Using Greywater

Approximately 50-80% of residential wastewater is greywater, finding ways to reuse portions of it can reduce stress on water and wastewater treatment plants. Reusing greywater can provide a 30% reduction in water use for the average household, and an even bigger reduction on a commercial scale.

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Assessing Your Own Water Quality

How do you know if the water you’re drinking is safe? How do you find more information about your local water supply? What should you do if you’re worried about lead in your drinking water?

While the stories about the drinking water in Flint and other cities can be worrisome, there are plenty of things to do if you’re concerned your water quality. We’ll explore various ways to learn more about your drinking water in this article.

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The Flint Water Crisis

The City of Flint, Michigan has been in the news for having high levels of lead in its drinking water. However this problem isn’t an isolated problem, it prevails in many other cities too, such as Sebring, Ohio, Brick Township, New Jersey and more. Typically, part of the problem is caused by old pipes, through which lead can leach into water. Though congress banned lead water pipes in 1986, millions are of older lines are still in use throughout the United States. Most often problems begin with a change in the water source or treatment process changes, which alter how the water interacts with the pipes, leaving them vulnerable to leaching. Additionally, funds and budgets for water treatment are getting tighter and tighter. According to the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, 17 states have cut drinking water budgets by more than 20%, 27 states have cut spending on full-time employees, and lastly federal officials have reduced drinking water grants.

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A Brief History of Civil Engineering Through the Ages

We can see examples of civil engineering throughout history, even though the term ‘civil engineering’ wasn’t used until the 18th century. For millennia, people have designed structures, buildings and infrastructure to serve the general public. In history, we see this starting between 4000 and 2000 BC in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Many of these examples of early civil engineering achievements still exist in Egypt, China, Rome and many other places.

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Air Quality, Infrastructure and Public Health

Roads in the US are getting more crowded and congested, and the total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) hit a record high in 2016 with 3.2 trillion miles. Congestion refers to periods when the volume of traffic exceeds the road’s capacity, think about a traffic jam where cars sit idling. All over the US, congestion is getting worse, especially in urban areas. One study found that from 1980 to 2003 the total VMT increased by 111% in urban areas, while urban lane-miles only increased by 51%, which created a net effect of heavier traffic congestion.

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Blueprint Columbus: Near South - Morrill / Ann Area

The City of Columbus has a complex sewer system made up of three types of sewers:

  • Combined Sewers - these carry both sewage and rain water to treatment plants, where both are treated then released into a river

  • Separate Sewers - these are separated sanitary (for sewage) and storm sewers

  • Storm Sewers - located on curbs or in drainage ditches, these sewers empty rain water (and anything carried with it) directly back into rivers.

Many cities, including Columbus, are experiencing issues with their combined and separated sanitary sewer systems, because they are often overloaded during heavy rain events. This causes combined sewers to overflow into rivers (see image below), which causes public health and ecological problems.

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Building Accessible Infrastructure for Everyone

Steve Krug once said “The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?” Throughout our lives our physical and mental abilities change as we age, making ability more of a spectrum than a binary concept as we once thought. By keeping this in mind as we build infrastructure, we can make infrastructure more accessible to all people regardless of where they are on the ability-spectrum.

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Growth and Infrastructure in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio is well known for its college football team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, but also holds many other titles and accolades. Recently the SmartAsset report ranked Columbus as the 2nd best city for new college graduates due to its jobs, cost of living, entertainment and dining options. The report also noted that approximately 20% of people living in Columbus are in their 20s making it desirable for recent graduates and deemed it an “Indie Art City”. Among this praise, Forbes also named it the 11th best place (in the US) for businesses and careers. Other honors and awards the city has gotten over the year include the: Intelligent Community of the Year in 2015, US Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge winner, one of the best zoos in the US, the 2010 Library of the Year Award, Best Science Center, and many more.

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