PlanetShifter.com's Water Interview with Ed Begley, Jr.: Actor, Eco-Futurist and Spokesperson for Grey Water Recycling Systems by Willi Paul
"I will say, there are a number of those who have installed systems without permits and are safely and happily recycling water."
Ed Begley Jr. Bio -
When it comes to taking personal responsibility for the environment, few individuals can match the record of actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. Known for turning up at Hollywood events on his bicycle, he has served as chairman of the Environmental Media Association and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. He serves on the boards of organizations including the Thoreau Institute, the Earth Communications Office, Tree People and Friends of the Earth. His work has earned both praise and awards from numerous environmental groups including the California League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Coalition for Clean Air, Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica Baykeeper, the Southern California Gas Company and the American Lung Association.
Currently, he is the co-star of the hit Planet Green series Living with Ed, a look at the day-to-day realities of “living green” with his not so environmentalist wife Rachelle Carson. His book Living Like Ed is currently available nationally from Clarkson Potter / Random House, and his new book Ed Begley, Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living also from Clarkson is scheduled for a September 2009 release. He continues to tour the country giving speeches about his sustainable living practices.
Inspired by the works of his Academy Award-winning father, Begley became an actor. He first came to audiences’ attention for his portrayal of Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the long-running hit television series St. Elsewhere, for which he received six Emmy nominations. Since then, Begley has moved easily between feature films, television and theatre projects. Begley has appeared in A Mighty Wind, the follow-up to the American Comedy Award-winning film Best In Show starring Christopher Guest, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. He can also be seen in the most recent Christopher Guest film For Your Consideration. Other feature film credits include Batman Forever, The Accidental Tourist and The Inlaws. In 2008, Begley will have supporting roles in the theatrical comedy Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogan, and the HBO feature Recount starring Kevin Spacey. He has also wrapped work on a new Woody Allen comedy in NYC titled Whatever Works that will be released in the spring 2009.
On television, Begley has had recurring roles on Six Feet Under and Arrested Development. He has also guest starred on such series as The West Wing and The Practice, in addition to David E. Kelly’s latest show Boston Legal. Most recently, Begley was featured in Veronica Mars and CSI: Miami. In August 2008, Begley returned to prime-time network television as a series regular on the new CBS sitcom Gary Unmarried starring Jay Mohr.
Begley also starred in the West Coast premiere of David Mamet’s Cryptogram at the Geffen Playhouse, in a role that he first performed in Boston and then in New York. He also starred in Mr. Mamet’s production of Romance at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
This talented actor has also directed several episodes of the hit TV series NYPD Blue as well as a stage play that he wrote called Cesar and Ruben that won a Nos Otros Award and four Valley Theater League awards.
Begley lives in Studio City, CA in a small, energy efficient home with his wife and co-star Rachelle Carson and their daughter Hayden.
greg at bciitv dot com
"I stopped drinking bottled water years ago. It is much more expensive than gasoline."
WE (the people) are supposed to own the water, but we have surrendered many of those rights to large agricultural interests that are not always acting in OUR best interests. I'm all for agriculture, but I don't think it's prudent to grow thirsty crops like cotton and rice in an arid climate such as the San Joaquin Valley
What are the three quickest ways to get humans to reduce their residential water consumption?
1. Recycle their gray water.
2. Use aggressive common sense in overall water use.
3. Raise water prices.
What are the costs and environmental impacts to install and maintain a gray water system?
A system like mine costs $6,850 not including installation. The first years maintenance supplies are included and after that, annual maintenance cost for materials runs $402. While it's easier to maintain than a swimming pool, if one wanted they could hire an outside contractor for servicing. The environmental impact is water conservation. If you have large irrigation needs and a family producing sufficient amounts of gray water you could see a 50% or greater reduction in your water usage.
How do ReuseGrayWater.com systems work with current waste water utilities?
The system is separate and in addition to your existing sewer system. It is a source point water recycling system that operates fully automatically.
Are you promoting going “off-grid” so to speak?
My system does not provide drinking water so unless you have your own private supply of water for drinking, bathing and washing clothes you'll never be "off the grid" water wise. But you will totally eliminate your reliance on municipal drinking water for irrigation.
How is the definition and public perception concerning grey water changing?
I suspect there are those who have reservations on using water they have bathed with or washed their clothes in to water their lawns. I also suspect those reservations will lessen as the cost of water increases and the supply decreases. The water my system recycles is safe and bacteria free by virtue of its ultra violet disinfection process. All water is recyled water at some point in the history of the planet.
What are the current institutional barriers to sustainable water use?
By institutional I suspect you mean governmental. Every city will have its own building department who may need to approve a gray water recycling system. I've yet to hear of any city that did not support the reuse of gray water, however they need to "fit" the system into their existing permit and code requirements. Some are more difficult to work with than others, but by in large, most see the benefit and support it. We have yet to receive a permit decline from any city. I will say, there are a number of those who have installed systems without permits and are safely and happily recycling water.
Briefly, shower and laundry water is filtered by micron bags, anthracite coal and activated coconut carbon. Then it's disinfected by exposure to ultra violet light and stored in a tank. When needed, it's automatically delivered for irrigation use. There are some unique filtration techniques and proprietary systems used that I don't fully understand but the end result is a source point system that lets me safely reuse shower and laundry water for our gardens.
How do you weigh in on the Sacramento Delta fix? Why should NorCAL produce water for SoCAL?
We certainly need water in Southern California, and it is a region without enough water for the amount of growth that has occurred here over the years, but I can sympathize with the folks in other parts of the country (and yes, in other parts of this state!) who are tired of us dipping our very long straw in their glass. Solution: We must use less water, a LOT less starting now!
Is water the next source of war on the planet?
Water provides economic stimulation, growth and stability. The ability to be more self sufficient by allowing agriculture and raising livestock for a reliable food supply. When people don't have the basics for survival they turn to other means. The East Coast of Africa is one of the driest regions in the world. While I find the actions of the Somali Pirates abhorrent, they might not be doing what they are if they had adequate supplies of water, ...Trying to survive in a very hostile, water starved area brings out the worst in people.
Why isn’t grey water tech the next big thing in America?
People's awareness is growing, especially in areas affected by drought. I suspect it's a lot like the price of gas. For the general public to become fully engaged they need to wait in line for an hour to fill up their tank or pay $4 a gallon. In many parts of the country we're there already, water rationing is in effect, in others we're only one dry winter away from serious shortages.
Do you drink bottled water? Is this a scam industry overall?
I stopped drinking bottled water years ago. It is much more expensive than gasoline, and the regulations are much less strict than the water flowing from your tap. It also comes at a great environmental cost. I have a Lifesource whole house filter and a KYK water ionizer and my home tap water tastes great.
Rainwater capture sounds promising! What needs to happen?
You need to have the right site for it to capture enough rainwater to really make it worth your while. A tank holding 5,000 gallons or more would be required to store enough water to make it cost effective. I’m capturing rain water now with my GWRS system, which is another advantage of the system – its ability to do both gray water and rain water recycling at the same time. I wish I could have a larger storage tank. We need to do it ALL! Graywater, Rainwater, Conservation.....now!