It’s sad and scary that so much of this finite, precious resource is wasted or polluted. Each person uses on average 200 litres of water per day. 70 litres of that is polluted with human waste and immediately unusable. As water from our stream is so scarce during the summer months, these figures really focused our minds.
After lots of research (including sticking our noses down loos!) we decided that composting toilets and waterless urinals were the only way to go. Water from handbasins, showers and washing up sinks (greywater) is reusable if passed through a grease trap and a series of sand filters so our greywater system captures and filters all waste water from the shower block and uses it to water our gardens.
For us these are very practical solutions: we have been able to design our facility around the compost loos (these can’t be easily retro-fitted) and are using existing terrace drops to create large compost chambers under our dry toilets; the cost of the compost loos is less than a chemical solution or septic tank; the DIY greywater system is very inexpensive and we have the right conditions - enough land and a decent drop for gravity to take the water down. But EVERYONE can do their bit in conserving water. The simplest way is to reduce the amount of water you use – fix leaks; don’t leave the tap running etc - and then reuse & recycle whatever you can – e.g. if it’s fallen from the sky as rainwater, capture it to water your garden.
We’ll use energy from a source that is constantly and naturally ‘renewed’. Our solar PV (photovoltaic) system will generate electricity, although initially enough to charge batteries, as cost and import difficulties may necessitate a first stage ‘hybrid’ system using a generator, batteries and solar panels. Our solar thermal system will heat our water all using the sun’s energy. The PV cells are made from silicon (the main element of sand) and the electricity that could be produced from 1 tonne of sand is equivalent to what could be produced from burning half a million tonnes of coal!