Flushing Out the Details to “Rain” in My Water Use
I am fully functional, attractive and inspirational – I hope I don’t sound too arrogant! The City set high goals for me and I don’t want to disappoint them. My architects designed me to use 30% less water than typical fire stations. Saving water will earn me 3 of my LEED points needed in the Water Efficiency (WE) category. I have no doubt that my occupants, the firefighters, will support my water saving efforts! Who better realizes how important water is to a community?
Outside, a concept of landscaping called Xeriscape (Photo 1) was used to design a landscape that will reduce the use of water for irrigation by 50%! Soon beautiful desert plants, many that are native to the Sonoran Desert where I live, will be planted around my site. Plants have been selected that will shade the ground – cooling it during the summertime, and many will attract butterflies and birds. They thrive during hot days of summer and can survive cold snaps that occasionally occur during the winter.
I am proud to tell you that these plants were also selected from a great source, Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert, because those featured on this resource have been determined to be water thrifty. However, even water-thrifty plants need a little irrigation to get established and to stay healthy and beautiful, so the landscape architect had the contractor install drip-irrigation and climate-based controllers that are highly efficient. All combined, this means my water efficient landscaping will reduce potable (suitable for drinking) water use by the required 50%, which earned me one of the three Water Efficiency (WE) points!
Inside the station, I am state of the art of course, so careful selection was made of appliances and fixtures. Special low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets deliver water with the same cleaning potential with less water. Many boast the WaterSense label, a relatively new EPA program similar to ENERGY STAR. Clothes washers and dishwashers also use less water with each load.
So then, I was wondering… what happens to water when it goes down the drain? As it turns out, Mesa has developed a very sophisticated and clever approach to harvesting and reusing wastewater (Figure 1). Potable water is delivered to homes, businesses and fire stations throughout the City. After water is used, the wastewater flows to a Mesa water reclamation facility for treatment where:
- by-products are used to produce power,
- solids removed during treatment are used to fertilize local farms,
- liquids are treated and reused to irrigate Gila River Indian Community Farms, irrigate golf courses and cool the Palo Verde Nuclear Power plant and
- liquids are also treated and pumped back into the ground to recharge the aquifer.
So with reduced water for irrigation outside and low-water use fixtures inside, I think my practical inner workings are pretty impressive. I sure hope that businesses and residents in my community will join my occupant fire fighters and be inspired by my awesome water saving performance. After all, as they say at Water – Use It Wisely, “There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you!”