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On-Site Water Recycling Could Create Drought-Resilient Homes in California

California builders, water & sewer agencies and homeowners are one step closer to being able to construct bona fide drought-resilient homes.

Nexus eWater, maker of home water and energy recyclers, has received certification to the NSF/ANSI 350 global standard for residential grey water treatment for its ‘NEXtreater’ home water recycler. The water recycler is capable of safely recycling two out of every three gallons of grey water in the home for non-potable, approved uses.

Grey water is drain water from showers, laundry and hand sinks and is the largest potential source of on-site water in homes — typically, this makes up two-thirds of indoor water.

The potential water savings associated with in-home grey water recycling are “unprecedented”, Nexus eWater says.

Because the majority of indoor water is being reused a second time, it achieves four times the water savings of more efficient water fixtures. For example, current water-efficient homes with all EPA WaterSense fixtures save 10,000 gallons a year compared to standard homes. On-site recycling of grey water saves 40,000 gallons. Nexus eWater claims existing homes could see savings of almost 80,000 gallons.

Home water recycling also can have significant potential benefits for homebuilders. Compared to building conventional water-efficient homes, those with water recycling could use almost half as much water, while generating only one-sixth the peak sewage. This could lead to lower fees for water rights and sewer tie-in fees for builders, while significantly stretching reduced water allocations.

Water recycling may soon become a standard feature of homes in the American Southwest, which is facing one of its worst droughts since 1949. In California, it will take around 11 trillion gallons of water—about 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir—to recover from the drought, according to NASA.

In recognition of the drought's growing threat to business, Google, Adobe, eBay and several other technology companies are embracing innovation to reduce water consumption. Google, for example, is considering installing new technology such as urinal cakes containing enzymes that calcify urine so that toilets only have to be flushed a few times each day. This could save around 500,000 gallons of water a year.

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