The first day of the Eco sewage and sanitation course focused on water efficiency and composting toilets. I touched on this in my last post but the main point is that without getting to the nitty gritty of reducing your water use, efforts to recycle water are in vein.
The first talk of the day was from Dr Judith Thornton on Water efficiency, legislation and alternative approaches and why water efficiency is even needed – mainly because much of England is under water stress but also due to the greenhouse gas emissions involved in increasing supply. Having to resort to things like desalination plants are a bit of an energy nightmare and other options such as direct ground water abstraction also come with their own environmental impacts.
We went over the basic legislation involved in water supply such as the Water Supply Regs 1999, Building Regs Part G and the new Code for Sustainable Homes. We were also introduced to the somewhat bizarre water calculator spreadsheet with its intriguing logic of how to calculate water use including its very own fudge factor.
Judith recommended the AECB Water Standards as generally being a more common sense approach, meaning calculations do not contribute to trade offs or sacrificial fittings, as well as taking things like regional water scarcity into account.
Practical ways to reduce water demand we talked about include:
*Plumbing pipe work - by minimising ‘dead legs’, that is design to have the minimum distance between the hot water cylinder and the point of use, to not waste energy heating it up and moving it around. Insulate pipes, again to save energy.
* Flow regulation- by fitting control valves, limiting water to a maximum flow rate (really easy to install – minimum effort for maximum effect and all that permaculture logic).
*Install water efficient toilets – such as compost loos or in situations where this isn’t possible you can get all sorts of jazzy things like waterless urinals and low flush toilets. A delayed inlet valve in your cistern can also save 1-3litres of water per flush.
*Taps – aerator fittings can reduce flow and taps with ‘water brakes’ discourage wastage too.
*Showers and baths - aside from not washing (that includes you crusty punks out there), showers will reduce water use, and you can fit heads that reduce flow even more. Or if possible if you are loved up you could always share a bath!