The Cost of Common Sense and Conserving Water

August is Water Quality month, and we often don’t have to think about it, living in North America, but for nearly 20% of the world’s population clean drinking water is virtually non-existant. Every year, millions of people die of diseases associated with inadequate water supply, improper sanitation and a lack of proper hygene…most of these are children. I’ve studied the water maps of the world and recognizing where most of our planets’ water is held, having ample amounts of water is a key factor in the quality of water within a particular region.

When I speak to my clients about Water Conservation, the subject of cost always comes up and I have to tell them the bad news. Water Conservation is NOT cheap. One of my clients, within the Cucamonga Water District in Southern California, uses over ½ million gallons of water a year and spends (what he thinks) a lot of money on water. On average, this clients’ rate is $0.18 per 100 gallons of water. We made an evaluation of the property and the family’s monthly water “footprint” and compared this against the average monthly rainfall in the region, and determined the potential for capturing rainwater from the roof of their home.

The most we could ever hope to collect would be 11,000 gallons of rainwater during the wettest months between January and March. After a preliminary estimate for tanks, piping and installation, it would be 100 years before a return on investment would be realized. Keep in mind this is a 40+ year old residence and the site’s landscaping is well established. The cost of water and the potential payback even took into account a 2% price increase each year. The bottom line killed the project. …but, wait! Is it always about the bottom line? What about the children in Africa?

If the cost of water were to double tomorrow, water conservation might bring a quicker return on investment, but don’t be calling your local water district to demand they raise rates. (Like, you would do that anyway). Insist, however, that they promote Water Quality in their call for conservation, or believe me, the cost of water will be the least of your concerns. The alarm will be over whether we will even have enough clean water to drink. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states, “Safe drinking water and basic sanitation are intrinsic to human survival, well-being and dignity”.

The best source of drinking water comes from underground sources, and these aquifers around the country, and the world, are drying up. With the ever-increasing development in North America over the last 60 years, we have paved-over, and covered up pervious surfaces, which used to absorb the rain water that filtered into our disappearing water tables. Rainfall now washes down our driveways, gutters and concrete rivers carrying litter, oil and debris into our drinking water supplies, further threatening the quality of our water.

Thoughtful Water Conservation will control this wasteful discharge of water and allow local water districts to keep more of this precious resource where it’s best preserved; underground.

It is up to all of us to promote Water Conservation in order to continue to keep prices down, but most importantly, keep our quality of water of North America the envy of the world. We can do this by developing and utilizing Rainwater Harvesting and Greywater Irrigation Systems at the start of a building project, and paying particular attention to the new California Green Building Codes going into effect next year that will require all landscapes to implore rain sensors that will shutoff the automatic irrigation system when it rains.

Is this common sense? Darn right, and if we don’t start using more of it on our own, regulations will demand that we do and only raise the cost of Conserving Water!

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Circulating to Save

Existing homes consist of over 100 million throughout the country and it’s where we ALL live. Most of these where built before we were too concerned about saving energy and conserving water. So, you ask, “What do we do to conserve water, but we don’t want to move, or rebuild?”

I’m glad you asked!

Waiting for the hot water to arrive at our shower or kitchen faucets could take minutes, which at 2.5 – 5 gpm, could easily add up to 100’s of gallons a month being washed down the drain and costing even more in wasted energy pumping and heating this water.

Innovative shower heads and circulating pumps are the answer to saving water in existing residences and, even businesses. Let’s first talk shower heads and please don’t think these are the same things you tried even just a few years ago. The old fashioned types injected air into the stream, causing an irritating blast of water. It was more than irritating…IT HURT!

The best model on the market, by far, is called the Roadrunner. I believe in this 1.59 gpm, 36-nozzle full-face shower sprayer so much that I’ve invested into becoming a distributor. Even in homes with low water pressure, the unit can deliver a great feeling shower because of what the manufacturer calls, Pressure Compensating Technology. As many of you are finding out about me, I can’t rely on just one great reason to be sold – I gotta have at least two features, and the Roadrunner doesn’t comprimise!

ShowerStart Technology is something that evolve, the company out of Scottsdale, Arizona, has developed to further save water and energy in the shower and, makes “conservation convenient”. Here’s how it works. You turn your shower on and inevitably waiting for the hot water is part of your routine, and you’ve probably learned to do something else while waiting, i.e., brush your teeth, clean the room, do the dishes…and then return to a steamy shower – but, look at all the hot water wasted! The Roadrunner will allow you to still do all these chores, but will shut-off when ready, and you simply restart the flow by pulling the cord or flipping the lever. Your warm water is waiting….not wasted!

Water pumps are becoming more convenient, also, but require a bit more than just replacing a component on the sink. Although tearing a shower wall apart is often times out of the question, space under the sink is almost always available. Granted, an electrical outlet is required, but this is easier than you think provided an outlet is already located above the sink. Please seek a professional electrician for this simple, but electrifying, renovation, and be sure it comes with a GFI, or ground fault interrupter.

Once the electrical supply is in place, the pump then can be installed and, there are many types depending on how they are activated and how fast they work. Some are triggered by either a button, timer or motion sensor and others sense the temperature of the incoming water. The incoming water that I mention is typically cold; cooled off by the simple act of just sitting in the line. This cooled water needs to be flushed out and this is what we typically allow down the drain. With the increased use of aerators, low-flow faucets and long plumbing runs it’s takes a long time before we begin to feel warm water.

With a circulating pump, the cooled water can be cycled back into the cold water line, while making room for the hot water coming from the hot water heater. Be sure to locate the unit at the last fixture in your plumbing run, usually under a bathroom sink. Often times the lines can be found in the attic; just follow the pipes from the water heater, or ask a professional plumber.

As always, Mr. Wayne would be happy to answer any questions.

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