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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Greywater Gets Buoyed

This article in Fast Company is about a great greywater gadget - the Buoy..."designed to help homeowners better understand where their water goes." 

Buoy attaches to a home water line and connects to Wi-Fi. As water flows through pipes, the system uses machine-learning algorithms to identify whether the water is going to a shower or sprinkler or washing machine. If there’s a leak, an app connected to the system gives the homeowner the option to shut off water remotely and call a plumber. If the system identifies that a large amount of water goes to a certain activity–such as watering a lawn–it can also help someone identify where to make strategic changes."

As pressure increases on traditional sources of water, and aquifers or reservoirs are drained, Waters envisions that Buoy could help enable a shift to new technology. Devices that harvest water from the air, for example, or greywater systems, are available now–but to use them, people need more data than a simple water bill provides.

“Let’s say I wanted to buy greywater for my house,” says Waters. “Just looking at my water bill isn’t enough. You have to know how much outdoor watering [you do] versus how much do you generate with showers and washing machines that could be used as greywater.

Buoy is expensive: The technology, along with installation from a licensed plumber and a lifetime subscription to the service, costs $799. 
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Water Clubs

Meeting the *thirst* for water knowledge using a club? You bet! Check out this blog posting on a groundwater club in Kenya.

Maji  (water ​in Swahili) ​clubs at 3 ​secondary ​schools within ​the Gro for ​GooD study area ​are proving to ​be an effective ​outreach ​mechanism for ​the groundwater ​research ​project. Almost ​100 students ​are involved ​and over half ​of them are ​girls. ​

The focus is ​on learning ​through ​activities, ​which have ​included hands-​on sessions ​about ​groundwater ​recharge, ​storage and ​pollution ​using ​aquifer kits; ​practical ​experiments ​using ​water quality ​tests to ​demonstrate ​simple water ​filters and ​safe water ​storage; ​installing and ​gathering data ​from rain ​gauges; and ​field trips to ​see industrial ​water use and ​borehole ​drilling. ​

There are many student groups at universities, such as the Hydrophiles, at Oregon State University where I work. But scaling this concept to secondary schools is even better. Why? Let's rely on the quote of the day to answer this question.
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“I am so ​eager to know ​how that water ​from the river ​may reach ​nearer where we ​can easily get ​it. Reason ​being that from ​our homes to ​the river is ​quite a long ​distance and it ​usually takes ​us almost a ​whole day ​looking for the ​water. Which is ​time wasting ​and also ​tiresome.”​ Jackline K. ​

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Great Greywater Dissertation

Another in a series of great greywater theses, student projects, etc. profiled by the RWC (use the handy search engine for more), introducing Environmental Implications of Greywater Irrigation within an Urban Development - a great dissertation from another of the many great greywater universities, Queensland University of Technology.


Increased water demands due to population growth, increased urbanisation and urban intensification especially in dry countries such as Australia, has led to increased adoption of various water reuse practices. Irrigation of greywater (all water discharged from the bathrooms, laundry and kitchen apart from toilet waste) is one potential means of easing water demands. Despite widespread adoption, there is limited knowledge of greywater reuse and the accumulation and potential impacts of the constituents of greywater (nutrients, major ions, metals and micro-pollutants) in soil, groundwater and surface water. This study compared four residential lots that had been irrigated with greywater for four years and adjacent non-irrigated lots that acted as controls to assess the sustainability of greywater irrigation. The irrigation volumes of greywater applied, the physicochemical water quality parameters and soil chemistry profiles were assessed for each lot. Assessments were made by comparing measured concentrations to national and international guidelines and determining whether organic micro-pollutants in irrigated greywater were transferred to shallow groundwater and an adjacent surface waterway. In assessing the sustainability of greywater irrigation, the data clearly showed benefits as the volume of water saved was 1.6 million litres of potable water from the four lots over four years (i.e., 100 000 L per household per year). However, the environmental sustainability of greywater irrigation from a potential contamination point of view differs depending on the water quality of the greywater.

Incorrect use and/or lack of understanding of how household products affect irrigated greywater can result in phosphorus posing a risk to the environment. Irrigated greywater from some lots displayed a  risk of phosphorus interacting with the surrounding environment where as some showed minimal impacts and thus demonstrated sustainability. Greywater also increased concentrations of some metals in irrigated soil and resulted in As, B, Cr and Cu exceeding soil quality guidelines after only four years of irrigation. Movement of metals from the irrigation areas resulted in metal concentrations in groundwater (Al, As, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni and Zn) and surface water (Cu, Fe and Zn) that exceeded environmental  quality guidelines within four years. These results indicate the need to consider metals in greywater in order to minimise potential adverse environmental effects from greywater irrigation.

A total of 22 organic micro-pollutants were detected in greywater. Six of these (acesulfame, caffeine, DEET, paracetamol, salicylic acid and triclosan) were selected as potential tracers of greywater contamination. Three of these chemicals (acesulfame, caffeine, DEET) were detected in the groundwater, while salicylic acid was also detected in adjacent surface water. Caffeine and DEET in surface water were directly attributable to greywater irrigation. Thus the practice of greywater irrigation can act as a source of organic micro-pollutants to shallow groundwater and nearby surface water.

This research found greywater irrigation contributes substantially to surface water loads of caffeine, DEET, salicylic acid, SO42-, Al, B, Cu, P and N and indicates greywater irrigation can impact the aquatic environment. This research and holistic data set (organic micropollutants,nutrients, major cations and anions as well as metals and metalloids) as a result of irrigated greywater impacting three connected environment compartments (soil, groundwater and surface water). This data will be useful to validate and calibrate specific models and algorithms, allowing the modelling of catchment management scenarios for greywater land use and assessing the potential environmental impacts on aquatic environments.

This Doctoral dissertation is, to the authors’ best knowledge, the first to study the practice of sub-surface greywater irrigation in Australia and the potential impacts of its physicochemical properties, major ions, nutrients, metals, metalloids and organic micro-pollutant concentrations, loads and yields in three connected environmental compartments — soil, groundwater and surface water. It provides the first comprehensive assessment of the environmental fate of greywater constituents irrigated to land. 

The results clearly demonstrate that with knowledge, appropriate household product use and responsible use of greywater, that greywater irrigation can be a sustainable practice. However, if the treatment of greywater is not suitable for long-term irrigation, and the retention of greywater constituents within the soil sub-surface irrigation zone is not achieved, then environmental harm is likely to occur.
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I'm not writing a Ph.D. Dissertation. 
~ American journalist Bill O'Reilly

Friday, November 10, 2017

Martians to Earthlings - Get Serious

The Rainbow Water Coalition previously posted about how Recreational Vehicles are using the notion of "saving" and "reusing" greywater to sell their wares. Now comes the super duty version of these RVs selling for a modest $1.5M

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Bugs: Eh, pardon me again, Doc, but, uh, just what did you mean by that crack about the Earth being gone? 

Marvin the Martian: Oh, I'm going to blow it up; it obstructs my view of Venus. 

Bugs: It does? That's a shame. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Greywater Saves Martians

Huffington Post ran this great article - Water Could Shield Mars Bound Astronauts And Colonists From Harmful Radiation where greywater figured prominently.

Radiation is a larger concern for travelers to Mars than any other space pursuit we have taken on thus far. Radiation in space is dangerous because it can go right through the human body causing damage to cells or possibly even DNA. The Earth is protected from radiation by the magnetosphere, which is created by the Earth’s magnetic field.... 

...The space radiation environment will be a critical consideration for everything in the astronauts’ daily lives, both on the journeys between Earth and Mars and on the surface...

...anyone staying on the surface will be further exposed. Mars does not have the “huge magnetic bubble” the Earth does, so a Martian base would need to be shielded. Now that we are at a point when organizations such as SpaceX are expecting to send humans to Mars within 10 years, it is important that a radiation shielding system be developed...

And, now, greywater enters the picture as a “water jacket" or "water walls" - which consists of plastic bags of water that line the walls of crew quarters of a spacecraft  - where the water would serve as drinking water and when the Martian astronauts and colonists expelled their water waste, it would be reprocessed and replenish the reservoirs...as a closed system, so it will always stay full. Every drop of water is recycled.


Upon launch, the bags will be full of fresh water. Once used, the empty bags will be filled with grey water (human waste). The bags will then use osmosis to draw out and filter water. All the while, the water and waste will act as a radiation shield.

What would Mars look like once we inhabit the landscape? Check out the award winning MIT design called Redwood Forest.

Below the surface of the Red Planet, each dome in MIT’s Mars city concept branches out into “roots.” These intricate tunnel systems connect the domes and provide additional protection from surface threats. This design was chosen for both functional and symbolic reasons.

“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith or soil, and Sun to support life,” Sumini told MIT News. “Designing a forest also symbolizes the potential for outward growth as nature spreads across the Martian landscape. Each tree habitat incorporates a branching structural system and an inflated membrane enclosure, anchored by tunneling roots.”

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“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. 
Duct tape works anywhere. 
Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.” 
~Author Andy Weir - The Martian