into the soil. Now that it’s had water run through it a few times, it’s fully pliable and I’ve been able to remove the sticks and reposition as necessary for optimal coverage.

More Benefits to Drinking Local Water

I swear, I’m not searching this stuff out, it’s just coming out of the woodwork! I haven’t sent a request for information to anyone, and the friend who sent me this mass-forwarded presentation doesn’t even know I’ve been blogging about water.

I can’t vouch for the source of the info, but even if it’s only half or even a quarter true it’s still going to make you stop and contemplate where your water is coming from, how it got to you, and what’s going to happen to the container it came in when you’re done.

Water Disaster

Drink Local…Water, I Mean

If you are interested in the question of bottled versus tap water quality, Food & Water Watch has prepared the must-read Take Back the Tap report which covers the many angles of this issue, including:

  • The bottled water purity myth
  • Minimal bottled vs stringent municipal quality regulations
  • The damaging affects to local farms and communities

For more info on the issues, check out our posts on the world/local water issue documentaries, Blue Gold and Flow as well.

Who Owns Your Water?

Yeah, you read that title right, “Who owns our water?” If you think that’s like asking “Who owns our air” you’re onto something. Pretty crazy isn’t it? But the weirdest part is, people running big corporations already own some people’s water and are looking to own yours. Then they can sell it to the highest bidder. And, if that isn’t you, you may well be out o’ luck.

My switch to local tap water, even on the go, came just before I discovered two documentaries on global and local water issues. Blue Gold and Flow deal with the issue differently, but have the same underlying message — we need to know what’s happening with the water in our world.

Note to self: if it can happen in Paris, it can happen here and then some.

Not only do the folks behind Flow want you to know what’s happening with water consumption and privatization, they encourage viewers to take action. Whether it’s signing an Article 31 online petition to update the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensuring access to clean water as a fundamental human right, or connecting with one of the many organizations focused on water issues, the necessary tools to become informed are provided.

I suspect like most people, I had a vague sense that water privatization doesn’t seem like a good idea. Now I know why.

Enjoy the Luxury of Local, Drinkable Water

Fresh, drinkable water as a diminishing resource is a global issue, but it’s also a local concern. More local than you may realize and more in jeopardy than you may be comfortable knowing. I didn’t have any more than a vague idea until recently.

I came across a couple of documentaries about water issues shortly after being taken to task for carrying around a case of bottled water in my trunk.

The first movie is Blue Gold, based on a book of that name by Tony Clarke and Maude Barlow, outspoken activists on the issues of water privatization. It’s a serious eye opener about how much water we have on the planet (97% is salt, 3% is fresh, and the bulk of the “fresh” is actually polluted), what’s happening with it, and how we all will be affected if something doesn’t change.

Forget Hollywood, this documentary has political corruption, class clashes, violence, bloodshed…and plenty of suspense and drama. Think the threat of other countries taking our fresh water is science fiction? I recommend watching the movie and getting a little more informed about what we will be up against in the not-very-distant future.

  • Did you know that the large, multinational, drink producing companies (they are household names) are sucking out ground water around the world at an astonishing rate — for free — and seriously affecting water tables and local farming?
  • Did you know there are (barely enforced) standards for bottled water contents, but none for soft drinks made from the same water?
  • Did you know that soft drinks cost significantly less than bottled water in many developing countries?
  • Do you know the abysmal track record of water privatization companies worldwide where costs have tripled for reduced service and the poor can’t pay so they don’t get clean water?
  • Ever tried to live without clean water?

Having seen the movie, I’m even more happy I switched from bottled to local tap water, and I’ll be keeping an eye out in the media for any rumblings about privatizing or selling our incredible natural resource, the one we take so for granted every day and frequently complain about.

Now, what to do with that Dasani bottle in the fridge that came with last week’s bundled picnic lunch? I certainly don’t want to drink it…

The Switch From Bottled Water is all about eating local and finding delicious, locally produced products so you have more options for eating local. Embedded in that is my belief that supporting local farmers and food producers builds our economy and builds our community — not necessarily in that order and with equal importance. (It’s hard to have a strong community with a weak economy.)

It’s sometimes hard to distinguish which issues are strictly local, though. I mean, The Environment is a heck of a huge issue, and global in scope. But it does have local ramifications, obviously.

So it is with the issue of water.

I got raked over the coals recently for having a case of bottled water in my trunk. Now here’s the confession: I’m just a regular Joan/Joe like most you. Though I’m issues-conscious and try to be generally well-informed, I am decidedly not a strict adherent to any movement. I don’t always do everything I “should” be doing to reduce my emissions (sounds a little crude, doesn’t it?), reduce my footprint, recycle/reuse, and always chose the environmentally sustainable option. Heck, I don’t even always eat local.

So there you have it: I’m a bit of a skeptic about jumping on any band wagons, but I do believe in individual responsibility and making an effort.

So when I got taken to task by a decidedly non-environmentally concerned citizen, I knew he had a point. In truth, I’ve often felt guilty about all those plastic bottles even though I frequently use them more than once and always leave them beside the dumpster so they are sure to be picked up and taken to the recycling depot. It was especially guilt-inducing when I’d have 3 or 4 empties rolling around together on the floor of the car, taunting me.

I’d often thought about alternatives to keeping bottled water in the trunk, so the pointed barb hit it’s mark. I mean, bottled water isn’t anything more than tap water and it’s often filled with more harmful junk than our local tap water is. So, what was the issue? Laziness? Inertia? The need for yet more planning ahead in an already chaotic daily schedule?

Well, I’m happy to report that the case of bottled water is now gone from my trunk, replaced with 3 non-BPA containers that I rotate. One is with me up front, two are in the trunk in case I run out. The bottled water was always about convenience, but I’ve discovered that the new system is pretty darn convenient and less hassle than I’d imagined. With the three on rotation, I’ve yet to run out.

Hah! One giant step for me, one small step for the earth.

Fresh Take on Water: “Vancouver Tap”

While at dinner with a friend a few years ago, I was amused when the waiter offered me a choice of either “bottled water” or “Vancouver Tap”. It was a higher end restaurant and I thought this was a great way to describe the less exciting option. It wasn’t just tap water – it was a much sexier, well-branded “Vancouver Tap”.

1057179_drinking_water_2Perhaps the ultimate in consuming local food and beverages, tap water is beginning a return to vogue. With the realization that bottled water leaves behind, well, bottles (3 million in Vancouver area landfills last year alone), many environmental groups and, indeed, Metro Vancouver itself, are lobbying residents to take another look at “Vancouver Tap”. In fact, Metro Vancouver has a current goal to reduce bottled water use by 20% by 2010 by encouraging residents to refill reusable water bottles with tap water.

Further to the environmental affects, the cost of bottles vs. tap is staggering. Bottled water costs $1-2 per litre while tap water in Metro Vancouver costs a mere $0.80 per 1,000 litres. If you’re concerned about the chlorine taste in the water (used to disinfect the water from both the Capilano and Seymour reservoirs), water filtration systems such as Brita can help.

So, next time you need to quench that thirst, reach for “Vancouver Tap”: it’s cheap, safe, and leaves no bottle behind.