The drought conditions of recent weeks have caused tanks to run dry across the island, leaving many residents grumbling about the cost of buying water.
But some savvy islanders do not need to call in the water truck, as they have discovered the benefits of recycling water.
Greywater recycling systems, it is claimed, can reduce your water tank consumption by up to a third, saving homes and businesses up to 35-40 per cent on water bills.
It is estimated the average family of four uses only 10 per cent of its water supply in the kitchen or for drinking.
Up to 35 per cent is used in the shower or bath, with another 30 per cent used for flushing toilets.
Greywater systems capture the wastewater from bathtubs and showers and recycle it to flush toilets, thus cutting down your use of potable water by 30 per cent.
Since installing a Brac greywater system nine months ago, Angelo and Joy Pimental are already reaping the benefits.
Estimating a water tank delivery at $75, they say the system has saved them up to $750 in the past three months alone.
And with the summer only halfway through, these savings are set to continue.
Mr and Mrs Pimental installed a Brac RGW-350 system through Encon Bermuda at their home in Collector’s Hill, Smith’s, for $8,000.
The system holds 350 litres of water which is more than enough to flush the toilets in their home and in their rented downstairs apartment.
Mrs Pimental, head of client management at the Argus Group, said: “We wanted to reduce our carbon footprint and to go as green as possible.
“We were renovating our house and so it was an opportunity to go green.”
The couple’s 32-year-old son, Angelo Michael Pimental, also inspired them to adopt a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
As they embarked on major renovations, they decided to install a greywater system in addition to thermal solar heating panels.
Encon Bermuda, a division of Batson Swan Plumbing, installed the Brac greywater system.
It works by collecting wastewater from bathtubs and showers into a tank.
At the Pimentals’ home, as the drains from the apartment are at the same level as the tank and the water cannot flow through gravity, a sub-pump is used to push it into the Brac.
All the water is filtered and chlorinated.
There is also a faucet which can be used to fill up buckets or attach hoses, enabling the couple to use greywater to hose their garden, wash their car or for other purposes.
Even in the-drought of the last couple of weeks, Mr Pimental has been impressed at how much water the tank holds.
“Right now our tank is half-full, which is amazing,” he said.
“Since May, with this dry spell, without the Brac system we would have had to have bought eight to 10 truckloads of water for the four of us (the Pimentals and their tenants).
“As it was, I ordered two tank loads as a precaution due to the weather but when I looked at the tank I was pleasantly surprised.
“This greywater is doing a great job, so we haven’t needed this extra water. It’s saving us money already.”
Mr Pimental, a 61-year-old former accountant who is now an ice-cream delivery truck driver for Butterfield & Vallis, said: “We wanted to do our bit for the little island of Bermuda. We’ve always been conscious about trying to take care of our island home.
“A good majority of Bermudians could utilize a greywater system like this in their own homes.
“It’s a huge saving and conserves water, which is precious.”
The Pimentals describe the Brac system as “easy to manage”, with just some routine maintenance.
Yesterday the tank level was 380 litres of water, which otherwise would have just been flushed away.
Michael Swan of Encon works with Brac to import the systems from Canada and is one of three qualified installers in the Encon/Batson Swan company.
Encon grew from Bermuda Energy Conservation Ltd, founded by Mr Swan’s father Charles Francis Batson Swan, more than 30 years ago.
A pioneer in alternative energy systems on the island, it initially installed solar heating panels.
Three years ago, Mr Swan began researching other forms of alternative energy and renamed the company Encon, after ‘Environmentally Conscious’ or ‘Energy Conservation’.
As well as solar thermal panel and greywater systems, it also offers LED lighting and an on-demand instant hot water circulating pump.
The company works in partnership with Mr Swan’s brother Charles Swan Jr’s plumbing firm, Batson Swan.
Mr Swan said you do not need planning permission to install a greywater system but a Planning officer does need to approve the plumbing plans, to make sure they are functional.
Greywater systems are therefore best installed on new residential or commercial properties, or buildings undergoing renovation.
Mr Swan said people can opt for a ‘turn-key’ system or can build their own underground tank and Encon can then attach the Brac system.
Rainwater can also be directed to flow into the tank, from your roof.
Mr Swan said: “It’s very simple. You just connect it to your existing plumbing. It can also be used for laundry, but additional filtration is needed.
“Greywater systems can be installed in both residential and commercial properties. Overseas, these systems have been used in hotels, prisons and even hospitals.”
Greywater systems are also recommended in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines for ‘green’ buildings.
Encon Bermuda can install a Brac LowBoy 150-350 litre system for $7-9,000.
The largest residential system in its range, at 500 litres, is the RGW-500 for $9-10,000.
Mr Swan added commercial properties “can have whatever size they want… We can build a tank to hold the greywater and install the Brac system.”
The company provides regular service checks but the only maintenance needed is a hosing down/cleaning of the filter each month. The chlorine levels can also be adjusted.
Over time, greywater recycling systems can save a substantial amount of ‘green’ dollars.
“You are definitely making savings on water and money,” said Mr Swan.
Brac is the North American leader in greywater/rainwater recycling systems.
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