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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Age of Equaris

The Rainbow Water Coalition has previously posted on such topics as Extreme ClearwaterExtreme Greywater, and now it thinks it has found the Extreme Greywater Gadget of the Week by Equaris that might just be the dawning of the age of Aquarius for greywater.

Thanks to RWC follower and fellow greywater researcher P. Evans who introduced me to the Equaris. Their greywater unit - Equaris Biomatter Resequencing Converter (BMRC) and Greywater (Wash Water) Treatment System has much to offer those in the *blackwater* business as well as the greywater business.

Consider the following attributes:
  • Eliminates septic tanks and reduces leachfields or mounds by 40 to 90%
  • Reduces organic landfill loading by more than 20%
  • Converts 90 to 95% of all toilet and kitchen organic wastes to odorless carbon dioxide and water vapor
  • Is totally automated, energy efficient, requires minimal maintenance 
  • 5 year proven performance history in Alaska, Canada and Minnesota
  • U.S. DOE Energy Innovations National Award Winner
  • 50 year guarantee 
  • Monitoring and maintenance services available
  • Satisfied customers from Alaska to New Mexico
The greywater system utilizes the standard wastewater treatment technology of extended aeration; the water is aerated [*oxidized* using the Oregon Graywater Rules twisted jargon] and bacteria grow on the interior surface walls of the tanks. As the water is circulated by the 67 watt, 110 volt linear air compressor the bacteria clean the water in a natural process. By separating the toilet flow from the greywater, the estimate for water consumption and greywater treatment is 40 gallons of wastewater per person per day. Based upon 24-hour retention for adequate treatment of the greywater, the estimated treatment capacity of each Greywater Treatment System is 250 gallons per day. For flows over 250 gallons per day additional Greywater Systems are added and installed in parallel. The aeration and circulation process biologically filters the wastewater, producing a treated wastewater effluent quality that can then be efficiently and economically filtered and disinfected for reuse. The quality of the treated water was independently tested by Olmsted County, MN and documented the following reductions. TSS 50—88%, Kjeldahl Nitrogen 83-90%, BOD 78-93% and Fecal Coliform 1000 fold

Bottom Line: This equipment will meet FUDing state standards for graywater treatment.

The age of Equaris is not cheap, but I think everyone agrees that quality and innovation costs, especially during the early stages of a *new* age. The Equaris Biomatter Resequencing Converter (BMRC) - Compost Tank-costs about $12,500. The Equaris Greywater (Washwater) Treatment System costs about $7,500.

zodiac symbol
It has been said that we are currently shifting into the Aquarian Age. It looks like Equaris is part of the cosmic shift in thinking about water carriers, regardless of the shade of grey.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Z6 + The Water Channel = 3R

Continuing the effort to eradicate ignorance in water reuse (Z6), the WaterChannel posted this note on April 27. 3R is not a rock band (like U2), an intelligence agency (like MI5) or the next all-important global conference (like COP16).
And no, it is not the latest cutting-edge technology that hydro-geologists are rolling out of their labs. 3R is an outlook that values managing water at the local level. It involves maximizing the local surface / groundwater buffer through rechargeretaining the water and benefitting from it when most needed, and reusing the water after it is extracted and used.
The following videos demonstrate some 3R-related techniques:
Practices/ techniques like these are neither new nor complicated. They have successfully met local needs in different parts of the world.
‘Adopting 3R,’ then, amounts to combining various strategies like these, while planning and implementing water management at the local level. The stress on ‘local’ reflects the objective to give people the means to protect their livelihoods in the face of increasing climate variability. At the macro-level, technology, policy and institutions should be in tune with the idea of local water buffers.
Visit the ‘Be Buffered’ website for details on 3R. More videos can be found on TheWaterChannel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DOD Scores Some Zzzzz, Zones Out on Z6

Thanks to colleague and friend D. Marshall for bringing this article in SustainableBusiness.com about the Army going net zero on environmental impact to my attention through this article about urban buildings *unplugging* from the grid.

The "net zero" energy bases are: Fort Detrick, Maryland; Fort Hunter Liggett, Park Reserve Forces Training Area and Sierra Army Depot, California; Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands; and West Point, New York.

Net zero water bases: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.; Camp Rilea, OR; Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico; Fort Riley, KS; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; and Tobyhanna Army Depot, PA.

Net zero waste: Fort Detrick, Fort Hunter Liggett, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Ford Hood, TX; Fort Polk, LA; U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, Germany.

The Oregon Army National Guard volunteered to go net zero - on energy, waste and water - across the state, as did Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort Carson in Colorado.

And here is the DOD Sustainability Scorecard here, perhaps what can be referred to as the *Colors of Sustainability* in the continually growing list of the colors of things. Not a bad score! But it is missing one key *Z* - ZERO IGNORANCE, or *Z6*.

What is up with Camp Rilea shooting for the stars on reducing their environmental impact, especially when Oregon is still working through their Graywater Reuse rules? On the basis of other *green* news, the only connection I can make is Camp Rilea has an architect as the base commander. Yes, according to this article in the Coast River Business Journal announcing the change in commander to Lt. Col Christian Rees.

"When his six-year term of service was up, he considered life after Army. He enrolled at the University of Oregon, and earned a master’s degree in architecture...It wasn’t wasted time. His credentials make him uniquely qualified to head the architectural review process that oversees millions of dollars in construction projects at Camp Rilea and Guard facilities across the state".

This news is similar to the posting on the Moon Brothers living building project in Portland. We are not seeing state or local agencies promoting *net zero water* concepts, but rather folks who design projects. Here is a recent article about another architect, María-Paz Gutierrez, a University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of architecture, winning a Fulbright scholarship for her research of affordable, sustainable housing. She is also part of the NSF-sponsored research team integrating greywater disinfection into building designs as described in this article.

Both the Camp Rilea project and the Moon Brothers project make me think that the State of Oregon might be wiser investing their Oregon Sustainability Center funds into these existing projects rather than trying to start from scratch because the public will better connect change to *sustainable living practices* with these projects since they already exist, much like the Tyson Center in Missouri. At least using this approach will permit Oregon a chance to level the playing field in the Living Building Wars in the Pacific Northwest.

Here's hoping Lt. Col Christian Rees continues to lead the way in catching more Zzz in his quest for *net zero* for the Oregon National Guard. Thanks for your service.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"...we're not in Kansas any more"

Thanks to Dave Eckert, Water Action Team Leader of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, for the tip on this article out in Metropolis Mag by some journalism students from the University of Kansas who did a workshop with Greywater Action in the San Francisco bay area.

Taking Action: A Greywater Install from Luke Brummer on Vimeo.

The Geography of Graywater map needs more *diversity* in the Midwestern US. Perhaps the Wizard of Oz will help the State of Kansas find a greywater reuse law "somewhere over the rainbow" someday soon so students won't have to travel so far to enjoy the colors of water. An OK *pot-o-gold* can be found by scooting to the south.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Top Greywater Manuals and Guides

With Oregon's Graywater Rules making the news, and the Oregon DEQ searching for ways to *invest* the $50 annual tax fee for Tier One permits, perhaps it is time to develop the education materials that the Graywater Advisory Committee once discussed, but dismissed. In no particular order, and not necessarily complete, some of the readily available guides and manuals to start turning *grey to green*.

City of San Franscisco - Laura Allen of Greywater Action helped the City of San Francisco with their manual (14MB) that was completed this year.  Pretty remarkable document. Goes well with Laura's GoogleTech video.

JustWaterSaversUSA - Paul James Greatest Greywater Gardening Guide. Stories from the front lines of greywater irrigation, and truly the world view on the topic.

Oasis Design - Art Ludwig's book and DVD set, always in the *top* of everything greywater. This is the manual recommended by the State of Wyoming. More on Wyoming below.

Burning Man - A camper's guide developed for this annual desert event.

UNICEF - Greywater Reuse in Rural Schools Guidance Manual. Great educational guide and other world view on the topic.

Watershed Management Group - Green Infrastructure for Southwestern Neighborhoods. A little information on greywater reuse. The manual is meant for neighborhood residents and professionals alike. Top tier schools on greywater literacy.

Wyoming Winter Greywater Manual - This design guide acknowledges some of the unique challenges facing greywater systems in Wyoming, particularly the Wyoming Winter Festival which lasts 364 days a year and extensive clayey soils leftover from climate change a few tens of millions of years ago. They also recognize that there are many great guides and manuals that are already available and provide extensive links, so why write another?

Pacific Institute - Not necessarily a manual, but a great summary of the state-of-the-grey in the world.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Geographies of Shit

Provocative title, indeed, but not a Rainbow Water Coalition original. Rather, the title of an excellent article in Progress in Human Geography by Sarah Jewitt (see Geographies of shit: Spatial and temporal variations in attitudes towards human waste - doi:10.1177/0309132510394704). As quoted in her article, *we need to put the word shit into people's mouths* to enhance understandings of global sanitation problems - you know, those 2.6 billion lacking access to sanitation. Got my attention, and the attention of many other important water folks examining the WaSH arena like WaterWired.

This paper is important for many reasons, but what I found most interesting was Jewitt's discussion on *the deeply embedded taboos surrounding human waste and the environmental health problems resulting from a lack of effective excrement-management systems* in some of the most populated regions of the world. I found her discussion that some cultures tolerate the handling of shit (faecophilic) whereas other cultures find it *abhorrent* (faecophobic). She describes China and Vietnam as places that are *tolerant* of shit where *honey carts* remain common in unsewered residential areas (I always wondered where that term came from) and human feces are used to fertilize rice fields. Handling of human waste is taboo for many Hindus in India, by contrast; *untouchables* in India's caste system are responsible of disposing of human waste. The *hanging latrines* scene in the movie Slumdog Millionaire provides a good overview of this situation.

Westerners are familiar with the *flush and discharge* approach to dealing with human waste. But few westerners realize that this technology is only about 150 years old, and that the historic approach has been the *drop and store* systems. The outhouse, privy, the *hole in the floor* that I encountered in a public toilet in northern Peru 30 years ago. If only the rest of the world would adopt *our* technology, the water-sanitation nexus would be resolved, no? Jewitt's article indicates this is *unlikely to be affordable or environmentally sustainable* in the global South. The problem? Annual investments in the *flush and discharge* systems amount to US$30 billion. And then there is the issue of water shortages.

And we finally reach the connection to greywater. Jewitt's article reports that each person using a flush and discharge toilet typically flushes 5 liters of feces, 4 to 5,000 liters of urine and 15,000 liters of pure water per year. Add an additional 15,000 to 50,000 liters of greywater per person. The result? *...a very small amount of excrement is allowed to contaminate a huge amount of pure and 'grey' water*

So greywater reuse will reduce the amount of pure water contaminated by feces, that is obvious. What was not so obvious to me was this issue of faecophilia versus faecophobia and how these philosophies apply to when it comes to greywater reuse. Now it is clear to me that much of the FUDing about greywater reuse in Oregon more or less comes down to this personal value system rather than protecting the public.

Based on the increasing body of the literature of greywater reuse, the geography of greywater reuse in India is becoming more widespread, it appears that perhaps *value* systems can change with time and technology.

Jewitt's important article is available online, but should be available in the journal soon. It should be required reading for anyone interested in WaSH initiatives and sanitation issues in disadvantaged countries.

Geography is more than learning the locations of the countries and the capital cities. I am still learning that there is a *geography* of just about everything. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

End-of-Life Greywater

Greywater has taken on a whole new *life* of its own - as the by-product of the end-of-life. This article in the Boulder, Colorado newspaper, DailyCamera profiled a new way to deal with the issue of *disposing* of humans - the Coffin Spa developed by CycledLife.

*In the Coffin Spa, a body is submerged in an alkaline/water mixture that is pumped through the "coffin" and heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. After six to eight hours, the corpse is reduced to a brown liquid and a small pile of bone residue...The process has been around for nearly two decades, but has mostly been used to decompose animal carcasses and donated human cadavers. CycledLife for the first time brings the procedure to the nation's funeral homes*.

At first glance, this might sound like a farce, but read on...

*Alkaline hydrolysis advocates got a boost earlier this year when the Colorado Legislature passed a bill that makes "chemical methods" an accepted form of body disposition in the state. The measure, HB-1178, awaits the governor's signature*.

And the connection to greywater?

*Boulder resident Kari Alexander has plans to start up a green-focused pet disposition business called Eco-Pet Service. She placed an order for an alkaline hydrolysis device from CycledLife. She said she has already identified a Boulder County landowner who wants to use the gray water that will be generated in the decomposition process to enrich his pastureland. That should give comfort to environmentally conscious pet owners who don't want to contribute to global warming by cremating their dogs and cats, Alexander said*.

The conventional method of disposal of bodies filled with medications and pathogens can act as sources of groundwater contamination. Even though this process for disposition of human remains is environmentally friendly, I suspect the FUDing about greywater, especially the kitchensink greywater in Oregon, will *kill* this use of greywater in Oregon.

Has the CycledLife system invented a new color of water? The color of water jury is still out, but it is certain that a new definition of ghostwaters has been created.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Colors of Covert Operations

The Colors of Security (Terror Alert Levels) and the relationship to greywater have been previously posted here.

But what about the connection of covert operations to the colors of water you ask? Activities directly or indirectly associated with military covert operations usually end up in some way shape or form released to our nation's soil and groundwater, creating the type of *stew* that gets Erin Brockovich *all nerved up*. Think Department of Defense and Department of Energy legacy waste sites across the US.

Continuing the colors of stuff series (water, waste, carbon, data, security, and greywater), introducing the Colors of Covert Operations:

Black Ops - probably the color of covert operation that we hear most about since it is so expensive and the secret activity designed to "look for trouble" many times leads to not-so-secret failures. Also officially defined as *The activity engaged in appears to emanate from a source (government, party, group, organization, person) usually hostile in nature*. Think Rambo.

Grey Ops - defined as the true source (U.S. Government) is not revealed to the target audience, or in other words *kind of coming from the US, but not really*.

White Ops - in the eyes of intelligence, comes from the US so they can take credit for it. Also linked to coordinated protests, demonstrations, pamphlets, websites, or any number of standard ways to bring about social change or awareness when you read White Ops.

Red Ops - NSA government top computer hackers. Just when you thought your internet security program was up-to-date, think again.

Yellow Ops - a special forces watch, made by Luminox. Why would anyone wearing black clothing or camouflage wear one of these? But here you have it. Cheap at $300.

Purple Ops - a special operation by the NFL team Baltimore Ravens. "We’re going to have t-shirts and everything”. Go team! Go figure.

Green Ops - used by the Marine Corps, where the operation is reconnaissance, designed to collect any pertinent intelligence of military importance, observe, identify and report adversaries to commanders. Also the ultimate recycling project.

Blue Ops - used by the CIA in Afghanistan to *curry favor with chieftains*. Clearly an operation we are losing if we need to use pharmas to *win* the big one. I wish I created this color of covert operation, but it does not support diversity of use, so does not receive the RWC endorsement.

Pink Ops -  is apparently not an officially designated color of covert operations unless one includes the pink submarine in the 1959 movie *Operation Petticoat*.