Monday, October 15, 2007

Olympic Park

We had a great day at the Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this visit as much as I did. The city has done a great job of creating biking/hiking paths throughout the area and making it a fun recreational place. We rented bicycles from the visitors center and rode around for 4 hours!!! This was the first time in a bicycle carrier seat and she did great. We stopped to eat and to visit a playground. SPie was so excited to be on the bike she didn't want to play for long. After biking we spent some time at the aquatic center. We enjoyed two different kids pools and a "river wave".

I'm really sounding like a Greenie on this blog which isn't my intention, so I won't go into detail, BUT... if you are interested in the "green" aspects of the park, check out this link. You'll be glad to know that the environmentally friendly steps that were taken for the Olympics continue today (recycled water, renewable energy, recycling, diverse ecological communities).

SPie didn't want her picture taken...

The pools:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


My apartment building was without water for about 18 hours starting last night. It was pretty gross... no water for cleaning the dinner dishes, bathing or for the bathroom. Plus, SPie was miserable with a cold so no one slept much.

I think I'm being punished for writing an entire post about water restrictions.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Go Tribe!

Congratulations to the Indians on beating the Yankees.

I'm not the baseball fan, so I cannot elaborate further. I can say, thank goodness for the internet so we can at least get the scores and highlights! The games are on Foxtel (cable TV), but we don't have Foxtel, so Sherp is out of luck.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Water Restrictions

In my last post, I mentioned water restrictions. Due to the drought, water conservation is a major issue in Australia and every state has their own set of restrictions. Some are highly detailed, like the 34 page PDF from the state of Queensland.

Comparing the restrictions here to what I have at home in the states is an apples to oranges comparison, but I've done it anyway. I couldn't find the information for my hometown or for the closest city, but I did find restrictions for a neighbouring town.

Restrictions for New South Wales:

  • Hand-held hosing of lawns and gardens and drip irrigation is now allowed only on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10 am and after 4 pm
  • No other watering systems or sprinklers are to be used at any time
  • A permit from Sydney Water is required to fill new or renovated pools bigger than 10,000 litres
  • No hosing of hard surfaces including vehicles at any time
  • No hoses or taps to be left running unattended, except when filling pools or containers
  • Fire hoses must only be used for fire fighting purposes – not for cleaning.
  • Recycled water, bore water and water used for testing fire systems, fire fighting and related activities are excluded from restrictions.
A fine of $220 applies for all breaches of Level 3 restrictions by individuals. The Water Restrictions Patrol is carrying out random audits to ensure compliance with the new exemption conditions.
Corporations now face a fine of $550 for each breach. Fines for water theft have risen to $2,200.
The following are still permitted at any time:
  • Using a bucket or watering can to wash and rinse vehicles or water lawns and gardens.
  • Topping up any existing swimming pool.
  • Filling a pool less than 10,000L capacity.
  • Using water from a rainwater tank, as long as it is not connected to or topped up from Sydney Water mains.
  • Using a hose with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning device to clean boat bilges and boat trailer brakes and wheels.
  • Using a hose to flush boat engines.
  • Cleaning garbage bins using a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or with an on/off switch.
  • Cleaning garbage bins should be done within an official bin wash area or on grass.

Restrictions for Queensland:

  • No watering of established lawns with town water.
  • Watering of established gardens is allowed 3 days a week between 4 and 7 pm only. (The day of week depends on your house number). The watering must be done with a bucket, watering can or other approved device and not from a hand held hose (unless you’ve been given a concession due to age, medical reasons, etc).
  • Watering of newly established lawns and gardens is allowed by hand held hose for 1 hour on the day of establishment and for 1 hour between 4 am and 7 am or 4 pm and 7 pm for 14 days after the date of establishment (receipt of installation is required).
  • New and renovated pools and spas require approval for filling with town water.
  • You may top up an existing pool or spa between 4 pm and 7 pm on your 3 watering days per week if one of the conditions below applies:
    1. The premises has a rainwater tank or downpipe rainwater diverter installed and connected to the pool.
    2. All available water from the rainwater tank or downpipe rainwater diverter is used to top up the pool or spa prior to using town water.
    3. The premises also complies with three of the following four measures.
      1. A swimming pool or spa cover is used to cover the pool or spa when not in use.
      2. All showerheads, kitchen basin taps and bathroom basin taps on the premises are water efficient.
      3. All toilets on the premises are water efficient.
      4. Only water efficient washing machines are used on the premises.
  • Town water is not to be used for play pools water toys.
  • Town water is not to be used for outdoor showers.
  • Town water is not to be used for cleaning vehicles (including boats and caravans) except:
    1. Where water is used from a bucket filled directly from a tap to:
      1. Clean only vehicle mirrors, vehicle lights, glass and number plates to maintain safe operation and satisfy number plate visibility requirements; or
      2. Clean such other parts of a vehicle as required to comply with statutory or regulatory obligations; or
      3. Spot clean the body of a vehicle to remove potentially paint damaging marks; or
      4. To flush an inboard or outboard motor or vehicle brakes to prevent corrosion and maintain safe operation
  • General outdoor cleaning of materials and equipment is only allowed when it is needed to prevent or otherwise address a material health or safety risk.

Restrictions for my neighbouring town in the US:

  • Lawn watering is limited to two days per week with no watering on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Hand held hoses may be used for flower and vegetable gardens without hour or day restrictions.

Green Ideas

Lately I’ve noticed an increase in information about “green living”. There are government messages on TV, newsletters coming in the mail, seminars at work, and I’ve stumbled upon a few blogs with “green” living ideas. I have co-workers that bicycle to work, have their laundry water redirected out to their lawn and gardens (they use earth-friendly cleaners in the laundry), and have "save a tree - think before printing" messages attached to their emails. All of this exposure to conservation ideas has made us think about changes we can make.

We have done a few things here, but more for our own convenience than because we are thinking of the environment. For example, we are basically car-free, but that is because we’re in Australia for such a short time. We purchased reusable grocery bags because the plastic bags just don’t hold up for the walk home from the store and the reusable bags hold more, so the number of bags we carry is less. A dual flush toilet came with the apartment, so we conserve toilet water by default.

The dual-flush is the first "green" thing we experienced in Australia that we thought of doing at home. It’s such a simple way to conserve water. Once it’s installed, there is nothing to do but use it. No effort, no change in lifestyle, and yet it’s a positive change. Some other big changes we are thinking of making are installing a rainwater collection tank to use for our lawn and installing solar panels for energy. I’m also thinking about riding a bike to work when the weather allows. My office is close enough and I can shower at the gym across the street from work. The big problem for me is getting to work on time. It would require a major change in my habits to leave the house in time to ride to work, shower at the gym and make it to the office on time. I’m attached to my sleep, so this is something I really need to have a think about.

According to an Australian government website, an average Australian household generates about 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. To help decrease this number, the government created a “climate clever” campaign. Below are the suggestions for decreasing household greenhouse gas emissions.

  • turn off the water
  • turn down the thermostat
  • use shutters to block out the sun and cut down on air conditioning
  • use energy efficient light bulbs
  • shut power off at the switch
  • use phosphate and nitrate free cleaning products
  • don’t leave your electronics on stand-by
  • use water based paints
  • eat locally grown foods
  • wash full loads of clothes and only use cold water
  • dry clothes outside rather than in the dryer
  • re-use and recycle whenever possible
  • take shorter showers (3-4 minutes)
  • compost non-meat food and feed them to a worm farm
  • check for good air circulation around the coils at the back of the fridge
  • fix dripping taps
  • install a water efficient showerhead
  • use solar-powered garden lights
  • check that the seals are clean so the fridge door closes properly
  • switch off your second fridge
  • inflate car tires to the maximum recommended pressure for increased fuel efficiency
  • use energy efficient appliances
  • use climate-friendly building design and landscaping
  • car share or use fuel efficient cars
  • install double glazed windows to keep the heat out during the summer and in during the winter
  • Eat more vegetarian meals to cut down on the land required to be cleared for grazing
  • Put lids on saucepans and don’t boil more water than you need – both will use less energy

If anyone has any ideas to add, I would love to hear them.

This is a picture of a rainwater collection tank. You can see the pipe that goes from the gutter down to the tank. Most of the houses outside of the city have their own rainwater tank which helps with the water restrictions.

This is the dual flush on our toilet.