Help us Build a Prototype

Take a moment to check our fundraising effort on Indiegogo and also share it with your friends. All the tools are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make the 'Water Truck Project' happen.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Climate Change and the Water on our Planet

Posted by ASHLEY
Published on Mon, Oct 29 2012

In perusing the lastest news about Hurricane Sandy I've come across several articles that connect this "Frankenstorm" to climate change. In particular scientists predict that Atlantic storms will intensify due to warming oceans. It reminded of the swift melting of Himalyian ice because in 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that at the current rate of climate change this body of ice will be gone by 2035. This overflow of water contributed to rising sea levels and salination of fresh ground in Bangladesh (Climate Refugees. Argos Collectif). It's amazing how this natural phenomenon alters the water on our planet.

For more on the link between climate change and Hurricane Sandy here's a curation of articles and videos:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How a Hurricane can effect drinking water

With all this craziness going with Hurricane Sandy hitting the east coast, I was wondering is this a disaster our truck would handle. Every store I went this weekend was running out of bottled water. I thought why?
Article from

Sandy: Drinking Water

You can skimp on almost everything else (except a safe place to be) but you cannot manage without water. It’s also a huge boon to you in a lot of ways.
You need it to drink and you shouldn’t assume you’ll be able to drink what comes out of your tap. The safety of our municipal water supply depends on it maintaining positive pressure.  Meaning that your water company keeps sufficient power and resources to keep the system pressurized well enough that water seeps out of the system rather than in from surrounding ground… which may or may not be safe without boiling. Which, if you’re without power, you may not be able to do.
So fill some containers. You don’t need to brave the crazy grocery for bottled water. In some ways you don’t want to – fill some junky old containers, leaving some room for expansion, and put them in your freezer. They’ll help keep it cool for any period of time your power is out and you can drink it. You can survive without food for many days, but you need drinking water.
Out of room in the freezer? Put them in the fridge. Same principle. Your physicist buddies will tell you that it’s water’s high specific heat, allowing it to resist temperature changes, which helps you here. Once you cool it down it tends to stay at that temperature, keeping the things around it at a similar temperature.

Posted by Gil

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Damaging, but Not Illegal Pollution in Perdue, Berlin Farm, and Waterkeeper Alliance Trial

This week testimonies wrapped up in the Waterkeeper Alliance Inc vs. Alan and Kristin Hudson Farm and Perdue Farms Inc trial. The case questions whether chickens or cows were the source of nutrient and bacteria pollution found in a ditch nearby the Hudson Farm in Berlin, Maryland. If the pollution came from the cows, then its not illegal because pasture runoff is not regulated. Yet if the chickens contributed, then the Hudsons and Perdue are in trouble.

Waterkeeper Alliance cites that the 80,000 chickens contributed to the pollution through fans used to vent the chicken houses. Thanks to a study which documented that 3 1/2 pounds of waste were blown from a flock of chickens much smaller than the Hudsons', they estimate that up to 10 pounds of dust streamed from the houses. This dust most likely contained nutrients and bacteria and those particles could have ended up in the ditch. In their defense the Hudsons and Perdue state that the Hudsons' 60 cows, which generate 3,000 pounds of manure a day, were the sole source of pollution. In Wheeler's report, they also argued that the grass between the chicken houses and the ditch would have absorbed most of the dust. A testimony from Virginia Tech microbiology professor Charles Hagedorn supported this claim and cited his own observations about the farm. But wherever Judge Nickerson decides the source of the pollution, this farm is still polluting the Chesapeake Bay. 

Map Credit: Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, INC

And as the Berlin Farm contributes to bacteria and nutrient pollution in the Lower Eastern Shore, the health of the Chesapeake Bay deteriorates. In particular, bacteria pollution hinders recreational usage of waterways because it can cause gastrointestinal problems and other health issues. The overabundance of nutrients sparks algae bloom and kills fish. So even if the judge rules that the cows were the sole source of pollution, it doesn't make the pollution less harmful. 

In their closing statement Waterkeeper Alliance stated they are confident about their case and cited that the Clean Water Act "empowers ordinary citizens to participate in the implementation and enforcement of the program, giving us all a chance for cleaner water". In their last comments, Alan Hudson and his wife are ready "to put this nightmare completely behind [them]".  A Perdue spokesperson said that the company hopes to be vindicated of any charges.

The post-trial statements are scheduled for November 14th and closing arguments for November 30th. Sometime afterwards Judge Nickerson will make his ruling.  

This post is the 3rd installment on the Waterkeeper Alliance, Perdue, and Hudson Farm trial. To read the other parts click the links below:


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An app for checking how clean the water is for swimming

Article from CNN shows the creation of a mobile app that uses GPS technology and information from the EPA to locate local waterways that are safe enough for swimming. Its seems cool but should include a way users can review waterways
Washington (CNN) -- Swimmers, if you want to know how filthy that lake or stream is before you jump in, there's now an app for that.
The Environmental Protection Agency launched its My Waterway app on Thursday, available through the agency's website.
By identifying the user's GPS location, the software allows swimmers and fishers to check the water quality in thousands of lakes, rivers and streams in the United States from their computer or smartphone.
A list of waterways within five miles of the user's search location is returned and includes details about the water condition. Users can also enter a physical address to get results.
CNN checked the app from its Washington offices near the U.S. Capitol. The My Waterway app identified 19 waterways within five miles of the nation's capital, all either listed as polluted or condition unknown.
One of those waterways near the capital, the Anacostia River, has long been plagued by pollution so bad the Natural Resources Defense Council deemed it a "poster child for America's tragically neglected, abused urban waterways."
The app's results showed the river had low oxygen, murky water, pesticides, toxic chemicals and trash, among other warnings about the river's condition.
The EPA's latest smart phone app was announced in conjunction with the agency's 40th anniversary commemoration of the Clean Water Act being enacted on October 18, 1972. The software is available through the EPA's website and not Apple's app store or Google Play.

Article posted by Gil

Hey guys!

So last week it was the 40th anniversary of the clean water act, you know, that piece of legislation that set waste water standards for industry, made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable water, and generally made it so that our planet's fresh water can stay fresher for longer.

check out more about the act and its anniversary at this link:

Hey guys,

I was thinking about the design of our greenspace. In a way, we're essentially building a mobile terrarium. If acrylic glass surrounds the structure, allowing for the public to view the plant growth, we will be able to utilize sunlight from all angles on the exterior of the truck. This would also be a light source for the interior of the truck as well. 

This will be interesting to hash out the details on. I think that filling the cubby above the cab would be a great place for this. I found a couple pictures online of a Mexico Tourism Mobile Terrarium for inspiration. Another aspect of this truck that I found interesting are the clear panels on the exterior, something that we had at one point discussed. 

If they can figure out how to turn an entire truck into a terrarium, I'm sure we'll be able to figure out how to design our greenspace!

Another idea for more branding ideas

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is a PDF I found a little over a week ago. There is some interesting information about Gainesville Florida in it. Also it is form 2012 which is great! One page 5 there is a diagram talking about water filtration  From Ground to Tap to Ground.


Saw this on Blue Water Baltimore's events calendar.  Thought this could be interesting for those in Baltimore. 

    - Hunter  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Logo/ Branding Development Part 2

Hey guys,
 Created some more logos, these though have more branding idea with the backgrounds.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Farming, Pollution, and Animal Cruelty in Perdue, Hudson Farm, and Waterkeeper Alliance Case

This past week the Waterkeeper Alliance Inc vs. Alan and Kristin Hudson Farm and Perdue Farms Inc trial continued in the Baltimore District Court. Farmers, environmentalists, and animal rights activists are closely watching due to the impact this case can have. As Tim Wheeler of The Baltimore Sun reports, farmers are concerned about a ruling that could threaten the way they do business and environmentalists want to hold large agribusinesses accountable for pollution. So the concern is if Judge Nickerson rules in favor of Waterkeeper Alliance, this ruling could change how farms dispose waste. Animal rights organization Mercy For Animals talked about how these chicken houses hold uncomfortably large amounts of animals. This case doesn't address the animal cruelty of big business farming, but it is a counterpoint to the romanticization of the family farm by the Perdue and the Hudsons lawyer.

Alan Hudson, the farmer and owner of the Berlin, Maryland farm, testified last week in court. He stated that at 19 he built those chicken houses in question. Now 37, he said those structures were "going to be my contribution to getting my foot in the door farming with [my family]". Wheeler summarizes the lawyers of Perdue and the Hudsons characterization of Waterkeeper Alliance as "uncaring campaigners" who are willing to trample a family farm for a water pollution campaign. I'm critical of this passionate argument due to the restrictions Perdue places on its farming contractors. In court they applaud the tradition of the family farm, but the fierce domination of big agribusiness have pushed small family farms into extinction. Furthermore, I question how well does Perdue treat their contrators. I'm not sure if you can completely assess their relationship through this court trial, but the faults of agribusinesses make me leery of their fondness for family farms.

This post is the 2nd installment on the Waterkeeper Alliance, Perdue, and Hudson Farm trial. To read the other parts click the links below:
Part 1:  Perdue and Eastern Shore Chicken Farm Trial Begins 
Part 2: Farming, Pollution, and Animal Cruelty in Perdue, Hudson Farm, and Waterkeeper Alliance Case
Part 3: Damaging, but Not Illegal Pollution in Perdue, Berlin Farm, and Waterkeeper Alliance Trial 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Where do U-Hauls come from?

They come from a magical place in Canton.

The nice guys at U-Haul at Fall Roads allowed me to photograph details of the 14' truck.

 I picked out areas whose construction would impact our design the most. For more photos team, check the Dropbox.

Underneath the Truck


Back Door

Mom's Attic

Hello hello,

So I was at Home Depot over the break and noticed a very cool feature of their store, located directly next to the exit. A large display entitled, "Free Water Test". The rack was adorned with many individual envelopes, free for the public to grab and send in a sample of their water with.

 It's a pretty easy system. Just fill the small capsule 3/4 full with a sample of your kitchen's tap water, answer a few questions pertaining to the source, experienced conditions, and a bit of personal information, then slap a stamp on that and expect results in 1-2 weeks time!

I grabbed a few and gave them to some friends and family. Most likely I will be sending in a sample of my water here in Baltimore as well. I'm interested to see what it comes back with. It would be pretty cool if we could do something like this with the truck design. Say, if people were to bring samples of their water to us, we could test it for them. Just a thought!


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Sari Filter

An interesting article from the New York Times - women in rural Bangladesh discovered that filtering their water through washed and folded sari's removed most bacteria, dropping the rate of Cholera and other water borne diseases by 50 percent!


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Design Continues

On October 9th we pinned up our drawings and talked about our edited designs.

Me, Gil, and Hunter illustrated further our ideas for an awning and countertop, clear plant boxes on the sides, and a back table where the scientists can conduct experiments with the public. The second rendering is Hunter's idea of a folding back table.

Katie, Angela, and Hayley showed a storyboard for a water truck animation and a drawing of their green roof idea.

After each group presented we merged our most successful ideas into a list of features we need in our truck. I think visibility of the filtration system, an exterior spigot, and a interaction component in the back of the truck are the biggest must haves. 

At the end of the day here are other drawings we produced. 

Instead of a green roof that would replace the entire ceiling of the truck, we talked about housing a plant box in the 2' 6" cubby that hangs above the cab of the truck. We did draw from the structure of a green roof on a house, but we didn't need to worry about insulation or other concerns. Instead, directing the water filtered by the soil and gravel into the filtration system was most important to us.

David introduced us to the repurposing of 2 liter soda bottles into light bulbs. People fill these bottles with water and bleach and install them into their roofs to have the same lighting as a 50 watt light bulb. It's a pretty clever reuse of plastic bottles and we thought it would fit into the theme of the truck. Hayley drew a plan that proposes installing these bottles into the sides of the truck.

In about 2 weeks we'll refine our ideas and represent. We're looking into the specifications of a 14' Uhaul truck so we can figure how to coordinate all these modifications. I think that's the biggest challenge because we have many ideas, but they need to fit into this mobile space.


Perdue and Eastern Shore Chicken Farm Trial Begins

When Tina Meyers visited our class in September she mentioned an upcoming case between the Waterkeeper Alliance and Perdue and an Eastern Shore farm. On October 8th the Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. v. Alan and Kristin Hudson Farm and Perdue Farms, Inc. trial kicked off in the US District Court in Baltimore.

After an aerial shot of a pile of brown material on a farm near Berlin, Maryland and polluted water samples, the Waterkeeper Alliance sued Perdue and its Eastern Shore contractor. The environmental group suspects that waste from 2 chicken houses was getting into nearby ditches which lead into the Cheasepeake Bay. However, Michael Schatzow, Perdue's lawyer, argues that contamination found in the ditches came from the 66 cows on the farm. That would mean good news for Perdue and the Maryland farm because federal law does not regulate pasture runoff. However, Jane F. Barrett, director of the University of Maryland environmental law clinic stated her team found higher levels of contamination near the chicken houses. This illustrates that chicken waste had some contribution to the pollution.

So far Drew Koslow, Choptank Riverkeeper, and Kathy Phillips, a Coastkeeper and Executive Director of Assateague Coastal Trust, have testified. It is estimated that testimonies could take up to 3 weeks.

The next court date is scheduled for October 15th. We'll be following the case, but to find out more about the suit check out this Baltimore Sun updateTriple Pundit and Southern Maryland Online also wrote about the past week's court proceedings.

This post is the 1st installment on the Waterkeeper Alliance, Perdue, and Hudson Farm trial. To read the other parts click the links below:
Part 1:  Perdue and Eastern Shore Chicken Farm Trial Begins 
Part 2: Farming, Pollution, and Animal Cruelty in Perdue, Hudson Farm, and Waterkeeper Alliance Case
Part 3: Damaging, but Not Illegal Pollution in Perdue, Berlin Farm, and Waterkeeper Alliance Trial 


NYC Water test

This is from a study done on ABC NEWS GMA,
N E W  Y O R K,   May 11

The booming sales of bottled water suggest that a lot of people think bottled water is better for them than tap water.
But a recent study from the Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund International may be throwing some water on that belief. The study finds bottled water is no safer or healthier than what you get when you turn on your kitchen faucet.
But does the expensive stuff at least taste better? Good Morning America's studio audience didn't think so. In fact, in a taste test administered by Olympic medalist and GMA contributor Dara Torres, the audience picked tap water as the clear favorite.
And the Winner Is...
The goal of the test was to see which water tastes better, and whether people can tell the difference between expensive water and tap water. The waters in the studio audience taste test included: New York City tap water, O2, an oxygenated water, and two bottle brands, Poland Spring and Evian.
#1: New York City Tap: received 45% of the vote
#2: Poland Spring: received 24% of the vote
#3: O-2, Oxygenated Water: received 19% of the vote
#4: Evian: received 12% of the vote
Though staying hydrated is especially crucial for athletes, they are not the only ones who are toting water bottles. The bottled water business has been accelerating rapidly in the past three years, bringing in close to $5.2 billion in 1999, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
The marketing organization says that within the next five years, bottled water is on track to bypass beer, coffee and tea to become the second largest-selling beverage in the country, just after soft drinks.
And Americans gulp down more than 18 gallons of bottled water per person every year. In many cases, consumers think bottled water tastes better than tap water, because it lacks the chlorine taste, and they perceive it as being safer and of better quality.
Tap Water Just as Good?
But the World Wildlife Fund International study asserts that "bottled water may be no safer or healthier than tap water, while selling for up to 1,000 times the price."
Bottled water companies are capitalizing on consumer concerns about the safety of municipal water, but in fact there are more standards regulating tap water in Europe and the United States than there are in the bottled water industry, the environmental group said in the report.
The companies have countered this criticism by noting that the USDA regulates American bottled water as a packaged food product. And in other countries, bottled water is a necessity for consumers who do not have adequate public water supplies.
In any case, the report notes that the bottled water industry uses 1.5 million tons of plastic annually to package the water, and the manufacture and disposal of the plastic sends toxic chemicals into the environment.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

do better than what we did

a word of advice as you sift through the interweb looking for examples of how all the wonderful people in the past have tackled this problem...and they are wonderful people for all of their invaluable efforts!!

There are hundreds of technologies in place now that treat water on site in disaster situations. Not all of them are sustainable. I know the "s word" is a big buzz word now, but...Sustainability is really an "inter-generational promise". We are promising the next generation that we will do better than what our predecessors did...

For example, there was a post on the Life Straw. Examples of similar technologies include ion exchange and reverse osmosis systems. While these systems have worked wonders and are efficient, they are resource intensive...In other words, they are using resources in order to produce water. In the short term, this is a feasible approach b/c of the Rule of Sevens:
You can survive:
7 minutes without air
7 hours in freezing temperature
7 days without water
7 weeks without food

In a moderate climate stricken by disaster, providing water is the most important resource. So...current relief efforts will sacrifice just about anything to provide water. 

However, this is a short term decision with long term consequences (e.g., water bottle landfills).

The challenge to your generation is to do better than what we did. There are existing ways to provide water without consuming valuable resources or creating new, long term local problems. It just takes some creativity and refusal to accept old paradigms...
For examples of what is on cutting edge of science/engineering, see the Bill Gates

More later!

Eric Mc

hello all from Florida!

Our students are swamped in another project at the moment, but they will be posting blogs in the near future.

i love the image on the "closed loop house" showing on site (we call it decentralized) recovery of water. Some similar ideas:

One example of things we are doing in my lab with regenerative systems (which would be feasible for the MoistTruck). Right now we are using Terra Preta (i.e., biochar) as a soil amendment for our green roofs in the back of my lab.

Biochar provides nutrients to the plants, and also traps heavy metals and bacteria. Right now we are making biochar from bamboo.  Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth, can be used as food, and also filters metals and other water contaminants.

You can imagine a MoistTruck that is packed with young bamboo on arrival. The shoots get made into yummy salad, while the roots get planted on any exposed soil in the disaster zone. During the initial period of relief, the growing bamboo will filter the groundwater where it is planted and improve local water quality conditions. By the time the bandaid is removed (i.e., the Red Cross and UN go home), the bamboo gardens would be flourishing. Young bamboo is a food source, while inedible bamboo is turned into biochar and added to green roofs as a soil amendment.

And so the cycle continues...

More ideas later on fertilizer from urine, shower water recycling, energy from poop, and mushrooms for wastewater treatment

Eric Mc
What's up dudes!

So I was looking around on the interwebs at some of the systems that we were talking about implementing in the final design of the truck. I found this image of a rainwater collection system for a house that collects and directs rainwater into a cistern below the house, making it eligible for usage within the household. It uses traditional gutters to do so, just as we would. Imagine the cisterns would be like the filtration tanks within the truck.

Something else I really liked about this diagram was that they designate their vegetation as "drought-resistant". Something that maybe we could look into when deciding what types of plants to use for the green-roof/cubby. That might help with getting the most water from our collection system, using plants that use minimal amounts for hydration. 

I'll continue to look up some more specifics about the gutter system as well, just to see how it would fit into the truck. Until then, enjoy your fall break!