Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sustainable Holidaying

This December we were lucky enough, with my wife, to get away for a few days from Sydney. Our basic idea was to go to Canberra, to see "our" nations capital, as Isabelle had not yet had the chance to visit.

As we were on holidays we were relaxing and did not really have as an objective to plan exactly were we were going. A bit of a contrast to my normal work life.

On our journey after staying in Jindabyne, we headed for Batemans Bay, we wanted to stay there, however "unluckily" all of the places were booked out and we started looking around for where else to stay. Eventually we called ahead and found a place in a small "town" or even village of South Durras, which is 15 km North of Batemans Bay.  It's normal permanent population is about 400 people. The place where we were going to stay was the BIG4 South Durras Holiday Park. We managed to find the last spot for tents for that day.

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What was so interesting about visiting this park that is so worth writing about? Well I found out the it is a water sustainable holiday park. What was more interesting is that that the managers went about this in a very unassuming way, for them it was something normal. When we checked in, they told us that the water in the park was rain harvested tank water, that if we wanted to drink it that we should boil it. This was a "bit" novel.

This is where we set up our tent, right next to 2 water tanks
that collect water from the roofs.

All of the water served through taps is rainwater harvested tank water.

The water for the showers and WCs is from bore water.

This is the amenities block. From these, the black water, from the WCs, goes to a septic tank, from which the effluent goes into an infiltration trench for leachate absorption. The grey water, from the showers, skips the septic tanks and goes into the infiltration trench. The infiltration area is located in the back of the holiday park where the trees and vegetation are able to "consume" and absorb the leachate, eventually the purified water will re-enter the water cycle, either through evapotranspiration or by going into the aquifers.

The septic tank is cleaned from solids when required, that can usually be every 12 months.

Rainwater harvesting tank of the men's amenities block.

Water tanks that harvest from the roof and supply the holiday
park's kitchen.This is an authentically practically  closed
water cycle, with no requirement for energy. Here the "energy
water nexus" has been broken.

Not only has the water footprint of this development been
negligible, but also the biological footprint. As we can see
that kangaroos are happy to share in the presence of guests,
they have not gone away, being a testimony of  reduced, if
not practically non-existent, impact on the environment. 

Practically every raised horizontal surface is to capture
rainwater that is then managed in a decentralized manner.

Bruce and Kay, the managers of the park, should be congratulated on the water sustainable development they administrate.

They have a capacity of about 70,000 litres of above ground water storage and are able to provide enjoyable accommodation to more than 400 people when the holiday park is at full capacity. This is amazing considering that the town of South Durras itself has a permanent population of about the same number. It does this with a water footprint of practically 0. It captures and reuses as much water as it needs, it discharges no contaminated water, be it stormwater, greywater or blackwater. Its roads are of permeable gravel, and it's hard surfaces capture water. Greywater and Blackwater is managed on site. It has no pipes going in and no pipes out carrying contaminated water. All of the water management is done with practically no power consumption except for a few small pumps that have a minimum power consumption.

This is an example of how sustainable water management can be done, in a not too complex way, on a commercial scale. Many people say that this sort of application is not complicated on a small domestic scale, however to do something larger is more problematic. This is proof that it can be done on a larger scale, what is more these are totally scalable solutions.

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