Understanding the Life Cycle of Water

river-209755_640The continual movement of rainfall from the bodies of water, land, and the atmosphere is part of the hydrologic cycle.

The cycle starts with condensation. When water vapor condenses in the atmosphere it forms clouds, when the condensation becomes too heavy rain is formed and the clouds release the rain.

water lifecycleWhen rainfall reaches the surface it infiltrates into the soil, becoming groundwater. The infiltrated groundwater recharges our aquifers, rivers and lakes. Water that runs off the surface is referred to as stormwater.  Water is returned to the atmosphere through evaporation by the sun heating the water, changing it to a gas and it rises into the atmosphere and becomes vapor again.

Depending on soil conditions, the movement of stormwater  across the surface can cause erosion and also carry pollutants into our bodies of water. This is why stormwater management is so important. Storm water management practices such as infiltration, or collection, slow down the process of surface water runoff and helps keep erosion to a minimum. Much of the pollutants associated with stormwater runoff are not carried to our larger bodies of water – keeping our natural environment healthy.

Washington State Drought Emergency

Governor InsleeOn May 15, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency.

In his announcement, Governor Inslee states, “We’re really starting to feel the pain from this snowpack drought. Impacts are already severe in several areas of the state. Difficult decisions are being made about what crops get priority water and how best to save fish.”

With the snowpack at 16% of normal, the runoff is expected to be the lowest in 64 years. The Department of Ecology has requested 9.5 million in drought relief. Much of the drought relief will be spent on agriculture and department of fish and wildlife in the way of emergency drought applications for farmers and funding action now for fish passage.

A small amount of emergency relief will through conservation education. To little to late? While the response from the Governor’s office has been timely for the current drought, RainBank Rainwater Systems president Ken Blair, along with the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) have been providing education about water conservation for years.

“We have experienced pretty much normal rainfall amounts this year, it is the lack of snowpack that will be the issue this summer”, explains Blair. Storage and use of roof runoff helps reduce the demand on our local reservoirs and aquifers 100 % of the time, leaving more available water during dry periods. With the use of rainwater collection, both for residential and commercial application, demand is lowered and storage is increased. This does not do much for irrigation in agriculture but it does supplement domestic use and enhances in stream flow rates. A simple rainwater collection system can yield enough water from the roof to supplement or fully support a residence with its water demand. Commercial application can be used for non potable usage and mitigate much of the building’s water demand.

RainBank Rainwater Systems applauds Governor Inslee in being proactive in his delegation of this water emergency, but encourages more education in conservation methods for future water shortages. Education and implementation will help assure water for the future.

Student Teams Compete for Sustainability Grants

waterwheel-233527_640According to an article in Water Citizen News, student teams showcased their projects at this year’s National Sustainable Design Expo while competing for the 11th Annual EPA People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) awards.

Through the P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers opportunities to college students to compete for grants for their ideas that promote sustainable solutions that benefit people and the planet.

In April, teams brought bring their projects to the National Sustainable Design Expo for judging by a panel of experts from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The best student projects have the chance to win funding up to $75,000 to move the project design through to implementation and potentially, the marketplace. This year’s expo (Phase 2) was held from April 11-12 at Oronoco Bay Park in Alexandria, VA.

Several ideas were submitted, covering a range of topics across the spectrum of planet preservation like conversion of food waste into energy and using wastewater for crop fertilization, or ways to save water.

Among this year’s winners, an honorable mention went to the team from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for Floating Island on a Roof for Rainwater Management.

Their idea addressed 2 issues faced by large cities:

  • Storm water management and
  • Loss of green spaces.

The project focused on urban growth causing a rise in impervious surfaces, which advances the amount of untreated rainwater runoff in rivers and lakes instead of penetrating porous soil; and that urban development also decreases area for vegetation, resulting in loss of biological diversity and also creating an urban heat island.

Students’ design objective was to reduce runoff from roofs, and provide biological diversity in urban areas using a ‘Floating Island on a Roof’, consisting of a pond on a roof with a floating island. The expected results are runoff reduction from roofs and an increase in green space and biodiversity in urban or built environments.

Congratulations to all of the participants for their efforts to preserve our planet through innovative and forward thinking, and to the EPA and American Association for the Advancement of Science for funding ideas that support a sustainable future.