At the turn of the last century I became concerned enough about the so-called impending "water wars" that I started to experiment with ways of recycling my shower water.
A number of years ago I implemented a refinement of the ideas I tried in Los Angeles California (where drought is an ever present threat)at the L.A. Ecovillage in 2000 through 2003, in Sonoma County in 2005 with Frank DiMassa Utility Consulting, and in my home in Germany from 2008 (where water costs about 3 Euros a cubic meter, one of the most expensive water costs in the developed world.)
Last year I videotaped the process here:
I also found that a cool fellow by the name of Stefan de Nijs from Holland, who had corresponded with me via Youtube about my efforts, had started tinkering with his own version and making improvements, adding a thermostat to the process, as you can see here:
This shows that at the home tinkerer level we can indeed make progress with this simple and effective way to recycle our shower water.
What is going on commercially? Well, a European designer named Mehrdad Mahdjoubi founded a company (Orbital Systems) that is working on bringing the recycling shower concept to a broader market. You can learn about their product here:
Cool huh? The only problem with this system is that it costs thousands of dollars to install. For people with the money to make the investment there certainly is a decent payback (only a couple of years when energy and water prices are high) so everybody technically should do it. But for those who need a solution NOW and don't have the money, guys like me and Stefan are showing that while this is what they do on the Space Station, this AIN'T rocket science!
Just a 12 V water pump, some plastic hose, a second shower head and a cheap filter can get you started immediately (if you don't have solar panels like I do you can use an AC pump -- keep it away from the water! -- or use a 12V inverter power supply).
Please do try this at home!
Meanwhile, another cool guy named Jason Selvarajan has created an open source design that is a bit more complex but hence more efficient called "Showerloop" that he is showing around the world. You can see his efforts here:
The world is definitely catching on that we can easily recycling our shower water. The old way of doing things, spending all this money and energy heating up freshwater only to spill it over our heads for a few seconds of luxurious liquid warmth and then letting it slip beneath our feet to the sewer still warm and mostly clean, is litterally letting money go down the drain. It is stupid. It is easily solved.
I hope we will see many more of you taking your water into your own hands and helping conserve our precious H2O heritage through this simple but powerful idea.
I will post more about my own journey as it develops.... stay tuned!