As many readers are already aware, water conservation has become increasingly important in modern society. The earth may be made up of around 70% of water, but only 1% of that is readily available for drinking and cleaning. The Energy Policy Act was passed in 1992 by the United States government and included a number of regulations governing the use of water by plumbing fixtures. Toilets were restricted to 1.6 gallons per flush, urinals to 1.0 gallons per flush, shower heads to 2.5 gallons per minute and faucets to 2.2 gallons per minute or less.
Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures
In 2006, the EPA, (environmental protection agency) launched the Watersense logo
From the EPAs website: the WaterSense logo helps consumers identify water-efficient products and programs that meet WaterSense water efficiency and performance criteria. Products carrying the WaterSense label perform well, help save money, and encourage innovation in manufacturing.
There are now a wide variety of green ecologically friendly water conservation plumbing products on the marketl. The first would be eco toilets, these are either waterless toilets, or high efficiency, low flow toilets that can conserve an enormous amount of water while still maintaining performance using advanced designs.
The waterless toilets and urinals on the market today are not quite that popular yet, as people are not familiar with the concept. Waterless urinals use a disposable trap insert filled with special sealant liquid that floats on top of the urine collected in the trap and thus prevents the smell of urine from escaping into the air. The trap inserts and the liquid sealant must be periodically replaced to maintain performance. Each traditional urinal converted into a waterless unit can potentially save many thousands of gallons of water per urinal per year! Waterless toilets use the concept of composting and incineration to manage the waste, instead of wasting water flushing the waste away!
More popular than waterless toilets, are the new high efficiency, low flow toilets on the market. By definition, high-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less, which is 20% less than the federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. There are also dual flush toilets, which use the normal 1.6 or 1.28 gallons to flush solid waste, but have a secondary flush that uses only one gallon or less of water to flush liquid waste.
Next in the water conservation category, we have low flow shower heads and faucets. A few years ago, it was normal to use up to 8 gallons per minute or more with your shower head! Talk about a waste of water! Now the new federal standard for shower heads is only 2.5 gallons per minute, which is why all new shower heads come with some sort of flow restriction installed in the design. Some special high efficiency shower heads come with the ability to wash using fine mists of high-pressure, but low flow water that utilize only 1.6 gallons per minute. Low flow aerators are available for your kitchen and lavatory faucets that reduce the water flow to an efficient 2.2 gallons per minute for kitchen faucets and a range of 1.0 to 1.5 gallons per minute for lavatory hand-washing faucets. Installing a low flow aerator or a low flow shower head is very cheap and easy, and can be done in minutes.
Moving on the waste and drain side of water conservation, we have gray water recycling systems. Gray water recycling is way to prevent the waste and treatment of the gray water in your plumbing system. Gray water is the liquid waste water also called effluent, that is produced from the use of laundry, showers, and sinks. This water can be recycled to be reused as irrigation water and fertilizer for your yard. Unlike black water which is waste from your toilet and garbage disposal, grey water has a very low amount of organic and pathogenic pollutants, so there is no need fo it to be treated in a sewage treatment plant, or processed in your septic system. Actually, gray water is a major reason for septic systems and sewage treatment plants getting overloaded, and diverting the gray water in your home from your septic system or the city sewage system can have a huge environmental impact.
Another method of reducing water consumption is the collection of rain water through rain water collection systems that make use of rain water to irrigate your lawn or garden instead of precious city water or underground well water.
If you are seriously interested in reducing the water use in your homes plumbing system, it would be recommended to contact a certified green plumber and have them do a water audit on your home. A water audit can show you step by step how to save a bunch of money and water by utilizing new green, water conserving technologies and methods available today.
Good luck conserving water, and stay Green!