Wednesday, August 8, 2012


8/26-31 World Water Week: Water + Food Security (Sweden) website

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a policy institute that seeks sustainable solutions to the world’s water problems. It manages projects, synthesizes research, publishes findings and recommendations and each year hosts a conference called World Water Week.  Each conference has a theme.  From 2009-2012 the umbrella theme has been “Responding to Global Changes” within that framework the theme for 2012 is ‘water and food security’.
The conference consists of plenary sessions, panels, social and networking events and speakers.  There are also workshops, poster sessions and an exhibition hall with over 50 exhibitors.  However these exhibits are non commercial and are exclusively intended to serve as a compliment to the discussions taking place during the week.  Attendees can buy full week or one day passes and early bird prices are available.  Full week passes bought before June 30 cost approximately 707 euros ($876) and one day passes are approximately 177 euros ($219). Student passes are also available at around 212 euros ($262) for a conference pass and 59 euros ($73) for a one day pass.

9/5-6 Water Innovations Alliance * quite difficult to find information
*hard to find info on upcoming conference
Water Innovations Alliance is an industry association focused on developing new funding, increasing collaboration and raising awareness for cutting-edge water technologies and the problems they solve.  The 4th Annual conference will be held on the 5 and 6 of September 2012 in Boston Massachusetts.  This conference has a heavy technological focus, it aims to educate large companies, engineering firms, universities, utilities, start-ups, NGOs and governments on new water technologies, innovations and prospects and by doing so improving awareness and collaboration between these entities which will hopefully lead to the development of increasingly effective water technology.
This conference centers on speaker presentations and panels, there are no technical programs, workshops, exhibitions or poster contests.  However, in 2011 the conference featured a unique activity, a large scale watershed stewardship stimulation game in which participants make decisions about their resources and livelihoods over a 20 year period.  In 2011 the registration fee for the conference was $500 with no student prices.

The 27th annual WateReuse Symposium will take place on September 9 through 12 2012.  The focus of this conference is on water reuse and desalination, particularly on new innovations in these areas.  It is hosted by the WateReuse Association, a non-profit that was formed as a state body in California in 1990 and then reformed as a national organization in 2000.  Its mission is to advance the beneficial and efficient uses of high-quality, locally produced, sustainable water sources.
The symposium features speakers who present the latest information on applications, technologies, health and safety, funding, and legislative and regulatory activities.  There is also a technical program, an exhibition hall featuring 20 exhibitors and for the first time ever poster presentations, a perfect opportunity to present ongoing research that is not yet complete.  Additionally, during the symposium special attention is paid to Florida’s specific water supply and water quality issues and at the conclusion there is an airboat tour of the Florida Everglades and a deep sea fishing tournament.
There is early bird registration that ends on July 27, rates depend on memberships ranging from $625-$725 for conference passes, and one day passes range from $225-$250 depending on the day.  Student passes cost $200.  All registrations after July 27 will cost $50 more dollars.  Finally the airboat tour is an additional $40, the fishing trip is an extra $50 and guest passes ranging from $30 to $40 are available for certain events

9/16-21 IWA World Water Congress + Exhibition, Korea website   pricing/registration

          The International Water Association (IWA) is a global network of water professionals that covers every area related to the water cycle; from research, practice, regulation, and industry to consulting and manufacturing.  The IWA aims to provide knowledge, leadership and expertise on the science, research, practice and management of water.  One of the ways they do this is once every two years they host the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in different cities around the globe.  On the 16 through the 21 of September 2012 approximately 5,000 people from around the world will gather in Busan Korea to discuss a whole range of water issues.  Presentations and conferences will be organized around six themes; Managing utilities and their assets, Water treatment technologies, Wastewater treatment and reuse, Water and health, Water resources supply and sustainability and Water, climate and energy.
A wide variety of organizations are expected to attend.  In previous years the organization with the greatest attendance has been educational institutions followed, in order, by utilities, government and consultants/contractors.  The larges work type is expected to be managers, followed by researches and then by engineers/technical workers.  Also due to location this year a strong Asian contingent is expected and so a focus on/break into Asian Market…  Like other large conferences there will be a large exhibition hall with approximately 200 exhibitors representing an array of organizations/businesses; utilities, technology and product manufacturers, consultants, knowledge and research institutes, NGOs, media, and countries.  There will also be workshops, technical programs, speakers, and people will be invited to give papers.    An important feature of the World Water Congress are the specialist group meetings.  These groups are at the core of the IWA.  They are extremely specialized and the members are very active in their niche.  These groups are an exceptionally effective means of international networking, sharing information and skills and making good professional and business contacts.
             There is only one package which covers attendance at sessions, entry to exhibition hall, lunch morning and afternoon teas Sunday welcome reception and ticket for the Thursday dinner gala.  Prices depend on membership status, whether or not you are from a low income country (LIC), and when you buy your ticket (there is an early bird special, tickets are cheaper if bought before 1 July).  There are also student rates, 550 euros and 335 euro for those students from LICs.

WaterPro is the annual conference of the National Rural Water Association (NRWA).  It will be taking place September 24 through 26 in Nashville Tennessee.  It is designed to bring together water and wastewater utility systems for sessions in operations, management, boardsmanship and governance.  This year the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) will co-locate with WaterPro.  Ground Water Protection Agency- protection, conservation and management of groundwater resources.  Members are state officials who make decisions involving ground water issues.
The event will include educational sessions and an exhibit hall.  Full registration costs $525 before August 31 and $580 after with the option to add a spouse for $60 and $70 respectively.  Passes to the exhibit hall and education sessions cost $450 and $500 and access to only the exhibit hall costs $25 $40.  There are no student prices.

9/24-26 GreenGov, DC website   registration/pricing information

GreenGov, DC is another young water conference, created in response to Executive Order 13514 signed by President Obama which set aggressive water, energy and waste reduction targets for the Federal Government to meet. September 24-26 2012 will mark its third annual meeting.   It is an educational event, an attempt to bring together leaders in government, private sector, non-profit sector and academia to identify ways to grow green industries, create jobs and curb pollution by incorporating sustainable practices into federal policies. The Symposium is hosted by the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), a professional development organization whose mission is to “…advance the knowledge and skills of those dedicated to developing and directing climate change strategies in the public and private sectors, and to establish a flexible and robust forum for collaboration between climate change officers.
Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th consist of plenary sessions, program tracks, networking, and exhibits.  Overall there will be approximately 350 speakers across more than 80 sessions and 9 breakout tracks, 40+ exhibitors and a ‘knowledge bar’ consisting of 11 experts on environmental sustainability issues.  Wednesday conference goers have the opportunity to attend post conference activities, including three green facility tours, as well as meetings and workshops.  Over 1,200 people are expected to attend.  There are two types of passes, a one day pass and a conference pass.  The cost of these passes differs depending on what organization you are associated with, government employees, corporate employees, etc.  There are special student rates, $245 for a day pass and $350 for a conference pass.

9/29-10/3 WEFTEC, New Orleans website   Pricing/registration information

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of engineers and individuals in industries related to wastewater, water quality and water reuse.  It was 36,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water professionals all over the world.  It seeks to promote innovation, provide networking opportunities and serve as a knowledge platform to future the goal of clean and safe water worldwide.
WEFTEC is WEF’s annual technical exhibition and conference.  This year it will be held in New Orleans beginning September 29 and ending October 3rd.  It is the biggest meeting of its kind in North America and the world’s largest annual water quality exhibition.  It is attended by all types of water quality professionals; however there is a big emphasis on wastewater.  In fact, in previous years up to “87% of attendees were leaders from the municipal and industrial wastewater treatment and water quality markets who are there to see and purchase equipment and services.”  To this end there are almost 1,000 exhibitioners and 18,000 attendees from all around the world.  In addition to the exhibition hall there are 23 workshops, 130 technical sessions, tours, speakers and events.  The idea is that the event is so large you can personalize your experience, by selecting which events to take part in; WEF has 11 education tracks to help attendees do this.  There are a variety of events available for students including a student design competition, a student paper competition, a career fair and annual WEF student chapter meeting
 WEFTEC has a complicated pricing structure.  There are a variety packages with different levels of access and they vary in cost and WEF members and non members also pay different amounts.  There is also an early bird special in which registration is cheaper before July 13 2012.  In addition there are 8 events you can choose to participate in that range from $0-$75 and 6 facility tours that are $50 each.   Students receive a substantial discount on admission to technical sessions and exhibitions, which are free for students who are WEF members and $30 for students who are not.  In addition there are a limited number of hotel rooms for students and academics available at $169 per night.

10/3-5 WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition, Las Vegas website

The WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition (WSI) is one of the biggest urban-water efficiency conferences in the world.  The 5th annual WSI will take place October 3-5, 2012 at the South Point Hotel and Conference Center in Las Vegas Nevada.  The WSI is presented by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), an agency that was created in 1991 to manage South Nevada’s water needs.  It is comprised of seven member agencies who work together to provide water treatment and delivery for the Greater Las Vegas Valley.  The SNWA is also responsible for acquiring and managing long-term water resources for South Nevada. 
WSI spans three days and includes a series of workshops, professional speakers, technical sessions and an exhibition hall featuring displays from 35 vendors.  There are also a number of social/networking events, such as a sponsored cocktail reception, and three technical tours; one to the Hover Dam, one to the Springs Preserve and the Venetian Resort Casino.  On average around 1,100 people from 40 different states attend the Conference.  The attendees, as well as the participants, are from industries, business or government bodies that are in one way or another affected by water efficiency.  Most exhibitors are businesses that make products such as water efficient toilets, showerheads and faucets or efficient irrigation products.  However there are also public bodies such as the Californian Urban Water Conservation Council who use a collaborative approach to increase efficient water use.
. The conference is one of the cheaper water conferences with registration for the full three days costing $390 per person and an exhibits only pass being free.  However, there are no student prices and the technical tours cost $35 each.  Finally hotel rooms at host venue cost $55 per night Sunday through Thursday and $85 a night on Fridays and Saturdays. 

ABOUT US: About This Issue

Welcome to our inaugural issue of Water Citizen News Preview Edition!  Over the next 6 months, we intend to publish one complete issue a month, covering current events and features in a wide range of water-related topics, while developing opportunities for interaction and participation by our readers through comments, selective publication of contributed content, and story assignments for Water Citizen Journalists to participate in Crowd Journalism using the NewsiT app.  For more on the overall format of Water Citizen News, as well as our mission and team, see “About Water Citizen News.”

In this month’s issue, we have several exciting features.  Water Citizen News features water issues from around the country and around the globe.  In this issue, we have coverage on policies to support more coordinated management of water and energy in buildings from a recent Senate hearing.  Farmers discuss the “explosion” of use of digital technology, including smart phones, for smart water management.  Jeffrey Sachs, author and thought leader on global poverty issues, shares his thoughts on how water underlies many of the world’s conflicts

Water, like politics, is local, and water stories, like charity, begin at home.  Consequently, a common theme in many of this month’s articles is the undertold stories of water in DC, from the leadership on Green Infrastructure by DC Water, to the challenges of restoring and “restorying” both the river and the community of Anacostia.  By sharing some of DC’s stories, we hope you will recognize similar issues and opportunities in your own communities.  We look forward to finding innovative ways to tell those stories, using remote communications and app-based Water Citizen Journalism to deliver stories from all over.

We are also excited to share with you several articles that provide perspectives on water in our lives from the worlds of sports, arts, culture and religion.  This month’s sports section features the Summer Olympics, including a discussion with three brothers who are all competitive divers, including one who participated in this year’s Olympic trials, on the opportunities diving has created for them; as well as a study from a leading research on biomechanics on how Michael Phelps’ speed was increased through his instinctive approach to use of his hands – a trick that can be used by the casual swimmer as well!

Please let us know what you think of this first issue, like and share our stories and videos, and send your ideas for future coverage!

SPORTS Divers focus on the future Olympics

By Astara March, Water Citizen staff writer

The Shinholser brothers - Colby, Logan, and TJ - have big dreams about diving in Rio de Janeiro at the summer Olympics in 2016, and they just might make it. 

Logan participated in the Olympic trials this year but didn't qualify for the team.  He expects that to be different next time. 

All three say that diving gives them a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves and the thought of going to the Olympics to represent their country makes things really exciting.

"It's funny, because it's a small sport compared to swimming," Logan told Water Citizen. "Everyone knows everyone else and is really nice, like a big family that helps each other all the time.  Even at a high-pressure event, we all hang out together.  It's not testosterone-driven like swimming or wrestling."

Preparing for the Olympics by diving in college is a time-honored path.  All three brothers trust their coaches to mold them into world-class competitors.  Logan's college had five people in the Olympic trials this year.  He said you qualify by participating in the finals of a national event, which in his case was the NCAA championships in Los Angeles in 2011. 

The brothers followed their older sister Amanda into gymnastics, realized it wasn't for them, and switched to diving.  Logan is an individual and synchronized 10-meter "tower" diver but his brothers are 3-meter springboard specialists.  TJ stuck to springboard because the injury rate is lower.  "The 10-meter divers hit the water going 35 mph," said Logan.  "The injury rate for tower is really high.  It's easier to calm your fears on springboard."  

The beauty of the sport effectively hides its health risks.  The brothers told Water Citizen that those risks start with breathing the chlorine used by most places to disinfect their public pools.  UVA where Colby goes to school has a chlorine system but Virginia Tech, Logan's school, has an ultraviolet sterilization system that cuts down the chlorine exposure considerably.  So do all the pools used for Olympic events in London.

The most significant risk comes from the impact of hitting the water over and over again during training.  "Water is hard when you hit it from high up," said Logan. "Even if you do everything right, it hurts.  Springboard may send you up to 7 meters and tower is 10 meters.  You have to grab your hands so the impact falls on them and they make a little pocket in the water for you to go through.  If you don't, you take the impact on your head and can get a concussion." 

Other divers Water Citizen interviewed talked about neck, shoulder, and back injuries and commented on the kinesiotape you can see on the Olympic divers to help them power through the pain.

Olympic venues are designed to both allow as many people as possible to view the events and to make sure they are comfortable while doing so.  "The Olympic venue in London is huge," said Logan.  "There's a diving well, then two 50-meter pools, then a warm-down pool.  That means it's not steamy like most pools and the spectators are happy.  It's so big it's like diving outdoors with a roof over you."

Logan said that the swimming pools will have cooler water than the diving well. "It's easier to swim in colder water," he told Water Citizen, "but diving pools can be any temperature you like."

All three are aiming for the 2016 Olympics in Rio if their coaches think they have a chance.  They are currently college students juggling full schedules with the 20 hour per week commitment of competitive diving. 

Colby and Logan are in engineering, which means diving in the early morning and studying late into the night.  Colby also has ROTC to contend with.  "I don't envy him at all," said Logan, "but he'll figure it out.  He's really good at time management."  TJ says he is more academic and less focused on diving than his brothers and that's fine with him. 

All three have the support of their family and their teammates at their respective schools.  We wish them the very best.

POLICY Codes and Standards and Statutes, Oh My! Understanding the Green Plumbing Code

The Federal Government has little direct involvement with the construction of your home or other buildings, including decisions about the water fixtures that require a lot of energy, or the fixtures (such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or “HVAC” systems) that use a lot of water.   These fixtures must be in compliance with codes that are adopted on a local or state level. 

The federal involvement is typically limited to things like research and development funding for more water efficient fixtures, and programs such as EnergySTAR and WaterSense to guide purchasing decisions by you, the consumer, or development of codes by professional organizations and adoption of those codes by local and state goernemnts.  Federal agencies also adopt codes to oversee their own activities, such as construction of federal buildings by the General Services Administraiton or Department of Defense.  

After his testimony at a hearing the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee on water and energy in buildings, Russ Chaney - Chief Executive Officer of the International Associaiton of Plumbers and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) – spoke with Water Citizen on the difference between a standard and a code, how codes are adopted and made legally binding, and where IAPMO’s new Green Supplement fits in:

A standard usually contains performance criteria for a product, whereas a code contains numerous performance standards.  Standards are embedded into a code.  A code becomes a legal requirement when it’s adopted by a local jurisdiction - typically a state.  It is not “legal” until it becomes adopted and is implemented by statute or regulation by the adopting state. The federal agencies don’t adopt codes nationally, although various federal agenices that have some level of construction, such as the Departmetn of Defense and US Army Corps of Engineers, will typically adopt one code or another for their own needs.  This approach is different from most countries, which adopt codes on a national basis.  The US and Australia typically adopt codes on a state-by-state basis.

The Uniform Plumbing Code is the only American National Standard designated by ANSI for Plumbing Instiallation, adopted by about 50% US states (as well as a number of other countries).  (ANSI doesn’t develop standards, but “designates” standards developed by entities like IAPMO)

The Green Plumbing and Mehcanical Code Suppliment (for BOTH Uniform Plumbing Code and Uniform Mechanical Code), we created this supplement very quicly to address emerging green technologies, high efficiency air conditioning units, low flow toilets and so forth, did not use ANSI process, usually takes about 3 years.  For this supplement, we wanted to expeditiously create advanced environmental technologies.  no different from base code.  with supplement, various states have an advanced document, very high efficiency, water saving technologies, you can adopt to supplement UPC and any other plumbing code you may use.  because it contains those high efficiency, amny states adopting supplement.  a number of states already adopted.

POLICY 080412 Senate Hears Testimony on Water Efficiency in Buildings to Reduce Energy and Carbon

The Senate Energy and Natural Resoruces Committee has been one of the most active committees to consider the connections between water and energy.  The committee is currently considering the Water and Energy Bill [get proper title and status from josh/bill].  During a hearing called by Water and Power Subcommittee Chair Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the subcommittee heard from a panel of experts focused on the connection between water efficiency and reduction of energy and carbon within residential and commercial buidligns, as well as in industrial facilties.

Water is an “Essential Consideration” in High Performance Buildings
Henry Green, President of the National Insittute of Building Sciences, stressed that, while the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) does not specify water in its definition of attributes of a high performance building, water is “an essential consideration for many of these attributes.” LINK TO TESTIMONY

Said Green, “It is becoming increasingly obvious that water, like energy, will serve as a fundamental focus of building related policies.” Green noted that Americans use more water in the home than any other country except Canada, and 40% of US energy is used in buildings. He recognized that energy is required to get treated water to the home and bring wastewater from the home, as well as for several water-related functions within the home.

Green raised concerns, however, that there is a lack of comrpeehsnvie building water use data that is “vital to the continued improvement of water mganamgenet in buidligns across the country” and that “water use benchmark data by distinct building types do not exist.”  Development of benchmark data leads to a better understanding of water use intensity and opportuntieis for greater efficiency, guiding development of codes and standards, policies, and management approaces.  While EPA’s
“WaterSense” program focuses on individual pieces of equipment, and only for a few product types, Green suggested that a “WaterSense for Buildings” program be developed, addressing not only plumbing fixtures, but also water use in cooling towers and other high water use equipemtn in larger buidlings.

New Guidance for Water Efficient Fixtures from “Green Supplement” to Uniform Plumbing Code

Providing model codes that have been adopted globally for plumbing, mechanical, swimming bpol, solar and radiant heating industries, the International Association of Plumbers and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) has been working to address opportuntiies to


Opportunities for “Near Net Zero” Food Manufacturing Faciltiies
Bena noted that “improved resource se also makes good business sense.  For example, six out of 10 of PepsiCo’s top-sourced raw materials are agricultureal.  We conduct agirlcutural operaitons in 30 countries.  For PepsiCo, maintaining a sustainabme supply chain is paramount to minimizing risks for our business operaitons.” 

Bena testified that one example PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose” initative has been the transformation of the Frito-Lay Casa Grande snack food manufacturing facility to have a “near net zero” footprint, in which they would “run the facility primarily on renewable energy sources and recycled water while producing nearly zero waste.”  He noted that “we chose the Casa Grande, Araizona facility because of its location, where sunlight is plentiful and water conservation is important, and its size – big enough to be effective, yet small enough to be mangeable.”  Bena testified that 75% of te water is recycled, there has been a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and an 80 percent reduction in the use of natural gas.

Bena noted that 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SPORTS: Want to "Be Like Mike" in the Pool? Research Points to Fingers

By Karin Zeitvogel

As Michael Phelps' Olympic career comes to a close - the greatest competitor in his sport, like his idol, Michael Jordan - is there anything other swimmers do if they want to "be like Mike"? Duke University engineering professor Adrian Bejan has one answer.

Researcher Points to Fingers for a Faster Swim

Watch this video of Michael Phelps swimming, and you'll notice that his fingers are slightly spread as he slices through the water.

Phelps instinctively swims with forked hands. As published in a recent study, Bejan found that swimming with fingers apart can result in a whopping 53% increase in total force.

By spreading his fingers in the water,
Phelps creates an "invisible web"
that helps him swim faster
If the distance between the fingers is just right – roughly half the diameter of each finger – it creates an invisible web between digits, which gives the swimmer a boost in force and faster speed in the water, Bejan said.

“The finger moves through the water and a sheath of water essentially moves with it, creating a finger that looks thicker than it really is. Think of it like honey stuck to a spoon,” he told Water Citizen in a phone interview.

Greater force is the key to going faster in the water, and producing greater force is the job of the hands, Bejan said.

“A faster swimmer is one who creates a bigger wave above the water.  You need force to lift yourself above the water, and you get that by having greater downward force from your hands,” Bejan concluded.

In essence, the bigger the hands, the greater the force. And, “If you want a palm that is bigger, you want bigger fingers,”Bejan said. Spreading them slightly in the water achieves that.

Phelps spreads his fingers instinctively but many coaches these days tell their swimmers to do so. If a lot of people in the lap lanes at the local pool are contemplating their hands, you know why.

Constructional Law Governs Swimmers … and Anything Else That Moves

The swimmers’ fingers principle is based on the constructal law, devised by Bejan in 1996. Bejan published the results of his story in the June issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Bejan and coauthor Sylvie Lorente of the University of Toulouse in France.

Constructional law holds that "anything that moves, from rivers to trucks to highways to swimmers and runners, does so with morphing configurations that allow movement to be easier and easier," said Bejan.

The results of the fingers study show that a slight adjustment in body configuration can bring a “significant change in force,” Bejan said.

He wondered if the next swimming aid will be tiny wedges that sit between swimmers’ fingers to hold them just the right distance apart.

Body Type and Family Heritage Also Important Factors

Finger spread is just one of Phelps’s secrets, of course. Phelps and other Olympic athletes owe much of their success to body types, which are tied to their family heritage.

His hands are said to be the size of dinner plates even without the invisible inter-finger webbing.  Like most champion swimmers, he’s tall, – 6 ft. 4 in. (1.93 meters).  Phelps also has size 14 (Eur 47) feet, a 6 ft. 7 in. (2 meters) arm span, a long torso and comparatively short legs.

In 2008, Bejan used the constructal law to predict the triumphs of “bigger, taller athletes” like Phelps at the Beijing Olympics.

Two years later, Bejan, who’s originally from Romania, teamed up with Edward Jones, an African American professor at Howard University in Washington, to use the constructal law to explain why whites dominate in the pool and blacks of West African origin, like Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, in sprint-distance track events.

Consideration of race and national origin as a predictor of athletic success has been a controversial subject.  While the speed with which an athlete moves through water or air is not impacted by color, the athlete’s mass, and distribution of that mass, does make a difference.

In the study completed by Bejan and Jones, the researchers found that "the swimmer who makes the bigger wave is the faster swimmer, and a longer torso makes a bigger wave. Europeans have a three-percent longer torso than West Africans, which gives them a 1.5-percent speed advantage in the pool."

Individuals of West African origin, meanwhile, have longer legs than people of European origin. That puts their center of gravity – roughly speaking, the belly button – around three centimeters (1.18 inches) higher than whites', said Bejan.

“Locomotion is essentially a continual process of falling forward, and mass that falls from a higher altitude falls faster,” he said.

Body Type, Forked Fingers, and the X Factor

In the months up to the London Olympics, Bejan says he had been inundated with emails and calls from people asking him to predict who will climb to the highest step of podiums at the Games.

As predicted by science, many of the winning Olympians were tall and svelte, and the swimmers probably spread their fingers in the water, as Bejan predicted.In the end, for many of the Olympic races, the final determining factor was simply the sheer will to win.

Something to remember when you're racing friends in your own pool.  And don't forget to spread your fingers!

TECH: Award-Winning Save-the-Rain App Reveals Potential for Rain Harvesting from Roofs

By Robert Thomason

Like all buildings, the White House has a roof.  According to a new computer application (or "app") by a Canadia researcher, the White House roof could be used to harvest as much as 724,900 liters (191,498 gallons) of water, based on the regional average of 1,110 mm of rain a year.  

Water Citizen calculates that this amount of harvested rain would water 1,271 rose bushes during the year, many more than are in the nearby Rose Garden.

Calculating the Potential for Rooftop Rain Harvesting By App

Mark Laudon, a GIS specialist from British Columbia, has developed a computer application that will help draw the rain harvesting footprint on any roof.  This "Save-the-Rain" app then estimates not only how many liters of rainwater could be gathered, but provides details on what can be done with that water.

In June, 2012, the World Bank honored Laudon for his app in the annual Apps for Climate competition. Scores of programmers submitted apps which visualize and analyze World Bank climate data in accessible and innovative ways.

Laudon's Save-the-Rain app was a result of another climate data related competition sponsored by his local government, Laudon said.

"They had a climate data catalog from which I was to choose data to build an app with," he recounted. "I was driving to work one day praying for an idea for an app and while passing through some corn fields, the idea popped into my head.

"I myself grew up in an area where our water was supplied by a creek. In the summer, the creek would dry up, and, consequently, we had to buy water via a water pump truck to make it through the summer. Kind of ironic actually given the fact we lived in British Columbia's rain forest."

The apps drew heavily on annual precipitation records and on accessibility to fresh water data, but Laudon's "Save-the-Rain" provided the most practical, hands-on app for either a policy maker or a practitioner who wants to convert rainwater runoff from a roof to a beneficial resource for the folks living under a given roof.

Laudon said that people from roofers to backyard gardners have contacted him about using the app. A farmer in Kenya e-mailed him telling of plans to build a 180,000-liter underground storage tank using the app to help determine placement of the system.

The app is simple to use. Type in an address or city, and an ariel photograph from Google maps of the area appears. Zoom into the an appropriately close level and click on the corners of the subject roof. The app draws a polygon over the roof area.

When you click on the "Finish" button, Save-the-Rain grabs the mean annual rainfall, as reported by the World Bank in millimeters, and calculates the liters of rain water expected to fall on that roof.
It then uses Pacific Institute tables to estimate how useful that rainwater would be.

For example, harvesting rain from the five distinct roof areas of the White House would yield almost 4.5 million liters of water in a year. That would grow 7,662 kilograms of corn, 2,327 kg of soy, 2,892 kg of rice and 6,140 kg of wheat or would provide almost a half million toilet flushes a year.

Sliding the map a few blocks east to examine the World Bank headquarters (which has a roof more in the shape of a rectangle) the app estimates that 2.9 million liters of water could be harvested, enough for 5,072 kg of corn, 1,541 kg of soy beans and 329,670 toilet flushes.

As shared in a YouTube video, comments on the Save-the-Rain App include Laudon has given a video explanation of his app on YouTube, and shares feedback from users aroudn the globe.

Other award-winning Apps for Climate included:

Globe Town, which gives a table of migration data to and from a country, and has a menu of data points such as withdrawals of freshwater, proportion of land that is very low lying, average annual precipitation and average proportion of people affected by droughts, floods and extreme temperatures. allows users to generate maps, bar charts, column charts or pie charts of World Bank indicators such as freshwater withdrawals (either in cubic meters or as a percentage of internal resources), investment in water and sanitation with private participation and other World Bank climate data.