I know that many parts of the east coast of Australia have been too darn wet this year and for a while. Places like Bundaberg in Queensland are still suffering dreadfully from the effects of flood. Victoria is no longer either in flood nor is it experiencing drought. Vic only came out of a twelve year drought a couple of years ago. The people of Victoria learned not to waste water - even those living in Melbourne. While things are not as bad they were, there are indicators that we have drifted away somewhat from our water thrift. The comments below from Danielle Nierenberg will, I hope, serve to remind us about water waste as we come up to UN World Water Day on 22 March.
March 22, 2013is the 20th anniversary of World Water Day. In honor of this important anniversary, this week we are highlighting 7 Strategies for Reducing Water Waste. Please visit the Food Tank website each day over the next week for posts focused on innovations around water.
Although the earth has 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water, only 0.001 percent of thatis accessible for human consumption and use.And 70 percentof water is used for agricultural purposes. In 2012, the United States experienced the most severe drought in at least 25 years which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), affected 80 percent of agricultural land in the country. Couple that with recent droughts in other parts of the world, most notably in the African Sahel, and the urgency for action to safeguard water resources is clear.
As water supplies face mounting pressures from growing populations, climate change, and an already troubled food system, analyses of “water wealth” and “water security” are laying the groundwork for future cooperation and stability. In order to meet all municipal, agricultural, and ecological needs for water, it is crucial to develop innovative water saving systems for the future of food production.
Here are seven strategies for reducing water waste in the food system:
1. Eating Less Meat According to Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project, it takes roughly 3,000 liters of water to meet one person’s daily dietary needs, or approximately 1 liter per calorie. The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of red meat can range from 13,000 to 43,000 liters of water; poultry requires about 3,500 liters of water; and pork needs about 6,000 liters. Eating more meatless meals, even one or two days a week, can help conserve water resources.
2. Using intercropping, agroforestry, and cover crops Soil health is critical to water conservation. Diversifying farms by including cover crops, planting trees on farms, and intercropping can help keep nutrients and water in the soil, protecting plants from drought and making sure that every drop of water delivered by rainfall or irrigation can be utilized.
3. Implementing micro-irrigation Approximately 60 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted. Drip irrigation methods can be more expensive to install, but can also be 33 percent to 40 percent more efficient, carrying water or fertilizers directly to plants’ roots.
4. Improving Rainwater Harvesting Since the 1980s, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, farmers in Burkina Faso have been modifying traditional planting pits known as zai, making them deeper and wider and adding organic materials. As a result, the pits retain rainwater longer, helping farmers to increase yields even in years of low rainfall.
5. Using mobile technology to save water Santosh Ostwal is an innovator and entrepreneur in India who has developed a system that allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn their irrigation systems on and off remotely. This helps reduce the amount of water and electricity wasted on watering fields that are already saturated.
6. Planting perennial crops Perennial crops protect the soil for a greater length of time than annual crops, which reduces water loss from runoff. According to a report from the Land Institute, "annual grain crops can lose five times as much water and 35 times as much nitrate as perennial crops."
7. Practicing Soil Conservation Soil conservation techniques, including no-till farming, can help farmers to better utilize the water they have available. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), studies have shown that no-till techniques improve water-retention capacity and improve water use efficiency in crops.
Ranges Council has proposed an Environmental Significance Overlay to
apply to new developments in the Little Stringybark Creek catchment
which create additional hard surfaces, such as roofs or paving, that are
greater than 10 square metres.
approval will be conditional on the proponents finding options to
capture and treat more of their stormwater runoff onsite.
pilot program will encourage residents to capture their stormwater at
home and use it to flush their toilets, water their gardens and for
other non-drinking purposes around the home. It is a practical example
of how Integrated Water Cycle Management can be tailored to suit the
needs of local communities.
the trial, all stormwater capture and treatment systems will be awarded
a stormwater retention score. Calculated by Melbourne Water, the score
will be based on the ability to treat and capture stormwater on site,
with a minimum score needed for new developments to proceed.
options such as raingardens or rainwater tanks that go beyond the
minimum requirements may be eligible for partial or full reimbursement
by Melbourne Water. Households may also be eligible for Victorian
Government rebates through the Living Victoria Water Rebate Program.
The Minister for Water,
the Honourable Peter Walsh, MLA, has officially opened the $77 million
biosolids thermal drying facility at the Black Rock environmental
precinct in Connewarre. The ribbon-cutting completed a project that has
been more than 10 years in the making.
day of the year, the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant treats around
50 million litres of domestic and commercial sewage from the greater
Geelong region and creates almost 140 tonnes of biosolids. Biosolids
are nutrient-rich and make valuable fertiliser, but must be first dried
and turned into pellets.
biosolids drying facility was built by the Plenary Group and will be
operated by the Water Infrastructure Group. The $77 million project was
delivered within the Partnerships Victoria framework, an initiative of
the Victorian Government.
Mayor Bloomberg announces compost program for Staten Island during State of the City speech
a pilot program starting in Staten Island, homeowners will receive two
sealed-top bins, a large one for curbside collection and a smaller one
for their kitchens, and New York will pick up the scraps once a week,
using composting to turn them into fertilizer for parks. The plan could
be expanded to the rest of New York City.
The way New Yorkers clean up after dinner would change forever if Mayor Bloomberg gets his way.
Instead of slopping their leftovers into the trash, homeowners will be
tossing eggshells, chicken bones and other scraps into compost bins in
the city’s first food recycling program, which was formally announced in
Bloomberg’s State of the City address Thursday.
Starting with a pilot program on Staten Island, homeowners will receive
sealed-top bins — large ones for curbside collection and smaller ones
that can be kept in their kitchens — and the city will pick up the
scraps once a week and use composting to turn them into fertilizer for
parks, said city recycling czar Ron Gonen.
The city picked Staten Island for the pilot because it has so many
single-family homes, but hopes to eventually expand the program citywide
— where tiny kitchens and apartment buildings faced with sorting waste
into a fourth category could be a tougher sell.
On Saturday night, Ian Hall and I were in Melbourne's eastern suburbs for a friend's wedding. After the reception, somewhere about midnight, we went to bed setting the alarm for 3am. You see, Gleaners, we wanted to get into the city to catch White Night which was operating from 7pm to 7am.
No vehicular traffic was entering the Melbourne CBD but trams were running all night. We drove in and parked in the university precinct and caught the No. 19 (North Coburg) tram into the CBD. Even though the crowd numbers at that hour were well down on the quoted 300,000, the transformed city was a wonder to see. Familiar buildings were transformed beyond what our daily imagination could have conjured up. Creativity was released. Music, performers, artists, craftspeople, puppeteers.
However, there was something very thoughtless and unattractive on what was left behind - massive quantities of rubbish and detritus.
The sort of demographic which flocked to White Night, I think, would have responded positively to a poll asking their attitude to matters environmental. I am sure the majority of people would have been enthusiasts expressing great love and concern for their environment. The major flaw is that love and concern was not demonstrated on the streets of the Melbourne CBD on Saturday night 23 February 2013.
I don't want to hold only the individuals comprising the crowd accountable. The council of the City of Melbourne did not have its collective thinking cap on. Did any of the leadership of the City of Melbourne consider the ramifications of 300,000 people coming to town - and a lot of them staying for at least 12 hours?!
Not to worry - that international corporate, SPOTLESS, was there to pick up the pieces.
I suspect this rubbish might have remained unsorted and unrecycled and may well have been dumped into landfill.
A possible solution?
What if all those who came into the CBD had to pass through checkpoints - entry only if you could produce two bags - one for recyclables and one for other stuff?
What if large bin points were strategically located for people to dump their rubbish thoughtfully before they went home?
What if the police - who, when we saw them, were standing around bored stiff - were empowered to issue on the spot fines for littering?
And what if Spotless were only needed to pick up the dump bins regularly and take them to a spot at which they could be thoughtfully recycled or otherwise disposed?
What if these massive CBD crowd scenes were to become admired gatherings for their environmental care?
Our society, it seems to me, has not got past an out of sight, out of mind attitude to waste disposal. We seem to think that if we clean it all up, take it away, dispose of it or dump it where we can't be reminded of it, we are acting appropriately.
Every item, no matter how small, that we waste, throw away, dispose of goes somewhere on our planet. Waste does not dissolve or get eliminated simply because we cannot see it and have left where it used to be clean.
Above all waste costs. It costs at the front end where there seems to be little awareness of whether packaging is necessary or kept to a minimum. When we purchase a product the waste is included in the price. At the back end, the cost of cleaning, recycling, disposing, and even dumping has a price. The price is included in the rates charges of local authorities which finds its way back into front end product costs.
Technology does fix some things but not all things. Recycling ability is being extended constantly - but it costs. Local Authorities, by and large, have not given up on dumping in landfill - and those cheap take-your-frig-away services when you buy a new refrigerator are often a guarantee of your frig with all its gases and chemicals being tipped into a landfill somewhere to become a hazard on time delay.
We have to ask our local council and our state and federal governments to become care-fully focussed on waste at every level and every part of our daily lives.
What is the waste policy of your local council?
What councillors on your local authority are interested in development and what councillors will lend a sympathetic ear to a conversation on waste, its cost, its disposal?
Where is your waste currently going? Waste disposal does not end at the local council's Transfer Station.
If your local council is currently using landfill, what are its plans for closing all landfill and finding other methods for waste disposal?
How is your local council transferring its waste disposal costs to business, government, and landholders in your local authority area?
If you live in a local authority with significant rural land holdings and an agricultural/pastoral economy, what are the local landholders doing? They frequently have their own landfill in which all sorts of things can end up. Yet with the constant expansion of our cities and suburbs, that land often ends up in the hands of the developers to become suburban housing and business development. Again, another slowly ticking hazardous bomb that we can't get our heads around because we are under the illusion that we have plenty of space to place things out of sight and out of mind.
In all these considerations, we must consider the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the land that grows our food. In short, a cavalier attitude to waste in which we chuck without thought can affect the basic elements of life on this plant - air, water, food. We must become forces of stimulation and collaboration for those who govern us and who take on community responsibility. We cannot force business and government to take on responsible, thought-full and care-full policies if we fail to take our own individual responsibility.
“He picks up rubbish on his own accord and makes me lug it around wherever we go. I don’t mind. I encourage the initiative.”
Ms Straga hoped to join a clean-up group but when finding Lake Esmond was not a registered site, took on the job of site manager.
Family, friends and Ashley’s new school community at St James Parish Primary School have all pitched in to help, working the clean-up in with the school’s sustainability programs.
For all the clean-up work Ashley does in the community, Ms Straga still has to make sure he remembers to clean his room.Ashley says he wants to be like Steve Irwin and will visit the Irwins’ Australia Zoo for his birthday later this year.
An estimated 3.029 tonnes of rubbish were collected on Clean Up Australia Day in Victoria last year.