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Clean Water Supply
Nearly, if not all available water sources on earth can be collected, filtered, purified and stored to provide a year round potable water supply. Water can be collected from springs, wells and other groundwater sources, as well as from surface water such as oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, precipitation such as rain or snow, and from atmospheric water vapors such as fog, humidity and transpiration. Indeed, potable water can be obtained from virtually every step of the water cycle (i.e., evaporation, transpiration, humidification, condensation, and precipitation).
Evaporation And TranspirationPlants transpire just as people sweat. Most plants transpire at least 90-95% of all the water they use. At high enough temperatures and low enough humidity just one tree at one foot in diameter can transpire up to 100 gallons of water per day. Corn and Juniper are excellent examples. Corn grows fast, doesn't take much space to grow and transpires about 99% of the water it uses. Juniper trees are hardy, grow in dry areas, and tap into water deep underground on their own, so they go beyond mere water recycling and like a well, can actually bring the water source to you. Transpiration can be collected, filtered, purified, contained and stored to recycle, supplement, or even replace water supplies. One way to catch water vapors from plants before they escape into the air is to grow your plants in a greenhouse, where they can stay warm and grow all year round. The rate of transpiration and condensation can be increased if warm air is sealed inside a greenhouse during the day, and cool air is allowed inside to replace warm air at night. Recycling transpired water in the greenhouse can reduce water requirements for plants grown inside it by as much as 90-99%. Removing humidity from a greenhouse (to store and reuse later) also causes plants to transpire more water, and the cycle continues.
Harvesting Water From AirWater vapor collectors such as fog fences, air wells, earth tubes, dew condensers, dew ponds and reservoirs, are all methods of atmospheric dehumidification, used for the purpose of collecting and condensing water from the air. Water vapor collection is possible at 5-100% humidity, with incoming air temperatures of 110-140°F, and a condensation surface of about 30-52°F, without toxic chemicals or electricity. A water vapor collector such as the Air2Water machine can collect up to 4 gallons or more of water per day. Fog fences can collect up to 5 gallons of water per square foot of collection space. Air wells, earth tubes and dew condensers can collect up to one quart per day, per square foot. Dew ponds and reservoirs can collect up to 1.5 gallons per day in the winter and up to 4 gallons per day in the summer per square foot. Depending on humidity levels, collecting water vapors from air can supplement, or even replace your current drinking water supply.
Collecting water from the air works in much the same way as dehumidification, in that air is drawn into an enclosed system, where water is condensed from the air. In the case of collecting water from air however, air is drawn into the system through an air filter, and rather than wasting the water collected, it is saved, filtered, purified, stored, and continually re-circulated and re-purified to maintain purity and water quality. Non-toxic hygroscopic materials such as calcium chloride salts are also sometimes used in such systems to absorb water from air. Generally the warmer and larger the volume of incoming air is and the cooler the condensation surface is, the more efficient the process is.
Rainwater HarvestingRain water can supplement or even replace your water supply, depending on the amount of rainfall, the size of your roof or other collection area, and available water storage space. For every inch of rainfall and 1000 square feet of collection space, 600 gallons of rainwater can be harvested from the rooftops of homes, buildings, cisterns and other surfaces. Water collected can then be directed with rain chains, gutters or other means, to be filtered, purified and stored in rain barrels, a cistern, or other water storage medium/s for later use.
Drilling A WellGroundwater is often a viable water source, although it may be expensive to drill a well, depending on how deep you have to drill. Wells can also dry up, so reliability of this water source depends primarily on available groundwater, the total amount of water needed, and available water storage space.
Water Filtration And PurificationThese days even sewer water is filtered, disinfected (most often with chemicals such as epichlorohydrin and chlorine) and reused, although I wouldn't consider this a potable water source, and certainly not suitable for drinking water, no matter what has been done to it. Chemicals used for disinfecting water are made to kill organisms, and in case we have forgotten, we are organisms! Fortunately there are better ways to filter, disinfect and purify water however, which are natural, earth friendly and non-toxic.
Simple filtration with a clean, nontoxic, wire mesh screen should remove particles and debris, but generally not pathogens, poisons, toxins, heavy metals or VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Natural ceramic or activated carbon water filters will remove nearly all such impurities, but must be replaced every ten years or so, depending on the filter and the amount of water to be filtered and purified. UV light is an effective alternative to the use of chemicals for water disinfection. Distillation is a simple, safe, earth friendly, reliable method of water disinfection and purification. Solar distillation can also be done without electricity, fire, fuels, or toxic chemicals of any kind.
Distillation involves boiling water, condensing and storing water vapors that rise from the steam. One simple way to distill water at home is to place a bowl of water inside a cooking pot or wok, cover the pot with a lid and top the lid with a bag of ice. If brought to a boil, steam will rise from water inside the bowl and condense on the bottom of the lid. Purified water then runs down the insides of the pot, leaving up to 99% of all impurities (except VOCs) behind in the bowl. When there is no water remaining in the bowl, remove the pot and bowl from heat, then remove the bowl from inside of the pot. Let water collected in the pot or wok cool uncovered (to allow evaporation of VOCs), and store.
Water Storage And DistributionMost water storage mediums are made of plastic, steel, steel and cement, fiberglass, or sometimes wood. Steel, cement, fiberglass or wood are much better water storage mediums than plastics however. Plastic food or water storage containers are not very safe or healthy, as most plastics are made using BPA (bisphenol-A) as a basic component, which is an endocrine disruptor that can mimic the body's own hormones and has been linked to a number of health conditions, such as infertility, obesity, neurological conditions, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, prostate and breast cancer in humans, and similar health effects in plant and animal life. Plastics can leach BPA into foods and beverages stored in it. Heat, acid, alcohol, harsh detergents, age, and microwaving can also increase the amount and speed at which BPA is absorbed.
Most pipes are made of PVC or copper. Though plastic and PVC doesn't freeze as easily in cold temperatures as metals do, like most plastics, PVC is not very safe or healthy. The production, use and disposal of PVC exposes people and the environment to hydrochloric acid and toxic carcinogens, such as dioxin, vinyl chloride, phthalates, and heavy metals. Metal pipes with better insulation are thus a better option than pipes made of plastic or PVC.
Most garden hoses are made from either polyvinyl chloride (which contains lead, a toxic heavy metal), vinyl (which is treated with toxic chemicals), or 'EPDM rubber' (a type of synthetic rubber). Hoses made of EPDM rubber' are supposedly safe to drink from because they do not contain lead, but really, none of these hoses are very safe or healthy to store water in for consumption. Nearly all so-called 'rubber' products on the market are actually some form of synthetic rubber anyway, which is almost always made from petroleum and toxic chemicals.
Multiple Water SourcesSaving water means saving money, and either reducing the necessity for collecting water, or supplementing water storage for later use. Collecting, filtering, purifying, storing and distributing your own water, rather than paying others to provide it for you, not only helps you to save money, but also increases self-sufficiency, independence, and water security. Should any one water source not be sufficient, multiple water sources, including that from water conservation, water collection and storage, may be combined, filtered, purified, and stored, to produce and distribute a sufficient, reliable, consistent, clean water supply.
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