Let’s face it, sewage is not a fun topic to talk about (in Christiana or anywhere), even if it is classified as “former” sewage. The topic of human waste has long been the butt of jokes (no pun intended). But there is something to talk about that makes this a thought-provoking topic. That topic is recycled water.
By definition, recycled water is former sewage water (often referred to as black or grey water) that has been treated to “remove solids and certain impurities.” While treated water is not recommended for any type of human consumption, it has been used for landscape irrigation, dust control, and fire suppression.
Reclaimed water contains valuable nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. When used properly, these nutrients can promote good plant growth.
The idea of reusing a natural resource has been around for decades – and so has the debate. While treated recycled water eliminates the discharge of sewage water to lakes, rivers, and oceans, there is still the argument that recycled water still poses health and environmental risks. In 1997, the U.S. EPA stated that “bacteria from reclaimed water in sprinklers can travel more than 1000 feet in the air.”
Setting fears aside, the idea of using recycled water in the home has been supported by “dual pipe” installations. Basically, this is when a home is outfitted with two incoming water supplies: potable (drinking) and non-potable (for use in irrigation). The idea behind reusing water is that it reduces the demand for freshwater and thus the need for expensive filtration – saving earth’s most precious natural resource.
One example of a neighborhood that is utilizing the dual pipe system is the Vintage Greens subdivision in Windsor, California. The developers made dual piping an option for new home buyers and by the time all of the homes were sold in 2008, 52% of the homeowners opted for the dual pipe system. Using recycled water to irrigate their landscape, residents have saved 25 millions gallons of potable water each year.
Not only can recycled water be used for irrigation, it can also be used for flushing toilets. The 2006 North Carolina Plumbing Code, “…allows for recycled gray water to be used for flushing of toilets that are located in the same building as the gray water recycling systems.”
Recycled water is an important part of the “greening of America” – even if it is gray. For more information about environmentally-friendly plumbing, contact your friendly local plumbers.