Going Green by Going Grey

If you walk in and use a Morgan Hall restroom, you may be surprised to find the water to have a greyish-yellow color.

However, any concerns you may have about the quality of the water should be flushed away. The disfigured water is a result of the Grey Water recycling system that recycles rainwater, which would otherwise turn into runoff. The increase in run-off can cause numerous problems such as flashfloods and transfer harmful pollutants. As Philadelphia quickly developed, areas that were once covered by grass were then replaced by concrete, leaving no place for rain water to be absorbed.

Sean Ounan, the Director of Operations and Maintenance, explained the idea of the program was to not only slow down the runoff but to also conserve large amounts of water that would otherwise be wasted. As rain falls onto the flat roofs of parking garages and buildings, the water is diverted into drains, which begin the recycling journey. The water is sent into a 5000-gallon tank, which recycles the water at a slower pace than it would if it were naturally puddling up and evaporating into the sky. Water then flows out of the tank and into a series of filters. The filters use ultraviolet rays to get rid of the bacteria in the water. From there the water is bleached, which gives it the greyish color.

“When you look at a toilet, it may not be as clear as you’re used to seeing it, but when you start telling people about how much water you’re saving, it usually catches on pretty quick,” said Ounan.

Though many students are not aware of the program’s existence, they will become more acquainted as new buildings on campus are constructed. Ounan explained that, “the systems are going to be pretty standard for new construction.” Buildings that currently use the water recycling systems are Morgan Hall, Pearson McGonagall Hall, The SERC and the Montgomery Garage. In addition, the new library will also have the recycling system. To learn more about Temple recycling incentives and green infrastructures visit the office of Sustainability’s website here.

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