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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cost for Heads in the Sand in the Holy Land

One of the most visited postings on the Rainbow Water Coalition focused on the controversy over reusing greywater in Israel, even when academic research, coupled with the next generation of water users in Israel who are winning international prizes for their work, have determined little risk to jeopardizing the public's health. The following tidbits are from this article in The Jerusalem Post:

While Israel’s authorities allow almost no decentralized water systems, experts stressed that there would be a place for such structures – particularly greywater recycling mechanisms – in the country’s future, at a conference in the Negev last week.

The third Sde Boker Conference on Advanced Water Management Technologies was held at Ben-Gurion University Sde Boker campus.

On a national scale, using greywater could reduce urban water consumption by an annual 140 million cubic meters by 2050 (around 10%), as well as reduce electricity usage by 560 gigawatthours (about 0.5%) by that time, according to Gross.

Meanwhile, the country would be able to eliminate the need of one large desalination plant, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about an annual 6 to 8 tons and save about $3 billion-$4b. in direct costs by that same year, he added.

It sounds like some *heat* and *green* might be saved when one begins to see the light.
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When you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.
 ~Former US President Ronald Reagan 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Great Greywater Thinkers Converge

Thanks to former student D. Williams for this tip on a not-to-be-missed conference on California Greywater to be held in Yosemite on November 15-16, 2012. The agenda lists the *who's who* of greywater, including Art Ludwig (Oasis Design), Laura Allen (Greywater Action), and Leigh Jerrad (Greywater Corps). And it looks like the introduction of yet another great greywater thesis on Greywater Reuse in the Bay Area by Javier Amaro.

Wish I was invited so I could give an update on greywater convergence in Oregon.
* * *
I was a very early believer in the idea of convergence. 
~Former CEO of Vivendi Jean-Marie Messier  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Great Greywater Student Projects

The Rainbow Water Coalition has been tracking student research on greywater since the beginning of recognizing the colors of water, and the breadth of not only the range of interest (from elementary school to graduate school), but also the geography of student interest as depicted on the attached map. How to find more about these projects on the Rainbow Water Coalition? Use the handy search engine at the bottom of the page and type *thesis* or *student*.

The most recent addition to the cavalcade of greywater hits is the untold story of greywater reuse planning in the People's Republic of Boulder where the political melodrama was previously portrayed here. Here is yet another great greywater thesis titled The Challenges to Implementing Decentralized Water Reuse: A Greywater Recirculation Case Study in Boulder, Colorado by Katie Marie Spahr for a MS in Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado.


Replacing potable water with graywater to flush toilets increases water efficiency in buildings. This study is an evaluation of water savings, environmental, economic, and policy impacts of graywater reuse systems as exemplified in a campus residence hall, Williams Village North, housing 500 students at the University of Colorado Boulder. Treatment of shower and sink drainage and recirculation for toilet flushing is estimated to reduce water use in the building by 20%, amounting to 3,300 m3/year (2.7 acre-feet/year). At municipal water and wastewater utility rates, the annual savings are around $6,000 and will not provide a reasonable return on investment for the capital cost of the dual plumbing and treatment systems. However, the graywater system was found to meet goals for other aspects of water sustainability, including physical, institutional, social, and environmental efficiency. Economic and technological efficiency were found to be net negative and net neutral, respectively, based on the unit price of water. Incorporation of the value of benefits such as greater drought resilience and deferred capital expenditures for expansion of municipal water supply and refined treatment system design produce greater economic and process efficiency. Constraints imposed by water rights held by the City of Boulder limit the application of indoor (non-consumptive) graywater reuse and add environmental impacts. Statutory recognition of residential graywater recirculation as a conservation practice, not a second use, is consistent with current agricultural and industrial recirculation practices, and would enable reduction of as much as 10% of city-wide residential water demand. 
* * *
...lost revenue from the University’s reduced water bill will be approximately $1,900/year.
~Professor JoAnn Silverstein and Student Katie Spahr,
Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blown Away by Rainbows

Tacoma, Washington is well known as one of the host cities of a top greywater university and Center for Urban Waters as posted here. But the real treasure discovered during my recent visit is the Museum of Glass. Live demonstrations are streamed here. Collections from the masters of glass blowing like some of native son Dale Chihuly's early years, and the grandmaster Lino Tagliapietra are on permanent display. But this Tagliapietra piece really caught the eye of the Rainbow Water Coalition. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "Here's to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life." Rainbow Water Coalition corollary "Here's to blown colored glasses, the alcohol for grey sky life".
* * * 
Yes, I hate blown glass art and I happen to live in the blown glass art capital of the world, Seattle, Washington.
~Author Sherman Alexie 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Feeling Better about Oregon Greywater

Six months into the legalization and permitting of greywater reuse in Oregon starting here and the permitting experience summarized here, the Oregon DEQ reports issuing five (5) permits. The geographic distribution of the permits is depicted on this map. Two permits were issued in Ashland, so that is the reason for only four markers on the map. The first permit in the state was apparently issued in the Salem metropolitan area to the Rainbow Water Coalition.

The geography of greywater permitting in Oregon is interesting because the twelve member Graywater Advisory Committee was convened to represent a broad cross section of potential greywater reusers across the state, and yet it appears that few of their communities embrace the permitting program because there are no permits issued in the areas where they reside. One of the members of the Graywater Advisory Committee from the underrepresented southern Willamette Valley area was quoted in a regional newspaper that greywater reuse in Oregon would probably start slowly but that it would still feel good. With the rainy season in western Oregon just starting today, we have at least another year to evaluate whether the hammer is a better approach to greywater reuse in Oregon than the scalpel approach used elsewhere in the western US.
* * *
Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast. 
~William Shakespeare 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Oregon Sustainability Center Unsustainable

This past month has been a roller coaster ride for Oregon's entry into the living building world - the Oregon Sustainability Center. Three weeks ago it looked like a private green building expert was going to take the lead on occupying the building as described in this article, but now we learn Portland Mayor Sam Adams has decided to take it off life support. According to this article in the Oregonian, the move "...caps a more than four-year game of red light, green light that has cost $2.3 million for planning purposes alone."  Another Grand Greywater Scheme down the drain, no chance for testing the novel concept of alternate compliance in Oregon, and no chance for a top greywater university in Oregon's crown jewels.
* * *
My proposed 'Living Building' is dead
~Portland Mayor Sam Adams Tweet

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Greywater & the People's Republic of Boulder

Recalling this posting where a top greywater university was denied permission to reuse greywater, this article in the Boulder Daily Camera indicates the University of Colorado's green-certified dorm will finally get to use greywater. The agreement between CU and the Boulder City Council would allow for water to be reused in the dorm under a five-year pilot program.

CU Campus Sustainability Director Moe Tabrizi said the graywater recirculation system could save as much as 800,000 gallons a year...[and]...The total cost of the graywater system, including the additional piping that was installed during construction, will be between $300,000 and $400,000. CU still needs to install the collection tanks and the filtration system...

4,000,000 gallons for five years for a $400,000 price tag.  Given the prices of water in the Rocky Mountain region, it looks like it is going to take awhile to get a return on the investment.

But it appears that the greywater gap in Greywater Nation might be starting to fill in after all.
* * *
Many of the biggest and most far-reaching investments we make
 in our lives are investments that have little or 
nothing to do with money.
~Author Daniel Quinn