5 Ways To Conserve Water At Home

Quality is perhaps the most important part of any water distribution system. Water utilities process every drop that makes it into our plumbing, which takes a lot of time and energy. One way to keep from overburdening the system is by reducing our consumption — what we know as “water conservation.”

Bill Graffin works for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, which works in wastewater treatment and conservation efforts in the Milwaukee area. Here are some helpful tips from Graffin on how you can conserve water at home.

» See More Project Milwaukee: Great Lakes, Troubled Waters Stories

1. Collect and reuse rainwater

Rainwater is not only healthier for your plants, it’s healthier for our sewage system. Capturing rain in a bin or cistern helps divert large amounts of water from entering our sewers and gives more nutrients to plants. Just make sure you don’t drink it. 

“You never know what’s in that water without putting it under a magnifying glass,” Graffin cautions.

2. Create a rain garden 

This is a garden that you plant under the downspout of the gutter. It generally consists of native plants or other deep-rooted plants.

“They help break up that soil and help drain more water into the ground,” he explains. 

READ: Green Infrastructure Helps Manage Water In Milwaukee’s Urban Landscape

3. Fix the drip 

That leaky faucet in the basement is a big drain on the system. While a dripping bathtub or sink may not seem like much, it can waste lots of water. 

“A leaky toilet alone can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day,” says Graffin. 

4. Update appliances

Newer dishwashers and washing machines tend to be more energy efficient than older models, and they also use less water. Graffin points to toilets as one of the prime examples of this paradigm. 

“Really old toilets can be 3-5 gallons of water per flush, sometimes higher. Now the new ones are all around 1.28 gallons per flush,” he says. 

5. Turn off the faucet 

This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are some activities where people still leave the faucet on needlessly. Many people keep the water running while they do dishes. 

“It’s always a good idea to run a full load of dishes in the dishwasher instead of just leaving the faucets on while you do the same amount of dishes. You can run through a lot of water that way,” Graffin explains. 

If you don’t have a dishwasher, try filling the sink with soap and water to hand wash dishes, instead of keeping the faucet running.

7 Ways to Conserve Water at Home

Learn seven simple ways to help protect future generations and the environment by reducing your household’s water usage.   

Each year, people around the world recognize March 22nd as World Water Day. Inaugurated by the United Nations, this global holiday reminds us of the importance of making fresh water accessible to all people and encouraging the sustainable management of freshwater resources.  

Water Conservation is Everyone’s Responsibility. 

Water is indispensable to life on Earth. For 1.5 billion people (almost half of the world’s workers), the availability of fresh water is essential to their jobs. Besides keeping living things alive, water plays an essential role in: 

  • Sanitation 
  • Hygiene 
  • Transportation  
  • Food production 
  • Medicine 

Consider this: only 1% of Earth’s water can be used by people for drinking, washing and watering plants. While the amount of fresh water we can use remains the same, our population continues to increase, leaving an estimated 2.5 billion people without clean water, a necessity for a healthy life. Because Earth’s water resources are finite, everyone has a responsibility to conserve fresh water for future generations. 

There’s good news too: It’s never too late to start making an impact. You can begin conserving water in your own home and teaching friends how to cut back on their own water usage. As a bonus, reducing water waste can help you save money on your utility bills. 

How to Save Water at Home 

Let’s look at seven easy water-saving tips to make water conservation the norm in your home: 

1. Don’t Let Faucets Run. 

One of the most common ways we waste water is by leaving faucets on longer than necessary. Running the faucet for just one minute can waste 2 gallons of water. An easy way to save water is to turn the faucet off while shaving, brushing teeth and washing your hands until you’re ready to rinse.  

2. Fix Water Leaks. 

Not only are leaky faucets and pipes annoying, but they can lead to significant water loss and home damage. For a faucet that drips once per second, you could lose nearly 5 gallons of water per day (almost enough to run an average dishwasher load). 

And what if there’s a leak in the attic or garage? You may not notice until you see water spots on the ceiling or in a puddle under the water heater. By then, you’re not only using more water than needed, but you could also face costly repairs.  

To prevent a disastrous leak, many homeowners choose to install a smart leak detection device in their water line. It can save an incredible amount of money – and frustration – in the long run.   

3.Reuse Gray Water for Landscaping and Gardening.

Find creative ways to collect water that would normally go down the drain, often referred to as ‘gray water’, and utilize it to hydrate thirsty plants. A few of our favorite ideas include:  

  • Pasta water 
  • Water used to rinse veggies 
  • Unfinished drinking water in guests’ cups (after they leave, of course) 
  • Water used while the shower’s heating up 
  • Rainwater 

If your landscaping needs a refresh, opt for plants that don’t require a ton of water, such as succulents and cacti.  

4. Use Less Water to Wash Dishes.

If you have a double sink, fill one side with soapy water and one side with clean water. Use the soapy side to scrub the dirty dishes and the other to rinse.  

Don’t have two sinks? Two large tubs or bowls can work just as well.  

Before loading the dishwasher, scrape off as much food as much as possible. This will help prevent the need to re-wash any dishes. 

5. Only Do Full Loads of Laundry and Dishes. 

Many times, appliances like washing machines and dishwashers are built to handle a variety of load sizes. However, they still risk using more water than needed when only washing a half load.  

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical household could save as much as 3,400 gallons of water per year by only running full laundry loads, which is a significant amount for a simple change. 

6. Consider Water-efficient Appliances and Fixtures. 

Water-efficient appliances don’t replace the need to be more conscious about water usage, but they can complement your water conservation efforts at home.  

Think of it this way: You can conserve water yourself by only running the washing machine when it’s completely full. A water-efficient washing machine, on the other hand, automates conservation by reducing the water needed for each load. Both conservation methods work together to save exponentially more water than before. 

7. Cover Pools to Reduce Evaporation. 

Have a pool? The U.S. Department of Energy cites evaporation as the largest source of energy loss (and, consequently, water loss). As the air temperature and wind speed near the pool’s surface rises, the water evaporates at an increasing rate. Invest in a swimming pool cover to reduce the amount of water needed to refill your pool by 30 to 50 percent. 

Help People and the Environment with Water Conservation 

It may take your family time to incorporate these habits into their everyday life, but they’re worth the effort in the end. In addition to saving money on water and energy, you’ll become a more responsible global citizen and help support the United Nation’s mission to make clean water accessible to all people. 

StreamLabs is committed to optimizing our water usage. Wecarefully manage our own water consumption in each of our Global offices tominimize waste and recycle where we can. We even use a closed-loop water system to reuse water when testing our Monitor and Control.

Why hire a divorce attorney in Milwaukee

Early in the divorce process, you may be tempted to consider representing yourself in court. One of the biggest reasons people choose to do so is that they think it will save them money, so they overlook some of the significant downsides to foregoing the advice and support of a divorce lawyer

Perhaps you weren’t married for long, or you and your spouse do not have children or significant assets. In certain cases, you may be ok using a kit or online service instead of hiring a lawyer to help you with your divorce. However, the majority of people see big benefits in hiring an experienced divorce attorney. 

Here are 3 reasons why you should hire a divorce lawyer:

  1. Expertise in family court and divorce law. In hiring an attorney experienced in family court and marital law, you benefit from their years of expertise in navigating the often complicated divorce process. Those who represent themselves are held to the same standard as a divorce attorney in court, receiving no special treatment from the judge. In fact, not knowing the law, what documents you need, or what the next steps are in the divorce process will almost certainly cause a judge to lose sympathy and patience for your cause. Even experienced lawyers going through a divorce process hire an attorney if marital law is not their area of expertise.
  2. An objective perspective. Going through a divorce can be extremely emotional, distracting, and disruptive to your normal routine. Added to this emotional stress are the complexity, time, and money that goes into the legal process of getting a divorce. In hiring a divorce lawyer, you gain a team member who can provide an outside, expert perspective, answering your questions, guiding you as you make decisions and set priorities, and providing advice based on their years of experience. Your divorce attorney has your best interests in mind during a time when you may not even be sure what a satisfying solution may look like. The most “successful” divorce cases end in compromise, with both sides agreeing to a solution that may not necessarily be exactly what they were hoping, but is best for everyone involved. An experienced attorney can help you focus on the big picture rather than getting bogged down by every little thing. As a divorce attorney myself, I know that my clients have limited time and money, so I do my very best to move the process along, providing support and an objective, expert perspective along the way.
  3. One word: paperwork. Unless you’ve previously gone through a divorce without hiring a lawyer, it’s hard to imagine the amount of paperwork needed to complete the process. In deciding to represent yourself, you miss out on having an expert at every stage of the divorce process ensure you have the documentation you need. In court, the judge relies heavily on documentation to make their judgment, and not having the right paperwork can hurt your case by making you seem careless or intentionally evasive. An experienced divorce attorney can make sure your paperwork is filled out correctly in a way that makes a persuasive case, better positioning you for a favorable outcome. Finally, not having the right paperwork will slow down the divorce process significantly; in fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons cases get tied up in the courts. 

There are lots of reasons why hiring a divorce lawyer is the right call. In addition to having an expert in marital law and family court on your team, you have someone you can turn to for advice, perspective, and help in seeing the bigger picture. 

You don’t have to go through the divorce process alone; at Iowa Divorce Law Firm, we help clients in Milwaukee and across the region with expert legal advice and services. Divorce is our area of expertise, and we are passionate about ensuring you and your family get through this stressful time as quickly and smoothly as possible. For questions or to get started today, give us a call

Is It Possible to Find a Book Without the Author or Title?

One of the most common issues librarians face when it comes to customer service is their ability to help people find what they are looking for. Oftentimes people come into libraries with only the vaguest information or idea of what they want, and they expect librarians to pull up exactly what they need out of thin air. Luckily for librarians and everyone else, there are useful resources available for situations like these and other similar times when you need to find something but don’t have much to go on.

The MakeUseOf Website

The website MakeUseOf has a surplus of articles and resources about how to get the best and most effective use out of technology, including topics such as the Internet, computer software, apps, and search tools. Their article on how to find a book without knowing the title or author gives an inside glance at many different approaches to this common problem, a few of which I tested.

The Google Sites

The first and most common search engine is Google. It is perhaps the easiest to search and navigate. Google is a great starting point when trying to find something you’ve forgotten the exact name of. Quotes, character names, plot points, and more all make for a generally successful search, and Google’s auto-suggestions often tell you whether or not you’re on the right track.

A branch-off website from Google that is lesser-known but equally helpful is Google Books, a search engine designed specifically for — you guessed it — searching for book titles. This website differs from Google’s main search engine in its display of search results, displaying additional information and images attached to each result to aid in your search success. These tools are easy enough to use that you and your patrons can probably get good results from them.

Amazon Advanced Book Search

Amazon also has a useful book search tool called Advanced Book Search. You have the opportunity to enter keywords, author, title, and publisher and choose from an extensive list of subjects to find what you’re looking for. Amazon remains one of the easiest websites to use and is simultaneously extremely convenient. Once you find what you’re looking for, you can rent or purchase it straight from the search result.

Less Common Search Sites

Breaking away from the most common search engines, there are a multitude of sites dedicated to helping you find the books and resources you’re looking for, even if you only remember a few keywords here and there. The first one, BookFinder, boasts a broad search platform. It states its main function as helping you find the book you’re looking for at the best price through tapping into over 100,000 bookseller inventories worldwide.

A similar website is WorldCat, which is the largest network of library content and services. This allows you to search for the book you’re looking for and then find the closest library location where that book is available.

The Library of Congress also serves as the world’s largest digital library. It allows for advanced keyword searches to help find your title among 167 million items.

Tips from My Experience

Patrons probably feel embarrassed going up to reference librarians and asking them for help finding a book when they only know a bit about the plot or subject. It’s not a problem. Here are a few tips from my user experience on these websites and search engines.

  • I found I preferred options that gave me images alongside search results as well as the option to refine my search as I went.
  • I tested the search techniques by trying to find the name of a book from my childhood about a girl who goes to boarding school in Switzerland.
  • When it came to searching for the book, I found it fastest on the Google Books search page by simply searching with those keywords. I quickly recognized the cover art that appeared next to the title and author that I had an impossible time trying to remember.
  • Some other sites I tested included message boards where you can post whatever you can remember about a book and other users try to help you find it.
  • Goodreads boasts around 60,000 members and has a message board designated for this purpose, called “Unsolved.” It also has many other boards and directions on how and what can be posted in each. This site is more difficult to navigate because you have to follow certain specific directions just to post a question and then must return to the site repeatedly to see if your thread has been answered.
  • LibraryThing has a similar feature called “Name that Book” under its Groups tab, where you can post about a book you’re looking for. This site is much smaller, with only 5,000 members to help you find something. I found this website a bit hard to use, with an extensive list of tips and guidelines on how to make your post effective. You also have to inconveniently check back on the site for results, just like the Goodreads site, which is a feature that I find really takes away from the timeliness and effectiveness of finding a book.

Books Like This One

Here’s another great resource. When patrons come and tell you about a finished book that they enjoyed and want more like it, you might try websites such as Books Like This One. It provides a great solution for finding similar titles to the ones you already know and love. Search for a title and read quick articles on similar titles, or browse through different genres to find more books to add to create a reading list for your patron.

It almost goes without saying that it really just depends on how you prefer to search for things on the Internet, as there are so many different website layouts and search methods when it comes to looking for something as simple as a book. Happy hunting!

Water: Essential to your body
Woman holding glass of water illustration

Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst — it’s essential to keeping your body functioning properly and feeling healthy. Nearly all of your body’s major systems depend on water to function and survive. You’d be surprised about what staying hydrated can do for your body.

Here are just a few important ways water works in your body:

  • Regulates body temperature
  • Moistens tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth
  • Protects body organs and tissues
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Lubricates joints
  • Lessens burden the on kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
  • Helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to your body

Every day, you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements, which is why it’s important to continue to take in water throughout the day. For your body to function at its best, you must replenish its water supply with beverages and food that contain water.

Mayo Clinic recommends this minimum daily intake of water:

  • Women — 11.5 cups
  • Men — 15.5 cups

By consuming the minimum recommendation of water, you’re helping your body function better and improving your overall health. Read tips and a recipe if you have difficulty drinking enough water daily.

For more information about ways to consume more water and find out if you’re getting enough for your body’s needs, talk to your health care provider.


On World Rivers Day, we celebrate the world’s precious waterways. But across the world, and closer to home, rivers are under threat. Why are rivers so important? And what are we doing to protect them? 


It goes without saying, but fresh, clean water is essential for humans and nature to survive. Rivers are precious sources of fresh drinking water for people across the world. And when rivers are so badly polluted by industry or unevenly distributed by poor water management practices, it can be a case of life-or-death. This unfortunately happens across the world.  

We’re working with HSBC in Kanpur, India, to help more than 30 factories involved in the production of leather reduce their water use and pollution, benefitting the environment, workers, and the local community with access to clean flowing water.  

With AB InBev, the world’s leading brewer with brands such as Budweiser under its wing, we’re working with communities to develop new enterprises and encourage sustainable farming practices along the River Rwizi in Uganda, securing this valuable water source for people and nature.  


Freshwater habitats account for some of the richest biodiversity in the world, and rivers are a vital, vibrant ecosystem for many species.  

But even in the UK, over three-quarters of our rivers fail to meet required health standards and face multiple threats – putting increasing pressure on the diverse wildlife that calls our beautiful rivers home: from kingfishers to otters and brown trout.  

In East Anglia, we’ve been working with Coca-Cola and The Norfolk Rivers Trust since 2012, in an area where a lot of Coca-Cola’s sugar beet is grown. With local farmers, we’re encouraging the adoption of simple land management changes to support healthy rivers that benefit wildlife and farming. This can be as simple as stopping water from flowing downsloping tractor tracks, which would take valuable topsoil as well as pollutants into rivers and streams.


People depend on rivers for their way of life and their livelihoods. From fishing to agriculture, the way we manage our waterways has a direct impact on people’s lives.  

For example, in the Yangtze River in China, the introduction of a dam unintentionally prevented carp from spawning downstream, where a commercial fishery was located. By working with HSBC and the state-owned TGD (Three Gorges Dam) company, we worked to change how the dam operated, so that it mimicked the natural flow of the river. This boosted the carp population and allowed people to continue living off the river when previously their livelihoods were at stake.  

It was a similar story in the Mekong river basin spanning Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China’s Yunnan province, where a quarter of the world’s freshwater fish are caught. Overfishing has caused fish populations to plummet – bad news for the fish, and for the 60 million people in the region reliant on fish in their diets.  We provided support to local communities to manage conservation zones and prevent illegal fishing, and as a result, local people have found it far easier to live sustainably off the river.  

Rivers are absolutely vital: for fresh drinking water, for people’s livelihoods, and for nature. Unfortunately, they’re still threatened. We must commit to recovering freshwater biodiversity, restoring natural river flows and cleaning up polluted water for people and nature to thrive.  

To learn more about our work with rivers and freshwater, click here

10 Books to Help Young Kids Learn to Love – and Respect – Water
Screen Shot 2021-05-20 at 12.41.57 PM.png

As we celebrate Water Safety Month and get ready for a summer of water-based fun with our families, we wanted to share some books that parents might want to read with their little ones.

Depending on each child’s age and comfort with water, you might be looking for something a little different. Below, we have sorted them by recommended age, from youngest to oldest, and grouped them into three categories: books that focus on water safety lessons, books about being comfortable with water and overcoming uncertainty, and books about swimming as a sport.

But first: Introducing The Oxenforders Begin to Swim by Jon Foss

Our co-founder Jon Foss has a long-held passion for both swimming and for all the ways swimming helps children develop and grow. He’s combined those passions in writing his children’s book called The Oxenforders Begin to Swim, which follows a family as they take to the water for the first time.

Filled with tips and insights about learning to swim, The Oxenforders Begin to Swim can be a great way to induce kids to swimming ideas and help them prepare before classes begin. Look for it in the shop area of your local Foss Swim School in the months to come!

Books for kids about water safety rules

Helping children understand rules of water safety is critical to their safety; drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for young children, and it very often happens at home or in a situation where adults didn’t know the child was near water. Simple, easy to remember rules are a must, and these books share those tips alongside colorful art that makes them engaging to read and listen to.

10 Titles to Promote Clean Water Awareness

Considering the ongoing clean water crisis in Flint, MI, and other cities across the United States and the globe, children and teens likely have a number of related pertinent questions: What causes water contamination/pollution? How is water affected by weather, plants, animals, and people? Why should they be concerned? And finally, what are people doing about it?

The books listed below deal with these questions in a way that is both clear and absorbing. With a combination of reader-friendly, informative writing and outstanding graphic features, these titles invite thoughtful conversations and active responses.

Books for little ones highlight the properties of water and how it functions as part of an ecosystem, while selections for older readers emphasize the pressing need to protect the world’s clean water supply, showcase the work of today’s problem-solvers, and offer suggestions for personal involvement. Aimed at preschoolers through high schoolers, here is a fine selection to inspire young people to first think about the role of water in daily life and then consider how to safeguard it for future generations.

ELEMENTARYBANYARD, Antonia & Paula Ayer. Water Wow! illus. by Belle Wuthrich. 64p. (A Visual Exploration). bibliog. chart. chron. diag. further reading. glossary. maps. Annick. 2016. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781554518227; pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781554518210. Gr 3-6–Child-friendly text and an abundance of visual data (e.g., diagrams, time lines, pie charts, tables, etc.) present essential information on water, such as one’s water footprint, ways to clean polluted water, and more. Neither alarmist nor overly comforting, the book provides a balanced account, while Wuthrich’s bold palette will keep readers turning the pages. LYON, George Ella . All the Water in the World . illus by Katherine Tillotson. S. & S./Atheneum. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781416971306. PreS-Gr 3–In this engaging explanation of the water cycle, large colorful spreads combine with language that surprises and delights (“Thirsty air/licks it from lakes/sips it from ponds/guzzles it from oceans”) and also reminds readers that water should be kept clean and not wasted. MCCANNA, Tim. Watersong. illus. by Richard Smythe. 32p. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481468817. PreS-Gr 1–An inquisitive fox is caught in a developing rain storm. McCanna’s spare, onomatopoeic language (“Drip drop/plip plop”) and Smythe’s muted palette combine to gently introduce little ones to the sounds of water in nature using cute animals. A fine choice for an interactive read-aloud with a small group or shared one-on-one. OLIEN, Rebecca. Cleaning Water. 24p. (Water in Our World). chart. diag. glossary. photos. Capstone. Jan. 2016. lib. ed. $25.32. ISBN 9781491482780. K-Gr 2–An introduction to clean water, offering explanations on sources of drinking water, how it is cleaned in water treatment plants, and how wetlands clean water naturally. A simple chronological diagram shows the steps involved in water treatment. Vocabulary words specific to this subject (e.g., reservoirsediment, and disinfection) are clearly introduced, providing children with the foundation they need to pursue larger conversations on this topic. PAUL, Miranda. Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle. illus. by Jason Chin. 40p. further reading. glossary. websites. Roaring Brook. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781596439849. PreS-Gr 3–With detailed watercolor illustrations depicting a sister and brother having fun outdoors, and language that glides off the tongue, this book explores the water cycle as it occurs through the seasons. Heated water turns to steam, cooled steam turns to clouds, low-hanging clouds turn to fog, and so on. Back matter extends the text and explains why water conservation is important. Perfect as a read-aloud and a discussion starter. THOMAS, Isabel. Water: Explore, Create and Investigate. illus. by Paulina Morgan. 64p. (What on Earth?). diag. glossary. index. Quarto/QEB. 2016. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781682970195. Gr 1-4–Thomas offers multiple paths for investigating water—through poetry and story, hands-on queries, and items to create. Among the many things to make are an iceberg, a cloud in a jar, a rain gauge, a water filter, and a water-powered sprinkler. Simple directions and clearly labeled diagrams are provided.

MIDDLE TO HIGH SCHOOLLEAHY, Stephen. Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products. 144p. further reading. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Firefly. 2014. Tr $35. ISBN 9781770854994; pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781770852952. Gr 4-8–Exceptionally lucid, informative prose and an abundance of well-designed infographics present startling data about daily water usage at the local, national, and global level. Sustainability is emphasized with included steps that tweens can take on their own. An excellent book for showing students how to integrate information from text and graphics and apply it to make informed decisions. MULDER, Michelle. Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home. 48p. (Orca Footprints). chart. further reading. index. photos. websites. Orca. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781459802230. Gr 4-7–A global approach to clean water. Some solutions covered include harvesting fog and rainwater, creating water-free compost toilets, and using iron nails to attract the arsenic in water. Color photographs from around the world and a friendly writing style draw readers into this informative book. Includes suggestions readers can follow right away. NEWMAN, Patricia. Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. photos by Annie Crawley. 48p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Millbrook. 2014. lib. ed. $30.65. ISBN 9781467712835. Gr 4-8–Readers join the trash detectives, three students aboard the research ship New Horizon, as they investigate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—millions, perhaps billions, of pieces of plastic floating together in the ocean. Are the chemicals in the plastic poisoning the water? Are fish eating this plastic? Does the plastic affect the food chain? Informative color photographs and clearly written text show research in action. KALLEN, Stuart A. Running Dry: A Global Water Crisis. 64p. bibliog. chart. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Twenty-First Century. 2015. lib. ed. $33.32. ISBN 9781467726467. Gr 8 Up–A sobering account of the worldwide threats to clean water, the steps being taken to safeguard it, and the need for more protections. Problems raised include pollution from large-scale animal farming, massive water withdrawals from aquifers, and the use of fracking to extract gas and oil. The author argues that we cannot afford inaction. Kallen’s argument is well supported by facts, photographs, and quotes from various stakeholders.

What impact do seas, lakes, and rivers have on people’s health?

New research has found that ‘blue space’ including sea, rivers, lakes, and even urban water features can have a positive impact on wellbeing, writes Tim Smedley

canal walk
The impact of water on health: new research suggests that ‘blue space’ can reduce stress and have a positive effect on wellbeing. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Most of us recognise the calming effect of a walk by the river or along a beach. Victorian doctors used to prescribe the “sea air” as a cure for an assortment of agues and ailments. But while the health benefits of green space are now well known, thanks to the pioneering research of Roger Ulrich and the Kaplans among others, little analysis has been made of “blue space” – the impact of the sea, rivers, lakes, and even urban water features on our health and wellbeing.

On Devon’s south coast, Professor Michael Depledge and his team are attempting to put that right. Depledge was formerly the chief scientist for the Environment Agency before founding the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) in Plymouth in 2011 and launching the Blue Gym project in 2012 to study the health and wellbeing benefits of aquatic environments.Advertisementhttps://dda381fadf7de591ada367c2e8823da5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Teaming up with environmental psychologist Mat White, Depledge began by repeating one of Ulrich’s early studies. By showing photographs of a variety of landscapes to a group of participants, Ulrich was able to demonstrate that stress levels were lowered according to how much greenery was in the picture. The difference this time was that “we started introducing water into the images”, says Depledge, “going from a pond right through to a coastline, with increasing amounts of water in the images, and we found that people showed a strong preference for more and more water in the images.

“We repeated that with urban scenes, from fountains in squares to canals running through the city, and once again people hugely preferred the urban environments with more water in them.”

Images with green space received a positive response, as Ulrich has found. But images with both green and blue got the most favourable response of all.

This was enough to suggest that they might be on to something and their next study, published in September, was more conclusive. Using data from Natural England with anonymous self-reported health information by postcode, a team from ECEHH were able to see if health varied according to proximity to water.

“Self-reported health correlates very well with real health,” says Depledge. “For the first time, we have had this information according to postcode, and we found that the closer you live to the English coast the healthier you are. There was some evidence that other aquatic environments helped too.”

Future research at the ECEHH includes studies looking at the effect of video screens showing aquatic environments in elderly care homes, and the benefits of views over sea or water from home or hospital windows. PhD student Deborah Cracknell is also looking into the effects of watching fish in aquariums and tanks. “There have been studies in the past looking at the health benefits of fishtanks, often in healthcare settings for Alzheimer’s patients or the elderly, says Cracknell.

“But we’re also looking at the effect of what’s in the tank, from a biodiversity aspect … We’ve looked at the effect of [aquarium] exhibits on heart rate, blood pressure and mood. Early results are quite encouraging. We even found that people responded well just watching the water without any fish.”

All of which prompts the question, why? Just what is it about water that attracts us in such a way that could improve our mental wellbeing and even our physical health? “The simple answer, is we don’t know,” says Depledge, “but we are trying to find out.”

“There are all sorts of intriguing possibilities. One is that human beings have evolved in intimate contact with nature, and it is only really in the last 200 years that people have been increasingly removed from nature. Professor Sir Alister Hardy first suggested that the big step in human evolution was not necessarily when hominids came out of the trees and into the savannah but was when they got to the coast and were able to access seafood rich in omega 3 fatty acids … there is something deeply profound about water and humans, and it may reflect evolutionary history.”

Someone else who is trying to find the answer is Jenny Roe, lecturer in the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. At the forefront of research into “green health”, Roe is looking at cortisol as a physiological measure of how the body responds to different environments.

“We’ve also just published a study using a mobile neural cap which taps into brain activity and can give an objective measure of stress in different [green] environments,” Roe says. “But ‘blue health’ really lags way behind – it has started a bit like green health did, with laboratory experiments using photographic images and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we’ve got other methods now, and that’s what we’re keen here in Scotland to press on with.”

Roe highlights the potential for geographic differences. “It does require geographic studies in specific climate zones to tease out whether the effect of water is as great under a cloudy sky as it is in sunny climes. The southwest of England is very different climatically from a country like Scotland.

“For me, [the research] needs to ground itself in issues of climate change. Our scoping study looked at the psychological trauma of living in a flood risk zone and the effect on very vulnerable populations so it’s not just the positive, health-improving benefits of being close to or having access to water, it’s also about how we manage that water flow and how we use sustainable design strategies to minimise the risk of flood-damaged communities.”

Both Roe and Depledge are keen to look at the impact of water within urban environments too, with potential practical applications for planners and developers. Depledge argues that “we have spent a lot of time putting green spaces into urban environments – and 85% of the UK population now live in urban environments – but are we paying any attention to designing in blue space?”

She adds: “I think water features, in general, are beneficial; fountains in cities, ponds in parks … Birmingham restored the canal running through the city, and that has been hugely successful.”

Roe also cites Sheffield and Manchester as cities that have introduced popular water features to their city centres with potentially regenerating effects.

There is also the prospect of economic benefits. Both ECEHH and Heriot-Watt University are enlisting the help of health economists to understand the cost benefits of access to green and blue space if the benefits effects are such that they reduce GP visits. It’s a tantalising prospect, but there’s a long way to go.

The Major Benefits Of Having A Water Filtration System In Your House

The quality of water that we drink, wash our hair and body with, as well as that we use to clean fruits and veggies, has a huge effect on our health. Nowadays, to make sure that the water we use is clean, treatment facilities add chlorine to it, which can be damaging as it may contain harmful bacteria and chemicals that have a negative effect on our health and wellbeing.

Tap water passes through water treatment facilities, however, it can get easily contaminated the moment it leaves the treatment facilities. Therefore, the best way to make sure that the water you consume is clean and hasn’t been contaminated is by installing a water filtration system.

In this article, we will provide you with the major benefits of having a water filtration system in your house.

Safe to Drink

Installing a water filtration system will ensure that the water you drink is clean, free of contaminants, and safe to drink compared to those coming from water treatment plants without going through a home filtration system. There are many types of contaminants that can be found in water coming straight from these treatment facilities, including chlorine, lead, and fluoride.

However, you can avoid the consumption of all these toxins by installing a water filtration system in your house. That way, you and your loved ones will get your daily supply of drinking water without any health risks.

Healthy Skin

The team at wellnesswaterfiltrationsystems.com recommends that you seek the help of certified experts to assess the water in your house and help you get rid of all impurities and toxins it contains. An easy way you can validate that they are certified is by checking their website. That way, you will ensure that anyone in the house who has eczema or any other skin condition will not suffer from more damage to their skin.

Cutting Costs

Your plumbing system can get damaged by heavy metals and minerals that are found in unfiltered water. However, installing a water filtration system in your home will reduce plumbing repairs, which will result in reduced repair bills as well. Other than the pipes in your house, some home appliances can get damaged by unfiltered water, like the fridge, washing machine, and dishwasher. Repairing or replacing these appliances can cost you a lot of money! Therefore, to cut costs and reduce your monthly bills, you need a reliable home filtration system to protect your pipes and home appliances from damage.

Preserves the Environment

Drinking bottled water will add to the already huge amounts of plastic waste our planet is suffering from. Plastic is endangering the existence of many marine creatures, as it can take up to five hundred years to disintegrate! Installing a home filtration system is a huge contribution to saving the environment from more plastic waste. Although it might seem like a small contribution, it is absolutely not! The amount of plastic bottles produced and thrown away is way too much than our planet can take!

Fewer Scum Deposits

Washing your clothes with unfiltered water that comes straight from the treatment plants can leave deposits on them over time. Moreover, if you use them to wash your clothes and dishes, it increases the number of scum build-ups sticking on your belongings that cause allergies and skin rashes. On the other hand, using filtered water to clean the floor and wash your clothes and dishes will reduce the number of scum buildups and deposits sticking to them.

There is absolutely no reason to consume or use unfiltered water as it poses risk to everyone’s health. If you think about it, filtered water is safer to drink as the filtration system removes the contaminants and toxins that it might be carrying. Filtered water can help you have better skin as well and ensures that any skin condition doesn’t get worse. Moreover, using filtered water will reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles, which is a major contribution to saving our planet. If you think that installing a filtration system is expensive, you are mistaken, as it will reduce your plumbing bills and protect your home appliances from damage. Water is life, so you need to make sure that you and your family are drinking clean and pure water.