Water Efficiency May 2012 : Page 41
“They wanted to be cutting-edge with technology that has the potential for immediate penetration,” explains Kirksey. “This is an opportunity to showcase innovation in water and energy technology.” The system is in Commission headquarters and on the sidewalk in front of its down-town office. Com-The low-energy Living Machine plete in January, it will be used for the workers in the building until June, treating 5,000 gallons per day —enough for 500 people. “It makes economic sense to recycle nutrients close to where they’re generated,” believes Kirksey. “Unless you have a point source, you must spend money to bring the water—of-ten pumping on ground that isn’t fl at.” With no underground piping, the Living Machine is more eco-nomical than traditional systems because there’s no need to rebuild deteriorating infrastructure. Kirksey points out that Sacramento recently spent $2.5 billion to rebuild its aging underground piping. In regions that are susceptible to earthquakes or in drought-prone areas where water use is restricted, this system can save money and provide a reliable source of water. “The ROI varies, depending on the site,” he explains, “but the Guild-ford School saved $4 million over sewer. It’s cost-competitive with other decentralized systems.” Still, one of the challenges is to make people comfortable with the idea. To help open up the market, San Francisco is offering incentives for wastewater treatment. “Many California building codes require dual plumbing for new construction and rebuilds,” he says. “It’s advanced technology, but it’s an old idea. We’re using the best 21st Century technology and science to enhance nature.” WATER IN THE FORECAST The intention of reuse is to ensure water is treated to a quality appro-priate to use, Hill summarizes. Two federal acts are in place to regulate that: the Clean Water Act of 1972 THE LIVING MACHINE ensures that water is discharged safely back into the environment and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 sets standards for drinking water quality to protect public health. However, adds Hill, “There’s no law governing reuse. Every state comes up with their own way to deal with it.” Since 1981, Title 22 in California has set the benchmark for water reuse, but recycled water continues to face many challenges. It’s taken for granted because of its reliability. “How many services are available 24/7?” asks Carpenter. “Water is a pub-lic thing. We can regulate it to a certain extent—until it infringes on rights. Until there’s a crisis, the politicians are unwilling to go farther.” If there’s a crisis, water might be more valued. It starts with value, Hill agrees. “People undervalue water. It’s consid-ered a right,” he adds. People are willing to pay for cable, cell phones, and other luxuries, but balk at increases in water rates. “First, we need to heighten aware-ness of its scarceness and tie it to a value proposition,” says Hill. “We have to move toward reduction [of use] through pricing. Then education begins: how to lower our bills through conservation.” The problem, as Carpenter sees it, is that water is a confounding, spiri-tual issue. “It’s visceral,” he says. “It’s a strange paradox that requires an evolution of thought. The first step is to decide how to use treated water. I hope we pay attention and learn. We don’t want to be like pond algae, which sucks up nutrients until it dies off. Are we not smarter than that?” WE Lori Lovely writes authoritatively on transportation and technical subjects. Scan here to share this article or read later. Get the app at http://gettag.mobi Get Water Efﬁciency anytime, anywhere. DEMA ND AM I | Get Water Efﬁciency Digital Ge t ev Get G every ery pa page, ge ev every ery ad ad, d ev every v e ery article–with direct-link functionality. Get Water Efﬁciency Print Get the satisfaction of high-quality Ge G t th e sa tisfact tion o f a hi gh h quality print experience. Suit Yourself Go t to www.Forester.net G F t > Select Water Efﬁciency magazine > Select subscriptions > Select digital, or print, or both ATER W EFFICIENC Y THE JOURNAL FOR WATER RESOUR CE MANA GEMEN T MANAGE MEN T GY | ENER MARCH/APRI L 2012 FROM THE GROUND UP y Increased eﬃcienc with intelligent Irrigation At your ofﬁce, or on the go– get Water Efﬁciency wherever you are. REFFI WWW.WATE CIENC Y.NET DI D I G I IT T AL A L MAY 2012 WATER EFFICIENCY 41 WE_Digital12_33p IS ALSO IN TH ISSUE... Chec k out THE BUZZ , t ha see wha nd seew and everyone’s talking about.
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