2007-10-17

 

Uses for Waste Water

As tin-tin commented in my previous post, waste water can be reused for other pruposes.

While I would not advocate reusing toilet water to water your garden or lawn (unless it is going into a septic tank - in which case, you are already reusing your waste water). You can certainly reuse dirty dish and bath water. Granted, the convenience of scooping the water out the sink, into a bucket and carrying out to your garden may be a bit much. However, here are two ways waste bath and sink water can be reused, rather economically, if only they would build houses this way:

(1) irrigating lawns and gardens. It would be a fairly simple matter to have option of redirecting the water into the drainage tiles (like a septic tank) under your lawn. I envision the drainage for the bath and sink would be switchable between sewer and irrigation. Alternatively, it could be fed out to a cistern, though I am not sure I would want standing dirty water :P

(2) waste heat could be reclaimed from the water (mostly the bath I presume). I often lament how much hot water quickly flows out of the tub and into the sewer (I insist on leaving the hot water in the tub until it has radiatedits heat to house). I would prefer to be able to switch the flow of water through a heat exchanger that would extract the heat and put the heat back into my house during winter (in summer, I would prefer the water just flow directly to the sewer without heating my house, thanks). Of course, another way might be to run the water through pipes embedded in the floor, thus warming the floor and radiating heat back into the house.

I don't think these are terribly complicated to implement during the construction of a house (though a bit trickier to retrofit, since it would mean some re-plumbing work).

While we are at it, we should insist that new homes be equipped with solar water heaters, and, indeed, solar heating. There is always some heat you can extract during a sunny day - even in the midst of Winter.

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Comments:
some thought provoking ideas. why do we maintain this mentality that are resources are endless?
 
Most people won't take this route unless the cost of water becomes prohibitive or we run out of fresh water. In both cases, it's probably too little too late.
 
Every little bit helps. You could pilot project this idea. We use so much water in our laundry, although it's not usually hot or even warm just to wash patient gowns, towels and sheets.

I totally agree on the new houses built with solar panels. It's free energy!
 
kaymac: because we are short sighted and apply greedy heuristics in decision making. As well, we don't fully appreciate the cost of resources. Imagine if you had to grow your own food to sustain yourself. I am pretty sure you wouldn't complain about the prices of fresh tomatoes in the middle of winter.

barbara: I think human history shows that planning is not our strong point. I think people would rather fight, oppress and exploit others rather than effectively manage what they have. It goes back to my comment to kaymac that humans apply greedy heuristics to problem solving.

MOI: well, in your case it might be a little different with all the washing you need to do - after all, you don't want a water logged lawn. Apartments are another issue as well. But, certainly, for single dwelling homes, I don't see what the issue would be (ok, I can see some, heath being the primary one for using bath water for irrigation).
 
This is interesting, especially given the fact that I live in a city with a major water crisis. They say we'll be running out of water here within the next 10 years or so unless the geniuses they've got on this job can come up with a solution.

And hey, thanks for all your feedback on my posts. I appreciate the rumination.
 
sway: thanks for reciprocating and commenting. Again, it all stems from people being short sighted. You can be certain that any solutions will be short sighted as well.
 
I thought your ideas are brilliant. I have some of my own for water saving, but it would be too long to write it all down here. The truth is so much water is wasted everyday because our households are not designed to save our energy but to waste it..
 
carra: we waste because we are not aware of it. I was raised by parents who grew up in post war Poland. Scarcity was a daily part of their lives. So I grew up withthe notion of valuing everything of not wasting, or reusing, etc. I was and continue to be shocked at how much people waste.

My sister used to rent a room from an old woman who would cook a whole chicken for dinner. After eating, she would ask my sister if she wanteed more. My sister being full would say no and the woman then proceeded to throw the remaining chicken out saying what a shame it was that food had to be thrown out because no one would eat it.
 
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