There was a time when John Bell didn’t think twice about flushing a toilet. Now, it’s never far from his mind.
“It’s time to start thinking about how we view water,” says Bell, vice-president, business development at Mississauga, Ont.-based Greyter Systems Inc, a provider of water recovery solutions. “It’s crazy to be flushing our toilets with perfectly good drinking water.”
Canadians use 22 litres of drinking water per person per day on average just to flush toilets – roughly 10 times the amount recommended for drinking. In addition to the ‘waste,’ residential water costs are constantly increasing as municipalities deal with issues related to moving and treating water. Homeowners are looking for ways to reduce costs by conserving, and land developers need to ease the infrastructure burden.
If it’s grey … flush it away
One solution, says Bell, is greywater recycling, using water that has already served another domestic purpose (such as bathing or laundry) to flush toilets in place of treated drinking water.
After acquiring the greywater recycling rights of Brac Systems Inc. in May, 2012, Greyter is working to develop a new residential system that addresses limitations of earlier models. Called The Greyter Home, the revamped technology will capture shower and bath water only, move it through a multi-stage filtration and liquid disinfection process, and maintain it in a self-clean holding tank where it can be accessed for toilet flushing when necessary.
Similar to changing the filter on a furnace, adding disinfectant will be part of routine maintenance because untreated greywater will turn septic. The company estimates that two showers a day will generate enough greywater to flush toilets for a family of four, reducing overall water consumption by 30 to 40 per cent.
“The goal is to be like a hot water tank where it just sits there and you don’t really think about it,” says Bell. “If a homeowner went away on vacation, and that greywater is still sitting in the tank, we still treat it.”
The first Greyter Home prototype will be installed in Bell’s family home this summer. A former sports anchor, Bell took an interest in construction in 2004, eventually landing a role as carpenter on TV’s Colour Confidential. In 2009, he hosted a season of HGTV’s Greenest Homes in the World, and says he hasn’t looked back.
“A television show changed my life,” says Bell, who has since built his own sustainable home.
Several developers in the Greater Toronto Area are already working with Greyter to build “greywater-ready” homes, meaning the plumbing is ready to accommodate greywater recycling in the future. Among them is Geranium Corp., which made a minority investment in Greyter earlier this year and plans to pilot the residential system in 18 new homes this fall.
“We do not want to change the way you shower or bath,” notes Bell. “You’re going to have 100 per cent efficiency … because every flush is a zero flush.”
By Dianne Daniel
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