The Waste Water Cycle at Mezzacello
If you are a fan of Mezzacello Urban Farm, then you probably already know that very little goes to waste. That is especially true of the most versatile substance at Mezzacello: Water. This is the Waste Water Cycle at Mezzacello.
As the Disney/Star Wars character, the Mandalorian is fond of saying, “This is the way.” This is the way, friends, the future is sustainable.Jim Bruner
Hand Washing Stations
There are three hand washing stations at Mezzacello (see the map). Each station is strategically placed to be used when needed. All of the water for the 18.5 L (5 gallon) stations are filled with solar purified water. We use a series of solar evaporators for this and supplement with city water when needed.
Gray Water Collection
Each of the three hand washing stations at Mezzacello have a dedicated 37.8 L (10 Gallon) gray water waste collection tank attached to it. It is the gray water in this tank that we purify for fresh water during the camp seasons. The rest of the time the atmosphere here in Columbus, Ohio is too cool to either store liquid water outdoors or evaporate it.
We also collect rain water in 1000L (370 Gallon) rain barrels. This water is heated using solar powered heaters and pumps so we have access to liquid water on demand for the pond and fish. one has to plan ahead.
This process is surprisingly straightforward, as it is exactly how mother nature recycles all the water on this planet for the past 4.7 Billion Years. The issue here is one of pressure and precise engineering. The atmosphere of the planet Earth is a sealed enclosed system with an atmosphere to hold in both air and pressure as well as heat from the central star, Sol.
In order for a small scale solar evaporator to work efficiently, it has to be tightly sealed, have a dedicated evaporation unit that is level, AND a sealed glass-topped cover that is at an angle. This angle is what allows the pure water to run down the glass and drop into the collection tray and run out the side.
What is left in the tray is bacteria and soap. I recycle that too. But that is another blog post. Suffice to know that there has to be a back door in the evaporator to change out the waste water and remove the waste solids.
PS I use a series of four solar evaporators at Mezzacello. In the winter I even keep one or two running in the Biodome. The Biodome is almoist (see what I did there?) always at a balmy 39C (102F). Therefore the evaporators will still work, but I also need some moisture in the dome for the plants to thrive on.
So, you already know what I can use fresh purified water for, right? I can put it back in the hand washing stations, or use it for the animals, or I could make more fertilizer products for the farm or to sell. The opportunities are endless and the costs are simple some thrown together bits and parts and patience.
The Rules of Sustainability
It is not sustainable if you have to struggle to get access to resources. The resources I use here at Mezzacello are an amalgamation of 80% recycled or homegrown content and 20% purchased resources. This is not true of food – as food is a precious commodity and I do not have enough land or the rural footprint to grow all my own food.
But what I can do is take every opportunity I have to make the most out of what I do have. As the Mandalorian is fond of saying, “This is the way.” This is the way, friends, the future is sustainable.
This is a part of the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation Summer Grant Grant #1521-2023