Author Archive

Renters Guide to Water Conservation and Saving

It’s the end of the month and you received your rent and utilities bill. On a closer look, you see that your water and sewer bill has skyrocketed. How can this be? I need to call maintenance! Your mind is flooded with questions about your actual water usage. “Is the meter broken? Is there a leak somewhere? My toilet does sound like it’s been running—maybe it’s broken.” Or maybe your water consumption really has increased.

Often, we receive materials on ways to conserve water as homeowners but rarely as a renter. The fact is that the water use of a renter has just as much of an impact on your bill and the environment as a homeowner’s usage, especially in a city as dense as the District. So how can you improve your impact? Here are 5 efficient ways to use water and save a few coins:

1). Do not let the water run before or during brushing and shaving. Don’t let water run long before showering. Imagine coins going down the drain for every 3 seconds of water running.

2) Reduce shower time to 6 minutes. This may be your most difficult challenge, especially after a hard day of work. Just remember, reduced water means a reduced bill and a reduced bill means more money for other self-care activities.

3) Reuse cooled water from boiling vegetables or pasta for indoor plants rather than disposing it down the drain. This saves an extra cup or two of water and coins.

4) Only run the dishwasher when it is full and allow dishes to soak in sink rather than let the faucet run while cleaning. Though many of today’s appliance efficiently use energy and water, water can still be wasted by their continual use.

5) Set one day a month for laundry, if possible. Let’s face it, you probably have plenty of clothes stashed in the closet that you never wear. Give them a run and extend your wash day rather than running half cycles of the same clothes. Make sure to adjust the settings according to the appropriate load size.


water conservationImage Credit 1 Southwest Florida Water Management District.


Christie Holland is an urban planner from St. Louis, MO interested in community development, transportation planning, infrastructure, and urban design challenges. 


Have You Missed the Mark on Engaging Your Audience?

Don’t worry there’s still time to redeem yourself.

Engagement is more than my career; it’s how I view the world. I believe connections are the nucleus of how people coexist in their personal and professional lives. I have the luxury of experiencing connections every day, on every project, and I want to extend those gifts to you. In my opinion, the commonly missed marks of engagement include what it means to connect, understand the audience, and how to communicate clearly to engage their audience.

Connecting with people is not as simple as it sounds. It’s a two-way street. There are pre-requisites to understand before a connection is possible. Let’s begin by defining what it means to connect. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to connect means “to place or establish in relationship”. Think about how you form the relationships in your life. The level of effort given and how you communicate depends on the person or circumstances. To engage with your audience, you apply the same principles.

Often times, consultants are caught up in their own perspective and forget to take a step back and understand their audience. A good first step would be to question things like: Who is my audience? What are they like? What are their concerns? How will my product or service provide a solution or benefit to them? How do I assess their needs? How do they receive their information? Do I have the capacity? What are conflicting priorities? The ground work in the beginning will save you time, money, and plenty of headaches in the long run – you’re welcome in advance. This information can be immediately used or reserved until later on the process – trust me. It’s vital in communicating properly with your audience.

After you understand your audience, you can plan for the best way to engage your audience and communicate with them clearly. Mining attention is difficult; you have to be mindful of how much information a person is exposed to on any given day and what their personal priorities are. Think about how much information you are exposed to on any given day through emails, print media, social media or word of mouth. Which method is the best way to reach you? What loops and bounds does someone have to go through to shift your priorities? Apply that perspective to your audience. It’s more than presenting information. It’s evoking an emotional response to lead to a reaction. If you need help answering these questions, now would be a good time to rely on the information you collected when getting to know your audience – I told you to trust me.

To be on target, it’s important to understand what it means to connect, what to communicate to build that connection, and how to connect with your audience. I leave you with this: engagement doesn’t stop when the project closes or the transaction is complete. Engagement is a continuous cycle.

Let’s keep this conversation going. Let me know how you engage your audience by commenting below.

Christina Glancy is a Pittsburgh Native who serves as our Community Outreach Specialist. She has built a unique perspective which blends project management, marketing, community involvement and data analysis. She has a successful track record of engaging diverse groups of stakeholders throughout the Transportation, Health Care and Cybersecurity Industries. She believes in changing the world one conversation at a time.

Southwest Florida Beach. (Retrieved from Twitter moment @Daizell118,

Red Tide is Polluting Paradise

I lived in the state of Florida for eight years where I worked on a variety of water projects and it was here where my passion for water and concern for water issues strengthen. Florida was the place where I fell in love with the ocean and its creatures, where seeing dolphins jump out of blue crystalline waters with pelicans flying over it never got old. It was where jumping into a freshwater spring, canoeing down a river full of manatees and turtles, or contemplating the sunset from one of Tampa Bay’s beautiful sandy beaches were the highlight of my week. It’s a place that still feels like home. Unfortunately, this image of perfect paradise is crumbling due to Florida’s current red tide crisis.

Red Tide Status Map (August 24, 2018) FWCRed Tide Status Map as of August 24, 2018. (Obtained from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 2018)

But what is red tide? Red tide is a common term for harmful algal blooms that cause direct toxic or harmful effects on people and wildlife. It is commonly called red tide because the algae can turn the water red. These algae blooms can be common in the state during the summer and fall months due to high temperatures and abundant sunlight. However, increases in nutrients from fertilizers and pesticides, reduced water flows, climate change, and lack of animals that eat algae can exacerbate the extent, duration, and intensity of blooms.

Today, Southwest Florida’s beaches, some previously considered the best in the world, are being plagued by foul smells and carcasses of small and large animals. As of August 8, 2018, more than 15 people have been taken to emergency rooms as a result of the red tide and the economic consequences will soon worsen. In fact, news reports say that some residents are considering selling their beachside homes and tourism is already being affected.

But the beaches and their adjacent communities are not the only ones being impacted by algal blooms. Decades of nutrient pollution mixed with warm temperatures have helped create toxic algae levels in Lake Okeechobee. Originally, the waters from Lake Okeechobee discharged into the Everglades. However, as more people moved to the state, canals and water control structures were set in place to remove water off the landscape. Today, during times of heavy rainfalls, Lake Okeechobee’s waters are dumped into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers ending in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

The end of this algae bloom is uncertain. However, everyone can help to minimize the impacts of this and future toxic algal blooms.

I am saddened by this crisis. I hope this crisis ends soon and that my memories of paradise don’t turn into a picture of the past.

Jimena Larson is an environmental engineer and urban planner from Bogota, Colombia interested in water, infrastructure, and urban design challenges



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