A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Fifteen Greywater Gadgets

The Rainbow Water Coalition is now up to 160 postings, a far cry from blog junkies WaterWired and Aguanomics, but they have been at it a little longer, their portfolio of topics is far reaching, and I was inspired by their ability to *recycle* old postings in the form of *Flashbacks*.

Out of the 160 postings, 32 postings have profiled graywater gadgets of some form or another - some very expensive (in the thousands of dollars), most from the clever Australians, and a few *home grown*. I tried looking up what the global greywater gadget market might be, but was unable to come up with a value. But the fact that Cyprus recently got into the game with the Hydranos  CYPROBELL® tells me that the greywater game is not pocket change.

In no particular order, the Rainbow Water Coalition Top 15 Greywater Gadgets.

The Puralytics Shield. A home-grown device developed in Oregon that incorporates the latest advances in nanotechnology and semiconductor LEDs to treat greywater. A good investment for The Oregon Way.

The Hughie Sink. The *Water Wonder from Down Under*. If you don't own one of these Australian devices, you are not really into water reuse. A Rainbow Water Coalition favorite for many reasons, but most inportantly, check out the awesome color options. A shout-out to Ian and his team for sending me a sampler pack.

Greywater Signage. Another Australian wonder. Meets and exceeds Oregon's Graywater Advisory Committee guidelines for posting. Very well made, and should withstand the Wyoming sign *target practice* test.

EULO Kitchensink. Source of Opalescentwater. Another Australian original. Should be standard equipment for any McMansion with granite kitchen counter tops.

JustWaterSaversUSA IrriGRAY Dripper Lines. Paul James and crew make the best. As a two-fer, check out his *Greatest Greywater Garden Manual* ever produced, featuring none other than the Rainbow Water Coalition *Geography of Graywater* map. (Hint to Paul - with Oklahoma on board with Vespawater, the map in your manual needs updating).

Oasis Design Laundary-to-Landscape Book and DVD. Fifth edition by the Greywater Guru himself, Art Ludwig. The fact that the State of Wyoming references this book in their education and outreach materials is testimony to making an impact, because the folks in Wyoming really don't care what other people think about what they do in Wyoming.

AQUS Greywater System by Sloan Valve Co. voted in the Top 10 Green Building Products for 2010 by Green Building Pro.

Gagnon Greywater *Mining* Gadget - Do it yourself heat recovery system at its finest. May be the best way to dodge the $50 Oregon greywater reuse tax.

Eco-Urinal by Yanko Design. It doesn't get much easier than this.

Hansgrohe’s Pontos AquaCycle. A German product that "...cleans domestic shower and bath water naturally using an organic, non-threatening biological technique". Lots of other EcoRight products, too.

Ozzi Kleen winner of the coveted Froggie award in Australia.

Ekokook Kitchen designed by an innovative and trendy French product design squad. No idea on price, but who cares - it is from France!

The Envirosink is a scary device that attaches to the kitchensink, to do the unthinkable in Oregon - recycle the kitchensink water. Regardless of the FUDing about the kitchensink, this product is a winner.

Ecoplay, now helping the UK with water shortages since it is the third most water-stressed country in Europe. Who knew? Also an important part of greywater literacy.

Rainbow Water Coalition Hat, a limited edition bonnet designed to show one's pride in the diversity in the colors of water (as well as the colors of carbon, waste, and data). Contact the Rainbow Water Coalition, if interested.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting Ekokooked

Sexy news on greywater just does not exist in the same quantity as *other* water news celebrated by WaterWired or Aguanomics (happy *threes* - three years running, 3200 posts, and 160,000 visitors). And it has been awhile since a cool greywater gadget has been profiled. But check out this kitchen - the Ekokook. Not necessarily new news given that it was introduced last year, but the connection to greywater, even the dreaded kitchensink water, was overlooked by all of the other things this kitchen can do.

From Dezeen Magazine and Faltazi - the Ekokook Kitchen:

Three built-in micro-plants for three recycling functions. The kitchen is where most household wastes are produced. If waste management is to be effective at both the individual and the collective level, selection and processing must begin as soon as the waste product appears. When we are peeling carrots, for example, we should be able to dispose of peelings straight away by emptying them into the earth worm composter direct from the work surface. Similarly, when we wash salad leaves, we should be able to choose to save the water for watering household plants. Simple actions like these must be encouraged and made easy by adequate fittings. The same goes for the disposal of solid wastes.

Micro-plant 1
Solid wastes: selecting, processing, storage.

Solid wastes have no smell. This means that they can be kept longer, once their volume has been reduced to a minimum. On the scale of the city, this enables council trucks to collect waste less frequently, which means less cost for the community, less noise nuisance, and less atmospheric pollution. We have broken down the receptacle for solid wastes into five units for processing glass, paper, plastics, metals and miscellaneous waste. The volume of each unit corresponds to dimensions that suit an average family (two adults & two children). Units can be customized to suit user profiles and to interact with services offered by the community.

Micro-plant 2

Water cycle: use, collecting, recycling.

Inspired by real-size civil engineering works for controlling water, such as locks and dykes, which move masses of water for irrigation, we have built in a double sink for retention, with an intermediate reservoir situated below the sink and two pitchers that collect kitchen water that has no grease scum. This enables users to recycle clean water by using it to water household plants. The dishwasher and steam oven can also be filled with water kept in the intermediate reservoir.

Micro-plant 3
Processing & recycling organic wastes: the earth worm composter

My garbage bin is alive! As its name implies, the earth worm composter uses earth worms to break down organic wastes. All sorts of green wastes are produced in the kitchen: fruit and vegetable peelings, scrapings, left-overs, etc. This device aims at processing these wastes as close as possible to the place where they are produced – in the kitchen. Bringing real live earth worms into the kitchen calls for the design of a container to rationalize manipulation. It must be sealed, autonomous, and simple to manage. We propose a container unit in the form of a drum that rotates a notch day by day. Wastes shift gradually and as they are broken down and after three months maturing are sifted into a drawer as ‘lumbri’compost’. Liquid effluent drains into two pitchers. Diluted with ten parts water, it makes a rich liquid plant food ideal for indoor and outdoor plants.

No, Faltazi is not Australian, but a French design group. Many similarities to the EULO sink previously profiled on the Rainbow Water Coalition. 

The Colors of Water jury is still out regarding if the Ekokook qualifies as inventing a new color of water. But Faltazi definitely qualifies for a limited edition Rainbow Water Coalition hat if they want one.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Colors of Data

The Rainbow Water Coalition is famous for its careful and thorough inventory of the colors of water. Past postings also documented the many colors of waste and the colors of carbon. And now we are learning about the many colors of data. This posting is not to be confused with Rainbow Data, the website design firm or Rainbow Data Systems, the concept of Rainbow storage which "...claims to use geometrical shapes such as triangles, circles and squares of various colors to store a large amount of data on ordinary paper or plastic surfaces", or the colors of data described in the Venn Diagram of Data Science.

How do the colors of data relate to the colors of water? This posting was inspried by this article that describes the importance of *grey* data in the search for *clearwater*. Grey data includes those many reports, tabulations, etc. of information that remains in paper form, and does not undergo the *rigors* of the *peer-review* process. As a former consultant in the engineering industry, I can attest to the incredible value of grey data in my work. Folks in the academies and government turn their noses up to the *grey* data, but few of them realize that those of us who worked for the private sector did not need to publish, nor did our clients necessarily want us to publish, our reports or share the data widely. There were many reasons for this position, most focusing on how the information may be used by conflict beneficiaries, sometimes against the very parties who paid for the data to be collected in the first place.

Black data - simply data in its purest form.  Consider, for example, the *black box* - a device, system or object which can be viewed solely in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge of its internal workings. Flight data recorders are the proverbial storage sites for black data stored in black boxes.

White data - The opposite of black data are the *peer-reviewed* data used to develop *white* papers, those handy authoritative reports or guides that help solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to documents used by businesses as a marketing or sales tool. Policy makers frequently request white papers from universities or academic personnel to inform policy developments. Not to be confused with the randomness of White Noise.

Blue data - data on a hard disk drive related to *Big Blue* the common reference to IBM. Sometimes blue data is the information such as weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, and tide tables, containing tabular information in a particular field or fields often arranged according to the calendar, value of cars and other arcane items, as well as blue books for individual US states, citation guides for the legal field, or the data regurgitated in those dreaded books during a final exam.

Red data - data on the World Conservation Union's comprehensive list of endangered species.

Green data - data in which mechanical, lighting, electrical and computer systems are designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact.

Yellow data - Japanese company designed to communicate the Japanese soul and reverence for nature. No, I did not make this up.

Purple data - hard to track data, but apparently related to *purple prose* or exaggerated data. Or these wonderful *bits* of data.

Solving problems, regardless of whether they focus on waste, carbon, water, or data require the integration of a diverse portfolio of resources. Support diversity in all forms. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Texas STEMs Greywater Tide

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) award goes to.... Valle Verde Early College, who won with their business plan for a company called Grey Water Solutions, that would use gray water recycling for city parks and home irrigation systems, took first place in the competition against 14 other regional finalists. The competition is sponsored by Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande, Bi-national Sustainability Laboratory, UTEP’s Colleges of Engineering and Business, Innovate El Paso, Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, SCORE and Connect a Million Minds. Each member of the Valle Verde team received $400 and a trophy. Courage to believe, desire to achieve! Go Spartans!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Many Colors of Water?

A statistician at Flowing Data reports that "...in 1903, Crayola had eight colors in its standard package...today, there are 120..."

So, the Rainbow Water Coalition has alot of work to do to find the rest of the colors of water lurking around out there.

Share yours.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Greyvolutions - Grey is New Green

More and more we are seeing students from across grade levels and across the world integrating greywater reuse projects into their school projects. Take, for example, this student competition in British Columbia as described in this article by bclocalnews.com, where a seventh grader snagged a Silver Medal for her greywater reuse project, but also was awarded the Naturalist Club Award for a project most relevant to natural history conservation

Students in Israel challenged the conventional wisdom on the safety of greywater to win a chance to visit Stockholm with their project. The James Dyson Award for Australian Design has gone to many students with greywater projects, like this incredible toilet and shower-powered greywater diverter. And then there is the National Science Foundation awarding the University of California - Berkeley for their innovative greywater disinfection plan.

The future of water reuse looks nothing like the past. Greyvolutions are already underway.

Friday, March 11, 2011

World Plumbing Day

March 11, every year, everywhere. The World Plumbing Council invites the world to celebrate the importance of plumbing to world health. A YouTube Video, poster contest, the opportunities to celebrate just go on and on. And green building technology and their poor child *greywater* owes much to the dedication of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). 

The Rainbow Water Coalition's tribute to World Plumbing Day? A painted ceramic of a *plumber* purchased this past year in Gubbio, Italy, famous for the funivia, the palio, and the *Gubbio layer* - a sedimentary layer enriched in iridium exposed by a roadcut outside of town that marks the boundary between the Cretaceous and Tertiary geological periods roughly 65 million years ago.

So, go hug a plumber. And back off from the *crack* jokes for just one day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

OK Okays Greywater & New Color of Water?

Another state joins the ranks of greywater friendly states in the US. According to this article in the Oklahoma newspaper Bixby Bulletin:

House Bill 1575, by state Rep. Scott Martin, defines gray water as untreated household wastewater that has not come in contact with toilet waste or water from a kitchen sink. The legislation directs the Department of Environmental Quality to exempt private residential gray water reuse systems that meet a series of rules including that they make use of less than 250 gallons of gray water per day. A gray water system would be used for gardening, composting or landscape irrigation.
Gray water systems that would be exempt would have to:
  • provide for overflow into the sewer or on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system;
  • include cover for any gray water storage tank to avoid the creation of a habitat for mosquitoes and other insects;
  • be located outside of a floodway and five feet above the groundwater table;
  • clearly identify gray water pressure piping as a non-potable water conduit;
  • be used on site and not run off the property;
  • minimize the potential for contact with people or domestic pets;
  • minimize standing water and ensure the hydraulic capacity of the soil is not exceeded;
  • avoid spraying or discharge into a waterway; and
  • be in compliance with municipal or county ordinances.
Martin noted that gray water systems could incorporate the use of rain water. That is big news as some states, like nearby Colorado, are very restrictive on rainwater harvesting. Mixing of greywater with greenwater? Been there before when the Italians had gallons of green paint and grey paint left over from WWII. The result? Vespawater!

Water is quickly becoming the new oil,” Scott Martin, R-Norman. That is saying alot because Oklahoma is one of the US states that is addicted to oil for state revenues. Is Rep. Martin implying that water is important to Oklahoma's economy?

WaterWired looked at how Oklahoma is doing their water planning, and the answer is YES. And they recently opened the Oklahoma Water Survey - which the Rainbow Water Coalition thinks is a first in the US. 

With all colors of water, it appears the Sooner way is the better way.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mind the Bin, Redux

This tragic story about an Australian child drowning in a bucket left for a pet reminds the Rainbow Water Coalition of a previous posting about a near miss with a four-year old almost drowning in a bin used for greywater storage.

Save water, but save your child first. In the spirit of minding the *gap* when using the London Underground - Mind the Bin!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cowabunga Cocoa Beach!

This article in Florida Today describes the unthinkable -injecting treated wastewater in a well in Cocoa Beach, Florida for later recovery using Aquifer Storage and Recovery methods. Why are they proposing such a radical crazy idea? Because "...the city must find a way to dispose of excess treated water instead of disposing of it in the Banana River. The city is under pressure from the state to reduce the amount of water it's permitted to dump into the river". Recalling the Groan Zone described in previous postings,  not everyone was happy with the proposed approach, but those in favor had pretty compelling reasons.

"Why can't we make more general use of the gray water system, for such things as washing cars?" resident Tim Kingaby asked the panel of engineers and geologists. "In 20 years we're going to be fighting over water. It won't be oil."

This approach to water reuse is not new. Recall Sapphirewater invented by the Australians. They were experimenting with managed recharge of stormwater that was naturally treated underground for later recovery. We are seeing something very similar in Umatilla County, Oregon where there are experiments underway using Columbia River water for managed recharge of a shallow aquifer for underground storage and later recovery as described here and here.

Could this happen in the hydroconservative parts of Oregon such as the Willamette Valley? Maybe so. I suggested this idea to the City of Corvallis who is considering whether or not to either reuse an old gravel pit to dispose of their treated wastewater for cooling prior to discharge to the Willamette River, or reuse the treated wastewater for growing fodder at the OSU Dairy and perhaps managed recharge of the shallow aquifer underlying the City. A Rainbow Water Coalition exclusive is this hand drawn diagram of the local geology where the Dairy would be the potential area of reuse (copyright reserved). The Fischer Pit would be the reused gravel pit. Either approach discharges water to the shallow aquifer before ultimately discharging to the Willamette River - the regional hydraulic sink.

Perhaps another Groan Zone situation as the debate focuses on what is really reused - a gravel pit or the water? Or perhaps another opportunity for Oregon to continue to lead the nation in creative applications of managed recharge and Aquifer Storage and Recovery since the state already has many permitted sites for managed recharge, just not using stormwater or treated wastewater.

So Cowabunga hydrodudes! This cross-continental aqua-reuse party could be awesome! Or the aqua-reuse party could become an awesome political melodrama.

"If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody's mercy, then you will probably write melodrama".
~ American Dramatist Lillian Hellman

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Greywater & Intelligent Cities

Time Magazine released their list of Intelligent Cities. Tucson, Arizona made the list due to greywater reuse!

Nope, Portland did not make the fabled list of intelligent cities even with the bike paths, skateparks, and associated highly paid transportation director who has no transportation experience, or the ongoing public review of Oregon's Graywater rules.

There is always next year.