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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Eat, Drink & Be Merry on Earth Day

Earth Day in the new millenium has a whole new look when it comes to celebrating. Consider the Zero-Waste Cocktail Concept, which is "...a glass full of booze without a stirrer. Seriously. And if that isn’t impressive enough, Bacardi just announced an initiative to remove all straws and stirrers from company and sponsored events, resulting in the elimination of 1 million straws and stirrers from landfills....a mai tai drink is no longer served with a miniature paper parasol....a Bloody Mary without snacks on a toothpick...Earth-friendly drink...composts the lemon rind after making limoncello, and another drink because it’s missing ice, and served just below room temp...and...a bar that washes stuff...with One dip in grey water and one dip in not-so grey water."

Then there is a vineyard in California that uses "Hard-Working Worms Save Energy, Regenerate Water & Win Over Fans This Earth Day". Yep, Fetzer Vineyards has corralled billions of worms through the  BIDA® wastewater treatment system to clean up the winery's process water:

And, if beer is more to your liking (beyond the environmentally friendly greywater and bongwater varieties previously described by the RWC), check out these beers.

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We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.
~ Author Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

2017 UN World Water Development Report, Wastewater: The Untapped Resource

Hot off the presses and prepared for World Water Day, the massive report 2017 UN World Water Development Report, Wastewater: The Untapped Resource where greywater figures prominently as a *resource* and a *source* for groundwater recharge!

Most human activities that use water produce wastewater. As the overall demand for water grows, the quantity of wastewater produced and its overall pollution load are continuously increasing worldwide. Over 80% of the world’s wastewater – and over 95% in some least developed countries – is released to the environment without treatment.

Once discharged into water bodies, wastewater is either diluted, transported downstream or infiltrates into aquifers, where it can affect the quality (and therefore the availability) of freshwater supplies. The ultimate destination of wastewater discharged into rivers and lakes is often the ocean with negative consequences for the marine environment.

The 2017 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report, entitled “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource”, demonstrates how improved wastewater management generates social, environmental and economic benefits essential for sustainable development and is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In particular, the Report seeks to inform decision-makers, government, civil society and private sector, about the importance of managing wastewater as an undervalued and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable by-products, rather than something to be disposed of or a nuisance to be ignored.

The report’s title reflects the critical role that wastewater is poised to play in the context of a circular economy, whereby economic development is balanced with the protection of natural resources and environmental sustainability, and where a cleaner and more sustainable economy has a positive effect on the water quality.
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Q: Can graywater be used to recharge groundwater?

A: Oregon has an anti-degradation policy that emphasizes prevention of groundwater pollution. As a result, any wastewater, including graywater, must be treated to high standards prior to groundwater discharge. 
~Questions and Answers, Oregon DEQ

Thursday, March 30, 2017


No, not the obvious combination, but rather the project Solar Optics-based Active Pasteurization (SOAP) for Greywater Reuse and Integrated Thermal (GRIT) Building Control. The RWC blogged about this project about 6.5 years ago when it was first awarded by the National Science Foundation to UC Berkeley. It was innovative then, but the results look much better than originally advertised.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the multidisciplinary team is engineering solar panel technology that makes greywater reusable while creating thermal energy in the process. What is now wastewater would be used at least twice, cutting demand, and the free solar energy can be captured as well. The greywater isn't clean enough to drink, but it's fine for flushing toilets or washing clothes.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Purifying in Plano

From out of the Oregon "grey skies festival", I heard from friend and colleague Paul James of IrriGRAY fame. Paul is a long-time follower and contributor to the Rainbow Water Coalition, first through the incredible Australian Hughie Sinks when we first met during his tenure in Eugene, OR. Now, Paul reports he is a permanent resident, in Plano TX, and for the past 5 years have been developing and improving the IrriGRAY system as VP Research & Product Development with Water ReNu LLC.

From Paul's "reintroductory" message:

IrriGRAY automatically manages graywater, rainwater, potable water, well water, condensate and drain water irrigation across up to 16 zones, with real weather based ET irrigation  in CA, AZ, and TX with more to come (areas not provided with real weather use historical ET data as basis for irrigation).

Our primary strength is being what I consider to be the most advanced graywater irrigation system anywhere, yet at a starting cost of $4,150 for the base residential version. The commercial version tops out at about $6,500. We have found that payback for a family of 3 – 4 in any location where water is ~$4 – 5 per 1,000 gallons has a payback period of between 2 – 5 years subject to size of landscape and climate.  Our primary market at this stage is new home construction and multi-family construction in TX, although CA, AZ, NM are building. We have stayed away from NSF350 treatment methods as the payback period as far too long for almost all clients. Although mainly a manufacturer, we do find ourselves being dragged into some larger installations, particularly LEED and Emerald green building developments.

But that is not all that is "grey matter related to greywater" going on in Plano.

Khushi Thakkar of the Texas Academy of Science, Plano, TX presented A Novel Approach to Purifying Greywater for Agricultural and Third World Applications in February, 2017.

Droughts in the U.S alone have cost the economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. To conserve water, stringent water restrictions are put in place, but these restrictions prevent plants from carrying out crucial biological processes and still do not balance the amount of water that households waste each day. To solve these issues, a water filter was engineered to remove household contaminants such as soap, oil, and food particles from greywater to be used for agricultural purposes. The effectiveness of Commercial Grade, Banana-Peel , Orange Peel, Tea-Waste, and Coffee-Waste Derived Activated Carbon was tested against 4 forms of greywater. Results concluded that the Banana-Peel Derived Activated Carbon removed 87% of contaminants on average, making it the most effective form of activated carbon. The filter was composed of a 2 step design consisting of both a Primary and Secondary filter. The Secondary Filter allowed dense contaminants to sink, then pushed water into the Primary filter, which was composed of Banana-Peel Derived Activated Carbon, Sand, and Gravel. In order to test if the water filter was safe for both plants and invertebrates, growth and biological processes of grass and Daphnia magna were analyzed respectively. A comparison of grass growth and the analysis of heartbeat patterns of Daphnia magna in tap water, filtered, and contaminated water concluded that the filtered water supported healthy plant growth and was safe for aquatic organisms. Overall, this water filter proved to be a cost efficient, effective, and an environmentally friendly approach for filtering out household contaminants from water.
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Plano the 19th Happiest Place to Live in the USA, #1 in Texas