Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , , Leave a comment on California's drought spurring gray-water recycling at home 

California's drought spurring gray-water recycling at home 

Ellen Knickmeyer, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Showering during California’s drought is a guilt-free experience for homeowners Catarina Negrin and Noah Friedman.
The Berkeley couple — she runs a pre-school, he’s an architect — are early adopters of a home plumbing do-over that’s becoming more popular during California’s record four-year dry stretch.
California, like many states, long required all water used in homes to be piped out with the sewage, fearing health risks if water recycling is done clumsily.
Since 2010, however, the increasingly dry state has come around, and now even encourages the reuse of so-called gray water, which typically includes the gently-used runoff from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs and washing machines.
As mandatory conservation kicked in statewide this month, forcing many of California’s 38 million people to face giving up on greenery, these recycling systems have become attractive options in new homes, right along with granite countertops. California Building Industry Association executive Robert Raymer rattles off the drought-conscious top builders that now routinely offer in-home water recycling.
And California’s building codes are catching up as well, allowing owners of existing homes to create the simplest systems for the safest gray water without a permit.
So while others think about hauling buckets to catch stray drips from their sinks and tubs, Negrin and Friedman can relax: Each gallon they use in the shower means another for the butterflies that duck and bob over their vegetable garden, for the lemon tree shading the yard, and for two strutting backyard chickens busily investigating it all.
“I love a lush garden, and so it seems like why not, right? I could have a lush garden if it doesn’t go into the sewer system,” Negrin said. “So, yes, “I’m going to take a shower.”
Because pathogens swimming in untreated gray water can transmit disease if humans ingest them, most modern health and building codes have long made recycling it impractical. Many families did it anyway, without official oversight or permits. Greywater Action, a group that promotes household water recycling and trains families and installers on the do’s and don’ts, estimates that more than a million Californians had illegal systems before plumbing codes were updated.
But interest in doing it the right way has soared since April 1, when Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25-percent cut in water use by cities and towns. Palo Alto gray-water system installer Sassan Golafshan saw his website crash within a day from the surge in traffic.
Read more at: California’s Drought Spurring Water Recycling at Home | Sci-Tech Today

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , Leave a comment on Being water-wise – saving water at home

Being water-wise – saving water at home

Alessandra Bolger & David Wills, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
We are the water planet, with 72 percent surface water, but of that, 96.5 percent is ocean salt water. The other 2.5 percent is freshwater, with two-thirds of that in ice and only one-third in lakes and rivers. That doesn’t leave much left for human consumption.In California, urban water use is 10 percent, compared to 40 percent for agriculture and 50 percent for environmental use.
Unfortunately, Governor Brown has only legislated to reduce urban usage. This reduction varies from 15 percent (San Franciso) to 35 percent (Hillsborough) over the next 9 months.
Most grapes, about 95 percent, are now grown using drip sprinklers, but in Sonoma Valley the aquifer can supply enough water for the old ‘dry farm’ way, and some growers are reverting to this. Depending on who you ask, it takes from 3.5 to 39-gallons to make a glass of wine.
Livestock water use is especially high: One pound of beef uses 1,799 gallons, one pound of pork takes over 600. A head of broccoli takes 5.4 gallons, a walnut 4.9 gallons, a head of lettuce 3.5 gallons, a tomato 3.5 gallons and an almond 1.1 gallons. Being a conscious consumer is now more important than ever.
What can we do as individuals to save our precious water? Rumi says it well, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Saving water at home

  • Fix leaks in your home – nationally, leaks waste over 1 trillion gallons
  • Turn off the faucet to brush your teeth – save 8 gallons daily.
  • An old faucet uses 2.2 gallons a minute, a low-flow uses only 1.5 gallons.
  • A bath uses up to 70 gallons – a five-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons.
  • Water efficient shower heads limit the flow. Place buckets in the shower to collect water and use in the toilet or to water plants.
  • Modern toilets use 1.28 gallons – while older toilets guzzle from 3.5 to 7 gallons. (Use water from the sink to fill the tank.) Using perfectly clean water is a total waste. “If it’s yellow let it mellow” or try the brick in the tank method.
  • In the kitchen, most water is used washing dishes. An automatic dishwasher is best – if you must wash by hand, lightly dampen and soak the china first – then just use a dribble to wash. Hand washing dishes also saves electricity.
  • An old clothes washing machine uses 40 gallons per load, efficient frontloaders use 15-30 gallons.  Cut the number of loads and fill the washer. Line dry your clothes. Laundry detergent phosphorus pollutes our rivers – cut back.
  • Watering lawns is a huge waste. Lawns were used on the 18th century to show how many sheep you owned, no need for that now. Replace lawns with wood chips, let leaves go to mulch or use gravel.
  • Dish, shower, sink, and laundry water comprise 50-80 percent of residential ‘gray water’ – use it in the garden. Fit a syphon to to a bath tap and drain the bath – run a hose to the garden out the window.
  • Collect rainwater for your garden – reroute your gutters to fill barrels. The average roof collects 600 gallons per inch of rain. *

*Numbers for water and use based on many and varying, estimates, take with a pinch of salt. 
Source: Being Water-Wise – Saving Water at Home