Creating Complete Water Systems

Written by Chad Adams

Water is always on our mind at Bio-Logical Capital. We consider stewarding water from a sustainable source, to an appropriate use, to low impact treatment and reuse as an imperative cycle. We see the natural water resources on our land as a complete system. We identify the multiple uses, complementary uses, and natural tools available to purify water. Our practices return water to the aquifer, stream, or watershed from which it was harvested cleaner than when it was borrowed.

When projects offer the opportunity, we develop, operate and manage natural stormwater, wastewater and potable water practices, and combine these businesses to enable a comprehensive, natural water system for the community.

“Water is the heart of all life. It is embedded in all life forms, in all economic, social, and spiritual practices across the globe. [...] Integrated and holistic thinking will reveal abundance of resources and capacity that we are currently treating as waste. Working with and mimicking nature will support new solutions that will be characterized by their ‘simplexity’.” – Paul Schwartz, National Policy Coordinator for Clean Water Action (October 18, 2010)

How to Create a Complete Water System

Efficient use

We start by looking for ways to streamline the way we use water so these processes can be accomplished with the least amount of water needed. We make sure our landscaping decisions take into account the climate, geography and water resources needed for the plants to thrive. We use, and encourage the use of, water-saving appliances like low-flow showerheads and toilets, automatic or aerated faucets, high-efficiency clothes washers, and drip irrigation hoses.

In the water systems we develop, we carefully plan for smaller-scale systems to minimize the amount of water that is lost in transit from its source to when it comes out the tap. And, we ensure community management practices – for agriculture, manufacturing, and other industries – minimize water consumption.

Whole water cycle management

From the moment a drop of rain falls atop a watershed, it has the potential to serve many uses if it is repeatedly collected, treated, and reused. Bio-Logical Capital manages this natural resource through the whole water cycle, slowing runoff and capturing the most possible value from each drop of water. Our approach includes protecting forests and other ecosystems that attract and store water, and using wastewater from one use as an input to another. Some wastewater can be treated and used as drinking water. Other water can be cleaned up enough to be used for swimming or bathing, or industrial uses. For example, treated wastewater from a local community may provide valuable irrigation water for a nearby orchard.

Natural cleansing and management tools

Nature has its own ways to clean water by using plants, soil, and bacteria to filter and process pollutants. The most efficient systems for this natural purification process are wetlands, home to microorganisms that either use or breakdown the contaminants in water.

Over the last 30 years, people have developed wastewater treatment facilities that mimic natural wetlands. Just like in nature, wastewater is filtered by sand beds, nutrients are consumed by plants and organisms in reed beds, and ultimately water passes slowly through a series of pools and saturated soils that look and function like natural wetlands. These systems can be scaled to serve individual buildings all the way up to cities. They produce water that is cleaner than water from common water purification plants and provide wetland habitat for birds, animals, and plants. Bio-Logical Capital is committed to using these nature-like systems to treat water and has developed partnerships with experts to design, construct, operate and manage these facilities.

Nature also handles storm water in a way that avoids many of the problems that traditional storm storm sewers create. Storm water may become contaminated with pollutants from roads, parking lots or lawns as it makes its way to the storm sewer, and when there is a heavy rain, water can overfill the sewer and flood surrounding streets.

In nature, storm water is managed where it lands: it sinks into the soil, flows in sheets toward low depressions, and is held in place, on the surface, until it has the opportunity to infiltrate into the ground or slowly runoff in stream beds. From there it is filtered by vegetation and slowed by natural twists, turns, rocks, and other obstacles.

Bio-Logical Capital’s approach to storm water treatment mimics nature: we choose permeable paving materials that allow water to trickle through. And we use vegetated swales, rather than storm sewers, to carry run-off and filter and trap pollutants.

Water you can access

Imagine a visit to water treatment wetlands in which you walk and enjoy the diverse plants, flowers, and wildlife of a healthy wetland system. You follow the trail of water from fountains, trickling streams, temporary waterfalls, water wheels, and green swales of an open storm water management system. You see how the water system penetrates throughout the community. At home, you are empowered to make smart choices like using a rainwater capture system to turn the water that falls on your roof into a resource you can use in your own home to irrigate your gardens, flush your toilets, or wash your cars.