Feasibility of incorporating sustainable water systems in new residential construction

Date

2009

Authors

Spradling, Michael J.

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Abstract

Incorporation of sustainable water systems in new residential construction is a practical step in the direction of sustainability of our water resources. These individual water systems can use harvested rainwater, air conditioning condensate, graywater, and recycled water as a significant supplement to, or in some cases complete replacement of, traditional water sources. Incorporating these sustainable water systems into new construction would provide self sustaining water supplies in new developments that would efficiently minimize the quantity of imported source water and exported wastewater, while minimizing the impact of watershed runoff associated with the development. These sustainable water systems would not only reduce long term costs associated with water supply for the community, but would also allow for reduced withdrawal from rivers, reservoirs, and aquifers. Other inherent advantages of these types of systems, beyond providing more efficient management of available water, could include minimization of flood events and pollution resulting from reduced stormwater runoff, increased personal ownership of water supply encouraging conservation practices, potentially higher quality potable water and reduced cost of treatment, and reduction of the risk of terrorist attack on public water systems.

Encouraging sustainable water systems for new community developments, incorporated at the time of construction, would result in small scale introduction at relatively low incremental cost. Encouraging developers to incorporate self sustaining water systems into new housing would demonstrate the advantages and efficiencies of sustainable water systems---the benefits to the environment, the potential for high quality water, the long-term reduction in water supply cost, and the potential benefit to water resources as a whole. Furthermore, upfront costs are greatly reduced when these water systems are incorporated into new construction as compared to retrofitting existing structures. Harvesting rainwater provides an additional benefit of minimizing the increased stormwater runoff typically associated with development, with the potential to reduce the runoff to less than that of the undeveloped land. Most importantly, as many cities and towns are expanding and projecting increased water demand proportional to population growth, they must seek additional sources of water. Sustainable water systems in new developments could decrease the projected demand for future water supplies.

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Keywords

graywater, harvesting, rainwater, resources, sustainable, water

Citation

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering