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Water Crisis

Gov. declares drought emergency

After the driest winter ever recorded in New Jersey, Gov. James E. McGreevey declared a statewide drought emergency yesterday, giving state government the power to impose mandatory water use restrictions. - Trentonian

Water - Assorted musings on Purification, Rain water catching/containment, gray/black water, composting toilets.

http://www.davnor.com/ - slow sand water filtration

http://www.watertanks.com - Water tanks of all shapes and sizes

Water Conservation and Recovery


Shaving & Brushing Teeth: If you leave the water running while you shave or brush your teeth, you are wasting a gallon a minute! Stopper the sink and fill the basin half way when you shave, and you use just ½ a gallon! Turn off the water while brushing your teeth!
Bathing & Showering: Which uses more water, a shower or a tub bath? That depends! A partially filled tub uses less water than a long shower, but a short shower with a low flow showerhead uses much less than a brimful tub! You can compare for yourself. Try plugging the tub while you shower and see how high the water gets. Make a habit of showering quickly or using a partially filled tub. Or try the "navy shower." Turn on the water to get wet, turn it off to soap up, and turn it back on to rinse off. It's a great conservation technique, especially in drought emergencies.

House Plants & Fish Tanks: If you have a fish tank, you probably clean it regularly. Use the dirty water to water your house plants. It saves using the same water twice, and the plants love the water, which is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous!

Washing Smart: Some washing machines use 40 or more gallons whether you're washing a full load, or only a few pairs of socks. Use full washloads, especially for older machines. If your machine is adjustable, use the proper setting. You'll save electricity as well as water.

Food Prep: If you like to rinse off vegetables and fruits, stopper the sink instead of using running water. And when you're finished, turn on the garbage disposal as you pull the plug, rather than running water just for the disposal.

Doing Dishes: Which is more efficient, washing dishes in the sink or in a dishwasher? You can check by testing how much water your full sink basin holds compared with the 9.5 to 12 gallons dishwashers use during a regular cycle. Either way, it is more water efficient to wash full loads. If you do wash dishes by hand, stopper the sink and run the disposal as you pull the plug.

Washing the Car: Do you wash your car at home? Use a bucket, or a hose with a trigger nozzle to avoid wasting water. Wet the car thoroughly, and then turn off the hose while you wash the car! Swab the car with soapy water from a bucket. You can use the hose again for a final rinse. Better still, take your car to a car wash. Most of the car washes on Maui are fitted with recirculating water.

For a Cold Glass of Water: Keep a pitcher of cool water in the refrigerator. Running the water until it turns cool can waste a gallon for each glass. Letting the water sit in the fridge can also allow any chlorine to dissipate, and improve the taste.

Don't Use the Toilet for Trash: Some people toss and flush away tissues, cigarettes or bits of trash in the toilet. Use a wastebasket instead. If everyone in the U.S. flushed just once less per day, we could save a sea full of water a mile wide, a mile long, and four feet deep, every day!

Showerheads: Replacing your old showerhead with a low flow can save as much as 7.2 gallons per person per day. You can get showerheads and other low flow fixtures from the Maui County Board of Water Supply (270-7199), or the Public Works Department (270-7417).

Toilets: Installing a new water conserving toilet can save as much as 17 gallons per person per day. Even a low cost installing a toilet flapper can save more than 5 gallons per person per day.

Faucets: Replacing your old faucets with more efficient models can save 4 gallons per person per day. Faucet aerators or spray taps can also help, by mixing air with water. This cuts the flow and reduces splashing, while leaving enough pressure to cut the soap and grease.

Washing Machines: A water-efficient washing machine can save up to 20 gallons per load. With the average household washing 6 loads per week, that's a lot of water! In fact, within 2 years, these can save as much water as the average person drinks in a lifetime! And that's not all. Statistics on energy savings potential indicate that highly efficient washing machines save from 35% to 65% on energy used for washing!

Check For Leaks: Leaking faucets cost you money! Even a slow drip wastes 15 gallons per day. A 1/8" stream can waste 400 gallons per day! Think about it. A single dripping faucet can waste more water in one day than a person needs for drinking for an entire week! Unfortunately, the average non-conserving home looses more than 10% of the water it pays for to leaks! Check for leaks regularly. Try putting 10 drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. Don't flush, just wait 15 minutes. If colored water shows up in the bowl, your tank is leaking. Check your water meter while no water is running in your house. If the meter is registering, you have a leak somewhere.

After toilets, most indoor leaks are caused by worn washers in faucets. Check your faucets twice a year. If any drip after you've turned them off firmly, turn off the supply line, take the faucet apart, and replace the washer. And don't forget the faucets on the side of the house.

A Clean Sweep: Did you know that 5 minutes of unnecessary hosing will waste 25 gallons of water? Try sweeping sidewalks and driveways. This will get them clean without wasting water.

Pipes Break - Be Prepared: Do you know where your master shut-off valve is located? If a pipe breaks in your home, you could experience flooding and property damage as well as huge water waste unless you quickly shut your valve. Locate your valve and mark it for quick, easy identification. Learn how to shut it properly, and teach your family to do so as well.

Cover Pools and Jacuzzis: They're fun, but they can waste a lot of water! An average sized pool loses about 1,000 gallons of water per month to evaporation. A pool cover can cut these losses by 90%!


Reduce Water Use
1. Toilets - Terry Love's consumer toilet reports, A report on low flow water efficient toilets http://www.terrylove.com/crtoilet.htm

2. Washing Machine - These new front load machines do not need to be completely filled with hot water, and they rotate clothes through two-thirds less water, saving water and heating energy. They also use less detergent, which is more concentrated, making clothes cleaner. Drying time is significantly reduced since the machine spins clothes much faster than ordinary machines, saving energy and allowing clothes to last longer. - http://duet.whirlpool.com/

3. Dish Washer - New models emphasize energy and water efficiency

4. Shower / Faucets / Bath – Average water use in the typical single-family home is 74 gallons per capita per day, according to the 1998 Residential Water Use Summary commissioned by AWWA. By installing water-efficient fixtures, however, consumers can cut their water use by 30 percent to 51.9 gallons per capita per day. This can save households up to $100 each year. http://www.awwa.org/bluethumb99/prtue.htm

Recycle Used Water
1. Grey Water - Any water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets, is called greywater. Dish, shower, sink and laundry water comprise 50-80% of residential ³wastewater.² This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation. - http://greywater.net/

2. Black Water – Sewage from toilets - http://www.livingmachines.com/htm/machine.htm

Water sources
1. City Water
2. Well Water
3. River Water
4. Rain Water - http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/RainHarv.pdf





Knowledgehound - http://www.knowledgehound.com/topics/watercon.htm

Why use a cistern?
Cisterns were commonly used on farms back in the 1800's as a source for fresh water in areas where wells could not be dug deep enough for water. Today they are quite commonly used in the Caribbean and other areas where well water is scarce or too costly. The state of Texas has quite a substantial web site devoted to the installation of cisterns and some of the cities offer rebate programs for those who harvest rain water. If you are interested in learning more about cisterns, you can download a booklet in pdf format: Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting.

Our intentions for using a cistern are as follows:

1) It will provide a source of soft water for washing clothes, taking showers and using on plants and eliminates the need for a water softener. (If properly filtered, rain water can be a safe source of drinking water. We will wait and see what the quality of the well water is before determining our approach to this.)

2) It provides a backup source of water from our well (yet to be installed) or visa versa.

3) It will provide a storage facility for water that could be used to help put out a fire. I have yet checked with our insurance company but I have been told that it may reduce our fire insurance costs. http://daycreek.com/dc/html/journal092599.htm

we beg to deffer
It’s high time that we stop sponsoring water scarcity and then look for solutions in haute technology that the majority of the planet cannot even afford.

There are ways out.

Centre for Science and Environment invites you to listen to other solutions. Politicians, activists, social reformers, scientists, policy makers get together and tell you the real story. A people’s problem solved by people themselves. 


You know, life as a waterdrop sure isn't easy. So many people take me for granted and don't really think about the role I play in their survival. Many people will overuse me, pollute me, or even worse, boil me! Fortunately, there are some people in the city of Arcata, CA. that care about me. They appreciate the fact that I am a necessity in their every day lives. When F.O.A.M., or Friends Of the Arcata Marsh, asked me to help them, I was more than happy to do so.

Hi. I'm Willy the Waterdrop and I am going to explain how I and all the other waterdrops flow through Arcata's Integrated wastewater treatment system and the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. If you ever need to reread a page, select my icon or image description to step backwards.

Now to avoid confusion, let me start off by saying that the Arcata Marsh is a constructed marsh. Originally, the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary was tidal mud flats and salt marshes. The land has since been reclaimed and is now used as an integrated wetland wastewater treatment facility. Unfortunately, my knowledge of the area's history is extremely limited. From what I understand, much has happened to the area prior to the creation of the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are interested in the history of the Arcata Marsh, please view the history of the marsh pages.

Water comes to the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary from a variety of sources. It can come from someone's house, or storm drains that drain into a Jolly Giant Creek via Butcher's Slough.  Jolly Giant Creek flows through the sanctuary and into Humboldt Bay.  Three of the wetlands at the sanctuary are fed Arcata's wastewater.  Since I started out as a wastewater drop, we will begin our journey from the common household toilet.  We will travel through each stage of the wastewater treatment process beginning with primary treatment. http://sorrel.humboldt.edu/~ere_dept/marsh/

One method is to treat the black water and grey water separately. The black water is treated in either a dry composting unit or a wet­solids separation unit, whereby the solids are composted and ultimately used as garden fertiliser while the fluid (leachate) goes to the grey-water treatment unit. The grey water goes directly to the grey-water treatment unit and after treatment is piped to a storage tank and used for garden irrigation and toilet flushing. Grey water treated to a high standard can also be recycled for use in washing machines.

Grey-water treatment is cheap and relatively simple, but care must be taken to ensure that it is done in a way that does not disturb the natural balance of flora in the region.

Package treatment plants (such as those listed in the advice section) are available for on-site treatment of sewage. There are many designs, the most common for small operations being septic tanks connected by drainage pipes with leach areas where micro organisms in the soil complete the treatment of the waste. Not all soils are suitable for such treatment so it may be necessary to create artificial mounds of soil and pump the effluent to the mound. Clay soils, found in many parts of Australia, are particularly poor for this purpose, as the rate of run-off is very high.

Effluent may also be released into 'polishing' ponds, or evaporation ponds, as a final form of treatment. For larger complexes more sophisticated treatment plants are required such as activated sludge systems or micro-filtration which will yield good quality effluent. The activated sludge system makes use of aerobic micro-organisms which convert organic material to water, carbon dioxide and some other stable compounds. Micro-filtration involves passing the wastewater through an extremely fine filter, so fine that it can actually filter out bacteria from the effluent. It may be necessary to include tertiary treatment of effluent to kill pathogens. This can be done by exposing the effluent to strong ultra-violet light before discharge. Any of the more technical treatment systems must have routine maintenance carried out on a regular basis and local staff must be trained in correct operating procedures.

Another type of wastewater treatment which is gaining acceptance is the use of artificial wetlands or reed beds. Aquatic plants can remove nutrients and other pollutants. The area required for treatment is relatively small and can even form an attractive landscaping feature if well planned and planted with indigenous water-loving plants. The following native plant species from the rush family can be useful in such a development: Juncus usitatus, Schoenoplectus mucronatus, Baumea articulata, Junces ingens, and Schoenoplectus validus. http://twinshare.crctourism.com.au/responsible_waste_water_treatment.htm

Greywater is defined as the wastewater produced from baths and showers, clothes washers, and lavatories. The wastewater generated by toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers is called blackwater. 

The use of greywater for irrigation requires separate blackwater and greywater waste lines in the house. This is not a difficult task in new construction but can be problematic in existing buildings. http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/greywater.html

What is Rainwater Harvesting?

There are two classes of rainwater harvesting systems:

Systems which collect roof runoff for household use.

Systems which use in field or adjoining catchment to provide supplemental irrigation for agriculture. http://www.oasisdesign.net/content/rainwater.htm

What is Greywater?

Any water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets, is called greywater. Dish, shower, sink and laundry water comprise 50-80% of residential ³wastewater.² This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation. http://www.oasisdesign.net/content/greywater.htm

Greywater: containment, treatment & distribution system.

The concept used for containment, treatment and distribution of grey water is based on and draws information from the wetlands concept which has long been used in exterior applications for both containment and treatment of sewage (from toilets) and greywater. http://www.earthship.org/pages/gwater.htm

Catchwater: home & human consumption

We encounter the rain and snow and embrace these natural phenomenon. We catch the gift of water from the sky, direct it through a silt catch, funnel the water into a cistern, gravity feed a pump and filter panel, push this water into a pressure tank that provides conventional, code required household water pressure to the home. We now consider this water precious and use it accordingly. Catchwater systems elicit low water consumption and go hand in hand with greywater and blackwater treatment systems that cleanse water before it is put back into the earth. The catchwater chronicle outlines methods for catching water from the sky, storing it, filtering it and distributing it to standard household fixtures. http://www.earthship.org/pages/cwater.htm

Grey water is the biggest portion of a ship’s total sewage water by approx. 75%. Normally such water is only treated through a large amount of chlorine being used for disinfection before discharging it overboard. Nowadays such a large amount of untreated grey water is causing severe damage to the environment in coastal and port areas particularly in fishery grounds. http://www.naval-technology.com/contractors/desalination/rochem/index.html

The PZII are installed onboard to treat odors coming form the black and grey water tanks. These odors can range form stale to septic. Most boat and yacht owners are plagued by the odors and really don't realize the exist. http://www.marineresources.com/yachtair.htm

Reed beds

Reed BedsThese were designed by Mark Moody of Camphill Water. The brick beds contain graded layers of sand and gravel. Liquid from the septic tank is filtered through these layers where organic materials are broken down by anaerobic micro-organisms on the surface of the sand and gravel particles. Reeds planted in the beds increase the efficiency with which the water is cleaned but the mechanisms are complex and not fully understood. In part it is probably due to increased oxygen available around the roots of the reeds which supports communities of aerobic bacteria.



The Green Center, Inc., on Cape Cod, is a non-profit educational institute that evolved from the New Alchemy Institute. Our goals are the same - the support of ecologically derived forms of energy, agriculture, aquaculture, housing, and landscapes, and living in harmony with nature.


The Woods Hole Research Center addresses the great issues of environment through scientific research and education and through applications of science in public affairs.
    Climate change and the warming of the earth are at the core of our research, and we specialize in global forests because of their controlling influence on climate. The Center maintains continuing research projects in the tropical rainforest of Brazil, in the boreal forest of Siberia - the largest forested region on earth - and in the forests of our own New England.


we provide the system, nature does the work.

As we move into the next century and the world population exceeds 6 billion, all of us need to develop ways to work with nature to conserve and recycle natural resources.

Inspired by ecosystems as old as the earth itself, Living Technologies designs and builds Living Machines®, revolutionary natural wastewater treatment systems that accelerate natures own water purification process.



Envirolet™ Composting Toilets have been the economical & ecological toilet for your cottage, cabin, home, RV, boat or commercial application since 1977. http://www.envirolet.com/

Now in their fifth generation of continually improving product lines, BioLet Composting toilets are as easy and comfortable to use as regular flush toilets. However, the main advantage over flush toilets is that there is no need for costly installations of water, sewer lines or connection to septic systems. The BioLet composting toilet is a patented biological waste treatment system which evaporates excessive moisture and decomposes human waste with the help of nature's own microorganisms. The controlled supply of heat and air and the periodic mixing of the compost speeds up the decomposition processes and transforms human waste into a harmless, useful product. In addition, contributing to environmental conservation, BioLet composting toilets do not pollute our lakes, streams, oceans, and the ground, but also generate an end product beneficial for the soil without using valuable water. http://www.biolet.com/

Welcome to the realm of Composting Toilets and
Greywater Purification for Public Facilities and Private Homes. http://www.clivus.com/