In addition to keeping ourselves cool and hydrated during the summer months, we also have to pay mind to our plants and yards. With excess heat burning down, keeping plants and grass healthy requires a lot more water. Check out six tips for how you can conserve water and save money this summer.
Please feel free to print and share our 6 Tips to Conserve Water & Save Money Infographic with attribution to Tata & Howard, Inc. A high-resolution pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.
Check For Leaks
Walk around your landscaped area to make sure there are no leaks your watering systems.
Sweep Up Messes
Rather than using a hose to spray a mess away, use a broom to clean patios, decks, and sidewalks.
Mindful Car Washing
Avoid wasting water with a running hose. Instead, fill a soapy bucket with water so you can wash and rinse as need.
Mulch Planted Areas
Mulching flower beds and planted areas can help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Two to three inches of mulch should do the trick.
Water your lawn and plants early in the morning or later in the evening. This will prevent the water from being quickly evaporated by the sun.
Collect water in rain barrels so you can later water your outdoor plants without running the hose.
We hope you will consider these tips as you aim to conserve water and save money this summer.
Every day we encounter wastewater. We create it through flushing the toilet, washing our hands, taking showers, running the dishwasher, and more. In fact, all water affected by human use is wastewater. Although it’s a constant part of our lives, wastewater is often overlooked. Have you ever thought about what happens to the water we flush away? Where does it go? How does it get treated? Do we use it again? Read on to learn about the ways in which we utilize treated wastewater, particularly through direct potable reuse and indirect potable reuse.
The Quick (and Dirty)
The wastewater treatment process begins the second a drop of water goes down the drain. That water becomes sewage – which is 99 percent dirty water. The other one percent is made up of solids, chemicals, fats, nutrients, and other miscellaneous matter. From here, water travels within the sewage network through pipes, pumps, and plants for treatment. First in this process is the screening of large objects and debris from the water. Next, bacteria, contaminants, organic, and inorganic matter are removed through digestion and aeration processes. Within these phases, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are reduced to protect the environment and support our communities. When the water is clean, it then goes on to be clarified and disinfected with chlorine or ultraviolet light.
A Bright Idea
For as long as time, humans have relied on the natural water cycle to obtain drinking water. From the days of sifting water from brooks to later advancements including drinking water treatment facilities – the source of our drinking water has always come from surface or groundwater. When water is plentiful, we source it from watersheds and treat it to drinking water standards. But what happens when water supplies run low? When there is less rain and more demand for water? One solution is potable water reuse – the notion of reusing the used water we normally discard for drinking. The two types of potable water reuse are indirect potable reuse and direct potable reuse.
Indirect Potable Reuse
Indirect potable reuse (IPR) is more common and has been successfully used within the United States for the last 50 years. With IPR, water is first treated at a wastewater treatment facility. It is then pumped into a natural basin or reservoir where it is filtered naturally through the ground before being sent back into the water supply. The downside of IPR is that the water gets ‘dirty’ all over again and needs to be treated once more before it is safe to drink.
Direct Potable Reuse
On the contrary, direct portable reuse (DPR) is a fairly new concept and involves the treatment and distribution of water without an environmental buffer. In this process, the very clean water from the advanced water purification plant is put straight back into the water supply. These advanced purification systems are used by utilities around the world and process and test the water supply to ensure standards are met.
The first DPR system was implemented about five years ago in Big Spring, TX to face the state’s relentless droughts. The DPR system at the Colorado River Municipal Water District in Big Spring takes treated wastewater, purifies it, and then mixes it with the city’s regular water supply. Eventually, water heads back to consumers’ taps.
Although the DPR process is new in the grand scheme of things, it has proven to be effective. As we face global climate change and recognize drinking water as the valuable resource it is, innovations like DPR are certainly beneficial.
The team of Ph.D. candidates led by Professor Donglei Fan were fueled by the creation of a new approach for solar steaming – a technique that uses energy from the sun to separate salt and other impurities from water through evaporation. Their origami rose inspired system could be a new paradigm for water production and treatment for both individuals and homes.
Existing solar-steaming technologies are typically bulky, expensive, and produce limited results. The UT team aimed to create a solution using portable, lightweight and inexpensive materials. The result – a product that looks like a black-petaled rose in a glass jar. While portable and low-pressure controlled solar-steaming systems known as ‘unisystems’ do exist, the flower structure portion of the design is new.
The system is made from layered, black paper sheets that are shaped into petals. The 3D rose shape, attached to a stem-like tube that collects untreated water from any water source, makes it easier for the structure to collect and retain more liquid. The black paper is filtered and coated with a polymer known as polypyrrole. Polypyrrole is a material known for its photothermal properties – meaning that it coverts solar light into thermal heat.
There are two ways in which the device collects water. The first is through the stem-like tube that feeds water to the flower-inspired structure on top. The second way is through collecting water from above – occurring in instances such as rainfall. In either case, water finds its way to the petals where the polypyrrole coating turns the water into steam. The impurities are naturally separated from water when condensed in this way. By the end of the purification process, the device can remove contamination from heavy metals and bacteria, as well as salt from seawater. The result is clean water that meets drinking standard requirements set by the World Health Organization.
In addition to the new, flower-like structure, the system was also designed to include a connection point for a low-pressure pump. This pump will help condense water more effectively. Once condensed, water will fall into a compact, sturdy and secure glass jar. Weigu Li, a Ph.D. candidate in Fan’s lab said that their “rational design and low-cost fabrication of 3D origami photothermal materials represents a first-of-its-kind portable low-pressure solar-steaming-collection system” could inspire a new wave of clean water production technologies.
Tata & Howard, Inc. is pleased to announce Conner Bogle and Thatcher Schechtman as the recipients of the 2019 Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship.
The Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship was established in 2017 to honor the late Don Tata, co-founder and former CEO of Tata & Howard, Inc. Each year, the scholarship is given to one student from both Marlborough and Natick High School. Eligible recipients must be graduating seniors with plans to attend a four-year college or university to pursue a degree in engineering.
“We are proud to offer scholarships to these accomplished students and support the Marlborough and Natick communities, home to Tata & Howard headquarters and the Tata family, respectively,” said Tata & Howard Co-President Karen Gracey, P.E. “While we had many exemplary applicants, Conner and Thatcher’s academic achievements and future career goals made a lasting impression.”
Conner Bogle will be attending Western New England University this fall to study mechanical engineering. Inspired by the way engineering can positively impact the world, Conner’s passion sparked from his high school STEM program where he designed an outdoor amphitheater-style classroom that eventually made its way to the Massachusetts State Science Fair. In addition to his studies, Conner was the president of the VEX and FIRST Robotics Clubs, and participated in martial arts, the Marlborough High School golf team, and advanced band.
Thatcher Schechtman will be attending the University of Connecticut this fall to study civil engineering. With sights set on bettering infrastructure on a local, national and global level, Thatcher hopes to create safer bridges, more durable roads, cleaner energy systems, and more sustainable water systems. A member of the National Honor Society, Thatcher also spent time volunteering with several organizations within the local community and beyond.
“Conner and Thatcher’s ambitions, talents, and leadership skills are demonstrative of their commitment to making a positive contribution to the world,” added Paul B. Howard, P.E., Sr. Vice President and co-founder of the firm. “We wish these students success in their future academic endeavors and know that Don would be proud to see them honored for their achievements.”
In the last decade, the discussion of lead in drinking water has been on the rise. While the Flint, MI water crisis may have been a catalyst for the recent uptick in awareness, lead poisoning from drinking water is not isolated to Flint alone. Schools and homes across the country are at risk for unhealthy lead levels in their water. In fact, 15-25 million homes in the U.S. are still connected to lead pipelines that were laid before they were banned in the late 1980s. In addition, 43 percent of school districts serving 35 million students across the country tested positive for lead. Of those, 37 percent found elevated levels and reduced or eliminated exposure, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
In addition to water utilities adjusting water chemistry to minimize the possibility of lead dissolving into tap water, customers can also do their part to help reduce lead levels. Although the best way to eliminate lead exposure in water is by replacing lead service lines and interior plumbing, there are in fact ways to minimize exposure to meet the EPA’s Lead Action Level in your home. One of these ways is through point of use (POU) water filters. Properly installed POU filters can potentially protect all populations, including children and pregnant women.
Filtration of tap drinking water in homes through POU treatment devices has gained popularity due to recent concerns of lead contamination from service lines and interior plumbing materials. According to the field study, many POU filters utilize an outer fabric of fiber surrounding a solid block primarily composed of activated carbon. Activated carbon is great for purifying liquids and gases.
Materials and Methods for the Study
Flint residents received PUR and BRITA filters [certified under NSF/ANSI-53 (total lead) and NSF/ANSI-42 (Class I particulate)] for the study. Filtered and unfiltered water samples were collected to assess whether the NSF/ANSI-53 and NSF/ANSI-42 certified POU filters being distributed in Flint were effective for the reduction of lead, regardless of influent levels above the certification criteria of 150 micrograms/L (µg/L).
* NSF/ANSI 42, 53 and 401 are the leading industry standards for filtration products and systems.
Subsequently, filtered and unfiltered water grab samples were collected at each selected sampling location, generally at the kitchen faucet. Samplers recorded field observations including the filter type/brand, filter indicator status, and the resident’s estimate of the time since the filter or cartridge was installed. All samples were collected from the cold-water tap, and three types of 1000-mL samples were collected from homes:
1. Filtered Water, Existing Filter – First, one grab water sample was collected through the existing water filter at the home (if present).
2. Unfiltered Water – Second, an unfiltered water grab sample was collected after removing the existing filter or turning the by-pass valve on the filter. No cleaning or flushing took place prior to the water grab sampling.
3. Filtered Water, New Filter – Third, after the installation and flushing of a new filter or replacement filter cartridge for approximately 2 min, a grab sample was collected through the newly installed filter or filter cartridge.
Field Study Results
Unfiltered Water Samples – The maximum lead concentration in the unfiltered water at the 345 sampling locations in this study was 4,080 µg/L , with approximately 4% of the unfiltered water samples above 150 µg/L and over 37% above the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standard for bottled water (5 µg/L).
Filtered Water Samples – Over 97% of filtered water samples contained lead below 0.5 µg/L. The maximum lead concentration in filtered water was 2.9 µg/L, well below the bottled water standard.
Removal of Additional Metals – The sampling showed incidental removal of copper, iron, manganese, and zinc despite the filters not being certified to remove miscellaneous metals.
In conclusiuon, POU filters proved to be a reliable option for the reduction of lead in this study. Faucet-mounted point of use filters can be an important barrier against unpredictable lead release from lead service lines and/or plumbing materials.
To ensure effectiveness, POU filters should be replaced per manufacturer recommendations.
Interested in what else you can do to help reduce exposure to lead in your drinking water?
Use cold water for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula. Boiling your water will not remove lead from water. In fact, lead concentrations will increase because water evaporates during the boiling process.
Before drinking water from the tap, flush your pipes by running the water faucet, doing a load of laundry, or taking a shower.
Be sure that your faucets screen (aerator) is clean.
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