Many of us are more concerned than ever with conserving natural resources and reducing our carbon footprint. As a plumbing and sewer contractor, water conservation is an especially important issue to our team, as it is for most Californians—and in particular, Bay Areans. We have dealt with countless water and draught-related issues over the years, so conserving water has become one of the top “green” priorities here.
As water conservation grows in importance, it’s essential to learn more about how to achieve and maintain plumbing efficiency. Properly installed and maintained sewers are an often undervalued but crucial component of a home’s overall water conservation efforts, and is the first step in a much larger water treatment ecosystem.
Why is Water Conservation Important?
The importance of using water efficiently and responsibly cannot be overstated. Water is a requirement of all life, and all life on our planet depends on it. We need it to drink, to feed our crops and livestock, in our plumbing, during the production of goods and services, and more. Unfortunately, water is also a limited resource and less than 1% of the water on Earth is available for use by people. Maintaining this supply for the foreseeable future is crucial for the long-term survival of humanity.
Using less water also saves energy. 6.5% of the energy used in the state of California is for pumping and treating water. So, reducing water use—or being smarter about how we use water—also serves to reduce our carbon footprint. The less energy we use to heat, transport and treat water, the less CO2 will be released into the atmosphere.
There are also water shortages to think about. California experienced a drought between “water years” 2012 through 2016, including the driest four years on record.
Benefits of Sewer Line Water Efficiency
Water use is a huge issue with various political and economic perspectives. But at a local and family level, there are plenty of opportunities to increase water efficiency – and reap the benefits.
Some of the ways water conservation can benefit you and your community include:
- Reduced costs (water utility bills)
- Reduced stress on infrastructure (saves taxpayer dollars)
- Reduced energy use (leading to less CO2 in the air)
- Help prevent water shortages
- Live a sustainable lifestyle
5 Ways You Can Improve Your Home's Efficiency with Better Plumbing
What role does plumbing play in water conservation efforts? Let’s take a closer look at a few ways your home’s sewer line affects your water efficiency, including a few sustainable living tips.
1. High-Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures
High-efficiency (aka water-efficient) plumbing fixtures can save not only water but energy consumption. Here’s how some popular eco-friendly products can make a difference:
- Low-flow toilets - Required in new homes since 2011, low-flow toilets use less water: As little as 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons used in conventional toilets.
- WaterSense products - "Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use—for the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day." See more on the WaterSense website.
Tips for Choosing Plumbing Fixtures Based on Water Conservation
The state of California is one of only a handful whose plumbing standards for water efficiency are better than federal standards. California regulators are serious about reducing the water we consume, which as of 2014 was about 443 billion gallons of water a year for flushing toilets and urinals and running faucets.
Maximum allowed flow rates according to California code:
|Lavatory faucets||1.2 gal/min|
|Kitchen faucets||1.8 gal/min (may have capacity to increase to 2.2 gal/min for filling pots and pans)|
Pipe Spy is proud to be Green Certified. Certified Green businesses have saved over a million metric tons of waste.
2. Water Line Replacements
Here's how trenchless water line replacements at Pipe Spy qualify as water conservation:
- Trenchless sewer line replacements are more efficient.
- Trenchless replacements will also save you money. Pipe bursting can save ou more than half the cost of taditional open cut (trenching).
- Trenchless technology saves time, too. Some projects only take three days.
- Avoid tearing up the yard, with minimal damage to the landscape.
- Digging a trench would consume a lot of energy, increasing your project’s carbon production. Replacing the landscape after the dig will also consume more energy.
- Pipe replacement removes damaged, leaky pipes and replaces it with a stronger, more durable and more effective pipe that will reduce environmental harm.
3. Sewer Lateral Compliance
When a sewer line is not working properly and is leaking or backing up, water is wasted every time it is discharged from the home—so, it’s important that your line is “watertight”. Be sure your first course of action is to have a video inspection done to detect offset pipe joints, leaks and other problems.
The concern is rain water getting into the sewage system because excess sewage water spills into the SF Bay. The effort to keep the Bay clean is called the East Bay Regional Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Program.
Your sewer is in compliance if your property’s sewer lateral has received a Compliance Certificate from EBMUD, or the City of Berkeley, Albany, Alameda, Richmond and some cities in Contra Costa County. See Pipe Spy’s “sewer responsibility” infographic on our Trenchless Services page to learn about your responsibility for your property’s upper and lower laterals. There are some exceptions, so please call Pipe Spy for up-to-date information about sewer compliance for your location.
4. Pollution Prevention Methods
Sewage treatment, also referred to as wastewater treatment, is:
...the process of removing contaminants from wastewater, primarily from household sewage. It includes physical, chemical, and biological processes to remove these contaminants and produce environmentally safer treated wastewater (or treated effluent). A by-product of sewage treatment is usually a semi-solid waste or slurry, called sewage sludge that has to undergo further treatment before being suitable for disposal or land application. (Wikipedia)
An effective sewage treatment system is crucial for limiting our cities’ environmental footprints. Your home’s sewer lateral is the first step in this complex system, so it’s important to have reliable pipes that lead your waste from your home to the local treatment facility without leaks or other problems. Fixing leaks in water and/or sewer lines saves water, saves money, and protects precious ground water from contamination.
It's important to partner with a contractor that cares as much about reducing pollution and conserving water as you do. At Pipe Spy, we...
- Recycle materials - Over 95% of job by-product waste is recycled, such as cast iron piping, wood, metals and pallet materials collected from sewer repair and other plumbing projects.
- Use solar energy - Our operations (offices and shop yard) are run primarily on 75% solar.
5. Sustainable Water Reuse Systems
In addition to the low-flow plumbing fixtures mentioned earlier, there are additional opportunities to improve your home’s water sustainability by implementing water collection and reuse strategies. These are especially useful for anyone who is looking at building a new home, but can also be installed in existing homes.
One of the most popular strategies is rainwater collection. Also sometimes referred to as “rainwater harvesting” or “storm water collection,” these systems direct the water from your gutters into a tank rather than into the storm drain. From there, the filtered rainwater can be used for plants, cleaning the car and more. Higher-end systems can even be used to replace the water in some of your home’s plumbing systems, like the tub, laundry and sinks. This reduces both your overall water use and your utility bill.
More Resources for Water Efficiency at Home:
- The U.S. Department of Energy’s free Guide to Home Water Efficiency (PDF)
- TED Talks video playlist: “Talks on water”
- California Drought information
- Save Our Water’s household conservation tips
- Eco-Building Pulse article on The Water-Efficient Home
Choose the Best
The technicians at Pipe Spy will treat you and your home with the respect and professionalism you deserve. To learn more or to get started on your sewer line project, contact a Pipe Spy professional.