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Watershed 2062

May 5th was an eventful evening for the Watershed Report team at the Intiman Theater.

Ten thought leaders consisting of high school students and experts on sustainability came together for a lively discussion on what environmental sustainability will look like in 2062.

The event kicked off with a request for everyone to stand and join in reciting the thought-provoking “Salmon Nation Pledge”, a commitment to sustain our “indicator species”, the salmon, and its greater environment (and ours):

I pledge allegiance to the indicator species
of the interdependent habitats of my watershed,
and to the larger basin of which it is part,
one bioregion, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all…living things.

The thought leaders then guided the audience into a future where 100% environmental sustainability has been achieved.

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In the world of 2062 communities’ water supplies are replenished by harvesting the rain, recycling greywater (water left over from domestic activities such as laundry, bathing and dish washing) and, yes, even recycling blackwater (i.e. toilet water)!  

In 2062 all households and public buildings are “living”. Yep, that’s right, living. How does this work?

Well, by planting drought-resistant plants, incorporating rain harvesting, greywater reclamation, wastewater treatment, and installing high efficiency faucets, showerheads and composting toilets, buildings are able to use all of their own water on site, which means zero need to draw additional water from the supply system. When a building is able to provide all of its own water year round it garners the title “living building”. Pretty cool, huh?

From there the Watershed thought leaders dipped their toes into the topic of stormwater pollution.

When you’re stuck in traffic on a rainy day, have you ever stopped to think about where all the rainwater that falls on the oil-stained roads ends up? If you don’t know, just ask the salmon! Polluted stormwater runoff eventually lands in our watershed, contaminating it and its wildlife.  

But according to the thought leaders, with some savvy engineering, stormwater runoff has been taken care of in 2062. Bioswales, landscape elements designed to remove pollution from runoff water, and curb cuts that direct water from the street to the bioswales are as common as the average curb is today. Also, concrete is pervious, thus allowing rain to soak right through instead of running off into a big pipe.

The thought experiment wrapped up with a discussion about the Living Building Challenge, a philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program that addresses development at all scales.

Quite a lot to digest, huh? But so inspiring! By the end of the evening these incredibly knowledgeable, positive-minded thought leaders had instilled in the audience a renewed belief that 100% environmental sustainability can happen! (But only with a commitment to make it happen.)  

Interested in learning more? Each topic of discussion was introduced by a video clip, which you can view here: http://www.cedarriver.org/programs/watershed-report/video-library-cont#net-zero-water

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