I was asked this question today. It seems logical, right? Take our drain water, process it and reuse it Wouldn’t it be great to have such a system? Can you imagine how much money one could make selling such a system? Can you imagine how much energy and water savings such as system could provide? How about you? Would you like to have such a water system?
Well, hell, let’s design it together, and if we patent it you can have a share of the patent.
- So the first thing is, we have to tear up all the walls in the home and install a second and third piping system in addition to the pipes from the city.
- We need one piping network to take all the water from our drains and send it to the new water system.
- Then we need to install a storage tank to catch the waste water, and a pump and level controls to pressurize the water to feed the new system.
- We will need to install a new drain line for the water system because at best, the new water system will send 1 gallon of water to the sewer for every 3 gallons we purify. Remember, all the contamination we remove still has to be transported to the drain.
- Red Flag! It is going to be a problem getting code enforcement to allow 3 piping systems in your home, let alone the EPA restrictions on bringing a new, non-potable water into the house. Cha Ching…………I smell attorney costs, and an expensive day in court.
- Next, the waste from this system is not likely going to get approval for disposal from local government. So, let’s just pay to haul it away. You see, as we reuse and recycle, the resulting waste water will get dirtier and dirtier until it fouls and plugs up the water system. We can’t recycle indefinitely, This waste water will be a concentration of hair, skin, soap, food, drink, and God only knows what other nasty stuff. We can’t send that down the drain, but we can pay to haul it off. A dollar per gallon is the current going rate for such a service. Consider that a family of 4 that uses a typical 600 gallons of water per day, is going to generate a minimum of 150 gallons of waste-water that will have to be hauled away.
- So, without considering equipment cost of potentially $50 – 75,000, the electrical, chemical, and disposable filter costs for the system, this new water reuse system we are inventing already will cost $150.00 per day to operate. Even ignoring all those other costs, a family of 4 will spend $4,500 per month in waste haul off.
Whew, this is getting ugly and discouraging, isn’t it?
For men and women of science, no. For the well-intended environmental-loving every-day citizen, yes. There is an important takeaway here; one that I write about often, but one that hasn’t even begun to sink into the thought process of the average citizen. The casual eye looks at the visual presentation of a technology and based on that forms an opinion on what is clean and what is not. Unfortunately, the manufacturing and construction stages leading up to making that presentation always encompass a lot of hidden costs, pollution, and destruction of precious resources. So, while the idea of reusing our grey water seems like a no-brainer, there are many downsides and challenges along the way that the casual conservationist simply does not understand.
The main hurdle with reusing water is that as precious as it is to us, the price we pay is dirt cheap. Technology already exists to reuse our dirty water. It just too expensive to be practical in residential applications.