Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The WaterShed

A few months ago, I hired David Bonn to do some load calculations and a set of addition plans for us. David was one of my class mates in the Sustainable Homes Professional course at Earth Advantage. David is a great designer who was just finishing up work on the notable Juneberry Lane development, a local land trust project that is offering 12 LEED Platinum homes starting at $115,000.

When he arrived at the house to meet me for the first time, he came armed with literature on his latest invention, the "WaterShed". He went on to explain that the WaterShed is a freestanding rainwater harvester that captures, stores, and distributes it's own rainwater without using any existing building's runoff. The design was a simple garden shed which housed an above-ground tank and had a roof large enough to completely fill that tank during each rainy season. A solar panel on the roof would keep a battery charged to run the water pump and some lighting inside the shed. Since the tank only took up half the space, the front half of the shed could be used, well, as a shed.

Annie and I talked it over, and we decided to invest in the project. David, his son Noah, and I formed WaterShed Designs, LLC. We built the prototype in our backyard. Since our garden is about 250 square feet, we built a 10x12 shed, which has a 2,600 gallon storage capacity. A basic irrigation needs analysis tells us that we need about 10 gallons of water, per square foot of garden, per growing season.

Since this is our showpiece, we tricked it out with Hardie siding and a cedar gable. I then styled it further by adding the iron downpipes to the overflow valve which will drip into the two retired whiskey barrels. I planted some succulents that my Mom had given me a few months ago in the barrels and then found a home for a cow skull from Mexico, a deer jaw from Austin, and some random rusted metal items we borrowed from an abandoned building in Marfa.

Since I'm sitting at a coffee shop waiting for my truck canopy to be installed, I'll have to leave you with the only picture I remembered to upload last night. I'll do another post soon with more details and pictures.

What you see here is the finished product; a standalone outbuilding with a 2,600 gallon storage capacity. By the beginning of the Spring growing season, the tank will be full of clean Oregon rainwater. When you turn the valve, pressurized water comes from the hose. Since the pump and lighting are solar powered, this unit would perform the same in the middle of nowhere as it does in my back yard,but more on that plan later…

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