Let’s get smart with water….no, not just smart, REALLY SMART! Way too much drinking quality water (potable water) is flushed down our toilets, showers, kitchens and laundry to the stormwater system after a single use. In state like South Australia where water is scarce this only exacerbates our water shortage problem. How silly!
At a domestic level this costs us both money and resources however there are steps we can take to minimize the pain (go here and here). At a larger organizational level, institutions such as schools and businesses can often use vast amounts of water and can be paying a fortune in both supply and connection fees. They are however in an enviable position. Large catchment areas, big blocks and opportunities to tie water recycling schemes to environmental education programs means schools have an advantage. Schools generally use and (can) harvest water at a level that can pay big returns. Storm water harvesting and waste water recycling initiatives can result in big savings, improved amenities and better educational outcomes…not to mention healthier environments.
Here’s a few options:
DAMS – If the school grounds are large it may well be worth the effort to consider building a dam. This is the most cost effective way of collecting large volumes of storm water runoff from hard surface areas (rooves, car parks, bitumised and paved surfaces etc.). The cost of establishment is variable but the end result may mean your school is paying around 1c or less per kL of water compared to $3.59 kL via mains supply!
REED BEDS – Average consumption of water per person in schools is somewhere around 30L per person per day. For a medium sized school with 300 students and staff that’s 9000L per day. Reed beds can treat grey water for re-use so that it can be re-used onsite. If the quality of water is up to standard after it has been filtered (which isn’t hard) it can be used for irrigation. This can result in significant water savings. Reed beds can be built to handle most water loads and when engineered properly can save your school more money by reducing waste water connection and service fees. They also look cool and can be engineered to look more like natural wetlands. Sweet!
WATER TANKS – ….huge ones. Although this is a more expensive option, if school grounds are limited this may be the best option. The trouble I have seen with some tanks is that they aren’t placed in the right positions or put to good use. The higher up the school grounds they can be placed the less power is needed to distribute water. They can be decorated or hidden or buried underground. Plumbed inside to toilets makes sense as they can be used year round.
There are many other ways schools can save water, how many can you think of? Drop me a line or leave me a comment and let me know.