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One of the oddest quirks in our homes is that we flush toilets with water good enough for drinking — and toilets consume on average 40% of a household’s water use. To address this issue Sloan Valve Company has been hard at work perfecting the AQUS water reclamation system, which takes your bathroom’s sink water and recycles it for flushing in your toilet. As a do-it-yourself project the kit takes about 1 hour to install and promises to save up to 6,000 gallons each year. Other than perhaps saving water in a bucket, the Aqus provides the simplest and most effective solution to reducing our water footprint — and it has garnered a lot of attention for its innovative design.
Grey water has been a colorful topic in sustainable building because of the significant impact our water use has on the environment. Now that clean water supplies are at more risk than once assumed, we need to make every drop count. It also takes a significant amount of energy to distribute and process drinking water and waste water through an aging system.
Sloan’s AQUS system is built around a box that rests inside the vanity and holds up to 5.5 gallons of reclaimed sink water. A small pump, activated by a water level sensor in the toilet tank, transfers the grey water to the toilet and fills the reservoir alongside the toilet’s water supply, off-setting 65% of the potable water needed per flush. If the Aqus is out of water, the toilet’s regular water supply fills the tank, and if the Aqus is full, excessive water goes through the normal drain. The system also requires maintenance only once a year, reducing the complexity and improving the safety of using grey water.
The installation is sold as a kit that includes the hose and sensor wire to run from the vanity to the toilet, some equipment installed in the toilet tank, and some plumbing from the sink to the storage tank. The entering sink water pours through chlorine tablets, which are inserted to make sure the water is not dangerous, and a screen catches hair and other objects. A plug in the vanity is also required to power the unit.
Payback depends on your location, but since many municipalities charge for waste water processing, it could take just a few years for the AQUS to pay for itself. Those on septic systems can reduce the stress and potentially extend the life of their leech field. The system gives green building designers an easy way to reduce a project’s water consumption without complex and expensive engineered designs. The system is also viable for hotels, office buildings and other commercial projects that use gravity-type toilets, including super low flow and dual flush types.