Tag Archives: Wastewater

World Water Day 2017: Why Waste Water?

Today is World Water Day 2017!wold waterday

In 1993, March 22 was designated as World Water Day by the United Nations (U.N.), thus setting aside a day for the world to focus its attention on finding solutions to the world water crisis.


Photo Credit: Oxfam

Currently, 1.8 billion people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water, resulting in nearly 1 million annual deaths. Launched in 2015, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to Transform the World include the goal of all people having access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2030.


World Water Day is a great day to concentrate on making that goal a reality!

The emphasis of this year’s campaign is wastewater—the water that runs down the drain after washing your hands or out into the street when you water your lawn. Wastewater from our homes, cities, industry and agriculture, most often finds its way back into the ecosystem untreated, contributing to pollution, and without being reused, wasting a limited resource.

Wastewater Treatment Stages

           Wastewater Treatment Stages             Photo Credit: Annabel

There are ways to treat and reuse wastewater responsibly and safely in order to return it to the environment. In doing so, water can be stretched to its maximum potential.

Why waste water when it has so much left to give? To learn more about wastewater and its place in the water cycle, check out the  2017 Fact Sheet.

Water DropWorld Water Day is a day to educate ourselves on what we can do today, and throughout the year, to secure our collective water future—making water work for everyone. You can join the global conversation and share your water story using the hashtag #MyWaterStory.

Together, we can make a difference when we protect our most precious resource—WATER!

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Filed under Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Environment, Water conservation, Water Quality

Real-time water use and treatment dashboard

Wow! This time it’s not your water, Colorado, it’s Oberlin, Ohio’s– as displayed on this cool real-time online dashboard. And hey, it could be your water, if we created dashboards for Colorado’s different regions. Although the Colorado Foundation for Water Education hasn’t taken on such a project, it’s a pretty great tool– take a look at Oberlin’s dashboard to see how much water is being used, processed and circulated throughout the city, and check out water quality too. Read about what they’ve done in Ohio, as reported by Public Radio International’s Living on Earth:oberlinmap

Petersen said the goal of the dashboard was to take very complex, technical information and translate it into an accessible, easily understood presentation.

“We’re trying to create these sort of compelling animated graphics that convey to people in a way how their resource consumption is actually affecting the world around them,” he said.

The Oberlin project is out in front of a wave of projects designed to illustrate energy flows and energy uses.  Especially over the past 10 years, the initiatives have really taken off. But Petersen insists his project is slightly different from these existing efforts.

“We’re trying to monitor not just resource flows in individual buildings, but resource flows at the whole community scale — as well as environmental quality,” he said.

If you load up the dashboard, you’re given the choice of looking at a city view, a view specific to an individual building.

“You’re looking at the freshwater treatment plant, the wastewater treatment plant, the electricity production facility, the river that drains our community,” he said. “And you’re watching electrons flow down power lines; you’re watching water flow down pipes.”

Because Oberlin is powered largely by coal, the power plant spews black smoke clouds every few seconds, a reminder of the impacts of power generation in the real world. But nearby are wind turbines and solar panels, indicative of how the energy mix is starting to change.

Clicking over to the water dashboard, the site presents information about water use, waste water processing and even the storage level of a local reservoir.

“If you look at that in the morning, you’re going to see high use because people are taking showers. There are times of day when our little bit of light industry within Oberlin is going to be using more water,” Petersen said.

The dashboard also shows individual electricity use, air quality, water quality — all indicators of community health.

So far, all the information has captivated parts of the community, Petersen said. Especially school children.

“We do actually see children as being central to this process,” he said. “Not just as recipients of information, but one of the things that we’re most excited about with environmental dashboard, is the community voices section where we’re taking images, and messages drawn from community members and displaying them to the community.”

Ultimately, Petersen is hoping the dashboard will help people to make decisions about their behaviors and alter them in a way that is more environmentally sustainable.

But in the short-term, the goal is merely to get people to engage with the dashboard, so they can make decisions, Petersen said, that are consistent with sustainable community life.

“We’re just as interested in having people think about how they are interacting with other community members, how they’re voting in local elections,” he said. “We want them to think about all of those things as they relate to resource use.”

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Filed under Energy, Water Supply, Watershed Groups

The cost of water

hw coverHow many times have you heard someone say that water is cheap, priced well below its value? Probably a lot; and probably, like me, you’ve even said it yourself. Now imagine the opposite; imagine what it would be like if water was priced above its value. That’s much harder to envision, isn’t it? For some, though, water may already be too expensive.

Wrote David LaFrance in his column for the July issue of the Journal AWWA. Some cannot afford the water they need, but in the future we may not have the luxury of ‘low’ water prices. LaFrance notes that most utilities understand it’s important that water be affordable, but asks

Who is to say what is affordable and what is not and how that can be measured?… When properly set, the price of water and wastewater services is based on the cost of providing those services. For good reasons, the cost-of-service rate-setting methodology does not address the concept of the ability of each customer to pay.

LaFrance notes that rates will continue to increase.

Through the Winter 2013 issue of Headwaters magazine, CFWE reported on rate setting and the rising cost of bringing water to your faucet, and costs are rising.

Water rates have surged in the past decade, doubling across much of Colorado. Nationally, according to the American Water Works Association, water and wastewater charges for 1,000 gallons of water have increased annually by 4.7 percent and 4.9 percent respectively– a rate nearly double the annual Consumer Price Index increase of 2.5 percent.  (By comparison, the average electricity rate in Colorado increased by just 1.6 percent between 100 and 2011.) At the same time, the roles of water and wastewater utilities have changed, and the environment they operate in is wrought with expense. “I don’t think we’ve done a good job of making people understand, appreciate and support why our water bill is what it is,” Binney says [Peter Binney is manager of sustainable infrastructure for Merrick & Company and former director of Aurora Water].

Read more to discover the elements incorporated in water rates, why and how rates are on the rise and to learn more about water and wastewater utilities. From meeting the needs of growing communities and updating old infrastructure to meeting the requirements of new regulations– water rates deliver the water our communities need.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) uses different measurements to assess water and
wastewater affordability, writes LaFrance.

For wastewater there is a twopronged test that includes the impact on individuals (as measured by median household income) and the community itself (as measured by a series of economic indicators). For potable water, however, affordability is measured on the basis of the impact to small communities in aggregate…The need to make sure that drinking water is safe and that wastewater is clean is important to everyone— whether they fall above or below the median. As providers and managers of the most precious resource on earth, we and the USEPA need to ensure that the price of water remains affordable for all customers—not just the top half of earners.


Filed under Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Headwaters Magazine