Here’s something we need now, and may need desperately before long: a closed home water system for the desert. For places like Los Angeles and San Diego. These places, and many others, are naturally dry, and will be getting drier. Having closed water systems could literally save them, because there would be no such thing as waste water.
We need a closed home water system for the desert,
for places like Los Angeles and San Diego.
Why do we need closed water systems? After all, the way we use water now has been around a long time, and it works very well. In fact, there are certainly places in the US that will never need such a system. But there are others in which water might well become the most costly item in the budget. Where it would be impossible to live comfortably without such systems because there simply isn’t enough water. The only water input needed in such closed systems would replace evaporated and consumed water.
The Southwest has several areas that could easily revert to desert in the coming years of global warming. In fact, with rising temperatures everywhere, there will be many places that will simply go dry, and therefore become uninhabitable.
But what if we had workable closed water systems? The only water input needed would be small amounts to replace evaporated water and water we consume in drinking and cooking. If the water supply could be limited to such small amounts, many otherwise uninhabitable places—perhaps even San Diego and Los Angeles at a not distant future date—might be saved from ruin. In fact, closed systems would surely be better than the unsuitable and very expensive desalination plant that San Diego is now building, not to mention the ill-advised pipeline being considered for the Sacramento River Delta.
The only water input needed
would be small amounts to replace
evaporated water and water we consume.
No water would be needed for human waste disposal, because there are already quite civilized ways to deal with it without water. Feces would be used as fuel to evaporate urine, which would become valuable crop fertilizer. Systems of this type already exist. There would be no need for a public waste disposal system or a sewer.
All water in a household would be continuously purified and recycled. Food waste, including hard substances like bones, could be processed by stronger garbage disposals. It could then be strained out of the water cycle and composted for home or commercial use.
Used water would flow into a purification system, which would recycle it as completely pure potable water. This could be done with either a completely natural system of plants, a tank in which algae or other primitive plants purify the water, or a synthetic system in which the water flows through manufactured filters. Combinations of these three methods and others might also be used.
The only thing lacking is design,
but design is not the real challenge.
All these things are presently available. In fact, water recycling that includes even human waste is being done effectively right in the lobby of at least one commercial building.
The science is ready. The individual processes are ready. The hardware is available. The only thing lacking is the commercial development of economically viable designs for the home. However, the designs themselves are not the real challenge.
The most difficult part of the challenge is gaining acceptance by individuals and city agencies. This is because minds do not readily accept the new, and we who live in cities are well used to the water systems we have had for more than a century. But the need is already here.
What I have described here is not the only way to tackle the problem. Here’s an article by Terry O’Day from the California Progress Report about how Santa Monica and other cities are modernizing city water systems.