Water (re) use on the Earthship

Hello, hello!  Happy Monday friends!  How was everyone’s weekend?  Hope it was a good one for you.  Today, I’m going to talk about water at the Earthship.  This is a hot topic since the Mothership of the Earthship is in a high desert climate where water is at a premium (Taos, New Mexico).  One of the things our tour guide repeated multiple times – and it was shown as displays in the visitor center – was how each Earthship re-uses and recycles all the water.

Each Earthship has a sloping roof towards the built up “underground” side of the house as shown here:

Roof (our tour guide showing us the water catchment)

The large roof area allows for a larger collection of rain or snow water.  The water runs down the slop of the roof and goes into the “gutter as you can see in the photo above.  This all drains into a catchment system.  The initial roof run off is filtered by a stone trap in which catches the larger debris.

Watch this rainwater collection video which I took directly from www.earthship.com  to demonstrate the water collection process.  After collection, they filter the water through multiple filters. They tout that all water is used 3 times before the black water is then drained into a septic system for each house.  This was an interesting item because in front of each house you can see a little “oasis” of grass/trees/plants in which sits above the septic.

Water Organizing Module
water filter system integrated into house plumbing – photo credit from earthship.com

There is a special little drinking faucet at the kitchen sink which is used solely for drinking water whereas the other appliances and fixture use grey water.  An example: the toilets are flushed with greywater – which is clear as it’s been filtered so it’s not actually “grey” in color.   I personally found it interesting that not many Eathships use composting toilets in that they have this water re-use system integrated into their plumbing so that even given the low rain fall/water availability in the area they still feel that flushing a toilet isn’t wasteful.  Our guide lives in an Earthship in town and has a composting toilet.  Surprisingly it was the type that I just sold and she has the same issues with the bugs!  She’s not a fan of it. =)  If I knew water conservation wasn’t an issue, I would probably do a flushing toilet in an Earthship as well.  I like not having that black water in a tiny house though since I am mobile and enjoy the freedom.

The Earthship community is doing some experiments with vermi-composters (worm composter) for the kitchen waste area to start the water filter process.  (sidenote: I asked about food/ general composting because I didn’t see any bins and our tour guide didn’t mention anything about it. After I asked, she confirmed that it is in fact a big thing there.  Just not visible I guess?) Personally, I think composting should be a bigger thing for the Earthship since they do have greenhouses and are so self-supporting.  Maybe I should send in a comment card suggesting that. haha! I’m kidding of course!

Anyways, what are you thoughts on the Earthship?  The rest of the group wasn’t as impressed as I was with them – but no one else lives in a tiny house either so maybe I just have a different perspective on living situations.  =)

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