Keeping it local

This is fascinating. I’d love to see projects like this replicated, because the day will come in our lifetimes when we run low on water:

From the outside, the homes look like any conventional home in any other development – except for solar panels mounted on each roof. Each home is required to include a minimum two kilowatt solar electrical generator.

“Six of the 10 homes are net contributors to the (electricity) grid,” resident Aaron Miller said during a recent community open house.

The centerpiece of the community is on a hill above the northern end of the housing cluster. From a distance, it looks like a greenhouse, and indeed there are plants growing within. It is a manmade indoor wetland, and it does what natural wetlands do: treats wastewater.

Water from three wells and a spring is used for drinking, cooking and washing. Resulting “gray water,” drained from sinks and washing machines, is recycled as flush water.

Each home is served by a grinder pump that moves the flush water uphill to a cascading system of three septic tanks, in which solids settle out, “just like a normal septic system,” Miller explained. The solids are periodically pumped off, also like a normal septic system.

But the water, instead of draining into a sand mound or a nearby stream, is pumped into the 2,100 square foot indoor wetland. There, an assortment of plants and bacteria feed on the non-humanly useable elements. Some of the treated-by-nature water is recycled back to the homes to be reused as flush water. What is not needed in the homes is pumped to a drip-irrigation field, where it feeds wild grasses and flowers, and filters through the ground back to the water table.

“We’re keeping it local instead of going into the watershed and into the ocean,” Miller said.

3 thoughts on “Keeping it local

  1. An interesting side note: Under western water law, this project might be considered as stealing water . . . by not returning flows to the watershed.

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