Here are the Friday Fab 5 links for the week of October 17, 2011.
1. Reclaimed Water Use in San Antonio
This NPR audio story reports about San Antonio’s efforts to use reclaimed water to supplement some of the city’s water needs. San Antonio’s River Walk is vital to the tourism industry for the city. If the river were to stop flowing, it would be a big hit to the city’s economy. In order to keep the river flowing, the city used to pump up to 5 million gallons a day from the Edwards Aquifer which supplies nearly all of the water for San Antonio. Now, the city produces high-quality, reclaimed water from one of their state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants.
Rather than just putting the wastewater effluent from one of San Antonio’s major wastewater treatment plants into the San Antonio River, south of the city, the city pumps the wastewater effluent to a point located upstream from the River Walk. In addition to the River Walk, industrial customers like the Toyota, Microsoft Data Center, USAA Insurance and the city’s golf courses also use the reclaimed water.
2. The future city will be run with an OS like a computer
Wouldn’t it be great if your city had a monitoring system that could make cities more efficient, therefore improving the quality of life for its citizens? It could allow managers to keep track of problems that arise in the utility systems. Rather than the waiting for a concerned citizen to call in a water main break, sensors could detect the break and repair crews could be immediately dispatched in order to save water waste. Planners could use the collected data about traffic patterns to make better decisions about roadway projects. Well, there are a few ideas brewing out there now.
Technology company Living PlanIT has the idea of Urban OS to control various processes within the city, such as traffic lights, electricity supply, gas, water, and others through sensors installed in key places all over the city.
Something similar is IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities. It provides analytics of various city processes and creates a dashboard to allow city managers to monitor the city. It doesn’t really detail how the information is collected, but this system is another promising solution for the future.
3. H20Score will allow you to compare your water use to others
H2Oscore.com is a new idea that hopes to change consumer behavior to save water one drop at a time by allowing you to compare your water use to others in your community. This idea was started by students at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I really like this idea and feel that if you could easily compare your water use to similar sized households in your community, you could really get a sense of your water usage and make a conscious decision to do more conservation.
The organizers are currently fundraising in order to add water use database information from cities across the United States. If you want to help them out, please go to their contribution page.
4. New tool to weigh the water-related vulnerabilities of companies
The Aqua Gauge is a flexible Excel-based tool and associated methodology that allows investors to scorecard a company’s water management activities against definitions of leading water management practices. It aims to help investors evaluate the information provided by companies on their management of water issues. The tool also gives companies a resource to inform and strengthen their own water management strategies.
It is becoming vital for companies to start paying attention to their water risks. The drought in Texas has devastated the state’s cotton crop which led Gap Inc. to downgrade its profit forecast by 22 percent.
At the Ceres website, you can download the free report, “The Ceres Aqua Gauge: A Framework for 21st Century Water Risk Management,” as well as the Ceres Aqua Gauge Excel Tool for both PCs and Macs.
5. What the Frack is going on?
“Fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has become a hot topic in many communities across the U.S. This video, produced by Studio 20 NYU in collaboration with ProPublica.org, is based on ProPublica’s investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling. It is fairly entertaining but the best part is that it really educates you about the process of “fracking”.