A better way to irrigate
Builder shows off new recycling system that makes ‘ gray water’ usable for landscaping.
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.
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.