Archive for the ‘Save Water Save Energy’ Category

Save Water, Save Energy, Win Free Water

That’s right! HRWC will pay the April water bill for three lucky families in the Huron River watershed, up to $250 each!Pledge, Save, Win

HRWC’s “Pledge, Save, Win” Contest encourages watershed homeowners to make the connection between water and energy. Saving one, means saving the other. Up to 13% of our nation’s electrical energy goes to pumping, treating and heating our water supplies.

There are just three steps for entering.

1 —  GO to www.h2oheroes.org, to watch a 60-second public service announcement.

2 — PLEDGE to do one or more activities to save water daily.

3 — REPORT what you did to save water by March 31, 2014. Reporting can come in the form of stories, videos, photos or other creative ideas. Winners will be selected based on creativity and effectiveness.

To help jump start your family’s efforts, www.h2oheroes.org has many tips and tools, including an online savings calculator, and a map to verify that you live in the boundaries of the Huron River watershed if you don’t know.

Winners will be announced by April 15, 2014.

“Pledge, Save, Win” is a campaign of the Saving Water Saves Energy Project, funded by a grant from the Masco Corporation Foundation.

Videos That Make a Difference

PSAs, PSAs and more PSAs . . .A Hero Rises

In addition to HRWC’s own PSA,  “A Hero Rises”  produced by our Saving Water Saves Energy project with Detroit Public Television and funded by the Masco Corporation Foundation, we are happy to report that several local college students have been bitten by the film arts bug! I am currently working with a terrific group of Washtenaw Community College students and their instructor Matt Zacharias to review and debut a bevy of Huron-related PSAs (coming in January).

And this is just in from the University of Michigan!

Ever wonder how people understand and make sense of climate change? Ever wanted to convince people that the issue is important? Well now is your chance.

The Erb Institute, in collaboration with the department of Screen Arts & Cultures, has sponsored a competition to create the best student-produced video aimed at engaging the public in climate change.

Public voting for student-produced videos for the Climate Change Communication Challenge is now open!

They challenged U-M students to create a public service announcement that would inspire positive action on climate change. Eleven teams of students put their skills to the test. Now is your chance to weigh in on the best video!

The video receiving the most votes will receive the $1,500 Popular Vote Award. The poll closes at 12 PM EST onThursday, November 21.

Spread the word! Encourage your friends, family, students, and colleagues to vote!


Join our watershed students in taking shorter showers!

Our handy shower timer! Can you stop in 5?

Our handy shower timer! Can you stop in 5?

Mill Creek Middle School shower survey raises awareness on climate change, water and energy!

Seventh grade teacher Cheryl Darnton and her students learned about climate change this spring, capping off their studies with an experiment in water conservation. Will middle schoolers take shorter showers to help save water and energy?  Ms. Darnton began the study in May by surveying her 80 students, asking them to record how long and how often they showered. She also asked parents how often and long they thought their kids were showering. A few weeks later, Ms. Darnton gave all of her students some handy 5-minute shower timers compliments of HRWC’s Saving Water Saves Energy project (reducing a 10-minute shower to 5 minutes can save 12.5 gallons of water or more, depending on the flow rate). In June, students and parents took a final survey recording and observing how their shower times changed.

So, how did they do?

While the results weren’t overwhelmingly positive, there was some improvement. When asked, students reported that they had cut down their shower times – some by at least 10 minutes! The amount of students showering between 21 to 30 minutes went down by 12%, while the amount between 1 and 10 minutes went up by 18%. That’s a lot of change!

“I take shorter showers because of the red timer.”

Ms. Darnton asked the parents what they thought of the survey. Most parents said that it had a very positive impact on their children – 46% said that the timer decreased their shower times! One parent said, “Just being aware of counting the minutes of when the water is running has motivated her to use less.” Often, Ms. Darnton found that usage of the timer spread to the rest of the family. One student even said, “My brother uses it sometimes.”

Want to find out more about saving water and energy in your home? Visit our new H2O Heroes website!

Skyline students battle it out…

Who can take the shortest showers?

This past year, a group of six students from Ann Arbor’s Skyline High School tapped into HRWC’s “Saving Water Saves Energy” project by producing a “how to” video for their school’s community. Inspired by the water conservation information they were learning, they decided to create a unique contest for their fellow classmates.

These students, who were members of the Communications, Media and Public Policy magnet, wanted to see how their classmates were doing – how much water were they using? And if they were using a lot, why not teach them a little about water conservation?

Are you ready to rumble?

They challenged 30 students from each of the four magnet programs offered at Skyline to cut their water – and as a result, energy — consumption. The classes were competing for the shortest shower, and were encouraged to bring their times down to a quick five minutes per shower!

Our students talked to their peers about where their water comes from as well as the energy it takes to process and deliver the water they use every day. They hoped that with this awareness, students would bring advice home to their families and friends about water usage and conservation.

Each competitor took an initial survey to set a baseline, and then took daily surveys in the following week to see if they were able to cut down their shower time. At the end of the week the students looked at the results and found that the Health and Medicine magnet class cut their average shower time by five minutes, going from 15 minute showers to ten.

The winning class at Skyline High School!

The winning class at Skyline High School!

But I don’t want to!

The students found that coordinating this competition had some challenges. These included recruiting participants and making sure that everyone submitted accurate data. They visited classrooms often to remind everyone to take part. One class seemed to be submitting false data, and the students actually threatened to disqualify them!

Our students thought that this was a great project to work on within their school and would like to expand it in the future. They would like to include the rest of the school, or maybe even their district! They all acknowledged that there is a lot of potential in changing the habits of high school students, and with their input we can make a significant impact on the way Ann Arbor views water.

Six Teens Take on a Water and Energy Challenge!

Ever think about the water and energy connection?

These six Skyline High School students sure do. They recently worked with HRWC to produce two great videos about the Huron River watershed and how saving water saves energy!

Students Diana Cleen, Nivetha Samy, Hannah Lee, Eric Jensen and Andrew Almani, Kaz Ishikawa not shown

Students Diana Chen, Nivetha Samy, Hannah Lee, Eric Jensen and Andrew Almani, Kaz Ishikawa not shown

Pat Jenkins, the teacher in charge of the Communications, Media and Public Policy magnet, approached HRWC last summer with the goal of having these students work directly with the organization on specific issues. This group chose to work with HRWC on the “Saving Water Saves Energy” program – above other options!

Each student had their own reasons for choosing HRWC. Nivetha, who was already passionate about environmental issues, thought that it would be a good way to get involved with and change the local environment. She wanted to raise awareness about the problems our community faces in terms of water usage. Eric, on the other hand, had no prior knowledge of water use or conservation issues. This gave him the opportunity to learn more about it. The group had some experience with energy conservation projects, but had never specifically thought about water conservation or the relationship between water and energy.

Aaaand action!

The group first decided that their goal for the videos was to raise public awareness about the water issues in Ann Arbor, and to provide solutions that everyone could use. They particularly wanted to target high school students as their audience. So how do you do that, you may ask?

For “Saving Water Saves Energy,” the CMPP students took a clever approach by including HRWC’s H2O Hero. Each student dressed up in the hero costume throughout the video in order to show that if they can do it, you can do it! They demonstrated making easy, small changes at home that have a big impact in the community. Their video can be found here.

Okay, so – what exactly is a watershed? That’s what our students got to figure out while producing their second video. Through doing research and participating in River Roundup, they saw the term “watershed” shift from an abstract concept to a very specific one. They learned what it is, and what role it plays in our ecological system and our own drinking water. “What is a Watershed” featured students from multiple high schools in the area. So, you recognize your friend in the video? Hey, maybe you’ll want to learn what a watershed is, too! The video can be found here.

Let’s get dirty!

In order to get a better understanding of the issue and HRWC as an organization, the students participated in multiple events outside of school. They went to an HRWC River Roundup and a bug identification day, and said that both were great experiences. For River Roundup, they accidentally drove in the wrong direction – for 40 miles! Once they got to the stream monitoring site, the girls weren’t too keen on touching a bunch of bugs. The boys did the dirty work while the girls kept track of exactly how many bugs they found.

Maybe I should stop taking those 45 minute showers…

Before working on this project, Nivetha was always aware that she should probably be taking shorter showers. But that’s okay, right? After producing two videos on water conservation, she had a very different perspective. Now, she is actually motivated to follow her own advice! She felt that participating in River Roundup really helped the message hit home. She saw the source of her own drinking water in front of her and understood that she needed to take better care of it. The other students also felt that they have been conserving more water lately than they did before participating in the project with HRWC.

So if it changed their behaviors, what about their friends or family? According to the students, friends were not that into it. However, their families were! Diana said her family was easy to nag and remind them to be water and energy conscious. In her house they actively try to cut down on dishwashing and laundry loads.

The main consensus of producing the videos was positive. The students really enjoyed making them because they were in charge of everything – whether it was acting, directing, or editing. They played every role! Plus, they got to dress up in the H2O hero costume. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

National Challenge for Water Conservation, April 1-30, 2013

Pledge to conserve water and reduce pollution!H2O-Hero

The month of April is the Second Annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, a friendly, community-based competition between cities across the nation to see who can be the most “water wise.”

Presented by the Wyland Foundation, the month-long Challenge invites city leaders and their residents to pledge to conserve water.  All those who take the pledge are entered into a national competition with other communities to win hundreds of prizes – including a Toyota Prius, water saving fixtures and Never Waste water bottles from the Alliance for Water Efficiency. Last year residents from over 1,000 cities participated and pledged to save a total of 4.7 billion gallons of water.

HRWC Deputy Director Elizabeth Riggs helped pre-launch the campaign with a presentation to 6-8th grades at Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor.  HRWC and Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje were invited to introduce the Wyland Foundation’s mobile learning experience to the Tappan community and talk about HRWC’s work.

HRWC’s Saving Water Saves Energy program has lots of tips, tools and calculators on saving water, as well as a new 60-second PSA that promotes the connection between water and energy. Start your April by joining in the National Mayor’s Challenge and by going to www.h2oheroes.org to tap into the H2O Hero in you!



Get Your Rain Garden Questions Answered

At the Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show, March 15-17

Saturday, March 16, 11am-5pm, Ask the Expert! Susan Bryan, Rain Garden Coordinator for the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office will be on hand to 1280px-Echinacea_purpurea_Punahattu_Arto_Alanenpääanswer questions and offer advice on all things rain garden. Get a basic introduction or in-depth answers to your rain garden design and installation questions.

Throughout the weekend, HRWC and WCWRC are teaming up to share outdoor water saving tips, rain garden design and installation materials, native plant information and the H2O Heroes spring rain barrel sale with the public. Free copies of Landscaping for Water Quality, Garden Designs for Homeowners, 3rd Edition will be available.

Booth: E169
Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show, March 15-17
Friday 3-9, Saturday 10-7, Sunday 11-5
Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd
Admission $5, 12 and under free

Free tickets for HRWC members available — contact Pam, plabadie@hrwc.org, (734) 769-5123 x 602.




The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region

Climate adaptation is any action taken that reduces the vulnerability of natural communities and the built environment to the impacts of climate change.  For example, if we are going to get larger storms, what do we need to do to our stormwater practices and infrastructure to reduce the chances of flooding or pipe or dam failure?  If warmer air temperatures mean we are more susceptible to a new forest pest or pathogen, what do we do to reduce tree loss?  These are some of the questions we are considering, along with water resource professionals from throughout the watershed, in our Making Climate Resilient Communities project.

We are not alone in our efforts to adapt to changes in climate.  There are communities, agencies and organizations throughout the Great Lakes Region that are engaged in efforts to determine courses of action in response to climate change.  Those of us who are working in this arena are pioneering a new field and can serve as a resource to others.

Recently, EcoAdapt, an organization focused on facilitating climate adaptation, released a report: The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region. The report provides an overview of climate change in the region, shares the results of a survey to water resource professionals capturing adaptation activities and reflects on common challenges and opportunities to push the needle forward on climate adaptation.

HRWC’s Climate Resilient Communities and Saving Water Saves Energy projects stand proudly among the 57 case studies highlighted in the report (pg 94).  You will also find other examples from our watershed including the efforts of the City of Ann Arbor (pg 103) and the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities project that has selected Ann Arbor as one of it’s assessment cities (pg 142).  This report, along with many other adaptation resources can be found on CAKE (Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange) website.

Could Water Conservation Get Any More Clever?

Videos for your viewing pleasure . . .

The Saving Water Saves Energy project is producing its first video PSA to raise awareness in our watershed of the connection between water and energy.  Some of our early prep work involved spending time on the internets “researching” good examples of PSAs that both grab the viewer’s attention and propose a solution.

From a take off on reality tv to a riff on Law and Order, the following are a few hilarious favorites, screaming director and all. Spend 6 minutes and 27 seconds taking a look, you won’t be disappointed.

Squeeze More From Every Drop (1:49)

Water Conservation PSA (2:38)

Don’t Let Trash Ruin Your Scene (Eternity) (:60)

Don’t Let Trash Ruin Your Scene (Jaws) (:30)

Don’t Let Trash Ruin Your Scene (Hunger Games) (:30)

Got any favorites you’d like to share?

How Much Water is in Your Electricity? Turning off the lights conserves more than energy.

When we think of what it takes to produce electricity, we tend to think coal, natural gas, nuclear. Maybe, wind and sun. You may think about carbon emissions. But do you think water? Heaps and heaps of water? In a new report from the River Network, Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity, we learn that it takes 42 gallons of water to produce a single kilowatt hour of electricity. What this means, in effect, is that the actual water use in an average household is 5 times more that what you see on the water bill when you factor in the water it takes to power our homes. More than half of all the freshwater withdrawn from surface waters in the United States goes to supporting the production of power. In truth, it takes a lot of water to keep the lights on.

Water is used in the mining, cleaning and transport of the raw materials for energy production. At the plant, water is used for cooling and in various processes. It is withdrawn from local sources and either lost as steam or released into surface waters at high temperatures and with pollutant loads that can lead to algal blooms, fish kills and other impacts to our lakes and streams. For hydropower, water evaporates from reservoirs behind dams in quantities that exceed even the water demands at fossil fuel plants. Wind and solar require very little water.

The report highlights some key ways to reduce the impacts to water from the production of electricity. The use of water-efficient technologies at power plants and a shift to low water intensity alternatives to supply more of our energy needs will go a long way toward reducing the water footprint of electricity.

At home, simple energy and water conservation measures can help on many fronts. Turning off lights, shifting to low energy bulbs and installing high efficiency appliances will contribute to water conservation, reduce carbon emissions and save you money. A win-win-win. More and more utilities are offering the option to supply a portion of your electricity from alternative sources such as wind and solar. Enrolling in these programs (such as DTE’s GreenCurrents or Consumer Energy’s Green Generation) can also help reduce our collective water footprint and encourage the development of low water intensity energy sources.

For more ideas on how to reduce your energy and water use take a look at our Saving Water Saves Energy project’s top ten tips.

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