You think the oil crisis is bad? The looming water shortage will make that seem like a mere inconvenience. Brac Systems was founded in 2005 to alert the world and advocate water efficiency. Further, the Montreal company manifested its message in its innovative technology. Dan Harvey describes why its water recycling system is a crucial first step in averting environmental, societal and economic disaster.
Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” That’s how Samuel Taylor Coleridge (in his “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”) vividly encapsulated the horrors of thirst. Not the kind of thirst that compels sports enthusiasts to quench themselves with a tall, cool glass damp with condensation and brimming with ice. Rather, Coleridge was describing tortuous, life-threatening thirst. In his narrative, a ship’s crew, entrapped by ice in northern seas, found itself surrounded by miles of indigestible salty seawater while facing a depleted on-board fresh-water supply.
That’s real thirst, and the situational irony turbo-charged the Coleridge’s imagery with horror. But the vivid description now appears as much poetic as prophetic. His 18th century merchant ship serves as a microcosmic metaphor for a much larger 21st century vessel: the Earth, our celestial craft, which faces a situation just as dire, but on a macroscopic scale.
ANOTHER IMPENDING GLOBAL CRISIS
Consider these facts: Water pervades our very existence. It covers almost 80 percent of the earth and comprises nearly 70 percent of our bodies. But as a physically replenishing resource, it’s subject to certain boundaries. Of the earth’s existing water supply, 97 percent is undrinkable salt water and 2 percent is contained within glacial ice. Thus, a mere 1 percent remains to slake thirst and revitalize our vital physiologic systems. And the well is running dry. Depletion results from inefficient use of this limited resource coupled with population growth. Recent studies, in particular one conducted by UNESCO, indicate that by 2020, water shortage will be a worldwide problem.
Recently, the world’s attention has focused on the global recession and the diminishing oil supply. But Brac Systems of Montreal, Quebec points out that a greater problem involves our global water supply. We tend to view water as an inexhaustible resource, but its availability is actually rapidly diminishing, with devastating impact.
Implications are frightening. We can go several weeks without food, but we can’t survive more than two or three days without water. Strand a rich man in the desert and he would eventually be willing to give up all he owns for a sip of water.
While we may feel powerless to deal with the oil crisis and the banking situation, Brac Systems offers a technological solution for the water issue that provides a proactive first step for the increasingly urgent problem. The company developed a water-conservation system that represents a genius-level engineering feat, as the technology is at once complex and simple. Essentially, Brac Systems offers a solution that can be implemented within the home and at the municipal level, places where water conservation should begin.
Brac Systems, founded in 2005 by current co-owner Dennis Yasar, believes that we shouldn’t ignore the impending water problem or the company’s responsive technology. After all, the wolves are barking at the door. Throughout North America, local municipalities already have increased taxes related to water usage. Eventually, citizens will be expected to shoulder more than just higher tax rates. They’ll be asked to conserve their water usage. His company’s Brac Greywater Recycling System will make it much more convenient and cost efficient.
As its name implies, the system reuses water. As Yasar describes, the unit consists of patented, state-of-the-art components that filter and purify used water from showers, bathtubs and laundry fixtures, and supplies it under pressure to toilet evacuation systems “Basically, it takes used water used in household items, captures it within a filtration system that takes it through a chlorination process and then deposits it into the toilet holding tank,” describes Yasar. “This satisfies flushing water needs.”
In this way, the company’s system circumvents superfluous water usage and enhances water efficiency, in the process saving as much as one-third of household water consumption. Ultimately, the system not only saves the user money but it can help preserve the world’s water supply.
A safe, efficient and hygienic system, the product won’t allow the recycled water to find its way into the drinking-water system. Further, it is easily integrated into existing plumbing. “The only difference users will experience is a decreased water bill,” comments Yasar.
Already, Brac Systems has sold more than 2,000 units throughout the world. The recycling system comes in two versions: residential and commercial. “The commercial systems came on the market about a year ago, and we’ve already sold 80 units,” reveals Yasar, who subsequently took on three Canadian partners (Blair Gautschi, Ronald Arsenualt and Emmanuel Brien). “We introduced the residential systems in 2006, and since then we’ve sold about 1,200 units.”
Brac Systems also developed complementary pressure tanks. According to the company, these tanks support both the residential and greywater pumps by providing additional water storage under pressure to meet the total demands of a system if the pump is incapable of supplying the required volumes.
The company performs its own manufacturing at its plant in Quebec. To accommodate sales growth, Brac will expand its production facilities by the end of the year. “In November 2009, we will be moving into a larger factory,” reports Yasar. “This will be the third time in three years that we’ve been forced to move because of increased business. The new facility will be nearly 8,000 square feet and include more fabrication, warehousing and research and development space.”
The company sells its products throughout a distributor network that includes 85 networks throughout the world. “We believe that, in five years, we’ll increase the locations to 100,” says Yasar.
Currently, Brac Systems is the only commercial mass producer and installer of residential greywater recycling systems in North America. “We’ve been installing equipment in homes as well as hospitals, five-star hotels, large commercial laundry businesses, major food processing companies and in prisons,” says Yasar. “Within the next six years, our system should be in 52 percent of U.S. prisons. We also sell our products in South America, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore and Australia. In the next two or three years, we’re looking to have new production facilities in the United States, Costa Rica and Turkey. In the next decade, our sales should reach the $500 million range. That’s my forecast.”
In 2007, Brac’s recycling system was named the “Best New Product” in the Energy Efficiency category at Mécanex/Climatex 2007, an annual plumbing and mechanical trade show held in Montreal. Also, the system was selected as one of the “Top Ten Green Building Products of 2007” by Sustainable Industries Journal, an influential green building industry publication.
“When we developed the system, we knew it could achieve 30 percent savings on water usage,” comments Yasar. “Unfortunately, many local and national governments don’t see it as a necessity as yet.”
But that’s starting to change. A growing movement toward mainstream acceptance of recycled water has begun. For instance, the company reports that in March 2009, the City of Guelph, Ontario began installing Brac technology as part of its efforts to conserve water on a local level. Working closely with a regional Brac distributor, the city government established a pilot program that offers a $1,500 incentive rebate to each of 30 new home constructions and select home retrofit applications for the installation of the Greywater Recycling System. Also, the entire British Columbia province in Canada and the City of Tucson, Ariz., are implementing mandates for the company’s recycling systems that will go into effect within the next year.
Already, one-third of the global population faces water shortages and deficient drinking-water quality. This has resulted in massive disease outbreaks, crop failure and malnutrition. Further, excessive water use degrades the environment, which costs billions of dollars. As such, Brac Systems technology represents more than just a gift. Implementation is a responsibility.