PRACTICAL MEASURES WILL STOP
THE NEXT URBAN WATER CRISIS
One of my favorite engineers, authors
and speakers, Jerry Yudelson, has just
come out with his latest book, “Dry
Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water
Crisis.” He talks about the next urban
water crisis because we’ve already had
a bunch of them in Southern California, Nevada, west Texas and Atlanta.
Australia lives in a state of perpetual
drought. At the time of this writing,
But before we move to ways to increase supply as Australia
is doing, Yudelson provides numerous examples of how conservation can stretch our supply.
Yudelson, by the way, is the author of
;e Green Building Revolution and Green
Buildings A to Z, two books that should be
required reading for any plumbing, HVAC
or mechanical contractor.
Among his conservation examples,
Yudelson lists action taken by the San
Antonio Water System when it sees water
from its underground aquifer declining.
SAWS conducts free commercial cooling
tower audits; it has created a commercial carwash Certi;ed
WaterSaver Program; and it has a similar water-saver program for restaurants.
Los Angeles has been dealing with drought for 20 years
and instituted its ;rst water conservation measures back in
the ‘90s. It has subsidized the installation of 1. 27 million low-;ush toilets, Yudelson notes, restricts landscape irrigation,
mandates that leaky pipes get ;xed, bans single-pass cooling
in commercial buildings and requires recirculation systems
for commercial carwashes. It mandates water-conserving
faucets, pre-rinse spray valves, urinals and residential dishwashers. The result? The population has increased by one
million people but L.A. doesn’t use any more water than it
did 25 years ago. ;e Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power estimates the city has saved 670 billion gallons.
The Austin (Texas) Water Utility offers commercial/
industrial/institutional customers free water conservation
analyses; plus, it o;ers rebates of up to $100,000 for water
conserving practices and equipment. Building owners can
get rebates, for example, for capturing air- conditioning condensate, rainwater or foundation drain water and using it for
landscape irrigation or cooling tower makeup.
Yudelson interviews some of my other favorite engineers
(that’s one advantage of my job; I get to talk to some really
smart people) — guys like Bill Ho;man, John Koeller and
Shawn Martin. He also talks to some of my favorite green
mechanical contractors, such as Mike Kotubey of Midwest
Mechanical Contractors, and Andy Kruse from one of CONTRACTOR magazine’s past Contractors of the Year, L.J.
If there’s an overriding theme to the book, it is that there
are a lot of practical solutions to potential water shortages
— real products and solutions made by real manufacturers, speci;ed by real engineers and installed by real green
mechanical and plumbing contractors. ;ere’s no pie-in-the-sky stu; here.
And yet even the best of us falls short. I’ve often wondered why American water utilities don’t ;x more of their
underground leaks, which range from 5%
to 15%. ;e Germans lose less than 7%. In
Asian countries, however, the underground
losses can be as high as 30%. Even though
the Australians should be the embodiment
of the water conservation ethic, Sydney
Water says that 28% of the water going into
Sydney, Australia, o;ce buildings is lost to
leakage. Fixing those leaks would be way
cheaper than desalination.
Only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh
water and two-thirds of that is locked in icecaps and glaciers.
There won’t be any more water. “It’s all been in the toilet,
folks,” says S. David Freeman, an octogenarian who is still
active as the interim general manager of the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power, and the keynote speaker
at the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical
O;cials Emerging Technology Symposium in California in
May. “We’re drinking Shakespeare’s water.”
“;e answer to the water problem is to re-use it,” Freeman
‘It’s all been in
the toilet, folks.
Are you already involved in green mechanical contracting or
do you want to see more examples of a speci;c type of work?
Do you have a green project that would make a great case
study in the next Green Mechanical Contractor ;is is your
exclusive showcase, forum and resource.