The Water Cycle of The Seed III?

April 28th, 2021

Dear Readers,

I think this is Round III of our plan to harvest and treat all of our water on-site…it may actually be round IV…or V. In truth, what version of the ideal we have bounding about in our brains does not matter. What matters, is this is what we have officially just shipped off for interpretation by code! 

Let the dialogues commence! 🙂

The goal we have set for ourselves is to meet the Water Petal as set by the Living Building Challenge, while also meeting PA Code. We want to not only maintain, but enhance, the safety and health of our surrounding natural environment and communities. 

What you are about to read is essentially how we explained our system to the DEP. However, when I had some loved ones proof-read our email, they said it was overwhelming and boring. 

I still sent our extensive email away to code. 

While it is still certainly overwhelming, code does not care if it is boring. They just want to do their job and make sure we don’t jeopardize the health or integrity of our environment or neighbors.1 

But, to make it interesting for those who do find this overwhelming and boring, I am going to explain it in the context that you are a little, adorable, droplet of water. While small in stature, you are incredibly significant to our family’s, and the Land of the Laurel’s, survival.

My dear little droplet, your life has no real beginning or end. You just are. You belong to, and are a cycle that determines the life or death of every living being on this planet. For our story, we will begin with one of your many falls.

All excited and condensed with so many other droplets, it is now the time for you to let the weight of your condensation be pulled by gravity to the earth. Like a sneeze that has just built up for way too long, you finally let it go! 



You feel no pain as you collide with the smooth surface of our home’s roof. In fact, you don’t stop moving. With your collision, you separate into many other little droplets. With gravity and momentum and the collecting force of more droplets, you begin to stream down the roof into our gutter. The gutter, once dry, is now a small stream, carrying you and your fellow drops down our downspout. 

Through capillary action, you stick to the sides of what is called the WISY Downspout Filter, the noble guard to Rainwater Pillow, the kingdom of rainwater storage. 


Your super power of sticking to things allows you and your fellow droplets to be carried away to the kingdom of Rainwater Pillow. Any lesser beings (leaves, dirt, golf balls, acorns) that lack the strength of capillary action, are discarded by the WISY, and sent elsewhere. No admittance for them!

The kingdom of Rainwater Pillow provides you and your fellow droplets with constant aeration! To stay still is to become boring..and stagnant. And why be stagnant when you can swirl and twirl and go up and down and all around? Life is grand for you in Rainwater Pillow. But, one day, you are called upon to something grander…to something beyond your current state…you are called upon to become…potable. 

PHSIHHH…you are pumped from the kingdom of Rainwater Pillow to a four stage transformation. First, all of the debris and impurities are stripped from your droplet by a 20- 25 micron filter. Second, the even smaller and stubborn debris is removed from your being by a 5 micron filter! Third! You traverse through a .5 micron carbon block filter, eliminating even more of the stubborn nasties. Finally!! Your impurities vanquished through your own form of potable purgatory…you go towards the light…a UV light radiates through your droplet, making you pure and consumable by humans. 

Once purified, you will have many different roads open to you to travel. You could be sent to help wash the dishes in the almighty dishwasher…or to fill a glass and quench a sweaty runner’s thirst from the kitchen sink…or to brush some little one’s teeth from one of the two bathroom sinks…or to the shower head to rinse shampoo…or! Maybe you will be sent to the steamer…where you will be broken up into vapor and aid in warming the shower experience for the humans, helping them to use less water from the shower head. Who knows? Life is so exciting for you right now little droplet! Well, it is always exciting for you…you are always needed and you never stay the same!

If you go to one of the bathroom sinks to wash some gritty hands, or to the shower to wash some gritty bodies…then you will be sent to the Tower Of Hydraloop!

Inside the Tower of Hydraloop, some pretty awesome crazy things happen to make you reusable. I won’t go into those specific things now. You’ll have to read about them in a future blog. Which is written! It is just currently being proofread by Hydraloop and awaiting approval for publishing. For now, little droplet, just imagine all of the fun purification processes you will undergo in that Tower. Oh, the potential aeration! 

Anywho, once made ‘reusable’ again by human standards, you can go to flush the foam flush Clivus Multrum composting toilets, orrr…you could be sent to the laundry machine

Now, the laundry machine is a picky beast. It will only accept you and your purified droplet friends for the first two cycles of washing the clothes. For the third and final cycle of clothes washing, little Lord Laundry Machine wants fresh water to rinse its laundry. Even though, my dear little droplet, you have undergone sufficient training and treatment within the Tower of Hydraloop…you will not suffice for this pompous clothes rinser. Instead, the laundry machine will pull fresh droplets from the kingdom of Rainwater Pillow for the rinse cycle. 

To add to the insult, if you were recruited for one of the first two cycles of washing clothes, you are no longer worthy of the Tower of Hydraloop! But that’s actually ok, because you will be sent to bigger and better things in the Land of Mulch Basin. If you were the lucky fresh droplet to be employed for the third and final cycle of rinsing the clothes, you get to go to the Tower of Hydraloop to be trained and pruned and treated to be used again! 

Now, what if the Tower of Hydraloop treated more droplets than it can hold? Well then, my little dear droplet, if the Tower does not have room for you in its holding tank, it will send you to the great kingdom of Greywater Pillow! There, you will be able to dance and swirl with constant aeration as you did in the kingdom of Rainwater Pillow. When you exit the kingdom of Greywater Pillow, however, you will not leave perfectly purified. Oh, the Tower of Hydraloop has made you suitable for non-potable reuse! Just not for going directly into peoples’ bodies. But that’s ok! Because you instead will be used to irrigate our outdoor garden…and clean Sir Subaru BRZ on his dirty days.  

The Tower of Hydraloop does have one final contribution that you may find yourself inadvertently a part of. Because the Tower of Hydraloop cleans bathroom sink and shower droplets, it does filter out some hair. And soap scum. You, my wee lil’ droplet, may find yourself intermixed with this sludge…if you do, don’t panic! Despite the dishonorable title of ‘sludge,’ you still have a purpose! You will be sent to the composting toilet tanks to become fertilizer!! The solid and liquid end-products of these composting tanks are encouraged to be used as vital nutrients in gardens. So, think of it as you are contributing to tomatoes 😉

If, little droplet, you find yourself flowing your way to the inclined mulch basin…I encourage you to enjoy the ride! The mulch basin will filter you through wood chips and dirt and aerobic organisms until you reach a holding tank. This holding tank will pump you up to an indoor green wall! You will meander your way through the wall, moistening the soil and giving life to our plants. If the plants do not suck all of you up, then you will be pumped back up to the top, and feel the exhilaration of trickling down through the wall again. Once entirely absorbed by plants and soil little droplet, you have not disappeared! Your life is not over. Rather, you give and create life to these little plants. Once they are through with you, they will release you into the air as transpiration! Floating in our living room, our ventilation system will suck you up…and spit you straight out into the open air! You have an overwhelming number of options as to where you go from there. From evaporation to condensation to precipitation…who knows, maybe you will end up back on our roof! 


If that was too much for you to be a water droplet, then you can e-mail me and I will send you the boring and more overwhelming version. Because it is boring and overwhelming, I lack the initiative to make it into an actual blog. 

Just keep drippin’ lil’ droplets! To the human world of ‘progress,’ you may just be one droplet. But to thirsty animals, plants, people…whole ecosystems and communities…you are the whole world.

Shelby Aldrich

1. A huge shout-out of “Thank YOU!” to all of the local and state code officials who have already begun this dialogue with us! Our ideas are out-there, and we appreciate your patience as we navigate meeting the Living Building Challenge and PA Code.


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© 2020 Sustaining Tree

© 2020 Sustaining Tree