Water Energy Nexus

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - CONTENTS - DOUG PUSHARD

Water, water ev­ery­where, but what is right for me? With water we do have lots of choices, and not all are cre­ated equal. You are prob­a­bly won­der­ing what I am talk­ing about. What choices, what water?

Of course there is city water that most of us utilize abun­dantly. But we also have rain­wa­ter, grey­wa­ter, and black­wa­ter. All of th­ese are po­ten­tial sources of water that could be used to drive our net­wa­ter use to zero or bet­ter, and help us to be­come a net pro­ducer of water.

Each one of th­ese wa­ters has dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics that makes it well suited for a pri­mary, sec­ondary, and ter­tiary use. Each type has dif­fer­ent up-front costs and varies on the im­pact to net water use. For ex­am­ple, city water has chlo­rine added to help keep it dis­in­fected en route to our homes from the dis­tri­bu­tion plant. This same chem­i­cal may cre­ate healthy water for us, but over the long term is not healthy for plants. It cre­ates salt build-up in the soil that rain­wa­ter and fer­til­iz­ers help off­set. City water is a good pri­mary source of potable water, but should be sec­ondary or ter­tiary when it comes to land­scape use. Of course, the ad­van­tage of city­wa­ter is that it is plumbed to al­most ev­ery house.

Ex­am­in­ing the sources of water with­out con­sid­er­ing costs would re­sult in a much dif­fer­ent water use pat­tern. For ex­am­ple, if all homes were plumbed for water stor­age and had water fil­tra­tion sys­tems, we would use the best water for the right use to min­i­mize or elim­i­nate our “water foot­print.” Look­ing at our water use from this per­spec­tive than our water use pat­tern might look some­thing like this:

• City wa­ter­would be used only for drink­ing water

• Rain­wa­ter­would be used to wash clothes and flush toi­lets

• Grey­wa­ter and black­wa­ter would be used for land­scap­ing

If im­ple­mented in this fashion, each res­i­dent’s water foot­print would drop sig­nif­i­cantly— to just 15 gal­lons per day. Com­pare this to our city­wide av­er­age of 90 gal­lons!

Be­sides the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits of sav­ing water and ex­tend­ing our water sup­plies well into the 22nd cen­tury, our plants and soils would be health­ier, pro­duc­ing more fruit, veg­eta­bles, flow­ers, and shade at a much lower water cost than to­day. We have vast amounts of wasted water. We must view it as pre­cious and ir­re­place­able. With this­mind­set again we will be­gin to change our be­hav­ior and se­cure our water se­cu­rity for decades to come.

Doug Pushard, founder of the web­site www.Har­vestH2o.com, has de­signed and in­stalled res­i­den­tial rain­wa­ter sys­tems for over a decade. He is a mem­ber of the Santa FeWater Con­ser­va­tion Com­mit­tee, a life­time mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Sys­tems As­so­ci­a­tion, and an EPAWaterSense Part­ner. He can be reached at doug@Har­vestH2o.com.

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