Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Barrels of Fun!

Roll Out the Barrels

Thank you to everyone who made Roll Out the Barrels 2013 such a success.  The barrels were gorgeous, the weather was beautiful, the food was fabulous, and the music was delightful.  But most importantly, over $2,000 was raised for the ACC Green School Program!  Here are a few photos from the event.  We hope to see you for barrels of fun next year!
Lily Anne Phibian

Barrels inside the Lyndon House lounge area.
Artist Teresa Kingery and family.
Artist Justin & Jul Sexton made The Way to the event.
Sean Arrington delighted us
with his music.
Cindy Jamison & Teresa Yoder,
talented sisters!
Artist Mike Ely stands
by his barrel. 
What a beautiful garden
these barrels make!
Let our rain barrels add
color to your home.
These barrels are as
unique as you are.
Proud barrel owners!
Let the bidding begin!

Exterminate! Exterminate!
These ladies know the importance of environmental ed.
Dr., Who is this?
We have happy
ACC Green School teachers!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Roll Out the Barrels

Artist: Christina Ward
“Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.” We all remember repeating this rhyme as children. Lately, with all the recent weekend rains in Athens, we may have found ourselves saying it as adults, too. But what about when the rain does go away and we find “some other day” ends up being few and far between? How do we provide water for our thirsty plants and flower beds when the well-meaning government places us on an outdoor watering schedule?

Artist:  Carol Fox
I have a suggestion: Rain Barrels. The concept of a rain barrel is simple. It collects and stores rainwater from rooftops to use later. You can think of a rain barrel as a bank in which you place water to save for a non-rainy day. This water normally runs off your roof and into your gutter downspouts to become stormwater runoff. The problem with runoff is it can pick up nasty pollutants, such as oil, grease, bacteria, and sediment, as it travels to a storm drain or waterway. The creek, stream, or river it runs into is often part of the water source we pull our drinking water from. It really goes without saying, but we want to keep that clean.

OK. You have now decided you want to conserve water, reduce stormwater runoff, and have water available. You want a rain barrel. Where do you find one? There are several ways you can add a rain barrel to your home:
1) Make your own barrel. Videos and instructions can easily be found in an Internet search. For example, Paul James with HGTV offers a video and materials list for the DIY inclined. Depending on construction, the cost of building your own can be as low as $20.

2) Purchase one at your local home and garden center or order one online. Depending on the features you desire, a pre-made barrel can go for $50 - $250.

Artist:  Lorenza
"Chico" Rozier

    3) Come to Roll Out the Barrels. If you are looking for a functional rain barrel, but are also concerned with the aesthetics of your home, this is the place for you to pick up a barrel. Anyone can put out a boring, plastic drum to collect rain water. But you are an individual with a flair for the artistic. Roll Out the Barrels has 22 rain barrels created by local artists, each as unique as you are.  Athens Paint and Body applied a clear coating spray to each barrel to protect the art from the elements.
Artist:  Heidi Hensley

Want to know more about Roll Out the Barrels?  This free event is open to the public and takes place on Friday, May 17, 2013 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, GA.  The 22 rain barrels referred to are available at this event through a silent auction.  Proceeds from the auction benefit the Athens Green School Program, an initiative to provide environmental education to ACC schools.  The event features live music, food, and barrels of fun.  Most of the barrels are currently on exhibit at the Lyndon House.  Others can be found around town:  Jittery Joe's in Watkinsville, Terrapin Brewery, Cofer's Home & Garden Showplace, ACC Water Business Office, & ACC Water Resources Center.  You can vote for your favorite barrel in our Facebook album by "liking" the photo.  The barrel with the most votes wins the artist a kayaking trip for two from Big Dogs on the River and a gift certificate to Locos Grill & Pub.   

    Artist: Thomas Easton

Artist:  Teresa

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Drinking Water Week!

It seems like there is always a week or day set aside to honor something nationally.  You know what I mean.  There is National Asparagus Month, Nanny Week, National Smile Month, Random Huggers Day.  This is just a sampling of the national awareness days in May.   Well, not to be left out, drinking water also has a special time for recognition.  This year it is celebrated May 5 - 11.  You might be saying to yourself, "Really?  Drinking water needs a special week of awareness?"
Well, yes.  Here in Athens many of us take our drinking water for granted. It seems odd to celebrate something that is here all the time: day and night, 24 hours a day, holidays, rainy days, whatever. The tap keeps flowing.  That kind of reliability is hard to find anywhere else. Only tap water delivers:  It
protects your public health, provides fire protection, supports the economy, and enhances our overall quality of life.

Get answers to the
most Frequently
Asked Questions about
drinking water from
the Environmental
Protection Agency!


You get out of the bed in the morning, turn on your faucet to brush your teeth, and no water comes out... 
You flush your toilet, and nothing happens... 
Your home is on fire and when the fire department arrives, no water comes out of the fire hydrant... 
You are a business owner but have no restroom facilities or water to clean your store... 
You have no consistent or clean source of water to cook with or drink... 
Think of all the ways every single day that you utilize water--from bathing, to cleaning, to doing laundry, to drinking and cooking--everything we do and all the conveniences in life we take advantage of revolve around a clean and abundant water supply. Without it, society simply wouldn't be able to exist in the way it does.

Another important point:  Water is by far the least expensive of all utilities we take advantage of - electricity, gas, cable, phone, etc., but the only one that we absolutely cannot live without.  

O.K., so you now agree water is AWESOME and you want to celebrate it.  How does one go about honoring water?  Well, here are a few opportunities for you to put a spotlight on water this week.

  1.  Read the blog in Water Conservation Station to realize why water deserves recognition.  (Check.)
  2. Come to our Drinking Water Week Celebration and the Deadwood Guitar All-Star Jam at Locos Grill & Pub on Timothy Road, Wednesday, May 8 from 6:30 - 9:00.  Local musicians, such as Rick Fowler, Kip Jones, and Fester Hagood, will play various guitars handcrafted by Jason Booth, of Deadwood Guitars.  During the music, the Water Conservation Office offers give aways - WaterSense high-efficiency showerheads, aerators, and spray nozzles for hoses - you can put to use in your home to protect water.  We will also have the Saltine Cracker Challenge for those brave enough to try.  Take the challenge and discover how much you want some cold, clean water.
  3. Take a tour of the J.G. Beacham Drinking Water Treatment Plant on Thursday, May 9 at 4:00.  Discover how we pump, filter, and treat this vital resource before pumping it to 98% of Athens-Clarke County's residents, schools, businesses, and industries. 
  4. Thank one of our Drinking Water Treatment Plant workers for providing you with a service your life depends on.  All of these dedicated people make sure the water is clean and pumped to your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Even on Christmas!  Thank you!!
Now I ask everyone to go and get a tall, cool glass of delicious tap water and make a toast to this clean, vital liquid that was delivered to you in the comfort of your home.  Happy National Drinking Water Week. 


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Farewell! Despedida! Adieu! Addio!

Farewell Everyone!

I am not going to lie my faithful bloggers, writing this blog has not been easy (I have avoided it for a week due to denial). I am here to say my final goodbyes as a Water Conservation Intern. Graduation is upon us.
Soon, I will be able to call myself a UGA ALUM. How crazy is that? Along with that title, I will take with me my time spent working as a Water Warrior. I can not thank the ACC Water Conservation Office enough for the experiences and the knowledge I have gained while working here. Marilyn, Laurie, Jackie, Nicki, Lauren, and Becky have been amazing and their work here in Athens has truly made a difference (my heart warms when I see the Conserve:Water U Waiting 4? bumper stickers).

I have been fortunate enough to attend and participate in many events with the Water Conservation Office.Within my first semester at the office I was even able to make a collection of short video clips for the Bob Snipes Water Resources Center with the help of Lily Anne Phibian. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QFIk2_UkyA) Looking back, it is difficult to choose just one event to be my favorite. In just this past year I was able to participate in the Ripple Effect Film Festival, the Athens Water Festival, Rivers Alive, the Christmas Parade and Float, and 2 Fix-A-Leak Weeks. Although these were the big names that are associated with the Water Conservation Office, the events and outreach programs done in the schools can not be overlooked! I will take with me all of the good memories I have of attending the Adopt-A-Class programs on Tuesday/Thursday mornings and being able to talk with students about the endless opportunities of jobs in water.

Working in water conservation, you can't help but find a new appreciation for water. I grew up a swimmer, lived on the Chattahoochee River, and loved all water related activities! I often took this precious resource for granted without realizing all the work and effort that goes behind the conservation and protection of our resource. I hope this blog is a weekly reminder of just how important water is and the responsibility associated with its protection. It is in EVERYTHING we do. Even in my favorite TV show!

Photo courtesy of www.quicklol.com

As my time ends, others begin. Keep reading and keep conserving! 

Nicole Duffy-Intern

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Water Bottle Safety... Fact or Fiction?

In this day and age of increased water awareness, more people are drinking bottled water. In 2008, Americans drank 9 billion gallons of bottled water, which comes out to be approximately 30 gallons per person that year. Bottled water is convenient and seems innocent enough, but is bottled water safer than tap water? Not necessarily.
Tap water is tested multiple times a day to ensure that the water is safe to drink. In Athens, the water that reaches your tap is tested every hour of every day! Bottled water however, isn't tested as often. A study conducted by the Natural Resource Defense Council tested over 1,000 bottles of water. “About 22 percent of the brands we tested contained, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits.”  They also found that some of the bottled water was just tap water, 25% or more in fact. The tap water in some cases was treated further, other cases it wasn't.
If you haven't noticed, bottled water is expensive!  Why buy bottled water when there is water coming from your tap? Bottled water can cost anywhere between$1 and $5.  Let's say you buy a $2.00 20 ounce bottle of water, did you know that would equal $12.80 for a gallon of water! That's more than three times the price of a gallon of gas! Now look at the table below and see how much a gallon of water costs in Athens-Clarke County.

Tier 1: Winter Average (WA)
0.00342 cents/gallon
Tier 2: 10% over WA
0.00428 cents/gallon
Tier 3: 10-25% over WA
0.00513 cents/gallon
Tier 4: >25% over WA
0.00855 cents/gallon

So would you rather pay 0.00855-0.00342 cents a gallon for water or $12.80?

Now to tackle the bottle itself. It actually takes at least twice as much water to make the bottle than to actually fill it. It takes 3 liters of water to make 1 liter of bottled water.  A lot of water can be saved by simply using a reusable water bottle. Also, plastic bottles are one of the main pollution sources and often end up in our oceans. 

Not enough bottles are being recycled; one statistics says 75% of bottles are thrown away. And in a time of oil dependency, there are 17 million barrels of oil that are used to produce water bottles every year.

So bottled water is pricey, not necessarily safer than tap, and the bottle can be a harmful pollutant to our environment. This is a huge industry that isn't going to change overnight but here are a few things you can do!
  • Buy a reusable water bottle. They hold large amounts of water and are easy to just grab and go.

  • If you must buy a bottle of water, some places don’t allow reusable water bottles, recycle the bottle. That will be one-less bottle that could end up in the ocean.

  • Tell your friends! You are the change, consumers control demand.
  • Go to www.tappedthemovie.com/ for more even information! I just watched this for the first time and it really got me inspired.

Next time you see a bottle of water at a store, take a step back and reconsider buying it. It could just be tap water or even worse, it could have harmful chemicals in it. Drink smarter!

           WCO intern

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yeah, I'm Cheap

Another April 15 has come and gone.  Did a warm feeling of satisfaction sweep over you as you wrote your check to the IRS?   Feel like you are getting your money’s worth?  How about when you pay other bills? Surely, there is one bill that makes you think, “Wow, I can’t believe how little I pay for how much I get in return!  Paying this bill makes me smile!”
A few weeks ago I asked you to think of three things you consider essential.  If you don’t have a top three, take a moment and mentally create a list.  What value do you place on these items?  Are they worth every penny you pay? 
One can assume we put a higher monetary value on what we consider most important in our lives.  If water was on your list of top three, as it should be, what price is fair to put on this commodity?  We need it for our basic survival - try going without for three days and see how you are feeling.  We also turn to water for putting out fires, cleaning, preventing the spread of disease, growing fruits and vegetables, manufacturing products, creating energy, flushing a toilet…  The beneficial uses of water are overflowing!
Now what is its worth?  What do you believe to be a fair price to pay for clean drinking water transported to your house to meet all of your daily needs?  I often hear water should be free.  After all, it is supplied by nature, available at any local river, and is replenished by rain.  No one put forth any effort to create it, so cost should be nonexistent, right?  Well, if you believe this, then please be my guest and walk to your nearest outdoor spring, river, creek, or puddle the next time you brush your teeth.
While your tap water isn't free, I suggest it is cheap. Utilities must balance the expenses  of treating and delivering quality water with what people can afford to pay for this vital service.  In 2007 Athens-Clarke County (ACC) implemented a tiered rate structure to encourage water conservation.  Looking at the current rates, you find one gallon of ACC tap water costs a customer $.004 in Tier 1. Go up to Tier 4 and the cost rises to just $.01 per gallon. Yes, one penny for one gallon of water in the highest tier rate. Compare this to other liquid products you may purchase by the gallon.  
The reality is this irreplaceable resource we rely on does come at a price.  Here are a few factors which contribute to determining the rates required to adequately treat and distribute water: 
  1. There is the cost for installing, maintaining, and repairing the infrastructure we rely on to deliver water to our homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. 
  2. Utilities must be able to cover the rising expenses of electricity, chemicals and fuel used to supply and treat water. 
  3. Federally required security enhancements have been put into place following the 9/11 terror attacks, adding to expenditures. 
  4. Salaries must be paid to the workers who are on the clock 24/7 every day of the year to ensure water delivery does not fail.
Let’s  now compare three bills:  water, cell phone, and cable/Internet service.  In my earlier blog we found people listed smart phones and flat screen TVs as essential items.  What is your bill for your cell phone?  The Internet cable we all enjoy watching on our TVs?  I don’t know about you, but both my individual cell phone and cable bill are higher than my water charges.  And which of these three items is truly essential in my life? 
I can’t say looking at my water bill in this way will make me smile when I write my next check, but looking at the value and benefits I receive from this service does make me appreciate it more.  It is hard to believe I can get so much from something so cheap. 



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Water Resources Center

Stop 3. Water Resources Center

Our journey continues in search of buildings, businesses, and organizations that demonstrate water conservation methods in Athens-Clarke County.  The next stop is the Bob Snipes Water Resources Center (WRC) located off Barber Street (I'm sure you've seen it on your way to Terrapin :)  The WRC is a water and wastewater laboratory along with an educational facility.  It highlights 5 sustainable and water saving elements both within and around the building.  We will discuss each of these 5 elements over the next few blogs.

The first element is the actual building itself.  The WRC is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.  What exactly is LEED, you ask??  Well, LEED is an international green building certification program that ensures the entire lifecycle of a building is environmentally friendly.  

The WRC gained LEED status by:
  • Installing WaterSense efficient plumbing fixtures to reduce water waste by 40%
  • Recycling 75% of construction debris
  • Designing the roof to minimize heat absorption and maximize energy efficiency
  • Planting drought-tolerant plants to reduce water used by irrigation
  • Including education in the design

WaterSense dual flush toilet meets EPA criteria

Construction of the Roof

Educational Displays in the Atrium

The benefits of the WRC as a LEED building include reduction in operating costs, reduction in construction waste sent to landfills, conservation of water and energy, providing healthier and safer environment for workers and visitors, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  The public is welcome to visit the WRC Monday through Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm.