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

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The New Green

I spent much of the week traveling to water conferences (greywater was not a topic of discussion, unfortunately). In between trips, a break in the rainy weather permitted a quick rafting trip on the mighty Willamette River in western Oregon with colleague and friend Dr. Todd Kincaid, where only clearwater could be found.

But when one is trapped on a raft for a few hours, especially with a three-year-old girl, just about anything becomes a topic of discussion to get away from the never ending *why's*. The Rainbow Water Coalition hat always is a conversation starter due to the controversial logo often misinterpreted as a GLBT flag when in fact it is the celebration of rainbows and the culture of the Incans in Peru who selected the rainbow wiphala for the city of Cuzco. Todd has his own consulting hydrology business (GeoHydros) so the colorful hat initiated a conversation on the business of greywater and the history of water. Todd told me of some presentations he heard about the collapse of the Mayan empire due to water shortages while traveling in the Yucatan Peninsula.

No matter how one spells gray or grey, the recent greywater news focuses on the money that is saved by reusing greywater, either directly or indirectly such as a better *product* or *feeling* on life. In this Golf Course Industry article titled *Gray is the new green*, *greywater (actually more purple given that it is treated wastewater effluent)* is used to water turfgrass at many high end locations in North Carolina, Arizona, and surprisingly, central Oregon. The reported benefits of greywater reuse:

*...the holes irrigated with effluent are looking better than those irrigated with the fresh water*;

*Turfgrass acts as a filter for using lesser-quality water. Environmentally, it is the right thing to do*;

*We have also noticed an improved greening effect in the turf because it also lowers the pH of the soil, which in turn releases the micro nutrients being tied up in the soil

This article titled *Going grey - it's the new green* in the Bermuda Sun serves more as an advertisement for the Canadian Brac system, but the quoted numbers are pretty impressive. Water truly has value on Bermuda where these greywater converts estimate *...a water tank delivery at $75, they say the system has saved them up to $750 in the past three months alone*. 

The Incans recognized the value of *green* on the Cuzco Wiphala by designating the meaning of *green* to natural resources. I followed up on Todd's discussion on the Mayan water history and found this paper published in the open access journal Water. Apparently, the Mayan royalty disappeared due to their inability to *deliver* the water to their subjects as the climate changed leading to extended droughts...*The Maya royal house of cards collapsed because it relied largely on water control*...*The lesson here is that we need to rely on diverse and more flexible means of support*.

H Y D R O D I V E R S I F Y  O R  D I E

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