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Archive for the ‘Drinking Water’ tag

Just Enough

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I just read through a wonderful book. Wonderful refers to both its content as to the way it is made, designed, and illustrated. The book is called “Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan

The book is about the Edo Period, which is a period in Japan’s history when ‘the mentality of the time found meaning and satisfaction in a life in which the individual took just enough from the world, and no more’. This is a fascinating approach, and as the author points out, difficult to judge for any of us who has never lived in a mostly self-sustaining society.

we will need to learn again what it means to use ‘just enough’, and to allow our choices to be guided by a deeper appreciation of the limits of the world we have been bequeathed as well as a determination to leave future generations with better possibilities than what we have given ourselves.

A central element necessary for this self-sustainability was the concept of re-use. The book is full of descriptions of how everything was used over and over again, and if something was not good for anything at all anymore, it was used to be burned for heat. The book illustrates clearly, how the concept of re-use propagated through design decisions for every little detail: the architecture of houses, the surroundings of houses, the planning of the city, how water is used, how food is used including how most people were vegetarians, or how manure was a precious resource and was collected in cities to be used as fertilizer on farm land. This went so far, that people with many children hat to pay less rent, because they provided so much fertilizer.

The movie “Plastic Planet”, about which I blogged, demonstrated clearly that our current society doesn’t re-use many things at all, and pointed out clearly that very soon we people on planet earth have to re-learn how to re-use things very quickly. From the view of “society”, there is also a relation to an article in the german paper TAZ, entitled “Ungleichheit zersetzt Gesellschaften“, which presents a study that showed that people live happier in countries with more equal opportunities, such as Japan (sic!)

preserving water in traditional Japan

Preserving water in traditional Japan

Here is the interesting part which is especially related to this blog: The people in Edo-Period Japan had realized that especially the resource clean water is very critical for their self-sustainability. Methods and designs for preserving water appeared in every facet of daily life:

  • it was known that forests plays a critical role for storing water that is released over summer from glaciers at the high mountains. Hence forests determine the availability of water during the summer months. Hence they need to and were protected;
  • for the cities, water sources such as rivers and ponds were protected for drinking water supply, and the people realized that people far away need to make sakrifices for source water protection in order to facilitate supply in cities via aqueducts;
  • water in these aqueducts was mostly kept flowing by gravity, which required very sophisticated design — and allowed flowing water in all parts of the city 24/7, almost a luxury and unknown to european cities of the time.

Here is another review of “Just Enough”.

Written by Claus

March 18th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

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Water-Presentation Without Spoken Words

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Here is a great presentation that does not contain spoken words, and it is about how a lot of people lack drinking water. I am not sure if I agree 100% with all its content, but I think it is still a very interestingly made presentation.

Via Presentation Zen.

The guys from have another funny presenation on water! Here. I had previously posted about another water-related presentation.

Written by Claus

April 14th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

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World Water Forum Istanbul

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Currently, the 5th World Water Forum takes place in Istanbul. Its subtitle is “Bridging Divides for Water” hinting at the necessary turning point for water resources: making drinking water available for everybody. It seems like the geographic location of Istanbul might be a proper choice for that theme. There are six main themes, around which sessions are grouped: “Global Change and Risk Management”, “Advancing Human Development and the MDGs”, “Managing and Protecting Water Resources”, “Governance & Management”, “Finance”, and “Education, Knowledge and Capacity Development”.

Additionally, there is a big exposition with booths from participating countries and companies. There are “high level panels” on “water and disasters”, on “local financing”, on “water, food, and energy”, on “sanitation”, and on “water and climate change”.

The main webpage is huge, and it is a little hard to find out what is happening where. It seems like a huge congress though. It will be interesting to see what the outcomes are! The Guardian reports on the congress and on protesters. The article quotes Maude Barlow, recipient of the 2005 Right Livelihood Award and chairperson of The Council of Canadians:

It’s organised to look like a UN-type event but it’s not. […] It’s really just a big trade show put on by the big water companies. There is going to be no mention of water as a human right. They don’t want to support that because they see water as a commodity to be sold on the open market. There is mounting evidence that privatisation has failed. We believe water should be a public trust.

Maude Barlow is also member of the organizing committe of the “Alternative Water Forum“, which also takes currently place (March 20 to 22), also in Istanbul.

Written by Claus

March 17th, 2009 at 8:17 am

German Water Bottle – What’s Going on?

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Yesterday, my girlfriend bought a water bottle. When I saw the back, my immediate reaction was a positive surprise, because what I saw, seemed to be a hydrogeologic cross-section. And that can’t be a bad thing, right?

Label of German water bottle

Label of a German Water Bottle

Unfortunately, some thoughts came to my mind which don’t add up everywhere… Let’s look a little closer at that label:

Enlarged Label

Enlarged Label of a German Water Bottle

  • The first layer, indicated in green, is labeled “earth- and rock- layers” — does the green indicate that in these layers are living plants? Why does the text indicate that there are multiple layers, and the picture shows only one green layer?
  • The second layer is called “ground- and surface water”. Why should they be mixed? And why is the surface water below the ground surface under earth- and rock- layers? It is shaded in blue, I guess indicating the presence of water. What does the arrow in that layer imply? Why is there a relatively thin, darker blue layer?
  • The next layer down in the sequence is shaded in grey and labeled “water impermeable layer”. So this layer is a steel plate?
  • The bottom most layer is labeled “Ice-ageSpring – the perfectly protected mineral water from the ice-age”. This layer is indicated by a really nice variable shading in blue in white resembling a glacier. Does that mean there’s a glacier down there? Why is that layer perfectly protected? By the water-impermeable layer on top? Does it mean that layer is also impermeable for contaminants? The arrow on top, pointing vertically towards ground surface indicates input from “agriculture and industry” — where does that input go? “Just” into ground- and surface water?
  • The boundaries of all the layers are parallel, and all except the bottom most layers have constant thickness everywhere.

All these questions in my mind, I thought I’d strive for clarification, and have a look at the webpage that the label indicates. This is what I found under the section “expert opinion“:

„EiszeitQuell weist nur alte, gereifte Grundwasserkomponenten auf. Das eiszeitliche Mineralwasservorkommen wird gegen Umwelteinflüsse in idealer Weise abgeschirmt. Die ausgewogene Zusammensetzung der Inhaltsstoffe und das Fehlen von anthropogen bedingten, vom Menschen verursachten Stoffen wie Nitrat oder Nitrit bewirken unter anderem seine in zahlreichen Untersuchungen nachgewiesene ursprüngliche Reinheit. Es ist natriumarm und für die Zubereitung von Säuglingsnahrung geeignet.“

If you don’t understand German, and even if you put this only into the google translating service, you will notice, that they talk about this water as if it was the main course in a five star restaurant!

What was the company thinking? Is there anything we could do?

Written by Claus

January 11th, 2009 at 6:18 am

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For already quite a while doughnut-shaped water bottles are available in Finnish supermarkets. The idea is, to donate 10 cents of each sold bottle for the protection of the Baltic Sea. Is this sensible? The bottle is a disposable one. The water is tap water. It isn’t even sparkling water, because most people don’t like bubbles in water (as long as there isn’t also hop and malt).

In most bars and restaurant in Finland you get tap water for free. There are no additional costs for transport and packaging and you can be sure the water is potable. As long as you don’t live in Nokia, there is absolutely no reason to buy bottled water. Drinking tap water and investing some money in a proper waste water treatment at the summer cottage is probably far more sensible than doughnut-shaped bottles.

Anyway, the advertisement video is nice. Participants are Bam Margera, HIM and Jorma Uotinen, which is a famous Finnish dancer.

Written by Johannes

September 15th, 2008 at 1:41 am

Organizations That Help Provide Drinking-Water

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I came across the site of charitywater, who put an enormous effort into their website to help and drill wells. If it’s your birthday, you can sign up there and let people give money to those guys.

As a hydrogeologist, I want to point you also to hydrogeologists without border, who work along similar lines, but are trained hydrogeologists. I guess already from their name and the similarity to the probably better known medicines sans frontiers / doctors without borders, you can easily derive what their goal is.

Update Wednesday; April 22, 2009: Drinking Water for Life is another option if you are looking into ways to support people who can’t afford drinking water.

Update Sunday; April 26, 2009: Please check also “charity:water” out

Written by Claus

September 12th, 2008 at 5:54 am

Best Presentation is About Water!

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Slideshare announced the winners of their presentation contest. The winning presentation is a cool summary about the importance of drinking water. Check it out:

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

Written by Claus

September 3rd, 2008 at 2:10 am

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Personally, I’ve always thought bottled water is weird. First, I don’t like it carbonated (bubbly), second, it seems weird to buy something, that is coming straight out of the taps in your house, with equal or even better quality control than what you would buy in bottles, and you don’t have to carry it.

Especially, I always thought this image to be scary:

Coke vs. Gas Price

Ok, it’s sugary water, not “pure” water, but hey.

The NY Times recently reviewed a book that looks into the phenomenon of bottled water: “Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It” by Elizabeth Royte (at or at VLB)

There is also a letter to the editor which provides some insights as to how drinking water is controlled in the US. And there is also a free chapter available to read online at the NYTimes.

Written by Claus

July 1st, 2008 at 2:17 am

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Private Water Resource Company Forced to Leave Felton, California

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The german daily newspaper “die Tageszeitung” reported yesterday about drinking water supply issues in the city of Felton, California. In 2002, a company called Cal-Am bought the water related civic works. According to “die Tageszeitung”, Cal-Am is going to quit supplying water for Felton.

Cal-Am is part of another company called RWE, which is traditionally a fairly big German electric power generation company, and since recently is the third largest private water resource management company. This is the link to Cal-Am, I guess designed for Felton. It is pretty interesting what they post in their “Facts” section.

Additional links:

Written by Claus

June 10th, 2008 at 5:56 am

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Reversing Water-Privatization

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The city of Berlin had privatized their water works nine years ago. Now they city wants its water back. If you’re living in Berlin, you can sign up here.

Written by Claus

January 21st, 2008 at 3:08 pm

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