Category Archives: Bottled Water

If You Could Advise the UN on Water, What Would You Say?

Image: United Nations

Image: United Nations

The Guardian, known for some of the best environmental reporting coming out of the U.K., posed a question to a bevy of experts in honor of World Water Day 2014, on March 22: “What one piece of advice would you give the UN on water?” More specifically, how should water fit into the post-2015 development agenda? Following up on my recent World Water Day posts below, here’s a link to the answers given by the water wonks from the worlds of business, NGOs and government.

There’s broad agreement among the experts that there should be specific water and sanitation Sustainable Development Goals, just as there was enthusiastic agreement at the UN briefing I recently attended at the WMO in Geneva, Switzerland. Water will be frequently mentioned among other goals because it connects everything, but mere mentions here and there won’t be enough to give the world the clean water and effective sanitation that so many people lack.

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What one piece of advice would you give the UN on water?  – The Guardian Water hub

Related posts:

Water’s Place Among Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

At the Point of ‘Peak Water,’ Our Foreseeable Future Grows Shorter

UNICEF Says Put Down Your Cell Phone for a Few Minutes to Help Kids Get Water

Mapping the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries

The Intersection of Environmental Issues and Human Rights

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Filed under Africa, Blog Changes and Updates, Bottled Water, Caribbean, Dams and Hydropower, Industry, Science, Space, Uncategorized, Wastewater Treatment

Innovative Device Saves Lives in Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan

Image: M-100 Chlorintor, courtesy of WaterStep

Image: M-100 Chlorinator, courtesy of WaterStep

Natural disasters often knock out access to clean water, which can make thirst and disease bigger causes of death than the catastrophe itself. When a massive storm like Typhoon Haiyan strikes a large, densely populated landmass like the Philippines, the risk to health is widespread, ongoing and a huge challenge to large aid organizations.

Shipments of bottled water help, but they’re expensive to execute, they may not reach everyone, and they cause waste. That’s why WaterStep and its small water purifiers make for such a compelling story, as reported by and Fast Company. The Louisville, Kentucky-based nonprofit group sent 60 of its M-100 Chlorinators over to the stricken nation, piggybacked on a flight of volunteer college kids who would act as couriers. The devices would be distributed in remote areas by newly trained nonprofit workers from the Philippines’ second-largest population center, Cebu City, which was spared by Haiyan and has been a staging area for relief operations.

Each device, about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle, with tubes sticking out, can chlorinate about 1,000 gallons (3,785 liters) of water per hour, or 10,000 gallons (38,000 liters) per day, using some table salt and a basic power source, such as a car battery or a solar panel. The byproducts, chlorine and sodium hydroxide, can be mixed to make a saline solution or used separately as disinfectants.

Another technology created for WaterStep bears mentioning, though not necessarily in the context of disaster relief. The group distributes the Water Ball, a durable sphere with handles that can be filled with water and rolled.  In many parts of the world with limited access to clean water, women and children are burdened with the task of carrying water great distances daily; the Water Ball is meant to make it easier to carry more water more quickly.

Read more:

Andri Antoniades reports on WaterStep’s work in

Stan Alcorn writes about WaterStep for Fast Company.

WaterStep’s technologies.

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Filed under Asia, Bottled Water, Human rights, Natural Disasters, NGOs, Oceans, Technology

Taxing Bottled Water to Link the Luxury to the Human Need

Image: LeeBrimelow

Image: LeeBrimelow

With the At the Waterline blog, I’m writing about water issues as I learn about them. Almost every day, I learn something new. It’s exciting, but it also makes me feel perpetually late to the party. Today I saw that people have been entering “Jorge Viñuales” into the blog’s search box, so I looked him up. That led me to a 13-month-old YouTube video entitled, “A Tax on Bottled Water: Jorge Viñuales at TEDx Zurich.”

In the video, Viñuales, a lawyer and law professor (see credentials below), suggests a small transactional tax on bottled water that would be used “(1) for the protection of the natural infrastructures that maintain the water cycle, i.e. wetlands, (2) for direct local water distribution and sanitation projects (e.g. for the coordination of inter-city projects), and (3) for research on water efficiency, decontamination and alternative techniques (e.g. exploitation of melting iced-water).”

Citing the $50 billion European bottled water market as an example, Viñuales says that a 3% tax could raise $1.5 billion (presumably annually). Viñuales acknowledges that some people think we all should stop drinking bottled water entirely, but he argues that “sermonizing” people is not the best way to effect environmental policy change. As such, he suggests what seems like a more practical step, in order “to link water as a luxury to a real problem … access to water as a human need.”

Whether bleeding bottled-water companies financially would work in practice, and do enough to fund programs to help those in immediate need as well as discover new or more efficient ways to get freshwater, are other questions — ones that a 12-minute TED talk can’t cover in any depth. Viñuales did mention, however, his work on a legal framework to manage freshwater resources trapped in ice (e.g., towing icebergs; extracting freshwater from icebergs is a serious subject of study).

Viñuales is a practicing lawyer, the Harold Samuel Professor of Law and Environmental Policy at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and a Visiting Professor of International Law at The Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland, during the academic year 2013-2014. Two of Viñuales’ most recent books are Foreign Investment and the Environment in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Harnessing Foreign Investment to Promote Environmental Protection: Incentives and Safeguards (Cambridge University Press, 2013, co-edited with P.-M. Dupuy),

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Filed under Bottled Water, Events, Industry, Law, Oceans, Water Resources, Water Shortage