While the insecurity of Australia’s water supply has a range of environmental and social implications, there are also several ways to address it. These include the use of the latest water management and plumbing products.
According to the Climate Council, the increased regularity and severity of draught is negatively impacting Australia’s water security. The bad news is that the trend, which began midway through last century, is expected to continue.
Water scarcity is likely to present not just ecological challenges, but also challenges to the agricultural sector and urban water supply. It is essential, therefore, that Australian becomes water wise. As a nation, we need to make every drop of water count. We need to use only what we need and, where appropriate, come up with smart ways to harvest and re-use our water.
Conservation is only part of the sustainability story. Wastewater management and stormwater are two other important considerations, as are the use of sustainable materials, manufacturing processes, and product disposal/recycling strategies.
If sustainability is the goal, it is necessary to tick several boxes. An important way to do so, at least in the urban context, is to employ suitable water management, drainage, and plumbing systems. Whether they are installed in our homes, offices or public spaces, products like real-time metering solutions, drainage systems, greywater tanks, leak-detection devices, smart showers, touchless faucets have real roles to play in sustainable water management.
Here are some local suppliers and products that look set to become part our water-wise future:
‘Stormwater’ is something of a misnomer. Far more than just rainwater, it contains everything from organic matter and fertiliser to oil residues and chemical pollutants. And it results in the eventual disposal of all these materials into waterways and out to sea.
Effective stormwater management, as prioritised in an approach known as water-sensitive urban design (WSUD), is a means of minimising these negative impacts.
Products, such as Stormtech’s 100TiXi20TML linear drainage system, can greatly reduce the negative impact on waterways. The consistent drain flow it provides ensures material debris and pollutants are not collected, absorbed, and conveyed during heavy downpours.
A 100mm wide tile insert drain, the 100TiXi20MTL allows tiles of up to 10mm, offering a shallow channel profile of just 23mm total depth. Made-to-length from 316 marine grade stainless steel, it can be finished in a range of metallic and powder coated colours. It is designed and manufactured in Australia and carries Greentag and Watermark certification.
Designed and manufactured in Australia by Everhard, Easydrain Edge is a drainage system that is suitable for installation under the surface of patios, swimming pools, balconies, and other outdoor areas. While it remains invisible and provides a seamless finish to tiles and pavers, it does not compromise on water collection requirements.
The system works with all heights and sizes of pavers, can be retrofitted to existing Easydrain channel and, because it is manufactured from 100 percent recycled polymer, is rust free. Designed with click-together technology and moulded in-outlets, it is easy to install.
Adhering to AS1428, the drainage system features a heel friendly insert that allows it to convert into an accessible system.
A small slot located in the drainage grate reduces the chance of debris entering the channel and therefore reduces blockages. Less trapped debris means less trapped water and lowers the risk of mould. In addition, the system features an access pit that simplifies the cleaning process.
On top of negating the damaging effects of unchecked stormwater, Easydrain Edge’s sustainability credentials are boosted by the fact that, as a polymer product, it effectively replaces more problematic stainless steel and galvanised materials options, which are prone to rusting and therefore require frequent replacing. Easydrain Edge’s lifecycle is further extended by a UV stabiliser that protects it from premature degradation.
The Intelligent Shower and Eco Valve is the latest addition to Caroma’s Smart Command eco-system, a portfolio of Bluetooth enabled, cloud connected smart bathroom fixtures which provide building managers with data and insights into their buildings water usage. It enables informed, proactive decision making to provide better experiences for users, predict maintenance and help save water.
The Intelligent Shower’s touchscreen operation enables precise thermostatic temperature control as-well-as displaying shower duration and water usage to encourage shorter showers.
Available in a single port which allows the operation of a singular shower fixture, a dual port which can divert between an overhead and hand shower, or a three port Eco variant which gives the user the ability to recapture water while the thermostatic mixer is reaching the desired temperature and helps ensure every last drop of water is saved.
The Smart Command Eco Valve is an Australian first of its kind. When installed within a bathroom plumbing system it can be programmed to detect unplanned excessive water flow, isolate the issue and send alerts directly to the building manager so that quick decisions can be made on how best to react.
Boasting a 6-star WELS rating, Billi’s sensor tap range can be relied upon to minimise water wastage. The range is recommended for use in food preparation, healthcare, aged care, residential bathrooms, childcare, schools, universities, and commercial washrooms, and is available in three designs (each of which offers chrome, brushed, matte black and brushed brass models).
Unlike other products, the taps’ electronic sensors are built into the spout. Therefore, not only will flow not operate unless there is hand movement in the wash zone, but the possibility of accidental operation caused by reflection or passing traffic is eliminated.
User friendly and ergonomically designed, the sensor taps can run on either mains or battery power and can be mounted to benches or walls.
Supertube technology, a drainage solution by Geberit, utilises optimised hydraulics to create a simplified and more efficient system while providing more living and commercial space.
The system is a combination of three key parts. The shape of the Geberit Sovent fitting offsets the wastewater discharge causing it to rotate and flow down along the pipe wall with a stable column of air in the centre (referred to as an annular flow).
The second part is the Geberit BottomTurn bend. Located where the flow changes from vertical to horizontal, this converts the annular flow and directs the wastewater to become a horizontal layered flow without disrupting the air column.
The third part, the Geberit BackFlip bend leads the discharge to an optimised transition from the horizontal to the vertical pipe. The bend gives the wastewater the required swirl so that the annular flow can then resume without disrupting the air column.
Together, the technology allows smaller diameter pipes to be used. In addition, the resulting optimised flow means that no additional parallel ventilation pipes are required. This means that significantly fewer stacks are required, and fewer materials used.
The system is manufactured using high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a robust piping material. The connection technologies guarantee permanent tightness and high tensile strength.
The use of ready-to-use compounds guarantees that HDPE and all additives fully conform to health and environment regulations in accordance with EN 15804. The production of HDPE pipes does not generate any waste because scraps and off-spec products can be re-introduced into the same process or used in less demanding applications.
HDPE pipes have a useful service life of at least 100 years and, as one of the easiest plastic polymers to recycle, HDPE is accepted at most recycling centres.
On top of that, Supertube technology is manufactured using electrofusion welding to join the pipes and relevant fittings. Unlike other process, which can involve toxic solvents, this process involves no dangerous fumes.
An important step in integrated urban water management, rainwater harvesting and the use of water tanks can play a critical role in reducing pressure on water supply infrastructure.
An efficient, supplemental source of water for non-potable uses, such as toilet flushing, irrigation and laundry use, rainwater harvesting is also an effective means of stormwater management. Because it captures water for later use without the need to pump it from the mains system it is an effective way to reduce water bills.
The installation of water tanks ensures homeowners are less affected by water restrictions during periods of shortage and, in the long run, it reduces the need to build new dams or desalination plans and helps reduce water infrastructure costs.
Kingspan has manufactured and supplied long lasting water tanks and accessories made with Aquaplate steel to Australian homes and businesses for 85 years. Custom made to order, the tanks are available in four different shapes and can be specified in the full range of Colorbond colours.
Sustainable water management is not a one-size-fits-all prospect. As the case of a multistorey timber development in search of an adaptable, multilocation plumbing solution for its commercial tenants illustrates, it requires not just a broad understanding of environmental issues and goals, but also well-informed design and product choices.
One of the most exciting architectural developments is the resurgence of timber use in the construction of tall buildings. Timber construction has significant environmental advantages. It is strong, renewable, reduces biodiversity loss and it is more sustainable in terms of embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions than concrete or steel. And, as a plentiful, natural material, it offers opportunities for climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration.
However, the construction of timber buildings also presents unique challenges, including the need to limit core drilling that may compromise or degrade the integrity of the structure.
When the hydraulic engineering team were consulted about the project, they recommended the developer design each floor plan to accommodate each client’s preferred kitchen location. Given the building is made of timber with limited core drilling capacity, a creative plumbing solution was needed.
Saniflo’s solution to the problem – Sanicom 2, a dual-motor lifting station for draining wastewater – had the added benefit of offering design flexibility, and useful cost savings.
The twin motor Sanicom 2 has duty load sharing capabilities allowing for second motor redundancy and extended service life. The second motor relieves the first by engaging when excess water enters the pump. The ability of the pump to adapt to any location with no drilling required made it the obvious solution to meet the varying requirements of the lessee clients.
The project proceeded as planned. The hydraulic engineering team built in the basic plumbing lines allowing each lessee business to locate bathroom, kitchen or toilet facilities wherever they chose. It was a great success.
Image: Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash