Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Future of Non-Potable Water Use

As potable water supplies dwindle and the cost per gallon rises, we have to be vigilant about how much we use and how we use it. One way to conserve potable water is to use non-potable water—rainwater, air conditioning condensate, stormwater run-off and treated wastewater—for purposes like landscape irrigation. Initiatives such as the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Program are driving the use of alternative water sources and the development of more efficient irrigation systems.  This trend is further fueled by state and local regulations, as well as rebate and incentive programs that focus on efficient water use.

Much like the air we breathe, fresh water is something many of us take for granted. We assume it will always be there in plentiful supply when we turn on the shower, the dishwasher or the faucet on the sink. However, the truth is that only one percent of the world’s water supply is now suitable for human consumption.  To make matters worse, various droughts across the globe have created serious water shortages, even in areas that typically experience plentiful precipitation.

As a result landscape architects and contractors are designing and implementing more irrigation systems that use alternative water sources.  However, the chemical composition of reclaimed water can pose public safety, liability and environmental concerns.  Non-potable water can also damage irrigation valves, rotors and sprays over time.  Obviously, our industry is facing some significant challenges as fresh water supplies continue to decline and the demand for non-potable water increases.  To adequately address these concerns, irrigation system manufacturers and the professionals who purchase, design and install irrigation systems must partner with the policymakers who are shaping the future of non-potable water use.

Non-potable water use is not a trend that will quickly come and go. Future legislation and green building initiatives will continue to increase non-potable water use and demand. This presents irrigation system manufacturers with an opportunity to promote premium, water-saving products to increasingly savvy customers.  In speaking with Tom Kundrat at Rain Bird recently, he explained Rain Bird has taken a proactive stance by developing products specifically for use with non-potable water.   They plan to continue doing their part to encourage efficient irrigation by creating even more products for non-potable water use in the future.  This is important because effects of reclaimed water and chemicals used to maintain a reclaimed water line leave a lasting irreversible effect on irrigation products.

Why Use Reclaimed Water

Reuse conserves water by matching water quality with water use.   High-quality groundwater is reserved for drinking and bathing. Reclaimed water saves money because reclaimed water rates are less than local drinking water rates.   Reclaimed water use helps assure that a community will have water supplies to meet their current and future needs.  It will continue to make a positive impact on water landscape water use and due to the effects reclaimed water can have on your irrigation system it’s important to remember to use products designed and built for this specific purpose.

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