A bet­ter way to ir­ri­gate

Builder shows off new re­cy­cling sys­tem that makes ‘ gray wa­ter’ us­able for land­scap­ing.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Roger Show­ley roger. show­ley @ ut­sandiego. com

KB Home shows off a new re­cy­cling sys­tem that makes “gray wa­ter” us­able for land­scap­ing.

SAN DIEGO — KB Home, one of the state’s largest builders, showed off a new re­cy­cling sys­tem in San Diego on Mon­day that elim­i­nates the need for much of the drink­ing wa­ter now used to quench thirsty land­scapes.

It would drop over­all wa­ter use by as much as 72%. Wa­ter of­fi­cials say it is the f irst time such a sys­tem is be­ing in­stalled in a hous­ing sub­di­vi­sion.

The $ 10,000 sys­tem comes at a time when Cal­i­for­nia is search­ing for ways to re­duce wa­ter use be­cause of se­vere drought.

A stan­dard fea­ture in KB Home’s 52- home Sea Cliff pro­ject, it routes so- called gray wa­ter from showers, bath­tubs, wash­ing ma- chines and bath­room sinks through fil­ters that re­move most solids and im­pu­ri­ties, and makes the wa­ter ready for use in each home’s land- scap­ing — but not for hu­man con­sump­tion.

The pro­ject, which held its grand open­ing over the week­end, is north of state Route 56 in the north­ern San Diego city neigh­bor­hood of Ran­cho Pe­nasquitos. Homes range from $ 890,000 to just over $ 1 mil­lion on f loor plans of 2,892 to 3,934 square feet. Sales agent San­dro Di Nun­zio said the re­cy­cling sys­tem caught the buy­ers’ at­ten­tion.

“Peo­ple just see it as a great in­no­va­tion. It’s set­ting the com­mu­nity apart from other builders,” he said.

Los An­ge­les- based KB ob­tained the sys­tem from Nexus eWa­ter, founded in Aus­tralia f ive years ago and re­cently re­lo­cated to Cal­i­for­nia. “We’re the only cer­tif ied sys­tem and this is the only place” it’s been in­stalled, said Scott Isak­sen, Nexus’ di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing and tech­ni­cal ser­vices.

The Na­tional San­i­tary Foun­da­tion, based in Ann Ar­bor, Mich., has cer­ti­fied the sys­tem as the only one avail­able na­tion­ally for this sort of use. Its NSF350 stan­dard was added to the Cal­i­for­nia plumb­ing code in its most re­cent edi­tion.

On a tour Mon­day, Nexus and KB of­fi­cials showed how the sys­tem works.

Used wa­ter is routed from drains and pipes to a 50- gallon un­der­ground tank in the side yard. It then runs through a 10- gallon- per­hour f il­ter­ing sys­tem that re­moves vir­tu­ally all sus­pended solids, bac­te­ria and im­pu­ri­ties and ends up in a 200- gallon un­der­ground tank that feeds the home’s ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem.

Ralph Petroff, founder and chair­man of Nexus eWa­ter, stressed that the wa­ter does not meet state drink­ing stan­dards and should not be con­sumed.

A mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem con­nected by cell­phone alerts Nexus of­fices if there is a prob­lem that tech­ni­cians can fix.

Be­sides the re­cy­cling sys­tem, the home fea­tures the latest in wa­ter- sav­ing ap­pli­ances that com­ply with the EPA’s WaterSense stan­dards pro­gram.

Jeff Stephen­son, rep­re­sent­ing the San Diego County Wa­ter Au­thor­ity, said the typ­i­cal wa­ter use of 161 gal­lons per per­son per day could be cut by 50% with the re­cy­cling and higher- eff iciency fea­tures. Tom Wood, Nexus’ chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, said use could drop as low as 45 gal­lons per per­son per day — a 72% re­duc­tion.

Nexus orig­i­nally hoped to cer­tify the use of re­cy­cled wa­ter for the KB homes’ toi­lets as well, but San Diego city build­ing of­fi­cials said re­quired an­nual in­spec­tions are not now avail­able to cer­tify that ad­di­tional use would be safe.

Still, Jose Sal­cedo, a depart­ment me­chan­i­cal engi­neer and as­sis­tant man­ager, called it a “huge ben­e­fit” for home­own­ers be­cause it would be in­cluded dur­ing con­struc­tion.

Nexus of­fi­cials said they are ramp­ing up pro­duc­tion at sub­di­vi­sions and can sup­ply ex­ist­ing homes as well, but at a cost of around $ 15,000. They ex­pect the costs to drop in com­ing years.

Char­lie Neu­man U- T San Diego

HEATHER McPHER­SON of KB Home and Tom Wood of Nexus eWa­ter show off Nexus’ re­cy­cling sys­tem at a home in the Sea Cliff pro­ject in San Diego.

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