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The Phattest Water Butt of All

It should surprise no one (but delight everyone) that some clever person has produced a water butt in the shape of a butt. (Note for the non-Brits: Water Butt = Rain Barrel).

What really makes the smartly-named “Butt Butt” a standout, though, is the wicked tramp-stamp tattoo decoration! Well done, chap! Just a bit unfortunate on the spigot placement, though. Tell me, how much would it cost to haul Butt to the US?

Does this water butt make me look phat?

Why, yes it does, because as you surely know by now, collecting rainwater for garden re-use in “water butts” (known as “rain barrels” here in the US) is a smooth conservation move.  Therefore, it’s time to get off your butt and get your own butt installed, and this free guide from Dobbies.com is in fact, pretty phat!

While I was browsing their site I tried hard to dispel the sophomoric giggles about the “butt” double-entendre, but of course I could not. One thing I learned besides water harvesting tips: cropping is a powerful tool in that can be used for nefarious purposes in the hands of the wrong person!

Watch out for the power of the crop tool

Bermuda Rooftops: Pretty, and Pretty Effective

Let’s hop off the innovation train for a moment, people! It’s so easy to get carried away with the “gee whiz” of new technology and approaches we often fail to look behind us to see the elegant and ingenious solutions already in place, right under our noses.

Andrew Leidner sent along this marvelous link to mariannebrownphotography.net that depicts Bermuda’s four-century old solution for collecting fresh water while withstanding hurricane conditions. Read more

Is Water the Silver Lining in Every Cloud?

After I posted the snickering, tongue-in-cheek writeup on the 1931 “fog farm” concept, Angela B. sent along (via inhabitat.com) information on this real and modern example of a “fog farm” from a sharp student with her head in the clouds, so to speak.

For her final thesis in Industrial Design at Germany’s Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Imke Hoehler designed the “DropNet fog collector” that harvests drinking water from fog, air and mist. The great features of her design include simplicity, zero energy requirement, easy assembly and portability (unskilled workers can quickly assemble it on flat or uneven ground.) It’s a feasible approach for isolated areas with little or no infrastructure.

Each unit reportedly collects 10-20 liters per day. Unlike the kooky Modern Mechanix fog farm concept, this isn’t conceived to irrigate farmland, but it can ensure a safe supply of drinking water in challenging conditions. Has Irme, literally, found the silver lining in every cloud? Or more importantly, a reasonable way to mine it?

In looking at the design I wonder…might there be a way to incorporate rainwater harvesting into the unit so that it could also collect those supplies when available?

What Modern Water Engineers Can Learn from Ancient Infrastructure

From TED: The ancient ingenuity of water harvesting: With wisdom and wit, Anupam Mishra talks about the amazing feats of engineering built centuries ago by the people of India’s Golden Desert to harvest water. These structures are still used today — and are often superior to modern water megaprojects. You’re likely familiar with TED (the organization has logged 50 million views since they began posting video two years ago) and TED Talks have become a powerful cultural force. TED presents short lectures from some of the best thinkers in the world from a broad range of disciplines with the mission of “spreading ideas” via “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” TED began in 1984 as a conference to bring together people from the increasingly melding worlds of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Since then its scope has widened to embrace prominent thought leaders from around the globe. See Anupam Mishra’s bio here or access an interactive transcript of this video.

When a Plain-Jane Rain Barrel Simply Won’t Do

Saving water is stylish now! And a consequence of that is more high-design products with which to stylishly save water! While that DIY-hacked, second-hand barrel you dragged from the dump is still perfectly functional, you should know that it’s so last year. The formerly humble and homely rain barrel is already getting an extreme makeover. The aggressively-named Waterwall Fatboy from Waterwall Rainwater Tanks in the UK is sure to satisfy your very-particular modern design sensibilities. From waterwalltanks.com,

Despite the name, the Waterwall Fatboy tank has an excellent size-to-capacity ratio, holding 650 gallons whilst being just over two feet wide. Waterwall tanks are made to exacting standards – the UV stabilised high density polyethylene ensures light does not enter the tank, to stop algae from growing in your tank water. Solid, thick walls keep the tank strong and prevent bulging over the many years of service.

And did we mention they look good? Next up from the company: a freestanding tank that’s designed and engineered to be used as a boundary fence. How much, you ask? Well of course good design is not cheap. Raindepot.com has the 650 gallon Waterwall Fatboy for $1,189.99. (If you’re style-impaired, the site offers plenty of other plain, but reasonable options.)

Modularity is a well-loved concept in modern design; that’s why the Rainwater HOG offers so many design-y opportunities. The innovative, award-winning modular tank stores a large volume of water in a small footprint, opening possibilities for creative applications in architectural and landscape design…like this installation, where they’re being tucked under a deck, ready to bulge with rainwater bounty while staying completely out of sight.

This commercial installation at Nundah School in Queensland, Australia of features 114 HOGs storing 5,700 gallons of water. These units were custom molded in the school colors of yellow and black, and the harvested water is used primarily for toilet flushing with the excess used for garden irrigation. Extra credit for these Rainwater HOGs, as the school uses them as learning tools in math, science, and environmental  studies.

Are you gazing longingly at the Rainwater HOGs, wondering if they’re budget-friendly? This is exceptional style, people! You can’t even get these at Target yet! You can get them from aquabarrel.com, $1,960 for 6 units. Plus shipping.

You can’t buy “A Drop of Water” at any price, because it is (still?) a prototype. Designed by Bas Van Der Veer, it passes the “good design” test with flying marks while ingeniously providing an integrated watering can that automatically fills as it rains. Grab and go! The smallish size will be ideal for you city-types with small container gardens. )If you’ve ever wondered how “one of a kind” prototypes are created, browse the photos of the process at www.basvanderverr.nl)

The Absurdity of Umbrellas

A 2008 finalist in Vimeo’s Intelligent Use of Water Contest, Rainwater Harvesting is a beautiful clip from India’s Centre for Science and Environment that suddenly makes umbrellas seem ridiculous (at least in the manner we currently use them.)

Browse some of the other videos in the collection–a fine activity for your next slow, introspective rainy day.

Rainwater Harvesting from Intelligent Use of Water Contest on Vimeo.