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August 24, 2011

Taking Irrigation Off the Grid

At a recent conference, I learned from the Honorable Katherine Hammack, Asst. Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, that all army installations are challenged to obtain "Net-Zero" by 2020. This includes Net-Zero Energy, Net-Zero Waste and Net-Zero Water. This got me thinking about Net-Zero Water and the feasibility of obtaining this goal.

Landworks Studio, of course, has completed many projects involving water with various and multiple goals. We are often hired to design sites to reduce water run-off, to improve water quality before it is returned to the ecosystem, and to better control the velocity to reduce erosion on sites, streams and even rivers. 

In order to achieve Net-Zero, we are challenged to manage all three types of water sources on a typical site; rainwater, greywater and blackwater.

Rainwater is the easiest to treat and with proper treatment can even be potable, depending on the needs of the project. Proper collection, transportation and/or storage of rain water can take many forms, including but not limited to, bio-swales, rain gardens, forebays, detention and retention ponds, and even collection tanks. Each site offers unique and challenging opportunities to explore the possibilities.

Greywater refers to water that has been used in a way that does not introduce organic matter. Sinks, showers, laundry facilities, etc. all output greywater, while it is not potable without considerable effort, it can easily be used for irrigation purposes.

Blackwater is generated by toilets and sinks with garbage disposals.  Blackwater is contaminated with bacteria, viruses and pathogens due to the organic content, and is more difficult and expensive to treat. On-site systems can be designed to effectively treat blackwater to refill toilets, for fire hydrant supplies and for irrigation.

While Landworks Studio, has yet to be challenged by a client to assist them in reaching Net-Zero, our experiences show we are a strong partner in this next ambituos step toward sustainable site design.

We'll continue this discussion with information involving "Taking Irrigation Off the Grid".....just one way Landworks Studio can meet your projects' Net-Zero goals.