Saturday, July 30, 2011

Purple pipes and the future of household water

Unfortunately, I don't have any purple pipes in my basement to photograph. Sorry.

We're either blessed or spoiled with all the drinkable, fresh water being so easily available in our houses.
Blessed because it's so important to our lives, and we really couldn't get by without it. Spoiled because the fresh water is so easily available, it's simple and easy to waste.
We use it for everything. Drinking and cooking certainly, but also watering the landscape, cleaning the house, washing and showering ourselves, not to mention the toilet water.
It's ridiculous that we poop into perfectly potable drinking water, but we've quit seeing it as odd thanks to the endless supply of fresh water.
At least it feels endless, but you wouldn't do it that way if you had to carry the water from somewhere. Water is really heavy, and if you had to bring six litres of water from the river a mile away every time you had to go number two, you'd come up with another system.
Using water efficiently in our houses could be automatic. All it takes is a little more plumbing and a little more thought on the front end.
Purple pipes are a part of the solution. They indicate reclaimed water, so that they won't accidentally be interconnected with the potable water system. For example, the water coming from the shower drain or from the washing machine is still pretty clean, and could easily be used in the landscape or to flush toilets without difficulty if houses were set up to make that possible.
Retrofitting existing houses for this sort of system would be difficult, but new houses could easily include this system, reducing the water requirements of the development.
Ensuring the development has adequate water is an important step in getting developments going, and this could allow additional development or reduce the water impact of developments that were already planned, so that more water can be left in the streams.
If you're building a home, build in a system to reclaim some of that water that could have a second life on your property. If you're a developer or a municipality, consider the purple pipe as a way of reducing the amount of treated potable water that the development will need. That will save you money down the road and help make sure there's enough drinking water for everybody.

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