17 years ago, as I became aware of the impact our lifestyles were having on our environment and coupled with a growing sceptism of big corporates, from municipalities to private sector conglomerates, I looked around for more opportunities to go off the grid. We already had a solar hot water heating system installed in 1987 which is still going strong today! We were busy planning new bathrooms and looking at options for rainwater harvesting and grey water recycling. The search was difficult with most information originating out of California and it seemed that we would have to put together our own system working with very cynical local plumbers when we came across Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor at Water Rhapsody. Jeremy was an inspirational breath of fresh air, a non-materialistic idealist with a strong practical streak – seemingly out of step with our peers’ conspicuous consumption lifestyles but light years ahead of them in terms of what we needed to do to ensure there would still be a planet for our grandchildren. Jeremy had devised a series of water saving devices using strong robust catalogue components that could be clipped onto standard plumbing systems. As I am interested in simple and elegant design of buildings and architecture, hate the need for regular home maintenance, and being a great disciple of the “set and forget” philisophy, I scrutinised Jeremy’s systems very carefully. My wife was also an important test in that she thought that all of these ideas were a bit cranky and didn’t want to have anything to do with inventions that would cause smells, regular maintenance or lifestyle adaptations. The pool was bad enough! There didn’t seem to be any clever tricks designed to hook one into ongoing maintenance contracts and supply of overpriced essential bespoke maintenance items or patented parts only available from Jeremy – as I had found to great cost with a swimming pool filter system we had installed from another contractor. We made sure that the plumbers fitted the necessary dual plumbing systems in the new bathrooms and retrofitted them in the existing amd installed the grey water recycling system. We are happy to report that we have never used municipal water on the bottom lawn again. As you will gather we are not very good on regular maintenance but the system, whose filters do need cleaning from time to time, – usually takes 5 minutes at the end of winter – has operated successfully ever since. As you can imagine with our erratic approach to home maintenance the filters do eventually block up with lint etc. At this point the overflow to the sewer kicks in and we never suffer any problems other noticing the garden sprinkler doesn’t come on. We then clean the filters and off it goes. The cleaning is also simple and the parts robust enough to enable unskilled staff to do it. We still get a great sense of satisfaction after showering or letting the bath water out to go and watch the sprinkler working. Our staff think the system is magic. We have enthusiastically endorsed the product to friends and family over the past 15 years and have not heard a single complaint. There are now the very attractive Water Rhapsody signs in every street in our neighbourhood. My wife’s sister has had a double system installed in the front and back of her house. Her husband is a perfectionist engineer with the council who watches the pennies very carefully but they, too, have been very happy with their system.
Environmental Planner and Urban Designer
Fynbos Conservation Award winner 2009
Johnny Walker Celebrating Strides nominee 2010