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Saved millions of gallons of water-one phone call

Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4327
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
I advanced the cause of water and energy frugality at two different public locations this month.

The first was at a Starbucks which was built eight years ago. In the bathroom there was a a constant flow of water which could be heard and seen rushing by in the floor drain. I questioned the staff as to how long that had been going on and a girl who had worked there for four years said that it had run for as long as she could remember. Her manager said he thought the problem had existed since the building was new and that he had made a call to head office but nothing had been done. At that point they decided all was well. He had done everything humanly possible.

I asked them both if they would like to see the whole issue resolved in 5 min. and they agreed that that would be great but highly unlikely. So I borrowed their phonebook and called the hotline for the Capital Regional District water management department. The lady on the other end of the phone assured me that it would be dealt with swiftly. She called me back to inform me that the problem was being taken care of and that it appeared that about 4 gallons per minute had been running down the drain needlessly for eight years due to a cracked pipe which had been damaged during construction under the concrete slab.----------------- This adds up to just over 2,000,000 gallons per year or 17,000,000 gallons altogether. I may take 2 min. extra in the shower tonight knowing that I've done my share. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The other place was a Tim Horton's restaurant. They had hot water being used to flush the toilet in the men's washroom. The staff agreed that this had been going on for a long time since someone had hooked up the wrong pipe. The manager figured it was nice and warm and therefore not something to worry about. I informed him that the newspaper might like to know about this particular line of thinking. When I returned a week later the toilet was on cold water. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I reduced my environmental footprint quite a bit without suffering any reduction in my personal comfort. Most wasteful practices aren't quite as glaringly obvious as these two but quite often huge amounts of energy can be saved if we simply take the time to look at what is going on around us.

For extreme cases like the two above, I would like to see financial penalties which go far beyond the cost of electricity and water. So far as I know neither of these establishments incurred any fines.


Dale's picks - These are some of my favorite threads. Greed - http://www.permies.com/t/10736/md/unbridled-greed-ambition-compatible-permaculture My garden - http://www.permies.com/t/27910/projects/Dale-Day-Garden ethics - http://www.permies.com/t/11534/permaculture/frustration-ethics Good wood bad wood http://www.permies.com/t/12206/hugelkultur/Hugelkultur-Good-wood-Bad-wood Alder - http://www.permies.com/t/10609/plants/Alder-nitrogen-fixation-native-tree Bees - http://www.permies.com/t/10917/bees/time-replace-European-honey-bee Pulling nails - http://www.permies.com/t/10249/natural-building/Removing-nails-recycled-wood-techniques
Eric Thompson


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 258
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
    
    2
Good to hear Dale! And by taking the time to share you may well motivate 10 other people to do the same thing!

The local news here always has a consumer action helper that they make cameo reports on -- I can see that with an environmental cop like you mention at the Horton's!

Ok, I will look out for these kind of wastes and report back to this thread when I alter one like you did...
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4327
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
Eric Thompson wrote:

Ok, I will look out for these kind of wastes and report back to this thread when I alter one like you did...


Let's make this a contest. Everybody can keep an eye out for waste at public facilities and will see how many of them we can get fixed. To make it fair I don't get to count the two listed above. They were both such huge wastes and you don't see that every day.

I was quite surprised at how fast the water district acted on my tip. I'm in a fairly small city so that might be part of it.

I was in Oak Bay which is part of greater Victoria when I noticed that it was very difficult for a man in a wheelchair to haul himself up onto the benches in the change room at the public pool. There were no handholds attached to the very slippery steel post beside the benches. I talked to the girl at reception and she gave me a little paper to fill out where I drew a picture of what was needed. The maintenance guy called me that day and we talked about what was required. Two days later the handholds were installed. Another time I discovered a dangerous situation where a missing railing could allow someone to fall 10 feet onto concrete. The public works guy came right down and we used some of my recycled wood to do a temporary fix. The next day a brand-new railing was installed. This would never happen in New York City.

So it's not always difficult dealing with bureaucracy. Sometimes it just takes a few minutes to make a positive change.
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 973
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
I think it is easy to start to think, when you read the news etc that the government won't respond, won't do anything, etc. I have always found that the government can be very responsive, if you find the right person, which is the trick.

The hardest thing to get done is when it isn't anyone's responsibility, or it falls between two offices.


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 973
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
By the way, I recently found one of my own leaks, seems a toilet had a float set too high, and it was leaking because of that, which was overfilling the septic system, etc. Not a bad idea to check your toilets to make sure they aren't using water like this, especially if you are a little older, and a little hard of hearing...
Lori Crouch


Joined: Sep 26, 2011
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
    
    1
We were/are in the worst drought here in over 10 years and all the city trucks have bumper stickers saying "conserve water; every drop counts". On the radio stations they were asking people to water every other day and only after the sun went down. However all businesses were allowed to keep their automatic sprinkler systems on as they had in the past. Bad placement and a windy area meant that (as usual) most of that water for grass was going onto the street. Gated communities and apartment buildings also kept on their regular schedule with water running down the streets (there are no drains here).

Idiotic practices like this have reduced a once flourishing lake, which provides all this water, to about 40% of its size. When you call the city, they do nothing. However, they have meetings all the time to figure out where they are going to get their water from in the future and what went wrong. We should make vaccines for stupid; it's the most contagious thing I can think of.
Chris Gilliam


Joined: Oct 15, 2011
Posts: 14
Location: Foley, Alabama
Fred Morgan wrote:By the way, I recently found one of my own leaks, seems a toilet had a float set too high, and it was leaking because of that, which was overfilling the septic system, etc. Not a bad idea to check your toilets to make sure they aren't using water like this, especially if you are a little older, and a little hard of hearing...


Squirt some food coloring into your tank. If any makes it to the bowl the flapper needs adjustment or changing. Pay a tad extra and get a Korky brand flapper if it fits.
dave brenneman


Joined: Jan 14, 2011
Posts: 38
Location: london, england
    
    1
Lori Leigh wrote: When you call the city, they do nothing. However, they have meetings all the time to figure out where they are going to get their water from in the future and what went wrong.


Call a TV station; take some footage yourself. Get other people to call the city as well.


Zone 9, southern UK
Mathew Ritchie


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 24
Lori Leigh wrote:We were/are in the worst drought here in over 10 years and all the city trucks have bumper stickers saying "conserve water; every drop counts". On the radio stations they were asking people to water every other day and only after the sun went down. However all businesses were allowed to keep their automatic sprinkler systems on as they had in the past. Bad placement and a windy area meant that (as usual) most of that water for grass was going onto the street. Gated communities and apartment buildings also kept on their regular schedule with water running down the streets (there are no drains here).

Idiotic practices like this have reduced a once flourishing lake, which provides all this water, to about 40% of its size. When you call the city, they do nothing. However, they have meetings all the time to figure out where they are going to get their water from in the future and what went wrong. We should make vaccines for stupid; it's the most contagio us thing I can think of.
Sorry but the gods themselfs dispair of preventing stupid.(-:
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 973
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Chris Gilliam wrote:Squirt some food coloring into your tank. If any makes it to the bowl the flapper needs adjustment or changing. Pay a tad extra and get a Korky brand flapper if it fits


Thanks for the food coloring idea, I will give it a try. I wish I could find any flapper here some days, much less a particular brand.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4327
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
Got another one! My friend lives in a big apartment building where heat and hot water are part of the package deal. He had a hot water leak which filled the bathtub every 4 hours. The hydronic heating system was stuck on full blast so he would open the balcony door to get cool.

I bitched at him about this for several days in a row until he finally made an appointment with the management to get everything fixed.I brought it up in different social settings and together we badgered him to action.

At about 15 gallons per tub full that amounts to 32,850 gallons of hot water per year. It had gone on for 2 years before I found out about it. He's an idiot and I've told him so on several occasions.
richard valley


Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 207
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
    
    1
I read of the millions of gallons of water used at one of Al Gore's homes, don't remember the number. Try: www.snopes.com/politics/business/gorehome.asp

Let me type that in and see what comes up.
richard valley


Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 207
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
    
    1
On Google, I find that his house in Tennessee uses 1/3 less energy. The one in California is a real beauty.

We have place about 75miles from here. I try to keep the heat low ,when we're not there,to keep the cost down but high enough to keep the pipes from freezing. I have to admit I'ed keep it warmer if I could, it takes hours at these temps to bring it up where we can take our coats off.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4327
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  65
It's been two years and 4 million gallons saved so far. I was at the same location today and the same employee that I spoke to back then, now thinks that it wasn't much of a leak and that they would have fixed it on their own, without involving the water police. I asked her if she'd noticed any other leaks, just to test to see if denial had set in. She was quite sure that it would have been fixed without my prompting. Yea, I suppose that in the first 8 years, they were still in the waste response planning phase. Action was imminent.
 
 
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