Wonders of water
Reclamation unit tested in Ndilo

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 29/99) - For many Northerners, trucking water and sewage is a costly way of life.

But there is an alternative to this most expensive utility. It's called a water reclamation system and there's one humming away in the basement of a Ndilo house. Residents aren't using the recycled water yet. But they soon will be.

For now, the unit -- it's a private treatment plant for sewage and grey water -- is being tested at the house.

"I think it's a good idea," resident Harvey Field said.

"When we run out of water, we often have to run up town to do laundry," he said.

Once the five-month test period is completed, "we'll have all the water we want," he said.

The reclaimed water is destined for laundry and flush toilets but can be also used for baths and showers.

Yellowknifer Bill Fandrick, who owns Synergy Solutions, the local marketer of the Toronto-based Creative Communities Research Inc. water system, said testing will take another two months.

He says testing will give "public health absolute confidence in the system. Everything is biological and passive."

The final product is cleaner than reclaimed water California uses in swimming pools. And if it's safe to swim in, it's safe to bathe in, Fandrick said.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. funds an independent monitoring of the system which produces 1,000 litres of water a day. The average Northern home uses about 65 litres a day while southern Canadians -- busy washing cars and watering lawns -- use about 300 litres a day.

The system costs $20,000. But, notes Fandrick, it produces enough water for four or five homes. And if Synergy Solutions could take delivery of 100-unit lots, the cost would drop to $12,000 each. It takes up 7.5 square metres (84 square feet) of floor space.

The unit will pay for itself over two or three years depending on the community and the size of the family using it, Fandrick said.

Using reclaimed water for laundry and toilets cuts water costs in half. And if used for bathing, that rises to 75 per cent.

Fandrick said providing water costs about $50 a cubic metre in the North compared to just 40 cents a cubic metre in the south.

Fandrick said Dettah is going ahead with a plan to install one of the units there and it will service a handful of houses.