In January 2017 the Herald newspaper published a series of articles about the shocking state of the Watercare stormwater and sewer system with headings like " Auckland's water shock: Bacteria levels 'dangerously high" and "Bills may rise to stop sewage overflows".
One of the key points of these articles was that this pollution occurs when the roof and site stormwater from houses gets combined with the sanitary sewer and overflows the system capacity during large rainfall events.
According to the articles the majority of the water that flows through the waste pipes of Auckland City is stormwater. About 99 per cent of the overflow is stormwater. Just 0.2 per cent, or two litres for every 1000 litres, comes from toilets.
The water used by most households to drink, wash, flush toilets, do laundry and irrigate is called potable water and in most cases the rain that falls from the sky is fit for purpose as potable water. Therefore houses that collect this water from their roof and send it straight to a council provided stormwater or sewer system are getting rid of a valuable resource indeed.
For the Living House we have tried to reduce our water footprint as much as possible, both in terms of the way that we generate our potable water as well as what we do with our waste water products. The water design of The Living House has been one of the hardest parts of the design and approval process as the Living Building Challenge requires that we all our water demands on site. Not just the potable water that we use, but also the waste water that we produce.
The Beachlands community has no connection to the Watercare Auckland's potable water network and all drinking water in the area is provided either via rainwater collection or by bore. Beachlands does however have a connection to the public sewer network and also has a patchy stormwater collection system.
Please refer to the links at the top of the page to see how we have resolved the water design for the Living House.