Thursday, 12 May 2011

Managing Public Water Systems - cause for concern

Back to Tap is excited about a recent documentary on public water resources. The 90 minute PBS documentary"Liquid Assets" investigates public water infrastructure across the United States and finds major problems with how the entire system is managed. The film is parter of a larger effort to change attitudes towards public water systems and how they are administered. People are slowly realising how precious water systems are - modern city living would quickly revert to Hobbes' "nasty, brutish and short" description of the human condition.

Showing how various cities in the US suffer from degraded and ill-maintained water infrastructure, "Liquid Assets" raises important questions about how we use and dispose of water.

After watching the trailer, we started wondering about water infrastructure here in London, much of which is also creaking, and was installed far earlier than anything in the United States.

Let's hope that the folks at Thames Water have also watched "Liquid Assets" and that the water delivery and management problems facing our 19th century system do not affect our drinking water. It is not that long ago (1854) that London was suffering significant cholera outbreaks.

If we are to ensure that our water system remains in healthy condition, people must speak up and demand regular maintenance of what is an essential public good. Let's not wait for the bottled water companies to turn off all the taps and take over our water infrastructure. Raise your voice and demand the quality we need to go Back to Tap!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

New Energy Projects in Africa: leading the way with innovation

Back to Tap has been busy working on a number of new initiatives - looking for ways to affordable water filtration technology to new markets like Africa, where innovation and ideas are blossoming.

In particular, we were excited by all the talk of renewable energy at this year's Africa Utility Week in South Africa. If even a fraction of the projects discussed during the week are acted upon, Africa's use of renewable energy with soon put Europe and the UK to shame. Here's hoping that Africa leads the way in adopting mostly renewable energy and other sustainable technologies in the future.

Moving Grass in Your Window: green is good.

How many times do you wish there was more green in your life? At Back to Tap, we are also partial to blue, but are excited about a recent playful design that popped up here in London.

A shop window that waves its green grass fingers at you as you stroll by. Connected to a series of motors, the graceful long grasses follow one's movement across the pavement...

When when they come up with a window shop wave?

Fishing for Plastic...What have we done?

We were surprised to read this morning that fishermen in the Mediterranean are not expected to fish for plastic. As mu

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Living in a Water World: how we use it & abuse it

Here is a little pre-weekend reminder of just how valuable and vital water is from friends over at While here in the UK water waste may be a little less extreme, the graphic below illustrates well the unsustainable use of water in many parts of the world. The fact that this waste continues is not due to a lack of options - rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, waterless toilets, composting toilets and water filtration and re-use systems are all readily available to many - and the real problem lies in people's attitudes towards water.

At Back to Tap, we want to encourage people to consider how and why they use water the way they do. Is purchasing bottled water healthy and environmentally sound way to behave? What other options exist are available that will allow us to move away from wasteful behaviour?

Next week, we will be looking at a number of exciting innovations for water conservation from Lelongwe to London.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your tap water!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Green Roofs Filter Water & Create Space

Back to Tap is looking forward to getting a new green roof project started. A little innovation can go a long way to making cities more liveable and improving drainage. Especially in places like London, where the sewerage system regularly overflows due to heavy rain, green roofs and permeable pavements provide an useful alternative. Does anyone else have ideas for more sustainable urbanisation?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Of Taps and Toilets

Back to Tap was amused to find that a new Toilet Museum has opened in Wiesbaden, Germany. Like taps and everything plumbing and water related, toilets don't often get the attention they deserve, but proper hygiene and sanitation infrastructure are key to building healthy communities.

Water is essential for life, and having access to clean water can often mean the difference between a healthy and prosperous life and disease. The most recent illustration of this has been a cholera outbreak in Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where poor water treatment and substandard water infrastructure and drainage systems have led to the unnecessary death of over 50 people.

Here in London, Back to Tap is proud to work with the ARCHIVE Institute to raise awareness of the links between health and housing and water issues in particular. Basic steps can be taken in home design to reduce the risk of illness for some of the world's most vulnerable urban populations, and Back to Tap hopes that ARCHIVE's work will change the way people think about water, design and health in cities around the world.