Greener Behrend: Indicator 2, Gray Water

Indicator 2: Implement gray water recycling systems on the Behrend campus.

With the current water practices, most of Penn State Behrend's wastewater (gray water, black water) is sent to the wastewater treatment plant on the bayfront. Sending all wastewater to the treatment plant increases demand on the plant and increases water usage by Behrend. It is possible to re-use some of the gray water (or storm water) to irrigate athletic fields and common ground, or for other non-consumption activities (i.e. toilet flushing). Implementing a gray water re-usage system would require new plumbing, so cost/benefit analyses should be conducted. An average of 41.53 inches of rains falls in Erie every year. If the rain water was collected, it would have a significant impact on the amount of water that must be pumped from Lake Erie and other sources for Behrend's use.

The possibility of treating some of the wastewater on campus should be explored. The current process utilized to treat wastewater is an unnatural process and highly dependent on chemicals and energy. It is very possible to clean wastewater (both gray and black) with the use of plants, animals and microbiotic organisms. One of the more expensive ways is by a constructed wetland. An alternative method is a "living machine." Living machines are more compact than constructed wetlands, and fish or plants grown in the water can be sold for a profit.