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Reusing Treated Wastewater in Domestic Housing: the Toronto Healthy House project.

by Rolf Paloheimo
Creative Communities Research Inc.
152 Sparkhall Ave.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4K 1G8

Tel  416 466 5172
Fax 416 466 5173

and Bob LeCraw

Presented at

Disposal Trenches, Pre-treatment and Re-Use of Wastewater Conference
sponsored by the Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research and the University of Waterloo
May 13 1996


I am a businessman and home builder. As such it is not my usual practice to address people on engineering concepts. I intend to try to convey the vision that the Toronto Healthy House project embodies as it applies to wastewater treatment. Please excuse me if I am a little too general.

The Toronto Healthy House project came about as a result of a nation-wide competition initiated by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Healthy Housing Design Competition. The goal of the competition was, in broad terms, to design healthy and environmentally sensitive dwellings suitable for the next century.

With respect to wastewater, the guidelines emphasized reducing or eliminating water consumption and therefor waste water production, minimizing the use of chlorine or other additives and using passive and low energy methods wherever possible.

There were two winners, one in Vancouver and the Toronto Healthy House. The Toronto House was the only urban entry that proposed on-site wastewater treatment.

The design of the project went through many iterations before construction began. The project now includes two homes, both with three bedrooms plus a den, each on a lot measuring 22.5 feet by 80 feet. These are small lots, even by Toronto standards. Each house provides for its own wastewater treatment and disposal as well as fresh water from a rain water cistern system. Both houses reclaim wastewater and recycle it to toilets, laundry, hose bibs, showers and baths.

One house provides all its own energy, the other provides energy to Hydro when the sun is shining and consumes Hydro energy at other times.

Construction is underway at this moment and are scheduled to be finished this summer. One of the houses will be on display for a period of four months after which it will be home to my family. The other will be sold on the open market.

As a result of this project, I as a builder, have become aware of the need for alternatives to existing on-site wastewater systems and also to large scale collection, treatment and disposal as currently practiced by our cities and towns.

Goals with respect to wastewater treatment

In designing the project we were assisted by Al Townshend of Blue Heron Environmental systems. When designing the system, our goals were the following: