Monday, March 30, 2009

Take Water Harvesting to a New Level!

If we ever get consistant rainfall in Central Florida again here is some information from

Low Impact Living: Steps To A Water Neutral Home

If you’re one of those folks out there who is suffering from a bit of carbon fatigue, then a post in the NY Times’ Green Inc. blog this week could either provide additional motivation for green projects or increased fear of another jargon-laden debate. Green Inc highlighted the growing trend of striving for “water neutrality”, as highlighted at the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul last week.
The idea is gaining ground within a group of companies looking to understand and reduce their consumption of water, including Coca Cola, whose chairman has pledged to eventually balance out all of the water used in its products and manufacturing processes through conservation elsewhere (over 80 billion gallons worth!).
This got me to thinking: what would it take to be water-neutral in our own homes, meaning that we don’t import any net water? If we include all of the water that goes into our food and the products we consume, then it gets ugly real fast (see this post on the water content of food, for example). But what about our direct water use - showers, irrigation, toilets, etc?
Now, this would require some significant changes to a home and to local building/health/safety codes, since the only way to go water-neutral is to reuse graywater and harvest/store rainwater. Both of these options now face numerous permitting and legal obstacles around the country (including some pretty counterintuitive ones, like Utah and Colorado bans on capturing ANY rainwater at your home). Assuming we could, though, how much rain would it take to provide a family’s annual water needs?

After some pretty simple calculations, it turns out that the home of a typical family of three could be water-neutral in climates receiving roughly 25″ of rainfall or more per year under the following assumptions:
Three-person household;
Rainwater captured, stored and reused;
Graywater system used;
Indoor water efficiency measures employed: low-flow showerheads, toilets, faucets and appliances;
Outdoor water efficiency measures employed: smart irrigation control, rain shutoff, soil moisture sensors, climate-compatible landscaping.
This basically means that home water neutrality is feasible if you live in the Midwest, anywhere along the US Atlantic or Gulf Coasts, in the Northwest and in higher rainfall areas of the West and Mountain West (here’s a set of maps to review for your area). The detailed calculations are shown below. You can use our Environmental Impact Calculator to make similar calculations for your home and region.

Written by Low Impact Living Published on March 29th, 2009
Posted in Education, Home & Garden, Water
Editor’s note: This post was written by Jason Pelletier, and originally published at Low Impact Living on March 28, 2009.

Earth Day Celebration is Saturday, April 11th!

Attend the Earth Day Celebration in Haines City next Saturday, April 11, from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm. The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program will be offering FREE workshops all day! Florida-friendly landscaping, composting, rain barrel construction and organic gardening classes will be held in the outside classroom.
For more information on the event go to:

See you there!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Plant this plant!

Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium atlanticum)

Blue-Eyed Grass is a Florida native plant and it is gorgeous right now! This photograph is from my yard. I have Blue-Eyed Grass planted in a hot sunny area and it has been happily growing and spreading itself through the area. Blue-Eyed Grass grows about 1-2 feet tall and wide and thrives in zones 3-10. This perennial wildflower is quite showy in the spring because the plant is covered in delicate lavendar blooms. Blue-Eyed Grass is cold-hardy and easy to grow. Drought-tolerance and low-maintenance characteristics make this an easy native plant for any landscape. Combine Blue-Eyed Grass with other wildflowers such as Rosinweed, Salvia, Gaillardia and Beach Sunflower. It also does well combined with evergreen shrubs such as Walter's Viburnum and Indian Hawthorn.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Earth Hour 2009 is March 28th!


This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.

Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fix a Leak Week is March 16-20

EPA Watersense has declared March 16-20, 2009 as Fix a Leak Week! Go to their website: to learn helpful tips for saving water indoors and out.

The FYN Program suggests that you check your outdoor irrigation system for leaks and make any repairs necessary.