12/3/16

How To Get Safer And Cleaner Drinking Water For Your Home

Are you concerned about the safety of your drinking water? The Flint water crisis has brought issues of drinking water quality into sharp focus. We all need water to live – so how can you make sure the water you drink is safe and healthy for your body and the environment?

Earth’s Most Precious Resource

Water is the most precious resource on earth. Around 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water – that’s the same as the amount of water in our bodies. Without water, there would be no life. From growing crops to drinking to bathing, water is an integral part of our lives.

That’s why threats to water are so serious. Contamination of water supplies can damage human health, and have a negative impact on the earth’s creatures, especially amphibians, such as frogs and toads, and fish, for whom water is a key part of their habitat.

water tap

Water Is Good For You

For the human body, water is a fantastic healer. As experienced water engineer James Boyce of Home Water Filter Guide points out, water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. Water can also:

  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve the condition of skin and hair
  • Help stabilize weight
  • Provide a mood boost
  • Relive fatigue
  • Promote fresh breath
  • Flush out toxins

Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and healthy. But what if you’re concerned with the quality of your water?

What’s In Your Water?

Since 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act has stipulated that all water for public consumption in the USA must be safe to drink. However, even safe water can still contain some pretty nasty things:

  • Heavy metals such as lead
  • Volatile organic compounds such as pesticides
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals

There are literally hundreds of chemicals that could be in your tap water right now. Although there are regulations as to the quantities that are allowed in tap water, that’s still a lot of chemicals going into your body. Exposure to contaminants in water can lead to a range of health problems from sickness and fatigue to cancer.

Making Water Safe Again

Purer water with less chemicals is a healthy choice for your body. Many people turn to bottled water, but this isn’t really the best option. As well as costing you hundreds of dollars a year, bottled water can be contaminated by compounds from the bottles themselves. Not to mention the environmental impact of throwing away all those plastic bottles afterwards.

If you want to drink safe, it’s best to filter your water. Which method is best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular methods.

Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are a popular water filter choice. Water passes through activated carbon which acts to filer out all kinds of unwanted compounds. They cost around $40 up front, but work out to be a cost effective option in the long run.

Pros: Removes all kinds of chemicals, heavy metals, fluoride and pesticides. In fact a carbon filter can make most water into safe drinking water including water from ponds, rain or even the sea, so it can certainly make your tap water safe to drink.

Cons: Not as effective against bacteria as other filters. They’re also quite bulky, but if you have plenty of counter space, they are a good option.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis filters use a membrane that filters out compounds as water passes through it. Reverse osmosis was originally designed to transform saltwater into freshwater, and is very effective at filtering out chemicals and other things.

Pros: Highly effective at filtering. a good reverse osmosis filter can filter out up to 98% of bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals, and will also remove fluoride.

Cons: Wastes a lot of water, as for every usable gallon produced, three or more gallons are washed down the drain. It also removes minerals from the water.

Distillation

Distillation makes use of heat to purify water. The water is heated until it becomes team, then cooled until it reverts to a liquid state, minus many contaminants.

Pros: Distillation removes many contaminants, including heavy metals, arsenic and fluoride, resulting in very pure water.

Cons: Doesn’t reduce many chemicals. Home distillation filters are expensive (around $100 for a small one) and can be large and bulky. Like reverse osmosis, it removes minerals.

Under Sink Filters

Under sink filters put water through a multi-stage filtering process which removes many chemicals and contaminants.

Pros: Filters out a wide range of contaminants. Once it’s installed it’s very easy to use with no need to refill or wait for the water to be filtered.

Cons: You may need to hire a plumber to install it under the sink, and you do need the under sink space for the unit as it can’t go anywhere else.

As you can see, there are several options for making your water cleaner and safer to drink. Each has its pros and cons, and each will be more suited to some households than others. Depending on your budget and your needs, you should be able to find the right solution for you so you and your family can enjoy healthier, cleaner water.

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(Guest Blogger): My name is Toni Stan and I am a blogger and the owner of www.homewaterfilter.guide. I have a passion in all things related to water conservation and I spend most of my time educating people on how to make water clean and safe for consumption.

05/5/16

7 Garden Maintenance Tips in Autumn

watering garden

As Autumn approaches in Melbourne, many householders are starting to prepare their gardens for the colder months and taking care of the little jobs that may have passed them by. The season plays an important role in how well your plants, trees and foliage will do during the winter time, so with 7 simple preparation tips, you can have a clean, lush and bumper garden before the cold weather kicks in.

1. Have a good clear out of your garden

racking leaves in garden

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for Autumn is to clean your garden of any leaves or tree branches that may have built up over the last few months. Autumn is a great time to start to clear out the main base of your garden, allowing you to see and tend to flowers of shrubs in the winter. If you have lots of items to remove, why not start your garden waste removal with the help of a skip bin hire company to handle the majority of the heavy lifting.

2. Maintain your lawn
mowing the lawn

Lawn and garden maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult, as with the right tools and the right approach you can enjoy a lush and green garden all year round. Instead of waiting until the grass is a little too long, why not get the mower out and keep it at the height you best prefer. That way the grass will be at full health and you will minimise the risk of seeing bald patches as the old grass is left covering the newer turf.

3. Clean up your borders

trimming hedges and bushes

Tidying up your borders is a great way to have your garden looking fresh and in top shape. Clear out any foliage that shouldn’t be there and inspect the soil accordingly. If you have any plants that you feel are poorly placed, autumn is the perfect time to get in there and replant them. If any perennials have faded slightly, cut them back to around 5cm to provide them the best health over the coming months.

4. Start your compost harvest

composting

If you have any deciduous trees that are in or overhang your garden, don’t worry about all of the leaves that have fallen and start a leaf mould to add to your compost. The leaves make amazing quality compost in a year or two, so store away all you can and you will have your very own compost to recycle in your garden.

5. The best time to plant evergreen

planting evergreen

Autumn is the best time to plant evergreen varieties due to the soil being still warm and with ever so slightly cooler weather. This greenery makes up the backbone of any quality garden, providing the green backdrop that many gardeners aim for. Plant your evergreen varieties in a way that brings bulk to your shrub borders and adds colour and depth to your main focal point plants.

6. Lift out timid species before the frost
lift out fragile plants in autumn

Autumn is the time when you will need to lift out your most fragile plants such as Dahlias or Begonias and place them into storage in a cool and dry place. Use sand or compost to keep them healthy and ensure that you replant them when spring arrives the coming year. Ensure they are fully covered with just the crowns visible to keep them healthy and happy.

7. Take care of your gardening tools

take care of gardening tools

Autumn is a great time of the year to ensure your gardening equipment is well maintained and in good working order. If you need to purchase replacement tools, check out your local garden hardware store to see if they have anything new and exciting in stock. Oil and clean any motorised equipment you might have, and get yourself ready for the busier months to come!

If you feel that gardening in Autumn is a little too much to handle all by yourself, why not hire a garden waste removal company that allows you to clear out your garden of foliage, branches, cut grass and soil and create for yourself a fresh and bright new garden. Simply have the skip bin delivered at a time of your choosing, fill it up and call for removal for a weekends work, your garden can get a full makeover.

 

10/7/15

Does Fracking Threaten Drinking Water?

By Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a lot of debate about fracking in the United States right now. There are valid arguments and scientific studies on both sides of the argument. This can make it hard to figure out who’s ultimately correct. On one hand, environmental activists argue that fracking is responsible for the pollution of drinking water. They point to the large number of chemicals used in the process of fracking, and make the point that some of these chemicals must be leaking into the watershed.

On the other hand, groups in favor of fracking point to the numerous safety precautions taken by drilling companies. These companies are regulated by a series of laws intended to protect the environment and local drinking water. Recently, defenders of fracking have been given another piece of evidence that is giving them a solid platform to backup their stance with.

That piece of evidence is a recent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) report. In the report the EPA states that fracking does not threaten local drinking water supplies. The report took place over four years and looked at fracking activities across the United States.

The EPA concedes that in a few cases fracking wells have been responsible for contamination. However, they point out that these cases are few and far between. In fact, in cases where contamination has been detected, it almost always happens at wells that are violating one or more federal safety guidelines.

Fracking companies are also quick to point out that the chemicals they shoot into the ground are injected well below the watershed. In most places the watershed rests at about 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The wells that fracking companies drill go well below the watershed, up to depths of 9,000 feet. That means that these chemicals stay down in the ground, as they cannot go against gravity, and transition thousands of feet up to the watershed.

Companies also take extra precautions to preserve the watershed. All wells that are drilled have an additional amount of protection near the surface. Large amounts of concrete are poured around the fracking well closer to the surface, just as an extra precaution against any leaks.

All of these precautions protect drinking water from contamination. By following federal regulations and reinforcing wells near the surface, fracking companies strive to make their wells as secure as possible. These precautions are surely one of the reasons that the EPA concluded that fracking does not contribute to the contamination of drinking water.

However, no industrial process that uses as many chemicals as fracking can be completely clean and contamination free. Every year, rigs inject billions of gallons of fracking solution into the earth. Most of this solution is water and a small percentage is chemicals, lubricants and other compounds. Even though the solution is predominantly water, even just 2% of a billion gallons means 20 million gallons of pure chemicals.

One of the problems with fracking is that a majority of this solution is left behind in the earth. Depending on the well, only 30 to 50% of the solution used in fracking is recovered from beneath the ground. That means that every year a nearly unimaginable amount of polluted water is being left underground.

Problems also arise when that water is above ground. The fracking solution is usually stored in large tanks and ponds. Unfortunately, these storage areas are prone to dangerous spills. When fracking solution spills above ground, two things happen.

First, the solution sinks into the ground. Since thousands of gallons can spill at one time, this can add up to a significant amount of spilled solution. This water can sink down into the watershed. There, it gets mixed with clean water and is eventually used for drinking water.

The other problem associated with fracking solution spills happens when that water leaks into a local stream, river, pond or lake. When this happens the solution is carried off and it becomes mixed with pure, fresh water. This is a big problem because this type of leakage cannot be controlled. Once fracking solution leaks into a river, for instance, little can be done besides warning local residents about the danger.

More than anything else, there is one law associated with fracking that is alarming when it comes to the quality of drinking water. Fracking companies are exempt from the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. That means that their activities aren’t regulated by two acts which are explicitly designed to protect drinking water.

One of the larger problems with the question of fracking is that neither side has enough science to entirely disprove the other’s arguments. People who support fracking point out that spills are rare and many precautions are taken to protect drinking water.

Environmental activists argue that every year, fracking rigs use millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, they argue that by leaving these chemicals in the ground, fracking companies are risking watershed contamination.

Ultimately, the best way to solve the question is by doing your own local investigation. If you don’t live near a fracking rig then it’s likely you have nothing to worry about. If you do, you can take water samples and have them sent into the EPA for analysis.

It’s as likely as not that these samples will be fine and your drinking water is safe to drink. On the other hand, if there are chemicals present, you’ll be able to research them and discover if they potentially came from a fracking rig. Once you know what’s in your water, you’ll be able to take steps. Buying a water filter or filing an EPA complaint are all valid options.

 

John Davis writes for YourWaterFilterGuide.com, a site dedicated to helping everyone find clean, safe, drinking water.

Sources

http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gasdrilling/

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Fracking_regulations

http://www.wsj.com/articles/fracking-has-had-no-widespread-impact-on-drinking-water-epa-finds-1433433850

http://www.rt.com/usa/study-claims-fracking-safe-324/

http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/hfstudy/recordisplay.cfm?deid=244651

 

04/5/15

How Awareness Really Catches Fire

The phone is ringing and a friend is excited to tell me there’s a discussion about frogs right now on WNYC radio. Robin Moore, the author and photographer of “In Search of Lost Frogs,” is being interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show (The Conservation Efforts Trying to Keep Frogs From Going Extinct). At the same moment, a Jersey City colleague is emailing me about the same thing and writes that she’s left a comment about Frogs Are Green and our kids frog art project on WNYC’s website.

During the interview they discuss many of the issues that frogs face today, including the deadly Chytrid Fungus and climate change. One caller asks about the drought situation in California and its toll on frogs. They also talk about how many frog species have gone extinct in the wild and at the same time new species are being discovered, as close as New York. They also talk about how important the medical research is as they test the poisonous skin of dart frogs.

dart frog by devin edmonds

Dart Frog courtesy of Devin Edmonds

Almost every day, Facebook friends post on my timeline or the Frogs Are Green page, or Tweet at us about frogs and/or the environment.

I’m sharing this because it was six years ago this May that I founded Frogs Are Green, and so many people laughed at this cause. They’d say, “Frogs? … Who’s going to care about frogs?”

I’m happy to tell you that in six years we have reached over a million people. Each month we have 13,000 visitors who look at more than 32,000 pages, which gives us an amazing bounce rate of 1.8 %. Yes, that is not a misprint, we have a 1.8% bounce rate. These stats have been holding steady for years and are again on the rise.

We didn’t used to post on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (groups) and Twitter every day, but in 2014 we made a commitment to do so and reach more people than ever.

As the above story shows, our mission is working. Awareness really begins to catch fire when others know you so well that they support and advance your campaign goals without hesitation.

It all comes from zeroing in on a niche and being consistent by sharing every day. By being “top of mind” on a particular thing that’s so different, so unique, they just see frogs and think of Frogs Are Green.

10 Tips for building your nonprofit’s awareness and following

  • Make sure that your website (the nucleus of your online presence) is 100% on target in expressing your mission and goals. On your homepage be brief and entice, don’t overwhelm with too many calls to action. Make sure your brand and mission are crystal clear. Be sure you are blogging and/or adding new, valuable content consistently.
  • Be sure when you blog, post, or tweet, you are adding an appropriate and eye-catching photo that will prompt others to share it, not just “like” it.
  • Be sure you are using #hashtags but don’t go crazy with them, lest no one will see or read your post… (I see this a lot on Instagram; so many hashtags I can’t find the message!)
  • Don’t try to sell all the time with posts/tweets about buying products, classes or donating to your cause. Once in a while is all right, but you will really build your audience by sharing significant information. As they move around your website reading articles they will come to respect your efforts and just may click that donate button on their own.
  • Your “competition” organization is your friend. Remember, you are both trying to help others, save wildlife and the environment, and so those that follow those other organizations may follow you too! Be kind and retweet.
  • If you are planning to boost or advertise, make sure you are being selective about the information and target audience. Do your homework and know where your target is, both online or offline.
  • Remember that your target audience can be in many different places. Be sure to review your Google Analytics each week and identify if what you are doing is working. For example, if you are spending most of your social media time on Facebook but when you look at your stats you have more people visiting your site from Twitter, you should tweet more often than you are!
  • People consume content in many different ways, so be sure you are creating video for YouTube, audio for Podcasting, Powerpoint (for Slideshare or LinkedIn), photo galleries on Flickr, Pinterest and Facebook, blog posts that can embed these other media files, graphic images, and more… (and then share across social sites).
  • When you have new media to share, don’t post on every social site at the same time and then not post for a week until the next post. Schedule different places each day so your content is circulating all the time.
  • Be sure to alert the local media about events and other important news so that they can write about you. If you don’t tell them yourself, how do you expect them to know? Publicity helps awareness and begets more publicity.

Frogs Are Green was fortunate to interview Robin Moore on a podcast also. Listen here >> Robin Moore

03/23/15

Keeping Your Pond Alive

The water in your garden pond is very sensitive to change. Depending on a number of factors, a pond can soon go from crystal clear to pea soup without any apparent explanation. You will quickly learn that pond pollutants can hide in the clearest water.

frog in a pond

Filtration

An easy first step to ensuring a healthy pond environment is the use of a good filter and you should contact a specialist retailer, like Swell UK, who can advise you on the best solution. Biological filters will break down harmful toxins, like ammonia from fish waste, so they can be either removed or absorbed by the plant life in your pond. A UV filter will also help keep green water and algae at bay and keep down the levels of bacteria that could be harmful to the life in your pond.

A good water balance

High nitrate or pH levels in your pond can bring about the most common pond problem: algae. Algae can cause havoc in ponds, keeping light and oxygen from the plants and animals that need them. Regular testing should be carried out to keep on top of the environment in the water before an algae problem breaks out. You can pick up kits for any potential problem from online stores like Swell UK. These give you the all important heads-up you need to take action.

A key part of maintaining the right water balance is ensuring you use a good liner that will not only resist damage but ensure any outside nitrate sources, like fertilizer, are prevented from seeping through.

Oxygen

Oxygen plays a vital role in ensuring the good health of your pond. Without oxygen, certain bacteria found towards the bottom of ponds will begin to produce acids and toxins that will harm the fish, insects and helpful bacteria that may live in your pond. By planting particular oxygenating plants, you can create a natural balance of oxygen levels, but only during the day. By making use of an air pump or any water feature that will disturb the water surface, you can maintain a good oxygen level throughout the day, protecting the well being of your pond.