With more revelations about the impact increasing numbers of humans will have on the planet and projections of water shortages around the globe in the very near future, we believe the use of rainwater, gray water and even recycled black water will become more widely accepted. We call our approach to water and wastewater system design “resource balanced design”. Resource balanced is sustainability of water and energy resources. The goal is to minimize the import and export of natural resources to and from a water and wastewater system, thus reducing demand, conserving resources and lowering operational costs. Rainwater is a primary source of water. Water subsequently laden with “waste” becomes its own valuable resource from which components can be extracted and productively reused. Resource balanced design incorporates reuse features such as green roofs, living walls, irrigation, ponds and fountains. For new development a key component of this approach is the consideration of topography, site features and the resulting “flow,” prior to any other layout considerations. This philosophy seeks to:
- minimize the imports and exports of natural resources
- sustain conservation over time
- ensure the safety of the inhabitants and users, including wildlife
- achieve high aesthetics
- extend the life of existing waste/water infrastructure
- reduce development costs
- keep waste/water infrastructure O&M costs low
Few realize the intricate relationship of water and energy, the energy demanded in the transport and treatment of water, and the high water demand of many industrial, manufacturing and technological processes.
Therefore, water balance also depends on the balance of all other flows. We have developed a number of schematics that serve as master templates for water, energy, biosolids and non-biosolids resource flow streams. These templates can be tailored to illustrate a range of solutions, from a simple rainwater cistern to grey water reuse to 100% closed loop systems, and are scalable from a single building to a city block to an entire subdivision.
Here are just a few interesting innovations and articles in support of our resource balanced approach:
- And Sewage, Too: Sewers and Wastewater are Untapped Stores of Energy, New York Times
- Water Usage, Treatment Brings Increased Power Consumption, Las Vegas Sun
- NEWater, Singapore’s brand name for black water that has been recycled into potable water