Last July I wrote about the start of construction of Ed and Rachelle Begley’s new home in their attempt to build one of the Greenest homes in North America. The steel framing had just begun and now these months later the sheathing is being laid over that frame. Recently two new water systems started to be installed that will help Ed and Rachelle save on water bills as well as recycle much needed water back to the aquifer.
Every drop of water that flows down a storm drain into the LA River, Ballona Creek or any of the other channelized waterways that leads to the sea, is water that won’t be re-used or reclaimed back into to the aquifer. Every gallon of water from a washing machine that flows into the sewer, means a gallon of clean drinkable water will now have to be used to water that home’s lawn or garden instead.
Last year a 10,000 gallon cistern was lowered into the Begley’s backyard for rainwater capture, and last month the piping was laid in the ground all around the house that will be used to channel the captured rainwater back to the cistern for storage. While most captured rainwater can be used for irrigation, cleaning and other uses, there are more advanced systems that allow rainwater to be used for drinking, showers and other household uses. A strict and well maintained filtration system is necessary for such uses, but hopefully that is where we are heading in the future, especially if drought conditions become more of the norm and rainwater is recognized as the valuable commodity and resource it is.
Greywater systems are something you can install to capture used water from washing machines, dishwashers and showers, and can save a homeowner 10,000-50,000 gallons of water a year. It diverts the discharged water from going down the municipal sewer system and instead sends it to your backyard or front lawn, where if property set up will take care of your plant irrigation and lawn watering needs as well as sending it back to replenish the aquifer below.
Both the rainwater and greywater systems rely on gravity to do the work, the branched drain greywater system being installed at the Begleys will have a 2% grade on the pipes that lead to their backyard.
Rainwater capture and water reclamation need to become more of a vital part of our water consciousness, especially here in Southern California. The more we capture and use, the less reliant we are on importing water from the Sacramento Delta in the north and the Owens Valley and Colorado River to the east, something that costs us millions of dollars in energy costs and depletes water supplies in other areas as well as to farmers throughout the state.
Catch episodes of On Begley Street on the Evox Network. On Begley Street is a web series that explores the building of North America’s greenest, most sustainable home and is the winner of both the Burbank International Film Festival's Best New Media Award and Platinum Best of Show Aurora Award in the Nature/Environment Category.