Pollution Prevention Also Means Clean Water!

Increasing efforts to reduce and eliminate sources of pollution to prevent damage to the environment, as well as maintain the planet’s resources and move towards sustainability is essential for the EPA. In order for pollution prevention efforts to move forward, engineers are creating and improving multiple technologies that deal with clean water.

Unfortunately, the United States may be unable to meet its water requirements in the near future because of climate change. Recent research shows that 70% of US counties could experience acute water shortages due to climate change, economic boom, and continued population increase.

Fresh water is a scarce commodity on earth. In fact, of the world’s 332.5 million cubic miles of water, only 4% is freshwater. The other 96% is saline. With that in mind, Americans use over 400 billion gallons of both fresh and saline water every day! The biggest consumers of water in the United States are the electricity and agriculture industries, accounting for 80% of the daily consumption.

Because the threat to freshwater security is real, engineers have developed some practical engineering solutions that can help conserve freshwater resources. One of these solutions involves large-scale desalinization.

The desalination process extracts salt from seawater, thereby turning it into fresh water. According to the International Desalination Association (IDA), there are currently over 18,000 desalination plants worldwide across 150 countries. These plants provide over 300 million people with fresh water. Desalination is very expensive and energy intensive however, due to the large amount of electricity required to run these plants.

Thankfully, engineers are working on lowering the cost of this process in many ways. One of these solutions involves increasing the diameter of the membranes to allow each membrane to process more water. Many plants have already replaced their eight-inch membranes with 16-inch membranes to increase their productivity, minimize their energy consumption and lower costs.

To learn more about the global threat to freshwater and the technologies engineers are creating to help solve these problems, check out the infographic below created by Ohio University’s online Master of Science in Civil Engineering program.

How Technology Is Providing Solutions for Clean Water

Ohio University

Toyota Takes the LEED in Texas

Toyota Headquarters Campus Achieves LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council, The Largest Commercial LEED Platinum Project in The State Of Texas, To Date

Plano, Texas (Sept. 22, 2017) – Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything, that is, except Toyota’s environmental footprint. 

Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters campus in Plano, Texas has officially achieved LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Jonathan Kraatz, executive director, USGBC Texas Chapter, presented the prized Platinum plaque to Jim Lentz, TMNA president and chief executive officer, today at the new campus. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Toyota’s new campus is the largest commercial LEED Platinum project in the state of Texas, to date.

“At Toyota, we have a longstanding commitment to sustainability and preserving our natural resources,” said Lentz. “With the installation of greenspaces, thousands of solar panels, a massive rain water capture system, and natural light wells, we have designed our new headquarters to reflect the local habitat and enhance its biodiversity. Recognition as a LEED Platinum facility is a testament of our efforts to become a model for energy efficiency and sustainability, and speaks to our challenge to ourselves to create a net positive impact on the planet by 2050.”

“USGBC is proud to award LEED Platinum to Toyota, for their thoughtfulness in their campus energy planning and space design as well as the overall net positive impact on the community and environment,” said Kraatz. “Our mission at USGBC has challenged organizations to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Toyota’s new Texas campus is a great example of what can be accomplished with the right leadership.”

The state-of-the-art, 100-acre campus boasts a Platinum-sized list of sustainability aspects, from renewable energy to drought resistant landscaping:  

Renewable Energy

Largest onsite corporate solar installation among non-utility companies in Texas

8.79-Megawatt solar power system, designed and installed by SunPower Corp.

Produces up to 33 percent of daily electric needs for headquarters campus

Reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,198 metric tons

Creates enough energy to power 1,200 average US homes for a year

Installation of high efficiency lighting and building envelopes to reduce energy usage on campus

Specialized rooftop design teeming with plant life to manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings

Flexible energy contract to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid

Grid energy offset by Texas wind farm renewable energy credits

Repurposed Rainwater

State-of-the-art rainwater capture system will provide up to three months of water supply for irrigation use

Cistern water storage with a capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water

Estimated to save more than 11 million gallons of potable (drinking) water annually

Excess drain water will be collected and repurposed for sanitary facility use


More than 99 percent of the construction waste was recycled

Construction waste was sorted offsite at North Texas’ first Construction and Demolition waste processing facility

Sustainable Landscaping

Exterior landscaping features drought-tolerant, North Texas indigenous plants like savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows

Campus landscape will provide a natural habitat for endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies

Approximately 1,300 trees planted onsite by Toyota

More than 80 mature trees saved or relocated onsite, including a 100-year-old oak tree

Landscaping will be managed without expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or artificial irrigation

Historic wetlands on the northeast corner of the campus were preserved to protect its natural state

Professionals who led this project include a host of Dallas-based firms: KDC Real Estate Development & Investments to develop and build the campus, architect Corgan Associates to design the campus, and Austin Commercial to manage the construction.

In late 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation announced the 2050 Toyota Environmental Challenge, a set of ambitious environmental goals to reach beyond net zero, and create a net positive impact on the planet. To learn more, please visit http://www.toyota-global.com/sustainability/environment/challenge2050/.


Raise a Glass to 100 Years of Clean New York City Water

Social Media Campaign to Thank Catskill Families

CATSKILLS & NEW YORK CITY—This October marks the 100th anniversary of the date when people in all five New York City boroughs celebrated receiving some of the cleanest unfiltered water in the world from the Catskill Mountains through a complex network of aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels, which channels water from upstate into their homes.

The New York City water supply system currently services eight million New York City residents and one million residents in Westchester, Putnam, Orange, and Ulster counties. It is a major engineering feat and a boon to city dwellers and visitors, but it was also a hardship to many Catskill families who were relocated¾losing their homes, land, and communities¾to accommodate excavation and construction of the water supply system.

Louisa Floyd and her grandson Elias Wilkes, of Brooklyn, Raise a Glass to 100 Years of Catskill Water. From now through Saturday, October 14, Radical Joy for Hard Times invites people to post social media photos of themselves, their friends, family (or even pets) raising a glass of clean NYC water to thank the people of the Catskills for the gift of clean drinking water, and to tag @CatskillsWater and use the hashtags #RaiseAGlass of #NYCDrinkingWater #PostYourToast.
Louisa Floyd and her grandson Elias Wilkes, of Brooklyn, Raise a Glass to 100 Years of Catskill Water. From now through Saturday, October 14, Radical Joy for Hard Times invites people to post social media photos of themselves, their friends, family (or even pets) raising a glass of clean NYC water to thank the people of the Catskills for the gift of clean drinking water, and to tag @CatskillsWater and use the hashtags #RaiseAGlass of #NYCDrinkingWater #PostYourToast.

To celebrate the centennial of New York City’s clean water and to acknowledge the sacrifices that have made it possible, Radical Joy for Hard Times is hosting the social media campaign: Raise a Glass to 100 Years of Catskill Water.

From now through Saturday, October 14, people throughout the NYC watershed are invited to take photos of themselves, their friends, family (or even pets) raising a glass of clean New York City water to toast and to thank the people of the Catskills for the gift of clean drinking water.

The campaign invites people to post their photos on social media and to tag @CatskillsWater on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtags #RaiseAGlass #NYCDrinkingWater #PostYourToast. Additional hashtags may include #RadicalJoyForHardTimes #ToastCatskillsWater #CatskillsWater #Ashokan #AshokanReservoir #NYCWaterways #WaterProtection.

Submitted photos will be included in a commemorative book that Radical Joy for Hard Times will give to descendants of displaced Catskill families.

The non-profit Radical Joy for Hard Times is a worldwide community of people dedicated to bringing meaning, beauty and value to places that have been damaged by human or natural acts.

“Our mission is to recognize the grief people feel when the places they love are damaged, and to find ways of creating art and new meaning there,” says Radical Joy for Hard Times Executive Director Trebbe Johnson.

“‘Raise a Glass to 100 Years of Catskill Water’ calls attention to those two polarities as they’ve affected a pair of very different communities that have been intricately connected for a hundred years,” adds Polly Howells, a Catskills resident and Radical Joy for Hard Times Board Member.

Source: Raise a Glass to 100 Years of Catskill Water www.radicaljoyforhardtimes.org

Nebraskans Install First Solar Panels Inside the Keystone XL Pipeline Route

‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industry
Silver Creek, NE — On Saturday, July 29th, the “Solar XL” project placed its first solar panels along the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, on the farm of Nebraska landowners Jim and Chris Carlson near Silver Creek. The Carlsons, who rejected a $307,000 offer from the pipeline company TransCanada to build Keystone XL through their backyard, partnered with Bold Nebraska, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, and Oil Change International to put renewable energy directly in the pipeline’s path. Solar XL underscores the need to center solutions to climate change while rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and resisting the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. 

“Build Our Energy Barn” built in 2013 on the Hammond family’s land inside KXL route near York, Nebraska — one of the many signs of resistance to Keystone XL. Photo Credit: Mary Anne Andrei / Bold Nebraska


“While we are dedicated to Keep It In The Ground efforts to stop new fossil fuel development, we are also deeply committed to the Just Transition. Solar and renewable energy can provide a sustainable transition away from fossil fuels and provide job growth in areas traditionally left behind, like rural America and our Indigenous communities. By placing solar projects in the route of Keystone XL, we are demonstrating how vital it is to not just stop dangerous and unnecessary projects like KXL but to also show that there are alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that do not put communities at risk and sacrifice Indigenous Peoples and land. We are excited to be a part of this resistance that also highlights the solutions that are needed,” commented Joye Braun, organizer from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Solar XL project is being supported through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this month. The solar panels, which will be installed in at least two other locations along the pipeline route, will serve not only as a form of clean energy, but as a symbol of the urgent need for a just transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100% renewable energy economy. The panels will help power the homes of Nebraskans resisting Keystone XL, and are being installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
Jim Knopik (left) and North Star Solar Bears solar installers with farmer Rick Hammond (right) and his 25 kW solar array near Benedict, NE. (Photo: Mary Anne Andrei)
‘Solar XL’ project breaks ground along Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, highlighting clean energy solutions over the fossil fuel industryThe Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil a day from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and then on to the export market. The pipeline would pass through farms, ranches, and Indigenous land, posing a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer and other water sources that would be contaminated by spills and leaks. Landowners continue to fight eminent domain for private gain knowing this would be the first time the Public Service Commission (PSC) grants those powers to a foreign corporation. Lastly, all along the route, local economies are connected to agriculture, and climate change is a serious issue. Keystone XL would significantly add to climate risks for farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations.

The first installation took place just over a week before the Nebraska Public Service Commission holds hearings in Lincoln on whether to grant a construction permit for Keystone XL through the state. One day before the hearings on August 6th, people from around Nebraska and surrounding states will converge for a march through the streets of Lincoln urging the Commissioners to reject the permit. If permits are granted for Keystone XL construction in Nebraska, TransCanada will have to tear down homegrown clean energy in order to build, galvanizing people across the country to fight back.

Jim Carlson, Nebraska landowner who placed solar in path of Keystone XL on his family’s farm: 

“I am vehemently opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline mainly because of the properties of the contents of the tar sands oil it will carry — this is not your Mother’s crude oil, it is the Devil’s, and it can kill. We must be focused on clean, renewable energy and America can get along just fine without this foul concoction they call bitumen that TransCanada wants to pipe across our precious soil and water.”
Jim Knopik, North Star Solar Bears. LLC:

“Our family-run company is based in Nebraska — and by installing solar projects, like the ones to stop the Keystone XL pipeline — my kids are able to stay on the farm. It’s time for our country to start the transition to clean energy now.”

More information on the “Solar XL” project:


How Flint’s water crisis is impacting the nation’s water infrastructure

As of late, five Michigan officials, including the head of the state health department, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the ongoing investigation into Flint’s water crisis. A dozen of Flint residents contracted Legionnaires’ disease after the city’s water source had been contaminated with lead poisoning, leaving one dead. Eastern Kentucky University that highlights a study that found the 100-year-old U.S. water infrastructure will cost $1 trillion to fix. 
Currently, the United States is graded as a “D+” for the state of its water infrastructure. In order to ensure the continuation of safe tap water, the U.S. will have to invest $384.2 billion to make infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. 

How Flint's water crisis is impacting the nation’s water infrastructure
To learn more about Flint’s water crisis and how it’s impacting the nation’s water infrastructure, view full infographic here: http://safetymanagement.eku.edu/resources/infographics/our-nations-growing-water-crisis-what-you-need-to-know/